Thursday, July 12, 2018

Faith When Hope Seems Hopeless

Why would a person keep doing something that is not succeeding? Because they believe in it and believe that they were called to accomplish that purpose in their life. An example is Edison inventing the light bulb (tried some 10,000 times before he found one that worked), William Wilberforce's efforts to abolish slavery in England (took many years to accomplish), or the relentless pursuit of cures for various diseases. How long have you been pursuing your calling? Are you achieving it or still working on it, or have you given up?
In John 11:17-37, Jesus had learned that His friend, Lazarus, was deathly ill and now goes to Bethany to deal with the situation. He already knows that Lazarus is dead. He also knows that it is dangerous for Him to be so near to Jerusalem when the religious leaders want Him killed. Why is He going to visit a dead man and risk His life in this way? What is He up to?
God's Agenda is not Always Man's Agenda - John 11:17-19
By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Why did God let Lazarus die? Why is Jesus coming to grieve over someone who is dead when His own life is in danger? This is very close to Jerusalem. Are we going to be safe here?

We oftentimes spend enormous amounts of energy trying to figure out God before we begin simply doing what He calls us to do. Many times, God wants us to proceed and trust that He will provide what is needed by the time that it is needed. I have worked on writing these Bible lessons for twelve years as of this date and I am still waiting (while working) for it to grow into a ministry that is touching the lives of thousands and millions of Christians. But because I believe that this is what God called me to do, I haven't quit. God's agenda certainly hasn't been my agenda.
Jesus Always Offers Hope - John 11:20-22
When Jesus arrives, Martha comes out to meet Him before He even gets to the house. Even though Lazarus is dead, she believes, not only that Jesus could have prevented His death, but that God will still do something through Jesus by His simply asking. That is an affirmation of her faith in Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and His power. 
Even when life seems most hopeless, God can do what we would believe to be impossible. If we remember who God is and how much He loves us, we will be able to overcome any situation in life because in Him, there is always hope. There is nothing that God cannot do.
Death is Not the End - John 11:23-26
Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again. She believes in the resurrection of the dead, so she knows that he will live in eternity. What she doesn't believe or comprehend is that he will live again in this life. 
It is not a tragedy when a Christian dies because we know that this person is now alive forever in Heaven with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There is life after death and that is what gives us a peace about this life. We know that no matter how we die, but sudden health issue, slow health issue, accident or someone's criminal action, we have eternal life with God in a place where death and this world has no power. Death is not the end.
Faith Believes What It Cannot Prove - John 11:27-28
Martha affirms her faith in Jesus as the Christ (Messiah). The greatest evidence of Jesus's deity is still to be seen, but she believe based on what she knows at this point. After this, Martha goes and gets Mary to go see Jesus. All of this is a statement of her faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of God who can do all things. Nothing is said about raising Lazarus.
Faith is when you believe in something, even though there is not enough evidence to support that belief. All of us exhibit faith in other people, things or events. How much faith do you have in God to do what He promises He will do? How much would you be willing to risk if God asked something big of you?
Jesus Cares About Our Feelings and Needs - John 11:29-37
Mary comes out to Jesus and makes similar comments to what Martha made. The crowd of mourners doesn't know what is happening, so they follow close to Mary for emotional support. Jesus cares about Martha and Mary's feelings, as He also cares about Lazarus. He asks them to take Him to the gravesite. There, He is also overcome with grief and weeps for Lazarus. We may find this odd, considering who Jesus is, what He knows and what He is going to do. But it is important to note that He does have feelings, just like you and me and He cares about those things that we care about. 
No matter what you are going through in your life, Jesus knows and cares very much. He may not prevent tragedy from happening to you, but He will be there with you as you go through it and will guarantee a future in eternity as long as you believe in and live for Him. This requires faith!
God bless you and have a great week!

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