God in person. Creator. Bridegroom. Savior. Lord. King.
In the current culture, we know Him by the name, Jesus, but His Hebrew name is Yeshua (or Yehoshua). Truly, He answers to either. He is the Messiah – or the Anointed One. It is through Yeshua that we can be the friend of God and the sons & daughters of God. Also, Yeshua is God. Confusing? Not confusing – just – BIG.
That’s why it takes FAITH; because truly understanding who He is, what He’s done for us, and the depth of His love will take Eternity to understand. But He invites you to believe that He is who He says He is; from there – a fabulous journey to discover all that He is!
TRUST ME, I’VE BEEN THERE
I don’t have a “bad girl” turned “church girl” story. I have a “church girl” transformed into a Kingdom Woman story. I was “born in the church”, asked Jesus “in my heart” when I was around 5 or 6, and spent half my growing up years in the halls of our church. My dad was a pastor, my grandparents were elders, and everyone in between was deeply involved in church. In my 20s, I went to Belarus on a missions trip and a local girl said something to me that caused me to pause: she told me I believed what I did because that was how I was raised.
Good point. I knew nothing except church life, Christian friends, attending a Christian college, working for a Christian company, and now on the mission field. While not entirely true that my upbringing (i.e. conditioning) was the only reason I believed, it mostly was. I am grateful for my family introducing me to Jesus and the Bible. At the same time, her words reinforced the importance that I needed to firmly know what I – as an individual and adult – believed.
What I discovered, is that while I was very religious, I lacked something deeper. I knew the truth, believed in Jesus, but it hadn’t really changed me…because I didn’t think I needed changing. After all, I was a really good “church girl”.
I prayed, read the Bible, preached Jesus, went to church, and did Bible Studies. I thought I was doing well. I was in a place where I was very confident in my own self-righteousness; which is an anathema to God.
I must admit I wasn’t a very pleasant person to be around: certain of my opinions and my ability to see everyone else’s flaws (backed by scripture, of course). Truly, I wasn’t happy inside and knew I was missing something – so I kept pressing in and calling out to God. Despite my pride, self-righteousness, and critical spirit, I did have something good: a prayer from the time I was a little girl for a pure heart and a genuine hunger to know, love, and serve God. These two desires at the core of who I was, connected me with the grace and mercy of God and acted as a lifesaver through decades of darkness – even though I thought it was light.
Then, life got ugly at home and at church, and with other Christians. I felt confused and wondered at it all, spending more time alone with my Bible and my tears. On top of that, I had a dream. Not just a dream-dream…more like a vision. It was a warning to me and I started to ask questions such as, “What if I have been wrong? What if I’m missing something?”
Here’s an eye-opener: You can “know about” the truth but not see it.
In the Bible, Jesus’ greatest conflict was with the religious leaders of that time. Jesus was preaching what they should have already known – but they did not understand what He was saying.
In the current-day church, it is common for everyone to complain about “Pharisaical Believers” (those who are religious but don’t know the truth), pointing fingers in every direction when really we should all be asking if that’s us. I started doing that – asking where I was wrong and did not understand correctly. It got to a point when I cried out to God that I wanted to start over. I told God I believed He exists and that Jesus is who He says He is, but beyond that would He teach me the Truth because I just didn’t know anymore.
I can tell you that this decision came at a cost: lost relationships, misunderstandings, accusations that I wasn’t a real Christian, and so much more. But I will say, it’s been worth it. The God I’ve encountered is far greater than the one I thought I knew. The Love I’ve found brings me to my knees. The joy and peace I have in the middle of challenging circumstances are supernatural, and the power and understanding I’ve found through the Holy Spirit changed everything.
I’m grateful for my journey. I’m thankful that God showed me that even though I was in church and knew about the truth, I was still in darkness; and how grateful I am that He brought me out of the darkness and into the Light!
I’m not going to tell you what to believe, I’m just going to point you to Jesus (Yeshua) and His Word and tell you to passionately seek Him. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. Believe that Jesus is real; God in the flesh; and He came to save us from our sins. He came first for the Jewish nation and then for the rest of us, and in that, He created one new man: tearing down the dividing wall between Jew & Gentile (Ephesians).
When Simon Peter preached to the crowds after Jesus was resurrected and returned to Heaven, the crowds asked, “What must we do to be saved?”. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit….then those who gladly received his word were baptized…” (Acts 2:37-41)
There is so much I could include but this is where your journey starts. Whether this is all new to you or you’ve been in church your entire life and think you’ve got it all figured out, or somewhere in between, the starting point from here is the same: Repent, believe in Jesus, and ask God to show you where you’ve been wrong in your believing or understanding. Repent of wrong believing, receive His forgiveness, and ask Him, by the power and counsel of the Holy Spirit, to teach you. Don’t be afraid of the Holy Spirit, he isn’t just a side note. He is the main player as Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit as a gift. Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you and to teach you about himself. Pray in and with the Holy Spirit. Also, Peter asked new believers, “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” They did not know what he was talking about and so he taught them and they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (after they had been baptized in water).
Seek this out. Search these things for yourself. But start by believing in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). You will encounter arguments & various opinions along each step – avoid them. I’ve heard it all over the years. To this I say: Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33). Always go back to scripture and do what God says, not what man says.
Laura Prather, editor