Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Monday – Mark 1.35; Psalm 5.1-3. In encouraging followers of Jesus to engage in morning prayer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor, theologian, and martyr, wrote: “Prayer offered in the early morning is decisive for the day. The wasted time we are ashamed of, the temptations we succumb to, the weakness and discouragement in our work, the disorder and lack of discipline in our thinking and in our dealings with other people–all these very frequently have their cause in our neglect of morning prayer. The ordering and scheduling of our time will become more secure when it comes from prayer” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together). In what ways might “prayer offered in the morning” be decisive and helpful for your day?

Tuesday – Ephesians 4.20-21. “And what is it, really, that explains the enduring relevance of Jesus to human life? I think we have to say that Jesus’ enduring relevance is based on his historically proven ability to speak, to heal and empower the individual human condition. He matters because of what he brought and what he still brings to ordinary human beings, living their ordinary lives and coping with their surroundings. He promises wholeness in their lives” (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy). How does Jesus bring wholeness to your life? Take time to reflect and thank him for his continuing grace.

Wednesday – Psalm 103.1-5. “Only those who give thanks for the little things receive the great spiritual gifts as well. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts prepared for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the small (and yet really not so small) gifts we receive daily” ( Bonhoeffer, Life Together). Here’s an invitation: at the end of each of the remaining 40 days, write a list of those things from that day for which you are grateful.

Thursday – Matthew 4.17; Matthew 11.28-29. ”Jesus preached the immediate availability of the kingdom of the heavens to anyone who would simply turn and walk into it. He preached discipleship under His leadership as the greatest opportunity that any human being will ever have. It’s how we get our ideas corrected. The problem now is that the word disciple has come to mean so little. A disciple is actually a student, a pupil, a learner. You need to clarify in your mind: Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you a learner of Jesus Christ? That is the gospel, the ideas that will have a dramatic effect on the ‘map’ of your mind” (Dallas Willard, The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus).

Friday – Romans 1.16-17. “At the heart of God is the desire to give and to forgive. The usual notion of what Jesus did on the cross runs something like this: people were bad and so mean and God was so angry with them that he could not forgive them unless somebody big enough took the rap for the whole lot of them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Love, not anger brought Jesus to the cross. Golgotha came as a result of God’s desire to forgive” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline). In your prayers, ask the Holy Spirit for grace to see God’s love for you expressed in Jesus’ journey to the cross.

Saturday – Mark 15.34; 2 Corinthians 5.21. “Some think that when Jesus shouted ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ it was a moment of weakness. Not at all. This was his moment of greatest triumph. Jesus, who had walked in constant communion with the Father, now became so totally identified with humankind that he was the actual embodiment of sin, and his work was finished. Since Jesus lives in the eternal now, this work was not just for those around him, but he took in all the violence, all the fear, all the sin of all the past, all the present, and all the future. This was his highest and most holy work, the work that makes confession and forgiveness possible” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline) Ask God to help you be captivated by his completed work for you. You are forgiven.