Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Martha’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
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The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

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{ Day 330 }.


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:5-6, NKJV

Because of our preconceived notions, we sometimes draw wrong conclusions from God‘s silence or His presumable lack of intervention on our behalf. We often conclude that God’s love for us has waned or that we are unworthy of His attention or perhaps that we are being punished for something. But that was certainly not the case with Lazarus. The Scriptures say several times that Jesus loved Lazarus along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, but His delay in coming to help Lazarus in his greatest need was precisely calculated. We know that Jesus’s seeming lack of response had nothing to do with lack of love, but had everything to do with fulfilling the redemptive purpose of God. The ensuing miracle was a prophetic sign to many of His own resurrection. But for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary it was something more—a lesson to trust God always, even when they must walk in darkness beyond the edge of their understanding.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, like Martha I often cry out, “Why didn’t You come when I called?” Teach me the lesson of placing my ultimate trust in You even when I cannot understand Your plan and purpose.

We often conclude that God’s love for us has waned
or that we are unworthy of His attention or
perhaps that we are being
punished for something.

By MIKE BICKLE.

{ Day 330 }.


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. —John 11:5-6, NKJV

Because of our preconceived notions, we sometimes draw wrong conclusions from God‘s silence or His presumable lack of intervention on our behalf. We often conclude that God’s love for us has waned or that we are unworthy of His attention or perhaps that we are being punished for something. But that was certainly not the case with Lazarus. The Scriptures say several times that Jesus loved Lazarus along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, but His delay in coming to help Lazarus in his greatest need was precisely calculated. We know that Jesus’s seeming lack of response had nothing to do with lack of love, but had everything to do with fulfilling the redemptive purpose of God. The ensuing miracle was a prophetic sign to many of His own resurrection. But for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary it was something more—a lesson to trust God always, even when they must walk in darkness beyond the edge of their understanding.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, like Martha I often cry out, “Why didn’t You come when I called?” Teach me the lesson of placing my ultimate trust in You even when I cannot understand Your plan and purpose.

We often conclude that God’s love for us has waned
or that we are unworthy of His attention or
perhaps that we are being
punished for something.

By MIKE BICKLE.

Finding Faith When God Doesn’t Make Sense.


sad woman
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Even when there is no explanation for what you’re going through, God‘s love is more than enough for your need.

Mary and Martha, whose story is told in the Gospel of John, must have asked the same question as they struggled to understand why Jesus hadn’t intervened to heal their brother, Lazarus. They had sent for Jesus to come, and when He didn’t come quickly, they probably assumed He didn’t care.

And now, even though Jesus had finally come, it was too late. Lazarus had died.

Mary crumbled, sobbing, at the feet of Jesus. As she lay with her shoulders shaking and her chest heaving, wracked with pain that was too great to bear, the friends who had followed her voiced their own despair over her grief, and they wept too.

At the sight and sound of the poignant scene, Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33, NIV). The text indicates He felt more than just grief; He felt anger.

Several years ago, I received an urgent call from a person who was at the local hospital, telling me that one of my dearest friends was dying. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I had spoken with the friend only the day before, and she had been healthy and happy. What could have gone so terribly wrong? As I rushed to the hospital, I kept praying, “Lord, help! The one whom we love is sick—dying!”

When I made my way into the hospital waiting room, I found her extended family huddled in tears and shock. I was told my precious friend had somehow breathed in a virus that had acted like a hand grenade in her body, exploding and destroying her internal organs.

In grief and shock myself, I was urged to go into the chapel, where her husband and children had gathered to pray. As I slipped into the darkened sanctuary and virtually collapsed onto a pew, I heard the whispered prayers and sobs of her loved ones. Then the stifled grief erupted in a chilling, heart-wrenching cry as her son yelled out: “God, it’s not right. It’s not right! It’s just not right!”

Later, when her family made the decision to disconnect her from life support and my beloved friend went to her heavenly home, her son’s agonized, angry grief echoed in my ears, and I thought: He was right. This is wrong. Terribly wrong! This was never meant to be.

Death was not a part of God’s original plan. He created you and me for Himself. He intended for us to live with Him and enjoy Him forever in an uninterrupted, permanent, personal, love relationship.

But sin came into our lives and broke the very relationship with God for which we were created. All of us are affected by this broken relationship because all of us are infected with sin.

When your loved one dies and your grief is tinged with anger, don’t direct it toward God. He’s angry too. Direct it toward sin and its devastating consequences.

That day in Bethany, as Mary wept and her friends wept with her, a tumult of grief and anger and compassion and empathy welled up in the heart of Jesus. In a voice that must have been choking with emotion, He inquired, “Where have you laid him?”

Those around Him replied gently, “‘Come and see, Lord'” (John 11:34). And when Jesus was invited by the mourners in Bethany to “come and see,” He wept! (See vv. 34­-35.)

Jesus, the Creator of the universe, the eternal I Am, the Lord of life, knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Yet One so strong, so powerful, so wise, so human, stood there with tears running down His cheeks! Why? Because He loved those gathered at the tomb so much their grief was His.

When my youngest daughter, Rachel-Ruth, was small, she wore long braids as a means of controlling her naturally curly hair, which she hated. I will never forget an incident that followed the visit to our home of a beautiful young woman who had long, sleek, glossy brown hair. As soon as the door closed behind the young woman, Rachel-Ruth ran into the living room, jerking at her braids, tearing at her bangs, covering her face with her hands, and hysterically sobbing, “I hate my hair! My face is so ugly! I’m not pretty at all!”

Not knowing what had triggered this outburst, I just held her and wept with her. I looked up to see my other daughter, Morrow, standing in the doorway, weeping too. We wept because Rachel-Ruth was so distraught, and we loved her. Her torment was our own.

When was the last time you wept into your pillow at night, thinking no one cared? Is the pain so deep and your hurt so great that you cry night after night?.

In your misery and loneliness, do you think Jesus is emotionally detached? That He just doesn’t care? Or that He’s simply too busy to notice? Or that He is callous because He sees a lot of pain that’s worse than yours? Or that He couldn’t possibly understand how you feel?

Do you know that Jesus weeps with you? Do you know He puts all your tears in a bottle because they are precious to Him? He has said in all of your afflictions, He Himself is afflicted. Why? Because Jesus does understand! And He loves you!

Those who had gathered to support and comfort and help the family of Lazarus observed the famous young Rabbi weeping and concluded, “‘See how he loved him!'” (v. 36). Even though Jesus knew the glory to come and the demonstration of God’s power that was about to be displayed, He wept!

He wept because He loved this precious family and they were weeping. Jesus was entering into their suffering, just as many of us entered into His when we repented of our sin, died to ourselves and received Him by faith.

The story of Lazarus is the account of perhaps the most magnificent miracle Jesus performed while on Earth. But it is really the story of Martha‘s faith–and the necessity of placing our faith in Jesus alone if we are to live life triumphantly and experience the greatest miracle of all, that of passing from spiritual death to eternal life as we are born again into the family of God.

Surrounded by a crowd of friends, family and just curious onlookers, Jesus gazed at the scene before Him. I expect Mary and Martha followed His focus, which was fixed on the cave carved out of the hillside that served as Lazarus’ burial place. A large stone sealed off the entrance to the tomb.

Martha was jolted out of any grief-filled reverie that preoccupied her thoughts when she heard His familiar voice command quietly but with absolute authority, “Take away the stone” (v. 39). Nothing could have been more appalling to her!

It seemed as if reopening Lazarus’ tomb would serve no purpose except to reopen the fresh wound of her heart. How could Jesus say such a thing? How could He even think such a thing?

Martha, with what surely was a look of horrified indignation on her face, blurted out, “But Lord … by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days” (v. 39).

Jesus turned His full gaze onto Martha with a look that melted her resistance and silenced her argument. With patient firmness, He challenged her not only to obedience but also to expectant faith: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v. 40).

Something in Martha must have quickened as she saw the intensity in the Lord’s eyes. She knew this was no longer the time to talk about it or pray about it or think about it.

The spark of faith was suddenly fanned into flame, and without further question or word, she just did it! She ordered the stone to be rolled away. Simply because He said so. Her obedience, her dependence and her expectance were in Him alone. He was all she had.

With every eye fastened on Him, Jesus boldly, loudly lifted His voice as He prayed: “Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that You always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me” (vv. 41-­42). Jesus was letting everyone know that if Lazarus was raised, the power to make it happen came from God.

Then…the same voice that had brought the world into being, the same voice that had called Abraham from Ur, the same voice that had reverberated from Mount Sinai, that same voice thundered, “Lazarus, come out!” (v. 43). The voice of the Creator was commanding into existence that which had no existence!

Every eye must have strained toward the cave, peering into the black hole where the stone had been. And then, out of the deep, shadowy recesses within, there appeared a mummy-like figure “wrapped with strips of linen, and [with] a cloth around his face” (v. 44).

Was there a collective gasp? Or was everyone frozen into place, temporarily paralyzed by the shock of seeing something that just couldn’t be?

Dead men don’t come back to life! But Lazarus did! At the command of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, he appeared at the entrance of the tomb.

After all the pain and suffering and anguish and doubt and resentment and misunderstanding and tears, God had answered the sisters’ unspoken prayer. Although Jesus had not come when they thought He would, He had restored Lazarus to health.

In His own time and in His own way, God answered abundantly beyond what they could have thought to ask for—beyond their wildest dreams. Their brother was raised from the dead!

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ANN GRAHAM LOTZ

Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?.


The most mysterious, and perhaps the most misunderstood, of the twelve disciples is Judas Iscariot. His very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor’s traitor, ending his life in suicide after he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But there is more to Judas than that.

I think if we could travel back in time to the first century and actually see Jesus and His disciples, we wouldn’t be able point out Judas. I don’t think he would be the sinister man we would suspect—at least outwardly. In fact, Judas might even appear to be relatively compassionate.

For example, when Jesus and the disciples were at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, Mary brought out some expensive perfume and began to wipe Jesus’ feet with it. Jesus was deeply touched by this sacrificial act, but it was Judas who pointed out that this costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Those listening may have thought, That is a good point. You know, Judas is a good steward. He is frugal. He is thoughtful. Let’s give Judas a round of applause.

But John gives us a little insight into why Judas said this: “This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6). Some have portrayed Judas as someone who got caught up in the drama, and things just sort of backfired. But Judas did what he did because of his greed. He could have changed his course had he chosen to. He certainly was given opportunities.

This reminds us that things are not always as they appear. And Judas’ covert greed ultimately destroyed him.


Taken from “The Traitor’s Traitor” by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).

Greg Laurie

Is the Raising of Lazarus Fictional?.


Last Sunday in church, our pastor preached from John chapter 11, the Raising of Lazarus. It brought back memories of my old atheistic resistance to this story and reminded me of John Shelby Spong’s recent comment challenging the historicity of this event. Spong believes the Gospel writer (someone other than the apostle John, by the way) exaggerated the fictional narrative “to counter any attempt to read it literally.” Spong argues the author intentionally exaggerated the story so the reader would recognize it’s fictional status (“Jesus does not just raise a person from the dead, he raises one who has been dead and even buried for four days, one who is still bound in grave clothes and one who, according to the King James translation ‘already stinketh’ with the odor of decaying flesh!”) Like Spong, I also resisted the idea that Jesus performed this miracle, although for a different reason. The biggest problem for me was its absence from the other gospel accounts. Why is John the only person to mention something this dramatic and allegedly well-known? Doesn’t the absence of Lazarus’ story from all the other accounts cast doubt on its authenticity?

Why Is It Missing from The Other Accounts?
While the absence of this miracle in the synoptic gospels initially seemed to pose a problem, the more I investigated it, the smaller the problem became. Part of my suspicion rested in the extravagant nature of the miracle itself. Jesus raised someone from the dead, for crying out loud! How could the other gospel writers forget about that? This objection rests, however, on the presumption that a miracle of this nature was extravagant or exceedingly unusual in the ministry of Jesus, and I think this presumption is false. Lazarus wasn’t the only person Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus also brought Jairus’ daughter back to life (Matthew 9:23-26, Mark 5:35-43, and Luke 8:40-56), as well as the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-15). John doesn’t mention either of these miracles and Mathew and Mark fail to mention the widow’s son. There is good reason to believe Jesus raised even more people from the dead, given John’s clear statement, “There are many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written” (John 21: 25).

There may be a good reason Mark, Matthew and Luke failed to mention Lazarus’ resurrection, even though they described similar miracles. When Jesus arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, “many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother” (John 11:18). Martha even went out to meet Jesus prior to his arrival, seemingly aware of the disciple’s concern that “these Jews were just now seeking to stone [Jesus]” (John 11:8). Jesus performed the miracle in the presence of these Jewish witnesses and “many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him” (John 11:45). As a result, the chief priests and Pharisees convened a council and “from that day on they planned together to kill [Jesus]” (John 11:53). The raising of Lazarus had an impact on the Jewish opposition that was unique amongst those who had been raised by Jesus. Early chroniclers may simply have wanted to minimize Lazarus’ presence in the gospel accounts to protect him and his sisters earlier in the first century. By the time John penned his version of the ministry of Jesus (much later than Mark, Matthew or Luke), this concern may have rightfully waned.

Does It Include An Intentional Exaggeration?
But let’s return to the issue of hyperbolic exaggeration. John Shelby Spong interprets the inclusion of the four day delay as an intentional tactic used by John “to counter any attempt to read it literally.” But is that necessarily the case? Are there really no other good reasons why Jesus may have waited this long to perform the miracle? How about the reasons Jesus offered? Jesus told the disciples that he waited “so that [they] may believe” (John 11:15), and He told Martha that he waited so she could learn trust Him as “the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Jesus had a goal in mind and this goal required Him to delay His arrival. But why four days? Is this simply an effort on the author’s part to make it clear he was speaking allegorically (as Spong proposes)? No. It was more likely the presence of the Jews that caused Jesus to delay. Ancient Jewish texts reveal an important belief held by the Jews who were waiting at the tomb of Lazarus. The Jews of this time period believed, “until three days [after death] the soul keeps on returning to the grave, thinking that it will go back [into the body]; but when it sees that the facial features have become disfigured, it departs and abandons it [the body]” (refer to Genesis Rabbah 100:7, Leviticus Rabbah 18:1, and Ecclesiastes Rabbah 12:6). Jesus waited until all hope was lost for those waiting for death’s confirmation. Only then did Jesus raise Lazarus, and the result was stunning amongst those Jews who held these primary beliefs about death and the soul. They became believers.

One of the reasons we typically struggle with passages like the raising of Lazarus is our desire toread it through the lens of our modern understanding or our base desires. But when we take the time to examine the account from the perspective of the original events and the authors who recorded them, reasonable explanations emerge. It just takes some effort to think like a detective and investigate the past.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker at Stand to Reason, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

Resurrection Words.


It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. —John 6:63

Jesus waited four days before he went to Bethany, the home of His dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. After greeting the two grieving sisters, Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb. He prayed the prayer of faith and called Lazarus’ name—and Lazarus arose and walked out of the tomb.

John 5:25 says, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

“Life” in the above verse is the Greek word zoe, which means “the God-kind of life.” Jesus said that He came not only that we would have life, but that we would have it more abundantly. Let the words of David be your daily prayer: “Quicken thou me according to thy Word.” Let Jesus speak His life into your situation.

Is there death in a relationship? Ask Jesus to speak life into it. Is there death in your finances? Ask Jesus to speak life into them. Is there death in your ministry? Ask Jesus to speak life into it.

Jesus, speak life into every area of death.
Bring to life all that You desire to live and
crucify all my flesh. Speak Your words
of life into my life today. Amen.

By ROD PARSLEY.

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