Monday, February 20, 2017

Do You Believe This?

For the last year, we have kept the Lipsey family in prayer as Joni fought her battle with cancer with grace and dignity. We have also prayed for others going through similar crises, some drawn out, and others experiencing more sudden losses.  Either way, part of being in the human family means the inevitability of death.  It can raise some very profound questions, including Is God there? and Does He care?  I believe the Bible teaches very clearly YES to both and provides us with God’s perspective on Hurt and Hope.

John 11:33-35
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

Things to think about:

·      This passage comes from the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. You will recall that Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary, early friends and followers of Jesus. 
·      "He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled”, “Jesus wept"
o  Jesus felt their very real pain. While He knew what He was going to do (raise Lazarus), in the moment He hurt alongside the friends He loved
o  What He didn’t say was, ”Hey don’t be sad, he’s in a better place now.”
§  Have you ever experienced someone’s well-intentioned but misplaced words of encouragement?
§  Why is it important to recognize the pain and grief that accompanies a great loss?
·      What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?  Why does the distinction matter? 
o  If you are going through a period of grieving, what difference does it make having someone with you who has gone through the same thing?
·      He went to them, He walked with them, He wept with them
o  Psalm 46:1 - "God is our refuge a strength, a very present help in times of trouble"
o  The origin of Greek word for the Holy Spirit is “parakletos” signifying “called to one’s side”
o  Isaiah 53:3 says in part, …”a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.”
o  Julius Caesar is famously quoted as having said, “I came, I sought, I conquered.” 
o  Jesus Christ says, “I went, I walked, I wept.” Two very different kinds of kings!
o  How does knowing God is there and He cares help you deal with life’s tragedies?
o  How can we be God’s hands and feet to others going through painful times?
·      Thankfully, as important as empathy is, Jesus doesn’t stop with identifying with our sorrow. He gives us hope that He has overcome death and if we believe, we will too.
·      In John 11:25-26 He said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
o  Wisely, Martha says, "“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
·      1 Corinthians 15 has much to teach us about death and what happens after life in this mortal body is over.
o  vv. 54-55 – “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

o  Moreover, in Hebrews 2:14-15, we learn, “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
§  And right there the shackles of man’s deepest fear, “What happens to me after I die?” are forever shattered! The bully’s biggest threat is exposed for the lie that is.
§  Does the thought of dying scare you?
§  How does the verse above shape your perspective of your own mortality?
·      1 Corinthians 15, verses 42-44, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
o  Thanks be to God who gives us hope that the fallen seed of our mortal bodies will be raised up anew imperishable, in glory, and in power!

·      So back to Jesus’ question for Martha – Do you believe this?

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