It has been quite some while since you received a devotional from me. Life has been busy and challenging. Also, I’ve been working on a one-year devotional called, “It’s All about Jesus: The Bible’s Grand Testimony.” This devotional is intensely personal, as you can read in the introduction.
This one-year devotional will be released on Christmas Day, 2019, but you can preorder it as of October 1, 2019. I’m planning to post the devotionals throughout the coming year, started with the Introduction.
Also, I’m using It’s All about Jesus as a fundraiser for reputable ministries. Therefore, if you’re blessed by these posts, will you participate in this fundraiser and also promote it on your social media and with your church? Click here to read more about it.
In the beginning of 1995, the Lord used a Bible verse that changed my life. Raised in a church that, I believe, has a disproportionate emphasis on God’s law instead of His gospel, my view of God was comparable to a boogeyman—one who frightens children into good behavior.
My view developed into an extremely legalistic mindset, trying to please such a God in order to obtain His favor. One of the ways I tried to do so was to read His word. When I was thirteen and fourteen years old, I read the Bible three times each year, attempting to please Him.
That increased my struggles, though. I tried my best to live according to His word, seeking His approval. Needless to say, I had no peace because I could never reach His standard. Rather, there was great despair. At times, I tried to sleep on the floor instead of my bed, desiring to show Him some form of abasement and “repentance.”
More and more, I began to hate such a boogeyman who made my life miserable. When I was sixteen years old, right after my baptism, I turned away from Him and simply gave up. There was no way that I could ever live up to His will. From great darkness, I embarked into greater darkness.
After about one year, I “returned” because I couldn’t take it any longer. My view of God had not really changed, though. I still tried to please Him order to obtain His favor. From the outside, I seemed dedicated to Him; on the inside, sin, darkness, and despair ruled my life.
When I had just turned twenty-one, I left for New York City and volunteered at a church, reaching out to the homeless with food and the gospel. I did that as part of my legalistic mindset, doing good things in order to gain His acceptance. The despair never left me, deeply realizing that I always fell short of His righteous standard.
Since I enjoyed long walks, I sometimes walked from College Point, Queens, to mid-town Manhattan, crossing the Queensboro Bridge. I always walked on the car-side of the bicycle path because I was afraid I would jump from the bridge in a moment of despair.
There were four significant means that the Lord used to deliver me from my legalism and despair. First of all, I had learned by experience that there was no way that I could ever reach God’s standard by my own attempts. Secondly, I read many books and sermons by Charles Spurgeon, who always pointed me to Jesus Christ. Thirdly, I had numerous Christ-centered conversations with my dear friend, Emmanuel Suarez. Last but not least, the Lord used a Bible verse to pierce through my legalistic darkness.
I was in my apartment when God shone the light of His gospel in my dark mind. He used this verse: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). At that time, I was using the King James Version, which uses the word testify: “And they [the Scriptures] are they which testify of me.”
In that passage, Jesus addressed Jews who read God’s word because they thought they could obtain eternal life by their adherence to His word. For almost a decade, I had believed and tried the same. Then, God opened my eyes to see that His word testifies of His Son. It bears witness to who He is and what He has accomplished, obtained, and promised to do.
That truth changed everything. From then on, I began to read the Bible in light of the person and work of Jesus Christ. While, at first, I may have swung from one extreme to another extreme, I had found an anchor that kept me amidst all the storms and struggles of life.
Ever since, my persuasion has solidified that the Bible is, first and foremost, a testimony of God’s Son. It points to Him. Thus, It’s All about Jesus: The Bible’s Grand Testimony is intensely personal. It was borne out of great darkness and despair, giving Him all the glory for my salvation.
Even though there are repetitions throughout this one-year devotional, I do so in light of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:1-2). No one blames a person who, out of necessity, takes the same medication each day. As believers, we are to hold fast to the gospel—hold fast to Jesus—each day of our lives.
Paul wrote something similar to the Colossian believers: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Col. 1:21-23). It’s All about Jesus has been written to help you hold fast to Jesus.
This devotional, though, is much more than a gospel presentation; it’s a presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ in creation, history, and salvation. Everything exists through Him and for Him. Apart from Jesus, there’s only non-sense and vanity. May the Father bless these pages for the increasing adoration of His Son. To Him will be all the glory!
Today’s devotional is from It’s All about Jesus, a one-year devotional about the person and work of Jesus Christ. The book will be published on Christmas Day, but you can be preorder it as of October 1, 2019.
It’s All about Jesus will be used as a fundraiser for the spread of His gospel through reputable ministries.
If you’ve been blessed by today’s devotional, will you participate and promote this fundraiser on your social media and with your church?
You can share today’s devotional or this link: https://thecauseofchrist.com/jesus-birthday-gift/