Even Now

May 18, 2014

Where
is he?  Where?  Where is he? 
How many times had she asked that question over the past four days.  Her only brother had come down with some
mysterious virus and nobody could do anything for him.  Well nobody except for their friend
Jesus.  How many times had he reached out
his hand and the blind had seen, or the lame had walked.  If there was any hope for Lazarus it would
only be through Jesus.  Granted she
hadn’t actually asked Jesus to come, she had only sent word that His friend was
deathly ill.  If Jesus was the friend that
he professed to be wouldn’t he have come?
But she
had waited and Lazarus got worse, and she waited and Lazarus died, and she
waited and Lazarus had been buried.  
Jesus had healed the paralytic and he didn’t even know him, he healed
the blind man who was just a face in the crowd, surely he would come for his
friend.    And still the thought
tormented her, where was he, surely she couldn’t have misjudged Jesus so
badly.  He had eaten at their table and
slept under their roof surely that had meant something to him, or maybe not. 
And
then a murmur began to weave it’s way through the crowd that had gathered to
mourn with the two sisters, the master is here, Jesus has arrived.  And Martha couldn’t help herself, she was on
her feet rushing to meet her friend.  The
thought that had burned in her heart was already on her lips,
John 11:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
I don’t
think it was said with a mean or vindictive spirit, but I don’t think it was
simply a statement of fact either.  I
think she was disappointed in Jesus and felt betrayed and I’m sure the question
even though unasked could be read in her eyes, “When
you heard he was sick, why didn’t you come then?” 
Max Lucado says that “The
grave unearths our view of God” And he’s right how often have we heard
“God if you existed my child wouldn’t have died, if you’d have answered my
prayers my life wouldn’t be empty, if you cared my mother wouldn’t have
developed cancer.”? 
How
often are we guilty of dealing with God in that very same way, of demanding to
know why he doesn’t do it the way we want it done, when we want it done?  The experts tell us that it would have been a
two day walk from where Jesus heard the news to Bethany, and you all know how
an expert is defined?  X being the
unknown quantity, spurt being a drip under pressure.  So if we take the experts word for the
distance and add to it the two days that Jesus waited before he left we come up
with a grand total of four days, the exact number of days that Lazarus had been
in the grave. So Lazarus was dead before Jesus was even told that he was
sick.  Sometimes we just don’t know.
And
then she said the most incredible thing, something that revealed volumes about
her character and her faith, John 11:22 But even now I
know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
“Jesus
I may not understand what you’ve done, I may not be able to explain it, I may
not like it but even now I still believe that you are capable of anything.”
How
about it people?  Are you convinced even
now that he is able to do anything?  Are
you?  What do you believe that God can do
even now through Cornerstone Wesleyan Church? 
All we have to do is look at what He has done in the past to see what he
can do in the future; because what he did yesterday he is capable of doing
today.
1) Even Now God Can Do The Impressive.  I love the story of Gideon. 
Maybe you don’t know it, after all it happened almost three thousand
years ago.  It was during a time that
Israel had come under foreign rule, the story is found in the book of
Judges.  The Midianites had conquered
Israel and the people had run for the hills, literally living in caves and ravines.  Not satisfied with that the Midianites made a
nasty habit out of burning any Israelite fields they found and killing their
animals.
In a
situation like this who do you need?  You
need a hero right and where do you find a hero, well I checked the yellow pages
and they skipped right from herbs to hobbies. 
But if you’re God you don’t need the yellow pages and so an Angel was
sent to a young farmer named Gideon. 
Well to make a long story short Gideon raised an army of 32,000 men not
bad.  But God said “Hey you guys could
defeat the Midianites all by yourself, tell anyone who is afraid to go
home.”  That did it, 22,000 of them
left.  Imagine how Gideon must have felt.
 But still 10,000 is better then
none.  But God said  “Hey Gideon still too many, get everyone to
drink from the stream and keep only those who drink from their cupped
hand.”  Well maybe you know what happened
9,700 of them knelt down to drink and Gideon was left with 300.  To quote God in Judges
7:7 The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you
victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” And he did! 
Now
that’s impressive.  But not necessarily
impossible.  You see the three hundred
men surrounded the Midianite camp in the middle of the night each one armed
with a trumpet, a clay pot and a torch. 
On a prearranged signal they blew their trumpets and smashed their clay
jars, waved their torches and yelled 
“For the Lord and for Gideon.” Well the Midianites had just been woken
up, panicked turned on each other and beat a hasty retreat. 
God
does some impressive things in our lives, perhaps helping us deal with anger,
or helping our relationship with our spouse or our children.  People have prayed for work and found the
perfect job.  That’s impressive.  People have been sick and others have prayed
for them and they have gotten better, that’s impressive.  God answers prayer in an impressive way, but
none of those things were impossible. 
People have found the perfect job without praying, sick people have
gotten better without praying, relationships have been restored without
God.  But he does do impressive things in
answer to our prayers.
Are
there situations in your life that you need to say, “Even now I believe God can
do some impressive things for me.”  Maybe
you’re at the end of your rope in your marriage or frustrated with your
children and you feel like only a miracle could help, he’s still in the miracle
doing business.  God still does the
impressive.  Throughout the Bible we read
how God stepped in and helped his people. 
Abraham, David, Solomon, Joshua, Moses, Daniel each one could tell an
amazing story of the impressive work that God did for them and even today there
are people who would confirm that even now, May 18, 2014 ,God does the
impressive.
God has
done impressive things with this church. 
Twenty
years ago, next month, you could have fit Cornerstone around a kitchen
table.  Nine years ago there were forty
of us meeting together at the LeBrun Centre in Bedford.  Today close to three hundred or us meet each
Sunday in a multi-million dollar facility and there are probably three times
that many in the community who would identify themselves with Cornerstone.  “Of course Cornerstone is my church, I go
every Christmas.”  And that’s impressive
but not impossible.  After all every
church was started at some point. 

God can and will continue to do the impressive through Cornerstone Wesleyan
Church.  When?  Even Now.

2) Even Now God Will Do The Improbable.   Do
you remember the story of David and Goliath? 
It seemed that everyone wanted to whump on Israel, this time it was the
Philistines.  The story is found in the
book of 1 Samuel 17.  The Israelites are
on one hill, the Philistines are on another hill and the Philistines trot out
their Champion, Goliath, and he was one big sucker standing over nine foot
tall. Throwing down a gauntlet Goliath says, 1 Samuel
17:8-9 Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the
Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the
Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to
come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be
our slaves!
Well,
none of the Israelite soldiers were all that excited with the prospect of
taking on this guy.  But along came
David, not a soldier a shepherd, not an adult but a teenager and armed with a
slingshot and five smooth stones he killed the giant and saved the day.
What
would you say to that a professional soldier armed with the very best armaments
available to him challenged by a mere boy with little more then a toy.  What are the chances of David being the
victor.  Possible but not probable.  Hey, God not only does the impressive he does
the improbable.  Daniel surviving a night
in a den full of lions, Abraham and Sarah having a child in their nineties,
Noah building a 450 foot boat miles from the nearest major body of water.  Impossible no, improbable yes. 
And God
does the improbable today.  People
addicted to one thing or another who have tried everything to break that
addiction have turned to God and have conquered it.  Possible yes, probable no.  But even now God does the improbable.  Through prayer abusive husbands have become loving
mates, shrewish wives have become encouragers and impossible teens have become
our friends. 
Possible
yes, probable no.  But even now God does
the improbable.  Cancer patients have
been prayed over and all traces of the disease have disappeared, Possible yes,
probable no.  But even now God does the
improbable. 
What
are some of the improbable things that you need doing in your life, things that
just aren’t likely to happen.  Need a
personality transplant, he can do that, need self-control he can do that.  Do you have giants in your life that need to
be put down?  He still helps to defeat
giants.  And not only can he do the
improbable in your life he can do the improbable in your church as well.  He’s already doing it. 
When we
moved into the building almost nine years ago we decided that we needed to do
more to impact those in our greater community and those in our world.  And since then we have provided thousands of
pounds of food for Feed Nova Scotia through our monthly collections and Harvest
for the Hungry.  We have provided meals
for thousands of people who have been staying at Ronald McDonald House while their
children were being treated at the IWK. 
CIA has had an impact on the lives of people we will never meet because
of work we have done at shelters for homeless teens and victims of domestic
abuse, have served meals in soup kitchens and sorted through tons of food at
Feed Nova Scotia.
Through
your sacrifice we have drilled wells in five villages in Sierra Leone, have
provided  resources for homeless teens in
Odessa in Ukraine and made a difference in the lives of countless others in
Haiti, Ghana, Thailand and Cuba.
A
little over a month ago 27 families from Cornerstone stepped up to the plate to
sponsor children in Peru in Partnership with Compassion Canada.
In the
past five years we have sent men, women and teens from Cornerstone to West
Africa, Haiti, Cuba and Guatemala.  And
they have trained leaders, built homes for widows, taken hockey bags of medical
supplies and held orphans in their arms.
And ten
years ago if we had of told people the impact that Cornerstone would have
locally and globally we would have been told, “Well sure that is possible but
it’s really not all that probable.”     
And
today God still wants to do the improbable through Cornerstone.   Today God can help us to minister in
improbable ways to our community and to our world. When?  Even now.
3) But Even Now God Does Do The
Impossible. 
Let’s return to our original story.  Jesus friend Lazarus becomes ill and his
sisters send news to Jesus.  As we noted
before in the account we have they don’t actually ask Jesus to come but judging
by their reaction they expected him to come. 
Not only did they expect him to come they expected him to come and heal
their brother.  That much is evident in
Martha’s  words in John 11:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had
been here, my brother would not have died. 
and the words of her
sister in John 11:32 When Mary arrived and
saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my
brother would not have died.”  
Now
that’s pretty much laying it on the line, isn’t it?  “If you had been here you could have done the
impressive, you could have even done the improbable, but you weren’t here and
now our brother is dead”
Now you
would think that with expectations like that and knowing Jesus the way we know
him that he would have rushed to be with the sisters or knowing that he wouldn’t
have made it in time did a God thing and zapped Lazarus back to health long
distance. We would think.
But
listen to what happened.
John 11:5-6 So although Jesus loved
Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Now I don’t know why Jesus waited two days, and I’m
not going to pretend I do.  What we do
know is that when Jesus heard the news his friend was already dead and ready to
be buried.
And
then he came.  But Lazarus had already
been in the grave for four days.  And even
though it would appear that Martha had reprimanded Jesus for not being there
sooner she tells him “It’s not too late because even now you can perform a
miracle.”
Could
you do that?  Standing next to your
brother’s filled in grave could you express that type of faith in God?  You see her statement was not so much saying
that she believed that Jesus could raise her brother, but she would trust him
even if he didn’t. 
Martha
was saying.  “Even now I believe that you
can do anything, but I will trust whatever it is you do or don’t do.”
But the
story doesn’t end there, because Jesus goes to the tomb, let’s read John’s
account of what happened, after all he was there.  John 11:38-44 Jesus
was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across
its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead
man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will
be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s
glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to
heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I
said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they
will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the
dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped
in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Guy’s
been dead five days, in the grave four days and he’s brought back to life.  That is impressive, and it’s improbable and
it’s also impossible.  Dead people don’t
come back to life that just doesn’t happen. 
But it did happen.  You see it is
the reality of what the Angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke
1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.” and Jesus summed it up when
he said in Luke 18:27 Jesus said, “What is impossible
for people is possible with God.” 
And
guess what God still does the impossible today. 
People can change their behavior but only God can change their
hearts.  What have you been told is
impossible in your life?  Can you say
with Martha “Even now”?
What
would you have God do with Cornerstone Wesleyan Church?  Can you see it as God sees it?  Can you see it not as it is but as God would
make it? 
Close
your eyes for a minute and answer this question, if Cornerstone could be
anything and do anything without taking into consideration any human
limits.  Forget about money, buildings, or
staff what do you believe God can do with this church? Because even now God can
do the impossible.
This
year we will continue to be there with a hot meal when families come back to
Ronald McDonald House after spending the day next the sick bed of a child.  And while we need Vashti and Wanda to
co-ordinate that effort it would be impossible for them to do it themselves. It
becomes a reality when God’s people step up.
CIA
will continue to minister in the downtown core, impacting the homeless and the
hungry.  And while Pastor Ben
co-ordinates the operations it will be men, women, teens and children giving up
a few hours on Saturday who will make it a reality.
Right
now James Galsworthy is in Uganda representing his God and his church.  Have you been praying for James?  Right now Val Lewis and I are working on a
project that will take a team of doctors and health professionals to the Kamakwie
hospital in Sierra Leone.
How
many wells can be drilled in the future? How many children can be sponsored?
Pastor
Marilyn and her team are working on a healthy marriage workshop for the
fall.  We have dozens of children’s
workers speaking God’s truth into the lives of children every week.  Pastor Ben and his team and helping teens
connect with God. 
I read
recently that our job as parents is to raise great adults not great kids, and
we want to stand alongside of you in that responsibility. 
So this
year which of your friends and family will begin a relationship with God that
will impact their eternity?  We don’t
just want them to come to Cornerstone, we want them to come to Cornerstone and
meet Jesus. 
Can you
believe the vision?  Can you believe God
for the impossible? This is our future, so to quote that great Philosopher Yoda “Try
not. Do or do not. There is no try.”