FRIEND OF GOD

Jn.11:3 – So his sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, our brother Lazarus, the one you love, is very sick. Please come!”

This has to be the greatest assurance we can have, I am one whom He loves. Notice, the sisters didn’t mention their love for Him or their faith, they didn’t even mention how Lazarus loved Jesus; what they were hanging all their hopes and prayers on was His love for Lazarus. That’s where everything starts for all of us. My love for Him was birthed from His love for me. He has loved me from before time began. This eternal love is very intentional, not casual. He has fixed His affections on me before I was ever born. This is how Paul describes this love.

Eph.1:5,6 – “For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace —for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure!”

So my trust and faith hinges on His love for me. That’s why Martha and Mary could ask for the unthinkable, they knew Jesus loved Lazarus. This is how Matthew Henry describes this.

“Though God knows all our wants, and griefs, and cares, he will know them from us, and is honored by our laying them before him. The message they sent was very short, not petitioning, much less prescribing or pressing, but barely relating the case with the tender insinuation of a powerful plea, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. They do not say, He whom we love, but he whom thou lovest. Our greatest encouragements in prayer are fetched from God himself and from his grace. They do not say, Lord, behold, he who loveth thee, but he whom thou lovest; for herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. Our love to him is not worth speaking of, but his to us can never be enough spoken of.”

This love is what grabbed me in the beginning, it has been why I have followed Him all these years, and it is why I can depend on Him no matter what I face. He loves me, that settles everything.

THE ANOINTING WITHIN YOU

1 Jn.2:27 – But the wonderful anointing you have received from God is so much greater than their deception and now lives in you. There’s no need for anyone to keep teaching you. His anointing teaches you all that you need to know, for it will lead you into truth, not a counterfeit. So just as the anointing has taught you, remain in him.

We have more resources inside of us as Christians than we can ever imagine. John taught us that we have an anointing within us. To know how valuable that is we must know what the anointing is. The anointing is the manifestation of the third person in the trinity. The anointing is upon us and within us. Here are some comments from the Passion notes on today’s verse.

“Although absent in the Greek, the words “from God” are found in the Aramaic manuscripts. It is clear from the context that the “anointing” is the Holy Spirit poured into us, bringing life, illumination, wisdom, fruit, and power from the indwelling life of Christ.”

So notice what this commentary attributes to the anointing. First and foremost, the anointing is life itself. The anointing is the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. You could say that the anointing is the resurrection Spirit. When this Spirit inhabits us we begin to enjoy the very life that God enjoys. This anointing also brings illumination. We can’t understand spiritual reality until the Spirit of truth, the anointing comes. In His light we see light. The anointing is also the Spirit of wisdom. We begin to understand the world and the way way to operate in this life. He is our wisdom. It is the anointing within us that produces spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit is actually the very description of the characteristics of Christ. He bares fruit inside of our lives. The anointing is also the very power of God. Jesus begin to minister in supernatural power after His baptism in the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit came upon Him and displays of miracle power began to flow out of Him. In the same way the apostles began to move in power after the anointing came upon them on the day of Pentecost. The same signs and wonders seen in the ministry of Christ began to flow through the ministry of the apostles. Today, we need His anointing more than ever. Just an outward form of spirituality will never do, we must have the power of the Spirit flowing in signs and wonders in our lives today.

JESUS LOVES YOU

John:11:3,5 – So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

“Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life”. Those were the words that finally broke through the hard, callous heart that had resisted the gospel for so long. I thought it would have to be something profound or some austere spiritual discipline that I would have to endure. Jesus loves you. Really! That’s all there is to it? Those Jesus freaks at the Lakefront in New Orleans were convinced, Jesus loved them and that strange love was somehow getting all over me. My heart was won that night by the precious love of Jesus. In today’s verse we see Martha and Mary, friends of Jesus, basing their future hopes on His love. The sisters had used the word phileo for love, the Greek word for friendship. When John wrote in down in verse 5 he used the word agape, the Greek word for supernatural love. Jesus loved them with the love of God, much more profound than human love or emotion. This is the love that draws us and surrounds us and gives us total confidence in our prayers. Here is how Adam Clarke describes their simple request.

“Nothing could be more simple, nor more modest, than this prayer: they do not say, Come and heal him: or, Command the disease to depart even where thou art, and it will obey thee: – they content themselves with simply stating the case, and using an indirect but a most forcible argument, to induce our Lord to show forth his power and goodness: – He is sick, and thou lovest him; therefore thou canst neither abandon him, not us.”

When you taste God’s love for you, you are done. You know that no matter what obstacles you face or enemies try to hinder you the Lord will see you through. The sisters had no idea what was going on when Jesus took four days to answer their appeal. They knew that when everything was said and done that Jesus loved them and that would be enough. It is always enough. His love is enough when you are facing sickness and death. It is enough when you are facing temptation. It is enough when bills seem to be piling up with no visible solution. Just remember, Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life.

MEN LIKE TREES WALKING

Mk.8:23-25 – So Jesus led him, as his sighted guide, outside the village. He placed his saliva on the man’s eyes and covered them with his hands. Then he asked him, “Now do you see anything?”

“Yes,” he said. “My sight is coming back! I’m beginning to see people, but they look like trees—walking trees.”

Jesus put his hands over the man’s eyes a second time and made him look up. The man opened his eyes wide and he could see everything perfectly. His eyesight was completely restored!

The miracles of Jesus are all so unique and carry the power and authenticity of the gospel. This healing of this particular blind man is different from all the others. If we look closely, we can see the beauty of God’s work in this powerful physical healing. Jesus had used His saliva before on ears, eyes, and even a tongue. The difference in this miracle is in the way this man’s sight was restored. At first he saw a blur that appeared like walking trees. After another touch from the Lord his sight was perfectly restored. Matthew Henry describes this miracle like this.

“Thus Christ would show how, and in what method, those are healed by his grace, who by nature are spiritually blind; at first, their knowledge is confused, they see men as trees walking; but, like the light of the morning, it shines more and more to the perfect day, and then they see all things clearly. Let us enquire then, if we see aught of those things which faith is the substance and evidence of; and if through grace we see any thing of them, we may hope that we shall see yet more and more, for Jesus Christ will perfect for ever those that are sanctified.”

I love Henry’s description of the work of Christ. Just as this man began to be gradually bathed in the natural light of the sun, after the touch of Christ our eyes are opened and the light of His grace began to bring clarity into our darkened world. The light of the glory of God heals our spiritual vision bit by bit so we are no longer walking in darkness. At first, we may see those around us like trees walking. After that second touch we begin to see our world differently through the light of His grace.

WHILE HE WAS SPEAKING

Matt.17:5 – But while Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud composed of light spread over them, enveloping them all. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!”

Sometimes we need to be interrupted. Our preconceived opinions, especially about the Lord, often get in the way. We tend to judge spiritual experiences by our own past experience or our own doctrinal biases. That is exactly what Peter is doing in this passage. He was stuck in all he knew, the Old Testament. He had no knowledge of the new wine and new wine skins Jesus came to introduce. That’s when the story took a humorous turn. Peter was busy spouting off his ideas when the glory of the Lord rolled in. The light and the heaviness of the glory shut Peter up. That was when the Father began to speak. “This is my dearly loved Son, listen to Him”. In other words, we don’t need Elijah or Moses when Jesus is standing right in front of us. This is how Charles Spurgeon describes this passage.

“While he yet spake.” Such wild talk might well be interrupted. What a blessed interruption! We may often thank the Lord for stopping our babbling. “A bright cloud overshadowed them.” It was bright, and cast a shadow. They felt that they were entering it, and feared as they did so….Do we not know what it is to get shadow out of brightness, and “a voice out of the cloud”? This is after the frequent manner of the Lord in dealing with his favored ones. The voice was clear and distinct. First came the divine attestation of the Sonship of our Lord, “This is my beloved Son,” and the Father’s declaration of delight in him, “in whom I am well pleased.” What happiness for us that Jehovah is well pleased in Christ, and with all who are in him! Then followed the consequent divine requirement, “Hear ye him.” It is better to hear the Son of God than to see saints, or to build tabernacles.”

Glorious interruption! I wish all our services would be interrupted by the light and the glory. When God moves in it is time for us to lay low and be still. We can learn more in a moment of God’s interruption than in hours of humans talking. Visit us again Oh Lord!!!

FOUR GREAT MIRACLES

Luke Chapter 8 contains four great miracles performed by the Lord. He displays His power over nature when He stilled a storm, authority over demons by freeing the tormented man in Gadara, His ability to heal those who are desperately sick when He healed the woman with the hemorrhage in her body, and His authority over death itself. Check out these four miracles.

I. POWER OVER NATURE

LK.8:24,25 – So the disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Master, Master, we’re sinking! Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

With great authority Jesus rebuked the howling wind and surging waves, and instantly they stopped and became as smooth as glass. Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you fearful? Have you lost your faith in me?”

Shocked and shaken, they said with amazement to one another, “Who is this man who has authority over winds and waves that they obey him?”

II. POWER OVER DEMONS

LK.8:34-36 – Then the people of the region came out to see for themselves what had happened. When they came to where Jesus was, they discovered the notorious madman totally set free. He was clothed, speaking intelligently, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. They were shocked! Then eyewitnesses to the miracle reported all that they had seen and how the demonized man was completely delivered from his torment. After hearing about such amazing power, the townspeople became frightened.

III. POWER OVER DISEASE

Lk.8:47,48 – When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your robe I would be healed.”

Jesus responded, “Beloved daughter, your faith in me has released your healing. You may go with my peace.”

IV. POWER OVER DEATH

Lk.8:54-56 – Jesus approached the body, took the girl by her hand, and called out with a loud voice, “My sleeping child, awake! Rise up!” Instantly her spirit returned to her body and she stood up.

What kind of a miracle do you need today? He rules everything from tornadoes and earthquakes to heart problems and cancer. He knows the challenges you are facing and He is more than able to drive back every enemy and to bring life to your soul as well as your body.

BEAUTIFUL FEET

Lk.7:38 – Broken and weeping, she covered his feet with the tears that fell from her face.

Six times in the gospel of Luke we find someone worshipping at the beautiful feet of Jesus.

1. We find the woman who was forgiven much in Luke 7:38 – “Broken and weeping, she covered his feet with the tears that fell from her face. She kept crying and drying his feet with her long hair. Over and over she kissed Jesus’ feet. Then she opened her flask and anointed his feet with her costly perfume as an act of worship”. She was overwhelmed by the mercy she received from Christ.

OVERWHELMED BY HIS MERCY SHE SAT AT HIS FEET

2. We find the demonized man in Luke 8:35, “Then the people of the region came out to see for themselves what had happened. When they came to where Jesus was, they discovered the notorious madman totally set free. He was clothed, speaking intelligently, and sitting at the feet of Jesus. They were shocked!” This man found the only place true freedom is offered, at the feet of Jesus.

OVERWHELMED AT HIS ACCEPTANCE AND LOVE HE SAT AT HIS FEET

3. We can’t forget the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus, who risked everything to see his daughter made whole. Jairus was at Jesus feet in Luke 8:41 – “Just then, a man named Jairus, the leader of the local Jewish congregation, fell before Jesus’ feet. He desperately begged him to come and heal his twelve-year-old daughter, his only child, because she was at the point of death”.

DESPERATION BROUGHT THIS MAN OF PROMINENCE TO HUMILITY AT JESUS FEET

4. There was also Mary of Bethany. Jesus said she had chosen the best part. Seated at His feet soaking in His words. Lk.10:39 – “And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching”.

STRUCK BY HIS WORD AND HIS PRESENCE SHE SAT AT HIS FEET

5. In Luke 17:15 – we find the leper, falling at His feet, thankful to be rid of leprosy, “When he found Jesus, he fell down at his feet and thanked him over and over, saying to him, “You are the Messiah”.

THANKFULNESS BROUGHT THIS MAN TO THE FEET OF JESUS

6. Finally, the disciples were gazing at His beautiful feet after He was raised from the dead, Lk.24:39,40 – “Come and gaze upon my pierced hands and feet. See for yourselves, it is I, standing here alive. Touch me and know that my wounds are.”

STUNNED BY THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION LIFE EMANATING FROM HIM

We want to be in this number, numbered among those who are sitting at His feet. Notice, its not the mighty or the accomplished at His feet, it is the broken and the needy.

THE TALK OF THE TOWN

Lk.7:16 – 17 – A tremendous sense of holy mystery swept over the crowd as they witnessed this miracle of resurrection. They shouted praises to God, saying, “God himself has visited us to bless his people! A great prophet has appeared among us!” The news of Jesus and this miracle raced throughout Judea and the entire surrounding region.

You really can’t keep good news like this quiet. Think about it; without television, newspapers, radio, social media, or iPhones the whole region heard about this boy in Nain who was raised from the dead. After all, we are still talking about him 2000 years later. When the Lord visits a city the word gets out. The Lord had decided to go to Nain that day. Did He go on a whim? Was this just a random stop? I don’t think so. This widow and her son had an appointment that day, they just weren’t aware of it. People seldom are. The woman at the well in Samaria was caught by surprise at her well. Paul was surprised on the Damascus Road. Peter also was caught off guard by the unplanned fishing trip with the Lord that changed everything. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all part of God’s plan to change the world. Here is how Johann Spangenberg sees it.

“And this talk of him spread forth throughout the whole land of Judah and to all the surrounding areas. You see, those are the fruits of the wonders and work of God, for where God’s Word, wonders and works are joined with a true believing heart, there Christ will be rightly known. And where he is recognized, there pure thanks, praise and glory will follow. Then all people must say: “Well, God did not visit us in wrath but in grace. He has given us a great prophet—but no, not a prophet, but rather his own dear Son for our Savior, who will save us from the devil, death and hell. Why should we not rightly thank such a Savior, and for his sake suffer everything gladly? Where is another who has shown himself to be so friendly and charitable to us, yes, who has done us so much good, as this Savior Christ?”

So when He shows up in your world don’t think its just a coincidence, it is a guarantee that the Lord has something special in store for you and everyone in your world.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL OF ALL STORIES

Lk.7:11-14 – Shortly afterward, Jesus left on a journey for the village of Nain, with a massive crowd of people following him, along with his disciples. As he approached the village, he met a multitude of people in a funeral procession, who were mourning as they carried the body of a young man to the cemetery. The boy was his mother’s only son and she was a widow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, his heart broke for her. With great tenderness he said to her, “Please don’t cry.” Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus said to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!”

This has to be my favorite story in the Bible. Of all the miracles of Jesus this one displays God’s love for forgotten people. Let’s face it, all of us have felt picked over and left out from time to time. It could be the drama of always being the last picked for sports, or being rejected by the school you wanted to get in, or even the feeling of being second best or unloved in your family. Living in Nain may have made you feel that way. Nain was an out of the way insignificant town. This lady had never had it easy. First her husband and now her only son. Rejection, depression, fear, and anger; she was overcome with those hopeless feelings of finality that death brings. All of that suddenly changed when Jesus came to Nain. Why would Jesus come to Nain? He does nothing by accident, He came to Nain because of that poor widow’s pain. Here is how Barclay describes this moment.

“In many ways this is the loveliest story in all the gospels. It tells of the pathos and the poignancy of human life. The funeral procession would be headed by the band of professional mourners with their flutes and their cymbals, uttering in a kind of frenzy their shrill cries of grief. There is all the ageless sorrow of the world in the austere and simple sentence, “He was his mother’s only son and she was a widow.” Jesus was moved to the depths of his heart. There is no stronger word in the Greek language for sympathy and again and again in the gospel story it is used of Jesus.”

Jesus was moved deeply with compassion for this woman, He was hurting with her. Maybe today is your day; maybe, just maybe Jesus is coming into your world right now. When He visits your city all the dead things come alive and your days of sorrow will be finished.

RHYTHM OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Mk.6:30-32 – The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.v

Come and rest awhile. Spiritual rest and renewal is critical if we want to effectively minister to people. Actually it was a form of spiritual exhaustion that brought me to a place of renewal. My spiritual resources were drained, in other words I was running on empty and didn’t know it. If we are always doing, doing, doing and giving, giving, giving we will have absolutely nothing left to give. This was what the Lord was trying to avoid when He took the disciples aside to rest. Sometimes all we really need is just time to be alone with Jesus. Here is the way William Barclay describes what he calls the rhythm of the Christian life.

“There are two dangers in life. First, there is the danger of a too constant activity. No man can work without rest; and no man can live the Christian life unless he gives himself times with God. It may well be that the whole trouble in our lives is that we give God no opportunity to speak to us, because we do not know how to be still and to listen; we give God no time to recharge us with spiritual energy and strength, because there is no time when we wait upon him….Second, there is the danger of too much withdrawal. Devotion that does not issue in action is not real devotion. Prayer that does not issue in work is not real prayer….The rhythm of the Christian life is the alternate meeting with God in the secret place and serving men in the market place.”

The first danger is working on empty and never stopping to receive. The other danger is a little more subtle. It could be described as overly spiritual and even monastic. Setting yourself into a rigid routine of spirituality without actually ministering to people is the ditch on the other side of the road. We have to learn to practice the rhythm of the Christian life. Receiving and giving is the way of a disciple of Jesus.