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Summary: How to get a fresh start in life

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How to Start Your Life Over

John 3:1-16

Introduction: Have you ever played the game ‘If I had my life to live over again’? The older and more experienced you get, the more you probably play this game – the more you say to yourself “gee, if only I had a second chance!” And as life goes on it gets worse. And you begin to fret about the things you’ve not had a chance to do, and you think about it. Martin Luther King’s reflected on this theme just before his death. He wrote: ‘Shattered dreams are the hallmarks of our mortal lives.’

One of the most agonizing problems of our human experience is that few, if any, of us live to see our fondest hopes fulfilled – the hopes of our childhood and the promises of our mature years are unfinished symphonies. And so you start to say to yourself, “Well, if I had my life over again …”

If I had my life to life over again I’d love to make 10 million per year playing basketball with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. Of course starting my life over and playing pro basketball would also require different genetics - I would need to be 7’1” instead of 6’1” and I would need to get rid of my “white Man’s disease” – I can’t jump! This is just a fantasy but it helps me explore my more realistic desires and receiving new genetics is just what we’re going to talk about today.

When it comes to having a relationship with the God who made us, unless you start again you’ll never make it. Did you notice that in the Bible reading from John’s Gospel that Jesus is so uncompromising, so abrupt, so clear on this point, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,” (v3); “I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (v5). Now the word ‘unless’ is categorical, isn’t it? Unless there is rain there are no crops. Unless you’re born again there’s no Christianity. You have to start again. Verse 7: “You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ ” So Jesus is quite categorical here, a person cannot become a Christian unless he or she is born again. They cannot enter the Christian life unless they’re born again. It is fundamental to the Christian experience.

In today’s scripture we’re going to discover three steps you can take to start your life over. The first step is…

I. Start your life over by having your own private talk with Jesus Nicodemus was a man of distinction and outstanding character. He was intelligent, honest and upright. John in his gospel tells us: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" (3:1-2).

No doubt, Nicodemus, who was a member the Sanhedrin, had heard about Jesus. Perhaps he came at night so he could have a private meeting with Jesus and ask all the questions he wanted to ask. He was a religious man. We know that he took his religion seriously because he was a member of the Pharisees sect. They were strict, narrow, traditionalists. He was “a ruler of the Jews." He was one who is first or preeminent among his associates. He stood in a high position among the ruling class in Jerusalem. This would indicate that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus was a man of discernment is seen in his estimation of Jesus. “We know that You have come from God as a teacher."

Most importantly, in this episode, we see that Nicodemus was a seeker - a person who was sincere in his quest for the kingdom of God but, nevertheless, a spiritual failure in spite of all his religious knowledge and enthusiasm. Here was a sincere man with a sincere hunger for truth who came to have a private talk with Jesus in the quietness of the night away from those who would distract. He came to Jesus at night so that he could have a private conversation concerning his own very personal needs.

Jesus had something he did not have. Nicodemus, like each of us, was seeking for that something more in life – looking, longing for spiritual bliss and truth to fill the hole that’s felt in the heart. Nicodemus was a man whose whole life was a religious exercise yet he realized that Jesus had something he did not have.

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