Cling To God s Safe Care Message by DD Adams Providence United Methodist Church All Saint s Sunday November 6, 2016

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1 Cling To God s Safe Care Message by DD Adams Providence United Methodist Church All Saint s Sunday November 6, 2016 Today s message comes from John s gospel, chapter 11, verses 32 through 44. When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn t have died. When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, Where have you laid him? They replied, Lord, come and see. Jesus began to cry. The Jews said, See how much he loved him! But some of them said, He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn t he have kept Lazarus from dying? Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, Remove the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, Lord, the smell will be awful! He s been dead four days. Jesus replied, Didn t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God s glory? So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me. Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his feet 1

2 bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, Untie him and let him go. This is God s word for God s people. Thanks be to God. Please pray with me. Lord, we ask for you to comfort and bring peace to every heart that remembers and grieves because someone they loved is now gone. Pour down your care and comfort on each heart. Let your arms surround and wrap around us all because when one mourns we all feel sorrow. Take every emotion as our minds remember your past faithfulness. Help us to be thankful for your presence here today. Bring a strong sense of your personal and intimate peace. Amen. Peace be with you. The loss of a loved one is harsh when we experience it, just as it was harsh for Mary and Martha from the passage we read from John. The passage describes the physical recovery of Lazarus body from the dead, but it certainly doesn t simplify or lessen the harsh reality of what loss truly feels like. The truth and the experience of the death of a loved one feels and is painful and difficult. Nations can also suffer loss when things change and people become indifferent toward God. We see firsthand a moral decay and as Christians when the Ten Commandments are taken down we re shocked and hurt and wonder where our leaders are taking us. 2

3 For those who have suffered the loss of a spouse or child, or dealt with any family member passing away, it brings back painful memories. Maybe the loss of national ideals from the past or memories of a loved one causes the resurfacing of other pain. The hurt we feel is deep, because death wounds us forever. When death comes into our lives and visits us sometimes we want to blame someone. We can feel numb and angry. In the text that was read, that s how Mary felt when she accused Jesus and said,... if you had been here, my brother wouldn t have died. Jesus was weeping about what happened. He was angry too. Verse 33 says he was deeply disturbed and troubled. In verse 38, the passage states again that Jesus was... deeply disturbed. It s as if the emotion of loss begins to stir up an anger within Jesus that hates the effects of death and grief. It s a horrifying reaction that people have to loss, and it affects your entire self body, soul, and spirit. In this passage, Jesus turns the grief to faith and says, Remove the stone... didn t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God s glory? So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me. Then Jesus shouts with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! The man Lazarus, who was dead but now is alive, comes out, feet bound and hands tied with his face covered with a cloth. 3

4 Now before Lazarus came out of the cave, for those watching Jesus, with Mary and Martha, there s nothing but despair! Now there s nothing but faith and hope as he comes out of the cave! Many of the Jews who were present believed in Jesus after that. For some faith is born, but for others hatred is stirred up, and they plan to put Jesus to death. Jesus was angry and wept because of the death of Lazarus. Psalm 116:15 has this to say about the saints. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. God s heart broke when Lazarus died; it grieved God that must be why the church sets apart a day to honor and remember the saints who have passed on before us. Some may reminisce, but the church holds a ceremony. As Christians we believe that victory over the grave has already been secured for us by Christ. The victory is complete and those who have passed are with God and alive. God calls us all saints which means holy ones. The apostle Paul called the Christians in the city of Corinth saints. You may remember what was going in that city. Some were participating in immoral behavior and others were fighting and carrying on. And Paul declares them holy?! Yes, and God calls us saints! God is more interested in our direction in moving toward him then our perfection. Christ knows our human frailties and weaknesses. He was human once himself, but never sinned. God in Christ shows us so much grace and love. 4

5 Sometimes, the love God has poured into our hearts becomes dormant. If someone has offended us we stay angry and somehow think God s love in our heart is only meant for some to receive. It s not our works that get us to heaven. It s the finished work of Christ. If our salvation was based on what we ve done or haven t done we d all be in trouble. But no, it s the blood of Christ and faith in the power of the risen Lord that has freed us from our sin. God declares us holy, and because of that, we have a place with God in eternity and all those who have died. In a book titled Reconstructing Christianity, Rich Mayfield quotes Robert Louis Stevenson and gives a definition of the word saint. Stevenson says The saints are the sinners who keep on going. What could be more comforting than that? The book of James says we all make many mistakes, but our all-embracing aim is to love and forgive each other no matter what the offense has been. As Christian saints, 2 Corinthians 13 says we don t even have the right to be offended. So through all of our suffering and pain in life there is a word of hope. Hope as we go through any kind of loss is welcome, but all loss is traumatic the loss of a loved one and learning how to live again without that person, the loss of a career, the loss of youthful living, divorce, personal injury, surgery, children leaving home, and on and on. All this can give us more grace and love for others, just as Christ has given us, if we forgive one another and don t become bitter. 5

6 We have hope and know that Christ walks with us through dark valleys and difficult times. And we can have assurance and great encouragement that our loved ones are safe and present with the Lord. But until we meet with them in the next life, it s helpful to remember what Jeremiah has to say. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Be comforted this morning in your grief, for Christ walks with you. Let s pray. Compassionate God of all comfort, comfort us in all our trouble like a strong anchor and refuge we run into during a time of sorrow and chaos. Remind us of the comfort and peace you ve brought us, so we can bring that same comfort to others. And we pray together that the... the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 6

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