Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Birthday’s—People lose their Lives at Them!

Meditation for the week of July 1, 2012

Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.  (Genesis 40:20-22)

We tend to make a big deal out of birthdays in our culture.  I don’t really know why since everyone has them, and they come about once every year.  Some in the Bible had over 900 of them.  When we are young, birthdays seem to be very important because we have had so few of them.  As we get older, birthdays are just a reminder that no matter how many you end up having, one of them is going to be your last one.

Birthday celebrations in the Bible had a way of causing people to lose their lives.  The chief baker lost his when Pharaoh had his birthday.  When Herod had his birthday. John the Baptist lost his head (Matthew 14:6).  My birthday  was last week, and I tried to celebrate another year of life in a quiet way as I really didn’t want to cause anyone to lose their lives.  Birthdays can be drunken parties when if fact they ought to be quiet times of reflection.  We need to ask ourselves the age old questions, “Why am I here?” and “Am I making any difference in this world while I am here?”

If we believe the Bible (and I do), the purpose of our lives on this earth is to glorify God.  We do that through the two great commands:  1. Love God and  2. Love your neighbor.  We can love our neighbor without loving God, but normally loving God leads to loving our neighbor. To really love God we must be “born again (John 3:7).”  This changes us from being self-centered to being Christ-centered.  Instead of doing things our own way, we should want to worship and serve Him His way. One of the ways we show that we love Him is by loving those He created like us, that is, by loving our neighbors.  I know that in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) we like to think that the Lord is the Good Samaritan—and He is.  But we also can be good samaritans, and we ought to be if we are born again.

People tell me that they are followers of Christ but they seem to be confused as to what the new birth is.  John 1:11-13 tells us what it is and what it isn’t.  It isn’t a physical blood line, that is we are not born again because our parents or grandparents were born again. It is not the will of the flesh, that is, it is not something that we can do for ourselves by joining or paying or praying or doing.  Neither is it the will of man, that is, it is not something another man can do for us.  Nobody but God has the right to tell us how to be born again, and only He has the right to assure us that we are born again.  As an evangelist, I always try to make sure I explain this the way the Lord explains it and not the way I would like to explain it.  Salvation is “of God”, that is, it is something that God has provided and that the Holy  Spirit using the Word of God shows to us.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our need and directs our attention to Christ.   Salvation or the new birth is not doing, it is trusting.  We will have trouble trusting in Christ if we are still trusting in anyone or anything other than Christ.  Most of us would rather trust ourselves than trust Christ.

I remember just when I was born again. While I don’t remember my first birth, my folks do, and they told me when my first birthday was.  They have also told me a few things about the difficulties they had when I was born.  But I remember my second birth and I remember the difficulty I had simply trusting in the truth that Christ had died for my sins.  I had trouble believing that Christ’s death was enough to take me to heaven.  While I don’t remember my first birth, I personally do remember my new birth.  I am glad that I do because of that four letter word MUST in John 3:7.

Johnny Cash has a song that I like in this regard.  The lyrics go like this:

Yes,I know when Jesus saved me (saved my soul),  The very moment He forgave me (made me whole);
He took away my heavy burdens, Lord he gave me peace within (peace within)
Satan can’t make me doubt it (i won’t doubt it),  It’s real and I’m gonna shout it (I’m gonna shout it);
I was there when it happened and I guess I ought to know

Bruce Collins

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