Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Changing the hardest of hearts

I believe with all of my heart that God specializes in changing lives. I can see His mastery all over my life beginning from the moment I opened my heart and gave Him full control. I can even see Him patiently working in the lives of people I would have considered “unchangeable.” Do you know someone like that? Perhaps it’s someone you know personally or someone in the public eye. You see their hard heart and you know for a fact “there is no changing that person.”

“There is no changing that person!” Sadly I have said these exact same words a time for two. I chose to believe the lie of the enemy instead of the truth of a loving and compassionate God. Satan would like nothing better than for us to give up and stop praying for the unbelievers in our lives (our spouse, children, family members, neighbors, community leaders, national leaders, etc.). But the truth is, God wants no one to perish…not one…not even the hard-hearted.
In John 3:1-21 we see an encounter Jesus had with Nicodemus, a Pharisee. The Pharisees were religious teachers of the law during the time of Jesus. This group was jealous of Jesus because he undermined their authority and challenged their views. They were always trying to trick Jesus by asking him questions regarding the law. They were also the very group that was instrumental in the plot to have Jesus crucified.

Of all people, surely a Pharisee couldn’t be changed right? One night, Nicodemus approached Jesus truly seeking answers, and boy did he ever find them. It appears Nicodemus did recognize Jesus as a teacher sent from God (v. 2). Jesus’ next statement would start a conversation that would change the way Nicodemus looked at eternity (the Kingdom of God). As a teacher of the Law, Nicodemus believed that the Kingdom would be ruled by God, it would be restored on earth, and it would incorporate God’s people. That night Jesus told Nicodemus that he wouldn’t even be a part of the Kingdom of God unless he was born again…born of water and Spirit (v. 5).

Can you just imagine the wheels of his mind turning? What do you think he was thinking? The Bible really doesn’t tell us much about Nicodemus other than what we read in John 3:1-21. I do believe he left the encounter with Jesus a changed man. How could he not?

The two other places we see Nicodemus in scripture reveals the heart change taking place:
1.          During a meeting of the Jewish council. The council was discussing ways to eliminate Jesus. Nicodemus raise a question regarding justice. The fact that he raised a question was a glimpse of his mindset changing. (John 7:50 – 52)
2.          At the burial of Jesus. In a bold move, Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimathea in asking for Jesus’ body so it could be buried.

Oh yes! God does specialize in changed lives. He is perfectly able to change the people we might consider unreachable. Never give up praying for those who haven’t accepted Christ as Savior. God is always at work.

God’s promise from Jeremiah 29:13 (MSG)

“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” 

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