John 11:41-43 “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.”
Today, being a holiday here in the United States, I have the luxury of meditating a while longer, reading a little slower and thinking a bit more on the truths God has for me today.
Many times when we read the scriptures, we don’t engage fully. We don’t think on just what it might mean for me. We skim over what seems familiar, thinking we know all about it. We’ve heard sermons, teaching, and devotions, and we feel as if we know all there is to know.
Then, God comes and asks a simple question.
When Jesus stood at the gravesite of His dear friend Lazarus, He knew exactly what was going to come to pass. He knew it four days prior. He knew the purpose for which He was going to do what He did.
Many will say that He wept over those witnessing the miracle that would still walk away in unbelief. He knew Lazarus was going to live again for a while more. He knew Mary and Martha would be comforted after Lazarus would come forth. He knew many witnessing the resurrection of Lazarus would believe He was the coming Messiah.
But the question came:
What if God were to say today, ‘Paul, come forth’, what part of me would come alive?
What part of me has slowly ebbed from Holy Spirit fullness?
Where has sin taken hold from which I had been made free?
How worldly have I become?
Has my besetting sin gotten the best of me?
As the questions came, so came the tears.
The struggle of the Christian life has been and will always be the battle of the flesh and the spirit.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
There is a reason why we allow sin to creep in and lose the closeness we once had. We are selfish and want to indulge the flesh. We do so thinking we can control the outcome or the fruit of our sin. In our faith-based addictions program, RU Recovery, one of our principles is this:
We lose our freedom to choose when we give in to temptation. Our consequences are inevitable and incalculable and up to God.
Proverbs 9:17-18, Isaiah 55:7
Humble submission, confession, and repentance to the sweet Spirit of God will always bring me back into His presence.
Satan watches to see what takes our eyes off of the Savior. It might be things we do not yet possess. It may be love, relationship, acceptance, recognition, or position. Whatever causes our eyes and heart to deviate from a steadfast gaze in God’s direction. Technology has fast become the vehicle of choice for our enemy to capture our attention away from God.
It consumes hours of our time. It grabs our focus on the immaterial to live in a virtual world; a fantasy. It is fast replacing human interaction to the place where people are marrying robots instead of other people. Our next generation is fast losing the ability to interact with one another; let alone have meaningful, deep, and intimate relationships.
Sincere soul-searching takes time, quiet, and a place far removed from distraction. It takes the ability to focus on what God wants over what I want and finding the path back to Him.
Once you have tasted what the fulness of the Holy Spirit feels like, it is hard not to want it back once you’ve let it go. Just ask Samson. Sin had so deadened his heart, that he didn’t hear God’s voice.
Judges 16:20 “And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.”
Let us hear the voice of God that calls us out: “Come forth!” and live in the presence of the sweet Spirit of God.