Are you anxious about the future of the world? The birth pains and signs are growing with greater intensity. In this sermon, Nicky Cruz encourages our faith to hold fast and use what time we have to point people to Christ.Download MP3 Download MP4
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.Download MP3 Download MP4
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.Download MP3 Download MP4
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.
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 you’re normal.
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.”
Pastor Gary: Just to be myself and that's freeing. That is…
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,-
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."
I liked it. I said, "Well, thank you. I didn't want to. I wanted to be myself."
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 a 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."
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.
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."
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.
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:
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!Download MP3 Download MP4
There are enemies to your faith; obstacles and forces clamoring to steal your trust in God and his provision. When hope seems far off, the answer invisible, or the beginning small, trust in a God who provides abundantly more than you need. In this sermon, Claude Houde reminds us of the faithfulness of God in even the most dire situations.
... that led to speak on the topic of enemies of our faith. We must discern, identify, confront, and learn to overcome and protect against the enemies of our faith. Now, faith is a substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith, the elders obtained a good testimony. There's no other way to obtain until the end a good testimony for Christ, but by the renewing and the defending of our faith and there are enemies to our faith. For without faith, it is impossible to please him. Think of it. Think about. Think about how the enemy wants to steal, corrupt and abort your faith. Because without faith, it is impossible to please him. There can be services, it can be a faithfulness to church and singing and structures, even prayer, even praise, even preaching. But without faith it is impossible to please him.
Let me do a little survey here this morning at Times Square Church. The word of God as a call to ... This verse has been in my heart in the last weeks and even years. The responsibility of faith for us that have been walking with the Lord for a season, their responsibility to be models of faith. Let me make a little survey. How many of you have known Jesus? You're a believer. How many of you have been born again for more than 10 years? Let me see your hand. Look at that. How many of you more than 20 years? Look at that. How many of you more than 30 years? Wow. 40 years? No more ladies. No more ladies raising their hands.
10, 20, 30, 40 years. To all of us that have been walking with the Lord and singing, worshiping him and seeing him so faithful, the author to the Hebrews gives this incredible word to all the young believers. There were thousands of young believers and he actually tells them to look to us, to look to us as models. He says in Hebrews Chapter 13, "Remember those who are leaders or elders or are teachers who have spoken to the word of God to you, whose faith follow, whose faith follow considering the outcome of their conduct. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." It's astonishing to me and it's very humbling the sense of responsibility that the idea here, the commandment here is for all young believers to look to us who have shared the word of God with them, to look to us. And to follow our conduct of faith and to actually see how we live our faith through the struggles and the pain. And then live our faith through the battles at the mourning and the defeats and the incomprehensions.
And as you go through, you see, he says to the young believers, "Look to those who have brought the word of God to you and follow their conduct." Amazing things. If you've been a believer for many years, as many of you have, the young believers, your family, unbelievers, backsliders are called to look to you. And for our faith, for my faith, and for your faith, to be the living proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I want you to say this to the person next to you. You can look at me. Say that to the person next to you. Because that's what the author of the Hebrew says. He says, "Look to them."
So I need more than salvation faith. I need more than saving faith. Saving faith ... I need more than saving faith for heaven. I need now faith for this earth. I need more than singing faith or scriptural faith even, or I need sustaining faith, surrendering faith. And I need supernatural faith every day so that my life becomes the incarnation, my life becomes the living proof that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That he heals today and holds us today. And can you say yes, please.
Now the epistle, and Jude, actually even more than being aware of the battle for our faith, actually Jude called us to contend for our faith, to fight against the enemies of our faith. He actually, and we look at Jude and Jude is the brother of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had other children naturally after the supernatural birth of Christ. And we have their names in scripture, James and Joseph and Jude. And Jude only believed in Jesus as Messiah after he saw him resurrected, after the resurrection. We can imagine him in the book of Acts. We can imagine him at Pentecost. We can imagine him and he becomes an apostle and he becomes a voice for God. And he writes a letter to believers. He intends it to be ... I'll read it a second. He intends it to be a letter of comfort, a letter where we all talk about our common salvation, a letter very in line with a modern message where everything's okay, it's all good. We're all the same, all under grace, and let's rejoice in our, let's have a kumbaya, a general kumbaya around our salvation.
And he says it, "Beloved," verse three to four, "I was very diligent to write to you. This is what I wanted to you concerning our common salvation. But I found it necessary,” in the Greek I found it urgent." He is gripped by the Holy Spirit to write to you, to exhort you, to awaken you, to contend, to fight, to battle earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints. Why? For certain men have crept in unnoticed who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turned the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I had intended just to bring us all together and just talk about our common faith, but I was seized. I was shaken by the Holy Spirit, and I became urgently, urgently aware that I needed to tell the body of Christ. And I thank God for still today, 2000 years later, for men and women of God and men of God that stand in this pulpit and still understand that there are enemies of the faith. And we need to contend for the faith and we need to stand for the faith because you see ... Why?
Because it wasn't a "Oh, you're right because of the enemy outside." Oh, in this case he's not speaking of enemies outside. He's speaking of enemies from the inside. He's speaking of men that come in and they've transformed the grace of God into lewdness. Literally they wear the grace of God, they wear it as a label, but they don't walk in the light. They have a confession, but there's no change. There's no transformation. They sing the song. They sing songs of grace and they sin while they're in grace. There's a sense in Jude that we are to be awakened to contend for the faith. Now when you add the word faith in scripture, pistis, 228 times. In the original Greek, its simplest form is most profound. A sense is that faith as being persuaded, being convicted, being certain, being assured, who is wholly persuaded and convicted that without this persuasion, this conviction of this sense of being so persuaded of God and his word and his call in my life and under grace of my need to allow his Holy Spirit to do his work of transformation in me. Without this faith, it is impossible to please him.
Now, did you know that that the scripture specifically speaks of the last days and says that in the last days, the faith, that sense of conviction, that sense of this is the word of God, that sense of I will face God one day, I will be before him. That sense of conviction and persuasion, that in the last days in the body, many will wax… the faith, the pistis of many will wax cold. They will have a form of godliness, but they will deny the very power thereof. So when the son of man comes, will he find faith? Will he find men and women that will be battling, that will be defending, that will be discerning, that will be crying out with the disciples, "Oh Lord, increase my faith"? Now when you look at scripture, there's only two times that Jesus marveled. He marveled only two times. Now the word thaumazó, marvel, is used 43 times, but only twice by Jesus. And in both in relationship to faith. In Matthew eight, verse 10 to 13, when the Centurion comes and my servant is dying, Jesus says, "I will go to him. You don't need to go. I'm not worthy of you coming, but just say a word and he will be healed." And Jesus heard it and he thaumazó. He marveled and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, such a great conviction and persuasion and confidence, not even in Israel." Then Jesus said to the Centurion, "Go your way. As you have believed so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed in the same hour. Jesus marveled at this man's faith. The word thaumazó means he was stunned. He was filled. Jesus was astonished to find marvelous, to be filled with awe, with admiration and wonder.
But the word in scripture in the New Testament also is sometime used in the contrary, to be stunned, to be horrified, to be angered, to be saddened. And in both cases it has the implication in the Greek of out of breath. It took my breath away to see this man's faith. So Jesus marveled at the unlimited faith of this man, but he also marveled at what I call the unbelief of familiarity. Only twice did he marvel. He marveled at this man's faith. But then in Mark chapter six, verse four to six, when he comes to his own country, when he come among the people that knew him the most in his early years, Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country and among his own relatives in his own house."
Now he could do no mighty work there except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled. He thaumazó. He marveled because of their unbelief. He was astonished. He was angered. He was saddened. He was stunned and horrified at their unbelief. The terrible danger of familiarity.
I pray. I have been praying, even for this message, praying in the last weeks in preparation for this morning. I prayed that God would give us a fresh sense. I pray by the grace of God that not one of us that belong to this church, would ever become familiar, would ever take for granted the presence of God that is here and the word of God that is preached and the prayer alive that is here and the fruit of this church and the miracles in this church. Look around you. This entire house is a house of miracles. Can you stop with me one second this morning and say, "Oh God, we're not familiar. We're just worshiping and so grateful. You are God and you are awesome in this place." Would you say yes, please?
And when we look at ... As we learn together in these two messages to discern, identify, and confront, overcome the enemies of our faith, we will look today ... We could look at many men and women of faith in scripture, but we will look today at Elijah. So I want you to turn with me to First Kings 18. First Kings, chapter 18. Everybody, First Kings 18. If you don't have your Bible, you can share it with the person next to you or it will be on the screen. The verses will be on the screen as well.
Now when we look at Elijah, we look at a man of faith. We look at a man that had to battle against enemies of his faith, but we've got a man of faith. And his faith as detailed in many chapters, but we look at chapter 18 that his faith was faith with a conviction to call kingdom choices. Now, if you are walking true faith, your faith calls you to choices every day. And a true faith, true preaching of faith calls people clearly to convictions and to choices. In verse 17 of chapter 18 of First Kings, then it happened when Ahab saw Elijah, he’s the king. And Ahab the King said to him, "Is that you, oh, troubler of Israel?" But he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed Baal."
We, the church of the last days will have to stand in persuasion and will have our call to build the kingdom of God and to call and to stand with these convictions. A little bit later on in verse 21, Elijah said, "How long?" Speaking the word of God to the world, but speaking it to the people. And Elijah came to all the people and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him. But if it's Baal follow him." But the people answered him not a word.
We in these last days will be the people of God that will be anointed to build a kingdom of God by a faith in a society and in a world and an ethos that is increasingly and violently discriminatory. In a world that calls evil good and good evil. In a world that looks at the church with mockery. Will look at the church even as a nuisance to be silenced. We will be, and we are, on the great many pulpits in the world, and great temptation to just fold in. We are called to stand in faith and the faith of God would always call us to choices. Choose ye today who you're going to serve.
It's also faith with Christ like compassion. He is calling, he's standing that persuasion, that conviction for God and his commandments, but there's not a fiber in Elijah that gives up on this world. There's not a fiber that keeps this world at arm's length or looks at the church as turned onto ourself and a bunker mentality. When they begin to call on Baal, they are completely demonically controlled. And in verse 28 and 29, "So they cried out and they cut themselves as was their customs with knives, until the blood gushed out of them." In verse 30, Elijah said to all the people "Come near me." So all the people came near to him and he repaired the altar. So beautiful. Repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken. And then he took 12 stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to, through the word of the Lord, I'd come. And he said, "Thou shall be your name."
It's an incredible picture of Christ and us, his body on earth. They are disgusting. They are violently against God. They are demonically inspired. They are repugnant to everything and Elijah. But he opens his arms and he says, "Come near me. Come near me. Let me rebuild the altar of God in your life."
When I was just a youth pastor years ago, I got a call at 3:00 in the morning and it was a police in Montreal. And they called and they said, " Are you Pastor Claude Houde?" I said, "Yes, I am." And they said they had a situation in a city where there was a girl who was terribly mentally disturbed and she had locked herself in an abandoned building but surrounded with tenement buildings in the projects. And she had soaked herself in gasoline and she had a fire with her and she had a knife. And she was cutting herself and threatening to burn herself and just to become a torch.
And they took it so seriously that they blocked the entire neighborhood. They brought fire trucks all around and they said, "We're calling you because we've been three hours talking to her and nobody can reason with her and it's getting more and more dangerous. And she's just cutting herself and threatening to burn the building down." And then she reached in her jeans and all soaked in the blood. She got out a business card, and it's from your church and it's you. She's been to your church. And then I remembered from years back, that troubled girl coming, would try to help. My wife and I taking her to a teen challenge type center and she ran away. I never heard from her again.
So I got in my car. Chantel is praying. And I drive to the city and I get to all the police all around and have blocked the streets. They say, "This is the man. It's okay. Allow him in. Allow him through." And when I got there, she's behind a wall under ... And they were so afraid for my security. They said, "Well, we can't allow you to go and talk to her. Try to talk to her through a wall." I'm trying to, and we're getting nowhere. So I said to them, "You have to let me see her and talk to her." So they discussed among themselves and they put this vest on me and this harness and they kind of put me in. And they said, "If she moves, we pull you out," and all that. I came in and it was a picture of just insanity. All the blood and she's cutting herself. And within about 10 minutes she gave me the knife and I remember just taking the knife and holding and just extending my hand and grabbing her hand and pulling her out. They took her and then ... But wait.
They took her away. So I drive back at 6:00 in the morning and I take a shower. I go to the office. And around 7:30, 8:00, I get a call. It's her calling. So I said hi. I said, "I see you're okay, Natalie. Where are you?" She said, "Well, they just put me right back on the street." That day when I was walking into church, that morning, praying, it just hit me so hard. With all the resources that society can have, they are so limited in what they ... And we the church, and it just hit me so much, just like Elijah with his arms open, we have to contend for our faith. This church is Jesus's arms extended to men and women that only God can pull out. Only God can deliver. Only God can ... You should applaud more than that. This is our calling. This is who we are. This is who we are. So Elijah is this man of conviction, this man of Christ like compassion. He has faith with a calling to choices and Christ like compassion. He has faith with a cry for things to change. In verse 37, his cry is our cry. He says, "Hear me, oh Lord. Hear me so that the people may know that you are Lord." This cry must never ... This is a Tuesday night prayer meeting.
This is a Tuesday night prayer meeting. This is the heart of Times Square Church for all, for three, four decades. There's a cry coming out right in the heart of Times Square. There's a cry going out to God, "Oh God, come by a fire, by your presence. Oh Lord Jesus, fill us with that faith that we open our arms in love but also for your fire to come and consume in us what needs to be consumed and come and show your glory. So people will know in 2019 that you are God." That's just faith.
And we will discern, identify, and we will confront and learn to defeat and to protect against four enemies of his faith. We'll start this morning and we continue in two weeks. But when we look at the first stage or the first enemy of our faith in first Kings chapter 18, we see that our first enemy, and we all face it, and the first stage of the battle in our faith to contend our faith is what I call simply the invisible, the invisible. And in first Kings chapter 19 in verse 41, "And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound." The Hebrew said, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain." It had been a long season of many years of drought.
So Ahab went up to eat and drink, and the Elijah went up to the top of Carmel. Then he bowed down on the ground, put his face between his knees, and he said to his servant, "Go up now. Go look towards the sea."
So the servant went and looked and said, "There is nothing."
And seven times he said, "Go again." Elijah is facing the first enemy of faith. And the first enemy in our battle to contend for our faith is simply the invisible. We have a contrast here in the realm of the battle of faith, many people go back to eating and drinking once a promise from God has been announced. Eat and drink in biblical, in the biblical language is often used as a biblical expression that symbolizes spiritual carelessness, blindness, a certain spiritual blindness or neglect with a focus on self fulfillment that eat and drink and be merry and die. Eat and drink, for we die tomorrow.
Elijah comes out and he says, "I hear the sound of the abundance of rain." And while the King goes and eats and drinks, Elijah goes before his God. It's a good question for me and you in the battle of our faith. When there is, Hey, do I protect? Do I receive the promise of God but then protected battle for it, fight for it, contend for it with my face before God? Or do I sit on a promise, eat and drink and be merry because a promise has been spoken? True faith understands that the promise of God comes, but I am to contend for the faith. I am to pray through. I am to continue. I am to hold on to what God has promised.
It is pretty amazing. Elijah said, "I heard the sound of the abundance of rain." In the battle of faith, in the realm of faith, in the battle against the enemy of our faith, we often hear what we cannot see yet. I heard a promise from God. I heard something for my son. I heard something from my life. I heard something for my marriage. I heard a promise from God. I heard. We can feel Elijah. He says, "I know it's been a drought." And it's a long drought. If you know the context, it's been a long drought. Elijah has been in a drought. In this case, it was a physical drought.
We go in our battle of faith through different seasons of dry seasons and drought. We go through droughts. It could be a spiritual drought, the relational drought, spiritually, relationally, emotionally, spiritual, emotional, relational, a drought in love. Just a dryness in my heart, in responding to people in love or impatience with someone we're loving and trying to, or a drought in my confidence for the future. A drought in a marriage relationship, a drought in a relationship with one of our kids, or adult kids that are grown and in relation. Sometimes, sometimes the drought in my relationship with my church, a drought in my relationship with God. Because I had heard something, and in the battle of faith, oftentimes we hear so deeply and it's so real to us. We hear so deeply what we do not see yet.
Question, what do you do? Where do you go when the promise comes and you're in a season of drought? Ahab ate and drank. Ahab went just went, and, and, and just went and, and, and let the promise drift. He just went and just spun. What do you do? Elijah went with his face before God. Yes, the promise has come, but I'm here in your presence, God, and I'm speaking to someone here today. The promise has been spoken, but you say, "I don't see anything yet. I'm in a season of drought." Now, sometimes the droughts that we go through are only known to God. Sometimes people around us don't see the droughts we're going through. Sometimes, I would say this way, sometimes my outward situation, my songs, and in some realms of my life, my apparent successes are doing better than my soul.
Sometimes I'm going through a drought, and in a season of droughts, I've heard this. This is a promise of God for me, but I see nothing. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel and then he came back and he says, "I heard the sound of the abundance of rain. There's a promise from God." So he tells his servant, "Go, go to the mount, the top of the mount. Go and look. Go look towards the sea. You'll see. You'll see it. It's coming. God has spoken. I know this is true. I know this is true."
Let me illustrate it this way. Zach, come on. Come on. Elijah says to his young servant, " I want you to run up to the top of Mount Carmel. Go and see and come back and tell me what you see. Go for it. Go. Go young, man. Go, go young, man. Go. Go to the top of Mount Carmel. I hear the sound." He's on 51st street. Come back, come back, come back. I hear the sound of the abundance of rain. I hear the sound. I know God has promised, and it's been a long time, but it's the promise of God. Hey, Hey, what do you see?"
"You see nothing? Go again. Go again." Elijah said, "Go again." Elijah said, "Go again. I heard the sound of the abundance of rain. Go again. Go, come back. Come back. The promises of God are true." My friend Habakkuk said, "The promise, the promise is walking toward its fulfillment. If it's long in waiting, wait for it. Fight for it. Pray for it. For it is for an appointed time." In the realm of faith, we often hear what we do not see. You went, and what did you see? Nothing. Go again.
Now, the Bible says that he did it seven times. Do you feel the compassion of this church for this young man? Give him a hand. I don't have time to go. I should have let him go seven times, because sometimes it just feels that long. I heard the sound. I know I did. I heard the sound. I know it's God. "Go again." Seven times around the walls of Jericho. Seven times let the King be dipped to be healed of his leprosy. And God is saying to someone today, "You heard the sound of the abundance of rain, but you are facing in battle of faith. You are facing the invisible. Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Love again. Forgive again. Hallelujah.
Oh, people of God, this morning. Do you hear it? Do you hear the voice of God saying to a mother, to a father, to a young man, say, "Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Love again. Release again. Give again. Trust again. Surrender again. Worship again. Pray again." Give him praise again. I love the testimony of Elgin Staples. I read it and then it's verified on so many sources, even in some of the army websites. In the bestseller Finding Your Way, I read this amazing testimony, this Christian young man, August eight and nine, 1942 on the ship USS Astoria, it was the first ship that engaged the Japanese during the battle of Savo Island. And Elgin Staples, a young Christian, his mother, his home and his parents, but his mother is praying for him. He was fearful. He left. He wanted to do his duty for his country, but it was a very, he had known many people around him that came back having lost, giving their lives for freedom and his mother just before he left laid hands on him and prayed for him.
And Staple is a single man, third class. And on that day, on August eight his ship is under attack and sunk and he is floating under raging ocean, holding on to dear life and praying, but just saved by his life vest. He has a vest that he's holding on to a tube and he's holding onto it. He's finally brought onto another ship. And would you believe it? The second ship is sunk again. And then as he's floating on the crazy ocean and then the terror and he's holding on to that life vest, he's just holding on and hours and hours and hours. And he looks, and it just hits him, because it says that that vest, there's just a little sign on it, and it says that the vest was built by the Firestone Company of Akron, Ohio. And there's a number there and he's thinking, "This is crazy. I'm from Akron, Ohio. I know the Firestone Company."
And as he's there praying, and then when they read this story back together, his mother had just got the news and the communications were different back then. So she just got the news, he's lost at sea. And she's praying, and she's praying. And then they finally save him, finally bring him back. And there's pictures in the newspapers of him when he gets home with his ... and they gave him his life vest that saved his life. And he's sitting home with his mom and he tells a story, tells his testimony, he says, "Mom, I had floating on the sea and I'm holding onto my life vest and would you believe it? It was built right here at the Firestone Company in Akron and there's this number and I'm just ..." And the mother begins to weep and she says, "With the war, I had to take a job and I'm now working at the Firestone Company. I make these vests, and every employee has an employee number for quality control, and this is my number." Thousands and thousands of vests.
I want to say to someone, I want to say to someone who needs to hear it, when you don't see anything, there's always going to be people around you to say, "I see nothing." There's going to be people around you that say that, "You're believing in vain. I see nothing. It's too late. It's too much. It's too deep. I see nothing. This is too big. This is impossible. I see nothing." You'll have the devil himself shout in your mind, "I see nothing. There is nothing. There is nothing." Go again. Go again. Pray again. Stand again. Come on.
I want you to encourage somebody next to you and say to them, "Go again." Say that to somebody next to you. Enemies of our faith, our first enemy, the first phase, the first stage battle through our life, every season. It's not a first phase, first years of your Christian life. You will go through this in every season of your life. Complete anything that is built for God. Anything that is of eternal value will, at one point, look like nothing. Anything that is of God, at one point, will look like it's nothing. I see nothing. Go again, because a first battle, a first enemy, first stage of battle is the invisible. And the second enemy, the second stage of battle is the insignificant or the insufficient. He said, "Go." He said to him, "Go up again."
So verse 44 of chapter 18, "It came to pass, the seventh time," seventh time, he went and he said, "There's a cloud, but so small, as small as the hand of a man rising out of the sea."
And so Elijah said, "Go up and say to Ahab, prepare your chariot and you go down before the rains that stop you and it happen that in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and winds and there was heavy rain and they have rode away and went to Jezreel." But the hand of the Lord, the Lord came upon Elijah, and as he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Israel. It's not nothing, but it's not enough. First battle, it's nothing. Second battle, okay. It's not nothing, but it's insignificant. So small. It's like the hand of a man in vast skies. It's nothing. Well, it's not nothing, but it's not enough.
One of the deadliest traps in our contending for our faith is the trap of the, it's not enough. Not enough change. There's not enough change in my husband. I don't have change in my ... don't look at anybody. Look at me right now on this thing, on this little section. Not enough change. There's not enough change. There's not enough effort, not enough fruit. There's not enough. Not enough, God. It's not enough. Not enough progress in this relationship. There's enough in my home, not enough. My kids was doing a little bit, but it's not enough.
It's not enough in the promise to fulfilling of the promise of God. It's not enough in my career. It's not enough in my calling before God. Sometimes it turns towards us. Not enough recognition. Not enough. Nobody's seeing it. Not enough. Not enough. There's not enough doors opening. It's enough. It's not enough comparing to what I heard. It's not enough comparing to how much I put into this. It's not enough compared to how much I prayed. It's not enough comparing to what I was hoping for. It's not enough. It's that dangerous season in our faith where the progress does not match the promise. It's not enough. And not enough is a deadly, deadly poison. Please hear me. The enemy cannot stop God's rain, but he can stop you from running towards it in faith. I've seen in 35 and more years of pastoring people that gave up on the not enough, not enough change. I'm giving up on this marriage, giving up on my kids, giving up on my calling, giving up on my church, giving up on following God. Not enough. Not enough. The not enough.
I want you to know that true fed, verse 44, see Elijah's reaction, "What do you see?"
"I see nothing."
"Go again. What do you see?"
"I see nothing."
"Go again." Seven times. He comes back.
"What do you see?"
He goes, "Let's go. Gird up. Let's run. The rain's going to be so awesome. Come on, let's run towards it. Let's run towards the rain." True faith. Contend for the faith, enemies of our faith, the not enough. True faith celebrates the small beginnings. True faith celebrates a small beginning riddled with imperfections. Now you can look at somebody next to you who's riddled with imperfections. True faith celebrates the rain drops before, way before the abundance of rain. True faith celebrates the smallest bud that will grow into great fruit. Faith does not despise the day of small beginnings. Faith does not fall into traps of the not enough. Faith does not fall in the trap of this is insignificant. This is just loaves and fishes in a kid's hands. This is just stones in a teenager sling against a giant. No. True faith says, "My God, what I have I bring to you and I celebrate what you have begun. He that has begun a good work in me will perform it."
Mm-hmm (affirmative). There's traps. True faith is aware, is discerning of the traps of the insignificant. When you are beginning to combat, when you are falling into a trap that this is not enough, this is not enough. There's many traps. There's the traps. There's the traps of the enemy, the traps of comparison and human ambition. It's not enough compared to yesterday. It's not enough compared to what someone else, or somewhere else I'm comparing with. When I'm comparing it with what I had in my heart, what I had envisioned with my ambition, with my timetable, it's not enough. It's not enough. It's not enough.
This is a society now with the social media where people spending hours every day comparing themselves with others, looking at everybody else's Facebook and Instagram and with all the filters and all the, everybody looks better than they really do, and everybody looks at ... and everybody ... and look at the restaurant they're eating, or look at their kids, they look perfect. Look at that car. Look at those vacations. Look at that job and look at ... Oh, let's have a moment of confession. How many of you I've ever posted something under social media that really did not fully reflect the full experience? Anybody? Let's make a call for all liars to come and ...
You know what I mean. You're showing pictures of your vacation and you're telling the kids, "Come on. This is for the picture. Look happy." And you finally get everybody's head and there's seven filters after and then touch up a computer, touch-up and tans and all kinds of stuff added. And you're putting on the picture of us in the car on our way to the beach. And really, you fought all afternoon. It was hell in the car. You know what I mean. Say it or somebody next to you, "Other people do it, too." Say that to somebody.
Comparison on social media, but also comparison in the spiritual. Or even another trap comparison human ambition or the trap of conformity that will not allow God to bless in a different way. This is how I prayed it. This is how I saw it happen. This is how God blessed me in the past. This is how it must be. Not enough. I want to say to somebody next to you, your temple of yesterday will not be the only way God will build your temple today and tomorrow. Now, in the book of Haggai, you had this moment where the people of God, after I've been gone to captivity, come back. God in his mercy brings them back and they begin to try to rebuild the temple, and they get discouraged. It's not enough.
It's just not enough, because they had in mind the glory of the former temple, the temple of Solomon, one of the wonders of the world. And they come back and for 17 years, they leave the work interrupted. In Haggai chapter one, he says, "No, the spirit of God comes upon the leaders, and upon Zerubbabel, and upon the governors, and upon Zechariah the high priest, and then upon the people, and they all come together. But again, in chapter two, they're giving up again. It's not enough. It's not enough. And God goes to the very root of it. You can read it. It's not on the screen, but you can read it. In Haggai chapter two, God says, "How many of you saw this temple in its former glory?" There's very few of them. Haggai was seventy years old. He was the one that saw the most of them, and not even seen it, but they were comparing it with what other people had said, and it looked so-so.
And God actually says, "Is this temple not in your eyes as nothing? How do you look at it now? Is it not in your eye as nothing? Now be strong. Go again. Be strong, and it will be according to my covenant. And my spirit is with you, and the glory of this temple will be greater than the former." I want to say to somebody next to you, don't put God in a box. This is the way it has to be done. This is the way God blessed me in the past. This was a temple. Nothing can compare to it. His mercies are new every morning. Don't you limit him. In history, they start, "When God said this glory of this temple will be greater than the former," that's just not possible. They're standing on stones and rubbles, and historians actually will say that that second temple in his physicality never approach the wealth of the human beauty of the former one.
What is God saying that? What is God saying? God all through the Old Testament is announcing Jesus Christ. He is saying there's a new temple coming. And he went, God, "Jesus will offer his life. Sacrifices would go day and night. I would go through day now, but it will be one sacrifice, and the temple will not be a building made by mans of stone. It will be billions of temples of the Holy Spirit. I will come. The glory will come and dwell in human beings, for millenniums to come all the way to Times Square Church in 2019, therefore the second temple is much greater. The second temple is the church of Jesus Christ, and what started as not enough!
Oh, come on! Shout with me. And what started as not enough became the glory of God beyond anything they could imagine. And when Elijah, "What do you see? Nothing. Go again. What do you see?" "It's not enough. It's insignificant. It's like the hand of a man." "Run towards it." Now, as Elijah ran, the Bible says that the hand of the Lord came in him, came upon him with might and power. He outran the horses. The hand of God came upon him in supernatural strength. Would you remember this, please? Never forget the cloud like the hand of a man. So small, not enough, prepares the conquests of the hand of God upon your life if you trust him. I would close with this, and I'm going to ask the musicians to come. True faith never curses what appears to be not enough. True faith blesses and offers to God what seems not enough. I close with this moment. You all, many of you know well, the gospel of Mark chapter six, as the musicians come.
The multitude is starving. Jesus has taught them many things, and when the time came to feed them disciples to send them away, the disciples are bemoaning their lack. Lamenting they're not enough. But Jesus, when he had taken the five loaves and the fishes, looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them, and the two fish divided among them all. They all ate and were filled, and when they took up 12 baskets full of fragments and the fish. Now those who had eaten the loaves were about 5,000 men. Jesus did not curse the not enough. He blessed the not enough, and he offered it to God. And as he offered to God his not enough, his eyes trusting in the one that is more than enough, God multiplied. God multiplied. The rain came. The hand of God came. I've seen this in every season of my life, and I'm bringing this as a simple reminder to elders, mothers, fathers, men, and women that have walked with God for a long time.
You still need to contend for your faith. You still need to be aware, and you still need to come to God and to say, "Lord, with all the invisibles in my life where I've been tempted just to say I see nothing, there is nothing, I heard but I am. I don't see." The spirit of God says to you, "Go again. Trust me again. Bring it up to me." And for all of us who are in the traps, but we're sinking in the mire. We're sinking. We're in a sinking sand of the not enough, and it was bringing thoughts in your mind and in your heart of giving up on very, very serious commitments between you and God, and maybe between you and people you love. And ideas and thoughts that were from hell itself, it's so small. It's not enough.
And not so directly, but in your flesh, there was a sense of almost cursing the not enough. This is not enough. The spirit of God comes to you today and says, "Oh, bring me your not enough. Blessed the not enough. Offer it to me." And when you are going through a drought, or when you are going through a storms, wrap your arms around the basket of his provision. He offered. God blessed and multiplies, and it was 12 basket, one for each of the disciples. And they entered the next storm where their arms around the basket of his faithfulness, the basket of his faithfulness and his provision, because the spirit of the not enough blinds us, robs us. It will rob you of your joy. It will rob you of your faith. It will rob you of your praise. It will rob you of your giving, of your generosity. I've not been blessed enough. It will rob your faith. It will rob you of your commitments. It will rob you of your impact to model Jesus Christ as the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am 57 years old, and every year of my life and this year again, I've had to come and say, God, there's some things that I heard in my spirit. Some of them years ago, some of them more recently. I heard it from you, but I don't see anything, but I'm standing on your promise. I'm standing on your faithfulness. Forgive me! Forgive me for saying it's not enough. Not enough. Forgive me. It's not enough compared to what I had dreamed. What I wanted for your destiny. Oh, God, it's not enough!
It's not enough compared to how much I loved, how much I gave, how much I forgave! God, it's not enough! Forgive me. I want to bring it to you today and say oh my God, I bless your provision in my life. I see the hand. I see the cloud. Oh God. And I know that the cloud that in my human eyes seems so small, like the hand of the man, is actually preparing the hand of God's work and sovereign provision in my life. In Jesus name, and all of God's people shouted an amen! Can we stand? Can we stand and really give him an ovation? Can we stand and give Jesus a standing ovation today? Come on. People of God, would you shout out to God? Can we sing How Great is Our God? Can we sing How Great is Our God, but full blast with all the musicians. And this is the call today. Don't go right away unless you really have to. Bow your head for a moment. This is a life changing moment for many. If you're able to be here, if you're able to be here on August 11 in two weeks, come back. We will see how we go from enemy number one, the invisible, and the insufficient or insignificant, and how the enemy works. We'll see it through Elijah's life, but we will see it in our own lives. How he works through isolation and intimidation, and how we can break intimidation from the devil himself over our lives in the next message.
But today you're here, and God brought you here. You might be coming to this church for a long time or you're just visiting, but you're not just here by coincidence. God called you here this morning to speak this word to you. And God, I come to you today by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I pray for that conviction of the Holy Spirit. You convict, oh God. This word, I believe, is from you. I shared it in my very, very imperfect way, but your word, oh God, your anointing breaks every yoke. So today I pray now for an open heaven, and I pray for your people to respond to your word. And as they respond, oh God, you will come and go deep in their spirit, and you will move, and you will change, and you will free them. And you will speak fresh words to their hearts, and remind promises that the enemy that almost silenced. And the voice of God will come clear again and say, "Hear the sound of the abundance of rain for you. Go again. Offer me your not enough."
If you're here today and this is a call, Jesus marveled, he marveled in wonder and in joy at their faith. But he also marveled in sadness and brokenness over the unbelief of conformity. So if you're here today, this is the call as clear as I can make it. If you're here today and you say, "Pastor Claude, this message was for me. I have been facing an invisible. I had heard the voice, the sound of the abundance of rain, but time after time after time, I saw nothing. There was nothing. It was an impossible. There was an invisible. And even people around me, and even the enemy himself have been saying there is nothing. But today I want to bring my invisible to God. I want to bring it to him right now. I want to bring that person, that situation, that hurt, that pain. I want to bring it and offer it to God, and ask him to give me strength to go again, to believe again, to stand again, to pray again, to trust again, to forgive again, to love again."
If you're here and you have an invisible to bring to God, I want you to come out of your seat right now, as if you're carrying it. Even to come and say, "Lord, I'm bringing my invisible to you. I know that I have said there is nothing, and others have said there is nothing, and the enemy said there is nothing, but I'm believing in you. I'm trusting in you, and I will go again." You come, and as you come, you begin to lift your voice to God. Come from all over. Come from the balcony. And if you hear him really clearly, you say, "I've never heard the message quite that personal with me, but I have been saying it's not enough. I have been in that valley, that drought of the not enough. It's not enough. There was something. There was a situation where there was a battle. There was an issue in my life. A person, an issue, a situation where I was filled with this spirit of not enough, and the enemy had me comparing. And the enemy had me comparing with the former temple, and the years back and elsewhere, someone else."
"And today I want to come even in repentance. I want to come in faith, and I'm bringing my not enough to God. I'm bringing them to him. I see the cloud like the hand of a man. I'm coming and bringing my loaves and fishes. And I know that that cloud that seems so small, that progress that seems so small, like the hand of a man, is preparing the hand of God, the hand of his sovereignty, the hand of his purposes, the hand of his promises being fulfilled in my life." If you were afflicted coming into this building with the spirit of the not enough, it's insignificant. It's not it's not enough. I want you to come and bring it to God today. Come on.