Angie Benjamin

A Wasted Life, Unbelief and Hardened Hearts {John 12}

2:07 AM

By Angie Benjamin

 Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany (vs 1-7)

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

This is story tells us how not to waste your life. It’s also a story about motivation: why do you do what you do for the Lord? Do you serve Him for the satisfaction you get when you see results? It is satisfying to see Him use you, but that’s the wrong motivation. Do you serve Him because it helps others? Again, it’s gratifying to see others helped, but that’s the wrong motivation for serving Him. The true motive for serving Christ is because He is worthy of everything you can do for Him and because you love Him and want to please Him because He gave Himself for you on the cross. We learn this from Mary’s act of devotion.

John contrasts Mary’s act of devotion with Judas’ self-centered focus and with the evil plans of the chief priests, who now not only want to kill Jesus, but also Lazarus, whose resurrection was resulting in many believing in Jesus. So the story’s lesson is:

A life spent in selfless devotion to Jesus is not wasted, but a life spent on self is totally wasted.

The Unbelief of the People (vs. 36-43)

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
"Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 "He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them."
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Jesus had performed many miracles but still many people didn't believe in Him. The same happens today, many won't believe despite all God does.

People would not believe despite the evidence, as a result God hardens their the beginning sounds like if it's God intentionally preventing these people from believing in Him but no, it simply means that He confirms their own choices. After a lifetime resisting God people become so set in their ways that they won't even bother to understand Jesus message.

Sometimes we get discouraged when we witness for Christ and it doesn't necessarily turn out as we would like. We must remember that our job is simply to be a faithful witness. We are responsible to reach out to others, but they are responsible for their own decisions, so keep up the good and faith-full work !

Jesus Came to Save the World (vs.44-50)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."

He came into the world as light [vs46 and John 3:19 -21; 8:12 ; 9:5]. To believe in him, to believe the claims he made about his true identity, is to finally see and believe in God. The deep darkness of separation from God and ignorance of God is here dispersed. The age-long, world-wide questions about who or what God is are here answered. No one who believes in Jesus remains in darkness.

His miracles identified him as God. They should have believed on the basis of the miracles alone [ 12:37 ]. His words have identified him as God, and, he says, it will be those very words, which they have rejected, that will condemn them, for in rejecting his words they have rejected the words of God.

In refusing to accept his words [ ‘believing’ his words, ‘obeying’ his words, ‘keeping’ his words] they have rejected God. His words which could have brought them light and life, will, if they are rejected, bring them only judgment and darkness. To reject the offer of light is to choose the darkness. To reject the offer of salvation is to choose judgment [ 12:38 -40, 47-50].

Becky Bramlett Austin

I Am the Resurrection and the Life {John 11}

4:10 AM

By Becky Bramlett Austin

The story of Lazarus reveals such a tender portrayal of Jesus.  It shows us a Jesus who connects with us in our struggles, hardships, and grief.  It also reveals that even our difficult experiences serve a divine purpose meant to glorify God.   “But when Jesus heard it (that Lazarus was ill) he said“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." (V4) It's not an easy thing to accept when illness afflicts or tragedy strikes but even our difficult times should be embraced with a desire to see God glorified.  This is not a perfect world and we are not immune to suffering just because we are God's children but how we react to our suffering is always an opportunity for others to see God as the source of our strength.

The following 2 verses seem strange and contradictory:
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (V5-6) If someone came to you and told you that a loved one were very ill, wouldn't your first reaction be to drop everything and immediately go to them? Clearly, Jesus had reasons for delaying. One of his objectives was to strengthen the belief of his disciples. “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”” (V14-15) We have read before of 2 other occasions when Jesus raised from the dead but these bodies were raised soon after death before decay set in.  Lazarus was in the sealed tomb 4 days. This raising of the dead could not be shrugged off as chance or other explanation.  This would be a true conquest over the destructive forces of death.  

Jesus loved Mary and Martha and he wanted to increase their belief too.  Both of them already believed in him as a healer for they both told him that Lazarus would not have died if he had been there to heal him.  Jesus wanted them to know Him in an even grander capacity.  He didn't want to just be their healer, but to be their  resurrection and life. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?””(v25-26)
Even though Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus back to life, he was still deeply affected by the sorrow and sadness of those who mourned.  In fact, he also wept.  God is not insensitive and unconcerned about our sorrows and concerns.  In fact, in Rev 4 we are told that when Jesus returns that " He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  

Could you imagine being at the entrance of that tomb expecting only death's foul stench to overwhelm you? Martha was certainly concerned.   “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"" (V40).  How powerful our belief can be.  When we trust In God- trust His timing, trust his love and concern for us, trust his sovereign control over all circumstances, and trust that he can negate the destructive decay of death and sin, then we get to see....His power, His glory, His compassion, His mercy, and grace. 

Could you imagine Jesus calling " Lazarus come forth".   How amazing and joyous it must have been to see a dead man walk out of that tomb into the daylight.  Spiritually, we are all sealed in a tomb of death and Jesus calls our name too.  He died to free us from the power of death and He calls us out of that dark tomb into the light of eternal life. Have you heard that call from Jesus?  Have you chosen new life?  Do you know Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life?


The Door to an Abundant Life {John 10}

10:30 PM

By Sue Desmarais

Have you ever watched a game show where the contestants are asked to trade in what they have already received for what’s hidden behind another door on stage? The contestants agree hoping, or believing that what’s hidden is better than what they have at the moment, but… it doesn’t always turn to be the case. I think about that scenario every time I read this passage and used to wonder why others would reject this “door” altogether:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:1-11
John, who wrote this book, never added the chapters and verses to it, and I’m not sure why whoever did add the chapter breaks, ended chapter 9 where they did, because when Jesus in 10:1 says, “Truly, truly…” He’s connecting what He’s about to say with what has just taken place in chapter 9; where Jesus healed the man born blind. Jesus is going to address the fact that the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders in Israel, should’ve been faithful shepherds over God’s flock, but had failed miserably, and the story of this blind man is a great example of this when they grew frustrated with the man’s testimony about Jesus and actually threw him out of the temple; never once rejoicing over the fact that this man could now see!

We actually need to back up to Ezekiel 34:1-31 to truly understand what Jesus is saying in chapter 10. (I’ll try to condense it a bit for you):

“And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.--  therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against the shepherds…and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep… As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them… And I will bring them out…, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them… I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD. …I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them…”

Chapter 10 is the end of Jesus teaching ministry; the rest of the Book of John will describe the events that took place during Jesus’ final week on earth. I wonder if Jesus sensed a greater urgency to get His message out to His people, for surely if you knew your opportunity to convince others of something so, so important was ending, wouldn’t you try that much harder?  

Jesus is saying here that He is the true Shepherd; the One God spoke of in Ezekiel 34. He is the Messiah, the One who fulfills all the Old Testament prophecies concerning Him.

 He is the “door” and I believe, though some might not agree, that the “doorkeeper” must be John the Baptist, for “as David was designated the king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, so also Jesus, the Son of David, was designated Israel’s King by John the Baptist.

I used to read this passage and wonder why others didn’t choose Jesus as the “door” to abundant life. Why instead, would they pick up stones to stone Him? Why wouldn’t they want to follow the “Good Shepherd”, or why would they turn away after a time?

This time however, I found the answers right here in the chapter! The first is found in verses 14-16,“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.” (Emphasis mine)

They choose to follow Him because they are His sheep and they “know His voice”. They recognize Him as the Messiah, and trust in Him as their Shepherd. These sheep, who belong to the true Shepherd, also know better than to follow any false shepherd.

Then again in verse 27-30, Jesus assures us that all His sheep will be kept safe, for no one can “snatch them” away from Him, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Today, if you are one of the Shepherd’s sheep, give Him thanks that you heard His call, recognized His voice, followed after Him and are now cared for and kept safe by the Good Shepherd! Hallelujah!