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
I recently acquired some chickens. Seven fat hens. I am responsible for their safety, so I built a secure pen for them. It has a top to keep out hawks and is reinforced around the bottom to keep out varmints. Daily I make sure they have fresh water and plenty of food. They are safe, well fed and have a warm dry coop to sleep in. Everything a chicken could want.
Everything a chicken could want, except they want out. Whenever I go to feed them, they are standing at the gate hoping I will let them out. They are glad to exchange the free food for food they can find for themselves. They are also happy to swap the safety of the enclosed pen for the wide open freedom of the yard. When a hawk flies over they hide under a bush and when a varmint comes around they fly into a tree. They don’t need me to take care of them. They are willing to take care of themselves.
It occurs to me that my chickens are exhibiting the true American spirit. True Americans don’t sit around waiting to be fed, they take care of themselves. True Americans will not trade freedom for safety. True Americans will not be told when, where and how to worship. They will worship how, where and when the God of all creation calls them. True Americans don’t depend on the government but will lift their eyes unto God in whom they have placed their trust.
The Declaration of Independence declares that it is evident that we are endowed by the Creator with the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. It appears that many people are willing to trade these rights for the dubious promises of corrupt politicians. I am not! I know that Jesus Christ died on the cross to free me from my sin. And brave soldiers died on the battlefield so I can live in freedom. Satan cannot steal my salvation and I will not sell my liberty. I will stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made me free, and will not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. I was set free to live in freedom and I will be free.
Most of us know that Jesus is the only begotten Son Of God. We also know that He is the only truly righteous Man to ever live. His death on the cross was an atonement for our sins. He was bruised for our iniquities and chastised for our transgressions. It is by His stripes that we are saved.
However for a couple of minutes I want you to remove from your thoughts the fact of the Deity of Jesus. From a human point of view I want you to know that Jesus was killed on the cross because He was guilty of committing a horrendous crime. It was a crime that mankind cannot tolerate. You can do almost anything and be forgiven, but not this. We do not forgive people for this crime. What was this horrendous crime? Jesus was guilty because He did not fit in. He stood out from the crowd. He did not do what they thought He should. He was guilty of being different, so they killed Him.
The Pharisees thought He should have conformed to their rules, but Jesus would not, so they pronounced Him guilty. Jesus would not do what the people wanted Him to do, so they called for Him to be crucified. Rome wanted Him to blend into the crowd, but Jesus would not, so Pilate nailed Him to the cross. The Son of God was guilty of being a different kind of Messiah, so they killed Him.
Among all living breathing beings on earth the most hated creature is the one who stands out from the crowd. And yet a famous preacher once said, “The sad thing about modern American Christians is that nobody wants to kill them anymore. Jesus tell us in John 15:18-19; “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”
If you are a child of God, your purpose on earth is to glorify Him and make a difference in this world. You cannot honor God or impact the world if you will not stand out from the world. God’s people must not be tossed to and fro like a reed blowing in the wind. We must be influenced only by the Presence of God, led only by the Holy Spirit of God and strive to be perfect like the Son of God. Stand out from the world and Jesus will stand up for you.
Jesus is my Savior. When I was a nine year old boy, I reached out my hand to Him and trusted Him with my life. I didn’t understand a lot about Him. But that was ok, because He understood everything about me. My faith in Him was not misplaced. He has never failed me. I have many good friends and loved ones whom I can trust with things of this world, but for my eternal hope I will trust in no other name than Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one can ever make their way to heaven except through Him. He is the only begotten Son of God. He came to do the will of His Father. It is the will of God that no one should be lost but that all should have eternal life. When the religious leaders instructed Peter not to preach in the name of Jesus, Peter said, “I think I will listen to God and not you.” Then Peter preached with the authority of God that there is no other name by which we might be saved than the name of Jesus.
If you trust Jesus, you will find in Him everything you need. When your life seems to be as dark as night, He is the Bright Morning Star. If your world seems to be crumbling around you, He is the Rock on which you can stand. If you feel loneliness, you can know that He will always be there. His righteousness will wipe away your sin. If you are prone to wander in darkness, He is the Good Shepherd and the Light of Life.
Have you trusted Jesus and Jesus only for eternal salvation. I have heard His voice and I can tell you without a doubt that He, and He alone, can save your soul. Many things and people want to be a god to you. But Jesus is the only God who died to wipe away your sins. He rose from the dead to reveal that He alone can give you eternal life. In Christ alone, can you find Salvation. There is no other authority under Heaven by which you might be saved. No other name but JESUS.
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalms 127:1-5 NKJV)
Courage. Not the the kind of courage that is portrayed in hollywood movies, but real courage. The kind of courage that God honors and rewards. Many think of courage as the absence of fear. The courage that pleases God is the action of doing the right thing regardless our fears. It is doing the right thing regardless of financial or societal cost. Courage is fulfilling our spiritual responsibilities to our families.
In order to be courageous we must stand on our convictions. In order to have God pleasing courage we must have Godly convictions.
A Godly conviction is a basic Scriptural principle which we purpose to follow, whatever the cost.
What follows is ten scriptural convictions of a righteous man.
1. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God and the final authority for my life.
“Saying this means nothing if I do not cherish the Word of God. It is foolish to cherish a book. —- but this is not just a book. The Author of this Book is the Author and Authority of all of life. When I read this book I feel the breath that breathed these Words breathing on me.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
One the best gifts you can give your children and grandchildren is to teach them to cherish God’s Word.
2. My purpose in life is to seek God with my whole heart and to build my goals around His priorities.
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8)
Think of quality. Life must be lived. Things must be built. Living in the world means, living in the world, working, loving, playing, Living. If we do all these things for the Glory of God and for the sake of His Kingdom. How great would be the Quality of the things we do.
3. My body is the living temple of God and must not be defiled by the lust of the world.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
Think of Health.
4. My church must teach the foundational truths of the Bible and reinforce my basic convictions.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
Any Church that does not hold to the Truth of God’s Word is not worthy of your presence.
5. My children and grandchildren belong to God, and it is my responsibility to teach them Scriptural principals, Godly character, and basic convictions.
“But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”” (Matthew 19:14)
6. My activities must never weaken the Scriptural convictions of another Christian.
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13)
7. My marriage is a life-long commitment to God and to my wife.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
8. My money is a trust from God and must be earned and managed according to Scriptural principles.
“Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:11)
9. My words must be in harmony with God’s Word, especially when reproving and restoring a Christian brother.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”” (Matthew 12:37)
10. My affections must be set on things above, not on things in the earth.
” “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21,)
Jesus personally called the men He wanted to be His disciples. These men were Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the Son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananite and Judas Iscariot. Now we know that Jesus walked this earth as a man, but He was The Great I Am. Therefore, He knew all there was to know about these men He wanted to be His disciples.
Judas was a thief who would sell his soul for thirty pieces of silver. Thomas doubted that Jesus could rise from the dead. James and John were called the Sons of Thunder, probably because they had violent tempers. Peter well, we all know that Peter denied he even knew Jesus. When Jesus called these men, He knew about their past. He knew about their current actions and He knew what they would do in the future. Yet He called them anyway, because these were the ones, He Himself wanted.
The disciples were all chosen by Jesus in spite of their sins and failures. The Bible teaches that there is a way that seems right to men, but the ways of men always end with death. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When Jesus called the disciples, they all repented and followed Him for eternal life. All except for Judas, who chose the way that seemed right to men and lost his soul.
There is good news for you and I. Jesus is still the Great I Am. He knows about your past, your future and what you are doing now. And yet He still chose you. Jesus has called out to us because we are the ones that He Himself wants. You and I are chosen in spite of our sins and failures. He does not call us because we are good or holy. He doesn’t call us because we are righteous and just. He calls us because we are sinners in need of a Savior and He is that Savior. So now you have a choice to make. Will you choose the way that seems right to men or will you choose to follow Him.
I once heard a story of a man who had turned the basement of his home into his man-cave. This was his place where he would chill out and do “man stuff”. In this man-cave, he had a wide screen television with a great sound system. The walls were hung with diplomas and certificates of achievements. His sports and hunting trophies were there. Sometimes he would go down, sit in his favorite chair and look fondly at all his stuff.
One day while he was at work the area he lived in was hit by a tremendous storm. Rain poured for hours. Streets and homes were flooded. He rushed home to find that for the most part his home was ok. But when he opened the door to the basement, he saw that His man-cave was filled with water. Everything was destroyed. All his stuff was gone.
While he stood looking and grieving over all his ruined possessions, he seemed to hear the voice of God speaks to him. God whispered in his ear saying, “Don’t worry about all this stuff, I was going to burn it all one day anyhow.” You see your stuff is just temporary and no matter how fond you are of it, it will not last. One day it will all rot, rust or burn.
The message is this, “don’t get too attached to your stuff, because your stuff does not really matter”. The Bible teaches that one day, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” The Bible also says that we should seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. The truth is there is no profit to be had in all the gold in the world. It is only the treasure that you lay up in Heaven that really matters.
Once while working on a project I hit my finger with the hammer. Ouch, I threw the hammer down and grabbed my hand. Then I proceeded to jump and dance as I held my hand and sang ouch, ouch and ouch. I had almost stopped working for the day, but I decided to put up one more board. I had the board up and decided to swing the hammer one more time. I should have stopped while I was ahead, but I didn’t and so I had a finger that was the color of a grape and it hurt “ouch”.
It is a funny thing about pain, no one likes it and yet we know that it is a gift from God. Yes it is a gift, can you imagine what my hand would look like if there were no pain. I probably would have pounded my fingers into mincemeat and not even realized it. But God gives us pain to protect us from ourselves and the world. So “ouch” is a wonderful word!
Pain comes in many forms. The pain I have been talking about came about from a careless accident. It was physical. The finger healed; but I will remember it and be more careful. We often have emotional pain and sometimes we have spiritual pain. And sometimes all three combine. At these times we wish we could be like a wounded animal, and go find a deep dark cave and curl up and die.
I have felt this kind of pain as a result of being a pastor. With the help of the Holy Spirit I tried to be a good pastor. Seeking Gods will, all week long I would pray as I prepared the sermon. Then preaching until I had no more energy, I would pour my heart out for the congregation. Only to be pounded by people I thought I could trust, as they would go home and have roast preacher for lunch.
That pain was intense. There have been times when it was physical, my heart would hurt so bad that I was afraid I was having a heart attack. Emotionally I have faced depression; I have suffered with the lost of appetite and even lost the desire to preach. After all why preach? No one is listening, or so it seems. Spiritually, I became like Job and wondered why God had turned his back on me.
I know now that pain is my friend. Through it I learned how to trust God and I learned how to pray, I thought I already knew those things but I didn’t. In the last chapter of the book of Job, he says, “I had heard of God with my ears but now I have seen Him with my eyes.” In effect he was saying, before I thought I believed but now I know that God is real. Job had finally gotten to the place, were God wanted him to be. And that was the purpose of the pain in his life.
You know we face nothing that Christ did not face. As a pastor I understood that. When people abandoned me, I knew how Jesus must have felt when people went back from following him. When I was betrayed I remembered that a disciple betrayed Jesus with a kiss. When I hit my finger with a hammer and felt the intense pain, I knew that it was nothing compared to the nails driven through the hands and feet of my Savior!
So what should be our course of action? Well since pain teaches us about Jesus, when we suffer, let us worship Him. Pain will teach you how to pray, be strong, and to be wise. So when you suffer; kneel in prayer, stand in His strength and depend on His wisdom.
Pain, Ouch! A gift from God! Bringing us from where we are to where we must be if God is going to use us. Count it as all joy to suffer for Christ because He first suffered for you.
My favorite place for a morning quite time is the back porch. Here I can see the sun rise, feel the morning breeze, and listen as the birds start their business for the day. Knowing that days have started like this for thousands of years helps me to draw close to the God of hope and glory.
As I sit and try to commune with God, my dog will pester me for attention. She stands on my left nudging my hand begging me to pet her. When I ignore her she goes around to the other side and nudges my right hand. If I continue to ignore her she comes around in front of me and plops her big ol head down on top of my Bible. When I push her back and continue to read she will lay down at my feet and wait until I decide to pay attention to her.
Why does she so persistently seek my attention? Is it because I feed her and take care of her? No. She would be loyal to me even if I did not feed her. She is persistent because she longs for my touch. Because I am her master, Her greatest joy is in the touch of my hand.
Like this dog I long for my Masters touch. While I sit on the porch and watch the sunrise I look expectantly to God. With the morning breeze He fulfills His promise as He opens His hand and satisfies my great desire with an amazing caress. The birds pay no attention to worldly affairs, as they have for thousands of years they just go about their daily business of singing to the Glory of God. So through it all I am remember this; God is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His works. And He has promised To be near to all who call upon Him. If we seek first His Kingdom He will fulfill our greatest desires with the touch of His Hand.