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Having a Cutting Edge

 

Gary Wilkerson

February 25, 2020

Many of us have experienced discouragement and lost a passion for the vision and calling God has given us. But God wants to restore the passion and do a miracle, but He wants us to participate in it. Gary Wilkerson challenges us to be the person that will willingly stand up and say, "I'm not going to settle, I'm not going to be passionless. I'm going to ask God for more."

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The Pursuit of True Happiness

 

Claude Houde

July 24, 2016

Pastor Claude Houde examines Psalm 1, and the direction it gives us in pursuing true happiness. For some, happiness can seem fleeting; while for others it seems circumstantial. True happiness from God is spiritual and supernatural. Our life must be truly and deeply rooted in Christ if we want happiness through every season of life.

I'm going to speak on the Psalms this morning. Everybody turn with me to Psalm 1, the first Psalm. The message would be entitled "The Pursuit of True Happiness" or "Happiness According to God." I'm speaking a series on the Psalms all summer at our church and felt to just bring you a simple summer word to you. In the times we are living, everything happening in our nations and in your nations, I want you to know that Christians around the world are being shaken. Also, praying for you in the United States.

With everything that has been taking place from Orlando to Dallas and all the events taking place, we are standing in prayer with the body of Christ here in America. Most of the Psalms have been written in moments when the nations were in turmoil, the nations were. The people of God had to stand. The people of God had to shine in the midst of the turmoil. The Psalms are universal expression of every aspect and relationship in the life of the believer. They are written over a period, over 900 years, generation after generation but are profoundly relevant to our 21st century context.

When we look at the Psalms, we know from history and commentaries that the first Psalm that we believe theologians believe, the first Psalm that was written, it was Psalm 90. Written by Moses, a Psalm that reflects of the frailty of men and life in the light of God's eternal greatness. The last Psalm that we believe is Psalm 137, the one that was closest to us speaking. Because it speaks to direct events that took place that we know like the Babylonian captivity, 586, 538 BC. There are 150 Psalms. David wrote 73 of the Psalms and many different authors.

David and Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the sons of Korah but certain Psalms are so personal. They're so raw. They're so intense in their emotions and in the realness of what is being expressed that they are anonymous. Almost as if the author says, "I don't want to admit that I said that. I don't want to take ownership of that." Some of the Psalms are so open. A man, a woman crying out to God in such an amazingly, almost violent way sometimes. The deepest expression, nothing fancy, no varnish. Just the heart to God. It reminds us and reminds you today that God is not afraid of your emotions, of what you're going through.

We can have in certain circles a tendency to pack up prayer, all nice and clean. You're angry. You're hurting. You don't know why. You're suffering inside. You feel anguish. You'll find yourselves in the Psalms. The Psalms are a reminder to all of us that true prayer is not formatted and it's not to be heard by others and to impress anybody. True prayer as the Psalms says, "Pouring out my heart with everything in it before God." Say yes, please.

When we look at the Psalms, every aspect of the human experience, they're fascinating. Our faith in relationship to God, to others, to ourselves, who God is, in the Psalms' his character, his true nature, his attributes. There are Psalms of prayer, Psalms of worship. There's Psalms of intercession. Psalms of great joy and celebration and dancing and Psalms of the deepest grief and sorrow. Psalms of anger and betrayal, Psalms of forgiveness and reconciliation. Psalms for the family, for marriage, husband and wife. Psalms for the sons and daughters.

Psalms teaching us how to heal from depression, how to overcome our worst tragedies, how to protect our integrity, the purity of our hearts. How to transcend what we do not understand. There are Psalms that are so pertinent to what we are living through in these days, in these last days where God wants us to and teaches us who he wants us to be in seasons of turmoil. In seasons of where everything is shaken in our lives, in our family, with our kids or even in our nations. The body of Christ in America, we're not taking our cues from MSNBC or from Fox. Who are we to be? How are we to address this? How are we to speak? How are we to stand?

How are we to shine in this hour comes from the spirit of God to our hearts and the word of God wants to teach us. Say yes, please. The Psalms are at the same time, a window, a mirror in the land. They're a window into the hearts. We see into the hearts, into the very, very hearts of men and of the people of God and in relationship with their God. As they pour out their hearts to the Creator. They're also a mirror, the Psalm. We find ourselves, we see ourselves in the Psalm. They're a mirror but they're a path. They're a path in every aspect of our life. Now, we will look at Psalm 1. It's the opening Psalm.

It's a wisdom Psalm. It is contrasting two ways of life in the pursuit of happiness. Psalm 1 is literally the gateway to his fulfillment and abundant life. Now this morning, Psalm 1, most theologians believe it was either written by Ezra or by David. Now most would lead them the side of David having written Psalm 1. Now, David wrote Psalms through every season of his life. We have Psalms when he was a teenager in a broken, dysfunctional family, abandoned and treated so terribly by his family. We have Psalms of his highest hopes and dreams when he was just a boy walking the field and calling out to God.

We have Psalms of his highest aspirations. We have Psalms in the moments of his greatest victories but also Psalms in his most somber defeats. We have Psalms where he writes at a moment in his life like you and me. Moments in his life where he feels the favor of God, where he's pleasing to God. He's walking in communion with his God but we have Psalms of David in a moment where he blew it. Where his failure was to be seen by all, where he broke every vow, broke every commitment, broke everything that was whole, that was dear to him.

We have him in the steps of the temple in Psalm 51 saying, "Create in me a clean heart, oh, God. Renew in me a steadfast spirit." He wrote and taught us how to build life but also to rebuild our lives. He wrote his Psalms in every season. He wrote a Psalm celebrating the great things of God. He wrote Psalms that some parents might identify this morning. He wrote Psalms in moments where he laments literally, where he weeps over in a season of his life what his own son had become. His son was so far away from what he had dreamed and thought and believed and wanted. And poured into him that he laments.

One thing that marches from Psalm 1 and there's a sentence there to the very end of the Psalms. At the end of the Psalms from 144 to the end, we have Psalms of David that we know that were written at the end of his life. There was one thing that David emanates. There's something that goes through every Psalm. He writes the Psalms to remind us and to shout to us. David says it in a thousand ways. No matter what I went through, no matter what I went through, no matter what season, what came against me, God always turned it around for his glory. There's nothing that could keep me down with my God. Can you say yes, please?

This is like golf clapping. If that is your testimony, I look at some of you, there are a lot of young people here but also a lot of seasoned believers. If you can say this morning, "I've been through so many things. Sometimes, I thought I'm not going to make it out of this but God took me through the water and the fires but I came out with true abundance. That is my Psalm." I want you to shout and give praise to God. Come on. We don't look at Psalm 1 in the pursuit of true happiness or happiness according to God. Psalm 1, blessed, happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.

Nor stands in the path of sinners. Nor sits in the seat of the scornful but his delight is in the law of the Lord. In his law, he meditates day and night. When he speaks of the law, the Lord doesn't speak of law in terms of legalism. He speaks his counsel, his word, his kingdom, his promises, his heart to his people, his commands. He delights in the law of the Lord. Then he shall be—here's the contrast—he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaves shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so but they are like chaff, which the wind drives away.

Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand into judgment or sinners in a congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Now, the Psalmist begins and approaches our pursuit of true happiness with a contrast of our pursuit, a confrontation in our pursuit and the choice of our pursuit. He begins by saying blessed is the man. The Hebrew word speaks of being happy, joyful, peaceful but also being fully developed. I've accomplished what I was to accomplish. I'm fulfilled. It's developed, fulfilled, satisfied.

Happy, joyful, peaceful, developed, fulfilled and satisfied. The Psalmist begins with an affirmation that I think is still pertinent and needs to be said again. It needs to be believed again. It needs to be laid hold of again. He begins by shouting out happiness, blessedness. Happiness is not only possible but it is God's will of abundance for each of his child. Now, it's important to say that because as we go through life, even if you come from a tough background, I grew up in a horrible background in many generations. It stopped with me. The blood of Christ changed it all.

Many generations of alcoholic, drug addicts and violence in the home. Yet as a child, most of us who grew up with a thinking that happiness ... Some of you grew up in good homes or places with a sense of happiness is automatic. He'll come one day. At least we always feel that happiness must be in the next season of life, in the next step. When I go to school, after school, when I'm a teenager. When you're a teenager, hard years, teenager years. When I go to college, when you're single, you say, "When I'm married." When you're married, you'll say, "Maybe I'll be single again." You go through this.

When you have kids, when you have grandkids, every season of life and many of us, many people around us find that as the years go by, we go from happiness must be natural or automatic or in the next season of life. Many come to feel that happiness is hard. It's fleeting. It's hard to find. Some in the darkness of their soul come to a place where happiness is ... They're not going to say it. Happiness is not for me. It's impossible. It's out of reach for me. I come from a place, the nation of Quebec that has the highest suicide rates in the world. Five people, 4.8 people per day take their life in Quebec.

We have the highest standard of life in Canada. They say one of the three countries with the highest standard of life decades after decade. Yet there's a darkness of the soul. Just two weeks ago, when I preached this at our church, that very Friday, there was an elder in our church who's talking with his neighbor. They're talking. Just shooting the breeze, talking to one another. The neighbor said to our elder, "Okay. I got go to. See you." He went into his garage. That very day, that very minute, he went and hung himself. Now, if you go in Quebec, if you sit in our church in Quebec, you go row by row.

Everybody has somebody next to them. Everybody knows somebody in their family, in their own lives, somebody that took their lives or try to take their lives. That sense of despair. The Psalmist says, reminds us that if we are to find, if we are to walk and abide in that blessedness, we don't only need to know where to look for it. He's going to teach that but we also need to know where not to look for it. It says, "Blessed a man who walks not in..." He exposes, he reminds us what our pursuit should be but also what our pursuit should not be.

We will not find transcending deep and authentic happiness if we don't have a basic biblical understanding of where it is not found. Scripture tells us throughout the word that happiness, blessedness is not found in material pursuits only. Now there's a book that just came out in Canada. It's fascinating. It's a bestseller in Canada. They surveyed 50 people that won the lotto at least a million dollars. There was someone with 10 million but from one to $15 million. They surveyed over 50 of them over a period of 25, 30 years. It's astonishing the stories of heartbreaks.

The book shouts out what the word has been teaching for millenniums that true happiness is not in material things only. I'm hearing some of you saying, I'm hearing. I'm telling you. People that won millions of dollars are not happy. I'm hearing some of you are saying, "I'd like to try anyway." I know. I know. "Let me try. Let me try anyway." No. It's not in material. It's not outward. It's inward. It's not natural. It's spiritual. That state of blessedness is not lateral just in human relationships. It's vertical. It's with God. It is not circumstantial. It is supernatural.

It's not found in professional pursuit only, vocational. God gives us gifts. There's a fulfillment. If you're only for the next promotion and the gold watch and the next step and the status, you'll find it strangely empty. It's not found in the new pursuit of relational or family only. If your happiness depends solely on a perfect family, perfect kids, perfect marriage, it will be fickle. Often truly disappointing and you can waste years of your life. Happiness is not found in social, sensual or pleasure or hedonism and success and power and influence. He begins by confronting. He makes a contrast.

He says, "You have to choose what will be your pursuit." He contrasted between two lifestyles. One is compared to a tree planted by the rivers of water who springs forth his fruit in every season. Would you say out loud with me? Every season.

The fruit in every season whose leaves shall not wither. Then he says, the ungodly, they're like chaff in the wind. He makes a comparison. He says literally there's a way of life that leads to blessedness and vitality and productivity and security and joy and fulfillment and accomplishment and satisfaction that is beyond the temporary and peace of mind and heart. There's a way of life that leads to emptiness, to perpetual disappointment, pain, waste, regrets, hurt. Ultimately, judgment speaks of each man standing in judgment before God.

There's a lifestyle of faith that awakens and feeds and nourishes and strengthens our soul and our destinies. There are choices that deaden our soul little by little. He makes a comparison. He's asking every one of you here this morning. No matter if you've been a believer, weeks, months, years or decades, if you're in your 20s, 50s, 60s, 70s, it doesn't matter. He asks every one of you a question. What kind of life do you want to have? Who do you want to be? What life will you be? The contrast is so amazing. He says the one type of life is alive. He compares it to a tree that's planted.

Imagine that's a scenery of a tree but planted with deep roots, in deep water. The two things he says make my heart leap as a believer. Not only as a pastor, as a believer. He says, "That type of life, when you are rooted in God, rooted in him, he says they will bring forth new fruits in every season. Nobody said amen and my notes had said, "The people of Springs Church would say amen spontaneously at this place." If you have to ask, it doesn't count. I'll give you other chances throughout the message.

As a believer, isn't that my heart, isn't that yours to say, "My God, thank you for the food you gave in my life yesterday, but I want fresh fruit today." The old things are passed away, fresh things. No matter what season I go through, there's a fruit." The Spirit of God would ask a question to all of you this morning. What is your recent fruit? If I'm asking you or asking your wife or your husband or your kids, what is the fresh fruit in your dad's life, in your husband's life? What is your testimony. You say, "Well, in 1983, I was at a breakfast and I accepted the Lord. I was baptized there." That is gorgeous and beautiful and everlasting and eternal.

It's so precious. Thank God his Spirit says, "I want to call you to fresh fruit today. I want to plant you to fresh fruit today. The other thing that makes my heart leap is that not only fresh fruit but bearing forth fruit in every season. Every season whose leaves shall not wither. I turned 54 recently. I've been serving the Lord for 30 some years. In this season of my life, there's a burning like never before. I think I've always had it but it's so strong to say, "God, I want nothing to wither in me."

To have the honesty and the humility and also the openness before God to say, "Lord, I bring my life to you. Is there anything that is withered? I don't want my worship to be withered. I don't want my passion for you, my love for people, my sensitivity to your Spirit..." Those seasons where we leaped out and we did what God called us to do and it was amazing. Those moments where I was so hurt, so broken, so touched by what I heard that I gave in an extravagant way. I gave them my time. I gave finances. Lord, God, I want none of it to wither."

"I want you to renew my worship, my prayer, my love for your word, my love for people, my zeal to serve you." Say amen anytime you like. I say, "God, plant me anew. I want fruit in every season. I don't want to wither. I want to be renewed by your Spirit in every aspect of my life." Say yes, please. That's the contrast. That's the tree planted near deep waters. The ungodly, they're like chaff in the winds. No weight to their lives. No values. No strength. Nothing solid. Nothing lasting. No substance. They have no roots. They have no fruit. They're chaffed.

The harvesters in ancient times would take their baskets and fill it with grain and chaff and they would throw it in the air. The wind would drive the chaff away. It would fall to the ground just to be trampled over like dirt. He says, "You have a choice in life." As a believer, you have a choice in life. A life of substance and meaning with deep roots in God or a life where your pursuits and just a chaff in the wind. I know the janitor people hate me right now but I'm going to do this anyway. We did three services at our church. They had to clean up after every service. Chaff in the wind. No substance.

He speaks of the ungodly. Now the ungodly in the Hebrew word here is not people that commit wicked acts. In Hebrew, it's literally without God, ungodly. Their roots are not in the Lord. Their roots are not in God. Some of you would say, "That's unbelievers." The ungodly, people that don't believe in God. I believe it's not only unbelievers. You could be a Christian that accepted Christ and you know Christ and you accepted his message of grace and you received grace but your roots are not in him. You have not rooted yourself in him, your pursuit.

Your roots are not in his kingdom, in his principle, in his life, in what he loves, who he is, his commands. Your roots are not in him. The philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche says something interesting. 100 years ago, author and philosopher realized that the belief in God was losing its compelling and redemptive power in Western society. Literally, this is one of his most insightful things he said. He says, "When God dies in Western society, all things will seem weightless and hollow." That's what's happening. From the internet to the everything around us, you see it so much.

Not everything but so much. On social media, there's a sense of hollowness, a sense of nothing has value. It's chaff in the wind. God says, "If you root yourself in him, every other aspect of your life comes to fulfillment." Then the vocation says, "Yes." The vocational, the professional, yes but rooted in God as a Christian. I am working. I have a career. I have aspirations but rooted in God in hard and honest work, in honesty and in integrity, in rest and balance, in keeping of our priorities. Relational, yes but rooted in God, in his plan, in his values, his love, his faithfulness.

In respect and in honesty and in honor and in lifting up the other and giving yourself for the other. Fulfillment in material, yes. In Timothy, he says, "Tell the rich to enjoy it but to use what God has given them." Now you say he's not talking to me. If you have a roof over your head, you drink clean water and you have two pairs of shoes, you are in the 3% on this planet. You are rich. We are the rich this morning. Say yes, please. I want you to say to somebody next to you, "I don't want to impress you but I'm very rich." Say that to somebody next to you.

Family, yes. There's blessedness in family but only when we are deeply rooted in his principles, in his kingdoms, deeply rooted, an example for our children in love and security and patience and resilience and absolute trust and confidence in God's love and eternal commitment to our children. I've seen this as a pastor in thousands and thousands of lives around the world. I mentioned that Pastor Gary and I traveled the world. We've been together on many continents. I remember one of the trip that marked me was a trip we did together in Egypt.

We were together in Egypt speaking at a pastors' conference in Alexandria where pastors have been under severe persecution to radical Islam. We were in Cairo just a few months before everything exploded in Egypt. We preached in Cairo, Egypt. This is a pastors' conference. You can look at the next one and you go to the last slide and you'll see a shot. Gary will remember this. This is the church, one of the largest Arabic Christian church in the world. We preached there, Gary and I. At the end, we met on altar time and there's thousands of people. We spent I don't know how long. It was so long. Praying hours.

People would take our hands and say, "Pray for me." We prayed with people one after the other. One man that was there that I didn't know at all, there was a man that was there who was a diplomat, a politician in the Egyptian government. He was a copt Christian by family but totally non-practicing but a brilliant man. Everything life can offer. He spoke five languages, two Master's Degrees in Political Science and in Philosophy. He traveled the world. Any nation he was in representing Egypt. He was always living a high life, in limousines and everything else.

His wife was a believer going to that church but he never came to church. He had everything in this world. Everything that the world can offer and he was a man of influence and power and education. Yet he was year after year into deep depression and depression and depression and depression and a sense if I can say this way, a sense of chaff-ness. He would tell his wife all of this. She would say, "I have something you don't. You come." No. One day, she told him, "There's a Canadian, a French-Canadian who will be speaking at our church this Sunday."

Because he speaks French, one of five languages he speaks and he likes the French, he just thought, "Canadian. We've never had a Canadian at our church in Egypt. I'll just go and listen." He came that night. Gary and I were speaking. That night where I preached, he was there. When we brought everybody forward to pray with people, I didn't know. Among the hundreds we prayed for but he was there and I prayed with him. He says that as I prayed with him, it was a prophetic word. I prayed with him and said, "You have been pursuing so many things in your life. You've had so many successes but they leave you completely empty.

God has brought you here for a purpose. If you hold on to him, he's going to lead you in every surprising way." He said I stopped and said that the ways of God will be surprising but he will lead you. He was touched. His wife was so blessed to see him in church. I led him in a prayer of salvation. I don't even remember what he's telling me. It marked his life because that Wednesday following that service, he got called by his authorities and they said, "We're sending you on a new post. You're going into a new country. You're going to be Egypt's ambassador to Canada."

The embassy is in Montreal. I arrived in Montreal a few days later but a few weeks later, he arrived in Montreal. I got this call from an ambassador. I went to visit him at the embassy in Montreal. Hooked him up with some men in our church, Bible study. He's very cool. He comes to church with the limo and the bodyguards but he parks two streets away. He's in jeans and a polo. He comes to church and nobody knows. His country went through so much turmoil. There's something in that man, when he tells me what he was before, he had contemplated suicide. His family was in havoc. He is rooted in God. He has his Bible study.

Listen, there's a peace. There's a strength. His children have come. His children have given their lives to Christ. He has as well. I'm telling you. There's a life of chaff but there's a life that is solid. There's a life that is rooted in God that no matter what moves around us, God calls us. Say yes, please.

I would say that as God called him in the midst of that crowd, he calls you. This morning, he calls you and says, "You come and root yourself in me." There's a contrast but then there's a confrontation to our pursuit. In Verse 1, he says, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the path of sinner nor sits in the seat of the scornful." The Psalmist asked hard questions. He asked what do you want your life to be in a year or two years and five years? When you look over the future of your life and you don't know how many years you have, but what do you want your life to be?

If you are serious about pursuing God's abundant life for you, you're going to have to lower your engagement in certain activities, environments, relationships, habits. You are going to have to dramatically raise your commitment to what brings life to your soul. He's speaking of a pattern. You could say it this way. In everyone of our lives, you see but then you choose where you stop and you choose where you sit. He says, "Walk and stops and dwells." You see but you choose where you stop and you choose where you dwell.

If you are serious with God, you will limit your exposure to activities, environments, relationships, habits that deaden your soul to his love, to his word, to his kingdom. Listen. Here's the truth in all of our lives. We all know that there are conversations, people, relationships, habits, environments, things we watch, hours we spend that cheapen and weaken our soul. That make God seem distant and silent and deaden our soul a little bit. In 30 years of ministry, we all walk. We walk through this life. We're on this earth but where you will stop and where you will sit is your choice. There's a choice.

There's a confrontation. As pastors, we see this pattern. After grace and walking in grace and in God, you see this pattern in the use of pornography or substance abuse and cheating and fraud and adultery where you look and you stop. You sat and dwelled there. You watched on the internet the destructive sexual behaviors, illicit sex, bitterness, pride, unforgiveness, arrogance, anger, verbal or physical abuse in the home, carnal and wasted life. This sounds like legalism. It's not fear or legalism. It's feeding the light of God in you.

No one had a greater revelation of grace and of the finished work of Christ than the Apostle Paul. He had the greatest revelation of what Christ did. He spoke over and over. His whole ministry was declaring the grace of God, the perfect work of Christ. Reminding every believer that because of the cross, when God looks at Jesus on the cross, he saw you. When we put our faith in him, when God looks at me, he sees Christ and his perfection and his finished work. Say yes. That's good news. But Paul will say, 1 Corinthians 11:20, all things are lawful, permitted and allowed but not all things are useful.

Not all things will edify or build you up. Contribute to build you up or help you become stronger. If you come to the Springs Church for more than a week, you will know that our message here, the message of your pastor and of the teachers, the pastors of this church ... Christianity is not a set of rules and regulation that you have to obey with fear. Christianity is a relationship between human beings and God and God with us in faith and grace and love. Say yes, please.

Paul teaches there are things in everyone of our lives, from the Psalmist to Paul to Peter to Jesus will teach us some things, choices in your life that will feed, build, develop that communion. There are things that deaden it, that cheapen it, that abort the kingdom desires of God, the counsel of the ungodly. He sees. He stands. He sits. The question of the Spirit today is where do you sit? What do you look at? Where do you sit? Where do you spend your hours? Where are your roots? What are you rooted in in your life for your life to bear fruit and not wither?

Bear fruit in every season or for your life to be a chaff? Peter will teach it this way. In Second Peter, he'll use the Old Testament model of Lot and says, "Lot oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked tormented his soul everyday by dwelling among them. Those who walk according to the pursuits of their flesh and the lust of uncleanness, they are presumptuous and arrogant. Not afraid to speak evil and mock dignitaries." Here's the question. Do you allow activities, habits and relationships in your life to pollute your soul?

The question of the Psalm is how much of your life do you waste watching, listening, chatting in the seat of the mockers? According to Time Magazine, the average American spends four and a half hours a day on social media, watching TV or downloading materials on the internet. Over a 65-year life span, that's nine years in front of the TV. Now Barna, in 2014, they surveyed Christians from 30 different denominations. 30 hours a week of watching this stuff, the average believer spends less according to Barna, average believer spends less than one hour a week on devotional pursuits outside of church attendance.

There's a choice. There's a choice: what you look at, your perception, what you look at, what you feed your soul, what you look at and sit, what you sit in front of will greatly affect how you conduct yourself. What you see in God, how you live your life. Jesus taught on this powerfully. Matthew 6:23-24. He says, "But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore, the light that is in you is darkness, how awful will be the darkness." It's an important spiritual dynamic. Your perception, what you look at will affect your behavior. You're not sure. Okay. Let me ask you a question.

How many of you when you're driving in Colorado Springs or wherever, you're driving in Colorado. You realize there's a cop following you. You see a cop following you. How many of you it affects your driving? The rest of you, just as I am. Liars will come and be and repent. As a pastor in my city, we have week in and week out, between four and 5,000 people coming to church and planted church all around our city. I can't go anywhere in the city. I meet Christians from our church everywhere. I have to confess. It's good that pastors go in different cities to be able to confess their stuff in their own city.

Recently, I was driving in my city. I was driving a bit nervous and just wanted to get there. I was on my way to a spiritual meeting. On my way, there was a lady in front of me. I could just see the white haired little granny. She's beautiful. She's signaling left, turning right, stopping and I just finally passed. I almost went like this. She goes, "Hi, Pastor Claude." Come on. If Colorado police assigned an officer every morning of your life starting tomorrow morning, you get out of your house. Good morning. Good morning. He's following you everywhere.

How many of you would confess it would change your driving patterns? Say yes, please. You know why? Because you would begin to see the laws, boundaries, promises and freedom of the kingdom of Colorado according to how he sees them. Are you getting it? Some of you are only going to get it after lunch this afternoon. You're not getting God's perspective watching 50 episodes of Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy and watching a zillion episodes of Game of Thrones. When are you going to go to the throne? Go to God. Go to him where he begins to feed your mind, your heart.

You plant yourself in deep waters and his truth, his promises, his perspective, who he is, what he's done before, what he will do for you. How he turns things around invades your soul. Say yes, please.

The only way you could believe and stand strong and bless in blessedness through seasons where it says if you're going through an intermission, as if you don't understand. As if the curtains are closed and it's like, "I don't know what you're doing God." It is a very treacherous thing because as many of you, when you were younger believer, you were more avid in the word of God than you are now. As years go by and sometimes, disappointments or hurts or just a certain... And then many of us or all of us, our flesh, our nature. When we go through hard times, I just want to forget. I just want to...

Many, many times, things that we're watching to relax are demonizing us. Even worse, they're blinding us. They're blinding us to what God is doing behind the scene. Many years ago, I was preaching in New York in Times Square Church. When I was going to preach, somebody told me that they were playing on Broadway "The Merchant of Venice." It's a Shakespeare, a great play. It speaks of racism and justice. It's a play I know. It was very rare. The actor playing the main role was Al Pacino right there. Al Pacino right there. Somebody helped me and we got some tickets. I brought the kids. We went there. It's so exciting.

We were watching the play and Al Pacino's right there. There's the intermission in the middle. I went to the back and I said to the kids, "Did you want something to drink?" "Yes. I want a Coke." I went to the back and this is Manhattan. This is New York. I ordered Perrier, which is water. I ordered a sparkling water. The one Perrier was $26. This is Manhattan. I ordered one Perrier, four straws. We'll share. During that time, my son actually spilled $7 of Perrier on his knee. You know, we're talking. We're chatting. The curtains are closed. Nothing going on. The first act is so dark. Everything's dark. The décor, it's so dark.

We were talking. There's nothing going on. We're just thinking we're going to start where they left. We're talking and the curtains are drawn. They go, "Okay. Second act." When the curtains open, behind the curtain while we're just going through our stuff, they changed everything. It was all luminous. I'm here to say to everyone of us or to you in particular that needs to hear it when you think the curtains are drawn, nothing is happening. There's nothing going on. I don't see what you're doing, God. He is working behind the scenes. His hands are in control of all things. Say yes, please.

I need to make an inventory, a daily and a yearly inventory of my soul. Blessed is the man who walks, stands and sits not in a counsel of the ungodly. An inventory of our soul. Peter mentioned something that really touched me because it connects with something I went through two summers ago. He says, "Lot tormented his soul surrounding himself with people that were not afraid to speak evil and even to mock dignitaries." Two summers ago, I was sitting home watching tennis in my house. There was a rain delay. I'm just flipping through channels. There's a festival in Quebec called Just for Laughs.

It's all standup comics. They come from all over the world. We also have tons of standup comics in Quebec. I never go to a standup show or anything like that. Most of it is filth. I was just watching and then a guy appeared. I was just flipping through a channel. I recognized him. I had heard him before do a shtick. It was funny but it was not unclean. He announced his topic. He said, "I want to talk about church and Jesus." I thought, "Huh. That's interesting." I just sat there and watched it. It's called Just for Laughs. There's 2,000 people. It's a live show. People are just screaming in laughter.

I sat there petrified because the stuff coming out of his mouth, the mockery, the vileness of it, the demeaning of Christ. As he was doing it, my son walked up the stairs. I felt ashamed. I said, "Hey. Forgive me. This is filth. I shouldn't even be watching this." I remember building an altar in my room upstairs after that.

Just shutting the door and kneeling and saying, "God, I'm in the ministry. I'm serving you. I love your word. Let me never lose that sensitivity. They're talking about you. You're my Savior. You're my lord. The mockers that just speak without fear and mocking what is pure. As a believer, we're not legalist with people I don't know, God. We take care of our own souls." Say yes, please. Years ago, I was preaching with Gary's dad. I was his interpreter in the city. Pastor David Wilkerson. He had preached an amazing message in the morning in a pastors' conference. 1,000 pastors there.

When the altar time came, it was such a divine moment. It was just a one hour lunch between the sessions. In between the sessions, we went to eat with the organizing committee. They're all pastors. I'm saying this with shame. I'm saying this with sadness. We sat with a group of pastors there. They were the organizing committee. I'm not going to tell you which country. We sat there and as soon as we sat down, Brother Dave is there and I'm there. As soon as we sat down, the conversations were so... they were mocking and they were mocking church and they're putting down this church. Nothing about... we had just come out of the glory of God.

They talk about anything and they're mocking. I'm sitting there. The menus are coming. We haven't even started. The menus are coming. Brother Dave stood up. He says, "Excuse me, brothers. I have to go. I'm sorry. I have to leave." He starts to walk away and I said, "I'm his interpreter. I'm going to go, too. I'm going with him." We walked away and he says, "Please tell them. I don't want to offend them. I don't want to hurt them. I don't want to appear high. I just don't want them to ruin my spirit. I don't want this to pollute my spirit." I want to say somebody to all of us. There's some tables we need to leave.

There's some tables we need to leave as we pursue God. Say yes, please. There's a confrontation to this pursuit. There's a contrast and I close, there's a choice. Read verse 2 and 3. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord." His law, he meditates day and night and then he's like a tree planted by the rivers. He brings fruit in its season. His leaves shall never wither. This is the amazing. Whatsoever he does shall prosper. Now, you could go word for word into Hebrew and exegesis of the text. Literally, you could translate them in many ways.

The best I believe truest way is whatever he goes through, God turns it into blessing. It's a testimony of life. He begins the Psalms with this and he ends the Psalms with this. He said, "If you're rooted in God, if you make your delight," and he's not talking about the law in terms of law versus grace. It's God's law. It's God's word. It's his principles. It's his plan. It's his kingdom. It's his purposes. It's his assembling manual. It's his owner's manual. It's his maker's warranty.

It's his will, his passion, his absolute desire to teach us how day in and day out, we can live a life of substance, significance with a life of deep, deep roots. Now, Proverbs 4 says it this way. "My son, give attention to his words. Incline your ear to the law of the Lord. Do not let them depart from your eyes. Keep them at the center, at the core of your heart. For there are lives to those who find them. Keep your heart above all things with all diligence for out of your heart will spring all the issues of life." John Lennon sang "Imagine" and as I close, the Psalmist, literally calls out and says imagine.

Imagine right here in the Springs Church, 2016, this summer. Imagine every believer renewing his heart and every family that comes to the Springs Church and thousands by through the internet and will watch this message. That would choose to dwell, that would choose to cut off any environment. Not legalism. I'm going to cut off environments, habits, relationships, viewing things, hours that deaden my soul. That make God feel distant and just so far from me. Imagine every couple that would have every men, I speak to men, as the priest of your home if you're married.

Every couple that would go beyond, that would reach beyond the uneasiness or I'm shy. I'm embarrassed. We were never really able to do that. To say, "No. We're going to spend one evening a week spending time in the word together or praying together." By the same survey that Barna had, over 80% of Christian couples that never prayed together except in church or in moments of tragedy. "Oh, God. Spare my son." Imagine every young person walking in grace saying, "God, I want to feed my soul. I want to be rooted in you." Imagine every family with their children. Imagine every single person.

Imagine every one of us, whatever season we go through, rooted in God every day. Day and night doesn't mean that you're stopping everything else and all you're doing is repeating verses. It just means it's a part of your life. You're feeding your heart. You're feeding your soul. Imagine God renewing, giving you fresh fruit. Imagine God bringing life back to what has been withered in you. Just a forever work of the Spirit of God, a sense of blessedness. Imagine you when the curtains are drawn, "God, what are you doing?" You are going to him.

He brings his perspective and his peace and the fears subsides. He turns the woes into worship and the pit into praise. He brings it to a place of confidence. God will see me through this. Imagine the magnate of believers in these troubled days. In these troubled times, we don't need more pundants. We don't need more opinions. We need men and women that will shine with a strength that is beyond what everybody else is experiencing. With a courage and with a grace and with a sense of God deeply rooted. Enough chaff. I want my life to bear fruit. Say yes, please. Say yes, please.

I'm going to ask the musicians to come. We're going through seasons in our nations. I'm not making light of it. Europe is very close. I go to Europe many times a year. In the last year or so, when you saw the terrorist act at the theater in Paris, the Bataclan, 80 died. They were killing people and the blood bath that was there. I preached in that theater with the grace of God a year before. 2,000 Christians there. I preached there for three nights.

The very place where we preached, the very rooms where we prayed together, the very altars where we lifted our voices were covered with the bodies of people that had been assassinated. You saw in Nice last week on the prom, the Promenade in Nice and when you saw the truck that's mowing people down, I preached there. We did outdoor meetings there. All around us, things are being shaken. When you look at history and everything, the dark things that happen through history, we oftentimes forget that there's always a people of God that were there.

That stood in the midst and we're sin abound and their grace much more abounded. When darkness was at its worst, their light shone so bright. The people that are different, I'm not taking any political position in your election or anything like that. I'm saying believers are to stand. We have traveled the world and seen and even in post genocide countries, countries that had been through genocides. I'm not going to name the African country because some of the leaders are still very, very involved. I've been to Rwanda. I've been to Burundi and many countries.

In one African country I was in, it was just months before that they had a genocide with over 250,000 people were struck down. We looked at our nation. We say there's so much division. This was a nation where one tribe historically, over hundreds of years and the other, the division is such that in cyclical ways, demonic inspiration comes. They literally butchered hundreds and thousands of people. I was there preaching at a pastors' conference. 4,000 pastors there. On the way back, we stopped. I think it's Number 21 in the PowerPoint. We stopped and they have these memorials all over.

I'm there with a brother from New York at Times Square Church and the other one is a pastor from the country who told us that the memorial sites were all over the country. Everywhere it says, "Never again." Plus jamais ça. Never again. On that particular site, we stood there. On that particular site was a gas station where when the genocide started, the soldiers that were killing took control of the air waves. They were telling everybody on the radio, "Go kill them. They're over there. They're over there." On that site, there was this school teacher, if you can imagine.

Primary school teacher to call the kids on a bus say that the tribe was under attack. They didn't know. They're just boys and girls. Took them on the bus. Took them to the gas station. Soaked them in gas and set them on fire. The kids are under our feet on that shot. It's all over the nation. The next shot is a pastor that was interpreting for me and I'm not going to mention his name but he actually told me that while the genocide was taking place, the darkness is so heavy. He was in his house. They were cut off from any help. They were coming through the town with machetes and killing house to house to house.

He says, "Some of these boys, I knew. I knew them when they were boys." He's been a pastor there for years. I knew them when they were boys. They came into his house. He's holding his wife's hand. She's seven months pregnant. They came with their machetes. He knelt down, him and his wife holding hands and they started praying. Saying, "Oh, God. Forgive them for they know not. Holy Spirit, speak to their hearts." Thinking this would be his last words. He's like Stephen in the Book of Acts. As he's doing it, they actually shot and sliced his wife. As they did it, he continues praying.

They in an inexplicable way, they started backing off as if they were scared. They ran out. Took his wife to, it wasn't even a hospital, it just a doctor he knew and helped. She survived and the baby survived miraculously and both healthy. This pastor told me the months after the genocide where the government was literally requisitioning some buildings to put the dead bodies. They put in front of his church plastics. People would come into church with dead bodies piled up. The grief was so intense. I preached in that church where thousands of pastors were there.

On the wall, they had a mural with a verse from Hosea where it says, "I will take you out of the valley of tears. I will open up for you a door of hope." I said, "Where did you put that up?" He says, "We put that up when we started coming to church and they had requisitioned buildings that were ours and they were piling the bodies." Some of the people would walk in, recognize bodies there. There's a level of hurt. I was there a few years after the genocide. Here are the pastors. I'm telling you, some of you that are troubled. There's a joy. There was a peace. In one of the services, the pastor interpreted me.

Next service, a young man came up and I said, "Who is that?" He said, "That's my son. He was in my wife's womb when they came in. He's the son of reconciliation. He's the son of feast." I was watching him with the band, with young people his own age, of the different tribes. There is a light. There is a peace. There is a substance. There is a strength. There is a grace. There is a love that God wants to infuse to his people that would be rooted in him no matter what they go through. God will turn it towards fruit, his glory. We want to be that people today.

Would you stand and give God an ovation? Say, God, we want to be that people today. Would you stand and give God an ovation today? We want to be that people. Come on. Come on. Give him a standing ovation. We want to be your people. I felt a special call this morning if you would allow me. Maybe it's 10 minutes more than usual. I don't know. Before the whirlwind of life takes us out, we go back, we take a moment, a solemn moment this morning, middle of summer. I had this picture in my mind when I was praying for this service of the whole church coming together. We're in one service now so we're all together.

I know many are on vacation. Could I ask you this favor? I'm going to ask the worship band to lead the song "Forever" because we are standing with the forever God. He's forever. He's forever. We are rooted in him. Would you please just for a moment, just stop everything and just bow your head for a moment. If you're here today and you say I'm coming to this altar with you. My God, I want to have that fruit in my life. In this season, it might be the nations but might be in your heart, in your life, in your marriage, with your kids, with your sons or grandsons.

Broken relationship and you've been through a divorce or you're single, no matter what you are going through. You say, God, in this season, I want to be planted deep in you. I want my roots to be in you. I want my fruit. I want to bear fruit for you in this season. To have the courage just throwing away the masks and to say, "God, there's something that's withered in me. I'm bringing it to you." Oh, God. Restore my worship. Restore life to my worship. Restore life to my prayer.

Restore life, oh, God to my love and my patience and my kindness and my zeal and my courage to speak and witness for you. There was a day where I would speak for you. It was a day where I would call on you. There was a day where I would give extravagantly. I would just give because the need was so great. I knew God would bless and use me. Oh, God, if anything is withered in me, I'm giving it to you today. Come and renew me fruit in this season. No legalism. No laws. No dos and don'ts but a deep sense of love and wanting to please him and wanting to bear fruit in him. God, there's some things in my life I need to cut off.

I've been sitting. I've been seeing, sitting, stopping in places and things. Lord, I want to release it to you today. I want to be planted in you today. I am choosing even when I'm going through what I'm going through now, I am choosing to delight in you. In your promises, in your law, in your grace, in your kingdom, in what you have prepared, in your plan for my life. In these days, we will be your church. We will shine. In these days, we want to be your people. God, put a guard on my lips, my mind.

No matter what opinions I might have, myself, my culture, my background, God, only the body of Christ can bring true unity and divisions in this nation. Father God, let us not speak with our roots in anything else, anyone else but you and you alone. Your word, your heart, your purposes. We declare today with confidence with the Psalmist, I will walk in this blessedness. No matter what I go through, God will turn it. God will transform it. God will redeem it. God will use it for his glory, his purposes. I will say with the Psalmist anything I went through, God turned it for his glory in Jesus' name.

Here's the call this morning. Can I ask you this favor? Can I ask the whole church to come forward? Would you all come? Everybody, would you just come right now? Everybody come. I had this picture of all of us coming together. Would you come? As the musicians lead us for singing the forever-ness of God, we sing hallelujah. You need to come and say, "God, here I come." Would you come? Everybody, families coming together, husband and wife grabbing each other's hand. Friends, teenagers, young adults, moms, dads, you're coming together. Coming together. Come on. Come on, church. We come together. They're going to lead us into song and we're going to sing together.

Even before we sing and we sing the forever-ness of God, men with men and women with women unless it's husbands and wives or friends, of course. Would you put your hand on someone next to you and just pray for one another. The body of Christ, of the Springs Church, we want to shine in this hour. We want to be rooted in you. We want to bear fruit in this season in our lives, in our church history's lives, in my life, in my heart, in my family, in this city, in this state, in this year of election, in this year of turmoil. Oh, God. We want to bear.

Even before we sing, would you begin to pray for one another. Acts Chapter 4. They lifted their voices together. The place where they were assembled was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit again. Would you pray for the person next to you. Lift your voices. Let me hear the voices of the redeemed. Oh, God. We're planted in you.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the path of a sinner nor sits in the seat of the scornful. Our delight is in the law of the Lord. We will meditate and live by it day and night. We shall be like trees planted by the rivers of water.

We will bring forth fruit in this season. Whatsoever we go through, we will bear fruit. Our leaves will not wither. Our worship will not wither. Our prayer, our courage, our faith, our confidence in you will not wither. Whatever we go through, you will turn it into your glory. God, use us. Let us be your people for such a time as this. In this hour, in our lives, in our state, in our city, in our nation, in the nations of the world but also in our own homes with our children and our families. In this generation, in the name of Jesus. All of God's people shout amen and amen and amen.

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Praise is the Final Word

 

Gary Wilkerson

November 15, 2019

Leah was a woman who felt unloved and unwelcome, and she hoped that through her first three sons, she'd find acceptance. It's evident by the meaning of their names that she felt giving Jacob children would validate her. But then something happened to Leah, and when her fourth son was born, she names him "praise." She realized that her value wasn't in what she did, but in who she was. Perhaps you've experienced a trauma of absence—something that should have happened for you that didn't. Don't let the enemy steal your praise, but rather, praise God in every season for who he is and what he has done for you.

Amen. My message, in closing here, is ... You may be seated. Praise is the final word. Praise is the final word. When I was 17 years old, I had moved from New York City, a big city, to a small little town in Texas. How many of you have heard of Texas? It was very different. New York City is big city and fast moving, Texas is slow and cowboys on horses. Everything's big in Texas. One night, when I was 17 years old, my friend invited me to an outdoor Christian concert. And if you could picture the most beautiful, warm evening with a breeze blowing, a full moon in the sky. They had these little outdoor seats for all the ... There's about 700 young teenagers there at this outdoor Christian concert. I was with my friend Kevin and two other friends. Kevin saw this young woman named Kelly, and Kevin said, "I'm going to go over to Kelly. There she is. She's standing over there. I'm going to go ask her out on a date."

I walked over there with him and as I was walking, I saw Kelly for the very first time in my life and I was smitten. Do you believe in love at first sight? I do. I fell in love instantly. Her face was shining with either the moon or the glory of God or both. Lovely hair and can I say kind of a nice shape. You know, she's, she's looking good. But Kevin was asking her out, not me. And so Kevin gets over there and he's blowing it. She's like, [yawning sound] and I think maybe I have a shot at this, but I'm too shy. I'm not a bold guy. I would never in school, I would never ask a girl out unless I knew she was going to say yes because I didn't want to be rejected.

And so I would like ask my friend to go ask her if she would be interested in me asking her out on a date and then I'd have somebody else confirm it and then she'd have to write me a promise note saying if I ask her out she'll say yes because I was just afraid she was going to reject me. But I was standing there and I just so wanted to ask her to go out with me to have a meal and I just too afraid. I got froze up and just stood there and you know Kevin was trying to schmooze her, you know what that word schmooze means? He's going to Hey dude, like look at me. My sister walks up and my sister says, doesn't know Kelly and says, "You four guys, whoever picks a number between one and 10 and gets the right number, gets to go out on a date for a meal with Kelly." Kelly looks at her like, "Who is this lady?" I picked the number seven, which is a godly number, right, is the number of perfection. I was just looking at perfection there that East Texas night. And so I said seven and my sister said, you're right, you get to go on a date with her. My sister later told me whatever number I would have picked would have been the right number.

So I am eternally grateful to my sister. I looked at her, I was in love with her. It took her a little longer to fall in love with me, 17 years. No, it took a little while. Then I remember that day. How many of you husbands remember that day? In the United States, we do this. We get down on one knee and we have a ring in our pocket. And I gave her the ring and I'm still a little bit nervous. I had already asked her before if she would say yes, if I asked her and she said yes. But I was still afraid of rejection and I gave her the ring and she said yes. And she cried and I cried. It was such a beautiful, we had an amazing time. We've been married now for 41 years, as I said to you the other day.

[applause] Thank you. There's a story and I'm going to try to be brief. There's a story in Genesis chapter 29 of a man named Jacob who sees a girl name, anybody know? Rachel. Finds Rachel. Rachel is just like, Kelly. Rachel is gorgeous. She's a knockdown, gorgeous, drop dead beautiful woman. That's according to scripture. She was amazing and he's just like, "Oh, I love her. I love her. I wonder if she'll love me." And, and then he asks Laban if he could marry her and Laban says, sure, I would love for you to marry. All you have to do is work for me for seven years. If her father would've told me that, I would have said, "Yes." Because that's what beauty and love does to you. He gets excited and anyway he works and works and works, I'm going to follow pastor Claude's lead and use, do an experiment here.

Have some people come up on the stage. How many of you, is there anybody here that's been married less than a year? Can you wave at me if you've been married less than a year? Anyone? No one. Is there someone, okay. Less than a year. Is your husband here? I need somebody that has both of the husband and wife here. Anybody? Two years. Oh, okay. Two years? Less than two years. Okay. In the back. Is your wife with you? Okay. Come on up here if you would please. They are way in the back. Come on up. Do you mind? Oh, they're getting, they're looking at each other like they're nervous. Where?

Oh, okay. Well they're already coming, so I'm sorry. Come on up here. Rachel and Leah. No, excuse me. Rachel and Jacob, look at this. Look at Rachel and Jacob. Come on up here. Let's put our hands together. She does kind of look like a Rachel, doesn't she? Okay. You have worked 7 years and now you get down on that one knee and you say, will you marry me? And she says, what do you say?

All right, good news. Okay, I'm not going to get too graphic here, but on your wedding night. Laban does a trick. I need one more volunteer. I need a Leah. Pastor, would you come help me? Seriously. Come on. You're my Leah. This is my princess Leah. All right, come on over here brother. Again, not to get too graphic. But honeymoon, we call it honeymoon. Do you call it honeymoon here?

Honeymoon. He wakes up in the morning, and what does he see?

He's not too happy because the Bible is very nice and it says Leah had weak eyes, which in the Hebrew means she was ugly. Not that you are, you're handsome. But for if you were a girl, you would be ugly. But for a man, you're extremely handsome. But for a girl you have way too much hair on your face. You're like me. Okay. All right. He says, "I don't really love you. I'm not attracted to you. You've not won my heart. You... This is the girl for me. This is the one I dreamed of." So Laban says, okay, well work seven more years and then I'll give you Rachel. He gets excited. He actually gives her Rachel that same week. But then what happens? Yeah, he then he works a seven years after that. So then they're, then they're kind of a happy, weird family. You guys can go sit down. Thank you, and you're so kind. He's been Moses. He's been Leah. He's been the usher. He's been... are you going to... won't you be the song leader at the end of the service today? Just come.

He could do it. He could do it. So Genesis chapter 29, Leah is brokenhearted. She is wounded by what another person says about her, feels about her, thinks about her. She's an outcast. She's unloved, she's unwelcomed, she's unwanted. She doesn't feel needed. Leah is like a lot of us who have wounded hearts. As a strategy to overcome her woundedness she says, "If I could produce something, if I could make something happen, if I could be good enough, if I could be strong enough, if I could be beautiful enough, if I could prove my worth, then somebody will love me." Real quickly in Genesis chapter 29 Leah has a child. God cares for her and she has a child and his her verse 32 says, and Leah conceived a son and his name was Reuben for she said, "Because the Lord has looked on my affliction." The name Ruben means, look, it's a boy or look, I have a son.

Look at my child. I want to be seen. I want to be noticed. I want to have affection. I want to have somebody approve of me. I want to have somebody care about me. Now look what I've done for you, Jacob and now you'll love me. But she doesn't win the love through this effort of saying, look at the great things I've done. Sometimes we do that with Jesus. Look at the great things I've done now will you love me. Look at how much hard work I do for you now will you love me? But the reality is he already loves you. You're not working to get his love. You're working because he loves you. And so she doesn't understand this and so she's trying to earn it. Then she goes on and has a second son and it says, she conceived again a son and said, because the Lord has heard that I am hated.

He has given me also son and his name shall be called Simeon and Simeon's name is 'the Lord heard me' and his name means 'hearing, hear me'. And so the first one we say is, she says, look, see me. The second one is hear me have a voice. One of my wife's, if she doesn't mind me sharing this, the wounds that she had as a child was that she didn't get heard. She had to be quiet, she had to not say anything. And she grew up in an environment as loving as their parents were there was a sense of children are seen and not heard. And so even though she has a beautiful voice, but she went through a struggle of being heard. Some people struggle with being seen. Some people struggle with being heard. Leah says if I have somebody who, a second son, then I'll be heard.

I can have a voice. I can say something. I can have meaning, I can have purpose. Somebody will listen to me. Being listened to makes us feel we're worthwhile, important. We mean something to people, but it still doesn't work and Jacob still doesn't show her love and affection. And then she has a third son and this time, his name is Levi and Levi means 'attachment' or 'belonging' or 'connection'. And now she's really excited. I have three sons now he's going to really be attached to me. He's going to be connected to me. We're going to have this wonderful relationship and it still doesn't work. And so she has gone through the wounds that many of us in this room have gone through. Not being seen, not being heard, not being attached or loved or connected.

When you were a child, you were born by the Holy Spirit. He created you as he wanted you to be. You were not a mistake. You were not a random happening. Your parents may, they might have thought you were a mistake, but God formed you from your mother's womb. He built you the way you were supposed to be. You are perfect in his eyes. You are loved by him, seen by him and heard by him and attached to him, but sometimes we don't feel that way and we were created by God and something happened sometimes when we're children, we were built to be attached. Have you ever noticed that children love to just look in their mother's eyes and they have that, oooh, it's my mommy. There's such preciousness and we were built for that attachment, but something happened sometimes in our life is we were built for attachment, but we get detached from people.

There's a sense of pulling away. Something happens in all of our childhood that causes us to have insecurity, a wound or a detachment. That wound is a thing called trauma. Everybody say trauma. Trauma. There are two types of trauma. One of my friends who went through a trauma of when he was a little boy, six, seven, eight, nine years old, his mother abused him. I mean she beat him. She would punch him in the nose. His mouth would be bloody. His eyes would be closed shut from the wounds of her fist on his face. She would lock him in a closet without food or water for a whole day. He would cry himself to sleep in that closet. That is the first type of trauma. It got so bad. This first type of trauma is something that should have never happened to a child that happened to a child.

You were not built for that. God never intended for that type of ... something happened to this boy that should've never happened. When he was 12 years old, it got so bad that he went to a tree in his neighborhood, climbed up the tree, got a rope, and put the rope around his neck, tied the other end of the rope to the tree and was getting ready to jump to kill himself as a boy. His brother saw him in the tree, climbed up in the tree and said, don't do it. Don't do it. Don't kill yourself. That is the most severe type of trauma I think I've ever heard in my life. He didn't do it. He ended up moving to New York City where years later about five or six years later, my father met him on the streets of New York City and preached Jesus to him and that day Nicky Cruz gave his life to Jesus Christ. Nicky faced a horrible type of trauma that no child should have faced.

There's a second type of trauma that's less recognized. People that have the second type of trauma often don't deal with it. Christian counselors will tell you, people who have gone through the first type of trauma are more likely to get healed because they recognize it's trauma and they deal with it because it's a necessity. The pain is so bad. The second one, people kind of hide it. They cover it because it doesn't feel like it's such a bad thing. Or you feel like you might be complaining if you call this trauma because it's not so bad. The first type of type is what I said, is when something that should have never happened to a child happens to a child. The second type of trauma is something that ... listen to this carefully.

Something that should have happened to you as a child that didn't happen to you and what do I mean by this? You were meant to be spoken to and heard. You were meant to be seen and appreciated. You were meant to be attached and connected and loved deeply and so when that doesn't happen, where there is a withdrawal of affection or a lack of connection, then that is a trauma as well. My upbringing was totally opposite of Nicky Cruz's. I grew up in a Christian environment. We talked about earlier, like seven generations of pastors in our family, but my father, he traveled all the time. He was gone sometimes three weeks in a row, home for four or five days, gone another three weeks, home for a few days. He was always kind. He was always loving. And I am so grateful that he served the Lord with such passion. I am thankful for the souls saved.

But one of the things that did in my life as a child was a sense of detachment. Like I'm not being seen, I'm not being heard. Maybe I have to do something to get attached. So I faced a trauma, even in a good home. That tells me this, that probably everyone in this room has faced some form of trauma or the other, and those who have suffered horrible traumas, things that should've never happened to you, that did oftentimes deal with it quicker. Those of us who've had trauma in our life, that are things that should've fed us, nurtured us, spoke to us, encouraged us, and it didn't. And sometimes we don't deal with that. And I didn't deal with it until I was in my thirties and it caused all kinds of problems in my soul and in my heart and my emotions, my striving.

And I thought ... I was kind of like Leah. I'm not loved. I'm not seen, I'm not heard. I'm not attached. And maybe if I do this, look, dad, look, mom, I produced this in the ministry and I created this event and I did this thing and now like now you'll love me. Now you'll be attached to me. And this causes trauma. And we build sometimes even in the church, we build this sense of if I can do something, if I can do enough for me, my trauma resulted in a concept of myself, a core wound in my heart that I said about myself. I'm never enough. No matter what I do, it's not enough. It's not. It's not big enough. It's not effective enough. It's not strong enough. I built this tower of religious events, start a church, let it grow, get it bigger, bigger, bigger, more books to write, more conferences to go, more crusades, to preach that. More sermons, more podcasts, more websites.

And I'm building this big tower of Christian ministry, but I'm building it on a foundation that says I'm not enough. But look, I built this. Look, I did this. And one day I had this vision. I was standing on top of this tower and I'm thinking, it's not enough. I've got to do more. I've got to be more, I've got to be more aggressive. I'm going to be more powerful and I'm on top of this tower and I have this scaffolding all around it and that's to help build it higher. But the whole building is shaking back and forth and I cry out in this vision that Jesus, please help hold this building I'm doing up. Help hold it up. But he comes and he grabs it at the bottom and I'm going like, "Oh, thank you Jesus for holding that." And instead of holding it up, you know what he starts doing?

He starts shaking it back and forth. He starts moving it back and forth more and more. And I'm saying, "Jesus, this whole thing is going to crumble unless you hold it up. This thing's going to fall down." And you know what Jesus says in the vision? "Good. Let it come down. Let it fall. Because you're trying to build a life to have God or others say, look, haven't I done something significant? I'll be enough when I get this done. And the truth is you have to move off that what Jesus called the sandy foundation and puts your life on the rock, a solid foundation, and on that rock foundation, it's where Jesus says to you, "You are enough. I see you. I hear your cry." How many times is that mention the scripture, "Call on me and I will answer you. I will hear you. I see you when you were formed in your mothers' wombs and you are attached to me and I love you."

And something happens in Leah's life where she finally catches this vision. And I'm going to ask the worship team to come if they would, we're going to close it just a moment. She catches his vision and she has one more child. She has one more child and she calls this boy Judah. Judah. And now she's not saying, "Look at me please Jacob, love me, please Jacob, help me. Can I do something to earn love and favor?" Now she says something very different. She says, "I'm going to name this boy Judah and the name Judah means praise." Praise. She says, "Enough of earning, enough of striving, enough of trying, enough of trying to get you to look at me and approve of me and enough of trying to overcome this detachment, overcoming the sense of I'm never enough."

And that wound in your heart that says you're never enough, Jesus saying to you. "You're enough. I love you just the way you are." Yes, pastor, yes. Be strong. Yes, do exploits, but don't do that to try to earn God's love and God's favor. Realize that the final word is just like the final son. It says she stopped bearing children after this because it was enough. I don't need attachment now because I have something else. I don't need to be seen by you because someone else sees me. I don't need to be heard by you husband, father, mother, because God in heaven hears me and all of a sudden Leah says, "I know what my life is all about. It's about praise. It's about worship. It's about loving you, God. It's not about me. My hurts, my pain, my sorrow, my suffering. It's about you, Jesus, and I will praise you. I will praise you in my pain."

When I am not seen yet, will I praise you? When I am not heard by others, yet I will praise you. I could be put on a shelf, yet I will praise you. I could be unrecognized as a pastor, yet I will praise you. I could not get credit for the work I've done yet, I will praise you. I can be sick and yet I will praise you. I could be dying on a death bed, yet I will praise the Lord at all times. My soul shall continually bless his name. I will praise him when I'm hurting. I will praise him when I'm crying. I will praise him when I feel defeated. I will praise him when I'm alone. I will praise him on a mountaintop and I will praise him in the valley. How many of you in this room say it's time for me to start praising the Lord to start praising his name in my struggle?

I praise his name. I praise his name. You see, the devil doesn't just try to steal your relationships. He's trying to steal your praise. The devil isn't just trying to steal your health. He's trying to steal your praise. So when you're sick, you don't praise. And you say, "Why am I sick, Lord? I thought you'd heal me." What's the devil after, you being sick? Not exactly. He's after stealing your praise. When you've lost, he's not after your confidence. He's after your praise. He's not just after your ministry to ruin your ministry. He wants to ruin your ministry so he can end your praise. He wants nothing but you to stop your praise.

So when your health is not what you want it to be, you still have your praise. When your family is not what you want it to be, maybe your children are prodigals and you're worried and you're stressed when your family is not what you want it to be, you still have your praise. When you are not a Rachel, you are a Leah. You still have your praise. And let me say this, by the way, at some time or another, every Rachel becomes a Leah. You think you're beautiful. You're a Rachel. And you go to a Hollywood and Los Angeles and all of a sudden in Hollywood, Los Angeles, all the Rachel's from the small town are now Leahs.

So don't worry if you feel like you're a Leah, because to Jesus, you're a Rachel. And so if you feel like a Rachel, don't let it rob your praise. You still have your praise. Oh, I don't have any money, but you have your praise. I don't have a big church, but you have your praise. I'm not talented, but I have my praise. When my body is weak, yet I will praise him. When my journey is hard, yet I will praise him. When the seats in my church there are kind of emptier than I want to be, yet I will praise him. When my heart is overwhelmed with troubles, yet I will praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

You say to the devil, you can have my body. You can have my money. You can have all these things, but you can't steal my praise. You can't take my praise. You will never take my praise. I will praise the Lord at all times. My praise shall continually be in my mouth. I will bless the Lord, I will exalt the Lord. I will call on his name and he will hear me. He will see me. He will deliver me. He will be mine. I will bless the Lord. I will bless the Lord. When I am not seen, I will praise. When they don't hear my voice, I will praise the Lord. When I don't feel loved or accepted, I will praise the Lord. When I've been wounded as a child and I don't know how to overcome it anymore, I will praise the Lord.

When the addictions get back in my brain and say go back to that world. I'm going to say, no, no, no. You can't have that because I'm here to praise the Lord. I will not stop praising. I will not give up praising. I'll give up a lot of stuff. I'll give up a lot of popularity. I'll give up a lot of fame. I'll give up a lot of notoriety. I'll give up a lot of affection, but I will not give up my praise. I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Hallelujah. Praise him. Praise church. Let's praise him right now. This is how we praise you Jesus. Through the storm, though the difficulties, through the night, through the fire, through the wilderness. I will praise you Lord, I will praise you Lord. Oh, God. Through it all, I will praise you God.

When I'm struggling, when I'm hurting, when I'm weak, when I'm lonely, when I feel like I'm not enough, I will say I praise you God. I praise you God. I praise you God. Shout it out to him. Praise God. Praise you God. Praise you for the victory. Praise you for the power. Praise you for your love. Praise you that you are enough. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him in the morning. Praise him in the afternoon. Praise him in the evening. Praise him on Sunday. Praise him on Monday. Praise him all week long, praise him in January and praise him in December. Praise the Lord at all times I praise you, I praise you, because you are worthy because you are worthy. No matter how I feel, I will praise you. No matter what the state of my emotions, I will praise you, praise you, praise you, praise you, praise you. Praise you. Praise you, praise the Lord.

Hallelujah. Yeah. Yeah. Praise him. Praise him. Who's worthy to be praised? Jesus. Who alone should be praised? Jesus. Who takes away all of our wounds and pain? Jesus. And when he takes it away, what are we going to do? Praise him. Praise him, praise him. I praise him because my wife said yes and she married me so I said praise him. But if she had said no, I still have to praise him, right? If you're married here today and you love your wife or husband, you say, praise the Lord. If your husband or wife doesn't love you very much, you say, praise the Lord. If your church is exploding with thousands of people being saved, you say, praise the Lord. But if your church is small and it's kind of struggling and you're hurting a little bit, you still say, praise the Lord. When do you say it? You praise the Lord at all times and his praise shall continuously be not in my emotions, not in my mind, not in my thinking.

It'll be in my what? My mouth. That's what you're doing here today at church. You're putting it in your mouth, but let it come through your mouth one more time. So I say I praise you Jesus. I praise you Lord. My praise is healing my wounds right now. My praise is healing my wounds. Lord, my praise is healing my rejection. My praise is healing things that happened to me as a child that should have never happened. There are women in this room who were abused, who were abandoned and your praise right now, Jesus says, that this is your Judah. You don't have to strive anymore to get healed. You are healed. That's your praise. There are men in this room. You're still trying to prove yourself. I can prove myself that I'm worthy. You can lay all that down, all you have to do is praise.

Praise shall continue to be in my mouth.

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By This All Will Know: From Abraham to Antioch

 

Claude Houde

July 16, 2017

Without faith it is impossible to please God and we remain prisoners to our past hurts. The Bible shows Abraham as an example of faith and in Genesis, Abraham exemplifies three elements of faith. Faith that refuses to be limited by what is seen and faith that releases the hurts and pains from the past. Claude Houde encourages us to ask the question: Are you willing to have the faith that releases bitterness in order to step into the increase of God?

Claude Houde: My title this morning is, By This All Will Know: From Abraham to Antioch. By This All Will Know: From Abraham to Antioch. Unusual title, but I'm believing that by the end of these few minutes, not only will it make sense, but by the grace of God and the anointing of his spirit, that it will have an impact on your life. Jesus said in John 13, verse 34 and 35, "A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you, by this all will know..." Would you say out loud with me, by this all will know.

Congregation: By this all will know.

Claude Houde: By this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. I want you to turn with me to Genesis chapter 12. Genesis chapter 12. Everyone please turn with me to Genesis chapter 12. Share your Bible with the person next to you if they don't seem to have a Bible. I want you to be able to see the word of God this morning. We will look at this principle of, by this all will know, a new commandment Jesus gives us from Abraham all the way to the church of Antioch. Abraham over 2000 years before Christ and the resurrection and the birth of the church and the church of Antioch. But Jesus speaks of the definite distinguishing mark, the ultimate differential, the only true identifier and passport of a citizen of the kingdom of God as the love that we have for one another.

Now, this morning we will look at Abraham as our model of faith, as our model of faith because the scripture tells us to look to Abraham. In the New Covenant, in the epistle of Romans, when Paul writes a letter to the Roman, to the New Covenant church, he calls us to look to the faith of Abraham. Abraham is our model of faith. Romans chapter four, verse 16, 17, 20, 21, I'm going to read it for you. Therefore, it is of faith that it might be according to the grace that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only of those who are of the law, but those who are of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all, of many nations.

I have made you a father of many nations in the presence of him whom he believed, God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. Abraham did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. Being fully convinced that what God has promised, he is able to perform. Faith that gives life to what is dead and call into existence what does not exist yet being fully persuaded that what God has promised, he is able to perform. No wonder the disciples cried out. This is our model. This is God's intent for our faith in him. This is what God has in mind for your faith. So much more than salvation faith or knowledge faith or being in church faith, but actually every believer walking in that dimension of calling to life what was dead.

Calling into existence what did not exist, fully persuaded that what God has promised, he is faithful to accomplish it. No wonder the disciples cried out, "Oh Jesus, increase our faith." How many of you are crying out this morning, "Lord increase my faith?" Because without faith, it is impossible even to please him. Hebrew 11:6, without faith, it is impossible to please him, there can be scripture, there could be knowledge, there could be church attendance, there could be past testimonies, there can be doctrine and knowledge, but unless today faith is in your heart, vibrant faith, confidence, trust, bold, audacious, trust in him, it is impossible to please him. Without faith, it's impossible to please him. Without faith, we are prisoners. We have faith scriptures that teaches us we are prisoners.

Without faith, we're prisoners of legalism or are prisoners of our tradition, prisoners of our past failures or even our past successes can lock us and rob us of what God wants to do today. Without faith, we're prisoners of the measure we are known of God, as God always wants, as we sang today so anointedly and I believe directed by the Holy Spirit, as God always wants us to go deeper in him, without faith, we're incapable. It's impossible to possess. Hebrews 11:2, it is by faith that the elders possessed, that they acquired a good testimony. Without faith, there's no peace. The fruit of the spirit is faith and in peace and in love in joy and in self-control, without faith, we can't conquer our past. Without faith, we forget that our past has no future.

Say that to somebody next to you. I thought I was very deep. Say that to somebody next to you. I want you to say to somebody next to you, your past has no future. Say that to somebody please.

Congregation: Your past has no future.

Claude Houde: Isaiah 51, one and two, tells us, Abraham is our model. Listen, freeing us from our past. Isaiah 51, one and two. Listen to me you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord... Anyone here following after righteousness and seeking the Lord? Seek righteousness and seek the Lord, look to the rock from which you were hewn. Look to Abraham your father and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug out of. For I called him alone. I called him when he was alone and I blessed him and I increased him.

I'm here, I had on my heart this week to say, I preached this last week at our church and I had all my heart all week in prayer to speak to somebody who feels alone. I want to say, somebody who feels that your past is too much you can't be dug out of that pit. Maybe it was a pit of addiction or depression or oppression, pit of past mistakes or failures. A pit of neglect or abuse. You feel abandoned. You feel overwhelmed. I want his voice to ring to your heart, reach a depth of your soul this morning. He is calling you and he will bless you and he will multiply you. Hell has not created a pit that God can't dig you out of. Hell has no pits he can't dig you out of. And earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal.

A word for those who feel alone, you say, "I'm alone. I've gone through a divorce and I feel so alone. I feel so abandoned." He is calling you. He will bless you. He will and still can and will multiply you. I'm a single mother. I'm a single father. I feel so alone sometimes, so helpless. He has called you. He will bless you. He will multiply you. I'm single. I'm single. I've been to 15 of my friends' weddings. I am single. I'm single. Sometimes I feel so alone, it almost pushes me over the edge to throw away the whole thing. He has called you, he will bless you and he will multiply you. Hold onto him. We look to Abraham. We'll look at three elements of his faith this morning. By this all will know from Abraham to Antioch.

And when we look at Genesis chapter 12, we look at what we would call the refusal of his faith. Now when we speak of faith, we often talk rightly so of things we accept. We accept Christ, we accept his love. We accept his grace. We accept his will for our lives, but there is a definite, there is a fundamental refusal to our faith. In Genesis chapter 12, verse one to three, we have the calling. Roman says, look to him. Walk in the steps of Abraham. By this, all will know from Abraham to Antioch. Genesis chapter 12, verse one to three. Now the Lord had said to Abraham, "Get out of your country from your family and from your father's house to a land that I will show you and I will make you a great nation.

I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing and I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." There's a refusal to great faith. There's a refusal to our faith. If we are to call to life what was dead, and if we are to call to existence what does not exist, if we are to live in a dimension that by this, they shall know that we are his true disciples, there's a refusal of the very heart of true faith. In this calling, there's a refusal that becomes from Abraham's refusal to you and I. It is faith that says, I refuse to be limited by my background, my context or my culture. Get out of your country.

We honor certain aspects of culture, but I will not be limited to my background, I will not be limited. And I don't know what your background is, but this was essential to me at age 17 when I came to Christ and it's just essential at 55. Now, all these years later, I come from four generations of men. My family, my country, my background is alcoholics and criminals and liars and adulterers and cheaters and addicts and men that break every promise and ruin their lives and the lives of the ones around them. And when I came to Christ, I walked into this knowledge and understanding, I refused to die in that place. God calls me to come out of that into his will. Say yes.

I refuse to be limited to what I have seen. He says, "No, no, look up. Lift up your eyes to a place that I will show you." Something needs to rise up in your heart this morning. I refuse to be limited no matter how great it has been. I refuse to be limited to the experience I have with God, to the measure I have now. I refuse to be limited to what I see in my life, in my children, in my circumstances, in what is happening, in my health. I refuse to be limited to what I see. Lift up your eyes, I will show you. I refuse. I refuse to be limited. I refuse to be limited to what my name, my identity had been. I will make your name great. It is not a matter of pride and you'll make your name known. You'll be on Entertainment Tonight, Lifestyle, The Rich and Famous. It's not about getting your name on a stone.

It's not about that. It is about your identity. Your identity. You will not be limited to what your name has been. It doesn't matter what your name has been, your identity is in Christ now. I have plans for your life. He who is approved by Christ has nothing to prove. I'm not going to be limited to my... I refuse to be limited by my enemies. What has been my enemy? The addiction has been my enemy. This pattern of my life has been my enemy. This wound in my spirit has been my enemy. I refuse to be limited by enemies. God says, "I will bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you." It is Old Testament language for God to say, your battles have become my battles. Your enemies have become my enemies. Walk with me. I will fight your battles until every enemy has fallen. Say, yes please.

Congregation: Yes please.

Claude Houde: I refuse to be limited to my father's house. Come out of your father's house to the place that I will show you. Now, to fully understand the impact of that calling, you need to go just a previous chapter. You need to go just a little bit before that in chapter 11 when there's actually what we... This is what the Christians call the genealogy chapters. You know when at January you start a Bible reading plan and you got behind in July or August. You say, "Man, I'm behind." You get to Leviticus or you get to Genesis 11 and you skip right over to get back into... How many of you have done that? Raise your hand as we sing, Just As I Am. Now there's something important to catch to full impact in Genesis 12 is, come out of your father's house.

But when you look at Genesis 11, you have in verse 31, and Terah took his son, Abraham, his grandson, Lot, and his daughter-in-law, Sarai, his son's wife. And they went out with him from Ur of Chaldea to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they stopped there, they dwelt there. And actually verse 32 of chapter 11 says, and Terah, Abraham's father, Terah died in Haran. Please understand the key words. Terah is Abraham's father. Joshua chapter 24 tells us that he was following other gods. And a call came to get out of the land of Ur of Chaldea, which speaks of their... it was their land of security. Everything they had known. It was the known. It was the secure land in their call to a land of promise.

Canaan for every one of us, speaks of the land of promise, of the fullness of our destiny, the prophetic fulfillment of what God has prepared, the abundant life God has prepared for all of us. And we know just from the geography of it, that it was a long journey and they journeyed two third of the journey. And we know a little bit, just glimpses from the previous chapters. It was a hard journey. They're surrounded by enemies. There was a mourning that took place, somebody died, Lot's father died and Abraham takes over as his father, as his protector. We don't know all the reasons, but they stop in a place called Haran. And the place Haran, in the Hebrew speaks of... it illiterately means the dried up mountain of the parched land or literally the place of small fruit.

They are called to a place of abundance. They are called to a place of promise. They are called to a place of destiny, but they stop in a place of small fruit. Now, I don't believe after 30 some years of pastorate, I don't believe that they meant to stay there. I don't believe that they purposed to stay. I'm going to be content with small fruit in my life. I'll never reach the land of promise. I'll just content myself with this. I'll live a small life in a place of small fruit. I believe it is more insidious than that. I believe the devil is more conniving than that. Maybe they stopped and said, "Well, I'm just taking a few steps back." Maybe they were comparing themselves with before or with someone else. I've seen Christians for over 30 years in one area of their lives, just stop. Just content themselves in a place of small fruit.

But the voice of God rings to Abraham and to you and to me calling you to a holy refusal. Come out of your father's house. Come out of the place of small fruit. I want to bring you into my abundance. Now when you study the genealogies, what is startling and striking is that when we do the genealogies, we realize that even if chapter 11 tells us that his father died there, we realize that Abraham was alive when the call came. He had to come out of that comfort. He had to come out... There was something in his spirit that said, "I'm not going to die in the place of small fruit." You know the place of small fruit in our lives today. Small love, small life, small commitments, small conquest and crowns. Small inspiration and small investment on my part. Small impact, small risks, small rewards, small aspirations, small accomplishments, small sacrifices, small spiritual successes, small brokenness.

You don't allow the brokenness of God to be done in you. Now, small brokenness, small breakthroughs. Small generosity, small glory to God. Small dreams, small destinies. Small repentance, small resurrection and restoration. Small transformation, small testimony. Small in sanctification, small in the supernatural. Small in forgiveness, small fire, small favor, small faith. Something has been rising in me all my Christian life. And I pray today for a powerful anointing of the Spirit on me again, on you again to rise up and say, I will not die. I refuse to die in a place of small fruit. I'm coming out of my father's house. Say yes, please.

Say to somebody next to you, I'm coming out. Say that to somebody next to you.

Congregation: I'm coming out.

Claude Houde: This is a lifestyle. This is a heart cry. You have to understand for us even in Quebec, in ministry as a pastor, it's hard for you to fathom this, but the average evangelical church in our nation, even if, say, just a few hours away in Canada, the French nation of Quebec on the average age, number of years of the church is about 67 years of existence, but the average attendance is 70 people. 97% of our churches are under 100 people. It is a mentality of smallness. When we come and say, by the grace of God, we began with 40 people, and there's over 4,000 today and we helped to plan 40 churches. It is something that was birthed in our heart to say, I refuse to die in the place of small fruit.

And I remember years ago, beginning my ministry, just a few years, I was having... After a long fast, I was having breakfast a few weeks after with a pastor friend of mine and we were having coffee and what he was doing was complaining about the movement of churches. And then, it's like this and it's like that, and nothing moves and nothing changes. And I was doing it with him. "Oh yeah, you're right. And this is wrong, and this is wrong, and this is wrong." And as we came out of the restaurant, we're walking on a sidewalk and the Holy Spirit hit me, I was walking on the sidewalk and I saw myself five or 10 years before having the same conversation with him. Just complaining and moaning, it's small and it's this, and it's that. And as I was walking, I felt so convicted right there on the street. He was a bit startled.

We're walking on the street and I stop on a sidewalk and I said, "You know what, Dan, five years ago we were on this sidewalk having these talks. I'm tired of it." In words of Abraham, "I'm not going to die in the place of small fruit." I told him, "You know what? I'm changing sidewalks. I'm changing sidewalks." And he said, "I'm going with you. I'm going with you." I spoke this to our church a few weeks after and there's a man, an engineer from our church who was doing construction in the city on bridges and he mounted a piece of sidewalk on a plaque and he came in and it says on it, "I'm changing sidewalks. I am not dying in a place of small fruit." Right now, if you come to Montreal, anytime come into my office, walk in, the first thing you'll see is a piece of sidewalk.

I pray someone here hears the voice of God today and says, "Oh God, Lord Jesus, today, July 2017, I'm changing sidewalks. I want to go in a place of fruit. Say yes, please. That's the refusal. Now listen carefully. Most of us at some point had that burning desire for more of God. Everything we sang, everything everybody sang, and the choir sang this morning, deeper and more and more God, more of him. I'm not voluntarily, I'm not willingly dying in a place of small fruit. But in the next step in his journey, in the next principle from Abraham's to Antioch, Abraham models for us, this could change your life, and identify one of the worst and most devastating faith killer and how to overcome it and protect and increase our faith.

We were in Genesis chapter 12, if you turn your page to Genesis chapter 13, here's the context. Abraham obeyed. Abraham came out of the place of small fruit. And he's walking with God step by step. Look up here for a second. Genesis 13 will still be there. Look up here for a second. I want to get you to context. And he... chapter... verse one to five. And the Bible says he's building altars. He's calling on God and he's trusting God and God is blessing him in the going and he has become a man of influence. He's become a blessed man. He has influence. He has an army, but we'll hear of his army in a second. He has an army. He has power. He was a protector and he was a benefactor to his nephew, Lot.

His father died and he took him under his wing and he allowed him to grow. He probably started him out. And Lot is being blessed, and Lot is growing and progressing and prospering, and so is Abraham. And they're walking together on their way to the promised land, on their way to where God called them to be. And in verse 14 of chapter 13, in verse five, excuse me, verse five, and Lot also who went with Abraham, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them that they might dwell together for their possessions were so great, and so they could not dwell together. Don't miss verse seven. Now there was strife between the herdsmen of Abraham's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock, and the Canaanites and the Perizzites were all around in the land.

Look up for a second. This is a prophetic picture. This is an actual, this is a picture. You have a picture of leaders, of the shepherds, Lot's shepherds and Abraham's shepherd. You have a picture of leaders in conflict warring against one another inside as they are surrounded by enemies. These are pictures of the modern church. One church against the other and one church splitting and people inside the church and one against the other and the strife that is on one side and on the other while we are... Well, our fight is not supposed to be inside, it's not supposed to be with one another. Our fight is supposed to be against sin and against darkness and against the devil and against activities of hell. Our fight is to be against injustice and famine in the world.

And our fight is supposed to be together against darkness, one light together in the cities. Say yes please.

Congregation: Yes please.

Claude Houde: And here's the crux. Here's the moment. There was strife between them. And Abraham, verse eight, said to Lot... There was a refusal to Abraham's faith, but watch this. There's a release. There's a release to his faith. There's faith from Abraham to Antioch. By this they shall know, his faith put a release. Verse eight. So Abraham said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me and between my herdsman and your herdsman for we are brothers." Would you say out loud with me, for we are brothers.

Congregation: For we are brothers.

Claude Houde: Please understand the context. Just the history, just by the culture, the history and the culture, the Hebraic and Judaic culture where the elder is to be honored, where the elder is to be respected, where the elder is to have preeminence and you always have to step back for the elders. This conversation should not even have happened. Automatically, Lot should have just said, "Well, uh, there's strife between... Oh, let me... you take... You take the land, you take the..." And Abraham is so conscious, he's so aware of the power of impartation. He says, "You and me, the way... Lot, you and I, how we behave with each other will have impact. Let there not be strife between you and me, my shepherds and your shepherds.

There's power of impartation. I want to say to every married couple, every family, every mom, every dad, how you deal with your strife, how you deal with conflict, whether you are forgiving or an unforgiving, will have great impartation. Will have great influence over everybody you touch. Say to somebody next to you, you're very contagious. Say that to somebody next to you please.

Congregation: You're very contagious.

Claude Houde: There's a power of impartation. And on a human standpoint and scale, just logical and just wisdom, Abraham is the man with the power. Abraham is the man with influence. Abraham is the father with the army. He has soldiers. In that chapter, he'll arm 318 of them. He has the power. He can wipe out Lot with the back of his hand. And you can hear, it's not in the text, but I've been pastoring for over 35 years, so you can read the voices, what's going on around. You can see, you can hear people saying, the herdsmen saying to Abraham, What are you saying? Well, how dare he after everything you've done for him, how generous you've been? He's wrong. Don't let him step over you. Don't let him... Oh, you're about to lose..."

I'll tell you this, Abraham was not so concerned about losing face on the human level. He was more concerned about losing the face of God over his life. Many of us have been at moments where to save face, we're losing the face of God. Let there be no strife among us. There's something higher. There's a higher purpose to my life. Let there be no strife. We are brothers. I have a testimony to give. I have to keep the anointing of God on my life. We have a message. We have a name we will give to the nation. By this all will know. By the love that we have for one another, the name will become the name that will change the world. Say yes please.

Congregation: Yes please.

Claude Houde: Let there be no strife between us. We are brothers. Let there be no strife between us. We are brothers. I remember a few years ago being with Pastor Carter in the city of France in a theater called the Bataclan in Paris. And you might remember that name because it was where the terrorist struck and massacred 80 people, 130 people over about three hours were massacred. 80 people in the very place in the year before. The year before I was preaching there, I was interpreting for Pastor Carter and we were sharing in preaching to thousands of Christians in a crowd. It was one of the first times that that theater, that mythic theater in Paris had the permission to have Christians and we were praying... had allowed Christians to be there.

And I remember one night Pastor Carter preached amazing words. I remember one night I felt to call the Christians that were there from 30 denominations. My message was a prophetic call to supernatural love and unity. And it struck me when I sat there watching the news in horror that on the very place, very stage, very backed rooms, everywhere where we preached unity and where believers were called to come in to be the voice of peace to the nation, hell itself came and struck and shed blood. And there was article after article that spoke of the Bataclan generation. A generation where there'll be hatred. Generation where there will be cynicism with one another, divided nations, nations becoming more and more divided.

And in the midst of all these voices, and in the midst of all these divisions, God is calling the church of Jesus Christ. You in this city, in this city, in this city to be within the church, a city, a people who will speak of a love, who will live out a love, a forgiveness, a capacity to love, a capacity to respect, a capacity to let go of strife that is supernatural and will become the anointing that will reveal you to this city and to this world and to these nations. Say yes please.

Congregation: Yes please.

Claude Houde: There's an increase... say out loud with me. There's an increase in the release.

Congregation: There's an increase in the release.

Claude Houde: There's an increase in the release. Abraham's got all these voices, "How do you let him do that?" And they're all coming and he's not worried about these voices. I'm waiting for another voice. What is God saying to me? What is God saying to me? Releasing. Because Abraham in the human standpoint seemed to be losing. Some of you know the rest of the text. Read it at home. It's a homework. Read it at home. He says, "You go. Let not there be strife among us. We're brothers. Take the land that you want." And Lot takes the land that appeared good to him. The fertile land, the land that seemed to be where he's got to have more prosperity.

And Abraham turns and walks toward the land that looks dry, that looks like he's lost, that looked like on a human level, he's lost. But listen to what God says to him. Listen to God's response. Verse 14, and the Lord said to Abraham after he separated from Lot, "Lift up your eyes now and look to the place from where you are, North, South, East and West, for all the land..." Say, all the land. "All the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth. And if a man can count the dust of the earth, then your descendens also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you."

And Abraham moved his tent and went and dwelled and built there an altar to the Lord. As Abraham released and as you walk in this release from Abraham to Antioch, great faith refuses and great faith releases, releases hurts, offenses, failures, what we perceive as injustices, abuses, disappointments, questions without answers, betrayals. As we day-to-day release ancestral racial tensions, present racial tensions. I grew up to be told that, they grew up to be told about us that, as we release, that there'd be no strife. We are brothers. As we release, the voice of God says everything will increase. The clarity of your vision will increase. Lift up your eyes from the place you have been. You know why? Because bitterness and unforgiveness makes us blind.

It blinds us to the good things God is doing. It blinds us to the qualities of the people around us. It blinds us to our own wrongs and mistakes, in the conflicts. We are blinded. Our own responsibilities, we never learn. We never see them. It blinds us to destructive patterns in our own lives that ruins relationship. It blinds us to new, life-giving relationships God would want to give us because now we've become cold and hardened. It is the release that opens our eyes to see with clarity. It increases clarity. It increases communication. And the blessing shall be on you and your family and your descendants from generations to generations because bitterness and unforgiveness poisons, diminishes, and even eradicates our power to communicate faith to our children or people around us.

Congregation: We got to be born again. We got to be born again.

Claude Houde: Yes. Yes sister.

Congregation: Hallelujah.

Claude Houde: When you're experiencing your born again experience and you're living in faith, what will kill your capacity to communicate faith to your children is when you're trying to do it with bitterness in your own heart. Children that grew up in Christian homes where the songs were sang and the great declarations of faith were repeated, but bitterness was in their heart, strife, criticism, attack against him or her or family or the church, have become desensitized, become hardened to the gospel and to the message. I want to give a very, very sound advice to every parent. I'm a parent now and a grandparent. You want to have a flow of communication of your faith to your children.

Ask God everyday, Lord, release bitterness, release anything from my heart. Put a guard at my lips and in my heart that when I speak of you, when I speak of your people, when I speak of your house, when I speak of your servants, I'll lift up the name of Christ. It will increase clarity. It will increase communication. It will increase concrete fulfillment and more than mere confession. All this land that I've promised you I will give you because bitterness and unforgiveness results in unclaimed treasures and blessing, unclaimed destinies, unfulfilled promises that God had planned and prepared for you that never seem to materialize. The promise is there, but it's never possessed.

Bitterness prevents you from laying hold of what God has for you. As a pastor and shepherd and a developer of men and women of God, mentor, we have a Bible school with over 300 students. I've seen some of the greatest callings in ministry and in the church. Some great destinies be aborted when bitterness is allowed to stay. Unclaimed treasures. Recently I was reading... Every month of July, 1st of July in Quebec, the Revenue Canada, which is like your IRS, they publish in a newspaper a list of unclaimed money. It's people that had heritages, they had money in the bank, they had savings and they... $16 million in six months in unclaimed funds, wills, successions, investment, bonds, I always check to see if my name is there just in case too.

It never has in 50 years. But what you have, you have, and you know about it. When I was looking at this, the Spirit of the Lord just moved me. I was looking at all these treasures that are unclaimed and something came so powerfully in my spirit as if God was saying, "You don't realize through bitterness, how many spiritual unclaimed blessing, how many things are left on the shelves of God's provision and God's plan and destiny. I say today, release them and you will be free, release it and you will be free. Let there be no strife. We are brothers.

It increases in so many aspects of our life, but it will increase in our capacity for compassion and conquest. Turn the page again to Genesis 14. And then you have Abraham that released his nephew, Lot, calls him his brother. After everything he had done for him, he released him and they're walking each in their way. And Lot went close to Sodom and Gomorrah and there was back in those days, nothing is new. There were bands of terrorists who would go around killing people and kidnapping people. From ISIS to Boko Haram, nothing's new. So there's a band of terrorists that kidnapped Lot, his nephew. They kidnap him in Genesis 14, him, his family, everything he owns.

And in verse 13 of Genesis 14, we read, then one who had escaped came and told Abraham about his nephew Lot. Verse 14. Now when Abraham heard that his brother was taken captive, he... Stop a second. Look up, what would you have done? What would you have said? "Huh, him after everything he's done to me? I hate to say I told you so, but you wanted to go to Sodom, you got Sodom. After everything we've done. After everything... I'm not going to put myself in danger. I'm not going to..." No. You know what he did? The Bible says as soon as he heard, he armed 318 of his best soldiers and went after to free the one who had offended him, to free his brother and to go and bring back and fight and even this, again, impartation.

Do you think he would have been able to convince 318 of his servants who had been witnesses to this fight and to this strife if he had been bitter for all the time in between? You think he would have convinced them to risk their life for others? We lose our capacity to... even ourselves, we become desensitized. We become completely somebody who's bitter and somebody who is in his offense. And the Bible says, it's likened beyond the bars of a dungeon. You become self-centered. All you see is what was done to you. You walk right by needs all around you, ways that God would want to use you. You don't see anything. If bitterness had had any root in Abraham, he would not have been able to say, "What, I am called to free him. Let's go. 318 of us, we're going to save my nephew. My brother, Lot."

And when he brought him back he was again, he was again preparing. He was announcing to the world, a people that would bear his name, a people that would bear the name that is above every name, a people that will bear a name. I shall make your name great, a people that will be distinguished by their love in cities of hatred. They will love in cities of past bitterness, they will release. In cities of tearing down, they will intercede and love and be kind and by this love they shall know, all will know that we are true disciples in Jesus' name. We have to release.

From Antioch, by this all will know. From Antioch, turn now, last verse together, go all the way. You're going 2000 years later, but to Acts chapter 11. Please everybody, let me hear the pages. Acts chapter 11. In this age of phones and tablets and I don't know what, I don't hear pages anymore. Turn the pages. I'm hoping you're still going there. Acts 11. Now God said to Abraham, "I will make your name great, and in that name you'll be a blessing to all the families of the earth." While you're turning to Acts 11, he said, "I will bless you. Your descendants will be as the stars of the heaven, the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of the enemies.

In your seed, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have refused to dine in a place of small fruit, because you release that there be no strife among us. We are brothers. I will make your name great and your descendants will be as the sands on the seashore." That's the human descendants that will come unto faith, but they will be as the stars of the heaven, as human beings with eternal destinies. That's us. That's people of God. A people who will bless all the families of the earth. Now, religions, movements, philosophies, empires conquer by force. They conquer by fear. They conquer by fierceness. They conquer for their own fortunes.

But God said to Abraham, "In you and in your seed, a name will rise and this name will build families and become a family, the family of God. A family of families that will bless and touch all the families of the earth." And this message is modeled by Abraham and Jesus comes and fulfills every promise and dies and resurrects. And the church is born from Abraham. And Jesus said, by this, there's new commandments, totally new, there'll be a new, not race in a sense of racial, but there will be a new kind of human beings on the earth. There will be children of God, there will be Christians and they will be modeling my heart and my desire and my purposes for the nations, reconciliation and peace and love and the capacity for forgiveness and love and in every relationship that is totally supernational and beyond any capacity human beings can attain outside of a relationship with Christ.

And we get to the church of Antioch and we read this in the book of... It's one of the first churches we read about, but in Acts 11, and if you read in verse 19, now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose and Stephen traveled and they came to the city of... No. After the persecution that arose over Stephen, they traveled and went to Antioch preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyrus and Cyrene and they came to Antioch and they also spoke to the Greeks preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them. Great numbers believed and turned to the Lord. The news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

And when he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart, that they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith and great many people were added to the church. Look up for a second. There's a great... When the church is birthed, the Holy Spirit is poured out and healings are taking place and thousands being converted, and there's a radical terrorist by the name of Saul of Tarsus, a religious, radical terrorist, who is persecuting Christians, putting them to death. And to a point where in Jerusalem it comes to a moment of horror where a man of God, Stephen is arrested and they stoned, they put him to death. I've actually once witnessed a stoning in Africa, I never forgot it. It just stayed with me, the horror of it.

And they stoned Stephen in front of this man breathing murder and revenge, Saul of Tarsus. And as they did, they take the blood soak garments of Stephen and they bring it at the feet of Saul of Tarsus. And you would think that would put him to his knees and he would say, "What am I doing?" No, no. The Bible says he's galvanized by it. The next verse, he's breathing murder against the church. So the church in Jerusalem is scattered. They lose everything. In our modern terms, listen to me, they become migrants. They become immigrants. They're going to a different place, they have nothing. They've lost everything they had. So they end up in Antioch, Christians coming together in Antioch.

And as the Christians come together in Antioch, the grace of God is so strong and the love of God is so strong in them that they begin to pray together and they gather and they begin to share their faith. And some of them are sharing only with Jews as they were always taught that the spirit of God is breaking down every barrier. So now they're sharing with Greeks and many are getting saved. And the Bible says that there's a lot of things that today we'd say, "Well, this is the name. This is the name. This is the gospel. This is a real church." Because there's a crowd. People are saved. There's great joy. If you read just the verses around, there's mercy, they're taking an offering for missions as we took this morning because there was a famine and there's great teaching and preaching. And the Bible says even in the next chapter that Apollos, and teachers, and prophets.

So there's all this going on great, but at the same... So all this taking place and it came to the... we just read it, came to the ears of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas, he was a good man full of the Holy Spirit, but to go and to verify, to authenticate, is this truly the church of Christ? Is this truly the church of Jesus? Is this the name? Is this the name that will change the world? Is this real? Because already at this time you have false churches, false prophets, false teachers, false salvations, so they send him. When he's coming in, he's impressed. The hand of God is upon them. There's great salvation, great healing, great advancement, mercy, preaching, teaching.

So he encourages them. He says, "Go, continue to stay firm in the Lord. I'll be back." And now he has to go and he needs to get the ultimate test. He needs to get the, by this, they shall know. So he goes to the city of Tarsus because the persecutor, the murdering persecutor became a Christian. At first the disciples would not believe it, but finally he's coming in. So he goes to Tarsus and he takes Saul of Tarsus and he says, "Come with me. We're going..." It was now the apostle Paul, new convert Paul. "Now we are going on a journey together." I don't know at what points Barnabas told him where they were going. I don't know at what point he told him. That's going to be one of the first DVDs I get in heaven when I...

Because he's going and he's so honored maybe to be with Barnabas and he's telling his testimony and Paul was very, very wounded by the hurt. All his life, 30 years later in some of the epistles, he will write with great pain what he had done to Christians. I, the worst of sinners, I persecuted the church. It's something that only the grace of God could lift off him. But he's walking with Barnabas and I don't know how close they were getting to the city, but eventually Paul says, "And where are we going? " "We're going to the church of Antioch." And you could see, Paul saying, "No Barnabas, no, don't take me there. This is the people that I hurt. This is the people that lost everything because of me. This is the people I persecuted. Some of them are Stephen's family, do you understand? They stoned him. I was so blind. I was so filled with hatred.

I was so... They brought us. His family will be there. Please don't take me there." "No, come with me. We have something greater in ourselves where I have eternal purpose here. We have to determine if this is the name, if this is the name, if this is the name, if this is the people that will change the world. If this is the people who will carry the name of God to the nations all the way to the end of times in 2017, in the nations that are filled with strife and anger and rising divisions in the nations." So they come in and I don't know, you have to imagine it when they come in and what a Sunday morning.

The Bible says that Antioch says, this is my privilege, a bit like Patrick said this morning, "It is my privilege this morning to invite our guest to come and speak. We're so happy to have him with us. Please open your heart and can welcome please, brother, formerly Saul of Tarsus, now our brother Paul. Please welcome him warmly." It wasn't only a matter of grinding your teeth and enduring him for one Sunday, the Bible says that they taught for a whole year. He became part of the body with them. And this next verse has to be extremely important. God said to Abraham... as the musicians come, please, we'll sing, What a Wonderful Name. That beautiful song by which we began. The Bible says that when he had found him, he brought him, verse 26, to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they taught a great many people.

And it was in Antioch that for the first time they were named Christians like Christ. Before that they're disciples. And most commentaries believe that it was actually the unsaved, the secular people of the city that said, when they saw the capacity for forgiveness, when they saw the capacity for people who had hurt each other and had been hurt and wounded with such different racial backgrounds and religious backgrounds and every nationality and every racist prejudice possible rooted so deeply in them being uprooted, seeing them being freed from it. And when the unsaved people would walk by the gathering and see the former persecutor with tears in his eyes speaking to people he had persecuted and each other calling themselves brother, living out let there be no strife among us, we are brothers.

Seeing this for the first time, they called them Christian. God said, that's my name now. That's the name of my people in the nations. When purposes are stronger than our pasts, than your past, then we're Christians. When the offering of obedience in your life is greater than the offenses, I've been offended but I want to glorify God more. So God release this. I release this to you and free me. When forgiveness is stronger than fear, when my gospel is more important than the grievances, when my spiritual testimony is more important than society's tensions. When my light shines in love, we will be called Christians.

We will become a blessing to every city, every family, every place of work, every city, and every nation of the world. And it starts right where we live. Last week I was... we have different ministries in our church as you do. And of the ministries is the ministry to group of... we called it, well, it's a ministry of people 65 and over. And a few times a year, I go with a pastor that leads this great ministry and we have seniors. So there was about 150 to 200 people, 65 and over. And I went to speak to them and to pray with them and spend time with them last Saturday morning. And there was a man leading, involved in worship and he leads groups and visitations and I thought, what an amazing power the Holy Spirit has when we allow him to work.

It is with the family's permission that I share this without mentioning their name, but they said, "Share it, that it'd be a testimony." It's a Christian family. This man was the first in his family who became a Christian years and years ago and he brought his family to Christ and they grew up in church, not in our church, but in church. And they became adults and married. But the grandfather was a Christian, but a bitter man, a conflictual man. A man who criticized a lot, a man who switched from church to church to church because nobody was ever... and this I don't like, and this is not right, and this is not this. And he tore up a lot. And he criticized a lot and he became embittered. A talented, gifted man, but embittered and for years and years and years to a point where the impartation as Abraham said, took place.

And it was a sad, sad thing. I didn't know this. He started coming to our church a few years ago, I didn't know him. And his family started coming to our church and there was a season, and I say this with great hurt. There was a season of two years where the three families, one daughter, two sons and their husbands and wives and kids were not talking to one another, but coming to our church every week. And they weren't talking to their father. And there was all this strife and everybody is singing and everybody is praising and everybody is... and their grandkids are away from God. And I'm not putting a burden on you. That's not the only reason. But there's something very deep there.

And New Year's Eve, two years ago, New Year's Eve, 2000 and the last service of the year, last Sunday of the year, 2015, I spoke a word and one of the brothers sitting over there, one of the brothers, just the Holy Spirit, and he was one of the most bitter like his dad and he just broke in tears. And very unusual for him, he walked all the way across during the call at the end of the service. And he went and he grabbed his two brothers and sisters and said, "It's enough. It's enough. How can we do this?" And he was anointed. And at first they were resistant, but then they began to weep together. And the father wasn't there in that service that morning. And they finally went to him in the days that followed, first days of the year 2015, they went together and said, "Dad, it's enough, we..." In the words of Abraham, "Let there be no strife among us.

We are brothers, we're family, we're Christians." And something so miraculous took place in his family step by step and month by month, and over the last two years, it's almost always just coincidence. In the last two years, six of the grandkids have been baptized at our church. Six of the grandkids. And every single one of them have said, "When this happened in our family, we thought this is amazing. If God can do that to grandpa, if he can change my dad..." It's as if their heart reopened. Do you understand that that family was communicating the gospel, you shall be born again in a very perfect way, but their lives, the strife in their heart was like a wall. But when forgiveness flowed, when the release took place, then the revelation of who Christ is and they were Christians.

And last week I was watching during that Saturday morning and that grandfather, that man was leading and the Spirit of God was upon him and he is in his 70s and I was shuddering at the thought of what he could have lost, what could have been lost. I'm saying today, God, we rise today and say from Abraham to Antioch to Times Square Church, by this all will know that we are your disciples as we refuse to die in a place of small fruit and we release what needs to be released. Let there be no strife, we are brothers and testimony to this city of the power of love in our hearts, in Jesus name and all of God's people say, amen and amen. Can we stand? Can we stand? Can we stand and can you give God an ovation this morning? Can you give him a standing ovation? We're going to sing the beautiful name of Jesus.

Hallelujah. Before we go, can you just stop for one second? Can you lift your hands with me all over the building and say, God, I will not die in a place of small fruit. Come on, everywhere, in your own heart, in your own words. Oh God, I'm coming out of my father's house and whatever needs to be released, I want to release to you. I want to release to you... Do you understand prophetically that this church has been called with many other churches in this city, but has been called to be a voice for forgiveness, a voice for reconciliation? The church with a hundred nationalities. This is a city within the city, the city of thousands within the city with such different backgrounds and nationalities. Our call to model, our call to shine. We are called together to shine. Let there be no strife among us. We are brothers.

I release, I release this morning all over this place. Begin to release. The Holy Spirit will show you. I'm releasing pain. I'm releasing hurt. I'm releasing offenses. I'm releasing my own shortcomings. I'm releasing failures. I'm releasing abuse. I'm releasing. Come on, begin to do it all over. The scripture says, when we know not how to pray, even the spirit will intercede within us. So begin to pray in English or in Spanish or in your spiritual language all over this place releasing. Lord, we want to walk in your way that is worthy of your beautiful name as we sing the beauty of your name. Your name is so beautiful, but we will become worthy of carrying your name, of living out your name, of sharing your name as we release, as we walk in forgiveness, as we release before you in Jesus name.

Hallelujah. All over this place, just a few minutes as the musicians play. We're going to sing the beauty of the name of Jesus. But as we sing, I pray you will release this morning. Lord God, I release to you and I pray in the name of Jesus for a great anointing of release, a great anointing of forgiveness, a great anointing of healing, a great anointing of mission. We're called to carry your name. We will release today in the name of Jesus. And in New York City, in Times Square Church, they shall be called Christians.

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When the Holy Spirit Comes

 

Tim Dilena

June 12, 2016

Jesus never promised life would be easy, but he did promise before he left that he would not leave us comfortless. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit—the great Comforter—he gives you the power to face anything that's ahead of you. In this powerful sermon, Tim Dilena reminds us where our source of power lies and the perfect gift we have in the Holy Spirit.

I want to just share something with you that I feel that God wants to help us, especially going into a new season where God is bringing us? When you go to the book of Acts where I want you to go, Acts chapter one, the disciples with the resurrected Jesus and Jesus is about to be ascended to heaven, to the right hand of God, the father, the disciples were about to enter into a time which would basically be considered the most difficult time in Christianity to be a follower of Jesus. It would be for that first century and not only for the first century, but for the next three centuries, 300 years, you would die or be persecuted for being a follower of Jesus Christ. And I have to tell you, and I'll discuss this in a few moments, I don't think we're far from that very time.

One of the things that I started to realize when I began to think about this is that Jesus really promised his disciples three things. He says, "One, you are going to be completely fearless. Two, you're going to be absurdly happy and joyful all the time. And number three, you're going to be in constant trouble." And I think that's really what Jesus promised them. One, you'll be fearless, crazy, fearless. Two, absurdly happy, but three, you're going to be in constant trouble if you are a follower, but don't be afraid because when you feel like things are over your head, just remember they're under God's feet. And he has to begin to remind us of this very thing. Three centuries probably considered to be 29 different persecutions.

I'm reading a book that just came out, it's about this thick, of someone that served many years ago in Washington, D.C., called William Bennett, who is secretary of education and wrote a book called Tried by Fire. And it is the first few centuries of Christianity. It is really an updated version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs to walk you through these 29 different persecutions that have come to the church and how the church didn't begin to fold, but the church began to grow. And it's amazing what God began to do as you read this starting from Nero at the ascension of Jesus and moving towards others like Diocletian and even some names that have been portrayed in movies recently in about maybe a decade ago would be names like Commodus and Marcus Aurelius, and what many see as the great man movie, the Gladiator, as these two were portrayed in that movie but forgotten is they were strict and literally unflinching persecutors of Christians.

Literally to be a follower of Jesus, you would be persecuted. In fact, in that movie, I was reading an article of movie called Gladiator, Ridley Scott, who began to direct that movie, left out what they call the deleted scene, which was a picture before the gladiators would come out. There was a minute and 16 seconds before the gladiators would come out there, they would send the Christians into the arena. And the Christians would go in there and there's this one minute and 16 seconds in the bowels of the arena where the main character is looking out through a portal and seeing a Christian father with his wife and children huddled around them and a lion pacing behind them.

In just a moment, all you see is the back of the head of this gladiator and as he's looking in the arena, this lion begins to climb up the back of the father and the scene stops. And they asked Ridley Scott, they said, "Why didn't you put that in the movie?" And he said, "Because I couldn't properly portray how persecuted the Christians were for their faith in Jesus Christ." That people have no idea, I have no idea of this persecution. And it was the great apologist, Francis Schaeffer in the '60s who really said something that's so touched my heart and challenged me with what really happened. He said this, he says, "Why did they kill the early Christians?" And this is what he said, "It was not for worshiping Jesus."

Don't miss this. He says, "It was not for worshiping Jesus." We think people will persecute, they were persecuting for worshiping Jesus. He says it wasn't that. It was because they wouldn't worship and acknowledge the other gods of the Roman empire. He said, "You can worship your Jesus, but you got to call every other religion legit." That's the generation we're living in today. You can be a Christian, but you better call everybody else legit, that everybody else is like this. And Jesus doesn't leave that open for us. He says, "I am here." He says, "This is who I am and you need to understand I'm not like this." Where every other religion says, "Die and pay for this." Jesus says, "No, I'll do it for you." That's called amazing grace like pastor Carter was talking about.

They hated the Christians, not because they were Christians, but because they didn't say all the other religions were just as legit as Christianity. And Jesus said, "In order for me to prepare you not only for what was going to be the hardest season..." And could very be a carbon copy of what we're getting ready to face here as a country and as a nation. Understand something, Jesus says, "I've got to equip you to face what is coming ahead. Always remember you will be crazy fearless, You will be absurdly happy, but get ready, you're going to be in a lot of trouble if you're going to follow after Jesus Christ." I know that sounds bad, but here's the thing I want you to understand. Jesus says, "Don't worry because I'm going to give you help for what's ahead."

Now, here's the part and this is where I want you to understand. Jesus says, "When I leave, I'm not going to leave you comfortless. I'm going to leave you a special gift." Now, in my years of ministry, I have received so many gifts from people. Some I'm so happy and some are interesting. And so there are some that Cindy and I, she could legitimize this. We have a special drawer that we have created called the special gifts drawer. So when people give us these special gifts and they come to us a year later and say, "Do you still have my..." and we can say without lying and before Jesus, "Yes we do." It made it to the drawer, but it didn't go any further than the drawer.

For example, somebody, when I first started in ministry in Detroit, crocheted me this sweater. Okay? It wasn't just a crocheted sweater. It was not only, and I love these people, but she has gone to be with the Lord and I can tell this story. And so it had to be the most hideous sweater I've ever seen in my life. It was crochet, but what made it get to the drawer is what they crocheted on it. I'm in Detroit, this very violent area, and she crocheted a bullseye right on the chest of the sweater. It was kind of like, hey, we want to make sure they see you easier when they kill you. And so I couldn't wear the bullseye sweater. So we put it in the special drawer and have it to this day, 30 years later. And in fact, you have to wear it when you lose in some of our family games, you have to wear the bullseye sweater.

Some precious woman, and you know what that means, precious woman gave us this, I didn't even know the name of it. It was called, I used to call it a hot plate, it was a trivet. I guess you put hot pots on it once you take them off the oven. But this wasn't just a trivet, it was the head of Jesus. And Jesus's head was on this and it wasn't just his head, his head was made out of the places he went to. So it was like one eyebrow was Capernaum and the other eyebrow was Judea and the mouth was Bethlehem. And it was like, really? So I get this trivet with the head of Jesus in the places he went. And I remember the first day we're putting beans and I said, "I can't. I can't put beans on Jesus's head. He's holy." We relent he's holy, holy, holy, put it in the drawer before we go to, not to heaven.

And so I just thought to myself, we can't, so in the drawer. So just think before you bless anybody. For heaven's sake, think so it doesn't go to the drawer. But here's what's amazing. When God gives a gift, it never goes to the drawer. Listen, the Bible says every gift is good and perfect. You will never get something from God you're going, "What is this?" And here's what he says, these two words are amazing, it's from James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above coming from the Father of lights." And these two words, good and perfect, if I could just separate them for a second and just unpack for a moment. These words, good and perfect, really speak to how he is going to equip you in the place that you're about to go into. Because the word good, let's start with that. In the original language, it doesn't sound like we would know.

So let me just push you a little bit on remembering old English classes. We would call this word a superlative, which means you would end the E-S-T at the end of it. So you would say in April it's hot, it could be hot in New York. In June, it gets hotter, but in August, it is at it's...

Hottest.

That's the superlative. So you can use it for anything. Great to see pastor David. Pastor David is a cool dude, but then there's pastor William, he is cooler, but then my friend pastor Carter, he is the...

Coolest.

Of course he is. That's the superlative. And what James was saying was when God gives you a gift, it's the best. Nothing can get any better than any gift that God is going to give to you. And then he says, "Not just good, but it's going to be perfect." And that's the word which we would say sometimes when someone gives you something and say, "That is perfect. That is exactly what I needed. I needed a bullseye sweater because I wanted to be with Jesus sooner." That's what you would say for that. But it wasn't perfect. It wasn't, the word meaning usable, something you needed. The word perfect means it's exactly what we need for this moment. It's exactly the thing that I can use at this time.

So when God gives me a gift and God gives you a gift, he's saying it's not just a gift. He says, "This gift is going to be the best gift you can ever have and this gift is going to be something you will always use." And he said, "In order for me to get you to the place of what you're about to face, I've got to give you a gift." And that gift that I want to just take a few moments to talk about is the gift of the Holy Spirit. That's the gift that he said, "I want to begin to change you, and before I leave," he says, "I want you to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. He says in Acts chapter one, verse eight, is the one verse that we're going to look at today. And he says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost parts of the earth."

And you know what he was saying? He was saying this to us. He was saying this to the disciples and he was saying this to us today. He says, "You're about to enter into the hardest point and the hardest time it is to be a Christian." And he says, "And the best thing I can do, the greatest thing I can do is give you a gift in how to face this." And when we speak about the Holy Spirit, I want you just to put everything aside, everything that you would see on a TV, listen on Christian radio, and let's just see it from the way that the Bible explains it. And let's look at how the Bible begins to speak of this because really when God says, "I'm going to fill you," like pastor Teresa talked about two weeks ago, like pastor David talked about last week at the six o'clock and what's about to take place today.

The baptism, the filling of the Holy Spirit, this is going to date me because probably only the old people would know this. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is like the phone booth is to Superman. It means when that thing happens, you come out, not normal, you come out absolutely changed. Why? Because it is perfect and it's good. It's the best I can get from God and it's something that I'm going to be able to use. When you've been touched by the Holy Spirit, people know it. People know what's happened. In fact, the best way I can explain it... I'm just telling you, I don't understand popcorn. And let me just tell you why. We were eating it the other day and as we're eating it, you take this bag of popcorn and you throw it in this microwave, it goes into this room.

And while it's in this room, all of these kernels are experiencing the same thing. They're in together. They're all packed in. They're experiencing this micro, this is going somewhere, and it's experiencing all this place. But when it's all said and done, there're just some of those kernels that are so stubborn, they won't be changed though they're in the same place, hearing the same buzz, under the same light, in the same situation, and you can't get them to pop. When I saw Greg leading us in worship and we got to this freedom song, some of you were beside yourself jumping up, but there were some kernels in this place that are just sitting there like this, and I'm going, you can't pop, but today, this may be your popping day for the Holy Ghost to come.

I'm tired already. So here, let's do this. His gift, he says this in Acts 1:8, "When the spirit comes, you will receive power." When the Spirit comes. I just want to give you two thoughts that you will receive power and you will be his witnesses. That's it. Let's just take what the Bible says. You will receive power number one, when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. I have been very fortunate that I was raised by godly parents. For those that don't know my history and those that don't know how much this church means to me and what God has raised up here in New York City, when pastor David Wilkerson, the founding pastor came and started this church, before that was The Cross and the Switchblade and Teen Challenge. My dad was the police captain in the book, The Cross and the Switchblade.

So I was raised seeing and hearing the testimonies of a Nicky Cruz and Israel and seeing the beginning of Teen Challenge. And my dad was the first treasurer of Brooklyn Teen Challenge. When brother Dave first came to New York City, he met my dad. He was the one in the movie that when brother Dave was trying to preach on a street corner that they said, "You can't preach there unless you have an American flag." And then a police captain comes and says, "Let him preach," on that street corner. And they became lifelong friends at that moment. So I was raised seeing miracles, seeing what God was doing. I was raised in a church. Literally, I look at this choir and I literally was almost born in a choir loft on 33rd Street in a church called Glad Tidings Tabernacle during the Christmas cantata. It was during December 18th, no, December 22nd, that's when I was born.

So if you want to give me a gift. But it has to be good. It has to be good. I'm kidding. I was almost born in the choir loft and my mom sang soprano and I'm so thankful that I was raised in an environment that loved God and I never experienced the junk that others experience that we were exposed to watching the testimonies of the early Teen Challenge. And if pastor David was wanting to get somebody to give their testimony for the 6:00 PM, he wouldn't invite me because literally, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I have never drank alcohol in my life. I have never been on drugs in my life. God kept me as a virgin all the way til I got married at 33 years old. I'm not ashamed of that. I thank God for his keeping power and I'm grateful for that.

And can I just tell you? I pray that testimony for my own children and I pray every day. I was telling pastor Carter, every day I pray for Christian, Anna, Lauren, and Grace. I pray, God fill them with the Holy Spirit, fill them with the Spirit. That very thing, that very gift, that very person you said would begin to take them through the toughest seasons and the toughest places of their life, God, would you do that? And while I was at college, brother Dave asked me, he says, "Would you go to Detroit and help my son plant a church in Detroit in the '80s?" And little did I know that God would take me and put me on the streets of Detroit who has in a sense, no testimony at all. In the testimony of I didn't do anything.

Gary Wilkerson, brother Dave's son, said, "I want you to pastor..." A pastor would do a Bible study at a prostitution hotel at 19 years old. So I have a guitar, I know three chords, and I'm in a prostitution hotel speaking to pimps and pro... and I haven't been addicted to anything. I mean, the closest thing was Oreos and that was it. And then double stuff came out and I was done. But it was like, "Really me? Me do this?" And he threw me in the deep end of the pool. And I'm sitting there trying to lead pimps and prostitutes thinking, how am I supposed to? This is crazy. And I had somebody tell me in the midst of this, they said, "Tim, we know you've been on the streets for 30 years, but we feel like we could do a better job than you."

And this is what they said. I want you to listen to what they said to me. They said, "Because we have experienced the world and you haven't. So to minister to those prostitutes because we've been out there on the streets, we have a better shot than you because we can relate to them better." And for those that are on drugs, we appreciate your story, but because you haven't experienced... And students, listen to me, college students, high school students, listen to me close. Parents, listen to me. And I kept thinking to myself, that doesn't sound fair. It doesn't sound right that God would say, "If you live in that, you get to minister better."

And I'm not saying that God can't transform anybody's life. I'm not saying that at all. But it didn't seem right because... So the best way of effective ministry is to experience the world? That doesn't seem right. And in fact, this is the reason for Acts chapter one. "The best way," Jesus said, "To minister to the world..." You're ready for this? "Is not to experience the world, but to experience God." He said, all that I want you to know is God doesn't say, "Taste and see that the world is no good." He says, "Taste and see that God is good." What he was saying to us was this, once you get a taste of Jesus, he says, you don't want what's out there because there's nothing that can satisfy you like a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing can satisfy you. That's what he was telling us.

And so because it didn't seem right, so Jesus is saying to Peter... Excuse me if this is just a little over the top, but I want you to hear this. He didn't say, "Peter, you do drugs so you can minister to the drug addicts. Mary, you be a prostitute so you can minister to the ladies on the streets. And hey, we want you, Thomas, we want you to go ahead and be an alcoholic so you can minister to..." He didn't say that. He didn't say, "I don't want you to experience sin. I want you to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit." He says, "Because what I knew is that if you can experience God, you will know how to lead people from this trap of sin that they can experience freedom in Jesus Christ." So when you are filled, when you are filled with the Holy Spirit... Listen to me today. He gives you a power to face anything that's ahead of you. Anything that's ahead of you.

In just a few months, we're going to go back into an Olympic season. And as that's beginning to take places, everybody's gearing up for Rio de Janeiro. We have somebody in our church, a woman who is training for the heptathlon to run those events in Rio de Janeiro. You see all these stories pop up. And one of the stories went all the way back, almost 12, 14 years ago to a winter Olympics that just really, I was so shocked to hear this, that when the winter Olympics were in Nagano, Japan, they said something interesting happened. They said, "Not only would they have to shut down sometimes a day or even two days," and they said, "We would never have to do this because of the extreme weather on the mountains of Nagano."

They said, "The part that we just couldn't understand, we expected that, but at the top of the mountain..." and this is what blew me away, they said, "There was a grove of trees at the top of the mountain that while we couldn't even see our hand in front of us because of the winds," he says, "This grove of trees were blooming in the dead of winter and fruit was coming out of them." They said, "We were so amazed. We were bummed that we had to shut down the slalom and we had to shut down some of the skiing events. But we were so amazed of why these trees were up there." And when I read this story, I just couldn't help but think of Acts chapter one and Acts chapter two, when the Spirit fell down and began to come with fire upon them.

This is what they said. They even sent geologists up there during the Olympics and said, "Why are these trees blooming in this harshest of weather?" And this is what they found, that the roots underneath the tree was touching volcanic activity, which meant that while it was snowing on top, they were experiencing fire underneath. So what that tells me is it doesn't matter what happens out there, these roots are touching the fire. They're touching the Holy Spirit. He will come and says, "You will receive power." And I love what he does. He says, "The first spot that I'll touch," listen to this. "The first spot I'll touch is the most untamed part that you have, that tongue." That tongue that no man can tame, God goes, "I can tame it."

He says, "Because when I baptize you with the Holy Spirit, I'm not going after your legs. I'm not going after your arms. I'm not going after your brain. I'm going after the most untamable part. I want to go after the part that James says no man can tame." He said, no man, he didn't say God can't go after it. And he says, "I want to begin to touch that." And all over the book of Acts, whether it was speaking in tongues or prophecy, some of them got filled with the Spirit in Acts chapter four and they spoke with boldness. And he says, "I'm going to go after your tongue. I'm going to go after this part. And what I'll do is I'll begin to fill you." And God is going, "I just want control of that. I want to take that."

And he says, "If you allow this heart of yours to touch fire, I'll take the most untamed part of you." But he says, "But the gift that I'm giving to you is going to help you to face the hardest season and the hardest season that you'll ever go through." I can't tell you how many times that in the hardest season that I've gone through I just would say, "God, fill me with the Holy Spirit today. I don't have anything else. I have nothing else God, unless you fill me with the Holy Spirit right now." And Jesus said this, "When I leave, I am going to let you receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." And then number two, and we close with this, he says, "You shall be my witnesses."

When you are filled... You know what I love? He didn't say, "You will be lawyers." No offense. He said, "You will be witnesses." I've been in many courtrooms because I've stood with people that have gotten saved off the streets of the major cities of our country, the cities that I served in. I've been to court. I've been there where people's lives have been changed and they're saying, "Pastor, would you come and maybe be a character witness or maybe just be there to pray?" And that's what I would do. And I've watched, once again, if you're a lawyer, God bless you. But I would see the lawyers come up because they knew just the way it went and they would get up there and go, "This is my client, this is Johnny, and we're just asking for the mercy of the court. We plead guilty. But would you go ahead and just..."

No emotion because they're not... though it's a client, it doesn't mean they're connected. But when you put up a witness, the emotion comes out because you can be a Christian and just give the lawyer facts, but it never touch your heart. And so he says, "When you become a Christian, I don't want you just to give the facts, I want you to experience what's happening inside." Put a witness on the stand, put someone who may be the crime was committed, put up a mother that may be is a character witness. Listen to the emotion come out. And he says, "What I want you to do is not do witnessing," but this is what he says, "I want you to be a witness." What he was saying to them was this, when the Holy Spirit touches you, witnessing is that something that you do at a certain time on a missions trip or on the screen when we send out our young people to go at different parts of the city, like we saw up there.

He didn't say, "You do witnessing on the time clock August 1st through August six," he says that's doing witnessing. He says, "But when the spirit dwells upon you, you will be a witness." Which means that whether it's on a campus, whether it's at your job, whether it's in your high rise, whether it's in your neighborhood, whether you're walking outside of church and even in the subway, you can be a witness because it's not based on a timeframe. If the Spirit is in you, I don't do something, I become something is what it says here. Because when he fills you, he says, when he fills you, he says, "You become a witness." You don't realize how important a part this church has played on some real significant parts of my life.

I can go through seasons, even recent seasons and seasons of the past of how much this church has meant to Cindy and I. And I'm so happy Cindy is here today who doesn't have a chance usually to come with me. Cindy, my two teenage children and my two girls who are in the children's ministry right now. So we had a chance to come with all four of our children and Cindy, and I'm always honored when Cindy is with me, but it was here, it was here that we first not only announced that we were going to get married, but I had proposed to her in Central Park on... It was perfect New York proposal. I took her to Tavern on the Green. Because I'm 33 years old, I'm going to do this right. And so I brought her to Tavern on the Green. She had no idea because I really felt like God said, "Never tell someone you love them until you're going to put a ring on their finger."

And so we went on the horse and carriage ride and we're going around New York and I had the guy stop right at Rockefeller Center. I got out on one knee, I opened up the box and as I'm there in front of all those flags, I just said, "Cindy, I love you..." I'm on one knee. And so the guy is irritated that I made him stop and I go, "I love you. Would you be my..." and literally, he was watching the whole thing like this. And this is what he did. Without missing a beat, he goes, "This is beautiful." That's what he said, Cindy can verify it. "This is beautiful." On a Tuesday night, I was able to tell you that I got engaged and it was Brother Dave that did my wedding and Pastor Carter and Pastor Theresa had such an important part of so many seasons of our life and so have you.

You have been such an important part of these seasons. And so our marriage, we've been married for 20 years now on November 6th, which is such a blessing. On November 9th, we got married. If that's another gift, you can just bring, but make it good. And what's crazy is this, this is what's crazy. It was magical until our first argument in Wendy's. And so all this time, it's been awesome. "Yeah, you're my baby. You're my baby girl. You're my boo." All that, it was... And so we're doing all this stuff. So we're going into a Wendy's and I just do what I do. I just go, "I want a double cheeseburger, ketchup only, French fries, and a lemonade and biggie size that for me." And so I say, "Baby girl, what do you want? What do you want to take?" This is what she said. First fight. She goes, "I want a grilled chicken sandwich."

Women always get grilled chicken sandwiches. I learned that. You'll always do. You'll always get a grilled chicken sandwich. "Do you want anything to drink baby girl? Do you want anything to drink?" "Diet Coke." Women always get Diet Coke. But they have this fantasy about Diet Coke, like you can eat whatever you want and Diet Coke fixes it. I'll have those eight cookies, but I've got a Diet Coke. It just doesn't work. This is a place of truth. So she gets that and then, then, then it happened. I said, "Do you want French fries with that?" She goes, "No, I'll have some of yours." Someone needs to speak up for the men of America. So let me just tell you this right now. Let me just tell you.

So I look, I just said, "Cindy," and that's when I'm serious. I didn't even call her bae. I said, "Cindy," I said, "No, listen," I said, "I'll buy you your own. It's not a big deal." She says, "I can't eat a whole one. I just need a few." I said, "First of all, you know that's not true." So I just go... I didn't say that. I didn't say it. I was just married a couple months. I didn't say it. So I said, "No, but you don't understand," I said, "They just put enough, they've done science on this and they've just put enough to meet the appetite of an individual and if you pull any out, you ruin it. So I'll buy you one if you want, but I can't eat..." I said, "Listen," I said, "Here's what happens," I said, "I don't care if you eat one and throw it out. You're not getting any of my fries." "She'll have her fries."

Then we got counseling. Here's what happened. Then it dawned on me, listen, as an Italian, we take food very seriously, which means, you're ready for this? I don't share food. Do you want to share a dessert? No, I don't want to share a dessert. Can I have some of what you got, which means I don't like mine, I want to start eating... No. So here's what happens and this is what takes place. Do you know when I share my food, you're ready for this? It's when I'm full. When I'm done with my plate, then I go, "Would you like some of this?" Which means, you're ready for this? When you're full, you'll share. You're not getting. When you are full, you will share. He says, "You don't need a course in evangelism.

You don't need to go through some online course. When you get full of the Holy Spirit," he says, there's something deep inside that says, "You can't stop me. It's going to come out of me." That's how you become a witness, not by a course online, it's when he fills you with the Holy Spirit. So here's how we stop and we're done. This is how you're done. How we're done. When the Spirit fills you, he says, "I will begin to take you even back to same environments that used to bring you down." But he says, "But there'll be a new backbone inside of you." He says, "You know who I want to preach after I fill you with the Holy Spirit because you've been full you can share? Peter. Denying Peter. I want you to preach right in the very city that made you a denier."

So what I'm going to do is when the Spirit comes, you're going to receive power, which means these roots are touching fire though they want to kill me on top. When the Spirit fills you, you will be, not do my witnessing, you will be my witness. Here it is, in Jerusalem, Jerusalem, where you denied me three times, listen, to a little girl, you're going to stand up and instead of denying me three times, I'm going to give you 3000 converts because what is happening inside of you is greater than what's happening on top of you. And he says, "I want to fill you." So he says, "When I send you back to corporate America, when you hear Jerry Hampton today speak about this important topic to so many of you in the business world, to so many of you all over this city," what he is doing is, he's saying, "I want to give you a frame of reference, but in order for you to stand, in order for you to have backbone, you have to be filled with the Holy...

That's why Jerry as one of our elders is able to work in Goldman Sachs, able to be a CEO in New York City, not because he went to church, it's because something deep inside of him called the Holy Spirit gave him Christian character in an environment that will begin to try to get you to compromise. Okay, pastor Tim, how does this happen? How do we do it? Is this going to be crazy? Is this going to be... Let me give it to you as Jesus said it. I'm going to have the band come. Greg, if we can get ready just to play and let me just give it to you the way Jesus said it. Last verse I'll read and we're done.

Luke chapter 11, Jesus said... I want to show you how this happens. And I want you to be receptive because no one is going to do anything that is unbiblical here. We're just going to do what the Bible says. And here's what it says in Luke chapter 11, verse nine, Jesus says this, "So I say to you, ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be open up to you." How many have ever heard of that verse before? Okay. Look at me for a second. Let's connect this to context. Let's connect it to context. Watch this. "For everyone who asks receives, and who seeks finds, and to him who knocked, it shall be opened.

Now suppose one of your fathers is asked by his son for a fish, will he give him a snake instead of a fish? No. And if he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? Of course not. Verse 13. If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those that just ask him?" That's it. Just ask. He says it's not anything I can do, any of these pastors can do, any of the elders can do, altar workers. It's you just going, "God, I just ask you, fill me with the Spirit today. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today." That's it. It's you to...

And you know it's interesting to me as a side note? I don't think it's by accident that he puts in there, he says, "If you ask a fish, will you get a snake? And if you ask for an egg, will you get a scorpion?" Listen, because what Jesus puts in there, the words that he uses for food, he doesn't even use meat. He doesn't say steak. He doesn't say lamb. He doesn't say any of those things. What Jesus says is fish and egg, which are the two staple foods of that day. What he was saying to him, listen to me, he was saying to them, the Holy Spirit is not a luxury. It's a necessity. You need him every single day. It is me just going, "Lord you're my food every single day. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Fill me."

It is a gift that he gives to you. It is a gift that he gives to you. And the last thing that I would ever tell you as you stand to your feet, here's what I want you to do. Everybody to stand with me. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father of lights. Every good and perfect gift. Good, the superlative, nothing can be better. Perfect, the usable, the one that makes all the difference, the one that changes, the one that is useful. And here's what I want you to understand. With all the gift giving that goes on today, the thing that has rocked the gift giving world is when you just don't know what to give. Everybody shows up at a CVS or Rite Aid and you buy a gift card for somebody. And that's what people do today is they buy.

But here's what's amazing. Do you know the racket these companies are making on gift cards? For this reason, that almost 40% are never cashed because people forget or they lose them. So you're spending $50 for an iTunes card, $25 for an Amazon card, all these things, you give it, thank you so much. And people don't even know where it is. People forget that they even have it. They're still spending money and they forget they have a gift card. And when the Holy Spirit says, when Jesus says, "I'm giving you a gift today," I'm telling you, don't put that in your pocket. Don't put it aside. I'm telling you today, cash in that gift card and say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit today."

Fill me with the Holy Spirit today. He did it two weeks ago at the one o'clock as Pastor Theresa prayed. He did it last Sunday at the six o'clock as Pastor David prayed, and can I tell you something? He can do it on a Sunday morning. In the balcony, if you're watching live at the New Jersey campus, if you're here in this sanctuary, you don't even have to bow your heads. But if you're here right now, and if we can play, How Great is Our God? If we can just get ready. Here's what I want you to do. We're just simply going to ask today. But if you're here today and say, "Pastor Tim, I'm cashing in that gift card today. He's given me a gift and what I have to face and what's ahead of me right now, I want him to fill me. I don't want there to be one empty spot inside my heart today. Fill me Jesus with the Holy Spirit."

And if you're here today and say, "Pastor Tim, I want the Holy Spirit. All we're going to do is ask, that's all we're going to do. And if you're here today and say, "What I'm facing right now, I can't do it without help. I need the Holy Spirit." And if you're here right now, heads up, eyes open, I want you to get down here as fast as you can. Just say, just pray for me today. Quickly. Just get down here as fast as you can. As we sing this song, I want you from the balcony, find your way to the exit and they'll lead you down here. Main floor, you come down. In New Jersey, they'll begin to guide you how to do it, in the annex, we'll pray for you in the annex. If you're watching in one of our home fellowship groups, I want you just to stand and just lift your hands and allow the Holy Spirit...

And as you come, can we just lift our hands and begin just to announce how great he is? And all we're going to do is ask him to. You come, make your way all the way down. Come on, let's begin to sing this together. Let all of us sing this as you come. How great is our God? How great? Here's what I want you to do. I don't want you to clap. I want you to speak with your tongue and just say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit." Ask him right now. Just say, "Fill me with the Holy Spirit." Fill us Lord God. Fill us Lord God. Fill us Lord God with the Holy Spirit. God, I pray that you would just take us right now and fill us. We're about to face what could be, God, the most devastating point of being a Christian, but God, you have given us a good and perfect gift. And thank you for the person of the Holy Spirit.

And so God with our hands raised and these mouths asking you today, we are doing exactly Jesus what you said. You give good gifts to your children, so we just say, Holy Spirit, fill us right now. Holy Spirit, fill us right now. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Fill us all over this place, in the balcony, in the annex, on the main floor, up and down these aisles, in the choir, in the band, fill us with the Holy Spirit. Our home fellowship groups, in New Jersey, fill us with the Holy Spirit. [tongues]. We receive. We receive your gift. We receive the Holy Spirit.

I pray for power. And I pray, let them be your witnesses in this city. Power. Power in Manhattan. Power for our students at Saint John's. Power. Power, Lord God. Power, Lord God at Fordham. Power, Lord Jesus at Juilliard. Power for those that are on Broadway. Power for those in the business world. Power in Jesus name. Hallelujah.

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It's Time to Believe

 

Carter Conlon

October 17, 2019

At times, we put parameters around God's power and abilities with our own limited belief, but the truth is, God can do whatever he wants to do. It's time to believe that God is able! In this powerful sermon, Carter Conlon challenges us to ask the question: What am I willing to believe God for in my life?

That was very gracious of you, pastor John. Thank you for that introduction. And for everybody who is here today, can you believe with me that we're going to have an encounter with God. Every time we open God's word, we should be changed. We should be transformed from where we were to where God is taking us. That's been the... it's been the source of my love for the Lord and the strength of my life. I've been a student of the word of God from the day I got saved.

I remember when I first came to Christ, I was a young police officer and I was working a radar. They used to call it; I don't know what they call it now. They used to call it radar back then. Speed gun. Okay? And I used to pray for rain because when it rained, the radar didn't work. So, I could park behind a building somewhere and I would open the word of God and I would weep. I would weep in my car. I'm talking about real tears and I would read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I would read, and every word was life and I believed it and continue to believe it to this day. 42 years later, I still believe the word of God as much or hopefully more than I ever have in my life.

And every day when I go to the word of God, I'm always trusting that there's going to be something of his mind and his character built into my life and into my heart. And as we shared this morning, you can't believe if you don't know what you believe. A lot of folks are trying to build their walk with God on emotion, on high times and good experiences in the church, nice music, and it's all great, but you can't believe on that. That will leave you short at some point. You have to get in the word of God. Another blessing the Lord put in my life is that I didn't just search out the sweet things. I searched out the bitter things too as well.

And even the bitter things are sweet to those that, the scripture tells us, to those that do love God. I wasn't just trying to build the Christian life on the palatable parts of the word of God, but on the parts that are difficult to digest, harder to hear, and I didn't ever try to push it away and just create or craft a Jesus that makes me happy and comfortable, but I wanted the real Christ of the Bible. It has been an incredible journey. I have to tell you it's been a miraculous journey. It's been a journey beyond my deepest expectations. And it's left me now, I'm 66 now and it's left me with an understanding that with God all things are possible. That's where I began, and now I'm starting to believe it even more.

I don't look at anything as impossible anymore. If God is in it, if it's in his heart, if it's in his mind to do something, he's well able to do it. And I want to share with you... these are just thoughts from my heart today. I don't have any notes or anything. I just want to share with you a thought that I feel he's given me from Genesis chapter 18. I'm going to entitle it, again, as I did this morning, "It's Time to Believe". It's Time to Believe. It's time for you and I to come back to where the church began. Empowered by the spirit of God, enabled by the word of God and moving in unison with the plan and the purpose of God.

And I believe that it's possible for you and for me, for all of us, and we've got to get out of any place and every place of unbelief, anywhere where we've settled in and said, "This is as far as I can go and I can't go any farther." I challenge you to banish that thought. I challenge you to put that thought under foot because God can do whatever God wants to do. And when he finds a heart willing to believe him, there's no limit to what God can do. When I was a young cop, I remember I was walking the beat and I had never preached a sermon anywhere. I had no speaking ability whatsoever. I was not a candidate for the ministry, but I felt the Lord ask me a question, "How many souls would you like in your lifetime?"

And I saw in responding to that what I felt was an overture from the Lord, I said, "God, I would like to win 100,000 people to you before I die." And then I began to be specific in my prayer. I said, "I don't want these to be just people who raise their hands in services, but people who actually live for you, serve you, walk with you and one day end up at your throne and where you can actually look at them and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Now that was an impossible prayer for me in my circumstance in life and my abilities and everything else. That was never going to happen. No ministry credential, never been to Bible school, nothing like that.

Fast forward from that moment on the street to many years later, I was in the field in Nigeria and we're in a place... there was civil war, the city of Jos, Nigeria. And I remember we brought together into that place 500,000 people every night. And it was a volatile situation because they were at civil war, militant Islam versus nominal Christianity more or less. One group would rise and kill and burn the other group and they would rise and kill and burn the other side. The last time they had been publicly together, 6,000 people died. So, you can see how volatile this was. We were the first gathering in months allowed to be together outside the city.

And we didn't know how many people were going to come, but a sea of people showed up. I preached that night on the emptiness and the worthlessness of all religion from the parable of the Jericho road, both Christianity and Islam, all religion that has no compassion for its neighbor. At the end of the message, I basically gave an invitation to receive Christ as Savior. But I did say to the people words to this effect, "If you have no intention on forgiving your brother, if you have no intention on stopping the murder and the carnage and the hatred and the vilification of one another and all the other things that go on in this society, then don't deceive yourself into thinking that eternal life will be yours.

But if you want to truly live for God, if you want the Jesus Christ of the Bible, if you want to live for God, if you want to forgive your neighbor, I'm asking you now to raise your hand and receive Christ as Savior." And I was told that if the numbers were correct, the local people estimated the crowd between four and 700,000. There was no way to really measure it. We settled in at five. If the numbers were correct, more than 100,000 people raised their hands that night to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. I went back to my hotel and in my hotel, I got down on my knees beside my bed to give God thanks for truly a miraculous night.

And then suddenly I remembered the prayer that I prayed when I was a young police officer many years before walking the beat, and before I could even open my mouth to say thank you, the Lord spoke to me and said, "Carter, don't limit me. Don't limit what I can do. Don't put parameters around my compassion. Don't put parameters around my power. Don't put parameters around my ability. I am God. I can do whatever I want to do." Now fast forward from there to just a couple of months ago, I took a stroll down Broadway one night. I was walking from where the church is down to Penn Station. And I walked right through Times Square and folks, it's like Sodom and Gomorrah.

I can't even begin to describe to you what's going on. Let me just give you one example. They're painting naked people there now. Tourists pay to paint people. I mean, it's just unimaginable. If you ever wondered in the Bible what Sodom looked like, that's probably what it looked like. The conversation is less than idiotic. I don't even know how to describe the conversation. The drugs are being sold openly everywhere. The prostitution that's going on, on the streets, it's just... and that's only the beginning of it. It's almost every sin you can think of is being committed there. And so, I was so overwhelmed by what I was looking, because I don't go down there very often.

I was so overwhelmed, I started praying out loud. I started first saying, "God have mercy on the people." And nobody much cares. You can pray out loud there, nobody cares what you're doing. So, I start to pray and then I started to point to people, different groups doing different activities. "Have mercy on those people. Oh Jesus, have mercy on these people." And once again, I felt the Lord asking me, "How many souls would you like before you die?" And I prayed a prayer and I said, "God..." And immediately as I felt the Lord ask me that question again, I thought of the king in the presence of Elisha as he was dying and he sat straight there on the ground, and he only struck it three times and the Elisha said, "You should have hit it five or six. You would have had a full victory over the Syrian army. Now you're only going to get a temporary deliverance."

Based on that story, I said, "Lord, I'd like 60 million souls before I die." Now see how quiet it got all of a sudden, right? See, we're talking about what, what's the theme of this conference? It's Time to Believe. Is God able to do that? Is God able to bring a spiritual awakening to this nation? Is God able to... I'm not talking about just brand-new souls, but I'm talking about churches coming back to Christ. I'm talking about Christian believers coming home to God. I'm talking about God doing what only God can do. I'd rather die on the side of faith than live on the side of unbelief. Given the choice, that's where I'm going to finish out my days.

I'm on the radio now and I speak to almost one to three million people a day as I'm told by Ambassador Communications. So why should I consider it an impossible thing that God could grant that many souls in this last hour of time? If we don't believe God, we're to be pitied of all people because we have all the history, we have the teaching, we've got the tapes, we've got the testimonies, we hear what God has done, we talk about the great awakenings throughout history. And if we are the final generation before Christ's return, aren't we to be pitied if we've come to the place with all of our history and teaching that we simply don't believe God that he's able to do what he's always done?

And of course, now it starts with the individual. That's what I want to talk about for just a few moments this afternoon. It starts with you. It starts with me. What am I willing to believe God for in my life? As a believer, I can fall short of what God could do, I'll still go to heaven. You'll still go to heaven. We're believers in Christ. We have this inheritance of eternal life with God because of Jesus Christ. But we can fall short of what God has for our lives just by simply building parameters around ourselves. We choose to believe what others have said about us or we choose to believe the frailties of our own hearts rather than what God is speaking.

I'm continuing the theme that the Lord started me on this morning for you, for people that are gathered here today. We're not the largest crowd in history, but neither was the first church. They were only 120 in that upper room and eventually even the Roman army bent its knee to the presence of God through 120 people that God was able to speak to and empower. And they come out of that upper room, thrust themselves into the marketplace and in many cases, many of these people knew that doing this was going to cost them their lives and many of them did. It cost them everything to do this. But they came out in the power of God and they began to speak.

It says in the Greek, the megaleios of God. That's what other nations heard them and said, "We hear them speaking in our tongues, the wonderful works of God." It says in the King James. But the word in the Greek is megaleios, and what it means is the anticipated outworkings of the inward presence of Christ. Now upon them they were speaking about things that God was going to do and how God was going to do it and who he was going to use to do it. Truly amazing. This is the difference between 3,000 plus people coming back from the temple where they had been reading things about God that were true. Those people that had just come from the temple, they were opening the scrolls, they were reading Isaiah or other scriptures. They were reading and it was all true, but it was all just facts about God.

And on the way home they encountered 120 people that had met with God. There's a huge difference between the two. They're going home filled with unbelief. They have a lot of history, but they're filled with unbelief. They meet 120 people coming out of an encounter with God filled with faith. Oh, I tell you one more time, it's time to believe. It's time. We've got to become the church again in this generation. The way things have been done, there's been great good done. I don't negate it, but the hour now, the hour requires something else. Something new, something old maybe that we rediscover one more time.

Genesis chapter 18. Father, thank you for your word. Your word is indeed a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. I thank you Lord that your word tells us that the entrance of your words gives light. So, God today give us light, illuminate our path. Show us Lord individually, corporately, where you can take us as the people of God. I pray, Lord, that you would enable me by your Holy Spirit to speak the thoughts of your heart. My voice is powerless. Yours can create a universe. And so, God, I pray for the grace to disappear that you may appear. I pray that my thoughts would be brought into subjection to yours. I pray, God, you'd take this frail old man one more time and use my life for your glory.

You promised that the glory of the latter house would be greater than the former. And in the scriptures, we see that you saved the best wine for the end of the wedding feast. So, Lord I stand today on that truth and I believe, oh God, if I will yield to you that the years that remain will be greater than the years that have gone before. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege of gaining fruit for your kingdom. Thank you, my God, for the ability to yield to you, to recognize the weaker we become, the stronger you become. And so, Lord, thank you. Open every heart. Open every set of ears here today, God. Help us to believe you again. In Jesus name.

Genesis 18. It says, the Lord appeared to him, that's Abraham, by the terebinth trees of Mamre as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. He lifted his eyes and looked and behold three men were standing by him. Now there's opinion about this, but I think it's generally accepted that it was a pre-incarnated appearance of Christ and two angels, two messengers, were with him. I'm not here to debate that, but that's generally what's said about it. He ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the ground and he said, "My Lord, if I've now found favor in your sight, do not pass on by your servant."

And this ought to be your cry today and mine. Oh God, if I've found any favor in your sight, would you please Lord, don't pass me by. Pray that right now. Let that be your prayer. If I've found favor with you, God, don't pass me by for somebody else. Don't keep walking. As you come close to the place where I am, where I dwell, where I'm sitting right now, Lord, just don't keep walking. Stop. So, the Lord did stop at the entrance to his tent. And then in verse nine he says to him, "Where's Sarah, your wife?" And so, he said, "Here in the tent." And he said, "I will certainly return to you according to the time of life. And behold, Sarah, your wife shall have a son." Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him.

Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. Therefore, Sarah said within herself, "After I've grown old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord, being old also?" And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child since I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you according to the time of life and Sarah shall have a son." I just love this in the word of God that quite often God gives a promise and then waits till we are too weak to fulfill it. If you're young and you live long enough, you'll find that you can't fulfill the promises that God has made to you.

He waits until our strength is gone so that his strength... You see, he begins where we end. That's exactly the way it works. And I love that about God. I love that about the kingdom of God. You'll see that all the way through the scriptures when you study the scriptures, if the Lord wanted to bring a prophet into the world, he searched for a barren womb. He looked for somebody who couldn't bear children in the case, for example, of Hannah, Elizabeth as well for John the Baptist and etc., etc. The list goes on and on. He wants to deliver his people out of Egypt and what does he do?

He waits till the man who once was in a place of authority, once held a sword in his hand, once commanded respect and perhaps even soldiers is now an old man in the wilderness and has no power in himself to do any of the things that he was once promised that he would do. And I thank God for that because if we were able to do this, then our testimony would be, "Look what God and I have done, hallelujah," instead of, "Look what God has done through me. Look what God has done for his own glory through my weakness, through my lack of strength." That's why there're some people sitting here that you may have a promise that God gave you one day, and you say, "What happened to that promise? Where did it go?"

Oh, it didn't go anywhere. It just has to wait for you to get out of the way and then you watch what God's going to do with that promise. Years ago, God started speaking to me about spiritual awakening. He started speaking to me about it before I even knew what it was. And I was so excited about it. One day I came, and I said to my wife, we lived in a farmhouse at the time. I said, "Theresa," I said, "The Lord's been speaking to me about that I would live to see a spiritual awakening." I wasn't even sure what it was, but I would live to see a massive turning to God, of people turning to God from every walk of life.

And I was so sure of what God had spoken to my heart, and she was standing in the farmhouse. I'll never forget it. And she turned and she pointed at me and she said, "God will never give the mantle of revival to a man until he no longer wants it." I want you to think about that because when we are still involved in the mix, we will always take over the work of God. Always. It will start God alone, then me and God, then it will be me and God will be somewhere back there, and we will take over the work of God. But God comes to Abraham and remember the promise was you're going to be a blessing. The promise was your descendants are going to be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The promise was that through you, all the world is going to be blessed.

Now you and I know that through Abraham was going the come the patriarchs of Israel, through whom was going to come to the tribe of Judah, through whom was going to come the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through whom was going to come the church, through whom was going to come you and I here today. So, we are actually the promise that God gave to Abraham sitting right here today. We are the stars. Remember Jesus himself said, "You are the light of the world." He's referring back again to the promise made to Abraham. You are the light of the world. You are that which is set in the heavens in a sense to give light, to give direction, to give hope, to show times, to show seasons. You are the light of the world. A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden.

But before the promise could be fulfilled, God had to wait until Abraham was too old to have a child. Now he made mistakes along the way, just like you and I do, and the mistakes that he made didn't negate the promise. So don't let the devil tell you that the mistakes you've made along the way have somehow caused God to take away plan A and give you plan B or plan C in your life. No. Plan A is still there. Plan A has not been dependent on you. It's been dependent on God and God alone. Now the men arose from there, verse 16, here's where it gets interesting, and looked towards Sodom. And Abraham went with them to send them on the way. And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

For I've known him, verse 19, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord to do righteousness and justice that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has spoken to him." In other words, I know this man that he will do right. I know this man that he will follow the words that I give to him, so I'm not going to hide from him what I am doing. Remember Jesus himself in the gospel of John said, "When he, the comforter has come, he will what, he will guide you into all truth and he will show you things to come." He will show you things to come in your own life. He will show you things to come in the world around you.

In other words, we're not people of darkness that the day we're living in should overtake us as a thief. You and I should not be a people on the outside looking in or having to go to watch Fox or CNN at night to find out what's going on in the world or what the spiritual condition of the country is. We are the people of God and if the Holy Spirit is inside of us and we are open to the working of God, he will show us things to come. He will speak to us about things that he is about to do in the nation. Now he says, "Because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grave..." This is verse 20 of chapter 18. "I will go down now and see whether they've done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to me and if not, I will know."

I want to tell you something. We are very, very close in America to where Sodom and Gomorrah were. I want to tell you why. You know what the flashpoint of God's judgment was on Sodom and Gomorrah, is when the Sodomites came to the door where the two angels were and tried to force their way in and make the messengers of God partakers of their sin. And when the Sodomites tried to force their way into the house of God and say, "You will become, you will acquiesce to us. You will bend your knee to our lifestyle. You will declare our sin to be good." When that happens, that is the flashpoint in my opinion, in historically looking at of God's judgment. When that happened, when they tried to make the messengers of God partakers of their sin.

We're not that far away from this moment in America right now. We are fighting this battle. You will see it shortly. It will probably in America in the next several years become a hate crime to refuse to acknowledge gay marriage in the church of Jesus Christ as leadership. So, we are at the point where this lifestyle is trying to push its way into the door of the house of God and say, "You will partake of our sin." "If God doesn't judge us," Billy Graham said, "He's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." "I will go down and see and if not, I will know."

Verse 22 it says, then the men turned away from there and went towards Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Now here's the type of a church that begins to pray. I just wrote a book recently called, It's Time to Pray, and I believe that with all my heart, if ever there was a time to pray, it's now. Here's a moment where there's a man standing before God who has the power to turn his heart in some measure. But what we're going to see becomes a bit, in my opinion, of a strange prayer meeting. This is a prayer meeting outside of Sodom, may I call it that? This is a man who's now standing... He knows he's standing before God, the son of God, pre-incarnated Christ at this point. He knows that who he's petitioning has the power to stop this judgment that's about to come.

And so, Abraham came near, verse 23, and said, "Would you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were 50 righteous within the city, would you also destroy the place and not spare it for the 50 righteous that were in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous should be as the wicked. Far be it from you. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Talk about the humility of God. There's a man standing before him that basically is saying, "If you do this, you're not righteous. If you do this, you're doing wrong because it's not right that you should slay the righteous with the wicked."

So, the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom 50 righteous within the city, then I will spare the place for their sakes." Then Abraham answered and said, "Well, indeed now..." Remember we're on the theme of, It's Time to Believe. "Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose there were five less than the 50 righteous, would you destroy all of the city for lack of five?" So, he said, "If I find there 45, I will not destroy it." And he spoke to him yet again and said, "Suppose there should be 40 found there?" So, he said, "I will not do it for the sake of 40." Then he said, "Let not the Lord be angry and I will speak. Suppose 30 should be found there?" So, he said, "I will not do it if I find 30 there."

And he said, "Indeed now, I've taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose 20 should be found there?" So, he said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of 20." Then he said, "Oh, let not the Lord be angry and I'll speak, but once more, suppose 10 should be found there?" And he said, "I will not destroy it for the sake of 10." So, the Lord went his way as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham and Abraham returned to his place. Now this is an ironic kind of a prayer meeting. If you believe as I do that God is omniscient, now he knows, he knows how many righteous are in the city. He knows there's not 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10, so why is he playing with Abraham? Is he playing with Abraham or what? Is he looking for something that Abraham is not aware of?

Why doesn't he just say right out of the gate, "Abraham, don't waste your time. There's not even 10 righteous in the city." Is he looking for something? What is he looking for? When you look at this passage, this scripture, there's no indication that the Lord said, "Now enough, Abraham, don't ask me for anymore." Abraham chose to stop. It's an incredible thing really. He was six souls short of a victory. Six souls short of a moment of mercy on a wicked society. Six short. Now Lot was there, and Peter's epistle declares him to be righteous. That's a really iffy righteousness, but he was declared to be righteous. That means his wife was also righteous and his two daughters.

The angels brought four out of Sodom before Sodom burned. This whole society is about to go into judgment. It's all about to be judged. Abraham stops praying. Stop spraying right at the point he's six short of a victory. Why didn't he go down to five? Was the Lord toying with him or was God after something in this man? Which I believe I see in this passage. Now it's conjecture on my part. Okay? Conjecture means that I'm reading this into the text, it doesn't necessarily say that, so you are free to accept or reject my conjecture. But here's my conjecture for what it's worth. I think God was after one thing and Abraham didn't arrive there. I think he was after Abraham to say, "Lord, I will go into the city. I will go. Give me 30 days, give me 60 days to go into the city and if I find 10 righteous, will you spare it?"

You see, this is why I feel the Lord didn't say "No, stop praying right now." Because the scripture says, as soon as he'd finished speaking, the Lord went his way and Abraham went back to his place. And that's the way a lot of our prayer meetings are. In a sense, even if we do pray, we come to a prayer meeting and we say, "Oh God, have mercy. God have mercy on New York City. God have mercy. Save people. God have mercy, let the children know you." And then we get up after the prayer meeting and just go home. I mean, we don't put ourselves in with our prayers and bring it to the place of saying, "Lord, send me, send me somewhere. Send me into that neighborhood. Send me to that single mum with her kids. Send me across the hall in the place where I live.

Send me, my God. Open my mouth. Use my life for your glory." And I honestly believe that's what God was looking for but didn't find it. He didn't even intercede for his own family if you read the text, the scripture, for his own nephew. Remember the Lord said, "I will show him what I'm about to do because he will command his household after him." Well, his own nephew was there or his cousin, whichever way you want to look at it, but was in Sodom with his family. That was by extension in that culture, that was his family. And God said, "I will show him what I'm about to do because he will instruct his family." Now Lot had no authority. Lot was so intermixed with the backsliddeness of that society that nobody believed him when he finally opened his mouth and said, "Judgment is coming."

His own family didn't believe him. His sons-in-law didn't believe him. They laughed. They thought he was joking. But you imagine if a man would have shown up there as Jonah once did in Nineveh and say, "I've been talking face to face with the living God. I'm telling you judgment is coming here. And if 10 righteous can be found in the city..." Now Lot and his family were four, Abraham would have made it five, which means he had to win five people over to the worship of the true God. Five in a city and it would have been spared. Five, and it might've been given another year, maybe another two years, maybe a season to repent. Five who might have turned from their wickedness and started preaching to the people.

God only knows what history would say if Abraham would have just not quit at that point. If he would have believed right through to the final until God says no, until God says, "No more. Don't ask me for anymore. You've brought this thing down far enough; it can't go anymore." But there's no evidence the Lord had gotten to that point. And I think sometimes we think that prayer in itself, it's a good thing and thank God for prayer, but at some point, we have to throw ourselves in with our prayers and say, "Lord, here am I. Here am I." But it might mean we don't get to go home when we say that. See, he went home. It might've meant he didn't get to go home. The here am I can mean we might end up somewhere we never anticipated we're going to go. We might end up doing something we never thought we would do. We might find ourselves in places we never thought we would be.

I remember one time I was invited to speak in a prison just for sex offenders and I was a police officer. And the Lord opened the door and it was a hard door to go through, a difficult door to go through. But there was great fruit born and there were 700 men there and there was great fruit born in that meeting by not hiding from the truth, but by bringing the truth to people who were locked in a prison of immorality as well as a prison of their own making. There are so many doors that God will open if we're willing to go through those doors. And he takes us into impossible places, places where we could never hope to achieve what only he can do if he only finds a willing vessel.

One of the greatest tragedies in scriptures in the book of Ezekiel. Now he begins to describe, Ezekiel describes the society, he said the politicians were corrupt and stealing from the people. The judges were accepting bribes. There was a religion that was being bankrolled by this whole corrupt system and it was in cahoots with it. Underneath that, the people were exercising oppression, cheating, robbing, stealing, oppressing the stranger underneath that. And it just gets worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. And then he says, "And I sought for a man that I should not have to judge my own people and I could not find one." Can you imagine? Israel at this time is the most religious nation on the face of the earth.

God says, "I sought for a man to spare the city." It became easier to believe that God was going to judge that society than to believe he could show mercy. I personally feel that he sought for a man among all of this religious crowd that believed that he was willing to be merciful and couldn't find one. Everybody had fallen in line with the common thought of the day. This place is going to be judged. It's all going to be doomed. It's damned. It's going to burn. He said, "I decided to show mercy, but I needed a human vessel to work through and I couldn't find one." Couldn't find one among his own people with all their history of mercy. I mean, think it through. This was a nation birthed in mercy, guided by mercy. They knew the failings of their history. They knew the mercy of God all the way through their history.

They knew that God was, at least should have known he was merciful, but there's points in life where it becomes easier to believe in unbelief than to believe that God can be God and God can do what God can do. Yes, we're living in a dangerous day. We're living in a decadent day. We're living in a day when evil is being called good and good is being called evil. We're living in a day of corruption at every conceivable level in society. We're living in a day when our children are being deliberately gender confused and baptized in filth even in their own schools. It's a terrible day that we're living in. But again, God's saying, "I'm looking for someone. I'm looking for someone, a man, a woman, somebody somewhere.

I'm looking for someone in your neighborhood. I'm looking for someone on your job. I'm looking for someone at your table. I'm looking for someone to show mercy through. Someone who could just speak maybe what everybody's been thinking or maybe words they've never heard before. Maybe a warning that's never been given, maybe love that they'd never felt, I don't know." The gospel is preached different ways to different people at different times. As Jude says, "Save some with love and save others with fire, but in any way reach them." I sought for a man, I sought for a man. You see, this is not just a conference and if you're just going to build the resume of what you've learned at conferences, aren't we just then a people always learning and not coming to the knowledge of the truth?

That's going to be the condition of the last days, the apostle Paul says, always learning, learning, learning as if attending like 1,500 conferences is somehow going to make us into culture changers, but that's not what it's all about. It's about taking what we do know and saying, "God, use me for your glory and take me where you want me to go and give me what you want me to speak and take me to the people that you want me to speak to." And quite often it might be a culture. It might be a situation that's completely out of your culture or your comfort zone, something you never anticipated that God was going to do.

It's been the story of my life. I've been in places speaking to people who I have absolutely no experience and all I have is the word of God. But I've watched God do what only God can do. I've seen miracles, honest to God miracles in my lifetime. I've seen God change societies, do things that only he can do. And so here we are again, thank God for yesterday's victory, but we live in today and we're moving into tomorrow. And I believe that God is searching again, searching again, searching again. I sought for a man, I sought for a woman. I sought for somebody, sought for an Esther who would go before the king, feeling unlovely, feeling unwanted, feeling like the former relationship is all gone.

That's what she felt like. But she said, "Well, I'm going to pray and I'm going to go in and if I perish, I perish." And not only did she win a victory for her people, but she became a co-regent with her husband, which was unheard of in that culture. Amazing. I wish I had time to just speak on that topic because it is one of the more profound passages of scripture, not just scripture-wise, but historically too as well. She rewrote the law of death into a law of life. Just one girl that was willing to go in and say, "God, you put me where I am, so I'm giving you my life for your glory. And if I perish, I perish. But I'm going in not for my sake, but for the sake of people that are destined for the slaughter. A society that's going to die and are defenseless to protect themselves."

And here we are again one more time. One more time called to go in. And so, I want to challenge you with all my heart. I want to challenge you with everything that's inside of me. I feel like that old song in Flanders Fields, I don't know how many know that, an old soldier song in a sense. It's a poem. It says, to you from failing hands, we throw the torch. I can't do this forever. I'm 66 but some of you are only 26 here. You're younger and you've got years ahead of you. And some of us older guys, we're not going to be around forever, but we're throwing a torch to you and saying, "Who will take the baton? Who will take the torch? Who will run with it? Who will stand when nobody else will?

Who will go up to people that nobody else wants to go to? Who will believe that God can show mercy when all the society is yelling, "Judge them, judge them, judged them, judge them." Who will believe? Who will believe that certain communities can be reached that people say they can't be reached? Who will believe? Who will go with that torch of mercy? And so that's my challenge to you. It's time to believe. It's time to believe. I don't want this just to be a slogan for a conference, and I believe that it was put on your heart, pastor Gary, pastor John, for a deeper reason than just more knowledge. That there are people here, you're going to be used of God.

Didn't Daniel say, "In the latter days, the people who know their God will be strong and they will do exploits." All hell seemingly will be breaking out in the world and knowledge will increase and people will be going to and fro and there'll be all these scary things on the horizon like artificial intelligence and facial recognition and all these things that are coming our way. But there still will be a people who are strong, and they will do things that only God can do through them. Praise be to God. Be a warrior church in a sense, glorifying God and be a demonstration that God is still alive, still on the throne and still God through a body, through a people. May we be that people. May you be that person, may we together be the people of God.

That is the challenge in my heart. I'm going to ask the worship team to come, if you will, please. I've seen you move. I've seen you move the mountains and I believe you can do it again. It's time to believe. It's time to believe that God can use you. It's time to believe. It's time to believe. There's a point of learning, but if it doesn't bring us to faith, what good is it? All you will be is a doctrinal argument somewhere, but we're not called to be a doctrinal argument. We're called to be a living expression of the reality of God, the mercy of God, that mercy that sent the son of God to a cross. That's what you and I are called to be.

And so, my challenge to you is as it was given to me. I was a young believer; I was about 28 years old and I went to a church one Sunday. I was visiting there and as the pastor was speaking, my heart was strangely warmed, and I felt a call of God to yield my body to him for his purposes. To yield my future, my life. And I'm sitting in my seat and I was in the back, and I was thinking, I got nothing, Lord. I got a bad temper. If you need that, I can give you that. I mean, I'm just trying to be a husband. I'm just learning what it means to be a father. I'm trying to break out of the basic boxes of human behavior that had become very familiar with my life. I'm just getting free myself. I've got so much in myself to deal with and suddenly I feel God calling me even in that place of weakness into something of himself.

He's asking me for everything. And I was thinking, because it was a big church and there had to be 900 people or 1,000 people there. And suddenly my heart is pounding, and the altar call is given, and nobody is moving. I was thinking in the back, what's wrong with these people? They've got the knowledge, I don't. They've got the history, I don't. They were raised in Christian families, I wasn't. They're all so nice and I'm fighting just not to punch people in the face when I disagree with them. For real. I'm still fighting. I've just got this wagon load of baggage and yet you're calling me? And to me it didn't make any sense. I didn't understand it. Why don't you call him?

And I'm looking around at her or him, they look so nice. Their hair's all nice and their suits are all nice and I'm there. I don't even have a suit. Yeah. I couldn't fight it any longer and I get out of my seat. I came down to the front and I got on my knees and there was another guy who got out, there was two of us. There's 1,000 people there who were being called to give our all to God and there was only two who came forward. And I started weeping and weeping and weeping. And here's my prayer, I said, "God, the little boy in the Bible had a bag lunch. I don't even have that. I have nothing. I have nothing." That was my prayer. I said, "God, I have nothing that I think you could use for your kingdom, but if you can use nothing, here I am. Use me for your glory."

I couldn't offer him... I had no history of faithfulness. I had no giftings. I didn't even know what you giftings of the Spirit were. I had no giftings that I would want. I had no good self-image. I had nothing, nothing, nothing. Hardly knew the Bible. I knew the parts I was reading in the New Testament and yet he was calling me to make a difference. And I cried and I cried, and I cried, and I cried, and all these counselors were coming around me and saying, asking me all kinds of questions and I kept saying, "Just go away. Just go away. Leave me alone. Leave me alone." I kept saying, "Go away." "Oh brother, can we pray for you for this?" "Go away." It's all I could think of telling him. I was alone with God.

They weren't used to that happening unfortunately. And so that's the call of God for you. Come ye weary. Come ye poor. Come, those who don't have any money to buy. Come, come and watch what God can do. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Let's stand please. If that's you, would you join me here? Would you come? Just slip out wherever you are. Lord, I don't have much. Maybe you say, "I have nothing, but I'll give you what I got." A little boy just had a couple of loaves and some fish and you fed 5,000 plus people with it. So, here's my little lunch. And if you can take it, God, please take it and multiply it and feed people through my life. Use me for your glory. You watch what God will do. You watch what God will do. You watch.

It's time to believe that God can. It's time to believe. Whatever you put in his hand, he can multiply it by a million times, and he could start feeding people all over the world with it. You just give it to him and believe him and just believe him. Just believe that he can use your life. Hallelujah. Let's sing that song and just take time to pray, just to talk to God. Or you can sing the song, do whatever you want. Just make it a meaningful moment right now. A meaningful moment.

(silence)

It was such a confidence that others looked at them and said, "Where did these people get this kind of confidence? Where did they get this kind of authority? How did they have this kind of an encounter with God?" Lord, let that be our testimony. Let that be our testimony God everywhere we go that people look at say, "Where did they get this anointing? How did they get such power? Where do you get that from?" Oh God, give us the ability, Lord, to go into the deepest presence of the human mind and the human heart, bringing life and light as Paul and Silas brought you into that inner prison. God, give us the power to reach the inner prisons, Lord, of this society, God. Prisons in people's minds and hearts, Lord.

Give us, Lord, the keys, God, into these places, Lord. God, thank you for what you're doing right now, Lord, in young men, young women, older men, older women who are gathered here at this altar, Lord. We've gathered with the little we have and some feel like we've got nothing, but God what we have we give it to you, Lord, and you are able to do miracles with it. You're able to feed thousands with it, oh God. Oh Jesus, son of God. Oh Jesus, son of God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Raise up evangelists, Lord, here today. Raise up powerful, powerful testimonies for Christ. Raise up teachers that will speak in the classroom boldly to their students, Lord.

Raise up, God, people in every aspect of life and society that will be living witnesses for you, Lord. God, let it be, Lord. Let it be. Let it be oh God. Let it be oh Lord. Let it be. I'm going to ask you just to open your mouth and talk to God right now. Just pour your heart out before him unashamedly, unashamedly. Let him begin to speak to your heart about what he has for you in the future. Let's believe. Make this a sacred moment, a sacred moment where you stand before God. You kneel before God. Whatever it is, you sit before God. Make it a sacred moment. Say, Lord, hear am I. Here am I. Here am I, Lord. One more down the line of weak people. One more down the line of people that society wouldn't even look to for you, Lord God. One more Lord, and I'm asking you to take my life and use it for your glory. Hallelujah.

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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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