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Right Song, Wrong Side

 

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

November 15, 2009

Anybody can praise the Lord after the victory is won but there is a song that God is yearning to hear on the testing side. We must get to the point where we say, "Lord I am not going to allow the devil to harass me and put me into a pit of fear and despair." It's time to fix our minds on Jesus and take a stand to trust God in every impossible situation. We are the song of hope in these last days. The song we sing is that God is faithful and He is able to take us through every trial!

I am reading from Exodus, the 14th chapter starting at verse 31. "Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians and the people feared the Lord and believed the Lord and his servant Moses." Chapter 15, "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord and spake saying, 'I will sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and the rider is thrown into the sea.'" Now this is a beautiful song, isn't it? Verse two, "The Lord is my strength and song. He's become my salvation. He is my God and I will prepare him a habitation. My father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a man of war. The Lord is his name."

Heavenly Father, speak to us. There are many here today bound by a spirit of fear. We're asking you Lord, for a miracle that not one of those who come here with an open heart will leave as they came, in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

This is a very familiar story. You've heard it all of your church life. Children of Israel are led by the Holy Spirit and by the cloud of witness into a horrible crisis, a terrible situation surrounded by the enemies. And you know the story, how panic set into the camp and they rose up, the people rose up and said to Moses in these words, he says, and summing it up, "Why did you drag us out here? Did we not tell you when you first challenged us that this would happen? Are there no graves in Egypt that you come and let us die in this miserable state?"

And there was a cry. Can you imagine the roar of that crowd? They rose up against Moses. Moses was in on the story of deliverance. The Lord had told him that the sea is going to be opened. And yet he was so overwhelmed by this cry and this despair, he fell on his knees and wept, and the Lord God said, "Moses, why do you cry up at me? Why do you cry? Why are you burdened by this? Tell the people to move on." And you know the story. That night to the roaring of the wind, and open the window, opening up the sea, and they went over on dry ground.

And you know of the story. This is the song that they were singing. They were singing, "Then the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and they saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore and Israel saw the great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians, and the people feared the Lord and believed the Lord and his servant Moses." Now they believe. Now that they've seeing the miracle, now that the sea has been opened, they walk on dry ground, out come the tambourines, out come the dancers, and they sang a beautiful song. They sang "The Lord has triumphed. He's my strength. He's my salvation. I will exalt him. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, fearful in praise and doing wonders?" Right song, wrong side.

Yes.

Did you hear what I said? They sang a beautiful song, but this was the song God so yearned for on the testing side. Anybody can praise the Lord after the victory has come. Anyone can dance when the prayers have been answered. What about facing the darkness? What about facing a future that you can't understand and it looks so dark and it looks so hopeless? And I've kind of argued with the Lord at times and said, "Lord, it's only natural to fear. If I was there that day in that particular crisis, I too would have trembled. My faith may have wavered and even may have failed just like the children of Israel." Now God is a tender, loving Father and there's a time to weep, there's a time to vent our fears, overcome by these human fears of the future and how we're going to make it.

When I was praying about this, I felt the Holy Spirit saying to my heart that what I wanted God to do is give some slack. Lord, they're human. Are you commanding, are you demanding that God's people rejoice and praise the Lord when everything is bleak, when there's unemployment, people losing their homes and people are in despair, and God's people tremble because God's people suffer? It rains on the just and on the unjust. And I'm saying to the Lord, "You mean to tell me..." Because there've been times I've been there and go through this and I don't feel like praying, I don't feel like singing and I sure don't want to dance.

And I'm saying, "Lord, you're asking people to make a deathlike decision that they're going to walk toward the water and they're going to step into it without any evidence at that point." And when you study this book and when you see the Lord speaking to his disciples and rebuking them for their unbelief and saying, "Where is your faith?" Over and over again. It comes out, and it comes out here. Was God unjust? Was he mean spirited when he talks to his servant, to Moses, who went through so much to come to this point and had exercised so much faith and spoke clearly the heart of God? And here he is, it's not a rebuke, but the Lord's saying, "Why are you crying? Get up."

I wonder if the Holy Spirit is saying that to somebody in this service this morning, "Why are you on your face just weeping in sorrow? Why are you mourning? Have I failed you in the past? Did you not see all of these deliverance? Do they not count?"

Folks, we have heard so many sermons on faith. We have had so many sermons on wilderness experience. We've had so many messages. We have five pastors here, five preaching pastors, one, two, three, four, five, six including me. I don't know if there is any angle about this that hasn't been preached over and over again. And when do we come to the place where we say, "God, I'm going to take a stand this time. I'm not going to let the devil take me into a pit of despair. I'm not going to let this get me down." And there has to come a point in our lives where we say as Job did, "Though you slay me, yet I'm going to trust you."

Hallelujah!

I'm not going to preach long, but I want to get this through to you. This world demands a song in hard times. In the story of the children of Israel goes into Babylon taken captive because of their iniquities. And in Psalm 137, they're in Babylon now, and I was reading this yesterday and I picked it up again this morning. And they're sitting by the river, and they're weeping, and they've hung up their harps. Now remember these people that are sitting there by the river, these people are known around the world, caravans came, the trading caravans, and into Jerusalem and out and another cities of Judah. And they had heard the joyful singing and the tambourines, and the harps, and the joyful praises unto the Lord their God, and always boasting on their God, how he was a keeper and how he was above all other gods and the power and the might and the majesty of their God.

And here they are. Now they've hung their harps on the willow trees, those are weeping trees and they're weeping and crying. And it says, "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof for they that carried us away captive required of a song, and they that wasted us required of us mirth." That's joy. "'Sing unto us.' They said, 'One of the songs of Zion.'" I don't know if these were soldiers, but I think it was general populace that came up.

Could you imagine these thousands of God's people sitting there mourning and weeping. And yes, they had lost their homes, they had lost everything and there is a time to weep. But these Babylonians come, having heard that, now remember the Bible said to the wicked, there's no peace. And I don't care what religion it is. The one thing that they cannot produce is the true joy of God, they cannot produce joy. They cannot produce peace. And that's why many religions are trying to bring believers into captivity through arms and through murder, and trying to force people into their religion. These people I know are hopeless. These people have heard that this God takes you through hard times, this God puts a song in your heart, even you're facing incredible times. And it says, "They came and they demanded of us a song."

Hear me. This generation too is commanding, demanding a song. It is so empty. I saw the headlines of a magazine in a grocery store the other day, New York City: Party Every Night, and it's talking about Wall Streeters now. The same thing we heard about happening in Scotland. And you can hear on Friday and Saturday night, you hear the wailing, I mean two and three o'clock in the morning, you can hear the wailing of people, alcohol, I don't know, drugs, alcohol, whatever it be, and you hear this cry. You hear the wailing, the emptiness, and the hopelessness. You go to the hospital, go to any emergency ward in this city on Friday, Saturday night, and look at those laying out on beds, and some of them just trying to get into the wards and they're overdosed, and they're drunk. And they're the countenance is so incredible.

These people come demanding a song. Wanted to hear. And it said, "They demanded mirth." How can you sing, how can you have joy when something in your heart is rising up? You say, "How are we going to make it? How are we going to make it? Things are changing. Things are changing fast." You hear about a new health order and you're wondering, when I'm older and if you're old, "What's going to happen to me? What's going to happen to us?" And there comes a time that we have to realize the only testimony, the only hope... See, they don't want a miracle. They don't want to go to church and see a miracle. They don't want to see blind eyes open. They don't want to see somebody that gets up off of a wheelchair. They don't want to see that.

They don't want to see your miracles and mine. And they don't want to hear heavy preaching. They don't want the doctrine right now. And I thank God for doctrine, and I believe in miracles. God does open eyes. But they've seen so many medical miracles. They've seen transplants of hearts and they've seen limbs that are attached and fingers that are attached that had been cut off, and they see all of these medical miracles. And then, "No, no, no. I don't want to see a miracle. I want to see somebody, just an ordinary person like me who's going through hell on earth, who's going through a trial. And I want to see and hear something of hope. I want to see, that's what I want to see." And that's what this generation say, they're demanding a song. I'm not talking about dancing around your apartment. I'm not talking about singing out loud. Some of the loudest singing I've ever sang, you wouldn't hear, it's quiet. And the groanings I've groaned, you wouldn't hear, and some of the prayers I've prayed, you wouldn't hear.

But I have made up my mind, and I'll be tested on what I'm about to tell you. But I had made up my mind that I will... We have to do this first. We have to set our minds, fix our minds. He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on the Lord. You have to fix it. I have to fix it. Our will has to be involved. No matter how dark, no matter how unbelievable it gets, there has to be something rise up. And these people saying, "You said that your God can take you through any trial. Now was that just a fable? Was that a figment of your imagination? Were you lying?" That's what I hear the Spirit saying to me lovingly, through a loving Father and a blessed comforting Holy Spirit, "David, are you going to believe me now even by what you see and what you can't see and what you fear?"

I don't want to stand before God on that day with a backpack on me full of fear and doubts and unbelief that I've allowed to take root. These Babylonians walked away, dismayed, they're just like us. Folks, I'm not rebuking anybody. I'm preaching to myself. They walked away saying, "Their God doesn't hear, and it's total hopelessness there."

Years ago, this church started in a Nederlander theater on 41st Street. We only had 12 in the choir. We had a houseful, but small choir. And one day one of the men of the choir came to see me and he said, "Pastor Dave, I had a high paying job in media." And he said, "They asked me to make a compromise and I couldn't make the compromise so I had to quit my job." He said, "It was months ago." He said, "I have tried and tried, I've sent out resumes everywhere I could think of." And he said, "I'm hitting a wall. There's just no employment." And at that time there was a lot of unemployment here in America. And that was 1989, '90.

He said, "I have prayed, I'm doing everything right." He said, "I have friends that try to encourage me, but then I have some that ask me to search my heart to see if there's something they're hindering." And he said, "It's one thing to counsel people, but until you live in my shoes, until you know what it's like, you can't know what it's like to be unemployed and not be able to find a job, about my manhood, about my wife, about the future."

And then he said, "Pastor Dave, I know about testing, I know about trials." But he said, "If God's saying something to me, I'm not getting it yet. If I'm being tested, I don't know the solution. I don't know where to go." But he said, "There's one thing I know from being in this market and having had such a good job, and I know that what God needs now is a testimony of an ordinary person like me." And he said, "If I get another job right now without learning this lesson, without knowing that I'm a testimony and that all around me knew what I was going through and yet I didn't murmur, I didn't complain." He said, "That's why I want to go. I want to be that testimony. If I just get another job, I've not learned anything. And then there's another test and God will keep trying to get through to me." He said, "I want God to get through to me now and I want to learn this. I don't want to be murmuring anymore and complaining." And his heart was right with God.

Now, it was a number of months before he got another job, but he was that testimony. And I'm going to close in just a minute, but I have to say this, in prayer last night, I said, "Lord, what do you really want to say to this congregation? What are you really wanting me to pour out as your instrument?" And the Lord spoke to my heart. The Holy Spirit said that there were many that would be attending here this morning that are bound by a spirit of fear. You're bound by it.

Now, folks, fear is a spirit. It's a tormenting spirit, and it can put you in a pit of despair. And I'm telling you tonight, you're going to have to get out of it today. You can't go another day going deeper and deeper into fear. God said, "I've not given you the spirit of fear, but love and power and a sound mind." And I am not just going to give you a scripture. I'm just telling you what I believe the Holy Spirit is saying. God led you just as sure as he led Israel to this crisis, God has led you to where you're at. And if you don't understand that, and if you won't grip that, you can't get out of the pit. You can't get of that pit until you say, "God, you've led me all my life. I've testified to that. And I don't understand what I'm going through. I don't understand. And the future looks so bleak."

But you see, if we don't will, if we don't take a stand, when you don't feel like praying, when you're tired of all the voices, but you stand up and say, "No, you take authority over the spirit of fear." Because hell has unleashed now principalities and powers of darkness and evil spirits. Millions of evil spirits are loose in the land right now. And the devil is looking at anyone who is lingering in this area of fear, this fear, he uses fear to drag people down. It comes to the place that you can't eat. It comes to the place where even your friends around you can't bring you out and you're going down into that, beloved, understand it's a spirit.

First of all, God has led me here. God has kept his hand on me before and God still has his eye on me. God has never taken away. And I can't see through the storm. I know there's another side. I know that God will not fail his word, but there has to come a time, you make almost like a deathlike decision, I am going to trust God through this.

Then you have the authority for the next trial. How long are we going to allow the devil to trample our minds and our thoughts and bring the fear and the loneliness and the emptiness? How long do we put up with it? When Jesus said, "I give you power to cast out evil spirits, I give you power over the devil." You take a step. Folks, it's time to rise up and take a stand. And I'm going to pray in just a moment and I'm going to pray against every evil spirit. That doesn't mean you're possessed. It means you're harassed, you're harassed. And you can put the devil to chase, the Bible says you take a stand, you resist him. He will flee from you. Now that's God's word. It's not my word. It's God's word.

You're not going to let the devil do it anymore. In just a moment we're going to stand. I am going to pray and I want you to pray. Now, if you don't know Christ as your Lord and Savior, and believe me, without Jesus, where do you go? Where do you find comfort? Where do you find forgiveness? How do you face what's coming? If you don't have Christ as Savior and the Holy Spirit abiding in you, I invite you in the annex and overflow rooms, I invite you, and those in a balcony here, if you don't know Christ, in just a moment, while we stand, I invite you to get out of your seat and come boldly, take a stand for Christ and he will meet your heart's cry in this service before you walk out.

And I'm going to talk about those who have been harassed with a spirit of fear, that's from the enemy. That's an evil spirit trying to scream into your head, into your mind, thoughts that will bring you to despair and unrest. He said there's a rest that remains for his people, and you can enter into that rest today. Will you stand?

I'm going to ask you if you have a spirit of fear that is harassing you, harassing your mind. I want you in your seat. I'm not asking... If I ask you to step forward, it'd be hundreds. We wouldn't have room. I'm asking you to take authority over that assigned evil spirit. Beloved, Paul said it right, he was pounded by a messenger from Satan. There are assignments that principalities and powers are under, under the command of Satan, to bring you down, to destroy your faith and bring you down the pit of despair so that you have no hope left.

And I'm telling you, I have the mind of God. I have the mind of the Holy Spirit right now. God knows if you take that stand, all the power of Jesus Christ and all the power of the Holy Ghost will be on your side. You say, that's mind over matter. No, that's Bible over devil.

Amen.

I'm going to ask you, if you're backslidden, if been turned away from the Lord and your heart is cold and empty, and you want to return to Christ, come and join these. Doesn't matter how many are down here. I just want you as Christians, as believers, to be set free. I want you to pray, and just use your own words, but, "Satan, I take authority in Jesus' name." I'm going to pray it and then you pray it.

Satan, we come against you in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, you have bound God's people long enough. You've harassed long enough. You've cast so many horrible thoughts into the mind, and then you've tried to come back again and again and again. But we're not ignorant of your devices. We don't cast you out. The Spirit of the living God in us casts you out. In the name of Jesus Christ. In the name above every name on earth and heaven, Satan, go and flee from this house. Flee from this place. Flee from the hearts of the minds of your people. Go in Christ's name and never return." You pray that prayer now in faith, you pray it out loud. And you have power and authority. God has never rescinded that offer.

Casting down every evil imagination and every thought that rises up against the truth of God's word in the name of Jesus Christ, casting out the spirit of fear.

In the annex rooms, the Spirit of God is there just like it is right here in this auditorium, and he wants you right now to take a step of faith and say, "Lord, I will believe you. I am weak, but you are strong. Strengthen my faith. Be with me. Let me hold fast." Beloved, take your stand right now. Take your stand by faith.

Those that need Christ, you don't need me to give you a prayer, you just say from your heart, "Lord, I need you. And I repent of my sins and I'm here to take a stand to say I need you, Lord, and I receive you as my Lord and Savior." Now, that's where it begins right now. Pray it from your heart. Pray it in your heart before the Lord. Those who have been called to the Lord, just the Lord knows your heart. If your heart is open, the Spirit of the Lord is here this morning to bring you back to your first love.

You don't need somebody laying hands on you. It's your faith. It's your open heart that accomplishes this. Hallelujah. If you believe that God delivers us from every evil spirit that's turned loose in the world right now, I want you to just raise your hands, raise your hand and keep it there, right? Just raise your hand and say to him, "Lord, I will trust you."

I will trust you.

I will believe you.

I will believe you.

And I take my stand.

And I take my stand.

I will not fear...

I will not fear...

What is to come...

What is to come...

And what is now.

And what is now.

And I will no longer...

And I will no longer...

Fear the enemy...

Fear the enemy...

Because I am more than conqueror...

Because I am more than conqueror...

Through Christ Jesus, my Lord.

Through Christ Jesus, my Lord.

Now give him thanks.

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The Stuff We Don't Know About

 

Tim Dilena

August 28, 2016

We forget that God is working things out we don't see—that there are situations he protects us from we won't know about this side of heaven. These parenthesis moments, as Tim Dilena calls them, are trials and hurt God saves us from that we don't know anything about. In this powerful sermon, we are reminded that God keeps us from so much we don't see and that we should both trust him with and praise him for those saves.

Pastor Tim Dilena: I want to read to you something that I've been reading through the book of Acts over this last month and pastor Carter and I have been talking about especially the ending of the book of Acts 27, and 28. As I was reading through all these chapters, there was one clause that I want to read to you. We would call it in English a parenthetical clause. It's a clause that is bracketed by these parentheses, that literally is just a byproduct of the verse. When I saw this, God began just to speak to my own heart and remind me that really his stops and what he does, is all protected, and is all overseeing our lives and superintending our lives in an amazing way.

You may not see it in your Bible, the phrase will be there, but maybe the parentheses are not, but you'll see what the Bible says, and like I said, when I say a parenthesis, it's just a little byproduct. I want to read this to you. Let me just give you a little bit of background in chapter 21, Paul is preaching in the temple in Jerusalem. Some Jews came in grabbed him and wanted to kill him in chapter 21, verse 31. The Romans of that area came and rescued Paul and then for the next five chapters, Paul is on trial. He is now defending himself before the mob, before the Jews, before the Jewish council, before Felix and finally before the king Agrippa.

Right in the middle of these court proceedings, this is the verse that I want to just read to you and really just bring some encouragement to you today. Acts chapter 25 look with me at verse one. The Bible says that, "Festus then, having arrived in the province, three days later went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. The chief priests and the leading men of the Jews brought charges against Paul, and they were urging him, and requesting a concession against Paul, that they might have him - talking about Paul - brought to Jerusalem to be put on trial."

I'm reading out of a New American Standard Version. The only reason I'm saying that because the Bibles that you have in your lap will read this, but just my Bible puts it in parentheses. This is what it says, "At the same time, there were some people setting an ambush to kill him on the way." Just think about this now. Paul is in the midst of a trial. He is in the midst of defending himself and defending the gospel, and people want to send them to Jerusalem. Paul, neither knows nor the leadership knows that there was an ambush that is waiting for Paul, that if he gets on the road going to Jerusalem, they will kill him.

Nobody knows what's happening except God. At the same time while Festus is deciding how to deal with him, there is this plot that wants to ambush him. This parentheses that's put here in our Bible is basically what Paul did not see, something that was happening behind the scenes, literally to take him down and to take out the Apostle Paul. That there was a group of Jews trying to get him into Jerusalem so they can kill him on the way. Make no mistake about it, Times Square church, the plan of Satan, according to Jesus is to steal, to kill and to destroy. That's what his plan is.

That's the ambush that the enemy has and plotted not for apostles and pastors, but for every single one of us to find a way to take us out. The problem is that so many times we're looking at the front door and forget the parentheses, that God is protecting us from on all the things that you never know about what God is already doing on our behalf. We're so ready to praise him for what we know, we have forgot to praise him for what we don't know he's doing for us.

When I left Detroit, one of the last things, talk about a front door and a front assault attack, that when our executive pastor in Detroit, while I was in Minneapolis and interviewing somebody for a possible position at the church, it was our executive pastor at our church that, talk about the enemy coming through the front door, some of you know the story that our executive pastor had somebody break into his house at 3:00 AM in the morning, while his family was out, thank God. He hears the window broken, and literally it was the enemy trying to take out his life.

A man he has never met, never been to Detroit broke into his house looking for drug money. Just one block from where Cindy and I and our four children live. We could see their front door from our back door through the alley. Some man broke into their home. He hears it. He comes down the steps the man grabs the largest kitchen knife and meets him on the stairs and starts to stab our executive pastor 37 times. He gets him in the stomach and begins to rip up his stomach, then in his back near the spinal cord another 12 times, up at the chin another six times to try to kill and debilitate him.

Then the man left him on the floor in his own blood and went out. My friend, this is our executive pastor. I'm out of town, Cindy and the kids are by themselves and this is going on and nobody knows that this is happening until they get a phone call from his wife, who says, "What is happening to Kevin." They said, "He's in the hospital, but they won't give me any information." When we finally find out that he's been stabbed 37 times, the plot of the enemy was not just to hurt him, but it was to take him out. It was an ambush.

The miracle of this whole thing is that when he's laying there on the floor, talk about the miracle of God, when he's laying there on the floor in his own blood, he said he was saying a prayer to God just before he was about to die and just go, "God before I die, please don't let my children be bitter with the ministry and think that these kind of things or God is that you're not with us and God, let my wife know that I love her."

Then he said he heard a voice. He doesn't even know if it was audible, and the voice said to him, "They still need you." All of a sudden, and not to be graphic, he says he held his intestines in place while the man was on the second floor, and somehow by the strength of God, got up, walked out the door to his neighbors at 3:30 in the morning, who happened to be up. I don't even know the miracle of a miracle is for a neighbor to open up a door for somebody that looks like that because I would be going like, "I don't know if I can really do it. If I want to be part of this miracle," but what happens is, this man calls 911 they pick him up, they get him to the hospital. The doctor says that they've never seen anything like this before. Stabbed 37 times and not one of those hit a vital organ of his body. That's a miracle.

Even though the enemy tried to ambush him, God was working a miracle. The other miracle that he told me after this happened was that when the police saw him, they said they couldn't even recognize his ethnicity. They didn't know whether he was black, Asian, Hispanic, he was so covered in blood. They were so outraged of a human that can do this to him, that with their guns drawn, this is in the police report.

They walked into the house saw the giant puddle where he was laying, as they were looking for the man who already fled the house and they wrote in the report, we don't understand this. We see where he stood up in his own blood, but we can't see any footprints, from the puddle of blood to the neighbor's house. He says we don't see a size 10 foot. They said, this is the police report, "We see the blood but we don't know how you got there, to the neighbor's house."

[Applause]

Remember that silly little painting called footprints in the sand. This is the ghetto version called footprints in the blood that got him to where he needs to be. Only God can do something like that. What the enemy tried to do in ambushing him, God said, "I have another plan for your life." Only God.

Back to Paul. Verse 4 of Acts 25 says, "Festus then answered that Paul was being kept in custody at Caesarea and that he was about to leave shortly." We don't know if that's Festus or Paul, but to leave shortly for where keep this in mind. We call it the Jerusalem assassination, the parentheses that Paul didn't even know it was happening. Festus didn't even know but somehow the enemy put together a parenthesis that says, "I am going get ready to ambush you in Jerusalem. You get on that path you get on that road, you will die. You're going to be killed."

Just in that little parenthesis Paul is just there trying to defend himself. He is speaking and all of a sudden has no idea that what's happening miles away from him that somebody is plotting even to kill his life. Should Paul have been worried? The reason why I don't think Paul was worried about it, even though he didn't know it and why you don't have to worry about the parentheses is because really Paul was in the witness protection program. Because when you start testifying against criminals, they know then all of a sudden your life is at stake so they've got to send you, change your identity, change who you are. Now, you are no longer the person you used to be. They've changed your name, put you in a new place in a new position and the government says we will protect you from anybody that you've testified against.

Well, since Acts 9, Paul has been testifying against the thief called Lucifer, saying that he has come to steal, to kill, and destroy. At that moment, God goes, "You're in the witness protection program. Now, I have changed you from the inside out. You're not the Saul that you used to be, you're the Paul now that's going to be now changing this entire continent." The moment you accept Jesus inside of your heart, you are not the same person. God says, "No matter what rises up against you," God goes, "I got this, I got you." There could be 10,000 enemies that come against you but like David said, 10,000 will fall by my right hand, another 10,000 here because my life is now in God's witness protection program with Him. Doesn't even know, you don't know, I don't even know what's come against us.

Back to Paul. Verse five, therefore, he said, "Let the influential men among you go there with me. If there is anything wrong about this man, let them prosecute him." Verse six, "After he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day, Festus took a seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought." Once again, he is gathered about to testify. The parentheses said that there's an ambush waiting for him. Paul arrived, the Jews would come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against them which they could not prove.

Verse eight, "While Paul said in his own defense, "I have committed no offense either against either the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar." But Festus," verse nine, "wishing to do the Jews of favor, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go to Jerusalem - which we don't want him to go to- are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?"" Now, remember, if he goes there, it's an ambush that's waiting for him.

Nobody knows what's happening not even Festus. Festus is not even saying, I want you to go to Jerusalem because I know they're going to kill you and get you out of my hair. It's nothing like that. What he knows is, is that I just want you to stand trial. Paul doesn't know there's an ambush. Festus doesn't know there's an ambush, but I have a sense that the enemy has put that parentheses there to say, "I've got to take this man out because he's changing people's lives."

Verse 10, "Paul said, "I'm standing before Caesar's tribunal where I ought to be tried. I've done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know." Here's the last verse I want to read to you. "If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die but if none of these things are true, which these men accused me, no one can hand me over to them."

Then listen to this Times Square church, then four words he speaks, that literally saves his life. He doesn't even know that these are the words that saves his life. He just simply goes, "I appeal to Caesar." Paul just goes, "I haven't done anything, but if I have to die, I'll die but I appeal to Caesar," who knew at that point, that what he was saying was literally the words that God put in his mouth, because God was going to put him in Rome, save him from an ambush, put him in a cell for two years in Rome, then he can still encourage the church.

Here's the promise that Jesus gave to His disciples, Matthew 10:19. "When you are arrested, don't worry what to say at your trial, for you will be given the right words at the right time." You don't even know that what you're saying has been led by me that when people come before you and you're thinking, what do I say, I'm being written up at my job, written up at my campus because I said something about Jesus. Jesus says, don't worry because there's going to be stuff that you say that you didn't even plan on saying that it's going to be the exact words that you need to get you out of this situation.

Think about this, I appeal to Caesar changes the whole direction.

Brother Dave Wilkerson told one of the most fantastic stories and I think he said he met the lady that said it. This 82-year-old woman, talk about I appeal to Caesar not knowing what you're saying. She said she was living in one of the boroughs here in New York and while she was there, 82 years old, living by herself. Just like Kevin did, our pastor, hear someone break through the front door and she didn't know what to do.

The bedroom is at the top of the stairs, she looks down and sees the man kick open her door and what do you do? You're 82 years old, the man's about to steal everything you have. She looks down from the top of the stairs and just started saying, "Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38." The man got down on the floor, spread his arms until she called the police and the police came and arrested the man.

[applause]

Because the verse just says, repent and believe in Jesus. He's laying on the ground because the 82-year-old woman kept going, "Acts 2:38, Acts 2:38." She said it until he got on the floor and here's what's great, Brother Dave said the cops asked the man, they started laughing. They said, "This is an 82-year-old woman, why did you wait for us to come?" He said, "Listen, if you knew a lady had an Axon 238, I would have waited too."

[laughter]

[applause]

Hallelujah.

[applause]

You don't even know how God is putting words in your mouth, I appeal to Caesar saved his life.

[applause]

Back to Paul, did Paul go to Rome or Jerusalem? He went to Rome. Probably one of the greatest message I've ever heard on the book of Acts is from Acts 27, from Pastor Carter on Paul's journey on the boat ride and Acts 27:1, that they said they're about to sail him to Italy, that from that point on, those four words, just like those four words I appeal to Caesar was Acts 23:8 for him. Who would have known that those simple words would have saved Paul's life?

You have a Festus that wants him in Jerusalem but unaware of an assassination. You have men that are setting an ambush on Paul and nobody knows anything about this. All this was based upon Paul beginning to say something maybe just God put upon heart. Death was waiting for him but God was working for him and one of the things that I kept thinking about is there are so many things that are happening against us but there are so many things happening for us that we don't even know about.

[applause]

We don't know about the parentheses that God has saved us from. Death was waiting for him but God was working with him, that's why I really do think that 500-year old song from John Newton really does mean something, through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come, His grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me and you home. Thank you, Jesus.

[applause]

If we could see how much God is protecting you and me, it would probably strike fear in us but there are plots that the enemy has put in parentheses that we will never see and God shields us from but God says you don't even have to worry about it. Pray and let God worry about it, pray and go to sleep God's going to be up all night anyway and he is the one that works in our behalf. Somehow we've got to understand that when something happens and there is a delay in the Lincoln Tunnel, you need to just go, "This is a parentheses."

When the plane at LaGuardia is late for the 98th time, "This is God doing something." When you're on the BQE and you're sitting there going, "I can't believe--" It just maybe God going, "There's the parentheses." You have no idea what's happening. There's a hotel that says no more vacancies you got to go somewhere, who knows what God is doing? Our job is not to figure it out, I don't know what happened on that plane, I don't know what God was doing, all I knew was to go, "God, you know everything that's coming against me but yet you are for me." Hallelujah, God is for us.

Two thoughts and then I want us to close today. Listen, two thoughts. Sometimes we just need to thank God for taking care of stuff we don't even know about. Sometimes we just need to stop and just go, "God, I have thanked you for everything that you've done, but God, I just thank you for the stuff I don't even know what you're doing. You are working on our behalf." There are things, thousands of things that God is doing and some of you are thinking here you're going like, "Pastor Tim, I have a hard enough time with the stuff I know. Now you're telling me the stuff I don't know-

[laughter]

-what kind of message is this. I can barely make it. Now you're saying there's a thousand other things that are trying to ambush my life. This is the worst Sunday service I've ever been to. I can't even believe this." You have to understand that God is for us. That we sometimes need to realize it is God’s doing and it's God’s working for us. That all God wants you to do is just to say thank you, to share just the energy. To go, "God, thank you for what you're doing. Thank you."

There is always something to praise him about. There was always something to thank him about. There was always something to lift your hands that when those songs are being sung today, this is not the position you assume, this is the position you assume and say, "God, thank you for what you're doing."

[applause]

A few years ago I was taking my littlest one. It was just me and her, and so when you're with dad, you just kind of do stuff that-- Cindy's here, so now she knows, but so she goes, "Would you get my French fries and a vanilla shake at McDonald's?" I knew we had time and Cindy wouldn't know other than today.

[laughter]

I just said, "Absolutely." I said, "Sure." I said, "It's just once." That again just puts me, puts a good check for dad. Just the fries just came out, just came out and so they're hot. She's sitting in the back and that smell it's intoxicating. I just go, "Hey--" I said, "Can I have a few of those fries?" Is what I, and literally she just goes, "Absolutely not."

[laughter]

I said, "Just give me a fry." She goes, "No. You bought them for me." I said, "Just the fry. Just give me one."

[laughter]

Nothing. Finally, I pulled the car over-

[laughter]

-and I just go, "Do you know why you have those fries?"

[laughter]

I said, "Let me help you."

[laughter]

I said, "I get up every morning at 5:00 AM to pray to get a word from God so I can show up at church, preach my heart out, then counsel people throughout the week and then when Friday comes, they give me a paycheck. With that paycheck, I make sure you have Cheerios so you don't starve. I make sure I pay the electric bill, so you're not sitting here in the dark. I pay the heating bills so you don't freeze. I pay health insurance so you can get a physical."

I said, "I'm paying for stuff and then with the money leftover I pull into the drive-through so you can get a vanilla shake and a set of fries." I said, "You should be singing praises to my name for all that I have done on your behalf, and you said no." I said, "I should take the shake and the fries right now, and I just need one fry." Sometimes we forget all that God has done and we won't even give Him a praise, He deserves the praise.

[applause]

He deserves the praise. Hallelujah. To sit there. You sit with your shake and fries while they're singing their heart out thinking, "I bought this." You didn't buy anything.

[applause]

God gave it to us.

[applause]

God is so humble. He is so humble that He's so content to not blow His own horn but to leave it for us to begin to magnify him. He's not the one going, "I did that. I did." If I was God, I'd be going, "I did that. I did that." I was reading James this week and the Bible says James is the brother of Jesus, but he wouldn't even say that. James said, "James, is a bond-servant of Jesus." I'm going like, James, you wouldn't even exploit that you're the brother of Jesus. I totally would have been all over that."

[laughter]

"I'm Tim. Jesus is my brother."

[laughter]

"If you need anything just call me."

[laughter]

"I know the son of a--" but there's a downside to that. Can you imagine being Jesus's brother? Why can't you be like your big brother? He never argues, his room's always clean, the chores are already done. That's why James didn't get saved till after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That's why we need to praise Him even for the things we don't see, that's why sometimes when you're sitting there in service with your shaking your fries you need to put them down and say God you've provided more for me than I have ever known but I can never do that when that choir comes. That's what God has called us to do.

That's why I'm here to tell you why should I feel discouraged and why should the shadows come, why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home when Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is he, his eye is of the sparrow and I know He watches me. I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free, his eye is on the sparrow. Hallelujah, hallelujah

I'm done. Just somebody come to the piano. Listen, if I look at this world I'll be distressed, if I look with myself I'll be depressed but if I look at Jesus I find rest in him. It's his providence, it's God working on our behalf, it's God doing this. The first thing I tell you is this, praise Him for what you don't even know it's happening. Praise Him for the parentheses, praise Him and say, "God I don't even know why the train is late, I don't even know why that car is full of people on this car and the A train some reason you want me in the other car. I don't know God there could be a parentheses, all I know is your eye on the sparrow and you're watching me."

I finish with this, just think this through for a moment with me. Whoever has the keys decides when we leave, whoever has the keys decides when it's over with and the Bible says in Revelation 1:18 that the resurrected Jesus listen to this. "The living one was dead and behold he is alive, and he has the keys of death and hell." Whoever has the keys decides when life is over.

Jesus said John 10, "No man takes my life from me, I lay it down." That's why the words of George Whitfield is something that I started to live by. He just simply said this, "I'm immortal until God calls me home." Think of that, I'm immortal. You can't decide when I leave because you don't hold the keys. The bully in your school doesn't hold your keys, the stalker that some of you are afraid of doesn't have the keys, the person that you think is dangerous that lives in your apartment, they don't have the keys. Until they can die and raise from the dead they don't get any keys.

What's amazing is that I used to be afraid until I realized that He has the keys. I was riding on a plane back to Lafayette, Louisiana and getting ready to preach and while we were on the plane this little plane started hitting all this turbulence and it's amazing how many people are Christians on the plane when that thing starts going down and everybody, you would think this was a choir on the plane everybody, "Jesus help us. Jesus, oh, Jesus." This is like a Christian plane. Everybody knows Jesus on this plane. I knew God that had a word in my heart to preach that Sunday and because God gave me a word, I knew that that plane had to land.

I wanted to turn around to go, "Everybody gets to live because I'm on the plane. I'm supposed to be on the ground. I get to preach because I'm immortal. My life is not in the turbulence. My life is not in cancer's hand. My life is not in the doctor's report. My life is in the one who holds the keys of death, hell and the grave." Let's all stand together, and can we just praise him for a moment and say God you are worthy.

Paul said it this way, listen for just a moment. In Romans 8 this is what he said, listen. He said, and this phrase just stuck out to me, listen to the words. Romans 8:31, "What shall we say to these things?" He was speaking about death, tribulation trial, he was speaking to all those things that can come. Romans 8:31, he goes, "What shall we say?" Like you're saying, I'm going to give you a vocabulary, when things come against you. That's what the Bible says. What shall we say to these things? What shall we say? When you get out of work late, you're waiting in a subway terminal and you're thinking God, what shall we say to fear? What shall we say to the parentheses?

Here's what Paul says, ready for this? Romans 8:31, "What shall we say to these things?" Next phrase, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" That's what he says your language is. He says that your language, he says that your vocabulary. He says, "What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" Would you bow your head for just a moment right now?

I started to praise Him for the stuff I don't even know about. I started to praise Him and just say, "God, there's stuff that's happening that I don't even know." Words that I say, who knows how many trials and how many Jerusalem highways it took me off of to put me back on the road that I'm supposed to be? Here's what I want to just tell you today. Listen. If you are just weighted down, right now going God I don’t know how to get out of this situation. This situation. Here's what I want to encourage you with. That's one.

Can I just tell you? There are 10,000 things that He has shielded you from, protected you from, and said, if one is bearing you down, think of the 10,000 that He is held away from you and said, "Let me just get you through one while I protect you from 1,000 of those things that could come your way." Can I just tell you? If He is protecting you from 10,000 things, He can get you through this thing right now.

[applause]

We have forgotten. I have forgotten all that He has done that I don't see. Because all I do is, God this is what's happening. God this is what's happening. God this is what's happening, and I've forgotten, I've forgotten the ambushes. I've forgotten the diversions. I've forgotten the traffic. I've forgotten the holdups and the delays, and going, "God, you know what? This is my appeal to Caesar. This is my acts 2:38. Who knows what you're protecting me from in that hotel, on that plane, in that individual, in that meeting, how that business meeting, they cancel the meeting, who knows what was in the parentheses? Only God knows. Instead of accusing God, you don't care. The opposite could be true right now. He cares so much, that He's protecting us.

If you're here right now, and just go, "Pastor Tim, it makes sense now. This one thing is weighing me down. If He has protected me from 10,000 things, I know He's going to get me through this one. God's given me a new vocabulary now, pastor Tim, what shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" If you're here right now, and that thing you're carrying seems to weigh you down, seems to come and bring the distress, anxiety, fear, even doubt. I'm going to ask you now to cast that upon Jesus and just say, hi new phrase is not where are you? My new phrase is not God, how come? My new phrase is not God why has this happened?

I've learned in church today what to say to these things, if God be for me, who can be against me? He holds the keys and whoever holds the keys, decides when this thing is over. Nobody else decides, there's not a person, a disease, an individual, ISIS, not a terrorist, there's not a dirty bomb, there's nothing there. You don't hold the keys. Jesus holds the keys today.

[applause] As Greg is going to lead us in the next song. If we can go back, Greg that song, the Kurt Carr song, Faithful. That third part where we go from the holy and then we go to the faithful. That's the part I like. If you're here right now, and you say, "Pastor Tim. This load seems to be a lot, but today it just got a little bit lighter because I realized if God be for me who could be against me.

That load may have cancer, that load may have divorce on it. That load may have this bondage, that load may have I don't know what the future. Now, I realize, "Thank God he's got 10,000 things that he's working in my behalf." Today, I come to him and I just say, "If God be for me who can be against me." We're going to cast that care upon him today. We're going to cast it upon him today. You know what the world has, if you don't know Jesus today, the only thing that you have is to hold on to your friend as you're going down this scary moment.

I don't have to hold on to a friend, I hold on to him. God's unchanging hand, and this is that moment. If you're in the annex, if you're here to go, you know what? They can't get me through this but there's one that can get me through this. If you're here today just say, "This is the day I cast all my care upon him today, because he's got everything." If God be… my language changes today. If that's you as Greg sings this, I want to pray for you today and say, "Pastor Tim, today it changes for me. I'm not leaving depressed. I'm not leaving distressed. I'm going to leave in rest today."

If that's you, I want you to get out of your seat right now, balcony, main floor. I want to pray for you as we sing this quickly. You come. Balcony, I want you in the main floor, if that's you, as we sing this that God is faithful. Sing this as you come.

We just lift your hands, we just thank him for this stuff that we don't even know about right now. Father, there's parentheses that are bracketed over every one of our lives that God today we don't even have to worry about because you got us today. If your eye is on the sparrow, I know he watches over me. Come on. Just tell him to say, "I know you watch over me." Right now. Tell him right now. I know You watch over me.

I want to pray for you before Greg leads us, and I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free. Listen, I want you to say this with me right now. Say, "Jesus."

Audience: Jesus.

Pastor Tim: I praise you.

Audience: I praise you.

Pastor Tim: For the things I don't know.

Audience: For the things I don't know.

Pastor Tim: Thank you.

Audience: Thank you.

Pastor Tim: Every ambush.

Audience: Every ambush.

Pastor Tim: Every enemy attack.

Audience: Every enemy attack.

Pastor Tim: That I don't even know about.

Audience: That I don't even know about.

Pastor Tim: You got this.

Audience: You got this.

Pastor Tim: You got me.

Audience: You got me.

Pastor Tim: I thank you.

Audience: I thank you.

Pastor Tim: With my hands raised, my voice is lifted up.

Audience: With my hands raised, my voice is lifted up.

Pastor Tim: You have the keys of hell and death.

Audience: You have the keys of hell and death.

Pastor Tim: You're in charge of the end of the story.

Audience: You're in charge of the end of the story.

Pastor Tim: You are the author and the finisher of my faith.

Audience: You are the author and the finisher of my faith.

Pastor Tim: Today I praise you.

Audience: Today I praise you.

Pastor Tim: I cast my care upon you.

Audience: I cast my care upon you.

Pastor Tim: You are in charge.

Audience: You are in charge.

Pastor Tim: Nobody else, not disease, not plots.

Audience: Nobody else, not disease, not plots.

Pastor Tim: You are in charge.

Audience: You are in charge.

Pastor Tim: I give you the praise that you will take me home.

Audience: I give you the praise that you will take me home.

Pastor Tim: Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.

Audience: Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come.

Pastor Tim: You're going to get me through the next phase.

Audience: You're going to get me through the next phase.

Pastor Tim: In Jesus name.

Audience: In Jesus name.

[END OF AUDIO]

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