Find God and Get a Second Birthday (Born Again!)

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

When born again as children of God, we become part of his family.

 

Image by tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Recently I celebrated my birthday. I’m certainly not the only one to celebrate that. It’s estimated that approximately eleven thousand babies are born each day in the United States alone. Estimates of the birthrate for the entire world go as high as 370,000 daily. On any given day of the year, there are thousands of people receiving cards and gifts, enjoying dinners and parties with friends, and blowing out candles on cakes.

While I annually celebrate my physical birth, I also acknowledge a much more important anniversary—my spiritual birthday. Jesus told a teacher of the law that in order to be part of God’s Kingdom, we must go through a second birth. Confused, Nicodemus asked how an old man could be born again, since he was unable to enter his mother’s womb (John 3:4). Jesus replied,

“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NLT)

Jesus explained that this second birth is of the Spirit, not another physical birth. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God places his Spirit within us. We are then born again as children of God, and we become part of his family. That moment in time marks the beginning of our new, eternal life and transforms us into a brand-new creation.

Everyone who has ever lived has a birthday on which he or she received the gift of life. Believers have a second, greater birthday—the day they chose to receive the gift of eternal life. So when I’m spending time with family or friends and enjoying the blessings of the day on my birthday, I’m most grateful for the gift I received on the day I was reborn!

© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. This material is adapted from On This Day: 365 Meditations on Holidays and Historical Events. Visit Dianne at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Enjoy the beautiful imagery and song “Born Again” in this video from Third Day:

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Finding God: The Dark Side of Seeking Approval

By Heidi McLaughlin:

Unrelentingly  seeking approval can lead to misery and bring out our dark side.

 [Image from kanate / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]


[Image from kanate / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

We all crave to be accepted and recognized for who we are. When we sense we have been overlooked, rejected, put down or devalued, I believe our dark side kicks in. This starts when we are very young and someone gets a bigger ice cream cone or more recognition at a school play. We ask ourselves.  ”Am I not as important or valuable as the other person? How come she/he gets more rewards or recognition?”

When my children were younger and I took them to swimming lessons, they would constantly shout at me. “Look at me mommy; watch me swim. Look at how I can and do the back flip.” If I got into a conversation with another woman or happened to look away, they would remind me afterwards, “Mommy, you didn’t watch me.”

As we get older and become somewhat more mature, we become better at hiding our desperate need for applause and recognition. Yet it is there, lurking and subtly alive. We control, manipulate and orchestrate life to bring attention to our efforts; always hoping that today someone will notice how special I am.

When the pain of being rejected and overlooked becomes so powerful, the dark side can take over and compel people to do horrific acts of violence just to show the world that they are valuable and need to be noticed. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999 and killed thirteen of their classmates. That was four years after Timothy McVeigh killed 168 fellow citizens in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.  It is almost if I can hear them screaming, “I will make you take notice of me, no matter what I have to do.”

The need for our spiritual souls to be filled with love and acceptance is as powerful as the need for our physical bodies to be fed.  If our cravings are not fulfilled, our dark side will kick in and grab onto the thing we need to feel better.

As Christians and leaders in our community, churches and neighborhoods, many of us have trained our minds and bodies to behave and not let this craving be so evident. But I believe as long as we are in our human bodies, this will be one of our many struggles. But the Bible tells us this:

“For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 MSG).

So what is a person to do with the unrelenting craving?

Unlock the dark side. Be aware that it is there and call it by name. Pretending that it doesn’t exist does not make it go away.

Be aware that it is our motives that determine our actions. Ask yourself, “What is my motive for doing this. Is it to bring attention and recognition to myself or is it to fulfill my God given purpose and bring glory to God?”

God has given us authority and power through the Holy Spirit to live in the LIGHT, which is God.

The bible tells us that “God is Light and in Him in no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 NIV).  As long as we stay close to God, accept His love and life in His truth, our motives will be brought into the light.

Rehearse God’s promises and love for you.

Don’t be afraid to look into your dark side; it will be the beginning of taking it out of the darkness and bringing into the Light.  By doing that, it will begin to lose its subtle, insidious, manipulative power.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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Finding God in Our Loneliness

By Heidi McLaughlin:

These words made the hair stand up on the back of my neck: Loneliness is ignorance.

 

Image by chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What an irreverent and accusing comment about one of the most painful and heart wrenching human conditions. This citation (which came out of a commentary) had such a huge impact on me that I chose to study it in greater depth to try to understand the author’s point of view. It has been a startling revelation. Loneliness is in fact ignorance.

We were created to be connected to our Heavenly Father and to other people; that is the only way we can function in this world if we want to live fulfilling, joyful lives. Nature abhors a vacuum and will do anything to fill it. Water flows into any empty crevice. Fires explode with a vengeance when it has produced a vacuum. When you and I are hungry we need food. When our souls are dry and lonely we will do what it takes to fill them. That is how we are created.  An empty soul is a danger waiting to happen. Loneliness will try to feel better by:

  1. Alcohol; which becomes the friend that numbs the pain.
  2. Any relationship will do as long as it fulfills the urgent need for human touch.
  3. Too much TV for the needed company.
  4. Shopping to fill the pleasure hub.
  5. Too many trips to the refrigerator to find satisfaction through food.
  6. Drugs, mutilation, binging/purging, stealing, pornography, video games…and the technology pleasure hub of your choice.

And the loneliness persists and we wonder if there really is a God.

My heart aches for all the lonely people who feel helpless to move beyond their pain. God is supposed to fill that void, and He does, but he uses His children to be His hands and feet to fill that void. We must first understand that we cannot function as whole, healthy people living in a loneliness vacuum. We need help. This desperate cry for help should be the impetus which propels us to make courageous choices to go out into the world and find some friends. You must; it is not an option.

There are places where lonely people can find healthy connections. Walk into a church and ask to be connected.

Start talking to strangers; at least give them a smile so that they will smile back.

(You may end up helping someone ELSE feel less lonely, not only yourself.)

Join a club, go into a library and look around for like minded people. Make a diligent effort to find a HELP line to get connected somewhere-somehow. Don’t allow the fiend of loneliness to overcome you; it will destroy you.

God loves you. As a matter of fact He loves you so much that He died to set you free from all the sins, pain and wounds you have experienced. (You can find out more about that at GodTest.com.)

He wants to LAVISH His love on you. Let Him do that through your connections with other human beings. God said “that it is not good for man to be alone.” There are people all around you; go and find some and make some friends. You must.

 © Heidi McLaughlin. For over two decades Heidi has taught women how to become “beautiful from the inside out”, applying God’s powerful truths via bible studies, mentoring, and Heidi’s own poignant stories.  Visit Heidi at www.heartconnection.ca, or  her blog. Follow Heidi on Twitter: @heidiheart

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