Monday, April 30, 2018

THEY DID NOT BELIEVE

I will even make a road in the wilderness 
And rivers in the desert." 
(Isaiah 43:19)

Have you believed God for something, but the answer has been long in coming? Maybe you are questioning God's plan for your life, or you are simply questioning God. 

April 25, we received news that the radiated cancerous nodules in Michael's lungs had increased in size. This was not the outcome we had hoped for, nor did we expect the doctors to tell us to wait two to three more months before pursuing chemotherapy. 

When answers are not what we expect and doubts begin to abrade our faith, we must go to the Lord. So I sought the Lord, who reminded me that Jesus' followers believed He was an earthly king, who would deliver the Jewish nation. Consequently, when He died, it appeared that all hope was gone. 
Things had not turned out as they had imagined. Doubt and fear had taken hold, because they did not believe that hope and life could or would soon spring forth from the Tomb.

The day of Jesus' crucifixion, Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had freed from multiple demons, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus stood at the foot of the cross and watched as Jesus drew His last breath. Had they asked, "How can this be?" Jesus had healed multitudes, calmed raging seas, walked on water, and caused the blind to see and the deaf to hear. He delivered the demon-possessed and raised the dead to life. Why could He not save Himself? Yet many times, Jesus had foretold His impending death and resurrection, but they did not comprehend His words.

Has God made a promise to you and yet the circumstances seem to tell a different story? Imagine the confusion His followers must have felt that day. This was not the outcome they had expected. Most certainly, they wept bitter tears of disappointment and uncertainty. No doubt, they questioned why those, who had embraced Jesus, suddenly turned on Him and demanded the release of a murderer in exchange for an innocent man who had only done good? Why did Jesus suffer false accusations, beatings, lashings, humiliation, and a painful crucifixion? What did this mean? How could this be? He had promised a new kingdom. Again, they did not understand God's plan.

Before Jesus' crucifixion, Pilate questioned Him about who He was. Jesus replied, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews..." (John 18:36). Even Pilot saw the innocence of the "man" who stood before him and told the crowd of Jesus' innocence. Yet he caved into the crowd's demand to crucify Him.

The day following the crucifixion, the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate to have the tomb guarded and sealed, lest His disciples steal the body and claim that He had risen. So Pilate ordered it done (Matthew 27:62-66).

Hallelujah! The sealed tomb, soldiers, and death could not hold Jesus. On the third day, a great earthquake occurred and the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords arose and appeared first to Mary Magdalene, who hurried to tell the disciples and others that He was alive, but they did not believe.

Jesus then appeared in another form to two disciples as they walked the seven-mile road to Emmaus. When Jesus asked them what they were discussing, they replied that "Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, powerful in Word and deed before God and all the people," had been crucified. (Note, they thought of Him only as a prophet). 

Then the disciples said, "We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:22). Jesus responded, "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter His glory?" Despite what He said, they did not know who He was until they broke bread together. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus before He disappeared (Luke 24).

On three different occasions, Jesus had taken the twelve disciples aside and told them He was going to Jerusalem, and that all things that were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man would be accomplished. He would then be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, insulted, and spit upon. They would scourge and kill Him, and on the third day He would rise again. But the disciples did not comprehend His Words (Luke 18:31-34). 

That day when Jesus was placed in the tomb, it is likely that His mother and followers were outside the tomb grieving and questioning the events. Had they believed in vain? What they didn't understand was that a new chapter would be written, and what had appeared lost would be resurrected.

Many of us have had dreams dashed, prayers unanswered, and inexplicable, tragic events happen. Hopelessness, despair, and doubt entombed our soul, and like the disciples, we questioned God's promises. Interestingly, just as those promises that Jesus made to His followers were fulfilled then, His promises are being fulfilled today...in His time.

If you are going through a difficult time, as Michael and I are going through, I encourage you not to focus on the circumstances, because they will lock you inside a dark "tomb" of fear, doubt, and unbelief. Instead, continually praise God and look to Him, for He alone has all power to overcome any and all circumstances and to bring forth a new thing.
The LORD says, "Behold, I will do a new thing. Now, it shall spring forth; shall you not know it. I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isaiah 43:19). For our sovereign God can take anything that the enemy intends for our destruction and bring good from it (Genesis 50:20). The question asked by Jesus to His disciples and to us is, "Where is your faith?" "For without faith, it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6)
God calls us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us (James 4:8). For the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him. He will also hear their cry and save them (Psalm 145:17-19)
Do Michael and I understand or know God's plan  for us? No, we don't. However, we have made a choice to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and remain constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
PRAYER:
FATHER, things happen that I don't understand. But You know the beginning and end of all things, for nothing surprises You. Your purposes and ways are beyond my comprehension. Help me to keep my eyes focused on You and not on the circumstances.  Strengthen me to persevere and trust in You with an unwavering faith that frees me from a tomb of fear, doubt, and unbelief. In Jesus name, amen.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged; 
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." 
(Joshua 1:9)

NOTE: Do you see what appears to be an angel with wings protectively spread over the "road in the wilderness?" 















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