It’s the middle of August and my youngest brother’s birthday is tomorrow. Ken will turn 59 and is seven years younger than I am. Doug is between us in age and will turn 65 on November 4th of this year. Aside from Ken’s birthday, there are a huge number of birthdays that have occurred in the past several weeks. Today (August 15th), for example, is the birthday of our Uncle Vernon, who lived down in Mississippi as well as our first pet, Colbert, a chocolate brown miniature poodle who we got back in 1964 or so.
There are also many family anniversaries in mid August. My paternal grandparents were married on August 14th, as well as Uncle Wayne and Aunt Fran who shared the same anniversary date. And Janet’s sister Deb is celebrating her 50th anniversary tomorrow with her husband, Randy. It seems like yesterday that they were married.
We also have a grandson, Drew, who celebrated his 10th birthday on August 8th and there has been a constant flow of notifications advising me of other people who were celebrating within the last week. But the more I review everything, the more I realize that there are at least 8 people I know who were born on August 8th. I know that sounds absolutely crazy but it’s true. There are a number of days throughout the year that I don’t know anyone who is celebrating a special day. But as the month starts out, the number of celebratory occasions increases dramatically, peaking on the 8th and several days on either side.
My paternal grandmother had an incredible number of friends and a tremendous memory to match. Well into her old age, you could mention a day of the year to Grandma and she could rattle off birthdays, anniversaries and all kinds of important dates in the lives of people she knew. I really think that every day of the year had some name and event associated with it.
The truth of the matter is that birthdays are important. They signify a change in family status – the addition of sons and daughters, etc. – and almost all of us celebrate the day that we were born. However, according to the Bible, there is another kind of birthday that is even more important. That is the day that each of us accepted the free gift of salvation and eternal life.
This is the “new birth” that we are told about. It is the day that we begin our eternal lives. But most people don’t understand this. They think that eternal life – that is, life with Jesus – begins at the conclusion of our earthly existence. But our eternal life begins as soon as we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That means that our “new birth” occurs at the same time that we profess a belief in Jesus – not after we die a physical death.
There are even folks who celebrate the date of their entrance into eternal life rather than the physical day that they were born! Our verse for tonight highlights the words of Peter who confirms the “new birth” that each of us has the opportunity to have. The apostle Peter tells us, in 1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to live eternally with Him. And while God planned our physical birth and life, as is recorded in Psalm 139, our eternal “birth” date is even more important. My prayer is that we will all realize that each of us has the chance to spend eternity with God and if, for some reason, you haven’t already experienced this “new” birth, my additional prayer is that we will celebrate a new birthday for you! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…