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Friday, September 26, 2008

Jesus Cares about Our Sorrow

Death and taxes are inevitable, and neither one ranks high on our things-to-eagerly-anticipate list. When a friend or loved one dies, we grieve. Even the assurance of seeing departed Christian friends and loved ones in heaven doesn’t fully relieve our sorrow. We shed tears because life will not be the same without them, and we lean on the Lord for comfort.

When Lazarus was extremely ill, his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, but Jesus stayed where He was two more days until He heard Lazarus had died. We may assume that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had visited him when he was ill. After all, Jesus is the giver of life, and no one ever died in His presence. Even the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus died before He did.

When He heard Lazarus had died, Jesus visited Lazarus’s grieving sisters. He met Martha first and identified Himself as the resurrection and the life. Martha quickly informed Mary that Jesus had arrived.

Soon, Martha, Mary, and other mourners led Jesus to Lazarus’s tomb, where He brought Lazarus back to life.

Punctuating this story are two brief insights into Jesus’ feelings about death and sorrow. John 11:35 reports, “Jesus wept. John 11:38 mentions He was “deeply moved.” He understands and He cares; and someday He will raise our friends and loved ones.

Jim Dyet © 2007, The Anchor, Haven Ministries

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's in Your Heart

Last week I had an electrocardiogram, and yesterday my cardiologist shared the results with me. My heart is structurally sound and functioning well. That’s good news.

After suffering a stroke in 2001, I have had regular six-month appointments with a cardiologist, a congenial “transplant” from New York City. He encourages me to exercise and eat properly, which I try to do. The walking regimen is easy. Our three dogs demand it. The proper eating part is more difficult, but if we don’t bring the wrong stuff into the house, I do fine. As you know, pie, cake, and donuts are not heart healthy. However, I wonder if such items were healthful before Adam and Eve sinned.

The Bible places a high priority on our having a spiritually healthy heart. When judging our worth, the Lord “looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). He wants us to love Him with all our heart (Deut. 11:13), store His Word in our hearts (v. 18), incline our hearts to Him (Josh. 24:23), let His peace rule in our hearts (Col. 3:15), and set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15).

While Wall Street sinks and global tensions rise, let’s examine our hearts to see whether they are fixed on what is truly significant and eternal. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Arrived Today

Fall arrived today, but it doesn’t seem like fall at our house. It is still warm and sunny; the grass is still green; and most of our trees are still green. However, our flaming burning bush testifies that summer has ended; and pumpkins and gourds sit in full array in stores as messengers of fall.

Every passing season reminds me that life is advancing, but it also reminds me of God’s constant faithfulness. He sets the seasons in order (Gen. 8:22), and He has also ordained the seasons of a human’s life. Whether we live now in life’s springtime, summer, fall, or winter, we can rely on His great faithfulness (Lam. 3:23). His compassions never fail; they are new every morning.

God’s daily faithfulness encourages us to face each new day confidently. He will give us our daily bread, supply strength for every trial, and enable us to do what He wants us to do. He keeps us alive to honor Him. As Kenneth Wuest, my Greek teacher at Moody, used to say. “The servant of the Lord is immortal until his life’s work is done.”

Perhaps the first day of fall is the ideal time to refocus on God and His faithfulness. Wall Street may disappoint us, and Washington politics may disturb us, but God will never fail us. When Jeremiah reflected upon God’s self-renewing compassions and unfailing faithfulness, he exclaimed: “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him” (Lam. 3:24.)