GOD'S TIME, #636
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. (JOH 11:22).
Can you and I believe that "even now" in the extremities of the trials and the struggles that we go through in our lives that whatsoever we ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, God will grant it? Can we believe that "even now," in times when all possibilities seem to fail? The Lord has His way that He leads His people, and the ways of the Lord are through the ways of impossibilities. The Scriptures so clearly reveal this throughout.
Now, we spoke in the previous chapter about events seen from Gods side. What was Gods purpose in the fact that the Lord Jesus tarried two days and waited till Lazarus was dead? He waited until Lazarus was in the grave and had already begun to deteriorate. Why did He do that? From Gods side we saw so clearly that it was for His glory.
However, now we want to take the other side of this same principle and look at it now from the standpoint of the believer. Here we see Martha and Mary who watched their loved one pine away and suffer and die. They saw their loved one brought into the grave, and Jesus still was not there. What would she say when she has now heard that Jesus has come?
JOH 11:17-22 says, "Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
Think of the extremity of the trial of her faith, and even now in the face of impossibility, her faith was on the blessed Redeemer. She could still look unto the Lord Jesus Christ and say, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
The Lords ways are ways of human impossibility. The Lord has decreed each trial of His true children to become impossible from our side. This isnt by accident. This isnt coincidence. It is of the Lords doing, and the Lord has His good reasons for this. We do not walk by sight, but we walk by faith, and now from our side it becomes impossible.
I want to use a few scriptural references to show how the Lord brings us into the dressing room and He undresses us of everything. Every hope and every thought of consolation from the side of the flesh is removed in order that the Son of God might be glorified. Then we see that all of our help is in the Lord. It isnt a mixture of Him sitting on the throne and us sitting on the other end as if we are sitting on a teeter-totter; now He does a little and we do a little.
There is so much religion today where people are going to help Jesus do things. Jesus is Almighty. If we are going to be led of the Lord, we become totally impotent in ourselves, and Christ becomes everything. He becomes all in all; this is the way the Lord leads His people.
In MAT 15:22-28 we read, "And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." This Canaanite woman recognized His lordship, His kingdom, and His kingship. She came to Him as Lord.
Normally what you and I would like to expect that when we come and confess His kingship, His lordship, and we even confess our sinner-ship, then we should immediately have the answer. However, that is not the way the Lord works. Lets follow the case scenario with this woman of Canaan to see how He handled the situation. The next verse begins with, "But he answered her not a word."
Isnt that exactly what we see in JOH 11 when Jesus received the message that Lazarus was sick. He waited two days. He came four days after he was in the grave, and all this time the Lord seemingly had paid no attention. From their side it seemed as if the Lord had just withdrawn Himself; everything of the flesh had to be emptied first.
Now watch what happened, "But he answered her not a word." As if that werent enough, "And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us."
I want you to see the discouragement that comes first. She did not receive immediate access to relief. The trial is an emptying process, the Lord empties us from vessel to vessel, to make room for Christ.
As long as we are still full of self, there is no room for Christ. As long as we are still filled with our own ability, and we have our own solutions figured out, there is no room for God to be glorified in His salvation. It is very important that we see through this. In our life struggles, the Lord will bring us (and I am not a stranger to this) to where we eat daily out of the Lords hand. We have neither knowledge nor any conception how He is going to provide for tomorrow.
The Bible tells of the man who tore down his barns and built bigger ones so that he could have much stored for many years. The Lord doesnt provide for His people that way. When the Israelites went out to gather manna they could gather enough for one day. If they gathered more it would breed worms and stink. EXO 16:19-20 says, "And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them."
The Lord wants you and me to know what it is to live out of His hand from day to day. The provision that He gives us for today is not going the settle the problem He sends us tomorrow. We need the Lord to make provisions for tomorrow. The Lord takes our eyes off our own ideas and our own wisdom; then we realize it is strictly that He has provided. Do you know why? Then He gets the glory. The whole purpose that we see recorded in the case of raising Lazarus from the dead was that God might be glorified. In every event of our lives, God must be glorified.
Watch how He handled this woman of Canaan. The first thing was that He did not answer her. His disciples asked Him to send her away. Did that send her away? I want you to see the proving ground. I want you to see that He put her faith to exercise.
Verse 25 says, "Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me." Have we ever been in that place? I have seen people who could stand and pray for an hour, and I am not saying it is bad, but some of it is probably formality. There is another aspect we should consider. I know what it is to come to where there is only one prayer I have left, and that is, "Lord, help me." We have no idea what to ask for. We have nothing left that we can ask, Lord, do this, or do this, or do this. We come to the end of ourselves; there is no way out, nothing is left that we could even imagine.
This plea is all she had left. The Lord would not answer. The disciples said to send her away. "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me." MAT 15:24-25.
From our side, we have to see why the Lord brings us into this emptying process. Verse 26 continues, "But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." Think of the answer. Here she lays prostrate before the Lord saying, "Lord, help me." His answer is, "It is not meet to take the childrens bread, and to cast it to dogs." She was a Canaanite. She said in Verse 27, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Do you know what this tells us?
She came before Him as a beast. We start to understand that we are unworthy. We start to understand what it is to become unworthy before Him, and that we come before Him only to plead mercy. There is only one basis left upon which we can come and plead before Him. We are not worthy of the childrens bread, outside of Christ. He is not going to cast it before dogs, but the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the masters table.
Look at the humble prayer. "Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters table." Now see the results of this humility in Verse 28. "Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
Notice the parallel between this and what we see in JOH 11 in the raising Lazarus from the dead. He did this for His glory, to glorify God and the glory of the Son of man. What was the result of the Canaanite womans plea? Look at the following verses.
In MAT 15:29-31 we read, "And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel."
A great multitude came unto him; they were sinners, but an unworthy sinner, a dog, had received a crown, and this was such a consolation that great multitudes came unto Him. They had every human frailty, and they could all be cured. Why? The Canaanite womans persistence and humility found grace and mercy.
Do you understand that you and I can rightly come before the Lord as a dog, like Asaph says in PSA 73:21-22, "Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee."
When we go now to talk to our fellow man, if we learn a little bit of this, now we learn to understand what the Lord said to Peter in LUK 22:32, " and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
When we can talk to our fellow man and explain that we were as a beast before Him and yet obtained mercy, that can be such an encouragement for our fellow man. How the Lord is glorified by it!
Now, Martha and Mary had sought help early. They hadnt waited until Lazarus was dead. However, Jesus waited His time because the Lord's ways are ways of human impossibility. That is often the way Jesus handles and deals with His people.
Now in JOH 11:5-7 we read; "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."
He waited until it was Gods time, and in Gods time, in the way of absolute impossibility. In JOH 11:21-22 we read, "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
See what an exercise of faith it is when it becomes absolutely impossible from our side, we still have hope in His mercy, because we know that whatever He asks God will do it. In other words, whatever we can ask truly in the name of Jesus Christ we know that God will do it. So we never despair even in absolute impossibilities.
God will accomplish His glory in our trials, which is His purpose. Every trial that you and I experience in this life is going to be for the purpose that we be able to tell the wonders of God. We will be able to tell our children, and our children can tell their children of the deliverance we saw in my father and my grandfather and in my son.
I was visiting with a person just the other night and was explaining that my mother has told that her father had hit a mule with a stick. He was afraid the mule was going to die and that he had so earnestly prayed for four days that the Lord would spare that mule, not because he needed the mule but that Gods Name would not be blasphemed on his account. God spared the mule. He could then tell this to his children, and I can tell it to my children and that is the third and the fourth generation.
We can tell that the Lord does hear prayer. We can tell of the instances when the Lord heard our prayers. We tell it to our children, and they tell it to their children.
Now what must His disciples say? Have you ever been in such a place where it seems as if you had been able to tell that the Lord has promised this and the Lord has promised that? Now it becomes so impossible through all human reasoning that it cant happen. Now, what must you say? Does that mean that God failed? Does that mean that He deceived you or that you deceived yourself? What must the disciples say?
In JOH 11:14-15 we read, "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead." He had told them that this sickness was not unto death. Do you see how we have to come to the Lord and see wherein His salvation lies?
I want you to see that this is not just an isolated case. The Lord led Abraham in the way of human impossibility. God promised him, "He that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir" in GEN 15:4.
However, it first became impossible to human reasoning. I want you to see in GEN 16:3. Ten years later, Abraham is becoming an old man. Sarai his wife is going past the time of life. They became desperate. And there is something that is most foolish, and it happens a lot. People start with human reasoning and figure out how they are going to bail the Lord out so that He doesnt turn out to be a liar. And that is exactly what Sarai did. "And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife." GEN 16:3.
She saw that ten years had gone by and she thought it through. How can we have that Abraham is going to have a child that is going to come out of his own bowels? I will give him my maid and let her have a son to fulfill Gods promise. Now that would still be from Abraham wouldnt it? So Sari is going to help the Lord a little. It doesnt always work. In fact it is a good way to bring a lot of grief into our own lives, so Abraham discovered.
Now, the Lord's time was not ten years but twenty years after He had promised that his heir should come from his own bowels. Then, "even now," Abraham was ninety and nine years old, Sarai ninety. Both of them were past the time of life. Now, it was humanly impossible that they should have a child. Even now, the Lord spoke to Abraham again as we see in GEN 17:15-16, "And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her." Now, this is twenty years. This was the Lords time. Abrahams time was ten years. The Lords time was twenty years. Watch what happened.
To Abraham's human reasoning it was now impossible and he wouldnt believe it any more. I want you to see the significance of something. Look at ROM 4:19-23, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Saras womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness."
It says in Romans that he staggered not through unbelief, but he glorified God, believing, but here we see that he fell upon his face and laughed.
Look at GEN 17:17. Here the Lord came to Abraham and told him, Sarah thy wife shall have a son: "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" Do you see how impossible it was humanly speaking? He actually laughed in his heart. Yet he staggered not through unbelief. He never doubted that what God said would be performed, but he had it figured out how he told the Lord he was going to do it. That is what made him laugh. He had figured out how the Lord was going to do it. He was going to bring about His promise through Ishmael. With his human reasoning he had figured out how God was going to keep His promise.
See how Joseph was brought through ways of human impossibility. In GEN 37:5-8 we read, "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words."
God clearly had spoken to Joseph. Joseph revealed it to his brothers, and it made them hate him. Now, in God's ways, all human possibility must first die, and most often His instruments of death come from those who the closest to us. Gods instrument may be your own brother, your own blood brother. That is what happened in the case of Joseph. With Abraham his stumbling block was his own wife. She was the one who said he should take Hagar because it had been ten years and there was still no child.
God used the jealousy of Joseph's own brothers. Look at GEN 37:18-20, "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams."
The brothers were going to make the dream impossible. They were going to kill him. Then they wouldnt have to worry about Joseph ruling over them, but God intervened. With His restraining grace, He did not allow them to fulfill their designs. However, in their own minds they had still accomplished their purpose, but in so doing they in fact brought about Gods very purpose.
It is very important that we see Gods hand in all these things that are actually over-ruling human designs and bringing about His very purpose.
David was brought through human impossibilities as we see in 1-SA 27:1. "And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand."
While he was there, David again came to the point of impossibility. His own men talked of stoning him, the men whom the Lord had brought to David. Look at 1-SA 30:6, "And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."
There is the answer to our problems. We have come to a point of absolute human impossibility where all human reasoning is removed. Davids human reasoning that he would now be safe in the land of the Philistines was set aside.
How could David encourage himself in the Lord? See what it does now. It brings him back in his memory to deliverances that the Lord has given. He could remember that the Lord delivered him out of the paw of the lion, that He delivered him out of the paw of the bear, and that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of the Philistine. He could remember how the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of King Saul. Now he was no longer looking at human reasoning, and he encouraged himself in the Lord. The Lord brings His people to that point that the Lord becomes their stay without any trace of conniving or human reasoning.
God-given faith raises possibilities in the light of impossibilities. Now, we see possibilities. Going back to Martha we see that "Even now" as from the dead she raise the possibility of life through Christ's intercessory prayer.
We see this with the Apostle Peter in LUK 22:31-32, "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." We need to find our consolation in the intercessory prayers of Christ. It is for His sake that the Father will hear, and it is when the Son of God intercedes on our behalf. Then the Father gives His approval. "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."
Notice in our text what was it that Martha said? She said, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." JOH 11:22.
She was pleading His intercession. And this is what we see here when the Lord was speaking to Peter. He said, "But I have prayed for thee." Christ prays with authority. When He comes before the Father and He pleads His own finished work, now He prays with a right to demand. You and I have no right. You and I have no basis upon which we can even ask the Lord outside of the perfect
In his own human reasoning Peter thought he could very well stand. We see that in LUK 22:33, "And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death." In his own strength, Peter thought he could stand, but Peter found how strong he was in faith when he entered Satan's sieve. In MAR 14:71 we read, "But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak."
When Peter was standing in his own strength, it fell and that is why the Lord placed him in the sieve of Satan. That was why the Lord allowed the hedge to be removed and allowed Satan to sift him as the wheat, because the chaff had to be sifted out. What was that chaff? It was his human ability, his own human strength, and his own human reasoning. It all had to be sifted out so nothing was left but the true wheat, and when we get this sifting done, then we will understand why Jesus said, "When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." Now Peter wasnt so good or strong in himself, and he knew it. Now he had to come weeping before God. Repentance and faith are gifts of God.
We see that in EPH 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." We need to beg the Lord for the gift of faith. We are not going to stand on our own faith. We are not going to stand on our own strength. We are not going to stand in our own good works. There is only one thing we can plead, and that is the finished work of Christ, and the faith that we have is a gift we receive from Christ.
When Jesus said to Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," it did not mean that Peter was unregenerate or void of grace. So many people will say, "This is when I was converted," as though that was telling of the time when they had received grace in their hearts. That is not what the Scriptures mean by the word converted. When Peter was converted, he was converted from a very strong man in himself to become as a little child before God. However, Peter had grace before that.
I want you to see this in MAT 16:16-17, which precedes the time that Jesus told him, "When thou art converted." "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven."
Was that a graceless soul? No. He understood that the Lord Jesus was the Christ. He understood that He was the gift of God. Jesus said, "Blessed art thou for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." You certainly cant say that that was a graceless soul.
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." MAT 16: 18-19. Did the Lord Jesus say that to a graceless soul? No, but Peter needed maturing, and conversion is a continuing process.
I have learned this in my own life. I have found that as we mature in grace we grow in conversion. The Lord showed me things in my youth that were sin and delivered me from them, but as I get older He shows me another thing that is sin that I had never thought was sin. Then as He delivers me from that sin, He reveals something else in me that is sin, and it is a continuing process of sanctification. It is a continuous converting. We are converting from the time we have grace till the time we die. There is never such a time when we are fully converted while we are in this life. That is what the Lord Jesus was telling Peter. You are so strong in yourself, when you become humbled, and when you come to where you know what it is to fall, then you will be able to speak to those who are falling, and you will be able to talk to them with a sympathetic, loving spirit.
Even with this revelation from the Father of the Messiah, Peter used much human reasoning. Peter yet needed much growth. Watch what we see here in MAT 16:21-23, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. [Now this is that same Peter who said, Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God]. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan : thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
This is the same Peter, but Peter did not understand submitting to the perfect will of God. He did not understand why Christ came. He did not understand that His being killed and raised again the third day was the very thing that purchased our salvation. Peter needed to grow, but he possessed grace. He was not a graceless soul, but he was an immature soul.
Now, when our human reasoning is not able to comprehend the ways of the Lord we must stop attempting to walk by sight. As we mature in grace we find more and more and more and more. What it is to come to impossibilities and then to have the Lord open a way in the wilderness where there was no way.
I was talking to a lady this past week. We were visiting about a severe trial she had been through. She just shook her head, and said, "I never dreamed that it would ever be possible that I would ever see a trial that was more humiliating, more humbling and more of a trial than the one I just had."
I replied, "Remember, I told you at the time, Get braced up. Get a breath of fresh air, because the next one will be deeper yet." That is the way the Lord works.
This emptying process, and as wine is made, the grape juice is poured into a bottle and the dregs settle to the bottom. Then the juice is poured off into another bottle, and the dregs are left behind. Now, each time this takes place, the process of purification goes further than it did the time before because the dregs that were left behind are gone. This process continues until you have sweet wine.
Every trial that the Lord brings you through is going to empty you emptier than you have ever been before. You will be so far emptied that self will be completely excluded. He empties us of ourselves so that He might fill us with grace for grace, so that He might fill us with the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is no room for Christ until we are emptied of ourselves.
This is what we are being taught in this narrative in JOH 11 where she says, "But I know that even now." When all possibilities from the human side are removed, God has an empty vessel to fill.
In MAR 9:23-24 we read, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." What is the Lord Jesus talking about here? We are talking about a man who says, "I believe, help thou mine unbelief." We stop attempting to walk by sight, and in Verse 24 we read, "And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." We start to understand that our faith isnt quite what we thought it was. We start to see this purifying process, this emptying process.
Remember the history of Elijah and how he stood on Mount Carmel. He stood alone, and he faced the armies of Israel. He faced the king of Israel. He faced the four hundred prophets of Baal alone. He prayed and fire came down from heaven and consumed the offering, and the prophet Elijah slew the four hundred prophets of Baal. The children of Israel held them and kept them while he slew them one at a time. Now you would say that that is such a man of faith. How would it be possible to question his faith?
Now consider this in 1KI 18:37 as Elijah said, "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again."
The Lord had a purpose for granting that extraordinary faiththat the people may know and that their hearts might be turned back again. The Lord performed a wonder as He did when He raised Lazarus from the dead for the purpose that the people might know and turn their hearts back again.
Verses 38-39 continue, "Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God."
It wasnt that the prophet Elijah was such a powerful man. The Lord did the deed. I want you to see what happened. The prophet Elijah found how much faith he had when God withdrew. It was this same prophet Elijah who we read of in 1KI 19:1-4, "And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life."
Now here is that same prophet Elijah who withstood the face of the king and all his armies, fleeing from the voice of a woman. Sometimes we learn a little about that. Sometimes we see that the Lord can give us such strong faith to carry us through this particular trial, but that doesnt mean we can accumulate that faith in a storage bin, and use it again next time.
In the next trial, we find that faith is still a gift of God, and when we lose sight of that, and believe me, I know, the Lord withdraws. We find ourselves just as empty-handed as if we had never known faith, until the Lord gives faith again for this new trial.
The prophet Elijah is showing us here that he, the man of faith, was fleeing from the voice of a woman. Why? The purpose is that no flesh will ever glory before God. It is so that you and I understand that we are dependent upon the Lord not only for this trial but also for the next trial and the next trial. We must become as little children who will sit at the table of their father and find that all these provisions come from the Fathers hand. We must learn to trust Him with a childlike faith. There are no big Christians in Gods kitchen. Every person will find, as John the Baptist said in JOH 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." We get smaller and smaller and smaller.
Martha did not understand what it was to wait for the Lord's time, but her faith had not utterly failed. As with Peter, the Lord said, I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. Peter went far enough. He cursed and swore and denied that he ever knew the Lord, but his faith had not failed. One look of love, and he was weeping bitterly. He did not do like Judas Iscariot and become a reprobate. His faith did not fail. Martha did not understand. She didnt know why the Lord had waited so long, but her faith did not fail utterly.
See in JOH 11:21-22, "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now [even now after he is dead, even after all human reason disallowed relief], whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Her faith had not utterly failed.
Now, this is synonymous with, "I believe, help thou my unbelief" as we see in JOH 11:39, "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. [Now, watch, She said, "I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask, He will still grant it." When Jesus said, "Take away the stone," see who spoke] Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."
She knew that whatsoever Jesus asked, He will still grant it. Yet, just like Abraham falling on his face and laughing, she is asking if it is yet possible Can it yet be? Do you understand? Abraham did not stagger through unbelief. His faith did not fail, but he fell on his face and he laughed saying in other words, "Can a man who is one hundred years and Sarah being ninety, can she still bear a child?" Here Martha says, "Lord, By this time he stinketh."
How could Jesus disciples reconcile the fact that Lazarus was dead? Jesus had said in JOH 11:4, "This sickness is not unto death." I want you to see the paradoxes that arise in our lives. I want you to see the paradoxes, the things that just have no explanation. There is only one way to solve them and that is by faith.
Now, what must His disciples say? Look at JOH 11:11-17, "These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already."
Abraham's faith faltered. Marthas faith faltered, and when our faith seems to falter, we must not despair of hope. What we must do is turn from our human reasoning and turn back to the Lord, and say, Lord, I know that whatsoever you ask, God will still grant it. We need that intercessory prayer of Christ.
I want you to see what Abraham said in GEN 17:17-18, "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? [See how Abrahams reasoning was still arguing with God. What did he say?] And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!"
Abraham had gone through all this to help God fulfill His promise. Abraham had it all figured out that Ishmael, the fruit of his loins, would now be the promised seed. Therefore, he said, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!"
All too often this is our problem. Too often we have a plan figured out that is not in line with the Lords plan, and the Lord brings our planning to nought. Our planning has to come to nought for the Lords plan to survive. "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" That was the plan he had fed upon for ten years, but now the Lord is not going to go along with Abrahams plan.
After Abraham was able to resort to faith instead of sight, he received Isaac in a figure as from the dead. Isnt that where we receive Lazarusfrom the dead? That is where help comes fromfrom the place of absolute impossibility. Look at HEB 11:17-19. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure."
He received Isaac in a figure as from the dead, because he was dead as far as any reproduction is concerned. His wife Sarah was dead from the standpoint of reproduction, and in a figure he received him from the dead, and now Abrahams faith was so strong that he could offer Isaac on the altar, knowing that in Isaac His seed would be called. In other words, that is where the Messiah would come from, and he was still able to do Gods bidding believing. God raised him up from the dead once; He could do it again. Abraham and his wife, both, were dead from the standpoint of reproduction, and the Lord raised him up, knowing He can do it again.
All true spiritual life is received as from the dead. We are baptized into the death of Christ. All true life we receive as from the dead, therefore, all believers learn to know Jesus Christ as He said to Martha in JOH 11:25, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Do you see that Christ now becomes the altogether lovely, the chiefest among ten thousand? He becomes everything in all. Everything centers and begins and ends in Christ because He is the resurrection.
Our text was Martha's prayer for the intercessory prayers of Jesus. Look at JOH 11:22, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Do you understand where our prayers have to come? We must come before the Father beseeching Him on the basis of the atonement and the sacrifice of Christ. We beseech Christ for His interceding prayers.
Jesus interceded in JOH 11:41-43, "Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth." He answered her prayer and interceded. It is important that we see this principle, because it is the intercessory prayers of Christ that are effectual prayers. She asked Jesus to intercede, and He interceded.
He interceded for her, and even now when Lazarus was dead, by this interceding prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, Lazarus was brought forth. The impossible, the human impossibilities are now removed because of the intercessory prayers of Christ.
When we pray for God's quickening grace for either one of our loved ones or ourselves, we are praying for a resurrection from the dead. Do you have a loved one who appears to be outside of grace? Do you see by their attitude and by their actions that they are outside of grace? So you come before the Lord and you ask for what? You are asking for a resurrection because they are dead.
In EPH 2:1 we read, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Those who are still walking in trespasses and sins are spiritually dead, and it takes as much of a resurrection to restore them from spiritual death as it took to bring Lazarus out of the grave. It took the power of the word and there is no way that you and I can bring the Word to any heart regardless how fluently or how prayerfully we bring it. The Holy Spirit brings that Word with power in the heart, and it is by the power of the Word that Lazarus came forth. For this we need intercessory prayer. We need to ask that in the name of Jesus but also that for His sake we ask for His interceding prayer that He will raise that soul from the dead.
Do we see people among the things of death as the man in the tombs? Sometimes we see some of our loved ones as we see in MAR 5:3-5, "Who had his dwelling among the tombs." In other words, they are dwelling among the things of death. Amazingly, they can be among the things of death, and the stench of death does not bother them. If you and I were to walk into those same places, the stench of death of trespasses and sins is enough to drive us out. When the man is dead, the stench of death does not bother him.
And he has his dwelling among the tombs; and "no man could bind him, no, not with chains: [you cannot bind him with the Word of God. You cannot bind him with the bands of love. You cannot bind him with any cords of love. You cannot bind him. Do you know why?] Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones." MAR 5:3-5.
Have you ever seen those who are yet bound by the bands of death? They cry and they take Gods name in vain; they blaspheme the God of heaven, and they cry out in their sins and in their iniquities. You cannot bind them. You cannot in any way affect life, but when the man saw Jesus, when Jesus became the central focus of his heart, he was delivered.
So, "even now" we must pray to receive them from the dead. As we see in EPH 2:5-6, "Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Now we can see where salvation lies; that quickening takes place by the power of the Word. That same power of the Word was spoken to Lazarus: "Lazarus, come forth." When the Holy Spirit speaks the Word with power in the soul, the dead are brought to life.
Our text says in JOH 11:22, "But I know, that even now [We never despair of hope.], whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Amen.
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