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11  How to Respond to His Call Today

"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,
I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me."
Revelation 3:20 (NRSV)
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.

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."
John 3:3 (TLB)

[* NAB - "begotten from above"]

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:
"... Unless one is born of watera and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God."

 a Or, "Physical birth is not enough. You must also be born spiritually. . . ."
John 3:5 (TLB)

^  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.

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.

1.  Believe - that God can give you the key to life.
2.  Repent - in other words, accept that a fresh start is needed.
3.  Invite - Jesus to be your Savior.
4.  Confess - that Jesus is now your King.

That's pretty simple, isn't it? Indeed, it's so simple we would expect a child to be able to grasp these steps (and children often do hear God's Call very clearly). Let us then, look at what's involved a little more closely.

1.  Believe - that God can give you the key to life: There are three main parts to this subject of belief:

Firstly we have to believe that there is more to life than this physical realm - more to be gained than the mere acquisition of things.
Secondly we have to believe that God is Alive today, not a dead god who maybe did some creating way back but can't help us now.
Thirdly we have to believe that our Lord is Willing and Able to bridge the gap between a Heavenly God and a people in need of God.

In other words, we have to believe the Bible and the Promises it holds for us. In the Bible we are told that we have to be saved - that there is an Enemy who would rob us of our heritage. Our heritage, we are told, is to receive eternal life, and to grow up as God's children.

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?

2.  Repent - in other words, accept that a fresh start is needed: Do we need God? Maybe we think we're doing quite well thank you, without any "outside assistance"? People can have terrible trouble with this idea of repentance: Some seem to feel that "Christians" are trying to class them as "sinners" (of the worst kind, naturally), and that these "perfect ones" won't let them into "the club" until they too are perfect.

The truth is that there are no perfect ones down here - we are all "sinners," according to Scripture (and our own observations, surely):
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ...
Romans 3:23 (NWT)
The very goodness of some people causes them to reject this idea of repentance. It's tragic when that happens. Because no one's asking such people to consider their souls as black as night. Just a modest acknowledgment that they're not as Perfect as God yet, that's all that's needed.

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)
^  3.  Invite - Jesus to be your Savior: This is the crucial step. Inviting Jesus into your life as Savior sounds simple doesn't it? And it can indeed be simple. First, if we fully accept in our heart that we need God. This implies an awareness that our life could be more rewarding than the one we have. Second, if we believe that Jesus is the One Who is Able to give us that better life. Finally, if we take Him at His Word when He says that if we ask we shall receive. At this point, what else would we do but ask?

You can be assured, by all the millions who have taken this step, that the moment a person sincerely asks Jesus to be their lifelong Savior, their prayer is answered.

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.

But first we must yield. It's scary, this idea of giving ultimate control over our lives to someone else. It's also essential, because there is no one better qualified to lead us than Jesus Christ.

So take courage. As a notable Christian once said:
"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ."
John Paul II (the late pope)
Remember, when anyone makes the decision for Jesus, asking our Lord to save them, He does. That woman or man, girl or boy is born again - right then and there.
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 start to gain 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.

^  4.  Confess - that Jesus is now your King: This confession does not have to be verbal. The fact that you are now in tune with a Heavenly Melody will become obvious both to you and the people round you, it is suggested. The Truth that Jesus saves will shine out from within.

But when you've got something good it's just natural to want to talk about it, and this is indeed what we are encouraged to do. The fact that Jesus is King is not clear to everyone, which is why we need to witness:
"Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation."
Mark 16:15 (NAB)
What we have to share even increases in value as the Holy Spirit teaches us and enables us to see the Wonder of God. We realize much more the profound Beauty of the Scriptures. Isn't it marvelous for example, that all the ingredients for a steady growth in stature can be found encapsulated in just one verse?
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 1975)
There are four distinct things we are told about here:

4.1  The Apostles' Teaching: This comes down to us in the Scriptures. The Twelve had three things to draw on: the Hebrew Bible, the Words of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit's Guidance. Likewise, we have three resources: the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), plus the New Testament, and the same Inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

We, like the early Christians, need people who will teach us by expounding on the Wonderful Love of God as shown in the Bible.

4.2  Fellowship: Where do we find fellow-believers whom we can relate to? The writer is convinced that each of us has a spiritual home in some branch of the Church. Once there, we can experience a precious unity - because we are among people who uphold common values. These values are based on the Gospel and lead on to the Kingdom of God. So the advice is - look for your own place in the Church. In it you will receive the teaching you need and you will be well supported as you walk along with Jesus.

4.3  Breaking of Bread: First, there is the bread that is broken whenever Christians remember the Last Supper. This is a reminder that Jesus was prepared to give His Body over to His enemies in order to show how serious He is about Love.

Second, we can think of the sharing of bread and other food that took place in the communal style of living which the early Christians gladly adopted.

Finally, there is our Lord's service. Jesus said: " 'My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.' " - John 4:34 (NWT). We are given the privilege of helping in the Lord's Work. We can share Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:35), with those who are hungry. And we are nourished as we do so.

4.4  Prayer: Faithful people of all religions understand that there is great value in prayer. As this was first written (early 1990's), Iran had just suffered a disastrous earthquake; they asked the rest of us for our prayers. Jesus was Constant in prayer, and He saw the fruit of this in the Healings and other Miracles that attended His Ministry. Jesus revealed that if we seek and trust God's Guidance we will be led into the way of wisdom, loving, and caring - we will go from strength to strength.

^  Studying the Scriptures, fellowshiping with other Christians, sharing our resources with one another, being steadfast in prayer. If we do these four things we will grow in the Lord. With His Sure Leadership our spirits will increase in stature. Because we are born again, we have started again. We rethink our roles with a fresh mind. Whether we are husbands or wives, mothers or fathers or children, whatever our place in life is - whether we are called to be a worker, a friend or a neighbor - we do a better job when Jesus is at the Head.

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)
Do we have an alternative, actually? When it comes right down to it there is no middle way, in the writer's experience. Either we live to please God, or we live to please ourselves. If we decide for self, we effectively enthrone ourselves as God. Putting self first means that sooner or later, waste, immorality and destructive acts make inroads into our lives.

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)
You can start this wonderful new relationship with God today. And as God moves in all our lives, you will find the following Prophecy coming to pass:
And city dwellers and farmers and shepherds alike shall live together in peace and happiness.
Jeremiah 31:24 (TLB)

Chapter 11 Notes

    1. Reserved

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