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Pastor Rudy Sheptock

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Christianity will never mean what it should until you fall in love with Jesus.  

Religion is too dependent upon mankind’s many futile attempts to reach God. No matter how hard we try, the journey is impossible to complete because of the sin we find ourselves stuck in. The best we can do is cover it temporarily.  

We need divine intervention to gain the necessary attention that will alter our eternal destiny. I don’t want to spray deodorant on my dirty clothes; I want a brand-new wardrobe. I am tired of playing hide and seek with heaven. I want to come out of the dark, so I can live in the light with confidence and hope. 

Unfortunately, too many church people define their faith based upon all the don’ts and not enough do's. I remember hearing the long list given to me by well-meaning believers who wanted to keep me out of trouble.  

“Don’t listen to the radio, don’t dance, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t kiss, don’t play cards, don’t watch movies, and so on and so forth.” I got so frustrated by hearing what I could not do that I was antsy to get to the part where I finally discovered what I could do. 

The story of how I surrendered my life to the Lord is not an average tale.  

By the time I reached high school, I was a straight-A student who was hopelessly trying to earn love from those I deemed important. The more I did right, the more miserable I became. Performing to validate your existence is a never-ending job.  

As successful as I was Monday, I needed to be better Tuesday, and so on. I thought God only bestowed His goodness on those who did enough to deserve it. 

I was exhausted and empty, and although, on the outside, I appeared as the kid who had it together, on the inside, I was as hollow as could be. I was depressed, empty, and longed to matter, not because of my achievements, but simply because I was me. 

We don’t have to be great enough to receive God’s love. He loves us despite what we have done, and He reaches for us no matter how short we have fallen from His presence.  

We are in the same boat when it comes to trying to get to shore with our vessel in one piece. We can't dodge the rocks of destruction without the Lord steering the wheel. It wasn’t until I heard God’s word that I discovered that without His grace, I could not be rescued, and without His truth, I would never be free, and without Jesus in my heart, I could never be loved.  

The day I finally heard the Gospel was the day that I looked up and surrendered to the Savior. He came down to my level when I had no shot of reaching Him. He loved me when I hated myself, and also loved me when nobody else could or would.  

His love transformed my life. He didn’t make me a slave, but instead, He adopted me as His son. It is out of love for Jesus that I want to please Him.  

Our Lord said Himself that if we love Him, we would keep His commandments. If you don’t obey Him, He’s not Lord; but you can’t obey Him until He is Lord. It comes to the fact that if you want to follow Jesus, He must make it happen.  

On our own, we only use the Lord to get attention for ourselves. When we get it right, we do what we do for God's glory. 

From pop to blood tests and bar and eye exams, testing is a regular part of life.  

Last week, I had three different medical tests to help me in my cancer battle. Aside from medical, academic and professional tests, we also encounter personal tests of faith: sickness, affliction, broken dreams, failures, peer pressures, moral temptations, and even doubts and fears.  

Did you know you can prepare for these tests before they come? We can all “study” for these exams by turning to God’s word for the answers to the most important questions in life: Who is God? What does He expect from us? What should I believe? How should I live in light of that? Will my faith go or grow amidst the trials and temptations? If it meant giving up my trust in Jesus or giving up my earthly life, how would I decide? 

One of my college professors wanted us to succeed so badly that he gave us the test questions and answers ahead of time. I have never experienced a teacher who took this approach, but he took away all our excuses for not achieving an A.  

As you might have guessed, some students didn’t prepare well and failed something they were given every opportunity to succeed at. 

Jesus provides everything we need to have a healthy, growing relationship with Him. The Lord not only gives us the test questions in advance, but Jesus also actually took the test and passed it for us and gave us His perfect score.  

What we should have failed, we won big time, and for all of that to be ours, we just need to receive the gift. Why would we take matters into our hands when it is His nailed scarred hands that we all need? Pride will kill love every time. 

Our acceptance isn't dependent on how faithful we were attending church, how well or eloquent we were when we prayed, or how many Bible verses we have memorized. It comes down to you and I declaring an allegiance to Jesus that results in our public affection for our God, no matter who is looking, that leads to a powerful and practical living of our Christianity in a world determined to go its own way.  

Are you in or are you out? It doesn’t come down to what the crowd thinks; it comes down to who you say Jesus is.  

Is He just another teacher? Is He the author of yet one more philosophy? Is He who He claims to be?  

Jesus wants to be our way, truth and life. It is no time to skirt the issue or ignore God’s invitation. Faith will require more fighting to be properly expressed in the coming days, and you won’t defend what you do not love.  

God so loved us that He went the distance to prove that reality. How far will your faith go? 

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House. 

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