Laying Down Our LivesWhat sometimes holds you back from laying down your life for others?
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I have for several years now wrestled with whether or not I should post my testimony on the net. I have over the years only shared it with a few people and seldom in the totality of what took place and never with the ability to describe it properly. The reason being is the nature of it. What I am about to share I in no way can prove nor will I try. It is a very personal thing to me and one that I cherish deeply. I am in a great deal of dept to the Lord Jesus Christ for what He has done for me, a debt that I can never repay. I want to make it clear that I am not the focus of this, but the Lord is. He alone has made it possible for me and multitudes before me and even after me to have peace with God and a place with Him for all eternity. I am in no way special above anyone else. All are special to the Lord. My need however was evidently different then most and above that the Lord is Sovereign and He does as He chooses with who He wills. That being said I am aware that what it took to get me to surrender to Him and bring me to faith also came at a high price. The Lord says to Thomas in scripture; Jhn 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed. I have over the years listen to many people give their testimony and these people for the most part are those of great faith. I am not. I am of little faith because of how I come to believe, but even the faith of a mustard seed will suffice and we who hold even that type of faith can praise God for His grace. While He paid a great price on the cross, and that in itself should be enough, He is not willing that any should perish and will go to great lengths to get just one person to repent and believe. That alone should give great hope for those multitudes who pray for their loved ones and seek the Lord early for Him to save them also. Also for those who feel that they have sinned too great to be forgiven. While He will not force Himself on any, He will do what ever it takes to save one person IF they are of a heart to repent and believe. So with all this being said let me now began to tell a part of my life and what took place to bring about a new life and a new person because of what One man has done for me and for any who will come, the God man, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. All glory to His name. I was born in Ohio the first of three children, one sister and a brother. As I reflect back there seemed to be some times of happiness, but many times of distress. The distress for me was when my parents would fight and argue. My father was physical with my mother and it caused great mental harm to me although at the time I only felt fear and confusion. Also he taught me how to be a thief. No he did not set me down and school me, but by watching him take things that he had not paid for I learned to follow and increase in what he did. While I am not excusing my sins I do warn others to be very careful in what you do in front of your children. By the time I was about 9 they had divorced and he had remarried to a woman who at the time of this writing he is still with and has several children in that marriage. My sins followed me and grew into things I would never mention to anyone. After the divorce there was never much of a relationship with my father. I began to grow angry and unruly over the next years. By the time I was 10 years old I was already being sent to jail, and back then they would put you in with the adults at times so it became necessary to grow up fast. I was in and out of trouble for the rest of my life until I was in my 30â€™s when I finally came to the Lord. I began at an early age experimenting with sex and seeking out older girls. By the time I was 15 I was dating women in their late teens or twenties. I married my first wife as a teenager and she was in her twenties. She was pregnant at the time so we married. My attitude was for self and my life showed it. Not long after the child was born I ran off with another woman who was even older then my wife and as I abandoned my child so did this new woman leave her children. Not long after, my mother was brutally murdered by the man who she had married. He also took his own life at the same time. To be honest his taking of his own life made me more angry then taking hers. Hers mostly left hurt, but taking his own left me without any way for revenge. So years of anger were built up and I became a very angry and dangerous person to be around. I lived the next years of my life fast and hard and any way that pleased me until I come to the Lord. The old saying wine women and song certainly fit, but my life was not limited with just those. As the years of sin began to mount they began to take a toll on me. By the time I was in my late twenties I looked like I was nearing 40. Sin will do that and more! Sin is a cruel taskmaster. It offers pleasure and power and while at times it does provide those it always takes back more then it gives. Simply put, sin makes one a looser. The more you get the more it requires and in the end it requires the ultimate price, your soul. During those years of sin I had become an agnostic. I could not swallow the idea that we came from monkeys or evolved from other life forms, but at the same time I was not sure there was a God. I began to hate my sin and what it was doing and yet not able to break the bond with it. I guess I did not really want to break that bond, but I did want free from its consequences. After several years I began to be depressed over my life. That only caused more anger. I had a family bible that had been p!ed on to me after my mother was murdered. As I was alone I began to read it. First I tried the Old testament and while the first few chapters of Genesis was interesting it really did little to sooth my need. Finally after some time I began to read in the New Testament and it too for the most part offered little help. Then I began to just read the read letter of the Lord. While I did not understand what He was saying it did seem to offer some peace to my mind. At the same time I was calling on the phone dial a prayer. It too seemed to offer some peace. However in both cases the only peace that I might have found was short lived, but thank God He was not done with me in His seeking me. One night after work I had set down to watch a little TV. The program, the best I can remember now, was called thatâ€™s increditable. In that program they dedicate it all to people who had some sort of claimed supernatural experience with a higher power or God. Remember I was an agnostic, even though I was not aware of what the term was. As I watched that program I began to think to myself that so many people could not be telling those stories and there not be something to them. So in great desperation I called out to Him. I knew little or nothing of Him or if he was real or would listen. My call was not really to get saved, because I knew nothing of this, but because I wanted peace from my ways. I really did not consider wanting to surrender to Him. I just wanted peace. Well He did nothing. I am not sure exactly what I expected Him to do, but nothing changed. Over the next few months I called to Him several times, but nothing. Finally I just gave up and decided that there is no God or I had went too far. You see I knew my sins and I could remember the time I raised my fist to heaven and cursed Him with every foul name I could think of. So I just gave up on God and forgot about Him, and I remained an agnostic. I decided I would live my life and thought most likely I would die a violent death as in some fight or something like that. However He had not given up on me. Praise His name! After several months of forgetting about even calling on Him He began to work in my life. One night after going to bed I was awaken (some call it a dream but dreams are different then this it was real to me) and taken to a place where all I could see was a pearly white cloud like light. I was moved along for a short time and suddenly brought to a stopping place. I then heard the sound of a trumpet, and I was spoken to with these words. "It is Jesus Christ." I then looked straight ahead and I could see Him standing as if it were across an unending expanse. He stood there for a second or two and then suddenly came and stood before me. In just a moment of time I saw Him cross that distance. As He stood there before me He never spoke to me, but His face said more then words ever could. He was heart broken over me. The look on His face was absolutely broken over where my sin had taken me. Actually more then broken He was bewildered over me. The love and comp!ion I saw is more then can be explained. To think that He would be that concerned for me was more then I could understand. Then the look on His face began to change and I could feel His eyes piercing my heart and I knew that He could see my sinfulness. His eyes became like black burning coals piercing me. His entire countenance became one of judgment and anger. Actually more then just anger, He was enraged at me, over my sin. When He was showing me His love there was no anger, but when He showed me His wrath He had no love. Then suddenly it was over and I lay awake in my bed in a cold sweat hardly able to believe what had just happened to me. Then after laying there a few minutes He spoke to me and said these words. "You are about to lose more then you know." Well I was no longer an agnostic, but even though I now believed and even knew that He was I was not a believer in the biblical sense. Now I had to wrestle with do I want Him in my life. The truth is I did not. My sin had a deep hold on me even though I wanted free from its consequences I could not let go of my sin. However I knew I needed Him and if I did not turn to Him not only would I remain with a life that had been wasted, but one day I would split hell wide open. So I called out to Him again, but this time with a purpose. I asked Him to give me the time I needed to say yes to Him. He was very gracious with me. Never forcing, never dealing harshly, but daily in a gentle way calling me to Himself letting me decide the outcome yet all the time the Spirit of God was dealing with me. It was a time of great battle for my soul since Satan was also dealing very strongly with me. It was like being caught in the middle of two, each calling me to themselves, but only One calling for my good. One promising pleasure, freedom and anything the mind could think of and One offering peace and life. After several months I finally decided that it was time to get right with the God and found a little church where I sat and told my story to the pastor and I then asked the Lord if He would accept a sinner such as I. He did, and now I am a true believer. For over twenty years now He has been faithfully chipping away at this unworthy one, changing the way I live and think. Daily moment by moment leading and guiding and many times having to dust me off from some foolish action I have done, only to confirm that I am His and nothing can snatch me from Him. So do I believe? Without a doubt, but believing is not just thinking it to be or hoping it to be. It is surrendering to follow that which is true and yes Jesus Christ is The way, The Truth, and The life. The question is not have others been as bad a sinner as I, but have they sinned at all. It is not the depth of the sin nor the amount of sin that condemns us. It is the fact that we do not want to have God rule over our lives in every manner and deed as He should. We do not want to have a Master who tells us we can or cannot do such and such or are we willingly wanting to humble ourselves and bow to Him. This alone is rejecting Him and what sends us to hell. Our practice of sin is nothing but a witness as to who we are serving or should I say not serving. Some very nice people do some very good deeds all their lives, but in all truth they still do not want God as all authority over their lives. They are the ones who decide what is good and when to do it. They too are lost, but in a sea of good deeds that means nothing because they reject the God of their creation by not surrendering all their hearts to Him confessing that they are truely sinners in need of a Saviour. But for those who have surrendered, coming to faith and repentance, these will never perish because He gives us a new life and purpose. That is why once we are truly saved we cannot continue to live in sin, but daily live our lives as he directs. Never again will a true believer practice sin in their life. Yes we may struggle with certain sins, but we are doing just that. Fighting the battle against them and seeking to not fall to them. Not because we are saved by how we live, but because we live to glorify a living Savior who has already saved us and because we have come to Him and He will never cast us out. It is a life and battle of joy and peace. Yes there can be sorrow and even defeat for a moment in that walk, but there is an overwhelming joy of knowing that one day we who have surrendered our lives and hearts will be in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for He alone is the One who saves, not we ourselves. Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Not everyone will have the same experience that I had, but everyone does have to come to the same point. Broken over their sin, ready and wanting to get right with God no matter what it may cost them. This is a spirit of brokenness and repentance and when we do this He will do the rest. He alone has the price of salvation and only He has paid it in full to apply to any who will come. The choice is for each to make. I have made mine and I believe, now you need to make your choice. Today is the day of salvation for tomorrow does not belong to you and eternity is but one heart beat away, so be ready, the Spirit and the bride say COME!