Jesus Is in Time, on Time, Every Time

We sing that chorus knowing He isn’t in time, on time, every time.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus died in Bethany when Jesus was in Jericho. Lazarus’ two sisters, Mary and Martha, sent him a message that they needed Him.

The name Lazarus has the same meaning as Eliezer in Hebrew meaning “God is my help.” His hometown, Bethany, means “house of the poor.” According to historian Josephus the region in Judea was dedicated to the ministry of mercy.

What a perfect setting for Jesus to show up … and He waited for two days after getting the news before coming. Waited two more days? This means it was four days after the death of Lazarus that Jesus came. (John 11: 17) Why the delay must have been the question haunting Mary, Martha, and others. 

Now as then there is always wisdom and love in the actions of Jesus. Jesus knew there was good reason to delay and at the time Mary and Martha didn’t. 

Have you ever been involved in such a scenario?

Jesus knew of the traditional belief of the time that after death the soul of the deceased lingered over the body three days hoping to be allowed to return therein. Not being allowed to return into the body the soul departed.

Jesus, knowing of the miracle He desired to perform, knew that if He did it after Lazarus had been dead only three days people would say it was before the spirit had left the body, giving support to the tradition. Waiting till the fourth day everyone believed Lazarus was dead, dead.

Standing at the tomb of Lazarus Jesus prayed to the Father, “I know that you always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that you sent Me.” (John 11: 42)

Then He made known His request of the Father as a command to Lazarus, “Lazarus, come forth!” and he did. 

As in this case the delays of Jesus are always based on love and knowledge. There is always a purpose in Jesus’ delay; “many believed.” (John 11: 45)

There is an interesting aside to the story. Most know the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” He is thus depicted as being sensitive to our needs.

BUT, Jesus showed another emotion. The NKJ reads “Jesus groaned in His spirit” (John 11: 33 & 48) A more literal translation in keeping with the times is Jesus snorted. It was a term depicting the strongest of anger. It was used to depict a horse arrayed for battle, raring on his hind legs, pawing the air, and charging into battle. Jesus wept, but He also expressed the strongest of anger. Why?

Because He saw the results of sin: death, sorrow, and weeping. He was angry at Satan who had caused this death and sorrow in the perfect world He  created. As with the horse, He charged into battle. He went to the cross and died for sin, and on the third day He arose triumphant over sin, death, and the grave. Now as then He was in time, on time, that time according to His plan. He, not we, is the time keeper in order to fulfill His knowledgeable and loving plan for us. He was, as after, in time, on time, every time, according to his plan and time. Sing it confidently.

We must set our time by His time, not His time by our time. Always do it.

You: A Thing of Beauty

Read Ephesians 3: 8 – 10

Jesus Christ loves beauty. Therefore, He loves you. Don’t discount that statement and thereby diminish your own self-worth. In considering the enormity of “all things” don’t forget one thing —- you. You are the product of His creative genius and love. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

You are a work in progress and perhaps the greatest beauty is yet to be seen. We are His workmanship.” The word “workmanship” translates the Greek POIEMA. In that you can hear our English word poem. From where does a poem come? It comes from the mind of the poet. God has you in mind in His workshop. POIEMA can be translated “masterpiece.” If you are a Christian, you are a masterpiece of God’s handiwork. He is in the continuous process of conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ.

John 15:16 should cause you dignity and give a sense of self-worth: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” We are “Created in Christ Jesus.”

God wants to make you what He can contemplate with delight. Every improvement He desires is for your good and His glory. It IS for your good.

How this new spiritual creation comes to be is explained in Ephesians 2: 8 & 9. It is by grace. Grace means to give divine favor. It means God giving to us everything we need without us deserving it. It means the blessing of God granted to us without us meriting it. We obtain this grace by faith. Some argue that our faith is our work which merits God’s favor.

Think for a moment. When you are thirsty and reach for a drink of water, what quenches your thirst, your hand or the water? Your hand is only the means of receiving the water. Our faith, which has in it no merit, is simply the means of receiving God’s unmerited favor.

The Lord chose one of the most common everyday principles as the connecting point by which salvation becomes ours. It is faith. It is a common every day act in which we engage many times.

Faith that is basic to human nature is what our Lord uses to draw us to Himself. If we can have faith in the promises and potential of earthly things, surely we can have faith in Him.

It is a gift of God. Gifts are purchased for us by those who love us at no cost to us. That loving purchase was made at Calvary.

Though salvation is not by works it should logically lead “Unto good works.” Therefore, resolve, today I will think as the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) Therefore, go get ‘um.

Jesus Loved You Enough to Pray for You

Read John 17:20-26

Use your imagination to envision Jesus praying on the Temple Mount for the last time, a significant time.

He prayed “for those which shall believe on me throughout the world.” That is us. YOU!

Jesus does not talk with His followers anymore. The importance of this teaching is indicated by it being His last. He prayed for ALL Christians then alive and those to come, us. Our primary reason for living and our style of living should be “… that the world may believe.” (Vs. 21)

Glory from a spiritual standpoint means character, not aura, authority, or acclaim (Vs. 22). Jesus says I have given them Your character to enable them to be one. God loved the world so much that He got involved and became vulnerable.

In playing sports, the player who holds back and tries to protect himself is the one who is most likely to get hurt. Likewise, it is impractical for a believer to hold back love. One who does not only hurts others, but self also.

Four paradoxes of an A+ life are germane to the Christian life:
1. We surrender to win.
2. We must give away to keep.
3. We have to suffer to get well.
4. We have to die to live.

To do what these four paradoxes demand: surrender, give away, to suffer, to die, sounds like weakness; but the products resulting: win, keep, get well and live are strengths. It is a great life, if you weaken, for it is then you gain strength.

When a person discovers life’s meaning is embodied in the person of Christ, then their eyes begin to open.

Thomas A’Kempis in Imitation of Life commented – “If only your heart were right, then every created thing would be to you a mirror of life and a book of holy teaching.”

The ancient mariner did not need to know the constituency of the stars, or their temperature. He merely needed to know how to find the North Star – the guiding star. Our ambition should be to identify our spiritual North Star and stay locked on to Him.

Jesus prayed “That they… may be with Me.” (Vs. 24a)

This portion of the prayer surely relates to our ultimate and eternal destination, but it also involves daily association. We are to be with Him day by day in the truest sense of the principle.

Using your imagination again, come kneel beside Him and pray “Thy will be done.”

Jesus’ Gift to You

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:13-15)

Jesus was taking His last stroll with His disciples before His betrayal. Knowing the trauma that was imminent and the travail that would ensue, He spoke words of caution and comfort. He related principles that would bring joy, peace, hope, and happiness to His followers.

In our carnal and corrupt society we need a supernatural Helper to guide us. In a cartoon a very contemporary college student is pictured talking with a missionary. You know it is a missionary because he is depicted wearing shorts and a pit helmet. The student asks, “What do you do when you can’t stand the superstition, violence, and savagery any longer?” The missionary replied, “It is simple, I just get back on the plane and go back to the mission field.”

We need a Helper to guide us through the maze of superstition, violence, and savagery. Christ gave us the Holy Spirit for just such a purpose.

Having spoken of the expediency of faith in order to have happiness, He moved quickly to assert obedience was an absolute essential. The root word for faith and obedience is the same. If we have faith we obey God’s Word and will.

To help stabilize them and us He spoke of a Companion, a Helper, the Comforter, Who will abide with all His followers of all ages, giving greater cause for happiness.  

Having said He was going away for their good, He then said, “…if I do not go away the Helper will not come…”  “The Helper…!” That is what we need.

In John 14: 16 Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.”  The expression “another” means another of the same kind. The mysteries of the Trinity and Holy Spirit are challenging. We can better understand the Trinity if we use the term Tri-Unity, that is three-in-one. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  It helps our understanding if we properly conceive of the Holy Spirit as being Christ’s Spirit with us. Christ was here on earth physically. In saying it was good that He go away, He promised the gift of the Spirit. Thus, when He went away bodily He sent His Spirit in order to be with all people everywhere at once.

Walking along that rocky path from Mount Zion through the Kedron it would have been easy to stumble. Knowing Jesus’ capacity for seizing the moment to teach perhaps one of the disciples did stumble and Jesus found it to be a teachable moment. He said, “I have spoken to you that you should not be made to stumble.” (Vs. 1)  

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, was to be given to help prevent believers from stumbling. When we stumble physically it is always a surprise and a shock.  He didn’t want them caught off guard by what was about to happen and the consequences. We need to exercise the same caution.

Such a God can relate to you in your perplexity and pain.

If you are a Christian you have the gift of the Holy Spirit, so don’t go around feeling like a second class Christian. Better still, don’t act like one.  You are an empowered Child of the King. Be loyal to the royal blood that flows in your veins.

When Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer,
The Holy Spirit is imparted to the believer.
The Spirit is not given because of our attainment,
But because of Christ’s atonement.

The giving of the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ birthday gift to every believer at the moment of new birth. If you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit. Now let the Holy Spirit have you. Biblically we are charged to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That means to be controlled by Christ.

Forewarned Is To Be Forearmed

“These things I have spoken to you so that you will not be led into sin. They will ban you from the synagogue, yet an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering a service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. However, I did not say these things to you at the beginning, because I was with you. “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, grief has filled your heart. But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving; for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world regarding sin, and righteousness, and judgment:regarding sin, because they do not believe in Me; and regarding righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you no longer are going to see Me; and regarding judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them at the present time. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take from Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; this is why I said that He takes from Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:1-15)

Our unstable society has caused some to be apprehensive, even fearful of difficult times coming. Hopefully they aren’t, but if they do we should be spiritually and mentally ready. Therefore, consider Jesus’s conversation with His disciples as His life neared an end.

As they moved from Mt. Zion to Gethsemane, Christ warned His followers of pending problems in order to avoid them being offended. The word offended is “skandalon,” meaning to be given an occasion to stumble, (Vs. 1) and be ready to die if necessary. Literally, “Don’t be trapped” by circumstances. It is an encouragement not to be surprised by difficulty.

Sorrow was forthcoming for the apostles. (Vss. 1-6)

This principle causes some to stumble if it is not rightly understood. Jesus gave His followers a simple, clear forewarning of persecution. When Bible translator Tyndale was being persecuted for his efforts to put the Bible in the hands of people, he said, “I never expected anything else.” He employed the appeal to be ready for it. 

Christ informed them so they would “not be offended,” that is, they would not stumble.

Today suffering is met with varying responses. Often persons become bitter and critical of God.

The wife of C.S. Lewis, Joy, died of cancer. In his book, “A Grief Observed,” he described one phase through which he went. It is not all together different from our own at various times: “Not that I am…in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not, ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but, ‘So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”

Isaiah revealed Christ not to be an indifferent, remote God but an involved, caring, compassionate God: “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” (Isaiah 53: 3,4)

Christ does not just share our suffering, but He lovingly allows us to share His. In this light a believer can see being privileged to share in the suffering of the cross. So don’t complain. To add to this concept read  I Peter 4:1, 12-13.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis wrote, “When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die. Receiving Christ as Lord means preparing for battle. It means doing what He tells you to do, when He tells you to, how He tells you to do it, where He tells you to do it, as He did.”

Don’t live captive by worry, but daily be blessed by the joy inherent in your salvation.