How dear and precious is the Lord! Isn’t He so wonderful? And I tell you, to think… right now, I could be in hell. And God would not have to apologize to me. I could be there. I could be cut off from mercy. I could be lost forever. I could be ready to be resurrected and stand before the Great White Throne and to be cast into the eternal lake of fire. And to think that God had mercy upon me and saved me and brought me into a relationship with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and has introduced me to peace that I never had in the world, never could find, a joy that is truly at times inexpressible. And life through the Scripture, understanding, God telling me and teaching me and showing me the riches and the treasures of what my life is about and what the life of others is about and where things are going. To have these things to be given to you and to know that you haven’t paid for them, you haven’t earned them, you haven’t worked for them, they’ve just been given to you. All because He paid the price for this gift to be given to you.
And I’ll tell you again, how can we not be passionate about this? How can we not be giving ourselves completely to Him? How can we not be just caught up every day in the glories of this. Let’s walk with God. Let us strive unto death fighting against sin, and turning our backs upon the world. Because what else is there? For us who are called?What else could we do? Let us follow on the know the Lord.
And this is the wonderful thing… I’m thankful for the promises in the Scripture that the Lord is not going to finish until we one day rise in the complete likeness of Jesus Christ. I can’t imagine what this will be. It’s really hard to think about it. But one day, all the attributes – I’m not talking about the deity attributes, but I’m talking about holy attributes of our Lord Jesus Christ, one day in body, soul and spirit it’s going to be duplicated in us and we’re going to rise one day and we’re not even going to be able to think a bad thought. There will be no temptation, and if there was temptation, it’d be like a tick on the back 40, it wouldn’t matter to us. What I’m saying is, thank God for the inexpressible and glorious joys there are in the present life of knowing Jesus, and the treasures and the wealth and the riches and the glory that is to be yet revealed to us who are children of God. Beloved, I tell you again, how wonderful God is! How loving He is! And let us spend our days from now on praising Him, honoring Him, thanking Him, serving Him, living for Him, doing all we can for His glory. Seeking Him. And the wonderful thing is the provisions are there on our side. We’re not going to be short-changed when it comes to having the grace, the Spirit, the Word, the help that we’ll need to make it to the end. Amen. So let us press on, beloved.
My mom and dad, my grandfather was a Baptist pastor, my dad was a deacon in a Baptist church. I was raised to know the Gospel. And from an early age, I can remember when I first began to realize I was lost. I was six years old. I came under conviction. My mother had given me strict orders. I had a new BB gun. And she said, “You can shoot the sparrows out there, but don’t shoot any red bird.”
Well, I was out in the backyard, and I can remember so clearly a red bird lit in a cedar tree behind our house. And I raised my BB gun. My mama told me not to shoot this bird. But it was too big a target and too tempting. And I shot that bird. I said, well, I can’t hit him anyway. But anyway, I shot the bird dead. He fell out of the tree. And when that bird fell out of the tree, I felt like God in heaven was looking down upon me, and I felt right then immediately a sense of sin and lostness. I had done wrong. I had sinned. Disobeyed my parents. I knew that not obeying my mother and father was a sin. And from that point on, I labored under conviction. Really strong conviction. And again, being taken to church… I have a somewhat complicated testimony. But my first entrance into the life of faith was when I was 11 years old. In what Southern Baptists used to call Vacation Bible School, As I said I had been under conviction, and even in that week, the Lord had been dealing with me. The pastor had been preaching some very simple and very strong sermons to young people about salvation.
And I remember, the night before I was saved, I remember I got in bed and I was thinking somehow this little prayer I’d heard, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, and if I die before I wake…” And I got to thinking about “if I die before I wake” I’ll go to hell. I’m lost. I remember knowing I was lost, just feeling under condemnation.
But I went back to church the next day and to Bible school and this was back in an Arminian church where they gave an invitation. And the Lord was dealing with me, and the pastor said any one of you children would like to receive Christ as your Savior? Would anyone like to turn to the Lord today?
And I can remember this, I turned to a friend of mine beside me, I told him, I said, “If you’ll go, I’ll go.” And he said, (shook his head no) And I said I’m going to go whether you go or not. But anyway, I can remember this. I had to come to the Lord. I moved toward Christ. It was a simple repentance and a simple faith. And I was opening my life to the Lord. I can remember this. It was somewhere between the first and second step, the Lord gave me peace that my sins were forgiven.
In a Southern Baptist church, I was not discipled very well. And I’m not blaming the church, but I didn’t grow much. The concept is you get saved, now what else is there? But I came to learn that salvation is not just a one-time step. It’s not just a one-time decision. It’s a daily decision. And it’s a lifelong commitment, a daily commitment to lay down our lives and to seek the Lord and yield to Him. And like I said, during my teenage years I drifted… the Lord never would let me go.
In fact, I can give you testimony of how the Lord chastened me. I got some good spankings. Heavy spankings from the Lord when I was away, out of fellowship. And let me tell you whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth. And scourges every son whom He receives. If you’re not obedient as a Christian, not doing what you ought to be doing, God’s rod will be upon you some way. And His spankings hurt. And they’re effective. And the Lord spanked me back into line. Praise the Lord! Amen.