"Look! I have been standing at the door
and I am constantly knocking."
Revelation 3:20 (TLB)
Hopefully, if you've stayed the course thus far with this e-book, you don't need any more convincing that God is calling us now. As we jointly endure the End-Time, surely we have an understanding of what happens when we try to do without our God.
The Marvelous thing is that Jesus does call to us. Considering how Great God is, you would think that we would be required to "make all the running." But through the above Scripture we can see that this is not so, and the verse goes on:
"... if you hear my voice and open the door,Christ our Creator is giving this Message to anyone and everyone - all are called. Not in the same way, not at the same time, that's true. But no one is left out; no one is neglected by God.
I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me."
Revelation 3:20 (NRSV)
The situation we are in is simply this: we didn't create ourselves, God made us and loved us from the first. And all we're asked to do is love God back. Which is not so very hard, is it? The only question that remains is, "How?" In other words, "How do we open the door to our heart?"
Jesus' Statement to Nicodemus would seem to be central to answering this question:
"... With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again,* you can never get into the Kingdom of God."The key to life here on Earth, and to the eternal life, and to progression to Heaven, would seem to be wrapped up in this recipe for entrance into the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus didn't understand it right away, and so Jesus continued:
John 3:3 (TLB)
[* NAB - "begotten from above"]
"... Unless one is born of watera and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."^ Now we're getting to see what has to happen. Just as a baby makes an entirely new start, so must the new believer, led by the Spirit, experience a complete fresh start in her or his life.
a Or, "Physical birth is not enough. You must also be born spiritually. . . ."
John 3:5 (TLB)
Still the question keeps coming up, "How?" And the answer? Four steps are necessary. If we carry out all four sincerely, we enter into a dynamic new relationship with God.
There is difficulty in believing the Bible simply because the Promises are so Good. But we only get that suspicion if we assume these Blessings are just going to fall like manna from Heaven. We ought to be aware that there is a price, despite what some may say. Nothing worthwhile is without price.
How do we build up our belief in Scripture? By getting to grips with it, the writer suggests; by digging into it and checking it out for ourselves. We discussed how there are many Bible Prophecies that have already been fulfilled. This would be one line of enquiry. A prayer that we may be shown the Truth of Scripture can yield great dividends.
How else do we build up our belief in God? We can look around this world of ours, and find evidences of God's Love and Care for us. For example, 72 years after the establishment of Communism in Russia, what happens? One charismatic leader shows his country the virtues of perestroika and glasnost. And suddenly all of the Warsaw Pact satellite countries free themselves of the single party system, and pursue the goal of democracy.
^ Do you think that humans are able to orchestrate such a turnaround, benefiting the whole of Eastern Europe?
If God can care for whole countries, don't you imagine that God might be trusted to do a pretty good job for individuals too?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ...
Romans 3:23 (NWT)
Others labor under a burden of guilt - maybe over something they've done in the past. Perhaps they wrecked their body with drugs, or harmed another person in some way. The self-esteem of such people can be very low, but often they would do anything rather than admit they are in need of help. (The writer was at one time of a mind to take his life sooner than admit his mistakes!)
God does not live in the past, does not dwell on mistakes. Our Lord wants to forgive us of all the things we really should not have done. He came to Earth to show Forgiveness to everyone who came to Him. He's showing the same Grace today, to anyone who is ready to take Him at His Word.
As important as forgiveness though, is the assurance that we will not trip over all the same problems that troubled us before. We want to go forward successfully, without our personal flaws holding us back time after time, don't we? We want to be able to enjoy a future that is better than the past. As well as being forgiven then, we need to be shown how to overcome any weaknesses we may have, surely?
So Jesus does this for us too.
To put this whole idea in a nutshell, we can see that belief alone can't change us - we must accept the need for change. This is not too hard to do, is it? God just wants us to admit our mistakes after all - not in order to beat us with them, but in order to forgive and get rid of them. Praise God!
"I will never turn away anyone who comes to me ..."
John 6:37 (TEV)
So why all the fuss? Why do people have such struggles over this? Because we have to make room for Him. We do like the feeling that we are in charge of our lives; we like saying, "I am captain of my ship;" we're proud of that. We say, "I can look after myself." We can't, actually. If we put off this decision, sooner or later, we're going to run up against a situation that's bigger than we are. It's inevitable - that's just the way life is. And instead of making a belated emergency call to Jesus when we're really in a bad way, isn't it much better to set up that "heavenly hot line" well in advance?
Jesus wants us to have an ongoing relationship that takes us through all the rough and the smooth places in our lives. He wants to teach us what's truly important and worthwhile, and what isn't.
"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ."
John Paul II (the late pope)
When someone becomes a Christian he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same any more. A new life has begun!
II Corinthians 5:17 (TLB)
Don't be surprised then, when things start to change. That's the sure Sign that Jesus is at work! Some things we have to let go of. No need to worry - nothing of value will be turfed out! We accumulate quite a lot of rubbish in our lives, some of us. It has to go. This does involve sacrifices - perhaps one evening we'll be called to prayer instead of going out on the town with "the gang," for instance. Or we'll be reading Scripture when the person next to us is looking at something "spicy."
But what benefits you gain when Jesus becomes your Guide! What confidence you have inside! It no longer matters very much whether a situation you are facing is one you're familiar with or not. Because you know that you are not alone. Jesus is walking along beside you; He has helped others to overcome in your kind of situation before, many times. And He is Willing to help you.
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation."
Mark 16:15 (NAB)
And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42 (NAS)
If you feel moved to witness about the good things that Jesus has done in your life, you might find it helpful to use the above steps of faith as a guideline. Perhaps it's time we had an acronym? Believe, Repent, Invite, Confess your King = BRICK. (Which was shown graphically in chapter 2.) And this is a key reminder of how God's Plan of Salvation works: As the next Scripture shows, each of us is formed into a reliable part of the Church, slotted into a structure that God is the Architect of:
So come to him, our living Stone—the stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. Come, and let yourselves be built, as living stones, into a spiritual temple ...
I Peter 2:4-5 (NEB)
There is a Better Way! We can seek the Salvation which our God offers. With Jesus ruling as King in the lives of individuals, great strides can be made. This is the way Messiah will bless whole communities and nations, and re-create this world as a Paradise for all.
At that time it will no longer be necessary to admonish one another to know the Lord. For everyone, both great and small, shall really know me then, says the Lord, and I will forgive and forget their sins.
Jeremiah 31:34 (TLB)
And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike shall live together in peace and happiness.
Jeremiah 31:24 (TLB)
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