Light Wins

Nicodemus is one of my heroes from the Bible. He came to Jesus in the “dark” but left with the truth of how to be in God’s “light”. Jesus told him that you must be born again to enter in to the Kingdom. Change can happen! In John chapter three we can learn about this man Nicodemus. We can apply some of his qualities to our relationship with God. Here are three of them:

1. He was a religious man- A member of the Jewish ruling council, but he was not going to allow “religion” or “how we’ve always done it” stop him from discovering the truth.

2. He was a man able to recognized God’s power – Knew that Jesus’ miracles were from God. He was in the dark but not blind. We can all start our spiritual journey towards the truth by acknowledging the
things of God.

3. He was a Questioning Man – He asked how he could be born again… Another question by Nicodemus, John 7:45-53 (MSG) “That’s when the Temple police reported back to the high priests and Pharisees, who demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him with you?” The police answered, “Have you heard the way he talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man.” The Pharisees said, “Are you carried away like the rest of the rabble? You don’t see any of the leaders believing in him, do you? Or any from the Pharisees? It’s only this crowd, ignorant of God’s Law, that is taken in by him—and damned.” Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus earlier and was both a ruler and a Pharisee, spoke up. “Does our Law decide about a man’s guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?” But they cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.” Then they all went home.”

Nicodemus questioned the “old ways” – his eyes were beginning to open to the truth!

Today may we be led, follow, and open ourselves up to God’s truth. Amen?


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Night Visits

The next few days we’ll be taking a look at a man named Nicodemus, who came out of the darkness and in to the light (of Christ). Today I am sharing a teaching from Zondervan on him.
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The Man Who Came to Jesus by Night
Whenever Nicodemus is mentioned it is always with the label, “the same that came to Jesus by night.” Why is this master in Israel always spoken of in this way? Was he a coward, afraid of what the fellow-members of the Sanhedrin would say if they saw him seeking out Jesus? We feel that he came by night because it was the best time for both Jesus and himself to have a quiet, uninterrupted conversation about spiritual matters. Nicodemus had been occupied all day with his teaching duties, and Jesus had been active in His out-of-door ministry. Now both could relax and talk through the night. It may be that Nicodemus had such a heart hunger that he could not wait until morning, and so came running to Jesus as soon as he could.

There had been no direct voice from God in Israel for a long time, and here was One whose message carried the stamp of divine authority. So Nicodemus, the cautious enquirer, but a man of spiritual perception (John 3:2), sought out Christ, and listened to one of His remarkable conversational sermons. Nicodemus figures three times in John’s gospel:

He came to Christ (John 3:2). This master in Israel confessed Christ to be a Teacher sent from God and heard that in spite of his culture, position and religion, he needed to be born anew by the Spirit of God. His name, meaning “innocent blood,” is suggestive. Nicodemus came to realize that his salvation was dependent upon the shedding of innocent blood (John 3:14, 16).

He spoke for Christ (John 7:45-52). As a fair-minded man, Nicodemus, although a disciple at heart and afraid to avow his faith, raised his voice on behalf of Christ as the Sanhedrin devised measures against Him. The rulers were His avowed enemies, and Nicodemus raised a point of order in favor of the One he had learned so much from. Perhaps he should have been more courageous and outspoken on Christ’s behalf. When the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus to death, there was no protest from Nicodemus. It is likely that he absented himself from that fateful meeting.

He honored Christ (John 19:39, 40). After the death of Christ, ashamed of his cowardice, Nicodemus rendered loving though belated service to Christ. Openly he joined Joseph of Arimathaea, another secret disciple, in preparing Christ’s body for a kingly burial. But the dead cannot appreciate our loving attention. Mary gave her spices to Jesus while He was alive. It is better to give flowers to the living than reserve them for their burial.

Light wins over darkness – every time! Amen?


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Missing

Do you ever feel like something is missing in your life? Maybe it is when you are lonely, lost, confused, in crisis, or during other times of trouble. It’s at times like these that we need god’s grace. The problem is a lot of the time we are not sure what questions we need to ask. What really is missing?

“There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God made known through Jesus Christ.” – Pascal let’s look again at this encounter that Jesus had with a man who knew something was missing in his life. Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.- John 3:1-5

Feeling lost or something is missing? Come to Jesus – He has the answer. Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate
Hopewell Baptist Church


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Still Blogging Away

Today is the eight-year anniversary of writing a blog every day. In fact, today is my 2,948th published blog. Some of you know the back story of why I started. For years I always talked about writing a book, but never had the time. A friend challenged me one day and asked, “How much did you write today”. Even a little but on a consistent basis would be a good start. So, I started journaling every day. The same friend later asked me if I was ready to be published. I had a journal not a “book”. He asked if I ever thought of blogging. I didn’t even know what a blog was. A week later, August 21, 2011, he set me up on blogspot, and here I am eight years later. A lot has happened.

In this time period I’ve had 8 grandchildren born (and one more on the way), moved back to the Midwest, buried my Father and Mother, left Red Bank, came to Hopewell, walked through cancer with my wife, 3 children were married, went on mission trips to Haiti, Brazil, and Thailand, ministered with BGEA, experienced hurricane Sandy, 4 pneumonias, 7 Summits, preached over 400 times, prayed constantly, laughed and cried, and had lots of God moments!

Through all of these (and many more) life experiences I began to wonder if I had any more to write about or if anyone cared if I wrote or not. Every once in a while, I think about giving it a rest… but God has different plans. I have people tell me they read my blog every day and it helps them deal with life, or that a certain message helped clarify a decision they needed to make. One day last week with the help of you sharing a blog over a thousand people read about what God expects. Hmm…

Ok I get it. It’s not about me – it’s about God. As my life verse says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I will be joyful with all He has given me, pray continually for His perfect will, thank and praise Him for the life I have. Thanks for reading (and sharing) and living the Jesus life with me. – Pastor Ty


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Difference Maker

In Genesis 6:22 we see the difference maker in someone’s life. Noah did everything just as God commanded him. Noah would tell us that when you obey God:

You can make a difference for your family. Noah saved them from destruction.

You can make a difference for God’s creation. Noah was used to give humanity a new start.

You can make a difference for future generations. Noah’s family was the beginning for all people.

You can make a difference for God. Noah saw there was still one righteous man.

You can make a difference at any age. Noah was 500-600 years old!

Be a “difference maker” for God! Amen?


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Good and Bad Guys

Role models are needed today more than ever. We can get our inspiration from the heroes of the Bible. That’s why I am going to blog on them over the next few weeks. When I was younger it was easy to discern who the good and bad guys were. The good guys wore white hats, had great smiles, and clean cut. The bad guys wore black hats, greasy hair, and dirty. If you missed these clues you just had to listen to the background music! You always knew if something good or bad was about to happen.
Today good and bad people wear different colored hats and have different levels of hygiene. Maybe we should take our lead from what Jesus said.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:45

Focus on Jesus He’ll help you discern what is good from bad. Amen?


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Brand New Song

The next time you worship God in musical form consider what the Bible has to say about it in Psalm 98 (Message).

Sing to GOD a brand-new song. He’s made a world of wonders!
He rolled up his sleeves, He set things right.
GOD made history with salvation, He showed the world what he could do.
He remembered to love us, a bonus To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.
The whole earth comes to attention. Look—God’s work of salvation!
Shout your praises to GOD, everybody! Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!
Round up an orchestra to play for GOD, Add on a hundred-voice choir.
Feature trumpets and big trombones, Fill the air with praises to King GOD.
Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause, With everything living on earth joining in.
Let ocean breakers call out, “Encore!” And mountains harmonize the finale—
A tribute to GOD when he comes, When he comes to set the earth right.
He’ll straighten out the whole world, He’ll put the world right, and everyone in it.

Apply God’s Word to your praise and worship. Amen?


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Don’t Pity the Fool

A famous person used to use a threat of, “I pity the fool!” But we read in the Bible that God uses what seems foolish in man’s eyes for His good. I love this part of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth (and also for us). “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

No matter what the world thinks of us fools or the foolish things they we do – take heart. God is using us! Amen?


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Asking of You

I hope that all Christ followers would say they would do what God asks them to do. The question may be; how will we know what He is asking of us? You can begin by reading Scriptures that will encourage you as you listen for His answers. Consider the following passages, and what He is asking of you.

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will vindicate me; your love, LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

John 10:14-15, 27 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Ephesians 4:15-16 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Pray for ears to hear what He will show you. Ask for wisdom about following up (or not following up) with the things He shows you.
Amen?
Pastor Ty Choate


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Wants us to be

We need to be where God wants us to be. We see in Esther what He requires:
10 Then Esther instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”
12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. – Esther 4:10-17

To follow God’s plan it requires:
1. Courage – She laid her life on the line.
2. Initiative – She had to go by herself.
3. Awareness (of God’s purpose) – “For such a time is this”.
4. Prayer – She, her friends, and community prayed.
5. Planning – She spoke after she had the King’s favor.

Follow the Lord’s plan – be prepared. Amen?


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