Monday, February 13, 2012

20 Years (Part II)

On Feb 9th, 1992, a guy from a local Seminary, Nathan Hardeman, spoke to our youth group. He shared about how God had a plan from the beginning of creation - that he created the first man and woman to be without sin and in a close loving relationship with himself, they then chose to disobey Him and as a result died spiritually. Because of their sin, all mankind (us) inherited sin at birth and, therefore, we all stand guilty before God and unable to have a relationship with Him.

But God, being rich in mercy, still promised to restore His relationship with us through a sacrifice. Nathan shared how in the book of Hebrews it says that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin. And that Christ, God in flesh, came to earth, lived a perfect life, was beaten, spat upon, cursed, hung on a cross and killed as a payment for my and your sin. That three days after he died, he was raised from the dead to prove all of his earthly ministry to be valid and that he had done what he had promised, he defeated death. In addition to this, for 40 days after his resurrection over 500 people were witnesses to him living again.

He then shared how there was nothing we could do on our own to merit God's favor - that it doesn't matter how much good we do, because our goodness will never earn our forgiveness. Our only hope is in the person of Jesus Christ. If we place our trust in Him, trust Him with our whole lives, our decisions, our worries, our messups, our victories, our hopes, our dreams, our disappointments, our fears, with everything and if we lay our sins at His feet (repent) - the anger, bitterness, envy, jealousy, lust, immorality, hatred, evil thoughts, etc. we can be forgiven completely and restored to a right relationship with God the Father. So, it's not based on anything we do, but on everything Christ did. We are saved 100% by His grace (meaning we get something good that we don't deserve, for free).

After he shared, I had an intense burden to want this faith to be a part of my life. I still remember to this day, sitting there praying to God, "God, this is what I want. I'm tired of trying to live this life on my own. I need you. I need your Son and the forgiveness that is only offered by His blood shed on the cross." God had begun a process of calling me out back in December of the previous year and it was on this night (Feb 9th, 1992) that he brought me to a point of decision. As I prayed, I felt like this tremendous weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I literally felt a burning sensation in my chest and a feeling of intense joy swept over me! I now knew what forgiveness, true forgiveness felt like. I had nothing to offer God, I wasn't a good person (in fact, no one is). But God, by his mercy (not giving me something bad (hell) that I did deserve), reached down and made this dead boy alive!

Now what? (Part III, Wednesday)

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