Larkin Avenue Baptist Church
Friday, December 15, 2017

Richard Sanders

Richard's Story -

 

I have discovered a hope and confidence that, to be honest with you, sometimes astonishes me. Right now in my life, there is so much instability and uncertainty. If you would have told me twenty years ago that my life would be like it is today, I'd launched an aggressive argument against you. Things can be tough. Yet there is a hope and confidence that is a strong anchor for me. I'd like to share with you how I obtained that hope and confidence.

 

I grew up in church, beginning when I was four years old. I've always loved church. However, when I became about eight years old, I started feeling restless whenever I would go to church. This went on for months. It was so bad that I can remember crying at church. On May 14, 1967, I discovered what was causing this restlessness.

 

As I was sitting in church on that Sunday evening, and it is as clear as anything forty six years later, I listened to the preacher. In our church, it was the custom - a lot like Billy Graham did when he was finished preaching - to invite people to talk to someone about making a decision for God. It was that time in the worship service, and all of us were supposed to have our eyes closed and heads bowed, like we were praying. Well, I didn't have my head bowed, and I "got caught", which ended up being the greatest thing that ever happened to me. My pastor whom I loved very much saw me and didn't say anything verbally but with his eyes said "would you like to talk with someone?" Before I knew it, I was walking toward him to talk with him and subsequently another man in our church.

 

It was during that conversation that I understood that while God loved me so very much - even to the point of sending Jesus to die for me. The reason Jesus had to die is because I had done wrong. I was reminded that night that all of us have done wrong. The Bible calls this sin. Even though I was only eight, I didn't have to be convinced that I had done wrong.

 

I had always heard that Jesus died on a cross, very unfairly, to pay the penalty for my sins. I've never had a reason to doubt that. In His death I could have forgiveness for my sins, and be made right with God. I just had to accept His gift of dying on my behalf. I did that on that Sunday evening, May 14, 1967, simply by acknowledging my sin, turning away from those sins, and making Jesus Master of my life. I did all that forty six and a half years ago.

 

That night I became a child of God. As I understood more and more what God had done for me, I wanted to do anything I could for Him. I understood that He wanted me to be baptized. We baptized by immersion. The reason for that is because it was a picture of what had happened in my life. Just as I would enter the water, it was like the "old Richard" was being buried. When I came out of the water, it was like I was resurrected or had a new life. I was baptized two weeks later and became a member of my church.

 

Oh, I still struggle, and anyone who knows me can verify that. It's just that when I do mess up, or sin, then I am able to receive God's forgiveness. His forgiveness is not a license to sin, but a response when I do sin.

 

Someone can say, "Richard, that's good for you, but where does the ability to live life in hope and confidence come in?" When I committed my life to Jesus way back in 1967, I committed my life to Someone who had conquered it all! Jesus had proven Himself to be Lord over everything, including death! This world can throw all it has at me, and yet, because I have committed my life to a victorious Lord I can have hope!

 

This is the most serious commitment I've ever made, even more serious that getting married. Jesus warned about that in the Bible. He told how people would be persecuted because of being His follower. That doesn't worry me because I know He is victorious! Because He is risen from the dead, and I've committed my life to Him, I have an undying hope. You can have this same kind of hope by accepting Him as your Savior and Lord today.

 

 

Richard Sanders

 

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