July 18, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to the promises of Your word.”
“Those who bend and incline toward Him, He bends and inclines toward them. Between that soul all sensible of its need, oppressed with its unfitness and unworthiness, and the blessed, boundless heart of the Saviour, there is a quick and eager affinity. Christ has a purpose in that direction, - there is the specific errand He came for, - to save that lost soul.”
“Fear not to lift Him thy prayer;
Strive nobly to be free!
The nearer thou dost come to Him,
The more He’ll strengthen thee;
A welcome give Him,
And His love will circle thee around,
And raise thee up to life and light,
With heavenly beauty crowned.”
Jeanie A. B. Greenough
Today’s Study Text:
“Upon seeing what Jesus had done, many of the Jews who had come with Mary believed in Him. They trusted in Him and adhered to Him and relied on Him! But some of them went back to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 42
“Believers or Doubters”
“Let us remember that none of us will ever be more maligned or slandered than was our Lord.”
Have I ever been the victim of malicious gossip or untrue statements?
How did it make me feel?
“Everything is possible for the ‘one’ who believes.”
“And Jesus said, ‘You say to Me, If You can do anything? Why, all things can be (are possible) to him or her who believes.’”
“We say, ‘If I really could believe!’ The point is – If I really will believe. No wonder Jesus Christ lays such emphasis on the sin of unbelief. ‘And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.’ If we really believed that God meant what He said – what should we be like? Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?”
My Utmost For His Highest
The once dead man Lazarus was out of the tomb. As the linen cloths were taken off his body – the immovable began to move. The silent voice began to speak again. And all around this living man, the crowd began to say these words again and again: “He’s alive! He’s alive!” Oh, how I wish we could all have been witness to this event which many refer to as the crowning “sign” or “miracle” performed by Jesus when He walked this earth.
If you were to ask the question, “What would Jesus have had to do to confirm to me that He was really God’s Son? I think the raising of Lazarus would have been at the top of my list. Yet, the Apostle John leaves us this record “that was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in Him.” You would think that a decaying body which was now restored to health and vigor would be enough to convince any doubter. Not so if we continue to read John’s words: “But some went back to the Pharisees and told on Jesus” (John 11: 45, The Message Bible). It isn’t easy to understand the motivation of what we call a “tattler,” someone whose idle chatter labels them as an informer. It’s not pleasant to be around someone whose only goal seems to be the spread of rumors of a sensational nature.
Obviously, there were people at the tomb of Lazarus who rather than rejoice that “the Lord has done great things” chose to run off to the religious folks in Jerusalem with a report of what Jesus was up to now. Obviously, some had seen what Jesus did and they still did not believe.
Professor James Duke, in his insightful commentary on John 11 notes that the disciple John repeatedly comes back to the theme “seeing and believing.” As he states, “Having seen what Jesus had done, many of those who came with Mary believed, and the faith of Martha and Mary themselves became, shall we say, enlightened.”
However, what happens to our belief when we don’t see? Jesus Himself addressed this very challenge to His disciple Thomas who had stated after Jesus’ resurrection that, “Unless I see in His hands the marks made by the nails and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe it” (referring to the risen Christ in John 20: 25).
It is very important we understand the fact that Jesus didn’t fault Thomas for desiring proof. Instead, Jesus chose to bestow a blessing on those who didn’t see yet believed: “Blessed and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me” (John 20: 29, Amplified Bible).
But I don’t want to stop at John 20: 29, for John continues by letting you and me know something of great import especially since we were not eye-witnesses to Lazarus when he came out of the tomb. As John 20: 30, 31 tells us:
“There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written, recorded in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through His Name, through Who He is.”
And so today, the question which is put to your heart and mine is this: “How much do I have to see to believe?” Obviously, there were two groups of people at the tomb of Lazarus. Both groups saw a dead man in a tomb. Both groups witnessed that corpse start to move. And yet, in the heart of one group, unbelief reigned. As Pastor Charles Finney underscores, this even became a moment “in which you have virtually charged the God of truth with lying by unbelief in His express promises and declarations.” No matter how many signs, no matter how many miracles – it would never have been enough for some in that crowd who were eye-witnesses. They had seen Jesus’ Resurrection power on display and yet that just wasn’t enough.
May we choose to be among those who stood at the tomb and believed. In the words of the great Scottish author and poet, George MacDonald:
“Christ The Answer”
“Oh, let me live in Thy realities,
Nor substitute my notions for Thy facts
Notion with notion making leagues and pacts,
They are to Truth as dream-deeds are to acts,
And questioned, make me doubt of everything.
‘O Lord, my God,’ my soul gets up and cries,
Come Thy own self and with Thee my faith bring.’”
“I sought Him where my logic led.
‘This friend is always sure and right,
His lantern is sufficient light…
I need no star,’ I said.
I sought Him in the city square.
Logic and I went up and down
The market-lace of many a town,
And He was never there.
I tracked Him to the Mind’s far rim.
The valiant intellect went forth
To east and west and south and north,
And found no trace of Him!
We walked the world from sun to sun,
Logic and I, with little faith;
But never came to Nazareth,
Or found the Holy One.
I sought in vain. And finally
Back to the Heart’s small house I crept
And fell upon my knees and wept,
And lo, He came to me!”
Sara Henderson Hay
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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