April 21, 2014

I Want That Mountain Part 3

Being that yesterday was Resurrection Sunday, the lesson was on salvation.
But before I shared the good news, I had a sober talk with the girls about hell.
Many of them have grown up coming to church.  It is easy to get complacent.
It is easy to just have a mental knowledge and never a heart knowledge of Christ.
I was like that for years. 
Then I shared the good news and God's plan of salvation.
I also shared my testimony with them.
Here is it:

"God is real!
Going to Sunday School, church, and VBS were some of my earliest memories.  Easter dresses and Christmas candle light services.  But as I grew I didn’t understand how personal God is.  I doubted He cared about the details of my life or that He was even real.  I mean if He cared why did He let bad things happen to me? And so maybe He wasn’t even real.  I listened to these lies of the enemy. And so like the prodigal son, I journeyed far from my Heavenly Father, from church, and from what I knew was right.  I wasted my knowledge of God, was a horrible testimony, was immoral, cussed, and spit in the face of the heritage God had given me.  I wanted what I wanted.  So I did what I wanted. Sin feels like freedom, for a season.  But then it becomes a harsh master and a destroyer.  So one day I realized I didn’t like me, so I tried to fix things.  I got out of a bad 3 ½ year relationship, got a new haircut, new make-up, new clothes, began walking to lose pounds……I felt better, but hallow, incomplete.  One cool day on my walk I was in the back part of the park when I heard my name on the wind.  I looked around; there was no one. My heart trembled and tears began to flow.  My heart knew.  It was God whispering my name.  He saw me, He cared for me, even after all I had done against Him, even when I didn’t like myself. I sat down on a park bench and wept.  

I don’t know how far the prodigal son had to journey back, but I know my journey back to God was rough with many rocks, hills, and traps from the enemy. But that longing for something more kept growing.  One day, I overheard two elderly ladies talking.  The old widow stated, “Oh, I don’t live alone.  My best friend Jesus is with me.”  She really meant it. Wow, I wanted that!  I was dating Jim at the time and he’d talked about his mom reading the Bible to him and his siblings each night.  I wanted to be that kind of mom.  But I knew I couldn’t give something to my future children that I didn’t have myself. 

In July of 1998, I finally made the decision to go to church on a hot Sunday morning.  It is a long story. So the nutshell version is that I had car trouble and I ended up walking all the way to the church.  I was so weary that I felt if the doors were shut I wouldn’t have strength to open them.  They were open.  I slid into the back pew as the Pastor was preaching a sermon on “Doubting Thomas” and I kept thinking, “That’s me.”  I don’t remember the closing song but again it pierced my heart that “that is me.”  I was the first person to the pastor and through my tears tried to shared how I had car trouble and hadn’t been to church for a long time.  He directed me to a room and his wife came in.  We talked together and prayed together.  I felt the Lord embrace my heart that day. 

A few weeks later, I was curled up in Jim’s favorite chair. The house was quiet as I read my new book, Experiencing God. It said I must have a personal relationship with the Lord or I wouldn’t be able to completely understand the book.  I was hungry to personally experience God in my life, so I read carefully what it said:

Romans 3:23-All have sinned.

Romans 6:23 Eternal life is a free gift of God.

Romans 5:8 Because of love, Jesus paid the death penalty for your sins.

Romans 10:9-10 Confess Jesus as Lord and believe God raised Him from the dead.

Romans 10:13 Ask God to save you and He will

To place your faith in Jesus and receive His gift of eternal life you must:

-Recognize that God created you for a love relationship with Him.  He wants you to love Him with all your being.

-Recognize that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself.

-Believe that Jesus paid a death penalty for your sin by His death on the cross and rose from the dead in victory over death.

-Confess (agree with God about) your sins that separate you from Him.

-Repent of your sins (turn from sin to God)

-Ask Jesus to save you by His grace (undeserved favor).

I read through each line, looking up each scripture,  and making sure I believed it in my heart, not just in my mind because I want to experience God in my life like they described in that book.  Then I read the last line, “Turn over the rule in your life to Jesus. Let Him be your Lord.”

My heart felt pricked. And I realized that He was to be the center of my universe and I revolve around Him, not the other way around. As my brother-in-Christ said recently, “This life is not about us, it is about God and glorifying Him.”   Christ was to be first in my heart. I prayed that moment to Jesus and made sure He was my Lord, my Master. That He could be in charge of my life.  
And my life has never been the same. 
God is real, and God is very personal.  He sees you right where you are.  He knows your thoughts and your deepest pain.  He doesn’t demand you take a bath before He embraces you.  He embraces you and clothes you like the prodigal’s father did.  He loves you.  Jeremiah 31:3   The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." 

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