There IS a God who created everything and everyone, and He loves me. He loves me unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do, what I say or don’t say, or even what I think or don’t think – He can’t love me any more and He won’t love me any less. And He loves YOU just the same as He loves me. As a matter of fact, He IS love.
In the Bible, Jesus tells us repeatedly that God is our Father in heaven. And though He is deserving of all honor and respect, He chooses to be informal and personal with us. He is our Daddy in heaven. He delights in spending time with us, when we are quiet with Him, reading His Word and in prayer, and when we invite Him in to share in all other areas of our lives.
He is the perfect Dad, too. I have children, and I do my best to provide them with the proper balance of encouragement and discipline, the carrot and the stick. But sometimes when they need the stick, I mess up and give them the carrot instead. Or when they need encouragement, I’m too quick with discipline.
But God is perfect, and He parents perfectly. If I need encouragement, He is tender and caring. If I need a rebuke and correction, He gives it to me just as I need it and doesn’t always shield me from the earthly consequences. But He always corrects me in a loving way. I know He is doing what He needs to do to help me to improve, to grow, to continue to mature spiritually. He sees the potential He created within me and is faithful to help me achieve it.
And let’s face it, all growth is hard or painful. But He always has my best interests in mind, and He is right there with me every step of the way, giving me wisdom, encouragement, and a supernatural peace, even joy, in the midst of any circumstance. Once you experience the peace of God, you will begin to be less uptight and take more things in stride, and you will have a much more even-keel, peaceful, love-filled existence. Fewer roller coaster rides and extreme pendulum swings. Each day you walk with Him you will grow closer and your relationship will grow stronger.
So what’s all this stuff about Jesus, then?
When God created us, He made us with a purpose. Our purpose is to spend time in relationship with God and in relationship with each other – for all eternity. And God wants a true, loving relationship with each of us. So He gave us the freedom to choose.
We have free will and we can either choose to be with God, or we can choose NOT to be with God. There is no third option. And by the way, NOT choosing is the same as saying no to God. This is why God put that other tree in the Garden of Eden – ONE tree that was off limits, to give us the ability to choose – to obey Him, or NOT to obey Him. Without the option to disobey, there would have been no choice. We would have been like robots. That’s not love. True love expressed requires a choice. And we made a bad choice.
We chose sin instead of God. And then we made excuses for it. It would be a tragic story if it ended there. But our Father knows our frailty, He knew we weren’t up for the task, and yet He loves us and provided a way back. Jesus is the way. He is the ONLY way – there is no other, only Jesus.
Every religion other than Biblical Christianity talks about earning your way to heaven, paradise, nirvana, etc. You have to do good, and if you do enough good, you will make it some day. But how do you know when you’ve done enough good and was it enough to outweigh all the bad you did, too? Followers of other belief systems never know for sure. But followers of Jesus DO know for sure. How is this possible?
Because Jesus did it FOR me when He died on that cross outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago.
When I acknowledge that I sin, and I’m truly sorry for sinning, and I commit to turn away from my sinful behavior, and I accept a life of following Jesus as my Lord (which means that with His help I do my best to DO what He commands me to do), I am immediately forgiven of all my sins, and Jesus is not only my Lord, but the one who saved me from my sins. That is why Jesus is called the Savior – and His name means “God saves.”
I cannot save myself. You cannot save yourself. The Bible is very clear on this. It doesn’t matter how many good works you do, if you have sinned at least once in your life, you fall short of reaching heaven. God’s standard is perfection. He doesn’t compare you to others. He doesn’t grade on a curve.
But if Jesus is your Lord, your sins have all been forgiven. He paid the price you owe, the price I owe – He paid the ultimate price by willingly sacrificing Himself in my place, taking upon himself the punishment for MY sins, so that I can appear sinless, perfect, before God, and enter into heaven for all eternity.
Without Jesus, there is no way to be forgiven of my sin. Without Jesus, YOUR sin will not be forgiven. But the Good News is that you can be forgiven right now!!
If you’re ready to let your past be your past and be born again today, if you’re ready to have every sin you’ve ever committed forgiven and forgotten, if you’re ready to become God’s child and spend eternity in heaven with Him, then pray this prayer…
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that I’m a sinner. I’m sorry for all my sins and I turn away from them now. I know I won’t do it perfectly, but I’m looking to You for help.
I believe that Jesus is Your Son, that You sent Him to die on the cross to pay the price I owe for my sins, and that you raised Him from the dead. He is alive! I put my trust in Him now and submit to Him as Lord of my life.
Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. Please help me to walk with You daily.
In Jesus’ name,
If you just prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart, congratulations! Welcome to God’s family!! You are now an adopted child of God.
Now, find yourself a Bible and read it daily. Start with the New Testament and read it straight through, don’t bounce around. It’s important to know the context.
Next, find yourself a local church that is convenient and teaches from the Bible as the Word of God. Make it a habit to attend regularly. Also, try to get into a small group Bible Study in the middle of the week sometime in between Sundays. Nothing will help you grow faster!
And pray often, whenever you think of it – at least daily. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or structured, just talk to God – and listen. Confess any sins and express your gratitude for what He has done for you. Make any requests. Our pastor recommends keeping a journal as you pray so you can write down thoughts as they come to you.
And lastly, tell others about your faith. Share the joy!!
Read, pray, be in regular communication (“fellowship”) with others who believe, and tell your story to others. If you do these things, you will find yourself in a deep, personal relationship with the one and only God that created us, and you will experience peace and joy no matter what the circumstances.