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Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
7111 La Jolla Blvd in beautiful La Jolla, CA
14 miles north of downtown San Diego, CA

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How to be born anew

Monday Numbers 21:4-9 (NRSV)
From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food." Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live." So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

If you don’t know the background of this story it might seem more unfair than it is. In Numbers 13-14, the people of Israel sent spies into the Promised Land. They came back with reports that the land was wonderful – but it was inhabited by giants and the people had no hope of conquering them. In other words, after all they had seen God do in setting them free from slavery, they still placed their faith in themselves instead of in God, and they knew they were inadequate. As a result, the people listened to fear instead of to God and refused to go into the Promised Land.

In today’s story, the people blame God and Moses for their situation instead of acknowledging that they themselves caused it. “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” they ask, refusing to admit that God tried to bring them to the Promised Land but they refused to enter it. They then complained about God’s provision for them in the desert, which was meant to be temporary.

How much do you complain about situations you are in?

How much do you take responsibility for bad situations?

Tuesday John 3:1-8 (NRSV)
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?"

Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Jesus told Nicodemus that no one could see God’s kingdom without being born from above (or, in some translations, born anew or born again). When you were born into human existence, you entered as a helpless infant with tremendous potential. When you are born a second time, presumably you will have much more potential than you had before, since the Holy Spirit gives you power. When Nicodemus asked how this was possible, Jesus didn’t reply at first, except to say that everyone born of the Spirit shows signs of it.

Have you been born of the Spirit?

What are the signs of it?

Wednesday John 3:9-21 (NRSV)
Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

Nicodemus wanted to know how to be born of the Spirit. In response, Jesus said that people needed to look on the Son of Man (Jesus) when he was lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness. (See Monday’s reading.) In other words, people need to believe in the crucified and risen Christ.

Who do you know who needs to know that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”?

La Jolla Lutheran ChurchThursday Acts 8:14-18 (NRSV)
When the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8 says you can accept the word of God and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and still not have the Spirit come down on you yet.

That brings us back to the questions from Tuesday. If you have the Spirit in you, there will be signs of it. Even if there are signs of the Spirit in your life, it’s still good to ask believers to lay their hands on you and pray that you receive more of God’s Spirit and more of God’s gifts for you.

How often do you ask for people to pray for you?

What encourages you to ask?

What hinders you from asking?

Friday/Saturday
What are have you done this week because of Jesus?

What do you want to do next week because of Jesus?

What do you need help with?


Check out other Bible Studies and videos for 2013 or messages for 2012 or messages for 2011.


La Jolla Lutheran Church is a member of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, a fast-growing association of churches that believe the Bible. Other LCMC churches in the San Diego area include Penasquitos Lutheran Church at 14484 Penasquitos Drive; and St. Timothy Lutheran Church at 2602 Reo Drive. Check the list of more than 800 congregations to find an LCMC church near you.

For Monday: The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S. A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For Tuesday through Friday: Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.


Visit La Jolla Lutheran Church Sunday at 9:30 a.m.

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La Jolla Lutheran Church
7111 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, California, 92037
14 miles north of downtown San Diego.

 

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