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You can listen to Jesus and not understand what He is saying, especially when you hear Him for the first time, which is why He said to the twelve after the feeding of the 5000 and 4000, “Do you still not understand?”

They knew what Jesus had said and what He had done, but they failed to understand the reason for what was done and said.  One of our biggest problems remains not of our lack of faith or knowledge or wisdom, but understanding.  Understanding why God does and says what He does, and worse still, we do not understand His concept of timing, that is, understanding when God does what He does.

The understanding of God’s timing lays in the understanding of the purpose that He has declared.  When Jesus was told that Lazarus was sick, see His reply, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  That answer should give you a hint of when Jesus would go to Lazarus.  He said it would be for God’s glory so that God would get glory and that His Son would be glorified through it.  And Jesus showed us that He did not go to heal Lazarus, but He waited until Lazarus died and was buried and stinking, then He raised him up.  By the way, the raising of Lazarus was the last significant miracle done by Jesus before His crucifixion.  If it was the last big miracle, you can see why Jesus played it out to such a grand finale.  For what glory would there be if Lazarus was healed or raised just after he died?  No, the timing of the Lord was to maximise His glory.  God’s timing is always so that whatever aspect of Himself He wishes to display is maximised.

See, He waited until men’s wickedness was so great that only Noah was found righteous, and it is written:  Now the Earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.  He waited until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 99 before Isaac was born.  He waited until the Egyptians were at the height of their power before He sent Moses.  He waited until Gideon’s army was whittled to 300 men before the attack.  God has a tendency to wait in order that which is done can be seen that it was done by Him and only by Him to His glory.  Jesus did not point out to the disciples the food problem with the 5000, and more importantly the 4000 until the last moment, so that they were faced with an insurmountable problem whereby God alone could be the answer.  So it was at Lazarus’ grave – an insurmountable, impossible situation, and unprecedented, before the Lord made His move.

Now, listen and learn.  When you start looking for answers to your problems, and start by seeking God to answer your problems with solutions that can be done by men, you will find that God will keep you waiting until His Name is glorified to the maximum.  If you grow impatient like Abraham and Sarah did, then you might find that you will create problems like Ishmael, or as Moses did, and found himself 40 years in the desert.  Mary and Martha requested that the Lord would come quickly to heal Lazarus -something He had done many times before to others, even strangers like the daughter of the ruler and the one with a dying girl.  He had gone immediately and raised them whilst they were not yet buried.  So why did He delay this time?  Martha certainly did not understand, saying, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.”

Now see the practicality and faith of Martha, whom we often malign.  She knew from previous experience and testimony that if Jesus had arrived earlier, her brother would be healed, and so she rightly said, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”  That is her practicality.  It stems from what she knew from her past experience.  I heard some preacher say that a testimonial is prophetic.  God help us!  A testimony is never prophetic.  No witness ever comes before a judge to predict who the murderer is, but rather, a witness comes before the judge and declares what he has seen and heard and knows.  A testimony speaks of yesterday.  The word of God is prophetic as well as the truth, and it is also a testimony, that is, it speaks of what was, what is and what is to come.  So when God said of Jesus, “This is My Son, whom I love.  With Him I am well pleased…” it is a present and past tense testimony, which points to the future, meaning, since He is well pleased with Him yesterday and today, there is no reason why He will not be well pleasing tomorrow, so “Listen to Him!”

So Martha led off with her testimony, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died, just like all the others who were sick did not die when You went to them.”  That is what she was saying.  Our testimonies help us change our yesterdays, even when we cannot go back to change them from something useless and shameful to something that is useful.  It is like saying, “I was a sinner, but the Lord saved me.”  You cannot change the truth and fact that you were a sinner, lost, but you can use your yesterdays to testify to God’s present grace, that you are alive today to face today’s problems.  So Martha used her testimony of what she knew of the Lord to establish the foundation of her faith from which she would believe of Jesus to solve the problem of today.  What was her problem of today?  Lazarus was dead, buried and ‘stinketh’.  She no longer could see how Jesus would be able to do anything because the girls were raised the day they died, and the widow’s son was raised on the way to burial at Nain.  But a dead stinking corpse of three to four days, Martha did not know what Jesus would be able to do because she had no testimony, no past experience to go by.  So she said, “But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.” 

Her faith was that God would listen to whatever Jesus asked; such was her confidence in Jesus’ relationship with God from what she had seen of Jesus and her faith that with God nothing is impossible.  Martha had a faith not to limit God and to know that Jesus has such a relationship with God that God would deny Him nothing, so that Jesus gave the Gospel of the Resurrection to her first.  Unfortunately, Martha did not listen carefully.  You see, you may have great past experience and knowledge of Jesus and have faith that knows no limits, but if you do not listen carefully first, you would still miss out on what God has prepared for you.  Martha did not answer His question, but gave an answer that had nothing to do with the question.  “Yes Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 

The Martha’s of this age will be the same—great testimonial knowledge and faith, but because they did not listen, or rather, do not listen to what He is saying now, they will give a totally inappropriate answer.  We are facing the days of distress unequalled since the creation of the world.  No one alive or dead has ever lived through such days.  So the testimonies of miraculous rescues and deliverances as recorded in Scriptures and stories from the churches may help you bring the knowledge of yesterday into play today.  And you may, like Martha, have the faith that whatever Jesus asks God will do, but unless you learn to listen now, you like Martha will miss the opportunity.  For Jesus was standing in John 11 in a once and only situation, a dead man buried for four days, not a couple of girls freshly dead or a young man yet to be buried.  It was a new, unprecedented situation, so it demanded a new and unprecedented revelation of Jesus and His word.

Elijah and Elisha both raised the dead, so raising the dead is not new, but they were freshly dead, not a decayed semi-liquefied corpse of four days, which stank.  The raising of the girls and the widow’s son were not new, there were precedents already, but a dead man buried four days and stinking was new.  Jesus was going to use this situation to reveal something totally new, not just of the raising of the dead, but a revelation of who is the Life and the Resurrection.  He didn’t make that declaration earlier, but now, when God was to be glorified in Him one last time before His crucifixion, Jesus declared, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”  Something completely new, a newness of God revealed to solve a never before faced problem.  Hear it?  A newness of God revealed to solve a never before faced problem.  But Martha was not listening.  So the honour of the Gospel of the Resurrection fell on Mary who did not have Martha’s faith though she shared her testimony, saying, “Lord, if You had been here, My brother would not have died.”  But Mary listened, whereas Martha believed.

So now, see what we are facing.  A time of distress unequalled since the creation of the world —an unprecedented situation, which should immediately now tell you it will demand a NEW revelation of the Lord, just as new as John 11:25-26 was to Martha.  No one has ever faced these days before, so the testimonials of Acts 1 to 28 are helpful but not useable.  The faith not to limit God is pleasing, but not sufficient.  What is of prime importance so that we do not repeat Martha’s mistake is that we must listen to what He is saying that is NEW!!  …So new that our previous knowledge, understanding, doctrines and theology will not hinder us.

You see, when Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again,” Martha gave an answer that was full of what she had learnt:  “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Martha was acquainted with the event, but when the Person revealed Himself, she could not grasp it, she would not hear it, and she gave an inappropriate and irrelevant answer.  Technically correct but not for the question asked.  Do you see?

So now, understand and see what the Lord has brought you through.  He first made us all “Listen” so that Martha’s problem was avoided, and then from the listening He had you practise His word until little miracles began to happen, blind men seeing, lame men walking and so on, so that you now have testimonies.  He let you experience miracles that stretched your faith so that you might also well have the practicality and the faith of Martha, but He built that first on the hunger of Mary to listen to Him.

You now know enough that what is written in the gospels and Acts is true, that Jesus’ words are truth, and your faith has been stretched to being able to believe in the hardest sayings of Jesus like John 14:12 and John 11:26.  This is a foundation that has been built on listening, on testimony and on faith, so that you and I will not make the mistake of Martha.  Because when God is faced with a one-off non-repeatable situation, He will use it to the maximum of his glory and revelation of Himself.  Just like He did with Noah, Abraham and Israel, and just like with Lazarus.

So, don’t fret because He seems to be taking His time to respond to our requests, because what we are facing is a one-off, never-to-be repeated situation whereby He will seek to maximise His glory.  So His ‘slowness’ allows the glory to be gained to maximum.  But more important than that, because this is a one-off, never encountered before situation where His glory is to be maximised, then you can be certain that He will reveal something of Himself that He has not done so before, like “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” to Martha. 

Don’t worry about the good old church, they will react and behave just like the Jews at the grave side, mourn and complain when Lazarus ‘stinketh’ and praise God when the miracle happens.

And He has done and said many new and unprecedented things already with you, to hear the gospels of Glory, Justice, Opera, Peace and so on, to be in a small church with so many who have a gospel of their own, that is bewilderingly unheard of for the church.  To have everyone in this fellowship ministering in power to the current church is unheard of.  Now, know and understand this.  All this strange, weird and unconventional, even allegedly blasphemous things, are merely the prelude to what He is about to reveal that is new of Himself, a revelation that is the answer to the problem we are facing.

You see, a miraculously powerful prophet could not solve the problem of John 11 because no prophet had ever raised a stinking dead corpse.  An unprecedented situation demands an unprecedented revelation.  So get yourself ready, and don’t miss out on your opportunity like Martha did.  Imagine if Martha had caught what Jesus was saying to her in John 11:25-26 before the crucifixion, and went around preaching it:  “He is the Resurrection and the Life.  You are wasting your time crucifying Him!”  And whilst He was buried, she told the others just as He had said, “Stop your crying.  He is not dead, only resting.”  Wow!  Of course, all and sundry would have thought her crazy and ridiculous, until He did rise up.

So be ready for whatever the revelation that is coming, which will provide the answer for the days ahead.  It will be as new and as unprecedented as, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” was to the ears of Martha.

You have been taught to listen so that you know what has been spoken and recognise the voice of the One who speaks so that when He speaks out the new, you will recognise both the voice and the content of the message so that you may give and make an appropriate and correct response.  Here is a hint:  Why is the next book called “Innovations”?

So do not be surprised then that if He gave such power to the early apostles that the latter-day apostles will have power beyond what anyone can imagine, even the legendary powers of the age to come.  So do not be surprised then that the two witnesses will be killed by the beast so that they do not accidentally devour the false prophet with the fire of their mouths.  So do not be surprised then that the false prophet and the beast will be left alive to gather all the armies of the world to fight against Jesus at Armageddon, whom the Lord will destroy and overthrow with the breath and the splendour of His coming.  For that is just God maximising His glory and glorifying His Son to the max.  So, should it surprise you that part of your work, elect, may include protecting them from the two witnesses of Revelation 11?  No, do not be surprised, but stand in awe of your God.

Now, concerning the false apostles, do not be alarmed and concerned, but hear what Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  Our job is to refute their words with a clear and present demonstration of Holy Spirit’s power, both of this age and of the age to come!  And since false apostles are, as Paul wrote, men… masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions decree. 

These false apostles do not figure or appear in Revelation 19:19 with the false prophet, and Satan does not hand his authority over to a false apostle but to the false prophet, because false apostles are sons of the devil, servants of Satan, and we know their fate already.  We actually do not have to deal with them as much as to reveal and expose them, for as the Lord said, “The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” 

We expose them and the angels will remove them.  Simple.  That is why they don’t figure in the final equation or scenario, and if any are left there at Armageddon, you can be certain their powers do not exceed the false prophet’s.  And since the false prophet is only a prophet, he is not and never will be any where near the power of the apostles of the end time church who are being revealed, to whom Paul is not ashamed to extend the right hand of fellowship.

So, while we wait for the Lord as if we were Martha and Mary waiting for Him, what should we do and learn from them?  Learn this:  If you present to the Lord an answer to His problem or your problem that can be possible with men, you will be kept waiting.  Like Abraham was kept waiting because he tried to solve his problem using Haggai, or Gideon was delayed in battle because he gathered 26,700 men too many.

Also, if we only present to the Lord what has been done in the past, we will not be ready for the new.  So, how do we shorten time?  How do we get the Lord to listen and act instantly?  Learn from Joshua who said to the Lord in the presence of Israel, as his prayer that would give the answer to solve his problem, a solution that is impossible with men but only possible with God.  He said, “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the valley of Aijalon.” 

The Lord listened to Joshua because he proposed an answer through which God would get all the glory.  So, look at the battle that lays ahead and learn to say to the Lord, propose to the Lord, pray to the Lord, that which is impossible for men and with men, but only possible with God.  For we face a time no one else in history has ever faced.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit will say to the churches.”  For the Lord did say almost 2000 years ago, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”

 

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