JESUS HAS SAVED ME FROM…
by Eric Elder
I gave a message to a group this week that I wanted to share with you. Jesus has saved me from many things, but in this message I share the biggest thing Jesus has saved me from, which may surprise you. I also want to encourage you to invite Jesus to save you from whatever you may need saving from today. You can listen to the message at the link below, or read the transcript of the message below the link. (It’ll be worth your time! Please listen or read!)
I was thinking as we were just singing that song about “God is with us,” how much of a difference it makes when God is “with us.” And I know God is so pleased that you’re here tonight. I know that it’s sometimes hard to get here, and hard to make time in your schedule to do this. But I also know, having been in Care Groups many times myself, just how valuable this is. For me to come here on Thursday nights, for the various things that I was going through, this was life to me, and I so much looked forward to coming here and digging into whatever God had to tell me. So I know God is really pleased that you’re here tonight, too. I hope there’s an anticipation and an excitement about what you’re going to hear from God tonight, in this time, in the worship time, and in your small group afterwards, that God really is with us.
Just as an exercise for next week, if you want an idea of what to read in your Bible, I’ve been reading this week in the book of Mark–it’s the shortest of the four gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, with the stories about Jesus, only sixteen chapters–and I’ve been reading through and looking at all the times when it says that Jesus was “with” someone. Whenever Jesus was with someone, things happened: people were healed, they were forgiven, and their lives were changed. It was amazing. And I’ve been circling those and going through–it’s only taken me two or three days to get through the whole book of Mark–and circling all those times when Jesus was “with” someone.
That’s the same thing that God does for us. He wants to be “with us.” He is with us, and He’s glad to be with us. So if you want a little exercise for this coming week, look through the book of Mark, and maybe take a look at those times when Jesus was “with” someone. I’m going to talk about that a little more next week.
But tonight, I want to talk about Jesus being our Savior.
Dave asked me to speak on this chapter from Mike Baker’s book, I Am Revealed, and we’ve been going through the names of God, and this week it’s on the name of God being “Savior.” There’s a verse in here I love and it says:
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save…” (Isaiah 59:1).
It’s almost ludicrous. Of course it’s not. His arm can reach anywhere! And of course, if He’s “with us,” then it’s absolutely not too short.
So I want to talk a little tonight about how God can save us from so many things. Whatever you’re going through right now, God’s arm is not too short to save.
There’s a question that Mike asks at the end of this chapter that I pondered on for a little while, and I’ll ask it to you, too. He says:
“Finish the following sentence with something specific, rather than just the word sin: ‘Jesus has saved me from…’ Personalize this statement according to your own experience. And in what ways has this saving made a difference in your life.”
So he wants us to finish this sentence, “Jesus has save me from…,” and list some specific things. I don’t know what comes to your mind. A bunch of things come to my mind. Before I mention that, let me preface it with this:
I got a text from a friend yesterday who was driving through the town where I live, which is called Chenoa, and she had stopped for gas, and she was trying to send me a text to make a joke about how much she loves the town of Chenoa, because it means she’s almost home. But her AutoCorrect changed it to “I love you so much, and don’t you know it!”
She quickly called me and said, “Just ignore any text that you get from me. That was AutoCorrect!”
I’m glad she called because I might have really wondered, “Wow! What exactly is going on here?”
But that’s not the worst AutoCorrect. The worst one that I’ve ever made was that I was writing to a friend who was praying with me about another friend who was sick and dying in the hospital. They thought he could have died any day. My friend texted me and said, “I’m praying that he recovers.”
I wrote back, and I meant to say, “I hope he does, and soon.” But it came out, “I hope he dies, and soon.”
I didn’t catch it until later in the afternoon when I texted my friend back to give her an update. My friend said, “I just thought, Eric, you must know this illness better than I do, and you know that it’s going to be better for him that it goes quickly.”
“No, no! I hope he does, not dies. I hope he recovers!” It was a terrible, terrible AutoCorrect.
After I told that story to a cousin of mine, he sent me this coaster that says:
“AutoCorrect can be your worst enema.”
But he said that mine takes the cake, though, praying that my friend would die, and quickly!
As I looked at that coaster, thinking of tonight, AutoCorrect is not my worst enema, or my worst enemy. There’s actually a worse enemy for me. Do you want to know who my worst enemy is? Maybe you can guess. It’s myself. And when I answered this question, “Jesus has saved me from…,” my answer was one word: myself.
Jesus has saved me from myself.
Because I was living my life the way that I wanted to live it. I was doing whatever I wanted to do. And I had no idea that what I was doing could have killed me. No idea. No clue, whatsoever.
Until I was in a Bible study in Houston, and some guys were talking about some Bible passages that said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23). The Bible said that everyone had sinned, and everyone deserves death for their sins. I thought that was a little strong. I wasn’t sure I had really done anything like that. I’d been a good Christian kid my whole life. I hadn’t really done anything that I would probably die from, or because of.
And a guy said, “Why don’t you ask God what He thinks about how good you’ve been?”
I said, “That’s fair.” So I went home and I asked God, “God, is there something I’ve done for which I could actually die?” And within two weeks, God answered my question. And He pointed me to a passage in the book of Romans that listed a whole number of sins, many of which I had done, including sexual activity both with men and with women. And at the end of that chapter, it said that those who do such things will die. And I was cut to the heart.
This dates me, but the word AIDS was not even a word when I first entered the kind of activity in which I was involved. It was about three months later that the Center for Disease Control finally identified that this was happening to men, and they were dying from it, and they gave it a term. But I had already been involved in that lifestyle. If anyone had that disease at that time, it was a certain death sentence.
I had never been checked, never been tested. I had no idea. I was just having fun.
And I read that passage, and I thought about everything that God did, all that He created me for and how He wired my body, and I was using it in ways that were not glorifying to Him, not honoring to the people whom I was with.
I thought it was loving and kind. I thought it was great. But God opened my eyes and said, “Eric, you could die from this. And I don’t want you to die. That’s why I sent Jesus, to die on the cross for your sins, so you wouldn’t have to, and you could live with me forever.”
That was the first time I ever realized that I needed a Savior. Because up until that point, I was doing just fine all by myself–at least I thought I was. But that day I realized, “Oh, my God. I need someone to save me from this, and I cannot save myself.” Jesus was the only person I could think of who could save me.
I put my faith in Him. He healed me–changed me. I was on a path going this way. He picked me up and put me on a path going the other way. In His grace and mercy, He gave me a wife. He gave me not just one child, or two children, or three, or four, or five, but six children. I was on a path headed to death, and Jesus put me on a path of life abundant.
And I look at my life today, thirty years later. I’ve gone into full-time ministry. I share encouraging messages with people, every day, in 160 countries around the world. I’ve homeschooled my kids, with my wife. We’ve homeschooled all six of them through high school. I’ve got two more to go. Four of them have graduated.
I would never have chosen homeschooling my children if I had stayed on the path I was on. I wouldn’t have had a wife and children. I wouldn’t have a ministry. Everything that I do today, I look at that and think that everything was changed because of that one decision, thirty years ago.
It’s the same for each of us. There are so many decisions we make that change the trajectories of our lives. If you make a little course correction here, or a big course correction there, thirty years from now you’re going to be in a whole different place.
What has Jesus saved you from?
I know for me, Jesus saved me from myself–my own worst enema. And He continues to save me from things, as I keep asking Him, saying, “God, help me.”
I happened to write this story down. I had never told it in such detail before, until last year, and I published it in a book called, Fifty Shades of Grace, (under a pen name, Nicholas Deere… you can read an extended preview here). It goes into a fair amount of detail of what God did for me, how He changed me, how He changed my thoughts, my feelings, my actions, how He gave me a wife and what that has meant to me, and how God’s mercy continues and continues.
I happened to be in Israel earlier this year. I was at the city of Capernaum, which is the city where Jesus healed two blind men, which was the passage that I read in the scripture as I was struggling with what I had done and what to do with what God had revealed to me.
These two blind men came to Jesus in the city of Capernaum, and they said “Have mercy on us.” They wanted to see. And Jesus asked a question. He said, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). And I felt like Jesus was asking me the same question, thirty years ago. “Do you believe I can heal you from this, too, and change you?”
And I said, if anyone can do it, Jesus can. And I put my hand up in the air. I was just walking down the road in Houston, Texas, reading my Bible, reading that passage, and Jesus changed me. The next day was entirely different.
I was in Capernaum, taking my kids and some other people on a tour, and when I walked up to Capernaum, I realized that was the city where these two blind men were healed. I happened to have my book in my backpack, which I had just finished writing. I took it out and I took this picture there. I thought, those words (in that passage) were written 2,000 years ago, and they’re still touching me today! The words in this Bible–2,000 year-old-words–and they are still changing us. Read it! Enjoy it! It’s God’s love letters to you!
I had a chance to share my testimony with these 35 people, back in Capernaum, in that city where the blind men were healed. In that city, where, after I read about it, I was healed, 7,000 miles away in Houston, Texas, and 2,000 years later.
Many of you are Christians in here tonight. I want to encourage you–refresh your memory. “Jesus has saved me from…,” and fill in the blank. You can take great heart from that.
Some of you may not have ever put your faith in Christ, and I want to give you a chance, right now, in this moment, to do that. It’s amazingly simple. At the same time, it can be amazingly hard, because it involves out hearts. But the words are easy. And thankfully the Holy Spirit can AutoCorrect anything we say that’s not quite right. He’ll fix it!
But I would love to pray with you. If you would like Jesus to save you–save you from your sins, save you for a better life here on earth, and save you for an eternity with God in heaven–you can pray with me, and say, “Jesus, I’m sorry for what I’ve done. I want to change. I need Your help. I need a Savior.” And then invite His Holy Spirit to come in and help you do that–to renew you and refresh you.
If you’d like to do that, you can sit right where you are, and pray with me, silently in your head if you want. Let’s pray–to the God who is “with us,” whose arm is not too short to save.
Lord, thank You so much for saving me from myself. Lord, for those in here who need a Savior tonight, I pray they would repeat these words after me in their own hearts. Dear Jesus, I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I need Your help. I need a Savior, and You’re the only one who can do it. I invite Your Holy Spirit into my life to change me, renew me, refresh me, restore me, give me hope, give me healing, and give me Your heart. Lord, I believe that You died for my sins, so I could have a new life here on earth, and the promise of a certain life with You in heaven, forever and ever. I thank You for that, and I accept that gift of eternal life. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.