Just Because God is Silent Does Not Mean He is Unaware

     Raising of Lazarus

11 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair.[a]Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

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.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people[b] in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

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,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles[d]down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[e] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”29 So Mary immediately went to him.

30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled.34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (Biblehub.com, New Living Translation)

 

     I cannot begin to tell you how many times in my life I have prayed, and it seemed as if God was completely silent. As Christians, we believe that God hears our prayers. So, praying when God seems silent can be disheartening. But just because God does not respond right away does not mean that he is unaware. He is. This is why Jesus encourages us not to worry. In the book of Matthew, he teaches, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat or what will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.’”

     In the account of Lazarus, the need was quite a bit different. My mom used to say, “If you have a problem that is not a money problem, you have a problem! In the above teaching, Jesus was addressing the peoples’ concerns regarding everyday life. In the account of Lazarus, there was a need that no amount of human resources could meet. They needed something outside of mans’ ability. That is what my mom meant when she made that statement.  Mary and Martha needed a miracle in their situation, so they sent word to Jesus. But Jesus was silent.

     The first point I would like to make in regard to this passage is just because God is silent does not mean he is unaware. God is aware of everything we face in life. He is aware of every need we have whether that need be physical, financial, emotional, mental, or spiritual. God may seem silent, but he is not unaware. In the same way that Jesus received the word sent by Mary and Martha, our heavenly Father hears our prayers and requests.

    Second, God knows the big picture. Because we are human and live in a physical world, natural occurrences often overwhelm us. In the natural, Lazarus was dying. That was a fact. Consequently, Mary and Martha were overcome with worry and grief. They were preoccupied with Lazarus’ sickness and impending death. But Jesus was focused on the resurrection. While Mary and Martha saw only a part, Jesus knew the whole picture. It was his divine purpose to reveal God’s power. While it may not make it easier, we can trust in the fact that God knows the outcome.

   Third, in v. 5 it says, “Jesus loved Mary, Lazarus and Martha. We all face hard times at one point or another in our lives. But neither the intensity of our struggles, nor the silence that we can experience in our prayers are an indicator of the measure of God’s love for us. Even when Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus about the dire state of Lazarus’ condition, his health continued to deteriorate. They were praying in a sense, but their circumstance only appeared to get worse. Yet, amid all they were going through, Jesus was not only aware of what they were facing, he was loving them.

     The final point is, with God all things are possible. What Martha and Mary saw as permanent, God fully intended to change. Some of us have placed a period where God is not done writing our story. In their situation, God had a greater purpose. There is nothing in this physical world, no matter how permanent it may seem, that God cannot change. No circumstance is beyond his ability to alter or influence. There is absolutely nothing God cannot do. God’s power and ability is neither hampered nor hindered by any position in which we find ourselves. And sometimes what seems like the end is really the beginning. Someone once said, “Mans’ impossibility is God’s opportunity.”

     As human beings, we all respond differently to crisis, pain, and sorrow. Both Mary and Martha were disappointed by Jesus’ actions. They did not understand why he failed to come when they sent word, when in their estimation, it could have made a difference. In the same way, oftentimes we do not understand why God, who loves us, would allow certain events to transpire in our lives. But even in this, God is asking to trust and obey. Martha and Mary responded differently, Martha heard (Jesus was coming) and went. Mary was  told Jesus was calling for her, and she responded. Even though both women were in pain and failed to understand God’s greater purpose, each ultimately trusted Jesus and submitted to his word.

    In the end, the power of God not only touched a family but a nation and a region. Those who were present knew for certain, that there is nothing God cannot do. There is not a situation or circumstance in which he cannot intervene. Mary and Martha prayed. Jesus did not respond. Their brother died. Jesus arrived four days later and raised him from the dead. Lazarus was alive and healed. God was glorified. God had a bigger plan in their circumstance, a plan they did not understand. Similarly, there are times in our lives when we may be pressing hard after God, when we find ourselves in great need of a miracle. Whatever you are facing today, whatever you have been seeking God about, remember: just because God is silent does not mean he is unaware.

Recommended reading for this week: John 11:1-42

Have a blessed week.

Tanya

 

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With God All Things are Possible

   Romans 4:18 declares of Abraham. “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, ‘So shall thy seed be.'”

    The time is nearly 2 a.m. Yet earlier this evening God again began stiring my heart regarding all that he has placed inside of me. And for some reason, I believe  there is someone out there who needs to be encouraged regarding what God has spoken about her life, her family, or some other situation. The Bible says, “Against all hope, Abraham believed in hope.”Take a minute and think about this statement in a modernized context. It literally means,that which is impossible by natural standards. Another way to think about it is an occurrence that… ‘cannot occur.’  Naturally speaking, there was no hope for Abraham and Sarah to have a biological son. They had an absolute zero probability of becoming parents. She was 90 years old, and he was 100.

   Yet in the face of what was naturally impossible, Abraham placed his trust in the God in whom and by whom all things are possible. I am certain that I am not the only one who needs to hear this word right now. Someone needs to be reminded today that with God all things are possible. Don’t stop believing all that God has placed in your heart and mind, the promises he has made to you regarding your life and family, your children, the ministry to which he has called you, the healing he has promised you. That which he has spoken, he is well able to do.

     The book of Numbers informs us, “God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent; Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?  (Numbers 23:19) God himself echoes these rhetorical questions concerning his nature, his character, and his infinite power. He proclaims in Jeremiah, “Behold, I am Jehovah, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27)

     I don’t know what your situation is today, what you are facing or feeling. I do know however, that we serve a God who is not confined by earthly limitations and natural circumstances. God loves you and wants to bless you. Romans chapter 8 tells us that if God did not even hold back from us his own son, how will he not with him, give us all other things. Stated plainly, God is faithful. He can be trusted to do all the has declared over your life and mine. Our only response to this truth is to believe.

     As we continue into this new year, I pray the miraculous over your life, that God would open doors no man can shut, that he would create streams in the desert and work in ways that are undeniably him. I pray God would fill you with his love, his joy his peace and his strength. That he would grant you the grace to believe what he has spoken, and the power to act in accordance.

May God our Father richly bless you this coming week. And my his everlasting peace be upon you and in you.

Tanya

 

You are Okay

As we enter the second week of the new year, take time to remember life is a process. In 2017, success or failure will happen not in a moment but one day at a time. This year I have decided not to set a new year’s resolution per se. Instead my focus this year is on allowing God to change my heart, my mind and my attitude. A changed individual is the product of a new heart not a new year. I want to encourage you to take it slow. This year will pass one day at a time, and true success can only come by this route. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Where God is our focus, change and success are inevitable.

stonesfromthebrooks.org

     It is a beautiful winter morning here in West Michigan. I peered out the window to take yet another look at the beautiful ivory snow that now blankets the ground. This morning, I woke up thinking about how many years of my life have been spent wherein the first moments of my day were consumed with thoughts about the things I can do better, what I should be doing, or how far along I should be in a particular aspect of life. And I must admit, they are far too many to count. That contemplation however, lasted only for a moment when all of a sudden, I was overwhelmed with a sense of ‘okay-ness’. Now for you Language Arts and English scholars, I do understand that this is not technically a word, but if you would allow me to, I would like to use it only this once…

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Forgetting What Lies Behind

     Not only is today the first day of a new week, it is the first day of a new year. By God’s grace and mercy, we have stepped over into 2017. And with a new year comes new opportunities. So as I address you on the first day of this new year, I pray I your heart would be filled with  rejoicing and anticipation in what lies ahead and not in the regret of what is past.

     While I was reading the book of Philippians this evening, or should I say this morning ( 4:30 am EST), there are a few thoughts that I want to share. First, release the past to God. If there is anything living in your past that has been allowed to seep the life from your preset, leave it with God, refuse to carry it into your future. Paul said in the book of Philippians in speaking about his faith in Christ, in becoming all that God had created him to be, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things, or that I have reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (3:12-14, New Living Translation)

    While Paul was fully aware of his own inconsistencies and imperfections, he did not allow those issues to become a source of hindrance in his life. His ultimate focus was not on his own strength or ability but on God’s. And because his focus and faith was in God’s power instead of on his own effort, he could freely release his past to God, no matter what had taken place. If we truly desire change in our lives, one of things we must do is change our focus to what God alone has the ability to bring about in our future and not where we have failed in the past. Consider this thought. We will inevitably move in the direction of our focus. We cannot move toward the wonderful future God has in store if we are preoccupied with the happenings of the past. Nor can we walk in the victory of our faith in Christ when we are engrossed in the inadequacies of our own human effort. Because Paul understood this principle, he was able to live free. So think of this new year as a new opportunity to release the past to God.

     Second, remember we can do nothing in our own strength. Philippians 2:12-13 informs us that it is God who gives us the desire to do his will, while at the same time empowering us to carry out the righteous desires he has place in our hearts.

     Last, in Philippians 1:6 Paul reminds us that God, who began the good work in each of us, will be faithful to continue that work so that we are complete when Christ returns. I know from personal experience that it is so easy to get over into human effort, and sometimes I need to remind myself, it never was me in the first place. It has always been him, his strength and his desire working in and through me.

     God wants to make 2017 a year of victory for you and me. That being said, we will have failures. There is no doubt. But even in this, we can be assured that his mercies are new every morning.(Lamentations 3:22-23). With every sunrise comes a brand new opportunity to experience God’s forgiveness and God’s mercy, to see the results of his power at work in our lives. So be encouraged today, God has a bright future in store, but we cannot genuinely experience the wonderful future that lies ahead if we are fixated on the past.

My prayer today is that God would help each of us to remember that just as it is his will and his purpose that he has predestined for each of our lives, it is only by his power that we are enabled to live lives pleasing unto him and experience all he has promised.

May God’s blessing, peace, wisdom, love, joy and prosperity be in you, with you and upon you this coming year.

Tanya