Posted on September 14, 2017 by


  The sky was a brilliant cobalt blue as I climbed out of my truck that cool fall morning. I was preparing myself for another adventure hike in the Blue Ridge mountains. I could barely feel the wind as it caressed through the hairs on my arm. The leaves where exploding with yellows, browns, and reds. You could hear the water traverse slippery rock creek, and the cool mountain temperatures made each breath exhilarating to inhale. As I threw my backpack over my shoulder and started up the trail I could hear the grass crinkle under my feet. I came to the mountains to take pictures and spend some time getting closer to God. As I wound around the trail I startled a gray squirrel who started barking at me to let everyone know I was coming up the mountain.

Morning soon became noon and I have this inkling in my belly for some food. I plopped down on an old  stump and pulled out my lunch from the back pack.  I could feel the warmed breeze shift on my arms, and where there was a cloudless sky before dark clouds started to roll over the top of the mountain. I had walked about 4 miles that morning, stopping and taking pictures along the way. I had really planned to go further but the ominous signs in the sky advised me to head back. It really surprised me how fast it clouded over. A light sprinkle started to fall from the sky. The woods looked completely different now.

The trees seemingly lost their color, and every thing seemed so much grayer. As I worked my way around a blind corner I stepped over tree roots that crossed my way. I looked up only to discover the trail came to an end. I walked back up to the trail head where 4 trails came together. I felt like I needed to go downhill to get back to the truck so I followed the only trail I could. I walked about half a mile and came upon two more trails, none of them recognizable. By then the sky became very dark and it started to rain. My worst fears had been realized. I was lost.

I don’t care who you are, if you are cold, hungry and lost you want to be saved. You want someone to come and rescue you from your peril. That’s not how it is in the world. There many people desperately lost, stumbling through life separated from their Creator. It can be difficult to convince them that they are lost without Jesus. They trust in their church membership, their being good, or the money they give. There are countless other things they place their faith in rather than the Word of God. If you will admit that you are lost and separated from God then you are ready to be saved. Jesus came to save those who are lost so that none should  perish, but that all should come to a time in their life when they change their direction toward God. Most people have not stood still long enough to realize they are separated from God.

All media are against us. We bombarded by television, and the internet  of countless pleasures we can indulge in. We make excuses of all kinds that will eventually send us into hell. “I am not ready yet. I am too busy. I am having too much fun to live such a boring life.” We place our faith in beliefs that are not factually based. Or, “I thing I am good enough to go to heaven.” The fact of the matter is being good has nothing to do with going to heaven. Heaven belongs to God. Eternity belongs to God, and for us to enter we must believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These are not my rules, they are His. Many of us feel we are not good enough to be a Christian. We feel like we must right our wrongs, conform to some type of religious standard because there are so many  telling us we have to do this, or do that, to be saved. None of this is true.  Believing is Receiving.

  Imagine for a moment Jesus Christ hanging on the cross.  Crowned with a crown of thorns, large spikes nailed through His hands and feet, bloody from the viscous beating He took. On both sides of Him hung two thieves. In the beginning both men mocked Jesus. But one man in the final hour of his life had a change of heart and recognized his lost condition. He told the other thief they were receiving the justice that they deserved. He realized that the man on the center cross was sinless and had done no one any harm. Then the poor, dying man asked Jesus to remember him when He comes into His kingdom. What did Jesus say? Did he say that he wasn’t ready to be saved, that he had to do this or that before he would be qualified to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Did He tell the poor man he wasn’t good enough. No, He looked into the eyes of that poor, dying man, and told  him his sins were forgiven. Jesus said, “ Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

 “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,  whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV

  What I am trying to express to you is your salvation is based in its entirety on the finished work of Jesus Christ. No part of it rests on your own ability. Believing is receiving, plus nothing. It is a free gift from God.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 NKJV  Grace is unmerited mercy. We don’t even provide the faith. The Bible tells us, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 NKJV  Which simply means as we listen to the preacher, and as we read our Bible, we receive,  and grow in faith. Jesus brought grace to all mankind. It is not a country club where some are welcome. Membership into any establishment is not required. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. God made Jesus, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us so that we may become right with God.

  Let’s suppose for a moment you are terminally ill. You have cancer that none of your doctors can heal. Let’s say for a moment that you hear about a doctor on the other side of the country that has healed people with your cancer. So what do you do? You immediately stop everything that you are doing and go and see this doctor. You believe in your heart and confess to others that this doctor can heal you. Now when you get to this doctor you surrender your will to him so that he can heal you. You set aside all other medications and place your trust into the doctor’s hands. The same is true with Jesus. He is the Great Physician. Now you have heard of Him and you believe about Him, but you have never put your faith in Him. You have not come and surrendered your life to Him so He can heal you.  We must believe in Him as our personal Savior.

True life begins with the new birth. You cannot dissect the miracle of the new birth in a laboratory. I cannot tell you how it works. I just know it does. Belief in the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ through simple child like faith and the world inside of us changes. We hear the Word of God, and it convicts us of our shortcomings. The Holy Spirit begins a work inside of us, and we turn away from what we know is wrong. We turn toward God. Godly fear brings a change in direction. We develop a hunger for what is right. We tell ourselves, “ I have done enough wrong in my life, I just want to do what is right.” We set our minds on things that are above. We die to the things of the world, and we are hidden with Christ in God. We receive a new heart, and when we are in Christ we are a new creature. Things we tried to stop doing become easier because God removes the desire from our heart. We experience change over time, and we are led by the Holy Spirit down the right path. Things seem to work in our favor.

So you ask, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” God loved you so much that he sent His only Son to die for you so that you may live. Through Christ death He paid for our sin so that we could be reunited with our heavenly Father. We have a relationship with Him through daily Bible study and prayer. He does the saving, and he gives us the victory over death. All you have to do is trust in Him as your Savior. There is religion, and there is salvation. Religion is worshiping something. Salvation is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior through faith. Believing is receiving.

Will you pray with me?

            Dear heavenly Father,

I have trusted in my own ability all my life. Things just don’t seem to work out for me as it does other people. I realize now I need You as my Savior. Will You please come into my heart and forgive me my sins. Will You please lead me to do what is right so I may become part of Your glorious kingdom. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen