Ever wish you had paid more attention in seminary? Struggling with preparing a sermon? GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins wants to help pastors with useful resources to help them as they serve the Lord.
With more than a quarter century of pastoral leadership, Hawkins makes available some of his most popular sermon outlines for pastors, Sunday school teachers and other Bible study leaders. These free resources can help you as you prepare your sermon or lesson each week.
We all have our own Lazarus, that person or thing in which we have placed our hope. Somewhere along the way most of us have said with Mary and Martha, Lord, if you had been here this would not have happened! Many of us can relate to broken dreams and are in need of new beginnings.
The sickness, death, and resuscitation of Lazarus gives us insight into three stages of passage through which broken dreams can become new beginnings. We learn from John 11:
I. What to do when it is dusk (vv. 1-16)
Mary and Martha were living in the dusk in these verses. Lazarus was sick and although the darkness of death had not yet come, they could see it was near. Thomas was also living in the dusk. Hear him in verse 16, alluding to Christ’s own imminent death, saying, Let us also go, that we may die with him. There are some do’s and don’ts for us when it is dusk. Don’t live in denial (vv. 1-2), don’t depend upon performance (v. 3), don’t get impatient (vv. 5-6), and don’t panic (vv. 7-10). Do call on the Lord (v. 3), do look for a purpose (vv. 4, 11-15, 40), do find a promise (v. 4), and do take action (v. 16). When dusk comes and your dream seems to be dying don’t just sit there, call on the Lord and take action.
II. What to do when it is dark (vv. 17-37)
What do we do when our dreams have died? Lazarus was no longer sick but dead. Mary and Martha had prayed and hoped but their dream was now dead. What should we do when our own dreams are dead? Again, there are some do’s and don’ts. Don’t hold back your tears (vv. 33-35), don’t dwell on what might have been (v. 21), don’t forget what you know (v. 22), don’t blame God (v. 37), and don’t procrastinate (v. 29). Do face some big questions (v. 26), do be honest with your feelings (vv. 21, 31), do be yourself (vv. 20-21, 32), do reach out yourself to someone who is hurting (v. 28), do meet the Lord half way (vv. 20, 29-30). Like Mary and Martha, when our dreams are dead we are prone to ask, Could not Jesus who opened the blind man’s eyes keep Lazarus from dying? But, we, like them, might also find that what we think is a broken dream just might be an opportunity for a new beginning.
III. What to do when it is dawn (vv. 38-44)
The Lord Jesus still resurrects broken dreams today and turns them into new beginnings. It behooves us to know what to do when the dawn of a new day arrives. The dawn brought three things to this little family. It brought light (vv. 38-40). The stone was rolled away. It brought life (vv. 41-44). Lazarus came forth. It brought liberty (v. 44). He was loosed and let go.
What an ending to the story! The novelist, Jeffery Archer, is a master at twisting a tale. He weaves several plots through his books that seem to all fall together on the last page. Every time I finish one of his books I say to myself, “I should have seen that all along.” How many times in the story-lines of our lives have we looked back to say, “I should have seen it all along?” But we didn’t. Mary and Martha said, Lord, if you had been here Lazarus would not have died. True, perhaps. But neither would the Lord Jesus have been able to take a broken dream and turn it into a new beginning for His glory and our good.