Disclaimer: (This is LONG! The sermon was short. So you can just skip down to the link and listen for yourselves! The sermon starts at minute 23:13 but you don’t want to miss the baptismal testimonies that are before it)
Breakhrough Series: Sticks and Stones
Better late than never, they say. It’s Wednesday already and I am just now contemplating the sermon from Sunday. Part of that reason is that I’ve been experiencing some breakthrough in two weighty situations that are trying to run my life, of late. Now there’s nothing better than hearing the Word, believing the Word, and seeing the Word at work in your life in a tangible way. You know what I mean, right? When the Word becomes more than a verse you learned at Vacation Bible School? When you actually see it working in your life in a way that is undeniably God honoring and keeping His Word? Where God convinces you that Hey!, He really is paying attention? Usually we hear a teaching, pray about it, and then see God do something as a result but for me, this week, I heard the teaching but really hadn’t spent that much time on it before the Lord just illustrated it for me in real time. Kind of backwards, which brings me to my takeaways from Pastor Stacy’s sermon..
He used Romans 8:32 as his text, a familiar verse to all, but he preached it backwards. I’m not saying he preached it wrongly. He just started at our destination (freedom) and worked his way back through how we get there (knowing & truth). I’ve been praying Proverbs 30:8 over my life for the past couple of months. The psalmist asks the Lord to “keep lies and deception far from me.” .I’ve been thinking about how much lying is a part of society anymore. There are little white lies-um, there’s nothing little or white about them, by the way; exaggeration or better known in Christian circles as being Evangelastic-yes, people- that is lying; broken promises; lies meant to hide the truth; lies meant to fabricate pseudo-truth; and one that I am very careful not to commit-plagiarism or calling someone else’s work your own. I’m not only referring to lies that others tell. I’m also thinking of the lies that the devil tries to put in my head and the lies I tell myself.
Caroline Leaf, a renowned doctor of brain/mind research (she has an official string of letters behind her name but they escape me at this moment), warns that when we say we believe something that we don’t really believe, we lie to ourselves and it physiologically alters the structure in our brains, thus damaging them. That really hit me. How many times have I said a scripture, knowing in my head it’s true, but not really believing it is sharp and active in my own life, not really having the knowledge of the truth in my heart through the revealing power of the Holy Spirit, not really expecting God to do His Word just for me, thus not seeing it happen for me and then blaming or questioning Him when it doesn’t turn out the way the Bible says it should? I’m finding that there is a difference between speaking the Word, which is flat out truth, and speaking the truth in faith which is what Pastor Stacy calls “rightly applied truth.” We cannot use the Bible as some kind of mantra to escape or deny reality but we can believe that change can come to our situation through the application of the Word. Prayer changes things when those prayers are prayed with the full revelation knowledge of the Word and faith in God’s ability AND willingness to perform His Word in our lives. I’m learning that if I need something from God, it’s more important to find out His will about that situation than it is to pray about it. Now I might pray and ask Him to show me what His will is, but I don’t immediately pray about something if I really don’t know what His will is. Kenneth Hagin once said something to the effect that we might spend hours finding God’s will and minutes praying about it, because the Bible does say that God responds to His Word when prayed in faith. So if we don’t know the will of God in a situation, how can we pray according to His will and in faith? I’m not really sure how effective prayers that include the words “if it be Thy will” really are, especially if we don’t know what His will is! This brings me to point #3 of the sermon-Knowing.
Knowing implies intimacy, like in a marriage. It’s knowledge at the deepest level. This is the kind of knowing that leads us to freedom, that brings breakthough. It’s sometimes called revelation knowledge, the kind of knowledge that comes when the Holy Spirit reveals the deep truths of the superficial words on the pages of our Bibles. I can say that I believe that soap will make me clean but if I don’t apply the soap, I will be a stinikin’ mess! It is true that soap will make me clean but not until I know how to use it will it do me any good. How do I learn to use soap? By reading the directions or letting someone who already knows teach me. In Biblical terms, that is called discipleship. Discipleship is simply adhering to the doctrines found in the Bible. So to know how to apply God’s Word, we first need to know what it says, and more importantly what it means! I don’t have time to go into a bunch of Hermeneutical drib drab. That’s a whole sling of Sunday takeaways, but if we don’t know what God means by what He says, then we really can’t have faith that we know His will on any given subject. I don’t know about you but I’m not into religious activity. I want results. I want to know God’s Word in such a way that it works for me and for others. This brings me to point #2. Truth.
“If you want the right output, you have to start with the right input.” Pastor Stacy used the illustration of baking a pie. (That made my stomach growl and I caught myself wondering what would be on the refreshment table after church. Just momentarily though.) You can bake a pumpkin pie and forget the sugar. It will look like a pumpkin pie when you pull it out of the oven but it sure won’t taste like one. If you want to live in truth, you must know what it is. Living a lie does not produce breakthrough. Without truth, you get the wrong results, which is why lying to yourself is so dangerous because you may start to believe that the lies are the truth. Sorry if this is making your head spin, but try to get it! At the very core of any successful Christian is the TRUTH of God’s Word. We’re sunk without it!
Now onto the goal and point #1. Freedom! This is pretty much self explanatory, I think. I had to ask myself though, do I live in complete freedom? What does that really feel like? We’re not free from our circumstances. We all have stuff that we have to deal with and walk through. We all have situations that break our hearts, that scare the bigeebers out of us, and that completely take over our lives from time to time. But how are we dealing with it? How are we getting through it? What are we using as our guide in the midst of it? Are we listening to lies? Are we telling ourselves lies? Are we trying to ignore things that we need to pay attention to?
I liken it to traveling. I can drive across the country in a car or I can fly across the country in a plane. In a car, I’m responsible for the safety of myself and others. I deal with obstacles and traffic jams. I have to determine what the best route is. But, in a plane, I just sit back and relax and let the pilot do the work. I cover the same distance but he deals with turbulence and delays, not me. He finds the most direct route and determines if any detours are needed. I’d much rather fly with Jesus, just resting in His promises and peace and letting Him decide what route to take. A.W. Tozer wrote, “How completely satisfying it is to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.” If we truly know the truth, we are at rest and we are free!
So if you’ve made it this far, I commend you! Maybe you don’t really feel that you’re living in freedom. Maybe your circumstances are controlling your emotions and affecting the quality of life God has ordained for you to have. The solution is simple. Get into the truth! Read God’s Word. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you. He’s good at it!.” Linger Longer! “ God rewards a hungry heart. “How much time do you need in God’s Word to stay connected to God?” Take the time, no matter how much time it takes. That will bring breakthrough!
Watch it for yourself! What are your takeaways?