A Letter From Jim

lettersDear friends:

I call you friends, in the same manner as Jesus did with us:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:!5)

You’re looking for answers to all the things that are happening in the world – where did we all go? What does it mean? What can you expect?

You have the unique privelege of being a member of the last generation, a generation that gets to see first-hand the works and wonders of God in our world. You may doubt this is so, but God knows your reluctance from thousands of years ago, when He said through Isaiah:

“Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me, and have neither remembered me nor pondered this in your hearts? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?” (Is. 57:11)

In our world, we’re accustomed to believing spiritual matters based on personal insight and study. Jesus knew this was coming as well. In His conversation with the apostle Thomas after the Resurrection, He said to Thomas:

“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

In the current age, God is often denied and rejected because of the incredible events we read of inside His Word: Creation, the Flood, the Plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea, the Pillar of Fire, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection… The argument goes, “How can a rational person believe in such things, when you’ve never seen them yourself?” It seems like foolishness! But as the Bible tells us:

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (1 Cor 1:27)

God has once again performed a feat which cannot be explained away by science, rational thought, analysis or understanding. As He did with the resurrection, God has used one action to declare to the world that He exists, that He is Lord of all, and that He wants our attention focused on Him.

God now has your attention, and you are now faced with a question:

What will you do with this new knowledge of God?

Jesus tells us in John 17 that knowing the Lord – knowing Him, and not just knowing about Him – is the key to salvation:

“This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

When we know the Lord, when we acknowledge who He is and what He can do, we place ourselves in the proper frame to understand and accept what He has done for us in the death and resurrection of Christ.

You now know of God, of His power and His dominion over the earth. You have seen that He makes a distinction between those who follow His leading and those who do not. Every home missing someone this day testifies to this. You have heard of God, of His perfection and His expectations of you:

“No one is to appear before Me empty-handed.” (Exodus 23:15)

“No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed.” (Deut. 16:16)

But what shall you bring to Him? What can you present that might impress such an exalted personage as the Creator of the Universe? All the gold and silver are his. But the Lord tells us what He expects of those who wish to know Him:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

A broken heart, a contrite heart, is one that recognizes that we can do nothing without God – and that we deserve to be cast aside. And we know God is merciful:

“He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Repenting – agreeing with God that we personally have failed and sinned against Him – leads us to a place where we cry out for mercy, for forgiveness of our transgressions against God, His plan for our lives that we haven’t followed, His blessings for us which we have wasted and squandered. “If only something could be done for me,” we cry!

“When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Luke 5:12)

“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home.” (Matthew 9:6-7)

“And God placed all things under (Christ’s) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” (Ephesians 1:22)

God has indeed done something for us – He died for our sins to pay the penalty we owed. And in the Resurrection, He showed that He would accept this sacrifice on our behalf by raising Jesus from the dead and placing Him in power and authority, in the place of Judgement:

“This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.” (Romans 2:16)

God has done whatever it takes to get the attention of the world, so that we might know that He has made a way for us to be with Him for eternity.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)

However, God will not force the issue, nor will He accept any false coin. Many are sure to be scratching their heads right now, wondering how it is that so many prominent “people of the cloth” could have been left behind.

Yet God searches the heart. He wants to know if you *know* Him – who He is, what He expects from you. He is not impressed with who we are, or what we own, or what we do.

It’s often been said that there are “many paths to God.” But Jesus said:

“I am the Way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus has a fate in store for those who fail to acknowledge God and who try to earn their way on their own merit:

“Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus – the Judge – doesn’t dispute the works done on His behalf. But He does reject them – and anything else we try to offer God for our redemption. Only knowing Christ will save us.

You may cry out “I’ve missed it! I’ve missed the greatest opportunity!” Be of good cheer. God’s people in Israel also feared this:

“The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved!!” (Jeremiah 8:20)

Yet God’s promise – which you now understand – still applies to you! God does not change!

“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.” (Hebrews 6:17)

In the days before Christ, the faithful of God trusted that He would provide a way that they might be acceptable in His sight:

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the End, He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God!” (Job 19:25-26)

In the time after Christ, we are blessed with knowing much more about this same Redeemer – but the faith is the same! And God’s response to that faith is the same (This verse is especially for you):

“And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls.” (Joel 2:32)

I encourage you to cry out to the LORD this very moment! Don’t cry over the time which has passed, but rejoice that God in His great mercy has given you this chance to come to Him and be of the Family! He is waiting to accept you, just as you are, and to bring you to His side.

The times ahead may seem ominous and frightening. Jesus knows this, which is why He told us:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Dear Friend, I hope and pray that you have accepted the Lord into your life and are trusting in Him. Do not doubt that we are watching from above and praying for you, that Chirst would strengthen you through these final moments before He returns in glory.

On that Day, that mighty and wonderful Day, we shall meet face to face and embrace, and – together – we shall enter eternal life in Christ Jesus!

With much love

In Him-