“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany” (John 11:1). Most Christians know the story of Lazarus. He lived with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, in the town of Bethany. Their home was a favorite resting place for Jesus. Christ knew that this close-knit family loved him, and he loved them dearly in return. He even made their home his spiritual retreat. It was an oasis of quiet for him away from the pressing crowds.
We all have distractions in life, but let’s face it—men are the worst when it comes to sports. I don’t mean playing sports, which would actually be good for a lot of couch potatoes, but keeping up with sports. Smart phones and the ESPN app have turned once-attentive husbands into screen-gazers. All a guy has to do is silently press the “refresh” button and dozens of scores are instantly updated. Every date night is at risk from constant under-the-table glances.
There are people today battling things in their lives that are so deep and ferocious they can’t be explained. Such things can only be comprehended as unclean spirits. The Bible addresses this supernatural phenomenon and God’s response to it in Mark 4-5.
Whenever Christians speak of the Upper Room, they usually refer to Pentecost. The very phrase “Upper Room” carries joyful meaning for the church, and not just because amazing things took place that day. It was an event filled with powerful promises for every follower of Jesus throughout the ages.
God’s Word tells us it’s possible to remain pure in the midst of an evil society. And the Lord gives his anointing only to those servants who remain pure before him. We see this illustrated in the life of Daniel, who lived in one of the most wicked, immoral societies in all of history.
There’s a lot of teaching in the church today about how God’s power is released in our lives. What they’re really talking about is divine authority. Whenever this subject comes up, I think of Elijah. His life illustrates the divine authority God wants to endow us with, especially for times like these.
It is possible for any Christian to lose control of his or her spirit. Whenever this happens the result is confusion, strife and conflict: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28, KJV). The image is of a total loss of control.
If you had to name the pinnacle of Jesus’ teaching, what would you say it is? We gain some insight from his final night with his disciples before going to the cross. He only had a few hours left with his closest friends, so he concentrated all that he’d taught them. As Christ summed up everything, he boiled it all down to one word: love. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
If anyone ever needed to hear a word from God, it was Job. You remember Job’s story: God had taken down the protective hedge around him and given Satan permission to try Job’s faith. Immediately, chaos broke out in Job’s life. All ten of his children were killed when a tornado struck. All his material assets were destroyed—his home, his cattle, his property, everything. Finally, Satan was allowed to attack Job’s body. The man was stricken with boils from head to toe.
Does God want us to be happy? That’s a loaded question for many Christians. The church hasn’t given a clear answer on it for over a generation. Yet from beginning to end the Bible gives us a very clear answer, and it’s meant to transform the way we live.