John 11: verses 8-16
The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.”
However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
“they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.”
Jesus says that He will not leave us, nor forsake us, and this story of Lazarus is surely proof of that. Jesus finally states clearly that “Lazarus is dead … Nevertheless let us go to Him.” He says this after having just stated that He was going “that I may wake Him up.”
Jesus flies in the face of all reason and common understanding, yet He speaks quietly and with conviction, knowing that the disciples, and us too, will in all probability react in disbelief and astonishment. None of this surprises Him, for He knows us all inside out.
In speaking of Lazarus as ‘asleep’, meaning ‘death’, Jesus is our teacher here. The passage begins with the disciples calling Jesus ‘Rabbi’ — ‘master’, or ‘teacher’ — which may confirm this, and he is teaching us the ways of the kingdom of God; how we are to think in the heavenly manner, with Holy Spirit understanding and not with the natural mind. Thus, Jesus says ‘nevertheless’; notwithstanding what the natural mind tells us, we go anyway, because the mind of Christ tells us that "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." [Matthew 19:26b NKJV]
‘O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go’
The title of this well-known Scottish hymn aptly expresses that Christ’s love for us is such that He will not and cannot leave or forsake any who call upon His name. Indeed the story of the Reverend George Matheson, who wrote the song is one of giving thanks to God, despite a great trial of His faith — overcoming and understanding that Jesus would not let him go. The words of the song just flowed ...
"I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high."
Matheson began to go blind as a young man and broke the news to the young woman to whom he was engaged. She decided she could not continue with the relationship. George Matheson became blind at the age of 20, but continued in ministry until his death 44 years later. His sister looked after him, acting as his ‘eyes’ until she married. It was at that point that he wrote ‘O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.’
Joy: Strength In The Lord
Have you ever been alone with Jesus?
The disciples enjoyed the inestimable privilege not only of hearing the truth from Our Lord’s own lips, but of questioning Him in secret about everything He said. The exposition the Holy Spirit will witness to is always so amazingly and profoundly simple that you feel, “Certainly that is God’s truth.”
Whenever you are without that feeling about an interpretation, hesitate. Don’t force your head to argue, but get alone with Jesus and ask Him. If He keeps you waiting, He knows why He does so. Discernment of God’s truth and development in spiritual character go together.
[from ‘Approved Unto God’]
John 11: verses 1-4
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love 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 may be glorified through it.”
[John 11:1-4 KJV]
Chapter 11 in the Book of John is a significant chapter amid a book of much significance. Why? Because it focuses on resurrection — the restoring of life; overcoming death to live in eternity.
Lazarus was clearly special to Jesus. We know so little about the connections made by Him during His earthly existence, other than a few throwaway lines in the gospels— and here is one. This is ‘he whom You love’, and he is sick and expected to die.
Jesus response — which was basically “Lazarus is not going to die. In fact he will live and it will be for God’s glory … and to glorify The Son”. I must admit it had me confused at first; particularly as He then decided to stay where He was for two more days. When someone we love is seriously ill, our natural inclination is to rush to be with them; pandemic or not. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing and why He must not rush in. Father God would lead in His time.
As we shall see, this was no healing of the type Jesus had done before. This was His great test, and it had to be accomplished in God’s way and no other. Have you ever felt tested to the limit, or even beyond the limit you supposed you had? If you have, you maybe realised pretty quickly, like me, that you cannot possibly measure up to the challenge.
As a child and young person, I never pushed myself for fear of failure. My school grades were indifferent for the most part, until a teacher I respected wrote in my end of term report “a bright child, but doesn’t try hard enough”, or some such thing. After that, I began to try a little harder and got through school reasonably well, but I could have done better.
In first year at Secondary School, each one in our year was given a small Gideon New Testament, which I read assiduously, following the reading plan. I would like to say that I had an amazing boost and never looked back, but that was not the case. However, it planted a seed and set me on a course that eventually — a mere thirty years later — led me to a deep sustaining relationship with The Lord. I have achieved many other things, but that relationship and a wonderful family are blessings that I never believed could be mine. In God’s time; not mine ... and it takes patience; particularly on God’s part.
I have a small note pinned to my drawing space at home which reads “Leave it to God; He has a much better imagination than you do.” Jesus always left it with The Father. His way is the best.
Alone with God! All hope and all aspiration springs from that source, and consequently all prosperity is measured from that source, and prosperity that springs from any other source is looked upon as disastrous.
[from ‘Christian Discipline’]
And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
[Genesis 15:7-11,18 NKJV]
Verses 9-11 in Genesis 15 seem just plain weird to the rational mind. Abram asks how he will know that he will inherit this land? The Lord’s reply is to fetch a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, (all these to be three years old), a turtledove and a young pigeon. The animals are to be divided in two, but not the birds.
What are we to make of that? We know that His ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts*, but this one is a doozy. However, The Lord always has a purpose, and the perfect one at that. He gives us a picture, a vision of something we will understand. Here, Abram would understand what is being said in the vision of the three specific animals and two specific birds, because it speaks to what he would know; not about animals and birds, but about people and faith.
We should see that the animals are earthbound creatures; the birds are creatures of the air, and thus we see a picture of those with faith at different stages in their walk with God; taking flight when hearing directly from The Holy Spirit
I am sure there are other ‘pictures’ to be derived from these verses, but what we have is explanation enough for Abram driving away ‘the fowls of the air’; the demonic spirits which gather to destroy the Holy Spirit life.
Unto thy seed have I given this land
After giving Abram a vision of ‘the road map to inheritance’; how He foresaw the outworking of His plan, God revealed the promised land; the land that was His covenanted prize for His people.
* For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. [Isaiah 55:8 NKJV]
** A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways [James 1:8 NKJV]
*** For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Hebrews 4.12 NKJV]
A wise man who has built his life in confidence in God will appear a fool when he is among people who are sleek and cunning. The wisdom of God is arrant stupidity to the wisdom of the world, until all of a sudden God makes the wisdom of the world foolish [1 Corinthians 1:23-25].
If you stand true to your faith in God, there will be situations in which you will come across extortioners, cunning crafty people, who use their wits instead of worshipping God, and you will appear a fool.
Are you prepared to appear a fool for Christ’s sake?
[from ‘Still Higher For His Highest’]
These verses in 1 Samuel are often quoted — particularly in regard to the concept of rebellion — and usually as a form of accusation to change the attitude or behaviour of the one accused, as in “I am right and you are wrong.” God does not enter the equation except as an onlooker.
So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
[1 Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV]
Samuel is expressing truth about hearing and obeying ‘the voice of The Lord’, and does so by stating that the The Lord would much rather have our complete obedience to His precepts than that we give offerings and sacrifices which may cost us little beyond mere observance of form.
Today — the Fourth of July — is America’s Independence Day, and in 1776 by ‘rebelling’ against British overlordship and declaring themselves an independent nation (of 13 states), America could then make an alliance with the French and go to war. So independence to America, was rebellion against Britain.
In this example, it is a case of ‘all men are created equal’, so neither party is better or worse than the other, whereas in our relationship with God, He is our Creator, and His hope is that we might be loyal to Him. In this regard, we are in rebellion from birth because ‘we know Him not’ [Job 36:26a KJV]. This is the lesson from Genesis; that, since the Fall, our days are lived out in search of Him in His fullness. Many, will never do so; thus remaining stubbornly in rebellion.
Together these twins — both arising from the one source— are likened to ‘the sin of witchcraft’ and ‘iniquity and idolatry’. In short, these mean simply going our own way instead of God’s way. If we have chosen to go His way and follow Jesus, who is ‘the way’, then we cannot dally with either rebelliousness or our own stubbornness in doing so. The Lord cannot by His very nature accept compromise.
A man’s idea of prosperity is according to where his hopes are founded — on God or on a hearsay God; on the living God, or on ideas of God. It is in the way alone with God that the soul says with Job, “I have heard of you … but now my eye sees you” (42:5).
[from ‘Christian Discipline’]
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Human sacrifice was practised in many cultures in pre-history. Scholars debate whether this was the case in Ancient Israel; certainly, evidence was found in Egypt, although it had largely ceased when the pyramids were built around 4500BC. Human sacrifice has been known even in this present century, often associated with what we might call satanic cults.
So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”
[1 Samuel 15:22-23 NKJV]
God seems to have demanded sacrifices since time immemorial and is our God any different to the deities of the past — or of other religions? Well, yes He is, because He does not demand that you sacrifice another by killing; He demands that you offer yourself as ‘a living sacrifice’.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
[Romans 12:1 NKJV]
And Paul says that this is our ‘reasonable service’. I may be totally wrong here, but it seems that our God — who has always been with us — sought to correct our misguided ideas of what He (or previously, gods) were, by sending Jesus to us to open our minds to the truth behind our suppositions.
I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved!
He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love,
My dove, my perfect one; for my head is covered with dew, My locks with the drops of the night.”
[Song of Songs 5:2 NKJV]
The sacrifice that our Lord hopes for from each one of us is our obedience, which in essence is the complete and utter commitment of everything we are to Him. That is the reality of human sacrifice — not the taking of a life, but the giving of a life; the gifting of my life to my Heavenly Father, who gave me that life in the first place! That is the understanding He hopes that we will have.
A parable is an earthly story which does not explain itself.
Every one of us has an earthly story, and the explanation of it is not to be found in its own expression, but only in the domain of the Designer of life. Job says that the explanation his friends give of his earthly story is hopeless, they are nowhere near understanding it; God alone is the Source from whence will come the explanation of all he is going through.
[from 'Baffled To Fight Better']
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