July 8, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Let me give you some good advice;
I’m looking you in the eye
and giving it to you straight:
‘Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule
that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.’
God-defiers are always in trouble;
God-affirmers find themselves
loved every time they turn around.
Sing together – everyone!
All you honest hearts, raise the roof!”
The Message Bible
“I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
a pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load;
I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.
For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright
Though strength should falter,
and though heart should bleed
Through Peace to Light.
I do not ask, O Lord, that Thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here;
give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.
I do not ask my cross to understand
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.
Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night;
Lead me, O Lord, - till perfect day
Through Peace to Light.”
Adelaide A. Procter
“O dear God
Help me to grow
More like You
In spite of my circumstances.
You will grow
More like Me
Because of your circumstances.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Today’s Study Text:
“But some of them said, ‘Could not He who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?’”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 32
“If He Really Loved Me”
“A Guarded Degree of Faith”
“Others among them said, ‘Well, if He loved him so much, why didn’t He do something to keep (Lazarus) from dying? After all, (Jesus) opened the eyes of a blind man.’”
The Message Bible
Has there been a time in my life when I asked, “If Jesus really loves me, why won’t He do (_______) for me?”
Do I ever have a “guarded” faith in what I believe Jesus is capable of doing for me?
“Faith is the touching of a mystery, it is to perceive another dimension to absolutely everything in the world. In faith, the mysterious meaning of life comes alive. Beneath the simple, one-dimensional surface of things their genuine content begins to shine…To speak in the simplest possible terms: faith sees, knows, senses…the presence of God in the world.”
Celebration of Faith
“The background of resurrection is always impossibility. And with impossibility staring us in the face, the prelude to resurrection is invariably doubt, confusion, strife, and the cynical smile which is our defense against them. Resurrection is always the defiance of the absurd.”
Had you or I been able to be among the mourning crowd standing in front of Lazarus’ tomb, we would have most likely been privy to the whispering that questioned Jesus’ behavior.
We need to remember that from the moment a message got to Jesus that His dearest of friends was sick, there had been plenty of questions as to why Jesus responded in the way He had. Why didn’t He drop everything He was doing and immediately get to His friend’s bedside as quickly as possible? Why did He wait two days to do anything? Why did He head-off to Judea? And the “whys” kept coming, even after Jesus arrived in Bethany and was standing outside Lazarus’ grave. This time though it wasn’t the disciples who were asking why. John tells us that this “why” question came from the sorrowful throng who obviously had witnessed or heard about other miracles Jesus had performed. As John 11:37 leads us to believe, those who were thinking about other healings Jesus had performed now questioned the rationality of Jesus’ behavior for if we take this text to its obvious conclusion, I’d have to say that the people who were musing about Jesus’ ability to perform the miraculous weren’t completely doubters. Their point, at its heart was, “If Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why not do for His friend what He had, done for a blind man along the way?” Someone I might add, that it appeared Jesus did not know as well as Lazarus and his family.
This question, in my mind, is one of the most valid to ask for you might expect that those closest to Jesus would be the greatest benefactors of His care. And yet, not just in the case of Lazarus but in others as well, Jesus does not appear to hand out free goodies in a preferential manner. It is easy at times, when we don’t see the whole picture all at once, to ask ourselves, “What’s going on here?” This is exactly how John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, felt when he was rotting away in prison for doing what God had called him to do. Alone and apparently forgotten, John sent a message to his family member, Jesus, and asked, “Did You forget me? Did I get something wrong? Are You really the Messiah or have I been duped?”
I’d like to suggest that the toughest disappointments we all have to face in our lives have to do with those events which come upon us unaware when, from all outward appearances, we are following Jesus day by day and keeping His purpose in the forefront of all we do. You may be more than able to relate to this example when out of nowhere some tragedy or illness or financial undoing strikes your life. Maybe you have said to yourself, “I’ve seen Jesus bring relief, healing and restoration to others He hardly knew. Why then is He apparently hesitant to help me?” I love the way Anne Bronte pens the words to questions that plague all of us:
“Oh, help me, God! For Thou alone
Canst my distracted soul relieve;
Forsake it not, it is Thine own,
Though weak, yet longing to believe.
Oh, drive these cruel doubts away;
And make me know that Thou art God!
A faith that shines by night and day
Will lighten every earthly load.”
As I thought about the graveyard scene in Bethany, I had to ask myself, “Would I have been one of the crowd with “guarded” faith wondering why Jesus wasn’t doing more for someone He supposedly loved so dearly?” It’s a question I believe we all face at one time or another when we truly don’t understand the “whys” in our life. It would do us well to again read the last portion of the words of Harry Williams when he states that, “Resurrection is always the defiance of the absurd.” Just so I could get a better understanding of this statement, I decided to get out Webster’s Dictionary and check out three words: “defiance”, “absurd”, and “resurrection”.
1. Defiance: “Bold resistance to an opposing force.”
2. Absurd: “Ridiculously unreasonable.”
3. Resurrection: “Returning to life”.
So here’s our Transformation Garden take on the short sentence: “Resurrection or returning to life is always the bold resistance to what seems ridiculously unreasonable.” In other words, when confronted with an idea as completely nonsensical as a dead man coming alive from a tomb, we often resist even believing something like that could happen. It’s not that we are big doubters, we just have “guarded” faith and I believe this is because we don’t want to be let down. We don’t want our hopes dashed to pieces again for please remember, if we had been in Mary and Martha’s place, while we may have admitted as they did that Jesus had the power to heal their brother, there had been zero visual or physical evidence that Jesus was inclined to help Lazarus in a way that fit with the thinking of everyone at the tomb. I appreciate the assistance of J. R. Macduff who says that we sometimes “limit the Holy One of Israel.” And then he continues with this insightful statement: “How often do we lose sight of the Saviour at the very moment when we most need to have Him continually in view and just when the dark waves are cresting over our heads and voices of unbelief are uttering in our ears, ‘Where is now thy God?” But will Jesus leave His (children) to their unbelieving doubts?” No! He loves you and me too much and He asks, “Why lose faith in Me now?” And then Pastor Macduff offers these encouraging words from Jesus: “My hand is never shortened that it cannot save; my ear is never heavy that it cannot hear. I can call the things which are not, and make them as though they were…if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God.” In one of my favorite quotes by Matthew Biller:
“God will answer when to thee,
Not a possibility
of deliverance seems near;
It is then He will appear.
God will answer when you pray
Yea, though mountains block the way,
At His word, a way will be
Even through mountains, made for thee
God who still divides the sea,
Willingly will work for thee;
God, before whom mountains fall,
Promises to hear thy call.”
“I believe, although everything hides You from my faith.
I believe, although everything shouts No! to me…
I believe, although I feel alone in pain.
I believe, because I have learned
with certainty that He comes
to meet us in the hardest hours,
with His love and His light.
I believe, but increase my faith.”
Livro de Cantos
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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