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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You


Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You
 
I have had a very blessed life and my Christian faith has given me much joy.  But I have a sin or a fault that hangs onto my life and I have not been able to stop doing it no matter how hard I have tried.  This sin has haunted me for as long as I can remember.  My big sin is worrying.  And becoming very anxious in certain situations. 
 
Long ago I accepted the fact that sometimes I become very fearful and anxious.  It was just who I was, I told myself.  It was only normal for me to be fearful in this broken world.  There was nothing I could do about it since being anxious was part of my makeup, I told myself. I was always miserable when these anxiety attacks would come, but then what could I do?  I prayed and told the Lord that I had tried and tried, and I didn’t have the strength to get rid of my fears by myself.
 
All my life I have covered over my fears and pretended to the outside world that I was normal.  I would tell myself that someday in heaven Jesus would finally change me – make me into a new person in Him – and then these miserable panic attacks would finally be gone.
 
But then one day something happened!  A still small Voice inside my head spoke to me and whispered that I didn’t have to wait till heaven to get rid of my panic attacks.  That Jesus can start changing me now!  Start making me into that “new person” in Him now! He can give me His courage in the places where I have no courage of my own.  And that He can give me His peace, when I am fearful and have no peace!
 
Soon after that, a situation came along that made me anxious. As always, I again felt myself being gripped by my dark forebodings and fears. I had no peace of my own, just sick nervous fear.   Then I remembered that Jesus promised His peace to His followers and believers. (John 14:27) Shouldn’t I ask for what He has promised me? 
 
So, in the middle of my terrible fears, I started praying: “Jesus, give me Your peace.”  “Jesus, give me Your peace.”  This short little prayer seemed to be my lifeline.  I prayed this little prayer slowly over and over believing that He was giving me His peace right then, right when I needed it most.  I pictured Him, my Savior, bending over and lovingly and generously giving me His provisions – His courage and His peace. My fears seemed to lose their grip and His warm peace enveloped me. How safe and secure I felt in His presence.  What a victory!   
I wonder now why I spent so many years not developing a closer walk with Jesus.  And so many years trying on my own to stave off my worries and panic attacks.  And why I never learned to completely rest in His Presence or ask the Lord for His peace and strength, believing and thanking Him for giving them to me.  Scripture says that we will find the Lord when we search for Him with our whole hearts. (Hebrews 11:6b) Deuteronomy 4:29: Jeremiah 29:13)   
 
 Jesus has called us all to pursue a close walk with Him. He is always near and ready to strengthen and help us. But He wants us to really want Him. (Song of Solomon) When we walk with Him, Scripture says that He takes great delight in us. The Bible says:  ”The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
 
Scripture says: “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning to Me and in resting in Me you shall be saved: in quietness and confidence in Me shall be your strength.” But you would not.”  (Isaiah 30:15) How sad when Israel would not take the time to worship and trust in their God.   Let’s not miss out walking closely with our Savior and Lord because we refuse to spend quality time before Him in prayer and worship and waiting on Him.  
 
I have always found great strength and comfort in standing on the promises in God’s Word.  But I have been guilty of not spending time waiting on Him in prayer.  Not closely walking with the Lord.  We need to do both of these things. 
 
Some of my favorite Bible Scriptures are: “My sheep listen to My Voice: I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of My Hand.”  (John 10:27-28)   And: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He (God) shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”  (Deuteronomy 33:12)
 
More favorite verses are: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end: they are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) And “The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.” (Psalms 145:14)  And: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone: my hope comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation: He is my fortress; I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6) 
 
 And: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”  (Philippians 4:6) And: “You show me the path of life, and in Your presence is fullness of joy: at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  (Psalm 16:11) “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
 
You have different needs than I do.  But Jesus knows just what you need and how to lift you up.  If we will take the time to pursue a close walk with Jesus every day, He will change us and mature us in Him.  He will give us the desires of our hearts if they are in His will.
 
 If we listen for His Voice, we will hear Him speaking to our hearts. He delights in disclosing Himself to us if we take time to open up to Him.  And sometimes He displays His unseen Presence in subtle ways.  Take time to find Him in the details of your day. Ask Him to use you where He wants to use you. Fill your heart and mind with Scripture because He reveals Himself to us through Scripture.  Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)   It will be a glorious adventure.
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


  
 



 



   
 
 



 


 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    


















































Friday, August 23, 2019

Samuel, the Boy whose Mother Gave Him to God


Samuel, the Boy Whose Mother Gave Him to God
 
The year was around 1085 B.C. and many Jewish people were forgetting their God and worshipping their neighbor’s gods – handmade idols. Israel was the only nation in the ancient world that only worshiped the one God.  All of the neighboring nations were worshipping those popular idols, and it was tempting for the Jewish people to go along with what everyone else was doing – even though God had forbidden them.  God wanted His people to only worship Him. 
 
But Elkanah, a Jewish man, and his family, still faithfully worshipped only God.  Year after year, Elkanahs’ family always walked from Ramah to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord in the temple there. Elkanah had two wives: Hannah was his favorite wife and Peninnah was the other wife.  Peninnah had many children with Elkanah, but Hannah had none.
 
Year after year passed by with Hannah trying and trying to get pregnant.  Year after year of grief and tears and disappointments for her.  In that ancient culture, a woman who couldn’t have children was a disgrace. And Peninnah, the other wife, was always there constantly making fun of Hannah and reminding her of what a failure she was as a woman.
 
 Scripture tells us that one year as Elkanah and his two wives and all their children were traveling to the temple in Shiloh to worship the Lord, his wife, Peninnah, as usual, started teasing and insulting Hannah.  Peninnah always insulted Hannah, but this time Hannah became so upset that she quit eating and couldn’t stop crying. When Hannah got to Shiloh to worship, she kept on crying and crying.  As she knelt before God, tears streaming down her cheeks,  Hannah made this vow or promise to God: “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give me a son, then I will give him back to You for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:11)
 
Eli, the priest, sees Hannah’s red puffy tear stained face and he hears her sobbing and begging God as she is bent over kneeling before the altar.  So, he thinks she is drunk.  The priest comes over to Hannah and scolds her for being drunk with wine while coming before the Lord to pray. But Hannah assures Eli that she is not drunk with wine! That she had been praying out of her great anguish and grief. (1 Samuel 1:9-16)
 Then Eli, the priest answers Hannah, and with faith he blesses and prophesies over her: “Go in peace and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him.”  (1 Samuel 1:17)   Hannah joins in on Eli’s proclamation of faith in God with her own proclamation of faith: “May your servant find favor in Your Eyes,” she prays to God. (1 Samuel 1:18a) Faith has caught the joyful sound! Both Eli, the priest and Hannah reach out together to their God in faith with Hannah’s request.
 
There is a spiritual breakthrough! Immediately Hannah stops crying and starts smiling.  She begins eating and stops her fast. (1 Samuel 1:18b) Believing prayer brings ease to the soul.  Hannah has given her sorrow to her heavenly Father and she trusts Him to take care of it.  It is in His Hands.  God knows best and He has heard her prayer. God has promised to hear His children’s prayers and Hannah believes His promise. There is joy in believing!   
 
Several days later Elkanah, Hannah, Peninnah and the children head for home. And very soon after that Hannah became pregnant!  When she gives birth, it is to a son and she names the baby “Samuel” which means “asked of God”.  Hannah did not forget her promise to God to give her son to Him for his lifetime.  After she finished nursing Samuel and when he was just a child, Hannah and Elkanah took Samuel back to Shiloh and gave him to Eli the priest where he would learn to serve the Lord in the temple. Samuel knew that he had been promised to God by his mother and he loved God and whole heartedly gave his whole life to God’s service.
 
Hannah was so thankful to God for answering her prayer that she sang a song of praise to God.  Her song can be found in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.  There was music and perhaps dancing as Hannah rejoiced in the Lord.  She sings out that “There is no one besides You.  There is no Rock like our God.”  “For the Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed.”  “The foundations of the earth are the Lords’.  Upon them He has set the world.”  “He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness”.  God also gave Hannah four more children after Samuel was born.    


When Samuel grew to adulthood, he became a priest and a judge of all of Israel.  He served God all of his life.  Samuel was humble. (1 Samuel 3:15-18) He was obedient to God. (1 Samuel 3:10-14) And his life was dedicated to God. (1 Samuel 3) God led the people of Israel through Samuel.   All of Israel repented of their idol worship and came back to God.  (1 Samuel 7:3-4) The whole nation renewed their allegiance to the Lord alone.  (1 Samuel 7:5-9) Under Samuel’s leadership Israel became a spiritually wise people (1 Samuel 7:15-17) And a victorious people!  (1 Samuel 7:10-14)   God used Hannah’s faith and her prayers and Samuel’s dedicated life to bless and change all of Israel.  What can we learn from this story?  Can God use us too if we give Him our lives?            
 

 




             
 

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Lazy Priest Who Wouldn't Stand Up for God


The Lazy Priest Who Wouldn’t Stand Up for God
 
The year was approximately 1,000 B.C. and Eli was the High Priest over all of Israel.  All the Israelites came to Eli to bring their offerings and sacrifices to God. Many years earlier God had revealed Himself to Eli’s forefather, Aaron, when God had chosen Aaron and his offspring to be His priests. (1 Samuel 2:28)
 
So, Eli had inherited his high priestly position by being born into the family God had chosen to be His priests.  God gave Aaron and his children special spiritual blessings and instructions as to how priests were to come before His presence. And how they were to bring the offerings and sacrifices to God. There were careful instructions as to how the sacrifices should be offered to God. It would be a sign of disrespect if God’s commands were to be ignored.  God called His people and priests to honor Him always.    
 
God had given this responsibility of the priesthood to Eli and his offspring, along with His Spirit to guide and bless their work.  And God had spoken: “They shall walk before Me forever.” (I Samuel 2:30)   But, “walking before God” is not only a great honor, it is also a condition of the promise.  They had to choose to “walk before God”.
 
In other words, “they shall have the honor of the priesthood, “IF” they choose to faithfully do the service.”  God chose Aaron’s family to walk before Him always as priests, but Aaron’s children also had to choose to “walk before God always”. Their relationship before God was a two-way street – as is ours.  God has His part, but then we choose to have our part too. God doesn’t force us to love or serve Him. 
 
We hear about Eli’s life from the Scriptures after he has become an old man. He had been a judge and a high priest of Israel for forty years, but he had had little spiritual influence over his people, Israel. Eli neglects his responsibility of preaching Gods’ Truth to his people and they are left spiritually confused and depressed. 
 
 Eli allows his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas to take his place and do the work of priests.  His sons take the offerings and sacrifices from the people, but they use Gods’ offerings for their own personal gain.  Scripture tells us that they did not respect God or follow God’s commands concerning how to bring the meat offerings to Him.  They did their own thing!  They took the best parts of the meat for themselves.  They robbed God and the people coming with their meat offerings by seizing for themselves some of part of the meats that were to be offered to God. They treated Gods’ offerings with contempt and used God for their own gain.  (1 Samuel 2:12-17,22) Eli’s sons also sexually seduced many of the women who were coming to worship. (1 Samuel 2: 22)
 
God gives a stern message to the young boy, Samuel, to give to Eli. (1 Samuel 3) God message to Eli is that He is angry.  I believe that God wants Eli to do something about his son’s rebellion.  Eli is the high priest and he is responsible for his son’s actions. The Lord says that He will overthrow Eli’s house and raise up faithful priests for Himself. (1 Samuel 2:27-36) God also sends one of His prophets to bring a second message to Eli emphasizing again the seriousness of ignoring His commands. (1 Samuel 2:27-36) But amazingly, Eli shrugged off all of God’s warnings!    
 
 It seems like nothing can upset Eli!  He fails to do his job and get involved in cleaning up the problem. He continues to look the other way while his sons continue profaning God’s offerings. Even after he receives these angry warnings from God, his bland answer is: “Let the Lord do whatever He wants to do.”  He seems to value his relationship with his sons more than he values his relationship with God. He tells his sons that he has heard about their bad behavior. But he doesn’t stand up for God and make his sons stop sinning or remove them if they refuse. 
 
 As high priest, God had given Eli great spiritual power for the job of spiritually leading and influencing Israel.  But Eli turns his back on all that he has been given and he doesn’t do anything about preaching God’s truth to his people. If Eli had repented and used his God given power as high priest, if he had stopped his sons from sinning against God, perhaps history would have been different for ancient Israel. Scripture says: “Without a vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
 
The Philistines were a powerful military people and they were neighbors of the Israelites.  They were a great threat to the Israelites during the time when Eli was High Priest.  Shortly after Eli ignored God’s messages and neglected the problems he could have taken care of, the Philistines came to fight with Israel. The Israelites went out to fight them but lost the battle.  They quarreled with God for not helping them win.
 
. So, the Israelites took the ark of the covenant with them for their next battle with the Philistines.  Eli went along with this idea as he went along with anything that was popular.  He gave the ark to the people without a word.  His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas went off carrying the ark into battle.  No need to obey God or listen to His warnings, when they had the ark there to save them in battle. Scripture says that:  The Israelites were living as they pleased yet believing God would bless them anyway. (1 Samuel 2:30)   
 
Alas, it was a sad day for the Israelites. The Philistines won the battle that day and many Israelite soldiers were killed in battle. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed and the ark of the covenant was taken away by the Philistines.  Some of the Israelites felt like God had abandoned them.  (1 Samuel 4:19-20) If only they had had a spiritual leader to lead them to God. 
 
What can we learn from this Old Testament Bible story from so long ago?  God has given each of us a responsibility in this life. There are people in each of our lives who trust us, people who we influence, people God can bless through our lives. God can use us to reach these people.  Let’s not let them down. What can we learn from Eli’s life?  Perhaps we can learn what not to do when we read about Eli’s life. When we read about his lukewarm faith and his lack of concern in following Gods’ commands. 
 
First of all, we can try not to be “lukewarm” in our faith as Eli was.  God hates the “lukewarm” faith offered to Him by believers.  (Revelations 3:16) We can ask God to help us be “hot” and give our whole lives to God, love Him with all our hearts and go all the way, as He has called us to do. We can strive to be a faithful steward of the resources God has entrusted to us.  Give up the control and destination of our lives to God.  Get involved in the lives of others.  Walk in faith even when it is difficult. Don’t give in to what is popular for the moment but stick to what God has revealed is His will in Scripture. Repent of our sins and spend time in prayer and Bible study.  Let’s always be ready to stand up for God.   
 
All this sounds like a tall order, but God will open doors and make a way for us to be a great blessing to others, if we are willing. Are you willing?    
 


 
 
 
 
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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Time to Grow Up in our Christian Faith


Time to Grow Up in Our Christian Faith
 
Paul is urging the Christians in the Galatian church to grow up in their faith.  They had been so joyful when they first accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord.  But now the Galatian Christians had lost that vibrant joy and were falling into legalism, strictly believing that they must observe special religious days or seasons and eat special food. (Galatians 4:10) Paul told them that they were acting like babies or little children who needed guardians or babysitters to watch over them.  The need for rigid rules and regulations is the mark of immaturity. Some of the Jewish Christians in Galatia were urging their fellow believers to go back to following the Jewish religious laws.   
 
Paul goes on to tell them: “As long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate, he is subject to guardians and keepers until the time set by his father.  So, when we were children we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”  (Galatians 4:1--5) When we grow up in our Christian faith, we receive our inheritance from our very wealthy and good and generous Father. 
 
 Israel had been living under the burden of many religious rules and laws before Christ came.  But when Jesus came, He fulfilled the law and ushered in grace. (Matthew 5:17) The ancient Jews came to their heavenly Father through their priests and through sacrifices and ceremonies and by carefully following rules and regulations.  But now that Christ has come, believers simply come to God through faith in Christ. Christ has changed our status from being a slave to sin to being redeemed from sin and heir of a great inheritance!  Scripture says: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter, and if a son or daughter, then an heir.” (Galatians 4:7)    
 
The Galatian Christians, like most believers, wanted to grow and go forward for Christ, but they were going about it in the wrong way.  Christians today sometimes get involved in various legalistic movements, proudly working to make more brownie points with God and become better Christians.  They may mean well, but God doesn’t call us to live as a slave to rules.  He has called us to believe in His goodness and to step into our full rights as children of our loving heavenly Father.  This is what Paul was trying to get across to his converts in Galatia.
 
So, what does Scripture say that we inherit through faith in Christ?  What is our inheritance? First, we inherit Christ’s righteousness.  Scripture says that Christ covers you with His righteousness.  You may not feel very righteous, but the Bible says that in Christ you are.  (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 1:30: Romans 1:17: Philippians 3:9) The Bible says that: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  (Romans 4:3) Scripture says that we believe God and it is credited as righteousness to us also!  Our simple faith in Christ is the victory that overcomes the world!  Someday we will reign with Christ!  (2 Timothy 2:12) We will be victorious in Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)  
 
We believers inherit forgiveness of sin and eternal life from our heavenly Father through Christ.  (John 3:16 and I John 1:9: Ephesians 2:8-9) We inherit freedom in Christ (John 8:36) but also responsibility.  He gives us work to do.  We are called to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  (Mark 16:15) And He promises to be there to guide and help us.
 
 Each of us believers inherit a gift or perhaps several gifts from the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) Are you using the gifts God has given you for His glory?  Also, we all inherit the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, faith, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-26) Are you holding onto these precious gifts and claiming them for your own in Christ?  Are you using these fruits in your daily life?  We have been given so much in Christ.  Let’s grow up and claim our inheritance!
 
How do we grow up in our Christian faith and claim this amazing inheritance in Christ?  First, we can listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we have been given.  Scripture says: “Because you are children of God, He has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying ‘Abba Father’. (Galatians 4:6) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  (John 14:26) First of all, let’s listen for God’s guidance.
 
Also, if we want to be a mature Christian and grow in our faith, we need to study God’s Word, the Bible.   Scripture instructs us: “Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) When we study the Bible, we will probably come across passages that we don’t understand.  A good Bible concordance or commentary can help explain what some of these difficult passages mean. 
 
There are pastors who may tell you that some of the Bible stories are just myths and fables! That there was never a real Abraham or Noah or Adam and Eve.  If that were true, then we couldn’t be sure that Christ was real either and not just a myth as well. That He actually died and rose from the dead or that He is our Savior.  These myth theories are real threats to our Christian faith since they undermine God’s Word.  If you reject some portions of the Bible because it doesn’t fit what you want, then it becomes a slippery slope deciding what parts of the Bible we believe and what parts are just myths.  To grow up and mature in our faith we need to stay away from churches that don’t believe the Bible to be God’s Word.
 
Job found it difficult to understand why God allowed his ten children to die and why he lost all of his wealth.  He felt God owed him an explanation since he had lived such a good life.  When we read the book of Job, we see that God came and asked Job where he was when God created the world.  Did Job understand the math behind time and eternity or how the days and seasons were set up? I think God was trying to tell Job that His ways are so much higher than our ways that we will need to trust Him.  We are too limited to even begin to understand God. We are called to live with the mystery.  To have faith in God that He has reasons and ways that we don’t know about. To believe.  And we are called to trust and believe that God is good and true and all knowing and all powerful.  And that He loves us.         
 
 
Also,to grow up and mature, let’s speak to the Father like the heir He has made us!  We have a rich and generous Father that has given us everything in Christ.  Do our prayers show that we believe this?  Scripture says: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to her who knocks, the door will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you are sinful still know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?”  (Matthew 7:7-8) Let’s grow up and learn to walk in the many promises God has given us!    
 
 
 
 


 


 



 



 
 
        
 
 
 
 
 
 
 











Saturday, August 3, 2019

Come unto Me and I Will Give you Rest


Come unto Me and I Will Give You Rest
 
Jesus lovingly holds out His arms and invites you and me: “Come to Me all you who are troubled and weighed down with care, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) He calls out to everyone.  He doesn’t want anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9)   Are you weighed down with fear, hurt, sorrow, pain, exhaustion, anger, worry or loneliness?  If so, He promises to give you rest. Have you accepted His grand invitation?      
 
 So how do we go about doing that?   How do we come to Jesus and enter into His rest?  Scripture says: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:13) We will find Him and His rest if we really want to!  If we look for Him with our whole heart!  If we are ready for Him, He will be there! (Matthew 7:7-12, Luke 11:9)
 
The Bible speaks of Christ and His teachings as being like a treasure buried in a field. When a person finds the treasure, she or he spends all their money buying the field so that they can have the treasure.  Jesus is the pearl of great price.  (Matthew 13:44-46) Finding Christ must be important to us or we won’t make the effort to look for Him.  
 
In order to come to Christ, we need to believe that He is there to come to!  That He is who Scripture says He is:  - Son of God and Savior. We need to trust Him or have “faith” in Him if we are motivated to look for Him. Scripture says that the Lord will keep us in perfect peace, if our minds are stayed on Christ, and if we trust Him.  (Isaiah 26:3) If we don’t believe in Him or have faith in Him, we won’t want to come to Him.  So, believing or having faith in Him is all important.  (John 3:16)  
 
But what if we don’t have “faith”?  Or our little “faith” is shaky?  In this modern, secular world, it can be difficult to have this “faith” the Bible speaks of, when we are carefully taught that modern intelligent people are too smart to believe the Bible.  And too intelligent to believe in the Jesus of the Bible.
 
In our secular world we are brainwashed to trust in ourselves and our own intellects.  To go along with and believe in the latest ideas about God that are popular. We try to put the God of the Universe in our little box and create the god we want, and the god that fits our needs.  Perhaps when we go on our search for Christ, we may need to be willing to follow Him even if He doesn’t fit into our little box.  Even if He takes us out of our comfort zone.  Maybe that is part of what “seeking Him with our whole heart” is about, I don’t know.  All through the New Testament we are taught that we have eternal life through Christ.  But we need to accept this gift of eternal life through “faith”.  (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our part is to have that “faith” in Christ.  That “faith” is all important.
 
But what if we don’t have “faith” in Christ? I believe God will give us this necessary “faith” if we ask Him - If we really want it - If we are willing to let Him change us. At least if we are willing to be willing.  If we have little faith in Christ, I believe we can grow our little faith by reading the Bible. Scripture say that: “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) Scripture also says that God’s Word (the Bible) is our spiritual food and we grow spiritually by getting into the Word. 
 
 Also, another piece in the puzzle of coming to Christ may be learning to be a bit humble.  If we think we are too intelligent to simply believe in Jesus, then we miss out.  Or if we are very wealthy or intelligent and feel that we have it all and don’t need Christ, we miss out. We gain the whole world but lose our own souls!  Scripture says that: “Pride comes before a fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18) We need to come to Jesus with a humble spirit.  
 
Jesus told a short story about how difficult it could be for a person who has it all to enter the kingdom of God.  Here is what He said: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a person who has everything to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a person with many riches to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:24)   
 
The “eye of a needle” wasn’t what we think of as having to do with sewing.  The “eye of the needle” back then was the name of a very small and narrow gate in the Jerusalem wall. The large main gate in the wall around Jerusalem was closed each night to keep enemies out.  If a traveler with a camel arrived late, after the main gate had closed, the camel had to stoop down and crawl through a small narrow gate called the eye of the needle.  Many times, all the baggage on the camel’s back had to be removed so the camel would fit through the narrow gate.
 
In finding Jesus and entering into the kingdom of heaven, we, like the camel, may need to be willing to get rid of our sinful baggage so we can fit through the narrow gate.  If we insist on keeping our baggage, we may be too big to fit through the narrow gate.  Jesus says: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved.  They will go in and out and find pasture.”  (John 10:9) So much peace and joy awaits us there.
 
Christ calls us to come to Him.  And we have enough faith to want to come.  His strong hand is outstretched, ready to pull us in to Him.  And His banner over us is love.  But there is baggage that we must leave behind. Friends that may turn against us. Laugh at us. A reputation that may suffer. There is a price to pay. And we will have to get down on our hands and knees to crawl through the narrow gate.  Are we willing?