A spring is a point where underground streams, which flow below the surface of everything, suddenly bursts forth and provides the weary traveler a refreshing drink. The ground may be parched on the surface, and it may be hot and dry, but right there, waiting for the right place to burst forth, is the supply of reinvigorating and refreshing water which is needed. Isaiah 41:17&18 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none. Their tongues are parched with thirst but I the LORD have answered them. I the God of Israel, have not forsaken them. v18 I will make rivers flow from the high placesand springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs”.
Lance Armstrong became the US Amateur Cycling champion at 20 and by 25 was one of the best professional cyclists in the world. That same year he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He was given a 40 percent chance to live. He had two surgeries including brain surgery but by 1998 his cancer went into remission. Not only did he survive cancer he went on to win seven straight Tour de France races. He also founded the LiveStrong Foundation that has raised over 325 million dollars for cancer research.
Isaiah tells us that in all of life, we can find ourselves in places where we may be spiritually dry, with little that we can see which might bring relief to the situation we find ourselves in. But he draws our attention away from our circumstances or the hand we’ve been dealt, and calls us to look to the source of those underground springs, for our source is the high places.
Revelation 22:1 ”Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”
All the forces which may come against you combined, cannot touch or in any way affect the source of that river, which is ever flowing, with an abundant supply, and it is usually out of sight, until it bursts forth in the most unlikely places in our lives. The Boston Red Sox won the very first World Series and won four more by 1918. However, they did not win another world championship for 86 years. In 2004, the Sox played their hated rival, the New York Yankees, in the American League Championship series. The Red Sox began the series by losing the first three games. No team in Major League Baseball history had ever comeback from a 3-0 deficit to win a postseason series. Yet, the Sox won four straight games to win the series and then won four straight against the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years.
Well, Israel had not had a win in 400 years of captivity in Egypt, and now they are in a desert wilderness…
Numbers 20:2 “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. v4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” v6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. v7 The Lord said to Moses, v8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”
First, notice that they had found themselves in a place where there were no resources to meet their needs. They began to speak the wrong things and try to find something or someone to blame for their situation. But God told them to speak to the very thing that seemed to be trying to destroy them, and IT WOULD RELEASE WHAT IT WAS THEY NEEDED for the time and season they were in.
The water was there, waiting to be released, but because it was hidden behind what they were complaining about, they failed to discern that it was up to them to release it, and let it flow.
God said “SPEAK TO IT”…. “RELEASE IT” and it shall obey you….
I want you to see something important about this account we are given to learn from… 1 Corinthians 10:3 “They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that went with them, and that rock was Christ.
The Father wants us to see here, that their source was not the rock that brought forth the water but it was and is Christ, the fulfillment of the word of covenant. You get a picture here, of so much water gushing forth that it formed a river and the river followed them on their journey so that they would never lack water again!
Isn’t that what Jesus told the woman at the well who had come to draw water for her family’s needs…But God had a divine appointment scheduled for her….
John 4:13 “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water flowing up into eternal life.”
When I was a boy of around 10, my mom had opened a country store which was located on the main highway. It had no running water and the restroom facility, was an outhouse in back of the store. It was my job each day after school, to go to the spring, which was about half a mile from across the highway, then across the train tracks, and a stretch of barren ground to the small pool where the water flowed up from an underground spring. I would carry those buckets to the store, where folks could us a dipper and get a refreshing drink of spring water.
I say that because it was my job to be the water bringer every day. And on hot summer days, that spring water was greatly appreciated, and mom would put ice in it from her ice delivery, to keep it cool and refreshing.
Folks are thirsty, like the woman at the well, they need someone to bring water into their dry, barren places, until they learn how to draw it for themselves.
Jesus told the disciples at the wedding of Cana of Galilee to fill the pots with water and bring them in to where the feast was. They brought the pots full of water, and Jesus did a miracle!
Those who are water bringers, will never cease to see miracles, signs and wonders. We can be water bringers because in every place of life we can provide the containers with which God canpour it out…
John 7:38 “Whoever believes in Me, 'Streams of living water will flow out from within him.” This is what Jesus promised. Another version says it this way….
John 7:38 “He that believes on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”…
The Samaritan woman shows us that there are no exceptions to who God can uses as water bringers….This nameless woman from an obscure village, brought the living water to her entire area. Jesus ended up spending two days there, instead of just passing through, because He found a container to pour into, that would in turn pour into others.
The woman wasn’t responsible for the results, she was responsible for pouring out the water. When she was willing, Jesus showed up! Be a water bringer and watch Jesus show up!!!
When you’re willing to be a water bringer, God will make sure there are plenty of drinkers who will seek you out….
Isaiah 35:1-7 “The wilderness and the parched land (places which have not received the truth) shall be glad for them, and the desert (to toil and bring forth nothing) shall rejoice and blossom as the rose, even with rejoicing and singing. The glory of Lebanon (mountains that pierce the heavens) shall been given unto it, the honor of Carmel (fruitful and plentiful places) and Sharon (the fertile valley) they shall see the glory of Jehovah, the honor of our God. Make firm the feeble hands, (in praise and service) and strengthen the week knees (in prayer and repentance). The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert and the dry place shall become a pool, and upon the thirsty ground shall be springs of waters”. HOW POWERFUL IS THAT!
We receive from wells we did not dig, so we can give to those who do not have…. We all benefit by working together. We all benefit from the labor of people we do not know. A man walks out to the street and catches a taxi just going by. He gets into the taxi, and the cabbie says, "Perfect timing. You're just like Frank."…."Who, asked the passenger?" "Oh, Frank,... he's a guy who did everything right all the time. Like my coming along when you needed a cab, things happened like that to Frank every single time." Well, said the Passenger: "There are always a few clouds over everybody."…. "Nope, Not Frank…. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone, and danced like a Broadway star. And you should have heard him play the piano! He was an amazing guy." "Sounds like he was something really special." Said the passenger… "Oh, believe me, there's more. He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody's birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order, and which fork to eat them with. And he could fix anything. Not like me, I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank, oh, he could do everything right." "Wow, that’s quite a guy." The passenger replied… “Oh, and Frank really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would never answer her back, even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too. He was the perfect man! He never made a mistake. No one could ever measure up to Frank."…. So, said the passenger, "This Frank is really an amazing fellow. How did you meet him?" …Oh, said the cabbie,actually, I never actually met Frank. He died, and I married his bloody, impossible to please widow..." (lighten up, it’s a joke!) Water bringers may give and receive nothing in return for all their effort. But hey, We pay taxes to build roads we’ll never drive upon. We pay for schools we do not attend. We to build bridges we may never cross. My taxes pay the salaries of firemen and policemen I hope to NEVER have need of.
However, I know that someone else’s taxes helped pay for the roads I DO drive on, the bridges I DO cross, The schools I Did attend and the police and fire department that is keeping me safe and secure. I know that My taxes alone would never pay for all the benefits of the society that I live in and benefit from. That’s what community is supposed to be.. That’s what water bringers do, they bring water they may never get to the chance drinkthemselves…. A minister was standing on the side of the road, holding a sign that said, "The end is near! Turn around before it's too late!" A man drove up to the minister in his car, rolled down his window, and said, "Leave us alone, you religious nut!" He rolled the window back up and drove off in anger as he disappeared over the cliff.Another driver came up and yelled at the minister…. Leave us alone, I know I’m going to hell, but I’ll have plenty of company, as he drove off and disappeared over the cliff.
The minister was shocked, he looked at his sign which said, “The end is near, turn around before it’s too late, and thought to himself, "I knew It should have only said 'The Bridge is Out'."
You may serve and meet the needs of others who may never serve you or meet your needs, but in the bigger picture of everything, someone else will serve you and meet your needs as well. It’s how the water bringer’s ministry works.
Those who work with children, may not get much back personally from it, but God makes sure that when we cast our bread upon the water, it will come back to us in many ways!
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I planted the seed and Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. v7 So it’s not all about the one who plants nor the one who waters, but it’s about God, who makes all things grow. v8 He who plants and he who waters are one in purpose, and each will be rewarded according to theirown faithfulness”.…
We drink from wells we did not dig, and we are warmed by fires we did not kindle”. We all benefit from those who came before us, and our goal is to benefit from all who came before us so that we can then benefit all who will come after us.” “If we have seen any degree of success, it is because we stand on the shoulders of GIANTS… For thousands of years, wells were always COMMUNITY property. It was only recently in a historic sense, that people began to dig their own private wells and refuse to share them with others. We are told that Abraham shared his wells, and Jacob shared his wells….
Water bringers don’t always get to decide who will rejoice because they were faithful at their task. Jesus said sometimes one sows and another reaps but we all rejoice together in the harvest…
DL Moody, the great evangelist, was led to Christ at age 17, by his Sunday School teacher. Because of that one water bringer,Moody went on to win millions world wide to Christ and bring them the living water. Smith Wigglesworth said, “In me is working a power stronger that every other power. The life that is in me is a thousand times bigger than I appear on the outside”. He was led to Christ at the Methodist church in his hometown of Yorkshire, England at the age of eight. Think of the reward that children’s worker will receive. Wigglesworth, raised more people from the dead than any minister on record. Cancers, tumors, and all types of illnesses were healed and millions were brought to Christ by this water bringer. Wigglesworth prophesied that there is coming a move of God, greater than has ever been seen on this planet. And it'll be a combination of healing and miracles and the teaching of the Word. He gave that prophecy in the mid forties… That’s in my lifetime!
Let me close this message with the account in Genesis 21, beginning in verse 14, where Abraham sent Hagar away into the wilderness. “She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water”.
Now the story goes on to say that Hagar called the well, “God who sees me.” You see, as Hagar wandered in the wilderness, tired, dry, weary, and possibly suffering from sun stroke…. What she didn’t know is that there was an underground supply of water she couldn’t see, but God had put it there. God had to show here that He had already put it there before she started out. And when she reached the place where she couldn’t go on any more. At that very spot, God put a well, where the water under neath was flowing up to supply her need! WELL HALLELUJAH!
Can you see it church, can you receive it….. As you’re moving through your journey, and you feel all alone, you feel that there is no one that can meet your need, and you feel that you have nothing available to help you make it and reach your dream, your goal, your promise…. God knew exactly where you would be this moment in your life and long before you got there….. He put a well!
You’ve got to hear it again….. Isaiah 41:17&18 “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none. Their tongues are parched with thirst but I the LORD have answered them. I the God of Israel, have not forsaken them. v18 I will make rivers flow from the high places and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs”.
There are hidden springs which God has strategically placed along your journey so that you can boldly say… “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.”
Give yourself to Him, and He will give Himself to you. He can do far more with what you have than you can! He fed 5,000 men plus women and children with 5 loaves and 2 fish…. What can He do for you?
He fed 2.4 million people in the wilderness with manna from heaven, and on another occasion with so many quail theycouldn’t take another bite!..... What can He do for you?
He told us that He prepares a banquet table before us in the presence of our enemies, He anoints our head with oil, our cup runs over in the valley of the shadows….. So, what has He got for you?
When you’re going through your ordinary, every day life and suddenly you get sideswiped by a crises, you need to know that God has put a hidden spring there flowing up from a hidden supply, in His perfect timing.
You’ve heard the siren of an ambulance, a multitude of times, but this time it’s headed for your house…. The telephone rings and you answer, then right after you say "hello," the caller tells you the news, that one of the most cherished people in the world to you is gone. There wasn't even time to say a final goodbye. The truth is, when trauma walks right up and tries to pull the rug out from under you, there’s an underground river that has been tracking your every movement, and it will flow up and provide a deep refreshing drink, of unshakeable peace, safety, security, healing, fresh vitality and renewed hope, just when you need it most!
God has gone public with your victory…..Colossians 2:15“Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it”.
The Devil knows you’re coming, and He also knows God has gone ahead of you, to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus…. Your God is well supplied, His timing is perfect, His sovereignty is absolute, His power is undisputed, His plan will not fail concerning you, and that is also true of ever place on which your foot shall tread, He had given it to you!
When you were born, God breathed victory into you…. Before you were born, He knew you intimately…. Yesterday, He took care of your tomorrow…. And tomorrow, He knew where you would be and what you needed when you arrived.
The Father loves to do come back stories, and the Bible is filled with some phenomenal comebacks. Joseph who went from the pit to the palace, becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt. King David’s comeback after his fall into sin. Job would certainly qualify as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. Peter would be at the top of the list, after denying knowing the Lord, yet God allowed him to come back and preach the very first sermon on the opening day of the church, the Day of Pentecost. But none of them would qualify as THE WORLD’S GREATEST COMEBACK.
That’s right. The world’s greatest comeback is still in the future. It’s going to be when Jesus returns for His own. If we believe in the risen Lord and have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, He’s coming back for us. We will reign with Him for all eternity. Friend it’s like the old song says….
“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ. One glimpse of His dear face, all trials will erase. So bravely run the race, till we see Christ!”
He’s coming for those who are looking for His appearing!!!Keep watching, keep filling up your vessel, keep pouring out, and get ready for underground rivers to burst forth in all the places of your life!
My message today, for this Valentine Day Sunday, Is titled… “Let Love Lead The Way” And the rest of mytitle is, “It’s a Way Of Life”….But if we don’t understand it, then how can we live it out!? Today I want to share real stories about real people as they let love lead the way in their everyday situations.
But first my Valentine Joke for today……Grandpa John was celebrating his 100th birthday and everybody complimented him on how athletic and well-preserved he appeared. "Gentlemen, I will tell you the secret of my success," he told them with a cheerful voice ."I have been out in the open air, nearly every day for some 75 years now." Everyone was impressed and asked how he managed to keep up his rigorous fitness program. "Well, he said, you see my wife and I were married 75 years ago. And on our wedding night, we made a solemn pledge to one another. Whenever we had a fight, the one who was proved wrong would have to go out and take a 5 milerun." (Let’s all read it together) John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” If it was a popularity contest, John 3:16 would win hands down. John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible. It is by far, the most well-known passage in Scripture, and rightfully so… John 3:16 perfectly summarizes the central message of the Bible. It has been called the little Bible. It is the gospel in a nutshell. In a real sense, if you edited down the Bible to this one verse, you would still have enough gospel to save the world.
John 3:16 is not just about the fact that God loves you… It is really about HOW GOD LOVES YOU!
Some years ago, as many of you know, Gary Chapman wrote abestseller titled “The Five Love Languages”. Chapman argues that people communicate love differently, that each person has a natural and distinct way in which he or she gives and/or receives love. Each one expresses itself differently, as Physical affection, verbal expression, acts of service, providing, giving gifts, opening opportunities, and spending time are just some of the common love languages that we all have.
There are folks that clearly love one another, but yet they don’t FEEL loved, because they don’t understand the “HOW” of each others love…. He gives love by slaving at a job which he hates. She receives love by how much time he spends with her. So, he feels unloved because she doesn’t appreciate his efforts at providing for her. She feels unloved because he doesn’t spend more quality time with her. They love one another, but they are not speaking the same love language and how each one loves.
My point here is that this could be the thing that causes many folks to struggle with the love of God…. We misunderstand God’s love, because we don’t know GOD’S LOVE LANGUAGE, so we can’t comprehend the “HOW” of His love! The truth of God’s love is hidden within the nature of God Himself.
Whether we realize it or not, we may have humanized God to the point that He ceases to truly be the God of John 3:16 to us. You see, this verse not only tells us that God is love, but that He loves the WHOLE WORLD! And our humanness has difficulty getting our heads around that! Sobecause our humanness can’t grasp that, we fail to transcend our limited boundaries… As little Bobbie said… “Lord, how can you love the whole world, I have a hard time just loving my sister, Judy”…..
First John 4:8 says, “God is love.” That means He is the beginning and the end of love… He is the highest height and the deepest depth of love. He is the length and the breadth of love. He was love before there was an object of that love. So, Love created the heaven and the earth Love created every creature that was made. Every sunrise and sunset, every night and every day are the product of love. Love created Adam and Eve then breathed itself into them so they could operate in that love. Listen, the spark of life in every human being who ever lived, was an expression of His love!
If it has anything to do with God, it has everything to do with love. Mercy is God’s forgiving love. Grace is God’s undeserving love. Peace is God’s comforting love. The will of God is about experiencing the love of a surrendered, submitted heart.Providence is God’s inescapable love. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s tested, tried and proven love.Sanctification is about being set apart for His love. Heaven is God’s elevating, intimate, all embracing love. Eternity is God’s unending forever love.
We tend to humanize God’s love and send it through our own limited, narrow lens of love. Scripture is clear, that God loves Israel, but Orthodox Jews, misread it, So they concluded that God lovedonly Israel. John 3:16 absolutely must have blown Nicodemus awayto think that God loves the very people who are the enemies of Israel. How can Jesus be Messiah when He loves the enemies of the Jews. We still struggle with the fact that He loves our enemies just as much as He loves us. That He gave His life for the guy that cussed us out, and threatened to rearrange our face! And yet there it is…. “God so loved the world”!!!
Romans 5:7-8 says: “For rarely will anyone choose to die for a righteous person—though it might be that for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves the whole world. He can’t help Himself!! It’s imbedded in the nature of God!
“God so loves the world, is a remarkable statement, not only in terms of how big the world is, but also how bad the world is. Think about that in personal terms. There are people who love and respect you, but if they knew certain things about you, they might change their minds about you. We all have our flaws and our places that might not do well in the spotlight. God knows everything about you there is to know, yet God loves you totally and completely!!. This should be the true source of our self-esteem and our confidence. God loves us.
Martin Luther said it well: God does not love us because we are valuable; we are valuable because God loves us. You may have heard the story about the woman who wrote a sweet loving letter to her ex-fiancé that went something like this: Dearest Jimmy, No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! I am yours forever, Signed, Your one and only Marie. P.S. Congratulations on winning the state lottery”.
If you don’t know how God loves then you will misunderstand that love, and fail to fully appreciate it…. John’s statement does not simply say God loved the world.
It says, “God SO LOVED the world.” That little Greek word “so”(Hoo-to) means “ After this manner.” Our English translations obscures this term somewhat, and we read it as “God loved the world so much,” but it is actually speaking of how God loved us, not just how much God loves us. The message of the text is “This is HOW GOD loves the world.”
God’s love language is that He loves (the kosmos) unconditionally…. At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what made Christianity unique from other religions was the incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus, but someone suggested that other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another scholar said that it was the resurrection. But another scholar said that other religions have people returning from the dead. Then, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, and sat down and during a lull, in the debate, he asked, “what’s is all this rumpus about?” “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity” they told him….“Oh, that’s easy,” Lewis told them. “It’s grace”. “Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comesat a great cost, but it’s free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.
Philip Yancey once wrote: “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.” We simply and freely receive that love….
How does God love, He loves SACRIFICIALLY. He pours out that love by giving, by serving, and by sacrificing, which is the character of true love. Here it is again, just 24 words which reveal so much….“For God so loved the world, that He gave (the ultimate gift) His only Son.” How many know, we would think of it as bad manners to give a gift to someone and leave the price tag on it, (unless you’re Minnie Pearl) but this is exactly what God did when He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ. God wanted us to know what it cost Him to love us and purchase our salvation. So He left the price tag on the FREE GIFT of His love!
When I went to the auto dealership to get a car. They weighed my debt against my income, and decided how much I could spend for a car. There were some folks who were so wealthy that the price didn’t even enter into their purchase. They just picked up the phone and got whatever they desired. So, can you imagine if you wanted to buy the most expensive car, or an incredible house, or a yacht and all you had to do is tell them to put it on someone’s bill who was a billionaire! Just put it on the tab.
When our sins are added up, all our failures, and every bad decision we’ve ever made, and it’s compared to our righteousness, our holiness or our worthiness, there is a huge short fall. But He did something incredible. He added up the total righteousness, the holiness, the worthiness of Christ and against that, He wrote these words, "Transferred to the account of Charles Elliott." That’s mercy. That’s grace, that’s the miracle of sacrificial love. Before I did anything, He provided it, I simply receive it, and live it out and give it out to others.
How does God love, He gives without measure.
A couple who were in love were talking and the girl said “Sweety pie, if you had 3 cars, would you give me 2”. Swooning, he said “Aww, baby doll, you know I would. She said, “Sweety pie, if you had 2 houses, would you give me one.”… He said “Aww, baby doll, you know I would”. She said, “Sweety pie, if you had 10,000 dollars, would you give it to me”. He said, “Now, baby, I really have to think about that one, you see, I HAVE 10,000 dollars!”
The Father was willing to give His ONLY SON! That’s what John 3:16 tells us. When you give to someone out of your abundance that is one thing; but when you give all you’ve got, that is quite another. If you had several vehicles it might be seen as a noble thing thatyou gave one of them to a family who had none. But if you were to give them the only vehicle you had that would be without measure…. God didn’t have a back-up. God didn’t have a spare. But He loved us so much that He was willing to give us the only one He had.
How does God love, He Loves Personally… This is not some abstract concept. It isn’t just a philosophical theory or a theological narrative. God’s love was made manifest in this world through the person of Jesus Christ the only Son of the Father. Jesus Christ came into this world to reveal to us the love of God in a personal way, in human form. A little child was trying to quote John 3:16 in the King James Version, which says, “his only begotten Son.” But the child misquoted it and said instead, “His only forgotten Son.” It was one of those slips of the tongue that carried more truth than we would care to admit. Because for the majority of the people in the world today, Jesus Christ is truly forgotten. His life is forgotten. His love is forgotten. His sacrifice is forgotten. It is our mission as Christians – as God’s ambassadors – to help them to rememberHow God loves!!!.
More than fifty years ago, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a young sociology professor assigned his class the project of interviewing 200 city youths residing in Ghetto districts. Then he asked them to predict their future. Students predicted that ninety percent would serve time in prison. Twenty-five years later the same professor contacted each student and asked them to track down the original boys and discover what had happened. One hundred eighty were located and only four had ever been in jail. Why were their predictions so far off? Looking for common factors, over 100 of the boys mentioned the strong influence of a teacher they all had in common. They then located the teacher, a seventy-year-old Sheila O’Rourke, in a Memphis nursting home. Puzzled by the interest in her, she could only exclaim, “All I ever did was love them all as if they were the only one.” John 3:16 declares what every human heart—whether it understands it or not—wants to hear and needs to hear… GOD LOVES YOU! In fact, as Saint Augustine said, God loves all of us as if there was only one of us to love. Oh my, Helpus to love more like you love, Lord!
How does God love, He makes Himself accessible…. He touched the untouchables, the outcast, the leper, the up and outer and the down and outer, it didn’t matter. (Covid wouldn’t have kept Him away)
I came across the story of Joe, who was a hopeless alcoholic. Joewas miraculously converted in a street outreach mission. He entered the mission as a derelict and dirty win-o for whom there was little future. But in Christ, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person at the mission. He spent his days there, doing whatever needed to be done. Whether it was cleaning up vomit left by some alcoholic, or scrubbing toilets after men had left them filthy, Joe did it all with a heart of gratitude. He could be counted on to feed any man who wandered in off the streets, get them cleaned up and tucked into bed when they were too drunk to take care of themselves. One evening, after the mission speaker delivered his evangelistic message to the usual crowd of homeless drunks and derelicts, one of them came down to the altar and knelt to pray. Hecried out for God to help him change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, “Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!” The minister leaned over and said, “Friend, wouldn’t it be better if you prayed ‘make me like Jesus?” After thinking about it for a few moments, the man looked up with a puzzled expression and asked, “Is He like Joe?” Wow!
Oh, how God loves us! He sends you sunrises every morning and flowers every spring. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. Whenever you want to talk, He’s there to listen. He knows what you need before you need it. He can live anywhere in the universe, and yet He chose your heart. He has entered into our world and He longs to enter into the nitty gritty of our lives.
Jesus didn’t come into the world in order to rebuke you, He came to rescue you. He didn’t come to criticize you, He came to cleanse you. He didn’t come to punish you, He came to pardon you. He didn’t come to destroy you, He came to deliver you. How does God love….We can expect God to keep His word. He is faithful and just. When He says He will allow us to pay the penalty for sin, He will. When He says He will forgive our sin, He will! He will keep His word in each case, but make no mistake about it. God is love, but He is also Holy and Righteous. Unresolved, unrepented sin demands a penalty. We can choose or refuse this great gift of His love. We can choose freedom over bondage, we can choose forgiveness over unforgiveness, we can choose sin over righteousness, we can choose heaven over hell – we can choose God over Satan – *…….The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love”
June 25th, 1967, The Beatles first sang the song “All You Need is Love.” The BBC had commissioned The Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom's contribution on the first live global television link. The Beatles were asked to come up with a song containing a simple message to be understood by all nationalities. It was to be a clear message saying to all the world, that love is everything. It was seen by an audience of over 400 million people, in 25 countries.
Let me compare each of us to a filter which God’s love must flow through. If the filter is clogged with sin, unforgiveness, anger, guilt, unworthiness, bitterness and shame, then love will be unable to flow fully and freely. Repentance before God unclogs our filter so that we can begin to love who God loves, how God loves. John 3:16 is the answer for marriages, broken relationships, how to do life, and it is the answer for Washington DC, and governments world wide. It’s the greatest peace accord for mankind. Would you turn to someone and tell them, “Clean your filter, it may be clogged up”
Jesus Qualified how we are to love, when He said in Matthew 22:37, “‘You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
That’s, how the Lord says a Christian loves! Gregory Cole writes….”The love I need more than anything is Your love. Without Your love, no other love will ever be sufficient. And with it, every other love becomes richer and truer and more life-giving than it could have been otherwise. We have learned all our best loves from You: the love of faithful friends, of spouses, of parents and siblings and children. Love that commits. Love that sacrifices. Love that lays down its life. You authored each of these loves, taught us how to recognize them and long for them and give them away. Our best efforts at Valentine’s Day are just a fraction of the wholeness of love. So, today, let everything I see remind me of Your love. Let today be a day for Real love. Big love. Your love”.
Pastor’s Prayer…. Lord, as we conclude today, we want to take this moment to check our filter. If there are things that may be clogging it up, sin, unforgiveness, bitterness, guilt and other things that we need to let you clean out, allow the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit free us to love in greater measure. Lord Jesus, help us all toremember and embrace the overwhelming love You have for us, all of us, as though there were only one of us. You know that those days when we struggle to love, and when we may feel so limited in our love, is when Your special love is what we need the most. I know You hear the desires of our hearts when it comes to earthly relationships, but in Your love, we can feel fulfillment, joy and purpose every day of the year. Help us to always remember that no matter what…. Your love is enough for every level of relationshipwe enter into. Thank You for capturing our hearts and transforming our every day lives into mountaintop moments thatinspire us to choose Your higher love over and over again. Bless our married love, our family love, our friendship love and our love for all those You love, that it may live out through us, and look more and more like You. –In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
My message today is “Once More” Is Calling Your Name Prayer…. “Lord you are here in the midst of us, to help us to organize our internal world so we can influence our external world. Teach us the importance of spending undistracted time alone with you, to soak in Your presence and once again to hear your voice speaking into our inner being. We ask you to renew our purpose and rediscover Your plan for us in each situation and experience and we bring you afresh, into the center of our lives. Jesus, we give you the glory and all the honor, in Your mighty name, Amen. When’s the last time you tried to eat just one of anything that is your favorite food? I’m talking about your favorite brand or flavor of potato chips… just one chip, one Krispy cream doughnut. (I don’t thing that is going to happen) I remember once we took the family on a ski trip. I had never gone skiing before, but one time down the slopes and I immediately wanted “once more”…. That once more turned into a 10 hour day of skiing and let me tell you I was wiped out, but “Once more” kept calling my name….I just couldn’t get enough, and I was on the slopes doing it again the next day, and it felt sooooo Good, to be that overwhelmed by “ONCE MORE”!!!
I am taking as my foundational scripture for this message, the16th chapter of Judges and I want to read the 27th and the 28 verses.
"Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and upon the roof about three thousand men and women beheld while Samson was made sport. And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray, and strengthen me, I pray, once more, O Lord”
Many people might say, “My life has turned out to be nothing like I thought it was going to be. I had such aspirations; I believed that all things were possible in Christ. I truly wanted to glorify God in the earth. But now when I look in the Bible and then look at my life, it seems as if I fall so far short of what I am supposed to be.” You see, there is a weakness in each of our hearts, just as there was in the hearts of those in Samson’s day. It is this inability to believe beyond what we can see with our natural eyes and register with our 5 senses and it can open the door to discouragement and disillusionment. It is in these times that we must fall into the arms of our covenant God, who keeps covenant and wants to get us addicted on His goodness, His faithfulness, His grace, His mercy and love! I challenge you today, that no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, there’s a “once more” waiting to enter your life and take you places you never thought possible
Haggai 2:6–7 “For thus says the Lord of hosts; Yet ONCE MORE,just a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts” If you seek me with all your heart you shall find me!!!! From my experience, it should probably more correctly say, If you seek me, I WILL FIND YOU, says the Lord!!!!
Haggai is staking everything on the fact that God said what He meant and He meant what He said! “The time has come that “Once More” I will fill you with My glory,” says the Lord. The word glory in the Hebrew text means “the weightiness of His presence, the honor and esteem of God, His majesty, His abundance and His sufficiency. The Lord will fill us with what we could never have achieved on our own. It does not come from human effort but rather from yielding yourself to be a recipient and a container of the glory of God. His glory precedes Him and is with Him. Isaiah 52:12 “For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your REREWARD”. I want you to notice this word “REREWARD”…. In Isaiah’s day, when a ruler had a procession and all of his subjects line the thoroughfare to see him when he appears. He will send his rereward, or his glory before him. Folks will see a sampling of his riches and his abundance, his servants and staff, his power and his might, His royal guard, and then they see the ruler himself. You need to see this, Our Lord is on his way, He’s sending His rereward before Him, and He possesses all the resources of this earth, and He will endow us with all that we need to build, restore and fill this last temple period with Hismanifested presence, His majesty, His splendor, power, and glory.
Samson had experienced the majesty and authority of Jehovah and the “Once More” inside of Samson, could not be silenced by the entire Philistine nation, which had gathered to celebrate his final defeat….. They could not silence the force of his heart’s cry as he shouted out from the depths of his spirit….. once more, O Lord!!!!! It’s the cry that got God’s attention and brought a “once more” to Samson, and deliverance to an entire nation of people….
I was inspired by the story of Trey Wood, who was born with only one arm. ….Most people assumed that his handicap would prevent him from participating in a sport like football, which he loved so much. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Trey decided to prove the experts wrong. Not only did he master the game of football in High school, he received an athletic scholarship to Sam Houston State University. He went beyond expectations and earned a starting position as a defensive back. One of his responsibilities was to knock down passes when the football was thrown in his area. Another one-armed young man named Dawuan Miller also had a dream to play football. In spite of his disability he, too, earned a scholarship and became the starting defensive back for Boise State University. Both players made first team. Both excelled at their positions. Despite lacking an arm, Wood broke the career record for Sam Houston State with eleven blocked kicks. Dawuan silenced the doubters by using his one arm to intercept two passes in playoff games.
On September 16, 1995, Sam Houston State, played Boise State in football. For the first time in the history of the sport, two colleges played a game with one-armed defensive backs starting for each team. Few will remember the score of the game, but no one who was there will forget how two one-armed players’ gutsy performances overshadowed the rest of the talent on the field. Each of these two football players did more with one arm than most people do with two. When people with limited ability, apply themselves, they can accomplish incredible feats. You can do amazing things in spite of any limitation you may experience, if you will dare to believe it!
George Elliot…said "It's never too late to be what you might have been."
--Inventor Thomas Edison…..said "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."
When Dr. Seuss wrote his first children's book, it was rejected by 27 publishers. By the time of death in 1991, his books had sold more than 200 million copies in 15 languages. Since his death another 22 million of his books have been sold. What if he had quit after his 26th rejection from a publisher? But he tried once more…
When Gideon cried out “Where is the lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….it was in a time when the Philistines had overrun his fields, and his possessions, and they were having to sneak around by night, just to reap some of their own crops, and avoid the enemy at their door. Knowing the glowing stories of God’s miraculous intervention over their enemies in the past… Gideon was putting a demand on God’s integrity and faithfulness by saying, “Once More Lord”…..It was a covenant man calling upon a covenant God!!!! And his cry ascended to the God who hears, the God who Sees… the God who Knows…and the God who Remembers covenant!
Samson wanted God’s power, but in his lifetime, he had also wanted what the world had to offer… The Godly women who lived lives which honored God and were true to His word, were just not Samson’s cup of tea! While he hated the Philistines, he loved the philistine women…. Amazingly, God still continued to use Him, because of His covenant upon Samson. But covenant is a two waystreet and it takes two in agreement, and there came a point when the ramifications of his disobedience caught up with him, and the harvest of his sin came home to roost! With his eyes poked out, chains on his hands and feet, and stripped in shame before his captors, Samson remembered what it felt like to experience God’s power, and be in covenant! A cry came forth from the deepest depth of his being, “Once more Lord, Let me feel Your presence, Your grace and redemptive mercy, once more”!!!! Oh, my, He always hears that cry!
How much power does Satan have….. The answer is… “As much as we give him”!!!!... There are countless numbers of folks, who were brought up in church, they were once committed to serving God and inspiring others, but something happened, and the deceiver has ways of pushing and forcing it down and trying to shut it up….but it will not be silent! We can deny it and make other things our priority, but it will *…..continue to call out….It’s a callto know the Spirit’s stirring once more, “let me feel your cleansing, your love, your majesty “once more”! Use me once more, Lord stir me once more by your Spirit!
Three friends met on the street. One looked depressed and almost on the verge of tears. The others said, "Hey, how come you look like the whole world caved in?" The unhappy friend said, "Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars." "That's not bad, said the friends" "Hold on, I'm just getting started. Two weeks ago, a cousin I never knew kicked the bucket and left me eighty-five thousand free and clear." "I'd like that problem, said the friends" Oh, there’s more, said the unhappy friend…"Last week my grandfather passed away and I inherited almost a quarter of a million." "Then how come you look so despondent, they asked"...."This week ……..nothing!"
Alexandra the Great fell into deep depression, and when asked why, he said “I have nothing left to conqueror”…..
We have entered the feel good era of Christianity…. Commitment has been replaced by fun and entertainment. Preaching has been replaced by feel good illustrations and seeker friendly sermons. Holiness has given way to happy hour. We get more excited about a shopping trip than we do about a revival meeting. We wink at sin and cringe at the holy demands of God. We have lost our fire, our power and our desire for the pursuit of God. We would rather play than pray. We would rather have our ears tickled than our hearts set fire by the Word of God. We would rather be entertained than challenged. We would rather stay like we are than become more like He is.
You can see it in our homes. You can see it in our communities. You can see it in our streets. You can see it in our entertainment. And, most devastating of all, so often you can see it in our churches! That’s why our nation is in the shape it is in today. We have been weighed and found wanting! Don’t bother me, I just want to feel good!!
Thank God, there is still hope! Thank God there is a Holy stirring among the youth of this nation. And our hope springs from passionate men and women of God who are crying out day and night….once more, Lord, once more!!!
Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
God is listening for the cry of Repentance – Genuine repentance is the only hope our nation has for survival. God calls on all of us, to “turn” to Him “with all our heart”. He calls on us, to “rend” our “hearts” and not our “garments”. God isn’t looking for mere external displays of religion; He is looking for a heart change. He is looking for a people who are broken and who are willing to become true followers. He is looking for a people who will be sorrowful “with fasting, and with weeping, and with brokenness before Him”) This is the kind of people God will bless, and restore and use…ONCE MORE!
God is Listening For A Cry Of Restoration … Restoration is messy business…. Mark is a contractor and he can attest to that. It looks like a total mess, before it looks better. Things are ripped out and taken to the bare framework. Junk is piled everywhere before the cleaning up begins and the rebuilding starts. God calls His people back to a place of closeness and holiness. But first comes the place of brokenness and emptying out…then the restoration begins! God is calling on all the people, from the oldest to the youngest, to come back to Him. He calls for those occupied and consumed by the matters of this life to put Him first again, a place where He is our first priority.. He’s calling on the spiritual leaders of the people to come back to Him in an intense relationship, that is much more than the Pastor’s job or the deacon’s role, or the going through the motion of doing church. God wants His people to seek His face ONCE MORE. He wants them to get hungry for Him ONCE MORE.
I don’t believe I’m wrong, but according to the dispensational covenant, this world will experience one more earth shaking, purifying revival and reformation before the Lord comes. I believe we are in the processional that comes as an indication that the King Himself is near. The Father still has a remnant of people who love Him more than they love their self indulgences. I believe that God is going to purify His church and bring us to a place of repentance and revival “ONCE MORE”!!
When He does, there will be no doubt as to Who is in control. There will be no doubt about Who is to be worshiped and glorified. Even the enemies of the church will have to acknowledge that God walks among His people. There will be no doubt about Who is doing the work. Let the cry arise to heavenand be lifted before His throne, for the Lord to visit us once again and shake everything that can be shaken!
In the game of Chess, a checkmate, means that you have no more moves left to make. You are blocked on every side, with no escape and nowhere to turn. Checkmates in life, can be ...An incurable illness...A broken relationship...A wayward son or daughter...Financial ruin......A past that is destroying your future. Satan was crying “checkmate” as they took the bleeding, torn body of Jesus down from the cross and placed it in the tomb…. But the King always has one more move that the devil has not considered.
As we journey forward, we will continually experience checkmates in our personal and corporate lives. Dark times of seeming defeat, but we must always remember that behind every circumstance there is a supernatural power at work, and the King, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will always have one more move to make!
No matter how desperate your situation--it may even look like you have lost everything--but THE KING HAS ONE MORE MOVE up His sleeve. How do I know this? How can I be so confident to declare this to you? I know because our King has a well-documented history of last moves.
Seas don’t just split open to allow people to pass through on dry ground, all by themselves. ...Water doesn't just spring forth from a rock on its own. ...Food enough for millions of people, doesn't just accumulate on the ground every night as a random event. ...An old man holding up his arms does not determine the outcome of a war. ...Thick city walls don't just fall down flat when people blow horns. ...Men thrown into furnaces and lion’s dens do not just walk out without a scratch of smell of smoke… ...A jar of oil doesn't just keep refilling itself. ...Actual dead men don't just walk out of their graves except in a fictional TV series. ...Wading into a dirty river doesn't cure leprosy. ...The blind don't see, or the deaf hear, or the cripples walk just because someone touches them or puts mud in their eyes. ...Threatening storms don't just stop because someone talks to them....Shackles don't just miraculously fall off on their own and prison doors unlock themselves and burst open.
Haggai 2:23 In that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you...and I will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts”
A signet is a sign of the authority of God. God was saying, “I will make you a sign to this generation, for I have chosen you—even in your captivity and despair.” Before we called out, it was not our choice but His! We are God’s secret weapon, that He puts into play just when Satan thinks he has won total victory. He is calling us to be ambassadors of the kingdom in this last generation. God is calling His whole church— in every place, and out of every denomination. Nothing is over until God says it’s over!
The choice we have is whether or not we will hear His voice and respond to it. Either we believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life—that He can bring us into freedom and do the miraculous through our lives, or not!
God is about to produce the Greatest Show On Earth!....Remember, the Lord has promised: “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former”...A greater glory, once more visited upon His church! Once more, He will pour out the oil and fill every vessel… Once more we will enter into the promised land covenant…. Once more, we will see souls saved and set free, families restored, and God’s people set ablaze for Him…..Once more!!!
God heard Samson’s cry and He hears yours. He longs to do more in your life than you have ever envisioned. Because now the voice of God has come once again, calling you to rebuild. He is calling you into a freedom and ability that can come only from Him. I implore you today in Christ’s name to step out of all bondage and captivity—whatever it is in your life that has convinced you that God will never use you. Leave that place behind! As you respond to His voice, the Lord will strengthen you, give you His Word, fill you with His Spirit, and cause you to be a demonstration of His resurrection life in this generation! Your “once more” is calling…..Let’s answer the call!
Prayer….. Father, I make myself available to you so that my life can continue to be transformed through faith in Christ and the power of Your Word, that renews of my mind. Give me knowledge in my inner being that will cause me to truly be alive in You. Lord, I know transformation will not happen instantly, so give me the patience and strength to wait upon You, as You continue this process within me. You have clearly stated, that as I behold Your glory, I am being changed into Your image from glory to glory, even as by Your Spirit, Lord Jesus. I declare that transformation in my life has begun. Your love, peace, patience, and power will shine through me so that others will see You within me, wherever I go. I worship You and lift my “once more” to You Lord, as You flow through me and empower me to live the life I was intended to live for Your glory. Lord I open my spirit to you to do Your supernatural work in me. Let my heart be changed as You make me new, and mold me into who I am truly meant to be… In Jesus Name, amen…
If He has ever done a miracle, a wonder, an over the top, supernatural thing for anyone, anywhere, then He will do it for you… He is no respecter of persons and what He’s done for others He’ll do for you!!