Lazarus was dead. His strong body and determined will to live could not overcome his sickness. The doctors who treated his illness had given the family hope. His sisters had prayed to Jesus. Their faith in God had given them hope. But now not only was Lazarus dead, but he had been in the tomb for four days. His sisters did not want to open the grave because by now the body had begun to rot and it stunk. It was a hopeless situation.
When you think of the story of Lazarus, you may think only of a dead man being brought back to life. However, it occurs to me that this is a story of Jesus’ ability to overcome the most hopeless of situations. When Jesus arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, everyone thought that He was four days late. However, Jesus is never late. He simply waited until Lazarus was dead enough for people to see and believe that He is Lord over the most hopeless of situations.
Many situations arise in our lives that appear to be hopeless. They may be caused by our own foolishness or maybe things happen that are beyond our control. Our will to overcome is not good enough. Friends speak of hope, yet we feel despair. We have prayed but it seems Jesus doesn’t hear. Now our situation stinks worse than a four day old corpse and we are saturated by hopelessness.
Jesus said; “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die — ever.” If Jesus can raise a dead man for the Glory of God, He can handle your problems for the Glory of God. Bring your mess to Jesus, loose yourself and let yourself go. I promise you this, in Christ there are no hopeless situations.
Douglas & Deborah Huff From Down Where The Pavement Ends
Most mornings I spend a half hour or so listening to my friend. As I sit, mostly with my eyes closed, I try to take in all that He has to say. Sometimes He tells me secrets about Himself that I never knew. Occasionally He reveals His reasons for things that seem to have no reason. Other times He just lets me know how glad He is that I am His friend.
My friend is Jehovah Shalom, the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, the Lover of my soul and my Prince of Peace. Some people would call what I am doing, “Prayer” but I call it listening to my Friend. Sometimes when I sit listening to Him I drift off to sleep. However, He does not mind that I go to sleep, no more than I mind when my grand-baby goes to sleep in my arms. You see it’s easy to fall asleep when you know the Peace that is beyond your understanding.
You might ask, since you are spending time with God shouldn’t you be praying for your friends and loved ones? Shouldn’t you be telling Him your trouble and asking for help. Aren’t you just wasting your time sitting there with your eyes closed? Don’t you have more important things to do? The answer is no, there is nothing more important than listening to my Friend
All day long God walks with me. He has told me to pray without ceasing, so we have a running conversation. We talk about my friends and their needs. He knows about the ones who are sick and hurting and He knows that you need encouragement. We talk about my family and I ask Him to watch over them. For the most part my days are filled with me talking and God listening.
That is why most mornings I spend time listening to my Friend. I enjoy the feel of His hand on my shoulder and the sound of His voice whispering in my ear. When He whispers in my ear I feel the warmth of His breath on my neck and His Spirit enlarging my soul. As I drift in and out of sleep, I dream the dreams of eternity. I have peace that is beyond my understanding because my Friend is God, the glorious One, the Lover of My Soul. He is Jehovah Shalom. He is my Prince of Peace.
Setting by this fire and praying early in the morning. I know I can sleep late, but when the sun rises I think I should also. The hands on the clock and the days of the calendar seem to be moving at warp speed and life is short. I don’t want to miss a thing. I need to hear all the birds sing and feel every breeze.
Like the wisp of fog that lingers over the water so is life. Only a vapor that fades in the morning sun. I will treasure every minute because every minute is gift from God.
The men were laughing and talking as they enjoyed the meal. When the door opened, they turned to see a woman entering the room. In her hand she held a beautiful alabaster box. The container itself was very valuable and the men knew that the oil it held was worth more than they could earn in a year. Maybe they thought, she is going to give it to Jesus for His ministry. This devotion is an audio podcast,click the link and listen to hear the rest of the story.
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You. For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12)
This morning I awakened long before daylight in order to read the Bible and pray. I find that early morning is the best time to pray. I don’t know why this is. It may be that the raucous sound waves of the previous day have finally bounced off into outer space, while the coming day still has the innocence of newness. I do know this, the coolness of the early morning air refreshes the soul while the early morning sounds are a multilayered symphony that entertains and encourages the heart.
I have found that in and through all thing’s we can learn spiritual lessons. There is no doubt that God is always ready to teach us. For instance, this morning I realized that the birds began their singing long before daylight arrived. It’s as if the birds are feathered prophets who joyfully prophesy about the coming of the sun. They lift their voices in a song of praise to the glories of light even while it is still darkest night.
God would have us to learn this precious lesson from the birds. Trials and troubles will come. Uncertainties are certain to appear. Cancer may cloud your future, a lost job may delay your dreams and a casket may close on the life of a loved one.
But, even though a broken heart may cause our voices to tremble, like the birds we should sing. Let our songs and our prayers rise up to the God of all creation even in our darkest hours. Listen, the Son of God is risen and His Light has overcome darkness. The lesson that God would have us to learn is this; we have a risen Savior and Joy Comes in the morning.
We are a blessed people. We woke up in a dry and comfortable place this morning. Most of us had a good breakfast, if we wanted it. Indeed, God has given to most of us more toys, stuff and valuable junk than we ever had any right to expect. However, no matter how much stuff God has given us, we always want more. It seems that we are never satisfied.
The world has a way of convincing us that God’s gifts are not enough. Sometimes we accuse God of not being good to us just because we cannot afford the latest gadget. But, as much as we grumble and complain, we cannot deny that God has blessed us beyond anything we ever deserved. The fact is our Father in Heaven has provided our every need according to His riches in heaven.
As for me when I woke up this morning, I was cool, dry and comfortable. I knew I was going to have something to eat. I am healthy, so to God be the Glory. I said thank you Jesus for blessing me so much. However, I know that life can change in the blink of an eye. Tomorrow I may wake up in a cold damp cave. I may wake up hungry and sick. We never know what another day may bring into our lives. But this I do know, the God who is worthy of praise when life is easy, is also worthy of praise when life is hard.
In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul tells us that he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. Paul knew that no matter what he faced in life, God was good and greatly to be praised. So let us learn to be content in what ever state we find ourselves. In good times or bad, in comfort or pain, in sickness or health, let us lift our hearts to heaven and praise God anyhow.
Often I stand outside on a clear night and marvel at the incredible beauty of the night sky. The stars that fill the sky are innumerable and yet I know that many are not stars at all. Instead, most are entire galaxies of their own. Science tells us that there could be as many as 100 billion galaxies in the universe and each of those galaxies could have more than 100 billion stars. This boggles my mind.
I often wonder about the purpose of the stars. Why did God create all these galaxies? Mankind can never visit them, they are too far away. We can never reach them so they will never provide any of our necessities. All we can do is look at them. They are beautiful, but what is their purpose? And what is the purpose of the immeasurable expanse of the universe?
Maybe the answer to my question is as simple as this. A Great God needs a boundless universe to contain the unending love that He has for His children. Perhaps the uncountable stars in the universe are there to illustrate the uncontainable mercies that He has for us. After all His Word does say “His mercies are new every morning.” And listen to this. Science also tells us that even now the universe is growing and expanding in size. Wow, what manner of love the Father must have for His children.
In Ephesians 2:4-7 we read; “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Let me be bold and say it this way. God loves you so much that he gave His only Son for you and if you trust in Him you can have everlasting life. For that reason an ever expanding universe cannot contain the love that God has for you. His love is exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond our imagination.
I found a dead bird lying under a bush. There were no wounds on its body, nothing to show why he died. It looked as if it had just come to the end of its life. As I looked at the tiny remains, I thought about the life and purpose of a bird. What is a bird’s purpose? Well, it seems a bird’s purpose is to live, raise its young and sing. By doing what it was placed here to do, it fulfills its ultimate purpose, which is bringing glory to its Creator.
Consider the lifespan of the average bird. Many can live up to ten or twelve years. Some live much longer while others have shorter lives. A bird’s life can be hard. When the harsh wind and cold rain of winter comes, they cling to a branch, fluff their feathers and endure. After that the hot dry days of summer may make their food hard to find. But you never hear a bird complain. You will only hear bright, cheery songs from the birds. Their song should remind us that God is always good and greatly to be praised
As I sit here on this beautiful spring morning, I watch as the warm sun melts last night’s frost. As the sun rises, I hear a coyote howl and turkeys gobble. In the distance an owl gives one last hoot and close by doves are faithfully cooing to their lifelong mates. Quietly, I listen as the birds begin their symphony of praise to a Creator that only mankind can know.
Yes, it is true; we who are created in the image of God are the only ones who can know God. And yet when it comes to glorifying God, the birds put us to shame. We are the apple of God’s eye and yet more often than not our voices are lifted in grumbling and complaining. Listen. Our salvation was purchased by the Blood of Jesus so shouldn’t we out sing the birds. The bottom line is this. No matter what is going on in your life, God is worthy of all honor and praise and glory.
Accept for the stars in the moonless night sky there was no light. The pale gray asphalt gave off enough of a glow that we could walk without stumbling. We were thankful for the dark, because we could walk the streets without drawing the attention of the soldiers. We made it to church that night without any trouble.
When we got to the dark house where we were to meet, our leader briefly turned his small flashlight on. He shined it in the dust at the side of the door. Even though most people would not have saw anything but random lines in the dirt, we clearly saw two lines that intersected to form a crude drawing of a fish. This was the sign that the meeting was happening and that it was safe to enter.
Without knocking the leader slowly opened the door, a small light illuminated our faces revealing out identities. A low voice said. “Follow me”. We walk down a short hall where a door opened to a room that had no windows. Crowded into the room were ten other people who had also come at great risk of their lives to worship The Lord.
In this small interior room we could speak without fear of being heard outside. The Pastor spoke up, “Welcome brothers, now that you are here we will start.” Then with a clear voice he began to sing, “We love you Lord, and we lift our voice to worship you O my King” and we all joined in to sing praises to God. We sang several songs and someone prayed.
Because Bibles had been outlawed no one had one, but the pastor passed out hand written copies of John Chapter 3. He then began to speak of how Nicodemas had come to Jesus in the night because it was also dangerous for him to worship Jesus. The pastor’s message was clear and comforting. I felt peace and courage as I listened.
But then the peace was vanquished by the sound of the front door being blasted open by gunshots. The boots of a dozen soldiers could be heard as they went from room to room. Then the door to the room we were in burst open. We were blinded by the bright lights that were attached to the soldier’s weapons.
I was paralyzed with fear. A voice from behind the lights demanded that we line up against the wall. One of the soldiers gathered up our copies of John and handed them to the leader. He looked at handwritten Words of Life and screamed, “Who wrote this crap”? The pastor stepped forward and began to say, “I did” but before he could say the words a bullet tore through His chest. His blood splattered over all of us.
Then the voice of the leader changed, where it had been harsh and loud now it was soothing and oily gentle. Pointing at the body of the pastor he said, “I know that you all really support your government and that you have simply been misled by this criminal”. He continued, “I am not an unreasonable person. Now that you have seen what happens to subversive criminals I know that you will want to renounce his teaching and declare this Jesus to be a fraud. If you wish to leave this room with your life then step forward and tell us that you know this Jesus is a foolish fairytale.
I have never been so scared in my life. My heart was beating at an insane rate. I did not want to die. I believe that Jesus is God; I had vowed to follow Him forever. I am ashamed of what I did next. I wish I had been brave, but I was not, I was a coward. I stepped forward. I could not hold my head up but I mumbled these words, “Jesus is a fake”.
Then one by one the rest of the Christians stepped up, and one by one they each said the words, “Jesus is a fake”. As we each denied Christ we were told to stand together on one side of the room. In a few minutes all but three had betrayed the Savior.
The three stood there, a teenage girl, a very old man and the pastor’s wife. They stood there weeping. The soldier pointed his weapon at them and said, “Renounce God or die”. The old man lifted his head and with clear and strong voice said, “Even so, though I die, I will never betray my Jesus.” As he said these words, the pastor wife and the young girl slipped their hands into his and lifted their eyes to the heavens. Their faces shown with a Holy Light and for a few seconds the room was silent. As if paralyzed by an invisible presence the soldiers were unable to speak.
Suddenly the lead soldier shook his head, as if he was shaking off the invisible presence. He pointed at us and roared “Leave”! We all scrambled to get out of that room through the front door. Once outside the house we stood looking at each other in shame.
Then we heard three voices begin to sing. The quavering voice of the old man, the grief stricken voice of the pastor’s wife and the high clear voice of the young lady began to sing, “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound”. There was an explosive sound of a gunshot. Silence! But then strong, and clear the pastor’s wife and the young girl sang out, “that saved a wretch like me” BOOM another gunshot shattered the night. There seemed to be no break in the song this time, the teenage girl continued to sing loudly and clearly, I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I See! A final shot rang out and the voices were silent.
I ran, along with the other Judases. The sound of the shooting faded but the song reverberated in my soul. I found a dark place to hide and prayed that Jesus would forgive a wretch like me.
The sun rises and chases away the darkness. The birds sing and fill the air with cheerful songs. Two doves cuddle on a wire reminding me of faithful lovers. Majestic clouds paint a moving portrait that declares the glory of the Lord. In the throne room of Heaven, our God reigns and is impervious to the fools who say He does not exist.
Underneath the sun, the nations rage and plot vainly against our omnipotent Lord. They imagine they can free themselves from His laws. Corrupt and wicked people conspire to do evil things to God’s righteous ones. Sometimes we feel as though we are being chewed up like bread. We wonder does God hear our prayers. Yes, He does hear our prayers. From his throne in heaven, He laughs and ridicules the ones who conspire against Him and His chosen ones. We will prevail because in Heaven our God reigns.
The sunrise emphasizes that God hears our prayer and chases away the darkness. The birds sing a victory song and we know that the battle is the Lords. The cooing of the doves reminds us that Jesus is the lover of our souls. The clouds declare the glory of the King. Our God is a despiser of wickedness and evil people will not stand in His presence. The wicked ones will be filled with terror because God is with His righteous ones. Our salvation is from the Lord of all Creation and forever in Heaven, our God reigns.