Jesus Wept

January 13, 2015

John 11:32-40
When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
33When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]
34And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see.
35Jesus wept.
36The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying?
38Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it. 39Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days! 40Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?

Jesus Wept

As the Lord dropped this scripture into my heart I came to it trying to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were no doubt some Jesus’ closest and dearest friends. They acknowledged and received Him for who He was as Lord and Christ, but now the revelation of that knowledge is tested through the sickness and death of Lazarus.
“Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in the bible, but it can make a strong statement if we seek to understand the heart of Jesus in this moment. Jesus is not weeping because he is sad for Mary or Martha or because He is mourning the loss of Lazarus. Jesus saw the grief and sobbing in Mary and Martha. Then he hears from Mary in an almost mournful rebuke, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Perhaps Jesus is thinking, “What are you saying Mary, because I didn’t come in your time and in the way that you thought that I should that I failed you?” I believe it was these loved one’s disappointment in Him that grieved Him so. In their grief they were saying, “Jesus, you failed us. You didn’t come through. You didn’t show up in time.” This disappointment communicated through Martha, Mary and even the mourners that were with them greatly disturbed and disquieted the spirit of Jesus. I believe that this truly hurt the heart of the Lord that they had these scruples and doubts about His love and faithfulness to them. There was such a tremendous upheaval in the spirit of Jesus that He groaned and wept. This was a very disturbing moment of Jesus. He already knew that Lazarus, though he had been dead for four days, was a good as alive, but to see the disappointment and the feelings of His failure in the hearts of those who loved Him the most was tremendously hurtful and troubling.
What it shows us is that we have a box of our own human reasoning and understanding. We so often want to put Jesus in that same box. When He doesn’t fit within our boxes we can often become offended with Jesus and feel that He has somehow failed us. In our grief and disappointments we sometimes want to blame Him and hold Him responsible because we feel that He failed us. We often carry those hurts and they create a breach in our faith and trust in the Lord. Sometimes it causes us to turn from Him altogether. We can see here how this grieves the heart of the Holy Spirit. We must learn to trust Him and count Him faithful even in what we don’t know and fully understand. We must know that His love for us is so much greater. If Jesus had showed up sooner and healed Lazarus, He would have still been known as only the healer. This is a time and place where Jesus is going to manifest an even greater dimension of Himself as the resurrection and the life. There is a power in Christ that is even greater than death. Even death has to bow to His power and authority.
When Jesus commands the stone to be rolled away from the tomb, Martha speaks out of her natural thinking as she says, “But Lord, by this time he is decaying and stinking, for he has been dead for four days.” Natural reasoning often speaks out of doubt and unbelief. Jesus replies to her, “Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God.” What a powerful statement this is, to her and to us. When we deny him through unbelief, we are denying ourselves of His manifest glory. The glory of God is beyond our comprehension and so far beyond our limitations.
The Lord would say to us, trust me even when you don’t understand me, even when I haven’t come through the way you thought I should. Do not murmur against me in unbelief and doubt. Trust me, for I will do what I have promised even in ways that you do not understand.

Blessings,
#kent

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Repeating Offenses and Failures

Romans 7:17-24
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. or I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

I don’t know that there are any of us that don’t struggle in our lives with our character flaws and weaknesses that seem to want to continue surfacing and have long been a source of consternation and dismay to us. We don’t like these flaws, habits, strongholds, weaknesses and shortcomings; we hate them. We know they don’t please God and yet we find ourselves again and again falling back into these snares. We may even wonder if we could still be saved, as many times as we have failed, repented and then failed again. This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us in our spiritual walk. The latter part of Romans 7 deals, I believe, with this very issue. It really boils down to a warring issue within our lives. There are two laws that war in our members and while we serve the law of God in our mind, we find the law of sin, still wanting and seeking place in our bodies. As we seek to ascend in our minds and spirits we have the flesh seeking to pull us back down, bringing condemnation and once again breaking and interrupting our spiritual fellowship with the Lord. We, like Paul, cry out, ” O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Then he goes on to answer his own question, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” What is he saying, that we can be divided and our mind serves God and our flesh serves sin? No, he is saying that which ever one we give place to that is the one we will serve. Romans 8 really goes on to give the extension to the answer of our dilemma that he has addressed in Chapter 7. Romans 8:1-2, ” [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” It is in grasping and laying hold of the higher law that now governs our lives that we begin to walk and live in a new mindset. It is the mindset that is identified, not with our old man governed by the law of sin, but our new man which is governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. One of the greatest reasons for our prayer life and spending time in the Word is so that we can renew our minds in who we are in Christ. We are no longer that old person, enslaved under the law of sin, subject to its bondage. We have been set free; the Lord has broken those shackles off of us. Does that mean that we will never be tempted or influenced by the former things? Not at all, we know that the flesh, and that former mindset that wants to regain its strongholds in our lives, constantly assault us. Our freedom is in Christ and in our walk in the Spirit. Romans 8:5-10, “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.” If we are the ones still trying to conquer our weaknesses in our own strength then we are doomed for the failure we’ve experienced in the past. It is the Spirit working in concert with our will and submission to Him that is our empowerment. Romans 8:13, ” For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Our lives in the Spirit are a continual overcoming of our flesh and the law of sin that wars against our members. Are we going to loose some battles, yes, we still fall short far too often, but we have set our course. Our eyes are fixed upon our Savior and “it is no longer I that live, but Christ in me (Galatians 2:20).” That old man was crucified with Christ on the cross, but daily we become a living sacrifice consecrated unto Him. He is our victory and in Him we are more than conquerors. Don’t be discouraged, for His blood washes and forgives our failures as we repent and turn back to Him. The more Christ fills our hearts and minds the less room and place there is for sin as the Holy Spirit is given full place to govern over our souls. Press on, identified with who you are in Christ. The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be the sons of God He has called us to be.

Blessings,
kent

The Backside of Love

November 23, 2012

Hebrews 12:14-11
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

The Backside of Love

When we speak of love it often the warm fuzzy feelings that come rushing to the forefront of our minds and emotions. Certainly God’s love can be there to warm us with provision, blessing, intimacy with Him and the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit’s presence. What we don’t so often recognize or care to acknowledge is the backside of God’s love. Love’s desire is to bless, but often in order to bless it has to correct, instruct, discipline and train. Such is God’s love for us as sons. We love all of the glory and power that is associated with being sons, but to get us to the nature and character of sons their has to be the Father’s discipline and correction. God tells us if we don’t go through this then aren’t really sons; for whom the Lord loves He disciplines and corrects. This is no less a part of His love than the warm and fuzzy part.
Sometimes it is hard to comprehend with the natural mind how pain, discipline and suffering could be associated with love and yet it is. These are the tools of our perfecting and instruction. It is in this humbling place of discipline that we loose ourselves and begin to take on Him. We learn to identify with the pain and suffering of others and out of that place develop hearts of compassion to minister the love and life of God to a hurting and dying world. It is not in the high places of recognition, worldly honor, power and position that we carry the image of Christ. It is in the low places of people’s needs, their hurts, their wounding and brokenness. There, in these low places, do we learn how to administrate justice, healing, deliverance and restoration to the identity that God has for His humanity. It says, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.” His holiness is to be wholly like Him in our being.
Let’s face it, our flesh is self-serving, self-preserving and self edifying. It is all about me, what I like, what I want, what feels good and what looks good. The Cross is our instrument of discipline that brings us to the end ourselves and begins shaping us in the image and the nature of Christ. In order to come into His likeness, my likeness has to be done away with. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Job 5:17-22 says, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
19From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you.
20In famine he will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
21You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
22You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the beasts of the earth.”
God disciplines us to take our confidence out of ourselves and put it into Him. Hebrews 2:10- 11 is says, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” If the author of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, are we better than He?
Let us bear up under our discipline manfully, acknowledging and praising God in whatever we are called upon to endure. The closer we are drawn to the bosom of the Father the hotter the flames of His holiness burn, but they will only burn away in us what is corruptible, temporal and what must perish anyway. For what is burned is only the ropes that have bound us as it was for the three Hebrew children in the Bablylonish furnace in the book of Daniel.
1 Peter 4:12-14 exhorts us, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
The backside of Father’s love is not always pleasant, but it is needful for us to come into the sons He has called us to be. Endure patiently and faithfully, for in due season it will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

Blessings,
kent

Psalms 55:22
Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

The Righteous Shall Not Be Moved

If we go back and read the context of Psalms 55 we’ll find that David wasn’t in a warm and fuzzy place when he wrote this. He was surrounded by evil and wicked men that sought his life. Even his close friends would betray him. So how could David write something like this in a place like that?
Was he troubled by the circumstances around him? Obviously he was, because he describes them at length in this prayer to the Lord. Here is the thing that we see about David, and it applies to us, “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world,” said Jesus. Our circumstances don’t dictate our position and state of being with the Lord. our faith in Him does. Through all that David endured as he fled from Saul’s endeavor to kill him and all of the perils that he faced, he kept his eyes upon the Lord.
Listen to how David starts this Psalm, ” Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea;
2hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught 3at the voice of the enemy,
at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.
4My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.
5Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.”
Do we ever wrestle with fear, doubt and unbelief in the light of the circumstances we see around us? And where is God in all of this? Maybe He is not showing up and doing what we think He should be doing at the time we think He should be doing it. This didn’t move the faith of David, because even when he might have been wrestling with faith in his soul of mind, will and emotions, he was not moved in spirit, except to greater dependence, trust and reliance upon the Lord. In verses 16 through 18 David writes, ” But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. 17Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. 18He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.” David’s confidence and faith were so great in the Lord that he did not allow the outward things to move him from his faith and reliance upon God. He couldn’t control his circumstance or even how God did or didn’t move, but he could put his life and dependence upon the One whom He knew could rescue him out of such peril.
When David speaks these words, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved,” he is speaking from a place spiritual experience and confidence in His God. He obviously doesn’t mean we won’t go through anything, but what He is confident of, is that, if we will put all of our worries and trouble upon the Lord, He is faithful to sustain and keep us through our trials. God won’t allow that to move us from our position and place in Him. Outward circumstances can’t define who we are in Christ if we keep our faith and eyes upon Him.
We may observe perceived injustices where the wicked seem to triumph and prosper. David once shared this feeling. In Psalms 73 he writes, “This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. 13Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. 14All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.”
Maybe we have shared these sentiments at times when it seemed all we were getting was the short end of the stick, while the wicked prospered. Then David goes on to make this observation, “If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. 16So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! 17Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked. 18Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. 19In an instant they are destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors.”
What we have to always remember is God is always faithful regardless of what we see or understand in the moment. “When you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart!”

Blessings,
kent

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