7 Steps to Spiritual Fruitfulness

Time to Prune my Rose Bush!

My Rose Bush Needs Pruning Again

Does Your Life Need Pruning? – Part-2

In Part-1 of this series, we examined John 15:1-8.  God the Father is looking for fruit in the lives of His children.  Jesus said that if we abide in Him (Jesus), then we will bear fruit.  He also said that the Father prunes those abiding in Him (Christ), so they will bear more fruit.

Pruning is not meant to hurt you, or suck the fun out of life.  It is meant to make you better.  Christians who really want to please God should be grateful to have sin and harmful influences removed from their lives.  At times, even good things may need to be removed to make room for better and best.

This post will suggest 7-Steps for becoming more fruitful as a way to reduce the need for God to prune you.

How to Avoid God’s Pruning

The way to avoid being pruned by God is to recognize what needs to be pruned out of your life, and take action before God has to.  God’s children should want to produce spiritual fruit.  We should want to remove the things that hold us back.  We should “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares” us (Heb. 12:1-2).

This process, of course, should be conducted in harmony with the Spirit of God. You should pray for guidance as you search God’s Word, seeking His will.

Seven Steps to Fruitfulness by Pruning Your Own Life:

1. First, you must critically and honestly examine your life

• As the apostle Paul said, “Let a man examine himself . . .” (1 Cor. 11:28a / KJV)
• And “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. . .” (2 Cor. 13:5a / ESV).

2. Confess any sin in your life

• “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 / KJV).

3. Repent of any Routine or habitual sins in your life, and Remove them

• “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works . . .” (Rev. 2:5 / KJV).
• “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19 / KJV).
• “Lay aside every . . . sin” (Heb. 12:1).

4. Ditch the Doubtful

The Bible does not provide specific instructions for every situation.  In these cases, even sincere Christians may disagree about what is acceptable.  Romans 14:1-23 and 1 Cor. 10:12-33 both provide guidance about doubtful things.  You should never violate your conscience.  And you should be willing to give some things up for the benefit of others.

Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you

Ultimately it is better to sacrifice things that might be permissible than to do something you think may be wrong.  Unless you are fully convinced that something is acceptable, it is wrong for you to do.  As the old saying goes, “If it is doubtful, it is dirty.”

If you want to do something, but have doubts about it, then study it out.  Study God’s Word, pray about it, and seek godly counsel.  But do not do it unless you are fully convinced that it is acceptable.  Never violate your conscience.

• The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves” (Rom. 14:22 / NASB).
• “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23 / ESV).
• “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 / KJV).

5. Diminish Distractions

Identify any areas in your life where you often invest excessive time, energy, or attention.  These things may not be bad or sinful in of themselves, but they can become idols if you love them more than God.  Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best.

Hobbies, sports, and entertainment often fall into this category.  They may be good in moderation, but can be overdone.  Even family, friends, and work can interfere with your fruitfulness.  You do not have to cut these things out of your life entirely, but you may need to trim some of them back.

Even good things can be bad if they keep you from doing what is best

• In 1 Corinthians, Paul said that all things are lawful, but not everything is expedient. Not everything edifies us or makes us better. And we should not let anything bring us under its power. (1 Cor. 6:12; and 1 Cor. 10:23)
• We are also commanded, “Love not the world, neither the things in the world . . . (1 John 2:15-17)
• While you do not have to stop these things entirely, sometimes “complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation” (St. Augustine).

6. Filter your Friends

You become like those you spend time with.  Are your friends helping you grow spiritually or hindering you?

What are your friends like? Do they love God or the world?  Do they talk about spiritual things or the things of the world?  Do they want to please God or their peers?  Are they seeking spiritual fruit or worldly pleasure?

Are your friends helping you . . . or hindering you?

• “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2 / KJV).
• “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Prov. 13:19 / KJV).
• “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).

7. Replace what you Remove

Most of what we do is habitual.  Breaking habits is hard.  And as the saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

If you want to succeed in removing something bad from your life, it is important to replace it with something good.  This applies to habits, friends and food; anything you try to prune from your life.

After all, the whole reason for removing sin, distractions, and negative influences from your life is to make room for better things.  It is to free up your time, energy and affections for godly habits and pursuits.  The goal of this pruning is to increase your spiritual fruitfulness by becoming more like Jesus.  So replace the things you remove with fruitful activities that will please and honor God.

Are you ready to voluntarily go to work pruning your own life?  Or will you wait for God to do it for you?

To prune or be pruned, that is the question

What will you do?

 

This concludes part-2 of this three part series on Pruning.

If you have not read part-1, Click Here to be taken to it.

Part-3 will examine the relationship and differences between Chastisement, Natural Consequences, and God’s Pruning.

Arrow Pointing Right

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Does Your Life Need Pruning?

Prune that rose bush

That Branch was Out of Control – It Needed Pruning

When I arrived home from work one day, I noticed a wildly overgrown branch on a rose-bush in our front garden.  I hadn’t noticed the growth of this branch as it was happening.  Suddenly, it was just there.

That one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush.  So it had to go.

That one branch had grown longer and taller than the rest of the bush.  It served no useful purpose.  It had no flowers, and added nothing to the beauty of the rose-bush.  It just stuck out and looked silly.

My wife must have noticed it too, because a few days later she cut it off.

We were not mad at the rose-bush.  We did not want to hurt it or punish it.  But that one extra-long branch was detracting from the beautiful purpose of the rose-bush.  So it had to go.

“Pruning is a horticultural . . . practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant . . . . Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping, . . . improving or maintaining health, . . . and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from crop and landscape plants.” (Wikipedia/Pruning).

Gardeners routinely use pruning to improve the health, appearance and fruitfulness of plants.

People Need Pruning Too

God is the master gardener.  The Bible says that God the Father prunes unproductive things from the lives of His children to make them more fruitful (John 15:20).

The night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.
John 15:1-8 (KJV)

God is the master gardener

God wants His children to be fruitful.  So like a good gardener, He watches over us, cares for us, and prunes our lives.  The Father’s pruning involves the targeted removal of things in our lives that hinder our fruitfulness.

God’s pruning is meant to improve us, not harm us.  But that does not mean we will enjoy the process.

If this seems harsh, please understand that it is better to be trimmed than cut off entirely.  Jesus said that those who abide in Him will bear fruit.  So a lack of fruit demonstrates that one is not abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ (John 15:4-5).  And if anyone does not abide in Christ, they will be thrown away as a branch and cast into the fire.

Pruning is meant to improve us – Not harm us

To prune or be pruned, that is the question

There may be a way to avoid being pruned by God.  The way is prune our lives before God does.  . . .

 

This is the first article in a three-part series.  The next article provides 7-Steps for pruning your life before God does.

Click Here to continue on to Part-2

 

 

Hasty Feet Miss the Way!

Wrong Way

Are You Rushing the Wrong Way?

Fools do not pause to gain knowledge, understand, and plan.  Instead, they just foolishly chase their desires without getting knowledge first.  They act without understanding, so their foolish actions lead to disaster and result in ruin.  As the old saying goes, “Haste makes waste.”

Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way!
A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD. (Prov. 19:2-3 / NIV)

Rather than acknowledging their own folly, fools blame God for their failures.  Instead of learning from their mistakes, fools rage against God for withholding their desires from them.  As a result, they never gain the knowledge that would help them succeed in the future.  Fools just wallow in their ignorance, unbelief, and self-pity instead.

Another old adage says, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”

The way of wisdom is to gain knowledge by studying, doing research, and getting wise counsel (Prov. 11:14, 15:22, 24:6) so you will understand.  If the goal is worthy, use that knowledge and understanding to wisely plan how to attain your desired goal.  Then work the plan until you accomplish it.

Those who are wise will also:
• Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5)
• Bath their plans and actions in prayer (1 Thes. 5:17; Mt. 21:22; Phil. 4:6)
• Acknowledge God in all their ways and plans (Prov. 3:5-6; 1 Cor. 10:31; James 4:13-15; Col. 3:23)
• Evaluate their results as they progress toward their goal
• Adjust their plan as needed to stay on course
• Give thanks and praise to God for the results (1 Thes. 5:18; Phil. 4:6)

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. (Prov. 21:5 / NIV)

So the next time you are tempted to hastily rush into action, first take time to prepare, plan, and pray.

Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?

God's Word, the Bible

Bible Truth Illuminated

Have you ever wondered why Jesus cursed the fig tree? (Mat. 21:17-21 and Mk 11:12-24)

My daughter-in-law asked me that question.  I think many other people are wondering the same thing.  I must admit, the last time I read it, I thought, “Poor fig tree. It wasn’t its fault; it wasn’t fig season.”

We should remember that trees do not have the breath of life, and have no living soul.  God gave us trees for food, and shade, to create oxygen, and for a variety of other uses.  The wood of trees is used for building and to make fires.  We really should not feel sorry for the tree.

 Jesus is looking for fruit

But why did He do it?  Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

The cursing of the fig tree occurred the day after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus knew His time was short.  He knew He was going to be crucified in less than a week, but He still had much to teach His disciples.  I believe Jesus cursed the tree as an object lesson with a double purpose.

God wants His children to bear abundant fruit

The first lesson is that Jesus is looking for fruit.  God wants us to be fruitful, and to bear spiritual fruit in our lives.  God does not accept excuses.  If we bear no fruit, there is no reason for us to be here.

Luke 13:6-9 records a parable about another fruitless fig tree:

“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” (KJV)

In this parable, the owner had been looking for fruit on his fig tree for 3-years, but there was none. He told his gardener to cut it down, asking why a useless fruit tree should be allowed to take up space and take nutrients out of the soil.  The gardener asked to be allowed to cultivate and fertilize the soil around the tree to give it the best chance of becoming fruitful, but agreed that it should be removed after another year if it was still fruitless.

“The parable of the sower” also highlights the importance of bearing spiritual fruit in our lives

The parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20) is really a parable about the hearts of people and our response to the working of God in our lives.  Jesus told of a farmer who spread his seed on four types of soil, but only the seed planted on good soil grew plants that produced fruit.  When asked to explain this parable, Jesus said that the seed represents the Word of God, and the soils represent people.  The good soil that bears fruit are the people who hear God’s Word, accept it, and produce abundant fruit “some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.”  This is the response God wants.

The last supper occurred only few days after the fig was cursed and withered.  During the last supper, Jesus clearly told His disciples:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.”  (John 15:1-8 / KJV)

God wants His children to have complete Faith

The second lesson is about the importance of having faith in God with no doubts.  When the disciples saw that the tree Jesus cursed had withered and died in less than a day, they were amazed.  This provided Jesus with a teachable moment.

The Bible records:

“And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.” (Matt. 21:21 / ESV)
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24 / ESV)

Jesus told His disciples that they could do even greater miracles than withering the fig tree if they had enough faith and did not doubt.  I ‘ve heard people say that they think this was just a figure of speech or exaggeration, because they do not believe anyone could move a mountain.  That unbelief automatically disqualifies a person from having their prayers answered.  You must believe in order to receive.

Other scriptures provide additional guidance to receiving what you pray for.  Here a few:
• You must ask, but not to consume it on your lusts (James 4:2-3)
• You must ask in Jesus’ name, which means it must be something Jesus would do to glorify God the Father (John 14:13-14)
• You must ask in faith without doubting – you must know exactly what you want and ask for it (James 1:6-7)
• You must be single minded – you must know exactly what you want and ask for it (James 1:6-8)

By His example of the cursing of the fig tree, Jesus demonstrated that we should have a good reason for what we pray.  Jesus had at least two reasons for cursing the fig tree.  He did it to teach His disciples about the importance of bearing fruit.  He also used it to teach the  importance of having absolute faith in God when you pray.

 You must believe in order to receive

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Only One Way

There is Only One Way to Heaven

Only One Way

There was an old saying that “All roads lead to Rome.”  But how many roads lead to Heaven?  Have you ever asked for directions to Heaven?  Can a GPS point the way?

People often claim there are many ways to Heaven.  But what does the Bible say?

I just published an article in the Salvation section of the Revealed Truth website.  Come study God’s Word with me to learn what the Bible says about how to go to Heaven at: Only One Way.

How to Please Your Heavenly Father

Revealed Truth

Revealed Truth

Do you seek to please and honor your Heavenly Father?

Today is Father’s Day in America. Many will seek to please and honor their earthly father by spending time with him today. They may enjoy a special meal together or give him gifts. If they cannot get together with him in person, they may send cards, texts, emails, or talk on with him the phone.

We all have a Father in Heaven as well. He created all of us in His image. He gave each of us life and gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). He is merciful and showers good gifts on the unjust as well as the just (Mt. 5:45).

God gives even more to those who believe in Him, repent of their sin, and trust in His Son Jesus as their savior from sin. These enter into a special relationship with Him and are adopted into His spiritual family. They are born again spiritually, receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and have eternal life.

Are you a child of God? If you are, do you seek to please and honor your Heavenly Father? You might ask, “How can I do that?” The answer is in God’s Word. Have you read in the Bible today? That is always a great way to start.

The answer is in God’s Word

Today is Sunday, “the Lord’s day.” Did you gather together with a group of God’s other children to worship Him and pray, sing His praise, and hear the preaching of His Word? Have you let Him speak to you through personal Bible study and private prayer? Have you thanked and praised Him for all He has done for you?

You might be thinking, “I thought you were going to teach us how to please God.” In case the above has been an insufficient hint, let’s examine what Proverbs 15: 8-9 says. These two verses contrast the wicked and the upright, and God’s feelings about them.

Prov. 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight.
Prov. 15:9 The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD: but He loveth him that followeth after righteousness. (KJV)

• “An abomination” is something disgusting, detestable, abhorrent, or abominable.
• “The way” refers to one’s routine path, habitual behavior, and lifestyle.

God hates the sinful lifestyles of the wicked, and despises their hypocrisy when they go through the motions of worshiping Him. “The way of the wicked” is so detestable to God that even their sacrifices and offerings are abhorrent to Him.

God loves those who “follow after righteousness”

On the other hand, God loves those who “follow after righteousness.” This can be translated as those who “pursue righteousness.” “Following after” or “pursuing” righteousness describes a habitual behavior. It is a lifestyle that actively seeks to do what is right. It describes the behavior of the upright who seek to please God by doing what is good in His sight. And the prayers of the righteous are “His delight.”

The prayers of the righteous are “His delight”

It should be noted that “pursuing” or “following after” righteousness does not indicate perfection. We are all sinners, so even the upright stumble and occasionally stray off the straight path of righteousness. But the upright quickly confess their sin, repent of their error, and return to the right way.

You might ask, “How do I pursue righteousness? How can I know the way?” When Thomas asked Jesus this question, Jesus replied, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6 / KJV). The way of righteousness is the way of Christ. We are to abide in Jesus and His love (Jn. 15:4-12) by keeping His commandments and loving one another.

We should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33). We should be imitators of God and walk in love (Eph. 5:1-2). And for the truly committed, we should deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow after our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt. 16:24; Mk. 8:34; Mk. 10:21, and Lk. 9:23).

So if you want to please your Heavenly Father, pray to Him and actively pursue His righteousness.

Lessons from Nature – Biofilms

Searching for Truth

Searching for Truth

What is a Biofilm?

And why am I telling about it?

No, I am not talking about video biographies.  I spent 2 days being trained on biofilms in October of 2010, and learned some things worth sharing.

A biofilm is a community of microorganisms attached to a surface in a wet environment.  Biofilms can grow on any surface, anywhere there is water.  They form the plaque on your teeth, the scum in your shower, the slime on river rocks, . . .

A bacterium that comes in contact with a surface while it is swimming along will grab on and attach itself to the surface.  It will throw away its flagella (the tail like appendage it uses like an outboard motor) and anchor itself to the surface with new post like appendages.  Like attracts like, so where one microorganism attaches, more will soon follow.

A whole community can spring up in a matter of hours.  Bacteria are not picky or prejudiced.  They will let anyone join their community, so most biofilms contain many different types of bacteria living and working in harmony with one another.  They communicate with each other chemically, even inter-species.

Where one microorganism attaches, more will soon follow

As they grow, biofilms grow complex structures like columns rather than just becoming one big blob.  They create channels that allow for the flow of water, nutrients, and oxygen through the community like the blood vessels in our circulatory system.  As a result, the biofilm does not starve or suffocate itself as it grows.

A biofilm “understands” its environment and responds accordingly.  Under favorable growth conditions, when there is a lot of food available, the community will send out “pioneers.”  Pioneers are single cells with flagella that are sent out to colonize new locations.

Under poor conditions, when there is no food available, the cells stop multiplying.  Instead, some are programmed to die and spill their guts.  The cells that lay down their lives this way, provide food for those surrounding them.  Their sacrificial death allows others to live.

I find these and many other facts about biofilms to be quite fascinating.  But why did I tell you about them?

Biofilms can illustrate many spiritual truths.  Here are four:

First – Even though people tend to refer to single cell bacteria as simple organisms, there is really nothing simple about them. They are highly complex! Their behaviors even seem intelligent. That is because extraordinary programming was designed into them. Complexity like this does not happen by chance. They were purposefully designed this way by an ingenious creator!

Second – Biofilms are like habits.  They can be good or bad depending on the circumstances.  Some bacteria help us digest our food.  Many bacteria break down and “eat”waste products.  For example, oil eating bacteria helped digest the oil that was spilled in the Gulf of Mexico.  This helped clean up the mess up for us and reduced the ecological impact.  But other bacteria can make us sick or do significant damage.

The best way to avoid biofilms is to prevent them from getting started.  Biofilms are easily removed when they are just beginning.  Regular cleaning will easily remove them.  However, biofilms form shells of inorganic deposits around themselves.  If biofilms are allowed to grow, these shells protect them, making them extremely difficult to remove.  Frequent cleaning to prevent them from getting established is the key.

Likewise, bad habits are much easier to prevent than they are to get rid of.  We need to stop them from getting established in the first place.  The best way to do that is to keep our lives clean, and confess our sin immediately as it occurs.

The best way to avoid bad habits is to prevent them from getting started

Third - The cells in a biofilm form a community.  Even if they are not all the same, they cooperate and work together for the good of the whole community.  Christians are all part of the body of Christ.  Even though we may have some differences, true Christians should all work together for the glory of God.

Forth - The programmed cell death that drives some cells to die so others can live reminds me of the gospel.  Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.  He laid down His physical life so we could live spiritually and have eternal life.
John 15:12 – This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 Jesus was our sacrificial lamb.  He laid down His physical life so we could live spiritually and have eternal life.

The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes

Almighty God

The Heavens Declare

Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

(The Sign of Four, 1890)

Atheists have rejected God as a possibility, so they claim that evolution, no matter how improbable, must be true. That is their story, and they are sticking to it. Even though evolution is just as fictional as the detective stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. (Rom 1:22 – KJV)

The Bible, our everyday experience, and the laws of nature, such as:
• The law of cause an effect
• The 1st Law of Thermodynamics – Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed from one form to another
• Bio-genesis – “Life comes only from life”
All declare that there must be a God.

There are no natural laws that allow matter to just appear out of nothing, for a gas cloud to compress itself into a star, or for life to come from non-life.  Since evolution is impossible, Creation by an infinite, self-existent God must be true.  The existence of the material universe, order, and life are all impossible apart from the power and intelligence of an almighty, creator God.

For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20 – NASB)

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 – ESV)

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Why Did Jesus Wait?

God's Word, the Bible

The Bible Illuminated

John 11:1-3 tells of a time near the end of Christ’s earthly ministry when Mary and Martha sent to Jesus, telling Him that their brother Lazarus was sick. Do you remember how Jesus responded to that news?

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. (John 11:5-6 / KJV)

The Bible specifically tells us that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. So when He learned that Lazarus was sick, you might have expected Jesus to hurry to Bethany to heal Lazarus. But that is not what He did. Instead, because He loved them, Jesus stayed where He was for another two days. Has this ever struck you as strange?

Why did Jesus Wait Two Days before going?

Our first clue is found in John 11:4. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (KJV). This passage shows Christ’s knowledge of God’s plan. This illness would not leave Lazarus dead. It would be used to glorify Jesus as God’s Son instead.

The second clue is found in John 11:17. Jesus only waited two days, but when He arrived, Lazarus had already been in the grave four days. So even if Jesus had left immediately, Lazarus would have been dead for at least two days by the time He got there.

Jesus waited so His disciples would believe

John 11:11-15 demonstrates that Jesus already knew that Lazarus was dead and what He would do. In verse 14, Jesus plainly told His disciples that Lazarus was dead. In verse 11, He told them that He was going to wake Lazarus from “sleep.” In John 11:15, Jesus told them that for their sake, He was glad that He was not there to heal Lazarus, so they may believe.

Jesus had already healed the sick, the lame, the blind, and the demon possessed many times. So people believed He could prevent the sick from dying.

This was evidenced by the words of Mary and Martha, who both told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). This faith was echoed by some of the Jews there who said, “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (John 11:37 / KJV)

Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died

Christ’s time on earth was growing short. The Passover when He would die was drawing nigh (John 11:55). His disciples needed to see His power over death and the grave before He was crucified, so they would believe His resurrection when He rose from the dead and left His tomb.

Jesus had raised the dead at least twice before. Mark 5:35-42 and Luke 8:49-55 both tell of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from her death-bed. Luke 7:11-15 records Jesus interrupting a funeral outside the city of Nain when He raised a widow’s only son from the dead.

These resurrections occurred right away before the bodies had time to decay. The raising of Lazarus would be different, and apparently two days was insufficient delay. So Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus said to roll the stone away.

This was so extraordinary that even Lazarus’ sister Martha objected. Jesus had told Martha that her brother would rise again (John 11:23). Jesus had told her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 / KJV). And Martha had professed faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God (John 11:27).

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live

Despite all this, even Martha objected when Jesus said to roll the stone away, saying, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39 / KJV). Jesus reminded her what He had told her “if you believe, you will see the glory of God” (John 11:40).

Jesus prayed to His Father and called Lazarus to come out. He who had been dead then walked out from his grave. Many who saw the glory of God in Christ’s raising Lazarus from the dead then believed in the Son of God (John 11:41-45).

This miracle upset the chief priests and Pharisees. They recognized that Jesus was performing many signs, and that concerned them. They were afraid that if they let Him continue, everyone would believe in Him. So they plotted to kill Jesus, saying He “should die for the people.” (John 11:46-53)

The chief priests and Pharisees could not diminish the power of this miracle though. The resurrection of Lazarus continued to draw people to Jesus. “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:10-11 / KJV).

So What Did Waiting Accomplish?

• It brought glory to God the Father, and Jesus His Son (John 11:41-42)
• It demonstrated that Jesus has power over death and the grave. It proved that He really is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25-26)
• It increased the Faith of His disciples. Jesus can do more than just prevent the sick from dying. This proved He can give life back to the dead.
• It drew more people to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (John 11:45; 12:9-11)
• It prepared people to believe in the resurrection of Christ. Jesus would rise on the third day, but Lazarus was raised after being dead four days.
• It ignited the decision of the chief priests and Pharisees to kill Jesus in fulfillment of the scriptures and God’s plan. (John 11:53)

The next time you are tempted to ask God, “Why?” Remember His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). There is a reason; there may be many.

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HE IS Risen!

He Is Risen

We Serve a Risen Savior!

We Serve a Risen Savior!

Jesus is Not in a grave;

HE IS Risen!

 

One of the biggest differences between the Christian faith and the religions of the world is that we serve a risen savior.

Jesus was not just a good man or a religious teacher.  Jesus was the Word of God who became flesh (John. 1:1, 14).  He Is the God-man.  Many people, even those who call themselves Christian, fail to realize the significance of this.

Jesus is the Lamb of God (John. 1:29) who died on the cross to pay for our sin, and because of His resurrection we can be justified in the sight of God (Rom 4:22-25).  God, our judge, can declare us righteous because those who place their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are covered by the life giving blood of Jesus, the Son of God.  As a result, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed (credited / attributed) to those of us who believe in Him.

 “It is Finished!”

These were Christ’s final words while dying on the cross.  By His righteous life, He had fulfilled all the requirements of the law.  He had fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies about Him.   He had done the will of the Father and completed all the work His Father had given Him to do.  All that was left was to give up His physical life by dying.  So He did.  “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John. 19:30).

Jesus Is Alive!

After completing His work (as the sacrificial lamb who would take away the sin of the world) on a Friday, Jesus rested on the seventh day.  On the morning after that sabbath, several women went to His tomb intending to anoint His body.  But it was gone!  When they arrived at the sepulcher, it was open!  The stone had been rolled away.  Instead of finding the body of Jesus, they found an angel, who said:

“. . . I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. . . .
Go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; . . . “

(Matt. 28:5-7a – KJV)

After His resurrection, as soon as He rose from the dead, Jesus got back to work.  He revealed Himself to His disciples (Luke. 24:13-48; 1 Cor. 15:3-8) , convincing them that He was alive (Acts 1:3) and commissioning them to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:29).

It is good to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is wise to seek Him.  But don’t look for His body in a grave as you would for Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the apostles, Mohamed, Joseph Smith, Buddha or any other religious leader.

If you would find Jesus, search the scriptures, for He Is the Word of God.  And look to the sky! (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes. 4:16-17)  For He has promised to return for His own (John 14:2-3).

By His death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered death.  So Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1Cor. 15:54-57)

 

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