Garland Of Grace – 08.17.16

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The Head And The Heart

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” – Acts 16:14

In 1992, the 6th of October was on a Tuesday. It is a day that will forever be etched upon my heart.  On that warm breezy afternoon while sitting at a picnic table on my High School campus, I surrendered my heart and life to Jesus Christ.  A particular friend of mine sat at the table with me and had just explained the gospel message of Christ one more time. He had been very persistent in sharing the gospel with me throughout the year.  Our first conversation took place in the spring on a hiking trip at a nearby state park. And through it all, this friend patiently prayed that I would eventually trust Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  His labor was not in vain; for on that day, God removed the blinders from my eyes and I saw clearly the Gospel of Christ. I saw the severity of my sinfulness and the glory of God’s holiness. In that moment, all the seeds planted in the soil of my heart leading up to that point immediately began to germinate. It was the greatest moment of my life. God softened my heart with the oil of the Holy Spirit, and He enabled me to receive His free gift of salvation. My conversion experience was not my doing, rather God’s doing.  For out of His grace and mercy, He opened my heart to the truth of the gospel, just as He did for Lydia, the first European convert.

My story prior to conversion is not as extravagant as some.  There are those who were down in the valley of despair, a valley which God used for His glory to draw them to the clefts of a personal relationship with Him. Others traveled down the rivers and roads of depression, paths mapped out by our sovereign Lord to bring them to salvation.  But for me, I was a young man raised in church with the head knowledge lacking the heart knowledge. My problem was that I had never made that eighteen inches journey from my head to my heart. Before conversion, I had been a fairly good moral person.  I had even accumulated a large quantity of head knowledge about the things of God because church had become one of the primary threads in my life tapestry. Yet even with my impressive life résumé, I still was not saved.

Finally on October 6, 1992, a light flickered within me, and I saw things clearly.  I understood that even my good moral standards were rubbish in comparison to God’s standard.  I realized that I could never be good enough, wise enough, or even charming enough to obtain salvation for myself.  It was a free gift from God, and it was a gift because it could not be earned or bought.  My eyes were opened to my sinfulness, and my heart was opened to the truths my friend shared with me that day.  I saw the gospel message in a whole new light, a way that I had never seen it before. My cognitive understanding of the gospel had grown into heartfelt sincerity. The truth of the matter is this; I could have never comprehended the truth of the gospel until the Holy Spirit of God turned the light on in my heart.

It is sobering to know that up to that point, all I had was a lot of head knowledge about spiritual matters, but that I did not genuinely have the saving heart knowledge of Christ. But on that day, everything changed. This is not to suggest that everything since that moment in my life has been a bed of roses. Roses have thorns.  There still have been bumps in the road of life. But since that moment there has been an evident change within my heart. I no longer trust in myself to get to heaven, but rather trust in Christ for salvation.  Isn’t the transition from the head to the heart overwhelming?

 – Pastor Eric

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