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Video Podcast

A Way When You See No Way

 

Gary Wilkerson

November 14, 2019

How do you find a way when it seems there is no way? Drawing from Mark 2, Gary Wilkerson shares four things to encourage your faith when the circumstances before you appear too hard. It's time to get up in faith and watch God make a way in your life!

So today I wanted to have you turn with me to Mark chapter two. Mark chapter two. I'm going to talk to you about "A Way When You See No Way". Let me repeat that, "A Way," everybody say that. "A Way When You See No Way." When it seems impossible. When it seems difficult. When it seems you can't go on. When it seems you have no hope. When it seems your future is not as bright as you'd hoped it'd be. How do you find a way when it seems there is no way?

Mark chapter two verse one. First verse says, "And when he returned to Capernaum," this is Jesus, "after some days, it was reported that he was at home." He came back to this city called Capernaum, it was his hometown as he got older and then the headquarters of his ministry. It was his home where Peter lived, so he would visit Peter and Peter's mother quite often. There was many times where you would find him at Peter's home. If you remember, it was where the first disciples were called. The first disciples were called by Jesus at Capernaum. It was where Peter, James, and John, and the sons of Zebedee, where Andrew and Philip were called into the ministry. So this was a hub of great activity, great things happening for the kingdom of God, very much like Cebu, right? Where God is doing great things and God is on the move.

This is where, in chapter one verse 30, if you back up, there was a revival, a spiritual awakening taking place in Peter's home. Peter's mother was sick, Jesus was in the village teaching. Peter's mother got sick and when she got sick, Jesus came home and touched her and she got up and made them food. How many say amen for some food? Made them some food. They were so excited, people found out that Peter's mother was so sick and Jesus touched her, she got up. So people started coming knocking on the door. "We heard there's a guy that does miracles here. Can we come in?" So Jesus would pray for them and they would get healed. Then her friends came and they would get healed. There was this massive move of God because of the healing power of God. How many of you know that where the spirit of the Lord is there, there is the presence of the Lord to heal? And when the Lord heals, amazing things happen.

This house became full of people thrilled to see this move of God in Capernaum. And Jesus, in the middle of this awakening, revival, miracle-working moment, says, "I need to go pray." He spends the night in prayer, and after spending the night in prayer he says, "Hey, you know what? I've got to leave Capernaum. There's other cities I need to go to." Now, the night before, the Bible says the whole city, chapter one, the whole city, almost the whole city had gathered to come here Jesus preach. Almost the whole city brought lame, and sick, and deaf, and blind, those who were paralyzed, those who could not walk, those who had skin diseases like leprosy, those were demon-possessed. They brought them. It was just this amazing time. Wouldn't you love to have been there? Yeah. Wouldn't you love to have been there to see what Jesus was doing? You would hate to miss that meeting, right? I mean, this is a good meeting, it's going to be good. You missed the opportunity to say Amen there. This is going to be a good meeting. Thank you.

But this one that Jesus was at, you don't want to miss that. If you lived in that village and you missed it, it's what we call in the United States, that's a hot ticket. It's a hard ticket to get, but they got in, they crowded around the house. And in verse 34 chapter one says, "And many of them were healed." And now in chapter two, it says, "And when Jesus returned to Capernaum," he came back to his hometown, came back to Peter's house, and it begins to tell the story of a man who lived in Capernaum, and the Bible says he was paralyzed. He couldn't walk. I'm going to suggest maybe later that he might have been a paraplegic. Couldn't even move his arms. His legs and his arms were immobilized and he had to have other people carry him around. He couldn't drag himself, he couldn't walk on crutches or in a wheelchair, he had to have someone else help him.

There's this man in the city, it appears to me that he missed the first meeting. Jesus had just been there maybe a couple days before and he heard about this awakening and he heard about all these people healed and he heard about the power of Jesus, but he was laying there on his bed, on his mat, immobilized. He seems to have missed this first miracle-working crusade. He might have been hearing the amazing stories, maybe some of his friends who were paralyzed had been at that meeting and now they were walking around. They were like, "Look. Look. I can walk." He's going like, "Good for you." Wouldn't you feel bad if you missed that meeting?

So Jesus comes back to this town and he's still in his bedroom. He's still on his mat. He still can't move. He missed the first meeting, now he hears Jesus is back. What's happening here it says, verse two, "And many were gathered together so that there was no more room, not even at the door, and he was preaching the Word to all of them." That's Mark chapter two verse two. "They gathered together, no more room, even at the door, and he was preaching the Word to them. And they came to him bringing a paralyzed man." The crowd started gathering again. Revival number two. A second chance. Another awakening. They bring the masses to him again, but here's this man and he's lying in his bed again, and he's hopeless again, and he's unable again. There's no way for him to get up and go.

Could you imagine if you were him? I like to use my imagination when I read the Bible. Could you imagine him lying on the floor or maybe he's able to sit up a little bit and he looks out his window and there's crowds of people running and he's yelling out, "What's going on? What's going on?" He doesn't know what's happening. They're running by, and all of a sudden he hears the news, "Jesus is back. He's coming to heal again. He's coming to preach again. He's coming to deliver again. We're so excited." And he's going like, "I can't move. I can't go." All these years, I picture him as being a man who, maybe his mother had to take care of him. Washing his clothes, bringing him food. She couldn't carry him there. Everybody was at this awakening except for him, so his heart says something like this, "I keep missing out. There's great things happening, but I keep missing it. Maybe I'm not called. Maybe I'm not chosen. Maybe I don't have a purpose. Maybe God doesn't have a good plan for my life. Maybe I have expected much and now I'm going to receive little." He was missing out on his miracle. He could have been saying to himself, "I'm a two-time loser. I lost out on the first miracle, now I'm going to lose out on this one because I can't move. I can't go. There's a commotion in the city. There's another opportunity for revival, but things will never change for me. The way it is now is going to be the way it will always be." My marriage will always be the same, my sickness will always be the same, my finances will always be the same. The problems I have in my church will always be the same. My inability to reach out to the lost, my powerlessness will always be the same. Praying for the sick and seeing them not healed, that's the way it's always been, that's the way it's always going to be. I tried once and I couldn't get there, now the second time opportunity comes up and I still can't get in.

There's something missing in his heart and he can't seem to experience the fullness of what God has for him. He probably is saying to himself, "Nothing changes, no matter how much I hope for things, I don't change. No matter how much I dream about things, I don't change. No matter how much I pray about things, I don't change. No matter how much I desire a new chance to come into this revival awakening that God has, I can't move. I'm paralyzed. I'm stuck. I'm unable." And I have met pastors all around this globe who love Jesus with all their heart. Who pray, and fast, and seek his face, but nothing seems to be moving. They seem to be paralyzed. Seem to be stuck. They're wondering, "When can I get into the house? When can I get the touch of God? When can he move in my life? When can I see miracles take place? When can I see revival? When can I see awakening? When can I see more than I'm seeing right now?"

And there's this hunger in our heart for more, but we feel like the paralytic. I'm just lying here. Day in and day out, I'm just lying here wondering, "When is it going to happen? Isn't there more than this for me?" And I picture him lying on that floor, maybe tears in his eyes. Sad, broken, crying. "I can't get in. I can't move." And all of a sudden, his door opens and it's four of his friends. Could you imagine that? "What are you doing here?", he says. "I thought you would be at the revival. I thought you would be getting touched, but you care about me? You stopped for me. You came to pick me up." And the Bible says, "They picked him up and they carried him to Jesus. They took him where he couldn't go himself." Here's a man who couldn't see a way ahead and now God sends him a way maker. Somebody to bring you to that place of your revival. That's what this meeting is about.

Pastor Claude who is going to preach this next session, and myself and Kelly, as she sings, and Tina, as she helps lead these conferences, we hope to be four friends to you today. To lift you up when you are paralyzed. To speak hope into your life when your dreams seem dashed. We're bringing you to Jesus because it's at Jesus's feet you can be touched, you can rise, you can walk, you can stand, you can become whole. Somebody shout Amen for me today. Do you believe that? One more time, come on, let's give him praise. Thank you, Jesus, that you're a miracle worker. You're a way maker.

He's thinking to himself, "What kind of future do I have?" And his friends show up and now all of a sudden there's miracles taking place. There seems to be a little ray of hope. There's a way when there's no way. There's a breakthrough of God's promise. There's a way out of discouragement, my friends. Did you hear me? There's a way out of discouragement. There's a way out of feeling like you're an underachiever, lying down, can't get up. There's a way out of that. There's a way out of not accomplishing the things that God has put in your heart to accomplish. There's a way out of that. Even when there seems no way, God is making a way for you to rise up and possess all that he has planned for you. Somebody say amen one more time, are you ... 

So I've got four things I want to tell you real briefly and then pastor Claude will come. Number one, sometimes we need someone in our life who believes there's a way when we see no way. Amen. Sometimes we need somebody to pick us up when we can't pick ourself up. Sometimes when we don't believe anymore, we need somebody in our life who believes for us. When we've lost hope, when we've given up, when we say we're not able anymore, we are paralyzed. We can't move. God will send somebody in your life to say, "It's time to move. It's time to go. It's time to get up. It's time to get up." And they pick him up. They pick them up and they carry him to Jesus, and he's all excited like, "I missed the first meeting. I thought I was going to miss the second meeting, but I'm not missing the second meeting. I'm going in. I'm going." But he gets there and there's no tickets left. No tickets left.

It's almost like ... You heard of Kanye West? Who's heard of Kanye West? Wave at me if you've heard of Kanye West. Okay, four of you. Wow. Okay. He's this world known singer, particularly in America, and he is right now doing every Sunday because he got saved, supposedly. They said he got saved. He's one of the number one rappers in the world. He got saved and now he's, instead of doing rap concerts, he's doing a thing called Sunday Service. So every Sunday he's meeting in the largest auditorium in Los Angeles, it's called the Los Angeles Forum and he's having Sunday Service. A big choir, 150 voices. He's rapping, and he's singing, and he's preaching, and you can't buy a ticket for it. It's like 17,000 people fill this auditorium almost every Sunday now, and you can't get a ticket. So your four friends came and picked you up and said, "We're going to go hear, Kanye. It's going to be hot ticket. We're going to get in that thing. It's going to be rocking and jammin'.

It's going to be music, and testimonies, and a powerful story of this top singer getting saved on fire for Jesus. We're going to go in, man." And you get there and they're sold out, and you're just thinking, "Man, I wish we had got her earlier. I missed the first meeting, now I'm going to miss the second one. I can't get in." There's even a crowd at the door. The house was packed and even around the outside you couldn't even get to the door, it was so packed. And his friends have an idea. "Let's go up to the roof and break a hole through the roof and let's lower you on your bed right in front of that." So you went from hoping you could get into through the balcony, sitting in the very back hoping just to get a seat, maybe you can see the little speck down there on the stage of Jesus. And instead your four friends say, "When there is no way, we're going to make a way for you.

When you can't do it yourself, when you can't get up, when you can't get in, when you can't make it work, we're going to have faith for you." Not only just to get near Jesus, but you know what they do? They open up the hole, and I don't know how they knew where Jesus was. But it was perfect because when they opened the hole, it was right at Jesus's feet and that's what good friends of faith do. They don't get you just in, they get you near. They don't just leave you laying on the side over there. They say, "We're bringing you right to the feet of Jesus. You're going to get closer than ever before. You're going to have the greatest awakening you've ever had. You're going to see supernatural things like you've never seen before. You're going to see the glory of God if we have to break down this roof. If we have to yell, 'Fire.' And everybody runs out the building and then we'll bring you into Jesus, we're going to do it."

You need friends in your life who have so much faith they say, "We're going to get you in no matter what. We're going to get you up no matter what. Your miracle is not going to be delayed any longer, you're not going to get stuck in your paralysis. God is going to move in your life." So they open up and they get at Jesus's feet. Sometimes we need someone in our lives who believes there's a way when we see no way, four good friends in your life. I want to encourage you, faith needs friends and friends need faith. You can't do it on your own. You were never meant to do it on your own. So many of us are struggling in our ministry not seeing success because we want to be the man. "It's all on me. It's up to me. I'm the one." And you become an individual rather than a team. All the faith that you have is all about your faith and not relying on the faith of others. Sometimes we need someone in our life to pick us up when we can't get up on our own.

Secondly, they lower Jesus. This man gets to Jesus's feet and his friends are still up on the roof and they're so excited. "Jesus has been healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and now we lowered this man and He's going to touch our friend. And our friend's going to get up and he's going to dance. We're going to meet him later on at the party. We're going to dance and celebrate." But Jesus doesn't heal him right away. You know what Jesus does? He reaches out and touches him and says, "Son, I see these brothers of yours, their faith." And they're going, "He saw our faith. He's going to do a miracle, he's going to get healed.", "I see your faith, so son, rise up." ... No, excuse me. He says, "Son, your sins are forgiven." The guys on the roof were saying like, "We didn't bring him here to get his sins forgiven, we brought him here to walk. You're missing the mark, Jesus. We didn't break that roof ... I mean, You could yell out the door, 'Your sins are forgiven.'.

But we wanted You to touch him and make him walk, and You didn't do it." You see, there's something that you need to know, that Jesus ... Listen to this carefully. Jesus makes a way in you before He makes a way for you. That's my second point. First, when you need others to bring you in. The second one is He makes a way in you before He makes a way for you. You see, we want Him to make a way for us, "Give me a revival in my church. Let there be a hundred souls saved this year. Fill the baptismal tank. Let there be such an awakening that when we open the lid on the baptismal tank, people just start jumping in like fish." That's what we want. But sometimes Jesus works on the inside before He works on the outside. Sometimes He says, "There's some things in your heart that I need to look at. There's some issues we need to deal with. There's some habits and patterns." There are some leaders, I meet them all over the world, they're so passionate that that passion often turns into anger.

And they're frustrated with people and are angry, and they're barking orders and commands and trying to make things happen in their own strength. And they want to have a revival and they come and say, "God, maybe this conference we're going to could be the awakening of revival. I'll finally stand and the revival will come into my church and my city." And you come to a conference like this and God says, "First thing we need to do is take an inside look to look at the heart. And so there are there some things that I need to deal with to prepare you to walk, to prepare you to run, to prepare you to have wings like eagles and fly. First I have to prepare something inside of you." Amen. And so He's preparing this man by forgiving his sins. Jesus makes a way in you before He makes a way for you. His four friends were thinking, "Walk." And Jesus was thinking, "Live." His four friends were thinking, "Run." And Jesus was thinking, "Be whole spirit, soul and body." Jesus might've made the man walk, but the man might have walked right out the door into his sin. And so Jesus was not just interested in him being able to walk. He's not just interested in you having a church that grows ... although He's interested in that for sure, but He's interested in as that church grows, it grows holy. It goes powerful. It grows sound in doctrine. It grows in good discipleship. It doesn't excite you like, "I can walk and run now. My church can do fun things." It's a church that has depth to it. It's a church that knows how to pray, get ahold of God. Through the storms, through the difficulties, through the times where you don't feel like you can walk anymore, you're still holding on to God because something inside of you has changed. He works on the inside before He works on the outside. Number three. All right. "Now, some of the scribes ..." this is verse 6, "Now, some of the scribes were sitting there questioning in their hearts." I hope you haven't come to this conference like that, "Is this thing going to be any good?

I got on a boat and came all the way over here. I don't know who these guys are, I never heard of them." When I was a little boy, everybody read The Cross and the Switchblade. Now we ask, "Who's read The Cross and the Switchblade?" And like six people will raise their hand. It's old school kind of, in some ways. It's a great message. And so when you come to a meeting like this, what is your expectation? Or when you pray, what is your expectation? When you fast, what is your expectation? What are you believing God to do? To be in your life? The Pharisees were sitting there questioning, "Is this going to work? Should this work? This isn't my theology. I don't yell, 'Amen.' At the preacher, I don't clap my hands. I don't sing." I was in a country that used to be a former Soviet Union country, and I was doing a conference like this on a Saturday night. And on Sunday morning I was supposed to go to a church to preach. The pastor of that church was there. And in this country, they don't believe in clapping their hands.

I didn't know that, so I told everybody, "Clap your hands. Let's rejoice in the Lord." Everybody kind of clap their hands. And that pastor came up and said, "You can't preach at my church because you told the people to clap hands." And let's put our hands together and thank the Lord that you're allowed to clap your hands here. Right? Amen. So the leader of the conference said, "Don't worry Pastor Gary, that church won't have you, but this other church will have you." And so I said, "Okay. Yeah, I'll go that church instead." Well, that pastor came to hear me preach that night and at the end he came up, said, "That man can't preach at my church." And I think it was Bettina or some other said, "Why not?" And they said, "Because he has long hair." I'm like this guy in the Bible. Oh for two, I can't get up and get into these churches. I need somebody to help me in, maybe with that haircut or teaching me not to clap hands. I was in an environment where there was opportunities for miracles, opportunities for awakening, opportunities for revival, for God to do great things. And they were sitting there with their hands crossed saying, "We have questions about your motives. We have questions about the way you operate, the way you look, the way you talk." You can miss a lot by getting stuck in your own way of doing things, your own denominational style. The way you dress, the way you talk, the way you sing, the instruments you use or don't use. You can get stuck in a pattern of history that becomes dead tradition rather than the life of the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit wants to bring life. He says, "Unfold your hands and be open to Me. I have miracles for you, I have glorious things for you. Open up your hands." So this third point is there's always someone to tell you there's no way. Have you noticed that in your life? There's always someone who will fold their hands and tell you, "You can't do it. It's impossible."

When my father first went to New York City when he was a young pastor, he was pastoring a small church in a very rural farming community and he saw these gang members in New York City and drug addicts in New York City that no one was reaching. He went to go to New York City and a revival broke out. Thousands of young people got saved, gang members, drug addicts, alcoholics, street kids, homeless kids coming to Jesus by the thousands. His own father was the head of the denomination in that whole region where he lived, and his own father said to him in the middle of this revival, "You're wasting your time. You shouldn't do this. Those kids don't want to hear about this. You need to get back to your church." What his father thought was if you walk the streets of New York City, just reaching out the gang members, you'll never rise up through the denominational ranks. So he told my father, "You can't do it. You shouldn't go. Don't waste your time." There's always someone in your life to tell you, "There's no way, this is not going to work."

There are people in your own church who will tell you, "Pastor, that's not going to work. You want us to pray for 21 days straight? You want us to fast for a week? That's not going to work. Nothing's going to change. Our city is too difficult." When I go to different cities, you know what things I always watch for in the leadership? And I am so thankful for the leadership here because I did not hear this here. But in a lot of places I go, they give you the bad report. Do you know what I mean? "The Philippines, it's so bad. It's so hard. We have so many street kids here. We have so many alcoholics here. Demonic possession is so strong here. Religions are so dead." And it's almost like a report of what God can't do. But I'm thankful for men like this and the bishops and the leaders here, is that I'm hearing them say, "I believe God can do it. I believe God can do good things. I believe God can change our nation. I believe God can change our city. I believe God can change this whole environment."

We don't need people who can tell us there's no way, we're already wondering at ourselves. We need people who can tell us there's a way, "Hold on, you can go." Last thing number four, your way requires your weight. I know that may sound strange when you hear that. When you're taking notes, write that down and it'll make sense in just a moment. Your way, the way ahead, the way up, the way of healing, the way of revival, the way of miracles requires your feet to get up and go to do something. Kelly, if you can hand me that. This is the mat. That's good. Just like that. All right. This is the man's mat. The men, they came down from the roof. He laid it down on the ground. The man was laying, he was ... You can't see me, but I'm still here. Okay? He's laying there. I told you earlier, I'm not sure he could even move his arms.

He's laying there. I told you earlier, I'm not sure he could even move his arms because if he could move his arms, he probably would have put just two guys, one carrying one arm. His arm around one man, his other arm around another man, he probably would carry them in. Because he was on a mat, he was probably laying there and so it's a ... Hello, everybody. I have never done this in my life. I've never laid down while I was preaching.

I've been tempted to lay down while others are preaching. This is the first time. He's laying there. It's one thing to get near Jesus. He's thinking, "This is so sweet. I didn't think I'd get into this house. Man, my friends, they love me so much. I got everything I need now. I'm just so happy to be here. I got Jesus preaching to me. I've got good friends who are up on the roof, cheering me on. I got my sins forgiven." Then all of a sudden Jesus says something. " Get up. Get up." The man says,

"You don't understand. I actually don't walk. I don't know if you knew that or not. I thought you could tell from the mat and the floor, but I can't walk." Jesus says, "No, you get up." Now he can't rely on his friends. Your friends can get you near, but your friends can't get you up. You can get close. You can have the emotions, you can have the songs, you can have the good vibes from Jesus, the good feelings, but at some point in your life and in your ministry, he's going to say those words to you.

"All right, now. You got in. You're close. You're near, but now you got to get up." This man has to make a decision because he has to start putting weight on something now, right? He has to, "Man. Look. My arms. They're holding me up. I haven't sat up in a decade. Look. I got strength in my back." Jesus says, "No. Come on. I told you, I didn't say get halfway up. I told you to get all the way up. I didn't say go into halfway revival, halfway spiritual awakening, halfway faith. I said, get up!"

The man starts putting weight on his legs and he's getting to his knees and all of a sudden he's getting, and he's standing up. He's standing up. He's standing up. He's healed. Jesus tells him to ... You see, sometimes you just have to get up. You're tired, but sometimes you have to get up. You're frustrated, but sometimes you have to obey the command of Jesus. Get up and go again. Sometimes you don't feel like walking the next mile, but Jesus says, "Keep walking. Keep moving. Keep believing. Keep trusting."

Your church feels like it's dead. Get up and believe there's a revival coming! It's been years since you've seen souls in mass come to Jesus. Jesus doesn't say, "I'm so sorry. Just lay there and I feel bad for you. Let me encourage you. Let me sing a praise song over you." No, he says, "Get up! And believe me! That I am about to move in your church, to move in your city. You have to put weight on your feet. You have to start walking. You have to start believing."

You can't rest on your friend's faith. You can't listen to the doubters anymore that says there's no way. You can't listen to the doubt in your heart that says, "I don't know if I can stand up." Jesus says, "Stand up." I want to tell you, stand up when your church seems to be failing. Stand up when your marriage seems to be falling apart. Stand up when you don't feel like you have any finances. Stand up when you don't feel like you have the energy to go on.

Stand up. Keep walking, keep believing, keep trusting because God is about to move through you, in you, and because of what you're doing. He tells him, "Pick up your mat." The man picks up the mat and he's going, " I don't want to pick up this mat. I want to burn this mat. I want to burn my history. The thing I trusted, the thing that I was comfortable with." You see, some of us need to get up off that mat of addictions. To get up off that mat of pornography. To get up off that mat of selfishness, of laziness, of helplessness, of hopelessness, of despair.

Because we've been laying on the thing for so long, it actually becomes like a comfort blanket to us. "I like my mat." You know what? A lot of people like their mat because people give them sympathy. "Oh, you're married to that woman? We need to pray for demonic ... Get rid of that thing." "That feels so good to have these people comfort me." "I'm struggling in the hardest area of the Philippines. There's no way revival is going to happen here."

It feels comfortable just to tell that to people. They say, "I'm so sorry you're working in this area of the country." Pastor Claude is about to preach in just a moment, works in one of the hardest, most devout Catholic areas in the world. 99 point something percent Catholic. It's not Evangelical. People don't get born again. If you have a big church in Quebec, Montreal region of Canada, you have 100 people maybe, and maybe five of them got saved in the last ten years.

He could have sat on the mat and said, "Our church in the first few years grew to 150. That's comfortable. I don't have to walk anymore. I don't have to get up anymore." But he got up and said, "There's more." Then his church grew to 200, then 500, then a thousand. Now it's one of the largest churches in Canada. 5000 people. People are being saved. 180 people got saved last week. 180 got saved last week. He's not relying on his old mat.

We pick up the mat and Jesus says, "Pick it up." Why does he say, "Pick up your mat?" You want to burn your mat. You want to burn your history of failure. You want to burn your history of not being able to get up, your history of paralysis. You want to burn it. Jesus says, "No. Carry it with you. Take up your mat and walk because your mat becomes your message." Your mat is your message. Look what God has done. I used to lie on this thing day and night, and now I'm just carrying it around.

It used to be what I would cry myself to sleep on at night because I couldn't get up. I was paralyzed, but now I carry it around and say, "Look what Jesus has done for me. He touched me. He cleansed me. He washed me. He made me whole. He made me free. He set me free. He's delivered me. He called me. He chose me. He put me in a place of authority in his Kingdom," but I came from this. I came from a drug addict. I came from a broken home. I came from a rough marriage. I came from all kinds of problems, but now I take up my mat and walk.

The last thing Jesus says in the middle of this meeting, okay? This man got the hot ticket and he's there. Everything's happening. He stands up. It's exciting. He hears Jesus. He says, "Get up." He gets up and he says, "Take up your mat." "I take up my mat. What's next?" Jesus goes, "Go home." "What? The meeting's not over. We haven't even had the closing song yet. There's more miracles that are going to take place." "No," Jesus says, "Go home." What this man has to do now is take his mat and he has to work his way through the crowd.

Where's he going by? He's going by ... Forgive me for, I'm going to let you guys be the Pharisees here for a minute, okay? How many of you know these aren't really Pharisees? These are good men, these are real men of God. All the Pharisees were in the front row with their hands crossed questioning whether this has happened. Jesus says, "Take up your mat." He takes up his mat and he goes, "Now go home."

He's looking at, "How do I get home?" He couldn't get in the front door. He can't climb up back up to the roof, so he has to take his mat and he's going by all these Pharisees. He's like, "Excuse me. Sorry. Sorry." This smelly old mat that he's been lying on for 20 years. "Sorry. Excuse me, can I get through here?" I think Jesus is laughing like, "Isn't that great? Look at that." He's rubbing it in their face. He's getting out of this building, but there's something else he's saying to him is, and I love this. He says, "Go home."

This boy, he walks home. He walks home. Isn't that great? "There's a meeting going on still, but I don't care because I can walk. How many times have I been carried through these streets? Look at me now, I'm walking. I'm walking." Then he gets to his house and he goes, "I've not walked through this door ever in my life. I was born this way." He opens up the door. He's never opened up the door himself. He opens up the door, this thing works.

His mother's probably in the kitchen. Or maybe, "He's gone right now. Let me clean his room." Because how many of you know boys don't clean their rooms? All right? I got three boys and I know what it's like. She's cleaning his room and she says, "Honey, are you home?" "Yeah, Mom." "Did your four friends bring you home?" "No, they're still at the meeting. They're on a roof." "I told them to get off that roof. What are they ... " She's rebuking them and she's still cleaning.

Oh, man. Then she turns around. In the doorway, she sees her son and he's standing there.  "Mama, thank you for taking care of me. You don't have to anymore. Thank you for bringing my friends around to carry me, but you don't have to carry me anymore. Look, Mama. I can walk. Look, I can move my legs. I'm free. Look. We don't need this mat anymore. It's my message. It's my testimony. I'm going to keep it, but I don't need it anymore because the thing that I longed for is now here. The forgiveness of sins is mine. The healing of my body is mine."

I want to say to you in closing today, that thing that you were dreaming about, that you are dreaming about. The purpose of God, his plans for your life. You know you're called to it. You're desperate for it and you're hungry for it and you want to see God move! But you're lying there saying, "I don't know if this mountain's ever going to move. I don't know if this healing will ever come. I don't know if this revival will ever come."

You're laying there and I want to say to you today, Jesus says for you, "Get up." Your church is down? He says, "Get up." Your body's sick? He says, "Get up." Your mind is depressed? He says, "Get up." Your emotions are depleted? Get up! You can't go on? Get up! You seem like there's no way when you're trying to find a way? He says to you, "Get up." Start believing him. Start trusting him. Start saying, "I believe that he has a place for me."

"I believe he has a plan for me. I believe he can make me walk. He can make me run. He can create a revival, a supernatural awakening." He is going to use you. I believe this. All's he's asking is put a little bit of weight on your legs to believe in him. Stand up and say, "I'm going to stand when I don't feel like standing. I'm going to walk when I don't feel like walking. I'm going to run when I don't feel like running. When I feel like giving up. When I feel like I can't go on, Lord, I'm going to listen to your voice. I'm going to get up again."

I want you to do that right now. Just get up while you're standing. Just get up and as you're getting up, almost picture this being like, "Okay. I was paralyzed when it came to what I was dreaming about. My destiny, my future, his plans for me. I was stuck. I couldn't get up, but I'm going to put some weight on it and I'm going to believe God now for the awakening." What are you hoping for? What do you dream about when you're laying on your mat at night? When you're crying out to Jesus, "Touch this area of my life. Touch this area that is so in need. Touch my life."

Some of you have experienced what I and my wife experienced in our life, is children who ran away from God. Some of them actually got involved in drugs. One of my sons became homeless, and we were lying on our mat of despair saying, "Is there any hope?" Then Jesus touched our son and rose him up. Maybe it's a prodigal son. Maybe it's a difficult ministry task you're in. Maybe it's things that I couldn't even begin to describe, but it's a dream that the Holy Spirit put in your heart, but you've not experienced it yet.

This is your get up season. This is your get up touch. You've come into this place. It's not enough just to get near Jesus. It's not enough just to be near. You need to get up yourself. Others can get you in, but it's up to you to get up. I'm here to call you in, but you have to get up. It has to be your faith. Holy Spirit right now in the name of Jesus, do what we can't do ourselves here. Let us hear what we can't hear ourselves.

Let us see through the eyes of vision that we can't see through ourselves. Let us believe things we can't believe for ourselves. Let us go places we could never go by ourselves, and let us get rid of that mat mentality. That bed mentality that says, "I'm too small. I'm too young. I'm too old. I'm not a big enough name. I don't preach well enough. I don't have enough money.

I don't have enough of this or that." We forget all that and say, "Jesus, we're getting up now. We're getting up today. We're going to believe you for great things today. We're going to stand strong today. We're going to run and not grow weary today. We're going to believe you for mighty things, God. We will not be sidetracked. We will not be put off. We will not be delayed in the mission and the task that God has for us. We believe." Say that with me. We believe.

We believe. One more time.

Now one more time, like you really believe it. Like you really believe it. We believe!

Hallelujah. Let's put our hands together. Thank the Lord. Amen.

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The End of Yourself is the Beginning of God

 

Carter Conlon

June 27, 2019

Following the relationship between Jesus and his mother Mary, Carter Conlon challenges us to let go of the old ways of thinking and doing, and embrace His Kingdom ways. To get to a place where it's not your voice trying to dictate God, but it's God's voice leading you. There's a powerful truth in this sermon: God doesn't conform to your life plan. Surrender your voice and will to Him, and watch what He will do with your life.

Now I want to talk tonight and we're going to begin in John chapter 2. If you have your Bible with you or if you have a device with the scriptures on it, and it's the final stage in a sense that the Bible reveals about the journey of Mary and I've entitled this sharing tonight, "The end of yourself is the beginning of God."

Father, I thank you God with all my heart. Lord, for the beauty of truth. Truth is beautiful. Truth is sustaining. Truth is guiding. Truth is enabling. Truth gives light. Truth gives comfort. Truth helps us navigate the roadways of life that can be so perplexing that we can be left sometimes in despair. I thank you, God, for just giving us a desire to look at your word and to see truth as it played out in the life of one girl who said, "Be it unto me according to your word."

God. Thank you, Lord. Thank you that you've shown us patterns in scripture of what it looks like to have your life being lived out inside of ours, of how you carry us, Lord, through our trials, our misunderstandings, our troubles, our sorrows, even moments of joy. Father, I just pray God for an enlightenment tonight and that through these three messages that have been spoken this week, Lord, that you, God, would sow something very, very deep in the hearts of your people.

That we'd not be led astray Lord by other voices, not be led down a path that's going to lead to weakness, but that we would stay in the boundaries of your word. Father, I thank you God with all my heart in Jesus name. I really suggest that you get these three messages on Mary and just every once in a while listen to them. Just let it soak in you because it's coming from the Holy Spirit, but it's also coming from a life that I've lived a long time with God now. This is not just a theory to me, I have walked this. I've experienced this. I've seen where we're going to go tonight and what the Lord has given me to speak to you.

Chapter 2 of John, the next time we see Mary after she lost Jesus when he was 12 years old, it says, "It was on the third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding. When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, they have no wine. Jesus said to her "woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, whatever he says to you, do it."

This is an amazing moment. Jesus Christ, the son of God, is literally forced into public ministry by his mother. Now, if you don't believe as a mother, you got power in your prayers and you don't fully understand who you are in God. This is truly an amazing moment. Now, I love the humor of this because they've gone to a wedding, they've invited by their hosts and in that culture at that time, if you ran out of wine, it was a shameful thing and Mary is not willing that her hosts should be brought to shame. Now, she knows at this point what Jesus can do.

This interaction proves that. She's a Jewish mother. She looks to Him and says, "They've run out of wine," and looks back and He knows what she's talking about. She knows what He can do at this point. She knows that He can do the miraculous. I'm convinced of it by this interaction. I can just picture when He's 18 years old, for example, she says, "now I'm going out to the store and I want you to clean up the house. I want you to do the dishes. I want you to clean the table, do up your room, do the laundry before I get back."

Of course, He never disobeyed, right? He says, "Yes, mother, it'll be all done." She gets to the gate she says "Oh my, I forgot my keys." Goes back to the house and everything is done. I don't know, after Joseph, it's assumed that he died somewhere along the line between when Jesus was 12 and 30 that Joseph died and so He became the provider for the house. I can just imagine how many times at the table, maybe if they were a little short of food, that they bowed their heads, they thanked the father, and then suddenly there's this beautiful meal.

You see, the issue is, it's obvious from this interaction that she knew what He could do. She looks and says, "They have no wine." He looks back and says, "Mom, you know it's not my time yet." Now, He fully understands that she's asking Him to do a miracle. He fully understands that. She turns back to the servants now, this is an amazing interaction. She says, "Whatever he tells you," in a Jewish accent, "whatever he tells you to do, do it." That's not a very good Jewish accent but in the Jewish--I don't do accents well, "Whatever he tells you to do, do it."

She's saying, "Okay, if you want to run down to the store, by all means, go ahead but these hosts are not going to be embarrassed when you have the power to do something about it so I don't care how you do it, but you're going to do it." Now He's put in a real catch 22 situation right now because if He does nothing, He breaks one of His own commandments. Think it through. She checkmated the son of God at this point because this commandment is, honor your father and your mother.

If He does nothing, He dishonors His mother and if you really want to-- for the theologians who want to debate this point, you wonder if He had done nothing could He have died for our sins? Think it through. I mean, it's an incredible-- There's so much more in scripture than just the casual reading of it. Then, of course, you know, this is his first miracle caused to happen by His mother. Now, what do you and I learned from this?

Now, she got away with it because she's His mother. I don't suggest you and I try this, like a lot of churches do, a lot of believers do. They think that when we become familiar with the son of God, that we have the right to actually command Him to do things. I want to encourage you don't become so familiar with God that you start telling Him how things need to be done. That's an error and it ought not to-- Remember that when Mary prayed at the beginning of our discussion in the Gospel of Luke, "When the Holy Spirit came on her, she said holy is his name and his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation."

My encouragement to you is don't try to get Jesus to do things through you when the time is not right yet. Don't try to get to where you need to go too fast. Don't try to tell Jesus how you need to get there. A lot of people make that mistake. You remember when Jacob came to his father looking for the blessing of God that he brought the venison and his father said to him, "How did you get it so fast?" He says, "Well, the Lord brought it to me." In other words-- and there's a lot of young people who try to get--you to want to be prophets.

You get saved at five o'clock, you want to be a prophet by eight o'clock in the evening. You want to stand and say, "thus sayeth the Lord." The Lord looks at you and said, "how'd you get here so fast, son" "Oh, the Lord gave me this great gift of the spirit." Don't try to get too quick to where you need to go. There's a little bit of a school involved between point A and point Z. There's some teaching. There's some understanding and don't think that because we've become familiar with the presence of God, that we have the right to dictate to Him how to do things.

Sometimes we'll cry out for something in our life and He'll look at you as he did His mother and say, "It's not time yet. You're not ready for that ministry. It's not time for this to happen in your life." Be careful you don't fall into the trap, the theological trap of thinking you have the right to dictate to the son of God. You don't and neither do I. It's God's choice. He knows how to get us where we need to go. He knows how to take us there. He knows how to get us there. He knows what needs to happen in each of our lives before we arrive at the place where we honestly will be used for His glory.

The next time we see Mary is in Mark chapter 3. Now incredible things are happening in Mark chapter 3. Jesus himself now is gone into the temple on the Sabbath and He's healed a man with a withered hand. He's now directly challenging the religious system of the day and it's a dangerous thing to challenge that system because the people were so zealous like the Apostle Paul or Saul was in the beginning that they would be willing to the death to get rid of people so they could preserve it.

There's a violence that comes along sometimes with religion that's not got the heart of God at the center core of it. They were looking to accuse him at this time. Then verse 6 after he healed this man on the Sabbath, it says, "The Pharisees went out immediately and plotted with the Herodians against him how they might destroy him." He's carrying on the ministry, he’s healing people and the Bible says in verse 11 in Mark 3, "that unclean spirits when they see them are falling down and crying out, "You are the son of God."

He's healing people. He's confronting the religious system. Demons are calling out that He's the son of God. He appoints 12, in verse 14 he's calling people to himself. He's appointing them as leaders, He's giving them the power to cast out devils. In verse 21 of Mark 3, it says, "But when his own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold on them for they said he's out of his mind."

I don't believe for a second they’re thinking He's crazy. They're saying, "He's going to get himself killed." If you ever had a situation when you see somebody up on a roof or doing something, you say, "You're out of your mind, man, with what you're doing." It doesn't mean he's crazy. It means what he's doing he's up against a system, he doesn't understand. He's going to get himself killed doing this. Now, it's possible that some of His family did think too that He had actually lost His mind.

As He was teaching His brothers it says and his mother, this is Mary, came standing outside the building that He was in where there was such oppressive people you couldn't even get in, calling to Him. A multitude was sitting around. They said, "Look, your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you." He answered them saying, "Who is my mother and my brothers?" He looked around at the circle of those who sat about Him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, and my mother."

Now, Mary's outside with her children basically, the family members. They're calling from outside because they can't get in. They're worried. I think His brothers at this point do think He's lost his mind because the scripture bears witness they didn't believe in Him till probably after the cross, but I don't know about Mary, I honestly don't know. I'm only conjecturing on it but in my heart, as a mother, I'm feeling that she's trying to protect what she loves.

It's hard, if not impossible, it's hard to let go of the things that we love the most and fear will be lost if we continue in the will of God. There's something about her that knows that this child has been born as Simeon once said, "For the rise and the fall.” There's something that knows that a sword is about to pierce your heart. She loves this boy with all her heart. Think about this, moms and dads. You have children that you love with all your heart, you'd die for them, you'd do anything in your power to protect them.

You warn them when they're going in the direction that you feel is going to be harm. What would make her any different? The problem is she's trying to protect something that God has not designed to be protected. I remember years ago, my daughter went to India. She was working with a ministry that we have in India to the children of prostitutes in the red light district in Pune, India. I remember she came home the first time and she said, "I was in this home where children are used for prostitution, little girls.

She was sitting there, trying to minister to them, and talking to a few dozen of these girls when suddenly a bunch of either American or European men came into the home to do what they do. The girls surrounded her and protected her because in that particular home, there are no laws and everybody is vulnerable in that situation. She came home and told me this. As a father, you picture your daughter, at that time she's about 18, 19 years old.

You picture your daughter in a situation where she can be sexually abused, where men come who are sexually-crazed from all over the Western world so that they can molest children. It just doesn't get any worse. This is what goes on in India. My daughter's in the midst of this, she comes home and she was so sick. When she came home, it was three days before she could speak. She was traumatized. It was almost like post-traumatic stress disorder. Then about a year or so later, she said, "Dad, I feel like God's calling me to go back."

Now, I had to make a choice. I went to prayer because I could have said, "No, you're not going back. You're not going to be in the situation like that." She said, "I feel God calling me to go back." When I prayed, the Lord said, "Would you rather have her there or in a bar? Which do you choose, which would be your preference?" I remember yielding to God. I remember how hard it was to yield to God, how hard it was to take her to the airport, how hard it was to see her get on that plane and go back to that place to minister to those girls.

To this day, I thank God that even with my desire to protect what I love, I realized the will of God comes first and our will must come second. That's why Jesus was not trying to trash His mother but He looked around and He said, "No, it's those who do the will of God that are my mother, my brother, and my sister." What He was identifying is it outside are people that are trying to get me to do things another way, but I was born to be sacrificed for the sins of this world and I'm on the course of my Father, even the best of intentions are not acceptable in the sight of God.

It's hard but it's not impossible to let go of the things that we love the most. We fear that they will be lost if they continue in the will of God. It's my opinion for what it's worth that that's what was in her heart because she loved this boy, this boy who never sinned, this boy who was the perfect child, this boy who was the son of God, this boy who was a gift from God, this boy that people prophesied about, this boy that angels appeared in heaven to rejoice over. Was putting himself in a position that she feared he was going to be killed. It was just so hard to let him go.

There will be times in your life where it's hard to let things go. Sometimes it's dreams you had, plans, it's what you thought your life was going to be. It's how you lived for a certain objective and suddenly God is leading you to another place. It's just very, very difficult to let it go but may I encourage you, it's difficult but it's not impossible. You will never regret letting things go that God is asking you for. The next time we see Mary is now at the cross of Christ.

In John 19:25-27, the scripture says, "There stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, his mother's sister, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son," then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother," from that hour, the disciple took her to his own home. This might be perhaps the first time that Mary fully understands that the kingdom of God goes forward with power when we live for the benefit of others and not to preserve ourselves.

I have to feel that she saw something there. You say, "Well, why do you feel that?" Because her son spoke a word that drew her out of the cultural context of the day. When Joseph died, Jesus Christ being the firstborn son would have been now the protector of His mother and the provider and of the home. Now that protection and provision should have gone to his brother, James, who was the next in line but at this point, James was not a believer.

Now, Jesus Christ is speaking something to His mother. He's leading her to something that is so out of her cultural context. He's leading her into a new family, he's leading her into a new way of thinking, into a new place. For the first time, we see something different. You see in John 3, we see her trying to lead her son. Do you remember that? In John 3, she's trying to tell him how to do things, how things should be done, she's pushing him into that first public miracle.

But now in John 20, she's following the leading of His voice into a new way of life. He's now leading her. A transition happened on that mountain. It's much deeper than she's just standing there and Jesus says, "By the way, here's your son." He is now taking her out of a whole other way of living, a whole other way of thinking, and he's bringing her into the family of God. The beauty of it all is she's now following His voice. I think up to this point in her life, she had been a major voice perhaps in His life, in His upbringing, in His early years, in His teen years.

Now He's on the cross, He's 33 years old, He's dying, and is it possible? I'm just throwing it out to you as a thought. Is it possible? This is the first time all these voices start coming back now, the words of Simeon, the words of the angels, the words of the shepherd, everything's coming back. Suddenly, it comes into view. This is not defeat, this is victory. This is not the end, this is the beginning. This is not the devil winning, this is the actual plan of God. It's now coming into focus.

Now she's seeing that this baby she carried within her womb, this child she once lost in the temple, this one that she pushed into ministry in His early years at a wedding is now dying for the sins of the world. She suddenly realizes it's His voice I must listen to. It's not my voice he needs now, I need his voice to speak to me. He says, "Woman, behold your son. Son, this is now your mother." The scripture says, "From that moment, John took her and she went into his house. She became part of the family of God."

I love the perspective of it when you and I get to a place where there's a new order in our lives, where it's not our voice trying to dictate to God, it's God's voice leading us now. He's leading us out of an old way of thinking. "If anyone is in Christ, he's a new creation, the old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new." We leave an old way of thinking, an old way of living.

The old people we used to hang around with, and if necessary, our old acquaintances, and even our family. We become part of the family of God. This is not just a fanciful idea, this is the plan of God for His Church on the earth. I don't know what it's like at home, but I know here you've got brothers and sisters. You got mothers and fathers here, you got people who love you, will support you, will stand with you for the rest of your life. Woman behold your son, son behold your mother. This is a new family order on the Earth. This is now the family of God.

The next place we find Mary, and this is a beautiful place. The scripture says, "After Jesus rose from the dead," in the book of Acts chapter one, "they returned to Jerusalem to the Mount called Olivet which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. When they had entered, they went up into the upper room, where they were staying. Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas, the son of James. They all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers."

Thank God, I didn't see this, somebody else brought this to my attention today they came to visit me. Mary did not give up on her other children, you understand? She brought them to the upper room. James became the head of the church in Jerusalem. James was once outside the window saying My brother is insane. We got to get ahold of him. James did not believe. James who did not inherit even his own mother, as a charge in his life is being brought into the upper room by his mother. She did not give up and you don't have to give up on your children.

Neither one of you, none of you have to give up on your child. I don't care how old they are, I don't care about down they are, I don't care how agnostic they are, I don't care how scornful they are, don't give up on your sons and don't give up on your daughters. She brought her children into the upper room. Now, there's nothing that even says that they were believers at this time. They might have been, the most likely were, but there's nothing that really identifies that.

Bible just tells me that she brought the brothers of Christ, her other children into that upper room by God's Almighty grace, and she began this journey. The Scripture tells us in chapter 2, where we started she began her journey saying, "Let it be to me according to your word." The yielding gave birth to the Son of God within her. That's the way it is for you and. "Let it be to me oh God, according to your word. Let your life be born inside of mine. Let your plan become my plan. Let your mind become mine. Let your strength become my strength."

This is where she began, but she at the end of the scriptural witness of Mary, she continued again with the same words, "Let it be to me according to your word." Going into that upper room had to be similar to that, let it be to me according to your word. Going to John's house had to be, let it be to me according to your word. The beauty of her life, the beauty of this whole life is she began her journey with the Son of God being born within her and she finishes the scriptural witness of her journey filled again with the Spirit of God.

Praise be to God. The same Christ in her, the same power of God in her. I can envision Mary coming out of the upper room with 120. Perhaps James and Joseph and Simon, and brothers and sisters of Christ, filled with the Spirit of God. Speaking in other languages in ways that people could understand. Speaking about the mighty works of God. Jesus Son of God, may it be. May it be in this last day, in this last hour of time in which we're now living. In this potentially last generation, God Himself only knows but it's certainly the signs seem to be on the horizon.

May it be that one more time, you and I come out of the upper room, filled with the Spirit of God. Filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the Spirit of God saying not my will but thine. God, let your word be alive in me. God let your spirit govern me. Let the mysteries of heaven be spoken by my lips. Let the power of God raise me out of weakness and bring me into this power of an endless life that's given to me through Jesus Christ.

My God, what a finish. If this was the finish, I don't know where she went from there. The history doesn't record it. She may have died in the arena with everybody else, who knows of that generation. I do know she's one of 120 that came out of that upper room filled with the Spirit of God, and she started with the Son of God. Oh Jesus, Son of God. Oh Jesus, Son of God. Oh Jesus, Son of God. That has to be the cry, be it done to me according to your word. Oh God, if you tell me to go into an upper room and tarry and pray until you come then that's what I'm going to do.

Why do we want to make it any different than the way it began? Why do we want to get so fancy with so many schemes and gimmicks and programs and strategies? When the strategies of the church was, "Listen to my voice, go into the upper room and pray until you be empowered with the Holy Spirit. When you come out, you'll be a wonder to your generation." Religion will bend its knee, and folks even Rome bend its knee to those 120 that came out of that upper room by God's Almighty grace. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Thank you, Lord.

This is the journey of one person, one girl. She took the journey, what a beautiful journey it is and what a lesson we can learn from it, and what a pattern we can see in it. God help me to leave off the old ways of thinking. Help me Lord, to embrace your kingdom. Help me God to go into that upper room. To be so filled with your spirit that I can make a difference in my generation. Years ago, I was reading the scriptures and I saw some of these things.

I was isolated, I was in a farm out in the middle of nowhere. One night in my kitchen, at home, a farmhouse kitchen. I was sitting in the chair and I was just putting some wood on the fire, and suddenly I felt the Holy Spirit just urging me to pray. I was struggling folks, I was struggling with a bad temper, and I was struggling with despair. I was wondering if I was ever going to change, and will I ever learn to be a father and a husband? Will my life ever amount to anything in the kingdom of God.

I'm just sitting in this chair in my kitchen and I started to pray and I said, "Oh Jesus, Son of God." I said, "If you will set me free, I will serve you all the days of my life. God if you will help me to break out of the confines of this, the limitations of this body and my experience and my upbringing, in my self-view. God, all of these things that are just have me in a prison. If you will--"

See at this point I just had the Son of God, do you understand? I had the Holy Spirit. I have received Christ as Savior, but I saw in the Bible there was just so much more and I just went into that upper room in my kitchen. I didn't even know or fully understand these things, but I went in that upper room and I just started to pray, "Oh God, would you set me free, and if you would, I will serve you all the days of my life." My wife was standing off on my left hand just hearing me pray.

I was just sitting in a chair, and then suddenly I looked to the right corner of the room, and a light as bright as that light right there was coming towards me. I wasn't imagining it, I saw it and it was a brightness like nothing of this world could produce. When I saw it, I thought, "Wow, I think I better stop this because I'm--" I just had a feeling like maybe I shouldn't be doing this. You know the fear of the Lord sometimes it's not always the beginning of wisdom.

It's like-- and so I closed my eyes, and the light was just as bright when my eyes were closed as when they were open. It's my eyelids couldn't shut it out. I was a fitness fanatic back then. I was bench pressing hundreds of pounds and I had my hands in the air and I suddenly got scared. I tried to pull my hands down, and I couldn't pull my hands down. They were frozen. The light just kept coming towards me, towards me, towards me and then suddenly hit me right in the face. Went through my whole body, and I let out a scream.

Like I'm not a screamer, but I let out a scream. My wife says to this day, "I've never heard you scream like that." I let out a scream, I was knocked off my chair and knocked on to the floor. I was in a sweat, and I was shaking. Then suddenly, I heard a voice saying, "Stand up, I want to speak to you." I stood up on my feet. You get my wife, maybe next year I'll get her to share the story because she witnessed it. She said, "You started quoting scripture you didn't know." She said, "It was a psalm you'd never read." She says, "I'm sure of it, you started quoting it verbatim. Line, after line, after line as it just started to flow out of me."

See God, if we're willing to seek Him, He is willing to meet us. If we're saying, "I will serve you." He will respond with the power to serve Him. As God lives I've never been the same since that day. Never been the same. I started speaking to people, they would cry. I led 21 people to Christ in the next couple of weeks. It was just a short little season. Everyone I would talk to would start crying, and they'd give their lives to Christ. Not by power, not by might, but by the spirit of Almighty God. I understand what the upper room looks like, I understand there's a surrender.

We don't go seeking the Holy Spirit just so we can have an experience. We seek the Holy Spirit so we can have the power to live according to the will of God. It's always about being given for other people always, always. It's not just about having an experience so we have a notch on our wall. That, "Oh yes, check that box, I did that. I got that." It's the power of God that leads us into the will of God.

This is my brother, this is my sister, this is my mother. It's these who hear the will of God and they do it. He was not being rude to His family He was defining what the kingdom of God is going to look like. The end of ourselves is the beginning of God. If you feel strong in yourself you might be farther away from the beginning of God than you realize. If you feel weak, you might be closer than the person beside you. That's the irony and the beauty of the kingdom of God.

He takes us in our weakness, not in our strength. Not when we have a plan or telling him what to do, but when we've come to a place where we're actually listening to his voice now and saying, "God, I want you. Jesus, I want your will, I want your power. I want something of you in my life more than anything that this world has got to offer. I yearn for it, I long for it and if you will touch me, my God, I will live for you the rest of my life."

That's what the people in the upper room had to be praying because they knew the society around them was hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. God met them, including Mary. Praise be to God. I challenge you, I challenge you with all my heart. I hear that challenge from Pastor Mike McBride as well, and Pastor Nick. I challenge you. I challenge you. Don't be satisfied with less than what God has for you. Don't be satisfied with a secondary plan, don't dictate to the Son of God.

Don't try to get him to conform to your life plan. It doesn't work that way. Yield your life plan. Let it go, even the things you love, let them go and let God take over and you watch what God will do. It is a miracle, a miraculous life. It's a supernatural life. It's a life like you never believed that you could ever have. It's born in God. That's my altar call tonight. It's really just that simple. I'm going to ask the worship team if you would come at this time.

We're just going to say, "God, if you can do that for him, if you can do that for people in the Bible. If you did that for Mary, if you've done that for others throughout history, I'm not willing to sit on the sidelines and be an observer and watch you use other people when my life is available to you. I'm asking you--" It takes your humility. "I'm asking God, that you would give me the anointing the power of your Holy Spirit. That you would make me into the kind of a man or woman that I can't be in my own strength. That you would take me to places that I can't go. No matter what kind of a roadmap I've crafted for myself, I can't get there.

Would you give me the power to listen to your voice and obey it, and when you call me out of the familiar and into the unfamiliar help me to say yes. Help me to go through every door you set before me. Help me, God." This has been the cry of my heart my whole Christian life now. "Don't let me say no to you. Wherever you lead me, let me follow you. Don't let me ever think it's too big or too out of my league. Just let me obey you, God. Wherever you call me, give me your word and I know that you'll do the work that you've destined to do. All you really ever looked is for human vessels that you can work through, so let it be my story. Let it be my story."

Let that be your cry tonight. I can't put that cry in you, it's got to come from your heart. If you want religion, that's all you get. That's all you get. You'll spend the rest of your life just doctrinally debating and fighting in churches. That's it. Dry on Sunday, just going home criticizing the pastor. Dry on Monday, backslidden Tuesday. You can spend your whole life doing that. Then you try to create a sense of righteousness by criticizing everybody around you. It's such a mediocre way to live as a Christian. When the power of God is available for you. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Takes you out of this little box that religion can put you in and gives you a heart big enough to love even the worst of the lost. Gives you a heart to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Gives you a vision much bigger than anything that we could ever produce. Let it be. Let it be that SummerFire became that upper room in Ireland. Let it be, let it be. That's the cry of my heart.

Let this be the place tonight where we say, "God, you've done it for all these other people with all their struggles and all their frailties and all their failings, so Lord, you can do it for me. Here I am Lord, let it be unto me according to your word. Let my life be led according to your will. Thank you, God, you give me the power. You're not asking me to go anywhere that you won't give me the power to go there. You give me the giftings that I need to get the work done that you've desired to do through my life." Let that be your cry.

We're going to worship and what I'm asking of you tonight is simply a cry, just a cry from your heart. "God, I want your Holy Spirit. I want your presence. I want your power. I want your will. I want the way that you want to take my life. I want the power to lay down God, those things that are precious to me. I want the power to say yes when everything inside wants to say no. I want the power to yield and not try to dictate to you or anyone else. Lord, I want my life to count. I desperately want my life to count."

If that's the cry of your heart, we're going to stand and I'm going to ask you to step out of your seat and just come. Just come here and we're going to worship together, we're going to pray together. Be prepared for God to meet you. Just be prepared tonight. Wherever you are just come and come expecting the Spirit of God to touch you. Hallelujah. God tonight Lord, I thank you, Lord. I thank you're going to fill people with the Holy Spirit tonight.

I thank you Almighty God, this is your plan it always has been for your church Lord. You take us in our weakness, in our struggles or trials, when we don't understand God. When we feel like we've failed, when we feel like we've lost you, Lord. You take us in spite of it all God to an upper room and you fill us with your spirit. You give us the power to go out and confound and confront those things in our society that stand in opposition to this incredible truth. God, I ask tonight, Lord, for my brothers, my sisters, that nobody leave this altar disappointed.

That you'd fill everyone every person God with the Holy Spirit. That people would have the power to speak in other tongues tonight. The power to speak to people of other cultures. The power Lord, to speak of the wonderous things of the Kingdom of God. The power to stand Lord, in their homes, their families, their communities, Lord, even before their enemies talking about the wonderful works of God.

God, I pray that you make everyone at this altar a soul winner, everyone Lord, no exceptions, not one exception here tonight. Every man, every woman a soul winner. Every preacher with new power in their ministry God. Every pulpit up flame of fire God confronting every soul that stands before it, oh God. In Jesus name, Lord, in Jesus name. We are your church Lord, there's no other plan for this generation. There's no plan B or C, this is Plan A. This is Plan A for this nation, God. Here we are, Lord, as your people. Here we are God, the servants that you've called God, and so be done to us according to your word, Lord.

We will not fight against your word, we will not fight against where you lead us, Lord. God give us your Holy Spirit tonight. Give us your Holy Spirit. Now you start crying up for the Holy Spirit. You ask God to fill your life. You ask him for what only He can do. Don't be satisfied with anything less than him. Let him be your strength. Call out to Him now. Call out from the depths of your heart.

Pray like I prayed, "Lord if you will set me free, I will serve you all the days of my life. I will serve you Lord, I will go where you call me. I will speak what you give me Lord, but it will have to be your power. It will have to be your spirit because I can't do it in my own strength." Call out to the Holy Spirit, and don't be ashamed. Don't be ashamed to declare your need for God, because He's not ashamed of you. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus.

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The Communion of the Holy Spirit

 

Claude Houde

November 15, 2019

Communion with the Holy Spirit is your supreme calling, the source of supernatural service for God, and what the enemy will attack most in your life. Claude Houde inspires us to seek a daily walk with the Holy Spirit because only though him can we see, speak, stand against and shine for Christ supernaturally.

Claude Houde: The big question in conferences like this is, how can the touch that we receive become transformation? How can the touch become transformation? We're all busy. We're all working, around the world. We have no interest in coming, speaking, being touched, going home, and things don't change. You have a giant in this nation, with the thousands of churches and the tens of thousands and millions of believers. You have a giant, you have a responsibility. You may not realize this, but in any nation, the people of God are the most important people in the nation. You are the people that hold the keys to eternal life. You are the people and the mass of believers in this nation, you can change this nation.

Claude Houde: So how can this not just be another conference? How can the touch become transformation? How can the blessing we experience become a break-through that makes a difference in your life, in your family, in your children, in your church, in your city, and together in our nation, the nation that God has called us to touch. How can a conference really bring change? How can we possess, protect, and possess what we feel God has promised? Yesterday the ... hundreds of us that God has been writing His promises again in our hearts.

Claude Houde: How can we not see them go through our fingers in the next few weeks? How can we not come back next year to another conference, and do it again and again without change? For the younger ones that are here, how can my aspirations become accomplishments? How can I fulfill what I'm feeling in my spirit is from God? To the older ones, the fathers and mothers in the faith, how can I recapture, how can I reproduce, how can I make real, how can I make reality, some of the revelations that I am hearing here in this conference? How can the glory we felt together, how can the glory become growth and fruit in our lives? In our churches? How many of you are like me, like us this morning? We have one heart. We're not interested in just feeling better for one day or two. We want change. We want transformation. We want growth. We want souls, and we want breakthrough in our nation. If that's your heart, I want you to shout yes.

Congregation: Yes!

Claude Houde: So how? How can these moments together, as Bishop Noel said, how can the moments become a movement? How can the moments in the Holy Spirit become a movement? So today, I want to share a message, and it'll be a two part. I'm just doing the first part now, and then Pastor Gary will come, and Evangelist Nicky Cruz will come, and we'll flow through the day together. But I want to call you to something that has been the pursuit of my life, and the key, the difference between promise and possessing in ministries around the world, whatever the culture, wherever ... all 50 countries where I've ministered. I want to call you to a fresh commitment to the communion of the Holy Spirit. I want you to say it out loud with me. The communion of the Holy Spirit.

Congregation: The communion of the Holy Spirit.

Claude Houde: When the apostle Paul under ... writes 1st and 2nd Corinthians to a large body, to the largest body of believer, the most influential body of believer in the New Testament era, he ends the 1st epistle to the Corinthians with these words. "The grace of our Lord Jesus, and my love, be with you." Grace and love. And we are to walk in grace and love, and be renewed in grace and love. And when he writes the 2nd epistles ... it is a formal way in which he ends many letters, "Grace and love be with you." And we are called to walk in grace and in love. But when he finishes his 2nd epistles to the Corinthians, there's a prompting, there's an urgency, there is a shaking, there is a fire of the Spirit, a warning. There is an admonition of the Holy Spirit upon him, so he writes, last words of the 2nd epistle, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

Claude Houde: The communion of the Holy Spirit. This is a supreme calling. This is a supreme calling you are to pursue. This is the source of all supernatural service. Your communion with the Holy Spirit. This is what the satanic will most attack in your life, will attack your communion with the Holy Spirit. This is what the satanic will most attack. It will attack it through temptation, through sin. It will attack it through pride. It will attack it through bitterness, and division, and a harshness of heart. It will attack it through offenses that become prisons, and it will attack it through sheer busyness, when you're running around with your phone in your hand everywhere you go, and you little by little forsaking your communion with the Holy Spirit. Please understand. That is a supreme calling, that is the source of all supernatural service, and that is what the satanic will most attack in your life. If you receive and keep one thing from this conference, your future will depend on you cultivating, protecting, and you fighting for your communion of the Holy Spirit.

Claude Houde: When the band dismantles the instruments and the stage is gone, and we go back to our island, it's what happens tomorrow morning, and the next day, and the next day, between you and God, and your communion with the Holy Spirit, or not, that will determine how much of an impact you will have. The apostle Paul uses an amazing word. He says that's ... communion with the Spirit will be your supreme calling, the source of all supernatural service. This is what the satanic will attack in your life. And this is the communion of the Spirit that will sustain and strengthen you. Sustain and strengthen you.

Claude Houde: One of my privilege in ministry, 35 years of full-time pastoral ministry, is three decades of service, but to be surrounded and having the privilege of being around men that have served for years and years and years, and to see them being refreshed and being renewed. It is something amazing for me. I'm 57 years old. I am 57 years old. I know you're saying, "That's impossible. You look so young." I know that's what you're saying. I'm 57 years old, and I'm serving God with all my heart, and God gives me health and energy. But I think of my brother. I think of Pastor Nicky, who's a little bit over 57. Am I allowed to say? Last time he almost punched me out when I said his age. And he can do it. So let me say ... can I say 80, at least? Can I say 80? Let's say that I need to serve for about 20, 25 more years of ministry. To those of you who were there at the crusade, he's standing there in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I want to warn everybody over 50, there's no retirement for you. There's no settling for you. There's no, "I'm just going off to my retirement." No. You need today to call out and say, "O God, come and renew me by the communion of the Holy Spirit." Fresh oil! Fresh fire, fresh wind.

Claude Houde: And the apostle Paul uses something very ... an amazing word. He uses the word koinonía, the communion, the fellowship, the partnership. It is often used and taught in the New Testament as the communion that God calls us to have between believers, when we speak with one another and share deep things with one another. We open our hearts, and we listen, and we hear, and we are close. We're in communion. We are in union. How sweet it is for brethren to be in koinonía, to be in communion together! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, who calls us to be in communion with one another. Paul says, "You are to be in communion with the Holy Spirit."

Claude Houde: Your experience with the Holy Spirit is not a one time. It is not only at salvation. It is not only a one-time event. It's not only at a certain moment. It is a communion. It is a Him speaking to you and you to Him. I would say it this way, and not at all in a denominational sense, but we need a fresh Pentecost. Not a denominational Pentecost, where all the arguing is about exterior, external evidence. I'm speaking of an internal Pentecost. Do you understand that Pentecost, the word Pentecost, means 50? It was one of the feasts of the Old Testament. You had a sequence in the Old Testament where you have the angel of death going across the country, and the blood is put over the doors, foreshadowing what Christ will do for us. And whoever is found under the blood is saved. 50 days later, Pentecost, 50, 50 days later, the law of... God gives this law. It's commandments. He gives them on tables of stone on Moses. That's Pentecost.

Claude Houde: New Testament. New covenant. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb, is offered, and He sheds His blood once and for all. And whoever is found under the blood will be saved, will have eternal life. Nothing can separate you. Shout yes, please!

Congregation: Yes!

Claude Houde: 50 days later, the day of Pentecost, they were all in one place, in one accord, and there came a sound from heaven, and cloven tongues of fire came, and God says, "Now I will not write my desires, my plans, my heart, my convictions, my destinies, on tables of stones. I will write them on human hearts." Pentecost is not a denomination. It is an experience for all of us, day after day, to say, "Lord, come and write your laws, your desires, your plans, your warnings, your admonition, your corrections, your renewing. Come and write that on the tables of my heart." Can God still write something new on your heart? Can God still say to you, after all these years, "That attitude is wrong? Be careful. You have to be more grateful." The Holy Spirit can still write to you. "You have to let go of that offense. It's not about you. It's not about your kingdom. It's not your position, it's not your title."

Claude Houde: Can God still say to you by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in your communion with Him, can still give you a sensitive heart to someone next to you that you are to speak about Jesus to? Or someone that you are to call that's a backslider, that's hurt you so much, and caused you so much trouble, but the Holy Spirit, can He still speak to you to reach out with the hand of Christ? Can the Holy Spirit still reach a leader, the leaders among us, to be models of unity, as Bishop Noel preached? Can we cry out together for the Philippines, "O God, bring us again. Renew us again. Bring me back in that place of communion with the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name."

Claude Houde: And there's many pictures of the communion of the Holy Spirit in the two epistles to the Corinthians. We're going to look at one. I'm going to start this morning, and sometime during today do the second part. But I want you to look with me at 1st Corinthians chapter 2. Many pictures, incredible pictures. Very practical. Very ... exactly where we live as leaders, as to how this communion is manifested and unfolds, and is alive, and is bearing so much fruit.

Claude Houde: 1st Corinthians chapter 2, and we will look together at verse 9. 1st Corinthians chapter 2 and verse 9. "But it is written, as it written, your eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things that which God has prepared for those who love Him. That God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so, no one knows ... no one knows, no matter how educated, no matter how trained, no matter how professional in ministry you are, no matter how adept at leadership you are, no one knows the things from God but by the Spirit of God, the Spirit that is from God, that we might know ... would you say out loud with me? That we might know."

Congregation: That we might know.

Claude Houde: "That we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. And these things now we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the words ... with the language that the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. But for the natural man does not receive ... doesn't even see them. He doesn't receive, doesn't understand. He doesn't discern the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." In the Greek, they are spiritually possessed. They're only possessed by the Spirit of God. I would like to propose to you, first thought this morning, we'll continue on later on during the day, that through the communion of the Holy Spirit, and only through the communion of the Holy Spirit, can we speak supernaturally. Only through the communion of the Holy Spirit can we see supernaturally, speak supernaturally, and stand against everything the enemy throws our way, and shine supernaturally. By the communion of the Spirit we see supernaturally, we speak supernaturally, and we stand against hell itself, and shine supernaturally, in the name of Jesus. Would you say yes, please?

Claude Houde: So by the communion of the Holy Spirit, we can see supernaturally. Your eyes has not seen. Your mind cannot conceive. Your heart cannot produce the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. Where there is no vision, the people perish. I thank God for the leadership, what I heard this morning, in these few minutes. I thank God for the vision of your leaders. You have leaders that stand here, and they have a vision for the coming years. The word of God says where there is no vision, fresh revelation ... in the Hebrew it's chazon. When there's no chazon, the people perish. The people cast off restraint. When there is no vision, the people cast off restraint. The people go in any direction. They're like sheep scattered.

Claude Houde: Whether you have a large church or you are in charge of a youth group, or you have a small church on an island, you are called to be a man with spiritual sight. To be a woman and man of vision, that will see supernaturally. That sees supernaturally. Because your eye cannot see ... we sing it as a salvation experience. "I was blind, but now I see." But the opening of your eyes to salvation is only the beginning. God is calling us in every season of our lives to see supernaturally, to see with the eyes of God. Seeing supernaturally, seeing past the impossible, into what is right now invisible, but is what God calls you to be.

Claude Houde: To see supernaturally is to see beyond our fears. In every season of fears, where fear is grabbing you by the throat, you see supernaturally beyond your fears into faith. You see supernaturally His promises, so you're not defeated in the seasons of pain, in the seasons of pressure. You see supernaturally His love, His light, in the darkest season of loneliness. Through the eyes of faith, through the communion of the Spirit, you see the potential in people. You don't only see their past and their problem.

Claude Houde: It's not supernatural to see people's problems. How many of you have great discernment to see other people's problems? You just see it right away? That's not very supernatural. What is supernatural is to see their future in God, it to see beyond their fault, is to see beyond what they are not. Actually a shepherd is called, and a visionary leader is called, to see in people that God confides to us, what they don't even see in themselves. As Jesus looks at you. To see them as Jesus sees them. Supernaturally see His will, and walking in His will through our own wilderness. When you're in a wilderness, and when you're in a season of woundedness, it's only your communion of the Holy Spirit that keeps your eyes open to who He is. To my purposes, to my destiny, to who God has called me to be. It's only through the communion of the Spirit to see and stand for the true measure of success in His sight.

Claude Houde: It's only through the eyes of the Spirit, and the communion of the Spirit, that you keep your eyes on what is the true measure of success. Before God, not before men. As a servant of God, as a shepherd. All through the Scripture ... we could go all through the Scriptures, and we have these warning ... what I call the Zechariah warning. In Zechariah chapter 11 verse 17, I'm reading it for you, he says, "Woe unto the shepherd." Leaders. "Woe unto the shepherd who does not see, who does not cover, who does not fight for those and does not care for those that are cut off. Woe unto the shepherd who does not heal those that are broken. Who does not feed those that are starving before him. Woe unto the shepherd with a sword in his hand, but he will not fight for the sheep." Why? Because "he turns his back on the day of battle, because his eye has dried up."

Claude Houde: The eye has dried up. The eye has lost it's spiritual sight, so he's not ... he's concerned about many other things in ministry, but he's not concerned about the sheep. I shudder, as I travel in the nations, to see oftentimes leaders in the highest places tearing each other up, and the whole body of Christ watching leaders that are so ... let me say it this way. Show me a man who's preoccupied with his position, his title in his ministry, and I'm showing you a man that is not in communion with the Holy Spirit. Because if you are in communion with the Holy Spirit, there's something in you that says, "What's important is the sheep, is the people, is the witness, is my testimony, is the kingdom of God, is the name of Jesus that is upon us before the nation." Would you say yes, please? Communion with the Spirit.

Congregation: Yes.

Claude Houde: In Mark chapter 9, Jesus touched a blind man. Mark chapter 9. Just like all of us, he was completely blind. Didn't see anything. And he comes to Jesus. Jesus touches him, and He says, "What do you see?" "It's a miracle!" I was completely blind before, like you and me, completely blind to things of God, to the principals of God, to the heart of God. And now, he says, "I wasn't seeing anything before, but now I see men like trees, walking." And the Bible says Jesus touched him a second time. Touched his eyes a second time. Say out loud with me, a second time.

Congregation: A second time.

Claude Houde: He says, "What do you see now?" "I see people as they really are." I want to propose to you that all of us need a second time, and a second time, and a second time. That without the communion of the Holy Spirit, we just see people as trees walking. We don't see their need. We don't see how God wants us to serve them. We don't see our situation. We don't see our family. We don't see our marriage. We don't see our spouse. We don't see our kids or grandkids. We don't see our nation as God sees it. We don't see ministry as God sees it. Only when He gives me the second touch. I cry out, after 35 years of ministry, "God, give me the second touch again! Touch my eyes! If my eyes have dried up, come by your Spirit! I want to see what my eyes cannot see, what only the Spirit of God can show me and reveal to me." Would you say yes?

Congregation: Yes.

Claude Houde: I will see supernaturally. Jesus and the blind man. In Jeremiah chapter 1, second touch again. God says, "Jeremiah, I have called you. You will go." And He says, "What do you see?" He touched him, and He says, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And Jeremiah says, "I see a branch like the Olive tree, the saqed in the Hebrew." It was the announcer, the Hebrew word meaning, "That's the announcer of life." When everything was frozen and cold and sterile and lifeless, the branch would spring forth. It's announcing life. Again, he's announcing Jesus Christ. He's announcing the Life. And He says, "Okay, Jeremiah." He touched him a second time, and He asked him what do you see a second time. He says, "I see boiling pots of burning waters about to tip over."

Claude Houde: And that is the reality! That is the reality of what was happening in the nations. That is the reality of what will increasingly happen in these last days. We will be called to be the announcers of life in the midst of death. The announcers of life in the midst of boiling pots, and the boiling pots of burning water in the nations will never stop the gospel of Jesus Christ. But without the communion of the Spirit, you have ministers ... I was watching ... you have many many Christian programs here. It's a blessing. I was in the hotel last night, watching different preachers on at every hour, and Filipino preachers, and all types of different ministries. And many of them with an emphasis on this is the last days, and this is the dark days, and this is the end of things.

Claude Houde: All this is true. The burning pots of boiling waters are real. But we are not called to go into a bunker until Jesus comes. We are called to announce life. We are called to announce a new life in Christ. We are called to stand in a stadium, as you did a few days ago, and proclaim the life of Christ. [inaudible 00:23:35]. We are called to 21 days of fasting and prayer. We are called to months where each of us share our faith. We are called to see supernaturally, that we would serve Him supernaturally. Would you say yes?

Congregation: Yes.

Claude Houde: I'm going to close with this, and continue on, because He calls us to see supernaturally, that we would speak supernaturally. I want to close with one last verse. I want you to turn with me to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16. I close with this. Matthew 16, please. This is a passage that you know well. This is a passage where Jesus will ask His disciples. Matthew chapter 16. And Jesus came into the region, verse 13, into the region of Caesarea and Philippi, and He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" I, the Son of God. So they said, "Some say you're John the Baptist." Some praise. That's purity, that's repentance. That's the message of John the Baptist. The message of purity, very important. "And some say Elijah." That's the prophetic. The prophetic nature of our message. "And others they say is Jeremiah." Elijah is the power, and John the Baptist is the purity, and Jeremiah is the prophetic.

Claude Houde: And He said to them, "Okay, but who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said ... and Simon Peter is amazing. He has the capacity in the same day to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and to be rebuked because the enemy is also inspiring him. How many of you love Peter? You just love Peter? So Peter goes ... this is so inspired by God. He goes, "You are the Christ. You are the Son of the Living God." And Jesus answered and said, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. Flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but my Father has revealed this unto you." The Holy Spirit, the communion of the Father revealing, causing him to see and to speak supernaturally. "And I say to you, you're only a pebble. You're only a small stone. But on the rock of revelation that I give you, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys." Say out loud, the keys.

Congregation: The keys.

Claude Houde: "The keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you loose on earth will loose in heaven." Look up for a second. "Who do men say that I am?" And after 2,000 years, we can reduce Jesus to just one portion. "Some say you're John the Baptist." It's all about sanctification, and purity, and holiness. And it's so important, but He's that and beyond. "Some say you're Elijah." It's about the power. It's the power. Yes, it's the power, it's Elijah. But He's more. "Some say you're Jeremiah." It's the prophetic. It's all about the prophetic. It's all the signs, it's the date, Jesus is coming back at that date. No it's beyond that. "Who do men say that I am?" "You're the Christ, you're the Son of the Living God." Oh, Simon Peter. "It's not flesh that has revealed that to you, but my Father in heaven. And as long as you walk in the communion of the Holy Spirit, I ... you're just a pebble. You're just a little stone. But on the rock of revelation that I give you, I will build my church in the Philippines, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you keys."

Claude Houde: Here's what happens as we travel the world, literally, as we go to nation after nation after nation after nation. Someone is fasting and praying somewhere, and God gives them a key. Some keys are universal. They're for the whole world. It is praying, it is fasting, it is serving Him with all our hearts, it is compassion. It is the grace of God. Some keys are universal. But then we have a group ... somewhere in the nation, we have men fasting and praying, and God gives them a key for their city, for their nation. And in our day and age, the key becomes a book. The book becomes a web series. The book becomes a conference. It becomes a methodology, and pastors come from all over to now study this key. And let's take this key now, whether it be one technique ... and I'm not even going to mention any, because ... one technique, five steps to this five steps to that. The only problem is you go back home and that key wasn't for your city, it was for theirs. You needed to seek God for yourself. You needed to be a voice, and not an echo.

Claude Houde: This is something the Lord said to me years ago. I'm going to close with this this morning. Be a voice, not an echo. Say it to somebody next to you. Be a voice, not an echo.

Congregation: Be a voice, not an echo.

Claude Houde: I will tell you in what context. I will tell you ... I'll close with this. I will tell you in what context the Lord gave me this, and it became something important in my life. As I mentioned yesterday, I have preached over a thousand times to 50 people or less. I was an evangelist in the French world. If you go in the dictionary and you look up the word "extreme poverty," there's a picture of an evangelist in the French world. That was me. Extreme poverty. Going to churches of 50 people, and just my whole life preaching to them. That's all I was doing. But, because I could interpret from English into French ... this is before interpreting for Pastor David Wilkerson.

Claude Houde: I'm just beginning in ministry, and I get this call for what was, at that time, the most well-known Pentecostal evangelist in the world. Stadiums of hundreds of thousands. His television program was world-wide. And I'd just got married, and we were very ... we have this tiny little apartment, we have this car that only starts by faith. You have to lay hands on it to make it go. My wife married me, I had Bibles, books, and a smile. That's what I had to offer. And preaching 300 times a year in these tiny churches, and no offerings.

Claude Houde: And I get this call from this American organization, and they call me downtown Montreal into a skyscraper. I showed up, and they're very American. Americans are more in your face. I sat there and they said, "We saw some tapes of you interpreting, and the evangelist wants you to be his voice to the French world. You're going to stand with them in French Africa and Europe and France, six or seven crusades. You're going to do one week a month. You're going to go to Louisiana. You're going to go to their studios. You're going to be the voice and the face in the French world." And they're so American that as I sat there, without me asking anything, he showed me. He says, "This is the salary we will give you monthly." I say before God, no exaggeration, what they were offering me monthly was more than I was making in a whole year.

Claude Houde: Oh, you should say, "Hmm." Say something. You're all pretending you don't care, but you know what I mean. So I'm thinking, "Wow." But I said what I should say. I said, "Well, let me pray about it." But it was pretty exciting. So I get home, and I'm jumping. I get home and I'm thinking, "I'm going to buy a car, I'm going to buy a house. I'm going to do this. I'm going to be traveling the world. I'm going to be on the stage. This is going to send me in front of nations." And I get home, and I tell my wife, and she says, "Mm. I don't feel it." "You don't feel it, honey?" "No, I don't feel it. No, I don't feel it." I said, "Wait until we get the first check. You'll feel it. You'll feel it." Oh, don't look at me so legalistic. Don't look at me so Pharisee. You know what I'm saying.

Claude Houde: But I did go pray. And I took a week to pray. And the first day ... the Lord didn't take a week. The first day I was walking, and I came to this passage that I had read so many times before. John the Baptist. A voice in the wilderness. And the Holy Spirit dropped in my heart, "Be a voice, not an echo." It doesn't mean I'm not going to translate. I interpreted many times. But it meant I'm to say no to this. And I remember shaking, picking up the phone and saying, "Thank you for the offer, but it will be no." And they were offended, and they thought ... and I remember the guy saying, "Boy, you just ... I don't know if you should ask counsel of somebody, because you're ruining your life."

Claude Houde: I hung up, and I would love to tell you that the week after the blessings opened. No, the week after, I was preaching to 30 people again, and just continuing to just serve God. But three months later, that evangelist fell into immorality and became a scandal to the whole world. And I would have become the face and the voice of immorality, and of a man visiting prostitutes, and bringing shame to the gospel.

Claude Houde: In the communion of the Holy Spirit, there will be protection. In the communion of the Holy Spirit, sometimes there will be God calling you to what no one else is seeing. There will be God looking at somebody no one else ... you think that when Nicky Cruz showed up as a young man from the streets into a Bible school somewhere in California, you think they all looked at him and said, "Oh, this young guy, he's going to go around the world, and 50 years from now he will be in the Philippines with thousands?" No, they were scared of him. There was things that God put in his heart that no one ... he couldn't see it in himself, no one could see it, but the Holy Spirit whispers it in your heart, and He puts a conviction in your heart, and you walk, and you develop.

Claude Houde: I want to say to someone, be attentive to counsel, yes, be attentive to wisdom, yes, but you must listen to God. You must hear God. Don't seek ... that's why in this conference we're not giving you a methodology. I'm not giving you the seven steps, how we grew our church in Montreal. We grew it on our knees, calling on God, and He gave us keys, one year at a time, one blessing at a time, one ministry at a time, one devil at a time. And the key for yesterday is not even sometimes the same as the key God wants to give you today, in this generation, in this season of your life. O God, I want to see supernaturally, in Jesus' name. And all of God's people shout amen and amen.

Congregation: Amen!

Claude Houde: I want the musicians to come. We're not going to have a long time. Just have a moment of prayer, and then we'll have a five-minute break, and continue. But this is the beginning of the day. This is how a conference becomes change. This is how a moment becomes a movement. This is how a blessing becomes a breakthrough. This is how the glory becomes growth and fruit. This is how it's not just a conference. It could be a moment. It could be ... I'm asking you to build an altar where you are. Say, O God, I must renew my communion with you, Holy Spirit. Communion with the Father. Communion with the Son. My eyes cannot see.

Claude Houde: I'm speaking with love to a mother and to a father in the ministry, and you say, "My eyes cannot see how the situation can turn around for my son anymore. Oh, when I look at my son, when I look at my daughter, when I look at my church, when I look at my marriage, when I look at what I'm going through right now, my eyes cannot see it. But I'm asking you, Holy Spirit, come and show me. Fill me again. The communion." And I want to call a moment of repentance this morning, and say, precious Holy Spirit, if I have been neglecting your presence, if I have been neglecting to seek you ... the satanic has been attacking your communion with the Holy Spirit. He's been distracting. He's been confusing, through sin, or through condemnation, or through busyness, or through bitterness, or anger, ungratefulness. But today, he's exposed. The enemy is exposed. And we lift our hands and we say fill us again, Holy Spirit. Oh, I'm not speaking of a denominational experience. This is for all of us. Not one of us think we have something the other doesn't have. We all just long ...

Claude Houde: Would you begin to pray out loud? Then pray in your language, pray, and say, "Lord, I pray, fill me. Fill my eyes to see, in this season of my life." I pray for Bishop Noel. I pray for all the leaders. I pray for the Jesus marches. I pray for the fasting and prayer in this nation coming up. I pray for this vision for every believer to share their faith once a month. The potential. I pray for the month of October, 2020. I pray by faith for 500 thousand baptisms of new souls that will have come into the kingdom of God through ... and Lord, it begins with leaders. It begins and ends with us. Our church will not go further than us. Our city will not go further than we go. It all rises or falls on leadership, and we are called to be leaders. We are called to be your man, your woman, in this nation. Lord God, the church in the Philippines must not be a sleeping giant. By the Spirit awaken the giant, O God, that we would rise in unity.

Claude Houde: Lord God, I want you to call out for unity, not at a superficial level. We are praying for miracles. Miracles of unity. Miracles of repentance. Miracles of reconciliation. Deep conviction of the Holy Spirit upon leaders that fall to their knees, fall to their knees and say, "Forgive me." Fall to their knees and say Jesus first, the people of God first, the church first. I am praying for each pastor to be on his knees and to say, "O God, I want to see. I want to see with the eyes of the Spirit. I want to see my town. I'm praying for every marriage, every couple, and I want to see my wife, I want to see my children, I want to see my husband, as you want me to see him, or her." In the name of Jesus, let me hear the heart-cry of the Filipino leadership. Let me hear the voices rising up to Jesus. Call out the name of your city. Call out the name. Call out the name.

Claude Houde: Spirit of God, speak to your leaders. Speak to your pastor. Speak to bishops. Speak [inaudible] men and women are here, and some that are not here. Reach them by your Spirit. Awaken their hearts. Awaken their minds to your will and your purposes. We declare your purposes over the enemy's purposes for our nation. We declare justice, when there is only corruption. We declare healing, when there is only division. We declare the purposes and the power of God. O Lord Jesus, give us keys. We believe you are giving us keys. O God, give us keys. Give me keys for my city. Give me keys for my family. Give me keys for my own kids. Give me keys for my own children.

Claude Houde: Lord Jesus, we come to you today. As this day begins, we are opening our hearts to everything you will say to us. We believe by faith that this conference will make a difference, that things are moving in the heavenlys. That darkness is pushed back. That lies are exposed. We received a vision from one of our bishops today, and we are receiving it. But now we pray, O God, that you would write your vision on our hearts. That you would write by your Holy Spirit, not on tables of stone, but on the tables of our hearts.

Claude Houde: I pray, O God, for each man and woman of God in this place. Every island, every village, every city, every church, every ministry, every family. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, the things that God has prepared for the Philippines. They are not understandable, they are not discerned, they are not see-able humanly. But they will be revealed by the Holy Spirit and accomplished. We will see supernaturally, so we will speak supernaturally and stand supernaturally, and sow supernaturally, and shine supernaturally, in the name of Jesus. And all of God's people shout amen and amen. 

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Head to Foot

 

Tim Dilena

October 17, 2019

Every day you battle thoughts that want to derail your purpose and value. If you allow those thoughts to take root, they will begin to control your actions. In this powerful teaching, Tim Dilena encourages you to confess your thoughts and struggles within godly community so that you can overcome your rogue thoughts and stay on purpose.

Finally, listen, this wouldn't be possible without the vision of Pastor Gary and Kelly Wilkerson and World Challenge who literally had the vision for this, not only here in Jacksonville, but they're doing this all over the world. And so, I've had the privilege of not just growing up with them, but also seeing what God is doing through World Challenge and through their leadership. They have come behind this, supported this. And so, it is just an absolute blessing.

Gary and Kelly took the baton from Pastor Dave Wilkerson and Gwen Wilkerson, and World Challenge is doing a phenomenal, phenomenal job. I want to encourage you, when I'm working on the elliptical, I'll download and listen to Gary's podcast. If you've not done that, it is tremendous. His new book that just came out, this is just so important. So I really encourage you just to get connected with World Challenge. And don't let it just be what happens here. Let it go beyond this place. So thank you to Pastor Gary. Thank you, Kelly, for what you've done for this conference.

Okay, let's date ourselves. I know we dated ourselves, I mean, when we heard Pastor Matt go, "I can't take notes fast enough on my phone," we already know that's a young guy. So let me date ourselves for just a second. How many remember, I just want to make sure. How many remember the days the TV was like the size of the stage. Anybody remember those days?

Yeah.

Okay. How many remember this terminology, rabbit ears on top of the TV. Do you guys remember those? And if you couldn't get a picture, you put aluminum foil. How many of you remember those days? Okay. And then the upper class people had an antenna on the house. And so, some people would be moving the direction of the antenna just to make sure.

I mean, when you turned it on, let me just tell you something. There was a white dot and I remember the white dot that kind of turned into a... So in those days, there was no remote control. There was a knob that was always lost, and so there was a pair of vise grips that you'd always turn. How many remember the vise grips. You're going like, "Can somebody put the knob back?" If it falls off, put it back on.

When you look at TVs today, I mean, it's 4K now, high-def, that you get to see every bead of sweat. You get to see every line in every old person, the crow feet around their eyes, everything on high-def comes on. This is really important because when you think about it, and you think about high-def, there's no better place or no place that we need to make sure that we're allowed to go high-def than in the church.

Now, let me just be honest. The church cannot just be a place to succeed. It also has to be a safe place to fail. Let me say that again. It cannot be a place that you just applaud success. It has to be a safe place to fail, because if I have a family that only... As a father, if all I do is applaud my kids when they do well... My son last weekend was swimming at the... He swims for Liberty University, was swimming at the regionals at University of Maryland.

North Carolina was there. Penn State was there, all these head schools. And so we were so excited. He prayed. He goes, "Hey, just pray. I'm swimming 500 breasts. I'm swimming 200 breasts and the IM, could you just pray?" Breaststroke is his stroke. So we prayed. Our prayer for him Is always, "God let them swim like sharks are chasing him." That's what we pray every single time. And so, we were so excited. He made it to the finals. Didn't win, but made it to the finals.

But if that's the only time that I can applaud him, but it's not a safe place. And college, his first semester with calculus and all this stuff has been a real difficulty. But if we're not a safe place to fail, then we're an unhealthy family. Because if you want this to be a healthy church, it has to go high-def. It has to be a place that people can be real, show the lines, show the sweat, and show the pain that goes on.

Great things happen. There was an amazing revival that took place in the Book of Ephesians, in the book of Ephesus... in the City of Ephesus. But in Acts 19, a revival started because people went high-def. Let me give you this two really important verses because I want you to see, when people find a safe place to be real, it's amazing how contagious it is.

This is the revival of Ephesus that rocked the city. Listen to these words. It says, verse 18, said, "Many of those who believed..." Now that watch this, believers about to go high-def, 4K, "... now came an openly," this is a key word, "confessed." Keep that up there for just a second, "... what they had done." This is high-def, I believe, let me be real. Let me say that again. I believe, let me show you the lines and the sweat. They confessed what they had done.

Watch the ripple effect. This is verse 19. "Then a number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together, burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to 50,000 drachmas." Did you see what just happened? The Christians went high-def and then the occult people started confessing their stuff because they knew this is a safe place.

They knew that there was a moment here that they realized that this was a place we could be honest, because what we start to figure out is this. We have mistaken the church, we've mistaken sometimes a conference. When you see pastor Gary or Kelly singing or myself, and Pastor Carter and Pastor Gary. This is not a museum or a hall of fame. Let me just tell you this. Listen to me close. This is a hospital where people get better. It's a hospital where sick people get better. And starting with me as one of the sick patients in here, that is getting better.

When you come to the Springs Church, it can't be a hall of fame that nobody can measure up. It has to be a hospital where we're all getting better, and we realize that it's a high-def place, that we can celebrate the successes, but we'll also say, "It's safe to fail here." Does that make sense?

Yeah.

And the place, wherever church you're from, if we don't have that, then what it does, you're creating a hall of fame that's not even real. It's not even real because none of us can live up to that. Let me tell you why. A.W. Tozer, one of the great Christian Missionary Alliance writers writes these words. Let me read them to you, and you can get down as much as you can. But this is what he says. "10,000 thoughts a day pass through our minds, and they try to predict what we will become."

Let me say that one more time. He said, "10,000 thoughts a day pass through our mind." And he says, "And every one of them are trying to predict what we will become." I am telling you that's true. I don't care what position you hold. I don't care if you're a senior pastor, worship leader, volunteer, whoever you are, watching on our webcast, or maybe you're downloading this, you're going to see this a week later, every day there's 10,000 thoughts that pass through my mind trying to predict what we will become. And this is so important because it's that mind battle that we're always facing.

This is what I want to do in the next few moments. I want to tell you two crazy stories, one biblical, one personal, and then I want to just give you a New Testament principle. So I'm going to tell you my personal crazy story, then David's crazy story, then I'm going to give you the New Testament principle. We're good with that? Everybody good? So you have a chance to write some things down.

When I first went to Detroit, I told you, that was Gary and Kelly, when we went up there, many people don't realize this about Detroit. The second targeted place by the FBI and the federal government after 9/11 was Detroit, because many people forget this, is that though most of the attacks happened in New York City, and then also in Pennsylvania towards going to DC, Detroit is the second largest Arabic population in the world, only second to the Middle East.

We have whole sections of Detroit that streets and signs are all in Arabic. Where I lived in Detroit, there were sections that they got legislation passed that every day they'd have a call to prayer from the mosques, that would be all over Detroit. Some of my favorite food is Lebanese food when you go around there. But it was amazing to see the Muslim and Arabic influence in Detroit.

I have friends that have given themselves literally for decades, learned Arabic, and instead of going to the Middle East, like our sister that Pastor John talked about who's doing an amazing work there, these folks have given themselves to a city within the city called Dearborn, Michigan, where Ford company is, and are pouring into the learning Arabic and ministering on a slow, but watching people's lives change there. It's pretty amazing to see what's happening.

Well, let me tell you a crazy thing that happened. One of our music people met this woman named Minas from Iran. I'm sorry. Yeah, Iran, at the university there, one of the University of Michigan satellite campuses. During the break of this night class, she sees our music person reading their Bible. She goes, "Oh, you must be a Christian." She goes, "Yes." She goes, "I need your help." She said, "Since being 13," she's now in her late twenties, "I've been receiving visions of this resurrected Jesus who is speaking to me. I come over to this country. I don't know what to do next. And so I know he's resurrected. I know he's alive. Tell me what to do."

And folks, can I just tell you. That's not uncommon in the Middle East, because you always need to remember, though men shut doors to the gospel, that doesn't affect God at all. He can come in any way He wants to come in. So I'm listening to our music person tell us the story. So Minas is getting these visions of resurrected Jesus, wants to know what she's supposed to do next.

So the person goes, "Well, come to the church and talk to Pastor Tim." So I'm thinking, "Okay." So I'm talking to somebody who's had visions of Jesus, resurrected Jesus. And she goes, "What do I need to do next?" And I thought, "If Jesus has been witnessing to her, don't mess this up." That's what I thought. I could just see the resurrected Jesus doing a great job. And then all of a sudden he has her on the line, and Tim comes, snip, and so messes the whole thing up.

I was so proud of myself. I said, "I have nothing to say. Do exactly what he tells you to do. If he's talking to you, you don't need to hear from me right now. You need to keep talking to Jesus." This woman, literally born and raised in Tehran, seen Jesus and is now a follower. So she then asked me, she said, "Well, Jesus told me I'm supposed to be water baptized. I said, "Yes." So we water baptized her, which is a huge deal in that community, a huge deal. Water baptized. And these are the words that she said.

I said, "Anything you want to say before we baptize you?" She said, "I know one day I'll go back to Iran, and I'm ready to die for my faith." And I'm sitting there going, "Would you baptize me?" At that point, I'm going like, "I don't talk to resurrected Jesus. I'm not into death. And so this is just not going really well, this water baptism." And this is genuine sold out... I mean, I'm looking at a sold-out person that already has given everything to Jesus.

All good. Fast forward, just a couple of weeks later, we have morning prayer meetings at our church. And then on a one cold Monday morning while I'm praying, this is the day after, or a couple of weeks after her water baptism, we released the church to pray. Everybody comes in, it's cold morning. We start praying, and I watched this man come in from the back. He comes in. I've never seen him before, or at least I couldn't recognize him or I didn't recognize him.

And he was wearing, I think they call it like a keifa, wearing it around his face and he's walking and I'm going, "Oh my goodness. This is it." I said, "If she was prepared to die, am I prepared to die?" I've been talking to my Minas. She's born again, I'm baptizing her. 9/11 just took place recently, so, I'm in this mode. My mind is going crazy. And I watch him walk in, stop at the front, look around, and go kneel at the front seat.

I don't know what to do at this point. We have no security. It's early in the morning. This is it. I'm not going to be able to do Springs Conference. I'm not going to do anything here. It's all done at this point. I really wasn't thinking about you. I just want to tell you. And so, I was just thinking to myself, "What in the... I didn't know what to do.

My mind, I'm going like, "I'm going to die. Okay, let me just make sure I'm saved." And so, I'm going through everything in my mind because I'm going, "After this meeting, it's over." So I'm just going, "Let me at least get one good prayer in before it's done." Then it was just like so gnawing at me that I wanted to see if I can provoke it to happen faster just to see if this is... If it's going to happen, let me at least go...

So this is high-def, I'm going to go 4K with you. This is honest confession. So I was walking by him and I would say phrases loud as I was walking by him. Keep this in mind. I'm the senior pastor of the church having mind problems because one of those 10,000 thoughts got in there. He's been sent here to kill me because I baptized Minas. So I'm walking by and so I'm just going, "Jesus, I thank you that you are Lord." And so I would just kind of go, and I just keep going. Nothing. Nothing.

So I'm going, "Okay, so let me get a little bit more specific." So I go, "Thank you that you are greater than Allah." And so I'd walk by at that point, nothing. I mean, I just hear this mumbling that he's praying, I'm going like, "He's not hearing anything that I'm saying." And so I'm just going by and I'm just going, "Your word is true. Jesus is resurrected, Jesus is King, and Jesus is the only God," and nothing.

And so I'm going like, "Okay, he's cool cucumber right there." This is not going the way I... he must be a professional. So I'm thinking to myself, when it's all said and done, we call everybody in a circle and I just figure there's power in a group of us that we can take him. And so, we call everybody together. And all of a sudden, I see the keifa come off, and it's one of our college students. And I'm sitting there, and he goes, "Pastor, why are you yelling at me during the whole prayer meeting?"

And I'm going, "What are you wearing that thing for? He says, "One of my roommates had it," or something. I didn't even know what he found. He said it was cold outside. I could not go 4K on him and high-def going like, "Well, I thought you were here to kill me and I thought you're Al Qaeda." I didn't have that. I wasn't 4K-ish at that time.

And I'm looking at that going, "How does one of those 10,000 thoughts lodge... Okay, listen close. And how does it go, you're pastoring in a ministry, here it is, from head to foot? That literally you start acting out what you're thinking. I'm acting out the fear. I'm acting out what was going on. And then as I read the story of David and thought to myself how he goes from an amazing moment, a miracle, and then finds one of those 10,000 thoughts lodging in his head, it's exactly what happened to him.

And all of a sudden, from miracle, where he experiences God doing something, excuse me, in chapter 26 where he sees God put 3,000 men to sleep, that he was able to, with Abishai, walk into the center of Saul's camp, take his water jug, take his spear, come out, and God put them all supernaturally to sleep to show David, I got you. I'm protecting you. My hand is upon you. An incredible miracle.

He was being hunted down. Think about this for a second. Saul has hired 3,000 men to kill one kid. Now, you know that's an anger issue. When you're paying 3,000 salaries and health insurances to kill a kid, you know you've taken this to the wrong... You have blown up this narrative. So 1st Samuel 26 is God showing kind of like the Minas moment. I'm talking to somebody. I've only heard stories and I'm talking to somebody, a woman from Iran, from Tehran, Iran, who has heard and seen Jesus, saved, has a heart that is not afraid to die.

And I'm watching this, and how do I go from watching a miracle into head games? Because every day, 10,000 thoughts, whoever you are, will pass through your mind trying to predict what you'll become, every single day. And if we don't get high-def and go 4K, then what we do is, listen close. When we don't get high-def and 4K, it goes from head to foot, and you start playing out the stuff that you are thinking and you're going like, "Really, does that really happen?"

Let me show you. So David has just experienced the miracle. That's chapter 26. God shows up. He shows him that I got you covered. Saul is not going to win this thing. And literally, here's what's crazy. I want you to get this. He is just a few chapters away from putting the crown on his head, a few chapters away. So he's on this journey, has seen the miracle of God. And now I want to read to you his Monday morning prayer meeting moment. His Jesus is Lord to the guy with the keifa on.

I want to read to you what happens. Miracle, chapter 26. Chapter 27 starts. Let me read to you these words. Here it is, verse one. "But David thought to himself," here's the mind part, head to foot, thought to himself, "One of these days I'm going to be destroyed by the hand of Saul." Well, he just got delivered. Where does that come from? 10,000 thoughts. He said, "The best thing I can do," really, this is the worst thing he could say, "The best thing I can do is to escape into the land of the Philistines."

This is really gone south. "Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel and I will slip out of his hands." Verse two then says, "So David and the 600 men with him left and went over to Achish, son of Maoch, King of Gath." And then I will skip over to verse 7. And it just says that David lived in Philistine territory for a year and four months. Talk about going from a miracle to a mind battle from head to foot, after seeing that.

I thought I had problems on that Monday morning prayer meeting. That's problems when you look at this, and you think to yourself, "How does that happen?" It all starts with the mind. David thought to himself... It's when those mind battles begin to come, those rogue thoughts that are telling you, "You're not supposed to be here. This is not where you're supposed to be. This is not ministry. Your kids are going to fail. Your marriage is in trouble."

Here's the part I want you to write down. Jot this down now. I want to give you just a couple of quick thoughts. Number one, David keeps silent about that thing he should have confessed. David keeps silent about the very thing he should have confessed. People are afraid to tell others their battles because of what they're afraid they'll think. One of my friends always says this, jot this down. You're only as sick as your secrets. You're only as sick as your secrets.

It's that moment that those mind battles start creating some narratives, that if it doesn't go 4K and if it doesn't go high-def, that it's going to find its way from head to foot. Listen really close. This is the part. Now some of you may get angry with this, but my flight's at 1:00, so it's okay. So I'm not really afraid, well, maybe a little bit still from the guy of the prayer meeting. But let me say this.

I want to say this to you, and instead of getting religious about the semantics of it, listen really close because I'll give you the scriptures to it. If you want forgiveness, we confess our sins to God. Is that a problem? If we want forgiveness... Let me read it to you. 1st John 1:9. "If we confess our sins," is 1st John 1:9, "he is faithful and just or righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Let me say that again. I want you to write that phrase down. You're going like, "Well, that doesn't sound..." The next thing I'm going to say is where you're going to get angry? Let me say it again. If you want forgiveness, you confess your sins to God. Okay. Listen to me close. If you want healing, you confess your sins to godly people. Okay. You can get his ticked as you want, but you're only as sick as your secrets. If you want forgiveness and go to heaven, confess your sins to God, and God has set up the body of Christ, and he says, "If you want healing, we confess them to godly people."

James 5:16, "Therefore, confess your sins to God." No, no, no. It doesn't say that. "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you can be," what? "healed." What kind of person should I talk to? The effective prayer of a righteous man or woman can accomplish much. Some people are sitting here that have been forgiven but have never been healed.

Pastor Gary preaches one of the most amazing messages. I don't even know if he's going to be doing it today. When he speaks about trauma, the things that happen. Are you doing that? Oh my goodness. Okay. Is that two o'clock? Whenever it is. Whenever it is, that means you have to show up. He doesn't know when he's doing it. So you better be here. It could be Sunday, it could be tonight. And you'd better buy all the videos. $25, $25, you buy all the videos.

So here's the deal. There are people, and... Listen, I've heard him. We've done things around the world, and I've heard this message probably four or five times. And every single time, it has done something to me. Every single time, I know there's healing in that. And I'm just telling you, most of us here know how to get forgiveness, but many of us here have never gotten healing, because we have never gone 4K or high-def, which not only brings healing to us, but according to the Acts 19 revival, begins to send healing and ripples to your entire church.

When you have a safe place that you can begin to confess. Healing does not come from the church. Healing comes from the people you are honest with. Just because you showed up at church doesn't mean you get healed. Healing comes from the people you're honest with. Let me say that again. Healing doesn't come from attending church. Healing comes from beginning to be transparent with godly people. That's what it is.

You're just going like, "I've been in church, I'm still the same way." That's not what James 5:16 is talking about. Pastor Gary and I do this all the time. We talk about this because we're part... We always say this to each other. And we've talked about this in different parts of the world. We've talked about it in Finland and in Sweden and all over, and we'll say this.

Now, this is where it's going to get a little crazy, but we'll tell people all the time is you can read your palm and decide what your future is going to be. Now you're going like, "Okay, now this is weird." Okay. Stay with me for just a second. Okay. I want you to tell your future. You can post this. You can go, "Pastor Tim's reading palms." Okay. Get ready because you're going to read your own palm. Hold your hand up right now because you're going to read your palm.

This is it. Hold it in front of you. Hold it in front of you because I want you to see it. Get ready to read it. Here's how you could tell your future. Tell me the five most important relationships in your life and leave out your wife and your kids, or your husband and your kids. Tell me the five most important people in your life. Think about them just right now. Who are they, the five most important people that you can go high-def and 4K with because here's the deal. You can put your hands down. It's starting to look silly.

Everyone's going like, "What's up?" Listen to me. My friend used to say it like this. "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future." This determines your longevity in ministry. Let me say that again, this determines... I just read your future, because if you couldn't fill that in, it is a real rocky road ahead for all of us.

Gary and I talk about this all the time. He just goes like, "Yeah, you're one of my fingers." I call him up and go, "You're one of my fingers," because it's that important. If you can't think of... And it's not your spouse. If there's someone you cannot go high-def and 4K, listen to me close, then it's going to go from head to foot because one of those 10,000 thoughts every single day is trying to predict your future.

It tried to do it with David. It tried to begin to challenge his future. According to James 5:16, when you connect honesty and transparency, that's the confession part, listen to me close, when you connect honesty and transparency with a praying godly person, effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man. So let me say that again. When you take honesty, transparency, 4K, high-def, and begin to connect it godly praying person, that's the second part of the verse, here's what's amazing. Healing is close by. Healing is close by.

4K, with a godly person, not just anybody. When you connect those two things together, then healing is close by. Someone asked me, a leader asked me in New York City not too long ago. They were talking about there's been a little bit of a stream from singers, and worship leaders, to authors who have kind of chucked the faith. I'm not saying anything that hasn't been gone public, but it kind of started a little bit with Joshua Harris, the guy who wrote, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. And now thinking through...

Someone asked me, he goes, "How do you write a book that, man, I read as a teenager growing up in my youth group, as a youth pastor, you're giving it to all your kids, going, "We kissed dating goodbye," and all of this stuff. How does a guy like that all of a sudden go rogue? Then he said this to me. He goes, "Should I be afraid of this?" I said, "Let me just tell you something. Hold your hand up, because if you can't..." I said, "The problem with Joshua Harris is this. He had no fingers that he can talk those thoughts through."

Folks, listen to me just for a second. This is really important because this is huge. And this is what I told him. I said, "Who Joshua Harris processed with was with the trinity, me, myself, and I. And when you process with you, here it is. David thought to who? Himself. David started processing with himself. That's not where it happens. When you start processing those 10,000 thoughts with you, I'm telling you, you end up, verse two, crossing over.

I'll get to this in a second. But here's what's crazy. It cost him a year and a half of his life, a year and a half of Philistine territory because he had no one to go public, to go 4K with the rogue thoughts. And this is so huge for us to understand because it's in those moments that this is what it's going to take, both humility, and it's also going to take some security in us to go, "It is a safe place for me to talk this through and for me to say this."

When I was going through one of the hardest and darkest seasons of my ministry life... I'm so grateful for Pastor Gary and Kelly. We've sat in restaurants, in different spots of the world that I'm able to, there's a safe place to process. Pastor Carter is one of the fingers. I don't know which finger Gary is, but he's a good finger. Pastor Carter just thought about that. I was going like, "No, no, keep going. Okay. Okay. Good. Good. Get that out. Okay. Of those watching online, get rid of that one.

When I was going through one of the darkest moments and feeling like, "Oh my goodness, what am I going to do?" At that time, it wasn't life-giving until I came to one spot. I just happened to be reading. I was reading the letters of C.S. Lewis from his atheist and young days all the way to the days he's got married, Joy Davidman, and all the great things. Reading someone's letters is like reading their text messages. It's like you're getting raw stuff.

And I read something that I just go, "These were the thoughts that were going through my mind." I want to read something to you that I literally wrote this in my journal. I said, "That is me. That's me." Listen to this. C.S. Lewis wrote this in his journal in February 9th. The date's important, 1923. And I want to read to you what he said because, when he writes this, he's bookless and jobless. He hasn't written one book. He has applied to teach at Cambridge, couldn't even get into Cambridge.

My kids thought this was fantastic. Do you know C.S Lewis failed the entrance test, in his biography, failed the entrance test to get into Oxford twice. He couldn't pass the math part. And so, the only way he got into Oxford's is because he served in the military, and on the third round they just go, "If you served, you get to go to Oxford." And so my kids are going, "See, you don't have to be good at math and you can still go to..." I said, "Let's all relax, okay?"

Here's what's crazy. Hasn't written a book. He's jobless. It's not the C.S. Lewis we know today. He's a C.S. Lewis in training. And here's what he wrote in his journal. Listen to these words. He said, "I was getting into bed and was attacked by a series of gloomy thoughts about my professional and literary future." And this is what he said. He said, "At that moment I started to realize I may not be that great of a man after all."

I'm just telling you, I read that and it became emotional to me, because I'm going, "That's what I think. I'm going... I feel like everything's closing in on me, going like, "Man, I thought I was something." And all of a sudden you go, "I may not be that really good of a guy after all." And it wasn't until, you're ready for this, 10 years later that all of a sudden he starts to write. In fact, it wasn't even 10. It wasn't until 19 years later that he begins to write some books. After that, you start to see Screwtape Letters, the Narnia series, and finally Mere Christianity. But to think about that battle that was trying to go from his mind to his feet to go, "I can't get a job. My writings, nobody even wants it. I may not be that great of a writer and great of a man after all."

Pastors, leaders, look at me. We all go through this. This is the man that Time Magazine says is the most prolific Christian of the last century, is C.S. Lewis of the 20th century. To think what his writings and what his work has done, from apologetics to children's books, of what it's done, we all face those 10,000 thoughts. But the goal is when it goes from head to foot and then all of a sudden the rogue thought begins to start controlling our actions.

And here's the part that's crazy. Last thing I'll say, and then I'll just give you a great principle. The problem was when David doesn't go 4K, when we don't go for 4K, the Bible says this, "He crossed over with 600 men." Think about this for a second. David crossed over, but not just David. David and his men, 600 men, that doesn't even include the families that had to go with them because he wouldn't be honest. Everybody had to be in the wake of his destruction, for the next year and a half because David wouldn't be honest, because David wouldn't be transparent, because David wouldn't begin to go 4K.

Then all of a sudden, when we begin to either confess to one godly person, if we don't confess to that one godly person, to that James 5:16 person, then we can take unsuspecting people over to a place that we would never want in our heart, but they go with us. It's not just our feet that go, it's their feet that goes.

And here's what's crazy. Can I just tell you? I don't know if you caught this, the crazy region where his feet go, do you remember what it said in verse 7? They went to Gath. How insane is that? Some of you are going like, "What do you mean, Pastor Tim?" Listen, do you know what Gath is? Do you remember the name of the giant that David killed with the stone? What was his name?

Goliath.

Okay, but he wasn't called Goliath. He was called Goliath of Gath. Do you know where David goes? He goes for a year and a half to the city of the giant that he killed. I want to go, "You're out of your mind." David goes, "Mm-hmm, I am." That's what it does. The rogue thought now puts you in Goliath's home town. I wanted to go, "Are you serious?" David's thoughts now, I don't even know how you process that, because now you're at a point...

I want to share something with you and then give you this principle. Next month, Cindy and I are going to celebrate 23 years of marriage. I'm so excited. 23 years, and I probably learned... We have probably learned one of the greatest things, the healthiest habits for our marriage in the last year. We're slow learners. So it's taken us 22 years to learn this. One of the great things in our marriage is this. We're good apologizers, because we...

This is our rule. If anybody comes and apologizes, it's not your place to defend it. It's your place to go, "If it's big to them, it's big to me and I need to apologize." I'm not there to defend it or explain it. I'm there to apologize for it. When you start defending your actions, whether with your spouse or with leadership or a friend, let me just tell you something, you're going to have real shallow relationships, because if it's big to them, it needs to be big to you.

So when she comes to me and she says, "Hey, when you said it with this tone of voice," I'm not going like, "Well, you just misunderstood. You didn't understand. I was having a hard day." Okay? It's about to go real south at that point. What you need to remember is this, if it's big to them, it's big to me. I don't need to defend it, explain it. What I need to do is I need to apologize for it. Baby, I'm sorry. Even though that wasn't my intention, I was wrong. If that's the way it came across, I'm wrong. Please forgive me. We're good apologizers. But let me tell you where it came to. A confrontational apology, we'd been good at for the last 22 years.

Let me tell you what's changed us. It is what I call conviction apologies. That's what's changed us. It's apologizing before the person comes to you. It's beginning to speak things before you get caught or confronted. It took our marriage, and even the way we lead our staff and our people to a whole new thing. I'm not waiting for a person to come to me so I can apologize. But when I'm living under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, one of those 10,000 thoughts going like, "I shouldn't have said that to Cindy." That's the Holy Spirit. That's not the devil. That's the Holy spirit, and that's when I'm able to go to her and say, "Babe, I'm sorry."

I'm not waiting for her to confront me. I'm moving based upon what I'm feeling and sensing in my heart that's sensitizing us. That's developing a habit not only to strengthen our marriage. Listen to me close. But, man, that could develop a habit right here in a church and with your leadership, that you're not waiting... That when you can come off a stage or come out of a meeting or come and say, "Hey, Pastor John. I'm so sorry. I said something this way. I should have had a better tone of voice in saying it. Please forgive me on that."

Do you know what that does when it's a conviction apology instead of a confrontational apology? Man, you are training yourself for high-def. You're training yourself for 4K when we could begin to move upon... And I'm telling you, young married people, if you can get that now, oh my goodness. Don't wait for year 22 like Cindy and I, because the issue is, I don't want to be a good apologizer. I want to be a good confessor. I want to make sure that my life is beginning to go that direction, because when you confess, you're taking the legs out from something growing that wants to grow bigger inside of you.

When you confess, you're shedding light on something that incubates and grows in darkness. When you confess, you're building trust from vulnerability, not portraying invincibility. So let me close with this, and if we can get a keyboardist up here, we'll close at this and I'll be done. The spiritual warfare chapter that is considered of the New Testament, would be something like Ephesians chapter 6, put on the full armor of God, and we're supposed to fight the principalities, powers of dark.

I want to show you a principle that's easily missed from that. I want to show you something that I've learned even with those five fingers in my life. What's interesting is that there's a couple of contrasts here. The first contrast, the Bible says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, darkness, high places, spirits in high places, all those things. And we understand that, that our battle's not people, our battle is what we're facing.

My wife just said to me last night, was just posted. I don't know what it was. One of the democratic nominees for president was asked this question. He says, "Will you revoke," just sent to me last night. "Will you revoke..." What's is it? What is his name?

Yeah, it's something like that. What is it? No, it was Beto. It was Beto who said this, from Texas. Beto said this, from Texas, who was kind of the star guy, said this is, "Will you revoke the churches non-profit status if you become President that will not marry same-sex marriages?" He says, "It will be the priority of my administration." That's what he said, the priority. And then you understand, our battle's not Beto. We're fighting principalities, powers of darkness.

That being the case, that's the first contrast that we see in there. But there's another contrast that we forget. And let me tell you what that contrast is. It is how we fight those 10,000 thoughts, how we wrestle and fight this, because it's not people. It's a fight every day in leadership with those 10,000 thoughts that are trying to predict our future. And here's what's crazy. This is what it says. It says, "When we're dealing with spiritual warfare, this is what we think."

Let me do this. Let me explain it to you this way. Worship guy. I'm going to need you. Okay. So here it is. Tell me your name again. We met last... Sheldon. Okay, Sheldon, it's great. Go stand over here. You're going to be the devil. You are the devil. Okay. Sheldon's a... Okay. Take the coat off. I want you to be all in black. So here it is. Sheldon... Yeah, play godly music. Don't play evil music. I don't want to hear any evil music. Okay. Sheldon's... how old are you?

23.

Okay. Sheldon's a pretty big boy, okay. So, mean, I'm a little... So let's pretend this is ministry, family. This is the stuff that I have to protect. So Sheldon, I want you stand over there. I want you to try to get through me. Okay. Tonight, my daughter has a production. I've got to get to it. So I just need you to go just a little bit... So let's not get really into it, but for just...

I want to apologize to everybody online that you have to watch this happening here. Okay? I need you to try to get to that. Okay, so Sheldon, you ain't so bad. What are you going to do? Sheldon? Okay. Come on. What are you going to do? Oh my God. Okay. All right. That's the devil. I'm just going to tell you that right now. Okay, Sheldon, give me this. Go back over there, devil. Okay. Here's the part. Stay over there. Don't go anywhere. You're not going to be able to lead worship ever again when I'm done with you.

Okay, so here it is. Here's the part I want you to get. The other contrast that we miss is the most important, and this is what it says in the Bible. It says this, "We wrestle not," is what it says. What that means is it's not mano-a-mano. That word wrestling was used for two men going back to back. In fact, it was the wrestlers of that time. It's not what you see on TV. It was literally they oiled their bodies down and fought till you killed somebody.

And this is what the Apostle Paul says. He says, "You'll never win, if it's me and Sheldon, devil Sheldon, I'll never win this battle. I mean, he's throwing me off. I mean, takes the microphone off. And so you're sitting there, "I can't win this battle." But here's the deal. Look at me folks. I'm not a wrestler. I'm a soldier. I'm not a wrestler. One of the greatest thing... Okay. Argue what you want. Greatest man movie ever, Gladiator. Greatest man movie ever. Let me just tell you something.

So Russell Crowe, people are going, "Oh, Braveheart." Okay, whatever. So here's what happens. Men walking around in dress? Please. Here's what happens. Devil, okay. No, take that off because I need you to be at full strength. So, Russell Crowe, when he finally gets to Rome, it's their first time during the Gladiator games. And he's in there. They still don't know. Commodus, that still doesn't know that that's Maximus. And so this is what he does.

He has his mask on. He's the Spaniard, has the mask on. And all of a sudden, he says, "We don't know what's going to come out of those doors. But he says this, "If we fight together, we will win. And what they did was they pulled a move that was known only to the Roman soldiers. You would see that you saw it in the first battle and you see it there. When the shields come down and they become as one, what they call that is locking arms.

He says, "If you fight alone, you will die. If we fight together, we will survive." And so, that tells me. I can take... Okay, Skinny Matt, come on up here right now. Tall, skinny Owen. Come on up here. Okay. Look at these guys. They're nothing. You can blow them over. God forbid if they ever wrestle. God forbid if they ever wrestle. Thank God they got saved. And could I say something? Can I say something really cool? I just heard this, 20th anniversary, that Pastor John Bailey led Pastor Matt to the Lord 20 years ago just recently. If he didn't, he'd be a horrible wrestler.

But we're not wrestlers, we're soldiers. And as wicked and evil as Sheldon is, we can't... He'll never be able to sing. He's going like, "Oh God." He's going to have 10,000 thoughts. I'm a wicked man. I want you to think about this. I'm not a wrestler, I'm a soldier. So, as soldiers, because that's when Paul says we wrestle not, but put on the full armor of God. He goes, "Wrestling is not it? You've got to go Roman on this thing. So Pastor Matt, get on this side. Pastor Owen, we lock arms.

Okay, devil, let's come on now. See what you can do. You can't do anything at that point and everything changed. Thank you, devil. Thank you, skinny guys. Okay, listen to me close. Stand with me for a second. You can't do this by yourself. Here's our Pentecostal roots. Come to the altar and just confess to God. That's okay. But let me just tell you something. That doesn't send healing to our lives.

It can kickstart something. Maybe it can kickstart the honesty, kickstart the transparency. But today, man, I want you to take a real good look and go, "Man, I've been going all wrestling with this stuff. I need to be a soldier on this, because I'm telling you, Pastor Gary and I, and Kelly, when I think of the season they have gone through, the season I have gone through, can I just say something, I couldn't have made it by myself. I couldn't have. I'm grateful for the fingers that I can go to and say, "Talk me off this ledge because I'm about to jump."

Well, Pastor Tim, like Joshua Harris, have you ever gotten atheistic thoughts? Look at me folks. Yes, absolutely. Put yourself in a painful situation. You're going like, "Does God even exists and you're going like, "Man, I preach every single Sunday, four services every single Sunday." I do. But you know what I get to do? I get to begin to go to people, go 4K, high-def with them and going, "Hey, pray for me. I'm battling this."

The church is not a hall of fame. The church is a hospital with people just getting better. So can we close with this? Can we move closer? I want you to not hold hands, lock arms with somebody as we get ready to close in prayer. Reach across the aisles. Don't be alone over there. Reach across those aisles, east and west. Move in close towards Des Moines, Iowa, here. Could you just look to the person on your right, left, and just go, "Hey, we're in this together."

We're in this together.

I want to pray for you. Man, if there's ever attack on music, you guys have to learn to lock... Not now, but you have to learn to lock arms together. You really do, because you're going to face rogue thoughts. You're going to face those things. And so, today, as I pray for you, that doesn't mean you're healed. It just means, God, give me the right people in my life. Give me the right people. Man, I'm so grateful I'm forgiven, but I want healing today.

Right now in the name of Jesus, as we end this session, Lord God, I just want to kickstart healing. I want to kickstart soldiers here, Lord God. I pray you raise up men and women, raise up leaders and students here today, those listening live and those who are going to download this and listen to this in the days to come, I'm asking, Lord God, that you would bring soldiers together, Lord God, locking arms to say, "I can't do this without you. I can't do this."

Too many things have come out of those doors like the gladiators that have killed too many leaders and believers and led them to everything from suicide to atheism. And, God, I'm just telling you, we've all faced those thoughts. We've faced suicide. We've faced atheism. Those are the 10,000 thoughts. And every one of these leaders, starting with me, have faced those 10,000 things trying to predict my future. But God, today, when we hold arms, we say that, no, we're not going to let these things predict our future. We let God predict our future. We let your scriptures predict our future.

Would you give them ministries and churches and places that is not only a place that celebrates victory, but is a safe place to fail? Let our ministries and churches be high-def. Let us not be afraid of the beads of sweat, the sores, the pains, and the hurts. But God, let it be a place that sick people are getting better because we are connected together. God, forgive us for crossing over, David, taking his family for a year and a half.

Forgive us, Lord God, of taking people because we wouldn't be humble enough, and we wouldn't be transparent enough to go, "This is who I am. This is what's going on." God, help us. Help us, Lord God. God, do such a great work here amongst these leaders that the greatest thing that can happen is then the move from forgiveness. Some of them have been forgiven for 20 years, but have never been healed. But God I just pray today, fill up their hands with godly people that will pray for them. We are your soldiers, in Jesus name, and everybody said, amen?

Amen.

God bless you. God bless you, leaders. Bless you

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The Healing of the Home

 

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

November 20, 2019

Although it may seem impossible to come back from certain marital hurts, God can heal what is broken but it will require intentional work. In this honest and transparent teaching, David Wilkerson speaks to those marriages needing a special touch from God and shares five steps on how to bring healing to your home.

David Wilkerson: Every head bowed please. I speak to you tonight on the subject The Healing of The Home. Heavenly Father, never have we lived at a time like this, the ends of the world coming apart. We begin to rejoice as we look up and see our dear redemption drawing nigh. Lord, our homes are falling apart, millions being divorced. Millions of children living in broken homes. Never has this message has been so desperately needed. Oh God, give me the courage, the anointing, and the unction of heaven. Speak loud and clear to our hearts, that no one leave this building tonight without being met solidly straight on by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I pray in Christ's name, amen. The Healing of The Home. I'll never forget as long as I live a visit in our home by a well-known country western singer. In fact, she has two songs in the top 20 right now. And this young lady's a beautiful young Christian, but prior to her conversion, she'd been divorced two times. Since coming to Christ, she'd found a very fine young man who was anticipating getting married.

David Wilkerson: I think she may have been a little apprehensive about it, and I'll never forget what she said to my wife and I sitting in our living room. She said, "The thing that bothers me, of all my acquaintances, I don't know of one happy marriage. I don't know anyone who's happily married." And that shocked me because she attended a "Full Gospel" church. An evangelical Full Gospel Church and her Pastor happened to be a friend of mine. Over 300 members, I was told, in the church. I said, "Well, what about the deacons? Surely you've got some well-adjusted happily married deacons in your church." She said, "I can't think of one." She said, "They almost all have been divorced at least once." She said, "One family's been divorced five times. One Deacon." I said, "What about the pastor? Surely your Pastor has the example for you." She said, "Haven't you heard? They've separated and filed for divorce." And since that time, that Pastor has been divorced. I said, "Would you please then meet your first happily married couple?"

David Wilkerson: She said, "Well, Mr. Wilkerson, you're not like the rest of us. You live in a different world. We're out there in the front lines of this world, and it's life and making a living and you don't face the same pressures." And I made a confession to her that I'm about to make this evening later on in this service why or how my wife and I just about did not make it. What I speak to you tonight about has been very well tested, I'm just not talking theory. My wife and I have been through it, and I want to share it with you tonight before the service is over. I remember being in Chicago number of years ago for one of these all-night talk shows. Five or six guests. H. L. Hunt was one of them, this is before he died. I was one of I think five guests. It was an NBC show, if I recall, and one of the guests was a well-known comedian who had been divorced 10 times.

David Wilkerson: He was getting married for the 11th time, and his bride-to-be was waiting in the little greenroom listening on the monitor. It started about 11 o'clock, it would last till 4:30 in the morning. For the first two hours of that all-night talk show, I listened to the worst filth and garbage I've ever heard in my life. I listened as a comedian mocked his 10 former marriages. And what he was saying, "Well, I've tried it 10 times, and it didn't work. I'm going to try it again. I got another girl on the line. If it doesn't work, there's a million more where she came from." Or words to that effect. And I thought to myself, "That poor girl sitting in the back room listening to that, she probably loves him. And even though she's the 11th, one she thinks she can make it work." I've never felt so sorry for anyone is I did for that young lady listening to that man put her on the spot.

David Wilkerson: For two hours, the host to this show and everybody but Mr. H. L. hunt ... Mr. Hunt said he didn't like it. In fact, he left early. For two hours I sat there with a stone face with my hands folded listening to this garbage. Finally, the host of the show looked at me with a frown on his face. He said, "Mr. Wilkerson, you don't seem to be in with this. What do you think of what's been said here?" He shouldn't have said that. I'd been sitting there two hours waiting my time. I pointed a finger at the face of that poor comedian who had been divorced 10 times and laughed and mocked about it. Mocking the institution of marriage. And I point a finger right in his face. I said, "I think I have just met the saddest loneliest man in the world. That man puts on a big front, and he laughs and he jokes." But I said, "I think he cries himself to sleep. And I have nothing but sorrow and pity for you, sir." And it was like dropping a bomb. I mean, they changed the subject.

David Wilkerson: The comedian tried to laugh it off, and they started talking about world affairs and politics. Not another word about marriage or divorce. 4:35 or so, I was outside of the NBC studio waiting for a cab to go back to the hotel room. And here comes the comedian and his wife-to-be, and I thought he was ready to rip me off. He came up beside me, said, "Mr. Wilkerson, please don't take a cab. Let us take you back to the hotel. Please, we've got to talk to you desperately." I followed that man around the corner and got in his car in the parking lot, and I saw that comedian, a well-known comedian, who still travels around the country today. I saw him bow his head over the steering wheel and cry like a baby. He said, "Sir, you're the first man that's had the courage to put me on the spot." He said, "Boy, did you hit the nail on the head. Sir, you have met the loneliest, saddest man in the world." He said, "I do cry myself to sleep."

David Wilkerson: He said, "I haven't been fair with this young lady. She loves me, and I've made a fool out of her tonight and I'm so sorry." He said, "I have an itch in me that can't be scratched. There's a loneliness in me, and I go from one woman to another trying to satisfy that empty feeling inside of me. When she can't touch that spot in me, I go to somebody else. It's not their fault." He said, "10 women couldn't be wrong. It's me. Would you please mind praying for me?", Would I mind praying for him? I had been itching to do that the whole night. Boy, I prayed up a storm. Got ahold of God for him. Now, he didn't get saved, but I know I gave him some good advice. I don't know what's happened to that man since, I've lost touch with him. But when I went up to my room, going up the elevator I thought, "Oh, God, there it is. The big front, and that phony smile of all the loneliness inside."

David Wilkerson: I'm going to talk very plainly tonight about marriage and divorce. Now, I've never done that in 18 years of preaching to young people. I've always thought my call was to young people. But friends, something's happening in America that alarms me. Something is happening to the American home. For that matter, homes all across the world. Not just the sinner's home, but the Christian's home. And it's an alarming thing that's happening. There was a song a few years ago, country western song and they spelled out the title D-I-V-O-R-C-E. They spelled it out, divorce, so the kids couldn't understand it. But friends, you can't hide from the little children today the dissension we have in many of our homes. You can't hide it when things begin to go wrong. Even in a Christian home. I was visiting, for example, in a home and the parents, the husband and wife, evidently thought I had left and they started a royal argument in the kitchen. And finally, they almost came to blows.

David Wilkerson: This husband came at his wife, and a little boy who couldn't have been more than two years old had just learned to walk. He couldn't talk. That little boy ... And I was watching from the corner. That little boy went up to his dad and grabbed his leg and his trousers, and started biting and screaming and kicking trying to beat his dad up. He knew something wrong, he sensed it. I'm not saying that all children of divorced homes or broken homes turn out bad. But think of it now. Newsweek projecting 1 million new divorces this year, 10 million more American kids living in broken homes. And oh, the tragedy. Now, friends believe me, divorces caused more kids to go to sex and drugs and alcohol than all the pushers in the world combined. I'll repeat that in case you didn't hear it. Divorce has caused more young people, primarily teenagers, to run off to drugs and sex and alcohol, than all the drug pushers, and bad kids, and influences combined. A mother called me recently to talk to her 13 year old daughter who'd just been released from a mental institution.

David Wilkerson: She said, "Mr. Wilkerson, the psychiatrist can't find anything wrong with her. She sits like a vegetable, just with her hands folded looking out into space. She won't answer questions, you have to feed her." And I got the story of a very well adjusted 13 year old teenager, who loved her dad so much. That girl outgoing and full of fun and by basis suddenly overnight, turns into a vegetable. Goes for six months into a mental institutions, is released. They can't put their finger on any physical or emotional reason why it should happen. And I said, "Mother, I can't get through to her." She was just like an animal. I said, "There's got to be some reason why this was triggered. A girl just does not call into a shell like that." She said "Mr. Wilkerson, the only explanation I can give you is that this happened the week my husband ran off with another woman. And this girl idolized her dad." And friends, there's a girl right now down in Denton, Texas who has just been released from the Terrell mental institution that I can't touch.

David Wilkerson: And while I'm talking to you, she's sitting looking out the window staring into space like a vegetable, and nobody can touch her. It makes my blood boil because one day that Dad's going to stand before Almighty God an answer, not only for his own sins, but going to answer for messing up the life of a 13 year old girl who so idolized her dad. She's in a shell and nothing can bring her out now. And friends, that happens now all over the country. Now, I know some of you as Christians sit here right now abhorring the word "divorce." You say, "I even hate to sit in a service and listen to a man preach about it." Because you've been programmed against the word itself. You say, "I would never allow it. Now, my husband I may not have a perfect marriage. But even if we did split up, I'd never allow a divorce. I don't believe in it. My Church teaches against it. I am against divorce." But sadly, friends, this is dropping like a bomb and surprising many, many Christian homes.

David Wilkerson: Almost daily now Christians come home and the good wife says, "Honey, have you heard the latest news? Guess who's getting a divorce?" And it's usually somebody you never could imagine it happening to. Someone you thought so well adjusted, a minister and his wife. I picked up Time Magazine a few weeks ago and there was a little article. It was amusing, yet it was sad. It said, "Joseph Alioto, Mayor of San Francisco, divorce action sought by his wife, Angelina, after 33 years of married on grounds of irreconcilable differences." Now, here's the catcher of it. At first I laughed, and then I wanted to cry. It said the divorce action evidently took Mayor Alioto by surprise, because he had just left his driveway and a half an hour later after waving goodbye and kissing his wife Goodbye, walked into his office and his wife's lawyer was waiting and handed him the divorce papers. Now, get the picture if you will. His wife knew all the time that her lawyer was in the office waiting for him to serve divorce papers. She kisses him goodbye and waves him off to work, "Bye dear, see you for supper."

David Wilkerson: Bam. Divorce by surprise. Well friends, that's exactly what's happening now. People say, "It could never ever happened in my home." And yet it is happening. Happening all over the world. Some of you sitting here tonight may be a part of that statistic. Follow me, if you will, please. I believe the Church of Jesus Christ must take a new look at the divorce problem. First of all, let me tell you tonight if you've been divorced, I'm not about to put you down here tonight. There's been enough of that in the church. There are some people who've been victims of divorce. Jesus made exceptions to this problem. For example, in the case of adultery. Also I have found from practically experience after being on the streets for 18 years and working with some of the most troubled cases in the world. A woman who suddenly discovers she's married to a homosexual is in a hopeless situation, unless that man turns to Christ for a cure. Now, friends for the past 10 years, we've supported a home for homosexuals in New York. Upstate New York, we have an estate.

David Wilkerson: We have a young man there and a beautiful wife who's been delivered from homosexuality. This past month, we baptized seven homosexuals who have been delivered and set free. I know it, their testimony rings clear. There's a witness of the Holy Spirit. Friends, I believe Jesus Christ cures, and saves, and sanctifies homosexuals who are desperate for a cure. There is nothing in the Bible that can prove to me otherwise. Paul, the apostle said, "Some of you were feminine or homosexual, you've been justified and set free." But if a man does not turn to Christ for healing, that marriage is absolutely hopeless. There is no hope. It must inevitably, eventually, end in divorce. There's a Scripture also that suggests that if a man departs from the home and he runs away, don't let him depart. Now, some of you who are here tonight as victims of divorce. You could not help what happened. Probably 10% of the divorces in the world today are cases just like the exception to the general rule.

David Wilkerson: I'm not about to put you down because the Church of Jesus Christ has done a pretty good job of making second class Christians out of many victims of divorce. We treat them like they have leprosy in the church. We have special classes for them called mates without partners, or parents without partners. We don't allow them to have activities in the church, we want to keep our kids away from the lest they contaminate them. But friends, I think it's wrong. There are people sitting here right now listening to me preach who have tears in their eyes, I'm sure enough, hurt deep in their heart for the way they've been treated. Even though they know before God they've been victimized by a terrible situation in their home, and yet they have been put down and put down and trampled pulled on. And I say it's time we stopped that foolishness in the house of God. But friends, at the same time, something is happening that is absolutely frightening. You see, there are only two restraining forces left against pandemic divorce rate.

David Wilkerson: And that was the fact that society did not really accept it, still frowned on it. And the church preached against it as being immoral. And now friends, those last two restraining forces are being removed. Society now accepts it. It's no more sinful in many circles to get a divorce when they split across the street. Think of it. Do you know that New York City this past month, there were more applications ... listen to it. More applications for divorce than there were applications for marriages. Think of it. For the first time in the history of New York City, more people filing for divorce than filing for marriage licenses. Frightening. Absolutely frightening. Now, I say that we have to face it head-on, and I have never in my life preached on this subject. Never. But I've been forced to because of what is happening to the kids I work with, because over 95% of all the kids who eventually wind up with us in the Teen Challenge centers, at least where I've been working, always look back to a broken situation in their home. Always goes back.

David Wilkerson: I've made the full circle, and I'm right back there. And God's beginning to say to me, "David, if you really want to help the kids, get back to talk in some sense to their parents." Yes, we have pandemic divorce rate. We've got situation ethics and people trying to condone it and say it's all right. I had a young Assembly of God minister stop me not too long ago after a crusade, want to walk me back to my motel room. He said, "David, I've got to talk to you. I've just graduated from seminary." And he said, "I'm Pentecostal." But he said, "I work with high school and college students." And he said, "Something's wrong. We have got to come up with an alternative to marriage." And I was so shocked. I said, "Explain what you mean." He said, "Well, Mr. Wilkinson, the kids I work with see their parents go to the altar and go through the formality of saying, 'Till death do us part.' And they go right out and get a divorce.

David Wilkerson: They see them stand there and spend thousands of dollars and stand there in their beautiful gowns, and then wind up in disaster. And they say, 'Marriage isn't working.' They want to live together just to prove that they love one another." And he said, "Perhaps we should come up with some kind of a spousal ceremony, so we could take the guilt problem out." And I said, "How many young ministers are thinking like you?" He said, "Almost every one of my friends my age thinking the same thing, that's marriage is not working. We've got to come up with an alternative for them." It shocks me friends. If that's the attitude, what happens five years down the line when they start taking their place in our pulpits and pastoring our churches? Now friends, I tell you that God has not changed His mind about the divorce problem. For the Lord God says He hates divorce, Malachi 2:15, "For the Lord God says He hates divorce. Guard your affections, let there be no divorcing of your wives. Let there be no divorcing of your wives."

David Wilkerson: If you want to see that very clear, get the Living Bible and see how very clearly it's made. "For the Lord God says He hates divorce." God has not changed His mind. I don't care how many church denominations change their stand. I don't care what anybody else tells you in the way of being a Christian psychologist. The Bible says God still hates divorce. "Let there be no divorcing of your wives. Guard your affections. Let there be no divorcing." Now, I've heard all the excuses why a divorce is inevitable, why people are headed for divorce court. You've heard them too, haven't you? It goes something like this, "Well, Mr. Wilkerson, we just don't talk anymore. We've outgrown each other. We're in two different worlds. We don't communicate." Oh, the excuses that I hear all over the country today, and those judges would sit there and listen to all of it. And it's, "Well, she's gotten fat. He's got a potbelly, he doesn't take care of himself. He's always put me down in front of people. He doesn't love me, and we've fallen out of love."

David Wilkerson: I've heard them all, but you know the number one excuse that you hear? Here it comes. Are you ready for it? "Nobody understands me anymore." And everybody and his brother running around looking for some understanding. If they don't get it from their mate, by golly, they're going to go out and get it somewhere. "I want to be understood." I had pastor of a well known large Pentecostal church ask for an appointment. He said, "Brother Dave, I heard you preach." But he said, "I can't help it. My wife and I are headed for divorce court." I said, "Why?" He said, "Frankly, I've outgrown her. I've been fasting, and praying, and seeking God, and I'll tell you brother Dave, God has shown me revelation and my wife is so materialistic. All she wants to talk about the drapes, and the car, and the kids. I've outgrown her. We don't communicate anymore. If she'd been a little more spiritual, she'd understand my problems in the ministry, but we're not communicating."

David Wilkerson: I said, "Oh, come off it, Pastor. I've learned something and I'm going to tell you what it is right here and now. I've always learned there's a third party involved." And he didn't like that at all. He said, "No. No. No. No. Well, there is a lady in the church that I've learned to talk to, but that's all." I said, "Oh, come off it. Come off it, sir." Now listen to me, friends, I'm going to preach like you've never heard any preacher preach in your life from this pulpit. I don't care if it's my last invitation to this camp, God told me to preach it and I want you to listen. Right here and now, you leave to normal people alone who have problems and they're really in love, and they could work on any problem in the world. But you introduce a third party, then there's no hope. There is no hope whatsoever. You tell me you're not understood. You tell me you're not getting along. You tell me he's always putting you down. I tell you there's a third party involved.

David Wilkerson: Now, you would be surprised and shocked at how the Holy Ghost must be grieved at the kind of flirtatiousness happening in the Church of Jesus Christ. And beginning mainly in our church choirs when there are idle moments after practice, and if there is not a spiritual choir leader, and if the pastor is not there to see that things are done right. I have seen all kinds of hell happening. Breaking out through flirtatiousness in the Church of Jesus Christ. Our little social clubs now. And we are beginning to breed inside of our churches, some of these little platonic relationships, especially when there's an unsafe husband sitting at home watching TV. Now friends, I think it's time that every minister, every man, every woman of God, takes a good hard Look at his or her life right now and say, "God, is there any kind of a thing happening in my life that could eventually drive a wedge into my home and my marriage?" How many people are going to stand before God and find out that this is one sin that you do not get away with.

David Wilkerson: My Bible said, "Be sure your sin will find you out." And sir, ma'am if you've gotten away with it this far, watch out. You're on a powder keg, this is one sin that God always exposes. It has never once in the history of the world dawn unexposed. Never. And if you do not take it to the cross of Jesus, if you do not forsake it and get it under the blood and run from the for your life, you are headed ... my brother and my sister, you are headed for exposure. And then your whole life comes tumbling down. The Bible says, "Why be led away into incredible folly? Why embrace that which is not truly yours?" My brother and sister it's time you and I looked ourselves right in the mirror. And I feel the Holy Ghost right now pulling off and covering off the leads of some of us who think we've got some little secret thing down there. Nobody knows about it.

David Wilkerson: But my brother and sister, right now the Holy Ghost says to those few that are here right now. "Get it out. Pluck it out by the roots now before you lose your home, your children, everything. Get it out." I'm not playing games, man. I'm on a life and death mission across the United States and God warned me to say it and say it loud and clear. You be careful. My brother, my sister, be very, very careful. The devil is out to destroy every godly home in the world. The pressures are mounting. And oh my minister brother, my minister sister, walk softly, reverently before God and say, "God, guard my steps. Don't let it touch my life." Plead the blood. Now, it's not always a secret affair. That third party can be another person. It could be an in law, like a mother-in-law. Now, don't wink at me like that. I had a beautiful Black couple come to see me for counseling recently, and they had three lovely little children.

David Wilkerson: The man said, "Brother Dave, in spite of your message tonight, we're headed for divorce." I said, "Why?" He said, "My wife hates my mother, calls her a witch." I turned to her and I said, "Is that right?" She said, "She is a witch. Every time something goes wrong, he runs off to his mother. He spends more time with his mother than he does with me." And I said, "Isn't it a shame that you people are going to allow your home to be broken up over a third party?" And I turned to him and said, "Do you love her?" He said, "Yes, I do." I said to her, "Did you love him?" She said, "Certainly.", "And yet you're allowing a third party to destroy your marriage?" And I got so indignant. I laid hands on them and started praying. I said, "God, break that."

David Wilkerson: And suddenly a smile broke out in her face and she shook her head a bit. She said, "Mr. Wilkerson, something's happened." She said, "I may never be able to love her like a should, but at least I don't hate her anymore. I can put up with her." He turned to her. He said, "Honey, that's good enough for me." He walked out and he looked at me. He said, "Dave, we're going to make it. We're going to make it." Why some of you men spend more time with your buddies on the job than you do your wife. You never take your wife out once. You say, "Oh, I love her cooking." Folly, you're a cheapskate. That's all. You may laugh about that, but you know there are many wives that are saying, "Amen." To me right now. Just think. This buddy asked me to go fishing, and he'd go a whole week and stick a little thing in the water there without a nibble for a whole week and come over and say he enjoyed himself, and his wife can't even get to go out shopping with him.

David Wilkerson: This is plain old peanut butter preaching, but that's what God told me to preach. Now friends, it's not only a person. It can be a job, it can be a disease. I'm going to give a testimony at the end of this message on how a disease became the third party that almost wrecked our marriage. It can be sickness that changes the lifestyle. It can be the loss of a job, financial pressures. Recently, 15 couples that came to me for counseling, seven of those 15 just a few weeks ago were headed for divorce court because the husband had lost his job and the financial pressures could not be coped with. It caused such tension in the home, they said they just couldn't possibly make it. That's the third party that I'm talking about. But friends, I can tell you something far worse than divorce. Some of you people sitting here now abhored by the word "divorce", you would never even think of it. But you're guilty of something far worse as far as I'm concerned, as far as God's Word is concerned, and I call it divorce by default.

David Wilkerson: Those are two people who live together, claiming to be married ... and at the sight of God and the law, they are. But in all practical purposes in the sight of God, they're divorced. Because though they live together under the same roof and are legally bound together, in the sight of God they're strangers and they're divorced by default. They live together as a lie, an abomination unto the Lord. They fight, and they bicker, and they hate, and they cheat. And yet they say, "I would never get divorced." A lot of Christians like that that I know all across the country would never think of allowing a divorce in their home, and yet there's no love in their home. There is no peace. There is no quiet, there is no joy. And if you could just look on a woman and commit adultery in your heart, you can be a stranger in your home and be and be divorced. In your mind. The same practical way.

David Wilkerson: I think kids in high school or college who just go out live together without a marriage license are far more honest, than Christians who live together without love and understanding and the peace of God. They're more honest. There a lot of you people sitting here right now that need this more you need a psychiatrist or anything else, you need to hear it right now. Mm-hmm (affirmative). You say, "Well, brother Dave, certainly, if you're going to preach like this, you've got to have some plan from God, some message from God in how I can avoid living a lie. How I can bring healing to my home." I do. And I didn't get it out of a book, I got it on my knees and out of the Word of God. Five simple little steps God gave me on how to bring healing to your home and to avoid divorce court. Are you ready? So simple, you probably missed it. But I've got Bible to back it up. I'm not a psychiatrist, and I'm not about to play one either. But I've got some plain old plain English right out of the Word of God.

David Wilkerson: Are you ready? Step number one, turn down the volume at your house. The Bible said a soft answer turneth away wrath. A soft answer turneth away wrath. The Bible said anger causes mistakes. And look what's happening, our homes like Madison Square Garden Fight Night. Oh we've got people to go to church carrying those big Bibles that look like suitcases, go around waving to Jesus, "Hi." Teaching Sunday school. And I'll tell you, they've bicker and fight all the way to church, and get in their car, and jab, and yell, and scream at each other in front of the kids. But as soon as they step out of the car in front of the pastor, they hold hands and put on that big Colgate smile. They go in there and sing Oh, How I Love Jesus, and talk in tongues. Talk about being filled with the Holy Ghost. Put their money in the offering. Get in a car, and roll up the windows, and bam. Bam. Bam. Go home and gossip about the preacher. I know some people tongue's big enough to lick their way three times around the Statue of Liberty without stopping.

David Wilkerson: And they wonder why their kids grow up to have disrespect for the house of God. Come on. A soft answer turneth away wrath. But sadly, too many mothers think that loudness is a badge of authority. In other words, the louder you get, the more power you have. That's foolishness. The Bible said a soft answer turneth away wrath. And you know why mothers say, "Well, I yell at my kids all day and they never listen. Dad comes home, snaps his finger, and off they go." You know why? Let me give you a case in point. "Now Johnny, you do that one more time, and so help me, you're going to get it." And he knows. Johnny knows her bark's worse than her bite. She's just making wind with her mouth, and he knows. So he does it again. "One more time." So he does it again. "I'll tell your dad." At the 99th time, he's still doing it, "One more time." Mama says, "One more time." And dad comes home and mom tells him all about it.

David Wilkerson: And dad looks at that little boy right in the eye and say, "Now son, I'm going to count to 10 and you better move." He gets the tune and that boy is gone. Why? Because she knows he going to do just like my dad. My dad had no better sense than to raise me by the belt and by the Book. My dad taught me two Scriptures before I could quote anything else, two Scriptures. I had to memorize. "Spare the rod and damn the child." And another Scripture, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of the child and the rod of correction will drive it far from him." And when I did wrong, my dad would take me in the room, he called it a personnel meeting. He always waited till the next day when I thought I'd gotten away with it. And then he sent me down his room. He said, "Now David, you know you did wrong, don't you?" And I'd say, "No, sir." He said, "Well, I'm going to show you what you did wrong." And then he'd get his Bible out and show me that.

David Wilkerson: He said, "Now David ..." and my dad had a great big leather strap, they used to strap razors with. Great big four inch strap, about a foot and a half long. He'd hang it on a nine Penny nail going down the basement, and that was his badge of authority. My dad never talked much, he just had that leather strap. And boy, he'd say, "Now David, here's what the Bible says. Here, see it. Read it for yourself if you want to. Foolish This is bound in your heart and this rod in my hand is going drive it far from you." Then he'd make me kneel over the bed and it went something like this, he'd come down across my backside, "Now David." Bam. "This hurts me worse than it hurts you." And I could never understand it. The worst part of all was next, he'd made me get up and hug him. Then made me get down and pray, "God forgive me." And then we go out and play ball. Now listen friends, if you just spank your kids, that's child beating.

David Wilkerson: But if you show them from the Word of God what the Bible says about foolishness bound in the heart of the child of the rod of correction, and you spank that out ... and don't spank them, anywhere except where they're well padded. That's right. None of this business across the face or the head, you can injure a child. God especially prepared the child right on the upholstery. I'm not trying to be facetious friends, I'm trying to give you something practical from God. Now you spank that child, then take that child in your hand love out the hurt. That's Bible. That's how to raise your kids the Bible way. You know what you to do with Dr. Spock's book? Put a handle on it and use it. He sent more kids to hell than anybody I know. We've got some friends of ours that we don't even allow in our house anymore. They're raising their kids by the book, all kinds of books. And I'll tell you, they've got three little white tornadoes.

David Wilkerson: They come in the house, and they look one way and the other, and boy, down comes everything off the coffee table and then down comes up pots and pans. I want to spank those, that dad and mom. If you say something to that mom, she says, "Oh no." She said, "I don't want to hurt their expression patterns. They're developing their expression patterns." I thought to myself, "Boy, if they can't handle the expressive patterns at six years of age, how are they going to handle at 16 when they're really expressing themselves?" A lot of dads and mothers need the spanking. That's right. Turn down the volume at your house. Oh, the arguing and the bickering. I've had drug addicts come here and say, "Don't ever raise your voice at me again, sir. I've had all that my life, I don't want it anymore." All the screaming, and the yelling, and the bickering in some of our homes. Turn down the volume. The Bible said a soft answer turns away wrath.

David Wilkerson: All right, step number two ... And I'm going to give you something from the Word of God that could save 95% of all the marriages in America and around the world. It's so simple. I call it the sorry secret. Learn the sorry secret. There was a movie out called Love Story and Time Magazine in a review said that the essence of that movie is love is never having to say, "I'm sorry." Well, friends, that's a lie from the pit of hell. Love is learning how to say, "I'm sorry." Someone asked Jesus, said, "How many times do I forgive the person who wrongs me? Seven times?" Jesus said, "No, 70 times seven." Now, that's 499 times in one day, and that's only the beginning. And furthermore, it says if someone wrongs you, you go to them and you'll be the one that says, "I'm sorry." Now friends, here's a secret that must be learned by every husband and wife in America within the sound of my voice right now. If you master this secret, you will never ever wind up in divorce court. Never.

David Wilkerson: Learn how to say, "I'm sorry." And be first, and do it often. Oh, but you know how it goes. Come on now. I'm going to give you some red hot truth, "Me? Say I'm sorry? I always have to say I'm sorry. He's never wrong. He's always right, and I always have to take the blame. This time, oh no. Not this time. Well, I've had it with him. I'm telling you if I give in this time, there's no hope. I'm always having to give in. He runs off and gets mad. Now I have to go and say, "Honey, I'm sorry." Oh, no friends. That's not the way. That's not the way. My Bible says even if you're the one who's been hurt, you're the innocent party, you take the step. And I've had married couples say that doesn't make sense. I'm not saying it makes sense, I'm telling you that's what Jesus said. Jesus said, "You go, and you say, "I'm sorry." Not like the lady said to her husband ... This is supposed to be true from what I hear.

David Wilkerson: She heard me preach like this. She went home, she said, "Well, I know I'm right, but brother Dave said to say I'm sorry. So, I'm sorry. So there." Well, now that's not saying, "I'm sorry." From the heart. The Bible said never go to sleep on your wrath. Never go to bed angry. Well, how many homes there are right now ... How many people are sitting here right now saying, "Brother Dave, I've been deeply hurt." Yes, you have. But if you want your marriage to work, you're going to work at it. There is no well adjusted happy marriage that just happens. This crazy king and a queen living in a castle syndrome has ruined so many of us. You're not a king. She's not a queen. You're not living in a castle. It's an everyday hard full-time job you work at. Boy, my wife and I have learned that. We're always ... she comes and, "I'm first.", "No, I'm first honey. I'm the one that's sorry, we're both sorry." We never go to sleep on our anger, it's been so beautiful. Learn that now. Learn to say, "I'm sorry." First and as often as necessary.

David Wilkerson: Step number three, quit your jealousy. The Bible said jealousy is more cruel than anger. That suggests to me that it's better to slap your mate across the face and send them reeling across the room in anger than to be jealous over them. Because the Bible said jealousy is more cruel than anger. It's more cruel. How many marriages have had this cancer destroy? Oh, listen, if there's jealousy in your heart towards your husband or your wife, pray for a miracle. Say, "God Deliver me." This is a cancer that must be plucked up. It'll destroy your marriage. The Bible says so. More cruel. That's a cruel thing. You're absolutely cruel against your mate if you have jealousy. You say, "I've reason to be jealous." Take it to God. Pray for a miracle. "Oh God, once and for all, take this spirit of jealousy from me. Pluck it out by the root and bring peace and trust in my heart." Number four, quit being so cranky. I'm going to give you a Scripture you never thought was in your Bible right out of Proverbs. "The constant dripping on a rainy day and a cranky woman are just alike."

David Wilkerson: All you men smile and you're the one who made her cranky. The Bible say, "You can no more stop the complaints than you can stop the wind." Crankiness. Now, wait just a minute. You know I'm telling the truth. Your wife, if you would get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, you're the one who starts the day. If you could get up and pray that God give you that grace, just a little bit of sweetness, that's all. Just a little bit of tenderness. Now, my Bible says, "Be ye tenderhearted one to another." And that's the word that's missing today in our marriages, tenderness. Tenderness. My wife and I have been working on a case. In fact, we just quit this case recently. A pastor about four months ago called us, pastor of a rather large church. He said, "Brother Dave, I don't know what I'm going to do. My wife ran off, went back to her mother. She's been gone two weeks and I'm about to lose my mind. I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave the ministry. I don't understand for the life of me why my wife left me."

David Wilkerson: And he said, "The thing that bothers, I me understand that she's swinging a little bit. She's taking karate and jujitsu. I call her and she won't let me in the house. She lived with her mother, she won't answer the phone. I love that woman dearly, and I don't know for the life of me why she's left." And that man called and called for two or three weeks, and the poor man was really upset and I felt sorry. He said, "Brother Dave, please call my wife. She's read The Cross and the Switchblade and you're the only one she'll probably listen to. You can get her to come home." So my wife and I called, and we got a different story from his wife. She said, "I think I could have loved that man." But she said, "I just lost everything, and I'll tell you why. That man is mean and cranky as the devil. Stands in the pulpit oozes love to everybody else. Preaches love. But that man was absolutely mean, always putting me down. I couldn't do anything right for that man.

David Wilkerson: And that man was absolutely mean, he even slap me in the face and that did it." She said, "I think I could have learned to love that man, if he'd just showed me a little tenderness. If he hadn't been so cranky and so mean." Boy, we got the other side of the story. And boy, a couple days later, he called me back again. And I mean, he was crying. He said, "Brother Dave, I'm going to have to quit preaching. I'm losing my mind. That woman has left me and I don't know why." I said, "Oh, quit your crying." I said, "You're mean. Sir, your wife doesn't want you to come home and flip the keys to a $10,000 sports car at her and say, 'Honey, I love you. There's my poof.' Your wife wants a little act of tenderness. Little bit of kindness. Not some big fancy gift. Quit trying to buy your wife off, show a little love and tenderness. When's the last time, sir, you brought your wife home some flowers for no reason at all?

David Wilkerson: Because you loved her, nothing else.", "Who me? Flowers?", "Yeah, you. My wife is here and she'll tell you, I've got all kinds of occasions I dream up for sending flowers, and potted plants, and little love poems. Everything else. But don't look at me like that. A woman wants just a little bit of tenderness, sir. Why don't you take out the garbage once in a while, for example? Without complaining about it. Quit yelling at her for three hours watching As the World Turns, inside out upside down when you spend five hours watching football." Are you ready for the last one? All right, right out of God's Word. Quit dancing to somebody else's tune. Jesus said, "How shall I liken this generation? They're like a bunch of little kids sitting in the marketplace and we pipe to you our tunes, but you don't dance." Jesus said, "That's your generation." Everybody's got a tune, wanting somebody to dance to it. And I'm going to tell you why, and here's where I'm going to add a little to what was said this afternoon about women's liberation.

David Wilkerson: Now, listen to me, I'm not trying to be smart or facetious. I'm on a life and death mission. We've got all kinds of tunes being played to us today through radio, and television, and the written page. And there's a mind programming on right now undermining something godly and holy. You know why we're headed for pandemic divorce rate in America and the world? We're reversing the Bible roles. We are breaking all the barriers that God set up. We are reversing the roles in our homes. Now, my Bible says the man is the head of the house. Jesus. Listen, the Word of God, Paul said this. Listen very closely, "Even as Christ is the head of the church, so is the man the head of the wife. And so let her be subject in all things, even as Christ is the head of the church." Now, many things that are being said by the women's liberation movement need to be heard. Did you hear me? Because too long, we have mistreated women. We have put them down, we've had a bunch of little Napoleon's running around, barking, "Hey Mabel, I want a drink."

David Wilkerson: So she jumps and has to go get the man a drink of water. I've seen that all over the country. Mistreated them, and wiped our feet on them, treated them like dishrags. And friends, I'm one of those preachers who believe it's possible for a woman to have a career and be a good wife and mother. Thousands and thousands of wives have proved that. In fact, I've seen them grow so much in God because they've had a goal and they've had a purpose in their life, and that's beautiful. But friends, what I am against is this programming that's happening right now the demeaning being a wife and a mother. It comes over the Dinah Shore, the Mike Douglas, the Tonight, Today, Tomorrow, all those shows. And it goes something like this. "You housewife there in the Duz with the Hoover sweeper, isn't it a shame you becoming a vegetable?

David Wilkerson: Your husband's out there growing, expanding his consciousness and you're stuck there with the diapers and the kids with your hands in the dish water. Why didn't he do the dishes? Why didn't he clean the room? Why don't you vote on it?" Now, hold it just a minute. What I am against with all my heart and soul is the demeaning one of the highest callings of the world, and that's to be a housewife and a mother. That's the highest calling on earth, better than the presidency of the United States. And woman, dear sister, housewife, mother, don't let anybody put you down for being "just a housewife", or just a mother. In the sight of God ... Listen, who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is above rubies. She rises early, feeds your household. Beauty is deceiving, vanity passes away. But a godly woman is much prepared. A godly woman. A housewife. I wish I could say it and scream to the microphone, it is not just a housewife. That's calling in Christ Jesus.

David Wilkerson: God has a job for you to do. And there will be many that will come to dear housewives, and I don't think God's going to take a male like me, preacher to give you the vision. God's raising up handmaidens and sisters of the Lord, giving the vision and trying to get into you, instill it into your heart. There's wonderful concepts of usefulness and vision to be used of God, and our women today are expanding and doing some marvelous things in the sight of God. And I'm for that 1,000% and I believe in that with all my heart. But at the same time, I am totally against, and I believe the Holy Ghost is against any demeaning of this calling and any reversing of the godly holy roles that He has set. The man is still the head of the house. That role must never be reversed. Never. All right. I told you, I wanted to share with you a confession. Now, my wife and I agreed she would allow me to share with you what I'm about to share.

David Wilkerson: And though this happened years ago, we felt at this critical time that we should share it because would help a lot of others who are going through something very similar. Because my wife and I just about did not make it. That's right. It began one day when I walked into the kitchen, and I saw Gwen leaning over the kitchen sink, grabbing her side and screaming in pain. And she said, "Honey, come here. Put your hand here." There was a big lump. I panicked. I said, "My goodness, how long have you had that?" She said, "A couple months." She said, "It's like a knife. I'm so tired all the time, and I get these weak spells just drain my strength." She said, "I'm afraid there's something there." I took her to our physician the next day. He probed around a bit and he said, "Mr. Wilkerson, it's just a swollen over. It's infected. Here's some medication. I'm sure it'll dissolve, it'll go away." We were relieved, went home. The medication help for a couple weeks. It was a second or third week after, we were in Pittsburgh visiting her mother.

David Wilkerson: We were at Gimbels department store, I'll never forget it. She was buying a pair of stockings and all of a sudden that scream, she bent over in pain. She said, "Honey, it's bigger and it's worse than ever. It's like a butcher knife cutting me." I really got scared. I called her mother. We got the name of an internist, a specialist. I took her in. He programed and he called me the next day. He said, "Sir, you get your wife back to New York immediately. Demand the bare minimum x-ray. You've got serious problems, you're in trouble." I start playing a game with Gwen. I just told her a lie, and that's where it all the trouble begins when you're dishonest. When you cheat. Despite being dishonest, even about this kind of a third party, even a disease. Few days later, she's in the hospital. It's 10 o'clock in the morning the following day, the doctor called me up and he said, "David, I'm really sorry I missed it." I said, "What are you talking about?"

David Wilkerson: He said, "Your wife, sir, has a cancer on her little bow the size of a lemon. I want permission to prepare for surgery. She should be operated on right away." I was angry. I blew up. I said, "What do you mean you missed it? You told me it's just it affected ovary." He said, "Well, we're human, sir. We do make mistakes." Boy, I slammed the phone down. When I went into the hospital, I start playing a game with Gwen again. I said, "Honey, the doctor said that the ovary is infected. It needs to come out, lest it affect the other ovary. So you're going to have to go into surgery." She agreed. The doctor let me wait in the little outer room. He said, "David, I'll be in there about four hours. I'll tell you what happens as soon as I get out." He was in there six hours, and I knew there was trouble when he was two hours overdue. Came out and pulled off that green mask, and I can still see him. He shook his head.

David Wilkerson: He said, "Sir, it's a shame that a 32 year old woman should have such a black ugly thing like that in her." He said, "I had to cut out all the lymph glands, half her bowels." And he said, "We hope we got it. We don't think it metastasized, but we had to take out all the lymph glands and midsection." He said, "it's in God's hands now." When I saw Gwen at the recovery room, she was coming out. I tried to lie to her again, and this time she said, "David, stop." And she said, "It was cancer, wasn't it? I've known it all the time." I said, "Yes." So the tension was gone. But friends, that was the beginning of a third party introduced in our home that was absolutely devastating. I had no way ... neither of us had any way of knowing how low it would take us in despair, despondency. Some of you people here tonight may have been through it, and maybe you're going to have to go through it, the Holy Ghost is trying to prepare you. And this is very, very difficult for me. But we've lived through it.

David Wilkerson: My wife and I both agree that so many people could be helped if you could just listen. Because when I was in Bible school, we'd have ministers come and they'd stand there. And I'd be sitting in the chair with all my problems. And all these evangelists, they talked about all the great victories and all the things that they'd accomplished. I sit there with all my problems. I said, "That doesn't make sense. They can't be all right and I'm all wrong." And I thought, "Lord, if You ever give me a ministry, I want to get up and confess some of my problems so that the people who go through it like me can relate to it." That's the reason I'm like this, I can't help it anymore. Friends, she got along for a year or so and regained some strength. But boy, those tired spells would hit her again and then another lump. In the next five years, Gwen had I think, five operations. Three malignancies, two non malignant. The goiter, other midsection problems.

David Wilkerson: She was cut four times across, crisscross the stomach. And after the fourth operation ... I think it was the fifth operation, she seemed to be gaining strength and becoming very weak. We lived in ... At night, she used to like to walk around the block. We were taking a walk one night, and she really shocked me. She said, "David, they cut me so much, I don't feel like a woman anymore. I want another child." Well, I almost passed out. I said, "That's the worst thing in the world, honey. All you've been through, now to carry a baby." She said, "I want child." And I know now why God put that in her heart because soon after that, she'd not be able to have any more. We planned our fourth child, that's Gregy back there, now 10 going on 11. Healthy and strong, and call of God in his life. He will be a preacher, he said. It was a year later after that, she seemed regaining strength. We were so happy.

David Wilkerson: We're coming home from Memphis General Counsel, and on the way home, she had one of those attacks. Started to bleed. We rushed her into the nearest town into a hospital, they sedated her, stopped the bleeding. Said, "Get her to a hospital, you've got problems." Once again, dear Gwen was down. This time a surgeon friend of mine did the operation. A very fine Christian, spirit-filled man. Thought it would make a little easier. This time a radical hysterectomy. And I mean that it was radical surgery this time. When Gwen came up this time she said, "They'll never lay another knife on me ever. I don't care, they'll never." They used to greet me. People would come to me and say, "David, you've got faith to believe God for miracles, for drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes. Why can't you believe God to heal your life of cancer?" And it hurt us because God had done something wonderful for us. He had given us what I call the faith of the Hebrew children.

David Wilkerson: The Hebrew children stood in front of the fiery furnace and they knew in their heart God was able, and their message to the whole world was simply this, "We know our God is able. But if we have to go through the furnace, He'll take us through." And friends, God saw fit to take us through the furnace, but it was in the furnace that we came out with His hand on ours. That's where we met Him in the furnace. God takes you through the blood, He doesn't bypass it. You go through the wilderness, through the fire, through the flood and that's where He makes you. This time, a surgeon calls me in the next room and he said, "Brother Wilkerson, you're man of God, but you've got to know something. We've taken two of the three lines of defense against disease away from your wife. She has no more hormone system being produced, no more goiter. So there's no thyroid, she has to take thyroid hormone." And he listed all the medications she'd take the rest of her life.

David Wilkerson: He said, "She's going to go through massive sudden changes in her body and in her psych. And she's going to feel depression like she's never felt. She's going to feel fits of jealousy and temper. She's going to go through every range of human feeling so high and so low, it'll be devastating. And unless you're prepared, unless you're patient and understanding, you can only make it more difficult on her and yourself. Sir, be prepared. I'm just telling you, you're in for it. You're going to see things you've never saw before, and your wife's going to be another woman." And I couldn't understand then what he was talking, I couldn't even begin to comprehend it. The first three months, we were able to take it pretty well. When I come home from Teen Challenge and walking the streets, and walk in the house and see her hand shake when she's is drinking coffee, I could take her the room and pray with her and she was relieved. And friends, it went downhill. Downhill. For the next six months, it got worse and worse, until finally it got on my nerves.

David Wilkerson: I'd say to myself, "Now, look I'm walking the streets, I'm giving my life and to come home to that tournament. Maybe she's not trying." Because I came on one time and she was screaming at the children, and I couldn't understand that. And she'd run to the room and say, "David, why do I do that? You know that's not me." And we prayed. But after a while, friends, the depression got so bad. She slipped so low physically. She said I'll never get it. Came home one day and she said, "You don't love me. The kids don't love me. Nobody loves me. I don't want to live." And suddenly got loss of a will to live. "Nobody cares." And friends, I'd be going around the country preaching and asking prayer, and she had more people praying. We had flowers and telegrams, and people praying, and more friends she'd ever had her life. But the enemy trying to say, "Nobody cares. You don't care, nobody cares."

David Wilkerson: And boy, I would come home and go into the garage where I had a little prayer room and say, "God, it's not great. I can't care this kind of a battle." And friends, for a whole year I traveled around the country preaching crusades, and have to stand and hearing in my subconscious mind, "David, you're a phony. You preach deliverance, and yet you can't solve your own problem. You're going to wind up in divorce court, and the millions of people who read The Cross and the Switchblade are going to laugh. You're going to bring reproach on the ministry." And one night in California, I was preaching for Miss kathryn Kuhlman, 4,000 people. In the middle of the sermon, it ran through my mind, "You're a phony, you have no right to preach. You're a phony." And I was paralyzed. I couldn't move. I grabbed the pulpit, and nothing came out. I stood there for three minutes, just petrified. And suddenly turned and walked off the stage. Walked off in front of 4,000 people right in the middle of my message. Miss Kuhlman had to take over the service.

David Wilkerson: I went up to the side, and brother Aaron Vic was there. He said, "Dave, what's wrong?" I said, "I'm a phony." He didn't know what I was talking about. I just walked out. I said, "I can't preach. I can't stand up anymore and tell what God can do until God heals our marriage." Because we were not making, we were arguing now. We were not understanding, we were not communicating. I knew she loved me and I knew I loved her. There was no other third party, but this disease that it was crippling. I knew the enemy was going to use this, try to destroy our home and marriage. Our children knew it, and some of our closest friends knew it. I went home and did what most people do when they're headed for trouble, they think a second honeymoon will solve everything. As if geographically removing yourself from the area of your problem would solve it. Friends, you take your problem with you. You don't solve it by going somewhere, you solve it right here in your heart.

David Wilkerson: And so I went home and I said, "Honey, I've got to go to California for crusades next week. Let's get somebody to watch the kids. Let's take a second honeymoon." She said, "We need something David." We flew to California, arrived at Friday. Checked into the hotel in Anaheim, and I had a Saturday afternoon banquet for some 400, 500 ministers and their wives. The Southern California District. And then a big crusade that night at the Long Beach auditorium, thousands of people expected. It was Saturday afternoon, I was dressing to get ready for the crusade. I don't know what triggered it, but for some reason or another, we started arguing, and I blew up. I said, "That does it. God doesn't expect out of me." I said, "We're not making it. We came here to California. We're not solving our problem. I said, I'm having a hard enough time preaching. I feel like a phony now. I've lost the victory. You're not coming in the car with me."

David Wilkerson: I slipped through a telephone number, I said, "Here, you call Ralph and Eileen. If you want to come, you come with them. You're not coming in a car with me." I got in my Hertz rental car and drove off in a huff to the banquet. They had my book set up down in the lobby, and when I appeared kids came running up wanting to autograph The Cross and Switchblade. And if you'd have seen me then, you would have never know with that phony smile on my face that I was dying inside and going through a ravishing period in my life. 10 minutes before the banquet was to start, here comes my wife with the pastor and his wife. And we'd learned by now to put on a big front, so she smiled and side up to me. We walked in hand in hand, and sat at the speaker's table at the banquet. Friends, I felt like I was in an echo chamber. I didn't hear a word for the first hour preliminaries, I was in an echo chamber. I was so low.

David Wilkerson: I reached in my pocket and I had $500 in traveler's checks. Now, it's not because I carry a lot of money, but the tickets alone were $300. And we were going to be there for a week, we thought. And suddenly a Scripture came to me. It's a scripture that David used. It was what David said when he was going through a trial, and he wanted to run away from it. He said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove, that could fly off to some distant wilderness and escape this tempest and storm. Oh, that I had dreams of a dove, I could fly away to the wilderness." And on my way to the meeting that afternoon, I'd seen a bus pull out of the station there. It said, "Mexico City." And all of a sudden it hit me. "God doesn't expect this of you. You got $500 in your pocket. Just get up, walk out, go to the bus station. Get a ticket, go to Mexico City.

David Wilkerson: Take your Bible and your clothes. And check into a hotel down there and write another book, maybe on family problems, because now you can relate to them. Fast and pray. Call New York and tell Paul the treasurer to give your paycheck to your wife and take care of the family. Don't let anybody know where you're at. And one of these days when she really tries, when she starts praying and seeking God like she should, then she'll come crawling back to you. Then you can come home." God doesn't expect it. Friends, I did the stupidest thing I ever did in my life. I got up, put the chair under the table and walked out. People must have thought I was going to the restroom. I headed for that bus station feeling sorry for myself, and hurt, and depressed. The lowest I'd ever been in my whole ministry. I got that bus station. I'm standing there getting ready to lay money down for a ticket. And friends, all of a sudden I begin to shake and tremble because the fear of God came on me.

David Wilkerson: The Holy Spirit fell on me, and I heard it ringing through my subconscious mind, "David, what a fool. What a fool. You talk about being hurt. You talk about not being understood. And yet you haven't had the knife laid on you. You haven't had the tubes down your throat. You haven't had to face the trauma of cancer. She has done all the suffering. You don't even begin to know what suffering is. She's gone through it all. If anyone has a right to run away, she does, not you. Get back before it's too late." Now, I tell you I literally ran. I remember jumping over a car. I put my hands to the front lead right over the front of it, over a fire hydrant. I huffed and puffed my way back, and I got there five minutes before they introduced me to speak. My wife later said she knew what I'd tried to do. She wanted to do the same thing. I don't even know what I spoke, friends, I got through it.

David Wilkerson: But after the banquet about 5:15, 5:30, I handed my wife the key to the room they'd given us there at the hotel. I said, "Honey, we're not making it." And I said, "I can't go in, I'm at the end of my rope." I said, "You go to the room. You know I love you, and I know you love me. But I can't go on another day." I said, "Now, I've got to preach to thousands of people tonight and I'm not going to do it unless God leads me, unless God heals our marriage, and our home." I went up to a little dressing room, it's still there, up at the Long Beach auditorium. Dirty old filthy dressing room. I slammed the door and I pounded my fist against the wall almost till I bled, and said "God, like Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, I'll not let You go until You answer prayer. God, You've met me all these years, You've met my financial need.

David Wilkerson: You've healed boys like Nicky Cruz, I've seen Your miracle working power. This burden is too much." And I'll tell your friends, He said you'll make a way of escape. Hallelujah. God said He'd make a way of escape that we may be able to bear it. And friends, after an hour or so, something happened in that little room. God poured on me a fresh anointing, an anointing like I had never experienced all my life. Even fresher than when God first called me to the streets of New York. And suddenly, all that poison was washed out. Glory to God. It doesn't take that all night, it just takes God a few moments. He washed out all the fear, and He washed out the depression. I knew God was going to bring healing towards wife and our home that night. Friends, at 7:30 I walked out, and the place was packed and jammed. I didn't even have my Bible with me, I didn't even know where I'd left it. Didn't even have a note. All I remember, I was in a daze, I was in the Spirit and I heard someone introducing me.

David Wilkerson: I stood before thousands of people. I remember for just a half an hour I preached on love. If God marked iniquities, who among us could stand? He remembers our frame, He remembers that we're but dust. Oh, I began to just pour out of my heart the love that I felt for Jesus, and the love that He was giving back to me. All the love. I spoke for half an hour through tear stained eyes, and halfway through my message ... And I'd never experienced such anointing, it was as though I'd stepped out of my body and, and the Lord Himself just speaking through my lips. Just pouring out. I couldn't wait to hear what the Holy Ghost will say next. Just poured it out and halfway through my message, the Lord let me pick up Gwen space. Way in the back of thousands of people I could see her and her hands were raised, and tears streaming down her cheeks. And suddenly, I had a Holy Ghost premonition. God is healing your wife right now. God is healing, the miracles happen.

David Wilkerson: And boy, it rolled off of me and I knew it. I knew it. I gave an invitation that night, and over 1,000 people came forward. I'd never seen anything like it. People were crying and making up with each other, it was a beautiful experience. And about 10 minutes later into the altar service, I heard somebody going, "Psst, psst, psst." I turned and there's Gwen behind the curtain going like this. Most informative, "Come here." Boy, and I walked away from thousands of people. I went over and I picked her up and hugged her, and she said, "Dave, I feel like a 13 year old girl. I have never felt like this in all my life." She said, "Do you know you preached your whole sermon right at me? I said, "Honey, there's 1,000 others that are thinking the same thing." She said, "No."

David Wilkerson: She said, "Halfway through your message tonight, the anointing of God came on you so, your face lit up." She said, "I saw a ring around your face." She said, "And God took that anointing and broke the yoke in my life, the anointing on you touched my life and broke the yoke." She said, "The depression snapped." She said, "The glory of the Lord filled my heart." And she said, "God told me I'm healed." She said, "I am healed." She said, "The depression is gone." She said, "Let's get out of here." And we got out of there. We walked away from thousands of people, didn’t tell anybody or friends, that second honeymoon was 10 million times better than the first. We've been going on it ever since. Hallelujah. It's just been absolutely beautiful. You say, "You got no more problems?" Oh, yes. But we always make sure, "I'm there first, honey. I'm the one that's sorry." We've learned the sorry, secret. Hallelujah. Glory to God.

David Wilkerson: Let me tell you something, you tell me your marriage is hopeless. You say, "Well, it used to be nice." Come on. You stood one day ... With this, I close. You stood one day with your husband or your wife before an altar. I don't know whether you were in a white dress or not, but you stood there either before a judge, a priest, or a minister the gospel and you said, "I love you, until death do us part." And you were married in the sight of God. I don't know what's happened in the meantime, I don't care if you're retired. Maybe you say, "The magic is gone, David. I'll never be able to sense what I had before." Well, friends, we don't live by feelings. We live by faith. But if by faith you'll come to Him now and pray for a miracle, God can heal you. God can heal your marriage. And He said ... here's what the Bible says, "I've got something against you because you left your first love. You didn't lose it, you left it.

David Wilkerson: So remember how it was, and repent, and go back and do it all over again." Come on, remember how it was and go back and do it all over again. Now. I used to have people come forward that wanted their marriages healed, and I'd have to repeat the marriage vows until I saw how stupid that is. Those are just words, that doesn't mean anything. It's the act of kindness. It's determining in your mind, "I'm going to make this work. I believe in miracles. I believe in God. I believe God can keep my home. I'm not going to give up, I'm not going to let the devil destroy my home and ruin my kids. Break up my husband and my wife. I'll not allow it. Never." Some of you young married couples needed this so much tonight. Look what's happened, all the pressure in this age. Father, I've made a confession. Now, we've all got to make a confession. Lord, I needed this tonight. This is exactly what I need. I need it. I acknowledge it. I admit that I need help. That's where it begins. Amen.

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Enemies of Our Faith

 

Claude Houde

July 28, 2019

There are enemies to your faith; obstacles and forces clamoring to steal your trust in God and his provision. When hope seems far off, the answer invisible, or the beginning small, trust in a God who provides abundantly more than you need. In this sermon, Claude Houde reminds us of the faithfulness of God in even the most dire situations.

... that led to speak on the topic of enemies of our faith. We must discern, identify, confront, and learn to overcome and protect against the enemies of our faith. Now, faith is a substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith, the elders obtained a good testimony. There's no other way to obtain until the end a good testimony for Christ, but by the renewing and the defending of our faith and there are enemies to our faith. For without faith, it is impossible to please him. Think of it. Think about. Think about how the enemy wants to steal, corrupt and abort your faith. Because without faith, it is impossible to please him. There can be services, it can be a faithfulness to church and singing and structures, even prayer, even praise, even preaching. But without faith it is impossible to please him.

Let me do a little survey here this morning at Times Square Church. The word of God as a call to ... This verse has been in my heart in the last weeks and even years. The responsibility of faith for us that have been walking with the Lord for a season, their responsibility to be models of faith. Let me make a little survey. How many of you have known Jesus? You're a believer. How many of you have been born again for more than 10 years? Let me see your hand. Look at that. How many of you more than 20 years? Look at that. How many of you more than 30 years? Wow. 40 years? No more ladies. No more ladies raising their hands.

10, 20, 30, 40 years. To all of us that have been walking with the Lord and singing, worshiping him and seeing him so faithful, the author to the Hebrews gives this incredible word to all the young believers. There were thousands of young believers and he actually tells them to look to us, to look to us as models. He says in Hebrews Chapter 13, "Remember those who are leaders or elders or are teachers who have spoken to the word of God to you, whose faith follow, whose faith follow considering the outcome of their conduct. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." It's astonishing to me and it's very humbling the sense of responsibility that the idea here, the commandment here is for all young believers to look to us who have shared the word of God with them, to look to us. And to follow our conduct of faith and to actually see how we live our faith through the struggles and the pain. And then live our faith through the battles at the mourning and the defeats and the incomprehensions.

And as you go through, you see, he says to the young believers, "Look to those who have brought the word of God to you and follow their conduct." Amazing things. If you've been a believer for many years, as many of you have, the young believers, your family, unbelievers, backsliders are called to look to you. And for our faith, for my faith, and for your faith, to be the living proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I want you to say this to the person next to you. You can look at me. Say that to the person next to you. Because that's what the author of the Hebrew says. He says, "Look to them."

So I need more than salvation faith. I need more than saving faith. Saving faith ... I need more than saving faith for heaven. I need now faith for this earth. I need more than singing faith or scriptural faith even, or I need sustaining faith, surrendering faith. And I need supernatural faith every day so that my life becomes the incarnation, my life becomes the living proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That he heals today and holds us today. And can you say yes, please.

Now the epistle, and Jude, actually even more than being aware of the battle for our faith, actually Jude called us to contend for our faith, to fight against the enemies of our faith. He actually, and we look at Jude and Jude is the brother of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had other children naturally after the supernatural birth of Christ. And we have their names in scripture, James and Joseph and Jude. And Jude only believed in Jesus as Messiah after he saw him resurrected, after the resurrection. We can imagine him in the book of Acts. We can imagine him at Pentecost. We can imagine him and he becomes an apostle and he becomes a voice for God. And he writes a letter to believers. He intends it to be ... I'll read it a second. He intends it to be a letter of comfort, a letter where we all talk about our common salvation, a letter very in line with a modern message where everything's okay, it's all good. We're all the same, all under grace, and let's rejoice in our, let's have a kumbaya, a general kumbaya around our salvation.

And he says it, "Beloved," verse three to four, "I was very diligent to write to you. This is what I wanted to you concerning our common salvation. But I found it necessary,” in the Greek I found it urgent." He is gripped by the Holy Spirit to write to you, to exhort you, to awaken you, to contend, to fight, to battle earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints. Why? For certain men have crept in unnoticed who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turned the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I had intended just to bring us all together and just talk about our common faith, but I was seized. I was shaken by the Holy Spirit, and I became urgently, urgently aware that I needed to tell the body of Christ. And I thank God for still today, 2000 years later, for men and women of God and men of God that stand in this pulpit and still understand that there are enemies of the faith. And we need to contend for the faith and we need to stand for the faith because you see ... Why?

Because it wasn't a "Oh, you're right because of the enemy outside." Oh, in this case he's not speaking of enemies outside. He's speaking of enemies from the inside. He's speaking of men that come in and they've transformed the grace of God into lewdness. Literally they wear the grace of God, they wear it as a label, but they don't walk in the light. They have a confession, but there's no change. There's no transformation. They sing the song. They sing songs of grace and they sin while they're in grace. There's a sense in Jude that we are to be awakened to contend for the faith. Now when you add the word faith in scripture, pistis, 228 times. In the original Greek, its simplest form is most profound. A sense is that faith as being persuaded, being convicted, being certain, being assured, who is wholly persuaded and convicted that without this persuasion, this conviction of this sense of being so persuaded of God and his word and his call in my life and under grace of my need to allow his Holy Spirit to do his work of transformation in me. Without this faith, it is impossible to please him.

Now, did you know that that the scripture specifically speaks of the last days and says that in the last days, the faith, that sense of conviction, that sense of this is the word of God, that sense of I will face God one day, I will be before him. That sense of conviction and persuasion, that in the last days in the body, many will wax… the faith, the pistis of many will wax cold. They will have a form of godliness, but they will deny the very power thereof. So when the son of man comes, will he find faith? Will he find men and women that will be battling, that will be defending, that will be discerning, that will be crying out with the disciples, "Oh Lord, increase my faith"? Now when you look at scripture, there's only two times that Jesus marveled. He marveled only two times. Now the word thaumazó, marvel, is used 43 times, but only twice by Jesus. And in both in relationship to faith. In Matthew eight, verse 10 to 13, when the Centurion comes and my servant is dying, Jesus says, "I will go to him. You don't need to go. I'm not worthy of you coming, but just say a word and he will be healed." And Jesus heard it and he thaumazó. He marveled and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, such a great conviction and persuasion and confidence, not even in Israel." Then Jesus said to the Centurion, "Go your way. As you have believed so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed in the same hour. Jesus marveled at this man's faith. The word thaumazó means he was stunned. He was filled. Jesus was astonished to find marvelous, to be filled with awe, with admiration and wonder.

But the word in scripture in the New Testament also is sometime used in the contrary, to be stunned, to be horrified, to be angered, to be saddened. And in both cases it has the implication in the Greek of out of breath. It took my breath away to see this man's faith. So Jesus marveled at the unlimited faith of this man, but he also marveled at what I call the unbelief of familiarity. Only twice did he marvel. He marveled at this man's faith. But then in Mark chapter six, verse four to six, when he comes to his own country, when he come among the people that knew him the most in his early years, Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country and among his own relatives in his own house."

Now he could do no mighty work there except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled. He thaumazó. He marveled because of their unbelief. He was astonished. He was angered. He was saddened. He was stunned and horrified at their unbelief. The terrible danger of familiarity.

I pray. I have been praying, even for this message, praying in the last weeks in preparation for this morning. I prayed that God would give us a fresh sense. I pray by the grace of God that not one of us that belong to this church, would ever become familiar, would ever take for granted the presence of God that is here and the word of God that is preached and the prayer alive that is here and the fruit of this church and the miracles in this church. Look around you. This entire house is a house of miracles. Can you stop with me one second this morning and say, "Oh God, we're not familiar. We're just worshiping and so grateful. You are God and you are awesome in this place." Would you say yes, please?

And when we look at ... As we learn together in these two messages to discern, identify, and confront, overcome the enemies of our faith, we will look today ... We could look at many men and women of faith in scripture, but we will look today at Elijah. So I want you to turn with me to First Kings 18. First Kings, chapter 18. Everybody, First Kings 18. If you don't have your Bible, you can share it with the person next to you or it will be on the screen. The verses will be on the screen as well.

Now when we look at Elijah, we look at a man of faith. We look at a man that had to battle against enemies of his faith, but we've got a man of faith. And his faith as detailed in many chapters, but we look at chapter 18 that his faith was faith with a conviction to call kingdom choices. Now, if you are walking true faith, your faith calls you to choices every day. And a true faith, true preaching of faith calls people clearly to convictions and to choices. In verse 17 of chapter 18 of First Kings, then it happened when Ahab saw Elijah, he’s the king. And Ahab the King said to him, "Is that you, oh, troubler of Israel?" But he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed Baal."

We, the church of the last days will have to stand in persuasion and will have our call to build the kingdom of God and to call and to stand with these convictions. A little bit later on in verse 21, Elijah said, "How long?" Speaking the word of God to the world, but speaking it to the people. And Elijah came to all the people and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him. But if it's Baal follow him." But the people answered him not a word.

We in these last days will be the people of God that will be anointed to build a kingdom of God by a faith in a society and in a world and an ethos that is increasingly and violently discriminatory. In a world that calls evil good and good evil. In a world that looks at the church with mockery. Will look at the church even as a nuisance to be silenced. We will be, and we are, on the great many pulpits in the world, and great temptation to just fold in. We are called to stand in faith and the faith of God would always call us to choices. Choose ye today who you're going to serve.

It's also faith with Christ like compassion. He is calling, he's standing that persuasion, that conviction for God and his commandments, but there's not a fiber in Elijah that gives up on this world. There's not a fiber that keeps this world at arm's length or looks at the church as turned onto ourself and a bunker mentality. When they begin to call on Baal, they are completely demonically controlled. And in verse 28 and 29, "So they cried out and they cut themselves as was their customs with knives, until the blood gushed out of them." In verse 30, Elijah said to all the people "Come near me." So all the people came near to him and he repaired the altar. So beautiful. Repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken. And then he took 12 stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to, through the word of the Lord, I'd come. And he said, "Thou shall be your name."

It's an incredible picture of Christ and us, his body on earth. They are disgusting. They are violently against God. They are demonically inspired. They are repugnant to everything and Elijah. But he opens his arms and he says, "Come near me. Come near me. Let me rebuild the altar of God in your life."

When I was just a youth pastor years ago, I got a call at 3:00 in the morning and it was a police in Montreal. And they called and they said, " Are you Pastor Claude Houde?" I said, "Yes, I am." And they said they had a situation in a city where there was a girl who was terribly mentally disturbed and she had locked herself in an abandoned building but surrounded with tenement buildings in the projects. And she had soaked herself in gasoline and she had a fire with her and she had a knife. And she was cutting herself and threatening to burn herself and just to become a torch.

And they took it so seriously that they blocked the entire neighborhood. They brought fire trucks all around and they said, "We're calling you because we've been three hours talking to her and nobody can reason with her and it's getting more and more dangerous. And she's just cutting herself and threatening to burn the building down." And then she reached in her jeans and all soaked in the blood. She got out a business card, and it's from your church and it's you. She's been to your church. And then I remembered from years back, that troubled girl coming, would try to help. My wife and I taking her to a teen challenge type center and she ran away. I never heard from her again.

So I got in my car. Chantel is praying. And I drive to the city and I get to all the police all around and have blocked the streets. They say, "This is the man. It's okay. Allow him in. Allow him through." And when I got there, she's behind a wall under ... And they were so afraid for my security. They said, "Well, we can't allow you to go and talk to her. Try to talk to her through a wall." I'm trying to, and we're getting nowhere. So I said to them, "You have to let me see her and talk to her." So they discussed among themselves and they put this vest on me and this harness and they kind of put me in. And they said, "If she moves, we pull you out," and all that. I came in and it was a picture of just insanity. All the blood and she's cutting herself. And within about 10 minutes she gave me the knife and I remember just taking the knife and holding and just extending my hand and grabbing her hand and pulling her out. They took her and then ... But wait.

They took her away. So I drive back at 6:00 in the morning and I take a shower. I go to the office. And around 7:30, 8:00, I get a call. It's her calling. So I said hi. I said, "I see you're okay, Natalie. Where are you?" She said, "Well, they just put me right back on the street." That day when I was walking into church, that morning, praying, it just hit me so hard. With all the resources that society can have, they are so limited in what they ... And we the church, and it just hit me so much, just like Elijah with his arms open, we have to contend for our faith. This church is Jesus's arms extended to men and women that only God can pull out. Only God can deliver. Only God can ... You should applaud more than that. This is our calling. This is who we are. This is who we are. So Elijah is this man of conviction, this man of Christ like compassion. He has faith with a calling to choices and Christ like compassion. He has faith with a cry for things to change. In verse 37, his cry is our cry. He says, "Hear me, oh Lord. Hear me so that the people may know that you are Lord." This cry must never ... This is a Tuesday night prayer meeting.

This is a Tuesday night prayer meeting. This is the heart of Times Square Church for all, for three, four decades. There's a cry coming out right in the heart of Times Square. There's a cry going out to God, "Oh God, come by a fire, by your presence. Oh Lord Jesus, fill us with that faith that we open our arms in love but also for your fire to come and consume in us what needs to be consumed and come and show your glory. So people will know in 2019 that you are God." That's just faith.

And we will discern, identify, and we will confront and learn to defeat and to protect against four enemies of his faith. We'll start this morning and we continue in two weeks. But when we look at the first stage or the first enemy of our faith in first Kings chapter 18, we see that our first enemy, and we all face it, and the first stage of the battle in our faith to contend our faith is what I call simply the invisible, the invisible. And in first Kings chapter 19 in verse 41, "And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound." The Hebrew said, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain." It had been a long season of many years of drought.

So Ahab went up to eat and drink, and the Elijah went up to the top of Carmel. Then he bowed down on the ground, put his face between his knees, and he said to his servant, "Go up now. Go look towards the sea."

So the servant went and looked and said, "There is nothing."

And seven times he said, "Go again." Elijah is facing the first enemy of faith. And the first enemy in our battle to contend for our faith is simply the invisible. We have a contrast here in the realm of the battle of faith, many people go back to eating and drinking once a promise from God has been announced. Eat and drink in biblical, in the biblical language is often used as a biblical expression that symbolizes spiritual carelessness, blindness, a certain spiritual blindness or neglect with a focus on self fulfillment that eat and drink and be merry and die. Eat and drink, for we die tomorrow.

Elijah comes out and he says, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain." And while the King goes and eats and drinks, Elijah goes before his God. It's a good question for me and you in the battle of our faith. When there is, Hey, do I protect? Do I receive the promise of God but then protected battle for it, fight for it, contend for it with my face before God? Or do I sit on a promise, eat and drink and be merry because a promise has been spoken? True faith understands that the promise of God comes, but I am to contend for the faith. I am to pray through. I am to continue. I am to hold on to what God has promised.

It is pretty amazing. Elijah said, "I heard the sound of the abundance of rain." In the battle of faith, in the realm of faith, in the battle against the enemy of our faith, we often hear what we cannot see yet. I heard a promise from God. I heard something for my son. I heard something from my life. I heard something for my marriage. I heard a promise from God. I heard. We can feel Elijah. He says, "I know it's been a drought." And it's a long drought. If you know the context, it's been a long drought. Elijah has been in a drought. In this case, it was a physical drought.

We go in our battle of faith through different seasons of dry seasons and drought. We go through droughts. It could be a spiritual drought, the relational drought, spiritually, relationally, emotionally, spiritual, emotional, relational, a drought in love. Just a dryness in my heart, in responding to people in love or impatience with someone we're loving and trying to, or a drought in my confidence for the future. A drought in a marriage relationship, a drought in a relationship with one of our kids, or adult kids that are grown and in relation. Sometimes, sometimes the drought in my relationship with my church, a drought in my relationship with God. Because I had heard something, and in the battle of faith, oftentimes we hear so deeply and it's so real to us. We hear so deeply what we do not see yet.

Question, what do you do? Where do you go when the promise comes and you're in a season of drought? Ahab ate and drank. Ahab went just went, and, and, and just went and, and, and let the promise drift. He just went and just spun. What do you do? Elijah went with his face before God. Yes, the promise has come, but I'm here in your presence, God, and I'm speaking to someone here today. The promise has been spoken, but you say, "I don't see anything yet. I'm in a season of drought." Now, sometimes the droughts that we go through are only known to God. Sometimes people around us don't see the droughts we're going through. Sometimes, I would say this way, sometimes my outward situation, my songs, and in some realms of my life, my apparent successes are doing better than my soul.

Sometimes I'm going through a drought, and in a season of droughts, I've heard this. This is a promise of God for me, but I see nothing. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel and then he came back and he says, "I heard the sound of the abundance of rain. There's a promise from God." So he tells his servant, "Go, go to the mount, the top of the mount. Go and look. Go look towards the sea. You'll see. You'll see it. It's coming. God has spoken. I know this is true. I know this is true."

Let me illustrate it this way. Zach, come on. Come on. Elijah says to his young servant, " I want you to run up to the top of Mount Carmel. Go and see and come back and tell me what you see. Go for it. Go. Go young, man. Go, go young, man. Go. Go to the top of Mount Carmel. I hear the sound." He's on 51st street. Come back, come back, come back. I hear the sound of the abundance of rain. I hear the sound. I know God has promised, and it's been a long time, but it's the promise of God. Hey, Hey, what do you see?"

"Nothing."

"You see nothing? Go again. Go again." Elijah said, "Go again." Elijah said, "Go again. I heard the sound of the abundance of rain. Go again. Go, come back. Come back. The promises of God are true." My friend Habakkuk said, "The promise, the promise is walking toward its fulfillment. If it's long in waiting, wait for it. Fight for it. Pray for it. For it is for an appointed time." In the realm of faith, we often hear what we do not see. You went, and what did you see? Nothing. Go again.

Now, the Bible says that he did it seven times. Do you feel the compassion of this church for this young man? Give him a hand. I don't have time to go. I should have let him go seven times, because sometimes it just feels that long. I heard the sound. I know I did. I heard the sound. I know it's God. "Go again." Seven times around the walls of Jericho. Seven times let the King be dipped to be healed of his leprosy. And God is saying to someone today, "You heard the sound of the abundance of rain, but you are facing in battle of faith. You are facing the invisible. Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Love again. Forgive again. Hallelujah.

Oh, people of God, this morning. Do you hear it? Do you hear the voice of God saying to a mother, to a father, to a young man, say, "Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Love again. Release again. Give again. Trust again. Surrender again. Worship again. Pray again." Give him praise again. I love the testimony of Elgin Staples. I read it and then it's verified on so many sources, even in some of the army websites. In the bestseller Finding Your Way, I read this amazing testimony, this Christian young man, August eight and nine, 1942 on the ship USS Astoria, it was the first ship that engaged the Japanese during the battle of Savo Island. And Elgin Staples, a young Christian, his mother, his home and his parents, but his mother is praying for him. He was fearful. He left. He wanted to do his duty for his country, but it was a very, he had known many people around him that came back having lost, giving their lives for freedom and his mother just before he left laid hands on him and prayed for him.

And Staple is a single man, third class. And on that day, on August eight his ship is under attack and sunk and he is floating under raging ocean, holding on to dear life and praying, but just saved by his life vest. He has a vest that he's holding on to a tube and he's holding onto it. He's finally brought onto another ship. And would you believe it? The second ship is sunk again. And then as he's floating on the crazy ocean and then the terror and he's holding on to that life vest, he's just holding on and hours and hours and hours. And he looks, and it just hits him, because it says that that vest, there's just a little sign on it, and it says that the vest was built by the Firestone Company of Akron, Ohio. And there's a number there and he's thinking, "This is crazy. I'm from Akron, Ohio. I know the Firestone Company."

And as he's there praying, and then when they read this story back together, his mother had just got the news and the communications were different back then. So she just got the news, he's lost at sea. And she's praying, and she's praying. And then they finally save him, finally bring him back. And there's pictures in the newspapers of him when he gets home with his ... and they gave him his life vest that saved his life. And he's sitting home with his mom and he tells a story, tells his testimony, he says, "Mom, I had floating on the sea and I'm holding onto my life vest and would you believe it? It was built right here at the Firestone Company in Akron and there's this number and I'm just ..." And the mother begins to weep and she says, "With the war, I had to take a job and I'm now working at the Firestone Company. I make these vests, and every employee has an employee number for quality control, and this is my number." Thousands and thousands of vests.

I want to say to someone, I want to say to someone who needs to hear it, when you don't see anything, there's always going to be people around you to say, "I see nothing." There's going to be people around you that say that, "You're believing in vain. I see nothing. It's too late. It's too much. It's too deep. I see nothing. This is too big. This is impossible. I see nothing." You'll have the devil himself shout in your mind, "I see nothing. There is nothing. There is nothing." Go again. Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Come on.

I want you to encourage somebody next to you and say to them, "Go again." Say that to somebody next to you. Enemies of our faith, our first enemy, the first phase, the first stage battle through our life, every season. It's not a first phase, first years of your Christian life. You will go through this in every season of your life. Complete anything that is built for God. Anything that is of eternal value will, at one point, look like nothing. Anything that is of God, at one point, will look like it's nothing. I see nothing. Go again, because a first battle, a first enemy, first stage of battle is the invisible. And the second enemy, the second stage of battle is the insignificant or the insufficient. He said, "Go." He said to him, "Go up again."

So verse 44 of chapter 18, "It came to pass, the seventh time," seventh time, he went and he said, "There's a cloud, but so small, as small as the hand of a man rising out of the sea."

And so Elijah said, "Go up and say to Ahab, prepare your chariot and you go down before the rains that stop you and it happen that in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and winds and there was heavy rain and they have rode away and went to Jezreel." But the hand of the Lord, the Lord came upon Elijah, and as he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Israel. It's not nothing, but it's not enough. First battle, it's nothing. Second battle, okay. It's not nothing, but it's insignificant. So small. It's like the hand of a man in vast skies. It's nothing. Well, it's not nothing, but it's not enough.

One of the deadliest traps in our contending for our faith is the trap of the, it's not enough. Not enough change. There's not enough change in my husband. I don't have change in my ... don't look at anybody. Look at me right now on this thing, on this little section. Not enough change. There's not enough change. There's not enough effort, not enough fruit. There's not enough. Not enough, God. It's not enough. Not enough progress in this relationship. There's enough in my home, not enough. My kids was doing a little bit, but it's not enough.

It's not enough in the promise to fulfilling of the promise of God. It's not enough in my career. It's not enough in my calling before God. Sometimes it turns towards us. Not enough recognition. Not enough. Nobody's seeing it. Not enough. Not enough. There's not enough doors opening. It's enough. It's not enough comparing to what I heard. It's not enough comparing to how much I put into this. It's not enough compared to how much I prayed. It's not enough comparing to what I was hoping for. It's not enough. It's that dangerous season in our faith where the progress does not match the promise. It's not enough. And not enough is a deadly, deadly poison. Please hear me. The enemy cannot stop God's rain, but he can stop you from running towards it in faith. I've seen in 35 and more years of pastoring people that gave up on the not enough, not enough change. I'm giving up on this marriage, giving up on my kids, giving up on my calling, giving up on my church, giving up on following God. Not enough. Not enough. The not enough.

I want you to know that true fed, verse 44, see Elijah's reaction, "What do you see?"

"I see nothing."

"Go again. What do you see?"

"I see nothing."

"Go again." Seven times. He comes back.

"What do you see?"

"So small."

He goes, "Let's go. Gird up. Let's run. The rain's going to be so awesome. Come on, let's run towards it. Let's run towards the rain." True faith. Contend for the faith, enemies of our faith, the not enough. True faith celebrates the small beginnings. True faith celebrates a small beginning riddled with imperfections. Now you can look at somebody next to you who's riddled with imperfections. True faith celebrates the rain drops before, way before the abundance of rain. True faith celebrates the smallest bud that will grow into great fruit. Faith does not despise the day of small beginnings. Faith does not fall into traps of the not enough. Faith does not fall in the trap of this is insignificant. This is just loaves and fishes in a kid's hands. This is just stones in a teenager sling against a giant. No. True faith says, "My God, what I have I bring to you and I celebrate what you have begun. He that has begun a good work in me will perform it."

Mm-hmm (affirmative). There's traps. True faith is aware, is discerning of the traps of the insignificant. When you are beginning to combat, when you are falling into a trap that this is not enough, this is not enough. There's many traps. There's the traps. There's the traps of the enemy, the traps of comparison and human ambition. It's not enough compared to yesterday. It's not enough compared to what someone else, or somewhere else I'm comparing with. When I'm comparing it with what I had in my heart, what I had envisioned with my ambition, with my timetable, it's not enough. It's not enough. It's not enough.

This is a society now with the social media where people spending hours every day comparing themselves with others, looking at everybody else's Facebook and Instagram and with all the filters and all the, everybody looks better than they really do, and everybody looks at ... and everybody ... and look at the restaurant they're eating, or look at their kids, they look perfect. Look at that car. Look at those vacations. Look at that job and look at ... Oh, let's have a moment of confession. How many of you I've ever posted something under social media that really did not fully reflect the full experience? Anybody? Let's make a call for all liars to come and ...

You know what I mean. You're showing pictures of your vacation and you're telling the kids, "Come on. This is for the picture. Look happy." And you finally get everybody's head and there's seven filters after and then touch up a computer, touch-up and tans and all kinds of stuff added. And you're putting on the picture of us in the car on our way to the beach. And really, you fought all afternoon. It was hell in the car. You know what I mean. Say it or somebody next to you, "Other people do it, too." Say that to somebody.

Comparison on social media, but also comparison in the spiritual. Or even another trap comparison human ambition or the trap of conformity that will not allow God to bless in a different way. This is how I prayed it. This is how I saw it happen. This is how God blessed me in the past. This is how it must be. Not enough. I want to say to somebody next to you, your temple of yesterday will not be the only way God will build your temple today and tomorrow. Now, in the book of Haggai, you had this moment where the people of God, after I've been gone to captivity, come back. God in his mercy brings them back and they begin to try to rebuild the temple, and they get discouraged. It's not enough.

It's just not enough, because they had in mind the glory of the former temple, the temple of Solomon, one of the wonders of the world. And they come back and for 17 years, they leave the work interrupted. In Haggai chapter one, he says, "No, the spirit of God comes upon the leaders, and upon Zerubbabel, and upon the governors, and upon Zechariah the high priest, and then upon the people, and they all come together. But again, in chapter two, they're giving up again. It's not enough. It's not enough. And God goes to the very root of it. You can read it. It's not on the screen, but you can read it. In Haggai chapter two, God says, "How many of you saw this temple in its former glory?" There's very few of them. Haggai was seventy years old. He was the one that saw the most of them, and not even seen it, but they were comparing it with what other people had said, and it looked so-so.

And God actually says, "Is this temple not in your eyes as nothing? How do you look at it now? Is it not in your eye as nothing? Now be strong. Go again. Be strong, and it will be according to my covenant. And my spirit is with you, and the glory of this temple will be greater than the former." I want to say to somebody next to you, don't put God in a box. This is the way it has to be done. This is the way God blessed me in the past. This was a temple. Nothing can compare to it. His mercies are new every morning. Don't you limit him. In history, they start, "When God said this glory of this temple will be greater than the former," that's just not possible. They're standing on stones and rubbles, and historians actually will say that that second temple in his physicality never approach the wealth of the human beauty of the former one.

What is God saying that? What is God saying? God all through the Old Testament is announcing Jesus Christ. He is saying there's a new temple coming. And he went, God, "Jesus will offer his life. Sacrifices would go day and night. I would go through day now, but it will be one sacrifice, and the temple will not be a building made by mans of stone. It will be billions of temples of the Holy Spirit. I will come. The glory will come and dwell in human beings, for millenniums to come all the way to Times Square Church in 2019, therefore the second temple is much greater. The second temple is the church of Jesus Christ, and what started as not enough!

Oh, come on! Shout with me. And what started as not enough became the glory of God beyond anything they could imagine. And when Elijah, "What do you see? Nothing. Go again. What do you see?" "It's not enough. It's insignificant. It's like the hand of a man." "Run towards it." Now, as Elijah ran, the Bible says that the hand of the Lord came in him, came upon him with might and power. He outran the horses. The hand of God came upon him in supernatural strength. Would you remember this, please? Never forget the cloud like the hand of a man. So small, not enough, prepares the conquests of the hand of God upon your life if you trust him. I would close with this, and I'm going to ask the musicians to come. True faith never curses what appears to be not enough. True faith blesses and offers to God what seems not enough. I close with this moment. You all, many of you know well, the gospel of Mark chapter six, as the musicians come.

The multitude is starving. Jesus has taught them many things, and when the time came to feed them disciples to send them away, the disciples are bemoaning their lack. Lamenting they're not enough. But Jesus, when he had taken the five loaves and the fishes, looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them, and the two fish divided among them all. They all ate and were filled, and when they took up 12 baskets full of fragments and the fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were about 5,000 men. Jesus did not curse the not enough. He blessed the not enough, and he offered it to God. And as he offered to God his not enough, his eyes trusting in the one that is more than enough, God multiplied. God multiplied. The rain came. The hand of God came. I've seen this in every season of my life, and I'm bringing this as a simple reminder to elders, mothers, fathers, men, and women that have walked with God for a long time.

You still need to contend for your faith. You still need to be aware, and you still need to come to God and to say, "Lord, with all the invisibles in my life where I've been tempted just to say I see nothing, there is nothing, I heard but I am. I don't see." The spirit of God says to you, "Go again. Trust me again. Bring it up to me." And for all of us who are in the traps, but we're sinking in the mire. We're sinking. We're in a sinking sand of the not enough, and it was bringing thoughts in your mind and in your heart of giving up on very, very serious commitments between you and God, and maybe between you and people you love. And ideas and thoughts that were from hell itself, it's so small. It's not enough.

And not so directly, but in your flesh, there was a sense of almost cursing the not enough. This is not enough. The spirit of God comes to you today and says, "Oh, bring me your not enough. Blessed the not enough. Offer it to me." And when you are going through a drought, or when you are going through a storms, wrap your arms around the basket of his provision. He offered. God blessed and multiplies, and it was 12 basket, one for each of the disciples. And they entered the next storm where their arms around the basket of his faithfulness, the basket of his faithfulness and his provision, because the spirit of the not enough blinds us, robs us. It will rob you of your joy. It will rob you of your faith. It will rob you of your praise. It will rob you of your giving, of your generosity. I've not been blessed enough. It will rob your faith. It will rob you of your commitments. It will rob you of your impact to model Jesus Christ as the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am 57 years old, and every year of my life and this year again, I've had to come and say, God, there's some things that I heard in my spirit. Some of them years ago, some of them more recently. I heard it from you, but I don't see anything, but I'm standing on your promise. I'm standing on your faithfulness. Forgive me! Forgive me for saying it's not enough. Not enough. Forgive me. It's not enough compared to what I had dreamed. What I wanted for your destiny. Oh, God, it's not enough!

It's not enough compared to how much I loved, how much I gave, how much I forgave! God, it's not enough! Forgive me. I want to bring it to you today and say oh my God, I bless your provision in my life. I see the hand. I see the cloud. Oh God. And I know that the cloud that in my human eyes seems so small, like the hand of the man, is actually preparing the hand of God's work and sovereign provision in my life. In Jesus name, and all of God's people shouted an amen! Can we stand? Can we stand and really give him an ovation? Can we stand and give Jesus a standing ovation today? Come on. People of God, would you shout out to God? Can we sing How Great is Our God? Can we sing How Great is Our God, but full blast with all the musicians. And this is the call today. Don't go right away unless you really have to. Bow your head for a moment. This is a life changing moment for many. If you're able to be here, if you're able to be here on August 11 in two weeks, come back. We will see how we go from enemy number one, the invisible, and the insufficient or insignificant, and how the enemy works. We'll see it through Elijah's life, but we will see it in our own lives. How he works through isolation and intimidation, and how we can break intimidation from the devil himself over our lives in the next message.

But today you're here, and God brought you here. You might be coming to this church for a long time or you're just visiting, but you're not just here by coincidence. God called you here this morning to speak this word to you. And God, I come to you today by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I pray for that conviction of the Holy Spirit. You convict, oh God. This word, I believe, is from you. I shared it in my very, very imperfect way, but your word, oh God, your anointing breaks every yoke. So today I pray now for an open heaven, and I pray for your people to respond to your word. And as they respond, oh God, you will come and go deep in their spirit, and you will move, and you will change, and you will free them. And you will speak fresh words to their hearts, and remind promises that the enemy that almost silenced. And the voice of God will come clear again and say, "Hear the sound of the abundance of rain for you. Go again. Offer me your not enough."

If you're here today and this is a call, Jesus marveled, he marveled in wonder and in joy at their faith. But he also marveled in sadness and brokenness over the unbelief of conformity. So if you're here today, this is the call as clear as I can make it. If you're here today and you say, "Pastor Claude, this message was for me. I have been facing an invisible. I had heard the voice, the sound of the abundance of rain, but time after time after time, I saw nothing. There was nothing. It was an impossible. There was an invisible. And even people around me, and even the enemy himself have been saying there is nothing. But today I want to bring my invisible to God. I want to bring it to him right now. I want to bring that person, that situation, that hurt, that pain. I want to bring it and offer it to God, and ask him to give me strength to go again, to believe again, to stand again, to pray again, to trust again, to forgive again, to love again."

If you're here and you have an invisible to bring to God, I want you to come out of your seat right now, as if you're carrying it. Even to come and say, "Lord, I'm bringing my invisible to you. I know that I have said there is nothing, and others have said there is nothing, and the enemy said there is nothing, but I'm believing in you. I'm trusting in you, and I will go again." You come, and as you come, you begin to lift your voice to God. Come from all over. Come from the balcony. And if you hear him really clearly, you say, "I've never heard the message quite that personal with me, but I have been saying it's not enough. I have been in that valley, that drought of the not enough. It's not enough. There was something. There was a situation where there was a battle. There was an issue in my life. A person, an issue, a situation where I was filled with this spirit of not enough, and the enemy had me comparing. And the enemy had me comparing with the former temple, and the years back and elsewhere, someone else."

"And today I want to come even in repentance. I want to come in faith, and I'm bringing my not enough to God. I'm bringing them to him. I see the cloud like the hand of a man. I'm coming and bringing my loaves and fishes. And I know that that cloud that seems so small, that progress that seems so small, like the hand of a man, is preparing the hand of God, the hand of his sovereignty, the hand of his purposes, the hand of his promises being fulfilled in my life." If you were afflicted coming into this building with the spirit of the not enough, it's insignificant. It's not it's not enough. I want you to come and bring it to God today. Come on.

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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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When Favor Asks for Faith

 

Carter Conlon

June 25, 2019

Sometimes faith follows favor—God shows up and points to the will He has for you. And from that place of calling and surrender, you ask for the faith to step into something bigger than yourself. Carter Conlon shares in this powerful teaching that submission to God leads to a fruitful life that will change the world beyond your reach.

Luke Chapter one. I’ll make no apologies for what I'm about to say. I believe for somebody here tonight, hopefully, several it will be a life-changing moment for you.

This will be the moment that determines your future. There's something that God has for you that you've not considered yet. It's something deeper, it's something farther, it's something supernatural. It's actually something you can't even possibly achieve in your own strength. He does it so that his name will be glorified. He does it because his church was intended from the beginning to be a supernatural organization, not a natural one. It's not a kingdom that can be strategized by the minds of man.

It cannot be put forward by human effort. There's parts of that are involved in that. I understand, but ultimately it has to be God himself being God through us that makes us into people that can affect our generation. Father, I thank you with all my heart for this evening. I thank you, Lord God, that you have shown me things over the years and are giving me in my later years the opportunity to share them with others. I pray tonight with all my heart, God, that you would take my body as a yielded vessel to you and that you would pour your thoughts through me. My thoughts are worthless, yours can create a universe.

God, I thank you Lord for the privilege of hiding behind the cross tonight and disappearing. I thank you for the privilege of letting you lead me one more time. I thank you that you are a supernatural, God. You're willing and calling to do things that we've not considered yet in many cases. Lord, I thank you. I thank you for everything you have done, for what you will do, for lives that will be transformed. There would be somebody here tonight that can mark this night as the beginning of a future they never believed was possible.

Lord, I thank you in Jesus name. Luke chapter one beginning at verse 26 now, "In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary and having come in, the angel said to her rejoice highly favored one. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women." When she saw him, she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting is this?

Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom, there will be no end." Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be since I do not know a man." The angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the son of God. Now, indeed Elizabeth, your relative has also conceived a son in her old age and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For, with God nothing will be impossible." Then Mary said, "Behold, the maid, servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word." The angel departed from her. Now when we pray, we have a concept of prayer. You and I and the concept that we have of prayer it's not an erroneous one. The concept is that we go into the word of God.

The Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." In the word of God, we see the promises of God and which quite often are a lot farther down the road than are in our personal experience. We pray for exempts that God, I'm not a loving person but I want to be. By faith, we believe that God's going to answer. Our faith expects the favor of God. That's the way prayer generally works. We pray, we believe, and we expect God's favor to come to us, but there are moments in history, there are moments in every Christian life when favor comes first and asks us for faith.

I want you to catch this because it's important to everything I'm going to talk about tonight. It's a moment when favor asks for faith when God himself has determined to do something in you and through you that you and I have not even considered. It's not even in our thinking. I want to think about Mary for a moment. She's a young girl, she's probably in her teens. She's betrothed to a man. She's going to get married, she's got a prayer life. I have no doubt she has a prayer life.

Most likely, the Bible doesn't tell us, but most likely she's praying about the things that she's facing. She has a life plan just like you do. She's going to be marrying this young man called Joseph, she's probably praying that she could be a good wife and possibly that she could be a good mother, most likely praying that the wedding would go well, that the guests could all arrive from where they had to come, that the resources, the finances would be there for the expenses that had to be met. She's praying, she's talking to God. I have no doubt because she found favor with God.

There's an innocence in her, there's a purity in her. There's a desire for spiritual things in her then suddenly one day, a messenger, an unexpected messenger comes to her. Just like tonight, I might be your unexpected messenger tonight. Somebody that's come to you to talk to you about something that God has planned for your life, that you've not considered. It's not been in your prayers. It's not been in your thinking, most of your prayer has been asking God for a favor in certain areas, favor in your finances, favor in your relationship, favor in your marriage, favor in your ministry, all kinds of things and it's totally acceptable with God. Now she's confronted by a messenger who's talking to her about she's been highly favored of the Lord, blessed among women, and she has found favor with God.

In other words, God says, "I've come to do something in you and through you that you have not yet considered for your life." That is in my opinion, the supernatural part of the church of Jesus Christ. We're a supernatural people. We are empowered by the spirit of God to walk in the will of God, to allow God to do through us. We don't do things for God. We do some things I suppose like that, but essentially speaking the real miracle of our salvation is allowing God to do through us what he chooses to do.

He has a plan for your life. Young people here, especially your plan is so small in the sight of God in comparison to what God has for you. You're probably thinking about college, maybe you're thinking about career, you're thinking about relationships, you're thinking about all kinds of things and realistically you have somewhat of a life plan and your prayer life is if you have one, is more or less asking God to bless your life plan. It's not wrong. There's nothing wrong with Mary getting married.

There's nothing wrong with having a family and being betrothed through a husband and planning a wedding and thinking about what town they're going to live in and all of these things, but suddenly out of nowhere a messenger comes and says, "Hail, you are highly favored, rejoice," He says to her, "You are highly favored of God." Then these incredible words, “you're going to conceive something in your womb and you're going to bring forth a son and call his name Jesus.

He will be great and will be called the son of the highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom, there shall be no end.” Now picture you digging that place like I can wait well, can we slow this down just a little bit? It's a lot of stuff you're saying here. God's essentially saying God himself is going to birth something in you. He's going to birth something through you. That thing He's going to do in your life is going to bring a glory to the name of God like nothing else that you've ever considered in your lifetime. Mary must have been like you and I are tonight. If we were going to do something great, and we were God, we wouldn't choose ourselves, would we? Do you not think that God would-- if he's going to send His son through a human vessel, is he not at least going to choose somebody with experience? It doesn't say in the Bible, that Mary ran a daycare.

He's going to choose somebody that knows how to raise a kid, at least? How about somebody who's married? For her to receive this word from God, you understand in that generation, you could be stoned to death for what God was speaking to her. She had to completely put her life into the hands of God. "And He will reign over the house of Jacob and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel, "How can this be? I'm a virgin. I've not even known to man in an intimate or physical way."

That's like you and I saying, "God, I don't have any certificates on my wall. Have you considered my lineage? My family, the horse traders, and thieves that are part of my lineage? Are you sure you've got the right address?" You remember Gideon, when the messenger came to Gideon and says, "Greetings man of great resources." He says, "You sure you got the right house? I'm of the least tribe. Of all the people of God, my father's the least house of the least tribe of the people of God. I'm the least in my father's house, which is the least of the least tribe.

In case you haven't noticed, his got a grove to an idol in the backyard. Are you sure that you've got the right place?" God says, "No, I'm sending you. That's what makes you a mighty man of resources. That's what makes you what you're going to be. That's why I don't come to the strong, I don't come to the proud, I don't come to the noble, I don't come to the self-consumed, I don't come to those who walk in their own strength.

I always choose the nothings, the nobodies, the outcasts, those things that society has no value for, to show so that no flesh can glory in my presence. I come to those whose hearts are open, who know that whatever is going to happen here is going to have to be God." I remember years ago, I was a brand new believer in Christ, and my wife and I were out for dinner one night.

I had never preached a sermon, I was afraid of people, I was afraid of crowds, I had no speaking ability, no confidence, no nothing. She went off after we had eaten. She left me standing in the hall. She went off to the washroom. I'm standing there looking out the window and just in a moment of time, just a plane went overhead. I'm looking at it and the Lord spoke to me and says, "I'm going to send you all over the world. I'm going to do something in your life and I'm going to send you all over the world to tell people who I am and what I've done for you."

It was my choice at that moment to say no to God, never going to happen. I was in a church and it was the first time I'd ever heard these words, "With God, or with God, nothing shall be impossible." Matter of fact, I heard it the other way around, "With God, all things are possible," and I believed it. I looked out the window and I remember saying it, "Lord, if it's going to happen, it's going to be all you and none of me. I'm afraid of flying, number one. I can't speak in case you haven't noticed, number two. I'm afraid of crowds, in case, that's escaped your attention, number three. This ain't going to happen, but if it's you, Lord, if it's you who was bidding me to come, I will go." The rest is history.

It turned out to be the voice of God. It turned out to be the leading and the calling of the Lord to take me out of a place of living in the realm of what I could see, and what I could think, and what I could feel, and the prayers that I was praying that were probably mostly focused on those things. Listen, God's speaking so far into the future, I'm just trying to be normal. I'm just trying to get rid of a real bad temper. I'm trying to learn how to be a husband and not be selfish. I'm trying to learn how to be a father. I'm trying to learn.

I'm just so far down, and God's speaking about something 30,000 feet in the air suddenly to me. Thank God, he's not like we are. Thank God, his plans are bigger than our plans. His ways are higher than our ways, his mercy is deeper than you and I could ever imagine. The choice of who he uses is his choice. It's not our choice. It's not by our might, it's not by our power, it's by the Spirit of God. That what God has determined to do in our lives becomes a living reality.

The angel answered and said to her after she said, "How can this be I do not know a man." He said, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, therefore, also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." You see, you and I have something similar to this. We have the Spirit of the living Christ inside of our bodies. When we came to Christ, we were born again. The spirit...

As much as the physical Christ was placed inside the life of Mary, we have the third person of the Trinity, God inside our physical bodies. Birthing something, doing something that only God can do, leading us to where only God can take us, making us into what only God can make us into, and giving us what only God can give us. That's what makes this an incredible kingdom.

Don't ever let it just become an argument in your life. Don't ever let it just become accumulated scripture that never brings you to this simple understanding that God has a plan for you, for you. Not for the person beside you. There is a plan for them, but he has something very unique assigned to you. When we get to heaven, there's going to be so many people at the throne of God, they're going to still make heaven, but they're going to slap their foreheads when they see, for the first time what their life could have been, where they could have gone, what a surrender to God could have been.

I love the story of D. L. Moody, great, great evangelist of all. The young boy working in a shoe shop and he's such a clown that he doesn't get along with people. He glued the seat of his boss's pants to his chair one day and his boss ran after him down the road with the chair hanging off his behind. This is D. L. Moody. Who would choose him? He can hardly read, he can't write, he's virtually illiterate, if you've ever read any of his letters, he's 15 years old, he's a troublemaker everywhere he goes, a jokester.

Suddenly, this Sunday school teacher comes to visit him in his workplace and sits down beside him on a bench. A man who became his messenger and he shared Christ with him and then left him with a thought. He said, "Dwight, the world has yet to see what God could do through a fully surrendered vessel to the Holy Spirit." That's what he said and he got up and walked away. That was the messenger. That was the Gabriel that came to Mary. That was the messenger that came to Dwight Moody, a 15-year old that nobody would choose to do anything in this world.

D. L. Moody sat on that bench and he said these words, "By the Spirit of God within me, I shall be that man." Thank you, Lord. Thank you, God for the D. L. Moody, to get up that bench, started to walk with God, and led countless thousands to Christ on different continents throughout the world. Mesmerized even the academics at Princeton that came to mock him. There's such a touch of God on this man's life.

I remember there was a story of he came into Princeton, and the students only came out just to mock him, because he was known as this preacher-- He said Jerusalem as a one-syllable word. He couldn't pronounce things properly. They came to laugh at him. In the middle of the room, there was a spiral staircase where you went upstairs to do business with God when you came under conviction. That's the way they did things back then.

As he began to preach one by one the academics, one by one the people who had it all together, one by one the smartest types in the church world at that time, got out of their seats and began to go up publicly in front of everybody. That just a stream started going up that spiral staircase to say, "Whatever that man has, oh my God, I want that in my life. I want that in my life, whatever he has."

He had that one thing. He had that presence of God in Him. The Holy Spirit overshadowed his weakness. The Holy Spirit overshadowed his physical limitations, and something was born in him that can only be born of God. That's what happened on the day of Pentecost when 120 people came out of the upper room. They went in weak, they went in failures, they went in with a poor self-image, may I put it that way. They went in with all their boastings had failed, all their promises were in the dust, all their declarations of love and loyalty had amounted to nothing. They went into that upper room in absolute failure until the Holy Spirit came.

Until God birthed in them with only God can do. They went in like lambs and they walked out like lions. They walked out into a marketplace that was hostile to the things of God, a crowd that still had the blood-lust of crucifying their savior in its teeth. They stood out without fear and they began to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. God's Spirit and presence within them brought 3,000 people to their knees, that day and into the kingdom of heaven. Of his kingdom, there will be no end.

I remember as a young police officer walking down the street one day, and I'd never preached a sermon ever anywhere. I had no ability. As a matter of fact, I took a course in college. I tried to take a course. I wanted to be a dorm fellow, do you know what that is in college? A dorm fellow is just a greeter, that's all you are. You just you greet people. How hard can that be? If they have a problem, you tell them where to go to solve the problem, or where's the cafeteria and this is here and that's over there. I applied to that because I get a cut on my tuition and room and board for. I went to the training course and they told me at the end I wasn't leadership material. How much of a leader do you have to be to greet people? Thank God that Jesus didn't see it that way. Thank God. Thank God that He didn't look down and say, "Well, sorry, son, you're not leadership material. You got no certificate on your wall." No, it's not that way. I began to pray this secret prayer and I believe it came as a whisper to me first and I began to whisper it back to God. I said, "Lord, I want to lead 100,000 people to you before I die."

This is the prayer I've begun to pray just walking the beat, never preached a sermon. I have no diplomas. I have no theological training. I have nothing to give to God. I don't even have a bag lunch, the little boy at least had some loaves and fishes. I got nothing at all to give to God but I've got this prayer in my heart. He's whispering it to me and I'm whispering it back to Him. Amazing. Just amazing. Then I began to be specific as I would walk the beat and I said not just 100,000 that will raise their hands in a meeting somewhere or meetings that I go to, but I want 100,000 will live for you. 100,000 will serve you, 100,000 that will appear at your throne one day. The prayer was impossible.

Fast forward years later, I'm in a civil war in Africa in the Middle of a place called Jos, Nigeria. 500,000 people came out the first night. They were fighting, was the first allowable public meeting after six weeks or so. They had been quarantined in a sense by the government because when they were together the last time 6,000 people were killed. It was a really volatile situation. By the anointing in the Spirit of God, that first night over 100,000 people raised their hands to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, both nominal Christian and Muslim came to God was truly, truly amazing. The Lord brought peace into that area.

I remember I went back to my hotel room I was astounded. I went back to my hotel room, I got on my knees beside my bed just to say thank you to the Lord and suddenly I was transported back to when I walked the beat and God said to me, "I've answered your prayer in one night. In one night." In one night of prayer that was impossible years ago that I was with you and you whispered back to me was something I wanted to do through your life. In one night, He said now these words to me, "Now Carter, don't limit me. Don't limit what I can do. Don't limit. Don't put boundaries on me. Don't put boundaries on what I can do through you. I can do anything I decide to do. For with God, all things are possible."

My challenge to you tonight is don't put boundaries around your life. Don't let this world dictate to you what you are. Don't let people that have told you you're a loser dictate to you what you are, you're not. In Christ, you've already won. You're already more than a conqueror. You're already in Christ at the right hand of God. You've already won the victory in him. Don't let this world define you any longer. Let God define your life.

[applause]

Let him speak to you about your future, about what you're going to be and don't say no, because it has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your ability. He doesn't need your diplomas, doesn't need your ideas, doesn't need your gender. He simply needs your obedience.

In Mary's case, may I say He just needed her body and one more thing, He says now indeed, Elizabeth, your relative has also conceived a son in her old age. This is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God, nothing shall be impossible. Gabriel, as a messenger of God, to encourage Mary is asking her in one sense to consider those that have gone before you. Consider those. Consider tonight the testimony that you're hearing from this pulpit. Consider it. Consider what God has done for other people because He's no respecter of persons, and what He's done for somebody else He will do for you. It may not be in a pulpit, it may be different. It doesn't really matter. It will be glorious if it's God, and what will be born in you and through you will be called the Son of God.

How will that be? Because you'll be able to say to people it's all Jesus and Jesus alone. That's what I'm telling you tonight. It's all Christ. Christ in me has been the hope of glory, the freedom of my life, the thoughts of my mind, the abilities to do what I'm called to do, it's all been Christ, that which will be born in you will be called the Son of God. That's the testimony of the church. It's not me, it's Christ in me. It's not my ability, it's His ability through me. It's not my will, it's His will being performed. It's not my leading, it's His leading. They're not my miracles, they're His miracles that are being done.

Now, here's Mary's part. Then Mary said, "Behold, the maidservant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word" The messenger, the angel departed from her. You see, that's what was required of her. As the Bible says, "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you yield your bodies as a living sacrifice for God," which is your reasonable service, not unreasonable, it's not exemplary, it's just reasonable, that He gave His life for me, I give my life now back to him. He starts to speak to me about what He wants to do and it can be a messenger like me tonight, it can be you just reading your Bible and God suddenly something jumps off the page. You can be waiting at the bus stop and suddenly He begins to speak to your heart about something that He has for your life.

Here was Mary's part. She said, "Behold, the maidservant of the Lord, and let it be to me according to your word." That's your part tonight, behold, the servant of God. Lord, if you did that for that man, you can do something through me. If you've done things like that for people in the past, you can do something through me. You're not limited by my abilities or lack thereof, because it's not about me. What's going to be planted inside of me is going to be divinely put there by God. It's going to be birthed by God. That power member, the power of the Spirit will overshadow you and come upon you and that which is born will be called the Son of God. That's the incredible truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You see, it all comes down to this at some point in your walk with God. Now, you can choose to draw back into academics, you can draw back into works, you can draw back into things, then you'll still go to heaven folks, but you'll so miss what God had for you if you don't reach out and say, "Be it done to me according to your word." Shortly after this, she got up and she went to visit Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Elizabeth and she wanted to see this thing that was told her that about her cousin is in the sixth month of pregnancy. It's good to read biographies about the people that God has used. It's good to ask other people to share their testimony. Tell me what God has done in your life because it will build your faith.

When she walked in, it says Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leapt and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Now that is a greeting, right? Hallelujah to the love of God. I'd love to greet somebody like that and whatever is in them just leaps and they start speaking in tongues and they're just filled with the Spirit just because I've just walked in the room, I love that, that something is going on. The only one that had nothing to say was Elizabeth's husband, Zachariah, who was a priest and should have known better but didn't believe. So he was struck dumb until John was born. You know the story, so he has nothing to say, isn't this exciting?

You see Mary and Elizabeth, sitting at the table. She was there for about three months, I think. Sitting at the table and Zachariah says isn't this incredible this angel appeared to Mary and told her she's going to bear the Son of God and the same angel came to me and told me we were going to have a child. Of course, Zachariah, he's like his sign was like he appeared to me but I didn't believe him. You know you can get so stuck in religion that faith is gone out the window. God has to come to these people and they're not in proximity to the altar. They're not the high priests. They're not going in and offering their sacrifice. They're not spending the whole day studying the Torah, all that can lead to unbelief if it doesn't lead to a place where you say, "God be it done to me according to your word."

He had all the knowledge and they had almost nothing but they had a willing heart and they were open for God to do what only God can do. Blessed is he, Elizabeth said, who believe for there shall be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. Now the Spirit of God comes on Mary. This is what's going to happen to you, when you leave the place of unbelief and you go in and just say, "God, I'm asking you, Jesus to do whatever you choose to do in my life. Take me where you want me to go. Make me what you want me to be. Give me what I need to possess. I'm just here" and I open my heart and say, "Lord, let it be done to me according to your word and your will."

Suddenly, when Mary comes in and she visits Elizabeth, the Spirit of God now comes on her and I believe that she begins to prophesy. I think you'll see it as I read this and Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord." Oh, God, I feel like jumping out of my skin sometimes when I stand in a pulpit like this and grabbing some of you and shake and say, "Are you getting this man? Do you understand what this kingdom is all about?" You know you're eating a hotdog and there's T-bone steak over there. Do you understand? "And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant." In other words, to do something that this world has never seen he didn't go to somebody who was high profile, somebody that this world would choose to do this. He came to me, a nothing and a nobody. No one, nobody would ever notice me. Nobody would ever think that anything spiritually great is going to happen to my life. He's regarded the lowliest state of his maidservant and from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

It's important to me, it's important that my grandson sitting here is going to be able to point to my picture one day when I'm gone, and show his kids that was my grandpa, and he was a man of God. God blessed him, and God used his life. It's important. It should be important to you. What do you want to be when you die? Just a picture on the wall? "Who was that?", "I don't know, I think it was Uncle Frank." Or do you want to be remembered as a man or woman of God. Do you want to press in and leave something for your heritage after you.

A story, something that the young people that follow you are going to want to emulate. They're going to want to follow and then say, "If God could do that, for my grandma, my grandpa, then God can do that for me. All generation shall call me blessed." Mary said, "For he was mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name." We sing that, "Oh God, you are so other than what we are. You live so far above our thinking.

Your mercy is so much greater than we can even understand it. Your power, your willingness to use our lives for your glory. We can't even fathom, we can't even begin to think about these things. No wonder the angels around your throne, the created beings spend their whole day just shouting, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are filled with his glory."

Now we know Heaven is filled with his glory, but the earth is filled with his glory when there is a yielded body called The Church of Jesus Christ. This is where the glory of God is revealed in the earth. It's you and I letting Christ be Christ in us. Letting Christ govern us. Letting Christ guide us. Letting Christ set us free. Letting Christ put the words in our minds and in our mouths. Letting his hands reach out through our hands. Letting his voice speak through our voice. Letting his eyes see through our eyes. Letting his feet walk through our feet, and he is glorified.

I'm not satisfied that he's glorified alone in heaven, is the end the created beings are saying heaven and earth are filled with his glory. There should be something that gets into your heart, gets into my heart and say, "While I live God is going to be glorified in me. God's going to be glorified through me. Yes, they may throw me in a pit, but they're going to have to deal with the reality of Christ in my life. For he who is mighty, has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. Those who hold him in awe, those who hold them as God. Those who understand his character, those who know why he went to a cross. Those who understand why He sent His Holy Spirit. From generation to generation, they will open their hearts and receive His mercy. He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud and the imagination of their hearts, and he has put down the mighty from the thrones and exalted the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he sent away empty. He has helped us serve and Israel in remembrance of His mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. This had to be the Spirit of God come upon Mary, because she wouldn't fully have understood these things unless God’s Spirit was speaking it through her. That there was a promise made to Abraham, that he would have descendants through whom the whole world would be blessed. She was now carrying in her womb the seed of that promise.

Oh, God and she said, He's taken the lowly to do this. He's taken not those that are mighty, not those that are filled with themselves or with their own efforts. Not those that are rich in their own understanding. He's taken the empty, and He's taken the lowly, he's taken the hungry, and he's taken us to do something that only he can do to fulfill the promise that he spoke to us through our father Abraham. God, if I there's a video reel in heaven, I'd love to see this moment, where Elizabeth is prophesying. The Spirit of God comes on Mary and she begins to speak.

This is exactly what's going to happen to you. When you open your heart, you're going to be here a year from now, you're going to be standing up as we worship, and you're going to say, "Oh, God, you've done mighty things for me. Your mercy was on me, because I chose to believe that with you all things are possible. From generation to generation, Lord, you've come on my heart and into my life, and you're going to break that curse that's been on my house and on my lineage. God from this day forward, there's going to be people in my lineage that live for you. You've done it with your own strength, not with mine. You've done it with your thoughts, not with mine."

You've put down all those that stand in their own strength, and you've lifted me up in my emptiness. You've used my life to be a fulfillment of the promise, the greatest promise that was ever made to this world. That there would be a seed in this world, and through that seed, the whole world would be blessed. The cry of my heart is God, whatever I have left, I give it to you, and I'm asking you to bless somebody with it. Bless the people with it. Bring the lost home with it. Set the captives free with it. Give sight to the spiritually blind with it. God, touch those who don't believe that Mercy is still available to them. Use me Lord, in whatever way you choose to use me.

I tell you, it might be a big crowd, it might be a small neighborhood but I tell you, it's equally glorious in the sight of God. When you and I are banded to him, and he has birthed something inside of us. You see it becomes almost natural into evangelize we're not bringing people to a program anymore. Oh thank God. We're just saying, I want to tell you what Jesus did for me. I won't tell you what he'll do for you. Praise be to God.

I went into a maximum security prison one day, which they say I shouldn't as an ex cop, but I did. They locked me in a room with 60 lifers, and there's just one guard. He's not armed. A lot of these guys has lived to kill a cop, you know that. An ex-cop well, maybe you don't know that. Some of you might know that but, and I'm locked in with lifers in solvent prison. I get up and I just told him, I says, "I'm not here because I'm a do gooder. I'm not here because I have nothing else to do. I'm here because God has set me free. I'm here because He can set you free. You may never… you'll never get out of prison, most of you, but you can be free even while you're in the confinement." I said, "Because your prison is not a prison made by man. It's a prison that comes because of sin."

I spoke and give an altar call in a room full of guys that, I remember there was a guy with me, he was really nervous. Because he said, "Wow, these guys got nothing to lose, they can beat you to death right here and they don't get any more time for it. They're already in jail for life." When I gave the altar call it was lined up across in front of men in jail for life coming to Christ. I hugged every one of them, they cried like babies. Here's an ex-cop hugging on these guys that are in for life.

You can't do that apart from God. You can't do it apart from the Spirit of God. You can't go into these environments unless Christ is with you. With God, what? All things are possible. That's got to go deep into your heart tonight. Otherwise, you will become another scriptural argument on the earth, and you're not destined to be that. You're destined to be a testimony of who God is. Not just a voice about what God is, but a testimony of who God is, and there's a huge difference between the two. Knowledge is good, thank God for knowledge, but it has to-- I don't want to be ever learning and never brought to where that knowledge is supposed to take me.

The condition of the church in the last days according to the Apostle Paul, is they're always learning but never being brought to where that learning supposed to take them. Thank God for the Greek and the Hebrew, but I want a life that has Christ in it. I'm 65, now I should be retiring, but I find that as old preacher once told me he said, "Every time I wanted retire, I get refired by the Spirit of God. What am I going to do? Just go sit in a rocking chair and say enough people are saved? Not while I have breath, while I have strength. My son Jason told me, he said, "Dad you can't retire now, you finally know something."

[laughter]

This is all those years a yelling at us in church and you knew hardly anything, he says, "Now you know something." For heaven's sake, he says, "You can't retire now. You finally found who God is and about his mercy. The legalism is not part of your life anymore and you found something." It's my own son, a cop saying, "Dad, please don't even talk like that." Hallelujah. I'm your messenger tonight, I'm your messenger. I've appeared to you tonight. Come all the way, Gabriel came from heaven, I came from New York. I'm sure there's a comparison there. I call you highly favored of God. I tell you don't be afraid for you've found favor with God. The moment you came to Christ, you understand, It's not by works, you found favor when you came to Christ. That's your favor. He is your favor. He's recovering. He's your everything. When you came to Christ, you found favor with God. You didn't find favor because you're praying more than six minutes a day or six hours a day.

You didn't find favor because you're reading your Bible more than the person next door. You found favor because of Christ. Then the Word of God comes to you and says, "You're going to conceive something in your life, that's going to bring God the glory."

You're not going to do it by your strength, or by your plans, but the Holy Spirit is going to come upon you. The power of the highest will overshadow you, and that which is born of you will be called the Son of God. You will call it that. The son of God's name is Jesus.

When people say, "Well, how did this happen in your life?" You will say, "Jesus, it's the Son of God that did this in my life. It's the presence of God in me. I was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit of God, and the presence of Christ in my life has produced this which you now see and hear."

That will be your testimony. That will be the moment that you bring glory to God. Your part now, and my part is, behold, the maidservant of the Lord, here I am. Let it be to me, according to your word. Then says at that moment, the angel departed. The work was done.

Everything I've said tonight, everything I've tried to convey to you is done, and I can leave the moment you say, "Let it be done to me God, according to your word. According to what you have for my life, not what I have, not what I think, not what I'm asking for, but your favor has come and is asking me for faith to believe." That's the supernatural.

I want to challenge you with all my heart, with all of my heart tonight. I'm not bringing to you tonight a fiction. I've lived this. I've walked this, I thank God of all the people in the world, the Lord chose me to do what I'm doing, when he could have had so many more that are more qualified.

That's just not the way he chose to do it. Maybe some were more qualified and He said, "No". I don't know. Maybe it just got down to me and I'm the first guy that said, yes. I don't really know. I'll know what I get to heaven. I just know I said, yes, and it's been a miracle. It's been amazing. I have no words to tell you what this journey is, but it's a lot of it's in the book back there. You can read it, I guess, but it's been an absolutely amazing journey.

He healed my heart. Changed my character. Taught me how to be a father, better late than never, I guess. How to be a grandfather now. Taught me how to be a husband to my wife. Taught me how to have confidence in Him. Gave me courage to go through doors that in the natural, I would have been so afraid to go through. To stand in places I never thought I could stand, to see victories that are obviously not my own.

It's been an amazing journey, an amazing journey. It all starts with the words, according to your word, Lord. Whatever you have for my life, I'm going with it. You don't need to know it tonight. Could Mary have-- She couldn't. She just had the beginning. That's all. The Holy Spirit's going to overshadow you, a child is going to be born through you.

She doesn't know about the cross. She doesn't know about the 33 years. She doesn't understand about the walk. She doesn't know about the resurrection. She doesn't know anything, that's about to happen. She doesn't know about there's a thing called the church. There was no such a thing, back then. It's all been born in her because she says yes, and you have no idea what God will do for other people in other places until you say, "Lord, according to your word, not my will, but Thine be done". I've had times in my life where I've tried to back away and just said, "I've done my part, I'm getting tired. I'm a little older. I want to smell some of the roses. I want to spend time with my grandkids". [laughs]

But I had it the other way around. I thought I was going to spend time where they are, God's says, "No, I'm going to bring them to where you are, and you're going to spend time". I love the way He does the answers, but not the way we think He's going to answer it. He just turns it all around.

I'm telling Liam at home, "I want you to travel with me when you get a little bit older. I'm still going to travel and do a lot of conferences and speak to a lot of pastors and a lot of places, and I want you to start traveling with me and experience that."

The Lord blesses us and answers our prayers in incredible ways. I won't belabor the point. But tonight, the altar call for you is, "Yes, Lord." It doesn't matter but your failures, your struggles, your trials or where you are, even right now. It's really starts with, "Whatever you want from my life, Lord, that's what I'm going to do. That's what I'm going to go."

I promise you, there will be some of you here, by this time next year or less, that are going to be singing the song of Mary. You're going to be shouting from the rooftops, "Oh my God, what you begun to do in my life, I never dreamed you could do this. Lord, you could have taken the strong, you could've have taken the wise, you could've taken the noble, you could've taken the Royal, but instead you chose me.

You chose me to be the evangelist of my home. You chose me to be the change agent in my neighborhood and my community. You chose me--" Don't limit Him. Even though you're blocked, don't limit to what God can do. You have no idea where He'll take you. I'll tell you one thing, He will take you where He's destined your life to go.

Father, I just thank you tonight. Thank you with all my heart, Lord for the men and women, the young and the old that you've gathered in this room tonight. There's no limit to what you can do by age or by gender. There's no limit by education, by experience by inability or lack of anything in our lives, God. You are God, and Lord, the proof of it is that you take us in our weakness and you become our strength. You take our nothingness and make it something that can feed multitudes.

You've shown us in the scripture over and over again and throughout history. Now, we arrive at another point, another time with another generation. I pray God that the lessons that have been presented here throughout the week and tonight would not be in vain. That we would not stay in the seat of unbelief, that we would rise up to say, "Lord, here am I. Whatever you have for my life, I open my heart to it, and I will be the person that you want me to be."

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Bicycles, Dancing Monkeys and Wax Statues

 

Gary Wilkerson

June 22, 2019

We often fight our weaknesses and attempt to cover our failures. Yet, Paul boasted in his weakness and reminded us that in our deficiency, God gives us his strength. Gary Wilkerson shares three Scriptural truths that were redefined for him, allowing him to live with greater sincerity and honesty. When you embrace your weaknesses, you'll begin to rely on a source greater than yourself.

Gary Wilkerson: The title of my message tonight is by far, the most unusual title I have ever put upon a message or a sermon. I'm calling it Bicycles, Dancing Monkeys and Wax Statues. If you want to ever find this one online, it will probably be one of the easier ones for you to find, as we talk about bicycles, dancing monkeys, and wax statues.

I think this message is going to encourage you. Last night, there was that sense sometimes the Lord, He tears down before He builds up. He gives and He takes away. Sometimes, there's a taking away of things in our heart that don't belong, and then there's the building up.

Tonight, I pray that we would get build up in our faith. Let me pray for you that you'd be encouraged by the Lord tonight. How many of you just feel like you need to be encouraged? It's like a hard year, a hard week, a hard month, a hard life. I just want to be built up in my faith. If I leave this place, not only tonight, but later this week, just knowing that I'm loved, and knowing that there's a power in me.

Knowing that there's a grace that abounds, that I can do all things through Christ, and that He loves me. We thank you, Father. Now, in the name of Jesus, just bless this word, speak through us in Jesus name, amen. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, 2 Corinthians Chapter 12, sort of the latter part of verse eight, Paul says, "Three times I begged the Lord for Him to get rid of it, but His answer was My grace is all you need. Power comes to full strength in weakness."

"I shall, therefore, prefer to find my joy and pride in the very things that are weakness, and the power of Christ will come and rest upon me. Hence, when I am content for Christ's sake with weakness, contempt, persecution, hardship, and frustration. For when I am weak, then I am strong." I want to talk tonight about some ways that we might feel like we're weak, but in actuality, that is the way that God gives us strength.

Cause us to be strong in our life. Everybody in this room wants to have strength and overcome obstacles and defeat enemies and conquer giants in our life and in our land. The methodology that Jesus speaks to Paul about saying that I'm leaving this thorn in your flesh. This beating of Satan, this problem, this crisis in your life. I'm leaving it in your life for a purpose that when you understand the weakness that you have in your own strength, you'll begin to rely on a source greater than yourself.

Once you begin to rely on that source greater than yourself, then you're going to find a strength from heaven, from God, but also abiding and living in you. That gives you a grace to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. That's a glorious thing. I want to talk about these three things first. The bicycle, then the dancing monkey, and then the wax statue. The bicycle is when-- I have to come down here for this.

I actually was going to try to get a bicycle up here in the front row. Can you see me okay in the back? Are the lights still shining on me? Not that I really need the spotlight, but I just want to make sure you're able to see me and my wonderful expressions as I'm preaching here tonight. Can you follow me here on the screen too? What if I go like this? Back up? Okay, I'm getting distracted. If I had a bicycle here tonight, I would tell you the story of when I first learned to ride the bicycle.

How many of you remember being taught to ride a bicycle? Did anybody learn on your own without anybody teaching you? One, two, three, four. Okay, let's give a corporate sigh, like, "Aw. I'm so sorry you had to learn to ride your bicycle on your own." We'll give you a hug after the service here today. It's not a fun thing. Most of us, and then how many of you had your mom teach you how to ride your bicycle? Raise your hand if your mom taught you? One, two. Okay, that leaves 99% of you in here today-- Who taught you?

Congregation: Dad.

Gary: Dad taught you to ride your bicycle. Dad may not have done anything else in your whole life, but he taught you to ride a bicycle. Let's all say, "Thank you, dad." Thank you, dad. Can you be a volunteer for me today? Do you mind coming up here or does that make you shy? You feel shy? Can you come up here? All right. What's your name? Say again? Brooklyn. Cool. What a great name. Brooklyn, like from New York.

Yes, that's cool. I used to live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn's going to come up here. I didn't have a bicycle to illustrate this, but Brooklyn, you're going to pretend you're going to ride a bicycle, okay? He's looking at-- You see yourself? You look good. Look at that handsome young man. What's with this, man? Where's this come from? Ireland? That's cool. I like that. All right, so you're got to pretend I'm your dad. If I'm going to teach you how to ride a bicycle, where do I usually stand? In front of you? No, behind you.

What do dad do? They grab the back of the bicycle, right? Remember that? Then we and then we pushed it ahead. What did we say? I remember this is one of my early childhood memories. What did I say to my dad? Anybody think of what I might have said?

Congregation: Don't let go.

Gary: Don't let go or let go?

Congregation: Don't let go.

Gary: Okay, I thought you said let go. I thought Irish are much bolder more than Americans. You guys are-- "You let go, Dad. I can do this myself." That's really cool, the strong Irish people, but most people will say, "Don't let go, Dad." What does Dad say? "I won't let go." That's what I said. That's what my dad said. That's what I said when I was teaching my three boys and my daughter. They said, "Don't let go." I said, "I won't let go. Just keep pedaling. I won't let go." Then what does Dad do? He lets go. Usually, what happens to the child?

Congregation: He keeps going.

Gary: He keeps going a little bit, but 9 out of 10 of them?

Congregation: Wobble.

Gary: Wobble. How many of them--

Congregation: Fall.

Gary: Fall. When you rode a bicycle, do you ever fall? Yes. Good job. Let's give him a hand. He did a great job. Thank you. You can go back to your seat. Over here. There we go. When my dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, I asked him, I was afraid. I was very fearful as a child. I was afraid of the concrete. The concrete, that's where you scrape the elbows and the knees. I made a compromise with my dad.

He really wanted to teach me. I said, "Okay, I'll learn. You can push me as long as you, number one, you hold on. Number two, I want to learn on the grass, not on the pavement, on the concrete." How many of you know what happens when you're riding a bicycle on the grass when you're first learning? It bogs you down, it slows you down. You can't pedal. He was trying to teach me on the grass.

He's having to push me more, and then I couldn't get any momentum up, so as soon as he let go after promising he wouldn't let go, I would fall over, but it was okay because it was on the grass. It was in a safe area, but you can't learn when you're safe. You can't learn when you're trying to stay in control. You can't learn without taking a risk of falling. You can't learn, you can't move ahead, you can't progress without in a sense, realizing your weakness and having to move into a strength that can come your way.

Nick, can I use you as an example as well? Come on up here, Nick.

Nick: I'm going to ride a bike?

Gary: You're going to ride the bike. Okay. All right. Now, does this look a little bit weird?

Congregation: Yes.

Gary: It feels a little bit weird. Okay, you can sit down. Why does that look weird? Because he's too big to be learning how to ride a bicycle, right? It's appropriate at a certain age to get a certain kind of help along the way. At a certain age, you become a grown man. When you're a grown man, you're certainly still dependent on the Lord, and there's certainly still a weakness in you that His strength has to come through you, but there's a certain time as well where I believe the Holy Spirit says to you, and He says this actually to Paul.

He says it's in Timothy, "Act like a man. Grow up. Don't let your fear control you." I know sometimes in the church we in our-- and it's right to say, please don't hear this as a correction or any desire in my heart to want you to change, your language, your heart. Sometimes we use the language like it's all of Jesus and none of me. Will then just die and go to heaven. He needs some of you here.

Some of who you are needs to be here, and you in your body you're not Jesus. It's not all Jesus, it's all Jesus and then He brings you into Himself and says, "I want it to be all of me, all of Jesus, but I want it to be all of You as well. The two of us together, your weakness will become strong." You learn to go and so. He says, "I'll never leave you or forsake you." At sometimes He seems to let us go and it feels nerve-racking and it feels like we're really weak, but it's in that weakness, He makes us strong.

Because He's sending us into new horizons and new adventures and new hope and new dreams and new realities of accomplishing things we could not have accomplished unless we took the risk, and we're willing to fall. So many Christians are more conscious of sin than they are of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit and so they're living in sin fearfulness, rather than in grace accomplishment. They're living in a sense of, "I will not try anything because if I try something, it might be the flesh."

Maybe a young man is asked to preach a sermon at the church. He goes, "Just there's such flesh in me." "Why is there flesh in you?" "Because I want to preach, that's the flesh because I have a desire." No, it's not as God put that in you. Do it with joy and passion and power and life and then ride. Ride like the wind. Go for it. Just pour it out. Let it go. For me, there's been some falls. Anybody else taking some stumbles?

You skinned your knees, your elbows and what do you do? The Bible says if you fall seven times you get back up. The righteous gets back up. It doesn't say the righteous don't fall. It says they get back up and there's a sense of Holy Ghost gumption. Do you guys use that word here? A gumption, an inner sense of, "I'm going to stand. Having done all I'm going to stand. I'm going to keep standing." You keep riding that bicycle and you keep standing. When you fall, you don't say, "I'm too weak to go on."

You say, "In my weakness, He's strong." He gives you strength to continue the journey and take you to heights places you'd never go before. I learned to ride a bicycle when I was a baby, a little kid. The last few years I've been riding bicycles, about 70, 80 kilometers some days, I love to ride. I have a street bike and just go and go and go. I'm just like, "I'm full of sweat and I'm exhausted."

I get home and it feels so good to be able to do something that almost seems like I didn't know how to do before. That's what God wants to introduce you to. Whether it's a business or an idea or a vision or a dream that you might have. He's not interested in just you being religious. He's not interested in just like the only good service you might have is to be an usher in the church. That's a really good thing. He likes you being a plumber and a doctor and a lawyer and a farmer and a chef at a kitchen.

He loves you doing all those things. He sees those as spiritual. He's saying, "I'm going to teach you how to do these things and cause you to live and even if you might fall." Some of us are so afraid of falling, we don't actually take any risks. We don't go anywhere because we think we're not going to be able to do anything.

For me, I had to re-- This is going to sound strange when I first say it but hold with me.

Would you prefer I get back up here or you're okay in the back? I'm okay here. Okay. For me, I've had to redefine what I believe about certain scriptures. It doesn't mean that the scriptures aren't infallible or the true but I think I got to the point after falling a couple of times that maybe I'm interpreting scripture the wrong way and maybe I need to redefine that. This is one scripture when I think about falling, and it says that no- have you heard this one, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."

Congregation: Prosper.

Gary: Bible truth. No weapon formed against you shall prosper. I believe it. I quoted. Sometimes it's probably on your refrigerator, no weapon-- or bumper sticker on your car, no weapon formed against me shall prosper. How many of you believe that? No weapon formed-- How many of you have maybe not experienced that exactly? Can you be honest? Thank you for your honesty. I'm going to be honest with you.

The Bible says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper." It feels to me like hundreds of weapons are prospering against me. Tons of weapons seem to be prospering against me. Four kids and several of them became addicted to drugs. That seemed like an enemy prospering to some degree or another. I had a experience I think I told you about this little bit last year where the doctor found a little lump in my throat.

She said, "It's just probably nothing. Let's do a quick little biopsy and it'll be fine." She called me on a Thursday night after the biopsy test came back in and she said, "You have cancer. You have thyroid cancer." I went, "Oh my gosh," it's like my mom died of cancer. My nephew died of cancer. My niece died of cancer. Two of my sisters had cancer. The word cancer is-- It's like, the doctor says, "Hi, you're dying." She hung up the phone, and I said, "I don't really know what thyroid cancer is.

I know enough about cancer. I know certain kinds are bad and certain kinds are little more treatable." I went to Google. I know you did it. You've done it. You've done Google. I typed in thyroid cancer and it pretty much just screamed at me, "You're dying. You have about a week to live." You can type almost anything into Web MD and it will say, "You're dying." I have a runny nose and my eyes, "You're dying."

It said you're dying. It was two types of thyroid cancer. One, you have about six months to live. It's a really severe kind. The other kind is-- If we're going to get cancer, it's the best kind to get. It's highly treatable and very low impact on the future of your life. This was a Thursday night and she said you have cancer but I didn't ask what kinds. I didn't know there's different kinds. Online I found there's two kinds so I called her back that night she didn't answer.

I called her back Friday she didn't answer. Saturday, the office was closed. Sunday, I don't have an appointment till Tuesday. She doesn't come back till Tuesday. For five days, I'm like, "I'm dying. Kids come around to your dad because he's dying." I was a wreck. I talked about-- If there's any strength and weakness, there was a lot of strength in me at that time because I was just like, I was telling my wife where the will is in and what our insurance policy is and calling long lost friends like, "I'm sorry. I hurt your feelings in 1983."

I just really thought and then she went in and said, "No, you got the good kind." I was like, "Good." That made me happy. I've been through experiences like that where it seemed like, "The cancer seems like a weapon to me. The enemy. A drug addiction seems like an enemy." I started asking the Lord it’s like, "Okay, you're teaching me to become stronger. You're teaching me to ride and yet I'm falling. I'm getting hit. I'm getting--"

It's not like I'm just falling over for lack of balance. It's like cars are coming off the street and running into me That's what these weapons seem to be doing to my life. It seemed to be crashing into my life, causing pain and anxiety and worry and stress and fear. We're Christians so we say, "No weapon formed against us shall prosper." You just want to say baloney. Just want to yell at them. You just want to choke somebody and say, "It seems like all these weapons are prospering. It seems difficult."

I had to be honest about the Scripture. I totally believe it is, but it gave me a whole and I ask the Holy Spirit about this, "What you can have to describe this to me? What does that mean that no weapon against me shall prosper?" It gave me a whole new picture, almost like-- I'm sure you didn't see in any movies that don't have anything rated other than G, but there's a movie called Gladiator.

If you've ever seen that, they had the shields out and they move forward when they were fighting against the enemy. That was the whole new picture that the Lord gave me about that scripture verse, "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." It's like I'm moving forward, and the enemy is fighting hard, and they're throwing spears. Some of the spears like, "That spirit just hit my shoulder."

Then we're in the middle of battle and all sudden, just like a knife just cut across my leg and I'm limping and rock is got thrown in and hit me in the head but no weapon that's formed against me is going to prosper because even though I'm bloodied, and I'm beaten, and I'm tired, and I'm weary, I have the shield. I have a sword and a forging ahead and the Lord is with me. He's right behind me saying, "Keep moving ahead. I'm not going to let you go."

Maybe sometimes it feels like he lets us go because we're in the middle of battle. We don't see Him but He says, "He'll never leave us or forsake us," even though he may not be steering us because if He was holding on steering everything we did, He would not be training as the Bible says training our hands for war. We have a warfare we're in and in the middle of that battle, sometimes you get beat. Sometimes you get hit.

Sometimes you feel like you're on your last leg near destruction. Sometimes you want to give up. Sometimes you begin to question God, "Does this thing really work? Is this Christian thing really real?" It felt good when I came to the altar, whatever I did, when I first got saved, it felt really good. Sometimes even now, when I'm singing songs, like Hallelujah, I want to raise my hand I feel good. But inside my heart, I'm really hurting because I'm really wondering if this is true, and this is real.

If it is, why is my life sometimes in such turmoil? It feels like these weapons but they're not prospering. The Bible is true. The Bible is the Word of God and God has told us it's not going to prosper. Come what may, trials, tribulations, pain and sorrows, suffering, hardship, heartache, cancer, addictions, divorce, the doctor giving you a bad report, the money not being there, none of those things are going to prosper against you.

Because you're going to say, “Through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus, I've learned to trust in God. This battle is what's caused me to learn how to trust.” It would be nice if we didn't have to go through the battle. We were built into the men and women of God by being in that so the bicycle is something that helps us go.

Then there's the dancing monkey. Last week or two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I was in the Ukraine and I was preaching there and we stopped overnight in Kiev and went for a walk with a missionary friend. We were walking through the downtown market area of Kiev.

This guy kept following me with a monkey on his shoulder. Have you ever seen these kinds of monkeys that wear the vest, the red vest and have the little black hat on and then they have shoes on and they have these little things that clap together like with their knees? Sometimes they have an accordion or something like that. They put the monkey down and the monkey goes kind of like this and you're supposed to give them money.

Well, I was watching this monkey and the monkey was like, he was dancing on the street. That's kind of cool, right? He looked really sad. Really. I know this sounds like a really weird thing to talk about. The monkey was dancing. He was doing exactly what he was told to do to earn his keep to get his food to get life sustenance. The owner would give him something and it was kind of a bargain, then, "You'll go out on the streets and you'll dance and you'll make money for me. You'll perform really well."

I could tell just look at-- I didn't want to give him any money because it's like that monkey looks miserable. He's like it's just like, I wanted to cry like, "Oh, poor monkey. I'm sorry, I will take you home except you're really ugly and all." This monkey was like a mess but he was dancing and stuff. I began to think about my own life and maybe our life in this room here today is how we have this bargain relationship with God.

I've had to redefine my whole way of working with the Lord so that I'm not bargaining with him. You'll keep me from cancer. You'll keep my kids from living in sin. You'll give me the new apartment, or house, or flat that I want. You'll help me with the car, you'll help me with the career, you'll help me meet that guy. You’ll help me meet that girl. You'll do these things I want.

If when in turn, what I'll do for you is I'll pray, and I'll tithe, and I'll give, and I'll serve in the church. Even if the girl is good looking enough, I'll even become a missionary if you required of me. Whatever it takes for her. There's this bargain situation, I will dance for you as long as the bargain's kept on your end, you got to keep feeding me. That's not the kind of relationship Jesus wants with us.

I've had to redefine the word, abundant life. Abundant life because when my kids were on drugs, one of my son is homeless for a while, I don't feel like I have abundant life. Do you ever feel like it's like, that's another thing okay? No weapon formed against us shall prosper. Then He says, "I come to give you life and life more abundantly." A lot of us, if we're really honest with one another, we might say, “I could hear it preached, I could read about it in the Bible, we could sing about it at church, but in my heart, I don't feel it.

I don't feel like this is abundant life. I feel like this is a struggling life. I feel like this is pain-filled life. I feel like this is hardship life. I feel like there's nothing abundant really very little abundant about that except one day I'll get to heaven then experience abundance there.” The giving of abundant life is not speaking in that place of-- when He's speaking of Heaven, He speaks of eternal life. But this place, He's speaking of life and abundant life meaning that He's going to give you life here and now and it's abundant.

My bargain with God, "Okay, I'll serve you, I’ll love you, I'll tithe, I’ll pray, I'll give, and in return, you keep me safe. No sickness, no low income, no struggle financially, no relationship problems with my wife and spouse, my kids are just perfect four perfect A students are getting the best grades and getting them into the best schools and having the best careers." That's my bargain with you, God. You know that bargain doesn't-- God doesn't bargain with us. Have you noticed that? He doesn't bargain with us.

I've had to redefine what abundant life means because if we think abundant life is what is preached in a lot of least United States churches, like abundant life is you're rich, and you're famous, and you're healthy, and you're good looking, and your kids are perfect and everything is-- and you live in the best house on the block. That's a testimony for Jesus. They're going to want to come to Christ because they see how prosperous, and healthy, and problem-free your life is.

We make this bargain with God and we call that abundant life. I kind of lived that way for too long thinking abundant life is a pain-free life or a happy peppy, bursting with love kind of life all the time. The Holy Spirit just as He helped me redefine the scripture verse about no weapon formed against me prospering, He's helped me redefine what abundant life is. Because the western idea in the church of abundant life, according to our western idea, then Jesus didn't live an abundant life.

He would not-- Our description of abundant life, we would look at His life and say, “Hey, Ian, I'm not signing up for that. I'm not dancing for that. I'm not going to work for you to get that from you.” What did Jesus have? He had friends who totally abandoned Him, miracles that He did that crowds-- Like He rescued mommy's little girl from death and then she abandoned Him. He had-- "Foxes have holes but I have no place to-- I don't have a home."

Some so misinterpret the Scripture and then talk about Jesus being materialistically rich on earth because He had this coat that was so valuable that they tore into four pieces. Look, I could give you a Hugo Boss coat tonight, a $1,000 jacket and if you're still homeless and not having an income, would you be rich then? No, you'd have one item that's wealthy. These people say like, “Well, Jesus had this wealthy coat, so he must have been wealthy and that’s abundant life." No.

Jesus and then He was taken to the cross and He was beaten, and He was abused, and He was hit, and He was struck with a sword in the side, it seemed like weapons forming against Him would prosper. It seemed like if this is what you call abundant life, I'm not dancing for that. I'm not signing up for that. The definition of abundant life for me changed almost the same way that the no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

Is abundant life for me now is the doctor says you have cancer, I say, "I have life." My sons are having some trouble at one point in the future, but I say, "I have life in Jesus." Maybe there's a marriage problem in your life and you go, what you say, "That’s not what I want it to be but I have life." Abundant life is through it all. No matter what kind of hardship you're going in, no matter what you're suffering, no matter how difficult your life might be, there's an abundance in your heart. It's life.

The “zoe” you talked about this morning. It's the spirit of life in you. It's not just the physical things around you. It's the spiritual life that God has given you. The good news is when you understand that, then the dance becomes natural. To me, the most amazing dance I see are like somebody with cerebral palsy. Their body is wrecked, they can't really move but they can raise their hand and they just go, “Thank you, Jesus.”

I'm going, “You're thanking Jesus?” I have a problem because the paycheck didn't work out as good as I thought it. You’re raising one hand because the other one wouldn't move and you're saying, “Thank you, Jesus,” that's abundant life. Now and I'm not saying, please don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that it's everybody who's poor and broken and hurt that they're the only ones who can have abundant life. You can have abundant life. Paul said, "I know how to abase and I know how to abound."

For him, abundant life was it's not in the abasing or in the abounding it's in the life in Jesus. It's knowing Him. I wrote a book a while back called Ultimate Favor and to me, I appreciate God's favor. I really do. Bettina who travels with me, she has this miraculous gift of God's favor. Anytime we go to the airport, she gets, like, upgraded the first class and the hotel said, “We're going to put you in the suite.”

I'm like, “I get at the closet, and I get your flight’s canceled.” It’s like she must be living-- she must be dancing, right. She's dancing getting the favor, I realized that there is that kind of favor and I like it. I asked for it, and I pray for it. I pray for a good marriage and healthy kids that they do well in school and they get a great college and they have wonderful children themselves that make me a great grandfather who's thrilled with life. I pray for those things, but I realized ultimate favor and that's what I wrote about in the book.

Ultimate favor is not in those things. Abundant life is not in those things. Ultimate favor and abundant life is what Moses talked about when God said to him, “Hey, you can go into the Promised Land, there's milk, and there's honey, and there’s ease, and there's comfort and there you have your land and your kids can grow up there and you're going to have fun, but I am not going to go with you." Moses says, "No, I want ultimate favor. That's a favor to let me go into that land, but ultimate favor is I won't go anywhere unless you go with me."

That's abundant life. That's favor of God is when He's with you. Whether you're abounding or abasing, whether you're up or whether you're down. Then you may be asking the question of, I understand a little bit about trusting the Lord to put you on a new journey. That journey might cause you to fall at times and there's difficulty as you define His grace and His abundance through His presence, that you make it on a journey and that you don't have to dance for this you want to because of His joy.

Then you might be asking yourself self the question. "Okay, that makes sense, but what does this thing about wax statues?" In the early Roman time period, there were sculptors like Michelangelo type people that sculpted marble for the Roman authorities, those in government or the very wealthy. If you saw their homes they might have a statue of a soldier or a lion out front of it. They sculpted these things out of marble.

When the sculptors were doing this, they became so famous and quite wealthy as they made this marble for the elite of the society. As they dug the marble out of the ground, they began to run out of what they call statuary marble. It's the good kind of marble that has no flaws in it and it's not porous. It's like just smooth and solid. They started finding this other type of marble. I think they call it travertine.

I don't know if you'd call it that here, but there's an American, they still call it, you can buy the travertine marble. The problem with travertine marble is that it's porous. It's not been pressed in the ground quite as long, like a diamond where it presses it together in that statuary marble just puts things together so there's no flaw in it and it's hard and it's easy, but it's also once you sculpt it, it's there.

With the travertine marble, it had holes in it. When they began to carve, let's just say there were, they were carving a statue of one of the gods of Rome or something like that, muscular, like me. Thank you for laughing. That makes me feel really good. They're carving this thing, but they were carving it with the travertine, so it would have pocks in it and holes in it. The face might look good, but there's like, well man, the guy looked like he had bad acne when he was a kid or something.

It was all messed up. What they did is they would take the good, statuary marble and sand it down, and they would take the dust of that good marble and mix it with a wax. Then they would put that wax on top of the statue and just begin to sand that in there so that it began to look like statuary marble. They took the poor marble and made it look like the good marble. Then they would bring that to the owners that they sold it to and it would pass muster.

No one could tell that it was any different even if it got close, once that wax hardened. From all indications externally, it looked like it was going to- everybody could accept it. It looked good, but it didn't really change it did it, it was still travertine. It still had the holes in it. As we're on this journey riding our bikes and we fall and it feels like weapons are forming against us and it feels like we don't have abundant life.

I close with this, our temptation in the church is to say, "I don't have any holes in me." Is to say, "I'm not travertine. I'm not an earthen vessel. I'm a statue. I am flawless." That's how we present our self and yet we've fallen off the bicycle and yet we're dancing for our food and yet we're been beaten by the enemy at times and we've been buffeted, as Paul said. He was shipwrecked and he was beaten but he was forging on.

The good thing about Paul, he writes in this passage, we started this message with, was that he said, "I could glory in all the revelation I've had." He says, "I've been to the third heaven." I have no idea what the third heaven is. I studied it. Maybe some of the scholars here might do that. The first heaven, second heaven, obviously if there's a third heaven, there's a first and a second heaven.

Then he goes, all Tom Cruise on us because he says like Tom Cruise says in one of his movies, "I could tell you, but I'd have to kill you." In the Greek, it actually said no, but Paul says, "I was into the third heaven and I saw things--" He actually says, "unlawful for me to speak." Jesus said, "Look at this, but it's against the law for you to go back and tell anybody this." That is a hard secret to keep that he could.

Now everybody's writing a book about it. They go to heaven, they write a book about, what's in heaven and weird stuff. I don't want to get off subject. Paul, when he comes back and he says, "I could glory in that. I could build a whole conference on that. "I was in the third heaven. How many heavens you've been in? You haven't even been in the first haven't yet. I'm already after the third heaven. Next year Lord's inviting me to the fourth heaven."

He could have boasted in these things. Instead, he says, "I'm going to boast in my weakness. I'm going to boast that there are some holes in me. I'm going to boast that I fell a couple times. I'm going to boast that I'm not as strong as you might think I am. I'm going to boast it, that I failed a couple of times. I'm going to boast that if without the Holy spirit, man, I'm really messed up. That's what I'm going to boast on them. I'm going to come to church with holes in me."

Sometimes I'm going to ask people, "Would you pray for me? Because this hole, man, it's ugly, it's a mess and that scar and that beating I took and that fall off the bicycle. The in the sense of always kind of trying to dance for my meal to make God happy so I get stuff, I realize I do that junk and it disturbs me and be honest."

I really believe addictions would be cut in half in the churches if we started getting honest with each other. I believe men who look at pornography if we got honest with each other and found a group of men that you really trust and begin to share your heart with, I believe pornography in the church will be cut in half. I believe divorce, I believe suicidal thoughts, I believe depression, I believe anxiety, I believe stress.

I believe all of these things that are holes in us that are beating us, that seem to ruin us at times. I believe all of these things if we don't try to cover them with wax, the Latin word for that process that they did, you know what they called it? Really strange. We use the word today in English, they called it sincere. Is from two Latin words, sin meaning without and cere, meaning wax, without wax. If they sold something without the wax in it, they would be afraid they would make a profit.

Sometimes if we feel like we try to sell ourselves to our fellowship without the wax, unless we're acting sincere.

You know what acting sincere is? It's being sincere, it's without wax, it's without putting a mask on. It's without covering yourself up. It's about hiding yourself. It's not about being afraid of what others might think of you. It's about coming to church and not feeling like you might not being okay with not being spiritual that day.

Maybe not raising your hands, maybe not shouting to the Lord, maybe not clapping. We just go, "This is not a clapping day. This is a painful day." Through it all, you're forging ahead. Through it all, you have the shield out there in the sword out there. Maybe it feels like He let go, but He's right with you and there's a victory. There's a victory for you.

Do you understand that? Do you get that, that it's okay to be honest? It's okay because that's what's Paul's talking about here tonight when he's saying that, "That's what I glory in, my weakness." Not that he's proud of it, like, "Look how much of a failure I am." He's saying this, "You're all real without wax." I am real without wax and together we can become the body of Christ that helps each other grow, that helps ride to ride the bicycle, so to speak, or helps each other know how to dance for our food.

To not be like in the dancing monkey, to be real, to not put on the monkey uniform, to not try to make it on our own, but just trusting God for our life, trusting Him to do great things. As I've redefined these things in my life--and our worship team, if you guys would come back and we're going to sing a song and I'm going to invite you forward for prayer in just a moment. If you just need to get real with God and get answers and get help and get hope and allow Him to say, "Come in your weakness and we'll pray that strength will come into your life."

For those of you that feel like you've not had the abundant life, feel like you've not had that, that the weapons seem to be coming against you and defeating you. If that's you in just a moment, I'm going to ask you to come forward and we're going to pray. We're going to believe God will do something. As I have been through these experiences, I'm like Paul a little bit, just teeny, teeny little bit that I could actually say my weaknesses are actually the areas He's making me strong in.

That He's actually been bringing grace and power in areas. You might feel like you're too weak to merit God's favor, His presence, His abundant life, but you're not. Your weakness is what He calls forth to make you strong.

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Shipwrecked Under His Sovereignty

 

Claude Houde

October 9, 2019

Do you face a storm that threatens to shipwreck your life? Reflecting on Acts 27, Claude Houde shares God's plan for your storm and encourages you that there is a miracle waiting on the other side.

Claude Houde: It all began when in 1985, I was asked to in Canada to be pastor David Wilkinson's interpreter. I think they're going to show a picture of me and brother Dave when we were together in 1985 and all these years, 34 years together, ministering, yes.

[applause]

Claude Houde: I was waiting for the picture to come up. I know I looked like a Latino narco-trafficking on that one.

[laughter]

Claude Houde: I was formerly a French narco-trafficking. It's very different. 34 amazing years coming every year to bring the word here we've been set good and close friends with pastor Carter and pastor Theresa, for all these years. Pastor Carter and I have preached together all over the world. This is pastor Carter and I in Ivory Coast. Say it to the person next to you, they look good. Say that to the person next to you.

Audience: They look good.

Claude Houde: Ivory Coast, Ireland, Haiti, Canada, Burundi and many, many French countries together. Actually pastor Carter and I were also preaching a few years ago to over 2,000 pastors and leaders for three days in the center of Paris at a theater called the Bataclan. You might remember that just after a few weeks after we were there, preaching salvation and forgiveness and love, and the full life of Christ, a terrible terrorist attack occurred at the very place where pastor Carter and I preached the word. Over 130 were killed. 90 in that very building at the Bataclan. 413 were seriously wounded.

A massacre, one of the worst in France's history, and in the days that followed while I was watching the news and I saw was I was struck by the testimony of this young man who was in that theater where we preached and prayed in the same room, same stage. He witnessed many of his friends die right around him. He just threw himself to the floor and his friends fell over him and he actually would see the terrorists walk by and the boots and the machine gun and he actually said, I was watching it on TV, French TV and he said, "I was saved because I was covered with the blood of an innocent man."

I thought we're all saved because we're covered by the blood of Christ. Would you say, yes, please? Pastor Carter, I come to you today, they have rebuilt, they have cleaned up and reopened the Bataclan. I come today with an invitation from over 100 French pastors. They want us to go back. They want you and I to go back to preach. How many of you think we should be there to preach God's love, salvation, forgiveness? Would you give a shout out to the love of God that overcomes all things?

[applause]

Claude Houde: I want you to turn with me to Acts 27:28. The title of my message today is shipwrecked under His sovereignty. Shipwrecked under His sovereignty. You may feel you are shipwreck, but you are always under His sovereignty. There's a kingdom sequence, there's a kingdom principle that I actually taught here last time I was here, that as we follow Jesus through the gospels, we see this chapter by chapter.

You will see this in your life, you will see this in the life of a ministry, the life of the church. In a family where we go from a season of multiplication under the blessing of God right into storms and sometimes can be from multiplication to multiplication right into storm. The sequence is from multiplication into storm into greater measures of the miraculous in His purposes.

If you're in a storm right now, on the other side of that tumultuous sea, there is a bank of God's blessing and deeper blessing and deeper miracle. In that, we see the secret in all four gospels, but we also see it in the book of Acts. I've been teaching for weeks on the book of Acts. When we go through the book of Acts, we see the exact same thing.

We see the church that is born and multiplication, but then there are seasons of storms, but on the other side of the seasons of storm there is always a deeper work deeper purposes and we could actually, when we look in the book of Acts, it's actually closer in a certain way to our reality, the disciples and the gospels walked with Jesus. In the book of Acts in the 30 years span covered by the book of Acts, it's so much closer to us because we know they just like they, we know is immutable, he doesn't change, but he's invisible sometimes.

We know His promises, but we don't have His physical presence. We believe in His deity, but there are delays in his answers. He's our Savior, we know he’s our Savior, but sometimes we are shipwrecked. We have his instructions, but sometimes we suffer injustices that are simply incomprehensible. That's where we find Paul. We find him in the book of Acts.

Over the book of Acts Chapter 26:27, we find him. We look at his condition, his circumstances and they're so close to ours. He's going to be shipwrecked under his sovereignty, but he's done nothing wrong. In Acts 26:31, the Governor and Agrippa and Festus actually say, Acts 26:31, "This man has done nothing deserving of death or chains." This man could've been set free, but he asked to go to Rome and I'll get to that again.

You will find yourself and I'll find myself in storms or I've done nothing wrong. Where I've wanted was to serve God and honor Him and yet I'm shipwrecked, yet I'm in a storm, yet insane opposition come conflict, nasty conflict and opposition. Acts 27:4, "We sailed but needed shelter for the winds were contrary." May I say today, the special weekend with all the events of the weekend right here in Times Square at the crossroads of the world.

When we stand for truth and for the sanctity of life, for God, for the defenseless inside and outside of the womb, there will be fierce opposition, but we must stand with love for truth in Jesus’ name.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Here they are shipwrecked on their sovereignty, the context of injustice of opposition. There's the context of impatience. In Acts 27:7, He says, we write, we read, "We sailed slowly for so many days. The winds would not allow us to advance." For many of us, we have been in these moments where we think it’s just going too slow. The situation not changing fast enough. My husband, my wife, don't look to the side, look at me, my husband, my wife-

[laughter]

Claude Houde: -is not changing fast. My kids aren't changing fast enough. This breakthrough is not coming. This healing is not coming. Our ministry is not changing, is not growing, is not evolving fast enough. The fulfillment of the promise is not coming fast enough. In the seasons of it's not fast enough, it can become very dangerous spiritually. In Acts 27:9, "Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now becoming dangerous, and in these times of waiting, these times of storms there's dangers because these seasons of storms can develop us, they can define us, we can discover deeply our destinies, we can deepen ourselves in His desires, but they can also diminish us because they are dangerous.

Our deployments and development depend on our decisions. During these storms, I would say this way Pastor Theresa, Dr. Conlon, said it beautifully yesterday, she said to the students. "You are born looking like your parents, but you die looking like your decisions."

Audience: Wow.

Claude Houde: Like the decisions you took your life through your storms. There's injustice and opposition and impatience and danger and there's also frustration. If you look at Chapter 27 and verse 10, Paul said to them, "Advise them, warn them, saying men, I perceive this trip will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo but threats to ships and also our lives."

Nevertheless, the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. Sometimes we are in storms because people around us ignored our warnings. Parents are in storms because their kids did not listen to the ways of the Lord they taught them. We suffer sometimes because-- Paul found himself completely innocent in a storm because they actually ignored what he had said.

A nation can be in a storm because it ignores the voice of God, the message of God, the law of God. They're in a storm, family members, spouse, children, friends, parents, people were trying to help, minister to and brings us in their storm because they're ignoring and there's that frustration that could very easily turn into hopelessness. If you read Verse 13 to 17 of Acts 27. "When the south wind blows softly, supposing that they had obtained the desire," actually said, "supposing the thinking they had their destiny in their hands." Would you say to somebody next to you, "You're not controlling anything". Say that to the somebody next to you.

Audience: You're not controlling anything.

Claude Houde: You are not in control of anything. We are only in control of ourselves before our God. He's in control of all things. Not long after a tempestuous head wind arose called the Euroclydon and they have myths, they have legends, they have history, historians of the day. Poem were written about that storm that brought death. That type of storm we would call it in modern days a perfect storm, a deadly storm.

When the ship was caught, they could not head into the wind. We let adrift and running under the shelter of an island called Clada, we secured the skip with difficulty. There's hopelessness. They began to drift. Let me ask you a question, "Have you ever underestimated what began like a soft wind in your life?" A soft wind of rebellion, a soft wind of discontentment, a soft wind of criticism, a soft wind of murmuring, a soft wind of a hidden sin that nobody sees nobody knows.

It began like a soft wind and they were saying we can handle this but it actually began to lose such control. It was so hopeless, they had lost every hope of coming alive and they began to let themselves just drift. That is the question of the Holy Spirit for each of us in certain seasons of our lives and maybe for you today. Have you been allowing yourself to drift? To drift away from God's principles in your life, from His commands, from His love, from His purposes, from your very identity.

Have you allowed a storm that is incomprehensible to bring you into a place where you are drifting? Do you ever face a storm that threatens to shipwreck you? That shipwreck is that place in our life when it's too much, too late, too far gone. We had to unload too much, too painful, too desperate. Let me share with you from this passage some principles, some keys, some revelations from the word of God this morning for you that will strengthen you and root you as you walk out of the building today by the grace of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit with a sense of when I am in a shipwreck, I'm always under His sovereignty.

The first thought, the first anchor is that the revelation is more important than the reasons. Your revelation of God is more important than the reasons you are in the storm.

Again, look with me at Acts chapter 27 and verse 18, "Because we were exceedingly Tempest tossed, the next day they alighted the ship. On the third day, we threw the ship's tackle."

Verse 20, "When neither sun or stars appeared for many days, all hope that we would be saved was given up." After long abstinence from food, Paul stood in the midst of them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me." He couldn't help himself, "You have listened to me." How many of you have been in moments where you've told people around you, 'You should have listened to me?" He adds a ‘but’ don't stay and you should have listened to me. He goes on. "You should have listened to me but--"

He says, "Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete and incurred a disaster. Now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you but only the ship." For there stood by me, that's the revelation, there stood by me, this night an angel of God of the God to whom I belong, and whom I serve, saying, "Do not be afraid, Paul, you must be brought before Caesar."

And indeed, God has granted you all that sail with you, therefore, take heart for I believe God that it will be just as it was told to me. However, we must run aground on a certain island. Paul says that I don't know all the reasons but the God who I serve, Paul is saying you can't go down because I'm on this ship. I'm under orders from God. I am on my way to Rome. Say that a person next to you, "You're so lucky to be sitting next to me."

Audience: You're so lucky to be sitting next to me.

Claude Houde: You're so blessed, you're so protected to be sitting next to me.

Audience: You're so blessed, you're so protected to be sitting next to me.

Claude Houde: Years ago, I was flying to Europe and at the airport in Montreal, I was in line waiting to get on the plane the young man came, "Hi Pastor Claude unbelievable we're on the same flight. I'm going to France and God bless you. Safe travels to you." We get on the plane I'm sitting I see him walk by he taps me, praise God and I say yes praise God safe travel.

He goes back to his seat and this young man, he's not from my church, this young man knew me and the people are filling up the plane, he gets up, "Attention everybody. I want you to know this plane is safe. This plane cannot go down."

[applause]

Claude Houde: Air Canada flight to France, this flight is safe. There's a man of God on board, Pastor Claude is on board. Have a safe trip. I'm watching people around me, "Hello, hello, hello."

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: The God to whom I belong. The God that I would say this way the revelation is more important than the reasons. Whom I belong is more important than the beatings the ship was beaten. I want you to know and that's hard for us because we always want to know the reasons. I want to know why and why this and why so long, and why not, and why and why?

I want you to remember today when you feel you’re shipwrecked, when you feel you've lost control of an area of your life, I want you to know that God to whom you belong, the one that you serve has a plan, has a direction, has his hand over your life, and you are on your way to where He's calling you to do, and to be, and whatever it will be done unto you as he has promised. That is your revelation, that erases all reasons. Would you applaud the revelation of God in your life?

When you are shipwrecked under sovereignty the revelation is more important and the reasons and Malta prepares the miraculous. When they had escaped chapter 28:1, when they had escaped, they found out their shipwreck, they found out that the island was called Malta, and the natives showed us unusual kindness. For they kindled the fire and made us all welcome because of the rain that was falling, and because of the cold.

This is a man of God and he finds himself, he's done nothing wrong. He is on his way to Rome. He's on his way to his destiny. What is he doing in Malta? Malta is that place. This is Malta there's barbarians, there's a ship wreck, they barely escaped their lives. We lose everything. It's cold, it's raining on them. The chains, the unknown language. I don't understand anything, and those seasons we often feel nobody understands me and trying to explain I can't make myself understood anyone. I'm suffering alone.

Nobody understands me. It's also scary. It's threatening. It's so far from my destiny in Rome says, Paul. "I'm so far from why I thought I should be on my way to in my life."

Here's the question. Have you ever found yourself in a place in your life you absolutely had not planned? Never thought I'd be here. How did my family end up here? How did my marriage end up here? How did my kids end up here? How did my ministry? How did our church? How did my service? How did my career end up here in Malta?

Malta is the place you never expected to be. Malta is the place in our lives, it's that place in our life that we never thought would last this long, but I want you to hear the Spirit of God saying to you today, "Malta is the place that prepares the miraculous in your life." I see many students, I see many graduates, I see many people out on this graduation 25th graduation weekend.

Can I say this? We're going to have our graduation in a few weeks in our Bible school in Montreal, with 300 students from all over French countries, and I will say to them, after 30 some years of ministry, the Malta's of questions and doubts in our lives, is exactly the place that prepares us for ministry that prepares the miraculous in Malta. Where everything seems dead, everything is incomprehensible, you are letting go of your assumptions, and of your timetables, and of your plans and your capacities and all of your well-set ideas, strategies, knowledge, and you stand in a place of nakedness before God.

All I have is you. All I need is you. You are my all-sufficiency. I want to tell you that God says in Malta, God wants in Malta, God wants your trial to become your testimony, really. He wants that season of suffering to become a story of grace that you will minister to other, he wants to grieve and the fear to cause you to grow in faith under his favor.

The ship that I've sunk will become your season of the supernatural in your life. That the worst valleys will become shouts of victories and of worship before him. Say yes please. That's Malta. Years ago I preached in California and after a week. They took me visiting some sites in the area and they took me to a place I'd never seen before. It's called Death Valley. It is the driest, deadest, most suffocating and lifeless desert in America. Nothing leaves nothing grows year after year.

Here's what happened one time in a winter 2004 record rains results of El Nino inches and inches of water came over a few months. For a while nothing seemed to show nothing changed but-- And this is history, you can look it up. On Easter 2005 on resurrection weekend 2005 a phenomenon the Valley of death began to bloom. Miles and miles of flowers of every color. I want to say to somebody here today you think you're in Death Valley you think you're in Malta of misery? I'm here to tell you today let him feed you let him quench your thirst let him water your heart right now.

You say yes, but nothing is changing. I see nothing changing. The water of his spirit is watering your soul and the miraculous is being prepared. Death Valley will find life again say yes please.

Audience: Yes, please.

Pastor Claude: I know we're a few weeks after Easter but Easter is not an event on the calendar. Easter is the call of God the Angels did not roll away the stone to allow Jesus to come out. He rolled away the stone so we would come into resurrection. That we would come in and experience the resurrection so that the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead would dwell in us and Malta and prepare the miraculous in our lives.

Romans chapter four our faith is a faith that calls to life what was dead, that calls to hope when there was no hope and that calls to existence what did not exist. I want to declare your valley of death will blossom again under the power of God say yes please.

Audience: Yes, please.

[applause]

Pastor Claude: Shipwrecked under sovereignty. The revelation is more important than the reasons. Malta prepares the miraculous. Here's the third thought. You must shake off the snake to experience the supernatural. Acts 28:3 and when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire. A viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand they said to one another no doubt this man is a murderer whom though he had escaped the sea he had justice and that'll help them to live.

He off the creature unto the fire and suffered no harm. Please let's recap. Paul's in prison for the gospel and he's done nothing wrong on completely false accusations. He should have been free. His captor said he's under chain on a ship. He warned them they don't listen he is there accused condemned unjustly chains at his feet. He is there because of the stubbornness and stupidity of those who would not listen to him but preferring to listen to fools.

He's a prisoner in Malta, there's rain it's cold he's judged by pagans, forgotten in the rain and in the cold but here's what he's thinking. He's saying even in all of this, just like you sometimes and me sometimes. Even in all of this I'm going to continue I'm going to help them with the fire. Have you ever been in a place where everything you're shipwreck on Malta but you say, "I'm going praise God anyway. I'm going to serve him anyway I'm going to help to this fire. I'm going to continue upbringing my part to the Times Square Church fire. I'm going through so much but I'm going to come and offer the sacrifice of praise before God I'm putting my piece in the fire."

Say to the person next to you bring your piece to the fire. We need to you. Say that to somebody next to you.

Audience: Bring your piece to the fire. We need you.

Pastor Claude: This the place where he's saying, "I'm going to serve God anyway I'm going to go on. Okay, I'm the apostle Paul I'm called to preach in a Colosseum in Rome.

I'm on this barbarian Island in the cold and the rain but I'll serve. I'm going to bring a piece of wood that the fire because the worst has to be behind me." A viper comes down and attaches itself to him. A viper can you imagine Paul a viper?

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: The heat always brings out the viper. We're in the heat, shipwrecked in the heat of temptation and the heat of pressure or of being forsaken or unjustly accused of being abandoned, being betrayed. Heat of sickness, the heat of losing. [sobbing] Oh beware of the viper, that is trying-- The viper who's trying to attach itself to your hand. The viper of unbelief, the viper of these secret thoughts of sin you would have never imagined you would have.

The viper, the viper of doubting the whole thing. Is there even the viper of bitterness, the viper of letting your hands go down. Let me ask you a question, have you allowed the viper to attach? Psalm 91 says, "You will trample over the lion and a viper you will keep under your feet." What do you do? Here's the question, what do you do? Vipers will come out of the heat in every situation, at every one of us, but what do you do? What is the strategy for the vipers? Only one thing to do with the viper, shake it off.

I want everybody to go like this. I want everybody to shake it off, shake it off. Do you understand that Paul preached the most powerful sermon in the New Testament without saying a word. He preached the most powerful message in the New Testament. He shook it off into the fire. Somebody is watching your life as you go through the fire and a viper tries to attach itself to you. My God, we are living epistles, shake off, shake it off, whatever it is, and lift your hands unto Him.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Would you give Him praise, shake it off with your hands.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Shipwrecked under his sovereignty. The revelation is more important than the reasons. Malta prepares the miraculous. You must shake off the snake to experience the supernatural. Here's the other thought or one or two more. Being approved of God counts more than the acclaim and the attacks of men. When you are going through this, don't you keep-- Don't you, have your eyes on what people are saying because you see what happened to Paul. It is almost comical.

When Paul gather, he shook off the snake, verse four of Chapter 28. When the natives saw that the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, "No doubt, this man is a murderer." Though he escaped the sea, justice does not allow him to live, but he shook off the snake, the viper into the fire, suffered no harm. However, they were expecting him that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead, but after they had looked for a long time, and saw no harm coming to him, they changed their minds and said, "Well, he's a god."

[laughter]

Claude Houde: Nothing has changed from those barbarians on that island to social media today.

[applause]

Claude Houde: To your Facebook “friends”, to people that are closest to you that should know you, that should know who you're, they should know your character they should know that when you are under attack, that when you are shipwrecked in an area of your life or what they think you're out of God's will or shipwreck or things are not going like they thought it should. Just move away from you and start to murmur to one another and then all of a sudden they come back. Please, whatever you go through don't pay attention to the acclaim and applause of men. Don't pay attention to the attacks of man.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Do you remember His revelation? Remember what Paul said, "Angel of the God to whom I belong, whom I serve." Said, "Do not be afraid." I believe God that will be just as it was told, may the only audience I care when I'm shipwreck and I'm stuck on the island of Malta and I'm shaking off the vipers, that the only audience I care is my God. Let my the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my God, my strength.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Not everyone's acceptance is a blessing and not everyone's rejection is a curse. He who is approved by God has nothing to prove. Your Maker is your mirror.

[applause]

Claude Houde: Your Maker is your mirror, the only one that you look at to see where should I be? I want you to know that wherever you go through as your heart stays to Him, just let Him put his approval. Let him put his favor. Don't defend yourself. Don't fight it. Don't argue back. Don't respond back, just trust him and let Him put His hand a favor on you and His favor would throw down every wall, every enemy, every snake, every viper, and every storm say, Yes, please.

Audience: Yes please.

[applause]

Pastor Claude: Let me close with this. The revelation is more important than the reason. When you're shipwrecked under sovereignty you understand that the revelation is more important than the reasons. Malta prepares the miraculous. You must shake off the snake to experience the supernatural. Being approved of God counts more than the acclaim or the attacks of men.

Here's the last thought. The pain and the pressures you're going through, they're preparing you for Publius. Say, "Who's Publius?" I'll tell you in a second. On April 15 of this year in the week before, the Monday before Easter, the whole world stopped because of the fire destroying the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. It was a historical tragedy and one of the headlines that was translated in languages around the world was the tower has fallen.

I've been to Notre Dame many times and preached in churches all around. They actually had a tower that fell and over a billion dollar was raised over the first three days to rebuild it and president Macron said, "We shall rebuild it." I'm all in favor of rebuilding it. It's a historical site that has great historical significance, but let me say a few things. So much has been-- Let me say three things. The religious and religion can never rebuild lives, whether it is Catholic or Protestant or evangelical or Pentecostal or whatever it is.

That cathedral never built life, rebuilt life before and it won't rebuild life again. Relationship with the living God will rebuild life, only that. The second thing I want to say is there are towers that have fallen in your life and you found yourself shipwrecked on Malta. There are towers that fall in our lives that don't make the headlines, that nobody talks about and nobody raises money to help us, but are very, very real to us that nobody sees.

Of course, you understand that on that Island Paul, even with all the doctrinal knowledge he had, and the knowledge of deep revelation of God that he had, must have had every demon in hell saying, "You're forgotten. You're finishing there. You're dying there. There's nothing good that can come out of this." Whatever tower fell in your life, God sees it today.

Whatever Malta you find yourself in, he sees it today and the pressures and the pain are preparing you for Publius. The third thing I want to say about Notre Dame, we were astounded to see a billion dollars come in three days. One French family gave a 100 million Euros another French family gave €200 million and they're sitting on the platform right here. Thank you Patrick, we appreciate it so much.

You understand that no billionaires became poor because they gave. No billionaires ended up at the food bank the following week because they gave a 100 million, but Easter and today and every day of our lives is the reminder that when towers fall in our lives, the Son of God made himself poor. The son of God gave everything, stripped himself of heaven to come to your rescue, to come on your island of Malta and to turn it into his purposes. Say, "Yes please."

Audience: Yes please.

Pastor Claude: Last verse. The pain and pressures are preparing you for Publius. Acts Chapter 28 and verse 7:10."In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen, the King of the Island whose name was Publius who received us and entertained us courteously for three days." He was generous in the original. "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went unto him and prayed and he laid his hands." This is so beautiful. "And he laid his hands on him and he healed him. And when that this was done, the rest of those they started coming from all over the Island."

There's a multiplication, there's a storm, a shipwreck, but on the other side of the shipwreck is the miraculous. When this was done, the rest of those on the Island who had diseases came and they were healed. Then they also honored us in many ways and when we departed, they provided such things that were necessary. Understand Paul had not chosen. We don't choose to end up on Malta.

Paul did not choose to be in Malta, but he had to choose what he was going to do and what he was going to be in Malta. Am I going to be miserable in Malta or I'm going to be fulfilling my mission in Malta. Just in passing that just stay with me was so beautiful that while he was in Malta, and Luke writes about this years later and he says all these people were there and they were kind to us and it took care of us. Are you grateful to God and to them? Do you remember the people that when you were in trouble were kind to you, were around you to provided for you and helped you?

Let me ask you this, are you one of those people believer, Jesus follower that when somebody is shipwrecked around you or are in trouble around you, open your not your arm not your finger in judgment, not your-- I understand an entire circle of Christianity, the Christians move away from people that look in trouble. They are been-- They're fair weather friends and when trouble comes, they're like no, I say, God, thank you. I want to be like you, when I was in my worst trouble you came to me. I want to be that man or that woman. Say yes, please say.

Audience: Yes please.

Pastor Claude: Say that to the person next to you, when I'm shipwrecked I need you. Say that to the person next to you please.

Audience: When I'm shipwrecked I need you.

Pastor Claude: That's the church. This this so beautiful? Can you imagine shipwreck where the rains, the fire and they're surviving? They can't even understand each other and when the snake hits, he doesn't understand what they're saying but he could feel their anger and their judgment and he's going to die and the gods are against him and what's going to happen to me but then he shakes it off and they all look at him for the longest time scripture longest time and when he's not swelling up or dying, they turn and maybe they fall on their knees and say he's a god.

I don't know how they make themselves understood. You can see him just sitting in Publius' house, the king of their village comes and says, "You come in and be-- " Nobody couldn't even tell them, there is no translators. How can we go about this? But somehow Paul sees and motions and this is my father and he's dying of dysentery. This is Paul. This is you and I please understand that the place of Malta is not the place to just turn on yourself and focus on your misery and pain. How come I'm not in Rome and where is Rome?

No, where you are in Malta God wants to lead people your way that you will minister to. This is so beautiful. The Bible says that Paul, your pain and your pressure it had to happen. Your pain and your pressure are preparing you for Publius. The hand, the very hand, the very hand with the snake bite wound on it still fresh was laid by the power of God on the sick man and healing began to touch the entire island. Would you say yes, please?

[applause]

Audience: Yes please.

Pastor Claude: I want to be that man. I'm going to ask the musicians to come. I was yesterday so honored to be at the commencement 25th year of and to and I'm saying this I'm so keenly aware of the scripture says, the Bible warns us against flattering lips but asks us to give honor to whom honor is due. She's not here today. She'll be here in the next few weeks but I just wanted to-- If you allow me pastor Carter, I just wanted to honor pastor Theresa and honor Doctor Conlon and I was watching her lead. Maybe she's watching the service.

[applause]

Pastor Claude: I was Just watching her lead and in humility and simplicity, but it's such a lead and you could feel that love of the students and everyone that were there and in her leadership and the anointing God gives her and behind that, there's a lot of sacrifice. A lot of just listening to God. There's a lot of Malta's. There's a lot of-- There's a lot of I'm listening to God. There's a lot of I don't know, the reasons but I have a revelation.

There's a lot of I'm in Malta, but God is speaking preparing me for the next season of ministry. There's a lot of snakes that try to come but I'm shaking them off. There's a lot of all kinds of reactions of men around us but I'm looking for the approbation of my God and to be obedient to Him. There's a lot of pain and pressures that we preparing her for Publius.

When I was watching her and thinking of my friend, my brother pastor Carter and thinking-- I didn't know all this presentation was going to be made today on the book. It's time to pray that I've read over and over and this book is going around the world and God is using it. Why? Because when they were in Malta when they were in Canada when in his 30s, the physical breakdown and moments when he walked in fields screaming out the God why are you doing this to me but he held on and the revelation was developing in them.

The reasons are given back to God and the Revelation grows and Malta prepares the miraculous and whenever snakes try to hang on, they shake them back, throw them back in the fire and lift their hands onto God. The Bible said that Apostle Paul said, you follow me as you follow Christ and pastor Carter and Teresa are our friends but they're also models to me, models to so many of us and the reason why there's voice of prayer is resonating around the world now and this book is going through radio around the world and now and this message is going around the world is because when nobody watched nobody see, I've traveled with them all through nations, 6:00 in the morning with elders, wherever we are in the world seeking God.

When nobody sees, nobody knows, nobody understands. But the ministry was being prepared, the supernatural was being prepared. Whatever Malta you're in now surrender to his purposes. The revelation of the God to whom you serve and whom you belong to is more important, do you understand? Than the reasons, leave the reasons to God. Malta will prepare your ministry, your future, your future page of ministry.

The next season of your life, whatever snake tries to hold onto your hands, shake it and into fire because the pains and the pressures you're going through now are preparing you for Publius, are preparing you for the purposes of God in your life. In 1985, when they asked me, yesterday was a very emotional day for me, very honored, just be the commencement speaker at Bible school.

1985 I was invited, I was asked to be an interpreter for pastor David Wilkerson and I was just 20, 21. The reason why I was chosen was very particular. This was a different era of time. Pastor David Wilkerson came to Canada for five weeks on a bus and they are looking for an interpreter to be on the bus with him for five weeks in hockey arenas all over Canada, all over our nation.

When they gathered all the religious leaders and all the pastors and their superintendents to choose the interpreter and sometimes movements are like that men are men and they would say, "Who would be the interpreter?" Well, somebody would say, "Well, I would propose this brother. He's got so much experience as a great interpreter." People would say, "Well, no. If it's him, we're not participating."

Then they would say, "What about this one?" "Well, if it's him, we're not participating." Finally, some men inspired of God. I wasn't even in the room. I was just starting out. I was preaching then. I preached over those years 1,000 services to 50 people or less. I was nobody and they, just coming out of Bible school, just a young guy, just coming out of Bible school off the streets and just Bible school and now I'm preaching to 10, 20, 30. We had revival. We had 42 people on Wednesday. It was amazing.

Then somebody in the back room said, "Hey, why don't we ask the young guy, that Claude pastor. He can translate. Nobody knows him so he has no enemies.

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: My only claim, my only qualification was my insignificance.

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: Say to somebody next to you, "So is yours." Say that to somebody next to you.

Audience: So is yours.

Pastor Claude: I was the interpreter for David Wilkerson. I'm on stage with him, the first-- One of the first rally in a hockey arena in Montreal. Well, I'm just streets away from the neighborhoods, the project in which I grew up in Montreal. A few years before selling drugs, collecting and beating people up and collecting and then I'm standing on stage.

He put a suit on me and a tie, I'm standing on stage interpreting for David Wilkerson and there was a guy in the back that started yelling. He was agitated. He was a young man about my age, from my neighborhood who had become a Christian and he could not even imagine that I had become a Christian.

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: He started yelling, "Stop this. Stop this. This is an imposter. This is Claude Houde. Don't you know?"

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: At the end of the service, they brought him to me and he kept the-- I did the whole service interpreting prayer. It never occurred to him, "Maybe he got saved." I grabbed his face and said, "Brother, I became a Christian too." He's like, "Well." Just a couple of weeks, during that same trip, nobody knew on earth, not even my best friend. I was single when I was preaching in very small places, living in a one-room, just a studio, one-room apartment. I had a piano player to travel with me in that same room.

We would just small, very poor. The ministry was so hard in French, Quebec and because I could preach in English, I was invited to go preach many times in this large church. I'm not going to say where, this message goes everywhere, but they invited me to come and be an evangelist attached to that American church. Americans being Americans, they put, “This is going to be your salary. This is your apartment. This is a Christian with a car dealership. Which car do you want?” It was all that. I was 21 years old, and I just thought, “I'll go live in the states and I'll come back to Quebec once in a while.”

On a service in a city in Quebec just before the big hockey arena filled with people, we were going over to message, brother Dave and I, and no introduction, nothing preparing. Nobody knows I got my briefcase with the letter saying, "I'm just about to say yes. I'll be there in January. I'll move to the States." It's too hard in the French. Brother Dave gets up and he goes, [sobbing] "This is a word from the Lord for you. You will be lured. You will be tempted to be lured away from your people. If you do, you'll remain serving me but you'll be out of my will, out of what I've prepared for you.”

Then he went on. “If you stay, it will be hardship, and deserts, and accusations, and lonely.” I'm thinking, "When's the good part coming?"

[laughter]

Pastor Claude: "There will be time when you feel like you're dying. It will be time when you feel-- God will break you, and mold you, and shape you. God will--" I'm weeping and I’m just-- "But if you stay, there will be a wave to the French world, and you'll be at the center of it."

When he was saying, “You will go from Malta to Malta, to Malta, but if you hold on to the revelation that is greater than whatever reasons you go to, every Malta will mold you into the ministry I've called you to be in. Many snakes, many vipers, will come and attach themselves to you, but if you shake them off by the grace of God, and you lift the wounded hand to Him, the wounded hand will become the hand of healing, and I will use you in ways you can never imagine.”

[applause]

Pastor Claude: Yesterday when I stood there so proud, so honored, so privileged, so undeserving to speak at that commencement and they told me, "You're wearing pastor David's robe." From the streets wearing his robe and that not because I'm in any way-- No, just one of many sons from around the world. You don't know the mantle, the robe that God has prepared for you. As you hold on to His promises, through your shipwrecks of your life, and you remain under His sovereignty, He will use you, prepare you, mold you, change you for His purposes. In Jesus name, and all of God's people say Amen and Amen, and Amen.

[applause]

Pastor Claude: From the very last row of the balcony to the very first here to every seat in the attics, to the thousands who will download this message by streaming, and Facebook Live, God is speaking to us today. If you’re here and you say, “God, I've been shipwreck but I'm releasing the reasons. I am leaving the reasons to you that I’m leaving the wise to you. I'm surrendering to your purpose."

I want you to lift your hands to Him and say, "God here it is. Oh God, I've been in Malta. I’ve been in Malta but I believe that Malta is molding me for what you're preparing me to become. I surrender to your purposes." Come on, people of God. In Acts 4, "They lifted their voices together." Can we begin to lift our voice together? Speak to your God. I've had a snake try to attach itself to my hand. I've had a snake of unbelief, and doubt, and fear, and hurt, and bitterness maybe.

I'm shaking it off by your power and your grace. The wound, I'm declaring by faith that the wounded hand, my woundedness you will use for your purposes in Jesus name. The wounded hand will become the healing hand in Jesus name. You have a Publius of your purposes waiting for me. In Jesus name, would you lift your hands? For a moment even before we sing, and Greg will lead us and pastor Carter will come, as our Shepherd, as our pastor, and our leader, our general, to come and lead us in this closing moment.

Before we do as Times Square Church can do, would you lift your voices all over the place? This becomes a prayer meeting, a commitment moment, an altar-building moment, where we are surrendering. We are under His sovereignty no matter the shipwreck. I am under God's sovereignty. Come on all over the place, voices up. You from New York, you came from all over the US, you came to speak for God. You came to defend life. You came to stand, and it was such opposition.

There was such ugliness. Today you need to be renewed in love, and in strength, and empowered, and encouraged to stand. Every man and woman, to the sound of my voice, let me hear the volume of prayer go up for a minute today in Times Square Church. In the name of Jesus, Hallelujah.

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