Summary: We must bring our faith out of the future and into the present for it to be effective.

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

May 18, 2003

“Strengthening Your Faith in Troubled Times--Daily Faith”

John 11:17-27

INTRODUCTION: How easy is it for you to have faith for today? Sometimes we think of faith in terms of the future. Next year “my ship will come in.” Next month I will see things turn around for me. I will get well some time when the weather gets warmer. When I get to heaven someday life will be better for me. We say, “I’m just hoping and praying.” That is not faith. Hoping is future. Is faith just something for the future? Or is faith something we can have here and now on a DAILY BASIS?

The title of today’s message is “Strengthening your faith in troubled times--daily faith.” How does this apply to us today? Do you have plenty of faith, like Martha, for the future but struggle with your daily faith?

Today’s scripture pictures Martha in a grief- filled situation. Her brother Lazarus had died. It wasn’t that they hadn’t notified Jesus when Lazarus first got sick. Jesus just didn’t get around to getting there in time. Now after four days Jesus finally shows up. Martha was upset by his delay in getting there.

1. Martha Goes to Meet Jesus: When Martha hears that Jesus is on the way into town she ran out to meet him. She blurts out, “If you had BEEN HERE my brother wouldn’t have died.” It’s like us saying, “If you had answered my prayer earlier I wouldn’t have lost my job. If you had stepped in a little bit sooner, Lord, this storm wouldn’t have ripped the roof off of my house. If you had BEEN THERE, I wouldn’t have been in this accident. It never occurred to Martha that He could have sent his Word and healed Lazarus. He did it for other people. She was upset with Jesus and wondered why in the world He didn’t show up on time for her family. Now after four days it was too late.

STORY: The minister’s little six-year-old girl had been so naughty during the week, that her mother decided to give her the worst kind of punishment. She told her she couldn’t go to the Sunday School Picnic on Saturday.

When the day came, her mother felt she had been too harsh and changed her mind. When she told the little girl she could go to the picnic, the child’s

reaction was one of gloom and unhappiness.

"What’s the matter? I thought you’d be glad to go to the picnic." her mother said.

"It’s too late!" the little girl said. "I’ve already prayed for rain!"

You probably can remember times when you felt this way too. It’s too late now! You wonder why Jesus didn’t answer you in the way you expected. Things didn’t work out like you wanted them too. Too late now.

She said “if you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” This statement shows that Martha had some STRONG BASIC BELIEFS. She may have been frustrated over His delay in getting there, but she believed that He could have done something. She believed that he had the POWER to do it.

Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha says quickly, “Oh, yes I have always known that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She had a strong confidence in the doctrine of the resurrection. Her faith was strong for that future event.” She interpreted what Jesus said in a future sense, however.

She WANTS something more, but she didn’t come right out and ASK Jesus to raise her brother NOW. What she does say is, “But I know that EVEN NOW God will give you whatever you ask. She had faith in the fact that Jesus had the POWER to do miracles. She believed that He was “the Christ, the Son of God who was come into the world.” A lot of people didn’t believe that. Martha was very confident in these basic beliefs.

2. Even Now: Scripture shows that in spite of the situation she is in that day, she is struggling to bring her faith into the realm of the present because she says “even now” you can do something. She said to Jesus, “I know that EVEN NOW God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus did not rush to say, “Oh, yes, I will raise your brother.” He said simply, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha’s answer shows that her faith had not moved very far into the present but it was getting there.

STORY: A company offered tours through the historic district, led by guides dressed in Colonial clothing. While leading a group, one of the guides, tripped and fell, breaking his wrist.

He went to the hospital, and as he sat waiting in the emergency room, a policeman walked by.

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