Thursday, April 29, 2010

Believe and See

Resurrection and Life – Part 4

Which is it? "Seeing is believing" or "Believing is seeing?" How you answer this question is most clearly revealed by how you live life each day. I live in Missouri and we’re known as “The Show Me State.” This is probably how most of us in the Western hemisphere approach life. It’s how one of Jesus’ disciples viewed news of the resurrection of Jesus.

"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." (John 20:24-25)

In our world “seeing is believing.” We live with a “Prove it to me” attitude. We need personal proof before we believe. Thomas said, “Unless I see the nail marks and touch his side, I’m not buying it.” He fits right in with today’s world.

In Jesus’ world, believing precedes seeing. You believe first, belief is translated into desire and desire becomes perseverance in the face of negative situations. Belief will bring us into seeing, despite what we feel, smell, touch, etc. It doesn’t make sense to roll the stone away from Lazarus’ grave. We smell the reality of death. But those with Mary and Martha acted and experienced the resurrection and life of God (see John 11).

Belief isn’t a feeling. It’s an act of obedience. When my dad died in my home as a teenager, I prayed and he came back to life. It was an act of obedience, not a feeling.

At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come out!” Then the Bible simply says, “The man who had died came out…” (John 11:43-44). The dead moved, got up, responded to the voice of Jesus and walked toward that voice.

You can experience the resurrection power of Jesus today. When you hear the voice of Jesus, you don't always understand what it is, but he draws you. The voice of Jesus in your Spirit, something inside of you, wants to move toward that voice. When I first began to hear the voice of Jesus I wasn't sure about it. However, I just knew it was Jesus. He was dealing in my thoughts. I surrendered to him and my life was changed. When you move toward that voice, He will move toward you. You can experience the resurrection power and life of God.

Jesus told Martha, the sister of Lazarus, “…if you believed you would see the glory of God.” Will you believe? If so, you will begin to see.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do You Believe This?

Resurrection and Life - Part 3

I’ve been stirred about how the resurrection of Jesus can make such a difference in life today. Even when Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, God’s ways were undeterred and still active. When Jesus arrived late, He said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25,26)

Jesus not only said that He was the resurrection, He proved it! This is why we worship Him today. Jesus is saying, "I am the one who has authority and power to overcome the ultimate setbacks." Death is the ultimate setback. If Jesus has power over death then there is nothing He can't do in your life.

Notice Jesus doesn't ask Martha what she's feeling or thinking. There is a difference between what we feel and think, and what we believe. In times of disappointment or struggle, we are often persuaded by what we see or hear. It is easy to be directed by negative people around you. In high school I had learning difficulties and wasn't “college material.” Jesus came into my life my senior year and life changed for me. Jesus gave me a resurrection mentality. If Jesus can raise the dead then there’s nothing He can't do in your life if you believe.

"Jesus came to the tomb. 'Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’" (John 11:38-40)

Faith puts God between us and our circumstances. Faith gets us what God knows we truly need. However, it is not always what we want in the way we want it. God is not indifferent to your situation. Yet Martha's reaction mirrors most of us. She was caught up in the circumstances. She saw a dead body, a decaying body that smelled. We often live by our senses. Notice Jesus’ response, "Did I not tell you if you believed you would see the Glory of God?" (v.40)

What is it in your life you can't overcome? Following Christ means we no longer live merely “under the circumstances.” Jesus, the Resurrection, still lives, cares and acts. Do you believe this?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Delay Doesn't Mean Denial

Resurrection and Life - Part 2

Followers of Christ can often experience difficult situations and trials. We pray and our prayers seem to hit the ceiling and go no further. How are we to interpret a God who loves us, has power to help us, but the answer to our prayer doesn’t come? Why is there delay?

We see Jesus dealing with a family in crisis in John 11. He loved Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus. Yet when Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, “he stayed where he was two more days” (John. 11:5-6). Why did Jesus delay in responding?

Our culture values speed. We have microwaves, DSL, fast food, etc. and we demand instant gratification. We are disappointed when things are delayed, especially when God seems to delay! We get disappointed with God when he doesn’t do what we need when we feel we need it. Our desire fades, persistence vanishes and we want to quit.

Permit me a story about someone who handled "delay." Kurt Warner is a Super Bowl MVP and a champion. Kurt expressed how difficult it was when he was on a college football team and just warmed the bench. After college, he was bagging groceries and not playing football. He met his wife, Brenda, when she was a single mom on welfare, trying to raise children on food stamps. They didn’t quit. His answer wasn’t automatic, but he persevered. Today the Warners continue to have a deep faith in Christ, he is still a celebrated quarterback and they have a foundation for children. Delay doesn't mean denial.

Believers must learn to persevere amid delay. Perseverance is an action of faith. Perseverance is not dependent upon your circumstances or your frustrations, setbacks or disappointments. Perseverance is directly pinned to your faith (or lack of faith). Paul said “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:14).

Perseverance is action based on the promise of God. If God raised Jesus from the dead, there is no circumstance in your life God can’t turn around. Jesus delayed his coming to two sisters, but he did show up. He will show up in a new way and he will demonstrate his intention regarding the future. He will destroy our enemy, death. He will remove the pain that seems to permanently destroy relationships and bring decay.

All the circumstances of Mary and Martha would say there’s no hope. But Jesus came. Delay is not denial.