Raised For A Reason

Posted on 04/17/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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MAKES ME WANT TO SHOUT

When I think about the Lord
how he saved me, how he raised me
How he filled me with the Holy Ghost
He healed me to the uttermost

When I think about the Lord
how he picked me up, turned me around
How he set my feet on solid ground

Makes me want to shout
Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!
Lord you're worthy
of all the glory
and all the honor
and all the praise!


HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST

Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest

I see the King of Glory
      coming down with clouds of fire
The whole earth shakes
      the whole earth shakes

I see his love and mercy
      washing over all our sin
The people sing
      the people sing

I see a generation
      rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
      with selfless faith

I see a new revival
      starting as we seek and pray
We're on our knees
      we're on our knees

Heal my heart and make it clean
open up my eyes to the things unseen
show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart with what breaks yours
everything I am for your kingdom's cause
as I walk from earth into eternity


TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE

To him who sits on the throne
      and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
      and unto the Lamb

Be blessing and honor
      and glory and power forever
Be blessing and honor
      and glory and power forever


HOLY HOLY HOLY

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
      holy holy is he
Sing a new song to him who sits on
      heaven's mercy seat

Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty
      who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
      you are my everything and I will adore you

Clothed in rainbows of living color
      flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength, glory and power be
      to you the only wise king

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
      at the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power, breath and living water
      such a marvelous mystery


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Has Jesus set you free today? If you're not sure, or if you believe you're still bound, then I hope and pray that you find some freedom before you leave here today.

The three main points we're going to cover today are taken from a sermon preached in 2007 by Kelvin Parks; and the title of today's message is "Raised For A Reason."

You probably know the story of Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. After Lazarus had been dead for four days, Jesus went to pay him a visit.

Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise again, and after a little clarification, Martha said she believed Him, but as we're about to see, she still had her doubts. Mary, on the other hand, was more openly skeptical, and she told Jesus that if He had been there sooner, Lazarus wouldn't have died. "Don't feel guilty, Jesus, but if you had just gotten here sooner, he wouldn't be dead now."

Let's pick up the story from here, in John chapter 11, starting with verse 39:

John 11:39-44 (NKJV)

39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days."
40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."
43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!"
44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go."


And that brings us to our first point today:


1. Lazarus could not set himself free.

Jesus had given his dead body life, and Lazarus answered Jesus' call, and came out of the grave. But he was still bound. I don't know if you've ever been dead and wrapped up like a mummy. But you could struggle to get free until you die again, and you will never set yourself free.

God has called you back to life.

As Ephesians 2:1 (NKJV) says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Yep, you and I were just like Lazarus. We were dead, and were left to rot. But then Jesus rolled away the stone, and called us back to life. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins."

But just like Lazarus, we can't do much as long as we remain bound in our grave clothes. And that's why Jesus said in verse 44, "Loose him, and let him go."

Do you ever feel bound? Maybe this bondage keeps you from sharing Jesus with the lost. Maybe this bondage keeps you from worshiping God. Maybe this bondage keeps you in a sinful lifestyle. Maybe this bondage keeps your eyes on your shortcomings, instead of on God's ability and desire to do amazing things through you anyway.

But whatever form it takes, those old grave clothes, those old definitions of your level of freedom, left over from before Jesus gave you new life, they will keep you from doing what God brought you back to life to do.


And that brings us to our second point:


2. Lazarus was loosed for a purpose.

In John 12:9 (NKJV), we read this: "Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead."

So because of what He did in Lazarus' life, people came to Jesus. And God wants to do the same thing through YOU, too.

Of course this goes back to the first point, that Lazarus could not set himself free. Just imagine if there was a mummy sitting around, and people were saying it was Lazarus come back from the dead. How many people would believe it was really him?

And if we remain covered in our grave clothes, if we do not allow God to reveal our inner identity in Him through our lifestyles, through our words, through our actions, then we're not going to fulfil our primary purpose in the world, which is to bring people to Jesus.


And this brings us to our third and final point:


3. Lazarus did not hide his new life, even in the face of death.

In John 12:10-11 (NKJV), we read this: "But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus."

There will always be people who don't care what Jesus has done in your life, as long as nobody knows about it or believes it's true. Why else are there groups of people who are very militant in their effort to prove that everything we believe is a myth, and everything we experience is our over-active imagination? It's because they have rejected the authority of God in their life, and they don't want anyone to come to Jesus.

After all, Jesus is dangerous. He demands accountability and change, and He wants to be in charge. And so, those who don't want Him to be in charge of their life work overtime to prove, mainly to themselves, that Jesus was just a man, or even that He never existed at all.

So you pose a threat. But if you remain wrapped in your grave clothes, your supposed spiritual resurrection can be dismissed as a hoax, and you can't do much of anything anyway.

And if you allow Jesus to free you from your grave clothes, but you hide in a figurative cave for fear of the response from people who choose to reject Christ, then you might as well still have your grave clothes on.

But if you allow Jesus to set you free, and you walk in that freedom fulfilling your purpose, and if you stand up in the face of fear and do what God has called you to do anyway, then you will not only have unbroken fellowship with God, but you will also lead those who see you to the foot of the old rugged cross.


Let's close today with a time of prayer and dedication, as we surrender to God, letting Him take off our grave clothes, as we take on His robe of righteousness instead.

If you'd like to spend some time in prayer, or in surrender, or in dedication, or if you want to get some things right with God, this altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed. If you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to hang out with us in the Fellowship Room to your left.

Come, and let's renew our dedication to spiritual freedom, purpose, and unwavering dedication, for you and I were Raised For A Reason.