God’s Free Gift

Jesus is a gift

Before I Met Him

sin is a heavy burden to carry

As a youth, I carried a heavy burden. Guilt clung to me like a ball and chain. The church I attended did not offer a remedy. I struggled with temptations that most young men experience, but I could not find freedom from the accusing thoughts that buffeted me.

I looked for a college to attend, and I had questions regarding my future. What should I do with my life? What career should I pursue?

I wondered if I ever could attain heaven. All I knew to do was to try harder.  Could I ever be good enough?

gospel concert

One day a flyer arrived in the mail outlining a three-day event where people could learn about Wheaton College.  I decided to attend. I stayed in the dorm with students and attended classes. A gospel concert with Leon Patillo came with the weekend experience.

I am a guitarist, and I love music. I learned that Leon Patillo was a former singer for the group Santana. Leon sang soulfully and played skillfully on the synthesizer. He spoke in between his songs and told of how he met Jesus.

His was a message of grace. He spoke of the love of Father God who wanted to be our Friend.

The Decision that Reframed My Life

At the end of the concert, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I asked Him to save me and to come into my heart.

This decision reframed my life. As a result, I found peace and love and a wonderful relationship with God. I did not find a trouble-free life but a life with God as my Friend.

Here is a scripture that describes God’s free gift: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

God Offers Us His Righteousness

Christ is your rightousness

Receiving Christ’s free gift of salvation affects our behavior here on earth, but good behavior does not earn us a place in heaven. His righteousness comes to us as a gift to those who receive it by faith, but those who trust in their own righteousness will always fall short.

Isaiah 61:10 NIV shows us that God offers us His righteousness not our own,” I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Trusting in God’s Mercy

Trusting in one’s own works is a stumbling block for many. That’s what I constantly did before I met the Lord. Instead, we can humbly receive God’s mercy and salvation through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Salvation stands on the foundation of His crucifixion. His mercy extends to you no matter what you have done.

His forgiveness makes us pure and holy. Does this mean we will never sin again? No, we fall many times, but each time we can ask for God’s limitless mercy. And, when we trust Him, He will help us to overcome temptation.  He can truly give us victory over the things that hold us down.

I am grateful that God had mercy on me that night in the college concert hall. I have found that Jesus satisfies my soul’s desires. Since then I met my wonderful and beautiful wife. The two of us serve Jesus together. We also have a 16-year-old caregiving service. Through it, we have helped many seniors and their families. I have found that life with Jesus is satisfying, purposeful, and full of His great love.

If you would like to begin a relationship with God and step into heaven one day, please pray the following prayer.

Dear Father God,

Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place up upon the cross. I believe He rose from the dead.  Please forgive me for my sins.  I receive your gift of salvation, and I choose to follow you all the days of my life. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

If you have prayed a prayer like this for the first time or if you have rededicated your life to Jesus, I encourage you to find a good church where the Bible is taught with love and without compromise. Make it your ambition to pray and read the Bible every day. You will find His presence as you spend time with Him.



Tom Toya

Tom lives with his beautiful wife, Lou, his mother-in-law, Virginia, and his handsome Maltese, Muy-Muy, in the Chicagoland area. He has published articles in several magazines, e-zines and newspapers. He authored Ancient Songs for Today: Discovering Life Changing Truths from the Psalms.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your heartfelt testimony, Tom. It’s a powerful message of grace. Your honesty honors God and I believe it will touch many hearts for God’s glory.

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