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Those who saw Jesus’ signs went and told others about him and who he might be. Jesus is full of compassion and utterly courageous. When it comes to following Jesus we should not be cautious but utterly courageous.
We can trust that God can heal supernaturally, but we shouldn’t rest our hope on this as he doesn’t always heal. Jesus doesn’t want to satisfy our desire to see miracles for their own sake. But we can always take Jesus at his word.
Jesus won’t fit into Nicodemus’ existing system as a Pharisee - instead, he tells Nicodemus that he needs a new start. Nicodemus may have had just one conversation with Jesus yet he became a disciple. What can God do with just one conversation?
It is good to praise the Lord - it benefits us and causes us to flourish, as it is what we are designed for. Praising God gladdens the heart and stretches the mind. It is good to consider what God has done.
Abraham mourned the death of Sarah. It is appropriate to grieve. Like Abraham and Sarah, we are aliens in the world who do not really belong anywhere. We are citizens of heaven - it is important to remember where we’re from and where we’re headed.
We might be shocked at what the men of Sodom wanted to do and what Lot suggested doing and even what God is prepared to do. But we should take this passage as a warning and example of what God will do when he ultimately destroys the wicked. There are different ways of responding - like Lot’s sons-in-law, who saw judgement as a joke, or like Lot, who hesitated when urged to escape, or like Lot’s wife, who looks back. We have a chance to repent and escape judgment, but that this opportunity will end.
Abraham and Sarah got tired of waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled and tried to take control. They began to focus on themselves, they stopped caring for others, such as Hagar. But God cared for her, and unlike Abraham and Sarah, calls her by her name.
How do we get back on track with God? By repenting and putting God first, by being willing to make hard decisions rather than drifting when we meet with challenges and by walking by faith like Abraham, rather than walking by sight like Lot.
Abraham didn’t make the decision to move; it was God who took the initiative. Abraham was nobody special and was slow to obey God. Nevertheless, he trusted God, and we also should trust God even when we don’t understand what God is doing. So let’s follow Abraham’s example of a life a faith, a life of obedience and life of worship.
We need to learn how to lament. We can do this by using our own words or by using some of the lament psalms that have been given us to help us pray. We need to make a deliberate decision to turn to the Lord, bring our complaint to him, make definite clear requests, and choose to trust him.
God delights in restoring those who have wandered away. We should be a people of real concern, who care for those wandering from the truth; a people of real discretion in confronting them; and a people of real zeal for bringing them back.
Some of us may have been excluded for being Christians, whilst others may have experienced more intense suffering. James calls us to be patient, but he is not insensitive to suffering, nor is he telling us to be inactive. To cope with suffering, we need to learn how to lament. Our ultimate hope is the return of Jesus.