The Power of the Present

nowJesus got to the tomb of His friend, Lazarus, after he had been dead four days. When Martha heard that Jesus had finally arrived, she rushed out to meet Him. She was focused on the past:

“If only You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

I wonder how many “If onlys” you have in your life? Some of us are paralyzed by things that have happened in the past:

If only I had a better childhood
If only I hadn’t been abused
If only I had been given a chance to go to college
If only by boss would recognize my true giftedness
If only my spouse would love me for who I am
If only I could rise above my shame

Jesus’ agenda with Martha was to get her to see the potential in the present. He responded to Martha’s “If only” with a strong promise:

“Your brother will rise again.”

Now watch what Martha did. . .she made a huge leap from the past to the future. She left “Ifonlyland” and jumped right into “hopesoland!”

“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Some of us have put all of our hopes and dreams on someday.

Someday, justice will be served
Someday, I will get what I deserve
Someday, things will be made right

Jesus didn’t want Martha living in the past, and He didn’t want her putting everything on hold for a future promise. Jesus wanted Martha to engage the reality of His present power. Listen to His authoritative statement:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25)

In “Screwtape Letters,” C. S. Lewis wrote from the perspective of a head demon mentoring a younger demon. Listen to this devilish advice:

“The humans live in time, but our Enemy (God) destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself and to that point of time they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.
Our business is to get them away from the Eternal and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human to live in the Past. But this is of limited value. It is far better to make them live in the Future. It is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it, we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the least like Eternity.”

Right now, at this very moment, Jesus is with you. He wants you to live, today, in the reality of His power and presence. Do you believe this?

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About Rich Stevenson

Rich is the Executive Director of The Malachi Network (www.malachinetwork.org), a ministry focused on making the name of the LORD great among the nations. This network serves young leaders in missions and church planting. Prior to his present ministry, Rich pastored in Southern New Jersey, planted a church in Wilmore, KY, established a network of churches, served as an adjunct professor at Asbury College and was a senior leader at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO as well as The International House of Prayer in Atlanta, GA. Rich is the author of two books: Secrets of the Spiritual Life—10 Lessons from the One Thing Passages (Baker Books, 2003) A Voice from Home—The Words You Long to Hear from Your Father (WaterBrook Press, 2005) He graduated from Asbury College in 1984 with a BA degree in Philosophy of Religion and Asbury Theological Seminary in 1987 with a Master of Divinity degree. In 2010, Rich received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Biblical Seminary in Yangon, Myanmar. Rich has been married to Tania since 1982 and they have been blessed by amazing children: Zachary and his wife Meghan, Jacob and his wife Lena, Jessica and Corrie Emma.
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