Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

16. Courage in the Crisis – Part 1

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John 11:1-16

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” 8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” 9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” 12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” 16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

As we have been journeying to the cross with Jesus we have seen Him cross paths with one who was blind and another who was bound up in his belongings. Today as we continue to journey with Jesus we will see one who was buried. You see the first man went from seeking to sight, the second went from seeking to sorrow, and today we see those who go from sorrow to serving.  The story in John 11 starts with a:

  1. Crisis vs 1-3

Many of us get mad at God when we have to go through challenging times. Especially when those challenges involve the loss of a loved one. But challenges are an opportunity for us to call out to the Lord and lean on Him. What we all want is to pursue a problem-free life but that’s just not realistic. In this life, we will have problems and it’s here that we learn our first valuable lesson, bring your crisis to Christ. Mary and Martha took their problem to Jesus. What about you who are you taking your problems to? Are you taking your cares to Christ? Many of us are running to people instead of the provider, looking for a feel good instead of looking to God the Father? But it’s here that we discover the second truth, not only are we to petition God but we are to be patient with our petitions. Because it’s here in the midst of the crisis that we discover a:

  1. Delay – Vs 4-6

How do you respond when your desires meet with delay? Delays can cause us to question God’s love instead of lean on His love. But we need to remember that when God lingers it doesn’t lessen His love. The challenge is that we live in an instant gratification culture, so instead of waiting, we tend to whine. Not only does waiting tend to lead to whining but delays often lead to demanding. Instead of resting we become restless and often resentful. Instead of waiting we worry which leads to us trying instead of trusting. Do you treasure God’s timing? God has gracious intentions even in seeming delays. Sometimes what seems like procrastination is actually preparation. Jesus was preparing them to experience God’s glory and sometimes we have to go through the groaning to get to the glory. Are you willing to let God use your pain to proclaim His power? Why do Saints suffer, sometimes so others can see the Savior. Are you willing to let God use your wounds to witness to a watching world? Are you going to trust His timing or throw a temper tantrum? Sometimes we want a solution to our suffering more than we want the Savior. But it’s in our pain that we see God’s promises and power. It’s here that we see the third truth not only do we need to petition Jesus and be patient but we need a proper perspective on:

  1. Death Vs 11-16

Even the sickness that leads to death does not separate the saved from the Savior. Jesus refers to the death of a believer as sleep, making it more familiar and less formidable. The picture He paints is not one of problems but one of profit. Because when Jesus compares being buried with going to bed, unless you’re a child you look forward to bedtime, because in sleep we get to rest from our labor. We don’t have to fear death instead we can see it as favorable. But don’t miss the real:

  1. Danger Vs 7-16

Jesus is the one who takes the risk so we can rest. The people of Judea want to kill Jesus and when the disciples focus on the danger they start telling Jesus what to do. Fear often causes us to follow our plans, not the Fathers. The disciples were basing their decisions on the obstacles not on obedience. It’s interesting to note the differing perceptions here between the sisters Mary and Martha and the disciples. Mary and Martha’s perspective was that Jesus didn’t come soon enough, where the disciples felt that he was going too soon. Who was right? Neither, it’s not about our timing it’s about His. Because the disciples focus on the danger and not the deity their plan involved avoiding the perceived problem and not do anything. What about you, are you going to play it safe and stay back or go with the Savior? It is here that Thomas the one who is so often criticized because he later doubted speaks up, remember these are His first recorded words. Thomas says that he would rather suffer with the Savior than play it safe without the Savior. This is the crossroads of conviction, am I going to walk with Jesus into the war or play it safe and sit on the sidelines? Am I going to follow my feelings or follow the Savior? What about you, are you going to seek safety or serve the Savior? You are going to spend your life on something, so why not spend it serving the Savior? When we live for the Lord we never lose, but when we sit on the sidelines and play it safe we squander our lives. You are either going to be a fair-weather follower or a faithful one. Thomas conviction challenged the other Christians to stop being cowards and start being courageous. Are you going to be a courageous Christian and follow Jesus even when it’s not popular, or are you going to be a coward so that you can feel comfortable and safe? Most Christians today are following fear because they are focused on the obstacles instead of the opportunities. While the rest of the disciples were making decisions based on the culture Thomas had the courage to look to Christ. Where are you at in your walk, are you following Christ courageously or cowering to the culture?

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