2017 READING CHALLENGE RECOMMENDATIONS
The new year is a time to challenge yourself to reach new […]
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No matter what anyone tries to tell us, we know there is more to life than what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, or feel with our senses. Somehow it's in our nature to believe in something bigger than ourselves, to reach out and appeal to a higher power.
We've seen evidence of the supernatural all around us--divine intervention or protection, the healing power of prayer. Amazing things happen every day that cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence or chance. There are so many mysteries and miracles that no doctor or scientist can explain away.
The Bible confirms that we are, in fact, spiritual beings--our physical bodies host immortal souls (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are meant to live forever. (No wonder we're always shocked by how quickly time passes--it seems so unnatural to us, because it is ) The Bible tells us that there are angelic beings who are assigned to protect us and watch over us (Psalm 91:11-12). Miracles really do happen. And, yes, there is incredible power in prayer (James 5:16). The Bible also explains where that power comes from--who it is that orchestrates miraculous events--the One who created men and angels, the Author of Life itself:
"You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you" (Nehemiah 9:6). "What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:4).
It's so mind-boggling, isn't it? The God of the universe does care for us. He created each one of us with the capacity to share an intimate and personal relationship with Him. And He created us as eternal beings, so that we may enjoy a relationship with Him forever in Heaven. But too often, we have ignored this glorious invitation. We've been content with little more than a superficial awareness of Him. We have lived life on our own terms, in our own way, without giving much thought to the One who gave this life to us (Romans 3:10-11).
The Bible calls that "sin." And because nothing that has been tainted by sin can ever enter God's holy presence, we find ourselves condemned to what we know as death (both physical and spiritual)--eternal separation from God (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
But God in His mercy made a way to save us from this hell of our own making. You may have heard the Scripture that says: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. Because He loved us, Jesus took the punishment in our place. But because Jesus was without sin Himself, death could not keep Him in the grave. He rose from the dead, destroying the power of sin once and for all.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Faith in Jesus is the only way that anyone can be made pure enough and righteous enough to enter God's presence. Jesus explained, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
When Jesus forgives our sins, they are completely wiped out--erased--washed away. God's Holy Spirit comes and lives within us, and we experience His presence in a whole new way. We sense His nearness as never before. And most importantly, we have the assurance that when our time on this earth comes to an end, we will live forever in Heaven--a place so beautiful it defies description (1 Corinthians 2:9).
There is more to life . . . so much more To experience this truth for yourself, pray something like this:
Dear God, I've been missing out. There's so much more to life than I have understood before. I realize now that I am a sinner, in need of a Savior. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die on the cross for me. Send Your Spirit to live within me. I want to know You personally--the same way You already know me. Help me honor You with my life. Amen.
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