Even Now!

John 11:21-22  “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

The Bible plainly tells us that Jesus loved Martha, and maybe one of the things Jesus loved so much about her was her outspoken way of speaking everything that was in her heart. Whether she was complaining about her sister, inviting Jesus into her home or sending for him in her time of need, Martha was always direct. I have so often heard of her failures and preoccupation with the duties of the pots and pans, yet there was also in her a unique ability to grow because she held nothing back.

In our own daily dealings with Jesus it is often easier to pray in our religious way and do our religious duty, than to really tell God what is on our mind. So often we fail to grow in our faith because we are hiding behind what we feel is acceptable and we deny Jesus the chance to enter into the conversation. Image

We are dying of thirst, yet to keep our own sense of decency we fail to rush to the living waters to drink. Here is Jesus, Himself, right at the entrance to our village, but we, like Mary, stay behind in our home. We are not sure what Jesus will say, so we say nothing at all. Yet Jesus has come exactly because He knows our issues and understands our weaknesses. Jesus has come to meet us and is ready to listen. Thank God for Martha, who runs out immediately and speaks all her heart to Jesus. On one hand she tells Him just what she thinks, “If you had been here my brother would not have died!” Yet even in her accusation Martha speaks from her certainty that Jesus is the only one who could have answered her need. Martha never doubts for a moment His Lordship, but she needs to lay her cards on table with God. Jesus is never offended when we tell Him our struggles and frustrations because He already knows them. When we begin to pray an honest prayer, God begins the change in us before we are even finished!

In her first words, Martha flings her sense of loss right at Jesus, yet in her next breath she speaks with a faith she may not have realized she had: “But even now!” How wonderful a heart is Martha’s! She is bubbling with activity, faith and frustrations just like many of us. She has no patience to wait at home for Jesus, or to sit quietly and listen when there are things to be done! She gives Jesus all of her heart and with that gift Jesus does the miraculous work of not only raising Lazarus, but also transforming her fears and doubts to faith.

We each have the gift of this day, a new morning in which no matter the darkness and difficulties that press in on us, Jesus has come to listen to our hearts. His feet are standing at the entrance to our own village. Jesus has come not only to solve our problems, but to also spend time with us. He has in His hand a seed of faith. In the place where we feel failure all around, it is Jesus alone who can bring back our Lazarus. It is Jesus alone who is ready to lead us from “Oh Lord if you had only been here!” to our own “But even now!”

Risking Everything For Jesus

Philippians 3:20 You should hold men like him in highest honor, for his loyalty to Christ brought him very near death—he risked his life to do for me in person what distIndia and Nepal 212ance prevented you all from doing (Phillip’s Version)

One of our common complaints, though few like to admit it, is that we are bored. We find ourselves surrounded with plenty of food, decent homes, clean water and 24/7 technology, but in our heart of hearts we long for something more. Why do people spend their days on Facebook, Twitter and text messaging? Why are we addicted to the latest styles in clothing or the next big game? Why do we count the hours till we can sit and watch the next episode in whatever is our favorite show? Maybe because underneath it all we hunger for a meaning to our lives that is threatened by our sense of uselessness. We are bored! We are bored with our jobs, bored with our pursuits and bored with the sense of hopelessness that follows us home like a stray puppy.

But just beyond our comfort zone God is calling us out to live a life of risk. Jesus is calling us to follow him with our cross. The cross of Jesus has great risk. We could lose our friends. We could lose our comforts. We could lose our savings, our health and even our very lives. If that all seems a bit scary, then maybe we are finally cracking open the windows of our make-believe world just enough to let the fresh breeze of God’s kingdom in.

Will we put our bodies joyfully on God’s altar as a living sacrifice to serve the needs of God’s people? Can we imagine leaving behind our own personal interests completely and discover that God’s interests are way better? God is not just offering us a sweet abundant life as we follow Jesus. No one lived a more abundant life than Jesus Christ! Yet in his life on our planet Jesus was rejected, despised, robbed, misrepresented and crucified. He ended his life with a crowd looking on as He suffered cruelly in the most humiliating way possible, then he said, “It is finished!” Will we with all our material things around us and in the comfort of our homes and the approval of our friends, be able to have the peace that He had in his heart as He breathed out his last breath> Will we be able to say, “Father into your hands I give my spirit?” Can we ask forgiveness for those who are right now crucifying us? That is the abundant life of great risk that Christ is calling us to. He called us by name. He gave us His own life. He left us His Spirit and He waits for our reply. Will we be willing to risk our own life to follow Jesus to the end?