Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 173: John 11:28-44 & Psalm 31 - How Powerful is the Voice of Jesus?

Today's reading: John 11:28-44 & Psalm 31

How Powerful is the Voice of Jesus?

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.”- John 11:43-44, ESV

Sometimes I wonder if we really believe in Jesus. Do we really believe He is who He said He is and that He is able to do what the Gospels say He did? In the Gospels themselves, Jesus' disciples often say things about Him and then immediately act as if they don't really believe what they just said. Peter called Jesus "the Christ, the Son of the Living God," and then almost immediately rebuked Him and said, "Far be it from you, Lord!"

We see a similar kind of disbelieving disconnect in today's passage, with both Martha and Mary saying, "Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died," and yet seemingly unable to believe that Jesus could do anything about their brother's death now. Martha had confessed Jesus as "the Son of God," but did she believe that the Son of God could raise the dead? She claimed to believe in the resurrection of the last day - a faith that Mary likely shared - but how could she trust God to raise everyone at the last day and not believe that Jesus could raise her brother now, on this day.

But aren't we the same? We believe that God will save us from sin and death and eternal hell, but we're not sure if we'll have enough money to pay our bills. We say we trust God with our lives, our souls and our eternity, but do we trust Him with the traffic, the political scene or our children? 

One thing cuts through the chaos of half-belief and doubt in the hearts and minds of Jesus' disciples: His voice. At the gave of Lazarus, Jesus calls with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" Immediately, the dead man comes to life and emerges from the tomb. The voice of Jesus is powerful enough to cut through confusion, grief, despair, death and the grave. The voice of Jesus brings the dead to life and brings confirmation to the confession of faith of Lazarus' sisters, weak as their faith may have been.

We hear the voice of Jesus in the Scriptures, by the power of the Holy Spirit, So often, when my faith has wavered and I have doubted, the Holy Spirit has brought Scripture to mind or led me to open and read. In Scripture, the voice of Jesus comes and penetrates by confusion and my doubt. The voice of Jesus is powerful still, despite my weak faith. 

Some people have been teaching that faith is all about what I say to God and how carefully and precisely I say it and believe it without wavering. But faith rests not on what I say to Jesus but on what He says to me. It is His word, and not my words, which matter most. So speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.    

Prayer Based on Psalm 31 - 

In You, O LORD, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in Your righteousness deliver me!
 Incline Your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!

 For You are my rock and my fortress;
    and for Your name's sake You lead me and guide me;
 You take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for You are my refuge.
 Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
    You have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

 I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love,
    because You have seen my affliction;
    You have known the distress of my soul,
 and You have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
    You have set my feet in a broad place.

 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
 For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.

 But I trust in You, O LORD;
    I say, “You are my God.”
 My times are in Your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
 Make Your face shine on Your servant;
    save me in Your steadfast love!
 O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
    for I call upon You.

 Oh, how abundant is Your goodness,
    which You have stored up for those who fear You
and worked for those who take refuge in You,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!

 Blessed are You, O LORD,
    for You have wondrously shown You steafast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
 I had said in my alarm,
    “I am cut off from Your sight.”
But You heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to You for help.

May Your saints always love You, O Lord!
    You alone preserve the faithful
    but You also abundantly repay the one who acts in pride.
 Let us be strong, and let our hearts take courage,
    as we who wait for You, LORD!

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