As I prayed about what to write for this edition of New Bethel Weekly I was continually taken back to my 10th grade math teacher. I don’t remember her name, but I remember something she did. The last day before Christmas break she closed her classroom door, told us to put everything away, and began to speak to us. She laid out the gospel, prayed over us, and then offered the gift of salvation to anyone who wanted it. This was in a public school, and she had printed letters for any student to take to the principle explaining what she did. Then she shared why she did it.
When I was her student she had been teaching for 18 years and had been sharing the same message for 10 years. Her 7th year of teaching two of her students committed suicide over the holiday break. She had no idea what was going on in their lives, there were no clues that she picked up on, and she didn’t know if they were saved. Her message wasn’t an attempt to “win souls” but rather an attempt to save lives and hopefully touch that one life that felt worthless and unloved.
You see Christmas is an amazing time. Families come together (I’m in Georgia with my family as I write this), gifts are shared, and an overwhelming feeling of love tends to fill each house. For many, this season is a reminder of our salvation. Some, however, do not know this peace. When they look at the lights, festivity and family, they feel empty inside. There is no hope. If you are reading this and know that this is you, you are not alone.
Jesus loves you. Every story in the Bible, every Sunday message, every door banger and Bible thumper, every song about Jesus on the radio today, is a message of love. The best part is that love is for you personally. If no one except you said yes to Jesus, He still would have given His life for you. This is the promise of the Christmas manger, Jesus’s life for yours. A promise fulfilled with His death and resurrection.
With the acceptance of Jesus, comes hope, joy and love. You no longer have to walk alone, the burdens of your life become shared. Best of all, Jesus is someone who has your best interest at heart. However, He loves you just as you are. Jesus isn’t about control or manipulation. The things He asks of His followers are designed to bring freedom and peace. He does not want your daily decisions driven by the next fix (whatever that vice may be). He shows you places in your life that keep you from accepting unconditional love, and helps you overcome them. He moves you from a place of fear and suspicion, to a place of love and trust.
There is hope today, right now for you. Not only can you have a friend, you will gain a family. No matter how different we look, or act, the message of the whole Church is simply this: Jesus loves you and so do we. If you are lonely, depressed and need some help, there are some great people at 1-800-273-8255 (The National Suicide Prevention Line) waiting to talk to you and help. If you need a friendly word of encouragement or want to talk more about Jesus call me at 919-618-8127. If you want to experience the hope and love of Jesus then pray right now:
Dear God in heaven,
I come to you in the name of Jesus. I acknowledge to You that: I am a sinner, I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived and I need your forgiveness.
I believe that Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ shed His precious blood on the cross at Calvary and died for my sins, and I am now willing to turn from my sin.
You said in Your Holy Word, Romans 10:9 that if we confess the Lord our God and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.
Right now I confess Jesus as the Lord of my soul. With my heart, I believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. This very moment I accept Jesus Christ as my own personal Savior and according to His Word, right now I am saved.
Thank you Jesus for your unlimited grace which has saved me from my sins. Lord Jesus, transform my life so that I may bring glory and honor to you alone and not to myself.
Thank you Jesus for dying for me and giving me eternal life. AMEN
Ever week, I close the weekly with I love you, this is not an empty or cute statement. Among the many things Jesus has done for me, He took my cold heart and filled it with love. He truly has given me a love for each of you. I will not be at New Bethel this Sunday, but if you read this and chose to give Jesus a chance to love you, there will be people there Sunday, 10:30am, who would love to welcome you the Family of God. I love ya and Merry Christmas to all.