The Fragrance Of His Presence
To Be Loved By Jesus
Today’s Study Text:
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [They were His dear friends, and He held them in loving esteem.] Therefore – [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was.”
John 11: 5, 6
“Let this ever be our highest ambition, to love and to be loved by Jesus.”
Thoughts for Consideration:
Do I truly believe I am deeply loved by Jesus even when He doesn’t appear to respond to my earthly cry for help?
What would it mean to me right now to know I am completely surrounded by my Savior’s love?
“Christ’s love is a love without angles: A love that asks nothing in return…this is the quality that redeems.”
“If Jesus loves me as He says, He has my best interests at heart. That means I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by committing myself to Him and His purposes.”
The Case For Christ
The messenger had arrived. The message had been delivered. “Lord, he whom Thou lovest is ill.” Simple. Brief. And to the point. It wasn’t often the family in Bethany had come to Jesus with an urgent message. Rather, they were often the ones taking care of Jesus – especially His physical needs. And if I may be so bold – they cared for Jesus emotionally with an unconditional outpouring of love. No wonder Jesus loved them all – so very much.
Now, in their moment of crisis, they must have felt the assurance of a reciprocal response from Jesus. To be sure, this wasn’t some “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of relationship. This was a deep love – an eternal care for each other and so it just seemed natural to call on the person you knew loved you dearly.
As J. R. Macduff so touchingly describes: “It is a lofty argument by which (Mary and Martha) would stir the infinite depths of the Fountain of Love! They had ‘known and believed’ the love which the Great Redeemer bore to their brother, and they further felt assured that ‘loving Him at the beginning, He would love Lazarus even to the end.’”
It was Mary and Martha’s total certainty that Jesus would respond which gave these sisters the confidence to turn to Jesus in the first place. Had I been in their sandals, my only thought would have been, “I wonder how long it will take Jesus to get back to Bethany?”
However, after the disciple John went to great lengths to make it clear how much Jesus loved this family, he continues by stating what appears to be an impossibility: “He (Jesus) stayed on where He was for two more days” (John 11: 6, The Message Bible). I can’t even bear to think how I would have felt standing in that Bethany house of illness. Every time a figure appeared approaching the house, I have to believe the sisters would peer with eager anticipation hoping with all their hearts that Jesus would arrive any minute.
Perhaps you have been exactly where Mary and Martha were – waiting for Jesus to come to the rescue of someone you know loves Him dearly as you do. Through my own life, there have been times when I’ve prayed my heart out, asking God to deliver one of His best and dearest friends on earth. And when things don’t happen just as we want or just when we believe the timing is perfect, then all kinds of thoughts are brought to us on a silver platter by the evil one whose goal is to cause us to doubt the love of Jesus.
Let me share with you some of the questions the wily serpent has hit me with when the answer I longed for didn’t arrive and Jesus seemed too busy to come to my aid:
Doubt #1: Jesus must not really have loved me as much as I thought He did.
Doubt #2: There are others more worthy than I am. I’ve failed Him too many times. He doesn’t have the inclination to respond to me now.
Doubt #3: I shouldn’t have bothered Jesus with this request in the first place. Remember, He has a universe to run. Why bother Him with my little problems?
I’m certain we could all make a list of the evil ways the devil tries to defeat us with insinuations and questions which can only lead us to wonder about our Savior’s love.
Don’t be confused. Don’t be tempted. Don’t listen to the deceiver for as J. R. Macduff so beautifully pens, “(Our) love to our God is like the changing sand – His is like the solid rock. (Our) love is like the passing meteour with its fitful gleam. His like the fixed stars, shining far above, clear and serene, from age to age, in their own changeless firmament.” How comforting to know that, while my love may waver when Jesus doesn’t arrive immediately, His plan is not upset or disturbed. His design for bringing glory to the Father doesn’t need a new draft just because I can’t see how He’s working everything out right down to the very minute.
What’s more, if you happen to think you should not “bug” the King of the Universe about the little pesky details in your life, I have a jewel of a statement from a Christian writer to share with you. These words have encouraged my heart on more than one occasion when my fainting heart was about to give out on me: “Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. ‘The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy’ (James 5: 11, K.J.V.). His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even our utterances of them. Take to Him every thing that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds’ (Psalm 147: 3, K.J.V.). The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.”
As I’ve shared in the past, the Bible commentator Matthew Henry’s insight into Scripture is to me simply awe-inspiring. I deeply appreciate his take on John 11: 5,6. As Henry notes, “One would think it would follow, ‘when Jesus heard therefore that Lazarus was sick,’ He would have made haste to them for He knew they expected that of Him…He loved them yet He lingered.”
Why would Jesus wait? Well, I urge you to consider. What we find is that in Jesus’ world, just when you and I are asked to wait a little longer, we recognize that whatever it is we believe is defeating God’s purpose in our lives, actually becomes our song of praise as we honor and glorify our Father in heaven.
When I was a young girl, spending much of the summer at my grandparent’s canyon ranch, I happened to arrive right about the time a new well was being installed. This well produced the most refreshing, cold water. But it was the process of digging the well in the first place which really intrigued me.
One day a man arrived on our property, sent by our neighbor across the creek, Ernie Sweat. Ernie was a tough old man but he loved my sister and me and always was more than ready to “spin a yarn” – some wild tale about the “wild west” for he’d been a Sheriff in his younger days. The man whom Ernie sent us arrived with a crazy looking stick in his hand. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked what the stick was all about. The gentleman explained it was a willow “dowsing rod” which would help him find water under the earth. The kicker was that at a certain place, covered by nothing but rocks and dirt, the willow branch began to twitch. I kid you not I was there and saw it with my two little beady eyes. And the man told my dad and grandpa, ‘Dig here for your well.” They did. And it was a gusher! Fresh clean, cold water.
While I realize that some folk scoff at finding water with twigs, and call this procedure very unscientific, let me tell you that our lives are often a lot like the brown barren earth. We look at what is going on around us and we think God isn’t doing a thing for us. But we keep believing. We trust. We pray. We obey. And one day, in heaven’s perfect time, a gusher explodes out of all that is barren in our lives and we just stand there with our mouths hanging open as we blurt out the words, “Where did that come from?”
And our Father is smiling when He says, “I’ve been busy. And in My time, at My perfect season, My work in you is ready. You’re prepared to accomplish all I have planned for your life! And you will bring glory to My name in all you do and to everyone you touch!” Praise His name!
“The whole earth’s a waiting room.
We wait – all day long,
for planes and buses,
for dates and appointments,
for five o’clock and Friday.
Some of us wait for a Second Coming.
For God in a whirlwind.
All around us people are waiting:
a child, for attention;
a spouse, for conversation;
a parent, for a letter or call.
The prisoner waits for freedom;
and the exile, to come home.
The hungry, for food;
and the lonely, for a friend.
The whole earth’s a waiting room!
“The Savior will see you now”
is what we expect to hear at the end.
Maybe we should raise our expectations.
The Savior might see us now
if we know how to find him.
could it be that Jesus, too, is waiting
for us to know He is around?”
Joseph T. Nolan
Let the Earth Rejoice!
Scripture, Prayers, and Poems
“In darkness and in light,
in trouble and joy,
help us, heavenly Father,
to trust Your love,
to serve Your purpose
and to praise your name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The Daily Office Revised
“To You, O Lord, I come for refuge,
do not let me be put to shame, deliver
me in Your righteousness.
Incline Your ear to me, make haste to help me,
for you are my strong rock and my fortress.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit,
for You have redeemed me, O Lord;
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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