The most familiar verse in the Bible is probably John 3:16. It is such a powerful verse that seems to capture the whole message of God’s plan for mankind. It says: “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). In that verse we find the love of God for the lost world of people. God “so loved” speaks of the depth of compassion the Father has for His creatures who have strayed away from Him. Human love that we see beautifully displayed in our world is only a small glimmer of the love of God for us.
The verse also speaks about the gift of God. God so loved the world that He gave. What gift demonstrated God’s love for us? He gave His only Son. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. His sacrificial death proved how much God loved us.
The next part of the verse describes our responsibility. God loved, and God gave, but you and I need to believe. We need to believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the grave. Our repentance of our sins and genuine faith in Christ is what changes us from a sinner to a saint. It changes us from being lost to being found.
The last part of John 3:16 says: “…should not perish but have everlasting life”. This speaks of our destiny. When we believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as our personal Savior we will not perish. We will not have to be separated from God in Hell. But we can enjoy everlasting life. Our eternity is secure. The everlasting life begins the moment we trust Christ and endures forever.
No matter how much you love your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren; you will find no greater love than the love of God. The main duty for the child of God is to spread everywhere the message contained in John 3:16. God loves the world and will save them if they believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Most people I know regard spring as their favorite season. Especially after a very harsh winter. People are looking forward to the warmer temperatures and longer days. They delight in the visual beauty of budding trees, blooming flowers and greening grass. They enjoy the sweet songs of birds that greet the morning after the long silence of winter. They notice that even the air takes on a new and fresh aroma. Spring really is a season of renewal. It seems that God in His creative genius has designed the earth to function smoothly with this season of renewal built into His system. Aren’t you glad for spring?
Just as the earth needs this season of renewal I believe God’s people need a springtime as well. Even though we may know Christ as our Savior, Christians have a tendency to go through times that can be described as a winter of the heart. Their love for Christ grows cold, their growth in the Lord stops, and even their songs of praise become silent. It is at this particular time that God desires us to experience a spiritual renewal, a springtime of the soul, a revival of the heart. The Psalmist asked a question in Psalm 85:6. He said: “Will You not revive us again: that Your people may rejoice in You?”
Perhaps you may sense that you desperately need this renewal in your own life. It doesn’t come automatically like April showers and May flowers. It takes action on our part. A spiritual revival starts when we humble ourselves and pray for God to renew us. It requires a confession and a forsaking of sin on our part. It calls for us to seek God with our whole heart and determine to live in obedience to His Word.
Spring can be just around the corner for you. You don’t have to live in the barrenness of a spiritual winter. The flowers of joy, the green growth of a fresh walk with Christ, and the sweet songs of praise await you. Why not allow God to create a springtime in your soul today?
My wife and I had the joyous privilege of being at the hospital when our youngest daughter delivered her first baby. What a unique pleasure it was to hold my new grandson in my arms for the very first time. It brought back memories of the six new lives that God had given to my wife and me. As I held that precious baby boy and felt the softness of his skin and the warmth of his breath, I was in awe. His tiny fingers and unique newborn smell caused such a sense of gratitude to God for this new life.
New life is such a precious gift from God. Jesus told a man named Nicodemus that he could be born again. He, even as a fully grown man could experience a new birth. Of course Nicodemus wondered how could this happen. Jesus told him that the new birth that he could enjoy could only be experienced if a person would believe on Him as Savior. He told this religious man: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When a person places their faith in Jesus Christ a miracle occurs; they are born again. Just as the first cry of a newborn baby marks his arrival into a new family so the cry of faith in Christ marks a person’s arrival into the family of God. The Bible talks about this new life experience in 2 Cor. 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new”. We have a new pathway to walk, a new purpose to fulfill, a new destiny awaiting us, and a new person who lives inside of us.
Have you experienced for yourself this new life? Have you ever been born again? You can have a brand new life by repenting of your sins and placing your faith in Jesus Christ. No matter how old and wrinkled and tired we may become, we can still experience the freshness and vibrancy of our new life in Christ.
I remember those cold snowy winters raising my family in Iowa. One particularly deep snow had fallen and I had to hurry to get to my car. I didn’t have time to shovel the snow so I just took big steps in the snow that was over a foot deep. Before I got to my car I heard a voice behind me. My son was saying slow down daddy as he tried to follow me by putting his feet in the footsteps I had left behind.
As we study the life of our Lord one of the things we will observe is how He commanded people to follow Him. While Matthew was busy collecting taxes for Rome Jesus told him to “follow me”. Philip left his hometown of Bethsaida after he received his call to follow Jesus in John 1:43. Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing when Jesus said to them: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus spoke to a rich young ruler and told him to sell all that he had, give it to the poor and come and follow me. He walked away from the Lord and His call sadly, because he had great riches.
What does it mean for us to follow Jesus today? Being a follower of Jesus means more than just believing in Him. His call speaks beyond giving mental assent to His existence. Jesus gives us the requirements of being His disciple in some very challenging words in Luke 9:23: “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me”. To follow Jesus means more than just believing in Him. When Jesus commands us to follow Him, He desires for us to become a student of His Word and a learner of His ways. He wants us to become transformed into His image and obedient to His commands. We must leave behind the self-life and be willing to take up His cross. And if we are going to follow Him we must learn to become fishers of men.
Have you counted the cost of becoming a Christ-follower?
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation