John 3:14-18, NIV

14 "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of
Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may
have eternal life.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is
not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned
already because he has not believed in the name of God's one
and only Son.



July 12, 1982

There's a lot of darkness in the world and in our lives through which
the truth of this text must emerge before reaching the light. Lots of questions! We hardly know whether God exists, so how can we say
God loves us? If God did love us in the person of Jesus, what has
he done for us lately? And here's the ageless query--Why would an
almighty supreme being allow evil, violence and abuse to abound
and not stop the perpetrators dead in their tracks? That is one side
of the coin.

But there is another side. In our daily lives we can also experience
the many "fruits of the Spirit" which the apostle Paul identified:
love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, patience, faithfulness, and
self-control. Or maybe we are, in the words of Frank Laubach, in
the process of suffering the birth pangs of love. Which side of the
coin do I want to focus my mind on? The choice is mine.

There was a time when it was easy for me to believe that God loved
everyone else; but I couldn't really get the feel for the statement--
God loves me. For God so loved Kathleen that he gave his Son . . . !
That blew my mind. And it wasn't until one of my primary
relationships went sour that I began to experience the truth that
God did indeed love me.

For God so loved the world . . . , no one excluded! . . . that he gave
his one and only Son. . . Why would God do such a crazy thing?
The truth that God loves each of us is not only about receiving;
responsibility is required.

Not only do I soak up love, I also turn it around and give it away
to others. Jesus gave a new commandment-- love one another as
I have loved you. Love, not only when love comes easy. Love,
especially those who don't deserve your love.

Today's Good News is: "Blessed are those who love through the
darkness, for they shall know the eternal life/light of heaven."


                                                                                              More journal entries


July 10, 1982
John 3:16 is so familiar. I memorized it as a child. Now it's hard to
let it speak to me fresh, as though I am hearing it for the first time.
Life is what I want. How can this verse help me toward that end?

Love is not easy; neither is giving. We take God's love and gifts for
granted because he has promised to be faithful no matter what.
But then we lose him, neglect, ignore, and abuse him.

 

July 11, 1982
Am I on the road to eternal life? To choose one road means to
abandon all others. 

Joy and blessedness are not to be my lot this morning. Maybe they
will creep in unawares during the day.


July 13, 1982
For God so loved the world that he gave . . . of his own life and
blood. These things can't be known or explained rationally. They
don't make sense. They must first be experienced by the heart. Only
those who love, can understand.Only those who love God can begin
to understand his ways and trust him.

The call of Jesus is to come and die, and in the dying is the promise
of life. Can I believe that promise? Must I die to myself in order to
live for others?

If I don't look out for myself, will God look out for me? When Jesus
spoke of life, was he talking about that which give us meaning and significance?

God, help me to do more than cope; help me to find life. I did find
life while volunteering among the residents at Conestoga View
today. I will press on, collecting more "bits and pieces." Maybe life
is an accumulation of all the little gems picked up and treasured
along the way.

I know life involves giving, because God did so much giving. My
prayer is that that these words be written on my heart.   I want to 
really know them, and have them become a part of my own
gospel story.

 

July 14, 1982
God gave his Son . . . Reminds me of the final plague in Egypt
wherein the firstborn son in every family was taken. There's a huge difference between giving and being taken. God gave, initiated the
action. The Egyptian families were acted upon. Jesus made it clear--
he gave his life, no one took it from him.


July 15, 1982
God loved, and continues to love, the world. God gave his Son so
that all who believe in him will have eternal life. These are some
vital words in the Gospel message. If I could just take hold of them
and make them a vital part of my story too. What faith it takes to
believe something which can't be logically or rationally explained!
It must be experienced in the heart.

Something within me responds to God, is drawn to him, wants to
love him. What is that something? I'm restless and want to get
dressed and go outside. But I also want to wait, for some answers
to my questions or for better questions. There's so much I don't
know compared to what I do know. Like Nicodemus, I would like it
to be the other way around. Jesus, how can these things be? Why
is everyone I meet in the Bible my soul brother or sister? Even you, Nicodemus.

Some runners claim they get a euphoric high from jogging after a
bout 20 minutes. It never worked for me. I heard an author claim to
get high on fasting. Fasting depresses me. Now in this text God
promises me life if I believe in his grace. What is joy? What does it
mean to get high? What is life, eternal life?

I am weak and prone to failures but God is strong, his loving kindness
endures forever. I believe because of who he is; I make my choices
based on God's character, not mine. I ask God to help me, because
he is God and because I need it. God help us all--to believe, to choose,
to do, to endure, and also to be blest with joy. Thank you. Amen.


July 19, 1982
Everyone who believes in Him shall not perish (some versions say
should not be lost), but have eternal life. Yesterday You were lost
to me, but this verse is talking about me being lost to You.

I need to forget about arguing the Gospel and use my energy instead
to live it!


July 20, 1982
Judgment and condemnation. Christ's coming was not an act
of judgment, but of redemption. Judgment is not future tense in
this verse--we are already condemned if/when we don't believe.
Those who believe are not judged-- what does Jesus mean by that?
Is this word judgment different than the parable in Mathew's
gospel where sheep and goats were separated according to
what they had done?

Can the word love (maybe love and obey) be substituted for believe?
Jesus must have meant the word believe or he would not have
used it. Is it the same word as in verse 12.

God loves, we are to believe. At this point Jesus wasn't asking
Nicodemus to love him, only to believe him.

Anyone who believes is not judged--that's a promise Jesus gave to
Nicodemus. Does it mean--anyone who believes in me is not, or
will not be, condemned by God? And that God accepts those who
believe what I say? Do I believe what Jesus says, simply because
he said it. Then scholarship comes into question--How do I know
Jesus' words have been recorded and translated accurately?--that's
a nasty question which generates heated/hateful debate.

I believe the words Jesus spoke to Peter post resurrection are asked
of me and all who want to be disciples--Do you love me? Yes Lord,
more sometimes than other times. Do you really love me? Yes.
Then you are ready to feed my sheep. Help me to that end, Jesus
my redeemer. Amen.


July 22, 1982
Depression and loneliness seem to be related. And I think if you are
my God, my constant companion and working partner, I should not
be lonely nor depressed. I should not have days when I need to get
away from everyone and scream and kick and pity myself. Days
when I hate my existence, which is inconsistent with loving God.

The rhythms of life--no one can escape them. You don't save us
from them. It seems You wait till we get through them to meet us
on the other side and take up from there. Are there times in life
when you do leave us alone?

Every time my faith is tested, I fail. Why should I ask God to forgive
me for being human when he made me that way? You could have
made me perfect if perfect is what you wanted. You could have
made us puppets if you wanted to pull strings. But you made us
human, imperfect, and free.

So when I make imperfect choices, why should I feel guilty? Sorry,
yes, because I suffer from the choices I make.

You told Nicodemus that flesh gives birth to flesh, and spirit gives
birth to spirit. Is it sin for spirit to behave like flesh, when spirit is
born of God. I am not condemned to remain flesh; I am spirit with
potential to grasp and hold some of the beautiful characteristics
of my Maker. Forgive me, my Father, for not living as though
I believe those words. My spirit belongs to you. More than flesh,
I am born of God.


July 23, 1982
We are condemned for not believing in the character of Jesus. The
character of Jesus is all those beautiful qualities of God we see in
the Gospel stories in which Jesus interacted with those he met,
to each according to their needs.

I'm on the right end of the stick, the end with all the needs. God's
character is such that he will come to me in my need and help me.
Down is not out; down is where God meets me and therefore
prelude to up.

Last evening I read a quote from Tolstoy: "When I believe in God
I live; when I do not believe, I die." His depiction of his own cycles
of discouragement and renewal was similar to my own experience
this past year. Doubts have been times of despair. Believing in God
has, for me, been life. Times of nearness satisfy the longings of
my soul; periods of distancing are death.

To believe in God is to live. Knowing God is not done with me yet;
"in the experience is truth revealed." I reason and question, and
listen to other voices and lose the Lover of my soul; I believe
and live.

Tolstoy said when he reasoned about the relationship of belief
to life, light shone that has never again been put out. Oh that the
light which shines on  me would never be extinguished.


July 26, 1982
Today I will decide to believe and live just as Jesus told Nicodemus.
Seeking God and wanting to know and love God are not rational
acts. These are an act of the will brought on by what? Emotions,
feelings, intuition, experience? At certain times in their lives I believe
all people are drawn toward God their Creator. When the timing is
such and we follow our feelings toward/after God and nurture
them, God leads us to an experience with himself. We act on faith, responding to him as he reveals himself to us. Reason can hinder
all this by casting doubts on it all. Faith must overcome reason, is
greater than reason. We must have faith to know God. I do not deny
that intellect is important and contributes to the spiritual life.
Reason can add to one's faith, but only after faith has brought one
to an experience of God.

Nicodemus couldn't intellectually come to God. He needed to
believe Jesus first, to trust, to have faith before he could know what
Jesus was talking about. This is similar to other thoughts included
elsewhere in my journal that understanding comes in the doing
of his will. Schweitzer: Follow Jesus (enlist) and then you will come
to know and understand (get your orders). We decide to trust God
first, by faith; some would say blindly. And that requires following
our feelings, emotions intuitions, rather than reason.

Kathleen, nurture your inclination to seek God. Don't be afraid.
Don't feel you have to defend what you are doing or explain it
rationally. Just learn to put the experience into words, and share it
with others in faith.


December 8, 2010
Like Jesus observed when he spoke with Nicodemus, it's so hard
for people to believe unless we actually see it. Therefore God will
show us just how much God loves us--enough to give his only
beloved Son, high and lifted up so all could see.

Then Jesus goes on to tell us what we are looking at when we see
him on the cross. We see a God who does not want to condemn,
but to save.


July 27, 1982
Father, what a job you have being Heavenly Father to all your
earthly children, and trying to bring us all home! You never sleep
or take a vacation. How could you, you're much too busy.

Grant me an increasing concern to see this world through God's
eyes. The sin, tragedy and suffering going on each minute must be tremendous. Overwhelming. That's why you gave us just one small
area to live in the world. One little place to call our own and be
your child--to love, to relieve the suffering as best we can, to share
the good news of Jesus. Father, your name is Faithful. Help me
be faithful, too. Amen.

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