This last Sunday, we heard how God is transforming lives through Alpha. This week, we are hearing stories of people at Lakeland whose lives are being transformed by Jesus in so many ways.
Be encouraged – He wants to work in your life and heart today too!
After this story is a short reading and some thoughts for the day.
It’s been about eight years since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior but it’s only been a few months since I came to understand what that really means. I knew God but I did not know God. Up until a few months ago I was still seeking the world to fulfill what I now know only God can fulfill. Everything I sought after left me empty-handed and worse off than before. I knew I needed Jesus and I was finally ready to surrender.
It took only these three simple words one Sunday morning, at Lakeland Church, for God to come in and start changing my heart: I choose You. When I said those words, the Holy Spirit gave me a supernatural jolt of joy accompanied by an overwhelming sense of peace. The heavy burden that I had been carrying around, as if carrying a yoke upon my shoulders, was instantly lifted as the Holy Spirit filled me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but God was preparing me for a major transformation and He had to bring me to my knees to do it. I found myself curled up in a ball on the floor that same night with tears streaming down my face as God let me endure the weight of my sin for the very first time. It was unbearable. As I came face to face with the wicked and sinful woman that I am without Jesus, He spoke to me gently, “You have been forgiven much.” All of a sudden I realized that what I had been seeking I had had all along. I thought I had been running from the one who would keep me in chains but I was already in chains and I had been running from the only One who could set me free.
God had to break me a little bit (maybe a lot) and I experienced pain like no other but He brought me through it. I saw Him mend relationships that I had torn apart. I saw Him strengthen and unite my family. I saw Him bring forgiveness that had been withheld. I saw Him bring much-needed healing. When God showed me just how undeserving I was of any grace, forgiveness, or mercy… He showed grace, forgave, and had mercy on me.
In my suffering that I had caused, He loved me through it. Praise God for He is good! As one of my favorite quotes says, “Life is hard. God is good” (John Piper). I still struggle everyday and sometimes praising the Lord is the last thing that I want to do, but a lifetime of struggling with God at my side is far better than even one day without Him.
Text for the day: Matthew 9:9
Matthew was a Jewish Tax Collector. That meant that while he likely went through the motions of worship, his loyalties were with Israel’s enemies, and ultimately himself. He was unliked, by other Jews, the Romans (for being a traitor) and probably himself.
What did Matthew experience in his encounter with Jesus?
If Jesus came to you today, said, “Follow Me,” turned and walked away, would you follow? He has.