Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].’”
John 11: 41, 42
“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
C. S. Lewis
Thoughts for Consideration:
If I had been with Jesus at the grave of Lazarus before He raised the lifeless corpse, do I think I would have had the courage to believe Jesus was truly the Son of God?
How much “proof” do I need to believe what Jesus said about Himself and His Father in heaven?
“Man lost life by unbelief – by not believing God’s Word; and we get life back again by believing – by taking God at His Word.”
Dwight L. Moody
“If to believe in Jesus was man’s first duty, not to believe in Him was his chief sin.”
When Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven, His voice could be “heard,” loud and clear, as He addressed His request, His praise and His gratitude to His Father. Not only could Jesus be “heard” by the individuals surrounding the tomb but He was clearly heard by His Father. In order to better understand this fact, it is instructional to go to the Greek and look at the meaning of the particular word “heard” as used in John 11: 41, 42. The word “heard” means “to give an audience,” “ to come to the ears,” “to be reported and understood.” With clarity, Jesus’ words were heard by His Father and His request was not only detailed but it was completely understood.
What an encouragement to know that when we believe that God is our gracious Father, we also have the benefit of knowing that our requests, our praise and our gratitude don’t just bounce off the throne room of heaven. Just as Jesus was “heard” by His Father, so are we. As J. R. Macduff underscores, “All are heard! Every tear marked – every sigh registered – every supplicant given relief…There is no limitation set to our requests. The treasury of grace is flung wide open for every suppliant.” I appreciate the way author Karon Philips Goodman in her terrific book, You’re Late Again, Lord! describes the willingness of our Father, to not only hear us, but answer our prayers. “There is no question God will duck, no battle He can’t win, no topic He doesn’t know. You can’t make Him uncomfortable. You can’t push Him too hard. So go ahead, hit Him with your best shot.”
Much too often, we fear to lay open to Jesus our real needs. And yet, He knows not only what we long for, but He also knows what will be for our own good. And so He tells His Father now, as He did when standing before Lazarus’ grave, “I am asking on behalf and for the benefit of ‘your name’ that their faith will be increased as they witness Your power and glory at work.” Let us never forget that our own prayers are as “winged messengers” which carry to heaven the daily longings of our hearts.
Several years ago, I found a rather small old book on ebay which was for sale for a couple dollars. What interested me was the fact that the well-worn book was written by the evangelist D. L. Moody. I was delighted to get the volume but when it arrived, it was easy to see that the individual who sold the book had not honestly portrayed the condition which at best should have been noted as, “falling to pieces.” Rather than sending the book back for a refund, I decided to do my own little repair job with scotch tape and as I examined the book page by page, I uncovered the fact that it was an original copy of Moody’s cherished volume, Prevailing Prayer. The fact is that this book now holds a special place in my library as well as my heart. Written in 1884, it is wisdom such as these words which have fostered a great deal of faith in my heart as I daily pray: “Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking.” While I know that this is sometimes how I feel when I tell God, “It’s me again,” Pastor Moody leaves his readers with this assurance: “The only way to trouble God is not to come at all.”
Today, as our minds carry us back across the centuries to a graveyard in Bethany, it would do us well to recall our Savior’s plea to His Father on behalf of you and me, as we hear Him cry out, “Father, I’m grateful that You have listened to Me. I know You always do listen.” May our hearts be raised with gratitude when we reach out to heaven’s throne room and come boldly to our Father’s throne of grace where we are promised we will find help in any time of need. Then may our belief be strengthened for we know, without a doubt, as John Follette notes: “as our heart has been poured out and lifted upon the wings of prayer (that) the message is wafted up and away through the silent reaches of space to ‘our’ Father’s throne.” This is what happens when we believe that our Father hears and loves us.
“If you can’t believe in God, chances are your God is too small.”
“May the Lord Jesus put His hands on our eyes also, for then we too shall begin to look not at what is seen but at what is not seen. May He open the eyes that are concerned not with the present but with what is yet to come. May He unseal the heart’s vision, that we may gaze on God, through the same Lord, Jesus Christ, whose glory and power will endure throughout the unending age.”
We Have Not Seen…And We Believe
“We believe in God whom we do not see
because of Jesus who was seen
and people who live by His Spirit.
We believe in God whom we do not see
because of truth and beauty, love,
goodness, and integrity, which make
the divine a part of human life.
We believe in a heaven we have not seen
because love is stronger than death
and all our hopes cannot
find fulfillment in this life.
We believe in the Spirit we cannot see
because we see the Creator Spirit
at work in our lives and hear
the Spirit’s voice in our silence.
We believe in a providence we do not always see
because God made us,
and here we are.
We believe in the resurrection
in spite of the death we see
because we have been raised up many times,
and passed from death to life.
We believe in God whom we do not see
because of the One who said,
‘He (and she) who sees the Father.’
We have seen Him in our humanity,
in His risen body,
and we believe.”
Joseph T. Nolan
Let The Earth Rejoice
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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