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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Don’t Believe in Coincidences – An Easter Story

Tonight ended a long debacle I had with the stereo in my car. Let me make a long story less long so you’ll have the context, I’m including part numbers in hopes that this pops up on a Google search and gives people the gospel who were not looking for the gospel. Back around October I ended up with a Saturn SC-1 through some cool circumstances, I love this little car for what it is, but because it’s old and has a lot of miles on it, the stereo was worn out; I use the stereo frequently to listen to sermons and James White and Al Mohler podcasts. One of the first things I did was pick up a Dual XR4115 aftermarket stereo for it, this is a bottom end stereo that does not even have a CD-player it’s so inexpensive. I installed it and was instantly disappointed, but it did play music through the auxiliary cable (it will not play the iPod (iPad mini) through the USB), so I decided I’d live with it. At a month it died, the screen went out, making it effectively worthless. I took it back to the store I bought it at to find out it had a one month warranty and I had missed it by just a few days. I was about to leave and go purchase a better unit somewhere else, when the store manager arrived, called the employee a bad name, and gave me a brand new XR4115 in replacement.

This unit has lasted for approximately the last three months. During this time it has started having issues, it won’t play the right front speaker from the iPod, but will from the radio, it stopped charging the iPod, and the screen has started to flash. I was expecting to be outside of the country for at least two years, and planned to sell the car shortly, but now I am staying and so am keeping the car for as long as it will run. Since I’m keeping it, I decided to put a better stereo in it. I have a Pioneer DEH-50UB in the truck, and it is the greatest stereo I’ve ever used, but they no longer make it. Its successor is the Pioneer DEH-64BT, so I decided to pick one up. I intended today to go visit a friend around noon and then stop at the store and get this unit afterwards. My visit lasted much longer, and I ended up at Walmart just after 7pm. I decided to go through the auto-department since I was only picking up one thing and then leaving. I pulled up to the back side of Walmart only to find that that door was locked for the night.

At this point I noticed four people sitting around a picnic table about a hundred feet away, I assumed they were Walmart employees on a break. I grabbed four $1Million bills from Living Waters and said a short prayer, and headed for the table. It became quickly apparent that the four weren’t employees, but teenagers, hanging out, listening to music, and smoking. I’d estimate them to be sixteen or seventeen, two boys and two girls. They were ecstatic about the bills, and thanked me for them, and one boy turned off the music as if knowing I was about to ask a question.

I asked if I could ask them the million dollar question, they agreed. I asked, “If you died tonight, would you go to Heaven?” Two said they hoped so and two wouldn’t answer. I told them that according to the Bible, good people go to Heaven (Psalm 24:3-5, Matthew 5:8, Matthew 5:20), and asked them if they considered themselves to be good people. They all said that they did (Proverbs 20:6). I told them I was going to give them the good person test.

I asked them if they had ever told a lie. They all said they had. I asked what that made them. One boy said, “Well, not a liar, because it’s not like I lie all the time.” I asked him if you had to murder all the time to be a murderer? He gasped/laughed and said, “Wow, I guess I’m a liar.”

I asked if they had ever stolen anything, they all said they had. I asked what that made them, they said a thief. I was surprised because usually I hear “stealer”. This one hit them pretty hard, I rarely see contrition at this point in the good person test, but these teens were already showing it.

I asked if they had ever taken God’s name in vain. They asked how they would do that? I said by saying things like Oh My God or Jesus Christ without reverence, they all said they had. I said that it was serious, because God will not hold them guiltless who takes his name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

Then I said, “Here’s the one that got me, I mentioned murder earlier, have you ever murdered anyone?” They all laughed uncomfortably knowing that based on how the test was going that something big was coming, “Here’s why it got me, Jesus said if we hate someone or call them an idiot or a curse word, we’re in danger of being judged as murderers (Matthew 5:21-22).” One student said, “Dang, I’ve murdered a lot of people.” I responded, "me too." We had about three seconds of silence while this sunk in.

I told them, “Based on your admission, you’re just like me, not good people, but liars, thieves, blasphemers, and murderers at heart. If that’s the way God judges us on Judgment Day, do you think you’d be innocent or guilty?” One girl quickly said guilty, but a boy jumped in and said, “But I think God knows my heart, and he’ll know that I tried my best.”

I said, “That’s actually not a good thing for us, God does know our heart, the Bible says that our heart is desperately wicked and deceitful beyond all things, who can know it? Only God can search the depths of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). The Bible says that the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8), but our heart is sick and not pure (Ezekiel 16:30, etc). For example, don’t answer this, but our heart is where our actions start (Mark 7:21), like adultery, Jesus said it starts in our hearts and looking with lust makes us adulterers at heart (Matthew 5:27-28).”

These kids were already convicted, and that crushed the two boys. I continued that because our hearts aren’t pure, we are in trouble, all liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8), no thief, no blasphemer, no murderer, and no adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). That’s the bad news.”

“But there is good news,” I continued, realizing it’s the day Jesus was crucified on, “God doesn’t want you to go to Hell (Ezekiel 18:32), so much so he did the most loving thing in history two-thousand years ago. Do you know what he did?” A girl said, “He gave his Son! Wait, that was exactly two-thousand years ago?” I said not exactly two thousand years, but close, and this weekend is Easter.

I got to the best part, that Jesus Christ, God the Son, God in the flesh (John 1:14, 1 Timothy 3:16), came into this world to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He lived a perfect sinless life, tempted in every way we’ve been tempted yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and that he willingly went to a cross to pay for our sins. Now we can go to Heaven when we die, not because we’re good people, but because we have a very good God who paid our fine on a cross, who three days later defeated death, and will give us his goodness, his righteousness, if we repent of our sins and put our trust in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“It is possible for us to lay our lives down for each other, for example, I could lay my life down for you, but I’m not taking it back up again, I don’t have that power. But Jesus said, ‘No one takes my life from me, I lay it down, for my sheep (John 10:11), that I may take it back up again (John 10:17).’ Jesus proved to be Lord and Saviour by dying on a cross and resurrecting from the dead three days later.”

“The way this all works out is if we’re all standing in Heaven someday, and I desperately hope to see you all in Heaven someday, and someone, maybe an angel, asks, ‘How did you guys get in here?’ We’re not going to be able to say, ‘because I was so good, or great, or awesome’, we’ll say gladly, ‘because Jesus Christ is my God and Saviour, and he sought me and bought me and to him belongs all the power, honor, and glory, forever and ever’ and everyone there will say, ‘amen.’ (Ephesians 2:8-9, Revelation 5:12-13)”

“Does this make sense?”

A young man answered, “This makes a lot of sense.” He looked at a girl and said, “This is the way God speaks to us, by sending a messenger.” (I don’t know the context behind this statement, but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit was doing something to prepare them for this conversation (John 16:8-11))

I don’t believe in coincidences,” I said, “you have no idea how many crazy things happened to put me here at this exact time, and for the door there to be locked, at the very least I meant to be here three hours ago. So this Easter, really think about these things, repent towards God and put your faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone (Acts 20:21). The Bible says that if we are in Christ we are new creations, the old has passed, and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

“Do you guys have Bibles at home?” I asked in order to provide some follow-up, they all said they had Bibles, “Open up those Bibles, never trust a man over the Word of God. I recommend you start in the book of John,” one girl mouthed John to herself to help remember, “it was written by one of Jesus’ closest friends, it will tell you who he is, why he came, and why it’s important to you. Since it’s Easter, I recommend you start in chapter 17, that’s where the crucifixion starts (John 17:1), but you can start at chapter 1 too.”

They thanked me and told me that I had given them a lot to think about. It was a blessing to be in exactly the right place at the right time to share in the blessing of preaching the excellencies of him who bled and died and lived again.

This Easter, tell someone about the hope that lives within you, Christ in you, the hope of glory.


Michael Coughlin said...

Well done, you had me hanging on every word. Thanks be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who provided you such a great encouragement.

I don't mean to shamelessly "plug" my own blog...but I had a similar experience with "coincidence" and "witnessing."

I titled it, The Sovereignty of God in Salvation. Click to read it.

Canyon Shearer said...

Amen, thanks for posting! Feel free to plug your blog anytime, it always blesses me. :^)

Vernon Costolo said...

Praise the Lord!