The instant and moment a person accepts/acknowledges/believes in Christ as their Savior and Redeemer, they step into a reality that they never truly and really, actually knew existed before. In that instant and moment an individual comes into, for perhaps the first times in their life, a sense of abundant and eternal life that they had never experienced before. We may not be outwardly/externally different—but in the very instant that we trust Christ our entire inner-world was, in a real sense, changed and transformed.
- We are a spirit; we have a soul; and we live in a body.
According to Ephesians chapter 2 verse 1, prior to our encounter with the eternal God Himself our spirit was dead. Not wounded/afflicted/beaten/sick—but dead/deceased/lifeless because of sin. But in the moment of true belief and sincere confessions, that text in Ephesians 2 goes on to report and declare that our spirit was quickened or recussitated or brought back to life again. And our flesh (our old nature; our carnal selves)—that part of you that does not love God completely and wholeheartedly and is unlike God which up to that point had been very much alive—now begins the process of daily crucifixion. (not reluctantly or halfheartedly; but rather willingly and voluntarily)
• And make no mistake about it, beloved, it is a PROCESS.
The word process, according to Webster denotes improvement/expansion/transition/that which evolves and advances and eventually matures through stages of change and transformation. It means to be altered and modified/amended and adjusted/varied and switched.
I’M IN PROCESS
I am not who I’m going to be; but praise God that I am not now who I used to be. I’m in process. And the OLD me is crucified ..on a daily basis and the NEW me is now given an opportunity to thrive, grow, cultivate, mature and survive.
And the transformation within ourselves, in and of itself—within our personality when that begins to happen—can be staggering and astounding because all of a sudden things we used to BRAG about doing we are now ashamed to do.
• Now I am in no way trying to suggest directly or inadvertently that once we are saved that we never do any of the things that we used to do before we got saved—because that is just patently NOT true.
• Yet once we are truly saved—once we begin a relationship with God through Christ that is real, personal, genuine and authentic—our attitude about what we used to do/who we used to be/how we used to role—is so different that pursuit of past pleasures becomes frivolous and fruitless.
God is so gracious to us that God will walk you through your stages/ages of transformation and so alter your interior that in the process you will lose your taste—you will lose your craving…for what used to satisfy/gratify/please you.
I wonder if there is anybody in the room today who can testify, ‘Sure preacher—I’m a living witness that since I’ve been in Christ and Christ has been in me—there has been a definite/obvious/recognizable change on the inside of me.
• Not that I don’t cuss anymore—but not as often
• Not that I don’t smoke and don’t chew and don’t do what bad girls do—but I find myself smoking less, chewing less, and I find myself better than I used to be.
There’s been a change.
- There are some places now I don’t even want to go.
- There are some things that I refuse to say.
- There are some people with whom I can not hang with now because there’s been a change in me.
And now as I am learning to crucify my flesh and consecrate the spirit—I’m no longer craving/longing/desiring/yearning for the things that only can satisfy me temporarily and momentarily.
- I ain’t interested in being high/flowing like I used to flow/in sleeping with every Joe Blow or Freaky Superhead.
If I can stay there for a moment—the reality is that once you step across the line called SERIOUS—it will challenge all of your old relationships. Because your old relationships were predicated upon old interests that you mutually shared…but now that you are no longer interested in what you mutually shared (now that yesterday no longer claims your attention/allegiance/affection) then the bonds and the chains that tied you to people in your past have now been severed.
And somebody here needs to hear me today because I’m trying to tell you that a serious, personal, up-close, exclusive, daily, in your face, for Real relationship with God will even change your love life.
- Because whereas in the past you would and could settle for just a PIECE of a man or just a part of a woman—you now know that you deserve MORE than that and you DESERVE better than that and you are worth MORE than that and so Mr. Charlie and Sweet Willy and Stop By Freddy …lose their appeal. Sexy Suzie and Sock it to Me Sally don’t stir you like they used to. Even, when like 50, they invite you to the Candy Shop. Because there has been a change in you.
You must understand that trusting Christ honestly and authentically and personally often will even lead to a sense of disorientation within yourself. Because now you have to get to know the NEW you because you aren’t the SAME you that you used to know. And therefore you begin to wrestle with question like: WHO AM I NOW T HAT I KNOW JESUS?
And that is quite challenging because to be honest WE are the CENTER of OUR world and so it follows that if I don’t know me and if I can’t locate me then locating others does not help me.
• You see, people who do not know who they are or where they are enter into relationships only to have them falter in frustration and rupture in ruin because while they may know who you are they don’t know who they are.
• So when you are born again your experience with God provokes a sense of disorientation within you because now you have to redefine who you are now that you are a person of faith.
• And redefining yourself ALSO means redefining your relationships.
It’s naïve to assume and presuppose that the people who were your friends before will be your friends NOW. And in the process of defining and signifying who your friends are—it forces you to ponder the next question like: WHO NOW IS MY ENEMY?
Because at the moment and instant that you become a believer you then begin to fight/brawl/scrap/battle/contest the very DEVIL who has previously been apart of your fraternity!
• And, of course, it takes a while—even as a person of faith to recognize that you are in a warfare because when you first get saved it is SO NEW.
- You first step into a place called CHURCH. And you’re supposed to go every WEEK.
- And then you begin to encounter people called CHRISTIANS. And you’re supposed to love all of ‘em.
- And you have to get used to new music—it’s the same BEAT…it’s the same GROOVE. But the lyrics are talking to you differently.
• You’re supposed to rock from side to side—not back that thing up.
- You begin to DRESS in a different way. Whereas previously your goal was to dress as provocatively as possible so as to accentuate your ample assets. Now you dress to communicate FIRST the content of your character. And that means that you even change your shopping pattern. You don’t go to the same stores in the mall because in the past you were only looking for something that was busted down in the front and ripped up on the side—but now you’re thinking differently because your whole world has changed.
- You step into this NEW world where atleast in the beginning people appear to be warm/loving/bright, enthusiastic, welcoming and genuine. You walk into a worship celebration like this and you sense the glory of God and the power of praise and the presence of the Spirit.
And it can deceive you into THINKING that the LIFE of faith is really a CAKE walk. That from here on out that things will be fine.
That your haters will be happy.
That the sun will shine all the time.
That your problems will perish.
That your life will be lined with love and luxury.
But the reality is that if you hang around more than just 2 Sundays after you get saved—you will slowly begin to realize there is an undercurrent.
That after the anointing comes the afflictions.
That following the blessing is the burden.
That after the calm is the chaos.
That every new level brings a bigger and badder devil.
That after the sunshine there is rain.
And after the joy there is pain.
And slowly you begin to understand that what you have stepped into is a WAR ZONE. And that you are engaged in WARFARE and you’ve got an adversary that you’ve got to fight.
I regret that my assignment today is to wreck your illusion and to upset your daydream—but I need to tell somebody listening to me right now that the church is not an eternal party…where all you have to do is run, dance, jerk, holler, weave, have fun and celebrate—but there is a FIGHT going on!!!
- There’s an enemy to face
- A strategy to pursue
- An objective to obtain
- An agenda to achieve
- And a discipline to master
And once you get that down in your spirit it changes your perspective upon the meaning of the worship celebration. Once you realize that you are sure enough in a fight.
Suddenly you begin to understand that good preaching is not about who has the sweetest hoop and the best moan and the most friendly clichés or the loudest holler/the smoothest style/the sharpest suit/the best clothes. But the best preaching is that which arms the PREACHED TO with an arsenal to deal with the adversary that is resisting my advance.
The reality is that—you begin to even understand praise differently—because now you understand that it is not just demonstrating my appreciation for the sound of the music (oh wasn’t the choir cute today). It is not just about the choreography of the choir—that they dipped on the last song. It is not about the excitement of the soloist and how many rips they do.
But what PRAISE is—PRAISE is my BATTLE CRY!
• I’m shouting on the weekend and on Sunday to let the Devil know—I ain’t dead yet.
• I’m shouting to summon the assistance of the angels to help me in my struggle.
• I’m shouting as an acknowledgement that ALL of my help comes from the Lord.
And I recognize I’m in a FIGHT.
I AIN’T DEAD YET—I’M IN A FIGHT…
And often, people who are around you and people who hang with you will not even realize and don’t even know that you are in a fight the way you are fighting. Because in our day we have to keep up the appearance/front/façade—we’re still shaking hands/smiling/’hallelujah/giving God the praise. But in the stillness of the midnight you’re struggling/stressed out/under attack/distraught/under pressure and you are wrestling against the enemy. And as you LIVE the life of faith you discover that if you are going to survive you’ve got to have FAITH.
Hebrews 11:1 says ‘Now then faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen. For BY FAITH the elders obtained a good report. And BY FAITH we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. So that things which are seen were made from things which are NOT seen. BY FAITH the concrete was made from the ABSTRACT and the tangible emerged out of the intangible. FAITH—this secret weapon of the believer is so relevant/so critical that atleast 5 times in the holy writ the text reminds us that the only way to survive/thrive/stay alive as a child of God is BY FAITH.
Hebrews 11:6 says “Without FAITH it’s impossible to please God. For those who come to God must first believe that HE IS—that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
FIVE TIMES in the Bible it says and declares that: THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.
- Not by Finances/Fraternities/Families/Friends/Association/Denomination/Organization—but the JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.
- And I don’t care what anyone may have told you—faith is NOT contagious.
Just because you mamma has faith doesn’t mean you caught it
You cannot catch faith from just hanging out around people of faith.
You cannot obtain faith by imitating people who’ve got faith.
You cannot catch faith simply by dressing like somebody and talking like somebody and acting like somebody.
FAITH IS BORN OUT OF A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH GOD AND IT IS MEASURED BY YOUR ABILITY TO WITHSTAND OPPOSITION, PERSECUTION, PRESSURE AND AFFLICTION.
And I know that you are not going to shout on this because this is not popular but I do want to tell you today—that you can not measure a person’s faith by the length of their car/by the number of rooms and square footage of a person’s house/how much money a person has/by the cut of the diamonds on a person’s neck or on their finger.
I KNOW it’s not popular—but if you want to measure a person’s faith—you’ve got to measure their faith by their capacity to ENDURE opposition/their capacity to navigate circumstance without compromising their character.
When you see how tough I am in the battle,
how resilient I am in the fight,
how relentless I am when all HELL breaks LOOSE
When you see me seek and hear me confessing “God is MY HEALER”
When you KNOW I’m broke and hear me saying “HE is my PROVIDER”
Then you’re talking about FAITH.
Today we measure out faith by MANSIONS AND MILLIONS.
The saints of old measure their faith by PROBLEMS, PRESSURES AND PAIN.
• Because I have discovered that if you truly stand for something that at some point you are going to have to fight somebody, something, somewhere over what you believe.
• If you don’t stand for nothing or anything—don’t even worry about it…ain’t nobody going to bother you. If you not about nothing/ain’t going nowhere—relax—nobody is going to bother you.
• But if you stand for something—you are going to fight.
I’m sorry to bust up your illusion—because we keep searching for the green water and the green pasture—at some point you’ve got to recognize that YOU ARE IN A WAR ZONE!
Do you understand where you are? That if you are about anything—you are going to have to fight. God—save us from PASSIVE/TIMID/SCARED/WORRIED/INDIFFERENT BELIEVERS who don’t want to offend anybody/don’t want to upset anybody/want everybody to say the same thing and be the same way. Spend all their time trying to EASE/PLEASE and GREASE everybody. If you stand for something you better ACCEPT the fact that you are going to be controversial and you’ve got to be prepared every now and then to ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES, TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, PULL OF YOUR EARRINGS/PUT VASALINE ON YOUR FACE AND DUKE IT OUT!!!
Jesus said in Matthew 10:34 ‘I didn’t come to bring peace; I came to bring a sword’. In other words—it’s not important to me whether you like me or not. I got to do what I got to do!!!
Is there anybody in here with any fight left in their spirit??? You better fight.
If you don’t fight the enemy is going to take over your stuff.
If you don’t fight the enemy is going to take your house/steal your kids/take your spouse’s affection
If you don’t fight the enemy is going to take your job/seize your mind/hand your honey over to some hound dog
If you don’t fight the enemy is going to cripple your knees/you’ll get old before you’re supposed to be old/your eyes will get bad/your money will get funny—YOU”VE GOT TO FIGHT!!!
Jesus said “I’m sending you as lambs among wolves…” Don’t rush past that—I’m sending you as lambs among wolves. You’ve got to see that because what he is saying is that—I’m sending you into a fight where it appears that all the odds are against you—lambs among wolves. Lining you up to be a lamb chop.
But that’s why you have to have FAITH. Because faith allows you to SEIZE what you cannot SEE. When all the odds are stacked against you, you need faith in order to fight. When it looks like the enemy is going to get the victory and, like David, you’re standing with nothing but a RAG and a ROCK—it’s faith in your spirit that says ‘Get to swinging, baby—just use what you have and your giant will FALL’.
JUST get to swinging—because the enemy is trying to get your stuff/your marriage/child/future/mind/house/destiny—trying to run your head into the ground.
• Stop feeling sorry for yourself
• End your pitty party today
• Get up
• Dust yours shoulders off and fight
You don’t have time for silly people and stupid stuff—there’s a fight going on.
Just shake the haters off and keep grinding….
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:4: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but they are spiritual (mighty in God) for the pulling down of strongholds.
The greatest weapon the believer has is PRAYER.
And that is why if you ain’t praying—you’re playing!!!
You better learn how to pray. Some of you hadn’t prayed since you’ve been here today—and you said you came to day/some haven’t prayed since you got up this morning/some haven’t prayed all week long…
QUESTION: How are you going to fight and you ain’t communicating with HEADQUARTERS?
You are a soldier on the loose and don’t even know who you are supposed to be shooting at.
The testimony of the text is that 450 prophets of Baal jumped on ONE man. (You ought to see them odds)
• The fight wasn’t FAIR but it had to be FOUGHT!!!
All of them were standing there in total agreement and unity against one man.
• Now understand I’ve discovered that the only time you can get a great crowd of people to agree on something is when they are coming together to kill somebody they don’t like!!!
• Have you ever noticed that people who don’t even like each other start talking to each other if they all want to kill you!
You can’t even get 4 or 5 people to agree on what restaurant we are going to for dinner and here in the text 450 prophets are trying to kill, embarrass and assassinate the prophet of God and yet Elijah says: IF GOD BE FOR ME—IT’S MORE THAN THE WORLD AGAINST ME.
I wish I had the time to deal with this because he teaches us some things that are valuable and significant: There’s no record that he fell apart/he stayed up all night talking about ‘how many of them out there now?’—no but he is sleeping all night long; he’s not even worried.
That sounds like a FOOL: 450 to 1—“I ain’t scared”.
- Elijah, you obviously/evidently can’t count. They’ve got your surrounded.
• But you’ve got to have the kind of faith that makes you act like a fool.
• May I suggest to you—you don’t even have faith until it starts to make you SOUND a little FOOLISH.
• Sometimes you have to say stuff that make you look so ridiculous that will make others look and say “Man…they are a fool!’
I ought to always be in a posture of saying some stuff that makes the saints uncomfortable and doesn’t yet exist—so that when it happens you can testify that he said it!!!
He looked like a fool. And sometimes you’ve got to get yourself in the kind of trouble where if God doesn’t get you OUT—you are DONE!!!
- Because right now the enemy is afflicting somebody listening to me—on every hand. You’ve been resisting his advance/refusing to be intimidated/quit/back down. And God just walked me up in here today to say to you: HE’S GOT YOUR BACK. Hold on/wait a minute/hang on/he ain’t through/keep praying, fasting and believing/the battle is not YOURS it is the LORDS. And before this time is over God is going to get the GLORY out of your LIFE!!!
I DON’T KNOW WHEN—I DON’T KNOW HOW—BUT I’M COMING OUT OF THIS!!!
• I don’t have all the details
• I don’t have some deep revelation
But I know by FAITH that I’m coming out of this.
- I might walk out/crawl out/they may roll me out in a wheel chair/they may carry me out on a stretcher/I may have to come out on roller skates—but I’m coming out of THIS!!!
Ya’ll forgive me—I didn’t come to give you a cute sermon but I came to drop a message on the desktop of your soul that it’s time to STOP PUNKIN’ OUT and FIGHT the ENEMY like you need to fight!!!
• You don’t want none of this!
So Elijah teaches us how FAITH BEHAVES IN CONFLICT…
Right now there are demons in here taking aim—they are depending on you to leave here the way that you came here. Somebody better learn how to sound the battle cry and let the Devil know—after I leave here—I’m coming out of this. I am more than a conqueror.
I. When you are in a fight and you are trusting in God—and you take a stand for God—that God will show you a sign.
Now I want to take a moment and talk to somebody who’s been praying about something for a LONG time and you’re about ready to give up the praying because it just doesn’t seem like you’re going to get an answer. And you’re saying ‘God…give me a sign’.
The text says here that 450 prophets of Baal are standing against him on every side. Take note that God here did not give him a word for his enemies.
• We spend too much time trying to convince our enemies that we are who we are.
God said, ‘Don’t give the enemies any credence—I want you to build ME an altar…dig ditches around it; put a sacrifice on it—then I want you to pour water in the ditches; pour water on the altar; pour water on the sacrifices. Then I want you to step back a little bit. Because I want to show you a public sign.
Question: HAVE you ever had God to give you a public sign? Have you ever had God to say to you: step back…I’m about to show you what I’m working with. Have you ever had God to show you a sign that was so visible and demonstrative that it shut up your critics and it proved to everybody that the Lord was on your side.
• have you ever had God to stand between you and your enemies. When the Devil had you surrounded and everybody was saying that you would never come out of the this—and God proved Himself faithful???
When you get a sign like that you can dance whether you have rhythm or not.
You see when you get a sign you don’t care whether or not your tie is crooked/hat is on backwards—because you are not rejoicing because of your circumstance and affliction…you are rejoicing inspite of your circumstance and affliction.
• You can be in your kitchen—throwing dishes and telling the Lord thank you—you brought me out!!!
Because it’s one thing for God to deliver you in PRIVATE—it’s a whole different ball game when God delivers you in public and everybody is looking at you.
• The thing I love about God—is that when God gives you a sign—everybody is going to be like WOE. Because God chooses to shine a light on you—to make you a testimony—to let others know that the JOB she got…that she wasn’t qualified to get—I gave it to her/that car she’s driving with bad credit—I gave it to her/that house she’s living in that the bank refused the first six times on the 7th time—I gave it to her.
• Other people will be jealous because they will be more connected/qualified/better financed.
• But while they’ve got FINANCE—you’ve got FAVOR.
And here was the sign: FIRE fell from heaven. Here is what it did: It licked up the water and it burned up the wood. But this is what you’ve got to get: it burned up the rocks.
Get this: Fire is supposed to evaporate water; it’s supposed to burn wood; not supposed to burn rocks.
• But when God does something for you—He has a way of doing for you what ain’t supposed to be done.
• When God does something for you—people will help you that can’t even stand you. People will lift you up that don’t even like you—when God gives you a sign.
Take note that at the end of this public display that Elijah still has problems.
And this is what messes us up as modern believers because we haven’t walked long enough with God to know that you can have a great victory/win a tremendous battle—and still have problems.
Is there anybody here who can say, Yes God delivered me/saved me/healed me—but I still got problems.
• Just as soon as you get out of one thing another thing shows up.
He can not even celebrate the sign because the Bible records that he’s still in a drought (a dry place).
What do you do when God has done great things for you and you find yourself still in a dry place? Now when you think about it—a drought is worst than the famine—because you can survive longer without food than you can without water.
He’s seen God do great things but he’s still in a drought. And a drought is a strange kind of challenge—because the 450 prophets of Baal were there—but a drought is an enemy that you can’t see.
Have you ever felt the effects of an enemy you couldn’t see? You are walking along and you know that something is working against you. This can’t be an accident. Why is this stuff happening to me?
An enemy that you can’t see—he’s in a dry place.
When you’re in a dry place: your favorite food doesn’t taste right/everybody can be laughing in a room but you ain’t finding nothing funny/you’ve got to push your lips up to form a smile.
• And when you are a believer—it’s almost embarrassing.
Especially in this superficial/pretentious/artificial/fake/phony/religious environment that we share. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that you are in a dry place. For then immediately people, rather than comforting you/consoling you/encouraging you—they proceed to condemn you: I knew she wasn’t anointed…I knew he didn’t know the Lord. And they’re lying through they’re teethe. Because every child of God will enter a dry place!!!
You’ll hit a spot where you will pray and nothing happens/when you call and nothing answers/where you do the things just like you did it when you got delivered the last time but it doesn’t work.
To be honest—you can shout in the choir/preach in the pulpit and go home dry
No precipitation of peace/lubrication of love/water of the spirit/moisture of mercy—a dry place can last a LONG time.
And so in a dry place, God gave no sign. And what happened was—(sound of wind)
God I’m in a dry place can you give me a sign like you gave me before—and all he heard was (sound of wind)
II. Because in the dry place there was no SIGN—there was just a SOUND.
Elijah said “I don’t see nothing…but I hear the sound. Everything on the outside is still dry/nothing is going on. But in my spirit—I hear a sound”.
Have you ever had something going on in the inside that contradicted what you couldn’t see on the outside? And when you thought about it, it was almost a contradiction/oxymoron—because externally I can’t see anything but internally I’m feeling something that doesn’t make sense.
Elijah heard—not rain—but the abundance of rain.
In my spirit something that is diametrically opposite of my circumstance and it is driving me crazy. I thought it was my imagination at first/just what I wanted to see happen/I thought I was losing my mind—but I keep hearing the sound of an abundance of rain.
Somebody shout: ABUNDANCE
It’s hard to say abundance when you’ve been in a drought so long. It gets hard for you to think that anything can change.
• You’ve been WITHOUT so long that you’re used to WITHOUT
• You’ve been BROKE so long that when somebody says abundance you don’t like it
You’re used to without/broke
You no longer think/feel/talk abundance—But God has a way of talking to us about some things before they ever happen.
• God will start talking to you about strength when you’re feeling weak
• Buying a house/rent is past due
• Married/your man just left
• About a new thing/your old thing just fell apart
He’s talking ABUNDANCE!!!
And that is why we need to get ready—because we preach a dangerous gospel and are pressing toward a dangerous vision. The Devil ain’t playing with me and I ain’t playing with the Him. Ya’ll get ready because ya’ll ain’t seen nothing yet—and it ain’t about ME—it’s about GOD. Because wherever God is MOVING the DEVIL is going to show up!!!
And for all of the babes in the room—you ain’t got to be scared—because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world—there ain’t no demon/devil/spirit that’s so bad that God can’t handle him.
I can’t see nothing; but I hear something!!!
One of the greatest challenges is that once you hear something in your spirit—the challenge is telling somebody else. Because when you tell somebody they usually say: “Naw…that ain’t gone happen”.
But I want to encourage you—you’ve got to tell it. It won’t happen until you tell it.
You’ve got to go back this week and tell somebody—this is the worst you are going to ever see me do. The next time you see me—I’m going to have joy/peace/victorious. You can’t have it until you say it.
Elijah is praying; head between in his knees; and says to the young man that he’s with ‘go and look’ He comes back and says I can’t see anything.’ Elijah says ‘Go look again’. 3rd time, 4th time….and on the 7th time and he said “I see a little something’.
And somebody ought to celebrate when you see a little something. You’ve got to learn to praise God on a little something.
The last movement in the text is strange. God gave a sign and a sound.
III. But the text ends with a storm.
A STORM IS COMING.
In this text it is not a symbol of judgment; but it is brining with it a flood of blessings. For somebody it’s not going to be one of two blessings—but it’s going to a flood.
On your DVD player, you’ve got several buttons. Play button (that means ‘show me what is on right now) Rewind (show me what has been on); Fast Forward (skip all this other stuff—get me to where I’m trying to go).
And somebody needs to know that the secret to moving forward now is in your praise/prayer/worship and even your storm—that somebody is about to go where you have been trying to get because of the abundance.
We were headed to collide with Rita. (Mandatory Evacuation) Tell the Devil you better get out—because the rain is coming!!! Lord let it rain!!!