Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Story

My Story
I recently decided to write down how I got saved. I want to make sure my boys know that I will be heaven and it wouldn't be heaven without them. They all profess to have trusted Christ as their personal Savior. I was nineteen, and sharing an apartment in Jacksonville with my cousin Wanda and her husband Richard. Richard and I were students at Massey Business College.

I thought I was a Christian.

Up to this point in my life I thought I was a Christian. I lived in a "Christian nation," I went to a Christian church and was raised by a Christian family. Isn't everyone in America a Christian or religious?

But God started showing me that something was missing early in life. One summer, our church group went to the Methodist Youth Camp in Leesburg, Florida. I was in a cabin of 10 or 12 boys that I had never met. At the end of the day we held hands in a circle and each person was asked to pray. You know, "Thank you God for a wonderful day at camp, keeps us safe when we try to learn to swim tomorrow, etc."

When it was my turn I didn't say a word. The only prayer I knew besides "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food..." was "Now I lay me down to sleep." The camp counselor nudged me and said, "George, say Lord help me to pray."

I did, five nights in a row I prayed, "Lord, help me to pray," and then nudged the guy next to me.

I watched the faces of the kids that stood up in chapel and saw in them something that was missing in me. They had something that was real. A relationship with God. I had religion; they had a personal relationship with Him.

I walked out to the lake where we had Vesper Services and sat on a log. I wanted to give myself to God and have that relationship, too. Nothing happened, so I took a walk through the garden path where campers could go for a quiet time with God and pray as they walked along with Him. It was getting darker and the shadows were scary. I wanted God to just grab me or something, just let me have that same relationship with Him as the other kids had.

Nothing happened.

Later, in the ninth grade, I met a young lady that went to a Baptist church. I heard the word "Saved" for the first time. I started to think that the Baptist used the word "Saved" the same way Methodist used the word "Christian."

My first year of college, I married that Baptist. The pastor of the Baptist church down the street came to visit. I made fun of him. He invited us to church and left.

The next week an older woman knocked on the door. I knew she was from the same church. She was interrupting me as my favorite new program was starting, Star Trek. I told her "No thank you," and started to close the door in her face.

She said, "Can I ask you a question before I go."
"What?" I blurted.

"Are you Saved?" she said.

"Yes, I'm Saaavveed!" I sneered while thinking, "These Baptist think they're the only ones going to heaven."

My wife came to the door before I could close it, "What about you, young lady, are you Saved?" she asked.

"Oh yes, I'm saved," she said with an angelic look on her face, "I was Saved when I was nine." It was the same look I saw at the camp in Leesburg when some of the other kids talked about God.

The thought that went through my mind was, "I lied... she didn't."

Later that night as we lay in bed I asked my wife, "You know your Saved, don't you."

Then I explained to her John 3:16. I had memorized it when I was about five years old at a vacation Bible school in Norfolk, Virginia. A group of Baptist were using the community center where I lived to start a new church and my Mom took us there.

God so loved the world, that whosoever believes.... not goes to church, not tithes, not do this or do that, but "believes" that Jesus Christ died for my sins, has eternal life.

I told my wife, "That's too easy, what about all the things I've done?" (I was clinging to my hope of being good enough to get to heaven. And, it was hard to let go of what little I had.)

She said, "I'm sorry, that's all you can do (is believe), complain to God, not me!"

So I prayed, "Now I lay me down to sleep..." and when I realized that all I needed to do was trust in Him.... in my mind I was back at the lake in Leesburg and didn't know what to do or how to tell God that I wanted to trust his Son as my Savior and I thought of the words my camp counselor said, "George, say Lord help me to pray."

So I did!

I can see how God saw that mischievous little boy that, despite everything he did and was, wanted to have a personal relationship with Him. It took awhile. But God brought people into my life that had answers to the questions that I was asking and when the time came for me to decide that I would put my trust in Him, He was there and more than willing to have me as his son.

I had always thought that faith was blind. It was like taking one step into the dark, and then taking one more step. Scary! But, faith is trust in a Person and what He has done. Faith is believing that Jesus Christ had paid the penalty for my sin and by believing in Him and what He did, I had eternal life.

We trust in a lot of things and a lot of people everyday. We even say, "I have faith in him or her."
Why not put my faith in the one who "so loved the world, he gave his only son..!"

For me!

What if your life were to end today?

Are you 100% sure that you would go to heaven?

I was saved when I finally understood John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Do you see it?

The only thing I could do to get my name written into the Lamb's book of life was to believe that He, and only He could pay my sin debt.

The next verse reads, "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

I thought, surely, the good would outweigh the bad and God would let me in, but the Bible says, "condemned already!"

The purpose of the law and ten commandments was to prove that I was not "good.”

"Told a lie, you bet!

Took something that wasn't mine, done that!

Looked at a woman with lust in my heart, guilty!

Wow, I'm a lying, thieving, adulterer!

I'm a sinner, the wages of sin is death, and according to the last book in the Bible, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

So, it was either die and go to hell, or put my trust in Jesus Christ, the One who already died for me, in my place.

I closed my eyes to pray (part of what I thought was "being good" to get into heaven). I was in my first year of college, married, and a father to be. My eloquent prayer was: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die..."

Oh my, I realized I would go to hell. All I could say was, "Lord help me to pray."

He did!

I prayed something like, "God, I know I am a sinner, I believe Jesus died for me, come into my heart and save me."

He did!

I woke up everyone in the house. I asked my wife to show me in Bible what I did. I wanted to read John 3:16!

All my life I was "doing" something to go to heaven. I had to let go of all the things I was trusting in (not easy to do) and put my faith where God put my sin - on His Son.

On that November 10th, my name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life!

John 5:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."

Now you've heard. Believe!

"Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that Jesus died on the cross for me. Please forgive me of my sin, come into my heart and save me. In Jesus' name, Amen.”

"These things have I written unto you (me) that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know (not hope so) that ye have eternal life..." I John 5:13

Notice that the word 'know' and 'saved' are past tense. This is something you do here and now, not while standing at the Pearly Gates.

What if?

If you are not certain about the answer to that question, then please listen to what God says in His Word.

The Bible teaches that you need to understand and believe four things in order to have a home in heaven.

1. You have sinned against God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

2. There is a penalty for sin. "For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23

3. Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again, victorious over sin, Hell and the grave. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 4.

4. Jesus is able and willing to save you from your sin penalty. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

God wants you to believe His Word and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.

If you will... then right now, in simple faith, pray asking Him to forgive your sin and save you.

CONFESS: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

CALL: "Dear God,  I know that I am a sinner. I know that Jesus died on the cross for me. Please forgive me of my sin, Come into my heart and save me.

(Jesus said: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.")

OPEN THE DOOR: Come into my heart and save me. In Jesus' name, Amen."

It's not what you prayed that saves you... it is who you trusted to save you. It is by believing that Jesus, God's Son died for your sins... in your place... and to prove He is God and can give you eternal life... He rose again! The moment you believe that your sin is forgiven, you have eternal live and Heaven is your home.

It says in I John 5:13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.

Have you done that? If you have, leave a comment.

Or, if you have a question... let me know if I can help.

Better yet, ask God. Read John, Chapter 3 and let God open your eyes like he did mine. 

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