Dear God, show us the road
that you have chosen for us,
and give us the courage
to walk down it... Amen

Friday, October 22, 2010

Remove the Stone...

These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

inbox from Karen: by Tony Evans

Have you ever been in a situation where things fell apart after you went to Jesus? Have you ever experienced a death? Not just a physical death, because death is essentially a loss. Have you ever experienced a deep loss of any kind? Stuff started to get sick, and then it just died. You had this plan for your life. You had a hope. You thought that things were going to fall right into place. But not only did they not fall into place, they died.

If you have ever been in a situation like that, then you know exactly what Martha and Mary were experiencing when they got caught between a rock and a hard place in John 11. Lazarus was sick. Martha and Mary reach out to Jesus for help. Jesus sends back hope. Lazarus dies.

Martha had told Jesus that she believed He was the resurrection and the life (v. 27). She had then run to tell Mary that Jesus had come.

Now Mary, seeing Jesus, falls at His feet and says, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 32). John reports that when Jesus “saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see’” (vv. 33-34).

Then, John writes, “Jesus wept” (11:35).

The next part of the passage contains potentially the most revolutionary spiritual truth you could ever learn for your daily living. It can sustain you when you’re caught between a rock and a hard place. We read: “So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Remove the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days’” (vv. 38-39).

Jesus makes a simple request, “Remove the stone.” Martha interrupts to let Jesus know that what He is asking isn’t practical. She lets Jesus know that what He is asking isn’t logical. It makes no biological sense.

When God puts you or me between a rock and a hard place, He will often make a request that makes absolutely no sense. His request to the mourners is not logical. Lazarus is literally between a rock and a hard place. Lazarus is literally behind a stone. Jesus asks the mourners to remove the stone without giving them any more information.

Here’s the spiritual truth you can apply to your daily life: When God is getting ready to do something significant in your life that involves a deliverance from a situation gone bad, or a resurrection of a situation that has died, it will often include an illogical request. And I want to encourage you, when that happens, don’t go logical on God. What we often do with God in situations like that is debate the instruction. Just like Martha did. Jesus’ instruction to her was pretty simple, “Remove the stone.”

With God it’s not about logic. It’s about doing what He says to do in faith. Once you add human logic to the Word of God, you ignore the power of the Word of God in your situation.

Jesus doesn’t want to have a discussion about the stone He has told us to remove. He doesn’t want to know how big the stone is. He doesn’t want to know how long the stone has been there. He doesn’t even want to know how dead the dead is behind the stone. All Jesus wants you to do is remove the stone.

To experience the living Christ in your dead situation, belief must precede sight, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith precedes sight. One of the great verses in the Bible describes this situation. It says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). In other words, belief requires no empirical evidence to validate what you are doing. There is nothing to taste, smell, touch, hear, or see in order for you to believe. There is nothing that the five senses can grab because if there is, then that is no longer faith. You don’t have to see something to know that it’s real. But what you do have to do is act in faith.

God says the righteous “shall live by faith” (10:38). So how do you know when you have faith? You only know that you have faith when you remove the stone – when you do the thing that God has asked you to do. If you’re not doing the thing that He told you to do, then you’re not having faith. If you’re discussing it, you’re not at the point of faith yet; you’re at the point of discussion. If you’re thinking about it, you’re not at the point of faith yet; you’re at the point of thought.

You’re not at the point of faith until God sees that stone move.

What can you expect to happen when you remove the stone? Jesus told Martha that if she will believe, she will see the “glory of God.” The glory of God is seeing God manifest Himself in your situation.

God wants to make some dead scenarios come forth. He wants to make dead careers come alive once more. He wants to resurrect dead marriages.

Martha and Mary didn’t make life come forth. All they did was remove the stone at His word. Then He created a miracle.

Someone reading this needs a miracle. Something in your life has died, and you need God to call it back to life. Someone is trapped in an addiction. You’ve tried everything that you know to get out of it but it doesn’t seem to work. What you need is a resurrection.

God can take your dead and dying scenario and call forth a resurrection. He can take what looks like a rotting situation and give it new life. He’s just waiting for you to remove the stone. When we do what God says to do in faith, God is free to bring forth life.

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