Wednesday, December 24, 2008

"born to give them second birth"

"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 without being born again.'

"'how can anyone 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 without being born of water and the Spirit. flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. you should not be surprised at my saying, "you must be born again." the wind blows wherever it pleases. you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.'" (john 3.1-8 tniv)

i think i have a pretty good birth story. it goes like this...

when my mom determined that she was in labor, she and my dad called the doctor. he told them to make their way to the hospital, though there was no rush. try telling that to the man who is about to be a first time father! my dad drove way too fast to the hospital, so he and my mom had to wait in the parking lot for a while. because of insurance issues, they didn't want to register at the hospital until after midnight. three hours later, i was born.

while i have done my best to be a good person and live a good life, i have failed all too often. i have been petty and catty, impetuous and foolish, lazy and prideful, gluttonous and greedy, and that was just today! this is the kind of life we would be doomed to living until the day we died if it weren't for Jesus coming to earth.

when charles wesley writes that Jesus came to give us second birth, he is describing the greatest gift we could ever receive. from the time that i have recognized the relationship with God that i have available through Christ, i have experienced the transforming power of God's Spirit so that now i am not stuck in a rut of sin.

i now have the ability to live a life that includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Christ's coming and sacrifice meant that we all have this gift available to us. with this understanding of Jesus' birth, we are able fully to celebrate what Jesus was born to do.

"now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. for you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 peter 1.22-23 tniv)

for the kids: tell your kids your own birth story. if you like, you can tell them about the time when you first realized you wanted to have a closer relationship with God through Christ. talk about their own relationship with Christ. how would they describe it? for a project, cut out various fruit shapes. if you like, label them with the fruit of the Spirit. remember the new life that Jesus makes possible because of his birth.

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