Have you ever been lied about? Have you ever been wounded by those you thought were your friends, and even rejected by those you love. Have you ever had something stolen that belonged to you, or been cheated out of something you worked very hard for?

   Truth is, we’ve all suffered through similar things, at one time or another. We all understand the sting of rejection, the hurt of exclusion and the offense of being offended.

   But what about God? Has He not felt all of this and more? Talk about being misrepresented, who usually gets blamed when something bad happens? What is often the first thing we think of when things go wrong? “Why did God let this happen?”

   Why do we think these thoughts? Because the devil lies to us every day, just as he lied to Adam and Eve in the garden. He told them that they wouldn’t die if they ate the fruit. That was a lie! But we listen to him, just like they did.

   God has been so misrepresented that many people in America today will not even consider what the Bible has to say. Any talk about “Satan” is labeled as fodder for lunatics by many in today’s pop culture. For the most part, America the Beautiful has rejected, or simply forgotten, the One who made her beautiful while accepting the lies of the very one bent on bringing her to her knees.

   But who is God? If He is not the cause of our problems, then where is He? And how do I even know He is there?

   The easiest way that I can think of to find God is to think about what is good, and what happy experiences you have had. What memories come to mind?

   Can you remember what it felt like to crawl into a warm bed between Mom and Dad? Or to be snuggled on Grandma’s lap, in a rocking chair beside the fire. What about the births of your children? How about the feeling of the warm sun on your face on a summer day, or the familiar smell of leaves burning on an autumn evening as you rush off with friends to the football game? Or, if none of those ring a bell, what about the life coursing through your veins as you woke up this morning?

   Whatever is good in your life, think about where it came from. The fact that you are wherever it is that you are right now is only true because you have been given the privilege of existence. Every pleasant sight you have ever seen and every good sound you have ever heard is a gift given to you. Are you thankful for your life? And who do you say “thank you” to?

   The Bible says that “God is love.” So whenever and wherever you encounter love, you are discovering who God is. One of the greatest aspects of love is the gift of forgiveness.

   We have all needed forgiveness from time to time. Can you remember a time when someone forgave you, even though you had hurt them deeply? And who has been wronged more than God? Human beings are a selfish lot. Each and every one of us is prone to hurt the very ones we love. And we have all turned against our Maker in so many ways. We have cursed Him, abandoned Him, denied Him, accused Him, been ashamed of Him, lied to Him, laughed at Him and taken Him, and His blessings for granted. The most remarkable thing is that He has not destroyed us completely!

   And yet, here we are – still. And why?

   Because God is love. Because God is merciful and He has decided to give us another opportunity to return His love to Him.

   But how do I return God’s love,” you say? Simply by accepting His Ambassador of Peace, His Son, Jesus Christ. In sending us His Son, God sent us the very thing we needed. Someone who can relate to us as humans, but yet is strong enough to pull us out of our selfishness. Though I can’t completely understand how exactly it is that Jesus’ blood cleanses me from my sin, I do understand the concept of justice. And I have a sense of right and wrong that tells me that wrongs must somehow be addressed. That is why we put thieves and rapists in prison, and even sometimes execute murderers. Because we do what we must do to protect our society from evil, and provide for our good.

   So, Jesus did what had to be done, by dying on the cross. And now, because He did, the gates of heaven are wide open to all who repent of their sin and accept God’s forgiveness!

   The day I accepted Christ was the first day of my life, as far as I am concerned. Not that I didn’t appreciate anything that happened before, but because I really “couldn’t.” Now I not only appreciate everything, but I’m learning to be grateful for all things. Now I “can” be grateful, because I can begin to understand Who to be grateful to, and why. Its very difficult to have this kind of attitude without the realization that God is really there, and that He truly cares about me. But if your heart is willing, He is able to open your eyes. And then, everything changes!

   God is actually the “only” one who deserves our utmost respect and attention. Not only our existence, but the existence of all creation stands as a testimony to His glory.

   The question is: have you ever given fair consideration to God’s offer of forgiveness and freedom from sin, or have you just believed all the lies that have been told about Him? If you have never really given God an honest chance to answer the questions in your heart, then you owe it to Him, and to yourself, to give very serious thought to it. In these troubled times, today, right now even, is a good time for you to decide who God is to you. And if you are totally honest about your situation, you may come to the same conclusion that I did – that God is the only “real” Friend that any of us has!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-18

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