Stones

Stoned

Psalm 118:21-25 (NIV)

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success!

I love Easter. It is my favorite of all holidays. Spring is a time of renewal and revitalization after a long winter. Things died off in fall and were buried in the cold, but now the newness of life returns to the planet we call home. Churches will be filled this Sunday with many people who have no real idea of Easter’s potential just that mom and grandma are preparing a feast and the kids really want to hunt eggs from a fabled rabbit. This is not about the pagan aspects of Easter. Let’s step over the concept in our mind and back in time. Way back in time. Easter is about Jesus, our Risen Lord and Soon Coming King. Celebration of the empty tomb is significant because it was the moment every impossible thing in our life became completely possible. The doorway to Eternity and forever was opened and the Keys of the Kingdom put into our hands. The death sentence removed from our life freed us from all captivity. By faith, every situation, circumstance, problem and trouble now can be worked out for our good according to the Father’s Plan. All of this was achieved when the stone rolled away and Jesus emerged victorious.

 

Slow done. I have to slow down. I want to run with the ladies headed back from the tomb to tell the others. Those who are caught up in busyness. The ones who have forgotten that they are free. Those who have missed out on mercy for today. Driving to Gainesville one day, I was thinking and praying at the same time. You ever do that? It starts out as a prayer, then you get lost in your thoughts for a moment, then back into prayer again. Our mind and spirit must agree so sometimes it has to discuss a few things I guess. At any rate, I was wondering why I was so confident that our son would live through his battle with cancer. Every time my hope grew tired and faith a little weak, something inside me would surge and I was reminded again of God’s Word for his life. The enemy longs for us to feel unworthy of God’s Promises so we will abandon faith and miss out on God’s Blessing. With this thought in mind, I was really contemplating the “why” of it all when the song, “Forever” came on the radio. I turned it up. The verse that changed my wandering and wonderful to full assurance was this: “The ground began to shake. The stone was rolled away. His Perfect Love could not be overcome. Now death where is your sting? Our Resurrected King has rendered you defeated.” Everything changed in that moment when Jesus emerged victorious. His Love proved to be the most powerful force in the universe on that day and it reverberates through the pages of history right up to today to fulfillment in forever.

We have victory over all things in Jesus Christ. The moment that He becomes our Savior and Lord, we have access to His Authority and Power in the world including death and the grave. It cannot hold us. The enemy cannot stop us. So why are there so many Christians who live in defeat, disappointment and dissatisfaction each day? Where are the believers who are followed by miracles, signs and wonders? What happened to God’s Power and Authority released to all mankind when Jesus emerged from the tomb that day? It is stoned and walled in by doubt and fear. The lie of the enemy holds many captive. Jesus is the Resurrection and Life yesterday, today and forever. It is time to roll the stones away from dead dreams and find lost vision again. To dare to do the impossible which is totally possible in all things pertaining to faith and godliness. If God said, it you can do it. Have it. Live in it. See it come to pass. You just have to believe.

Daniel 6:16-17 (NIV)

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.

Let’s look at some impossible situations. Daniel was a man of God who believed to the point of living it even when it created uncomfortable situations, persecution living in view of imminent death. He was there when the three Hebrew men were thrown in the fiery furnace, they were his friends. He had been in prison and forgotten by others. Much betrayal and treachery landed him in a den or cave of hungry lions. As if that were not enough, they placed a stone over the mouth of the den and it was sealed by the king warning others not to tamper with it. This was done so that Daniel’s situation could not be humanly changed.

Daniel 6:19-23 (NIV)

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

The king rushed to the lions’ den the next morning. Why? It says in the verses just before this one that he was unsettled and could not sleep the night before no matter what he tried to distract him. He wanted to know. He had to see for himself. Daniel’s faith saved him. He believed in the Lord and overcame death in that moment. When he emerged, the Light of God’s Love surrounded him and others who witnessed it were changed. See God doesn’t always change our situation or circumstances but we do not have to be held captive by it or changed in it. The faithfulness of Daniel sparked a revival culminated in the king’s decree that “every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel.”

John 11:38-44 (NIV)

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 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 have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”

Lazarus was dead. One of Jesus’ closest friends had passed. He was not only deceased but good and dead as he laid in the grave for three long hot days. When the messenger delivered the news that his friend was sick, the Lord declared, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” God’s Word for one man’s life is declared but who will take hold of it. Before Jesus made it back to his home, the man had died. Martha met Jesus with her version of the truth. Quite simply, if you had been here then Lazarus would not have died. She then gave the Lord a solicitous “bless your heart” as we say in the south with her words. “But I know that even now God will do whatever you ask.” Jesus tested her faith, “Your brother will rise again.” Her response, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” She did not fully believe… but she would. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and life.” Do you believe that He is? Not Martha or her sister, Mary, but you. Do you believe that Jesus can bring dead things including people back to life…TODAY?

Jesus called Lazarus from the grave that day. The sisters received their brother here and now not after His Return. This is vitally important to those of us who tend to hide in caves covering the entrance with stones of our own. Our hearts become hard to the truth that resurrection life is a “now” concept and not a futuristic approach. When Jesus rose again, all of the Power and Authority that He had would come to live in those who trust and believe in His Great Name. We have to live in the full truth of resurrection power today and not wait for forever. Jesus handed us the Keys to His Kingdom ahead of time. We are to pray “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Do not allow temporary circumstances dictate the outcomes in your life. Jesus brings dead things back to life. He gives parents their children back. He gives sisters to brothers and brothers to sisters. He can make all things new if we believe. Do you believe today? As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is fully embraced by one’s decision to live in the Authority and Power given on that day rather than cowering in caves covered by worthless rocks cast at us by the enemy of our soul.

Matthew 27:57-66 (NIV)

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea asked for the Lord’s body and prepared a proper burial. He placed Jesus in the tomb. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance and left the Lord there. This was not enough for the Pharisees. They asked the king to seal the tomb so the disciples dare not steal the body of Jesus. Sound familiar? Not only did Pilate seal the tomb but posted a guard to watch over it. It is as if mankind backed by principalities and darkness dared Jesus to rise again. They were intend on Jesus staying dead. But that’s not how the story goes…

Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Despite all this, Jesus still came back for us. He overcame death and the grave emerging victoriously. No one rolled the stone against gravity from its resting place, the Hand of God rolled it back to reveal His Son Glorified. Jesus had won. The battle was over. Every captive freed. Every curse broken. Every disease healed and death finally averted. I cannot imagine how happy, relieved and overjoyed the men and women who followed Jesus must have been on that day. They saw the torture that Jesus endured before He was nailed to a roughhewn Cross high on that hill. They watched as others mocked Him and even turning on them. Helplessly and silently they endured heartache and despair as they watched the Lord take His Last Breath as a man. With all this on their mind, imagine how wonderfully sensationally and overwhelming it must have been when they saw that despite all of this – Jesus was alive.

Jesus is alive. He did not leave us empty handed. We have the Keys to His Kingdom. Eternity in our hearts. Filled with His Spirit. We have the same power in us that brought Jesus from the grave. Why are we not using it? We are hidden in caves covered by stones because somehow we have forgotten that we win. No matter what the weapon is – we win. We are victorious overcomers in Jesus Christ. There is no reason to give up or surrender to any adversarial opposition that comes against us. We win. We just need to stand firm in our faith and we will be victorious.

Ephesians 1:18-23 (NIV)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

In honor of Jesus on this coming Resurrection Day, I am challenged to remember and respond to the Truth that I have the same power “as the mighty strength (God) exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His Right Hand in the Heavenly Realms.” The same power that is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” God has placed all things under the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ. By choosing to believe, I can walk in this same power every single day of my life. It is to choose life. To believe that all things are possible because Jesus is alive. The Fullness of Christ belongs to you today. It doesn’t matter what man says about you. It doesn’t matter what people do to you. It doesn’t even matter if your fate is sealed by circumstances. There is no greater power over us than Jesus Christ. We can live from glory to glory when we live to Glorify His Son. We do so by living a life of faithfulness to God fully surrendered and submitted to Jesus Christ. It is the very place that Jesus’ Authority and Power is instilled in us so that we can walk in victory. Dead dreams come to life. We will see visions of the secret, hidden and deep things of God due to the power and potential of faith coming to life inside of us. Resurrection Sunday is coming. Will you let the Lord roll away the stones holding you back from fulfillment in Christ? Will you step out into the Light of His Love? Will you be victorious? Jesus did His Part. The rest is up to you and me!

Philippians 3:8-12 (NIV)

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

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