The First Step
Many people end up in a church because they are searching for something they can’t find anywhere else. It’s a natural thing to do, actually, because the need for something more is placed in us by the Creator. It’s part of who we are. It’s not a desire for more in a sense of worldly things, but rather it’s a longing for truth, for healing, for peace and for love. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this – because you feel that something is missing from your life.
French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) insightfully said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known by Jesus Christ.”
There’s a void in your heart that’s been placed there by God, and it can only be filled by God – with his love. God desires to have a relationship with you and to bring fullness to the emptiness you feel inside, and to bring purpose and significance to your life. The good news is that you don’t have to wait any longer to discover what you’ve been searching for. God has been waiting for you.
WHOSE PLAN ARE YOU FOLLOWING?
This idea of living a life in friendship and fellowship with God is a lot to comprehend. But at its heart, it has much to do with whose life-plan you’re following – yours or God’s?
Try as we may to do our best to run our own lives, at some point we realize that we’re not really running anything – the world is running us. Our culture has us chasing after things we think will bring us happiness, only to be disappointed again and again when we achieve or acquire them and find that the happiness and fulfillment they promised is fleeting. We try to build our lives on things the world deems important, like relationships, material possessions, careers, titles, money or just simply pleasing ourselves.
The stark reality is that these are only temporary things, and eventually they fade away, taking with them whatever small amount of happiness we thought they would bring. God’s plan is different. He wants us to build our lives on the eternal and lasting truths of faith, hope and love.
MAKING A NEW START
God extends an invitation to you today. He wants you to return to him and to know and share in his love. These truths will start you down the path towards a new life right now.
FACE REALITY – YOU NEED GOD IN YOUR LIFE!
According to the scriptures, it’s the things that we do wrong (our sins) that have separated us from God and caused us to feel so empty. Our natural desire as human beings is to ignore God and to do what we want. We all do it. We’ve always done it. But in order to move forward, you need to understand that it’s the root cause of the void in your heart today.
“All we like sheep have gone astray, and each of us has turned to his own way.”
“Your iniquities have separated you from your God, your sins have hidden his face from you.”
BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS YOUR RESCUER
Jesus is your rescuer and your hope. He died to save you from your sin. He rose from the dead and is alive today. Instead of making us pay, God allowed Jesus to pay the price for our sin – a penalty that was rightfully ours. He did this to reveal who he is and to express his great love for us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
ACCEPT GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION
God’s offer of forgiveness for sin is free and always available. But it’s not yours until you personally accept it. You cannot earn this and there’s no reason why you should even try. Just accept what God alone can and has done for you.
“For it is by grace you are saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
SURRENDER YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST
You do this by not only acknowledging Christ as your Savior, but inviting him to be your Lord as well. To surrender to Jesus means that you relinquish control of your life to him. You turn away from the things in your life that have led you away from God and walk towards him, and with him.
You begin this process by surrendering yourself – your heart, mind and soul – to Jesus. Next, you seal it with baptism and then grow by living a Jesus-centered life. When you do this, he will come into you, through the Holy Spirit, and remain with you as your constant companion. Becoming a Christian is a lot like birth – it’s the start of a whole new life as Jesus makes you new from the inside out.
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off…”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE
Your search is over. You have the truth in your hands. You don’t have to have every answer or somehow try to become a better person before you respond to what you know in your heart is true. God created you, he knows you, he loves you, and he’s waiting to embrace you, just as you are, at this very moment. It’s time for a change.
If you’ve finally reached the end of yourself…If you’ve been running your life and it’s gotten you nowhere…if you’re ready to respond and begin your journey of faith, here’s a simple prayer you can follow to express your heart to God:
A SIMPLE PRAYER
I admit that I’ve messed up. I’ve turned away from you and done things my own way, and my sin is separating us. I haven’t done the things I should, and I do a lot of things that I shouldn’t. I haven’t loved you with all of my heart and I haven’t loved my neighbor as myself. I’m sorry for my selfishness and for leaving you out of my life.
Thank you for loving me and for sending Jesus to die for me. I believe he took my place, suffered the punishment that I deserved, rose from the dead and is alive today. I accept your free gift of forgiveness right now. Jesus, I give my life to you and ask you to come into my heart to live in me forever – to be my Savior and my Lord. I want to follow you from now on. Amen.”
STARTING A NEW LIFE
This is a significant moment! And even if you’re hurting right now, what lies before you is a vibrant, exciting and challenging journey of growing in your faith and living a transformed life. Releasing your life and accepting Jesus Christ is the first step of an exciting, life-long adventure of faith.
If you’ve just prayed the SIMPLE PRAYER, congratulations! Please share this great news with someone who can encourage you and help you take your NEXT STEPS. You might contact the church office for support, or talk to the person who shared this information with you.
Be encouraged to explore the NEXT STEP of Baptism. It’s important because it shows how God is at work in our lives and gives us a beautiful expression through which we can identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
And beyond Baptism is a completely new life for you. What is this life? It’s living with God, with Jesus, at the center of your personal world. You’ll get to know him through his own words – the Bible. The more you know him, the more you’ll understand your relationship with him, and the more you’ll see him at work in and around you.
You also need to know that you’re not alone in this. Through Jesus you belong to the family of God and have brothers and sisters who are committed to growing together with you. You have a new family of faith – the church – to help you and encourage you in your growth. God has given you the opportunity to live this new life, and he’s provided the power and strength you’ll need to accomplish it.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”