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Knowing Him Firsthand

There is no explanation for my life except that Jesus Christ is the Son of God made flesh, and that everything the Bible says about Him is the absolute truth. What He has done, and continues to do for me, is beyond natural explanation and is evidence of His character and nature.

It is true that God’s nature is Love. It is true that Jesus is the perfect imprint and very image of God’s nature. It is true that Jesus is very alive, and He is in fact with you. Yes, you. It is true that He is with you as you are reading this, and it is true that if you have already invited Him to come into your heart and given Him Lordship over your life, He is actually in you as you are reading this. How amazing! There is nobody like Him. He is completely unique in all of creation, in this kingdom and in the Kingdom of God. He is completely beautiful and perfect and wonderful.

Religion Wasn’t Enough

Suddenly, here I am in a beautiful home, raising my wonderful son with every need met, enjoying the blessing of great friends, and with all the desires of my heart perpetually coming to fruition. His love and power and mercy and grace are beyond description. God is good! God is ridiculously good!

Looking at my life now, you would never guess that only a few short years ago, I was broken, alone, hopeless, helpless, rejected, harassed, abandoned, grief-stricken, forgotten and lost.

I was raised in a very religious church, with all of the denominational pride and religious dogma that usually come with it. I was well-trained in the Scripture and in my church’s explanation of it. I was as religious, legalistic and works-righteous as the religious doctrine I grew up in intended me to be. I knew a lot about what hundreds of years of men in long black robes had to say about God, but I didn’t know Him myself. I looked forward to the day when I would finally die and go to meet God. I could recite lots of Bible verses about grace, but deep down I believed that grace was for people who deserved it! And I surely didn’t. I never knew what it was like to be loved unconditionally. And when you haven’t experienced unconditional love, it’s hard to really believe that God loves you unconditionally. I looked for love and acceptance everywhere, but never found it. Looking to anyone or anything but God, the real God, the One True God, only produces more misery.

Rescued In the Nick of Time

I was at the very end, and I knew that I would not be alive much longer. Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, and he sure had a field-day with me. I had lost everything in the world and everyone I loved, and there was nothing and nobody left to turn to. When I was very close to dying from grief, I finally turned to Jesus, with all of my heart. I knew I did not come close to deserving His love, or even a moment of His attention. But yet, in what I knew would be my last prayer, I turned to Him with everything I had in me––sin and all. And you know what? Jesus Christ, the One from Nazareth––He saved me. Personally. One night in December, 2006, He met with me in such a way that there can be no doubt that He is very much alive. I asked Him to make me His sheep, and I asked Him what His voice sounded like––because I knew it was the only thing that would save me. Without His personal intervention, I would have died in a dinky little apartment in Little Rock, Arkansas, and nothing good that has ever come about by being on the earth since then would ever have happened. It’s just a fact––He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask, think or even imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. How amazing is that? What a God we have! He is awesome!

The night that He first visited this way with me, I understood that He had always known me and loved me. He had never left me nor had He forsaken me––not even for a moment, not ever. No matter what I had done, or where I had been, He had not turned His back on me for a moment. But I had been so buried under religion that it left me without a real relationship with Him. Religion had plugged up my ears to His voice, and my heart to receiving His love. The Bible says that the traditions and doctrines of man render the Word of God to no effect. When we take comfort in robes, candles, tradition, or recitation or when we feel puffed-up by taking on another responsibility at church, we are stuck in religion. Religion is designed to come between you and the very God you want to know, to love, and worship, to hear from, and to have intimate, personal fellowship with.

As Close as He Gets

The Lord Jesus is the perfect imprint of the Father. He is God. He is perfect, and eternal, and holds all power and all authority in heaven and on earth. He single-handedly put to death sin, death, and the power of the devil. Wow! The Lord Jesus is also a real Person. He lived here in a human body, and in its glorified form, He still lives in a body––He is the Firstborn of many brothers. Jesus lived here and knows life from our perspective. All things were made by Him, through Him, and for Him. That includes you. Every bit of His power and authority, which encompasses the entire universe and whatever exists apart from the known universe––He uses in your behalf.

Jesus is worth getting to know on an interactive, personal, one-on- One basis, and if you recall, He is not fond of religion, or religious practices. He is alive, and He is life. His Word is spirit, and it is life. He is not impressed by church liturgy or repetition. He didn’t like it when He was here in body with us, and since He is the same yesterday, today and forever––He has not grown to appreciate religion since He went to be with the Father. He loves those of us who sit in a pew week after week, mumbling the same songs, chanting the same creeds, checking our watches and even being offended when someone has the gall to sit in “our spot.” But these things keep Him at a distance, when He wants to hold you in His arms. They keep Him up in the sky somewhere, sitting on a throne, when the fact is that He’s right there next to you; and even in you if you have already welcomed Him as the Lord of your life.

Religion, with all its rules and padded doctrine is the opposite of relationship, nd His whole purpose for creating you was to have a relationship with you. Think of that the next time you get frustrated when your husband isn’t really listening to you even though you’re both at the dinner table. Think of that the next time you want to take your wife to a nice dinner and show her how special she is to you, and all she’s concerned about is whether or not her dress makes her look fat. Think of that the next time you want to have a heart-to-heart with your teenage child, and …well, if you don’t have one just remember when you were one.

Jesus wants to know you and for you to know Him. Back when I could tell you all the right Bible answers about Jesus––where He was born, and what He said in His “sermon on the mount,” I could not tell you what His voice sounded like. I could have told you His friend John leaned back on His chest, but I could not have told you what it feels to lean back on His chest myself. I have only just begun my journey with Jesus––the real Jesus and not the cardboard cutout. I have a long way to go, and I stumble often on the way. But I am also learning first-hand that He really is always with me. That He is never angry at me, and that He never ever turns His face from me. I am learning that He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me hope and decided end. I am learning that He has blessed me in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. I am learning who He is first hand, not just by reading about Him in His Book.

(Deborah Peebles is the founder of Hope and Mercy Foundation (www. hopeandmercy.org) the purpose of which is to help struggling fatherless families in San Antonio, TX, on the road toward wholeness and prosperity.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20110403
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Oct-Dec 2011. CCMUSA.