Thursday, March 17, 2016, 3:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 11 (select vv. ESV). https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+11&version=ESV Take Your Burdens (vv. 1-4) Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus Christ came to earth, not just so he could die for our sins, but so he could become our compassionate and merciful high priest. When he walked the face of this earth, he suffered just like we suffer, and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. So, when we who are his servants suffer, he feels our pain, and he cares. Yet, our sufferings do not take him by surprise. He is completely sovereign and in control over every aspect of our lives, and he has a plan and a purpose for everything we go through. So, we need to take our burdens to him in prayer, making our requests before him, and then we need to trust him and rest in him to work it all out for his purposes and glory. Believe in Him (vv. 17-27) Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Jesus already knew what he was going to do, so even though he received the news of Lazarus’ illness, he stayed where he was two more days. Then he told his disciples that Lazarus was asleep, by which he meant that he was dead, and that he, Jesus, was going to wake him. God does not operate on our timetable. He doesn’t always do things the way we think he ought, or in the timing which would make us the most comfortable. Yet, he sees the big picture. All we see is what is right before our eyes. There are so many other things going on when God is at work than what we could possibly imagine. What we are going through isn’t just about us. He is working in other people’s lives, too. Other people are watching our lives. They are observing how we respond to our circumstances, and they may make their decisions about Jesus based on the Jesus they see in our lives. We are not the only lives touched by what we are going through, in other words. God is working in many lives by what he does, so we have to just trust him, even when we don’t understand it all. We have to believe him, that he knows best, and that he will do what is truly in our best interest. Remember His Promises (vv. 38-44) Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Sometimes we need to be reminded of God’s promises to us, because when our circumstances seem to be overwhelming, we may easily forget, and we may be tempted to worry. Occasionally we may have a death of the vision, before we see the reality of it, too. In other words, there are times when our faith will be tested, and we will have to trust the Lord with what is going on in our lives even when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have to believe that he is absolutely in control, and that he is going to accomplish his will and purposes through it all, which is oftentimes for the faith of others. Right now my husband and I are planning to move to Ohio from South Carolina. We have a house to sell, and housing to find in Ohio, and a move to plan, etc. We know that God said “Go,” so we are going. And, we are selling our house by owner, which is a first for us. Thus, there are lots of details and things to be worked out, yet my comfort is in knowing that God is in this move, and that he has all these details already worked out for us. I just have to step out in faith, believe in his promises, and take the necessary steps, one step at a time, trusting him to work it all out just as he has planned. So, when I read verse 40, which I bolded in the text, it brought much comfort to my heart, because I believe God has a purpose in all of this far beyond what my eyes can presently see. I believe this move is not just about us, but God has other people’s lives he wants to touch through this, too. Trust Him with the Results (vv. 45-53) Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. Although, from all outward appearances, this situation seemed utterly hopeless, there was a purpose for it to go down the way that it did. This was for the salvation of many people’s lives. As well, the response of many of the Jewish leaders to what Jesus did had an ultimate purpose for the salvation of the people of the whole world. The more that Jesus did to show love and compassion to the hurting, the more the religious leaders of his day hated him and were jealous of him, because they felt their own positions of power and influence were threatened by him and his popularity among the people. Yet, their hatred of him is what ultimately led to his crucifixion, which was for the salvation of the world, for when he died he took on himself all our sins, and he put them to death, so that we could be saved. So, just because we are following Jesus with our lives, we believe in him, we rest in his promises, and we believe him for the results, this does not mean everything will go smoothly for us, or that we won’t experience bumps along the way. Just because we go with God wherever he leads us also does not mean that we won’t face persecution, rejection, hatred and maybe even death for our testimonies for Jesus Christ. Yet, we must believe God that he has it all worked out for our good and for the salvation of many lives, so in that we can rest, and trust him to do what he had planned all along. We just need to keep our eyes fixed on him and not on our circumstances, and then believe him for the results. I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012 Based off Psalms 121-125 I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High. My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin. He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep. Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep. I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High. My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin. I give thanks to Him. I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n. I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n. Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ. Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life. I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n. I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n; My home, now in heav’n. Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side. Our help found in Him. He gives peace within. Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need. Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed! Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side. Our help found in Him. He gives peace within. I can count on Him.