Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” John 11:1-7

So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,  and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”  John 11:14-15

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:38-44

 

 

Whenever I read the bible I as myself 2 things : what does this show me about God and what does it show me about me?

 

SO THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE

Sometimes God is doing something in your life for others to see

Jesus said to his disciples Lazarus is dead and for your sake I am glad so that you may believe. At the tomb entrance Jesus prayed I have said this for the benefit of the people standing here, so that they may believe you sent me””

Paul and Silas in the prison – the others were listening

Perspective – See the big picture

So what does this say about God?

It says that God is at work in all circumstances of my life. It says that He knows that is going on and that He is the master author of the story of my life. He is big enough to know all the plot twists.

Isaiah 55 says For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.

God is good. All the time. We say that, almost as a catch phrase. Nike, just do it. 30 seconds spray and walk away. Bazinga. May the force be with you. God is good. All the time.

But it’s not just a catch phrase. There is a reality there that sometimes we dismiss. Sometimes our heart says God is good when life is good.

I was reading in Job the other night – and we know Job’s catch phrase – Though he slay me, I will trust Him” (job 13:15) – and in job 1 I was blown away again by Job’s response and real life action w hen he heard his sheep were dead, his camels were dead, his kids were dead etc

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I shall depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.’

We often colour God with the same crayolas humanity are coloured in. People have bad intentions. People have grumpy pmt days. People mess with ya. People vomit their own negative emotions over you. Their motivations are squewed and they’re living for number one.

But God is good, all the time. He doesn’t have bad intentions. He doesn’t have bad hair days. His motivations are correct. He isn’t messing with your life. Everything He does is filled with goodness. Everything He does comes from a heart of goodness. Everything He does is right. God does nothing by accident. He is an on purpose God.

What does this say about me?

"You’re either going to live your life defined by what you go through or by Who you belong to." @Stevenfurtick

Jesus said in this life you WILL have trouble, but trouble does not need to define you or discourage you. You can rise because Jesus is risen. You can have hope because God is faithful to His promises. You can be joyous because God is at work. You can have peace because God gives peace despite what is going on around us.

My choice is to say YES to God and to believe. As Beatrice said last Sunday morning, to believe and keep on believing!

Those dark days may be the most richest, character forming, life changing of your life. They certainly were for Lazarus, for his sisters, for his community, for the disciples.

Jesus did something remarkable through Lazarus’ life and death that was on centre stage for everyone to see.

“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.”
Francis Chan

What is God doing in your life? What does He want to demonstrate to the world around you? What is the big picture?

 

 

LAZARUS IS DEAD – IS

Revelation 1:8 says "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

Often we get that God is in the past doing amazing things. We have a whole book that is a record of God’s power and might. And we know that in the future – in eternity – in heaven – God will be mighty and amazing and we’ll we so blown away when we see Him. But now. The IS. Often in the IS we forget that Jesus is the same yesterday, tomorrow and today.

Lazarus’ IS was that Lazarus is dead.

What does your IS say today?

Even in your IS God is God. He is not just the God of yesterday or the God of tomorrow but He is God today!

And do you want to know the most amazing thing about Lazarus’ IS. In his IS he heard the voice of Jesus calling him, by name, to come out.

Lazarus heard Jesus calling his name.

In case I need to spell it out or you haven’t connected the dots. Lazarus is dead. He was dead and he heard God speaking.

Those things in your life that are dead and impossible – God can speak life to them – He can call you out of them. He sees you in those moments.

Jesus calls out to those dead places of our lives, our dead hopes, our dead dreams, our dead relationship circumstances and says "come out"

No matter how dead you feel, no matter how big your obstacle is – jesus is the resurrection and the life

I am the resurrection and the life ~ jesus.

Martha says an interesting thing to Jesus in v 22 : ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

Martha "even now you can do impossible things" – that phrase even now speaks with faith despite circumstances. Even now despite what is going on, Jesus you can move and work and redeem and rescue.

Even now God can heal your family relationships

Even now God can change your life

Even now God can provide

Even now God can heal

Even now God can set you free from fear, insecurity, shame, doubt

Jesus can bring life to hopeless situations we’ve given up on as dead

Jesus resurrects people that feel dead on the inside and makes them alive with second chances

Jesus can resurrect dreams that have been killed by discouragement and disappointment

Jesus can speak life into your failing relationship and bring hope where it is hopeless

Nothing is impossible for God – No one is impossible for God. Your husband is not impossible for God. Your wife is not impossible for God. Your parents are not impossible for God. Your kids are not impossible for God.

God’s delays are not His denials – that IS that Lazarus was in was such an important part of “his life” and what God was doing.

So what can we do practically? What if my IS is whatever – in the darkness of a prison or the darkness of a tomb?

Its good when you’re standing on this side of a tomb to determine the decisions you’re going to make.

 

 

Pain can push you away from God, away from people and into the darkness even more.

But God wants your pain to push you towards Him, towards people and into the light.

 

 

1. Draw close To God: position yourself for hearing – Jesus spoke and Lazarus heard. Are you making time for God to speak? Are you listening? Purposefully tuning yourself in to hear. Right now there are radio waves all around us – if we had a radio we could tune in and hear a cricket commentary, some pop music or someone anyone. But we don’t have a radio so we’re not tuned into the frequency. Same with God. We have to put up our spiritual antenna and tune in.

John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.  Jeremiah 33:3

2. Draw Close To God: Remind yourselves of the promises of God. So many times the Israelites got in trouble because they FORGOT about the great things of God. They forgot about His promises. Case in point. God promises the Israelites to deliver them from Egypt and settle them in the promised land. He does signs and wonders and soooo reveals Himself and then boom. They forget. They woss out. They get fearful and insecure and faith-less. And so they have to wander another 40 years in the desert and die.

When Tony was made redundant the 2nd time – about 4 years ago I made a conscious choice to draw near to God. Everything within me was stressing out but I knew that how we walked through this would be watched by our housegroup and our families. We reminded ourselves that God is good and faithful and our provider. I lay on the sofa in the lounge and put on Bethel’s at that time new album on and cranked it up loud. The song “You are good” came on and it did something on the inside of me.

Rick Warren says worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. 

When you draw close to God you position yourself to hear from Him and to see life from His vantage point and to remind ourselves of His reality, His goodness and His greatness.

3. Draw Close to People: Get good people around you when the going gets tough. In fact get good people around you NOW so that when it gets tough you’re not having to pick new friends. Job’s wife was not a good friend. She told him to curse God and die. Seriously woman! Get good people in your life now – get into a housegroup, make intentional opportunities for friendship. Paul had good people in his life, when he and Silas got chucked into prison they turned it into a revival meeting. That couldn’t of happened if Silas was like “Paul shut up, you’re out of tune, we’re in a prison, what good is this, no one can hear us, this isn’t the XFactor, we’re gonna die!” They were brothers of the same Father and encouraged each other to draw close to God despite their location and circumstances.

4. Draw Close to People: Be real. Often when the going gets tough people say “how are you?” and we’re like “fine mate, sweet as” and inside we’re crushed and disappointed and it feels like someone has rolled that stone over our tomb. When Jesus came both Mary and Martha told Him how it was. They were real with Him. They were vulnerable. They let people in. Now I’m not suggesting we all go home and choose our “im feeling emotiocom” on facebook to say I’m feeling like the sky is falling, but again, don’t be afraid to live out your story on the stage of your life. Your mess becomes a message. Your test becomes a testimony.

 

 

TAKE OFF THE GRAVE CLOTHES AND PUT ON THE GRACE CLOTHES

You know in this miracle the disciples and Lazarus’s sisters had a part to play, a practical outworking of faith.

They had to roll the stone away and they had to untangle Lazarus from his grave clothes.

The gospel is that Jesus saves us from our sin and that we don’t have to earn it, repay it or be good enough in the first place to receive it. Our lives are then lived in response to His grace and salvation. But in that we live intentionally. We have choices to make that will shape our lives. We have choices to believe what God says as truth – what He says about life, living, about faith and the future, about who we are and who we are becoming.

When you’re saved God says you’re innocent, forgiven, made new, accepted, beloved.

But often we’re saying to ourselves we’re guilty, we’re rejected, we’re losers, we’re trapped.

We don’t live in that place anymore. We were dead. But now we’re alive. We’ve got to take off those grave clothes and live our new life.

Imagine if Lazarus walked around in his grave clothes – like a mummy. Stinking and confined and wrapped and still looking like a dead man. Some of us are doing that in how we live.

Grave clothes represent the things we used to do when we were spiritually dead. Grave Clothes represent addictions and worldly things that we hold on to. Grave Clothes represent things in your past that you keep holding on too. Grave Clothes represent depression, Grave Clothes represent our limited beliefs in what GOD can do in our live.

Romans 12:2 says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. NLT

Ephesians 4:22-24 says You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

We take off the old self and put on the new self that Jesus has given us. We take off the grave clothes and walk free in royal robes, clean clothes.

 

 

Tonight I feel that God wants people to experience His freedom. He is calling out your name and saying come out of the darkness. He is calling you out of the prison. There is power when we come forward and get prayer, when we come forward and say ME GOD, HERE I AM.

For some of you tonight is about untangling yourself from those grave clothes. You’re got to make a choice to take off the behaviours and thoughts and lifestyle of the past and leave them behind and live the new life God wants for you. This is an opportunity for you to come forward and do business with God. To repent – which begins with apology and continues with a changed life – for the things you have held onto which do not reflect the grace that God has given you. You have a fresh start tonight.

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