Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: # 30 in series. Three important truths, 1)Even Those Jesus Loves Gets Sick, 2)God’s Timing Is Frequently Different Than Ours and 3)Even When God Says No It Is For Our Good.

A Study of the Book of John

Sermon # 30

“The Delays of Love”

John 11:1-16

This morning I am going to talk about “the” most difficult problem you have to face as a Christian. It might be interesting to conduct a poll this morning to find out what you think that might be. But I agree with Ray Stedman who says that the most difficult thing to handle as a Christian is “when God does not do what I have been taught to expect him to do; when God gets out of line and does not act the way he ought.”[Ray Stedman. God’s Strange Ways. www.pbc.org/library]

Sometimes you may think that God just doesn’t care about you. In fact sometimes it seems the circumstances of your life don’t seem to allow for any other explanation. When you are being ravaged by the events of your life, it is very difficult to believe that God’s silences and delays are really evidences of His love. And yet they often are.

Our story begins this morning with a problem. The problem is that Lazarus was dying. This is a problem we can all identify with, for death intrudes into all our lives and we find those closest to us snatched from our sides by accident, sickness or death.

In such moments, some question the presence or love of God. Others, even those who do not doubt the love of God and His faithfulness, find their faith tested.

What are we to think in such circum-stances? What should we do? There is probably no better example of what we are to do in the entire Bible than the example given to us by Martha and Mary in John 11.

Three principles to live by…

First, Even Those Jesus Loves Gets Sick. (vv. 1, 3)

“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.(3) Therefore, the sisters sent to Him, saying, Lord, behold he whom You love is sick.”

Because Jesus loved Lazarus one of the obvious things we should note here is that sickness comes into every home, even including those in which Jesus is loved. Although Jesus loved Lazarus, that did not prevent his sickness.

In verse four, we are told, “This sick-ness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” This verse would answer all those who would state that sickness is never the will of God for a believer, that it is wrong to be sick, that is due to a lack of faith, some hidden sin or the judgment of God. But the words of Jesus about Lazarus are unmistak-able, not all sickness is a sign of unbelief or lack of faith. Such a position is not only unscriptural, but hurtful and dangerous.

Not only Do those Even Those Jesus Loves Gets Sick but

Secondly, God’s Timing Is Frequently Different Than Ours! (vv. 5-7)

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (6) So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (7) Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

I am convinced at least in my own mind that the sisters assumed that Jesus will do one of two things; He will either come as quickly as he can or he will send word by a mess-enger that He is coming shortly, but this is not what happens. Verse five begins by telling us that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. And then verse six begins with a connecting word “so” or in the King James Version it is “Therefore.” “So” or “because” Jesus “loved” this family he did not immed-iately make his way to Bethany. It is all the more incredible to us that although Jesus loved this family he did not hurry to Bethany but rather stayed two days were he was. Likewise, we sometimes have found our-selves in trouble and fired off a prayer but found that he does not seem to hear. At those times we are tempted to think that God just does not care about you. The circum-stances at such a time don’t seem to allow for any other explanation. When you are being ravaged by the events of your life, it is very difficult to believe that God’s silences and delays are really evidence of his love. Yet when we examine His decision in the text to wait is it a heartless response to the urgent cry of His beloved friends? No of course not!

Have you ever prayed or expected God to do something when you thought he would or should do it only to have him wait or delay in his response? What did it do to your faith? What is it doing right now? You may be waiting for your spouse to change or your kids to respond differently. Maybe you’re waiting for someone to forgive you or accept your forgiveness. What are you waiting for God to do? According to what timetable have you expected him to work? How has it, how is it affecting your faith? Has your faith been based on what you think God will do or should do?

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