Wednesday, August 22, 2012

He Told Us!

John 11  tells an amazing story about Jesus.  When He was nearing the end of His ministry here on earth (which never ends... but that's another post) He demonstrated His power so there would be no doubt.

The Jews doubted His claim that He was the Son of God.  They thought He was a madman and that His very presence would make the Romans come and take away their place and their nation. 

Jesus had some friends, Mary and Martha and Lazarus, that lived in the village of Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem.  Lazarus got sick.

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Jesus knew Lazarus would die.  He said, "This illness does not lead to death" because He knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  He'd already done so - raising Jairus' daughter- but she had just died.  This time, it would be a greater miracle.  This time, there would be greater glory.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” John 11:1-16
Jesus loved them.

SO, he stayed away.
So He didn't rush to help.
So He went to a dangerous area, a place so full of hatred for Him that the disciples thought they'd die there.

Jesus stayed away, and because of that the sisters lost their beloved brother.  
Jesus stayed away, and they felt unimaginable pain and grief and sorrow.

What does love look like?

Sometimes, the most loving thing is to stay away.  Sometimes the most loving thing is to not rush in and fix things.  Sometimes, love looks like unimaginable pain and grief and sorrow.  

When Jesus got there and spoke with Martha, then Mary, hearing their pain and seeing their grief, He wept.  The Lord of the Universe was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  


Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
(John 11:38-44 ESV)

How human we are!  How sinful!  We read the Word of God and believe it.  Then the trials come...and we fret and worry and act as if Jesus is not all-powerful.  

It's one thing when unbelievers want to squelch the truth and deny the power of God, but when believers act as if all is lost, that is far worse.

Lord, forgive us when we act as if You did not raise the dead.  Fill our minds with Your truth, I pray, so that we can overcome 
                                             the trials of life
                                                  the messy relationships
                                                      the misunderstandings
                                                          the financial squeezings.
Help us to act as if we truly believe what You DID TELL US...that You are the Resurrection and the Life, and that everyone who lives and believes in You will never die.

We will not die of a broken heart.  We will not die of stress or sorrow.  We will not die of pain or loss, because You are enough.  

We walk by faith in the Son of God.  
We walk, knowing that our life has purpose - a purpose to glorify our God.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Training like an Olympian according to Peter

Peter is a coach telling the people of God they CANNOT FAIL.  They have been given a gift of faith that  must make a difference in the life of a believer.  Like an athlete training for the Olympics, Christians must strive to live a holy life, and add the following qualities to the gift of faith:

  • Virtue - this is the ability to perform heroic deeds of excellence.  Like the Olympic athletes, ignore fatigue and discomfort, and press on in spite of incredible opposition and unending pain.
  • Knowledge - diligently study the Scriptures in order to understand and apply the truth.  The athletes study their craft, watch videos, observing the competition, seeking information from trainers in order to perfect techniques to gain a hundreth of a second.  
  • Self-control - literally, "holding oneself in".  Restraining and disciplining oneself in spite of temptation to let go.
  • Steadfastness - Patience in doing what is right.  Endurance with hope.  No matter what the obstacle or the result of competition, the athletes strive to do better, hoping that next time they'll win the prize.  This is not simply hanging on with resignation...there is a looking for results involved.
  • Godliness - reverent, loyal, obedient toward God.  
  • Brotherly Affection - Mutual sacrifice for one another.  The team sports are a great illustration of this quality.  Winning teams are made of those who are not "glory hounds", but are willing to sacrifice for one another in order to win the prize.
  • Love - Putting another's good ahead of one's own desires in spite of being treated unkindly, ungraciously, or even with hostility. Love covers a multitude of sins, and we ought to always be ready to forgive one another.  This does not mean that we never hold another person accountable for their actions and their need to repent.  However, Love is patient and generously gracious.  Love is devoted to the truth in everything.  Love protects, believes, hopes and endures.  It is not arrogant or rude.  It never wants its own way.