Summary: This is the launch sermon in a five part series on healing and miracles. The series will focus on the spiritual deliverance, physical healing, and relational restoration that God can miraculously do in our lives today.
(The Story of Nick from Joel Olsteen’s, Your Best Life Now, pages 72 & 73)
Our thoughts are very powerful things. They can fill us with a spirit of victory, or defeat. A spirit of hope, or helplessness. A spirit of promise, or pain. They can cause us to quote with great confidence, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or they can cause us to say, “Why read, why pray, why even bother.”
So right at the start of our time together focusing on the miraculous, healing power of God, I want to probe your thoughts. I want to encourage you to be willing to establish a foundation, a mental base if you will, of five simple truths. Five things that I believe you can take to the bank, and that if you will recognize and establish them in your mind, make them a part of your thought process, you will open the door to a great moving of God in your life.
We start with a familiar story. Lazarus. Anyone remember him? Lazarus was from the town of Bethany. Brother of Mary and Martha. The same Mary who had anointed Jesus feet with perfume, and then whipped his feet with her hair. That Mary. Her brother Lazarus. And he was a very sick man. So Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus of Lazarus illness, and encouraged him to come quickly.
But Jesus had other plans. John 11:4. Look at it with me. So Jesus delays his journey to Bethany, and by the time he arrives there, Lazarus is dead. Of course, there is great pain in the hearts of Mary and Martha, but Jesus uses this event to show God’s power and through the simple spoken word, He calls Lazarus forth from the dead.
Then we come to verse 44. “And he who died came out.” Now get this picture with me. Lazarus has been wrapped in grave clothes, he has been prepared for a proper burial following his death. He has been laid in this tomb for a number of days. And Jesus tells him to come out, and he does. But get this picture with me (read verse 44a).
(Pick a person). . .come up here a second and help me. (Begin wrapping in bed sheets like grave clothes.) Lazarus is stone dead in the tomb. Wrapped in grave clothes. It says that his hands and feet were bound. It says his face was wrapped with a cloth. Oh, he is alive. . .but what kind of life is in store for him. Imagine walking through life looking like this. It might almost be enough to make you want to crawl back in your grave. Until Jesus speaks again. . .”Loose him, and let him go.”
Our thoughts are powerful things, and if you want to experience the healing power of God in your life there is a simple truth you must accept. You must establish it in your thoughts. You must recognize it as a fact. . .and that is that. . .
A. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING ALIVE, AND BEING FREE
(name of person selected). . .is alive. But would you call living like this free? Can’t see where you are going. Can’t maneuver very easily. Feel all bound up and trapped. (unwrap and thank for help) There is a difference between being alive, and being free. It is pretty obvious physically.
But look at the spiritual implications for this story. How often can you find in God’s Word the language that talks of us being dead, buried in our sins, dead in our trespasses. . .but then being raised from the dead to new life through the power of God? That kind of language is all over the gospel. We use it when we baptize people. Buried in your sins, risen to new life in Christ.
But just like with Lazarus, being alive, being forgiven for your sins, being raised for a new life in Christ doesn’t mean that you are free. And you know what? You already knew that. Because everyone of us today can testify to times in our lives when we have sat in a chair, staring out a window, thinking. . .”God, what is wrong with me? If I have been saved by your grace, why do I feel like a prisoner? Why am I still struggling with so many hurts, failures, handicaps, and challenges? Is this really as good as it gets?”
Of course the answer is no. But it starts in our thoughts and beliefs when we accept the truth that there is a difference between being alive, and being free.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever followed the rest of Lazarus’ story. To be honest with you, it wasn’t until recently that I came across these few verses. Never heard anyone preach on them. Never even heard it mentioned in a message on about Lazarus. But it is right there in God’s Word, so there must be something to gain from it.