Jesus had traveled to Bethany after hearing of His friend, Lazarus, death. As He stood before the grave entrance, He prayed out-loud…not to profit Himself, but all the mourners looking on. For Jesus knew His Father, and His Father knew Him, so His spoken words benefited the crowd only. But why? So that they might know that God hears and answers prayer. You may think God’s work in your life is for you only…but you’d be so wrong! Anytime we’re faced with hardship, loss, sickness, or tragedy…people are watching us. Both unbelievers and Believers are observing how we’ll react. Do we gripe, are quick to complain, and become easily offended…or do we clothe ourselves with the same grace and mercy our Heavenly Father has shown us? That’s because they’re watching closely to see where we place our hope and trust…in ourselves and the world, or in Jesus Christ. So think about this today… by your actions and reactions you can bring someone closer to Christ or push them away.
The people of Israel and Judah had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This great assembly rejoiced and praised God for being able to meet together once again. And as their prayers rose to God, revival broke out. For before they even traveled home, it says they went throughout the country-side smashing false idols, cutting down Asherah poles, and destroying other places of pagan worship. Their prayers had been heard, they caught the vision God had for them, and they could not help but act on it. I pray for the same type of revival to break out in us.
James 4:8 tells us to, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” What does “coming near to God” look like though? It starts with communing or fellowshiping with our Heavenly Father…and that means getting to know Him. It’s similar to when you first started dating your spouse…you talked together endless hours, getting to know each other. God wants us to know Him…and He wants us to trust Him. But we have to know Him before we can trust Him…and that means reading His Word and praying. God assures us that if we seek Him, we will find Him…for He’s longingly waiting for that opportunity to be known by us.
When life’s going along smoothly…we tend to ignore God. We smugly think it’s us that’s making it all happen. So when disease, death or tragedy hits – we’re thrown for a loop. ” How can this possibly be happening to me…what am I going to do…how can I fix this?” It’s at that point of distress, we finally cry out to the Lord. But how do we know God’s listening to us…how do we know we have His attention? We can start by reading His Word. The Bible is full of times when God miraculously answered His people’s cries for help. And each time He answered, their faith was built up a little more. The Psalmist showed this confidence when he wrote, “Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to You, for You will answer me.” (Psalm 86:6-7) It’s that assurance from past answered prayers that enable us to have confidence every time we cry out to God anew.