John 11:11-13 ” After He had said this, He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep.”

Just as Nicodemus misunderstood the metaphor Jesus used when He told him, “You must be born again.” (John 3:4) The disciples misconstrued Jesus’ reference to death as sleep. Though when Jesus used the Greek word, Koimao, for “fallen asleep” it can be used for both sleep & dying. So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” using the Greek word, Apothnesko, which definitively means natural death. Why? So that there would be no trace of doubt that Jesus could deliver Lazarus from the grave.

Proverbs 31:30-31 ” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

The allure & aesthetics of beauty and charm will only get you so far in the world…for soon people will discover how shallow & counterfeit your true identity is. But if your life is God-centered…and filled with whole-hearted obedience, people will immediately see you as you are valued by God. And then it will be the works of your hands that will honor you, not the words from yourself or others.

John 11:9-10 ” Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.’ “

Earlier in John 9:4, Jesus had told His disciples, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me.” In this verse, and for the first time, Jesus wasn’t just speaking about Himself & His mission here on earth but now included His disciples as partners in His Gospel work. You must work in the light for, “God is light; and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5) Which here in this verse emphasizes God’s attributes of moral purity & omniscience. Thus, even though you’re in the world, you will not stumble because the truth of God’s light will illuminate & clear your path of confusion & deception. But if you walk in the darkness of self-reliance & independence from God… you will stumble. That’s because all your beliefs, ethics, and attitudes are the opposite of God’s.

Please pray

Tomorrow our Rural Church Plant will be holding its first Women’s Conference. The Community response has been very encouraging & we look forward to welcoming many ladies that may or may not have ever darkened the door of a Church. Please pray that it will be a welcoming environment where all will be comfortable & feel the love of Jesus. But in the end, I know that God is sovereignly putting everything into place…as we do our best for His glory!

John 11:7-8 ” Then He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’ ‘But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews tried to stone You, and yet You are going back there?’ “

The disciples couldn’t believe what they had just heard Jesus say. They were incredulous to the thought of returning to Jerusalem and the Jews that not only wanted to kill Jesus, but in all reality, them also. “If we go back all our lives will be in danger, and it will only give the Jews more reason to finish what they started.” Yet by now the disciples should have realized that Jesus’ death would not occur until the “hour” appointed by His Heavenly Father. (John 7:30 & 8:20) and that it would not happen by accident or miscalculation…for His sole reason & purpose coming to earth was for this to be accomplished…and He had been more than plain in telling them exactly about it. (Matthew 16:21 & Mark 8:31 & Luke 9:22)

John 11:5-6 ” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days.”

To Jesus… Mary, Martha, & Lazarus had become very precious friends…their home in Bethany, always a welcoming place to stay. But yet when Jesus got word that Lazarus was ill, He didn’t run to his bedside but rather stayed put…for two more days it says. But why? The old Jewish custom was that upon death there would be a gradual process of separation – soul from body… and the soul would linger & hover near the body for three days before departing. So in order that there would be no question that Lazarus was indeed good & dead…Jesus was silent & waited. But as you can only imagine, Mary & Martha found this delay most difficult to understand. There will come times in your life when God will trust you with His silence. But it’s an intimate silence of peace, not despair, as you wait for Him…for time is nothing to God and His sovereignty reigns over all. Yet the most wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious…..building up your faith, trust, and confidence that He has not only heard your prayer, but is in fact actively at work in the situation.

John 11:4 ” ‘Lord the one You love is sick.’ When He heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ “

Jesus isn’t denying that Lazarus would die…He was rather denying that death itself would triumph. From the start, the Lord’s intention was to vanquish death…swallowed up in victory, or as He asked, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14) And with this, God’s sovereign rule over the whole of history would be shown as death was forced to give back one it had taken.

John 11: 1,3 “Now a man named Lazarus was sick…so the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one You love is sick.’ “

Mary & Martha had been watching their beloved younger brother, Lazarus, slip from being sick, to gravely ill. So in their panic they sent a friend to find Jesus and tell Him to, “Come quickly and do something so Your friend & our brother won’t die!” Death & dying are hard things to deal with…and we’d rather not have anything to do with them…but in reality, we can’t avoid the unavoidable. They are both inevitable parts of life and just because we’re uncomfortable doesn’t mean we should elude that friend that just lost her husband, or dodge a funeral of a neighbor, or refuse to visit a Hospice patient. Death & dying are as natural and part of life as birth is, and should be treated with the same respect & dignity.

Hebrews 6:19 ” We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain…”

Hope, namely hope in God, is a firm conviction that the future promises of Him will be fulfilled in our life. Another way to say it is that hope is faith directed towards the future. But when hope eludes us because of a loved one’s death, a terminal illness, or some other hardship, we need to securely anchor our life to Him, so as to not be tossed & battered by the storms of life we’re encountering. (Psalm 107:23-30) It says here that hope enters into the Most Holy Place by way of the blood of Jesus, when He entered once for all into The Holy Of Holies. (Hebrews 9:12) And because of this, we can build upon this hope in Jesus…a hope that will never fail or wavier….a hope that will hold us fast to Him.

Psalm 119:81 ” My soul faints with longing for Your salvation, but I have put my hope in Your Word.”

In describing hope, Charles Spurgeon once wrote, ” Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, but only to be discovered in the night of adversity.” When life is going well for us, the promise of the future is bright & rosy and the commodity of hope is easy to come by. But when misfortune & difficultly suddenly come crashing into our lives…hope dries up. And when we’re consumed & exhausted by hardship it’s difficult to see hope…just like it’s impossible to see the stars shining during the daytime. But the stars haven’t disappeared from the sky, it’s just that we can’t see them. So we must then search to find hope in the night of adversity…looking for God’s promises in His Word and His grace in times of distress.

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