16 02 2021
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Christianity will never mean what it should until you fall in love with Jesus. Religion is too dependent upon mankind’s many futile attempts to reach God. No matter how hard we try, the journey is impossible to complete because of the sin we human beings find ourselves stuck in. The best we can do is temporarily cover it up. We need divine intervention to gain the necessary attention that will alter our eternal destiny. I don’t want to spray deodorant on my dirty clothes, I want a brand-new wardrobe. I am tired of playing hide and seek with Heaven. I want to come out of the dark so I can live in the light with confidence and hope.

Unfortunately, too many church people define their faith based upon all the don’ts and not enough do’s. I remember hearing the long list given to me by well meaning Believers who wanted to keep me out of trouble. “Don’t listen to the radio, don’t dance, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t kiss, don’t play cards, don’t watch movies and so on and so forth.” I got so frustrated by hearing what I could not do, I was antsy to get to the part where I finally discovered what I could do.

The story of how I surrendered my life to the Lord is not your average tale. By the time I reached high school, I was a straight A student who was hopelessly trying to earn the love of those I deemed important in my life. The more I did right, the more miserable I became. Performing to validate your existence is a never-ending job. As successful as I was on Monday, I needed to be doubly better on Tuesday and so on and so forth. I thought that God bestowed His goodness on only those who did enough to deserve it. I was exhausted and empty and though I appeared as the kid who had it all together on the outside, I was as hollow as could be on the inside. I was depressed and empty and I longed to matter not because of my list of achievements but simply because I was me.

We don’t have to be good enough to receive God’s love. God loves us in spite of what we have done, and He reaches out to us no matter how short we have fallen from His presence. All of us are in the same boat when it comes to trying to get to shore with our vessel in one piece. We won’t be able to dodge the rocks of destruction without the Lord commandeering the wheel. It wasn’t until I heard God’s word that I discovered that without His Grace, I could not be rescued and without His Truth, I would never be free and without Jesus in my heart, I could never be loved. The day I finally heard the Gospel was the day that I looked up and surrendered to the Savior. He came down to my level when I had no shot of reaching Him. He loved me when I literally hated myself. God loved me when nobody else could or would. His love transformed my life. He didn’t make me a slave. God adopted me as His son. It is out of love for Jesus that I want to please Him. Our Lord said Himself that if we love Him we would keep His commandments. If you don’t obey Him, then He’s not Lord; but you can’t obey Him until He is Lord. It all comes down to the fact that if you want to follow Jesus, you need Jesus to make that happen. On our own, we only use the Lord to get attention for ourselves. When we get it right, we do what we do for the glory of God!

From pop tests to blood tests, from bar exams to eye exams, testing is a regular part of life. Last week, I had three different medical tests done on me to help me in my battle against cancer. Aside from medical, academic, and professional tests, we also encounter personal tests of faith: sickness, affliction, broken dreams, failures, peer pressures, moral temptations, and even doubts and fears. Did you know you can prepare for these tests before they come? We can all “study” for these exams by turning to God’s Word for the answers to the most important questions in life:

Who is God? What does He expect from us? What should I believe? How should I live in light of that? Will my faith go or grow amidst the trials and temptations? If it meant giving up my trust in Jesus or giving up my earthly life, how would I decide?

I had a Professor in College who wanted us all to succeed so badly that he gave us the test questions and the test answers ahead of time. I have never experienced a Teacher who took this approach, but he literally took away all our excuses for not getting an A Grade! As you might have guessed, there were still students in the class who didn’t prepare well and they failed something that they were given every opportunity to succeed at.

Jesus provides everything we need to have a healthy and growing relationship with Him. The Lord not only gives us the test questions in advance, but Jesus also actually took the test and passed the test for us and gave us His perfect score. What we should have failed, we won big time and for all of that to be ours, we just need to receive the gift. Why would we take matters into our own hands when it is His nailed scarred hands that we all need? Pride will kill love each and every time.  

Our acceptance doesn’t depend upon how faithful we were in our church attendance, or how well or eloquent we were when we said our prayers, or how many Bible verses we have memorized. It all comes down to you and I declaring our personal allegiance to Jesus that results in our public affection for our God no matter who is looking that leads to a powerful and practical living of our Christianity in a world system that is determined to go its own way. Are you in or are you out? It doesn’t come down to what the crowd thinks. It all comes down to who you say Jesus is. Is He just another teacher? Is He the author of yet one more philosophy? Or is He who He claims to be? Jesus wants to be our way, our truth and our life? It is no time to skirt the issue or ignore God’s invitation. I have a feeling that faith is going to take a lot more fight to be properly expressed in the days to come and you won’t defend what you do not love. God so loved us that He went the distance to prove that reality to us. How far will your faith go?   



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