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Naming the Graveclothes

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Name the Grave Clothes – Use the Scissors

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. John 11:44a

Close your eyes and watch Lazarus stumbling his way out of the tomb. He’s miraculously alive yet still dragging the things of death. We do that, too. Christ’s death and resurrection gives us new life that is not defined as a journey to death. It’s life lived now in God’s love, to be fully lived when we pass into eternity. Why do we drag the trappings of the grave along with us?

Read Colossians 3:5-14 carefully and use it as a guide to understand your current approach to life. First vs 5&6 pinpoint the evil of idolatry, ways in which we replace God, ways we try to bend God’s rules and stretch the limits of living for my own pleasure. Reflect and name your own piece in idolatry.

Now look at Vs 7&8 for a listing of how our idolatry impacts the people around us. Our words and attitudes tear down others in order to promote our own advantage. Reflect and name your own piece in neighbor bashing.
Finally, relish the good news of vs 9 – 11, you are all in Christ who is all. Then choose one tool from vs 12-14. They are great scissors for cutting up grave clothes. Which will you put into use today? Keep the list handy to consult in any given moment which tool you need, and thank Jesus for giving us a way out of the grave.

You Don’t Have to Hide

Long ago, there was a great king who ruled over a land but his moral compass was askew. This king had an affair with a married woman, got this woman pregnant, and then ultimately arranged for the woman’s husband to be killed in order to hide the sin of adultery. The sins of this king were terrible. So, it is hard to fathom how this king could be called, “a man after God’s own heart.” This king, of course, was King David.

How did this sinful man become “a man after God’s own heart?” Through confession and forgiveness. David confessed his sins, received forgiveness from God, and knew God could still use his life. It was that simple. David knew he was a child of the utmost God and lived his life knowing salvation was his.

This is an incredible story of God’s forgiveness and mercy, but it is also an example of how God wants us to live a redeemed life. David didn’t live his redeemed life tethered to his guilt or shame. Instead David knew he was forgiven; he was new and he lived his life for God, free from bondage. Through the redeeming love of Christ, we are new. Our past may shape us, but our past should not bind us. We are forgiven. Say it out loud: “we are forgiven!” We are clothed with Christ. Let’s live like it!

What grave clothes are preventing you from living your life as a true child of God? Like David, ask God to release you then watch how God works in your life.

Why Linen?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-6

We have always treated dead bodies with great care. In Jesus’ day, Lazarus (and Jesus, Himself) were carefully wrapped with spices in strips of linen. Today, skilled morticians make up our bodies to look as life like as possible. We remember God’s blessings in earthly life, mourn the separation, and try to stave off physical perishing a few more days.
Hearing the promises of God, our lives take on a new identity. We’ve been born again to a LIVING HOPE in this life and for eternity! How? Through the everlasting resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! Unlike our perishable body, our inheritance is imperishable. Unlike the defilement of our sin, we are undefiled through Christ. Unlike memories which fade as our loved one rests in the grave, His love for us never fades. While we travel this earth, God keeps our eternal inheritance in heaven. By His power, He guards our faith until our bodies rise imperishable on the Last Day. The strips of linen have their purpose but, oh, there is so much more!

Father, thousand upon thousand thanks to You, O guardian of my faith. Pull away the linen strips from my eyes that I may see your great mercies more clearly each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Security

Why is it of the utmost importance to know, to be firm and stand strong in our identity as beloved children of god? Because when we know who we are and what we’re about, there’s power and authority in that knowledge. When we become solid and hold steadfast to the reality that when Jesus died, he sent the Holy Spirit in his place to live within us, we begin “to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV).

Our purpose on earth is to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV), but we can’t carry out these plans until we identify and put off the graveclothes, the obstacles, the burdens that prevent us from living life as God’s beloved children and embrace the peace and rest God so desires us to have.

When we fully embrace John 15:5 and invite Jesus into our hearts and lives, our old identities get pruned away leaving space for our new identities to bud. Ask God to help you make an inventory of your graveclothes and ask for His help to prune them away and replace them with His peace and love.

Seasons

Sometimes our stumbling steps out of the grave become a journey. We can see stages and seasons in our transformation into new life with Christ. Take some quiet moments to reflect on the seasons of your release of grave clothes and steps toward the new life in Christ. Let your thoughts about each season become a prayer of thanksgiving for the journey, knowing the Holy Spirit has been with you every step of the way.

Lord, in the winter of my life, thank you for…

Lord in the spring of my life, thank you for…

Lord, in the summer of my life, thank you for…

Lord, in the fall of my life, thank you for…