See Jesus through the Eyes of Those Who Were with Him
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2006 10 Oct
The following is a report on the practical applications of Richard Exley's new book, Encounters with Christ: Experience the Miracles and Transforming Power of an Unexpected Savior, (White Stone Books, 2006).
Although you can’t travel back in time to see Jesus face to face, you can discover more about Him through the eyes of those who did see Him in person all those years ago. Your faith will come alive as you study the lives of some people who encountered Jesus in person.
Here are some lessons you can learn from them:
* The Daughter of Jairus (Luke 8:40-55): Be willing to take whatever risks are necessary to approach Jesus when you need healing. Don’t be shy about asking Him for help. Humble yourself and don’t worry about other people’s ridicule. Cast all your anxiety on Jesus, because He cares for you, and trust Him to reach out to you when you need His touch.
* A Desperate Woman (Mark 5:25-34): Rest assured that, no matter how desperate your circumstances are, you haven’t been abandoned. Know that God still sees and cares about you. Ask Him to give you fresh hope. Remember His miracles. Get rid of hurt and bitterness in your heart so it doesn’t block your intimacy with Jesus. Ask Him to help you forgive, and rely on His strength to do so. Then step out of your comfort zone and pursue healing. Put your past disappointments behind you and ask God to help you overcome your doubts.
* The Adulteress (John 8:2-11): Realize that, if God has forgiven you for your sins, you shouldn’t condemn yourself. Understand that there is absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any less; His mercies never end. Also understand that there is absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any more; it’s impossible to earn His love. Accept the fact that God already loves you deeply and completely, simply because that’s the kind of God He is. Know that God loves you just the way you are – but He loves you too much to leave you that way, so He wants to forgive your sins and set you free to become all you were meant to become. Don’t try to hide your sins or justify them. Instead, confess your sins openly and honestly, trusting that God will forgive and help you.
* The Sinner (Luke 7:36-50): Go ahead and express the full depth of your love for God. Show God how grateful you are for all He has done in your life. Worship with sincerity and enthusiasm. Celebrate the fact that, despite your sin, God’s love will never let you go. Know that God’s grace is greater than your sin, and, no matter how hopeless your current situation may seem, He is always able to restore you. Admit that you’re powerless to save yourself, and call on Jesus to forgive your sins and heal your hurts. Leave your old life behind and walk confidently into the new one He offers you.
* The Paralytic (John 5:1-15): Never give up hope that God will intervene to help you at the right time, no matter how long you’ve suffered. Understand that no one is so lost that he or she can’t be found, and that no one is beyond the reach of Jesus’ compassion. If you don’t have much faith, don’t despair. Instead, ask God to give you more faith. Approach God with confidence – not based on your personal goodness or merit, but on God’s character. Don’t focus on yourself or your needs, but on His sufficiency. Remember that God is able to do much more in your life than you ask or imagine.
* The Woman at the Well (John 4:1-29): Believe that God will not reject you, even though He knows your darkest secrets. Don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not, lie about your life, or cover up your sins and struggles. Instead, invite Jesus to confront you with the truth about your past, and come clean with Him. Ask God to free you from guilt, shame, and fear. Ask Him to flood your soul with His forgiveness, peace, and love. Remember that, in Jesus, you’re a new creation. Leave the past in the past and embrace your future with enthusiasm.
* The Syrophenician Woman (Matthew 15:21-28): Trust in Jesus’ power over evil. Understand that He intervenes on your behalf not because you’re good, but because of His own goodness. Instead of approaching Jesus on the basis of your need, demonstrate your faith to Him. Know that He will notice and reward sincere faith. Be persistent in asking for His help, and be willing to take whatever risks are necessary to pursue Him. Remember that God, your heavenly Father, has made you in His image and will never forget you because you’re a part of Him. Don’t be afraid to press forward in faith, asking Him for the help you need.
* The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-38): Invite God to open your spiritual eyes to see Him as He truly is – and know that the truth will set you free. Understand that illness isn’t necessarily the result of your own sin; it’s often just a natural consequence of living in our fallen world. Also realize that living a faithful life likely won’t spare you from experiencing physical suffering. When illness or tragedy strikes you, resist the temptation to speak when God hasn’t spoken. Accept that sometimes God chooses not to explain why something is happening to you. Instead of asking God about the cause, ask Him about the purpose – what He wants you to learn from the experience. Ask Him to give you peace in contentment in the midst of your suffering.
* Nicodemus (John 3:1-18): Rather than placing your ultimate hopes in religion, place them in a relationship – your connection with God through Jesus. Know that it’s impossible to earn your salvation. Understand that you won’t be condemned for anything you’ve done, but only for not doing the most important thing in life – placing your trust in Jesus. If you haven’t yet received Jesus as your personal Savior, do so now.
* The Two on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35): Don’t just believe in Jesus intellectually without knowing Him personally. Ask God to help your faith travel from your head to your heart. Be alert for God’s constant presence in your life and notice ways in which He’s working. Realize that life’s mundane moments are just as holy as more dramatic ones. Make a habit of looking for clues all around you that point toward God.
* Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-19; Acts 22:1-16): Have confidence that God will go to extremes to get your attention because He loves you deeply. Know that, no matter what mistakes you may have made in the past, God’s grace won’t give up on you. Harness your passion for good instead of evil by discovering God’s purpose for your life and pursuing that purpose with devotion.
* John the Apostle (Revelation 1:9-18): When you encounter difficult circumstances, don’t resent the unfairness and fight against your situation. Instead, make peace with where you are right now, and ask God to use even the worst circumstances to make you into the best person you can be. Don’t be afraid; remember that Jesus will never leave or forsake you. Keep in mind that the fallen world you see is temporary, but the invisible spiritual world is eternal. Rest assured that no matter how grim world situations are right now, the kingdom of God will ultimately triumph, with good overcoming evil. Pray for Jesus to keep establishing His kingdom through you and other believers, and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Adapted from Encounters with Christ: Experience the Miracles and Transforming Power of an Unexpected Savior, copyright 2005 by Richard Exley. Published by White Stone Books, Inc., Lakeland, Fl., www.whitestonebooks.com.
Richard Exley is a gifted communicator who travels the country speaking in church, conference, and retreat settings. His rich and diversified background has included pastoring churches in Colorado and Oklahoma, as well as hosting several popular radio programs, including Straight from the Heart. Exley’s bestselling books include The Rhythm of Life, Blue Collar Christianity, Witness the Passion, and Strength for the Storm. When not traveling the country as a speaker, Richard and his wife, Brenda Starr, spend their time in a cabin overlooking picturesque Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas. Richard is an aspiring bass fisherman and a noted amateur photographer.