On Friday night, a little after midnight, I got a frantic knock at the door. It was my neighbor from across the street telling me that her house was on fire. I grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1 as I ran out the door to see a house billowing with smoke and flames – so much smoke that it had set off the smoke detector in the house next door to me.

I was giving the address to the 9-1-1 operator when I realized there was still someone inside. My neighbor’s son was in the house and his bedroom was consumed with flames. I started screaming his name and directing the operator where his bedroom was so the firemen would know once they arrived.

His mother described the flames that consumed the mattress of his bed and his entire bedroom. The flames had since spread and the thick, black smoke filled the house and neighborhood, keeping any of us from attempting a rescue.

My neighbor was sure her son was gone. The other neighbors shook their heads –knowing that even if the flames that were now shooting out the front door didn’t get him, surely the smoke would have smothered him by now – as he was in the smoke-saturated house for more than 15 minutes.

Then, I cried out to God in prayer: “God please rescue this man and bring him out of this house alive! In Jesus name.” The 9-1-1 operator was the one who said “Amen.”

And it was about one minute later that Danny ran out the back door of the house –alive and unscathed.

God answered our prayer, and the whole neighborhood saw it. Four fire trucks later, the fire was out, and everyone made it out alive. He said he heard us yelling. That made me want to use my voice again.

If it was after midnight, and your house was the one on fire …

And a fireman was tapping at your bedroom window with a ladder ready to help you to safety. What would your reaction be?

Would you slap him for being so intolerant to suggest there’s only one way out? After all, that seems so narrow minded! You know so much more about your house than this fireman. There are several ways that you should be able to get out without depending on his ladder. What you don’t know, however, is that all of those other exits are blocked. Trying any of them would be a fatal decision. Every moment that you wait in uncertainty could be your last!

The fact is when it comes to your eternity, Jesus has the ladder. It’s the only one. The burning question is: Are you going to take it?

Here are the five rungs of the ladder you need to climb to safety:

  1. Recognize that you’re a sinner. “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). We can’t make excuses or blame others and our circumstances for our actions, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
  2. Recognize that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
  3. Repent of your sins. Repent means to change direction. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). God commands us to repent and turn away from things that displease Him.
  4. Receive Jesus as your savior. Don’t try to clean up your life first. Come to Jesus just as you are, and allow Him to change your life. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
  5. Pray. “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and am in need of forgiveness. I know that you died on the cross to give me that forgiveness. I accept the ultimate gift you gave to pay the penalty for my sins. I invite you to be my Savior and the Lord of my life. I trust you and want to follow your way all the days of my life. In your name, amen.”

Here’s the bottom line: This isn’t just about fire insurance. If you want to be safe for eternity (and fulfill your purpose and destiny on this earth) you must make Jesus Savior and Lord – it’s a package deal; if He’s not Lord, He’s not Savior. That means we can’t claim Him as Savior and not do what He says.

The fire is real, and there’s only one ladder. Take it and live.

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