Nicodemus was a leader and a Pharisee. He came to Jesus at night because he probably did not want the other Jewish leaders to know about the visit. Nicodemus readily admits that he believes that Jesus has been sent from God. He wants to know more about this man that is proclaiming that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus immediately tells Nicodemus that unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. What an amazing concept! How can a human be born again? Jesus explains that He is not talking about physical rebirth, but spiritual. It is not a physical change, but a change of the desires of the heart. How does this happen? From a human standpoint, we are unable to explain what happens inside. But just as the wind comes and goes without our understanding, so the Holy Spirit works inside us to renew us and rebirth us as children of God. We may not know how, but the work that He does in our hearts leaves no doubt in our minds that we are being made into new creatures. At the very moment that we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the new creation is born with all the rights that come with being a citizen of heaven. God will spend a lifetime completing the work that He has started in us, but finish it, He will.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,—Hebrews 12:1-2a (NKJV)
The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
When we hit those rough patches and we all do at some point along the way, we need to remember passages like the one above. There are times when friends can’t comfort us. There are times in our lives when from all outward observations things are going fine, but inside we are in turmoil. There are times when what we feel is inexplicable because we don’t quite understand it ourselves. How do we pray about things that we can’t even put into words? How do we turn to the One who has lifted us out of the pit of despair when we don’t know what to say? What do we do or say when being still and knowing the He is God is not enough. How do we move from here back to solid ground and continue on our journey with Him? God has made a way for that to happen. We bow before Him and tell Him that we are unable to pray. He doesn’t get angry or upset, instead, as we wait before Him, He prays for us. Just imagine God the Holy Spirit praying for us and through us, God the Son, Jesus, is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us! God is listening to the 2nd and 3rd persons of the Trinity praying for us and He sees His own righteousness in Jesus Christ! What more assurance do we need that whatever happens will truly be for our best?
21 I need someone to mediate between God and me, as a person mediates between friends.
22 For soon I must go down that road from which I will never return. — Job 16:21,22 NLT
Here and in other verses in this book, it is as if Job gets a glimpse of the future and the plan that God has in place to redeem fallen man. Job realizes that it is useless for a man to argue with God. We need a mediator and God had a plan in place to provide one for us. We are certainly free to state our case in any situation. When we are speaking to God, we should always be as honest as both Job and David. They were not afraid to pour out their disappointments to God. They did not blame God. However, just as we do, they questioned why God allowed certain things to happen in the life of His children. But when we do this, we must realize that we are in the presence of the Almighty God. We can be bold but at the same time, we must be humble and ready to accept His answers. God listens carefully, but He does not negotiate. In the end, we, like Job and David, must come to the conclusion that God is God and He truly knows what is best for us. We all must go through the valleys and the dark nights. But the key thing for us to remember is that we are going through, we are not going to be there forever. For every valley, there are two mountains and for every dark night, there is light on both sides. As the McKameys sing, “the God on the mountain is still God in the valley and the God of the daytime is still God in the night”. Do not be discourage or dismayed, our God will never leave us alone and He will never forsake us.
God had just used Elijah to defeat the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, after that, God had given Elijah supernatural physical strength so that Elijah could catch and outrun Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. Now, Jezebel had threatened his life. She promised to kill him before twenty-four hours had passed. After seeing the miracles God had just performed, how could any human being think that they could do anything to one of God’s chosen people? Even worse, after all Elijah had experienced, how could he possibly believe that God could not protect him from the threats of Jezebel? Is the God on the mountain not still God in the valley? Yes, He is! We want to spend our lives living mountain top experiences. We should take notice that there is very little life on the mountains above the timberline. The view is great and the atmosphere is exhilarating, but there is not enough dirt or oxygen to sustain life. The life-giving elements are down in the valley and we need to spend some time there as well. Elijah was having his valley experience, wallowing in self-pity, as we so often do. God said “get up and eat”. He was preparing Elijah for a journey that would take all of his strength. When God calls us to do a work, He always provides everything we need to accomplish the task. It is up to us to decide whether or not we are going to “eat” the spiritual food that will prepare us for the trip through the valley and to the next mountaintop.
If we don’t eat the spiritual food God provides, the road will be rough and the journey will be miserable. But if we do eat and prepare, the road will seem to be smooth and the journey will be a joy as we experience the presence of Jesus leading us home.