Saturday, February 11, 2017

Blessed Are The Desperate

Mark 2:1-5

And again, he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

Mark 5:25-34

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, who touched me?
32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

In these passages are the stories of two very desperate people. In the first passage is the story of a man that had been born paralyzed, and in the second passage is a story of a woman who had been dealing with a medical condition, for which the doctors had no cure, for many years. There is absolutely no doubt these people were desperate.

 People become desperate when they reach a point where all hope of resolving their situation on their own is gone, and they are forced to seek a solution outside of themselves. At this point they are willing to try just about anything. They no longer care what anyone thinks or says, they are willing to be ridiculed if it brings them peace. They will go where they never thought they would go, they won’t let anything get in their way, they’re desperate and they are ready to take desperate measures.
Desperation is the condition that exists when a recognized need is present and we have no way of meeting it on our own.

There is one unmistakable truth that I have learned over my many years of being involves in ministry: God’s people, including myself, are needy - every single one of us. Many however, are stubborn, and so few are willing to acknowledge their need.

WEBSTER'S DEF. OF DESPERATE: feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad, as to be impossible to deal with:

Contrary to the world’s view, desperation is not a bad thing. Our enemy, the devil, has deceived many into thinking that the last thing we want to be is desperate. Desperation is viewed by the world as a sign of weakness. We see it as a failure to ask for help. But from God’s perspective, desperate people are those who are willing to acknowledge that there are some circumstances that only God can rescue us from, and so we need Him. There are many promises contained in the pages of His Word that only come to those who are desperate.

I believe the will of God is that every one of us should reach some measure of desperation. I believe His message to us all is that we have been examined by the great physician and diagnosed, “wanting.”

When I see in the pages of His Word the life that is available to us, and then I see in my own life, in other believer’s lives and in the church, the low level of spiritual life and the absence of spiritual power, it creates a sense of emptiness in me, a recognition that we are many times falling short of the glory that has been prepared for us. It stirs in me a sense of desperation.

 I am desperate this morning because I recognize the need for spiritual power to reach the lost, to heal the sick, and to help set free those in bondage. I am desperate for more Him, because I know that only He can give me what I’m lacking. I think this very desperation is what the Apostle Paul was feeling when he wrote, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and [f]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 [g]in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10

I love the way it is worded in J.B. Phillip’s translation - “God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead.”

Paul was desperate for more of God! I have learned from scripture, and from observation, this spiritual reality: only the desperate will receive their blessing from God. Why? Because they absolutely will not be kept from the presence of their healer by physical boundaries!

The desperate are willing to rip off a roof to obtain an audience with the Lord, they will push their way through a crowd just to touch the hem of His garment, they won’t be offended (even the dogs eat the crumbs), and they will not be silenced. How about you, are you desperate enough today to shout out in the crowd, “Son of David have mercy on me!”

Desperate people happily let go of their dignity for an opportunity to be touched by deity.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Don't Die At The Door

Daniel 3:16-25

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

I couldn’t sleep tonight, so after tossing and turning for a while I decided to get out of bed and write this week’s message. As I was sitting on the couch trying to decide what to write, the Lord directed my attention to this passage in the book of Daniel.  Honestly, it didn’t take much prodding since it has always been one of my favorite stories from the OT and I have been going through a bit of a testing myself recently.  I have been going through something lately that I just can’t explain. I won’t bore you with the details, but I have been struggling with feeling like the enemy has turned the furnace up to full blast, and I was beginning to feel heat exhaustion setting in.  As I read this passage in Daniel this morning the Lord began whispering in my ear, “Hold on, something good is coming out of this.  It may seem like you’re going through the fire right now, but what I want you to do is praise me that you made it to the fire.”

God reminded me that not everybody makes it to the fire, some died at the door of the furnace.  In this story three of the king’s mightiest warriors died at the door. It is a miracle that I made it this far, I should have died of a drug overdose.  There have been times that I had enough drugs and alcohol in my body to kill and elephant, but God pulled me through it and brought me to the fire.

I should have been in prison for some of the things that I’ve done.  There are people there right now that are less guilty than me, but God still brought me to the fire. I should have died on that road in Meridian Mississippi when I hit head on with a minivan on my motorcycle at 40 mph.  The police officers said no one should have survived that collision.   It’s a miracle that I made it this far, by all rights I shouldn’t be here, but God delivered me and brought me to this fire.  The Lord has been merciful to me, time and time again. I been through worse, and this too shall pass!

God was telling me this morning, and I want to share with someone who may be going through some similar struggles and feeling defeated, that you ought to be praising Him that you made it to the fire because some have died at the door.

These three mighty warriors that died, may represent the three most popular kids in school, the three most likely to succeed, the three greatest athletes, or the three smartest in their class.  Of all the people, by all exterior appearances they should have made it, but they died at the door.

On the other hand, no one ever expected me to make it, many had written me off as hopeless.  I was a disgraced pastor who, after standing in pulpits and preaching to others, decided to become familiar with the taste of my own vomit (Proverbs 26:11), but here I am alive, serving God again and filled with the Holy Ghost and yet complaining when I should be praising Him that I made it to the fire and didn’t die at the door.

I could have lost my wife and family, but God had his hand on me and I made it to the fire.  I wasn’t serving him but he was keeping his hand on me. He sent his angels to deliver me.  I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t the strongest one, I wasn’t the smartest one, I wasn’t the most popular one, I wasn’t the one expected to make it, but I made it, I made it because I called upon the name that is above every name, I cried out to Jesus!

The fact that you are going through this struggle shouldn’t concern you, if God brought you to the fire, He is going to bring you through the fire.  He didn’t bring you this far to leave you now.  The fact that you are in the furnace now is proof that you are coming out. Your miracle started at the door, if God wasn’t going to bring you out, you would have died at the door.  You would have never made it to the fire.  Tell the devil right now, “In the mighty name of Jesus, I’m coming out!

I know God gave me this word to encourage me today, but also to share with you and some of you are going through struggles in your life right now, you are going through the fire, you’re feeling the heat, the fire is real, and your pain is real, but Jesus is bigger than your fire.

I know right now, there is no visible tangible physical evidence of anything good in this fire, but I prophecy to you by the authority of God’s Word, and in the Name of Jesus - something good is going to come out of this!   You are going to make it, and you are not going to burn up in the fire!

You’re not going to come out crawling on your hands and your knees, beat down, broken down, busted, or disgusted with no clothes, no money, no peace, no joy, with your eye brows singed off, and smelling like smoke.  Listen to me!  Satan is a liar, when you come out of this fire you’re coming out blessed, you’re coming out healed, and you’re coming out delivered by the powerful hand of God, in the name and through the shed blood of Jesus!

The king chose his three best men, they were his “special forces.”  The strongest most powerful weapons he had at his disposal, to guarantee God’s servants would perish in the fire. Right now, it may feel to you as though your struggle is on a different level, it may feel like the enemy is stronger than ever before and you feel like you can’t hold on much longer, but Satan wouldn’t be bringing out his best if you weren’t a threat to him. The fact that he is bringing out his “special forces” to attack you and me, tells me that we must be a threat to him, and that we’re getting close to our destiny, close to walking in our purpose, and we’re getting ready to step into a greater anointing than we’ve ever had in our life, and so the enemy of our souls is trying to intimidate us and back us down.

The thing that brings Satan the greatest grief is to see the children of God walking and living in their liberty, expressing themselves in joy and peace, and worshiping and praising God without constraint, without fear or reservation.  So, he sends things our way to back us up, to quiet our praise, to get us all tangled up in fear, anxiety, and worry. Because he knows the power of our praise.

Recently Satan may have thought he had me, he may have thought because he hurt me and made me cry it was over.  My enemy saw me go into the fire, and took pleasure in it and thought I’d never make it, that I’d be burnt up in the fire.  The devil hit me hard, and I went down and it hurt and I cried for a while, but I’m still here! I have a news flash for you devil - I’m up again, I got my joy back, I got my peace back, I got my praise back, and I'm dancing in the fire!