As I held tightly to my fresh brewed coffee early this past Sunday morning it dawned on me it was November 26…my 39th birthday! Some of you are saying, “ya right-the hair that you still have on your head is gray and the wrinkles on your face are a dead give away that you succeeded the age of 39.” Yes, the hair and aging body declare it was not my physical birthday but the 26th was my spiritual birthday!
The Father gave me a great birthday gift that morning. I had been asked to preach in a Korean church in Denver for their mission Sunday and invited to share the work of Oceans Ministries. For some reason I felt drawn to preach from John 3:16, to be honest I’m not sure in all my years of ministry I ever exclusively preached from just this verse. Perhaps many of you have this scripture coveted to memory:
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life…
As I pondered these familiar words the Father reawakened the memory of that day 39 years ago when I “heard” the Simple Gospel presented by the English Pastor J. Sidlow Baxter. I thank God for that message that forever transformed my life. As Rev. Baxter preached about the gift of the Father’s love fully demonstrated through the death of His Son Jesus on the Cross my heart leaped out of my chest. Even though I had grown up hearing this message again and again, it was that particular Sunday night that the Holy Spirit unveiled the sin and gunk in my heart and with spiritual eyes enabled me to see my need for a Jesus the perfect Savior. At the end of the service an invitation was given to receive what God the Father had to offer and so with big tears splatting on my blue ski coat I found my self at the altar being washed with waves of love and forgiveness. November 26, 1978 I was given the gift of a new life born from above by the Spirit of the living God.
Sharing John 3:16 this past Sunday morning to the beautiful Korean congregation caused my heart to be overwhelmed with the Goodness of the Father-that His Spirit would bring me to this text on my Spiritual Birthday and remind me of His love. I continue to thank Him for transforming a fearful 13-year-old boy and giving him the assurance that he was a beloved child of God. What a joy to celebrate my spiritual birthday by remembering the Simple Gospel message and shouting praises to the Giver of the most precious gift!
I pray that the Holy Spirit will not only bring to mind your Spiritual birthday but also other landmarks of faith in your life. During this Christmas season may He illuminate your path with moments to share this wonderful gift of the Simple Gospel with others!