After writing my previous post, I thought that it might be a good opening for me to share a few things the Lord has done for me in my life, in the hopes that you would see His work in me, give Him glory for it, and possibly even decide to meet Him for yourself. Aside from the basics of my physical needs being provided for, and the blessing of being born in a free country, there are many, many things the Lord Jesus has done for me over my lifetime. In no particular order, this is what comes to mind:
He met me where I was.
God did not wait for me to become righteous and pure before He met me. Right in the middle of my selfish, prideful arrogance – even as a kid – He showed me His face on my turf. He came to me. He drew me.
Beginning in Jr. High, when I began to have serious doubts and questions about my faith, Jesus met me where I was. I sought out answers from not only the Bible, but secular sources and other religions. I could not help but notice that, whenever I read the Bible, it spoke to me. Something would invariably stand out and just make sense. I never got that same sense from other places, though I actively tried to. The chaff among the wheat stood out too much. I asked, sought, and knocked hard for a few years. Jesus gave me answers I couldn’t explain away. He let me find Him. He opened the door to me. (Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 11:9-13)
He showed me Grace.
As a teenager, I made some pretty dumb decisions that, if I could, I would undo. I look back and wish that I had learned from the wisdom and experience of others, instead of insisting on learning the hard way. Sure, the lesson sunk in deeper, and is part of who I am, but I don’t doubt that I would be just as much me, if I had made some different, better choices. Those choices constituted a rebellion (yes, I would use such a strong word, because it’s the truth) against God, and he allowed me go my own way. When I finally humbled myself enough to admit I’d been wrong, He ran out to greet me, the second I turned my face homeward again. He showered me with grace, when I deserved punishment. He rejoiced over my return to him, and said only “Go, and sin no more.” Then, He began to work in me the strength to obey that admonishment. (Luke 15:11-32; John 8:1-11)
I still mess up royally, everyday. I strive to obey, and live the way Jesus would have me live, not because it earns me brownie points (it doesn’t), but because He paid a debt for me that I never could have hoped to make a dent in; and my gratitude runs so very deep, that my sole desire in life is to bring Him glory, and to pour out on others the love and grace He so richly lavishes upon me every moment of my life. That cup has no bottom, and walking in grace, repentance, and forgiveness is incredibly humbling and freeing.
He gave (and gives) me peace that doesn’t make sense.
Throughout my life, I have had times that were very dark. My valleys of shadow, if you will. Times where I felt my prayers bouncing off the ceiling. Times I felt alone, unnoticed, and unheard by anyone – even God. Times when my emotions were in turmoil, and my questions were loud and felt unanswered. Still, in those times of turbulence, there was Peace. Peace I could not explain. Peace that doesn’t make any earthly sense, whatsoever. Peace that kept me clinging to my mustard seed of faith, evidence of the Truth that rules my life. (Matthew 17:14-19; Philippians 4:4-9)
I may not be able to prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God exists; but neither can anyone tell me, or prove that the Peace that guards my heart and mind is just a figment of my imagination. That Peace is more real than I am, I have tasted and seen, and therefore know that my faith is not unfounded.
An aside: If I could prove, with concrete evidence, that God exists, it still wouldn’t matter. After all, even the demons believe, and tremble. It would still require faith (the root word indicating a willingness to lean all your weight on something), and a submission of your will to His. Belief can stop at the intellect, and that kind of belief means very little. It is the leaning of all your weight on the work of Jesus through his death, burial and physical resurrection, that saves you.
I have peace in my life. Through any and all circumstances, I have peace.
He has saved me.
From what? Hell.
There, I said it. Yes, I do believe in a literal Hell. I won’t claim to know the details of its description. That is largely speculative. What I do know is that the Bible teaches that it was not a place created for people. It was created for the devil and his angels. I also know that it is a place of punishment, and more importantly, a place utterly separated forever from God’s presence. (Luke 16:19-31 – this passage is a parable, but its language indicates that it was meant to be a very accurate illustration of the nature of hell.)
Were it not for the work that Jesus did 2000 years ago, historically and literally, I would still be in my sin.
And it’s about stinking time I spoke out boldly and laid before each of you – my loved ones and friends (and possibly, a few strangers), that God can do all this and more each of you. No matter what it is that you’ve done in your life, it’s forgivable by the eternal, almighty God Who Loves you.
Since I believe that what I hold dear is Truth, and that each one of you is on a road to only one of two places, it would be hateful and cowardly of me not to share this with you. What you do with the Truth is completely your choice. God does not twist arms. He will not drag you to Heaven, kicking and screaming. He longs to win you to Himself through love. He loves you. He’s not willing for any to perish, and neither can I be. (2 Peter 3:9)
That said, I want to share with you how you can enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, that leads to eternal life with Him.
Admit that you fall short.
The first step is realizing that you need a Savior in the first place. God owns no scales, in which he weighs your good deeds against your bad ones. None of us are good enough to get into Heaven, no matter how religious we are, because we are not measured against one another – we are measured against God Himself. And by that standard, we all fall short. We miss the mark entirely. (Romans 3:23*) We sin.
Understand that you are separated from God because you fall short, and that salvation is a gift you could never earn.
God is holy – by His very nature, He cannot be in the presence of Sin. It’s not that God is a cosmic killjoy, it’s that sin literally cannot survive in the presence of complete and utter goodness. Sin pays horrible wages: death. It kills us, from the inside out. It robs us of true joy, and separates us from the One who loves us more than we will ever know. It holds us prisoner, in chains too strong for us to break ourselves. But God is good! He offers the gift of eternal life freely, to any who would ask. (Romans 6:23*)
Realize that God loves you, just the way you are, but sent His Son to die so you wouldn’t have to stay that way.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
~Romans 5:6-8* (emphasis mine)
Call out to God in Jesus’ name for salvation.
Just talk to Him – tell Him you know that you’re a sinner, just like everyone else, but that you want His peace and salvation. His Word promises that all who call on His name will be saved. Romans 10:13*
If you know, right now, that Jesus is knocking on your heart’s door, let Him in.
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” ~Romans 10:9,10*
What Jesus offers, through salvation, is a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And to top it off, eternal life, free from evil, pain, and sorrow. Who would reject such gifts?
True Christianity is not a list of rules and regulations. It is not a religion. Christianity is an intimate relationship with the God of the Universe, who will enable you to live in the strength and freedom only Christ can give. It is loving and being loved. It is joy. It is light.
It is real.
He loves you deeply and unconditionally. He’s knocking on the door of your heart – won’t you let Him in?
*Links to context, not the single verse, so you can get the whole picture.