Lessons from Lazarus

by Rick
Lessons from Lazarus


Never Give Up on God!
Delayed, but not Denied!
God can Revitalize Dead Dreams!
Our Compassionate God!
Taking Away the Stone!
Your Deliverance is tied to Your Faith!
God Wants us to be Free!
God is Always in Control!
Religion without Relationship is Destructive!

Never Give Up on God

(John 11:4 NIV)  When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.  NO, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

John’s 11th chapter opens up with mention of a man named Lazarus being sick.  This man was from Bethany and was the brother of Mary and Martha.  This was the same Mary who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair.  So the sisters sent word to the Jesus, “Lord, the one who you love is sick.”  This is where we pick up our text.  When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.  NO, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

This is a family that loved God and whom was loved by God.  Whenever Jesus would come to town, He stayed with them and He enjoyed their presence.  Mary, Martha, and Lazarus had a special relationship with Jesus, one that many possibly wished they could have.  Their relationship, however, would not exonerate them from tragedy reaching their home.  Sickness seemingly creeped in through the night and struck Lazarus.  He must have been really sick, because the sisters sent word to Jesus.  This was their desperate attempt to deal with a situation that was bigger than anything they could control.  What was Jesus’ response to all of this?  Did He jump up and immediately run to Bethany?  Did He speak the Word and dispatch healing angels through the air?  Did He send the disciples to work on His behalf?  No, He hung around where He was for two more days.  Why?  Because He already knew what the end of the issue would be and that there was purpose wrapped up in this sickness.

So what does this mean to you today? Let’s look at some piratical golden nuggets that we can find in the text:

1.  Being a Christian does not mean that we will never go through any storms.
2.  Whenever situations enter your life that are bigger than your capacity to handle, take it to the Lord in prayer.
3.  When you pray, remember that you are not sending breaking news to God, like a reporter on the front lines.  He knows everything that has and will ever happen to us.
4.  Whatever He permits to enter the arena of our lives, He has purpose wrapped up in.
5.  His timing is not our timing.
6.  Never give up on God, no matter how grim the circumstances may seem!

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Delayed, but not Denied!

(John 11:15 NIV)  “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

Yesterday we found out that Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick.  We also found out what Jesus’ response to the new was.  He 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.”  Jesus’ response unveiled the purpose behind the problem and it also resulted in Jesus proclaiming a promise.  So the purpose what so that God would get the glory and the promise was that this sickness would not end in death.  This is important to remember as we continue to walk through this story.

Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  Yet, after He heard this, He stayed where He was for two more days.  Then He told His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”  They did not want to go back there because the religious rulers of the time had attempted to stone Jesus the last time He was there.  Jesus would go anyway.  After discussing the danger, Jesus went on to tell them, “Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”  His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus was not talking about natural sleep and his disciples had, once again, misunderstood Him.  So then He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”  This is where we pick up our text, where He goes on to say, “and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

Our text unveils another facet of the purpose in the pain.  Not only was God to get the glory, but this miracle would aide the disciples in there quest from doubt to belief.  Jesus had already said that Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death and He also said that he was asleep, but that He would go and wake him up.  The situation was grave.  Lazarus was already dead.  Jesus had spoken these things and He could not make Himself out a liar.  In the midst of all of this, He says, “But let us go to him.”  Thank God for the BUT!  This changes the mood of the story and now Jesus is moving towards the miracle.

WOW!  There is a lot in this passage.  Let’s seek to glean a few golden nuggets that can apply to our lives today:

1.  Delay does not mean Denial.
2.  God will never go back on His Word.
3.  Some people will be blessed by the testimony you have of the storms you have endured.
4.  Even if your situation, your dream, your marriage, your children, are seemingly DEAD, God can still interject a BUT!
5.  Nothing is too hard for God!

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God can Revitalize Dead Dreams!

(John 11:17  NIV)  On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

This morning we pick back up with the story of Lazarus.  There story is so power packed that we have taken our time walking through it.  Let’s recap:

  • Lazarus got sick
  • His sisters sent word for Jesus
  • 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.”
  • Jesus hung around where He was for two more days and then takes off for Bethany

So here it is, Jesus finally arrives at the scene and not only is Lazarus dead, but he had been dead for four days.  By this point he was legally dead.  It was the Jewish custom to wait until the fourth day to legally pronounce death, as if to ensure that the person was truly dead.  Jesus arrives after Lazarus’ illness had resulted in life leaving his body.  Jesus arrives after the professional mourners had already mourned his death with the family.  Jesus arrives after they had already prepared the body for burial and wrapped it in grave clothes.  Jesus arrives after the Jews had already legally pronounced his death.  Jesus arrives after rigor mortis had set in and the body had already begun to stink.  It was a terrible situation, but Jesus was now on the scene!

So what’s the message in this mess for this morning?  The message is that God wants Maximum glory out of our situations!  He wants to bless us, but He wants to do it in such a way that there will not be any confusion on who the originator of the blessing was.  God does not want his glory taken by man.  God does not want to heal you so you can the glory to the doctors.  He will do it in such a way that you know the doctors could not have done it.  God does not want to deliver you, loose you, free you, bless you, and etc. and then you give His glory to someone else.  He often times waits until the situation is bigger than human possibility before He manifests His Divine Power!

So no matter who you are and no matter how dead your situation may seem, when God shows up, He can make the world’s impossibilities a reality in your life.  Are you willing to trust God, even when it looks like you should give up all hope?  God can revitalize your dead dreams!  Will you believe Him to do it?

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Our Compassionate God!

(John 11:35 NIV)  Jesus wept.

This morning we continue our walk through the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.  Yesterday we left off where Jesus finally arrived at Bethany and Lazarus had been dead for four days and his death was now legally recognized.  Upon His arrival, Martha came out to meet Jesus and Mary stayed at home.  Martha said, “Lord, if you had here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  She misunderstood His statement to be of someone of rising again in the last day, but Jesus spoke on an immediate resurrection from the dead.  Martha then called for Mary to come out and meet Jesus.  “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”  When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him.  When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews that had come along with her began to weep also, He was deeply moved in His spirit.  He asked where they had laid him and was taken there.  This is where we pick up our text and, Jesus wept.

So what does this mean to you today? What lessons can we learn from this portion of the passage?  Let’s look at two golden nuggets:

1.  It is OK to be real with God:  Both Martha and Mary had the same response to meeting Jesus, they both said, “Lord, if you had here, my brother would not have died.”  They were basically complaining.  There is a song that I really enjoy entitled “I won’t complain!”  But to be honest, sometimes I do.  When we pray it does not always have to be some canned and prepared prayer.  We don’t have to use King James English for God to hear us.  We don’t have to sit or stand or kneel.  We don’t have to have our eyes closed or our eyes open.  There is not set way to pray and there is not set manner in which to come.  Simply communicate with God and it is definitely OK to share with God what you have on your heart.  Both Martha and Mary told Jesus how they felt and what was bothering them and Jesus heard them and had compassion on them.  No matter what your care or concern is this morning, take it to the Lord in prayer and when you do  —  It is OK to be real with God!

2.  Our God is Compassionate and Cares about us:  Jesus cried like we cry.  He shed tears like we shed tears.  He was moved like we are moved.  See, we do not serve a distant and despondent God.  We serve a God that came down and lived like we live so that He could meet us where we are.  He worked like we work.  He sweated like we sweat.  He slept like we sleep.  He loved like we love.  But He also hurt like we hurt.  Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and He also loves us.  So don’t afraid to take your concerns to God.  Remember that Our God is Compassionate and Cares about us!

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Taking Away the Stone!

(John 11:39 NIV)  “Take away the stone,” He said.

This morning is the beginning of a new week and we seek to glean some more life lessons from God’s Holy Word.  We are still in the story of Lazarus.  I am trying to get through it, but every time I run across a verse it seems to call out to me and ask me to say something about it.  This morning, our text did just that.  We left off on Friday with the shortest verse in the bible, (John 11:35) Jesus wept.  We talked about how it is OK to be real with a compassionate God.  When the people there saw that Jesus shed tears they said, “See, how He loved him!”  But others said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of a blind man have kept this man from dying?”  The true answer to this question is yes.  Jesus could have kept him from dying, but then God would have been glorified in this tremendous miracle that we are still speaking of today.  They finally get to the tomb.  The tomb was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.  This is where we pick up our text.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

I am sure that Jesus could have moved the stone Himself if He had wanted to, but there is a lesson to be learned in His request of them.  See, they did not want to take away the stone because the body was stinking by now.  They did not want to take away the stone because their brother was past help, in their own minds.  They did not want to take away the stone because they had already lost hope.  It had been four days.  Four days of mourning.  Four days of crying.  Four days of waiting on a Jesus that had yet to show up.  By this time they were glad that Jesus was there to comfort them, but they really had no idea that Jesus could turn this hopeless situation around.  Jesus’ request that they take away the stone required faith on their behalf.  This allowed them a part in their own breakthrough.

So what does this mean to you today? Yes, your situation might seem hopeless, beyond repair, and even impossible.  But we serve a God that can turn hopeless situations around.  We serve a God that specializes in our impossibilities.  I have often times said that Desperation is the breeding ground of miracles.  God often places us in hopeless situations so that our desperation causes us to focus on no one but Him.  If this is you today, if you are in a desperate situation, God can still turn your hopeless situation around.  What is the stone in your life that God is asking you to move before He blesses you?  Take away your stone and receive your breakthrough!

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Your Deliverance is tied to Your Faith!

(John 11:40 NIV)  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

This morning we continue our quest through the Gospel according to St. John and we are still in the story of Lazarus.  Yesterday we discussed the family’s requirement in the miracle (taking away the stone) and how we too can be required to participate in our breakthrough.  After Jesus told them to take away the stone, however, their response was not that of immediate action.  “But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead Lazarus, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”  We have already discussed the significance of the four days and how God’s purpose was wrapped up in it.  God’s purpose, however, had now positioned Lazarus in a place where his family had lost hope and they did not even want to do anything about it.  He was, in tier minds, beyond repair.  He was dead and stinking.  Jesus’ reply did not deal with the condition of Lazarus, but rather the condition of Mary and Martha.  This is where we pick up our text.  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

We can sometimes get into some really tough situations.  We sometimes even place ourselves there and then seek God to get us out.  Now matter how hard, tough, bad, or hopeless your situation may seem this morning  —  it is not over until God says its over!  There is NOTHING too hard for God.  So our breakthrough is not contingent upon whether or not God can do it.  Our breakthrough is not tied to the status of our situation, our breakthrough is tied to the status of our Faith!  Jesus’ reply was tied to Martha’s faith, not Lazarus’ body.  This word “believed” in our text is the same word for faith.  In other words, He said, “If you have faith, you will see God show up and show out!” (my translation).

So no matter where you are and no matter what situation you find yourself in this morning, God can still bless you.  Your situation is not too hard for God.  Your deliverance is not tied to the status of your situation, but rather to the status of your faith.  If you can believe, the Holy Spirit can Achieve!

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God Wants us to be Free!

(John 11:43,44 NIV)  When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This morning we continue our quest through the gospel according to St. John.  We have been dealing with the Lazarus account for some days now.  We started off with Jesus saying, when He got word of Lazarus’ condition, “This sickness will not end in death, No it is for God’ glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  This morning we can see what He meant by that.  Jesus finally got to the grave yesterday and we know that the body was stinking because it had been dead for four days.  Jesus required faith of Mary, the dead man’s sister.  She operated in faith and took away the stone.  Jesus looks up and says, “Father I thank you that you have heard me.”  This is where we pick up our text.  When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped in strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

This entire passage is chock full of power packed application for our lives.  Once again, there are many golden nuggets in our text for this morning, but for the sake of brevity, we will only look at two:

1.  Salvation:  Jesus called Lazarus by name and this was a call from death unto life.  Lazarus, however, had to respond to the call.  Likewise it is with us.  It is not God’s will that any should perish.  God has given us the gift of eternal life and that life is wrapped up in Jesus.  He calls us by name through the mouths of many witnesses.  If we can be honest, however, it took many calls before we ever responded and received Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  If you are not saved this morning, if you have never repented of your sin and accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then this is another call for YOU!  God is speaking to you right now and tugging at your heart and calling you out of your dead and stinking situation.  Like Lazarus, people have discounted and dismissed your destiny, but you don’t have to remain that way.  Like Lazarus, you can respond to the call and receive life in Jesus!

2.  Sanctification:  Salvation is instantaneous, but sanctification is a process.  Lazarus was now alive!  He was no longer and dead, but he was still wrapped up in dead stuff.  He was wrapped up in dead man’s clothes.  He was bound like a mummy from the experience of death.  That’s how it is with us.  When we are Born-Again, yes, we are alive, but we are still wrapped up with dead stuff.  There are many issues that we have to be delivered from.  There are many yokes of bondage that must be destroyed so that we can operate in the freedom that God wants for our lives.  We don’t have to attempt to do this by ourselves.  That is why it is so important to be a member of a church and to receive God’s Word on a consistent basis.  Our fellowship with the brethren will help in the sanctification process.  You don’t believe me?  Look at the text.  Lazarus did not remove the dead stuff by himself.  Jesus sent others to him to help him to attain his freedom.  Hallelujah!

God does not want you to go to hell, He wants you to be saved.  But then after salvation, He wants you to be free!  God wants you to have life and to have it More Abundantly!  Are you willing to receive it?

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God is Always in Control!

(John 11:45 NIV)  Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him.

We have walked through the entire Lazarus account.  It started off with Jesus receiving word that Lazarus was sick.  He said, “This sickness will not end in death, No it is for God’s glory that God’s Son may be glorified through it” when He found out.  Yesterday we saw that Lazarus was raised from the dead after four days and then loosed of his grave clothes.  This morning’s text bring closure to the whole matter.  Many of the Jews who had been there mourning with Mary and Martha were present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  This tremendous miracle served as evidence to them that Jesus was the Messiah and they put their faith in Him.  Jesus’ statement that this sickness was for God’s glory was made manifest.  God did get the glory and the Good Shepherd received new sheep because of it.  But we also have to remember that for these people to come to God and for God to get the glory, there was a family in the middle of the story that had to go through a tremendously painful ordeal.  Lazarus had to experience sickness and eventual death for four days.  Mary and Martha had to experience the loss of the their brother and the hurt in knowing that Jesus had received word, but that He had not yet arrived.  God permitted this tragedy to enter the arena of this family’s life and remember that these were people that He loved.

So what does this mean to you today? A few things:

1.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, for the glory of God.
2.  When God brings you through a storm, share your testimony, so that God would get the glory.
3.  Learn from other people’s experiences so that God would not have to send you through all the experiences yourself.
4.  It’s never too late for God and it is not over until He says it’s over.
5.  God is always in Control!
6.  Delay does not mean denial!
7.  Whatever God permits to enter the arena of your life, He has purpose wrapped up in!

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Religion without Relationship is Destructive!

(John 11:53 NIV)  So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

Yesterday we talked about how many Jews put their faith in Jesus because they saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead.  Not everyone had this testimony, however.  Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.  The chief Priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They were afraid that Jesus was going to disrupt their comfortable, but spiritually dead way of life.  One of them, named Caiphas, who was High Priest that year, spoke up.  He said, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”  This is where we pick up our text.  So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

So what does this mean to you today?  What golden nuggets can we glean from this text?

1.  In this world we are going to have to deal with trouble and troublesome people (John 16:33).
2.  Not everyone that is IN the church is OF the church.
3.  Religion without relationship is destructive.

God wants to use us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us, but that does not exonerate us from trouble.  Jesus was doing the will of God and being used of Him mightily, but the Sanhedrin still purposed in their heart to do Him harm.  So think it not strange when you are resented for being a child of God.  I know it is hard to believe that some folk will dislike you, just because you are a Christian and are seeking to the do the will of the Father, but this is a reality of our Christian walk.  We find hope, however, in knowing that we do not walk by their feelings, but rather by our faith!  So no matter how folk feel about you, nor how they treat you, keep your faith in God!

This is Today’s Word.  Apply it and Prosper!