Posts tagged "Week 6"
By Jake Larson
JESUS TOLD HER, “I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE, EVEN AFTER DYING. 26 EVERYONE WHO LIVES IN ME AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER EVER DIE. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS, MARTHA?” [JOHN 11:25-26]
As a follower of Jesus I will never die. How ridiculous does this sound in our current world today. I mean imagine being adamant about this with your co-workers or in discussion with a stranger at a coffee shop. People would think you are completely out of your mind. There is one thing that every person in this world knows: everyone dies. In this miracle where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead he teaches Martha that His followers will never die but will be resurrected to live forever.
Don’t miss the scene here. Martha is very upset because her brother has died and Jesus missed the window of opportunity to make him better. She is holding on to faith but is struggling to believe that there is an answer to her sorrow. In this moment Jesus claims to her to be “the resurrection and the life.” He goes on to promise her that anyone who lives in Him and believe in Him will never ever die. It is following this conversation that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
What Jesus is saying in this conversation is incredible. Jesus wants you and me to know that even though the world may be temporary and physical death will occur, spiritual separation from Him is impossible for those who call Him Lord. The world will at some point end for each one of us and this is of minimal importance. Jesus is most concerned about your spiritual life. If you die a physical death and yet have a relationship with Jesus life continues. If you die a physical death without a relationship with Jesus than you will experience the ultimate death—eternal separation from God.
BUT WE ARE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN, WHERE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST LIVES. AND WE ARE EAGERLY WAITING FOR HIM TO RETURN AS OUR SAVIOR. [PHILIPPIANS 3:20]
The incredible illustration of Jesus’ point comes in the form of a miracle. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. If he is able to raise a man from physical death than He is certainly God and the one to place my trust in for eternal life.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
In what or whom have you placed your trust in? Do you have an unhealthy connection to this world? Have you trusted your eternal future into the hands of God who is the resurrection resulting in true life?
Jesus, today I choose to place my faith in you. I believe today that you are the sustainer of life and the over comer of death. Thank you for the promise of a resurrected life and the security of eternal life with you.
By Jake Larson
MARTHA SAID TO JESUS, “LORD, IF ONLY YOU HAD BEEN HERE, MY BROTHER WOULD NOT HAVE DIED. 22 BUT EVEN NOW I KNOW THAT GOD WILL GIVE YOU WHATEVER YOU ASK.” [JOHN 11:21-22]
In the scriptures, Jesus talks about child-like faith. He goes as far as to say, “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) A child is willing to blindly ask for what others know is impossible. Children have a dependence on others and often a blind trust. As we grow older our experiences and relationships teach us to be more independent and less trusting. We no longer expect that our dreams can become realities and we stop asking God for what seems to be impossible. What might happen if we practiced the faith of a child?
Martha runs to Jesus and is visibly upset that He waited so long to come and see Lazarus. She believed that if He had come when they initially called Him Lazarus would still be alive. Four days has passed and now Lazarus is in the grave and hope is all but lost. However, in this moment of confusion and frustration Martha’s faith is child-like and she asks for the impossible. “Jesus do a miracle for us and bring him out of the grave alive.”
Stop for a second. There were many prophets who had come before promising many spectacular miracles and not one was able to raise the dead. Martha would not let anything stand in her way and so she just blurts it out, I know that God will give you whatever you ask, please resurrect Lazarus.
When’s the last time you asked God for the impossible? When is the last time you stepped out in faith risking looking like a fool to trust God with the impossible? I quickly ask and quickly concede failure. This is not faith. True faith hangs on when all seems lost.
The issue isn’t even about the result of your faith. The very real result of child-like faith is relationship. Child-like faith says, “I will sit at your feet believing in the impossible knowing that however this thing turns out I will know You better and love You more because of it.”
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Has your faith grown to be content with the explainable or are you believing in the extraordinary?
Lord, if you only would have been there when _____________________________________. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask. I pray for increased faith and a conviction that with you and through you all things are indeed possible.
By Jake Larson
SO ALTHOUGH JESUS LOVED MARTHA, MARY, AND LAZARUS, 6 HE STAYED WHERE HE WAS FOR THE NEXT TWO DAYS. 7 FINALLY, HE SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, “LET’S GO BACK TO JUDEA.” [JOHN 11:5-7]
When I was in high school I used to work at a retirement center as a waiter. This was a great opportunity to listen to many elderly individuals who had incredible life experiences to share. With many of the people I served they seemed to live in two categories: everything was urgent and there was great impatience or life couldn’t move slow enough and there was a laid back ease in their lives. Honestly, as many grew older and older their impatience grew greater and greater. I can understand this in my own life and in the lives of my children.
After my son finished praying for a friend of ours to be healed from his cancer he immediately asked if it was taken away. He believed that since he asked it should be immediately removed. It was difficult to explain to him that God has a timetable that is different then ours. Even though it seems like He may be slow or late in answering our prayers, God’s timing is always perfect. At times He allows for us to wait for our prayers to be answered and then He acts to accomplish His will. The truth is God is seldom early but never late.
The scripture says that He loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus and yet He didn’t leave to go to them for two days. We must remember that when our prayers aren’t answered the way we expected it is not due to a lack of love, compassion, or concern. We must believe that His timing and will is perfect and that His love for us is secure. Listen to the way the book of Romans speaks of God’s love for us:
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK? WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE LIKE THIS, HOW CAN WE LOSE? IF GOD DIDN’T HESITATE TO PUT EVERYTHING ON THE LINE FOR US, EMBRACING OUR CONDITION AND EXPOSING HIMSELF TO THE WORST BY SENDING HIS OWN SON, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE HE WOULDN’T GLADLY AND FREELY DO FOR US? AND WHO WOULD DARE TANGLE WITH GOD BY MESSING WITH ONE OF GOD’S CHOSEN? WHO WOULD DARE EVEN TO POINT A FINGER? THE ONE WHO DIED FOR US—WHO WAS RAISED TO LIFE FOR US!—IS IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD AT THIS VERY MOMENT STICKING UP FOR US. DO YOU THINK ANYONE IS GOING TO BE ABLE TO DRIVE A WEDGE BETWEEN US AND CHRIST’S LOVE FOR US? THERE IS NO WAY! NOT TROUBLE, NOT HARD TIMES, NOT HATRED, NOT HUNGER, NOT HOMELESSNESS, NOT BULLYING THREATS, NOT BACKSTABBING, NOT EVEN THE WORST SINS LISTED IN SCRIPTURE:
THEY KILL US IN COLD BLOOD BECAUSE THEY HATE YOU. WE’RE SITTING DUCKS; THEY PICK US OFF ONE BY ONE. NONE OF THIS FAZES US BECAUSE JESUS LOVES US. I’M ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED THAT NOTHING—NOTHING LIVING OR DEAD, ANGELIC OR DEMONIC, TODAY OR TOMORROW, HIGH OR LOW, THINKABLE OR UNTHINKABLE—ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CAN GET BETWEEN US AND GOD’S LOVE BECAUSE OF THE WAY THAT JESUS OUR MASTER HAS EMBRACED US. [ROMANS 8:31-39]
We must interpret everything through the lenses of the cross. At the perfect time, He went to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. This act of love forever connects all those who believe with God the Father. He went to the cross in spite of our sin. Because of the cross when God looks at you and me He sees us as perfect, forgiven, and without the consequences of sin. When God doesn’t seem to answer your prayers the way you would have liked or in the time frame you have mapped out, REMEMBER THE CROSS. He cares for you so much that He answers our prayers in His timing and for His greater purposes. His timing is motivated by love.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Are you in the middle of a waiting game with God? How can you begin to change your focus today from the result of your prayer to the truth of His love for you?
Jesus, I am so thankful for your love revealed through the cross. Every morning when I wake up allow me to remember the sacrifice and place my trust in you for that day. I believe today that your timing is perfect and I am willing to submit to your plans.
By Jake Larson
BUT WHEN JESUS HEARD ABOUT IT HE SAID, “LAZARUS’S SICKNESS WILL NOT END IN DEATH. NO, IT HAPPENED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD SO THAT THE SON OF GOD WILL RECEIVE GLORY FROM THIS.” [JOHN 11:4}
What does your life tell the world about who Jesus is? More specifically, when your life circumstances are unbearable what does the world learn about Jesus through your example?
As if trials are not difficult enough on their own, as a follower of Jesus we have the opportunity in the midst of trial to teach the world about Jesus. When a follower of Jesus is suffering, people are learning about your faith. They are watching to see if what you said was true about God during the good times is indeed true in the difficult times. This is so difficult because in the struggle of life it is so easy to turn our attention inward and miss out on what the impact of your trial may be to those around you.
When you think back to the trials of your life, has God received positive glory? The word glory in the text can be translated opinion or view. To give God glory is to represent a view of God that is astounding, worthy, and magnificent. In the midst of your trials have your actions shown the world how worthy God is of praise and love. In the midst of your trials have others come to see the greatness and faithfulness of God? In the midst of your trials has the world taken notice of God?
Unfortunately, too often people doubt and reject God when life doesn’t go as they planned. This confusion often results in a weakening of our faith or an outright rejection of faith by those watching near by. In these trials we seldom stop and assess how our behavior is impacting the faith of those around us.
In this miracle Jesus makes it clear that through this trial He will be praised and glorified. If this were true, how would Jesus be praised and glorified if He chose not to raise Lazarus? Jesus says in this scripture that Lazarus will not die. But what if He was referring to spiritual death, disconnection from God, and physical death was certain? Can Jesus still receive glory in this trial? I believe the answer is a confident yes. In the disappointment, Mary will have an opportunity to show her friends just how deep her faith and belief in Jesus goes. He knows better than I. He has a greater purpose than I can see. He is faithful even when my circumstances seem to contradict His character.
THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I HOPE IN HIM. [JOB 13:15]
When the world sees this kind of faith they are stunned. The world will seek Jesus. If he gives you the ability to endure and lean on Him in hardship, then I must know this God personally.
When trial strikes focus your mind on allowing God to be glorified through your pain. How can my trial point and direct people to the love and grace of Jesus?
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
Can good really come from my pain? How will I deal with hardship differently with this focus in mind?
Lord, I must confess that when hardship comes I tend to turn my focus inward. I become so focused on removing my pain that I miss opportunities to prove to the world that you are my strength and my hope. Today I commit to allowing the trials of my life to direct people to your incredible character and consistency.
By Jake Larson
NOW A MAN NAMED LAZARUS WAS SICK. HE WAS FROM BETHANY, THE VILLAGE OF MARY AND HER SISTER MARTHA. 2THIS MARY, WHOSE BROTHER LAZARUS NOW LAY SICK, WAS THE SAME ONE WHO POURED PERFUME ON THE LORD AND WIPED HIS FEET WITH HER HAIR. 3SO THE SISTERS SENT WORD TO JESUS, “LORD, THE ONE YOU LOVE IS SICK.” [JOHN 11:1-3]
I don’t know how many nights I have laid awake thinking about how I could solve a specific problem. Whether it was a tangled mess of a relationship between two people who sought out my guidance or a personal family challenge – I always want to solve the problem. This is sometimes challenging when the solution seems so obvious to me and yet so unclear to others. In our society we have developed a survival method that often contradicts our dependence on God. When something goes wrong in our lives we hurry to our cell phones, our email, facebook, or ichat to discuss the issue with friends and strangers.
In the story of one of the most amazing miracles recorded we see a trial far bigger than any human hands could solve—certain death. Mary is distraught because her brother Lazarus is very sick and is going to die. This would appear to be a hopeless situation except that Mary had seen the amazing miracles of Jesus. Not only had she seen the miracles of Jesus, but also had placed her trust in Him. No situation is hopeless when you place your trust in the hands of Jesus.
Instead of calling for a town hall meeting to strategize on a next step Mary responded by calling out to Jesus. He is her first stop. Jesus is her first option. If anyone is going to be able to help her it is Jesus.
When life throws you a curve ball or seems to leave you without options where do you turn for help? I must admit that I often pick up my phone to call a friend before I open my mouth to talk to God. Mary made it a lifestyle to sit at Jesus feet both literally and symbolically. Next time you receive some challenging news or need to vent about the events of your day direct your attention to Jesus first. He can handle your discomfort, your honesty, and your doubts – He is God.
TRUST GOD FROM THE BOTTOM OF YOUR HEART; DON’T TRY TO FIGURE OUT EVERYTHING ON YOUR OWN. LISTEN FOR GOD’S VOICE IN EVERYTHING YOU DO, EVERYWHERE YOU GO; HE’S THE ONE WHO WILL KEEP YOU ON TRACK. DON’T ASSUME THAT YOU KNOW IT ALL. RUN TO GOD! [PROVERBS 3:5-7]
QUESTION TO CONSIDER
When your day is upset by the unexpected to whom do you run to for comfort? What position on your list for help is God?
Lord, in my time of weakness and desperation remind me of your presence. Draw my heart to run to you at the first sign of confusion or concern. When I run to you, give me the ears to hear from you and the eyes to see what steps you have for me to take.