Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes For Sunday’s Message; 18 October 2015; John 11:1-3, 17, 38-44

John 11:1-3, 17, 38-44 NIV2010

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (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.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” …

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. …

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “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.”

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

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”

Lazarus Monologue:

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My name is Lazarus of Bethany. I have two sisters, Mary and Martha.

Three of us knew Jesus of Nazareth since we were children. I remember the day when he showed up with his Disciples for the first time, and they stayed with us every time that they needed to go to Jerusalem because Bethany is so close to Jerusalem.

Everyone knows the story about Jesus calling me out of the grave. What nobody knows is my side of the story. I remember getting sick; it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt so hot; every muscle and every joint in my body was hurting. Every breath was painful.

Mary and Martha did everything they could to comfort me. They even sent for Jesus in hopes that he could heal me. To this day the stories of his healings are legendary.

All I remember is pain and drifting in and out of consciousness. And then I felt nice and cool and it was very comfortable. There was no pain, I felt wonderful and there was such a beautiful light all around me. Now I realize that this is what death feels like; at the time all I knew was that I felt wonderful and comfortable.

And all of a sudden, I heard Jesus calling me, “Lazarus, come out!” I was so comfortable and I really did not want to leave that place because it was so beautiful.

Mary and Martha tell me that I was dead for a day, then buried for four more days in a sealed grave before Jesus arrived. To me it felt like a moment in time; less than a second. One moment I closed my eyes and drifted out of consciousness, the next moment, I heard Jesus calling me to come out.

Can you imagine my surprise when I realized that my body was bundled in burial wraps and that I was inside my own grave?

It felt scary. It felt weird. I remember feeling my heart beating and wondering what it meant that I had been dead, and now I was alive.

I know Jesus. I know that if Jesus called me to come out, there was a good reason for it. So I got up and walked towards his voice, the voice that I knew so well; the voice of my friend.

Jesus understood all my fears and feelings. Jesus understood me. Jesus understood that I needed to come to terms with all these feelings and emotions and with what happened to me. That is why he told my neighbors to unbundle me and let me spend time alone so that I could figure out what had happened and how I would respond to this gift of life.

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Sometimes I wonder, why did Jesus call ME – Lazarus – to come out of the grave? He could have glorified his Heavenly Father by raising anyone. So, why me?

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Today we are starting a new series of sermons. We will look at a few men and women in the Bible, and we will talk about commitment.

I know that when pastors start talking about “commitment,” many people start thinking about ways they can “boycott” worship services for a month or two. Everyone expects sermons about commitment to ask for money.

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The commitment that I want to talk about is about our – yours and my – closeness with God; commitment is about our eagerness to follow Jesus; commitment is about our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit of our God to mold us and shape us. Many disagreements in and between our churches, many financial shortfalls and building problems, are symptoms of the lack of commitment on all of our parts.

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{Explain Adam Hamilton’s Discipleship process.}

We tend to go up and down that “mountain” and every time that we reach a new understanding, all of us have a tendency to marvel at how cool it is and how much more spiritual we are becoming. As soon as we start thinking in terms of “our own spiritualness and specialness,” that is when we realize all of a sudden that we have just fallen off of the mountain. If that sounds strangely familiar, re-read the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4-9). It happens to all of us… A popular song says, “For the God on the Mountain, is still God in the Valley…”

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As time progresses, and as I spend time with God, I realize that every time we climb that mountain, we climb a little higher. And that gives me hope, because one day I may learn enough to just stay there, or God will take me there when my journey is over.

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That brings me to the old question: why Lazarus? There were many other people who died whom Jesus knew and loved. We know that Jesus resuscitated Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43; Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56) and a young man/widow’s son in the city of Nain (Luke 7:11-15). We know that there were other men and women whom Jesus could raise. What was so special about Lazarus? Why not just console Mary and Martha, officiate a celebration of life service, and then spend some time in Bethany teaching and preaching on the village green?

It is in the context of Lazarus’ death that Jesus said, “… it is for God’s glory …” (John 11: 4). It is in the context of Lazarus’ death that Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). And after saying that, Jesus asked, “Do you [Martha] believe this?” (John 11:26).

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Every one of us has been in “Lazarus’ grave” at one time or another.

Who among us has not found themselves so tired and frustrated that they had difficulty facing another day or even the next minute?

Who among us has not had a really bad day at the office?

Who among us has not had a tough day with kids?

Who among us has not been frustrated with traffic at one time or another?

Who among us has not had difficulty dealing with a severe health issue?

Did you, or do you know someone, who has received an organ transplant, a knee or hip replacement, and thus receive a second lease on life?

In all of these cases Jesus is calling, “Asher, come out!” “____, come out!” Remember me! I am with you, you are not alone.

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I think of commitment as a sum of devotion, dedication, loyalty to a cause or to a relationship that gives us energy and strength to keep on keeping on. I think of commitment as an attitude that keeps us working towards a goal or in support of something that is bigger than ourselves.

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Commitment to God is what keeps us connected to God and to each other. Commitment is what translates into action. That is why, as we try to figure out what our church will become in the future and how we will be making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world, we need to look at examples of commitment in the Holy Scriptures.

{Q&A}

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