Now and then I eat beef. Once in awhile I go to the movies. Occasionally we go out of town. Once in a blue moon I get to spend time with all of my kids. From time to time I get a day just to be lazy and watch old movies. Things that I don't do every day. Times that are a special treat, but don't happen on a regular basis. Wouldn't it be nice to have something special happen every day? Something that made you feel pampered, loved, delighted and satisfied?
There is another now and then that does just that. Hebrews 13:8 says that Jesus is the same yesterday, and today and forever. He is the same now and He was the same then. And He will be the same in the then future as in the then past.
The Lord who loved us enough to be born of a virgin, live a sinless life, die on the cross and then be buried and resurrected is the same Jesus who today resides at the right hand of the Father. He is the same Jesus now as He was then.
His love for us is the same now as it was then. He died for us, for our ability to choose Him and have forgiveness from our sins. That has not changed. We have the right to, as it says in Hebrews 4:16, "Therefore let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need". That means right now. If Jesus is not your Lord, if you have not received forgiveness for your sins and wish to do so, all you have to do is ask. That word grace, or charis in the Greek means unmerited favor. Jesus died because He chose to, not because we did something to deserve that gift. And that word mercy or eleos means kindness or good will towards those who are miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them. And how miserable are we when we finally recognize our need for a Saviour, and how full of grace is He when He so freely gives it to us. Taking us out of our sinful ways and showing us a better, more fulfilling way.
Jesus answers prayers today just as He did then. When Mary and Martha sent for Jesus after Lazarus became ill, they had hope that Jesus would come and heal their brother. But Jesus waited. And to them it seemed eternity, and in a way it was. Lazarus died, and in the description in the bible, began to stink so he was buried. Jesus could have come right away. He could have even spoken from where He was and Lazarus would have been made well. But Jesus delayed. Mary and Martha were devastated. How could Jesus, who loved their brother so, let him die. But Jesus had a better plan. He showed up when Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. He commanded the stone be removed and then cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" I am moved to tears every time I read this. Can you imagine? I know how it is to be in a deep sleep and have a sound awaken me. That moment of disorientation, where am I, what day is it? Here was Lazarus, four days dead and he comes to joyous life hearing the words of his Lord!
The thing that really comes into play here is not only that Jesus answered that prayer then. He answered in the way that He knew was best. He answered in the way that He knew would not only glorify the Father, but would teach those in the midst of it a lesson. His words, before He spoke to Lazarus were these, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." Many things happened simultaneously there. Lazarus was raised from the dead. Mary and Martha learned a lesson that they would never forget. And God's name was praised.
So when we say that Jesus, is the same yesterday, today and forever, we have to say it in it fullest meaning. He doesn't always answer in the way we think best. But He does answer. And it is always for our greatest good. That we might see not only His love for us, but also His desire for us to grow in the Spirit.
So when you are going through trials and troubles, as the bible says we will, keep your faith in Him. When you feel unloved, remember that He loved then, He loves now; "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
He is not an intermittent God, like some radio station that comes in and then goes out in a blast of static. He is and was and forever will be.
Not now and then, but always and forever. Not once in awhile, but consistently and continually. Not occasionally, but uninterruptedly. Not once in a blue moon, but unceasingly and unending. Not from time to time but for time everlasting.