Summary: All of us need a Fresh Encounter. Without any apology, Richard Blackaby was my inspiration for developing this message. Everyone needs a "First Encounter" with Jesus followed by a "Fresh Encounter"...It's life-changing.
* Have you ever had an experience which you would call an ‘encounter?’ Encounters are those events in your life which you ‘remember!’ I’ll never forget the time I almost stepped on a cotton mouth moccasin. I’ll never forget when, at age 10, I ran into a barbed wire fence severely cutting my left shoulder & the left side of my face.
* However, all encounters are not & have not been bad. While a Senior in High School, one Saturday evening I was at home watching TV and saw an advertisement about the Oak Ridge Boys being in concert at William Carey College the next afternoon. Mom & dad said, ‘yes’ so I went to the concert. The pre-group for the Oaks was a local male quartet called, “The Trailsmen.” They did a number of songs and I was impressed with these guys for all kinds of reasons. However, they soon became a vague memory. Fast forward 7 months. I went to a friend’s church for revival and guess who was leading the services? It was the Trailsmen. About 2 weeks later I joined the Trailsmen and still today have contact with them & connections around the country. It happened not because of the first encounter but the second one or the ‘fresh one.’
* Next weekend we have set aside 3 days for a time together which I am calling, “Fresh Encounter.” It is one thing to have encountered Christ for Salvation, but it could well be another thing to have a ‘fresh encounter’ with Christ. What if you are only ONE FRESH ENCOUNTER AWAY from doing something extraordinary for our Lord & His Kingdom? Some people ask about giving an ‘altar call’ at every service & state they are afraid people will come too often. Personally, I am more afraid of one coming too seldom & rather than too often.
* A fresh encounter with the Lord might be exactly what you need to raise your faith, raise your service, and yes, raise your life to the next level. Our story today is a familiar one. Sadly, sometimes familiar stories lose their impact in our lives. So let’s take a fresh look story.
* It begins “Six days before the Passover.” Now do you know which Passover this is? Jesus has lived through many Passovers, but this is the one he’ll die at.
* Then it says, “Jesus came to Bethany.” Do you know where Bethany is? It is just a few clicks from Jerusalem. It is almost as if Jesus came to Bethany to see (or say good-bye to friends) as His face is now set toward Jerusalem. In previous years, it seemed that everytime He got close to Jerusalem the opposition was too hot for Him to hang out there. Now He was headed there, where He would die for the sin of the world, for you and for me.
* On His way there, it seems He stops at Bethany to see this family. His friends were a family of three, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This was not the first time Jesus and His disciples had stopped by. Scriptures record at least one other occasion (Luke) 10 they had come, dinner was served, and basically had the same configuration of guests. From looking at these two events, we can learn much about our need for & the impact of a “Fresh Encounter” with Jesus. I bring your attention to 4 people in this room & see how their fresh encounter changed them.