The amount of personal care the Lord extends to people is amazing. Philip was instructed to leave a powerful revival in Samaria and walk 50 miles toward Gaza because God wanted to show His love to one man. There, in the desert, Philip saw the Ethiopian treasurer sitting on a chariot on his was back to Africa. The Holy Spirit told Philip to go along side of the chariot. Philip ran to meet the Ethiopian and after some introductions, he shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. The man became a believer and was baptized by Philip in a nearby body of water. When they came up out of the water, Philip vanished into thin air, for God transported him to Azotes to minister to someone else. What an incredible act of care was in God’s heart to initiate such a meeting. He loves people and He is extravagant when it comes to reaching out to those who are ready to respond.
I love the story that my good friend John Parker told me. He said that 25 years ago there was a man who lived in the community where he lived. The man was an alcoholic, a criminal, and a lost sinner. He came to a place of hopeless desperation and the Lord told John to reach out to him with the message of God’s love. The man was miraculously saved and his life turned around. He became a wonderful man of God but after a few years John lost contact with him. The man stopped going to church and eventually fell away from the Lord. It was 20 years later that John was rushed into hospital because of sickness. The doctors decided to keep him in over night. John found himself sharing a room with the man he had led to the Lord years before. He ministered to him and the man rededicated his life to God. During the night the man died. In the morning the doctor told John there was nothing wrong with him and he was sent home. God’s love for that lost man was amazing.
A Man in the Crowd
Jesus went to the pool of Bethsaida in Jerusalem. The Bible says there was a multitude of lame, blind, and sick people there. On some occasions Jesus healed everyone but this time only one man in the crowd was healed. John chapter 5 says there was a certain man there who had been an invalid for 38 years. At the end of the story Jesus healed that man, but there is no mention of Jesus healing anyone else at the pool that day.
As Jesus was walking through Jericho he was surrounded by a large crowd of people but He heard the cry of one man. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus called from the side of the road, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.”
The people tried to quiet the blind man but his cries could not be stopped. Jesus instructed the people to bring the blind man to Him and He healed him immediately. It seemed that nobody cared for this beggar but Jesus loved him and ministered to him as if he was the only one in the crowd. I have come to realize that even in revival, when great numbers of people are coming to Christ, God orchestrates a personal demonstration of His love to each person individually.
The Jericho Phenomena
Jesus performed many miracles in Jericho even though it was a cursed city. It was a haunt of demonic temptations and strife. Jesus spoke of it as He told the story of the Good Samaritan. He said that a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and he fell among thieves. The city was not just lower in altitude than any other in the world, it was also a place that people went to indulge in sinful pleasures. Many who were going to Jericho were going down spiritually as well as physically. Godly people may not want to go to such a place but Jesus loves people and he reaches out to the worst sinners in the worst places.
One day while Jesus was in Jericho, another huge crowd was following Him. A local tax collector who everyone knew to be a thief wanted to see Him. His name was Zecchaeus and he was a notorious sinner and was hated by the townspeople because he stole from them. He was a short man so he could not see over the crowd. He climbed a tree to get a look at the miracle worker. As Jesus passed by, He stopped at the tree and told Zecchaeus to come down. Jesus went with him to his house. The people were criticizing the Lord for associating with such a horrible man, but Jesus didn’t care about that. He reached out with amazing love to this man and Zacchaeus dedicated his life to God. Then he gave large sums of money back to the people he had stolen from. Even terrible sinners are important to God and He demonstrates His love to them individually. His love is always greater than expected.
The Samaritan Sinner
Jesus told His disciples that He had to go through Samaria. Once again the Lord wanted to reach out to one needy person who was ready for salvation. He allowed his disciples to go ahead into the city while He stayed outside of the city by Jacob’s well. It was the middle of the day when most people where catching some rest, when suddenly a single woman came to the well to draw water.
Jesus started a conversation with her and asked her for some water. She was astonished that a man who was a Jew was talking with her since she was a woman and a Samaritan. He told her that He had water for her and that once she drank it she would be satisfied and never be thirsty again. As they continued to talk, Jesus shocked her by telling her stuff about her personal life. He told her that she had married 5 husbands and the man she was living with now was not her husband. She was a sinner and her life was a mess. She had been shunned by every good person in the community, but she was not shunned by Jesus. That day, she repented of her sins and dedicated her life to God. You see, Jesus had to go to Samaria. It was for the love of this one person that He went there.
If you are saved you are called to be a disciple. That means you follow Jesus’ example. He will connect you with individuals and your extravagant care and prayer will open the door for their salvation.
The Chinese Connection
Every person who comes to Christ has a story to tell. God reaches out, and His abundant love and care is so personal that it leads people to repentance.
While on a mission in China I was preaching for some professors at a large university. They were American Christians, and a couple of them asked if I and my friend wanted to join some of the students for a picnic on Saturday. We accepted the offer and took a 3 hour train ride into the countryside.
There we discovered a small community that ran a government, farming co-op. We visited the home of one of the students’ parents. The father was a communist; the mother was an unregistered Christian pastor and an intercessor. She had prayed for 24 years for her son to come to salvation but because her husband was a Communist she was forbidden to lead him to Christ. During our visit I began to pray for the students. Finally, her son stepped forward and with tears streaming down his face, and tears streaming down his mother’s face, the young man repented of his sins and gave his life to God. The Lord sent a preacher all the way from America to his home, way off the beaten track, so this young man might be saved in front of his mother.
These personal God encounters happen often and the Lord wants you to love people as He loves them. Step out and see how His extravagant love will flow through you. People get saved one at a time, but salvation can have a ripple affect. God’s amazing love for a single person is so dynamic that it often causes many others to come as well.