The Testimony of Jesus Christ In My Life
By: Michael Read
I'm here to say that God's love is greater than any sin. I'm here to say that God is faithful. He will never leave you nor forsake you, even if you leave Him.
I was 11 years old, about to be 12, as I sat on a church pew that Sunday night March 5th 2000. I had been sitting in that church for six months, but that night was different. Although I don't remember what was preached or what was sung, I vividly remember what it felt like to have the Spirit of God grip my heart. That night God got a hold of me and when He did my spiritual eyes were opened.
All at once I knew within my heart of hearts that God is in fact real, and more real than I ever thought He was! I also realized that I wasn't right with God and that if I didn't get right with God then I was going to hell, but at the same time I realized that God loves me and that He sent His Son to die on a cross to bring me back to Him. I realized that Jesus could make me right with God if I just believed on Him and repented of my sins!
It became abundantly clear that nothing else in the world compared to eternal life with God in Heaven and that I was willing to give up anything to get it, and more than anything else in the world I wanted God to be pleased with me!
When I realized these things I ran to the altar and I prayed with all my heart. With tears running down my face, I confessed my sins. I asked for forgiveness for my sins and I believed that Jesus' death on the cross paid for my forgiveness. I surrendered my everything to God. I gave myself completely to the Lord and I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, that His death on the cross made me right with God.
When I did that I felt like this big weight fell off of me! Later on I learned that it was the weight of sin falling off of my soul. At that moment God's love came rushing into my soul like a flood. It was AMAZING! God's love is a real love, a true love; it is love in its purest form! God's love is a burning fiery love that fills your heart with overwhelming joy and cleanses you of all sin and unrighteousness!
That night I felt the Holy Spirit come make His home inside of me! And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is LIBERTY and there is LIFE! That night I was born again! I became spiritually alive for the first time! I became a new creature in Christ Jesus! I loved God and everyone else with all my heart, and I hated sin!
If you've never been saved then you don't know what it's like to have the burden of sin roll off your back. If you have never been saved then you are dead in your sins, and some of you reading this may even feel dead inside, but when you get saved you know what it's like to come to LIFE!!! I can testify that you've never really lived until you've known the Lord!!!
After I got up from the altar without anyone prompting me to, I told everyone about how God saved me! I went home still feeling God's presence. I felt so broken, sweetly broken, and yet so whole at the same time, like the very core of my being had been shattered and put back together more beautifully than ever before. I knew things were different.
That night I had an experience with God that changed my life forever. Although its been years since that night I can write about it as if it was yesterday because "the feeling I had hasn't left me, instead it grows sweeter each day!" If you've never had this experience your missing out on the greatest thing this world has ever known. If you are searching, Jesus is the answer. If you wonder "What is the meaning of life?" It is for you to know God, love God and be loved by God. If you want to know the purpose for all creation and time itself, the answer is for us to become one with God through Jesus Christ. You were created to worship and serve the Lord, and when you meet with your purpose it is PHENOMENAL!!!
I left church that night with a zeal in my heart. For two years drawing closer to God was my hearts desire. Everywhere I went I told people about Jesus. I witnessed to all my friends and family and everyone at school. I was a young man after God's own heart.
For three months after I got saved, I desperately sought God to be baptized in the Holy Ghost. Tuesday night June 6, 2000 at an old fashioned youth camp God gloriously baptized me in His Spirit. For about four hours I was lost in God's presence. It was like the world didn't exist anymore and I was at the throne of God. The word baptize means to be completely immersed, and I was completely immersed in God's Spirit. When I finally opened my eyes it was like everything was glowing. I was what Holiness people call "drunk" in the Spirit. Every care was lifted off me. I felt as light as a feather. I felt like I was about to float off the ground. It felt like God's love was a liquid and I was a cup overflowing with it (hence the term drunk). I was so full of God's love that if someone would have punched me in my face, then I would have just gave them a hug and told them that Jesus loves them.
Romans 5:5 - ...the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Ghost.
Even writing about it now humbles me and makes me thank God for His goodness toward me. Truly I am blessed beyond measure. No matter what I am going through or how I feel, if I just think back to these two experiences I realize how blessed I am. To think that the God who created the universe would take time to bless me, it's astonishing!
Unfortunately this is where the story starts to go down hill, but why? I've spent a lot of time contemplating why I backslid. What happened in my life that caused me to drift in my relationship with God. I mean, here I was on fire for God, ready to win the world for Him, and then a few years later I was running from the God that I was once so in love with. How could that have happened? Well one thing's for sure, it didn't happen overnight. God had performed a miracle in my life. He gloriously saved me and wonderfully filled me with His Spirit. I was in love with Him and for 2 years it was like I was on a honeymoon with God. There's no way the devil could have come in and offered me anything to trade my relationship with God for. I even remember sitting outside of church listening to a conversation about someone else who was backsliding and saying, "Why would anyone want to backslide? Serving God is the best thing in the world!" So if the enemy wanted to trip me up then he would have to do it subtily, and it would have to be a slow gradual process of him working his deception into my mind. That's exactly what happened. Real born again Christians don't backslide over night. It's a slow fade. Be warned. Be alert. Backsliding is a slow fade.
As I look back now I can honestly say that doing drugs wasn't worth it. In the beginning you have control, but by the end drugs end up controlling you. And because I've tried both I can say this, the high you get from drugs can't even compare to the love, joy, and peace you feel in the presence of God. Drugs take so many good things from you, but God gives so many good things to you. No matter how strong the temptation, don't ever start walking down that road. Trust me, you're not missing anything but trouble, heartache, and destruction.
Satan had deceived me. Sin had destroyed me. The lies that I believed had brought me to the lowest point in my life.
But God was there!
Though I had turned my back on Him. Though I had walked away. Though I had resisted Him, hardened my heart towards Him, rebelled against Him, lived prodigally and selfishly.
He was still there!
He had never left me.
Had had never forsaken me!
God was there to mend, to heal, to pick up the broken pieces,
to turn ashes into beauty, and to bring me back to where I belong,
In His arms and underneath His wings!
God's love and grace is greater than your sin!
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!!!!!" - Romans 5:20Not long after the accident I returned to my first love. Since then God has been changing my life. For the first three months I held onto my pagan girlfriend, but God took my infatuation for her out of my heart and moved her out of my life. For the first six months after my accident I was really going through a lot physically and wasn't able to think very spiritually.
2005 was a pretty good year though. I began to grow close to God again, but I still hadn't let go of some things in my heart. I still wanted to live MY life, when Jesus requires you to lose your life for His sake. I wanted so badly to be with my old friends. I was also struggling with a lot of the same things I had struggled with before I backslid. In late 2005 I began to die to these things. I mean my old friends really weren't coming around as much as they used to, which kinda hurt at first, but I'm not mad at them because I know it was God moving them out of my life.
In August 2005 I started high school again with the hope that I would be a light, and I was, sometimes. School began to get to me though, and in early 2006 those same worldly carnal desires rose up in my heart. Although I could not physically partake of those old sins, in my heart I wanted to. In May of 2006, I was confined to the bed for most of three weeks. I began to get bitter and I started questioning God. I didn't understand why God didn't just heal me. After those horrible three weeks I decided to get myself into therapy, hoping that there was something I could do to better my situation. 5 months later all I got was a little stronger and I realized that I wasn't able to do it by myself. So I kept my mind wrapped up in video games and TV until February 2007 rolled around.
In 2006 I remember talking with my friend from church. He asked me how I'd been, and I gave him an honest answer, I said "Not good." When those worldly carnal desires moved back into my heart in 2006 my joy left, my prayer life diminished, and my faith wavered.
But God stepped in one more time. A few months later in February 2007 the presence of God came into our church in a powerful way, and my pastor called for a prayer line - something we don't normally do. At first I hardened my heart and I decided that I wasn't going to go, but God's Spirit kept pressing on my heart and I finally went to the back of the line. As soon as I got in line God broke me. I felt His sweet presence come over me, and I just started weeping. Oh to be sweetly broken by the Lord. There is nothing more precious in all the world. That night God restored my soul!
He restoreth my soul - Psalms 23:3
Every year we go to a youth conference in March and God's presence is so powerful there. So God put a desire within me to prepare my heart to seek Him. I started praying more, and I started asking God to change my desires. I knew that it wasn't in me to change my desires, and I somehow knew that God was able to. God revived me at the youth conference and from March to July 2007 God started putting holiness back into my heart and removing all the worldly desires. In 2007 I fell in love with Jesus again, and it is wonderful! Even though I am still paralyzed it doesn't matter because the joy of the Lord is my strength! Before I had mad up my mind that I would serve the Lord with my all only if He was going to heal me, but that I would live only a mediocre Christian life if He wasn't going to. In 2007 all that changed. Although I still believe that it is the Lord's will for me to be healed and that He is going to heal me, even if He doesn't then I'm still going to give Him my all because He is worthy! I know that it is not God that caused the bad things in my life, sin is to blame for all the evil in he world. God is the creator and the healer. He's never given up on me and I'm never going to give up on Him! He's amazing! I love Him! And I love Him because He first loved me!
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. - 2 Cor 5:14-15
Some people may see me and wonder, "How can he praise God," but if you only knew all that I've been through. If you were only there the night He found me! If you only felt what I felt when He wrapped His loving arms around me! Then you would understand why I love Him so! If you could only see just where He found me! If you'd been there when He lifted me, then you would know!
Blessed [Happy] is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! - Psalms 32:1
God has been good to me. God has been patient with me. I've been up and down. I've been in and out. I've been in the valley and on the mountain top. I've been through the fire and through the storm, and I can honestly say that God has never left me nor forsaken me. Jesus has always been there for me. God has been faithful to me even when I was unfaithful to Him. If anybody knows about the love of Jesus I DO! If anybody knows about God's grace and mercy I DO! I thank God for saving my soul from sin and bondage. I thank God for choosing me to be one of His. I thank God for changing my desires and sanctifying me. I thank God for baptizing me in the Holy Ghost; an experience I'll never forget, and it is also the living water that flows through my soul. I thank God for sparing my life when I was backslid and I thank God for taking the backslider back. I thank God that I can breathe without the assistance of a machine. I thank God that I can see well. I thank God that I hear well. I thank God that I can speak clearly. I thank God that I can move what I can move and feel what I can feel. I thank God for the house and van he has given us. I thank my God for paying everyone of our bills and for meeting all our needs. I thank God for leading us to the church we go to, and I thank God for the freedom we have to worship Him. I thank my Father for the work that He is doing in me, and I thank Jesus Christ in advance for healing my body.
If you feel like God has been dealing with you then please respond to Him. Romans 2:4 says that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. When you reject God's Spirit as it deals with your heart then you are rejecting God's goodness. Hell is full of people that God would have loved to wrap His loving arms around, had they only received God's goodness by repenting of their sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. God has so much for you. In Jesus Christ there is abundant life, boundless love, joy unspeakable, hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary, peace in times of trouble, a place of safety, a solid foundation to base your life upon, real satisfaction, truth, the answer for those who are searching, salvation, healing, liberty, and eternal life! Being a Christian is NOT easy, but its worth every hardship to know Jesus, and through every hard time you will have a friend that will stick closer than a brother. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you, He will go with you all the way till the end!
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? - Matthew 16:26
And to all those people who are serving God now, and those who have experienced Him in the past. I BEG YOU! Please be smarter than me. Proverbs 13:6 says, "Righteousness keepeth Him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner." If you play with sin it will overthrow you! That old saying, "Sin will take you farther than you want to go, and keep you longer than you want to stay" is TRUE! If you "Give the devil an inch then he will take a mile!" The way of a transgressor is hard. A transgressor is someone who knows to do right and doesn't do it. Again, I BEG YOU! Please be smarter than me! Surrender all to God, and don't look back! For it is said that, "A wise man learns from his own mistakes, but an even wiser man learns from the mistakes of others." Please learn from my mistakes. Don't compromise. Appreciate what you have. Surrender all to God, love Him and serve Him with all your heart. Live for eternity and don't get entangled with temporal things that are going to pass away.
"For we have only one life that will soon be past, and only what's done for Christ will last!" - C.T. Studd
1 Peter 2:25 - For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
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