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    I would like to add a thought to this expansive subject of learning what prevents us from seeing the Glory of God in our lives. It is a simple lesson but one that could have great impact in our lives. For the illustration, let us look at the story of Lazarus once more.

    38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “ Take away the stone.”Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “ Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”40 Jesus said to her, “ Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?(John 11:38-40 NKJV)
    Lazarus had died and Jesus had already stated that if we believe in Him, even if we die, we shall be raised up and if we live, we shall never die. But, to show how little our faith truly is, we still insist that if Jesus had been there before Lazarus died, He could have healed him and avoided Lazarus' death altogether.

    You see, WE have plans and God has plans. We think that God should follow our plans but He will never be 'lassoed' into the thinking or the desire of men. When things do not work out as WE plan them, we consider that 'God must not have willed it' and then we move on. Jesus comes to this scenario with a different lesson to teach us. A lesson that is designed to push OUR boundaries far beyond what we are able to conceive and into the realm of the Spirit, the realm of the kingdom of God, where nothing is impossible for Him. We may believe in healing or even believe in deliverance but once neither of these occur, we are convinced that nothing 'could' have been done. Some have further pushed their 'envelope' through fasting and prayer but if nothing happens as they expect, then it MUST be God's will for they've done everything they knew to do.

    It is due to this very MINDSET that Jesus purposely comes LATE to the scene so that a greater truth, than any have ever considered, could be demonstrated. You see, we are so 'fixed' on what we believe God is capable of doing, we actually relegate Him to OUR expectations and OUR faith. Anything that falls outside of this, we deem 'unreachable' to man, even those with 'sufficient faith'. But God will always 'push' us beyond what we consider ours and His limits. Like it says in Psalms 50:21, we reduce God down to our level of understanding and expectation. Because we haven't seen it, because we haven't heard of it, because it is outside the realm of our experience, we just cannot believe.

    Before I get into the focus of this message, I want to point out something that has been greatly misunderstood by most. Let's take a look at a few verses BEFORE the one I quoted above:
    33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “ Where have you laid him? (John 11:33-34 NKJV)
    "He GROANED in the spirit and was troubled..."
    Interesting choice of words to describe what in the original had a more far reaching expression than what we see here. We see this as a mere human reaction, Jesus 'sympathizing' with their great grief and sorrow but this is not what is being said here.

    The word translated to 'groan' actually means "(to snort with anger); to have indignation on, i. e. (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin". Jesus was NOT sympathizing with those who were mourning but this illustrates that He was, to use a modern day term "miffed", "put out", "not happy". Personally, I believe the translators had a lot of difficulty understanding this 'emotion' coming from Jesus and sought to use a word that more closely expressed a 'sympathizing' tone rather than what it really was. 

    Now, why would Jesus be 'miffed' or 'annoyed' or 'to snort with anger'? To understand this, we must understand where He was coming from and the message He has been working to bring to the children of God. Everywhere He went, He was met with a people of little or no faith. Only on rare occasions did He encounter someone who had the kind of faith He had hoped more had and some of those were not of the children of Israel but foreigners. Throughout His ministry, His one purpose was to point the way to the Father which required a faith that few walked in. Everyone was amazed by the supernatural works wrought by Him but none understood that what He did, He was actually teaching them that they all could do the same and even greater works. This was simply BEYOND their capacity to accept for themselves. Imagine being sent to only those who nodded their heads in agreement but never had faith enough to put into practice those things you are trying to show them. Not an easy task and yet, this is what Jesus faced every day of His ministry. A people who drew near to Him with their lips but had hearts that were far from Him.

    Later in the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews considers what Jesus is about to perform, as something that is elementary, basic, and should be 'commonplace' among believers:
    Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1-2 NKJV)
    What had become 'commonplace' to the writer of Hebrews and I would dare say all of the New Testament writers, was well beyond those we see in the gospels. To them, something like the raising of the death was far beyond their experience and only on rare occasions was this seen in the scriptures and that was reserved only for the prophets.

    Now to get back to the reason why I am writing this. 
    38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “ Take away the stone.”Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “ Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”40 Jesus said to her, “ Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? (John 11:38-40 NKJV)
    Before He instructed them to take away the stone that covered the tomb, He had already spelled out that He is the resurrection and the life and if we believed, we would see the Glory of God. Yet, when it came to actually doing what He promised, there were those whose lack of faith and lack of understanding, tried to prevent it and to them, had good reasons for it. In this case, that 'STONE' represented several things with the first being UNBELIEF and what caused that unbelief, 'judgment'. You see, judgments, our perspectives, our understanding, our limitations, our traditions, our belief systems create for us a 'model' by which all we understand and do is established. Our 'judgment' in this case, represents the 'limits' of our faith and understanding. 

    Besides our 'judgments', we also contend with our 'traditions'. In this case, it was common knowledge among the Jews at this time that the 'soul/spirit' of a man would stay with the body for 3 days and after those 3 days, depart, rendering it impossible to raise that man from the dead. Remember, there are instances of certain ones being raised from the dead in the Old Testament and from these examples, this teaching arose and became, to the Jews, a rock solid truth that cannot be questioned. So, to those at the tomb of Lazarus, it is impossible for them to believe that he could be raised from the dead, precisely because of what they had accepted as truth.

    Jesus instructs us to REMOVE those limitations and He does so ABOVE our objections. We think that we have 'good and solid reasons' for not believing, as I illustrated above but none of them can find their justification in the eyes of an all powerful God who created all things from nothing except His Word. 

    Jesus, wanting to push their envelope of understanding and possibilities, required them to 'first' remove that stone of judgment and unbelief. For the fruit of our judgments and traditions is UNBELIEF and unbelief is the chief reason for disqualification in the eyes of God. It was because of their unbelief, the first generation of the children of Israel who were delivered from the power of Egypt and brought by the power of God to that land of promise, refused to enter in. It was because of unbelief that Israel, the natural branches of that cultured olive tree, were cut-off and because of faith we were engrafted in. (Romans 11). If we too do not continue in faith but allow unbelief to enter in, then we too would be cut-off, just as they were. Unbelief has that power to separate us forever from the will and purposes of God in our lives. This is the biggest reason we have to remove all judgments and traditions because of that fruit they produce...the fruit of unbelief.

    Jesus was actually 'miffed' because with all the signs, all His messages that pointed to the Father, we still put limits of what God can do because of our judgments, because of our unbelief. We look at situations we have not been able to find solutions for and we convince ourselves that it cannot be done. Do you realize that the only thing that cannot be done by God is to override our will? If we choose to put our faith in traditions (commandments of men) instead of His commandments, we render His power of no effect! Everything else and I really want to give as much emphasis as possible, EVERYTHING ELSE falls into the realm of possible in the economy of the kingdom of God. NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE to him who believes. That means that all of our traditions, all our judgments, all of those stones have to be removed by those who choose to believe that there is nothing impossible with God.

    Jerry Sundberg

    Soon after I received the Lord in 1976, I started receiving prophetic visions and warnings about the future of the church and the United States. I share my visions on my Hidden Manna websites and offer free of charge my two ebooks entitled “Hidden Manna” and “Hidden Manna 2”.

    Website: Hidden Manna

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    1. Spot on. The Lord showed me that (quoting the NIV) He was deeply moved in verse 33 and 38 because of their weeping, i.e. their unbelief. I also came to see verses 25-26 as saying something more profound than most believers apprehend: essentially, if we simply believe in Him, we will be resurrected after we die a natural death; but if we LIVE and believe IN Him we experience the riches of our heavenly eternal life NOW and are not the least bit concerned with our physical death (we've overcome it).

    2. I neglected to say when we LIVE and believe in Him, He is then not only the resurrection to us, but the LIFE!

      1. Indeed! Some actually DO get what is being said while others have not yet dealt with the stone of judgment that results in unbelief. Unbelief occurs when we cannot believe that God would do anything for us supernaturally. We tie Him down to those 'accepted' forms of His power, mostly just salvation and forget the awesome power of the resurrection we are to believe. Like Martha, most believe we will be resurrected after death but what about pushing that envelope of faith in not just accepting it 'may' happen but having the confidence through our relationship with the Father, that if He says to speak to raise someone from the dead, it will happen just as He said so.

        A number of years ago, that very thing happened with me. I was ministering at a couple's home when the Holy Spirit told me the fellow next to me on the couch was going to die suddenly. He showed me that the demon operating in him wanted to 'show off' his power. No sooner the Lord showed me this and I was talking to this man's spouse about what was about to happen so she would not be startled, the man fell face first to the floor, right off the sofa next to me. His eyes rolled up in his head and he was not breathing.

        I did what the Spirit of the Lord showed me to do, rebuked the demon responsible and called this man back from death to life. Instantly, he 'woke up' wondering why he was on the floor.

        You see, when we are walking with the Holy Spirit and He shows us something, it is actually not surprising if He were to ask us to do anything. Remember, faith comes by hearing the rhema of God. He speaks it, and we have no reason not to expect He will not perform what He said He would.

        On another occasion, I was walking with a fellow to church and being as he was born pigeon-toed, he couldn't move quickly or run. We came to a spot that was blocks away from any shelter and it started to rain and not lightly. Just then, I felt the Holy Spirit 'nudge' me and said, "Tell him to ask Me to make it stop raining." Without considering it, I did as He said. This friend was hesitant to ask so I asked the Lord if I can show him how. Receiving an affirmative, I told this fellow that he can pray like I do and with just a few very simple words, he began to repeat them. Just as the words barely left his lips, the rain stopped instantly. This fellow started to jump up and down with excitement that it actually stopped raining because he asked God. Just then, while this was going on, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me again and this time He asked me to tell this fellow the reason why God did it. Up till that time, I hadn't a clue but as soon as He told me this, He 'dropped' that knowledge into me and I explained to my friend that God did this to show that He loved him and that He always hears his prayers. I also explained that he was not to 'show off' to others as this was a demonstration of God's love for him. Next thing I knew, this fellow started to cry, realizing the depth of a love he had never known before.

        If we will not put obstacles in the way of God's Holy Spirit and rid ourselves and our agreements with our previous mindsets and judgments, then He can use us freely, without hindrances and unbelief to prevent Him. What a joy it will be to be used of God in anyway He chooses and under any circumstances, no matter how unusual they would be. This has been my life's story till now and I know it will continue as long as I continue to put my full trust in Him and do according to all He shows me.


    Item Reviewed: REMOVE THAT STONE! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jerry Sundberg
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