The Fork in the Road Called Faith

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler in the Jewish community. He was a teacher of the law and confident in his knowledge of God. However, when He encounters Jesus, he realizes how much he doesn’t know. In John 3:1-21, Nicodemus is struggling to understand the kingdom of God, and Jesus explains that he must be born again to see the kingdom.
At this statement, the one who usually teaches must admit he doesn’t understand and needs to be taught. Then even after Jesus explains, Nicodemus says, “How can these things be?” He has arrived at the juncture of faith.

At this crossroads, this fork in the road, Jesus needs to teach the learned that he is still missing it. And the missing ingredient isn’t tangible. Jesus confronts the real problem for Nicodemus and so many of us. He tells him in verse 12 that “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” In a nutshell, Jesus is saying, “with all your knowledge, you are still missing the most important piece. You have no faith.”

Many of us are like Nicodemus. We live not believing because of the natural. We look with natural eyes trying to see what can only be spiritually accessed. We fail to recognize that our flesh is inadequate and unable. But facing that very fact awakens us to the realization that we are dead and need to be born again to live. If our spirits are dead, we have no faith. We live suspiciously and remain critical and only know doubt.
Nicodemus had head knowledge, but it had not converted his heart where one believes and is convinced.

No matter what we think we know, we must continually be taught and corrected by the Lord. We need Him to instruct our hearts as we lean into His. We must spend time in His word, in prayer, and his presence, seeking the answers to all of our questions. We, like Nicodemus, must have our hearts converted and begin exercising faith. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith.

Today, humble yourself and ask the Lord to show you where you need faith. Let Him teach you what you don’t know. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

Jesus has the answers to all of your questions. So let your faith rise and make the way for you to lay hold of them today.

Jaime Luce

 

Your Gift Reveals Your Heart

Have you been guilty of judging another person’s gift? Gift-giving is personal. Often, those who know us the most intimately give the best gifts. In fact, the most extravagant gifts are usually given by those who understand our hearts. To a person outside of that relationship, the gift may not be understood or valued, but it means a great deal to the receiver. The gift can even be mocked or ridiculed and cause others’ hearts to be revealed. Such was the case in Matthew 26:6-13 NKJV.

6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Jesus had closely walked with His disciples for three years. He had been preparing them for His death and resurrection. He knew the cost of the gift He was about to give them and that they couldn’t know its value until much later. But there was one, not obvious to the rest, who desired to give a gift that would cost her all that she had even before Jesus would give His. He would pour out his life for others while Mary would pour out her sustenance for Jesus. Both would be mocked, undervalued, and misunderstood.

That’s what giving to the work of the Lord is. Jesus said, “she has done a good work for Me.” and that it would be told as a memorial to her! Our gifts matter. Your offerings, especially when costly, are not a waste. Those who think so are only revealing what is in their own hearts. They excuse their distaste for them by saying there are more worthy places to give as if they give to any.

From the beginning, gifts have been mocked. Abel gave a righteous gift, while Cain hated him for it. Instead of giving and doing what was right or worthy, he envied, judged, hated, and murdered his brother for it. What does seeing others’ gifts provoke in you?

Mary saw the fullness of the blessing and gifts she had received from Jesus, which provoked her to give. The disciples saw the gift she gave, which provoked them to mock and one to murder.

Don’t listen to the hard-hearted and envious. Give to the Lord with abandon. It has great purpose in the kingdom. Your reward won’t come from men. It will come from the one you gave the gift. He sees what you have given, and He knows the cost. Your gift will be echoed through time and eternity, and in the end, you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23 NKJV

“Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 NKJV

Love gives. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 NKJV, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Do you really love Him? There is more to love than the giving of gifts, of course. Jesus also said that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments. The common denominator in this equation is your heart. During this Valentine’s season, where we make an effort to show love, let me provoke you to examine your heart.

You cannot give what you do not have. Maybe your heart needs to be converted or prodded. Let the knowledge of what Christ has done for you provoke you. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 NKJV

Jaime Luce