Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rejected or accepted?

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: I Kings 10, 11; Psalm 66

Psalm 66:16-20 (NIV)
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.
17 I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!

Good morning!

Have you ever experienced a moment in time when you knew without a doubt that you were standing on holy ground? This is how I feel every single time I complete a course of study with the Missouri Area School of Lay Speaking offered through the Gateway Regional District of the United Methodist Church. Offered twice a year, these Saturday classes are jam-packed with helpful resource information and networking tools that I can use within my local church. I enjoy reading the training materials and books prior to each class. Our facilitators are extraordinary people who feel called by the Lord to share their faith and vision with all of us. They willingly offer their time and talent to creating a safe environment where everyone is welcome to come, listen and share. When attending a Lay Speaking event, one may expect to hear many fascinating stories of God’s call. Every person there has a unique story to tell. We serve an awesome Lord. He reaches out and captures our hearts in the most amazing ways.

Do you remember what it felt like the very first time you knew for certain that God loved you? Maybe you experienced that love as a young child, sitting in a Sunday school class listening to your teacher telling the story of Jesus. Maybe you have been a church-going member for years; you grew up in the church where you now attend faithfully every week. You’ve sat on the same pew with your grandparents and parents for years. Now, you bring your children there to experience a taste of sweet fellowship in the Christ community you call home. Or maybe you left the local church when you graduated from high school, went off to college. Suddenly, you found yourself missing that one special place where you could go and experience the warmth and love of Christ through the expressions of faith offered by a welcoming fellowship of believers. Maybe you’ve never been to church. Still, you know without a doubt that the Lord of life reached out to you and took hold of your heart when you least expected it. Amazing love is hard to describe, especially when it seems so undeserved.

It had been a long day and I was exhausted. Sitting on the sofa next to my husband, we began to share some poignant moments of our day. I didn’t think my evening could get any better. As we flipped the channels on the television set, we stumbled upon a holy moment unfolding at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. Pastor Robert Schuller had invited Robert “Evel” Knievel to share his story of conversion to Christianity. I had not seen this man on television for many years. He is an icon in the motorcycle hall of fame. Knievel’s body bears the scars and reminders of a life lived on the edge. A true daredevil, this motorcycle enthusiast was determined to make the impossible happen. There was not a motorcycle challenge this man would not attempt. It’s amazing that he had survived every accident - he recovered from broken bones, concussions, internal bleeding and traumatic injuries he suffered because of his insatiable passion for the thrill of it all. It was obvious that Knievel was struggling to breathe. Suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, he gasped for breath to verbalize the changes that had occurred in his life. This frail shell of a man began to tell how the life he had lived never satisfied the hole in his soul. He had placed his faith in the things of life that were sure to fail him. Knievel did not know why Jesus Christ would choose to die to redeem him from the sins of his past, but he knew that his family and friends had been been praying for him for years to receive eternal salvation. With tears streaming down his face, Knievel described how the Lord had come into his heart and had completely washed away his sin. He had to tell somebody! He had to tell everybody! Knievel was determined to find a way to tell the world what the cleansing blood of Jesus had done for him. Pastor Schuller baptized this humble heart before thousands of weeping people. It was a good thing I had a box of Kleenex left in my back pack from the Lay Speaking event, because I wasn’t finished crying tears of joy. After he gave his testimony, Pastor invited those who wanted to publicly profess their faith in Christ by receiving the gift of holy baptism to come forward. There was no sermon spoken in that sanctuary. The living sermon was seen on the tear streaked faces of the roughly four hundred people who gave their life to Jesus as a direct result of this amazing testimony of faith.

Come and listen, all you who fear God. Let me tell you what He has done for me. I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God heard my prayer. Praise be to Him – who did not reject my prayer or withhold His amazing love from me! Do you remember what it felt like to know without a doubt that you were saved by the blood of the Lamb? My friend, it is never too late to share your conversion story with others. And we do not know whose life might be touched because we are willing to expose a tender piece of our heart with the people around us.

If you do not know my Jesus today, He is waiting for you to cry out to Him. Jesus is the one who can save! He can begin a new work in you right now, if you are willing to place your faith in Him. This is what it means to be free – to be truly accepted. He will not reject a sincere and humble heart. Let the Lord of life begin to create new life within your heart today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: faith to trust Jesus Christ completely! No matter where you’ve been, He is waiting for you to call upon His name. Jesus will not reject a sincere and humble heart. If you believe He is the only Son of the living God, who died to save you from your sin and redeem you for everlasting life, confess it with your lips and experience new life today! Do you know what it feels like to be truly accepted and loved?
© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding
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