Not Our Way, but His

November 26, 2013

Not Our Way, but His

John 11:1-5
Now a certain [man] was sick, [named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

We all have preconceived notions about how we think things should work out in our lives especially in regards to our prayer requests and petitions before the Lord. In this story is a great example of how Jesus doesn’t operate the way rational and conventional thinking would dictate that He should have. It wasn’t even consistent with how He normally operated. Here we see three siblings who were the closer friends of Jesus and whom it says He, “loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” The sense and the meaning of the word “loved” here means that he had goodwill toward them, that they were preferred of Him and that He would wish well to them with regard to their welfare. Now if He felt that way about them why does it go on to say that when He heard about Lazarus’ sickness He continued on where He was at for two more days rather than immediately rushing back to take care of Lazarus. Now by human standards we may have judged these actions to be highly insensitive, uncaring and unloving. Certainly Mary and Martha may have struggled with such thoughts and feelings, especially after Lazarus ends up dying.
When you and I consider some of the things we have been praying for and the petitions we have made before the Lord; have we ever had the feeling that He was just ignoring us or that He didn’t really care? No matter how hard we prayed and petitioned the throne of God, no matter how much faith we tried to have to believe, it didn’t turn out the way we thought it should have. In fact sometimes we may feel that the more we pray or walk in the will of God the harder things get. Why? Doesn’t God love us? Doesn’t He care what we are going through?
Jesus loved Lazarus and His sisters, just like He loves you. He cared about them very much and perhaps it was as hard for Jesus to restrain Himself from immediately addressing their situation as it was for the sisters. The point that is being made here is that there are times when God is working a greater thing than what is evident to us on the surface. There are those times when we look back at a situation that we wanted God to immediately deal with and He didn’t and we begin to get a revelation why. Because God worked the way He did, so much more was worked through the situation than ever could have been, had it been immediately resolved. God is invested into us for the long haul. We see the immediate, the needs here and now, but He sees the answers and resolutions through the eyes of eternity and His higher purpose and good. Because our viewpoints are from two totally different realms and perspectives, is it any wonder that God doesn’t often operate the way we think He should? We can always rest in the promise we have in Romans 8:28,
“And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose.”
You see with Lazarus, his sickness was not about death, which to us seems to be the ultimate finality, it was about the “glory of God”. Christ needed to be revealed in an even greater aspect than a healer. It was time for certain ones, especially his more intimate friends, to get a revelation of Him as the “Resurrection and the Life”, not just in the last day at Christ’s coming, but here and now. By the time Jesus reached Lazarus he had been dead and in the tomb for four days. The natural mind tells us that is a pretty hopeless situation.
Some of us find ourselves in, or perhaps are going through some of those seemingly hopeless situations where by all natural appearances God didn’t come through. What we forget and find hard to grasp is that sometimes God allows us to come to the end of something in order to bring us into a new beginning. There may be those times when it is more than just a “God fix it”, it has to die to bring us into a greater dimension of life.
If you have a situation that looks hopeless then give it totally into the hands of the God of hope. When Martha came to Jesus, she said, “if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. And even now I know that whatsoever You ask of God, God will give You.” Maybe God hasn’t shown up because something or someone has to die. In the economy of God, it is death that often gives place to new and a greater dimension of life. Jesus then told Martha, “Your brother will rise again… I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me shall never die. Do you believe this?” We then know that Jesus did go to the tomb and called Lazarus forth and his life was raised up.
Some of you are sitting in the ashes of despair and despondency thinking God has given up on you. No, He loves you too much to allow you to continue as you are. There is the day of your breakthrough when He will speak the Word and call you forth in the newness of life in Him. There will be a resurrection day in your life if you hold steadfast and believe. This is a day to come forth in the newness and the power of His resurrection life.

Blessings,
kent

My Rights

November 15, 2012

James 4:2-3
You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

My Rights

Isn’t interesting that James would be writing this, not to the people in the world, but to God’s people? James isn’t mincing any words. He is speaking to attitudes that can be found today in the heart of believers. How do we approach our world? Is it about getting our way whatever means that it takes or is it about each day kneeling in surrender before the throne of Jesus and saying, “Lord have Your way, not my will, but Yours be done.”
Many of us, especially as Americans, are really big on “our rights”. If we think we have a right, God help the person that tramples or violates it. We’ll be all up in their face big time. After all, you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t fight for it. So we will do whatever that takes, we’ll slander and kill with our words, we’ll gossip and turn others against those who oppose us. We’ll even often reject those who won’t pick up our offense and take our side. After all, that is our “right”.
We do exactly what James is talking about here. “You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” You can go to a lot of churches and see the division and the dissention, because someone isn’t getting their way.
Do you think we might have missed something when read what Jesus said on the Sermon on the Mount? ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)”. “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:21-24)”
What do you think should come first, “our rights” or God’s righteousness. When we wonder why our prayers are so impotent and God doesn’t seem to hear us or be close to us perhaps we should examine more closely the spirit and the attitude we are living out of.
I believe God has given us some rights that are precious and worth fighting for, but it is not just about our self-rights. Jesus had rights as well, far more than we do, but what did He do? He willingly laid down those rights. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!” Was Jesus more concerned about preserving His rights or in imparting His righteousness to us? Our attitude, it says, should be the same as His.
Before we get on our high horse and go to battle for our rights, perhaps we should ask the question of God, “Father what is going to best work your righteousness?”
Don’t allow the lack of character in others cause you to lose yours.
Forgive them and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
It’s not always about being right, but about being righteous.

Blessings,
kent

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