We can all testify about where God brought us from to bring us to where we are today. But let’s be clear, God didn’t just save us from something, He saved us for something….. Ephesians 3:20&21 “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21. Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen”.
We were not an after thought that God had, We were created to be saved, we were fashioned to be free, we equipped to overcome whatever life threw at us. We are made to get over it, above it, under it or around it….We were designed for a purpose, and the amazing life we were destined to live was in the heart and mind of God, before the world was formed…...
Let’s begin with a few scriptures to say this better than I ever could….
2 Timothy 1:9 For He has chosen us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before timebegan.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King (Jesus) say unto them on His right hand, Come, you that are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared well in advance as our way of life.
What an advantage it gives you, when you already know what is going to be, before you even start out!! Our identity determines our actions, because how we see ourselves, and how we see God, will determine to a great extent our ability to see the unseeable and know the unknowable that He has intended for us…..
We’re closer than we think…..Often, the inner longings we have and the restlessness we feel, spring out of a deep sense within ourselves that we were meant for more, that we are capable of more, that we don’t have to sell ourselves short and settle for less than the greater purpose that was planned for us….
So many things that we feel are important, are about as necessary to our greater purpose and calling as a life guard at a jacuzzi or an algebra professor in a day care center.
But what would happen if we saw the God calling, and purpose and destiny within us, in the here and now, not out there somewhere….And we saw it as much bigger and more powerful than the fear, the intimidation, the insecurity and poor self-image we have at times! What if we knew it was impossible to fail. That instead of saying “What if” we said “Why not”!!! And what if we understood that every problem has a blessing embedded in it and a way to accomplish it!
Usually life will divide you up into many things that are all running in a thousand directions, but what if we could grab all these threads, running everywhere, and weave them together to all point in a single direction to bring us to that amazing place we always knew was there for us.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
v14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.We may be involved in many things but what is one thing we are committed to above and beyond all else?…You know the saying…The chicken is involved when it gives an egg, but the pig is committed when it gives it’s piece of bacon!!We can be involved and yet be uncommitted….There are many things which Paul could do but there was one thing Paul did, because His one thing, was God’s pre-ordained purpose for him. And he accomplished far more for God’s kingdom by walking inhis own divine design, and by doing the one thing. We were at restaurant and we were waiting to be seated, and I saw that a number of delicious dinner plates were on display, so that customers couldsee what they could order. I saw one that really caught my eye, so I tried to pinch off a sample to check it out and realized it was fake. Oh, the scalloped potatoes and the gravy that was poured over an open faced sandwich, with corn and a slice of pie and ice cream on the side. It looked right, it had all the features, the appearance made your mouth water, but it had no purpose. It was only good to look at but it had no substance….no use, and totally was worthless to satisfy anyone….What is it in our lives that may have a good appearance, but it doesn’t fulfill our greater purpose it’s just a display version? Don’t judge your purpose by where you are now and what’s happening now. You’re still becoming and you’re still transforming… Once God revealed to Paul, what His plan was, he understood what he was called to be and do. He understood that he was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, or those outside the Jewish community….And he was greatly used of God in advancing he kingdom, when he found his purpose. God has a butterfly in every caterpillar. I believe John Lennon of Beatle fame, was designed by God to be an apostle to the music world, but he missed his calling and ended up being deceived and misguided….His gift was forfeited because he never understood his purpose…. I believe President Trump, thought his purpose was to be a great business man, but God created him to be president of the United States, and his business background was just a tool to give him unique insights into dealing with our government and foreign governments…. I believe all of us have done things that we thought we were put here to do, but they were all just tools and training that equipped us to arrive at our God given purpose…. And that purpose is to make Christ known in a way that others might never be able to do because that is your own unique calling and God chosen design…. A guy was talking to a Chinese man and the Chinese man introduced himself and said “my name is Abe Schwartz” He asked the Chinese man, how he got such a Jewish name. Did your mom marry a Jewish man?.. “No, he said, actually I’m from the Ting family and when I entered this country, I was standing in line at immigration, the guy in front of me was named Abe Schwartz, and when my turn came and they asked my name and I told them, Sam Ting…. And the rest is history! So don’t just follow the crowd, and don’t let others decide your purpose, because God has a unique plan for you! And He will use you in that uniqueness! Acts 2:16 “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” God created us all to be dreamers and visionaries. God’s spirit is the spirit of revelation which leads, directs and brings you to the appointments and connections which He has set for you. God knows that once yousee it, you will be motivated to go after it. So He allows you by His Spirit to see what others might not see, and hear what others can’t hear, so that you can believe what others can’t get their heads around. God has a dream, custom made for you. That dream comes to bring you to your destiny and provide a stairway so that you can move up to your new reality….What if the things you enjoy doing, are inside of you in order to put you on a collision course with the gifts, the resources, the people, and the new reality that is prepared for you and you alone…. What if the things that are constantly racing in and out of your life are not random at all, but what God is intentionally doing and part of a higher plan… .What if There is nothing in our lives that is by accident…
My biological mother did not kidnap me and my two sisters and then abandon us by accident. I was not born into the family of two alcoholics by accident. I was not taken to be raised by a woman who had just lost her 3 1/2 year old daughter who was the same age as me, by accident.
You have not been through the experiences you’ve been through by accident. They have contributed to your wisdom storehouse and you’re lessons learned. You don’t live where you live and work where you work, and shop where you shop, and know who you know… by accident!!
Down deep inside, if we will take the time to process it, we all know that we are part of something far greater, bigger and more encompassing than ourselves and the niche we find our selves is providential at this juncture of our journey…
I heard Charles Swindoll say “We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. And soit is with everyone... we are in charge of our Attitudes”.
Every woman I know likes jewelry made from natural pearls. But every pearl is a pain with a purpose. A grain of sand enters the soft inner parts of the oyster. To ease the discomfort, the oystercoats it with the same material that lines it’s inner shell. It keeps applying coat after coat, until the irritation and pain of the sand is relieved, and WALLAH!!! A costly piece of jewelry comes out of a pain in the gut! (I could have said somewhere else!)
Sometimes God’s purpose will look more like suffering and sacrifice than anything else… but He knows how to transform it into something priceless and beautiful!
I like the illustration of the carrot, the egg and the tea bag…. They may all get in hot water, but they all are effected differently by it. The carrot goes in hard and is changed by the water so that it comes out soft. The egg goes in soft and is changed by the water so that it comes out hardened, The tea goes in the water and not only is it changed, but it changes the hot water that it is in.
We are called to be agents of change, in the hot water we are in, to do more than just go through stuff, but change the stuff we go through, because we went through it with the right purpose and the right perspective and the right attitude.
Sometimes we’re like this little girl trying to run from her shadow. Only to discover that it was attached to her. Our problems are attached to us and no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get away from them….For a moment, let’s compare her shadow to the problems we all face….
Let’s Look at 5 purposes behind the problems we face….(tell someone “you have a pain with a purpose) It doesn’t look like a pearl right now, but He’s working on it!
1.God uses our problems to DIRECT us - . Proverbs 3:11 “Despise not the guidance of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” If the Egyptians weren’t about to descend upon the Israelites in the desert, trapping them at the Red Sea, they would not have been willing to see the miracle of the Red Sea crossing….Problem solved! Sometimes God has to light a fire under us to get us moving. Because it’s hard to steer a parked car. A parked car doesn’t take you anywhere. Problems often point us in a new direction and get us moving toward the changethat will bring us to success. Is God trying to get your attention? Sometimes it takes an uncomfortable situation to get us to change our direction.
2. God uses problems to INSPECT us - James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, v3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. v4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. v5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.
People are like teabags if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water!
Is God testing your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? When you are passing through the storm, James tells us to be full of joy, because you know that the storm is testing your faith, and this will produce some lasting fruit when you come out of it. You will discover things about yourself that you didn’t realize before. Sometimes I lose my glasses and they’re right on my nose….Problems cause us to see what was right there in front of us…..
3. God uses problems to CORRECT you - Psalms 119:70 “There are many whose hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your ways. v71 It was good for me to be tested so that I might learn Your intentions. v72 The words from Your mouth are more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. 73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your ways”.
Some lessons we will never learn except through a few bumps and bruises. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you were driven to do it, cause you had to know for yourself, and you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something - health, money, a relationship - by losing it. It would be great if we could just learn from the mistakes of others, but we are determined to make them ourselves! (Tell someone “It was the best thing that could have happened to me”.
4. God uses problems to PROTECT you - Genesis 50:20 “They intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. v21 So then, do not be afraid.”
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something far more serious. I don’t even know how many times, , when I was delayed because of a problem, only to find out that we avoided something terrible if the delay hadn’t happened and my plans were not interrupted. But the Lord had gone before me and saw everything and He brought me through safely. Satan intended to harm me, but God intended it for good so that I might be encouraged by His oversight in my life.
5. God uses problems to PERFECT us. - Romans 5:2 “We boast in the hope of the glory of God. v3 Not only so, but we also glory in our tests and trials, because we know that they produce perseverance. v4 And perseverance builds character, and character produces hope. v5 And hope does not cause us to be ashamed, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. v6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still unable to help ourselves, Christ intervened for us”.
God is far more interested in building our character than He is in how comfortable we are. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity.
We can actually rejoice when we run into problems because they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it,until finally our hope and faith are strong, steady and reliable.
Have you ever been driving and you got tired or distracted, and you drifted for a moment on to the “rumble strip” at the edge of the road. Suddenly the car starts rumbling and vibrating and you feel like you are driving a Sherman tank! You know you need toquickly adjust your wheels or you will be over into the shoulder. The “rumble strip” is there to protect you, even though it may not be comfortable, if you’re smart, you’ll heed it’s warning. God will send some “rumble strips” into your life that may not be comfortable, and they can shake and rattle you, but if you are willing to make the proper adjustments, you’ll arrive at your destiny and stay out of the gutter.
Paul had himself a doosy of a problem…. He had been arrested and the orders were to bring him to Rome to be tried, but on top of that problem, the ship he was being transported on, hit a Northeaster and was sinking. (when it rains it pours) Notice that everyone else on board, was panicking and desperate because all they saw was the storm they were in, and it had their total attention, they could see nothing else. But Paul saw the storm as part of something bigger that he was part of, and he alone was able to see above the storm….
(ask someone, “can you see above the storm”)
Look at the account….Acts 27:22 “I urge all of you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. v23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me v24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ v25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
While everyone else was panicking, Paul was getting a word from God about how this storm fit into the bigger plan for his life and the kingdom of God.
They ran aground on the Island of Malta, and when the father of the governor of the island was healed, many others came for healing and the entire island came to Christ. Paul was on his way to one thing, but because of the big problem, storm, God accomplished something greater.
David was on his way to bring lunch to his brothers and on his way to do one thing, something greater happened, he slew Goliath.
When Abraham could no longer remain in his father’s house making idols, he would never have imagined as he journeyed to Canaan, during this major transition in his life, that he would open a new stream that would produce the Messiah and the Christian movement world wide…..
How could the fishermen disciples have known that their bad day of fishing, which left them tired and disgusted, would position them when Jesus passed by, to be the apostles of a new Christian movement in the earth!
None of it could have happened without the problems that set them up for their destiny!!!
Don’t give up too soon! Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions God has given you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go”.
Keep above the storm, as you understand that it’s not about the storm, but what’s beyond the storm that is God’s intentions for you…Storms will happen, but the real issue is, how will we respond when the storms come…..
In the account of Paul’s storm at sea, we are told that many gave up and left the ship too soon and they were lost. But all those who stayed through the storm, were saved.
The storm Paul found himself in, lasted 14 days of constant pounding, constantly threating to wash them all overboard, constantly about to sink the ship….
When you’re in that kind of prolonged battle, it’s easy to give up and quit, if you aren’t attached to something greater than the storm.
Some of you here today have been in one of those storms that seems to have come to roost on your doorstep and you’ve hoped it would pass, but here it is, still raging, and still pouring.
In spite of all of your prayers……in spite of all you’ve done…that storm is still ragging and it doesn’t seem to go away.
…Storms can get in your home
…Storms can cause turbulence for you in your familyrelationships.
…storms can get in the church and toss it around and bring confusion and disunity…
…storms can affect our health…suddenly the doctor gives a bad report and it crashes upon you….
…storms can come into all of our lives, in so many Ways!
When Paul was in the storm at sea, they began to lighten the ship, and started throwing everything overboard that was extra weight which could threaten the ship. Are there some things thatneed to be thrown overboard in the storm. If it’s weighing you down, then you won’t float like you ought to float and you won’t make progress like you should.
…There are some relationships that need to be tossed overboard….
…some habits … some lifestyle patterns.… some attitudes that need to be tossed….…because all they are doing is weighing you down!
When it comes down to it, the sacrifice is worth the outcome….
The biggest storm, can’t sink your boat unless it in your boat….(SO KEEP ON BAILING)
God told Adam he was going to give him a companion and it would be called woman. She will be the total package, beautiful, sexy, and she would complete his life.
God said this person will cook for you and wash your clothes, she will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear you children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will never nag you ,and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement.She will never have a headache, and will freely give you love, compassion and comfort, whenever needed.
Adam asked God what would a woman like that would cost him.
God said, "An arm and a leg."
Adam said, "What can I get for just a rib?"…And the rest is history....The storm cometh!!!
(don’t look for that in your bible, it will read a little different)
The words of Paul to those on board the sinking ship are my words to you today…..He said the angel told him “be of good cheer, and everything will be all right”. God always sees something better beyond each storm than you see…Faith, rooted in trust, will act like it before it sees it or feels like it!!!!!.
When you are in a storm you need to learn some storm songs you can sing.
Here are some of the songs I love to sing while going through my storms…
“in the eye of the storm”… says “In the eye of the storm, You remain in control, And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul. You alone are the anchor, When my sails are torn, Your love surrounds me In the eye of the storm”.
And another storm song I love…. “The anchor holds”….
“And the anchor holds, Though the ship's been battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, and the anchor holds in spite of the storm. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, the anchor holds in spite of the storm”.
There is an important key to your victory over the storm in the prayer of Jesus for His disciples before He left them….
John 17:14 “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world just as I am not of the world. v15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one who is in the world. v16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it”.
We used to sing “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue”…but so many who used to sing that, have began to see their treasure on earth and it has captured their hearts. We stopped thinking like pilgrims passing through, and we began to think more and more like homesteaders, and our lives began to be captured more and more by the things of earth, and less and less by the things of heaven.
Start believing now for more. Because we were meant for more than this… We were meant for streets of Gold, and gates of pearl.We were meant to live forever with Him in such glory that cannot be imagined or comprehended. . But so many are trading it for things that will pass away…
And it has begun to limit their vision and their mission and calling. It became about houses, and bank accounts, and social connections and entertainment.
Begin to believe now, for more!
When this is all over, what will be important is who did we bring with us. Who did we witness to that can never say, “No one told me” as they stand before the Lord. It will be about, was there a “go ye” in our gospel or just a “hold the fort” mentality. It will be about how many tears did we cry and how much sleep did we lose as we interceded for lost souls.
Let’s not allow the storms to take our eyes off the greatest prize and miss Him when He appears in the clouds of glory. Because if we miss that, we haven’t seen a storm compared to the storm that the tribulation is going to bring.
If we can’t pay the price, and count the cost to follow Him now. How will we be able to follow and obey when every Christian is gone, and the anti-Christ now runs everything, and in order to follow Christ, means you will lose your life.
Friend, no matter how hard you have it now, obeying Him here and now, is nothing compared to what it will be like after the rapture.
The five wise virgins in Jesus parable, kept the oil, (The Holy Spirit) flowing in their lives. But the five foolish allowed all the things of life to distract them so they didn’t keep the oil flowing. They ran out and didn’t even realize it….
The price of vigilance is well worth it…
Because we were meant for more than this!!!
When God finishes with your storm, the plan He has is exponential and there is no way we could ever get our head around it all right now!
Begin to believe now, for more…. So see above the storm… God will get you over it, under it, around it or through it, but He will get you there!!!!
Grab someone’s hand and let’s lift one another together. Let’s take a new look at the storm, and let’s see God’s great purpose and plan for your break through.
In the valley, he anoints my head with oil, He brings me into His peace and rest, He prepares a table before me, surely goodness and mercy go with me, His presence sustains me, and glory awaits me….Hallelujah!
Sometimes, change is uncomfortable. Sometimes, a “new normal” doesn’t feel normalor comfortable at all. You’re not just having a bad hair day, POOPSI, this is spiritual warfare!
So how do we joyfully embrace what God is doing when we can’t see all the details and the results are still invisible?
We come to places where we must relinquish the right to try and understand spiritual matters with our natural mind. They must be embraced from a much deeper place. They are light and life and truth. They are not confined to earthly terms, or methods or positions. However, Jesus defined spiritual truths by physical illustrations from the world around him. We call it parables…
For example, there are parts of the game of baseball that, for me, help illustrate our spiritual faith journey.
Take the batter’s swing for example. The swing that seems so natural and fluid, is actually the result of years of hard work. What looks like instinct is actually self-discipline. The batter has hit thousands and thousands of baseballs in batting practice. This is how, in the twinkling of an eye, he can discern between a breaking ball and a fast ball. A ball on the inside corner of the plate and a ball outside (only a matter of inches). So, let’s say a batter needs to change his swing to be more effective. He now has his work cut out for him because he is so ingrained with the swing he has used so long, that he now has to develop a “new normal” and the only way to do that is by, trusting his coach and hitting thousands and thousands of baseballs in batting practice. It can be frustrating too, because he instinctively wants to go back to what felt right before,so, while this new swing process is taking place, and he finds himself in a pressure situation at game time, he will instinctively resort back to his old swing … which brings the old results. You know that the batter has finally switched to the new normal (the new muscle memory) when, he’s in a pressure situation, and he no longer thinks about his old swing but just “naturally” uses the new swing. It’s the new natural! As we surrender to God’s Spirit, we can tell that things are different – even our desires have changed – but there is still that “old normal” that old “muscle memory” of how we used to respond to things, and it can cause a lot of frustration. But God (our new coach), now dwelling within us, begins to help us fundamentally change how we respond. Our training begins to feel more and more normal. We are moving into our new normal..
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation 19 for we understand , that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled (come into harmony or agreement) with God”.
The name Egypt in Hebrew language is “restraint”…. The Jewish people were restrained from the destiny God had Intended for them because they chose compromise over liberty, comfort over security, and the things of the flesh over the things of the spirit. Satan never jumps up in your face in a red jump suit with a pitchfork and shouts that he is the devil. No, he comes as your favorite feel good thing, a new adventure, or some forbidden fruit… and in a beguiling voice he whispers, “Try it you’ll like it”….
Satan doesn’t tell you right out to disobey God, he just gets you to question and doubt His word. He gets you compromise just a little here and a little there, then he gets you to justify what you have done and blame someone or something else…. And it gets easier and easier to be around others who are doing the same….
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep (guard, protect, watch out for) your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the issues of your life”.
1 Peter 5:8 8 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking the unsuspecting, to devour”.
Revival is spiritual warfare….. Stop taking it personally, (poor me, woe is me) The focus of Satan’s attacks is Jesus in you. He’s attacking righteousness, Godliness, Holiness, those who hunger and thirst for the Holy Spirit!
We must be like the little girl whose children’s pastor asked her, “what would you do if satan came to your house and knocked on your door. She said, “I would send Jesus to answer it”….GOOD ANSWER!!!
1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy”.
Spiritual warfare is your new norm…. stop wondering why you’re being attacked, or thinking that your faith is being tried without cause….
2 Corinthians 10:3 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds”.
What are your strongholds… Back to the Hebrew word for Egypt…. It is the areas of “resistance” which you are experiencing in your life. Those areas that are keeping you from entering into the promises God has given you…. People are not your problem, it is the demonic strongholds that are using the people that iscreating your resistance…
The good news is Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you”.
That tells me when we are involved in spiritual warfare, God is saying we win!!!! We’re not fighting just to test our faith, we are fighting to win… God says we win!!!
Hallelujah, it says All the power of the enemy, all the strongholds of resistance which are coming against you….shall not prevail!
In The Word For You Today, for April, it gives the account of Winston Churchill’s commencement speech at Oxford University. Where he stood before the audience during Hitler’s assault on London and declared, “Never give up, never give up, never, never, never give up”!!!
I hear the bell ring, Satan is in one corner of the ring and you are in the other. You are about to meet in the center of the ring and the battle begins. Ding, ding, ding!
We’re training for reigning….. Your training is about getting full of the word of God…. Your training is about guarding your confession…. (training your tongue, training your brain)….
You and I have been given redeemed speech….I have said it before…. A person who speaks Spanish, but who has learned English, doesn’t think in English, they think in Spanish, then translates it into English…. The language of heaven, where our citizenship is, is the Word of God… We need to get to the place where we think the word of God…. then translate it into the heat of the battle so it can bring redemption’s power into the fight.
Someone says, let’s go down town and get drunk…. Immediately you think your redeemed language… “I am the temple of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in me, I am full of the Spirit, so I don’t need to get drunk” I have a right mind, so I don’t need porn, I have a redeemed spirit, so I don’t need to get angry and cuss, and give someone a piece of my mind (as though I could spare it anyway)You just did Spiritual warfare….
Hey, I cheat on my wife, cuss, go out drinking, look at porn, and party with those who do, all I want to…. I JUST DON’T WANT TO! I’M REDEEMED, I HAVE A NEW MIND, AND A NEW MASTER! PRAISE THE LORD!!!
Focus on Spiritual things….Satan often gets by with blocking us, stealing our peace and our potential, and he is often effective in his work because he is an expert at getting us to focus our attention on things in thenatural, so we as physical beings come against it and fight it in the physical realm, and get caught in the revolving doors of discouragement, doubt and wearing us out.
The devil knows if he can get you to expend all your energy on fighting and struggling and warring in the flesh, he has already defeated you.
Spiritual battles can never be won on natural terms with even our best efforts..
Spiritual battles must be fought with spiritual weapons
Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”. Your enemy is not the IRS, or DMV, or the DHS or the GOV. And your enemy is not drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and your enemy isnot homosexuality or lesbianism, or fornication or adultery. And your enemy is not sickness and disease, and poverty and lack, Yes all these things may be manifest against us but they are just the devices the devil uses.
Your real enemy and mine is spelled (d-e-v-i-l). The good news is: We Have been well equipped to fight this battle.
2 Corinthians 10: 4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
When you don’t feel like shouting Hallelujah, you shout anyway…. When you don’t feel like raising your hands in praise, you raise them anyway…. When you don’t feel like repenting, you repent anyway!!!
No doctor will examine a person and diagnose them with Cancer or With Tuberculosis, or arthritis, or deafness and say (It’s a demon) No, because they can only see the natural, physiological results.
But we know that disease may manifest itself in the natural, but its roots are spiritual. That’s why scripture says, “by His stripes we are healed”, (by the supernatural power of the finished work of Christ). For every physical cause, there is a spiritual cure!
When the enemy comes in like a flood the Lord raises a standard against him. That’s why, when I had my 5thheart attack in 2000, doctors said that I would have those scars on my heart for the rest of my life and any EKG, would reveal them. They would be part of my life, for the rest of my life…. But in 2010, the same doctor, (doctor Burros) released me, saying that the EKG showed no scars on my heart, and I had a clean, scar free heart!!!
In 1984 I found myself unable to move the lower part of my body. The doctor (Doctor Callejah) said I had a crippling virus that had lodged in my lower spine. He said it could be months or years or permanent. I swung around on crutches for a month, and one Sunday, as I was in the pulpit preaching, the Holy Spirit said to me, “You are healed”…. I threw my crutches down the isle and walked out of the church that day with no more effects! And I never went back to get them….
In both cases, I fought with my faith confession based on the word of God and it created a new normal in my thinking. God’s word was the language I spoke, to defeat the symptoms.
Jesus defeated the devil with “It is written”, and as he vocalized what was written, Satan had to flee!
But please listen, It is not just what is written in a book, that defeats the devil in your life: It’s when God’s word is alive in your heart and mind, and comes out of your spirit through your mouth in Jesus name, that defeats the devil. It has become part of you! It’s how you now live your life.
Just as the ark of the covenant was carried upon the shoulders of the priests, and their enemies knew they could not stand against the glory of God upon the ark, so also, God has committed His presence and power upon the shoulders of
praying, believing, declaring saints.
We win because we carry His Glory, His power, and His authority!
It is in the closet of prayer that the Christian, is dressed for the battle, and for life. We are not dressed for battle until we’ve prayed. It is in the place of prayer that we are clothed upon from on high in the full armor of God.This is where the real battle is won or lost. Public victory owes it’s accomplishment to private prayer. We pray for God’s presence and his power to be made known, for Revival, for souls, for signs and wonders and miracles, and that his kingdom be advanced in the earth.
Jesus Said He that prays to his father secretly shall be rewarded openly.
Your prayer life is the thermostat which sets the atmosphere for your Christian life that is seen by the public.
James 5:16 “The effectual (making a difference) fervent prayer of a righteous man avails (or accomplishes) much”.
Would I shock you to say, without a life of prayer, you cannot be righteous! To be righteous means you are in right standing with God. Righteousness is not about behavioral modification it’s about heart transformation.
Spiritual warfare means, That we are in a Battle, It means that the Battle is not Imaginary (the battle is real)and the real Battle is Spiritual not physical.
It means, we must fight it in the Spirit with spiritual weapons. And it means that we cannot win alone we must win together.
Two are better than one….Matthew 18: 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
When it comes to revival, there are three kinds of people, Those who wish it would happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder “What’s happening.”
For those who are wondering what’s happening…. I want to say… Jesus has already won the battle!!!!(wonder no longer)
And you may ask, then why are we having to fight him, if Jesus has won?
After all, Colossians 2:15 tells us that Jesus "disarmed principalities and
powers, and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them.”
The answer is “Free Will”…. Even though we have authority over demons, God gave mankind free will. SoSatan uses man’s free will to choose who they will serve. Every person who chooses to follow the path of rebellion against God, becomes the place where demons now have permission to take up residence. You see where there is lust, there is a lust spirit… where there is blasphemy, there is a blaspheming spirit….where there is drunkenness, pornography, drugs, adultery, greed, wrath, murder, and on we could go… there are spirits who dwell in those who commit these things. We could also say, where there is rebellion against God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, there are rebellious spirits which inhabit those who do that. Satan and his demons reject Christ, so those who reject Christ, are impowered by the same demons.
Yes, Christians can still be under the control of demons. They are not possessed, but they are compelled. Oh, it’s much easier to hear, “The devil made me do it”… But the Devil uses his demons to do his work. Hear me, Oursins are forgiven, not our demons. They must be addressed, told they no longer have permission, and commanded to leave, in Jesus’ name. Come on, surelyyou’re not surprised that Christians can be in rebellion!!!!? I have known Christians with unclean spirits, lazy spirits, spirits of anger, contentious spirits, argumentative spirits, lust spirits.. greed, covetousness, etc. I’ve known Christians who were driven to spend, spend, spend. Or who were always restless and confused. What was it that was behind that?
Why do Christians get divorced, or fight, or their families fall apart, or they fall away from God….it’sspelled D.E.M.O.N.S! We have to deal with our demons! Don’t give those spirits a free ride.
It comes back to Free Will. Every person must choose to let go of those spirits which motivate and compel them to live with less than God says they can have… Spiritual warfare must be waged to see these who are under the control of these spirits, released and set freed!
This is where 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 comes in…. “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, being ready to win over all disobedience when your obedience is complete”.
In a mental hospital they devised a test to determine when their patients were ready to be released. They brought a candidate into a room where a water faucet was left on so that water was pouring all over the floor. Then they handed the patient a mop and told him to mop up the water. If the patient had enough sense to turn off the faucet before mopping up the water, he was ready to be released. But if the patient started mopping while the water was still flowing, they kept the patient for more treatment." In the same way, we often start trying to fix problems while the water is still running and we get no where. Until the source is taken care of, no headway is made. Until the powers behind the rebellion, drugs, alcohol, lust, and Godliness, is turned off, it will continue to prevail and no headway will be made, because of each person’s free will…. That door must be opened from the inside….
We must clean our own house before we will have the power to tell someone else to clean theirs.
Psalm 51:16 “For You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; You take no pleasure in burnt offeringsor I would do it. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”.
When we humble ourselves and deal with our own areas of disobedience, God will move in and convict and convince others.
I have so many stories where believers tried to cast demons out of someone else, and the demon began to call out their unrepented sins, and transgressions. But if we approach spiritual warfare, with clean hands and clean hearts, those spirits that hold others in bondage, cannot accuse us before God, because it’s under the blood where they cannot find it!
One of the gates of the city of Jerusalem was called the “The Dung Gate” has a powerful message for all. It represents the need for cleansing physically and spiritually. It had to do with the removal of everything that defiled, from within the city, allowing the city to be kept clean and holy. It lead down to the valley of Hinnom, where fire was kept burning 24/7 as a reminder of the need for constant cleansing of our spiritual life. It is about the removal of all that would hinder us in our Jesus walk. Anything that comes between ourselves and God becomes a false God. All pagan items, idols, instruments, food dedicated to other Gods, and anything pertaining to false worship, were taken out through this gate. “The Dung Gate” symbolizes the work of cleansing God wants to do in our lives to restore us.
(This gate now has a busy street running through it, just as we should be busy in this area of our lives) For it is the gate of cleansing and holiness! John 1:8, 9 “If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves... If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Just as you must regularly clean your house, so likewise we must keep our lives clean and swept out, as the residence of the Lord of Lords.
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation and may I have a willing spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You”. Create in me a clean heart, Oh God”.
Let’s stand together…. Today, we see that God would have us all clean our own houses of gossip, greed, unforgiveness, and every form of disobedience to Him, if we are to win the battle and see others released and set free….Let us humble ourselves before Him and know that a contrite spirit He will not ignore….
If we really want a revival that will bring down the strongholds… this is what it’s going to take…. Let’s all take a moment before Him and before we leave to go to our homes, to do some cleaning… we must begin to humble ourselves in the house of God for we are the living temples of God….
Let me deposit this in your minds first, “God is no respecter of persons, anything He has done for anyone before, He will do for you”
So, having said that, I want to continue the theme from last week and look at some ingredients of heaven sent, Spirit lead, God breathed revival…A little bit of history…. In the 1740s, we had what is called the Great Awakening. How many have heard about the Great Awakening? That happened in the early days of this nation. There was a Dutchman whose name was Theodore Frilingheusan. And he began to preach the message of repentance and salvation. He saw people coming and getting saved. And the message started to spread, and revival broke out which became the great awakening in America. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and many others picked up the revival banner both here and in great Britain and revival fires were fanned….
As a result of the great awakening revival, Many of our theological training colleges, Princeton, and Rutgers, and Dartmouth, and Brown University, were founded to train missionaries and preachers to carry the gospel message.
In the 1800’s God was moving once again in a dark period of our history… Church attendance had dropped from 50% down to 5%...it was so bad that only 2 students at Princeton claimed to be Christian. Some students at Williams College hid in a haystack to avoid a thunderstorm. And they began to pray and committed themselves to go anywhere God might lead them. That was the beginning of the second great awakening. It's the famous haystack revival.
In 1858, another revival broke out that transformed our nation. Jeremiah Lanphier, a Christian business man, announced a prayer meeting at Fulton Street in New York City. It grew until in a few months, more than 50,000 people a day were gathering for prayer all over New York City. Two million people are estimated to have found Christ as their Savior as it swept across the U.S.
And through Evan Roberts it landed in Wales, becoming the Welsh revival. There was the Jesus Movement of the 70’s which reached the hippy culture with Chuck Smith and others. And We know of the African phenomenon which was called the “Laughing Revival” of 1990, which brought Rodney Howard Brown to Florida and it spread to the Brownsville revival in Pensecola, with John Kilpatric….and reached the world….
And God is doing it again! Throughout the country there is a common cry. These all have a common theme… It only takes a spark to get a fire going. You and I can be another spark God uses along with many others to do it again! Amen! (turn to someone and greet them with “Hey Sparky” I know that my life was forever changed after experiencing the Brownsville revival which occurred in Pensacola, Florida in 1994 That revival was the result of many years of prayer, fasting and turning to the Lord with renewed intensity by that local church. They had intercession for revival for 10 years before the great revival came down in their midst.
In every case, the theme which ushered in those great moves of God, which spread throughout the world, was about waiting on God and touching His heart with an intense cry for His will to be done in earth as it is in heaven. They received an open heaven which is still spreading and touching lives today through churches and ministries that were raised up in a revival atmosphere.
I want to give you 3 scriptures about waiting on the Lord as we begin this message today….
Psalms 27:14 - Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Isaiah 40:31 - But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
Habakkuk 2:3 - For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie, though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not delay.
Listen, There is waiting, and then there is waiting. This scriptural version of waiting is not inactivity, it isn’t idleness, and it is not a lack of preparation like the ten foolish virgins….
The word wait in the Hebrew, is “Qav-ah” to wait with great expectancy… A woman who is pregnant, waits as the period of gestation is accomplished. She knows that what she’s waiting for is already within her, growing, developing and bringing her to the time of birthing. She spends the time, learning, preparing, and getting everything ready, so that when the time comes, she will be able to care for, nurture, and assure that the baby can be strong and healthy. She anticipates what will be needed… and well in advance, begins to put things in place for the long haul.
Scripture describes this word Qavah in Genesis creation account, Genesis 1:2, as "the Spirit of God hovering/brooding or incubating over the face of the deep”… We are incubating revival!
Habakkuk says that what is being brooded over and waited for, will come, and it will not be delayed….
It is one thing to pray and believe for revival, it is another to believe that it is already within us, incubating and coming to the time of birthing.
Like a woman who is pregnant, we begin to prepare, and we make ready for the appointed time of revival…. Adoniram Judson, the great pioneer missionary to Burma, was
suffering from fever in a stinking, rat-infested prison. He had seen little fruit for his years of hard work and sacrifice to see revival come to Burma. He had gone through many setbacks and hardships. A letter from a friend arrived which asked, “Judson, how’s the outlook?” He replied, “The outlook is as bright as the promises and character of God.” The waiting time is important, because it is a time of sifting through our values and priorities, and honestly making room in our lives for God at a new level.
When I was born, I was discarded, because my mom, wasn’t willing to allow her lifestyle to be changed by a new arrival. The thing she was expecting, became an inconvenience. If we have not prepared ourselves, and if we approach revival with the same old, same old, attitude, understand that it will be seen as an inconvenience. Oh, I’m sure, when I was born, she was over joyed, and thrilled to have a son. But the new wore off quickly, with diaper changes, feedings, sleepless nights and no longer being in charge of her life. She made a choice, to give up, long term fulfillment for temporary inconvenience. Revival means that whatever ran in your family linage before you will no longer run in your family after you… A new stream is opened up, the healing waters that flow from throne of God sweep all of that debris from the curse, away from your family tree. You now drink from new cleansing, healing, restoring streems of redemption….
For those who will count the cost, the long term results are well worth it. To see souls saved, lives changed, and families restored and serving the Lord together.
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build, does not sit down first, and make preparations, to assure that you have sufficient to finish it? Lest sadly, after you have laid the foundation, you realize you are not able to complete it.
Let’s be honest, revival has a cost, Ahhhh, but it is well worth it!
Revival is not just a thing, it is about a person. He is none
other than God the Spirit. Revival is God the Spirit showing us who He is! When Habakkuk talks about the vision …. What he’s talking about is a living entity… Notice it…. He says “For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time, but at the end He shall speak, though He tarry, wait for Him, because He will surely come, He will not tarry.
Listen to what Jesus said….
John 16:7 “I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I do not go away, the Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come to you, but if I depart, I will send Him to you. v8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. v9 Of sin, because they believe not on me. v10 Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you will not see me for a while.
v11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. v12 I have manythings to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. v13 However, when he, the Spirit of truth, (Holy Spirit) is come, He will guide you into all truth, for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak,and He will show you things to come.
v14 He shall glorify Me (Jesus) for He shall receive of what is Mine, and shall show (demonstrate) it to you. v15 All things that the Father has are Mine,therefore I tell you, that He shall take of what is Mine, and shall show it to you.
v16 A little while, and you shall not see Me, and again, a little while, and you shall see Me again, because I go to the Father”.
Revival is about the person of the Holy Spirit, demonstrating the things of Jesus, unto believers. Revival is not about the manifestations that happen, it is about a person. It is about “The Lord of lords and the King of Kings The Great I Am, Life more abundantly, The fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily. It’s Holy Spirit taking what’s His and imparting it unto us. And Jesus is telling us here in John, that this is Holy Spirit’s time of administration concerning the things of the kingdom in the earth. He has been put in charge, through the name of Jesus.
Notice that Jesus tells us that He will convict of sin, (the weight of their sin will come on sinners)… He will convince of righteousness (that’s believers being convinced to live righteous lives)…. And He will judge the prince of darkness through the mouth of believers….He will guide you into all truth since He is our inside guiding light…He will show you things to come because He knows what Jesus knows….He will glorify Jesus since that is the name we have been given to operate His power in the earth… He will take the things of Jesus and demonstrate them to us since He has already given it unto us…
Now, friend, that is what Revival is…. Revival is a person, being allowed to rule in our midst, and reveal the things of the Father, in the name and person of Jesus. It is totally “God” centered!
That’s exactly what Jesus is saying in John 16….
When all these things begin to come to pass, the church rises in power, the community is brought to faith in Christ, and God’s kingdom is established in the earth….
When revival is centered correctly, then Gifts of the Spirit are manifested, gift of wisdom, gift of knowledge, gift of faith, gift of healing, gift of miracles, gift prophecy, gift of discerning of spirits, gift of speaking in tongues, and the gift of interpretation of tongues….. The Fruit of the Spirit are demonstrated… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And the five-fold ministry gifts which are to strengthen and guide the church are raised up and find their place… apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, & teachers.
Revival releases the Spirit’s power in the church, the Spirit’s personality in the church, and the Spirit’s government in the church….
Jesus said… John 12:32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
When revival comes people talk different….Here is an example of the way folks begin to talk…
1. “Hey! It's my turn to sit in the front pew”. # Or, “I was so captivated, I never noticed your sermon went 25 minutes over”. # How about, “I want to volunteer to work in children’s church”. # And, “Since we're all here early, let's start the service”.
# I like, “Pastor, we'd like to send you to a Bible conference in Hawaii. # How about, “Nothing inspires me more than the opportunity to give to the Lord”! # And then I like, “I had to circle 3 times to find space to park”.
There is a site on the internet, that you can log into, and it has a fireplace with a beautiful glowing fire. You can open it up and WALLA, WALLA, BING BANG, you have an instant fireplace on your big screen TV….you can even hear the logs crackling, but it has no heat, and it has no substance. It’s superficial and it’s an illusion….
We can get inspired and not be transformed… We can be involved and not be committed…. We can be religious without God’s Spirit…. And we can do good things and still be lost….
A cheap shirt is usually a cheap shirt.. a cheap car is usually a cheap car… a cheap relationship is usually a cheap relationship. We don’t want cheap revival that doesn’t cost anything…. Most Christians are interested in a revival they can go to and attend, but most Christians aren’t interested in paying the price to personally bring revival into their church and community…. We cannot settle for anything less than the Scriptural requirement for revival…. To accept less is to deny the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the church and in our lives. It’s like a virtual fire place….. The wordREVIVAL means to "LIVE AGAIN", TO HAVE NEW LIFE!
WHEN THE BIBLE KIND OF REVIVAL COMES , AND FOLKS CATCH ON FIRE, IT DOESN’T STOP AT THE CHURCH. IT GOES HOME WITH FOLKS…We are the carriers of the fire… We carry it TO THE SCHOOLS, THE BUSINESSES, CITY HALL, AND THE COMMUNITY…
In 1905, William J. Seymour was invited to preach at a church in Los Angeles. He preached on the coming revival and the next night he showed up and the church door was locked. He and a few folks began meeting for prayer in the home of one of the members. The Spirit fell 3 days later and crowds began to gather as Seymour preached from the front porch. The crowds grew so large that there was no way of getting near the house. As people came in they would fall under God's power, and the whole city was stirred. They sang and shouted until the front porch collapsed. They found an abandoned building that had been used as a stable, on Azusa Street and rented it for $8.00 a month. Revival, spread out as people came from other states and at times there were 1,500 people meeting together and the meetings went 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…. The world was touched by the Holy Spirit lead, Azusa Street revival….
God does not send revival to fill up churches with people, but to fill people with His Spirit…. He is concerned about filling empty hearts and empty lives, and empty eyes that have no vision…
He wants to fill empty hearts that have no passion, and empty wills that have no purpose.
When someone hitting a baseball is more exciting than the preaching of eternal truth…. When someone catching a pigskin on the football field is more exciting that praising God in song… When someone fighting with a hocky stick, is more thrilling than the prayer of agreement…. And when a soccer goal is more important than seeing people receive Christ as their savior… We need to believe for revival!
People come to church and leave mumbling, “I didn’t get anything out of it. But the real issue is, did God get something out of you so He could get something into you?
John Wesley said, “Give me some men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world.”
So, I want you to know, on the basis and the authority of the Bible, and the history of revival, we are at a place where we should not despair, but where we should be filled with great anticipation. We're right at the place where God has intervened in every other time in history. This is a period when God wants to move among us. Let it begin in me, Let it begin in you. Because God is our only option. Lord, We are confessing our sin before you today as a nation, and we're asking you in the words of the psalmist, Lord, revive us again. (Draw a circle around you and declare, “Revival begins here in my circle”…..
Let’s all pray this Prayer together…
Father, today we petition heaven for a revival of souls in our day. Lord, we desire for our friends, families, and neighbors to be open to seek and find the truth of the only source of life. We invite Your Holy Spirit to pour out upon us a fresh visitation of the latter rain. We invite You to perform miracles, signs and wonders, as you speak personally to people through dreams and visions. We pray that truth will be brought to Light in each and every one.
Lord you said that you would give a new heart and a new spirit in them andwill remove from them the heart of stone. It is only by Your Spirit that truth can be fully revealed, so we cry out this day, for a revival in this city, this nation, and all of our hearts. We declare that even as you spoke to Ezekiel to release life back into the dry bones of his day, we too can pray and believe for Your reviving life back into the dry bones of our world. Lord Jesus, we make ourselves available for Holy Spirit sent revival….Amen