Daily Devotion for January 29, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Praise the Lord from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens!
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Notes on the Scripture
Nicodemus is a high-ranking Pharisee in the Temple at Jerusalem. Christ has just told him "tear this temple down and I will rebuild it in three days." Nicodemus is understandably incredulous.
But either Jesus is not inclined to give a long expository explanation, or he did and John did not record all of it; this is certainly a possibility, because the tone of John's Gospel is theological, not biographical. He either didn't know or simply omitted a lot of biographical detail about Jesus' life. Chunks of time are not accounted for; we just saw this, when the gospel skipped from the wedding at Cana to the Temple in Jerusalem.
In this case, John hasn't given us any conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus where he spoke to him about earthly things and Nicodemus didn't believe him (unless you count the raising the temple as an "earthly thing"). The important thing, to John, is that Christ states three important theological facts. First, only he has been to heaven, so only he can tell the truth about it. Secondly, he must be lifted up -- that is, esteemed and possibly worshipped. Third, that by belief in Christ, anyone can have eternal life. This last point is the foundational point of Christianity in a nutshell; John will elaborate upon it in the very next verse, the famous passage at John 3:16.