What follows is an excerpt from the book,  Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World, chapter 28.

 

It seems as the holidays are now upon us that people come to church in huge amounts upon the big special holidays. Then you do not see them again until the next series of holidays.

 

Without Jesus, You Don’t Have a Prayer

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him

shall not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

 

When I went to church yesterday, it was exciting to see so many people. We had 2,565 people there. It was Easter Sunday. We normally have about 1,000 on an average Sunday. My question is: Where are the people the rest of the year? They are only there at Easter because they have accepted the ways of this world and have become churchgoers and not church members. That is what they do: Go to church at Easter.

They have Easter egg hunts at home. They have big family gatherings, but they do not know the meaning behind Easter. They want the Easter bunny to fill their baskets to bring joy to their faces, caring nothing about having Jesus in their hearts.

            As we go through life, some think they can survive on their own without Jesus. They conform to the world around them and think that life is going to be kind to them, because they are “good” people, and surely (I know—don’t call me Shirley!) they will be blessed in their “afterlife.” But when they have finished the race, and face the judgment, God will say, “I do not know you because you rejected My Son.”

We must learn that without Jesus, we do not have a prayer of being with Him in heaven. We have to go the extra mile and let Him into our lives. Then the time of judgment will be different. When we finish the race, God will say, “Come in, My good and faithful servant.”

When it was time for Jesus to be crucified for our sins, He went through many hardships. Others before Him (like Joseph) and after Him (like Paul) also faced hardships. The similarities show that whenever we go through trials, some good can come of it, if we stay close to God and keep the faith.

Joseph went to find his brothers because his father asked him to go to Shechem to look for them. They were out tending the sheep. He didn’t find them there, and asked where his brothers had gone. He was told his brothers had gone on to Dothan. He could have stopped when he got to Shechem. He had gone as far as his father had told him to, but he went the “extra mile” (actually about twenty) to find his brothers in Dothan. When he found them, what did they do? They threw him into a deep hole called a cistern, tore off his robe and then sold him into slavery. The robe was a richly ornamented one that his father had given Joseph. His brothers hated Joseph, so they betrayed their own brother.

Paul spent many years being persecuted, facing torture and spending time in prison, but he never wavered. He continued to preach all over the world of his time, telling people about salvation. He was a loyal servant of God. He kept on serving the Lord. Even though he had many hardships, he finished the race.

Jesus could have saved Himself when He was put on the cross. But He allowed the soldiers to pound the nails into his hands and feet, crushing the bones and letting the crimson blood flow to the ground. He could have sent for a thousand angels when He was hanging on the cross and have them destroy the people. Instead He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” He said He was thirsty, when He could have opened up the skies and let rainwater fall into His mouth. Instead the soldiers gave him bitter-tasting vinegar wine. He could have set Himself free at anytime, but instead He said, “It is finished!”

The soldiers took Jesus’ robe off just like the brothers did to Joseph. It also was a specially made robe with no seams in it. It was woven in one piece from the top. The soldiers threw dice to see who would win the robe. It must have been Jesus’ finest possession. It was a great “collector’s” item for the soldiers.

Jesus walked all over the country teaching about salvation. In the end He was persecuted, beaten, marched through a mock trial and put to death. He went through many of the things Paul went through.

Yes, Jesus could have saved Himself that day. He could have done many things to stop what was happening to Him, but He went on to walk the extra mile. He went on to finish the race. He went on to the cross to pay the supreme sacrifice for our sins.

Have you walked the extra mile? Is Jesus your Lord? Will you finish the race with Him and live an eternal life of joy? He paid the price for the ticket to get you in. He wanted to die for you because He wants you to be in heaven with Him.

 

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart

that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

 

Further adventures

Study the book of Romans. Read it to see how wonderful life can be when we follow God. Also find some books that tell about the life of Jesus. Here are two I recommend, both by Philip Yancey: The Jesus I Never Knew and What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey digs deeply into the life of Jesus and shows us much more about Jesus than we could ever understand on our own.

 

Something to ponder

Isn’t it funny how someone can say, “I believe in God,” on Sunday, but on Monday follow Satan (who, by the way, also “believes” in God)?

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