Years ago there was a Certs Breath Mint commercial where two people were arguing, “Certs is a candy mint. No, Certs is a breath mint!” And the announcer would say, ” Stop. You’re both right! It’s two, two, two mints in one!” In another vintage commercial, Doublemint gum used to advertise, “Double your pleasure, double your fun: try Doublemint, Doublemint gum!” Today’s advertisers like BOGO (Buy One, Get One) to utilize the lure of two for one. Well, there was once a man who discovered that he could have TWO birthdays! Here’s his story:
“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 are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3, NIV)
The Original “Nick at Night”
Nicodemus was a member of the ruling council known as the Sanhedrin. This group of up to 71 men, comprised of Scribes, Pharisees and Elders, became increasingly antagonistic towards Jesus as he conducted his public ministry. That’s probably why Nicodemus had to visit “at night”. He couldn’t risk censure by such a powerful group of co-workers, and was not yet sure where he stood. But he was impressed enough with Jesus’ work to acknowledge that God’s hand was upon Him, and honest enough to seek the truth.
When Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again, it was puzzling to the Jewish leader, and he asked how such a thing could be. Jesus explained that it was a spiritual thing; you cannot see the Kingdom of God unless you have had a spiritual birthday to go with your physical one. He told him, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”, and he encouraged Nicodemus to pursue the type of new life that was only available through God’s spirit.
In May, I got to celebrate my birthday on May 9, and, since I was BORN on Mother’s Day, every so often it falls on Mother’s Day!. (Double bonus! At our house, though, we kinda like to celebrate birthdays all week long, and there’s even a card you can buy on Amazon that actually encourages that!) But it always causes me to reflect on my birthday, which then causes me to reflect on my OTHER birthday!
My actual birth day was apparently pretty difficult. My momma always told me I was lucky to make it. I was very premature, an RH baby, and apparently had a couple of medical issues that were touch and go. She used to tell me that the doctors told her I wasn’t going to live, but the Lord saved me for a reason. I’ve always been reminded of her belief about this time each year. I have to admit there are times when I’ve wondered if it was true…
My 3 kids would tell you there are at least THREE great reasons that God saved me as an infant, and to be honest, I’d have a hard time thinking of anything better or more important than having helped to bring them into the world. I got to be in the delivery room with Nancy and hold each one of them moments after they arrived on THEIR birthday!
Twice the Celebration!
But as meaningful as my birth story has been for me, and as meaningful as their birth events were, I am even more grateful for the fact that all of them have all experienced another birthday, the kind Jesus discussed with Nicodemus. I was “born again” the summer of 1968 at YMCA camp Flaming Arrow near Kerrville, Texas, when I came to realize that Jesus was more than just an amazing Rabbi. I read what he said to Nicodemus in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus wasn’t talking ONLY to Nicodemus, he was telling ALL of us we could be born again! I read that, and decided to follow him, thereby gaining another birthday.
That’s the birthday that happens as a result of seeing who Jesus is, and trusting in what He did for us on the cross. That’s the birth that granted spiritual life, participation in God’s word, and adoption into God’s family. And as fun as it is to have a party on our original birthday, I think the celebration that awaits us because of our second birthday will be beyond our wildest expectations! So during my birthday WEEK (or YOUR birthday week!), my wish is that YOU would consider this conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. And pick yourself up a second set of cake and candles!
THE BIRTHDAY WEEK CARD
I was getting you a birthday card,
Which really wasn’t very hard,
But I saw this, and so I said,
“It’s good for the heart and good for the head!
So this is what I got, instead…
Read it every day. You’ll find
It will bless your heart and help your mind.
Once again, the time is near to celebrate another year!
This year the baker had to make more room for candles on your cake,
And friends and family couldn’t wait to wish you well, and celebrate!
But getting wiser can be hard, so this is more than just a card:
There is wisdom, if you look, within the pages of this book.
Spend some time with God each day, and you will grow a different way:
Intellectually stimulated, personally motivated, spiritually activated,
Ego properly deflated, you will wonder why you waited!
Read a page each day this week, and if you listen, God will Speak!
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread