I just love my church! For those of you in central Illinois, I encourage you to take a little drive one Sunday to Effingham and check out a service, they happen at 8:15, 9:45, and 11:15. My church is called New Hope....which sounds a litte star-warsy, but it's a fantastic church. Actually, take a minute to visit the church home page. In the bottom left hand corner there is a link that says Listen to Message. I expected this to be an intro to the church but it's actually today's service recorded as an MP3 (which I wished I knew last week as I missed it). It is just the sermon, so not too long. Our service today was about heaven. It was great. Next week is about hell. I don't know that one can ever say discussing hell is great, but it will be exactly what people need to hear.
Pastor Van shared with us today that 80% of people (Americans I think) believe in heaven. Of that 80%, a majority believe they will go to heaven. I wish that 80% were going, but it's not the case. If you want to go, take the first couple steps. Find out who God is, who Jesus is, admit that you are a sinner, admit those sins to Christ, admit that you can be nothing better than you are without a relationship with God. It really takes a big burdeon off of your shoulders. Just imagine if your past mistakes were forgotten, or as it says in Acts 3:19a"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." Blotted out. Erased. If you have clean slate, then you can really start over. Start making decisions for the One with the ability to erase your sins. You will falter, you will fail, you will be forgiven. But you've got to start, and without that start, we all know where we would end up.
"Enter through the narrow gate (salvation through Jesus) . For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13
I know it is easy (especially since all Christians sin and we fall short of our own expectations and judge instead of forgive) to say that none of this faith business matters. That it is ok just to "be a good person." But it's not enough. You have to rely on God, on Jesus' sacrifice for our sins. It's not enough to do your own thing as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Our souls are NOT saved by simply believing in our own ability to be decent.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. Epehsians 2:8-9
We need a relationship, a personal relationship with Jesus. We need to know that he laid down his life, God gave his son, so that we could but aside our own vanities and pride and have something that was actually worth living for. This world is fleeting. Just think about how fast the days go by. For the 80% of us that desire to go to heaven, we NEED to redirect because there is only one way to get there.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Even though we didn't cover all of these verses today, this is what I've been thinking about. Now I'm not the most informed, the most Bible savy, most religious of people. But I just wanted to put this out there as it has been on my heart lately because I struggle with admitting that I need God. I am a good person. I spent years just being good. It's really, really hard for me, with my stubbornness to admit that I need help with anything. And salvation isn't just anything. It's THE thing. I want to reason "faith" away. Dismiss it until there is proof in some scientific journal that heaven is real, God is real. But sometimes, ya just know something IS. And I know. I just hate admitting I'm wrong, or weak, or incapable even when I know that I can't save myself. So that's that. As real as I can be. This didn't turn out to be the post I thought it would be, but it is honest and I hope it helps you with whatever struggles you may be going through. And, hopefully, it will help at least one person find their way through the narrow gate.
3 days ago