Gene Cunningham - June 17, 2022


Sometimes our doubts and our unbelief may cause Him (God) to groan. John 11:38, "Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone leaning against it. And Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?’ Do you see the difference here between our faith then, at the moment of salvation, and our faith now -- the need for faith in what we're going through? Once you and I take that step out of time and into eternity and we enter the Lord's presence, do you know what you're going to be singing about and praising the Lord for the most? Your trials, your tests, your difficulties. Why? Because they humble us. They break our pride. They bring us to our knees. We cry tears that are cleansing, tears as they wash away all our self-centeredness, and our self-indulgence, and our preoccupation with the things of this life. Suddenly, we find ourselves cleansed and purified. The next time you are down, the next time you're in difficulty, the next time you're asking God, “WHY, WHY, WHY?" If you would believe, “you would see the glory of God." Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And he who had died came out," Interestingly, "bound hand and foot with grave clothes. His face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Lose him and let him go'." What can we learn from Lazarus? First, Lazarus was not a happy man. I want you to think about that. Mary and Martha and others who loved him got what they wanted. Lazarus didn't. Where was Lazarus? Well, we know from Scripture that Lazarus was in a place called Abraham's Bosom. Old Testament Saints went to Abraham's Bosom somewhere in the Earth. Remember, there was a chasm between the place called Torments -- what we call Hell, and Abraham's Bosom. Old Testament Saints went to Abraham's Bosom, waiting for the moment when the cross would be a completed act, when Jesus would say, "It Is Finished!" when He would rise from the dead to usher them into the presence of the Father. You'll remember that he said to the thief on the cross, "Today you'll be with Me in paradise." Guess who else was there? The other Lazarus from Luke Chapter 16, the beggar who died and was in Abraham's Bosom. Abraham's Bosom, also called Paradise, is where those saints went. Jesus went to them after His crucifixion, emptied that place and took it into the third heaven. Paradise is no longer in this earth. How do we know that? In Second Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul says that he was lifted to the third heaven. To what? Paradise. Now it's there (in heaven). And everyone that was there is now in the presence of the Lord. Lazarus was in Paradise, just like Samuel was in Paradise. If you go back and read the story of Saul when he went to the Witch at Endor at the end of the book of First Samuel, you'll remember that the witch was trying to call up a familiar spirit, but who came up instead? Samuel. you remember what Samuel said to Solomon? "Why have you disturbed my rest?" He was not a happy man. I suggest to you that Lazarus was not a happy man. That's one thing we can learn from it. But there's something else we can learn from him. And that is, he's alive again, right? Jesus calls Lazarus, who comes out of the grave, and he comes out bound hand and foot. In those days, they wrapped the body. Can you practically think of how he could get out of that tomb? Jesus had to tell people, "Turn him loose!" Could I suggest that we might have some Lazarus' among us? People who are alive -- people given life by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they're still bound -- living but bound -- living, but not at liberty -- not set free. I find it interesting that Jesus told others to turn him loose. That's the task that He's given every one of us. We all have a part to play in liberating those who have come to Christ, liberating them from old habits, liberating them from old attitudes, old ideas. All of us come into the family of God carrying a lot of baggage. The whole goal of our Christian life as we grow in grace and truth and as we study His word and fellowship together, is that we be FREE, that we be liberated! What a marvelous task.

From Series: "The Simplicity of the Gospel"

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 All little children begin the learning process in life the same way. They learn by faith. Because they know that they don’t know, they are humble. They have never seen an elephant, or a whale, but if you show them a picture book, they learn to identify whatever they are shown. If they are told, “This is an elephant,” they don’t argue and say, “No, I think that is a chicken.” They believe what they are told because it is in their child-like nature to trust. Only as we grow do we begin to assume a level of knowledge, based on what we have learned by faith. As adults we turn more and more to reason (rationalism) and science (empiricism), where we learn by trial and error. Gradually, we begin to turn away from the faith we had as little children. Here, Jesus is telling His disciples that they need to “turn around, go back” to being like little children. They need to come to Him in simple, child-like faith if they would enter into His heavenly kingdom. The same point was made on another occasion (Mark 10:13–16). When we return to the simplicity of child-like faith, we come to Jesus through His Word in humility. And Peter, the leader of the disciple band, assures us “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5b). It is time for us to turn back to the simplicity and humility of little children and hear the voice of our heavenly Father!

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