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"Is God Really Like That? Chapter 3
Posted: 2013-06-19 20:08:53 by: David Nelson
Chapter 3, When The Lord Reaches Out to Those Who Need a Word by David Nelson 4-10-13
A few weeks ago I heard a short sermon by Joel Osteen that touched me. In the Bible there were 3 people mentioned that the Lord pursued that were hurting and He gave each a word of encouragement. It helped me to know in a fresh and new way what God is like and that by knowing more of His character we might know Him better and even be more like Him.
Of course, God has time for everyone and I’m sure He looks at each person with such compassion and care as though they were the only one alive. But notice how He treated 3 specific people as it is recorded in the Bible. Look at how confident Peter was and how zealous for the Lord he was, always speaking and doing the zeal of his heart for the Lord, and I am sure that he really meant everything he said. At the last supper with all the 12 disciples present Jesus said, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night….” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You I will never be made to stumble.” Then Jesus said to Peter, “You will deny Me 3 times this night before the rooster crows twice.” Then Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You I will not deny You.”
But I think Peter was afraid to die later that night when he was in the high priest’s courtyard. He faced a situation where he didn’t know how weak he would become. Two different girls said to Peter, you were with Him, but he answered, I do not know what you are talking about and the second time with an oath he said I do not know the Man. A final man said, you are one of His disciples, but Peter cursed and swore, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed and the Lord turned (his head) and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered what the Lord had said, and he went out and wept bitterly. (Matt. 26:31-35 and 69-75, also Lk. 22:61)
Sometimes the Lord turns His head to look at us with love and compassion when we fail and immediately desires to forgive and restore us. But our hearts are hurting so bad and we feel the weight of our sin and failure. What a triumph when Jesus rose from the dead but before Peter had news of that he was feeling pain and sorrow and confusion at the weakness he had shown. When Jesus rose from the dead an angel had been instructed by God to say this to the women who came to the grave, “He is risen! He is not here….But go, tell His disciples-and Peter- that He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him, as He said to you (at the Last Supper). Later the Lord spoke with Peter on the beach at the sea of Galilee and helped him to know He believed in Peter and had good things for him to do.
God knows how we feel every minute of every day, He knows our name and the right encouragement we need, He remembers us and what we need to lift us back up again. Go tell Peter that I still want him and love him and count him as my dear friend still. After all the pain, a word of encouragement from the Lord! How broken hearted the fiery, passionate heart of Peter must have felt being down in the spiritual dumps, and then to hear, the Lord is alive and he is calling your name, He still loves you! How faithful, and forgiving and compassionate is our Lord!
Now let’s consider the disciple Thomas. So many things were happening on that Sunday the 1st day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene early in the morning, He appeared to the two disciples travelling to Emmaus later that same day (Matt. 28:8,9 and Lk. 24:13), then that same day (Sunday) at evening time (Jn. 20:19) Jesus came into the locked room without the door even being opened and appeared and talked with His disciples. All of them were there except for Thomas.
Now we have to remember, all through the four gospels as word was coming forth that Jesus was alive, word from angels to some and word from Jesus Himself, the disciples were really not believing what they heard. It says that in the Bible quite a few times. So for Thomas not to believe what they said about seeing the Lord is not so surprising. The disciples had not been believing the women when they had not seen the Lord as yet.
But the Lord knew Thomas needed encouragement. Thomas’ heart was low too, he was not believing and he was not happy as yet. Jesus knew the heart of Thomas needed a touch. I believe Jesus made a special trip back to the disciple’s room just for Thomas. Eight days later the Lord came to the disciples again when Thomas was there and He turned to Thomas to encourage him. It may be noted that Thomas is reputed to be the apostle that brought the gospel to India. Our God reaches out to us, He calls our name, He lifts our hearts back up. He knows what we need and He comes to us.
Finally consider the woman at the well. Normally Jesus and His disciples would go to Galilee by travelling East toward the Jordan river, down the mountains and then turn North along the Jordan valley to the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus said, “I must needs go through Samaria.” (Jn. 4:4) This is not the normal way to go to Galilee from Jerusalem, the Samaritans did not like very well the Judean Jews and the Jews did not very much like the Samaritans. You could say that that the Jews judged the Samaritans as lower class and not respectable in their understanding of Jewish Holy customs and laws. But Jesus knew there was one lady He was to see and encourage. We don’t even know her name. She was a Samaritan, a woman, and she had been married 5 times, broken marriages, and was now living with a man and not married. She had quite a few strikes against her and she probably did not feel good about herself (as well as all the talk about her behind her back). She had failed, but God loved her and knew he wanted to use her. She needed a touch from God and encouragement. God reaches out to those who are hurting and He will make a special trip through hostile territory just to encourage and bring a word to one person.
The disciples were surprised that Jesus was even talking to a woman (they were thinking to themselves, “Why are you talking to her?”) (Jn. 4:27) When Jesus spoke many things to her she really believed in Him and she got lots of men to come out and see Jesus. Jesus was feasting and delighting in His time of helping her. He said to His disciples, “I have food to eat that you know not of, my food is to do the will of the Father and do His work.” (Jn. 4:32-34) Many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s words and even more who came out to see and hear Jesus believed. And Jesus stayed for two more days and gave them all more of His word. The Samaritans said to the woman who God encouraged and used, we have believed because of your words and also because of His words and we know that this is indeed the Messiah (who is to come), the Savior of the world. (Jn. 4:39-42) What a revival!
Our God reaches out to the broken hearted and encourages them. He knows each one and will make special trips just to minister to one and give them the encouragement they need as if they were the only one He was thinking of. The Lord knows your name and He will come to you so that you will accomplish the plans He has for you. It is encouraging to me to get to know more what God is like, and to learn to know more of His character. Hopefully we will learn too to be more like Him and do the types of things He does. He can lead us to help others find their destiny.