Many of us have become accustomed sitting in services, hearing sermons that revolve around steps—the how tos and the 1,2,3s. We want those we admire to give us the secrets to their successes and the quick fixes that will produce change in our lives.
Even as ministers, there is a temptation to simply tell people, “Do this, and you’ll get what you’re looking for.” But more and more people are frustrated and not seeing their desired results, unaware that they are powerless to change when they look to a man’s method over the Man. The disconnect occurs when people focus on a principle more than the person of Jesus Christ.
Don’t misunderstand me; the Bible is the most helpful handbook ever written to guide us through life. But without eyes that see Jesus and without ears that hear His voice, this living Book can become no more life changing than the owner’s manual to your car.
I’ve been in a lot of church services in my life, and it’s sad to say that there have been many where I did not hear the name of Jesus one time. I have heard pastors preach “the Word” without mention of Jesus, Who is the Word made flesh (John 1).
But, some of my favorite memories from my childhood are from Sunday-night church services that revolved around Jesus. I remember singing song after song about Him. One of my favorites is:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
there’s just something about that name,
Master, Savior, Jesus
like the fragrance after the rain.
His presence seemed to be so strong and so sweet as we stared at Him in the Scriptures. It was amazing to me that if you look closely enough, you can find Jesus in every book of the Bible. I realized then that He was the One that this whole thing revolves around.
During these services, I would follow along in my little pink Bible as long as my attention span would allow, then move on to drawing on my sketch pad until my eyes felt heavy. Toward the end of the message, I would catch myself nodding off on my mom’s shoulder. After the service, I would try so hard to wake up my little brothers who were sprawled out under the pew. We didn’t know it then, but even as little children, we were being molded by time spent with Jesus. I know now that all those nights spent in the presence of the Lord were never wasted time.
A great man of God once told me, “Make sure you always keep your little ones around the anointing.”
Whew! What wisdom and truth! As a little girl in church week after week, I became so aware of His presence that nothing could quite satisfy me like being with Him. Time with Him made me familiar with Him. He felt like home to me so much so that as I grew up, I could recognize in a moment if I had drifted away from Him. He was then and will always be my ultimate high. I’m addicted to His peace, and if I notice myself wandering outside of it, I want to run back to Him as quickly as I can. I have a history with Him, and He’s very real to me.
Once you’ve had the real, you have no desire for the fake. Even though I have never seen Jesus with my natural eyes, I can tell you the moment when He walks into the room.
When you travel as often as we do, you can’t help but notice the churches that are full of His real presence and, as a result, are having great success and significant impact. They all have this in common—they talk about Jesus. They simply acknowledge Him. I have noticed the more honor a congregation has for Him, the more He shows up and shows out.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20 the secret to getting Him to attend our services, “For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, I am there in the midst of them.” I love how the Wuest translation puts it, “Where there are two or three who have been joined together into my Name with the result that I am the common object of their faith, there I am in their midst.”
We honor Him by making Him the common object of our faith and the center of our services. To honor is to value, and we must learn to value Jesus above anything else. We must learn to seek His face. When you seek someone’s face, you find out what his feelings are toward you based on his expression, whether it be a frown or a grin. To seek the face of Jesus is to stay in His presence long enough to sense His favor toward you in the smile upon His face.
To seek Him is to behold Him in His Word and in worship. To behold Him is to stare at Him. If you stare at Him long enough, you’ll begin to sense His love and realize that He has been staring at you all along. Have you ever heard that old pick-up line, “I noticed you noticing me”?
To seek the face of Jesus is to stay in His presence long enough to sense His favor toward you in the smile upon His face.
I’ve found it is impossible to stare at two different things at the same time. You cannot stare at your symptoms and stare at your Savior simultaneously. Instead, we should practice STARING and LOOKING “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
In Acts 3:4, we see a lame man in need of a miracle. Peter says to him, “Look at us,” requiring his attention in order to see a miracle. Similarly, remember what Proverbs 4:20-22 urges us to do:
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Giving our attention to the Word will always produce healing in our souls and in our bodies.
The lame man in Acts 3 gave them his attention “expecting to receive something from them” (v. 5). Even though this man probably expected to get natural currency from them, this same principle applies to us spiritually: miracles still happen as a result of looking and expecting.
miracles still happen as a result of looking and expecting.
But many people do not have time to attend to Jesus because they live their lives on a racetrack. Think about it. So many zoom through life without realizing it, filling up their days with too many activities, rushing to and from work, stopping to refuel on fast food because there’s no time to enjoy a meal. They speed past their spouses and kids, not to mention Jesus standing on the sidelines, reaching the finish line for the day, only to start the stress cycle over again in the morning.
Because priorities are all out of whack, people spend the remainder of their time staring at Facebook™ and social media instead of quality time with their family and friends. It’s no wonder so many are unhappy and sick, their marriages failing, and their families falling apart. Many are crumbling under the pressure of the debt-and-death cycle, working their lives away and still have nothing to show for it.
As I meditated on these things, I heard the Lord speak this phrase to my heart, “IF I can capture your stare, I can change your circumstance.”
Whatever we spend the majority of our time looking at, we open ourselves up to. That’s why I don’t have the desire to watch homicide shows or medical dramas on television. Why would I spend an hour of my day staring at sickness and disease when I could spend that same time enjoying His peace in the presence of my Healer.
To behold Jesus is not to give Him a fleeting glance. Instead, it is to set aside time where He has your undivided attention, where you are able to look at Him with a constant, immovable, and firm gaze. Remember the old saying—you become what you behold.
Several years ago while we were on a ministry trip in India, I heard a true story about a little girl who was born with four arms and four legs. She was named after a four-armed Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who many in India worship as the goddess of wealth. People in her village started to worship this little girl along with other children who were born with deformities, believing they were reincarnated gods.
After hearing this story, I was riding down a crowded street in India, and I couldn’t help but notice all of the businesses and buildings that were named after the original goddess Lakshmi and the billboards that boasted her picture.
I remembered the deformed little girl and the diagnosis from the doctors who were trying to reconstruct her little body. The eyes of my heart came wide open, and I knew that this situation was much more spiritual than the doctors’ natural conclusions. I realized that these people had spent so much time beholding and worshipping those Hindu gods that they opened themselves up to all the spirits behind them, to the point that their children were beginning to resemble them. The very fleshes of their babies were being transformed into the same image that they were constantly staring at. Her baby became what she beheld. The same concept applies to us—whatever we constantly stare at we give power to.
Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the spirit of the Lord.”
If you stare at Him long enough, you’ll begin to sense His love and realize that He has been staring at you all along.
Nothing has the power to totally transform us like time spent with Jesus. After forty years as a crippled, hopeless beggar, the man at the gate called Beautiful had a moment with Jesus that changed his life forever. Jesus lifted him up and made something of him—a dancing miracle, who caused everyone around him to stand in awe of God. His testimony affected his street, his church, his city, and is now affecting the nations. When people marveled at Peter and John, trying to give them the credit for this man’s healing, they pointed to Jesus and gave Him all the glory. People marveled when they realized that this miracle was all because Peter and John “had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
What if Lakshmi’s mother had spent time throughout her pregnancy staring at Jesus in the Word instead of beholding a Hindu goddess? I have no doubt that her situation would look drastically different. As we behold our Healer, we will begin to look just like Him—a picture of health. After all, healing happens when you’re with the Healer.
Recently, I woke up one morning tired from travel, worn down, and desiring a real encounter with the Lord. I had spent time reading and confessing the Word that morning, but I noticed my emotions and feelings were still off. I turned on some teaching about seeing Jesus in every book of the Bible, and after only fifteen minutes of just beholding Jesus in the Scripture, I felt supercharged! I could sense faith rising up in my heart, and as I finished in prayer, I knew that there was genuine faith backing up my words. I was stirred up and completely confident that my prayer was working.
Romans 10:17 nlt says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
Do you remember when Jesus met up with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after He rose from the dead? “Their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him” (Luke 24:16), and they walked with Him for a while without recognizing Him. But then Jesus began to take them on an adventure, a Bible study “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets…[and] expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
As He spoke, the eyes of their hearts started to open up, and just as soon as they “took bread, blessed and broke it” and ate it together, their eyes came wide open, and they clearly saw Jesus. Every time you value Jesus, who is the Bread of Life, you are nourished from feeding on Him, and as you behold Him, what You see is what you get.