Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Submitted by Jim Garner

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “experience” in the following ways: “direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge; practical knowledge or skill derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity; or the conscious events that make up an individual life.”
Recently my wife and I got to share an experience with two of our kids that they had not had since they were small children and too young to remember.  We took a flight from DFW to Atlanta for a wedding. A high majority of you reading this have most likely been on an airplane before but I want you to think back to the first time you went flying. Do you remember the things that went through your mind as you prepared to board the plane? I bet you had some similar thoughts:
*How does something weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds get off the ground?
*What happens if the engines quit? Can we glide down?
*What if something happens to the pilot? Who is going to fly this thing?
*Can it really go that fast? What if it goes too fast and burns up?
*What if there are terrorists or hijackers aboard the plane?
I’m sure you could think of other concerns you might have had as well. Why the concern? It’s because of the unknown. You didn’t have the personal experience of flying. You only had the flying experiences of what friends or family had previously shared with you, what you had seen in the media, or what you remembered from movies.  So yes, I did hear some of these same concerns from my kids. And to be honest, they were a little apprehensive no matter what we tried to share with them. They had to experience it for themselves.
After we got off the first flight and they had their own experience, the thoughts and concerns about it had changed rather quickly:
*Wow! That was much faster than driving!
*That was fun and exciting to go that fast, especially on takeoff.
*You could see forever up there.
*We got to fly through the clouds and then above them. Awesome!
*It was a much safer experience than I thought it would be.
Why the change? It was because of “experience”. No matter what had been shared ahead of time it took the personal experience to put the mind and heart at ease. Experience is a great teacher in life. There are many things we want to experience such as a trip to Hawaii or a ride on the space shuttle. There are also things we need to experience such as going on a mission trip to see life from a different perspective and/or learn to share the gospel.  At the same time, there are things in life we don’t need to experience for ourselves such as touching something just to see if it’s hot (believe it when someone says it’s hot) or trying items that lead to addictions. We can read the stats or see the damage it has caused others and know to stay away from harmful things.
There’s a great story in the Bible about experience. It takes place in John 4 when Jesus engages a Samaritan woman in conversation. On his way to Galilee he had to go through Samaria. He was tired from the journey so he sat down by the well about noon.  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water Jesus asked her for a drink. She was surprised because Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans and men didn’t typically interact with women socially. So in just a matter of a few verses you see all the walls that were “naturally built up ” – spiritual, ethnic, cultural, gender, etc. – begin to be torn down. But these “walls” didn’t stop Jesus and a great, honest conversation began that led to the gospel of “living water” being shared and she wanted it. This conversation and interaction changed her life and she went to her people and told them what had happened and that they should meet him.
This woman “experienced” Jesus and he changed her life. But her experience wasn’t just meant to impact her only. It was for other people too, as she couldn’t be quiet about it and had to tell others. She hoped they could have the same experience. Look at this passage from John 4:
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” – (NIV)
Because of the Samaritan woman’s personal experience with Jesus, she became a follower of Christ. But it didn’t stop there. She wanted others to know what He had done for her so they could have a similar experience and believe. And believe they did. It says “many of the Samaritans from the town believed…because of the woman’s testimony.” (v.39) How incredible to think that her experience could be enjoyed by so many and create lasting life-change for them personally, their families, and their community.
The story goes on to reveal that others came to Jesus also to hear his words and they became believers. They needed to not only hear her experience they wanted to have their own with Him. And they too believed.  They then knew that Jesus was “the Savior of the world”. (v.42)
If we have had an experience with Christ then we need to share it. People will believe for the first time or grow in their faith because of your testimony. For some others it might be the catalyst that gets them to search more for themselves and then later they have their own experience with Christ.
Pray today for people to have their own experience with Christ through you or others. Pray today for an open heart, ears, and eyes so you know when to share your experience with others so they have the opportunity to experience Jesus.

Scripture to Claim:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 

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