No Greater Gift Could Anyone Receive
"Then he went out again by the sea, and all the multitude came to him, and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And he said to him, 'Follow me.' So he arose and followed him." Mark 2:13-14 As I read the accounts of Jesus calling his twelve disciples, I always remark at how this stranger just says to them, "Come follow me," and they immediately leave whatever they were doing and go to him. What is it about his words that have such an effect upon people? I was sitting on the piano bench one day many years ago, weeks after I was born again in an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. As I sat there, suddenly Jesus was in the room. I did not see him physically, but I saw him surely and knew immediately that it was him. He spoke to me and I would never forget the exact words he said, so profoundly did they impact me. He said, “Forsaking all, come follow me." There is power in the words spoken by Christ. His words came into me and my heart immediately sprung up with a whole-hearted "YES!" The power of his words to me brought forth the reaction in me before I even had a chance to think about it. What is it about Jesus Christ that so affects anyone touched by him? What is it about his words that evoke such an immediate reaction inside the one spoken to? Have you been called? Do you know him? If you don't, if you're "religious" and think that's enough, I challenge you to ask him whether you're born again or not. Religion will not ever produce the change in a person that can only take place when he/she is born again by the Spirit of God. If you have any doubts, then ask him about it, because if you are born again, you have no doubts, you KNOW it. I hate religion, because that is what he brought me OUT of. I had grown up in a religious home, went to a religious school - kindergarten through high school - and was miserable. No religious rites relieved me of the angst I had inside. After coming out of the "confessional" each week, I would find myself wishing to die now that I was "clean," because I knew that before the end of the day I would undo what I thought took place in the confessional. I could not escape the awareness of my sinfulness. That was the context in which I was living when the Lord revealed himself to me on that Thanksgiving weekend so long ago. It would take many, many years to unlearn the deceptions of religion and learn from his Word (the Bible) the truth that sets you free. I remember so well saying to him, "I reject all teaching that came before, from this day I know only Jesus Christ and what you will teach me about him." I started back at the beginning. I began reading the Bible for the first time. It changed everything. The Lord reveals himself in various ways to various people. To me, he revealed himself as "The Truth." And from then on, there has never been anything more important to me in life than the truth. To this day, I pray that if ever I am deceived, that he would show me the truth. What could possibly be more important? "Forsaking all...." he said to me. And that's what following him has cost me ...ALL. I remember early in my walk with the Lord, seeing Kathryn Kuhlman one day in Rhode Island. She came out onto the stage in that beautiful white dress of hers, so lovely. I'll never forget what she said. She raised her hand up high above her head and said, "What does salvation cost you? Nothing. It's paid for entirely by the atonement made in Jesus Christ. What will following him cost you? ...Everything." I went on to learn the truth of that, because I lived it. It cost me everything. Would I do the same if I had known then what I know now ...if I had known what it would cost me? Yes, I would do the same. I have nothing more precious in life than my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. I would forsake anyone or anything for him, should he bid me to ...and he has. Once you've been in his presence, nothing will ever be the same again. He could ask nothing from me that I wouldn't give. Walking with Jesus Christ is not just giving things up. He explained it: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 Oh how true! It's been many years now, and I can honestly say I understand the depths of that Scripture. Jesus came to me and he destroyed the works of the devil that had made up my life. And ...then he gave me that life “more abundantly.” And I live in that abundant life today. Someday, he promises, all will be worth it ...when we see what he did with the stories of our lives. We see now in a glass darkly, but then ...we will see him face to face. And for that day we yearn and wait and believe and call to him, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!" What Does 'Born Again' Mean?