Driving to work this morning, on my birthday, and thanking God for this beautiful day, I was also thanking Him for the 57 years He has given me. This brought to mind my "new" birthday of November 27, 2007, which is the day I was born again into my new life as a true Child of God. Birthdays bring it home in such a profound way, but I very often find myself dealing with the realization that 53 of my years were wasted on sin, self, and religion. Late that night my sin was forgiven. I died to myself. And it gives me great joy, when asked about my "religious beliefs", to be able to say, "I don't have any religious beliefs, I have a relationship!"
I'm not sure that statement is quite true. I want it be absolutely, positively, 100% pure and true. I sometimes find myself acting, thinking, or speaking religiously. I guess it takes a while even for God to completely replace our religion with His relationship. So I join with God who "calls into existence the things that do not exist" as He has brought me from a nonexistent relationship into the most wonderful and important relationship any person can have. Jesus is renewing my mind, growing me and revealing His ever unfolding truth as He takes me into deeper and deeper relationship with Himself.
I'm not where I need to be and I'm far from perfect. (In case anyone was wondering! JUST KIDDING!!!) Religion calls upon us to be perfect, and to live in self- and peer-imposed discouragement, shame, guilt, defeat and condemnation because we're not. Relationship with Jesus frees us from all that and more. Jesus calls us to take up our cross - die to ourselves - and follow Him into a new life where all chains are broken, sin and shame have been erased, Satan has been defeated, and the work of the devil has been destroyed! The threat, the certainty, of condemnation has been forever removed!
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
This freedom come from relationship, not religion.
Looking back leads to much regret and can distort our view of today and tomorrow. Certainly I wish I had more time behind me lived for Christ, and because I don't, I wish I had more time ahead to live for Him to make up for all that lost time. But, I can't..
Psalm 39:5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor.
Our days might at times seem long, and time to just drag by. But, compared to what lies ahead in eternity, our time here is nothing. We must pay more attention to our lives, and be far more intentional about the way we spend the time we do have. In Jesus, God has given us everything. It all comes to us at the moment of our salvation. Just like unwrapping birthday presents, it is all revealed to us as we grow and progress and renew our minds in Christ. It is a lifelong process, working out our salvation, receiving and opening God's birthday presents to us. (Don't you sometimes open the Word of God and find yourself saying, "Wow! I didn't know I had that! Thank you , Father!"?) And as great as the gifts we give each other may be, nothing compares to THE Gift of salvation, the gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus truly is THE birthday gift that keeps on giving!
I teased my mama a little bit today by thanking her for birthing me. On my natural birthday I say, "Thank you, God, . . . Father, for giving me life. And I cannot possibly thank you enough for giving me new life, eternal life, a relationship of freedom to replace the restriction of religion, through your Son, Jesus.
Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.