Archive | May 2014

Lazarus, Come out!

Today, my Bible reading was John 11:1-44

My first amazing insight came from verse 5, about Martha and not Lazarus. It gladdened my heart because I am so much like Martha.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

Martha – concerned with many “things,” irritated, jealous, self-pitying Martha; Jesus loved her. Bossy, critical, no-time-for-sitting-and-listening-to-Jesus-because-of-all-the-things-that-needed-to-be-done Martha; Jesus loved her. Martha – resentful, accusing Jesus of not loving them enough to come to them in their need; Jesus loved her. Prickly, unyielding, yet willing to believe and obey Martha; Jesus LOVED her. He loved Martha!

(But Martha will have her day in John 12.)

 

So a certain man, Lazarus of Bethany, was ill and his sisters sent to Jesus to come help (heal) him.  Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus’ illness did not lead to death, but that it was for the glory of God, so that the Son of God would be glorified through it.  And He lingered by the Jordan River for TWO MORE DAYS.

Then he told his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I go to awaken him.”

Hey, he’s sleeping, he must be getting better, thought his disciples.

Nope. Jesus said plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for YOUR sakes I’m glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”

Martha met Jesus as they were coming. “Lord, IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE my brother would have not died!”

“But… even now,” she conceded, “I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give you.”

Jesus: “Your brother will rise again.”

“Yes, I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus: I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”

How would Martha, in mourning for her little brother, respond to this?

In faith. “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Then, seeing their sorrow & weeping, and the compassion & question of their fellow mourners, Jesus came to the tomb.  “Take away the stone.”

Practical, realist Martha said, “Lord by this time he stinks for he has been dead four days!

lazarus3b“Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the Glory of God?”

So… Martha told them to take away the stone.

After looking to heaven and thanking His Father… Jesus shouted, “LAZARUS, COME OUT!”

And the dead man heard and came out, his hands and feet bound with linen burial strips.

“Unbind him, and let him go,” said the Creator and Sustainer of life.

Oh, Lord, command that I be unbound too, from worldliness, from love of things, from selfishness, self-righteousness, vainglory and pride! Jesus, command that I be let go, freed from these things that weigh me down and keep me from abundant life in You!

(Hmm…were Lazarus’ hands and feet bound individually? Were they bound tight together like a mummy? Did Lazarus rise as a single form and… float out???)

Regardless of how, Lazarus HAD to obey Christ’s command. And if Jesus had not specifically named Lazarus, ALL the dead would have come forth from the tombs!

And one day they will.

I Thessalonians 4:16 says of Jesus’ second coming, “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command… And the dead in Christ will rise!”

O glorious day!

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Colossians 2:13-14: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling out the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting LIFE.”

For victory over death and the grave, and for eternal life, thank You, Jesus!

 

The Good Shepherd

Today’s Bible reading brought me to John 10:1-30

In these verses Jesus says He is…

shepherd.sheepfold

…The SHEPHERD of his people  

Psalm 23 lists the many benefits the Shepherd provides for his people – take a moment to read it (see below). One of those benefits may be needed in your life right now, and you can ask God for it. (Lord, lead me in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake!)

The sheepfold is where God’s people dwell in safety and satisfaction. His sheep know this place and eagerly follow the Shepherd through the door.  Everyone who enters the place of safety by Jesus will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture.

…The DOOR of the sheepfold

Jesus is also the Door, the only true entrance and access to the sheepfold.   (“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6)

…The GOOD SHEPHERD guarding the door or gate of the sheepfold with His own life

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not a hired hand who cares nothing for the sheep, but the Good Shepherd who loves his sheep and lays himself down at the gate, or door, to protect them all through the night. Jesus laid down his life on the cross, in order that his people might be saved.

The Bible calls us…

sheep

…The SHEEP

It’s not really flattering to be compared to sheep.

They are dumb, they wander off and get into trouble, they lay down in places where they can’t get up, if they stand too deep in moving water to get a drink, their wool gets saturated and pulls them under and away. They get frightened to the slightest unfamiliar noise or movement. Burrs and bugs cling to their wool and they can stink, and the follow each other blindly… even over a cliff.

The Bible says of us,  “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned—every one—to his own way;  and the LORD has laid on him  the iniquity of us all.”  Isaiah 53:6

For you were like straying sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:25

BUT…  “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Son of God, but He came to earth as a man, to identify with us (sheep), to show us how a life pleasing to God is lived, and to be the substitute sacrifice for our sin.

John the Baptist called Him…

lamb

…The Lamb

“Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29

Jesus (God Himself) humbled Himself and took on the form of man. He lived a perfectly righteous life before God and man. Then this “spotless Lamb” became the sacrifice for our sin.  “God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  Then he crushed him (punished the sin of all who would trust in Him) so that we might live (eternally).

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

 SHEPHERD who cares for me, LAMB who was sacrificed for me:  JESUS.    Thank You!!

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PSALM 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Our Daily Bread

Image

John 6:37-66  I read this section this morning and pictured the scene.

The crowd of 5000 men (plus women and children) had been fed by Jesus the previous day, by breaking a little boy’s five small loaves into pieces, blessing them, and giving out them out until everyone had had their fill and then some!

Jesus had to slip away into the mountain, because He knew the would come – mob style – and make Him their king. (Imagine someone who could miraculously feed you from almost nothing!!  

The next morning they found him again, intent on more of the same…..

 

Give us BREAD!” Cried the thousands! “Give us bread! BREAD like Moses gave us! BREAD so we won’t hunger! BREAD so we won’t have to labor! BREAD! Give us bread every day and… we will make you KING!”

“I am the Bread of Life, he who comes to me shall never hunger.”

“GIVE US THIS BREAD FOREVER!”

“My father gives you the TRUE bread. The Bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Wait, what does he mean he came down from Heaven? Isn’t this Joseph and Mary’s son?’

“I am the Bread of Life. He that believes on me has everlasting life.”

“Grumble, grumble.”

“I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone “eats” of this bread he shall live forever.”

“This is a HARD saying, who can listen to it?  Man, all we wanted was bread.”

 

(“You ask and don’t receive because you ask amiss that you may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3)

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How often I am concerned only with “my daily bread” and forget the rest of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples about how to pray.

First off my lips should be a realization and praise for who God is – holy, almighty, immutable. Praise Your name forever!

My desire after that should be for HIS will to be done, and HIS righteousness and HIS kingdom to come, and how He could use me to accomplish it in my small way.

After recognizing who God is and giving myself to Him, Jesus then said I can confidently – as a small child approaches her Daddy – ask for my daily needs, with sure expectancy that they will be supplied according to my Heavenly Father’s riches in heaven.

Confession of my sin – for which Jesus has ALREADY paid, and the acknowledgement and thanksgiving for His forgiveness of them all – past, present & future – should raise JOY in my heart.

A plea for help in temptation and deliverance from evil as I walk in His will and his way will remind me to seek his face, listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and obey his Word.

Bread (daily sustenance) is vital to life, but this life will eventually pass away.  Believing in Jesus – the True and Living Bread of Life – is the only way I will have ETERNAL life and be raised alive again in that last day. Thank You!

Mother’s Day

My Bible reading today was so appropriate to MOTHER’S DAY. (Thank you, God!)  It was from John 2:1-12

Jesus, with five of his new disciples and his mother Mary, attended a wedding in Cana. They were probably family or close friends with the couple.

Towards the end of the ceremony the wine ran out (a BIG no-no). Mary went to Jesus for help. For maybe 15 years she had been depending on her oldest son to “take care of things” since she was probably a widow by then. It was “natural” for her to do so now.

But Jesus, at 30, had just embarked on “His Heavenly Father’s Business,” his mission as the Messiah and Savior (sin-sacrifice) for his people. Perhaps Mary didn’t know about his recent 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, or his baptism, or the sign of the Holy Spirit descending on him, or John the Baptist calling him “the Lamb of God.”

She only knew Jesus was her son and he could somehow (she may not have expected a miracle) take care of this embarrassing family problem.

But the time had come to set things straight. Jesus firmly, but tenderly, let his mother know that their relationship had changed. She would now have to depend on her other sons for physical help. He had different work to do.

Perhaps not understanding, she nevertheless told the servants to do what he said. Jesus, honoring his mother (the 6th commandment), performed a miracle, changing the water in several large pots into premium wine.

John calls this the FIRST SIGN (out of 8) that would be Jesus’ credentials as the Messiah, the Son of God.

Steve Hanks ArtworkAFTER THE WEDDING, verse 12 says that Jesus, his disciples, his brothers, AND HIS MOTHER went down to Capernaum for a few days.

I wonder if during this time Jesus tenderly reminded Mary of what the angel had told her and Joseph before he was born – that he was the Son of God, and that his mission was to be the Savior of his people.

Did Mary remember her own words to the angel, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word?” [i]

Did Mary then remember old Simeon’s prophetic words to her when they went to the Temple to dedicate Jesus?  “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is (violently) opposed, AND A SWORD WILL PIERCE THROUGH YOUR OWN SOUL ALSO, so that thoughts from many hearts will be revealed.” [ii]

Was she now beginning to feel that sword pricking her soul as she watched Jesus withdraw from her and begin to fulfill his Heavenly mission?

Did Mary’s thoughts also revisit that panic time in Jerusalem, when she and Joseph had searched for the 12-year-old Jesus, finally –after three days – finding him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them, asking them questions, and amazing all who heard at his answers.

Did she remember his words?  “Know you not that I must be about my Father’s business?” [iii]

It must have been HARD for her to let “her boy” go. To become his servant instead of his mother. To finally believe in him as the Savior of the world…. as HER own savior.

A further shock came to her when shortly after this time in Capernaum they went to Jerusalem for Passover and Jesus – her son, the Savior and Son of God – took cords and violently turned out the animals and merchants and money changers from the temple, saying, “Do not make my Father’s house a house of trade!” [iv]

There would be other revealing times, but Mary eventually learned this lesson:  Jesus considers ALL who “do the will of the Father” as his mother and brothers and sisters. [v]  The Father’s will is for us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. [vi] Those who do, become God’s children  [vii] and joint heirs with Jesus. [vii]

Mary’s soul would be pierced through as she watched her beloved son hang in agony on a cross. But oh, the joy that would flood that soul to see Him resurrected in glory.

My Lord and my God!

 

Think about  Mary on MOTHER’S DAY!  Remember her joys, her sorrows, and the important lesson she began to learn at a wedding celebration in Cana.

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[i]     Luke 1:38

[ii]    John  2:34-35

[iii]   Luke 2:49

[iv]   John 2:16

[v]    Mark 3:35

[vi]   John 6:40

[vii]  John 1:12

[viii] Romans 8:16-17