Tag Archives: born again

September 24 – Purim

Esther 6-10

Not being a Jew, and unfamiliar with Jewish customs, I googled “Purim” this morning after reading these chapters in Esther. I found that this holiday “is the most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year.” (chabad.org)

Jews go to the synagogue two times in two days to hear every word of the book of Esther read publicly. Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, they twirl noisemakers and stamp their feet to “eradicate his evil name.”

The Jews give money and food to at least two needy people during Purim. And they donate to whoever asks, without verifying the need.

Every Jew gives food gifts to at least one Jewish acquaintance. They enjoy a festive meal with family, complete with a beautifully decorated table, and dressed up in their finest clothes or in cheerful costumes.

They eat, and laugh, and sing, and pray. They enjoy remembering the day they, as a nation, were saved thousands of years ago.

Which got me thinking. My own salvation was only a few decades ago. And I can’t begin to tell you how many days, or weeks (or years) go by when I don’t even give that glorious day a thought. Oh, I’m aware of it, and thankful for it. But I don’t think I celebrate that day like it warrants.

As I sit here today, I remember. I remember where I was sitting in the sanctuary of Westwood Alliance Church that February evening. I was a teenager among others in our youth group. I remember the evangelist who played beautiful music by using his fingertips to rub the rims of crystal glasses filled with water to different levels. I remember sitting there, while the congregation sang an invitation hymn, and trying to tell God that my friends would think there was something wrong with me if I went forward. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad person. Besides, hadn’t I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in pre-school?

I remember watching my sister go to the altar that night, and knew I had no excuse. God was asking me to take that step, to make Him Lord of my life once and for all. And I did.

I feel like singing!

That day changed my life. I wonder why I don’t celebrate my second birth like I do my birthday. It wouldn’t hurt! I have reason to live generously, lovingly, joyfully because I was born again. Sounds like a party!

God, thank You for this lesson in Esther, and for the Jewish tradition of Purim that has me remembering the day I was saved from my enemy. Thank You for that evangelist, and the words he spoke that night that penetrated my heart. Thank You for forgiving me, for paying my sin debt, for living inside of me all these years later. And because of that day, I can have a fun-filled, action-packed life walking with You. I love You!!

The Name of Jesus

Have you ever read something in the BIble that spoke to you, then later had that very passage be reaffirmed in something that happened or something that was said later on? That’s what happened to me today.

I was reading in Numbers 9 this morning and, as usual, wrote in my journal about something that stood out to me. I thought about posting it here, but talked myself out of it. Then in church today the pastor spoke on John 3. It’s the same message God gave me in my own time in his Word. So I thought I would go ahead and share it with you. Here’s what I wrote this morning:

“The Israelites were getting ready to celebrate Passover in the desert. Some of the people were ceremonially unclean because they had touched a dead body. So they went to Moses and said, come on Moses. We are good guys. Can’t we do the Passover thing with everyone else?

“So Moses went to God and God said no. God made provisions for them to celebrate Passover at a later date but he made no exceptions to his rules. And just because he made it possible for these people to celebrate Passover later it wasn’t a provision for just anyone who didn’t feel like observing the celebration at the appointed time. In fact, anyone in that latter category were to be killed. It was that important that God’s rules be followed.

“Once again, God is reminding us that he makes the rules. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, how helpful you are, how much money you give to charity, or even how spiritual you think you are. If you don’t follow God’s rules – you die. And it’s an eternal death, separated from God forever.

“Like it or not, Jesus is the only way to the Father. Except a man is born again he will not see the kingdom of God. You can believe what you want to believe. That’s up to you. But unless you believe the Bible is true, that there is no other name under heaven through which anyone can be saved, unless you accept this same Jesus as your Savior and are born again, your beliefs will lead you straight to hell.

“I didn’t come up with that. God did.”

That’s what God impressed on my heart in my personal devotional time. And that is the message that Jesus impressed on Nicodemus in the passage from John 3 that my pastor spoke about this morning. Dear one, if you haven’t confessed your sin and accepted the wonderful grace of Jesus, I pray you will do that today. Your loving Heavenly Father loved you while you were still a sinner. He died for you so that you can enjoy life, and have life eternal. Unless you accept him as your Savior you will never see God. You will never go to heaven. Your death will take you from this life to a horrible eternity. You can try to make up your own rules. You can reject God’s. But it won’t change God’s mind.

At the Name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

Some will do that while standing before him in glory, surrounded by millions of people who knew him in this lifetime according to his rules. Others will be forced to confess Jesus from the lake of fire. But believe me when I say, there will be no unbelievers in eternity. Not in heaven. And not in hell.

Gracious Father, thank you for your plan of salvation, for wanting us to come to you, for going to the cross so that we can know you as our Savior. May all who read this bow before you and be born again, born into your kingdom. And may we share your truth with others who need you, too.

December 1

2 Corinthians 2:5-6:18

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

When you hold an infant in your arms, aren’t you struck by his innocence? His complete lack of a past? That child can look at you without a hint of regret or sorrow for something he’s done. He has no memory of disobeying, because he’s never disobeyed. He doesn’t carry guilt because he isn’t guilty.

Dear One, that’s how God looks at us when we are born again. When we confess our sins, he forgives, cleanses, and forgets! The old us is gone and we have a new beginning, just like that infant.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (5:21) 

Jesus did that for us and it is ours for the asking. Is Jesus Lord of your life? Have you repented of sin? If you have, you have a clean slate. Understand that God has forgiven you, has paid the price for your past sins, and has forgotten them.

If you have not accepted the Lord, I pray you will ask Jesus into your life and become that new creation. And if you know the Lord as your Savior, but need to speak to him about some unconfessed sin, I pray you will do that today. Let Jesus do what he came to do and make you the righteousness of God through his blood. 

I’m praying for you today.