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Hear the Call to Live

John 11

By Kevin Miller

April 23, 2023

Gracias por leer este sermón. Si lo que escucha lo conmueve y se encuentra en el área de Boston, ¡considere visitarlo en persona!

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Good morning, church. It's great to be with you this morning. How are you this morning? Are you doing well? This is decision Sunday. Are you ready to make some decisions today? That didn't sound very inspiring. It doesn't seem like most of you are ready to make decisions. Are you ready to make decisions today? Come on. I hope you are. That still wasn't that inspiring, but it's great to be together. When I came in, I was talking to different people. Of course, I saw Ashley and went up to Savannah. How old is Savannah? She's four years old. Wonderful. I said, how are you doing? And she had a little scrape on her knee, and she almost as I was talking to her, looked like she was about to well up. Her mom and me went, Are you okay?

No. What's wrong?

And she said, Kaden said some bathroom words. I don't know what that means, but hopefully nothing like that happened to you this morning, and you're ready to be here and listen to the word of God on Decision Sunday. My name is Kevin Miller. I am not a campus minister. This is sort of a campus service, but I sort of still hover around the campus ministry. And didn't Pierre and Daniella do a great, great job sharing? Amazing, great stuff. Of course, Pierre goes to Northeastern, which is an amazing school. And did I hear Daniella say correctly that she's Italian? Did she say Italian? Oh, she didn't say. I heard Italian and Puerto Rican. That's not what you said? Oh, I was so much more engaged thinking that she was Italian, but it still was awesome. So that was great. Anyway, you did a great job sharing. You did an amazing job.

So we're going to be talking about hearing the call to live this morning. Hearing the call to live. Death and decay, disorder and decline. A mortal life, which is the life we live, is filled with these. I sat with my friend as we go to the slide. That's Dave Malutnak talking to Val Koha and Wyndham Shaw many years ago. And Dave Malutnak was here this weekend on behalf of Hope Worldwide. He's the CEO of Hope Worldwide. And we were sitting down with him, which is the benevolent arms of sorts of our church. They serve disaster relief and all kinds of needs all around the world. And Dave was sharing as he was up here about his trips recently to the Ukraine. And he was talking about being in a hotel room in the Ukraine and Kiev and just hearing missiles going by and explosions happening. The needs are everywhere. He's very involved serving the needs of the Ukrainian war victims. And it's just an amazing you can go to the next slide there. It's just so sad the world we live in. Not a human among us, has not been touched by the dying needs of a loved one. We're all mortal and we are all going to face it one way or the other. And even the best of us is not affected by sin, by the power that is in all human beings to hurt, to wound, to fail, and to destroy.

You can go to the next slide. You know, in the average length of a marriage in the United States is 8.2 years. Isn't that so unbelievably sad? In 1950, the average length was 22 years. Which still doesn't really blow your mind, but it was a lot better than this. You know, if you go on, you know, 41% of all marriages end in divorce. First marriages. 60% of second marriages, and 70% of third marriages end in divorce. It doesn't get better the more you try. It gets worse because faithfulness is lacking. In 1950, 7% of all US children grew up in a single parent household. Today, that number has grown to 30%. In the United States, 30% of all children grow up without a father or in a single parent household. And we celebrate the single moms and the single dads who are committed to loving and serving their children. But there's supposed to be another partner there too. Even the best of us are like desks that were once cleaned, a house that was one time put in order, a car that was one time washed. Given time, things move, families change, characters move in a certain direction.

And what is the answer to all of that? It's Jesus. Life and renewal, rebirth and repair. That's what humans were destined for. That's what God wants and it's what we long and hope for. Spring is coming. You can go to that next slide. Spring is on the way. I mean, the very season itself is a reminder that the world has been designed. That after a long winter, after the green is gone and the flowers have died, that the sun returns and the rain comes and color and growth and life return. That's what human beings need. It's what we were made for. God has created life so that hope is part of the process.

When marriages come back together, we cheer. Fewer than 5% of all marriages make it to 50 years. This is a picture. This is a picture that's my mother and father last year at their 50th wedding anniversary. We had a little party for them and it's so awesome, but we celebrate it. We honored it because it's so hard. But when people it wasn't my marriage. I did more to harm the marriage than help it. So you don't have to clap for me, but it is the stories we love are about love.

We want to be better than we are. Everyone in here wants to be better than what we are. And yet so many have given up because they don't have hope. And yet these are the soaring themes, the wonderful stories, the movies we love to watch when one man sacrifices so that others may live. There is a choice for each and every one of us. We can go the way of the world, we can go the way of decay and death. That's just the way things go. Or we can hear the call to life, to live and to grow and to be reborn, because there is a God who calls us to that. We're going to read from John, chapter eleven today. We're actually going to read more than that, but we'll read most of the whole chapter, so stick with me here. But this is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It is an amazing story. It takes place 2 miles outside of Jerusalem. Well, you say, why is that significant? Well, Jerusalem is where Jesus died. Jesus did three years of ministry all around Judea and all around the different places.

And then he pointed the direction to Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was a hotspot. Jerusalem was where the government was, Jerusalem was where the religious center was, where the temple was. And those were the people that didn't like him very much. So when he started moving in that direction, he knew he was moving in the direction of danger. And only 2 miles outside of Jerusalem to do the only public, he did raise that little girl from the dead, but he said, you keep that quiet. And there was only three people in the room. When Lazarus gets raised from the dead, everybody finds out about it. It's essentially Jesus sealing his own death. And we'll read about it as we go, but this is the call to live. John, chapter eleven. It's a great story and we're going to more or less read the entirety of it. So let's turn our Bibles and be there. All the Scriptures are not going to be on the screen because Stewart would really come after me for putting little script on the screen like that. He wouldn't even let me do that. So we're going to actually read through it ourselves.

John, chapter eleven, verse one. Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, lord, the one you love is sick. When he heard this, Jesus said, this sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory that God's Son may be glorified through it. Am I messing you up? The phone's messing you up. I'm so sorry. Let's keep going. Verse four. He was trying to do that so discreetly. And then I don't allow him to because I draw attention to it. Verse four. When he heard this, Jesus said we just read this. This sickness will not end in death. No, it's for God's glory that God's Son may be glorified through it. Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus. And so when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. He didn't rush right to it. And then he said to his disciples, let's go back to Judea.

But, Rabbi, they said, a short while ago, the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you're going back? Jesus answered, Are there not 12 hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble for they see by this world's light. It's when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light. After he said this, he went on to tell them our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I'm going there to wake him up. His disciples replied, lord, if he sleeps, he will get better. Jesus had been speaking of his death but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. You would think at this stage of Jesus ministry the disciples would stop doing that, but they didn't. They still said it. So verse 14. So then he told them plainly, Lazarus is dead, and for your sake, I'm glad I was not there so that you may believe. But let's go to him. Then Thomas, also known as Didymus, said to the rest of the disciples let us also go, that we may die with him. Whoa. On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.

Now, Bethany was less than 2 miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him. But Mary stayed at home. Lord, Martha said to Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask. Jesus said to her. Your brother will rise again. Martha answered, I know he will rise in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die. And whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? Yes, Lord. She replied. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who is to come into the world. After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. The teacher is here, she said, and is asking for you. When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now, Jesus had not yet entered the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him.

When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house comforting her noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him? He asked. Come and see, Lord, they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, See how he loved him? But some of them said could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying? Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. And we'll stop right there.

These stories are given to us by God. These stories are given to us by God so that we can learn and as disciples and as those that are thinking about God and Jesus, we got to come to the Scriptures and go, who am I supposed to be? I don't know who I am. Whatever it was that I was, I've got to come to the Scriptures and say, how am I supposed to think now? How am I supposed to behave now? What are my priorities supposed to be like now as a follower of Jesus? It's amazing. All these people we'll talk about them who got baptized this week. And there have been a lot there have been, I think, 17 different college students baptized in the downtown region so far this semester. That's amazing. That's amazing. And God did all this work to get these humble hearted people broken and looking for God and looking for Jesus. Kind of like Pierre just said, I didn't think I needed him, but that one morning I thought I should go check it out. And then he came and checked it out with, this is different. Something's going on here that I'm not used to seeing. Let me find Jesus. And then you find Jesus and you learn to make him Lord. And then you go down into the water and you come up out of the water and all your sins are forgiven, but all your character is still there.

That's the trick of this thing, isn't it? Your sins. Now, you've made a commitment and you're surrounded by support and you have the Holy Spirit in your heart and you believe in the Scriptures, and so you have all these all these tools, all these treasures that will help you along the way, but you're still kind of messed up. And if you've been around for 27 years, you realize, you know, you never really stop being messed up to a certain degree. Redeemed, stronger, all those kind of things. But we come to the scriptures and we've got to say, who am I and who am I supposed to be? And as we read this story about the call to life, we haven't actually heard the call yet. We didn't read that part, but we will. But that's what we've got to say it. So I have three points to you for you today as we talk about hearing the call to live.

Point number one, ignore the confused crowd. If you are going to hear Jesus, if you're going to hear the Scriptures, if you're going to hear truth, if you're going to hear what's right, what's pure, what's good, there is so much noise in the world, more than you even understand. I mean, if you drive and turn your radio on, if you put on a podcast, if you read a book, watch a TV show, go to a university. I mean the universities downtown Boston are the greatest schools. This is literally like the modern day Athens is what they call it, the hub. Boston the best sports city and education city in the world. Come on, bruins and Celtics, play today. Don't anybody else say anything, okay? But if you go to one of these schools, this is one of the most unbelieving education cities in the world. The hub of unbelieving literature and belief kind of stem from here. On one end of the country you got Hollywood, on another end you got Boston. We live here and I love the city and I'm so grateful for the schools. But there's a lot of noise. And if you don't learn to ignore the confused crowd, even the smart ones among the confused. You know, when Jesus came to Earth, the Bible says this was the fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy and promise. Even now we look at scriptures thousands of years old that predicted the coming of Jesus in great detail. People look at it and go, how could that be true? Those scriptures can't be true. Because they so accurately predict Jesus and the life that he lived hundreds and thousands of years before he came. There's no one like Jesus. There never has been and there never will be.

Even now we're reading a story of a man that was brought back to life. Jesus says he was the rebirth, he was the greatest. And yet when you read chapter eleven, do you pick up on how many people weren't feeling him? Three or four times in chapter eleven alone? John eleven, verse 16, it's the second time because they, they refer early in the thing going, are you sure you want to go back there? They said that, you sure you want to go back there? Last time they tried to stone you. Now that wasn't the legalization of marijuana that they were talking about. They wanted to throw rocks at Jesus. No? Okay, then we get to verse 16. Now, Thomas, and you kind of got to go where is that coming from? They decide to go back toward Jerusalem, to Bethany, and it says, then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, let us go, that we may die also.

What? What are you talking about? Who's talking about who's talking about dying? That's a weird thing to say. Or was it? I mean, Jesus had been talking to his guys up to this point a lot about I'm going to die. Why is he going to die? Because people hated him. What? No, they hated him. They didn't kind of not like him. And they didn't hate him because he was serving the poor. They hated him because of what he stood for and what he preached. It's kind of like our world. Parts of Christianity, people applaud, but parts of Christianity is not very popular, especially if you're doing it right. You know, in John, chapter eleven, verse 37, it says, this is it's such a terrible remark. Jesus is sitting there weeping over the death of this man that he loved. And verse 37 is what some people say, could, could not he who opened the eyes of a blind man have kept this man from dying? Who says something like that? Who says something like that? Haters. Haters are going to hate. Let's change this. This title should have been called haters Are going to Hate.

I wish I had talked to Murphy before I wrote this sermon, but it's true. They just what? This is what happens all the time at Scripture. You go, what? This guy's crying tears of deep love and affection and all they can be is sneering and cynical and unbelieving. You know, we didn't read that one, but the next one, John eleven, we're going to get to this after Jesus brings this man back from the dead. This is the scripture. It says, therefore, many of the Jews would come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priest and the Pharisees called a meeting of the sanhedrin. They have a little speech back and forth, but it's not even worth reading. I mean, it is, it's Scripture. It's good, but these guys are so messed up. But in verse 53, it ends with so from that day on, they plotted to take his life.

Why did these people go back to the, you literally see this man bring someone back from the dead. Everybody knew he'd been dead. He'd been in a tomb covered by a giant stone, a big cave covered by stone for four days. And all these people were there for the funeral and for the morning, and they had been there and they were staying there. And then Jesus shows up and they see, we're going to read it, this guy come out. If you see something like that, what's going to be your reaction? Half the group's reaction is like, oh my, this is he's God. This is amazing. We've never seen anything, but a good chunk of the group's reaction is what? To go back and tattle. That's what they're going to do. They're going to tell the haters what took place. They're going to talk to the haters about how should we interpret this thing that just took place? How should you interpret a man being raised from the dead? You need someone to tell you that? But they did because they weren't believing. They had already made up their minds and the pharisees hear it and they go, let's kill him. They wouldn't have want

If Jesus was a fraud, they would not have needed to kill him. Do you understand that? If Jesus was a fake, then they just needed to prove that he was a fake and then everybody would walk away. No, Jesus got dangerous to them because everybody knew what this guy was doing and it threatened where they were. If you are going to hear the call to life, you've got to ignore the confused crowd. Can I get an amen?

I grew up going to church and I went to a religious school. I got laughed at by my family last time I preached because I'm not going to tell my conversion story. And then I told a very brief version of my conversion story, and they laughed at me and said, you said you're not going to tell the story and then you told it. Well, I'm not going to tell the story again, but I'll tell a couple of little spots of it. I grew up going to church and I went to a religious school. And though there were times I thought about God, me and my entire family lived very ungodly lives. By 18, I mean, there wasn't an Easter Christmas funeral wedding that all my uncles and aunties weren't drunk and crazy and fighting and screaming, and I joined in them when I got old enough to do that, which was under the drinking age.

My brother met Disciples of Jesus when I was about 20 years old. So by 18, just seeing all the hypocrisy that I was around, I was like, I'm an atheist. I don't believe in God. I definitely don't believe in the religion that we're in. And I don't know about the Bible, but I don't think I believe in any of this. It's about where I was. My brother met Disciples of Jesus, and he met him, and three months later, he walked through the front door of our house and said, I'm getting baptized. And my brother was my drinking buddy, my drinking partner, my partner in crime. And I was shocked at the way his life changed. And about two weeks later, after he asked me every single day, study the Bible, study the Bible, study the Bible. Come on, one more time. Give it one more shot. Come on, try this, try that. And I was like, I gave in to his peer pressure, and I said, okay. And so he brought me to these guys. I started studying the Bible on a Tuesday day night, and the following Tuesday night, I was baptized. And that was 27 years ago, so that's the short short story.

Now, a couple of years later, I ran into the principal of my grammar school. Now, this was 20 years after I had been to that grammar school, and my sister had run into this religious woman. I was actually walking one day, I went home to my hometown. I was walking through my high school, my grammar school, and all the different places and just praying through. You ever do something like that? Just kind of remembering where you come from? And that's what I was doing that day. And as I was doing this, she lived, like, on the premises or next to the premises of my high school, which was also a religious, I went to religious grammar school, went to religious high school. She ran into me. My sister. I did not know this had told her through running into her in my hometown. I don't live in my hometown anymore, and I didn't live in there then, but my sister did, had run into this woman and told him, Kevin left our church, and he's now a minister in this other church.

So she runs into me, and she's got to be 80 years old at this point, and she rebuked me straight up. And I was actually kind of impressed by it. She was like, I can't believe you left our church. And she started going in on me, and I was like, Whoa. And she said, why? And I explained to her. I started to explain. I said her name was Winnie, Miss Winnie. She was an older woman even when she was my grammar school principal 20 years earlier. And she had white hair even then. And we would call her White haired Winnie. That's what we called her. Not to her face, but that was what we did. Anyway, Miss Winnie comes up, and she says she starts coming in on me. Why did you leave? And I'm sitting there, and I really like this woman. She was a good lady. But I said, you know, I was a mess. I said, I was a mess. I didn't even believe in God. I certainly didn't believe in the Bible. And I met these people, these disciples of Jesus who taught me the Bible. They taught me who Jesus was and helped me understand how it was supposed to affect my life and help me change. That was my message to her.

It just helped me change. And her message back, I'll never forget, she went, oh, you didn't need to change. This is going to be interesting. And she said, oh, I remember that. Gets a little bit detailed and graphic, but she says, I remember, like, the third grade, fourth grade. She said there were these boys, and they were looking at she said this to me, pornography in school or something. And you went to the principal's office, and you told us about that. And I was just sitting there going, nah, I don't think that's how that went down. There is no way. I think you have me confused with the people that got ratted out. I was probably in the other crew at that point in my life, but, you know, my mom did the same thing. When I became a disciple, when my brother came through the door to say, I'm getting baptized, he said, Mom, Dad, Kevin, I'm getting baptized. My mother said, what? You already were baptized. You've been a Christian for all your life. And he said, oh, no, I haven't. And she went, oh, yes, you have. And my brother said, oh, no, I haven't. And she said, yeah. And he goes, do you want to know how I've been living? And he started to tell her about the drugs and the drinking and the crime. My brother and I were absolutely out of our minds. And my mother, the second my brother started saying, I don't want to hear any of that.

You can't be confused by the confused crowd. You kind of have to ignore it. The idea that my parents or my mother was opposed to the decision I was making at that point, who cares? I baptized her now. She's a disciple of Jesus. After a few years of hating the decision I made. But that's what it is. Who cares? I had been what? I had been rebelling against these people my entire life. Now that they're concerned about the spiritual decision I'm making, I'm going to all of a sudden care? Would Jesus is clearly calling me to something else. Now I'm going to be concerned? Give me a break. That would have been just cowardice, and it wouldn't have been loved toward them. It wouldn't have been loved toward them.

You know, I love gabby was just baptized. Is that the next picture? Gabby and Daniella right here. That's a great pick right there. They were both baptized last week. And I love this story because Gabby studied the Bible with my wonderful, sweet daughter. And Emma this semester, along with Manny, who is just one of the most radical dudes you'll ever meet in your life. Both of them were brought up on her. I know this is going to be weird to say. They were both brought up on harassment charges by their school this year for sharing their faith on campus.

Now, the hearing already happened, and they already defended, and the school outside the religious department said, you didn't do anything wrong. You haven't been harassing anybody. They've been declared innocent by the university, thank God. But that was crazy scary for Manny and for me. That must seem to blow it off, but I don't know. But before they went through the hearing, and they kind of went through it. Gabby was studying the Bible, and Emma said to Gabby, because we don't hide any of this, because we're not trying to hide that we stand for Jesus and that there's a crowd out there that's not real fired up about what we believe, what we preach, what we teach, what we live. That's no secret. If you're going to be a disciple, Jesus, you got to know that, and you got to walk in the light of that. And so Emma was telling Gabby, hey, I'm kind of on trial for the school for harassment as they're studying the Bible. And Gabby went, and I'm just kind of paraphrasing here, but went, Well, I don't feel harassed, so let's continue.

If you're going to find new life, you've got to ignore the confused crowd, and you've got to fill up on Jesus.

Point number two, you've also got to be moved by a deeply moved God. You've got to be moved. You have to be moved by a God that's deeply moved about you. I mean, that's what we see here in the story. Again, we just read this, but in verse 33, it says, when Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Why? Because he cared so much. Where have you laid him? He asked. Come and see, they replied. Jesus wept. I mean, he just sat there crying so much. Then the Jews said, See how he loved him? But some of them said, could not he who opened the eyes of a blind man have kept this man from dying? Jesus, once more, deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. What do we see here? We see a God who loves and cares about you, about humanity, about human pain and suffering and death so much. He's deeply moved.

This isn't in my notes, but have you guys ever seen the show Impractical Jokers? It's total stupidity. It's four best friends who grew up in New Jersey who just play practical jokes and embarrass themselves. And one of the things that they did was with one of their nieces and nephews, they would sit in a park bench in Central Park with one of their, like, four or five year old niece or nephew next to a stranger that can overhear the conversation that they're about to have with this person, teaching them about life. And now their idiot best friends are the ones feeding them what they have to say in order to embarrass them in front of this other gentleman. And what this one episode was is he's sitting there with this five five year old going, you know, Johnny, men don't cry. They never should cry or care or ever show any emotion. That's a real man, Johnny. And they're trying to see if the person will go, and in this one episode, the guy on the other bench goes, no, that's not exactly right. And that's the whole thing. And then they got a thumbs down because the guy interrupted.

But there's an idea out there about God. Does God care? Does God really care about us? What are you happy about in life? What are you upset about? You get upset, frustrated. What is hurting you? God is with you. God cares about that. No, not this. When do you feel like a disappointment? God's not sitting down there, sitting up there going, Unbelievable. It's not how he is. That's not what we see in the scriptures. Now, that might be how you got grown up. That might be how the authority figures that you've been around treated you, but that's not how God is.

As a believer in an all powerful God, one of the hardest biblical truths to accept is that God loves, likes, and knows me. Yeah, he loves me, but he likes me, too. Sometimes we separate those two things. I know he loves me because he kind of had to somewhere. It said that somewhere. So I know he died for me. Because it was like he had to do that. No, he didn't have to do that. It was like the rules. No. Those are his rules. That was his heart. Because he loves. He's deeply moved. That's the thing I feel about this. David says about God, you stooped down to make me great. You stooped down. He stoops down. It's easy to feel alone, but one of the reasons we become a Christian is because we realize, oh, I'm not alone. God loves me. He became like us. He died for us. He did this because he cares for us. You know, the the thing I'm I'm always amazed by is in the story, he knows that he's going to heal her. Him. He knows that he's going to bring Lazarus back. He knows he's going to do that.

If I had known that if it was me in my flesh and how I am, I'm the person that the kids scrape their knee on the thing. Okay, you're okay. You're okay. It's going to be fine. Keep going. That's how I do it. That's how my nature is, and that's probably what I'd have done here. Oh, Mary Martha. It's okay. It's okay. I'm going to fix it. I'm going to fix it. It's good. I'm going to blow your minds. This is going to be so inspiring. That's probably what I would do. Not Jesus. Jesus was going to do that, but Jesus hurt with them when they were hurting before he ever did the miracle. And that's how he feels about you. Are you moved by a deeply moved God?

I'm amazed. You can go to the next is there a picture there next? Do we skip the there it is. That's the one. Van Owens and Darryl Owens walking up a mountain. I love that picture. I look at it, not infrequently. That's Van. I don't want to give it away, but when this service is over, the conclusion of my sermon in a moment or two is we're going to come up here and Shimitra Owens, Van's wife, is going to be restored to the fellowship of believers.

I got a little preview as to what Shimitra is going to say because she sent me the letter yesterday, and I read through it, and me and Melissa just read through it and thought, oh, this is just awesome. But she has a whole paragraph in there early on that's that's about that man right there. That's a great man. That's an enduring man. You know, I was just talking to Norick, walking in, and I love Norick. Norik's been a disciple less than ten years. Got to be, right? Five. Yeah, exactly five. He's one of our most radical older veteran conversions. I said to him this morning, I said, how you doing? How you doing, Nor? He said, I'm still standing. And then he went firm. I like that. That was good. You go to that picture we skipped through. There we go. Three guys. I'm reading a book about those three men. Actually, there's a fourth, too, but I didn't include them. Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The book's about leadership in turbulent times. That's what it's called, and I love it. It's written by one of my favorite authors. Her name is Doris Kearns Goodwin, and she wrote Team of Rivals about Abraham Lincoln. It's probably my favorite historical book, but this is also a great book, and one of the major points she's making it's a whole chunk of the book is how much these men had to suffer to become the people that they became. Abraham Lincoln was surrounded by death from birth. I mean, 18 hundreds in the sticks. His mother died, his father died, his siblings died, all of these kind of things. Teddy Roosevelt, who grew up in sickness in one day, his wife and newborn daughter died in the same day, and he just went through a depression, and he ends up going and just out to the west. This is way before he's president. And then we have FDR, probably our greatest president, took us through the Depression and World War II. He was a fairly privileged man until he got polio at, like, 40 years old and became completely paralyzed before he ever became president.

Suffering suffering is a part of becoming great. As Christians, everybody suffers, but not everybody suffers with the promise of growth and sanctification that comes with Jesus. It's awesome to celebrate Van right now. I mean, it's like the culmination of helping his wife come on back to the faith. It's epic. It's inspiring, and we like to live every single moment of our life like, what he's going to feel like on stage when she gets restored. That's not how that works. You got to go through crosses to get to resurrections. And in order to get there, you've got to stay connected to the God who is deeply moved to love you. It's the only way to hold on in. Some of us have gone through a lot of difficult things. People walk away. That's why seeing a restoration is so wonderful, because the longer you've been around, you seen people leave. It's a great thing.

The last thing I'll say on this point is Revelation Two and Three. I love it. Seven letters written to seven different churches in Revelation Two and Three. At the end of every single. Some things that Jesus have to say to those churches is all good, some of it's all bad. Some of it's kind of a mix of good and bad. You got to do this. You're doing this well. You're doing this bad, repent, whatever. Every single church letter in those two chapters concludes seven of them in a row with, to them who overcome, I will give eternity and all those things. The same phrase, you could translate it to Him who's victorious, to those who are victorious, to those who overcome. If you're going to be victorious, there's like a spirit of overcoming. You got to fight this thing out if you're going to make it. And to do that, you've got to be moved by the God who's deeply moved.

The last point, as we conclude, is you got to hear the call to live. It's the clearest part of this. In verse 39, Jesus comes, he says, Take away the stone. He said, But Lord said, Martha, the sister of the dead man. By this time, there's a bad odor, for he's already been in there four days. That's just mad graphic. So then Jesus said, did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God? So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, father, I thank you that you've heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe you sent me. When he had said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, Lazarus, come out. The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, Take off the grave clothes and let him go.

Jesus tells them to open the tomb after four days of being in there. It's time to live again. And there's lots of people around. I mean, many have come from Jerusalem, 2 miles away, to mourn with the sisters, and they buried this man. This isn't like unlock the door. You know what I'm talking about? Rolling the stone away. This was going to be a serious process. You're going to have people, wait, what now?

Remove the stone. Wait, what? I mean, even if the sisters were cool, with it. They weren't probably rolling the stone back. They had a bunch of people that were going to have to roll that stone back. And, you know, people were like, Wait, what now? What are we going to do? And there's probably talking and all these kind of things until somebody, probably one of the sisters says, look, I'm telling you right now, this wasn't included. You better move that. I'm telling you that's my brother in there, you move that. I don't think we should do that, Martha. No. Move the stone.

Sometimes to hear the call, you got to roll the stone away. Sometimes to hear the call, almost always to hear the call, the person that is hearing the call needs someone else to help them move the stone away. It's been one of the interesting things. We have all these new friends coming out to church because all the work that stewards do with instagram and all that stuff, and Mari and Murphy. There's so many people in here, you can't even ask all of them to study the Bible. Hey, you want to study the Bible? Certainly the ministers can't do it, and a handful of small group leaders. We need a congregation that's pretty comfortable moving stones away. We got to get reengaged on that. Can I get a quiet amen to that. But sometimes you hear the call you got to roll the stone away for someone else to hear it. What stones do you have to roll away this morning if you're going to come out of the tomb? Jesus is calling you. What fears do you have to let go of? I mean, she said it. This is going to potentially be unpleasant here Jesus. With the way he smells. There's stuff that goes on. We've all got stuff that you got to deal with if you're going to hear the call to live. There's a new life waiting for you.

We have all these pictures. Pierre Gabe gabby daniella Vance robert caleb Cam ryan jordan cordell hans Kenna. There's all these people that have been baptized the last couple of weeks, and there's a whole bunch of people in here right now that could get baptized this week, today, tonight, tomorrow. I love that. I can't even keep up with it. Who got baptized yesterday? Lonnie. Who got baptized yesterday? Lanu didn't wait till Sunday. He was getting baptized on Saturday. He was ready on Saturday. Jesus has the power to give life. He's had the power to renew, to allow you to live again and to live forever. Will you put your hope in Him? Will you believe in his power to use you?

It's no accident that most of his public miracles were done in the third year and this most public of miracles was done in the third year of Jesus's ministry. It helped to seal his fate because the crowd gets it wrong all the time. Are you confused by the crowd? Are you moved by the God that is moved by you. And if so, do you hear his call, respond to his call to live?

We're not going to read the last scripture, we're just going to jump in here. But we've got a glorious moment here. Everybody that's connected to the restoration, come on up. I think they're in the back there. There they all are. We're going to end before we have a closing song, I'm going to end this service with Shimitra Owens being restored to the fellowship of believers here today. So happy. Come on.

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