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When Favor Asks for Faith

 

Carter Conlon

June 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[laughter]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bicycles, Dancing Monkeys and Wax Statues

 

Gary Wilkerson

June 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congregation: Dad.

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

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

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

Congregation: Don't let go.

Gary: Don't let go or let go?

Congregation: Don't let go.

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

Congregation: He keeps going.

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

Congregation: Wobble.

Gary: Wobble. How many of them--

Congregation: Fall.

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

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

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

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

Nick: I'm going to ride a bike?

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

Congregation: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congregation: Prosper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shipwrecked Under His Sovereignty

 

Claude Houde

October 9, 2019

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

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

[applause]

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

[laughter]

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

Audience: They look good.

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

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

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

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[applause]

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

[laughter]

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

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

Audience: Wow.

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

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

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

Audience: You're not controlling anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[applause]

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

[laughter]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audience: Yes, please.

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

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

Audience: Yes, please.

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[laughter]

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

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

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

[applause]

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

[applause]

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

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

[laughter]

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

[applause]

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

[applause]

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

[applause]

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

[applause]

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

Audience: Yes please.

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Audience: Yes please.

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

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

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

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

Audience: Yes please.

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

Audience: When I'm shipwrecked I need you.

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

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

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

[applause]

Audience: Yes please.

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

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[laughter]

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

[laughter]

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

Audience: So is yours.

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

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

[laughter]

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

[laughter]

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

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

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

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

[laughter]

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

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

[applause]

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

[applause]

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

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

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

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

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

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How a Really Good Man Ends Really Bad

 

Tim Dilena

October 2, 2019

Exploring the life and ministry of Barnabas, Pastor Tim Dilena shows us how a good, godly person can end their race poorly. That unforgiveness and anger slowly lead us in an unhealthy direction and away from God's desired best for our lives. But there is hope—there are four steps we can take today to course-correct and finish well.

I want to talk to you about a man who ended up in the wrong place. Who ended up in the wrong city. It wasn't where he was supposed to be. He wasn't as fortunate as many of us that are sitting in this place today because of a bad decision he made. That we see what the end was and where he ended up at. Let me build my case here for the next few moments. I want you to take something to write with. I want you to get ready to jot things down on your phone, on your iPad, piece of paper for us older folks.

Then, let's just write this down for just a second. How many still use paper and pen, would you raise your hand. This is the old crowd. Okay. Here we go. Let's deal with this. You have to have, I believe, I think you have to have three people in your life that I think are really important. I think you have to identify them. I think everybody in their life needs someone in the genre of an Apostle Paul. What do you mean by that? Everybody needs a Paul which is really an older person, mentor.

I think coach that can build into us. Not necessarily someone who's smarter or more gifted, but really someone who has more journey, is more weather beasten. Has been down the road and can guide us and literally it's somebody that's willing to share their strengths and weaknesses. Someone that literally could say, "I've learned this in the laboratory of life and let me walk you through that." Let me just say this, you are never too old to have an Apostle Paul to look up to. You're never too old.

We always call it in our family, 'processing up.' If all you do is process this way, that's dangerous. Who do you process up with? That someone that can speak out of experience and out of relationship with God that can walk you through. I think everyone needs that. I think everybody needs a Timothy in their life. It's someone you're investing in. It's a young person, somebody that you are affirming, encouraging, correcting, directing, praying for.

It's who we would say and let me just say this to staff and leaders at Time Square Church. We say it like this. Who's your bench? Who is it? We'll say it like this. This is really important. You get hit by a bus on Broadway, who then takes over? Do we have to go out and find somebody? Our job has to be investment. If Greg leaves here and get's hit by the bus or get's hit by the F-train, we need some-- I'm just saying. Then who takes over? It's really important.

Pastor Teresa. Who's the bench that we have. It's always important that we're looking for that. Someone that we're bringing up and bringing to that place. Then the third person. Not only a Paul, Timothy, but jot this down. I think everybody needs a Barnabas in their life. Let me tell you what a Barnabas is. It's someone who loves you but is not impressed with you. That is willing to say, "Hey, I think you're messing up here. I think the way you spoke to your wife is not the right way.   I haven't seen you in church, I love you enough to tell you this."

It's somebody in our life that we know we can trust, that we have to make sure that I think it's important that those three people are part of our life. That there is a Paul that we process up. That there is a Timothy which is a bench for us and that there is a Barnabas, someone who loves us but is not impressed with us. I went on a journey, I only did it once and it was interesting. Social media allows you to do this. I kind of went on a journey with people.

I've been in ministry for 35 years and it's amazing that social media will allow you to see people that started in ministry with you and to see where they are today. Sometimes that's a scary thing. To see people that started in ministry, started with a fire, started with a real passion and a calling and to see where they've ended up today. From very questionable lifestyles to areas that I think would almost be scary for me that I kept thinking about.

Thank God for the Paul’s in my life that kept me on track. Thank God for the Timothy’s that motivated me to continue on and thank God for the Barnabas’s that loved me enough to tell me the truth. A lot of what happened to those people that I went on a journey to see what has happened to them, I think I started to realize that one of these men that we talked about had an ending, which I think will surprise us. We find most of his life in the book of Acts and then we got to jump to another book of the new testament to see the final word, if it was like going to social media, the final word about this individual and his name is Barnabas.

I'm going to tell you about this man Barnabas and I want you to follow with me on a journey. They say that since Greece started in a sense, the Olympics and those games that the world celebrates, it was interesting. I was reading something that they said that the first races that would take place was not simply a race that would happen with legs and speed when it was a running race, but they used to have to run it with a torch in their hand. That's where we get the torch being passed from country to country.

They said it was the man that not only finished the race first but finished with the torch still burning. I thought to myself, "God, I want to finish this thing with my fire still lit. I want to finish with a fire alive inside of me." That's what I wanted to see. I want us to take a look at Barnabas' torch. I want us to see and I want you to make the judgment call if it was still burning at the end. Let me walk you through a journey. Just jot this down with me as we go through because it all starts in Acts chapter four.

In fact, his real name is not Barnabas at all. His real name is Joseph. Barnabas was a nickname in Acts 4:36-37. It was literally for two things. This man is known as an encourager. That's what the name Barnabas means. He's also known as generous because in Acts 4:36-37, Joseph, who later becomes Barnabas as a nickname because he is such a positive, encouraging guy to be around. Can I pause here for a second and help you Times Square with something that happened with me yesterday here at Times Square that I want to encourage you.

Can I help you? Somebody said this to me and I had to say, "Stop. Let's do this the right way" They said, "Pastor Tim, I want to just say to you, I want to encourage you, but don't get a big head. Don't get prideful." I said, "Stop right there." I said, "If you're going to encourage me, then do it right." I said, "You are not--" Listen to me. Stop saying that. We live in a culture that beats us down. You're not the pride police. Okay, let's just get that straight.

If you're going to encourage them, then just say it. Just don't worry about pride. The Holy Spirit can worry about that. After service at six o'clock if pastor David is good, "Pastor David, I just want to say this, but don't get a big head, but you really did it." Just say you did a good job. Okay, enough of that. Here we go. Here's what I wanted to say. He was encouraging and generous, sold the plot of land and gave everything to the church. Then in acts chapter nine, we see him show up again. He is a visionary. It's an Acts chapter 9 that the Apostle Paul becomes a Christian.

He's on the road to Damascus and this man who is killing Christians now comes into the church and in Acts 9:25-28 when he gets there, the Bible says that all the believers were afraid of him and that they were not only afraid of him, but they thought he was faking is what the Bible says. "Then Barnabas brought him the Apostle Paul to the Apostles and told them how he saw the Lord." I mean, think about this. What would you do if you just saw Jesus become born again? You show up into the church and everybody's skeptical about you.

You'd almost go, "It's better to be out in the world. At least people are real. They don't even believe that I have a relationship with Jesus." I mean, think about this. If it wasn't for Barnabas, Paul could have just threw it all away and said, "Man, the people in the church act worse than the people out on the streets." In fact, let me say it to you this way because the Bible says Barnabas took hold of him. Listen to these words. Truth be told, if there was no Barnabas, there may not have been an Apostle Paul. Think about that for a second.

If Barnabas didn't go, "No, this guy's for real. He saw Jesus." We don't know if there would have been an Apostle Paul because somebody believed in him. Think about this. He is an encourager. He is generous. He is a visionary. He saw something in Paul that not even Peter, James and John saw. Do you know what the other thing is? He was in disciple or talk about a bench. Acts chapter 11. Jot this down, verse 25.

He goes and finds Saul again in Tarsus. What he does is when he found him, he brought him with him to Antioch, spent time there by pouring into Paul challenging him and even letting him do ministry with him. It was Barnabas and Paul at this time, so it wasn't like just, "Let me introduce you to the church," but, "Let me grow you in your relationship." Think about that. You are generous. You are an encourager, you are a visionary. You are a disciple. Here's another one, Acts chapter 13. He is a pioneer.

The first missionary team to go out is Paul and Barnabas. It says that in verses two and three, that the church right in the middle of a worship service, separate Paul and Barnabas and sent them out on the first missionary journey. Think of that for just a moment. You have an encourager, you have a generous man. You have somebody who's a visionary, a discipler, a pioneer. Acts 14 says that God was using them both in a healing gift, read the story on the first missionary journey.

They were calling them Zeus and Hermes, because people were getting healed and they had to stop them and say, "This is the power of Jesus." When you think about what was going on, generosity, you think of the encouragement, you think of the visionary to see something in Paul that no one else saw, a disciple or not just to lead him to cry or to help them into the church, but to grow him. To think of him being a pioneer, to have gift things from God of healing.

Finally in Acts 15, he's literally seen as the church spokesman, he is an elder spokesman in the church. The church hit a pivotal moment in Acts 15, of wondering which direction we're going to go and literally facing a racist direction. Do we allow Gentiles even to come into the building, to even be part of the church? It was Paul and Barnabas and especially Barnabas in verse 12, that has to stand up and the Bible says all the people kept silent, they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they’re relating the signs that they saw among the Gentiles.

Literally, God would take this man, an encourager, a generous man, a visionary, a pioneer, a discipler, a man who had a healing gift and an elder spokesman in the church, think about who this man was. Then something happened in Acts chapter 15 that I want to read to you. This is where I think something begins to go awry, and finds him in the wrong place. Listen to verse 36. "Some days Paul said to Barnabas, 'Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaim from the first missionary journey and see how they are."

Verse 37, "Barnabas wanted to take John called Mark along with him, but Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along because they deserted him in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work." Now, Times Square, look at verse 38, "and there occurred such a sharp disagreement, they separated from one another. Barnabas took Mark with him, sailed away to Cyprus and Paul chose Silas and left him being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord. He was traveling through Syria and Cilicia and strengthening the churches."

I want you to think for a second Barnabas one more time. Think about this, an encourager, he's generous, he's a visionary, he's a discipler, he's a pioneer first missionary team.

He has a healing gift. He's the elder spokesman at the Jerusalem council. There's no more mention of this man except one more verse. This is if you would go on social media in the first century, you'd find out. We don't have anything after Acts 15:38 until six years later, we have one more mention of this man Barnabas.

Who is the visionary, who's the encourager, who's the discipler, who is the elderly spokesman, who is the one that is the generous man? Let me read to you the final story of the man that I'm not sure ended up in the place that he was supposed to be. Listen to Galatians 2:11. "When Peter came to Antioch I had opposed him to his face," this is Paul speaking. "For what he did was very wrong." When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers who were not circumcised but afterward when some of his friends of James came, Peter wouldn't eat with the Gentiles anymore.

He was afraid of criticism for these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. Look at verse 13. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter's hypocrisy even Barnabas was led away in the hypocrisy. I want you to think about this for just a moment. This is Barnabas, the man who is generous, the man who is an encourager, he's a visionary and a discipler, he's a pioneer. He has a healing gift, he's the elder spokesperson and the last thing we have of him is he's called a hypocrite?

Think of this for just the moment. I remember one of my Paul’s in my life that I processed up who used to say these words to me. He says, "Tim, always remember this. That the best of man are still men at best. The best of men are still men at best." Barnabas the encourager is now ending with being called the hypocrite. Barnabas the encourager is now finding himself in a city where I was hoping to be in Jamaica, God said you need to be in Detroit because that is going to begin to change the trajectory of your life.

Really for me to end up in Jamaica would be like Barnabas because it's like Barnabas ending up Galatia. Paul's ministry partner, Paul's first mentor, Paul's co-partner and missionary has now gone hypocrisy and what a harsh word to hear the man that was discipled now calling his discipler, he's involved hypocrisy. I think that this is so important. The first verse of Barnabas in 30 AD he's an encourager and a giver. Now you think about 54 AD, his last verse ever given in Galatians 2:13, 24 years later Barnabas is finishing his race it seems like as a hypocrite.

Listen to me, hanging out with people that are really starting to bring him down a road that he never should've gone before. How does a good man end up bad? How does a good man who starts off right, how does the torch go out on something like this? Because what's deceiving about Barnabas is he is hanging out with religious people and we think everything's okay because he's hanging out with religious people, but doesn't realize that the very people he's hanging out with are part of the same thing that he's doing, which is the hypocrisy.

I don't think I'm out of bounds here to think that six years later we get this Galatians verse that something happened to him in that disagreement in Acts 15. I don't think I'm out of bounds to look at a passage in Acts 15, the Bible uses this word, "Sharp disagreement. They go their separate ways." I have to believe when you look at the passage and the scriptures that something didn't get right in Barnabas. Something happened at that moment in that disagreement that six years later has him in hypocrisy.

Think about this for a moment, Times Square Church. You take a boat and just one degree off doesn't seem like much, but go one degree off for six years you can end up in hypocrisy. Just to be here, to not have somebody in your life to correct the one degree. Someone in your life not kind of just go, "Let's get that back in line, " but to continue on with something that's in there and to go on for six years, you end up where Barnabas did, which all of a sudden you go from encourager and you end up six years later because you didn't deal with something there, and you end up in hypocrisy?

You end up after all that happens, all that stuff in the book of Acts, just that one degree for six years. Think about this for a second, just for a moment. Acts 15, on that second missionary journey to Galatians 2 is six years. That means that that disagreement sat in his heart may be for six years. Now, listen to me close for a second and jot this down.

If there is a lie that I want you to get today it's this, time doesn't heal all wounds. That's just a phrase that people say. That's not Bible. That's not true.

Listen to me close. A wound overtime doesn't heal, it corrodes the hearts. It begins to start bringing something there that you end up one degree of-- Think about this for a second, let me just say it like this. Time is an awful doctor for a wound in the heart. It mistreats and deceives its patients, because the only thing that heals wounds is forgiveness. Not time. Time doesn't heal. Forgiveness.

What happens is, when something gets broken, when a heart gets broken, when a spirit gets broken inside of us, if it's not dealt with, the longer it goes on, the more off course you become. That's the danger that goes on. That's why it's so important for us to understand this. I know we're right in the midst of-- here in New York, baseball season and everybody's excited about the Yankees that they're doing so well with like six people on the injured reserve.

Let me give just a baseball thought here for a second. Just a thought. Everybody goes watch it, I'm a Met fan. Let me just say this to you just for a second. Let me go all the way back to the '30s, considered to be one of the greatest pitchers ever in the '30s. In fact, there was only two people in the last 80, 90 years that literally had 30-game season, 30-game wins in a season. One was Denny McClain for the Detroit Tigers, and another man is someone that we know his name by his nickname, kind of like Barnabas.

His name was Dizzy Dean. They were on the path, his team was on the path to becoming, literally going to the World Series and what took place literally ended his career. He was playing in the all-star game and when he was pitching a ball during the all-star game, hit him and broke a bone in his left foot. What happened was, because he wanted to win the World Series so bad, he still pitched the entire season with a broken foot.

In order to do that, when you're throwing a ball, you got to put a lot of weight, you got to end with a lot of weight on that foot. What he did was, he found a way to not put the weight there, but to really change his arm trajectory, and to throw it and they said, throwing the way you are and as fast as you are literally ended his season in two years. What he did was he adjusted because of something broken, he adjusted and ended his season.

What I kept thinking about was this, when you don't get something fixed, and you still stay in ministry and still preach and still sing, something has to adjust in us, something that literally-- Look at me for a second. Listen choir, if there's something that got stuck here, you have to adjust. You can't sing certain words, you can't say certain things when you know that there is a wound inside of you.

You can't lead and preach certain ways if there's something inside of you, because when you do, now you have to switch your pitching motion. What that does is shorten your longevity because now, you're broaching a place called hypocrisy that literally can destroy what's going on inside of your hearts.

[applause]

This is for all of us. This goes for everyone starting with me. Listen, if a relationship is broken and you don't address it and try to fix it then we adjust our Christian walk, we adjust our words. You can't finish well, the torch doesn't burn. You can't finish well with unforgiveness. I had a close friend, a friend of the family that I remember going to a funeral and while we're at the funeral, the child-- Let me say it like this, because David Wilkerson was involved with this.

There was a family many, many decades ago that had a child that had a terminal disease and they asked brother Dave to pray for the child. While he was praying the Holy Spirit spoke to brother Dave and said, "I'm not going to heal this child, I'm going to take him home," for whatever reasons. Brother Dave wrote a letter to them and said, "I've been praying and I want you to know that God is going to take your child, but he's going to comfort you, he's going to be with you in this."

That person took that note, folded it up and carried it for 40 years. I saw the note at a funeral when all of a sudden at a funeral, they opened it up, it was literally falling apart because it's been opened and closed to show so many people saying, "Look what he said." What he said was true. The Holy Spirit did speak to him and for whatever reason. Literally, for 40 years, they're carrying around a note to show people and all I'm watching is their whole life, 40 years of something getting in. Barnabas six years, he's in hypocrisy. Let that thing go on for 40 years, who knows where we end up at?

This could be a day that God finally gets us back on course today and lights the torch again so we can finish well again. We've got to believe that God shows us these things in the Bible. That's why the Apostle Paul, and I wonder if he had this in mind, when the Apostle Paul writes a few years later in the book of Ephesians it says, "Listen, you will have sharp disagreements with brothers and sisters. You will have sharp disagreements on staff." You will begin to have sharp disagreements, but you got to fix them before you get on that cruise line around New York City.

Listen to me close. Listen, the apostle Paul says you will have those. You're not unchristian because you're in an argument. The Apostle Paul says you have a time limit, though. It's not six years. It's not even next Sunday, it's sundown. You are allowed to be ticked till sundown. Then you got to get it right. Listen to what the Apostle Paul said. Listen to these words, jot this down. Ephesians 4:26, and 27, "If you are angry, don't sin by nursing your grudge. Don't let the sun go down with you still angry. Get over it quickly. For when you are angry, you give a foothold for the devil." That’s what he says.

[applause]

Could it be what the Apostle Paul was saying was, he says, "I've seen it firsthand." I saw it in my mentor. I saw it in my person that discipled me, that I processed up with. I saw it with my ministry co-partner, that he let the sun go down in his wrath, and all of a sudden, the one degree is going now a day. It's gone a week. It's gone a month. It's gone six years, and now the marriage is hanging on by a thread. Now, the relationship with your parent, because of what a mom did or a dad did. What a pastor has done.

We think if we come to Times Square, that we can just leave the church that we were at, and all of a sudden, but really Times Square is not God's direction. It's your deviation to get away from what you were supposed to deal with. Some of you are going, "I knew we should have went to that other church today."

[laughter]

[applause]

I think it was Corrie ten Boom, the great woman of God that came out of the Holocaust that said this. She said, "I can forgive but I can't forget is only another way of saying I'm not forgiving." I think God may be showing us not to take those disagreements lightly. They have a possibility of setting a course and a bad finish. How do you fix it? I want to close with this. How do you fix that? Let me be practical, and then let me end with the big picture.

I want you to get this today because I think we've got to get-- I don't want you going for six years. I don't want you to have a note for 40 years. I want to help you today for just a moment. Just very quickly, I want to speak to you. Not what the person did, I want to help you so you don't get off course today. You need to write this down. Number one is this. I want you to have high expectations of you and low expectations of people.

Pastor Tim, that, if you just stay with me. High expectations on you, low expectations on them because what I want you to do is, I want you as you make the journey to make something right, have no expectation if they're going to apologize, have no expectation that they're going to own it. I'm saying put the expectation on you because some of you won't forgive because they won't own it. Some of you won't forgive because they won't apologize. I'm telling you, you can forgive without an apology from them.

Some of you have gotten one degree off and because they haven't done their part, you haven't done your part. I'm telling you, the expectation needs to be on you, not on them. We start, does that makes sense? Stay with me because I'm going to be in your grill for just a second here, just say with me. High expectation on you, low expectation on them. This is you making it right, not them making it right. Number two, you apologize for holding a grudge and not making it right.

You apologize, what?! You apologize and said I need to come to you. High expectation on you, low expectations. What if they don't own it? It doesn't matter. You're not going to Galatia. You're not going to end up in Galatians 2. You're going to end up in the right place. Number one is high expectation on you, low expectation on them. Number two, you're going to apologize for the grudge that you held. You didn't say, "I should have come to you and I didn't have a chance to come to you."

Then you're going to say this, number three, get ready. You're not to choke this out, "Please, forgive me." Thank you. High expectation on you, low expectation on people. Number two, you are going to begin to apologize for holding it and you're going to say, "Please, forgive me." You're going to end number four by praying for them. This is the worst service I've ever been to in Times Square Church history.

No, I just going to get your torch burning that when you finish this thing, you're going to be right on course and finish the right way today. Listen, because some of you have been off, you've corrected your playing. You've corrected your singing, you've corrected your leadership and today we make this right. We go like this. High expectation on me. "I want you to forgive me, please. I've held a grudge."

They're going to look at you like, and they're going to pretend that you're the person. Like, you're the problem.

That's okay. That's when you're going to go, "Please, forgive me." Not with an attitude. "Forgive me." You're going to say it the right way. There's none of this.

[laughter]

There is none of this. You're going to say, "Please, forgive me. I've held a grudge. Can I pray for you?" At that point, back on course. At that point, we don't end up in Galatia, we end up with a fire still burning inside of our hearts and lives.

[applause]

Let me close. I want Greg since he's still alive.

[applause]

I want you to come. This is really important. I want you to understand how important this is because this doesn't only deal with the relationship that we have with each other. Listen to me close. It also deals with the relationship we have with God. Nothing is worse than to go to a family reunion, a family gathering and know that there's an elephant in the room that nobody's dealing with. Anybody ever been there before?

Nothing is worse than to think that I've come to church and I've dealt with God because I'm in His house and there's an elephant in the room called, "I haven't dealt with this sin in my life." Some people think that if I just come to church that God is happy. Let me define to you the difference between a religion and a relationship. Listen to me close. Let me tell you what a religion is. Religion is a lot of hard work to try to impress God so much that he's going to invite us to live in heaven with Him and in His house forever.

That's what religion is. "I'm going to make you like me God so much that when I die, I did so much for you to like me that you're going to bring me to heaven." Look at me folks. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be in church and to think I'm in church, all is good but not deal with the relationship with God. That will go on for a long time and that will get you off course. What do I have to do Pastor Tim? You've got to deal with a broken relationship with God. Church doesn't fix it. Tonight we're going to celebrate water baptism. Can I just tell you, if you go into that tank and you're not born again, you're just going to come up a wet sinner.

[laughter]

That's all you come up. You don't even come up clean because there's nothing in that tank-- Let's just be clear. Here's the truth. We don't bring that water in that's not from the Jordan. That's not Israel water. Can I say where that water is from? It's good New York water. That's all that is. How many know New York water is not going to change your life? Let me just say that. The only one that changes you is God himself. This building, don't be deceived that just because you stood up and clapped with the choir.

Just because you got excited about a message, and just because you sang some songs, that everything is right here, because, in order to be right this way, we have to fix that relationship. "Pastor Tim, how do we fix that relationship?" Let me ask you the most important question anybody can ever ask you, and it's this, "Have you been born again?" It's the most important question you can ask, not, "Did you go to church?" Not, "Did you get water baptized?" Not if you're a Catholic, you're a Jewish, a Protestant.

You have to ask that question. Jesus said this. Jesus said these words, "Unless a man or woman is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven." That's Jesus. You cannot get away from those words. If you want to go and say, "Well, I came to church. I did this." Okay, let's just be really clear. Jesus said the way you see heaven is not being in church, not taking communion, not being confirmed, it's not being, "I was dedicated as a child." It's not even that your parents went to church. It's, "Have you been born again?"

"Pastor Tim, what does that mean?" It's us dealing with that relationship because some of us have gotten so far off thinking, "I'm a good person. I've done all this." That you've gotten so far off that it's time to get us back on course here today. "Pastor Tim, then how does that happen?" Look at me for a second. Those in the annex, every home fellowship group, New Jersey, Summit, listen to me close. Jesus was saying this, as definite as you had a first birth, you need a second birth. That's what he was saying.

What is that? Okay, listen. My birthday was December 22nd, but I had to have a born again or second birth date where God began to change me, like Greg sang, from the inside out. Here's the part that I think we have to understand. "To fix that relationship, Pastor Tim, how does that happen?" I'll tell you this every time. It's as simple as ABC. Each one of those letters correspond to a word. A, it's admitting that we're a sinner. It's admitting that there is a sin issue inside of all of us that we can't fix with a priest, a pastor, a promise or even a program.

There's nothing. We can't fix it by going to church. You can drink all the communion cups you want to. There's not enough grape juice that can cleanse you free from that. You can't do it. You can try to act. You can make promises, "I'm not doing this again. I'm not doing this again. I'm not doing this again." We end up breaking promises. Today, we've got to come and realize that there was a broken part of us called sin, that we can't fix ourselves. We can try to fix the outside, but it's the inside that has the problem.

"Pastor Tim, then, what do we do?" That's the B-word. That's believe, that Jesus was sent by God the Father to fix the relationship with Him. How does that happen? When He died on the cross, He died in my place. He lived a life that I couldn't live, died a death that I should have died and gave me a heaven that I didn't even deserve. That's exactly what God has come to do for everyone here. God loves us enough. He is trying to fix the relationship, the disagreement, the sin issue between you and God today.

You can't fix it by just showing up today. It has to be a decision to go, just like you would go to a person. "God, forgive me. Come and change me from the inside out." Some of you have sat here, you've sung and you've listened, but today could be your second birth date. Because if you can fix you, then why would God have to send His own Son to die for you? Listen to this, because if you can fix you, then God sending Jesus through the abuse of the cross is the worst case of child abuse in human history, but we can't fix us, but God can.

It's A, admitting I'm a sinner. B, believing that God died for me and C, confessing Him as Lord saying, "You're the boss now. You're in charge of my life." Religion wants you to come on Sunday, relationship wants to see you every single day. Religion asks for 10 AM on Sundays. That's what religion does. Religion says, "Come at 10 AM and sing the songs and be part of a club." Relationship says, "How God is in charge of my life. God is the one who's in charge."

I want everybody here to bow your head with me, please. Annex, balcony, main floor, Summit, Jersey campus, every home fellowship group, I want you to listen to me close. The most important question is that disagreement between you and God because we are born with a disagreement between us and God that has to be fixed and today, it could be fixed by being born again. How do I get to heaven? You have to be born again. In fact, Jesus said these words, "You must be born again."

Times Square can't get you to heaven. This church, we can't get you to heaven. Jesus can. Today can be a second birth for you today. I want to pray a second birth prayer, a born again pray with you today. With every head bowed and every eye closed, I just want to ask you that question. Have you been born again? Today could be that day. Today is the day that it all changes for you. You may have been off-course but today we get back on course. This is the moment that we know.

It's not prayer that changes you. This is the day that we go, "God, this is me." Some of you are trying to figure out, I've done this and I'm presently doing this. I'm just telling you, you don't get good and come to Jesus, you come to Jesus, and He makes you good. Don't try to fix yourself up, come. Come with all that's inside of you and let Him start the process. If you're here today, you say, "Pastor Tim, when we pray that Born Again prayer, I want to be part of that, I want to start a journey." Okay, listen to me close. Perfect people don't go to heaven. Forgiving people go to heaven.

If you're here today, come on and start that journey with God, "I want to be born again. I want that disagreement between me and God to be fixed." If that's you, and you're here today and say, "Pastor Tim, I want to begin that journey." Every head bowed, every eye closed and say, "Put me in that prayer. I want to be part of that." Would you just raise your hand right now, hold it up as high as you can. As high as you can, keep them up as high as you can. Balcony, main floor, keep them up.

Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. Keep them up. I want to pray with you right now. Would you just, let me say, you won't even have to be embarrassed because these people are going to cheer crazy for you. If you have your hand up, would you stand up and walk down here and meet me right here quick, balcony and those people, just stand up, balcony stand right up. Come on, if your hand's up, stand up. These people are going to let you out and we're going to clap.

I want you to come down here, quickly. Balcony, come on down. This is going to be a great moment for you. Come on. Hey, come on, Time Square. Let's begin to thank God for them coming down.

[applause]

As they come, let's all stand. Come on, as they come, put your hands together as they come. This is a new day for us today. I'm so excited. I'm so excited today. This is going to be a second birth date for you today. Balcony, our ushers are going to let you down. In fact, as you stand up, our people are going to excitedly let you through. In fact, some of them may tap you on the shoulder going, "Way to go." That's awesome. That means we're excited for you today. We're excited for you today.

Come on, come on down, come on. Get closer because I want to pray with you. We're going to wait just a few minutes because some of the balcony people are making their way down. You being down here is exciting to us because you know what you're doing? You're fixing that relationship with God. How many know we've tried to make promises and they just don't, they just never work out, but we can. What happens is when God comes and lives inside of us, then He works from the inside out. That's what makes this exciting.

I want us today, before-- I know we're going to end with some baby dedications. Before we dedicate these babies that were born physically. We've got to pray with these that are being born spiritually today, is what we're going to do.

[applause]

We just want to wait just for a sec. I'm so excited. We're all going to pray this together. This is a prayer we're going to pray. Literally, we're just saying, let it come from your heart. This is God who loves you so much. He sent His own Son to die for you. This today, we're waiting for you. We want you to come down. We don't want to miss you. We want to see you down here. I'm so excited.

Times Square, this is why we exist. You got to take care of your sharp disagreement with people. They're taking care of it with God today. That's what makes this exciting. I want us to support them. I want all of us to pray this together. Come on, let's say these words out loud. Would you close your eyes and say this, "Dear Lord Jesus, I believe you're the Son of God. I believe that on the cross, you took my sin, my shame and my guilt and you died for it.

You face hell for me so I wouldn't have to go. You rose from the dead to give me a place in heaven, a purpose on earth and a relationship with your Father. Today Lord Jesus, I turn from my sin to be born again." Come on now say this with me, "God is my Father, Jesus is my Savior. The Holy Spirit is my helper and Heaven is my home. In Jesus name." Come on, put your hands together.

[applause]

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He Will Show You Things to Come

 

Carter Conlon

September 25, 2019

Circumstance-based Christianity rises and falls on hope in this world. Yet, when our world is shaken and the things in it, we can be shaken, too. Carter Conlon reminds us in this sermon to look up and have a vision beyond the circumstances around us.

I want to talk to you this morning about the Holy Spirit and in particular something Jesus said about the Holy Spirit, that He will show you things to come. John, Chapter 16, please, if you'll turn there. John, Chapter 16, "Father, I thank You for the strength of Your Holy Spirit. I thank You for the vision. You said in the temple that day I've come, the spirit of the Lord is upon me to give sight to those that are blind, and so God, for whatever part of our spiritual eyes that we can't see, would you open them? Would You help us, Lord? Would You give us heaven's perspective on life, time and eternity? Would You deliver us from the smallness of our own vision and show us things to come?"

God, I'm asking You for a quickening in my physical body. I'm asking Lord for a quickening in everyone who's gathered here so that we can hear these words today, give us great grace. God, we're going to need it now. Give us great grace for the hour in which we now live and give us spiritual sight in Jesus' name. Amen.

John 16 beginning of verse 12, Jesus said these words to his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. In other words, you're not in a condition to hear them." At this point, his disciples were-- they all had their own focus. They all had a sense. James and John are probably still marginally at least thinking about sitting at His right hand and His left. John, the beloved, has a sense of his own dedication and love, which is not really complete.

Peter's making boasts of loyalty and love that he's not going to be able to fulfill. He says, "I have a lot I want to tell you, I have a lot I want to speak to you, but you're not ready to hear it yet. Your ears are not open. Your eyes are not open because you're still focused on the immediate.

You're focused on what's right before you in the natural, so you can't bear them." However, verse 13 when he, the spirit of truth has come, he will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify me for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are mine, therefore, I said that he will take of Mine and will declare it to you.

"I'm going to win a victory for you." Christ was telling his disciples, "I'm going to return to the right hand of God and everything will be under my authority. There will be a tremendous inheritance given to me of the father. When he raises me from the dead. I will return to sit at his right hand and everything, everything, that he gives me is now going to belong to my people, my church, my body. The spirit of God that I'm sending to you will show you some of these things to come. You and I, of course, can't see them all. There's just no way we could ever understand. I heard a message one time of a man that had said these words, he said, "Take somebody who's never seen is completely blind.

Never heard, never tasted, never smelled. His entire senses are shut down and stand them on the top of the tallest building in New York City, for example, then snap your fingers and open all of your senses at one time. It would be a sensory explosion like you and I can't even imagine." He said, "Now, multiply that by 100 billion and that's about what it will be like the moment we leave this earth and appear in the presence of God."

The Scripture says, "We will know in that day as we are known, mysteries will be resolved. Questions will be answered. There'll be an explosion of knowledge in our minds and we will realize, I think at that point how small in a sense our thinking has been in comparison to what God is going to release and what God is going to reveal to us, in us and through us. What a day that is going to be." Praise be to God for that day.

Now when the spirit of God comes into a person's life, he starts to show us things to come. He starts to tell us that old things in our life will pass away and all things will become new. He starts to show us the prison doors that once held us will have to let us go. Wounds that once bruised us don't have the power to do that in our lives anymore. He starts to show us a plan and a purpose that God has for each life and the abundance of supply that God has already given us in Christ Jesus to achieve to the fullest everything he's called us to do.

Whatever God's called you to do, you will be able to do that by the spirit of God upon you and within you and the promise of God given to you. There's nothing can stop you just like he says to the church in Philadelphia, you have a little strength, but I've opened the door before you and no one can close that door and I will do something so profound in your life that those who do not worship God will bow at your feet and have to acknowledge that I have loved you.

That is something to come in everyone's life. Thank God for that with all of our hearts today, it will reveal to you power, to accomplish. Behold, I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions. There's a revelation of the power of God available in Jesus Christ to stand up against the darkness and by the grace of God inside of our hearts to see it pushed back one more time into the sea.

He will give you an eye endurance and the Holy Spirit will show us that endurance, that ability that God gives called long-suffering. You know what it means in the Greek long-suffering. You know what it means in the Hebrew long-suffering. That's what it means. That means the ability to endure things that others around you without the spirit of God could not endure, gives you the ability to bear even with one another in the body of Christ and to believe and to hope and to endure.

When you would have in the natural have written somebody off in the Kingdom of God, nobody gets written off. There's something of God that puts a vision in our heart and not just for ourselves, but for others around us. He'll give us an understanding of the endless supply of provision. He'll unlock, to us the scriptures, and even in the old testament, we'll see the oil pouring into the lamps and pouring an inexhaustible supply of oil symbolic of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The more we give out, the more God gives in, the more we let go, the more he puts it in our hands to let go.

It's truly, truly an amazing journey to walk with God. He will show us strength in the midst of our battle. I love that song. It may look like I'm surrounded, but I'm surrounded by you, David the king saw it when he said in Psalm 23 verse five he prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. I can be surrounded and they can all have their swords drawn and wish me harm, but all they can do is butter the biscuit in my hand, with their sword.

He has prepared the table before me and there's nothing they can do because no weapon formed against us shall prosper and every tongue that rises against us in judgment, we shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord because their righteousness is of me, says God. I have cleansed them. The Holy Spirit when we come to Christ, when he becomes our Lord and Savior, the spirit of God comes into our earth and vessel unlocks the treasure of this book and we begin to see things to come. Now he will also tell you about things to come that are beyond this present world. 2nd Corinthians 4:18 Paul says, "While we do not look at the things which are seen, but things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal."

In the book of Revelation, there was a church called Laodicea that was a problematic church in one sense because what had happened to this church is that their eyes were fixed on the abundance of this world only, they came to the understanding that in Christ you will have a supply, in Christ you will be provided for. In Christ, there will be this constant measure of everything you need as you seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.

All the things that you need will be added unto you, but the problem with this particular church is their eyes were fixed on this world only. They weren't looking above this world. You remember Abraham, the father of faith is given a promise of God. I'm going to bless you. I'm going to multiply you. I'm going to do something so profound in your life that you're going to be a blessing to the whole world and you and I, of course, know that we are because of Christ, through his lineage, we are the fulfillment of that promise.

He took him one day and caused him to go outside and says, look up, and as many stars as you see in heaven, your descendants are going to be like that. It was something not of this world was something above this world. It was something beyond this world. The Holy Spirit was showing him things to come. Now, traveling with him out of his home place of dwelling into this place of promise as he saw it was his nephew, Lot. Lot was part of the family. Lot would have been told there's going to be a blessing come upon us and the blessing is going to be so profound. It's going to touch the whole known world. Lot would have known that he was invited. He was a partaker of this journey.

It came to the point where, physically speaking, they had so much cattle and such that they couldn't dwell in one place. There was an insufficient supply of grass. Abraham said to Lot. He said, "Lot, lift up your eyes and look and choose where you want to go." Lot lifted up his eyes. His eyes only lifted up so far. He had this doctrinal perspective that all the blessing of this life was to be found in this world.

He chose a city. He went to a place called Sodom and Gomorrah and raised his family there. Folks, if we don't lift our eyes so high and it's only this world that becomes our source of supply and provision, one day an enemy came in and captivated that place and took him and his family away. If all you can see is of this world, if your happiness is only because you have a car or you think you're going to get one and you have a house and you have this and have money in the bank and you have your retirement plan, I'm telling you there's a day that might come and take all of that away.

It can happen. It can happen. If that's where your eyes are focused, that can all be gone in an hour, in an hour of time. What do you think it mattered when the towers were struck on 9/11/ 2001? What do you think the people on the upper floor who had about an hour left to live? What do you think it mattered anymore how high they had gotten on the financial chain?

What do you think it mattered how many colleges their kids were in, or how many cars they had, or how many countries they could visit? Do you think any of it mattered at that point any longer? No. It can all be taken away. Matter of fact, the Prophet Isaiah says in one hour Babylon is going to be judged. In one hour. Such great wealth is going to all be taken away in one hour. In one hour it's going to all be gone.

The Laodicean church thought that they had it all made because they were rich and creased in goods and they said to themselves, "We have need of nothing." They had no idea how weak their doctrinal position was because of their focus. Christ himself knew that if their worldly security was taken away, so would their confidence be taken away as well.

I'm telling you, the Bible declares, a day is coming when everything that can be shaken in is going to be shaken. That only that which cannot be shaken might remain. Proverbs Chapter 23:5 says, "Will you set your eyes on that which is not for rich will certainly make themselves wings. They'll fly away like an eagle towards heaven." I Corinthians 3:13 says, "The fire will test each one's work of what sort it is."

I remember Pastor Teresa and I coming home from, we're in full-time ministry now and we were preaching in eastern Canada. We had worked for 12 years to build a home, a physical house. We'd renovated this old farmhouse. We had added onto it. We had modified it. We took 12 years to get it where it was finally finished. It was a nice home. We came home from traveling to find it burnt to the ground. Everything.

God in His mercy spared our children. Praise his name. Everything we had worked for was gone in one moment of time. Even the fire department said they'd never seen such a total-consuming fire in their history. It was a windy night and the whole house caved inward and then just there was nothing left. Everything was gone. Just the foundation was left.

Everything of the house was gone. The fire will test your work to see you of what sort it is. Where's your confidence now? I remember we had to stay with another pastor and his wife with our three children. I remember coming out and going for a jog, because I used to run back then and I said, "Lord, I don't even have a toothbrush, but I tell you one thing, I have sought first your kingdom and your righteousness and you tell me that all things will be added unto me that I need, so I'm putting it all in your hands.

I'm not going to try to figure this thing out." I'm telling you, I've seen the Lord take it away and I've seen the Lord give it back, and I've seen it taken away and I've seen it giving back and I've seen it taken away and I've seen it given back.

[applause]

I've also, through these experiences, seen something a little more than what this world has got to offer. Thank God. We still have a nice house, but I know that can be gone. I've lived it already. I know twice, as a matter of fact, two and a half times. We lost our second house to mold. Toxic mold, if you can believe that. Gone. House condemned.

Then we move across the river Weehawken. Finally, we're settled. Hurricane Sandy came and wiped out the whole first floor. We live on a lake and house is the bottom of our house about five feet above the water level. I said to Pastor Teresa one day, "What possibly could go wrong now?"

[laughter]

It's all stuff folks. If that's where your focus is, it can be taken away. Do you understand? If that's where your focus is, if your happiness in God is just because of your job, because of that relationship, because you feel healthy and strong, because you see something on the horizon for your future, you've got a great career ahead of you. That can all be taken away in a moment of time. Sorrow comes to every door eventually.

Do you know that? Sickness comes to everybody. Unless you get raptured and you're healthy, you're probably going to get sick and die like every one of us in this room one day. Relationships are lost. Loved ones die. Jobs are lost. If our security is in any of these things, even though many of them do come from God, if our eyes are not lifted higher than that, our confidence can be taken away and it can be shaken.

That's why Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, I counsel you to buy of me gold refined in the fire. Buy of me truth that has been proven. Buy of me something that's of eternal value, not just temporary value in this world. Buy of me something deeper and anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you may see. God, you said, in the temple that day, that you had come to give sight to the blind.

Lord, if my vision is limited, would you touch my eyes with that eye salve? Would you help me to see something beyond this life? Would you take me to a place where the storms may come, the waves may rise, but would you found my life upon that rock that cannot be taken down by the storms of this life? Lord, would you do something in my life so that I'm not riding this wave of circumstance-dependent Christianity?

Take me farther than this. Further our eternal things in the heavens that are promised to each one of us. Though things can be lost in this world, they cannot be lost in that one. God, help me to lift my eyes higher than Lot. Help me God to lift my eyes up the way Abraham did and to see something of the heavens. Something of you God. Something that is promised. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable."

In other words, if our hope is only in the things we see around us, then when it's all shaken. We're going to be shaken with us. Paul moves always to those things which are eternal, which can never be taken away. He states this way. Romans 8:18, he says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."

Paul had this vision. He saw something coming in the future. He saw that-- You can read about it in Corinthians that this earthly body is going to give way to a heavenly body. We're going to be sown in corruption, raised in incorruption. He saw things. He tells us in his own testimony that he was lifted to the third heavens. He said, "I saw things that are not lawful to speak about. I can't write about them. There are no words in the human vocabulary to describe them. That's why it's not lawful to write about it or speak about. He saw something.

God, in His Mercy, gave him an eternal vision so that he could endure the sufferings he had to endure in this life. He was stoned. He was beaten. He was shipwrecked and he finished the end of his life in the sense imprisoned with only a pen and some parchment to write to his friends. He says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."

While in captivity, he wrote words to others. For example, to the Thessalonian church that he knew they were beginning to go into persecution, and he knew the persecution was going to become severe for these people of God at this time. Then he says these words in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 to 18, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord, in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

He knew they were going to suffer, but he was saying to the testimony in church, suffering is only temporary, and there's a day coming. When God's going to look down and say, “That's enough son, go get your church, go get your bride.” The angel is going to rise up, and with a shout, a shout like you and I think it's a shout of victory. It's a hallelujah like you've never heard in your lifetime.

[applause]

With a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise. Everyone who went into the ground, maybe they went in and sorrow, maybe they had questions in their heart. Maybe it was a hard finish. It can be hard if you die of certain diseases, it can be a long season of suffering. You might find yourself in the ground that way one day, but one day, one day, there's going to be a shout in heaven. One day your King is going to shout. One day the trumpet of God is going to sound, and you are going to come out of the ground and rise up into the air. Praise be to God.

One day there's going to be a group of people meeting at a church just like this in New York City. One day, unexpectedly the trumpet is going to sound, the archangel is going to shout. One day, we're going to rise up with the dead in Christ and meet Christ in the air and so shall we always be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words, hallelujah.

In other words, weeping may endure for a night, but joy, joy, joy, comes again in the morning. Hallelujah. Heaven is our home and eternity with God is our future. Come what may in this life. Come what may. Come with famine or disease or darkness or war or social disorder, whatever it is, it comes, come what may. It's all temporary, and none of it is worthy to be compared with the glory, the glory that shall be revealed in us. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God.

[applause]

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, as it is written, “Eyes not seen, nor ears heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, the deep things of God.” In other words, we who have the Holy Spirit of God know something that those who don't have the Spirit of God don't know. They have no idea what awaits them, and they have no idea what awaits us.

What an incredible day that is going to be. Hallelujah. Listen to the words of Jesus in John 14:2-3, “In my father's house, are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, where I am there you may be also.” Listen, there's construction going on right now in heaven. Right now.

[applause]

Pastor: Right now. For everyone of you that comes to Christ, every one of you who are born again, when your name is written in the Book of Life, God's Book of Life, I don't know how they do it. Maybe there's a call made to the construction go. Start another mansion. Praise be to God. There's a mansion.

When God says a mansion, He means a mansion. A mansion prepared for you in glory. If those mansions are so big, I don't think you can ever find all the rooms. I think there's food in every room. You can dig into that refrigerator right into the back and it always stays fresh. It never spoils up there. Our bodies are opaque. That's my opinion. You can eat it tastes good and just falls right through you onto the floor, disappears. I don't think you gain weight up there. Praise be to God. There is no delight that God will withhold from His children.

“In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, for you, for you. Then where I am, there you may be also.” Hallelujah to the Lamb of God. Glory to the name of Jesus. You don't have to cut the grass. There you don't have to vacuum, nothing ever gets dirty up there. Praise be to God. You walk out on streets and gold, what does it matter you can spend it anyway.

[laughter]

When He says a mansion. When He says a mansion. When He says a mansion. The early church knew these things. They did because they suffered. People during different wars suffered. People have had to go through times in history of suffering. People have been persecuted. That's why they could write these songs, I've got a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where I'll never grow old And someday yonder will nevermore wander but walk on streets that are pure as gold. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God.

Lastly, the apostle John, who leaned on Jesus' chest at the Last Supper. John who loved Him and he knew that Jesus loved him. He describes himself as the apostle that Jesus loved. He knew that in his heart. Now he's served God all his life and he's at that 80 years old. He's exiled to a prison under now called Patmos. From what I read about that prison, it was vile. It was cold. It was damp. It was dark. It was despairing. It was uncomfortable in the extreme. John could have said, “God is this how you treat those who love you? Is this how it ends up? I serve you all my life, and this is where I end up in prison, cold, disregarded, old.”

The scripture says on the Lord's Day, that John was in the Spirit. The Spirit of God, remember that when He comes, He will show you things to come. John, even though he's in prison, he could write these words in Revelation 21, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no more sea.” In other words, there was nothing more because this is an island for him and it would be impossible to escape this place.

John saying in some measure, at least anyway, there's nothing more that separates us from God, and from life and from the freedom that He has for us for eternity. Then I John, it says, saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,  prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be as people and God Himself will be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death, nor sorrow, no more crying, no more pain. For the former things are passed away. He will show you things to come. Weeping may endure for a night but joy, unspeakable joy is coming your way in the morning.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show your place soon, and very soon it's coming to all of us. Our life is just a little vapor on the scale of eternity. It's just a little blip on the screen. That's all, it is our life here on this earth. Here there’s sorrow, here there are trials, here there's difficulty, but there's a day coming that's forever. It never ends. In that place, there's no more, you can’t cry there. You can’t cry. Think about that.

I know some of you cry every night. Some of you cry every morning. Some of you cry on the subway on the way to work. When you get there you can't cry. There's going to be no capability, there’ll be nothing to cry about. I want you to think about that. He will show you. Remember He was showing you things to come. There'll be no more death.

No more death. You don't go to a funeral ever. Ever. All the undertakers would be out of business.

[applause]

All the casket makers are going to have to find new work. Flower people will go bankrupt because there are no more funerals up there. There's no more weddings either.

[laughter]

No sorrow, nothing that can make your heart heavy, no crying, no more pain. I'm going to speak to those who are, you live with pain. You live with arthritis, you live with various and varying degrees of pain, whether it's internal pain or whether it's physical pain. You live with pain but that won't be forever, there's a day coming, there's no more pain. The absence of pain.

I don't fully understand that but if I read it literally, that means if I bang my head on the door, it doesn't hurt. There's no more pain. Then he was sat on the throne, said, "Behold, I make all things new, write, for these words are true and faithful," and he said to me, "It's done. I'm the Alpha and Omega, the beginning of the end and I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts."

He who needs strength, she who needs strength, the person that needs an eye salve anointing to say, "God, I need to see something beyond this world, I need to see something beyond my present condition, my struggles, my trials. Oh, God, don't let me be captivated by the things of this world so that if they're shaken, I'll be shaken along with them. God, give me the ability to look higher. Help me to see this place that you talked to all of us about, that you are preparing for us. A place where your neighbors are all nice."

[laughter]

Come on now, there are no liars up there. Every lawyer will be out of work because nobody has any disputes, no boundary disputes, no property disputes, nobody is suing anybody up there. Every police officer will be out of work, there's no crime up there. Every judge will be out of work, there's nothing to judge, it's all been judged and forgiven. Hallelujah.

You just think of all the occupations, so what are we going to do up there? I don't know, it just says we're going to praise him day and night with the angels and we're going to rule and reign with Christ forever. That's what the Bible tells me.

[applause]

That is not fiction, that is a fact. That's what's coming your way, that's your future. That's forever. You may weep for a little while, your heart may be broken for a season, your body may struggle and suffer for a moment. That dream job, that dream relationship might be lost but there's something coming not far down the road.

[applause].

When you get there, you're going to say, "Oh, thank God I didn't give up, thank God I listened to the word of God and lifted my eyes just a little bit higher than the things of this world that can satisfy. I saw something of God, Hallelujah to the lamb of God. I'm starting to see it now more and more. Thank God."

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

[singing] Oft times the day seems long,
our trials hard to bear.
We're tempted to complain,
to murmur and despair
but Christ will soon appear
to catch his bride away.
All cheers forever
over in God's eternal day.

[applause]

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus,
life's trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.

One glimpse of His dear face,
all sorrow will erase,
so bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

Life’s day will soon be old,
our storms forever passed
and we'll cross the grey divide
to glory safe at last.

We'll share the joys of heaven, Hallelujah.
A harp, a home, a crown.
The tempter will be banished, Hallelujah.
We'll lay our burdens down.

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus,
life's trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.

One glimpse of His dear face,
all sorrow will erase,
so bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

It will be worth it all
when we see Jesus, 
life's trials will seem so small
when we see Christ.

One glimpse of His dear face,
All sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race
till we see Christ.

[applause]

Hallelujah. I want to give an altar call today from people who just need comfort. You need a vision beyond your present circumstance or you're not going to be able to make it. You need eyes to see some things that only the Holy Spirit can reveal to you. You need to be able to go to bed at night and say, "Oh God, what a future awaits me. What a day, an eternal day is coming my way. What a mansion, God, you've prepared for me in glory. What an eternity, Lord, you've prepared for me." Paul said, "Comfort one another with these words."

[applause]

Listen, don't give up, don't ever give up. The best advice I can ever give you. Some people seem to have it easy and others have it hard, and some have a half-and-half life, but one day soon we'll be gathered together at the throne of God. We will remember this moment and we will thank God that we didn't give up. Thank God that life, it was worth it.

Remember the Bible says that sorrow may endure for a night, weeping may endure for a night but joy, there's a guarantee of joy that's going to come again in the morning. Praise be to God.

Father, I just pray for my brothers and sisters at this altar and in this church, Lord. God open our eyes in this church, Lord, open our eyes and show us heavenly things Lord, eternal things. Help us, Lord, not to just look at our everyday circumstances any longer. Not that we ignore them but let them not have the final word on everything Lord in our minds and in our hearts, God.

I pray for comfort Lord, that only you can give God, to those at this altar that are struggling or suffering or just living in a hard place God. I just pray, God, that you just comfort the way that only you can, and we open our hearts to it, Lord and we won't push you away when you want to comfort us, Lord. God, thank you for it, in Jesus name. Amen.

[applause]

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The Healing of Our Hearts

 

Gary Wilkerson

September 18, 2019

There's often a snake in the garden—a difficulty in your life to battle. And in those times, you can wrestle with temptation. Usually, these struggles are tied to a core wound or trauma you haven't found healing from. Gary Wilkerson dives beneath the surface to help you uncover your core wound and how you can find healing through Jesus, community and self-love.

Let me pray for us. I want to speak to you about healing of the heart tonight, healing of our hearts. Jesus, we thank you that we have heard from Pastor Nick that you want to do breakthroughs. You want to break through the difficulties, and the pain, and the crisis, and the problems, and bringing us to a new place. I ask for a favor tonight. Allow this word to speak to our heart in a way that just ministers. Just fill this room right now with a sense of possibility.

The things we think maybe would never be resolved, the problems that we have that we think we may never overcome, the crisis that we find our self in that seems like it's just gone on too long no matter how much we've prayed, believed, heard words of promise, and yet our heart is still breaking. Our wounds are still hurting and the relief doesn't seem to be in sight. We're asking tonight for a word from heaven. We're asking tonight for the healing.

As you said in The Old Testament, you called it a balm, a healing oil, a balm of Gilead, an oil to sab, to put on a heart that would heal that heart. We thank you for the healing. Father, this may not be a shouting word or a hip hip hooray and hallelujah word, but it's going to be a deep word. It's going to touch our hearts, and it's going to heal many people in this room. We now give you thanks in advance for that.

I don't want to preach this just kind of wondering what outcome it will be. I preach this with a confidence in the Lord that you have called this word because you're accompanying it with your power to do exactly what you want to do. We give thanks for that, in Jesus' name. Amen.

In Genesis 3:1, it says, "Now there was a serpent more crafty than any other wild animals the Lord God had made, and he said to the woman, did God really say, 'You must not eat from the tree in the garden?' The woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat at the tree of the garden, but God did say you must not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden. You must not touch it or you will die.'"

Verse 4, "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows when you eat it, your eyes will be open and you will be like God knowing good and evil." In Genesis 1, 2 and 3, we see the formation of the garden. In the garden, he puts the man, and then soon after he puts his wife there, but it's the same place where the snake is. The snake, the serpent is in the garden as well.

One of my worship pastors back home was telling me a story of his little boy who's probably five years old at the time. He was up on top of the stairs. As he turned the corner to walk down the stairs, there was a towel that somebody had left, a bath towel. Somebody had left it at the top of the stairs, and he tripped over the stairs and he fell down the stairs, rolling over and over.

His father saw this and he was at the bottom of the stairs and he caught him just before he hit his head on the bottom of the floor. He grabbed him and picked him up and he said to his son, "Aren't you glad the Lord had me here to catch you?" The boy said to his dad, "Wouldn't have been better if the Lord would had just moved the towel?"

If you think about that for a moment, there's a lot in that about our own life. We're happy the Lord catches us. We're happy He lifts us up out of our trials and tribulations, but wouldn't it be better if we just didn't have to go through them? What's the deal with that? We see in Genesis chapter 1, there was a snake in the garden. Why did God put the snake in the garden?

It answers that, and I don't want to get into too much theology here in this, but the answer that we see much later on. When they were brought into the Promised Land and Joshua brought them in, and the Lord says to him, "I'm going to keep five enemies in the land." I was thinking why was that? He says to teach them how to war. Why was there a snake in the garden? To teach them how to war.

Why were there five enemies left in the land? To teach them in the war. I suggest to you tonight that it wasn't just Genesis chapter 3 that there was a snake in the garden. Can I say to you tonight, there's-- Here's my life experience, there's always a snake in the garden. Just about the time you start to enjoy the garden, the snake approaches, and starts lying to you, and starts trying to deceive you, and starts trying to empty your faith and hope and confidence in the Lord no matter what you're going through.

40 years of dealing with hurting people, 40 years and even beyond that when I was a little boy being around Teen Challenge, that my father started, and seeing broken lives, and seeing people come from all kinds of difficult backgrounds of abuse. Then not only being abused upon, but now beginning to abuse their own bodies, and some even abusing others, and violent streaks and all these things.

For 40 years of hurting people and broken hearts, and collapsing marriages, and addictions that seem too difficult, and then in my 40 years of pastoral counseling, I'm at a new place in life and I just want to be honest with you tonight, can I do that? I don't really want to preach to you, I've preached probably 4,000 sermons in my life, I'm not only tired of hearing sermons, I'm tired of preaching sermons.

When they get sermonic and they have the rhymes and things that, and I'm just going like, “I just want to hear it, I want life,” I'm tired of just hearing sermons, I'm tired of going to church services, and singing songs. Here's why I'm tired of it because I just know firsthand that so many people are singing the songs, and hearing the sermons and they're leaving, and they're going back home and their marriages are falling apart, and their teenage son is on drugs.

They've just been diagnosed with cancer, the job is on the chopping block, you may lose it at any moment, there’s some that leave church singing a happy song, they have a clinical depression in their heart, and in their mind they don't know how to get out of it. All the Christians are telling them like, "I rebuke that in the name of Jesus," and they're saying like, "You rebuking it is making me more depressed rather than helping."

I don't know this sounds gloom and doom here tonight, but there's an answer to this, the snake is always in the garden, the enemies are always in the land, there's always going to be a need and it's going to take more than songs and sermons. It's going to take more than a singular prayer of deliverance, putting my hand on your head and saying, "In the name of Jesus come out." Is going to take you and I being honest and saying, "There's a snake in the garden, there's a problem in the land, there's an enemy to be fought, there's a battle to be won, there's a victory on the other side for us," but we're going through something tough.

It's time to take off the mask, and it's time to quit playing church, and it's time to get honest with one another, it's time that the church become more honest than AA, rather than AA being more honest than the church. It's time to have small group meetings that aren't just talking about who was Zerubbabel's cousin's ring that he had on his fourth finger, and start talking about my heart is breaking, my marriage is falling apart, my finances are crumbling. I cry myself to sleep, I'm worried about my kids, I'm anxious and it's time to get honest about these things, it's time to deal with these things.

How do we go about this? That's what my talk is about tonight. How do we go about this? Number one I would say it's through relationship, it's through relationship. You don't know that from the time you're in your mother's womb, the Bible says that God created you, He formed and fashioned you in your mother's womb, did you know that? Scientists are just catching up to the word of God, now, and they have proven now that while you are being formed in your mother's womb, the very thing that your mother feels, you will feel.

They are being able to put these sensors on those mother's womb, and if the mother is anxious and worried, the blood pressure of the child rises. If the mother is depressed, they sense the movements of the child echoed the depression, and the movements, the lack of energy, vitality, and the baby in the womb. The baby in the womb is very connected to the mother.

My wife was so wonderful she prayed over our children certain things, and the Lord gave her a song for each of the four children. What amazing joy now to see my son 30-something years old, singing his song that my wife wrote for him to his babies. They're speaking to their children even in the womb because there's a God-given, even before you can hear, and see, and understand, there's a God-given connection between an infant and the mother.

There's a link there because God has built us to be attached to people, the need for attachment, some people might call it belonging, or connection, community, the Bible calls it love, we were built for love. So we had in our mother's womb this need to be loved and connected. The scientists have gone on to say if the mother hates the child, and is considering abortion, and maybe just hates the fact that she's pregnant, that that child will have problems at a young age oftentimes. Unless there's a resolve to that because they feel this un-attachment, a lack of attachment, a pulling apart, even in our childhood we see that.

Now, skip ahead to longer in time, have you ever noticed an older couple, let's say they're in their 80s or 90s or nearing 100, and they're healthy, and they're vibrant, and they're loving the Lord, and one of the spouses dies. Does anybody know what happens pretty rapidly? The other one seems to follow rather quickly. When my father died my mother was in good health, but nine months later, she passed away as well.

She fought cancer for 60 years victoriously and then succumbed to it in eight months because of just-- It's the need for attachment. From the cradle to the grave we were built to love one another, we were built to have community, we were built to be attached to one another. Something happens and then again, I'm just talking to you like your 40 years of pastoral counseling, like if you were sitting next to me on my couch, and I was just talking to you about heart issues.

One of the things you see about this in childhood is this need for attachment, something strange happens because I don't know how you were as a father, you don't see fathers here, but my attachment to my children had-- I'm trying to think of the right word here, had certain type of strings attached to it. I'm going to be real proud of you, and real happy, and hug you, and put you in my lap when you're performing well.

When your room is clean, man you're a great kid, when you score the touchdown or you kick the goal in the football game you're, "Well, I'm so proud of you," just the sense of attachment connected to achievement. When you lose that attachment, when there's the lack of the type of achievement that the father or the mother want, then the child begins to get confused.

There's actually a video, it's called Still Face, it’s amazing video done by a Harvard professor, and he took hundreds of children, little children two years old, and had their mothers sit right in front of them face to face. At first, the mother is smiling and touching the baby's face, and the baby is just smiling, and joyful, and laughing, and stretching their arms out.

Then the doctor says to the mother, "Now, just cover your face like this, and don't move, don't have any emotion, no smile, no anger, nothing just a totally still face." You see within seconds that baby at first gets this confused look, and then a few seconds later it reaches out to this mother with alarm, and then starts making almost violent sounds like, "U-u-uh," and crying, and then before long the baby's screaming.

The mother is not yelling at her, the mother is not abusing her, the mother's just still, but the baby gets confused because it's not that sense of attachment, of love, of connection. Then all of a sudden, the mother then just because of the smile on her face, and you'd see literally the baby's shoulders just goes down, "Aaah, Mama's back." So many of us have grown up in homes where the sense of belonging, or love, or affection, or attachment is related to our behavior and our performance.

When the performance is good there's, "Aaah, come to papa, come to mama," but when the performance is bad, there's a rejection, there's an accusation. This is not a sermon on tips to parenting, but let me just tell you one that has changed in my mind. When my kids used to misbehave, I would give them a timeout, anybody ever do that, do you do that here in Ireland, anybody? Wave at me if you give-- Have many of you been on a timeout?

Pastor Nick spent years in timeout-- No, I'm joking. [chuckles] I would give my kids this thing called timeout, and if you don't know what it is, say you're around the dinner table, and they're getting loud and like, "Oh-oh," you know something, "Be quiet, I'm trying to talk to mom." Then, "Oh-oh," they talk louder, and they're talking over one another, and I say, "Be quiet," and they don't listen, "Okay, that's a timeout, go to your room," and they go to their room.

I realized something there and I'm not saying it's not-- There's times that has to be done and there's a good thing about that, but what I realized is what was happening is when my children, listen to this carefully, when my children were being themselves I was punishing them for it. How many of you know children are loud, and children like to move, and children like to sing songs, and they to throw spaghetti. I mean, it's just that's what kids do.

Whenever they did something that they weren't supposed to do, I would separate myself from them. I no longer with my grandkids, now, I've got a new practice, I don't give them timeouts, I give them time ins. So I say,

"Let's go over here because there's something wrong. What is it about some of the rules we have as a household that are hard for you to understand because I want my grandkids to understand that the sense of belonging and attachment is not related to them behaving up to my standards all the time.

I'm not saying there's no need for discipline. I believe in spanking. I believe in timeouts, but doing it in a way to where they're not getting their sense of I belong when I'm doing good, I don't belong when I'm doing bad. The problem with that is when we learn that at a young age, we project that onto God. God loves me when I'm doing good, but He pushes me away when I'm not doing good.

That's why we call it coming back to the Lord. Well, He never left you. You don't come back to somebody who's never put you away in timeout. He's always been with you. He says "He'll never leave you or forsake you." He's there with you and He's helping you through that snake in the garden. He's helping you through that giant and the enemies in the land. He is not just-- Why? Because He belongs to you and you belong to Him.

There's that sense of attachment to the Lord. There's a connection with Him that will never be put off on His part, maybe on ours but not on His part. If we grow up in an environment where attachment is linked to certain behaviors, what we begin to realize is to be authentically myself is dangerous. If you are-- so my father was a rather serious kind of man, and some of you may have picked that up, listen to a few of the sermons he's quite serious.

My brother and I we love comedy, we love fun. I remember one time I was telling him a story, I said, "Did you see that comedy thing on last night on television?" The guy said this and that. We both laughed and my father got- he raised his voice, said, " That's not funny. The Lord is not pleased with that." Then I went, "Oh, all right. I don't know why he went like it was pretty funny. I thought it was like-- I think I don't know. So okay, being funny is not safe. You lose attachment if you're funny.

What you got do is get serious and get-- but I am not built that way. I'm not built like sort of the bony finger prophet. I'm built like I have a sense of humor and I love to laugh and I love to play games and I love sports, but I didn't feel like I was supposed to because if you're a good Christian and want attachment to the Lord and want attachment to your family, then what you've got to do is got to be serious.

Everything you have to say has to be a quote from the Bible and you have to wake up in the morning and say, "I was praying for six hours last night before I went to sleep, father and I just want you to know the Holy spirit gave me a revelation of the new covenant." I was like, no I was dreaming about girls and so it's hard to be yourself if authenticity is connected to attachment and when your authentic self, you don't get that seat. Then what happens is you grow up with a wound in your soul.

If I could sit down by one with each of you, I could probably in an hour’s time talk to you and we could probably discover together what is that core wound in your heart, what is that thing that-- what is that trauma? What is that event of a sense of no longer being attached, no longer being connected, no longer feel like you fit in. Does some of you in this room ever-- You're in a crowd, you're in a crowd here right now, but you don't feel like you really belong?

You go into a room and there's four or five people and you just feel like you're the outcast. That's a sense of detachment, of not belonging. That comes from trauma. That comes from some trauma. As a pastor, I see this all the time. Even recently, I was with a pastor, he's no longer pastor now, but he's still in ministry. He ministers to pastors who are addicted to sexual immorality and pornography and he tells his own story of being sexually abused as a child multiple times by multiple people.

He kind of stuffed that in and gave his life to Christ and he sort of stuffed it and didn't deal with it. Later in life, some issues with pornography came up and then later in life, even after pornography-- He said it was the strangest thing in the world as a Christian pastor he started visiting prostitutes and he told me. He said, "I can't believe it." He said, "I remember on Easter Sunday morning on my way to church to preach my Easter Sunday sermon stopping and picking up a prostitute and being with her before I went to church that morning."

Obviously he quit the ministry and he got help, but he talked about the trauma in his life and how that trauma caused a wound in him that he was confused as to who he was as a man. He was by no means excusing his sin and I'm not excusing his sin either. We have to deal with that but there's sometimes these wounds in our heart are the birthplace of some of the sin that we might still be responsible for but might find ourselves caught in because of those wounds of trauma.

There are some people in this room here, like that pastor who had to deal with certain issues in our youth. A close friend of mine, we were talking just a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I with our friends, she was telling us when she was a little girl, her mother would lock her in the closet if she misbehaved and she'd be there for some times, 15, 16, 17, 18 hours, no food, no water, no bathroom.

Her mother would then take her out of the closet and tell her, "You're worthless. You're no good. You're nothing." That's a trauma. That's a traumatic event that builds a core wound. People begin to say, "I'm not enough, I'm no good, I'm worthless, I'm hopeless, I'm not loved, I'm not accepted. I'm not worthy of love. I'm not worthy of belonging. I'm not worthy of attachment."

You see, most children, they don't blame their parents for the trauma that takes place in their life. What they do is they blame themselves. They say, "It must be me. It must be my fault that I did this because I don't want my parents to be bad. I want them to be good. For them to treat me this way, they must be good parents and I must be bad." You start saying to yourself, "I'm defective."

I think to some degree, everybody in this room, even the most healthy and whole people in this room could honestly say I'm defective because I am-- and you could fill in the blank. I'm not enough. I'm not good enough. I'm not strong enough. I'm not smart enough. I'm not. I'm not prayerful enough. I'm not holy enough. I'm not righteous enough. I'm not-- Whatever enough, we fill in the blank of that thing saying there's this defect, there's this wound in my heart.

Are you following me so far? This is a tough one to speak. It almost feels like taking the air out of the room. That's the first type of trauma is, the first type of trauma are things that should not have happened to you that have happened to you.

A child should never be hit, struck, abused, physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually but there are many people that have faced that type of trauma in their childhood or being locked in a closet or were like Nicky Cruz, my friend Nikki, who grew up where his father was a warlock and his mother was a witch and she would punch his face when he was five, six, seven years old, punch his face till his eyes were closed and blood almost sealed his lips.

It got so bad that when he was nine years old, he climbed up to a tree and put a rope around the tree and put the rope around his neck. If his older brother did not come and rescue him, Nikki Cruz would have taken his own life because of the things that should not have happened to him, did happen to him. There was a snake in the garden trying to destroy his life.

There's another kind of trauma that maybe more Christians have in reality, but it's often undealt with as well. These are not things that should have not happened that did happen, but these are things that should happen but didn't happen. Are you following me? The first one is things that should not happen that did happen to you. The abuse, the trauma. The other type of trauma is the things that should have happened to you that didn't happen to you.

Doctors and counselors tell us that this kind of trauma is often more difficult to deal with because the more physical, the more the things that clearly I should have not been struck. I should have not been abandoned. I should have not had that happen to me. I should not have that said to me. That's easy to start. Not easy, but you know it's there and you begin to deal with it maybe at an early age.

Whereas this second type of this withholding of things that should have happened that didn't happen, it's kind of hard for us to deal with because we feel like, "Well, I had good parents. They were nice. They were kind, they were happy," but there were certain things that should have happened and oftentimes those things didn't happen to you that should have happened to you because they didn't happen to your parents that should've happened to them.

They should have been connected. They should have had affection. They should have had belonging. They should have had attachment. They should have been loved. They should have parents notice them and care for them and hug them and touch them and be affectionate towards them. They never had that, so they can't pass that on to you. Therefore, you know they're good parents and they're kind to you and they provided for you but there's this sense of something should have happened.

There's a belonging that didn't happen and that causes this thing to feel like-- That just doubles down on this core wound of I'm not enough and so you start giving a language to the not enough-ness. You start giving it language. I'm not enough because I am lazy. I'm not enough because I'm fat. I'm not enough because I'm short. I'm not enough because I'm not a good athlete. I'm not enough because my parents were like this and I'm like that.

I'm not enough because I'm a preacher's kid and they're so holy and I'm not. You have all these things that you began to see. Now I'm going to close in just a few minutes, but here's what happens. When you get to that place in your life where you have this core wound inside and let's just say it's like I'm not enough, maybe that's your core wound. Well, what you're going to do with that to try to compensate for that, to try to correct that, what you do is try to build your own life. I call it a false construct.

You begin to construct a life that says, this is what I believe about myself, but I have to prove that wrong. If I believe I am stupid, then I'm going to try to read every book and sound intelligent and I'm going to spend my whole life trying to compensate for this sense, or if I feel like I'm a failure, I might be driven to make a lot of money to feel myself successful, or if I feel like I'm not accepted by God, I might try to work really hard at religion and fast and give money away, and make sure everybody knows it because I want to compensate for not feeling this way. I want that core wound to not be a reality in my life.

The way it cannot be a reality is to try to prove it wrong. For me, I grew up never feeling like I was enough. No matter what I did, it just didn't feel good enough. It's not something that comes from an abusive family. I have a good family but there's just that sense of something lacking. Inside of my heart, I just feel like I'm never enough. Do you know how I'll be enough? When I preach good enough.

You know when I'll be enough? Is when I lead enough people to the Lord, or when I go to enough conferences, or when I start the admissions department. When I do these things then I-- One of the worst ways you can live your life is what I call the when I, then I. When I make enough money, then I'll be happy. When I meet the right woman, then I'll be happy. When I get divorced from the wrong woman, then I'll be happy.

When I become a pastor, then I'll be happy. When I get to retire from being a pastor, then I'll really be happy. This always this when I. There's something more. It's called-- If the desire is to construct a life, I'm going to build a life on, when I get this, then I'll be happy, then I'll be joyful, then I'll be spiritual, then I'll be alive, then I'll be enough, then I'll be sufficient, then I'll be smart, then I'll be- whatever it is that we're looking to become but it's a false construct. We're building this life.

I'm building a life on ministerial success. It's like, I want my church to grow then I'll feel successful. I want my book to sell a lot of books, then I'll be successful. I want to look on YouTube and find out how many people have watched my sermon then I'll feel successful. How many of you know-- If you don't know now, you're certainly going to learn it. Those are things called external validation.

It's things from outside. You go like, "When I get enough money," that external validation, "then I'll be happy." You realize when you get that external validation it never makes you happy. There's nothing externally that can make you happy. It's the joy of the Lord that is our strength. It's something inside of us. It's not something that comes from outside of us.

It doesn't come from more money. It doesn't come from fame. It doesn't come from success. It doesn't come from popularity. It doesn't come from followers. It doesn't come from ministerial success or business success. It doesn't come from having lots of children. It doesn't come from anything outside of you. It comes from what the Holy Spirit puts inside of you.

He puts his love and his sense of attachment towards you, and a sense of belonging and connection. He's telling you that you may not have that from your father. You may not have had that from your mother. You may be seeking it from the world, but you'll never get it out there. You get it in here. It's when Christ lives in us. One day I had this vision, I guess you call it a picture. Just in my mind, I thought of constructing this life. The core of it is is a sandy foundation, not a rock.

The core of it is this foundation that says, "I'm not enough." I'm building a life that I am going to prove I am enough. I'm going to be the most spiritual, the most holy, the greatest preacher, the greatest minister and leader. I'm building this big construct of a life that thinks that I begin to believe the lie of Satan, that then you'll be enough when you get there. I'm up on top of this building and there's scaffolding.

Do you call it scaffolding here? The things on the side of the building that helps supporting the scaffoldings built all around it. I'm on top of this and it's beginning to sway a little bit. I'm thinking, "This thing's not on a good foundation. My whole life is not built on a good foundation and I call out to Jesus, "Jesus come help me. This building's rocking." Jesus grabs, hold of the scaffold in the bottom. I'm going, "[sighs] I'm glad you're here Jesus. Help hold this life up of mine."

All of a sudden he starts rocking it back and forth. "Oh, oh, Jesus, wait a minute. What are you doing? It was better when you weren't here. It's worse now. You're not helping. You're rocking the boat. You're shaking the scaffolding. This building might crash." The Lord says, "Good. Let that destroy this temple and in three days, I'll rebuild it."

Let that old life be destroyed. Let that old construct of constantly earning and striving and pressing and driving and feeling like you're not enough, and you're not sufficient, and you're not loved, you're not accepted and you don't belong. When you believe that kind of lie, it's almost impossible to not build your life, constructing a life that is on the sand.

When there's a shift, here's one of the things you have to do is, let there be a shift to realize, "Wait a minute, this is a hard shift." You might be 40 years old and for the last 20 years, tonight maybe you're realizing, "I have this core wound, and I have been trying to compensate that for my whole life. I've built this business. I've built this marriage and I've built this family on a false construct on sandy ground."

It's hard to admit that when you're 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 years old, because you don't want to admit it. You don't want to go like, "These last 20 years of my life I've been living in a way that's not healthy, not whole, W-H-O-L-E. There has come this sense of letting it crumble, of realizing that, that which is built on the sand is not worth keeping up. It's good to let it go.

When you let it go, you're going to have to do something. Jay and I were around Teen Challenge a lot. They were detox. When you're on drugs for a while, the first few days, you're going through detox and then your body's hurting and you're sweating, and your stomach is sick. When I help people get through moving this false construct over, they go through a detox because they're so used to getting the external validation, more money, more success more fame, more popularity, more acceptance, more approval of man, more applause.

They're so used to getting that. When they realize that's the wrong way to live their life of false construct and they let that be torn down. They just feel like, "What do I have left?" Can I suggest to you tonight? That's a perfect place to be. That's a great starting place. Allow yourself, you have to go through detox. Let your body detox from fame and success and notoriety and popularity and acceptance of man, because once you detox from that, then you can put your life on the rock, and something solid can be built.

For me, there's this glorious shift because I used to spend all my time and energy planning and plotting and driving. Not a godly ambition. My own ambition to become great and successful. All my decisions were-- What decisions are going to be born out of that kind of heart? They're never going to be spiritual. They're never going to be holy. They're always going to be corrupted by the flesh.

My decisions were very carnal so many times. Even in building ministries, it would be like I'm building my own kingdom. The Holy Spirit does us a favor. He lets that be destroyed. For me, there was this great transformation. I see the shift in my heart constantly where there was once a building that said success and fame and notoriety and popularity and accomplishment, then I'll be enough.

That was broken down when I went through detox, and now on this other side, there's something really different. "It's so fun. It's so just like, "[sighs] I can breathe finally. I have a life. There's my wife. I actually enjoy her. There is my kids. I just want to cuddle them and my grandkids. I don't have to go spend six hours in prayer. I can be holy wrestling on the floor with my grandkids." Because once that building of power and authority and success and fame and notoriety. Once that was torn down, the Holy Spirit started building his construct.

Do you know what that's built on? Whole different language. Love, and peace and joy, and patience and kindness and goodness and contentment and delightfulness and freedom and just these good things that feel good in the heart. If some of us tonight would see that false construct torn down and allow the Holy Spirit to build something, you're going to finally and fully enjoy being a Christian.

Right now you're supposed to enjoy it, right? If you don't, you're going to go to hell and it's fear-based. Like I‘ll get a timeout, an internal timeout and to be no attachment and so this is a fear-based thing and you can't build on that foundation. The transfer over to this is a love base. It's like I'm accepted. I'm loved. I will close with this. In this transformation, I realized just how much God loved me. What a great delight it is?

He loved me. This was so hard for me to say. A matter of fact, this was so hard for me to say. I'm still struggling saying it to you even tonight, even though I believe it with all my heart that Jesus accepts me just as I am. I always have such caveats on it. Not if there is sin in me. Not if I'm not performing well. Not if I haven't been in my devotional life the last three days. There's a lot of caveats to that.

With Jesus, there's no caveats. There's no restrictions on that. He loves you just the way you are. He will never love you any less, he will never love you anymore. He loves you just the way you are. Many of us know that intellectually, but we don't feel it in our heart.

We don't feel it because just the way we feel about ourselves, we project that onto God. "I'm never enough and I'll never be enough for you. I'm not good enough. I won't be good enough for you. I'm not smart enough for you. I'm not good enough preacher. I'm not a good enough preacher for you." We project that into our spiritual life, and when we do, we just live in pain. We live in sorrow. We live in brokenness and we just never get healed.

We never get healed, we get encouraged, we get revivaled. It's not even a word. We get built up in faith. We get admonished, we get encouraged. We have up times, but we're never healed in the heart because as long as we're living out of that lie, that core lie, then you're going to always build a false life. Let that be destroyed and come over to this side and finally realize how much God loves you.

Secondly, and closing, realize that God wants you to love yourself as well. That's hard for me to say, because I said that a few weeks ago, and I've got all kinds of emails from people saying like, "You're listening to the devil now. I thought you used to be a good preacher. I thought you were David Wilkerson’s son, how could you say such things?" I'm going to say it again, God wants you to love yourself.

I'm getting these emails, and I'm thinking, "What's the alternative?" No, God wants you to hate yourself. God wants you to feel like a perpetual worm who's nothing but ready to be cast into hell at any single moment, but He doesn't really love you. He saw Jesus do something. The Father saw Jesus do something nice for you. Therefore, He has to kind of cover you and He's covering you. God says, "Well, I don't want to look at that one but since you're covering him, Jesus, I'll let him into heaven because- but don't don't let me see him because I don't like him."

No, Jesus likes you and He wants you to like yourself. He wants you to be comfortable in your own skin. He wants you to breathe and He wants you to wake up in the morning and feel like, "This feels pretty good to be me. Feels pretty good to be alive." Jesus said this three times in the New Testament, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The word there- there are several Greek words and one is brotherly love. One is more of a passionate love, affectionate love.

This one is the supernatural powerful love of God. The unmerited favor of God that's called agape. Have you heard that word? The Greek word of agape. Here's what Jesus is saying. He doesn't say flatter yourself like brotherly. You would think he would say brotherly love others as you brotherly love yourself, but He doesn't use that word. He uses the word agape. Agape others. The way you agape others, I want you to agape yourself.

That's what Jesus said. Agape yourself. The word there means unconditional love. So many of us have conditions, "I'll love myself when I, then I'll love myself." When I do this, then I'll be loved by God. Then I'll be accepted, then I'll accept myself. Two things tonight. One is be healed by realizing that God loves you so much. Number two, be healed by realizing that God wants you to love, accept and have compassion and kindness for yourself.

Don't be hard on yourself. Don't beat yourself. So many Christians just beat themselves up. It's just like if they're not black and blue from their own beating, they're just not happy. They love to come to church to have somebody yell at them how bad they are because that makes them feel like maybe they're in good company at least. That's not the way God wants you to be. He wants you to have compassion on yourself.

To wake up in the morning and say, "I'm happy to be alive. I'm grateful to be alive." I'm grateful even when the snake is in the garden. Even when there's hard times around me. Even when maybe I don't feel these things, but I can know it and I can receive that. Stand with me if you would, please. I want to pray for many of you in the room here tonight. I pray that we could be honest enough to deal with some of the things in our life that you're hearing the Holy Spirit maybe speak to you tonight.

Not quite sure where to go with this. Part of me wants to give an altar call because I'm kind of used to that. Have people come to front pray for me, but part of it wants to make it a little more private, just kind of like you doing business with God without you having to maybe step out of your seats. Let's go that direction, just allow it. Miracles can take place right there and I love the altar call. I love the time together. There's something about the Holy Spirit moving that way.

Without any music, without doing the altar call, can we ask the Holy Spirit to do a supernatural work of healing in this building tonight? Can we ask him to mend broken hearts? Father, I pray right now in the name of Jesus for those who have had things happen to them that should have never happened to them. Out of that, they've built this life that is like, "I'm going to compensate for that."

I pray over them right now. I pray that you would heal that hurt. That they would not just repress it and push it down and say, "I'm not going to pay attention to that." They would allow you to bring it to the surface and that's painful. It's dealing with some things we don't need to deal with.

I pray that it would go beyond just me praying for them tonight, but I pray that they would find like my pastor friend, who was dealing with pornography and addictions. 15 years ago, he started a meeting with a group of friends and they brought healing to his life and he's been free from that for 15 years now and helping minister around the world.

Father, help us be like that, that we'd find a group of people, a good Christian friend that we could call that we could be honest with it. That we go beyond just a prayer meeting here tonight and go into a whole new lifestyle. Whole lifestyle of openness and connectedness and community because we were built that way from our womb to our death. We were built to share life with others.

Help us not to try to fight our battles alone, to try to heal our wounds alone. That's where those lies begin to penetrate. That's where those lies over your life, my friends. That come in and when you're alone, the enemy can say to you, "You're not enough and you're not good and not worthy and not acceptable." When you're with the body of Christ, you begin to learn the truth. I want to encourage you and I pray over you now that you would find community, true community.

If you don't have it, I pray that you'd be the forerunner to make it a reality. You'd be the first and invite others into it. I pray secondly for those who there were things that should have happened to you that didn't happen, neglect. You are meant to be loved and honored and given attention to and affection and you didn't receive that and you never heard anybody say, "I love you."

You grew up in a performance-based home. I just pray over you right now in the name of Jesus, that the Holy Spirit would reveal to you what that's done for you. How that has made a sense of false construct and that we would just tonight be willing to let you rock that thing to let tip topples over. That we would say no more, no more in our life, God. Thank you, God. You take away the flesh and you bring in the spirit. You take away ungodly ambition and you put in there peace and joy and contentment, freedom and life.

Just overwhelming sense of the presence of the Lord. We thank you for that. We're asking now, in the name of Jesus for miracles in this place tonight. I just feel words are so inadequate to deal with the business you're trying to deal with tonight, Holy Spirit. How you want to mend broken hearts? How you want to put salve on the hurting places? Holy Spirit, we just take a moment just to allow you to begin to speak to our hearts.

Maybe even help us identify some things that we have not really thought of before. Again, we don't expect to have it all accomplished in one night but we can believe something might be birthed here. Then maybe I'll throw this whole week as Pastor Nick has already said, "This is going to be a week of breakthrough." Maybe tonight, it was just launching this by saying-- Helping us identify, "Hey, yes, there are some snakes in our garden. There are some things we need to breakthrough."

Maybe tonight we just start with that just accepting the fact that there are some things that we need to do business with God as I've heard it put before. We just pray in the name of Jesus again, that any area of this life that we would not leave here tonight, discouraged or despondent. We would leave here very hopeful that we have a really good Father, Holy Spirit. Many of us we sing the song about our Father. We say He's a good, good Father.

Deep down, some of us are not really believing it. Even on top of that, He might be singing over us and you're good, good children and we certainly wouldn't believe that. We thank you that, that's what you call us your children and you love us and you cover us and you wash us and you cleanse us and you make us new. I'm asking that powerful miracle to take place.

I'm going to ask the worship team to come now if they would and we'll sing a song and then pastor Nick come back, but I just pray in the name of Jesus, that there would be a transition tonight. That the shift will begin to take place. Even if it takes a little detox, how many of you will be willing to detox if it gives you a better life? Anybody at all? Couple of you here, yes.

I'm willing to go through a little bit of pain, to get to the outcome, to get to the victory, to get to the clean mind and get to the clear heart, and get to the vision that He has for my life. Father, we just thank you that you're going to do this work. You're going to do a work of grace.    

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Faith to Heal From Offenses

 

Claude Houde

August 28, 2019

Hurt from others, particularly those we care about, can have devastating effects in our life. Sometimes we hold on to the bitterness and unforgiveness to our own demise. However, God calls each of us to forgive. In this powerful sermon, Claude Houde reminds us that we are never more like God than when we forgive others in faith. 

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One on One | With Eternity

 

Tim Dilena

August 21, 2019

Impressing God has nothing to do with what you've done and everything to do with what Jesus has done for you. The truth is, you can't pay the price, so why are you trying? In this thought-provoking sermon, Tim Dilena talks about our place in eternity.

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Secure, Significant and Spectacular

 

Gary Wilkerson

August 14, 2019

Many of us have a core wound that discounts our identity as a child of God and creates room for temptation to lead to sin. In this authentic sermon from Gary Wilkerson, he shares how to seek healing for your wound and move into your God-ordained purpose with joy.

Pastor Gary Wilkerson: Let me pray and ask God to bless the teaching of the word here this morning. Father, we ask you to come by your supernatural power, say things through me that would bless your people. You love these people, you have a heart for them. You want to see them thrive and grow and develop and be free and be filled with joy and life and victory. You care about the brokenness, you care about the struggles, you care about the marriages that are difficult, the children that are facing crisis maybe in learning styles, you care about the financial stress and difficulties, you care about the depression, the anxiety, the fear, all these things in our heart, God that you just want to set us free from so that we could walk in the greatest victory we've ever known before. 

I asked you allow this world to accomplish that. In Jesus name, amen. In Luke chapter three, if you would turn there is during the baptism of Jesus Luke 3:21. It says one day when the crowds were being baptized Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying the heavens open and the Holy Spirit in bodily form descended on him like a dove and the voice from heaven said, "You are My dearly beloved Son, and you bring me great joy." Or another translation says, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." When did the Father say this about the Son? Was it after the cross? 

The resurrection? Was it after the raising of the dead? Was it after the Great sermons that he had preached? Was it after the miracles that he performed? Was it after the rebuking of the dead religious systems of his day that the things that the Father God would look at His son and say, like, he's doing a great job, I am so happy, all this stuff that he's accomplishing all that he is able to do for me that really brings pleasure to my heart. It's not. Jesus heard these words spoken over him before he had done any of these things. It wasn't what he had done. It was who he was. He was a son. The father saw him as a son and said, that's what pleases me that we belong to one another that we are in company with each other that we have fellowship. It's not based on what we've done, what we've accomplished, our accolades, letters that are after our names through our diplomas. 

It is He's well pleased. He's well pleased with you. I don't know if you know that church or not, but some of you are sitting in here and you're thinking one day God will be pleased with me. When I, then I, when I do this, then he'll be pleased with me when I finished that, then he'll be pleased with me. When I get to this level of sanctification then he'll be pleased with me. When I stop that particular sin, then he'll be pleased with me. When I start giving more because right now I'm having a hard time giving then he'll be pleased with me. When I pray a little bit more then he'll be pleased with me. It's always when I do something, then he'll be pleased with me. 

The truth is, can I say this emphatically? He's already pleased with you. He already loves you. He can't love you any more than he already loves you right now. It's not based on what you do. It's based on whose you are your his. You belong to him if you've met Jesus, if not, let's take care of that before the day is over. He is pleased with you, he loves you. The father said to the son, I love you. Chapter Four, let's go ahead, very little time after this. Matter of fact, just immediately then Jesus 4:1, then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit turned from the Jordan River, and he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he's tempted by the devil for 40 days, Jesus ate nothing at the time and he became very hungry. 

Then the devil said to him, if you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become a loaf of bread. Do you see? The temptation here is not take the hungry stomach that you have and turned these stones into bread, the temptation is not throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple. The temptation is not just all these kingdoms if you'll bow before me will be yours. There's a temptation that comes before every other temptation. There's something that leads to heart that might be open to temptation. When you are tempted to sin, when you're tempted to turn from the things you know are obedience to the Lord, there's always a pre-temptation to the temptation, and that is this one. 

What the devil said to Jesus, “If you are the son of God. Now what did the Father just say to him? This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased. The temptation always starts not with something but with an identity question. If you really are beloved, if you really are accepted, if you really are chosen, if you really are like some of these songs we sang here this morning, if you really are my anointed one, if you really are and that's what the devil comes to us. 

If he can get us to question that in the first place, then that opens up the door for all these other temptations: the temptations to sexual immorality, the temptations to addictions, the temptations to pride, to anger, to fear, to depression, to suicidal thoughts. All those are secondary temptations that are born out of believing the first lie of that you're not a son, that you're not a daughter, that you're not chosen, that you're not loved, that you're not looked upon with favor just as you are, not as you think you should be for Him to love you. He says to his servants, well done, good and faithful servant but He doesn't say that to people who have completely perfectly done it all so well. 

Isn't that amazing? You see, I think he's not going to say, well done to me until I've done it all well. Matter of fact, even almost like perfectionism that I have to do it perfectly for him before He could say that to me, but it's not true. He's saying that to you right now. Well done, well done. You've got up this morning. You came to church this morning. Well done. You're, you're listening to the word of God well done. You're, singing songs of praise well done. He's already saying that to you. Not waiting for you to say, well, I can't say well done, until you improve this, fix that, change that, repent of that, turn from that and get better at this. 

Do more of that. More and more and more and more. He's not waiting for that. He's saying to you, you are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter, well done. I am pleased with you. 

[applause] 

When you have that mentality, then when the temptations come, the lustful temptations, pornography, the alcohol the cheating on the income tax or these, the temptation to, fill out your timecard at work a little differently than he should to all those temptations lose their power. You see, so many of us are wondering why is there so much power in sin? The power is in sin as the secondary power of the actual committing this in itself. The first power of temptation is to get you to doubt that you're loved by God, accepted part of the beloved, that he speaks over you well done. Jesus had this amazing connection with his father. He knew who he was. He knew he was loved. When Satan came and he tempted him in three different, the first one, is turn stone into bread. 

It was a temptation for security. It's born out of fear. I don't have enough. I better work towards making something happen. I better turn this into that because I fear because I don't believe I'm a son or daughter. If you are the son of God, that's the first temptation. Now if I'm not sure that, then I'm not going to be sure of my security and I'm going to have to start trying to earn it through works, and I have to turn stone into bread. I'm going to have to make things happen. It's based out of a scarcity mentality. The scarcity mentality says I don't have enough. 

I may not have enough. I'm afraid my children might not have enough. I'm afraid my job might not last. I'm afraid my bills may not be paid at the end of the month and there's this temptation to try to get security in your own strength. Jesus was faced with this and he was able to overcome it. Why? Not because he had everything he needed in the sense of I've got all the money I want, I've got a house, I've got a horse. He didn't have any of that, but he's still able to stay secure. Why? because you heard that voice that says I'm a son and I'm already loved just as I am. I am loved. He was able to overcome that first temptation. The second temptation, he took him on a high mountain, verse five and he said, all the kingdom is will be yours if you'll give-- 

"I'll give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them," Devil said, "because they are mine and I can give them to anyone I please and I will give it to you if you will worship me. The second one is the idea of significance. The first, is security and then the second one is significance, You can be somebody, you can lead something, you can have a name. You can have a reputation, you can have glory, you can have authority, you can have power, people can applaud you. You can have significance and Jesus didn't have to look to the world to sin to the temptation to be significant because he already knew he was significant. 

Why did he know he's significant? Because he heard these words. He didn't have to hear this word of the devil. If you really are a son, he heard the word of his father. I am a son, therefore I have significance, so he doesn't have to bow to that. The third one is to be spectacular. Throw yourself off the top of the temple. Throw yourself down and you're going to fall hit the ground and you're not going to die and people are going to come. Wow, you are amazing. You are special, you are not like everybody else and there's a temptation within each of us. If we don't feel and know that we are accepted and loved, we're going to start looking for love in being special. 

I'm above somebody else. I do more than anybody else and then that puts within us a desire to be recognized for everything we do. Well, I was in the worship team this morning and I sang and nobody patted me on the back. They patted so-and-so on the back. I preached the sermon this morning when nobody told me that was the greatest sermon they've ever heard in their life, and therefore I don't feel special, unique, above. One of the great joys in life will be when you realize youre normal. 

[laughter] 

When you just accept this and go like, I'm just happy to be normal. I don't have to be special. I don't have to be unique. I don't have to be above anybody else. I don't have to be better than anybody else. I don't have to compare myself to anybody else. I don't have to preach better than anybody else. I don't have to lead better than anybody else. I don't have to sing better than anybody else. I don't have to give more than anybody else. I just have to do what Jesus told me to do. 

Congregation: Amen. 

Pastor Gary: Just to be myself and that's freeing. That is 

[applause] 

There's so much freedom in dropping all of these things of security and significance and being spectacular. There's such freedom in saying, I lay all those things down,” and I can wake up in the morning and just say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” and I'm alive and I'm free and I'm victorious and I'm loved and I'm accepted and I don't have to strive for things. I don't have to try to make life work in my own efforts for security, significance and being spectacular. I can already know that I'm loved. Once you say all those other temptations are really temptations to try to get love. The love by making a secure environment for those around you. The love of being spectacular or significant, all those things are really desires to be loved. 

Now I want to go back a little bit and just move away from Luke three and four and just talk to you from my heart as a pastor. Maybe can we take the last few minutes we have together and just maybe you see yourself coming into the pastor's office and you just want to talk for a little bit. You just want to share some things that are on your heart because one thing I've noticed in churches all around the world is that our people are hurting. People are looking to be loved, the people are feeling insignificant, people are feeling insecure, people are feeling like they're not special. There's this hunger in our heart. God, I believe in you and I trust you and I love you and I worship you, but in my heart, there's something wrong. Or in my life, there's something that's missing. 

Or in my family, there's this struggle or in my body, there's this thing or my mind is oppressed by these things. We come to church sometimes we don't really face the honesty of these things. We don't face the fact that we're being tempted in these ways that we're speaking of this morning. We put on a good mask and we come to church and we're all, how are you this morning? Praise God. I'm just wonderful, lovely kids you are going great, but inside you're thinking, my life is miserable. I hate my husband. My kids bother me to know end. I just, on my finances are a wreck. I am depressed, I am discouraged and some of us feel that way. A few of us here in this room feel that way, but you don't want to tell anybody. You don't want to talk about that. 

If you were coming into my office, we had the privilege of sitting down for an hour or two together, you might begin to talk about these things. The trauma, the difficulties, the pain, the sorrow, the suffering. Everybody in this room has suffered greatly. Not one person in the room has not suffered. Even the children in children's church have suffered. They've been hurt in some kind of way. You have been hurt. Things have happened to you in elementary school and junior high and high school and your married life or your children going in certain directions or your lack of having children, whatever it might lack of having a marriage that you wanted to have these things hurt, they cause difficulty, and yet we're longing to be loved like, the father said to the son so that we have that sense of security and significance and worth and value and that you were born that way. 

Did you know that? The scientists tell us that in our mother's wombs, we feel what she feels. Did you know that? They actually have now been able to put sensors on the child in the womb before the child is born and begin to ask the mother put the sensors on the mother and find out if the mother's anxious. Do you know what they find out they trace? There's an anxiety that happens in the baby in the womb or if there's mothers feeling stressed, the baby feels stressed. If there's fear, the baby feels fear. You see the blood pressure, things begin to change even in a little pre-born child. If the mother is joyful, there's different chemicals released in the child. 

What is happening in the womb, the sense of connection to the mother is already happening to the baby, go all that way to the end of life. Have you ever noticed? This happened to me. My uncle died yesterday. He passed away in his late 80s. His wife, my aunt, had died just several months before he died. They're both healthy, both good, and then she ended up getting cancer and passing away. Then, a few months later, he passes away as well, just gives up. No cancer, nothing or certain things happen in his life. Basically, he just gave up. 

Have you ever noticed that happens when people had been married for a really long time? When one spouse dies, the other, sometimes follows suit very quickly after that. That doesn't always happen, but sometimes or quite often, that happens. There's a sense. What I'm trying to say to you is from the cradle to the grave, there's this sense of connection, the desire to be attached, this desire to be near, the desire to hear the words that we're talking about. "You're my beloved son. I love you. I'm pleased with you." It's this desire for connection, for love, for belonging. 

What happens in our life is we face certain types of traumas. I think there's two types of trauma. One is something that should not have happened to you that did happen to you. Some form of abuse, words spoken over you, situations that have happened in your life that has caused trauma, traumatic events that have taken place in your life. Then, there's a trauma that some in this room have faced and are still dealing with some of the residue of that trauma that took place maybe even at a young point in your life. 

There's a second form of trauma that most of us don't recognize that is affecting our life in a very powerful way, but it goes oftentimes very unrealized because it's a softer form of trauma. Nonetheless, it's a trauma. This is something that should have happened to you that did not happen to you. Are you following me? The first form of trauma we all know about is if a kid gets struck or abused sexually or abandoned. You have the sense of that something that should have never happened to that child. Everybody knows that's trauma. The thing about that type of trauma is highly recognized and often dealt with at a rather early age because it's very difficult to escape from the pain of something so traumatic in your life. 

The second form is not something that should not have happened to you that did. It's something that should have happened to you, but it didn't. You should have been loved, you should have had a sense of belonging. You should have been paid attention to, you should have been valued in your upbringing. You should have had joyful moments in connecting to your father, to your mother, but those things, for many people, didn't happen. For most people in that second category, this type of trauma is not highly recognized because you see like, "I had a good home. My father was a Christian. My mother was a Sunday school teacher. We went to church every Sunday. They never beat me. They never yelled at me. I never had any significant event where I looked back and say, "When I was 12 or 10 or eight, this happened to me." 

You don't see this as trauma. Doctors and psychiatrists and Christian counselors now see this as a form of trauma that is oftentimes more difficult because we don't really think we need to deal with it because we say, "It wasn't that bad. My father never said I loved you or so my mother was gone a lot or so my dad traveled, or he was emotionally distant from me." These things in our life that should have happened to us. There's this withholding of affection or withholding of that-- That causes trauma. 

From your birth, even pre-birth to your death, you were created for connection. You were created to be loved. God said about Adam, "It's not good that he's alone." You were meant to be with other people. You were meant to be in community, you were meant to be loved deeply the way the Father loves you. You were meant to have people around you that love you as well. When that doesn't take place, it births a trauma. This withholding of affection, this withholding of belonging, or it might be a love or acceptance that is based on performance. 

Do you remember? The Father said to Jesus before He had done anything, "You're my son. I'm well pleased with you." For others of us, it's been, "When you do this, then I'm pleased with you. When you're a star football player, then I'll be pleased with you. When you make it through college with a 4.0, then I'll be pleased with you. When you become a doctor, I'll be pleased with you. When you marry the right person, then I'll be pleased with you. When you go to church enough, I'll be pleased with you." Whatever it is, we get the sense of, "I'll only be loved, I'll only belong, I'll only be accepted if I performed a certain way." 

Attachment and belonging is based on performance not on the acceptance of you just for who you are. That causes a core wound in our heart. You see, as children, we don't know how to discern. We don't know how to distinguish these type of traumas. A child will almost never blame a parent saying like, "My father is abandoning me. My mother is abusive towards me." Children will almost exclusively, and I've seen this through 40 years of pastoral counseling. Children will hardly at all blame their parents. They blame themselves. "There's something wrong with me. My father doesn't give me affection because I must be unworthy of love in some way. My mother has neglected and abandoned me because I must be not living up to her expectations." 

Therefore, we begin to hide ourselves. We begin to say, "I'm not good." We get what's called a core wound. We begin to say to ourselves, "If only I were more like this, if only I were spectacular, if only I were more significant, if only I had more security financially, then I would be loved, then I would I'd be accepted." We begin to say, "I'm not enough. I have this thing." We begin to say to ourselves, "I'm defective. There's something wrong with me because I'm unworthy of love or belonging because I am--" 

Then, you fill in the blank, "Because I am stupid, because I am fat, because I am slow, because I am lazy, because I am unworthy, because I am unlovable, because I am not enough, because I'm not smart enough, because I'm not strong enough, because I'm not wise enough, because I'm not rich enough, because I'm not handsome enough, because I'm not athletic enough, because I'm not skinny enough, because I'm not beautiful enough." 

We begin to get this sense of, "I'm--" Basically, at the end of the day, most of us in this room, one way or another, are saying, "I'm not enough. That's why I'm rejected. That's why I'm hurt, that's why I'm alone, that's why I'm fearful, that's why I'm anxious, that's why I'm under stress." There's this wound in us that's come from the trauma of our histories. Even if the trauma doesn't seem that bad, there's this wound in our heart. I have not met a person yet who doesn't have a core wound in them, someway or another. Many, it's been healed, many are delivered, many are set free, and they're walking in victory, but at some point or another, there comes a time, and I'm being honest with you-- 

This is not the most exciting like, "Hoo-hoo, hallelujah, praise the Lord," sermon. This is some tough stuff we're talking about here. It's important because I don't want you to leave this church here today without having, number one, a knowledge that there's something in our hearts that the Holy Spirit wants to heal. Number two, having faith and confidence and belief that he wants to bring that to the surface so that he can heal it,- 

Congregation: Amen. 

Pastor Gary: -and that he will heal it, and that there is freedom for you. There is victory for you. There is life for you. There is overcoming for you. Many of us don't ever get to the victory, to the life because we're suppressing. We're pushing it down, we're putting in denial saying, "No, I'm not hurt." It's not enough if at the core wound of your heart says, "I'm not enough. I'm not good enough. I'm not worthy enough. I'm not lovable enough." If that's the core wound of your heart, how many of you know that just by confessing something-- How many of you know that's not going to be enough? Your core wound says, "I'm not enough." 

You go like, "Well, let me confess. I am enough. I am good enough. I am lovely enough. I am kind--" You look in the mirror and say like, "I am beautiful. I'm handsome. I'm good." You're not going to believe yourself. It's not strong enough to talk yourself out of it. There has to be a deliverance, a setting free that is stronger from the sense of defect, the sense of the core wound. Now, before we get into the healing, and we'll talk about them in the last few minutes we have. What happens when you have a core wound is this refusal to surrender to it. You'll try to make a life that will improve upon it. I don't know if that makes sense to you or not. A core wound, maybe it says, "You're not enough." 

For me, my father was a very successful pastor and leader. When I got into the ministry, the first sermon I ever preached, I came down off the side of it and an elderly woman was standing and she goes, "You sure don't preach like your father." 

[laughter] 

I liked it. I said, "Well, thank you. I didn't want to. I wanted to be myself." 

[laughter] 

Gary: But inside, I was hurting a little bit. Like, "Okay, I'm not good enough." That trend started even at a younger age, but it went through even in my early 20s and 30s. There was this core wound in me. My core wound, I can say it easily as possible. I know it clearly is, "I'm never enough no matter what I do. When I preach the sermon, it's not a good enough sermon. When I lead a church, it's not being led well enough. When the church grows to over 1,000, that's not enough. It should be 2,000. Just never enough." 

For others of you, it's financial. "I make this much money, it's never enough." For others of you, it's something inside of you, that's it. What we do is we build what I call a false construct. Out of the sense of, "I'm not enough, I’m going to build a life that is enough." Jesus, he didn’t have to say "Okay, I’ll throw myself down. I’ll turn the stones into bread." He didn’t have to construct a false life because he knew where life was found. 

If you don’t know where life is found from this core wound that you have, from the trauma that you’ve had a core wound is formed, and out of that we begin to build a life. Are you following me? Trauma, wound, and then you begin to build a life. 

How am I going to build a life that will prove to me and prove to others that I am valuable, that I am worthy, that I am lovable, that I do belong, that I am accepted? I’ll build a life. 

For me, I use religion. I’m going to build this whole scaffolding. You could picture a building being built and the scaffolding all around it. I’m building this tower and it’s better sermons and more leadership and more mission trips and more podcast and more World Challenge development and more mission outreaches and more programs and more strategies. That’s not enough. I better read more books so I could preach better sermons. That sermon wasn’t good enough. I’m going to go to a conference about how to preach sermons better and then just building this thing. 

One day many years ago, I had this vision. I was up on top of the scaffolding that I was building. It began to sway. Have you ever been up on a tall building and the top of it begins to-- or in a tree, if you're in a top of a tree and begins to sway a little bit. The scaffolding surrounding it begin to very-- this life I had constructed seems to be very insecure. 

I’m praying. Who helps me when I’m insecure? The Holy Spirit, Jesus. Jesus, please help me. This building is shaking. I’ve spent my whole life trying to build this life of significance, and security, and being spectacular, being overcoming the sense of not being enough. 

Finally, this looks it’s enough but it’s shaky. It’s not secured. It’s not on a good foundation. I’m asking Jesus to come help me in this vision. He’s standing at the bottom and he grabs hold the scaffolding. I’d go, "That’s good. He’s going to secure this thing up. He’s going to hold this building. This life that I’m building, he’s going to hold it up." 

All of a sudden he starts pulling it back and forth. I’m, "Jesus, what are you doing? You're making it worse." He rocks it back and forth until it begins to crumble and it begins to fall. I say," what are you doing Jesus? You're supposed to be helping me build life. You're supposed to be helping me become successful. You're supposed to help me overcome the sense of never being enough. Instead, you're tearing it down. You're letting my life fall apart." 

Jesus says, "That’s a good thing." Let that false life that you're building on the sand. Let it fall apart. Let it crumble. Let that life you're building on personal value and success and notoriety and fame and fortune and pats on the back and financial rewards. Let that life just crumble because it’s built on sand. The good news is that Jesus loves us so much that he will allow our life to fall apart. When it’s built out of trying to compensate for core wound in our heart. 

You see, he doesn’t want for you to spend your whole life trying to compensate saying, "I’m going to prove that I’m enough. I’m going to prove that I do belong. I’m going to prove that I’m loved." Instead, he’s going to tear that sense of life trying to be built on, trying to prove it. Saying, let’s just get rid of that. Tear this temple down, in three days I’ll build up another one. I’ll move it to a place called a rock, a solid foundation. 

Upon that rock, he will build his people. He build his church. Upon this rock, a solid foundation when the winds and the waves of temptation, when Satan comes and says, "You're not enough." These wounds in your life were going to destroy you and these things cause you fear and anxiety and stress and depression and angst of soul and dread of life. When you wake in the morning and not feeling good about being alive, and Jesus comes and said, "No, you can’t build your life up. You got to switch it over to here to where there is a core change." That’s what I want to close to. Then there becomes a core change in who you are, a true inner wisdom of who you really are in Christ. 

It’s not just an external confession. External measures, validation are never enough. If you have that core wound inside you birth out of a trauma and you're looking for some kind of validation. I am good enough. People tell me I’m good preacher. That makes me feel good. It’s not enough, right? I made this much money. That was that building I was building. You get there and he goes, "It’s not enough." External validation never will heal the internal wound. The validation of being significant or having enough or feeling you're enough or belonging a certain way externally through money, through fame, through riches, through popularity, through religious pursuits, never enough. 

That’s why the Holy Spirit allows that to be destroyed so that your life could be placed on a solid rock where’s there's-- that you're not looking for external validation. You're not looking for accolades. You're not looking for applause. You're not looking to be better than others. You're not looking to be spectacular. You're just saying, "I’m happy to be alive. I’m happy to be a son. I’m thrilled to be a daughter." you tear down that false construct and see what happens then is life can flow through you. Now, the first few days, weeks, and months, when you allow this thing to be torn down, you're doing something that we talked about in Teen Challenge, the drug rehab program. You are actually detoxing. 

If you live your whole life for success, for fame, for money, for religious notoriety, for accolades in church life, if you’ve lived your whole life that way and the Holy Spirit tears that down, the first thing you're going to experience is detox. Oh, no. I don’t have anything. What do you I do? Where do I go? What type of work do I do? What type of thing do I do to get applause or to get approval or to get acceptance? What do I do? 

It said, "You're detoxing and it hurts." You have to pass through that. You have to allow that pain. You have to allow that sense of-- I’ve spent my whole life over here in this construct. Now the Holy Spirit strung me to a new place and allowed that new place to have it. Otherwise, these wounds are healed insufficiently. The trauma is healed but only superficially until we lay that thing down until that core wound can be healed. You see, then we’re free. We’re free in a new way. No longer live our life based on something we’re trying to prove, something trying to earn, something we’re trying to gain. 

We’re not trying to prove to ourselves and to the world, I’m finally enough. You know why? Because you already are. You're not trying to prove you belong, because you already do. You're not trying to be loved because you already are. The one is building a whole life of I'm not loved but I’m going to get loved by the way I behave or the way I live my faith. 

I’m not worthy enough. I’ll be worthy by making a lot of money or becoming this type of-- getting recognize this kind of way. The other way, you're building your life on a foundation that rock says, it’s the stability is I’m already loved. I’m already accepted. I’m already approved. What happens then? 

All these things that the Bible talks about that are blessings, fruits that are given to us out of a tree that grows up on the right foundation is joy and peace and patience, and kindness, and goodness is joy, long-suffering. It’s a life of contentment. It’s a life of delight. It’s a life of freedom. It’s a life of breathing. You know what I mean? Just breathe. You wake in the morning, "Man, this is good. I’m happy to be alive. I’m not striving. I’m not pressing. I’m not gritting my teeth trying to bootstrap it in Christian faith, to be more, to do more, to accomplish more. 

I’m just saying, "Thank you, Jesus." Now, some of you are afraid of that. I was afraid of that. I was so afraid of that. I can’t go from this to that because that is weak and mamby-pamby and milk toast and that’s water-down gospel. That’s just, "Ooh, I have peace and all that." 

To me, it’s really feminine. Excuse me women. It’s very feminine like, "Oh, peace and joy and love." I don’t want peace and joy, and love. I want power and victory and overcoming and kingdom, establishment. I don’t want joy, and kindness and tenderness. Now I see, out of that joy and kindness and contentment, gratitude, generosity. Out of that comes all the power stuff. Out of that comes all the kingdom stuff. 

That’s where authority comes from. That’s where power comes from the simple things of life that we wake up in the morning we’re just, "I feel good to be alive. I’m not trying to be a good Christian. I already am. Not because I’m good, because what Jesus good things in myself and I’m free and I’m alive and I have victory and I-- I don’t know what time it is. I can’t see the clock. It’s time to stop. 

I close with this and said that three times now already. You are loved by God. I started with and I close with that. You are already loved by God. I want to ask you to do one more thing besides being loved by God. Many of you in this room you have known for a very long time that you are loved by. I’d say 99% of this room would say, I believe I am loved by God. I would say only 50% to 60% would say I love myself. 

God accepts me. Yes, but I don’t really accept myself. God approves of me. He likes my life, but I don’t like my life. I’d say more of us are struggling with the second issue of the way we look at ourselves. This is a very controversial topic in the church. I’ve preached this last point before. I’ve gotten emails from people saying, "Oh, you’ve compromised. Your father would--" 

I had one email, it said, "Your father would turn over in his grave." I wanted to write back, "He's not in his grave." 

[laughter] 

I spoke on this point of not only receiving the fact that God loves you but receiving the fact that God wants you to love yourself, to accept yourself. To believe in yourself, to feel good about yourself. To not be always hating yourself, always feeling like a failure, always feeling like having no worth or value or belonging. That he wants you to have a sense of belonging, of worth, and of value. You were created in the image of God. That alone gives you value. Just the fact you were formed in your mother's womb, that alone gives you amazing value. 

Jesus said this, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and as He was saying that, He didn't use the words phileo like a brotherly love or eros, like romantic love. He didn't use it as a community love, He used the word agape, right? If you know that word, it was the, agape, it's the unmerited favor of God. The love of God that's not based on performance. He's saying the way that you agape others, you're supposed to love others with the love of God. The way you agape others, agape yourself. In other words, don't love yourself just in a communal way, or in a brotherly way, or in a kind way, or in a gracious way, love yourself in a godly way. 

Love, agape others as you agape yourself. It's important that we come to-- You will never feel peace, you will never feel joy, you'll never feel contentment, and you will never overcome anxiety, fear, stress, angst, depression, suicidal thoughts, even, you will never overcome any of those unless you first come to this place of saying, "I am accepted by God. I don't have to build my life over here, I can come to this point." Then, over in this point, not only am I loved by God, but I like myself a little bit." Now, it's not pride or arrogance, it's not self-centeredness, as a matter of fact, it's as far from self-centeredness as you get. 

What empowers other-centeredness is when there's contentment, where you're not having to live to try to prove yourself, to try to make something of yourself, you're saying, "This is who God made me to be. I'm changing, and I'm growing, and I'm getting sanctified, and I'm going to keep that process going, but right now, today, I thank God for who he made me to be. I accept the skin that I'm in and I'm willing to walk in this with joy," Worship team, you guys should come back. Thank you, all, come back. Would you stand with me, please? I just want to pray for you and ask God to bring healing. 

He wants to heal, He loves to heal. I believe He heals physical bodies and we can pray for that today, but today, I think, particularly, He wants to heal broken hearts. He wants to heal people's lives who are hurting in a struggle, who are, as we said today, building their life out of the sense of a wound or a core wound of a trauma that took place. Maybe, just as I've been talking today, you're starting to realize, it's like "Yes, pastor Gary, you kind of described me today a little bit. There's some things, some events have taken my life that maybe I've never really even dealt with, or I've dealt with a little bit but I've never really seen a transformation in my heart. 

I realize, today, I've been building my life trying to prove that I'm something, that I'm somebody, that I'm loved. That I'm significant, that I'm secure. That I have something spectacular, I can prove that, and I've been living that way, but today, I want to live this way instead. Where I don't have to try to talk myself into being accepted, and belonging, and loved. I don't have to talk myself into it because I know it." I can honestly say to you today, I'm not trying to prove I'm enough. This may sound like boastful, but you'll just have to get over it if you don't like it, I am enough. I'm enough just the way I am. I'm enough. 

[applause] 

I don't have to-- The devil still comes after me. I will drive to the airport later this afternoon. I'll be driving so I shouldn't have said that and I went too long and they didn't like me. That'll happen, I promise you. I pray for me if you want, I don't care. Because the residue of the satanic temptation is still there like, "Are you enough, Gary?" Now, I have something because I'm not trying to live that life and now I have something to say, it's like, "No, you're not going to get me with that one again because I know who I am in Christ. I know I'm loved by God. I know I'm a son." I don't have to prove it by good sermon. 

I don't have to prove it by great leadership. I don't have to prove it, I just have to be His son and enjoy being a son. That makes Christianity fun, it makes it breathable rather than stressful. It makes it like "I like being alive. I like being a Jesus follower. I like my Christian fellowship." 

[applause] 

See, the opposite of the trauma that we're talking about is joy. The trauma will cause you to build your life on the wrong foundation, joy will cause you to live a life that is peacefully moving in the direction that He has for you. That's where that power comes from. Why don’t you bow your heads and close your eyes, and I want to pray for some of you today. If you need that shift from the sand to the rock, from traumatic life that is striving and stressful and angstful, and maybe even depressed or discouraged, fearful. 

You want to shift over to-- You've tried all the positive confessions and you've tried the scripture verses you've put on your refrigerator and saying like, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ," but deep in your heart, you're saying, "No, it's just not real." You want to move over today to say, "No, I'm not going to try to be good, try to be loved, try to be accepted, I'm going to accept it today that I already am." That is the major shift, that moves you over to the rock. If you need that prayer over here, would just raise your hand right now wherever you are and say, "Pastor Gary, would you pray for me?" 

Healing, freedom. Yes, many hands. Jesus, I pray for my friends right now. I believe we want to do a really, really deep work in their heart right now. I believe you want to do miracles in this place today. I believe you want to set captives free in this place today. We get real honest right now and say, Lord, there are many hurt and broken hearts in this room here today. They have been traumatized by events that should've never happened to them, or things that should have happened to them have gone missing. They just weren't loved and accepted, and have a sense of belonging, and they're still wrestling with that today. 

They've tried to build this life to get that, I pray that right now, Lord, you would rock the building, rock the structures that they've built, and just allow them to peacefully say, "Ah, I can tear that down. I can let that go. I can let go of that striving. I can let go of that angst of trying to create my own life to get what I need, and instead, I can find you, Jesus. I can find life, and peace, and joy. Move us now, Jesus." I wish I could take all these who raised their hands and spend the next two, three hours walking through the fields with them and just praying and talking. Lord, we don't have that opportunity, we just ask for something even greater than that, it's that you would walk with them today. 

You would speak with them today. You would do miracles in their life today. You would draw them to some this, Lord. This is not a one-time event. There are certain things that are one time events. You can get saved in an instant, you can get healed in an instant, but this is a journey. Moving from a falsely constructed life of pain and sorrow, suffering and striving to peace and joy, it's a journey. It's a process. Lord, I pray that they would be patient with themselves. I pray they would not stuff these emotions down, but they would allow you to explore the things that are in their heart. That they'd become honest with their Christian fellowship. 

That some of the men in this room would confess to their brothers, some of the struggles that they're going through, some of the things that they use to try to overcome the pain of their life. Some of the sisters in this room would begin to find a friend or two and really get open and say, "I never told anybody this, but this is how I feel or this is how I was hurt." I pray that this church will become an honest place. Not become, I believe it already is, but even more so, God, that it becomes an honest place. The masks would be torn down and there would be a safe place to speak to somebody. 

I pray that you would watch over us as a gentle shepherd. That we would just make sure we speak to the right people and not the wrong people where doors of gossip might be open, or condemnation, or shame, or guilt, but, Lord, there'd be some good people that you would allow us to address the needs of our broken heart to. That this process of healing that's starting today would be a journey. I'm asking that word in faith right now that today starts a new journey of healing for some people who have been living for a long time with a broken heart, and full of anxiety, and fear, and stress, building this false life. Move it over now to Jesus. 

Take a moment just to pray as we sing this song together, and then pastor Nick will come back. All right, thank you, guys. Appreciate it. 

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Don't Let Discouragement Take Your Strength

 

Carter Conlon

August 7, 2019

Discouragement can be debilitating. We can get so despondent that we will begin to doubt the existence of God. God will allow seasons of discouragement when:

  • There is something hidden in our heart and He wants to get at it.
  • When we take that which belongs to the Lord and keep it for ourselves.
  • When we fail to realize there is a divine purpose even in the darkest of times.

We must cry out to God and ask Him to take away the perception that coming to Christ is all about us. We are not called to live for ourselves. It is Christ is in us for the betterment of others. When we understand this truth God will transform the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope!

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