But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Jesus wasn’t very well received when He came to earth. Sure, there were loads of people who attended His sermons and followed Him around, but very few people who truly believed, about 120. (Acts 1:15). We know that the coming of Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament. We can do a search online and find resources that will point out all of the verses that predicted the coming of the Messiah. Of course, there was no such resource 2,000 years ago. In fact, most religious leaders in the time, the only people who really would have known the scriptures, vehemently denied that Jesus was the Messiah. For all of their knowledge, they didn’t have hearts that were prepared to meet God.

It’s ironic, I think, that the heart is deceitful above all things because it’s with our hearts that we know and believe (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 10:10). When I think of the 120, we are told of in Acts 1:15, who were steadfast in their belief, I wonder who they might have been. Who might have been among the number who could tell us why they had the hope that they did in Jesus? Surely, the Apostles were counted among the 120. These were men that had never made the cut to become Rabbis. Matthew, was a tax collector, someone who was seen as betraying his own people while sucking up to the Romans. Simon, the Zealot, was a terrorist to the Roman Empire. Then there was the fisherman; Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Judas was a thief, and we don’t know what the other five apostles did before being called by Jesus.

While we know that the Apostles were counted among the 120, except for Judas, what of the other people? The 72 men that Jesus sent out ahead of Him would certainly have been there (Luke 10:1 NIV). Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus cast out seven demons, was there, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna and many others (Luke 8:2-3). We can expect that Peter’s wife was there as would have been any other wives of the Apostles. Jesus’ mother, brothers, and sisters would likely have been there too. I also like to believe that the four friends who lowered down the paralytic man would have been there (Mark 2:1-12).

What I really wonder though is, would I have been there? Would you? Do we know why we believe? Do we know why we follow Christ? I don’t know what led you to follow Jesus, what went through your mind on that day you first believed or what was going on in your life. You do, though, and you must remember. It’s important. Perhaps you were like me, I went to church to get my wife off of my back about it. My day went a little easier when I went to church with the family. I wasn’t expecting God to plunge into my heart and turn me into something new. You’d think that I’d remember the message from that day, wouldn’t you? That I’d have written it down or something, but I didn’t.

On August 6, 2006, when I was listening to the Sunday message at New Life Church, in Santa Barbara, California, the message that I got from the Lord was that I was wrong. I had a skewed perspective on my life. All of my life I had pointed a finger of blame at my parents, friends, circumstances, and anything but at myself. If you had asked me though, I would have told you that I was responsible, that I was accountable for my actions. God showed me something different though. He showed me the Truth. It’s really hard for me to write about or even talk about what happened that day because, for the most part, I don’t remember very much. What I do remember, is what I have said, God showed me the Truth. He showed me that all of the time that I was pointing the finger at everyone else that I was really pointing it at Him. I didn’t know Him. If you had asked me what I believed at the time I would have told you, with a smirk, that I was a Deist.

Although I had such a distant view of God, it didn’t stop me from railing at the Universe from time to time. God showed me, on that day in August, that He loved me. I was wrong and He loved me. For two hours or so, I sat on the floor, in New Life Church, crying and receiving the love of God. My Pastor at the time called it a “Damascus Experience.” I’ve listened to other people’s testimonies and sometimes, I feel a little sheepish with mine. Sure, I’ll tell you how God delivered me from 30+ years of depression. How He healed relationships in my life and how he turned me into a new person. I just, rarely, tell this testimony. On the day that I was saved, God showed me He loved me. As I write that, and think upon it, as I often do, I am in tears. I am overwhelmed by His love for me.

And I feel guilty. Every misstep along the way shouts to me, calling my attention to how I’ve failed God. How I haven’t lived up to the love that He so freely gives. You see, that’s the thing. He loves me and He loves you, not because of what we’ve done. He loves us because of who He is and He forgives us. He tells me so, in His word and when I ask Him for forgiveness.

I have loved and I have been loved in this life, but there is no love like the love of God. His love is without fear or anxiety. When I love other people and they have loved me there’s this fear that’s lurking around the corner, hiding in the shadows, whispering to me, “Love ends.” That’s not the case with God’s love. His love is heart bursting, my chest heaving and swelling, like the pain I feel in loss, I can barely catch my breath, but there’s no pain, only a feeling of being so full that I cannot contain it. This is the love of God that goes beyond feeling and my words lack, they fall to the ground, limp and unworthy to be used in such a way.

This is the hope that I have in Christ. This is the hope that I believe those 120 had. The love that I want to share with you. The love that brings me to my knees in worship, crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.