January 9, 2022 – Pastor Mark Albrecht

John 3

Message Big Idea –  In John 3, Jesus teaches us how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He informs a religious leader that new life is required for admittance. He reveals that citizenship in His kingdom is not secured by a set of minor corrections that help us to adhere to a set of moral standards. Rather the new life required is connected to a heart reconstruction that orients us toward communion with God. The Holy Spirit equips this internal change by washing or removing our old life, imparting or rebuilding a new life, and constantly renewing this new life and connection with God.

Reflect on the following sequence of questions. If you are doing this with others, share your responses with them.

LEAN IN >> Think about it.

  • The Holy Spirit imparts new life into us so that we can connect with God. Talk about the last time you got a new cell/smart phone. How much of a change in connecting with people, news, weather, or other things did this ‘upgrade’ provide?

LOOK DOWN >> Read the following passages and discuss or reflect on the  the corresponding questions:

  • Read John 3 (Read twice – ESV and either NLT or Message)
  • Read Ezekiel 36:25-27, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Titus 3:3-6, Ephesians Notice the different language God uses to describe what the presence of the Holy Spirit is like in the life of those who He lives in.

LOOK OUT >> Connect the world of the Bible to our culture.

  • Nicodemus was trapped in the darkness of religion. Religion has been defined as attempting to move towards God through your actions. Christianity then is God moving towards you in Christ. Who in your life is stuck in the darkness of trying to please God or reach God through religion? How often do you pray for Jesus to meet with them like He did with Nicodemus?

LOOK IN >> Go straight to the heart of the matter.

  • When God promises in Ezekiel 36:27 ‘I will put my Spirit in you,’ He connects it to the fact that He will ‘cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.’ Has this been your experience when you consider your life with the Holy Spirit? What rules and statutes did the Holy Spirit refresh your understanding and appreciation of? 
  • When the Spirit gives new life, everything that defines you in the spiritual realm changes.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that we are literally a new creation. It is like you are in the witness protection program, your identity is brand new. Meditate on this verse and then make a list of all the things that are old and gone and replaced with new. Reflect on Ephesians 2:10 in light of this list you just created.   
  • According to Titus 3:3-5 the Holy Spirit does construction in the life of Jesus’ disciples. He demolishes the old life (washing), rebuilds a new life (regeneration) and maintains the new life (renew). In your experience, which of these processes has been the most intense? The result of this construction can be demonstrated in the next couple verses of Titus ‘believers may be careful to devote themselves to good works’. Which good work have you ‘devoted’ yourself to since construction began? In other words, what does the ‘construction zone’ look like living through you?

LIVE IT OUT >> Put it into action.

  • Pray daily this week, inviting the Holy Spirit to continue the construction process of renewal. Ask for a refreshment of His presence and work in your life. 
  • Call a friend that you admire as a role model. Express your heart of gratitude for their faithfulness in demonstrating God’s new life. Pray for them daily to be even more of what God’s grace is transforming them into. 
  • Pray this prayer from Puritan David Clarkson (1622-1686)

We cry to you, God, for renewing grace. We lie at your footstool and cry, “Help, Lord, or I will perish!”

Create in me a new heart, and renew a right spirit within me. 

Renew me in the spirit of my mind, and renew me in my inner soul. 

Take away this old mind that is so blind, so vain, so carnal. 

Take away this old will that is so obstinate, so perverse, so rebellious. 

Take away this old conscience that is so partial, so seared, so senseless. 

Take away this old heart that will never delight in, comply with, or submit to you. 

Let old things pass away, let all things become new. You who brought this world out of nothing with a word, can with a word work in me this new creation. 

Do not let me perish. Say the word, and it will be done. Jus say the word, and this soul- now a dark, woeful chaos and a lump of corruption and confusion—will become a new creature. 

Lord, give me this new heart, put this new spirit into me. You have the key of David. You close, and no one opens. You open, and no one can shut. Lord, open this heart that has been too long closed against you. Break down these strongholds that keep you from me. 

Cast out sin and cast out the world that kept you out of possession for so long. Bind the strong man and cast him out. 

Other lords have had dominion over me; they have made me miserable by keeping my Lord, my happiness, from me. Cast out these intruders, take possession of me, and be mine forever.

You call for my heart, Lord; it is yours. Though I have dealt treacherously with you, and given my heart to other things, it is yours. It cost you dearly. So enter, take possession of it. 

You knock at the door to this wretched heart. Why stay so long outside? Come in and bless me with your presence. Break it open with almighty power, and let it no longer shut you out.