Your Opportunity for Change

Preface: The Bible is clear. We have only two choices regarding our sins: either we pay for our sins in the lake of fire, or we accept Christ’s payment for them on the cross. As we review the generous gift of God’s grace through Christ, let us once again humbly renew our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior.

Testing Times (Gen. 22:1–14)
In these verses we read of the test that God put Abraham through. This test was indeed an onerous task that had the potential to destroy Abraham’s faith and belief system. It is not clear why God chose a potential human sacrifice as Abraham’s test. However, it is clearly a test of faith. Many Christians undergo testing times that cause much grief and pain. It is this refining of emotions that allows us to understand truly in Whom we believe and why we believe. “And
Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son” (Gen. 22:10, NKJV). Just try to envision the emotions that Abraham must have felt at this particular instant in time.

Our world today faces so many challenges that indicate that the second coming of Christ is near. The passage of the hand of time is fleeting and moving toward the prophecy of eternity.
In 2014, we see the war against terrorism, the ethnic wars in Africa, and the Middle East crisis. Humankind has been given a real opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. No matter how difficult the challenge, there is hope for a brighter tomorrow.

In my experience, I have observed that many so-called Christians expect to go through life without testing times. They want the rewards without doing the work. Truly, we can learn from what Abraham went through in being better able to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

Believing the Impossible (Gen. 28:10–22; John 14:1–3)
Jacob’s dream shows that God emphatically states that He is the Lord of the past and future. Many people have dreams that they believe will come to pass. These dreams encompass a myriad of objects, things, philosophies, and ideologies. Jacob’s dream presented an opportunity for change. He would move into a leadership position in his family. God made a commitment to
Jacob’s success. This commitment would extend to generations yet unborn. This was an impossible dream given the realities of the existence of that day. Could it really happen?

God fulfilled His promise to Jacob and offers all today that assurance that He will live up to what He has said He would do. He has prepared a place for each sinner who is saved by grace and by faith accepts the plan of salvation and Jesus Christ as his or her personal savior. This is almost an impossible dream. To conceive that the God of the universe is so concerned about every single human being that He sent His only Son to die for our sins is almost an impossible dream.

How special are you to God? His love is everlasting and endures forever. No matter what you are going through, Jesus has already paid the ultimate price so that you may believe that impossible dream of spending eternity with Him in a bliss of happiness that cannot be described by any mere mortal. God’s plan of salvation gives us that hope that we are all in search of.

Repent and Be Baptized (Jonah 3)
Jonah had an amazing story to tell, one of transformational change. His story was so important that God allowed him to be swallowed by a great fish to get his message out. God taught
Jonah a lesson first, before he was able to preach to the Ninevites. His change of heart allowed him to be a minister of truth who was able to give a testimony of joy that changed the hearts of many and that spared many the certain destruction that they would have faced. Likewise today, there are many who yearn for the message, but they have not been able to hear it from their neighbors. Are you that neighbor who knows the truth but will not help to set others free?

The story is told of a woman who was a committed Christian. When she got married, neither she nor her husband were Christians. After she accepted the Christian faith, her husband did not want to have anything to do with her religion. Day after day, she prayed that her husband would be saved before it was too late. Unfortunately, before his death he never accepted Christ as his personal savior. Many years went by, and the woman continued in her Christian walk with
God. It was after much prayer and fasting that she was finally able to come to the realization that her challenge in life in being married to an unbeliever was not so much about her unbelieving husband’s refusal to accept Christ as it was her renewal of spirit to ensure that she continued to hold strong to the faith that made her election and calling sure.

The Christian journey is not an easy road to travel, but it is one that is traveled nonetheless. We have a wonderful Savior, who has led us by example in His life on earth, so that we, too, may be able to be lights to the world. Our experience guarantees that there is a change in our lives, a change that the world recognizes. It is a change that emphasizes that Jesus Christ is Lord and we all have the same opportunity for an eternal life with Him.

The people of Nineveh were spared certain death and destruction because they followed the will of God. We, too, can be spared if we follow the will of God.

REACT
1. Why does God give us the opportunity to transform our lives, despite our seeming unwillingness to want to?
2. What specific pattern of behavior in Jonah’s life mirrors an experience you have had?
3. How can we encourage nonbelievers to accept Jesus in the midst of all the confusion today?
4. For what purposes does God allow our faith to be tested? Be specific.