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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, July 14 2020

A little boy was riding his tricycle as fast as he could go, around the block, over and over again. Finally, a policeman who had been sitting there, checking for speeders in the neighborhood, stopped him and asked, "What are you doing?" "I’m running away," the little boy said.     The policeman asked, "Then why do you keep going around the block?" The little boy was very frustrated and said, "Because my mom told me I'm not allowed to cross the street." Well, folks try to run from God but they’ll never get away, because that’s a street they cannot cross!

My text for today is Matthew 11:12  And from the days of John the Baptist UNTIL NOW the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

What exactly is Jesus saying here? The Greek word translated “suffers violence” is biazo, which means to force, to crowd into, or to press against. It is not only talking about something being done to the kingdom, but something the kingdom itself is doing. 

The New International Version says, “The kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”                                                 It was at the most, about 90 years after Jesus made this statement, when the gospel of Matthew was written, and the people were experiencing the forceful advance of the kingdom through out the known world at that time….Light was pushing back the darkness….

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the first five scrolls or books of the Old Testament. In it, the Greek word biazo is used to translate the Hebrew word paratz. 

The word paratz is used in Micah 2:13 where it says, “The one who breaks open [paratz] will come up before them; they will break out [paratz], and pass through the gate, and go out by it.” So we see that this word means to break out, to make a breach, to burst forth, to replace something with something else, or to increase and expand.

So when Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, it’s likely that He was referencing Micah 2:13. He was saying, in essence, “Every since John started preaching, God’s dominion has been breaking forth and gaining momentum. God’s influence over people’s lives is increasing.” Jesus went on to say, “The violent take it by force.” The term “the violent” is the Greek word biastes (the noun form of biazo), which means one who is forceful or energetic. In this verse, it refers to the ones who are breaking forth under the influence of God’s kingdom. Jesus is saying, “The kingdom is breaking forth and the breach is getting wider and wider by the anointed energy of those who are coming under its influence.” 

The phrase “take it by force” is the Greek word harpazo (which is the same word translated “caught away or taken out” when talking about the Rapture). This word means to seize, to catch, or to take by force.

God’s champions have the same mandate today… To accomplish Harpazo, we must have an intense desire to personally know God and hear Him on a daily basis….We must fear God more than wefear men or any other power…. We do not seek the praise of men, or we will crumble when we are criticized by men….By faith we must see the victory ahead before we can declare it to others….Wemust be able to keep God’s secret revelations until He says to reveal them….We must be willing to walk away from earthly things and seek for the true prize, the true and lasting treasuresthat are eternal…..

I think of the letter J. Allen Thompson wrote to his daughter in college…Be strong enough to be weak…Busy enough to value time... Wise enough to say, "I don't know"…Serious enough to laugh…Right enough to say, "I'm wrong"…Compassionate enough to discipline… Mature enough to be childlike…Important enough to be last…Be courageous enough to fear God…Great enough to be anonymous… Confident enough to be rejected… Secure enough to cry….Victorious enough to lose….While always leading through sincere service to others.

God wants us to know Him, but just when you think you have Him figured out, He will surprise you. He looks on the inside and not the outer appearance. When He chose the hairy, uncivilized, wilderness man, John the Baptist, He surprised everyone….  

John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and was the breach-maker. The one sent to open the gate. He prepared the way. He preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” He saw the people as captives in the prison of sin, but by responding to John’s message of repentance, the power of the kingdom of heaven began to be manifested.                                                                                                                   God often sends forerunners to open the way for others to follow…The demoniac of Gadara went back and reached his entire community. The woman at the well, who was a prostitute, brought her entire town to the Lord. The kingdom of God is God bringing man under His Divine influence by His great love and His grace. It is the manifestation of the power and presence of God. 

When Satan is fighting you, It isn’t really you He’s fighting, it is God’s presence and love and grace …. So instead of trembling and being afraid, You should be saying, Devil, You’re in a heap or trouble…. You picked the wrong one today!!! Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world!

That’s why David said to Goliath… "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.

The real power is in God. Stop overestimating your giant, becausethe Giant could be underestimating you. Your giant could be fully armored but the victory will be won not by what you have on, but by what you have within you, by the Spirit of God. That’s why you will accomplish by the Spirit of God, what you never could in yourself…

You can’t put God in your box, and He won’t fit in your nice little religious slide rule, or social formula…. He has many faces and many forms… He lives outside our time and space and yet He is always on time and in the right place….Let Him be God!!!

People have a tendency to want to remake God in their image.

I heard the story of a white guy and a black guy who were arguing over what color God is. The white guy insisted, "God is white!" The black guy said, "No, He’s black!" They both died about the same time, stood outside heaven's gate, and were still carrying on their argument.

"I'm glad you're here," the white guy said. "Now you're gonna see that I'm right. God is white!" "Oh, no, you're about to see that I'm right," the black guy said. "God is black!"

They asked the angel if they could enter the gate. When they did, they heard a big booming voice say to them, “aloha”….                                                     Oh, Yes, God has a sense of humor, just look in the mirror…..

God is the Ultimate Promise Keeper

One of the books that I use to have in my study is a book called “Every Promise In The Bible”. I’m sure that many of you probably have those little Bible Promise books, or maybe little desk-calendars with a promise from God on each page. Like “Bread for today”….I used to have several of those, but then I found this book, and I figured that it must be the king of all promise books because it was quite thick. So I bought it, and got rid of all of my other little promise books, because “Why keep them when I’ve got the bigger and better and more completepromise book?” Right?

Well, as it turns out, as good as a book like this is, they lied!                                if you want a book that contains every covenant and promise in the Bible, all you really need…is the Bible. It’s the ultimate promise book, straight from the author Himself! There are promises on every page, and in almost every paragraph of the entire Bible.

When we were kids, we were told about making promises– “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” Right? We do not control the future, we do not control the weather, or the economy, or our health. And so many of us have learned to make less promisesbecause there are too many unforeseeable variables in life.  

But here it is, when we come to the Bible, we find promises everywhere! Promises on every page. Promises about every aspect of life. Promises even, about what happens after life. God is not hesitant about making promises. He loves to makes promises. There are thousands and thousands of promises He has made and recorded in the Word of God. Promises to Israel. Promises to kings and prophets. Promises to the church. And yes, even promises to you and to me.

One man, named Dr. Evereck Storms, counted all the promises and found 8,810 promises. Almost 8000 of those were from God to man. Books like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have over 1000 promises each. Almost every verse in Psalm 37 contains a promise. There are a lot of promises in the Bible.

But do you know what is more amazing than the number of promises which God has made? Even more amazing than the sheer volume of God’s promises is that He always keeps His promises.                                            God is the greatest promise keeper that ever was. He too lives by that rule about not making a promise He can’t keep. God never promises something He can’t follow through on. He always means what He says and He says what He means….. He always fulfills what He promises.

Often when we are dealing with a crisis, or a sickness in our own life, it is not because God is punishing us.. Remember the man born blind in John 9? There too, the disciples thought that this man had sinned, or that his parents had sinned, so that he was punished by God with blindness. But it was so that Jesus could stand where what has been collides with what can be, and declares that neither this man nor his parents had sinned, but so that God could be glorified.                                        This was the same reason that Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was barren – so that the angel stood at the intersection of where they had been, and where they were supposed to be….and her pregnancy allowed God to be glorified. Stop whining and stand firm in the promises of God and believe that the situation willbring glory to God… There's a story of the church deacon who had a parrot that would only say, "Let’s kiss." He tried to teach his parrot other words, but all it would say was, "Let's kiss. Let's kiss." It embarrassed him. After all, he was a very reserved manand a leader in the church.

The church's pastor also had a parrot, and the only thing it would ever say was, "Let's pray. Let's pray." The deacon thought, "That's more like it. That's how the parrot of a good Christian should talk." And the deacon had an idea: "I know what I’ll do. I’ll lend my parrot to the pastor for a while, and his parrot's good manners will rub off on mine."

The pastor agreed. So they put the deacon's parrot in the cage with the pastor's parrot.

Sure enough, the deacon's parrot said, "Let’s kiss, Let’s kiss!"

The pastor's parrot replied, "Thank God, my prayers are finally answered!"

God is not a God of chance. God does not throw the dice or flip a coin. God is the meaning and the purpose behind all coincidences. 

A chance meeting with someone is not a coincidence, it is God giving you an opportunity to ignite life changes…. There are no coincidences with God. In fact, the Jews viewed coincidence as the privilege of witnessing “tiny miracles.” 

Proverbs 16:33 “We may toss the coin and roll the dice,

but God’s will is greater than luck..” 

Zacharias and Elizabeth the parents of John, had been praying and waiting on God for maybe 20 or 30 years to lift her bareness from her. That’s a long time to wait for a promise. But God made that promise around 480 years before, a promise that He took very seriously….it’s found in Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you one with the spirit of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. Jews in that period of history, saw John as the fulfillment of that prophecy…..

It doesn’t matter if a prophecy that describes your situation, occurred 4000 years ago…. It is your promise for your situation… He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, there is no shadow of changing with Him…..God’s word is anointed to perform God’s will in the earth….

He can turn your water into wine…..

John 2:1 “On the third day (the day of double blessing in Genesis) a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” (skip to verse 7) Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water” (that represents our efforts which fall short, but with God it is enough) so they filled them to the brim. 

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone (until now) brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best until now.” 

I call this GOD’S UNTIL NOW MOMENTS. You see, whatever has happened before, God wants us to understand that He has some “UNTIL NOW” moments waiting for all of us. He has saved the best wine for last…. We have a God who saves the best for last…

For every great moment God has planned for you, there are obstacles and barriers to overcome….so we need “Until Now moments” that stand between your barriers and transforms them into your break through!!!

But stand fast, there will be challenges and hurdles to get over…..

A tourist was fishing off the coast of Brazil, and his boat capsized. He could swim, but his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned boat. He spotting an old beachcomber standing on the shore, and he shouted, “Are there any gators around here?”

“Naw,” the man hollered back, “they ain’t been around for years!”

“Feeling safe, the tourist started swimming toward the shore. About halfway there he shouted to the guy, “How did you get rid of the gators?”

“We didn’t do anything,” the beachcomber said. “The sharks got ’em.”

If it isn’t one thing then it’s another. So, just settle it, Slew foot will always have something waiting to stop you or destroy you, but God tells us “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers us out of them all”…..

There are 891 UNTILS, AND UNTIL NOW moments, recorded in the bible, and each one is an intersection where what was, collides with what will be….when what has been so far, is interrupted by how it will be from now on…..and a new path is laid out, to walk upon….

The parents of John the Baptist were barren and could have no children, but God showed up and they had an “UNTIL NOW” Moment. They were the instruments God used to birth one of the greatest voices for God of his time….

There’s an “UNTIL NOW” For you and me to claim…NO MATTER HOW IT’S BEEN in the past or how it looks right now. 

In the book of Ruth, we see this woman and her mother in law, homeless, their husbands had died, in a strange land, they had lost everything and they were gathering left over grain in the field… all they had was left overs. But God had an “UNTIL NOW” waiting for them. And Boaz shows up in the field, He’s the owner of the land and he falls in love with Ruth at first sight, and there is an “Until Now” as he takes her, redeems her future, and this Moabite woman becomes part of the linage through which Jesus is born….

The kingdom suffers violence “until now” Is anyone here ready to step over into an “UNTIL NOW” moment, prepared by God…                                                                 John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. Did you see that? “that your joy may be complete”…. Until Now moments come to complete what is incomplete, to finish what is unfinished…To move us from lack, to more than enough….From struggle to glorious victory!!!!

The mighty giant Goliath looked unbeatable and the nation stood trembling before him until David had an “UNTIL NOW” moment!                               The Midianite hordes swept across the land, plundering and taking what they wanted, until Gideon had an “UNTIL NOW” moment!                                 What chance did the hundred and twenty have against their wicked and evil pagan world, until they had an “UNTIL NOW” moment at Pentecost?                               

The way it’s been isn’t the way it has to be….God’s promises are filled with UNTIL NOW situations. And there’s one for your situation.           UNTIL NOW, your life has been a certain way with certain circumstances and limitations. However, it is about to change! Now you are about to move forward.

UNTIL NOW the kingdom suffers violence and the violent take it by force…. Can you say “UNTIL NOW”……Come on now, say it again.. “UNTIL NOW”

I close with John 21:4 "Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. v5 He called out to them, “Friends, do you have any fish?” “No,” they answered, we have caught nothing (I’m adding Until Now). v6 Then He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish".

I believe this account of Jesus and the disciples tells us that the answer is closer than we could ever imagine. Again, let's remember that their miracle was just 8 to 10 feet away!!! It is as close as our willingness to obey and do what God is asking.

All that you ever dreamed is closer than you might think, and it's not only about distance, it's about dimensions. In the very place of emptiness, there is also a dimension of abundance. In the very place of sickness and disease, there is also a dimension of wholeness and healing. In the very place of lack and barreness, there is also a dimension of more than enough....

Right where you are is the launching pad which God will use to take you where you need to be, on the other side.

PRAYER….. Lord of ALL seasons, Your word declares “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” And on this day, I stand on the promise of your word that YOU have plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future, and today, I accept that YOUR plans will prevail in my life. I acknowledge that I have been anxious sometimes and I have wasted time and I have missed Your timing… But today is a NEW day and on this NEW day, I pray that my life will come into agreement with your divine schedule. I pray that my life would be about sowing and reaping in the rhythm of your time and the cycle of Your seasons.

For I am confident of this very thing, that the good work You have begun in me will be performed, until the day that all things are made complete.  

I know that, whatever You are doing Lord, shall be forever and nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. For when it is you that is doing it,it shall be marvelous in our eyes. THIS IS MY TIME to surrender in greater measure to Your WORD, Your WILL, and Your WAY. THIS IS MY TIME to walk by faith and not by sight. THIS IS MY TIME to love and to live like I know You would have me live and love. THIS IS MY TIME to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. 

THIS IS MY TIME to be steadfast, and unmovable, always abounding in thework of the Lord, forasmuch as I know that my labor is not in vain in the Lord. 

Lord, in all my ways, I desire to acknowledge You, for as I do, I know that You shall direct my paths. THIS IS MY TIME to not be wise in my own eyes, and do the right thing as You are showing it to me now in this moment. You are the God of ALL time past, present, and future and You are concerned about every direction and outcome in my life.

Thank You lord, that You know how to prepare me for this season as I place it in YOUR hands. You are the ONE Who makes ALL things NEW and who has created me for THIS time and created THIS time for me, and in Your name, I believe and reap the harvest of blessings You have ordained for me. Lord, I agree and declare that It is so. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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