Friday, April 24, 2015

On New Beginnings

I always love to see April come around.

Everywhere around you, it seems, you can see new starts, new beginnings.

When we lived in England, there was a field we passed where the lambs would be out, and seriously... bouncing in the fields!  I love April!

It is also the month that I first discovered the great love that Jesus has for me.

I had been taught that Jesus loved me, even as a child.  I heard that when He died on the cross, He died for me. 

I just did not see how it applied to me.

It wasn't that I lived a sinless life.  I still don't.

Maybe you struggle with sin yourself. 

Or maybe you don't. 

I lived each day under the impression that everyone would go to Heaven when they died and that sin was not a really big issue.

That somehow God would ignore the bad and focus on the good.

I thought that my good deeds were like bricks that would be used to build the mansion that would be my home.  I did not begin to think that my mansion would be grand.  I was certain it was going to be roofless and without a few walls. 

I just assumed it would be there, somewhere on the inside of that wonderful place.

The only problem is that the Bible doesn't teach that.

It teaches a much more beautiful truth.

And I learned it on a night in April - only months from high school graduation. 

A friend invited me to go with her to church, and I said yes.

I still remember what the speaker said.

He started by asking how many people there had told a lie.  He actually asked for a show of hands.  I wasn't about to raise my hand – until I saw everyone else raise theirs.

Then he asked for another show of hands, this time for stealing – even if it was an answer on a homework assignment.  Once again, all hands went up.  Mine included.

This visiting preacher turned to the pastor of the church and said, “Pastor, You have a congregation of liars and thieves!”.  

And we all laughed.

When the laughter died down, he looked at us again and said it was really not a laughing matter.  He showed us how the Bible says in Romans 3:23 that ALL have sinned and “come short” of the glory of God. 

That simply means that our goodness will never be good enough.

At that point, I felt utterly hopeless. I had already blown it before I knew it could be blown. There was no chance of Heaven for me.  Not even in a half finished roofless hut.

While he talked of other things, my mind reeled.  Then, he shared  Romans 5:8 which says that God showed His love (that amazing indescribable love) toward us in that WHILE we were YET sinners, Christ died for us.

God had already made other arrangements.    

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. “ 
(John 3:16 – the Message) 

Jesus came to earth and lived the only perfect life so that He could take the punishment for us, and for our sin.

I began to understand the reason for the cross and why He died.  

Why He would die for ME is not something I will ever grasp.  It still overwhelms me.

That night, though, I saw His love differently, and He took my breath away. 

I asked Him to forgive me for the way I was living.  I asked Him to be MY savior. 

To change me. 

To make me His own.

He did all of that and more.  He began a change in my heart that is still ongoing.  He is making me more and more like Him.  How humbling is that?  That one day, this liar and thief will be somehow in some way like Him?

That night was just the beginning of change for me. 

In the next four months I saw my family make the same decisions to follow Christ.  One of my three sisters, the one closest in age to me, asked Jesus to be her Savior at Vacation Bible School.  Two men knelt with my Dad in our living room one night as he invited Christ to make changes in his life and become his Lord.  And one amazing Sunday morning, my mother made the same decision.  Our home life had some major changes take place.  We started going to church together.  My youngest sisters grew up in church.  There were Bibles scattered all around the house.  
And they were read… not just for decoration. 

That one night began making a forever difference for us all. 

Perfection?  Not in this life! 

Just Loved and Forgiven.


The Love of God (lyrics to the last verse)
"Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky."


Have you been counting on your own goodness?  That you will be able to go to Heaven based on having lived a good life?

It won’t ever be good enough.

If it could be, then there would have been no need for a cross … for THE cross.

He is the way for you to get to God.  He is the only way.  He said so Himself.  What you need to do is start by giving up.  Give up trying to live your life your way, admit that you have sinned, and ask Him to give you a new start, a new life, a new heart.  Put your trust in Him and His way…

He loves you so much!