I was encouraged, challenged, convicted and refreshed this morning and wanted to share it with anyone I could so that you too might be refreshed.
"I first put faith in Christ when I was in high school. My conversion, as far as I can tell, was sincere. I understood that Christ paid the full penalty for my sin and I surrendered to whatever God wanted me to do. I got a big list of stuff to start and stop doing for God..... I learned that real Christians tell other people about Jesus, so I set goals for how many people I would tell about Him. In college I learned that real Christians love missions so I went on mission trips. I later learned that real Christians love the poor so I sponsored a Compassion child.
By the time I was living in a way that would have met just about anybody's standard as a "real" Christian. But this religion of so-called grace often felt more to me like drudgery than delight. No matter how many rules I keps and how disciplined my life was, I wasled around with an ever-present guilt. In the deepest part of my heart, I knew-knew- God was not really pleased with me because there was always something I could do better.
I was tired, and while I never wanted to admit it, I was starting to hate God. He was the merciless taskmaster always standing over me yelling, "NOT ENOUGH! I want MORE!" His constant demands were driving me insane. The more I strived to walk in His ways, the less love I felt for Him. The more closely my feet followed Him, the more my heart ran away. Oh I had the facts down. Iknew He had taken the penalty for my sin. I also knew that He was the universe's most satisfying possession. But if my heard knew that truth, my heart didnt feel it. I was motivated to walk with God primarily by my desire to stay out of hell.
Recently, however, I discovered something that hhas changed everything. The gospel. It's not that I didnt understand or believe the gospel before, I did. But the truth of the gospel hadnt moved from my mind to my heart. There was a huge gap between my intellect and my emotions. The Puritan Jonathan Edwards likened his reawakening to the gospel to a man who had known, in his head, that honey was sweet, but for the first time had the sweetness burst alive in his mouth.
"Rediscovering" the gospel has given me a joy in God I never experienced in all my years of fervent religion. Now I sense, almost daily, a love for God growin in my heart, displacing a love for myself. I still have a long way to go but I am making "progress" in the gospel. The gospel has done in my heart what religion never could. "
All of this taken from the Introduction section of, "Gospel: Rediscovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary" by JD Greear. He, by the way, is an evangelical pastor of one of the fastest growing churched in America.
Like I said earlier, encouraging, challenging, convicting and refreshing. More on this to come!