Today is July 26th, so I am 3 days late in posting this. I had wanted to post it on July 23rd, but I wasn't able until now. July 23 1990 was a very special day in my life. THE MOST special day of my life, in fact. It was the day of my second birthday--the day I invited Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior!
I told you before that there are a few things I am passionate about. Caring for and finding homes for orphans is one. Telling people about Jesus and what He's done for me is another. In fact, wishing that everyone would meet Him is the biggest passion I have. Probably terribly un-PC I know. But frankly, there are just some instances when I couldn't care less about being politically correct.
I'd like to tell you my story, and if you already know Jesus, I hope my story will inspire you to tell yours to someone too.
I grew up knowing about Jesus. I went to a church where they taught about Him, we sang songs about Him, I learned Bible verses, I felt happy during the praise songs, and I often really really felt like I was a Christian. Some people don't know much about Jesus at all. And I believe that lots of people go to churches just like I did, feel spiritual sometimes like I did, and assume they are Christians like I did. The problem was I wasn't really a Christian even though I believed that Jesus existed and died for people's sins. I'll explain...
I was a good girl growing up. I never got in with the wrong crowd, I never did really bad things in school, I tried hard to please my parents and teachers, I was kind to other kids. Because I was good, and like I said, I believed in Jesus, I just naturally assumed I was saved. I figured I must have been saved at some point.
Then when I was about 14 we started attending a new church. This one was really different in some ways. The people there kept asking me if I was saved. Well, I remember when they would ask me that, I would say yes. But when I would say that I felt weird. Like something just didn't feel right. I know now it was the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, and letting me know something really wasn't right. I starting feeling more and more uneasy, and I started really analyzing my spiritual life. Here is the thing. The Bible spells out clear as day how to have a personal relationship with Jesus and be sure you will live eternally with Him. But for some reason, I have found that a lot of churches don't tell the whole story for some reason, or don't tell it very clearly. (And by the way, this has nothing to do with denominations!) So here is what I learned....
Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." And Romans 3:10 says "There is none righteous, no not one." This means that everyone sins. No matter how good I was, I still fell short of God's standard of holiness. Even really really wonderful people are all sinners and can't be good enough to deserve the glory of God! ( I read a quote that said, trying to get to heaven by our good works is like trying to sail the Atlantic on a paper boat. The Bible says we can't do it.)
Also, God really hates sin, and He has to judge sin because He is holy. All sin. Even small ones. Romans 6:23 says that "the wages of sin is death." I've learned that death really means separation, and the Bible talks of different kinds of death. The kind it's talking about here is spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God in hell. (Revelation 21:8-[They] shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.)
But God made us, He understands we are human, and He LOVES us so much. He DOES NOT want us to go to hell. (side note-- I hear so many people say, Why would a loving God send someone to hell? He doesn't want to! He has done everything He can to make sure we don't have to go there.) So, knowing that we are human and born with a sinful nature, He had to do something about our sin, so that we could be "made righteous" so to speak, so that we could live eternally with Him, and not separated from Him.
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The second half of Romans 6:23 says "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." So, God is not a meany! He gave His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sins. Jesus came and lived a sinless life on earth, and then allowed them to crucify Him on a cross in order to take our place, so that we wouldn't have to die that second death. And He came back to life three days later, showing that He has power over death.
A lot of people stop there, and think believing in Jesus makes them a Christian. But that's where I learned I had been wrong. The Bible says that even the demons believe, and tremble. Just knowing about and believing in Jesus doesn't make you a Christian. Romans 6:23 says that eternal life is a gift. And like any gift, you can't just know it's there in order for it to really be yours. You have to RECEIVE it. There has to be a time when you personally accept Him as your Savior. In John 3:3 Jesus said "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." So, just like there is a time when we are born, there must be a time when we are born again into God's family... when we acknowledge our sins and repent of them, and accept the gift of God's salvation through Jesus' death on the cross. Romans 10:13 says, "For Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." That means there has to be a time that we pray and accept Christ as our Savior from our sins and the consequences of them.
So, I didn't have any peace at all. I was realizing that I really was not a Christian! Matthew 7:21-23 is a scary passage. It says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity (sin.)" So, lots of people think they are Christians, but Jesus says He does not know them. I think they are confused because they assume simply believing in God and living a good life makes you a Christian. But the Bible really doesn't teach that! You have to personally repent of your sins, and believe that Jesus paid the price for them by dying on the cross and raising from the dead, and you have to pray and accept the gift of salvation and eternal life He is holding out to you. That summer that I started going to that church, I went to teen camp, and I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly compelling me to accept Jesus as my Savior. I can't describe the feeling, except to know for sure that I had to do it.
Well, that was the beginning of my abundant life. I can tell you that life has not been without problems since then. Not every day is rosy and simple. The Bible never once promises that our lives will be pain free. But God does promise that if our trust is in Him, we have peace. We have peace WITH Him, and THROUGH Him. Peace with God. We are righteous in His eyes. Forgiven! And we can have supernatural peace in our hearts in any circumstance. It does not get better than that.
I can promise you that accepting Jesus as my Savior was by far the best thing I've ever done, and not just because I have the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him someday. I live with peace and joy in my heart that is not man made. He helps me to want to live right and make the right decisions. He has made me more like Him as the years have gone by. I face the future with gladness, knowing that He is in control. When I read His Word, I know I do not have to worry about a thing! He is simply everything to me!
I am so thankful to my Jesus for giving me this abundant life. He will do it for you, too. I hope you will accept His gift of salvation to you today!