“Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 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.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. – John 11:38-
A big stone blocked the entrance to the tomb of Lazarus. And before Jesus raised him from the dead, He said, “…Take away the stone…”.
God can restore what you’ve lost – if you’re willing to do what you need to do to remove the hindrances that stand in the way! Far too often we want God to act like a super-hero and enter our lives and presto make everything come up roses! But the truth is, many of the things that can make our lives better can be done by our very own hands, or as in Lazarus case, the hands of those around us!
There’s a really important lesson here:
Jesus instructs those present to ‘take away the stone’. Jesus didn’t touch the stone. He didn’t disintegrate the stone or command it away. Instead, He gave instructions to those present to ‘roll it out of the way’. So, when talking about ‘awakening’ and resurrecting the dead area of our lives, we’re going to have to take the stone away. But FIRST, we need to know what the ‘stone’ is!
1). Identify the strongholds
Recognize where you are. You’re in a tomb. You’re in a dead place. That’s not faithless, that’s real-ness. That’s admitting where you are so you can work on where you’re going.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8
Satan is always seeking to hit us in our wounded-ness. Like a lion on the prowl, he smells the scent of blood leaking from those open wounds and uses them to his advantage. Through them, he seeks to hem us in, shut us down and close us off. Many times he will use these obstacles/strongholds as daunting, intimidating blockages that lock us in and cut us off. He desires to keep us from being effective in God’s Kingdom.
He does this by:
1. Marginalizing us by telling us who we are and who we’re not. Minimizing us and convincing us that we’ve been disqualified
2. Intimidating us:
Using our insecurities to keep us timid and afraid. Unwilling to do anything that is outside our comfort zone. “What will people think??? You know you’re going to fail
3. Isolating us: freezing us emotionally at a past point of pain. He is constantly setting up new betrayals, new rejections to emphasize the lies he’s been telling us all along. While we may go through the ‘motions’ of life, we go through life feeling alone.
However, we can identify our problem area yet refuse to allow God to touch that area for fear of how much ‘stank’ is going to come out. We refuse to give Him ‘access’.
So, the next step in rolling the stones away is to:
2). Give God access to your ‘deadness’
“Where have you laid him?”, Jesus asked. “Come and see Lord”, Martha replied. Come and see….THIS is the simple response that Jesus requires of us. Come and see. Come and see where I’ve laid my hurt, pain, my broken dream, my deep grief, my failure, my shame…Come and see and make me whole.
So often we ‘wall’ up our hearts and refuse anyone (Including God) access because we believe the lie that its better to be lonely than rejected/betrayed. It’s better to be ‘closed up’ than to being hurt again. But those walls quickly become ‘boulders’ that entomb us and keep us from experiencing the fullness of life that Christ died to give us.
In her book, Joanna identifies three major ‘boulders’ that block our blessings:
The Word of God tells us in that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22).
And the hardest time to obey is when God just doesn’t make sense, especially when it hurts. Why is it that God is insistent upon us doing something when He knows full well that HE is able to do all things without our participation?
click here to watch the video on this week’s “Israel moment: “Drinking from the cup” as we’re reminded of Jesus’ obedience to the Father when it really ‘didn’t make sense’.
We find that most often, the ‘miracle of our ‘healing’ depends on our willingness to do the ‘hard thing’, to be obedient and give Jesus access to our pain (pg 86), even when it feels as if we’re like olives in the olive press…so that God’s healing oil can flow in our lives.
1. Rolling away stones can be hard. Have you ever had to do something that was really physically difficult? How were you able to press through it?
2. Have these stones served to entomb you in any area of your life?
Share a time when bringing a secret to light destroyed the power it had over you.
1. Can you think of other ‘stones’ that might be hindering your healing?
If we give God permission to invade every dark corner of our hearts, He will bring the freedom each one of us needs. Read the corresponding scriptures below and use them as a prayer back to God asking for His help and strength to roll them away that you would be set free to be healed.
- Unworthiness (Romans 4:7-8; 8:1)
- Unforgiveness (Ephesians 4:31-5:2)
- Unbelief (Romans 4:20-22)
As we close this reading, let your heart lift up a prayer of praise unto the Lord and rejoice as you Trust Him for healing.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Reading/Discussion for Monday November 9th:
Chapters 7 “When Love Calls Your Name”
Chapter 8: “Unwinding Graveclothes”
See you back here next week!
Grace & Peace
~ pastor m, ❤