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Lazarus (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures and answer the questions below.

John 11:1-44 (entire chapter)

1.    Why do you think Jesus waited before going to Mary and Martha?

2.    Have you ever had a time in your life when you desperately prayed for God’s help but God chose not to give you what you asked for?

3.    What do you think God’s purposes are in these situations?

Now, think back through the story, and put yourself in the role of Lazarus.  Instead of focusing on Lazarus’ physical sickness and death, though, now focus on your spiritual sickness and death before you became a Christian.

4.    How is the story about Lazarus’ resurrection like your own story of spiritual rebirth?

5.    What insights does this give you about the story?

 

Facilitator Notes for Large Group Debrief

o  Like Lazarus, we were dead, but our sickness which led to death was spiritual rather than physical.

o  Jesus waited until we were aware of our deadness before He brought us into life everlasting.

o  Releasing Lazarus from the grave was a visual representation of what Jesus was about to do for all of us.

o  When Jesus rolled away the stone from His own grave in the garden, He rolled away the stone for all of humanity.  Death could no longer hold us!

o  The stone that blocked our way to new life has been rolled away.

o  Jesus calls our name and invites us to come out to enjoy new life with Him.

o  Unfortunately, many of us chose to stay in our tombs rather than respond to Jesus’ call for us to come out.

o  As long as we stayed in our graves, we were still dead in our sin.

o  But for those of us who responded when Jesus called our names, we have new life!

o  But that’s not the entire story of how we got free, because even though we had been freed from the power of death, we, like Lazarus, were still bound in our grave clothes.

o  Satan had wrapped us up pretty tightly.

o  Many of us emerged from the grave, but we weren’t truly free yet.  The sins and scars of our past still held us.  We wanted to be free to enjoy the life that Jesus promised, but we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from those grave clothes.

o  Some of us are still bound today.  We still don’t know how to get free of our past.  What we did or what was done to us prevents us from experiencing the full joy of our new freedom.

o  Like the burial custom practiced in Lazarus’ time, Satan tied our hands and our feet, wrapped us in grave clothes and veiled our faces.

o  He tied our hands, because it’s with our hands that we do God’s WORK.

o  He tied our feet, because it’s with our feet that we WALK with the Lord.

o  He veiled our faces, because it’s with our faces that we bear WITNESS to God’s glory.*

o  Many of us are alive in Christ but still tied up in sin, guilt, shame, pain, or ignorance that keeps us from our WORK, our WALK and our WITNESS with and for God.

o  It sometimes takes a long time to recognize our freedom, and we need the help of the Church to get free.  We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to do for us what those who witnessed Lazarus raised from the dead did for Lazarus.  We need our brothers and sisters to “Take off (our) grave clothes and let (us) go!”

o  We can’t get free ourselves.  This is part of the role of the Church.

o  So, as we see other brothers and sisters emerge from the grave, we need to step forward and help them in whatever way God gives us.  We need to get them free from their grave clothes.

o  And if you are still bound and don’t know how to get free, don’t try to do it alone.  Turn to your brothers and sisters in Christ and to Christian professionals who can help you to cut those bounds and walk free in Christ.

 

* There are at least three important veils in Scripture. Moses wore his veil to hide God’s glory when he came down from the mountain, because the sinful people couldn’t stand the bright holiness of God. But when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom because all could now have access to a holy God through Christ. Satan wants to keep us veiled like Lazarus, but it’s no longer necessary to hide God’s glory.

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Filed under Daily walk, Devotion, God's Will, Healing, Jesus, Martha, Mary, Resurrection, Witness

The Race


Time

20 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches that the Bible compares our lives to a race. Our sin and our past often become like heavy clothing or baggage to us, but God wants us to throw these off and run freely.

Materials

  • Lots of heavy clothing – boots, shoes, coats, sweaters….
  • Several backpacks, pieces of luggage (preferably without rollers), and bags loaded with heavy stuff.
  • Lots of wadded balls of paper or soft balls
  • Candy that will tempt the kids. Candy bars will work better than small candy.
  • A few small prizes for the racers.  It’s best to have prizes for everyone for both races, since it’s not important who finishes first in the race of life.
  • (Optional) Whistle to start the race.
  • (Optional) Water guns and/or water balloons
  • (Optional) Tape or twine to mark the finish line

Preparation

· This can be an indoor or an outdoor activity. Outdoors is preferable, because you can let the kids really get into the lesson, but either will work.

· Find a good starting place and finish line for your race, and make sure they are well marked.

· Put all your heavy clothing in a box and set it to the side.

· Put all your bags and luggage off to the side.

· Wad up your paper balls, or fill your water guns / water balloons.

· Put the candy in your pockets, or conceal it in some other way.

· If you have other creative ideas for encumbering the runners, use them. The idea is to make the first part of the race a frustrating experience.

· Practice the script.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

· “Let’s run a race today!”

· “Who is interested in competing for the prize?” (Take up to six volunteers, depending on your class size. You will need several kids to stay in the role of spectator.)

· “Okay, the race will be from here (designate starting point) to there (designate finish line).”

· “Everyone ready?”

· “Okay! On your mark, get set…….oh, hold on a minute. You guys aren’t ready yet.”

· “If we want to make this race more realistic, I’m going to need you guys to wear these.” (Set out the box with all the clothes, heavy shoes, etc., and start handing them out to the volunteers. They should all get dressed up.)

· “Okay, that’s more like it. On your mark, get set……hmmmm….something’s still not right.”

· “Oh, I know! You need some of this!” (Hand out backpacks, luggage, bags, other articles for them to drag.)

· “Yes, that’s it! Okay, on your mark, get set…..Wait! Wait!”

· “I completely forgot to prepare the spectators on the sidelines and in the stands!” (Hand out wadded paper, soft balls (or if you’re brave) water guns or water balloons.)

· (To the spectators in a low voice so that the runners don’t hear…) “You guys are going to throw (squirt) these things at the runners as they run.”

· “I also need you to try to get them to leave the race to come and get these from you.” (Secretly hand them the candy.)

· (Still to the spectators…) “You guys are also going to boo at them and tell them things like, ‘You’ll never be able to win! Why are you even trying? My grandmother runs faster than you!…’ – Okay, you guys ready?” (Check to make sure that they understand what they are supposed to do.)

· “Okay, is everyone ready? On your mark, get set……GO!” (Blow whistle if you have it. Despite all the obstacles you’ve set up, it’s likely that a competitive spirit will drive kids to finish the race anyway. But whether they do finish or not is not too important on the first race. Just modify your questions for the runners to match what happened.  Award prizes for anyone who finished.)

· (After they’ve run the race or given up…) “So, how did that feel?” (Listen to responses.)

· “Do you feel like you were able to run your best race?….Why or why not?” (Listen for responses.)

· “What would have made the race easier to run?” (Listen for responses.)

· In today’s lesson, the race represents our life as Christians.”

· We are the runners.  The starting line indicate the moment we accepted Christ.  The finish line is heaven.”

· The heavy clothes and baggage represent the burdens that we bring into the race – our sin, bad stuff that has happened in our past, our weaknesses, our misunderstandings about God…”

· The spectators represent the demons, who are watching God’s plan for your life play out as we run the race.”

· The things they throw are fears, worries and doubts.”

· The candy they try to tempt you with represents Satan’s armies doing whatever they can to distract you from your mission.”

· “You see, most of us are not equipped to run this race we call life.”

· “We bring so much junk with us to the starting line, and we have no idea how to deal with Satan’s attacks.”

· “But as odd as it may seem, we do our training while we round the track.”

· “If we carry our Bible with us and pray and try to learn as we run, these strategies will help us get rid of the junk, ignore the distractions and make us faster.”

· “So, we need to start our race every day with our Bible, and we need to quit listening to all the voices that want to discourage us.”

· “They aren’t the only ones watching us run, by the way.”

· “God and the angels are also there, and if we listen carefully, we can hear their cheers for us above the discouraging shouts of our enemy.” (Have a volunteer read Hebrews 12:1.)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

· “That ‘great cloud of witnesses’ refers to all the angels – the heavenly host – that are watching us and cheering for us and even helping us at times while we run our race of life.”

· “So, what do you say we run that race again?”

· “This time, I want you to throw off everything that hinders you or slows you down.”

· “And this time, spectators, I want you to represent the angels in heaven, and I want you to cheer on the runners and encourage them to run their best!”

· “Okay, runners….On your mark, get set……GO!” (Blow whistle if you have one.)

· (After the race… Award prizes to everyone, and then ask…) “So, how did that feel? Was it different?” (Listen for responses.)

· “That’s the way God wants us to feel when we are running the race of life.”

· “But in order to feel that free, we’ve got to throw off our sin, our fears, our worries, and our doubts. We’ve got to get to know God better and refuse to believe the lies of the Enemy.”

· “As you go through your life, I want you to remember this lesson.”

· “Every time you sin, I want you to think of it like it’s putting on heavy clothing or boots or picking up a heavy bag that you’ll have to carry or drag through your race of life.”

· “And when you ask God for forgiveness, I want you to think of it like it’s throwing off that heavy clothing or dropping that heavy bag.”

· “That’s the way God wants us to run our race!”

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Filed under Angels, Challenges, Christianity, Daily walk, demons, Fear, Focus, forgiveness, Hands-on, Obedience, Object Lesson, Spiritual Warfare, struggles, temptation