Message for November 30 – Love in Disguise

What a delightful time we had last Sunday!  Harvest Oaks Church came and ran the whole service, then served us dinner.  We were blessed to hear the teaching and testimony of Mark and Marie Cimino.  It is always a joy to see how God changes lives.  I think we can learn from the example that Harvest Oaks set for us.  True gratitude expresses itself in more than words.  They served us in the name of the Lord.  We, to whatever degree we are able, aught to be doing the same.

This week I’m going to share with you from the story of Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha whom Jesus raised from the dead.  There’s something remarkable in this story beyond the obvious.  Check out these verses in the Gospel of John, chapter 11,

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.

I checked a few versions to see if that little work “so” was consistently translated.  It is.  Jesus loved them, so He stayed away.  Would we not think that love demanded the opposite response?  But he had something greater in mind.  I’m sure Lazarus didn’t enjoy being ill and dying from his sickness.  Certainly his family would not have wanted to go through the grief.  Both sisters even say to Jesus basically, “You could have prevented this.”  John doesn’t give us the emotion behind these words, but the question comes through, “Where were you?”  “Why didn’t you come in time?”

We have numerous accounts of people who have supposedly died and come back.  What happened to them is between them and God.  I will not presume, unless their accounts are in clear conflict with the Bible, to criticize their claims.  I wonder if there is significance in the fact that we don’t have such accounts from the people who were resurrected throughout the Bible.  We’re given prophetic visions from various sources, but nothing from these who presumably got a glimpse of Heaven, or Paradise, for themselves.  Why?  Because the focus remains on Jesus.  The Bible isn’t about Heaven, it’s about Jesus.  What makes Heaven great is that Jesus is there.  All of that to say that even though we have nothing from Lazarus himself, I suspect that his perspective was radically different coming out of that grave than it was on the way in.

Jesus waited, so that the blessing in the end was far greater for those involved than it would have been if He came right away.  He loved, so He stayed.  He gets the glory, and everyone around Him benefits from it.

Sometimes it seems that God has forgotten us.  The Psalms are full of such feelings.  But we know that He said that he is always with us.  We may wonder if He really loves us, but sometimes love does things we don’t expect.  Sometimes, love waits.  Come and be encouraged!

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