Life in the Spirit Ministries March of the Message Newsletter
Warm Greetings To All Of You,
The Lord continues to faithfully show me my flaws, attitudes and ways that have not yet been willingly brought to the Cross so that the nature of the resurrected slaughtered Lamb may be made manifest in my mortal flesh. Though painful yet this is welcomed by me. Jesus is my only hope of glory and object worth glorying in. But fear not all! I have not backslidden. I havecome to these conclusions because I seek to be nearer unto Him. Yes, the light is brighter while at His feet therefore my lack shows up more. But I refuse to run from the light that makes me aware of my need as well as my desire for Him. I join with all of you that find the Lamb worthy of all glory. May we let His rays burn away all the dross.
As I told you in the last Life In The Spirit newsletter, I am believing God that, no matter what country or state that you are in, that somehow He will make a way for us all to be together again next November for the Gathering. In my zeal I forgot to say certain other things that you need to hear. If the pandemic still rages then we will not have it except by Skype/Zoom. But if, in certain places there is a breakthrough with no risk of spread then those of us to whom this applies will try to come together. Last year we proved that we all could still be together though locked in locally. The Lord was with us and will be with us again regardless of how we proceed.
Also I made a statement that all who can come will get five hugs from me. That statement was made under the assumption that if all was free and clear concerning the virus then this would be done. For those who might have thought that my goal in saying it was to become a “super spreader,” I apologize. Jesus in this heart of mine sometimes bursts out in wild and outlandish statements that can frighten the tender-hearted.
However, that being said, in each newsletter till the date of the Gathering I will continually encourage you to join with me in faith for that date. If it is safe and possible I would love for us all to be together in order to celebrate our love for Jesus and for one another. Enough said about that!
Next I just want to thank all of you who have supported Life In The Spirit over the years. You have been workers with me in being “super spreaders” of Christ and Him crucified. However, I must address a certain issue. At the beginning of the pandemic I told all of you to stop your support for me. I made that decision because I knew that difficult and unusual situations could arise where you might need it for your own care. Well, I have found out that some of you have started your support back up again and have been doing so for a while. And some have actually even been giving OVER YOUR REGULAR AMOUNT!!! I am shocked that you are doing this!
In all seriousness I can’t thank you all enough, not merely for the money but for your hearts so full of Jesus. The finances that come in to Life In The Spirit are not merely that which we use for the ministry but are the only source Deb and I have to live on. Years ago I quit taking a salary from the church and have lived by trusting Jesus for our daily needs. The Lord has been faithful. It is that trust in Him that lets me tell you to stop giving during a time of us having no income come in. My first concern has been you, that you would be taken care of.
BUT WHAT DO YOU DO? You melt my heart with your care. You give when it is not required by me or anyone. You spread the sweet savor of Christ over me and Deb and bring tears of brokenness to our hearts and eyes. Honestly, my greatest wish is that you consider not giving anymore until we are safely through the pandemic. Do I think you are going to listen to me on this? Probably not! So all I can say is “Thank you!” Thank you for being who you are and for loving Jesus so much. You are all deeply loved.
This is an interesting title for a newsletter, and it would be easy for us to assume that it speaks concerning Jesus and His death, burial, and resurrection. However, this article is about Lazarus. And it is a little bit funny that we are going to use this story to sort of slightly de-emphasize His death and resurrection as it pertains to us in order to gain something else that Jesus mentioned here in the story of Lazarus. You are familiar with the story, but let’s reread it again in order to refresh our memory concerning it.
“Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:38-44)
Any time Jesus speaks His words, they are not mere suggestions or the words of a man. They represent the Word of God. And also when He speaks His words, they are not random but ordered. For example, in the scriptures above Jesus has two important things to say to and concerning Lazarus. With intention, the words He sets forth from the first MUST COME before what will be said afterward. Both are important but one more than the other. The first is found in verse 43, in which Lazarus is spoken unto by the Lord, though he be dead: “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” This is the most important word Jesus could speak to a dead man! The second thing I want to highlight in His words is found in verse 44, “Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
The First Need Is For Life
Surely we can see why the first words were most important? If you are dead you must first become alive from the dead or you will never be able to walk or see. There would be no need to tell a dead man to “see.” They would be empty words. Life must be preeminent. Life is also preeminent in Jesus’ agenda. Prior to this event He said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Not Merely Dead But Bound
In our story, Lazarus was not only dead but he was bound. Should he come alive, the fact of still being bound would limit his walk and what he could see. The truth is there are many who have been born again but they are yet blind to many important things about the Lord. Because they are so enthralled with what Jesus has saved them FROM they have never spent much attention toward “seeing” beyond that. In other words, they may be out of the tomb but they are not yet out of their grave clothes.
The scriptures declare that mankind has failed God in two particular ways, and it must be clear that these two areas do not merely apply to the worst of mankind but to all men. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The problem is not merely the need to be born again whereby we become alive unto God. There is something pertaining to the glory of the Lord that we must become awakened unto. Too many, after they have experienced new birth, set their course to gain some kind of reputable Christian status. Their intentions may be well-meaning, but there is a problem: their eyes have not yet been opened unto Jesus’ glory. Sadly, many think their Christian walk and the glory that it should bring to the Lord should be focused more on the sin and death that they were delivered from. While this definitely has its place, yet they remain “bound” in certain areas.
What About The Grave Clothes?
But when Jesus called Lazarus forth from his tomb, in order that he might walk and see, He ordered the removal of grave clothes: “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.” Notice concerning Lazarus that, though now alive, what was it that remained restricted about him? It was his hands and feet, along with his face. The grave clothes and napkin made him “bound” and blind.
Again, these items were reminders of the tomb and where he came from, not where he was going. They were reminders that could have tended toward keeping his focus on his past condition. So many Christians know where they came from concerning being dead in their old life, but few have, by seeing, grasped where they should be headed, nor have they set their feet on that path.
Applying All The Words Of Jesus
Yes, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, saying Lazarus, come forth.” Life came into him. But those were not the only words Jesus spoke! He also said, “Loose him, and let him go.” There are whole denominations who, in the Word, focus primarily on just the new birth. While that is wonderful in and of itself, yet where is the rest of the Word of God? Remember, Jesus had two things to say here in these verses and both were the Word of God.
Considering The Situation With Lazarus
Though the scriptures do not specifically declare it, yet there is reason to suspect certain things concerning the sickness of Lazarus before he died. We know that there was much concern for his condition, as seen in the tone in which Jesus was called upon to return quickly back to Bethany.
He may have been so sick that he was even unconscious for many days prior to calling for the Lord. The last memory he may have had while laying on his death bed may have been the face of the local doctor leaning over him and administering some hopeful antidote. Therefore, when he was awakened out of death, but yet still wearing grave clothes, he surely must have been disoriented.
When he arose where do you suppose Lazarus’ direction took him while still bound? The answer is, “Who knows?” But where do you suppose his direction was when the grave clothes fell off? I assume he didn’t start looking around for the doctor. I imagine his eyes fell on Jesus and that his feet directed him in a straight path toward the Lord.
Raised Up From Something Or Unto Something?
Only what is dead will come forth in resurrection. But what if Lazarus’ resurrection was never meant for him to be raised back up merely to continue his life as it had been before this crisis? Romans 6 gives us a clue concerning this question. It states, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4). The meaning of the phrase “we also should walk in newness of life” means that resurrection life is not merely a reprieve back unto how we had always been. Instead the term “new life” is a reference to Him and His life in us. Just like what Jesus expected from Lazarus after his resurrection, so for us: after resurrection was spoken of here, so it is to be followed up with the need to “walk in” new Life.
Let Us Go Further
Among us are those who have understood their death with Christ. They have embraced it for several reasons. Firstly, they embrace it because it is clearly taught in the Word (Romans 6:1-3; Colossians 3:1-3). Secondly, because they have seen the necessity of it if Christ is ever to come forth as life within them (Galatians 2:20). And finally, they embrace it because God has confirmed it in their own heartstrings and it has been found to be true and from Him. If these facts were compared to this story of Lazarus being raised, you could say that those mentioned above have come forth from the tomb. But even among those who have embraced this truth there are found some whose eyes still have the “napkin” over them. And, like Lazarus, their walk is limited. For this reason they have not spiritually moved much from the concepts of having died with Christ along with now being alive by Him. Therefore, to have some preacher minister much into the areas of our earthly walk in the nature of Christ only causes them consternation and condemnation. With it can come the desire to not put themselves in a position to be around that portion of the teachings very much. There is a sense of contentment that can come by no longer having to see or walk in what seems so far out of their reach.
But is it really that far out of their reach? Thank God that we have Jesus Himself giving the command to “loose him, and let him go.” What does that mean? It means that Jesus not only desires freedom for us but is the only One with the voice and power to bring it about. The Lord did not merely give part of the answer to Lazarus; He brought all of it about. The proof can be seen in the fact that, shortly after the grave clothes came off we have Lazarus sitting at the table together and communing with Him who is the resurrection. “There they made him (Jesus) a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him” (John 12:2).
Jesus doesn’t just want us “dead” or even alive from among the dead. He wants us to be able to reach the table where He sits and to fellowship in what “life” really means and as to how to accomplish it. The Holy Spirit uses this story to show us what we yet lack, but if we are tired of trying because of past failures we will never see resurrection for the blessing and benefit that it really is. In that same story He said, “I am the resurrection...”. The Lord does not leave us hopeless when He told us “... that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Based upon that, let me suggest a prayer that we all might pray. Let us ask Jesus to change our perception of those whom we feel might be condemning us with their words and ask Him to turn these folks into the ones whom He will use to tear away the grave clothes off of us so that we might better make our way to Jesus. Feel free to personally bow and express your heart in this matter to the One who has the voice and power to bring this about. +++
Videos and Audios
Below are two videos and the audio files that go with them - a blog Randy shared this month as well as one of the most recent Firstborn classes!