In this message we learn that the presence of God empowers us for the impossible.
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you are all here with us today. We want to welcome all of our campuses, whether you’re in Denton, Flower Mound, The Venue, online, wherever you are in the world, can we all just welcome each other together in whatever room or campus that you are in. We are so glad that you are here with us. And this week is something really cool that we have never done before because starting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we are going to have RE, a three-day encounter with God. And when you walked in, you should’ve got one of these little handouts that has the information on it. And what I really want to encourage you to do is to participate with us in some way, shape or form because I believe we’re all going to have a profound encounter with God. There’s basically three things that are going to happen for RE throughout these three days. One is the venue will be open 24 hours a day from Thursday through Saturday, that will be available for you to come and worship and pray anytime you want.
You can come at 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning, there’ll be somebody in there. It’ll be open. It’ll be ready for you. There’ll be an atmosphere set for you to come in and just meet with God and talk to Him in a different way. And then there’ll be stations, encounter stations, set up all throughout the venue that you can do on your own that will basically – there’ll be a little map that you can follow. It’ll take you from station to station to just help you have unique and profound encounters with God in a real, relevant and tangible way. And then all three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we’re going to have a gathering together. That’s basically going to be an extended worship service with some kind of message that’s built around an encounter with the presence of God. And then we’re going to do something unique together to meet with him. And I believe God is going to move in an incredible way. The best part about it, I have no idea how it’s going to work. None, which means there is tons of space for God to move.
Sometimes when we just get out of the way, God can show up and do what He wants to do. And so it’s going to be three days where everything is prepared and set for you to meet with God. All you got to do is show up and participate and come with a big faith. My hope is that every person in our church will go through the encounter stations. Again, show up at 2:00 in the morning or 2:00 in the afternoon, just go through it, it will be set up there for you. Come and meet with us. I believe that God’s got something great for you because if you think about it, just like Moses, it says Moses would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp and that’s where he would meet with God. Or when the burning bush showed up, it says, “Moses, turned to the side and came over to meet with God.” Sometimes you just got to get out of your normal rhythm and routine and turn to the side if you really want to meet with the One who wants to meet with you, okay? So I hope you’ll show up and participate because it’s going to be amazing. Old school revival, we’ve never done it before. I still don’t even know what it means. I just like saying it to you because I believe something good is going to come out of it, okay?
And it’s the perfect time because we’ve been in the series called With. We’ve been talking about God’s presence in our lives that we weren’t created to be alone. It’s going to be the end of our 21 days of praying and fasting. We’re becoming aware that God is with us. Our faith is growing in the presence of God in the midst of our lives and when he’s with us, everything changes. And so if you’ve got a Bible, flip open with me to Judges chapter 6. Judges chapter 6, my hope is this is going to build your faith for even the reencounter later this week. And this is the story of Gideon. Familiar story you probably have heard before. And basically what’s happening, when we find Gideon, the Midianites, the foreign people have come to oppress the Israelites, the people of God. Pick it up with me in verse 11. It says, “The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash, the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'”
But Sir Gideon replied, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ but now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” Okay, pause. When we find Gideon, we find him hiding in fear and he’s hiding in a winepress and he is threshing wheat. He’s threshing wheat in a winepress. Now, I don’t know much about wheat but I’m pretty sure you don’t thresh it in a winepress. It’s a great example that until you believe that God is with you, you will spend your life hiding in fear doing the wrong things. Until you believe God is with you, you will hide in fear and you’ll spend your life striving and struggling. And I love what he says back to the angel. He says, “Hey, if God is with us, then why is all this happening to us? Why is this our circumstance and situation? If God is with us, where are the signs and the wonders and the miracles?” Okay? You have to catch the humor in this. He’s talking on an angel. Like, I don’t think it gets much more supernatural than that. An angel just appears to you while you’re hiding out doing the wrong things and an angel is trying to talk you and you’re sitting there and you’re saying, “Well, where are the signs and wonders?” It’s a great reminder that we can be so focused on everything that’s happening all around us that we miss God right in front of us.
I wonder how often we’re like Gideon. All these things are happening in our lives, we’re so consumed by them and God’s showing up trying to get our attention right in front us. Like, I don’t want to be more conscious of my problems than I am with his presence. And then he says to the angel. He says, “Well, hey, God has abandoned us. Like he’s left us and that’s why we’re oppressed.” But the paradox is God didn’t abandon them, they abandoned God. If you jump back up in the story a little bit earlier, it says that the Israelites rejected God and they started worshipping foreign gods and idols. God didn’t abandon them, they abandoned God.
And so Gideon is mad at God because they’re experiencing consequences for their own decisions and actions. I wonder how many times in our lives do we blame God for what’s happening in our life when the truth is it’s just the consequence for a decision or an action he asked us not to do. Like have you ever watched anybody hurt themselves and then get mad at somebody who’s on the other side of the room as if it’s their fault? Do you know what I’m talking about? My kids will do this sometimes. They’ll like bang into something and they’ll be like, “Oh, dad, why did you make me do that?” And I’m like, “I’m not even in the same room as you. How is that my fault?” I think we do that a lot to God. And what you have to remember is he never abandons us. We abandon Him. That’s why we talk about being a Jesus-focused church because you shouldn’t spend your time focusing on your commitment to him. You should spend your time focusing on his commitment to you. God doesn’t say you will never leave nor forsake me. He says, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5. That’s what we have to remember. And so it goes on. The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “But, Lord,” Gideon asked, “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the least in my family, like I’m the least qualified person for this.” But the Lord answered, “I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites together.”
Okay, so catch it. God gives Gideon this huge assignment to rescue the Israelites from the hand of the Midians and Gideon is terrified. And the moment he gets the assignment, he responds like we always respond to God, “Who am I to do that?” Like who am I, God, to do that? I’m unqualified. I’m weak. I’m insignificant. I’m insecure. I can’t do that. And I love how God responds to Gideon’s fear. He says, “Gideon, I will be with you. I will be with you and together, we will defeat the Midianites.” You see, what’s interesting to me is the most often repeated phrase in the Bible is ‘Do not be afraid’. Most often repeated phrase all throughout the Bible, ‘Do not be afraid’. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Why? Because we’re afraid all the time of circumstances and situations and the future and the unknown and our past and loneliness and rejection, we’re terrified. And what’s fascinating to me is that the most often repeated phrase and then the most often repeated phrase right after that is ‘I will be with you’. Do not be afraid and then the most often repeated phrase is ‘For I will be with you’. Why? Because God’s presence frees us from the fear that paralyzes us. 1 John 4:19, “Perfect love casts out fear.” Remember, love is not a feeling. It’s a person and His name is Jesus.
So when it says perfect love casts out fear, what it’s saying is the presence of God drives the fear right out of your life. Do not be afraid for I am with you. Only those who know that God is with them live fearlessly. And that’s what I love is he shows up and he says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” He says it to a guy hiding, threshing wheat in a winepress. But the moment you know that God is with you, you instantly become a mighty warrior. The Lord is with you, so now you are a mighty warrior. Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can possibly be against us?” I mean, just think about this practically in our lives when we face things or situations that are unknown or new or scary or we’ve got to step into some big opportunity, how do we comfort each other? We say, “Hey, you got this and I’m…” With you. We say it to each other all the time in regular life, “I’m with you.” And what happens? It brings us courage and comfort and we move forward.
My little seven-year-old girl, she has chronic health issues. And she’s had to go to more doctors’ appointments and procedures and tests than most 80-year-olds that I know. And it’s traumatic for everyone in our family and yet, just about every time she’s about to go to one of those, she’ll stop before we go or it’s going to be the next day and she’ll look at me, she’ll say, “Daddy, are you going to come with me?” And I’ll say, “Yeah, baby. I’ll be with you.” And the moment I say that, I watch as peace settles over her and courage rises up in her heart. And I watch this little seven-year-old girl become incredibly brave. Why? Because the unknown isn’t scary when you know who is with you. Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for I will be with you wherever you go.” God’s presence is the anecdote for the fear and the discouragement in our lives. And we’ve got to start grabbing that.
And you’ll find this pattern like Gideon’s pattern. You find it all over the Bible. Like Jeremiah, a young man. God shows up, “Hey, Jeremiah, I want you to be a prophet to the nations.” “Whoa, whoa, who am I?” “I will be with you.” Or the disciples, “I want you to go and make disciples of all nations.” “Whoa, whoa, we can’t do that.” “I will be with you.” Or how about Moses? “Hey, Moses, I want you to go and confront pharaoh, the most powerful man on the face of the earth and set 2 million slaves free.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, who am I, God? Who am I to do that?” And God’s very next response is, “I will be with you.” He doesn’t answer Moses’ question or maybe he does and the answer is just this, “You are the one that I am with. So what qualifies you to go and step into the impossible is my presence in your life.” God loves to give us situations that expose our insecurity so he can make us secure in him. He wants to lead you into something that makes you so desperate for him that you reach out and grab a hold of his presence. He literally wants to lead you into your fear so he can make you fearless in his love. And once God delivers you, he now says you become a deliverer. God doesn’t say, “Now, sit here and watch what I can do.” He says, “Now, go and watch what I can do through you.” And we say, “But that’s impossible.” And God says, “With man, it’s impossible. But if you go with me, all things are possible.” Are you with me on that?
Now, here’s where the story gets interesting. I’m taking about two chapters of the story and just putting it together for you. The Midianites show up and they get a bunch of other nations and they come because they want to completely destroy the Israelites. And in verse 34, it says, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.” So you got Gideon, the Spirit of the Lord is upon him and he’s got this army, 32,000 soldiers. And God looks at Gideon and He says, “Gideon, your army is too big.” “Excuse me?” “Yeah, your army is too big. You got 32,000 soldiers against like multiple nations.” “It’s too big. So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to send a bunch of them away. Tell everyone who is afraid they can go home.” And 22,000 soldiers leave just like that. So here’s Gideon, he’s got the Spirit of the Lord and now he’s got 10,000 soldiers and God says, “Gideon, your army is still too big.” “Excuse me again, Lord?” “Yeah, I want you to send a bunch of people away.” And he whittles it down to 300 people. Now, how many of you know God can do more through 300 people who are all in than 32,000 people that are looking out for themselves? And how many of you know that God loves to stack the deck against himself? God stacks the deck against himself. He wants to make it so impossible so that when it happens, he’s the only one that can get the glory. He will make it so difficult so that in the end, he’s the one that gets the glory because if he allowed Gideon to have 32,000, even 10,000, even 5,000 troops, in the end it would be, “Oh, it’s because Gideon is so awesome.”
We are the ones that take the credit or we explain it away. It was my ability. It was my hard work. It was because I did this. Or we say it was because of the medicine that we took that the cancer got cured or whatever it might be. So God will stack the deck against himself so only he gets the glory. That’s why Jesus Lazarus lie in the grave for four days. Four days. And then he shows up to raise Lazarus from the dead because if he would’ve showed up on day one, they would’ve said Lazarus was just taking a nap, man. Jesus just woke him up. Or he waits until there’s 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish because what Jesus doesn’t want is all of a sudden someone just saying, “Well, there’s a bunch of fish in the bottom of the basket that nobody counted beforehand.” Or in your life, he’ll let the deck stack against you because it’s stacking against himself so he can show up and move. And so here’s what I love with what he does. You got Gideon. You got the Spirit of the Lord upon him and he’s got 300 guys. And Gideon says, “Hey, everyone –” because this is like two chapters’ worth of the Bible, so just track with me. He says, “Everyone take a trumpet and everyone take a clay pot with a flaming torch inside.” And they go down to the enemy’s camp and they get by the edge of the enemy’s camp and Gideon says, “Here’s what we’re going to do. Everyone is going to blow their trumpet. We’re going to break the clay pots and hold the torches in our hand and we’re going to see what God does.” And so they blow the trumpet, break the clay pots, the torches shine and it says that God is released and he moves and sets into motion a panic in the enemy’s camp. They all start killing each other and Gideon, 300 men and the Spirit of the Lord win this incredible, impossible victory.
Now, I tell you all of that up to this point for verse 34. When it says, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.” In the original language in the Hebrew, what that literally translates to, what it literally means, it means to put on, to wear or to clothe. What it is saying is that God showed up and put Gideon on. He put Gideon on. He wore him. He clothed Himself with Gideon the way he would put on a robe. The Spirit of the Lord didn’t just come upon him. He literally clothed himself with Gideon, turned a weak man into a mighty man, empowered him and won an incredible victory. And that is an incredible Old Testament picture of a spirit-filled life. It is a prophetic picture of what Jesus wants to see in all of our lives. That God wants to show up in your life and literally clothe himself with you. He wants to wear you. He wants to put you on like a robe. He wants to turn your weakness into a strength and empower you to reveal his glory into the world around you. You want to talk about value. You want to talk about purpose. You want to talk about significance. I mean, God doesn’t need us and yet he chooses us. He wants to put you on and reveal his glory through you and to the world around you. And I think it’s so amazing the he gives them a trumpet and a clay pot with a torch inside.
The trumpet, when they blow it, it’s worship. It’s worship. And God always comes wherever he’s wanted. It’s just like Joshua and the Israelites when they march around the city of Jericho and they all blow the trumpets and these impossible walls come falling down and they win a big victory, because worship releases God to do the impossible. So they blow the trumpet and then they’ve got clay pots and they break it and inside is a flaming torch. What is that a picture of? It’s a picture of us. We are the clay pots. And when we are broken before the Lord, the power of God is released through our lives and shines into the world around us. I mean, that’s why 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God, not form us.” We have this treasure. What’s the treasure? The spirit of God that wants to come inside and literally wear us. That is the treasure. We are the jar of clay and what makes the jar of clay valuable is not how nice it’s adorned on the outside, it’s the treasure within it.
I mean, God scraped us together from the dust of the earth and blew into our lungs, so think about it. The dust of the earth contains the fire of God. That’s who we are. The great privilege of our lives is we carry and steward his presence so he can be revealed and released through us. In fact 2 Corinthians 12:9, “God’s power is made perfect in your weakness.” God’s power is designed to be released through your weakness into the world around you. And when you start to understand the Lord is with you, you become a mighty warrior because he wants to put you on and walk through this life and do the impossible. So maybe we need to stop being so focused on what’s wrong with us and start being focused on what’s right with him. Does that make sense to anybody? Do you get the picture of the clay pot? That when you’re broken before the Lord, boom, his power is released and does amazing things.
He puts you on. He wears you and releases His power through you. I mean, a little bit of theology here for you. The moment you get saved, the moment you believe in Jesus, who he says he is and that he did what he said he did, the Spirit of the Living God comes inside you. John 20:22, “Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Hole Spirit.'” It’s your moment of salvation. You come from death to life. But God doesn’t just want you to have the spirit inside you, he wants it to be upon you. Luke 24, he says to those guys after he’s breathed on them, the disciples, “I’m going to send you what my father has promised, so stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” So the Holy Spirit is meant to be in us but he’s also meant to be upon us. So Ephesians 3:19 says that you would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. That it would be so inside you that it would be overflowing upon you, releasing through your life. The word anointed literally means to smear, that you would be dripping with the presence and the power of God wherever you go.
The Holy Spirit is in me for my sake to help me live a Godly life. But he is on me for your sake, that the power of God might be released into your life to do something great for you. Does that make sense to you? You see, the question isn’t how much of the Holy Spirit do you have. The question is how much of you does he have? How submitted and surrendered are you to him? Think about it like this. Luke 17:21, “Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is within you.” The kingdom of heaven is within you. So when you show up into a situation and you walk in, the kingdom of heaven is within you and wherever God rules, his life will reign, which means when you walk in with the kingdom of heaven, the atmosphere literally starts to shift around you. Think of like a boat cutting through the water. It leaves a wake behind it that goes and goes and goes until it impacts something. You carry that kind of presence, or how about Acts 1, when Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” It’s to say, when the presence of God is in your life, you’re also carrying with it the power of God because the power of God resides within the presence of God.
So, if you have the Holy Spirit, you have all of the power of God living within you. In fact, the word “power” in the original language is the word “dynamis”, D-Y-N-A-M-I-S. It’s the word we get dynamite from. So, he’s saying, “If you have the Holy Spirit, you’ll have dynamic power within you.” Okay. If that’s true, then don’t you think we should be doing a little bit more than putting fish stickers on the bumper of our cars, come on, and posting Bible verses on Facebook and living just good like moral lives? Like, if sin management is the entire goal of our lives, we have drastically underestimated the power and the point of the spirit of the living God in our lives. We’re not sure we’re excited, but that’s okay. I mean, think about it. You are commissioned to destroy the works of the devil, bring heaven to Earth, release the life of God wherever you go. Jesus says, “Signs and wonders will follow those who follow him.”
Signs point the way to God and wonders leave people in awe of him. His treasure is meant to be released through your clay. And it’s time to be broken before the Lord that the torch may shine and that the impossible will happen through your life. I mean, I remember when I started to like grasp this, I mean, just in the first initial ways. Colleen and I lived in Colorado and I served as a pastoral intern for a season which basically means I made photocopies and coffee. And here’s what I would say to you is if you ever want to learn about something in any capacity, go find people that are doing that well and just serve them. You will position yourself for great things before the Lord. And so, I just served them and learned and we kind of go in through it and Colleen and I were dating at the time. And I remember it was one Halloween night and literally that was about the extent of what I did was photocopies and making coffee and hung out in meetings and just learned. And I got a phone call at the office that said that there was a woman in the hospital and she had been dying for a long time. She had some kind of incurable disease and that the doctors told her family that she was going to pass away within the next few hours. And so, the family had called and said, “Could someone come up and just pray for her?” And it was one of those days where everyone was busy and so, they kind of looked at me and thought, “She’s going to die in a few hours anyway. So, let’s send the intern.”
And so, they asked me to go, okay? So, it’s Halloween night. So, I get Colleen and we go and we get to the hospital and we show up and we get to the door of the room where the lady is and one of her family members or a friend, I don’t remember who it was, meets us at the door and said, “The doctor just left and said she’s going to pass within the hour. Can you come in and just pray for us?” And so, we walk in and what do you pray in a situation like that? Do you start commanding her to rise out of her bed? Do you try to do one of those prayers of like, “Well, all things work together for the good of those who love him”? What do you do? I’m 23 years old. I make coffee and photocopies. And so, I walk in and the woman is all hooked up to the machines and you can tell, I mean, she’s pretty much gone. And, you know, the blankets are over her legs. And so, we’re standing at the end of her bed, just me, Colleen, and this family member or the friend. And I just put my hand on her and go on the end of the bed and we just kind of held hands and we just started to pray. I just said, “Lord, would you come and bring your presence into this situation? Would you come and just bring your comfort and your peace and just your presence into this room?” And remember what we’ve already said in this series, where two or three are gathered that Jesus shows up. And the presence of God came in that room, probably one of those strongest encounters I’ve ever had within my life to the point where you could smell the fragrance of the Lord. You could taste Him. You could feel Him. The air was heavy. You could breathe it. And you say, “Is that biblical?” Yes, taste and see that God is good. And He showed up and his presence came and we just prayed and his presence would be in that room, just being with that family.
And we had this encounter with God and she’s laying there. She didn’t move and we left. And Colleen and I just thought, “Wow. That was amazing. That was an incredible encounter with the Lord.” We went home, go to the office the next day and somebody comes running up to me and they said, “Hey, did you hear what happened?” “What do you mean ‘Did you hear what happened'”? He said, “That lady, that lady that was supposed to die within the hour last night somehow in the middle of the night, she awoke from her sleep, was completely restored and they’re releasing her from the hospital today, totally healed.” And I remember being so blown away by that thinking, “For real?” Yeah. And he said, “Well, how?” “I don’t know. I just know the presence the God was in us and we invited him to be released into the situation.” We were broken before the Lord and the torch of God shone through. We blew a trumpet and the presence of God was released to come and do a profound thing. I didn’t actually have a trumpet, but you know what I’m saying. And throughout the years, I’ve watched that happen. As I pray for people with cancer and they come back later and said, “God healed me,” or people with addictions and they come back and say, “God freed me,” or people with debts and difficult things in their life and they come back and say, “God moved in my life and it’s incredible.” Okay. Listen to me. That should be the normal experience for every spirit-filled follower of Jesus. And here’s what I want to say. Just because you haven’t experienced it, it doesn’t mean it’s not true. Don’t let your experiences determine your theology. Let your theology determine your experiences. Don’t bring what you believe down to what you’ve experienced. Raise what you’re going to experience up to what you believe. We should have more faith in what Jesus has said is true than what we’ve seen with our own eyes because at the end of the day, no one would go into a closet by themselves not knowing anything and read the Bible and come out with the conclusion that God’s power is done for today. We come out with that conclusion because we haven’t experienced it in our lives, not because of what he says.
So, maybe we need to change our experience. And I think sometimes we get to this point where we need to step out in faith, but the truth is as we do this, we’re like, “Well, I don’t really want to do it because if it doesn’t happen, I don’t want to embarrass God.” Okay. He’s a big boy and he doesn’t need you to defend his reputation. And that’s really actually the question we’re not asking. What we’re thinking to ourselves is if I pray for this person or if I do this, if I step into the impossible and it doesn’t happen, I’m going to look foolish. So, let’s not do it. 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” There’s a story in our church of a guy who’s sitting in service just like this. It was a Sunday morning and he came in and the moment he came in, he was drawn to his attention to another guy in the other side of the room. And the moment he saw him, he just felt like [indecipherable] [0:27:51] I want you to pray for him. And he couldn’t even worship. He couldn’t engage. I want you to pray for this man. I want you to pray for this man. I’ve never seen that man in my life. That’s just creepy. I’m not going to do that.
I want you to pray for him. I want you to pray for him. I want you to pray for him. Service ends and he’s like, “Okay. God is asking me to do this. This is crazy.” So, he walks over to the guy, he says, “Man, I know you don’t know me. I don’t know you. He goes, I know this seems so weird.” He said, “I’ve just been sitting here. I felt like the Lord is just inviting me to pray for you. Is there anything in your life that I could pray for you for?” And the guy’s eyes filled up with tears and he looked back at him and said, “I was just diagnosed this week with cancer. Would you please pray for me?” And so, this man lays his hands on him and he prays for him and come to find out just a short while later the man is miraculously healed of cancer. Why? Because, the fire of God was released from one person into the life of another and he wasn’t worried about looking foolish. God is looking for people that are willing to release him into the world. It’s only when you get to the end of yourself that you find the beginning of him. That’s why we don’t find more of God because we’re not willing to step beyond ourselves. Gideon, you got 300 people, baby, against multiple nations. It’s over.
It’s not over if the spirit of the lord has chosen to clothe himself with me. Nothing is over. We have to learn to host God’s presence within us. If you think about Peter, it’s fascinating, you just watch Peter’s journey throughout the gospels from Luke 5 on, you just see how he learned to engage with the presence of God. Like, his first encounter, if you remember, he’s in a boat and Jesus comes. They push off. Jesus preaches. He tells Peter, “Throw your net over the right side of the boat,” fills it, so full of fish. It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. It’s his first encounter with the presence of God and Peter hits his knees in that moment and he realizes it and he says, “Away from me, lord, I’m a sinful man.” The presence of God is the great convictor of our lives. He convicts us of our sin, but then reminds us of the forgiveness we have in Jesus. So, Jesus’ response back to him is “Do not be afraid. Come with me.” But Peter’s first encounter with the presence of God is he was afraid.
He didn’t know what to do with it. And then you start tracking it and it’s fascinating, right? Then, you get to the story of when Jesus goes walking on the water and Peter is like, “Oh man, if that’s you, tell me to come, but I don’t know,” and he starts to walk. He starts to sink in the water and Jesus says, “Why do you doubt?” He doubted the presence of God. And then, you get to the transfiguration where Jesus was transfigured and raised up, right, and Moses and Eliza show up and, Peter, he wants to build these tents for Moses, Eliza, and Jesus. So, he’s confused by the presence of God. Jesus kind of says no. And then, you go a little further and then, Jesus says, “I’m going to the cross.” And Peter steps in the way. He says, “No, Lord, you’re not going to do that.” He tries to control the presence of God to get the presence of God to do what he wants it to do. And then, Peter denies Jesus to the servant girl. So, he’s embarrassed. So, he runs and he hides from the presence of God. And then, we get to Acts 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out and you get to Acts 5 — Luke 5 to Acts 5, like, just one book worth of story and it says, “Peter hosted the presence of God so significantly that sick people would come lie in the streets so that Peter’s shadow would just touch them that they might be healed.”
He went from being terrified of God’s presence to learning to carry it so well that his shadow healed people. You say a shadow can heal people? Yeah. The presence of God on you is so strong that it changes the atmosphere. That’s why people can come to church and start crying. It’s the presence of God. I’ve had people walk up and hand me their drugs like, “Here, I can’t even have these anymore.” You’re like, “What is that?” It’s the presence of God. I’ve had people hand me their weapons, people. This is real stuff. The presence of God changes the atmosphere. He went from being afraid to carrying it so well that his shadow changed the atmosphere. Okay. That’s us. The truth is a bunch of you sitting in this room, we’re afraid to the presence of God. This whole concept is so big and whatever. Okay. Well, here, listen. Satan is called the great accuser. What he wants you to do is remind you of what you have done. The Holy Spirit is the great convincer. He wants to remind you of who you now are.
Satan wants to show you what you did. So, you’re afraid of his presence. The Holy Spirit wants to show you what Jesus did, so you know who you now are and say, “I got free access, baby.” And then like Peter, we doubt it. We’ll doubt his presence. We’ll then be confused by it, sometimes not understand it. Sometimes, we want to control it, make him do what we want. We hide, but then, we learn to carry it and it starts to shape the atmosphere. Galatians 5:25, “Let us walk and step with the Spirit.” We learn. We learn over time on how to walk with god and the more aware I am of his presence in my life, the more of his power I will experience being released and flowing through my life. We’re the ones, though, that have to change our perspective in how we’re doing it. And so, again, the question I would ask you is just like how submitted and surrendered are you to the presence of God in your life. Time is going so fast today, people. I have so much to say.
I mean, there’s two things that the Bible says, Ephesians 4:30, one of the verses we’re memorizing together this year, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” Do not grieve him. Why? Because he’s a person. He’s not a thing or an “it”. He’s a person and he can be grieved by our decisions and behaviors. Holiness is a result of being aware that God is with you. Like, think about it like this. Think of the most famous person in the world that you would love to meet, athlete, a politician, a celebrity, royalty. I don’t care. Think about that person. Say they’re coming to your house. Man, if they were coming to your house, you would clean everything up. You would put everything away. You would dress nice and you would be on your best behavior the whole time they were there and it wouldn’t be hard, would it? It would take no effort to be on your best behavior. Why? Because you want to honor this person, you’re so excited he’s hanging out with you. Holiness is a result of being aware of who is living inside of me. I don’t do it because I’m afraid of him. I do it because I honor him and it becomes easy to do things the right way, God’s way.
So, don’t grieve him. But then it says in 1 Thessalonians, it says, “Do not quench him.” Do not quench the Holy Spirit. Do not put out his fire. Don’t take a bucket of water and put it on his flame or don’t take it like a hose and create a kink in it so that the flow of God can’t flow through you and to the world around you. So, don’t grieve him. Don’t quench him. Don’t put him out. And what I love is the 1 Corinthians 4:20 says, “The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.” Like, I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough talk in church. I’m ready for some power. Do you want more power? Then, release it because it’s in you. Maybe a lack of miracles in our lives has less to do with God’s desire to move and more to do with our reluctance to follow. Jesus already showed us that god desires to do the miracles. He showed us. He says, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” I am willing. I do have compassion.
I do want this to happen. So, maybe it’s not about that anymore. Maybe it’s that we just don’t necessarily want to follow. So, we kind of hold back. We got to remember the Holy Spirit is inside me, but he wants to get out. He wants to do some different things. Like, when you are praying over people, are you talking to a distant God somewhere way off in the cosmos trying to convince him to do something for people or are you literally saying, “The spirit of god is within me. I am the clay that is going to be broken and I declare that my God is going to move in this situation of impossibility.” It’s totally different. I mean, listen to what Jesus says. John 10, Jesus says, “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.” But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. Jesus says, “Don’t believe what I say. Look at what I do.” Believe the miracles. I am waiting for the day that the church rises up and says, “Don’t worry about what we say. Believe us because of the miracles of which we do.”
Because the power of God reveals the love of God, because the power of God can do what the preaching of man cannot. We need him to move and he wants to move. And you say, “Well, that’s Jesus. Only he could do that.” Listen, John 10:38, “Jesus did it as a spirit filled man, a man, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. Jesus the man had the spirit of God upon him and within him. He was clothed with the spirit. So, power went out, how he went around doing good and healing all of those who are under the power of the devil because God was with him. When the presence of God is with you, he empowers you for the impossible. The presence of God has empowered you for the impossible. We just need to release it. We just need to let him go. We just need to start having a little bit more faith to say, “Hey, my God has sent me into this situation to confront an impossibility, to release a miracle, to bring a breakthrough or to change an atmosphere.”
The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Come on. The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. So, stop looking at the cracks in your clay and start focusing on the fire within. Stop being concerned what’s wrong with you and start being concerned with what’s right within. He literally wants to put you on the way he would put on a robe, clothe himself with you and say, “Now, I’m just waiting for you to give me permission to move through your life and to the world around you.” When the presence of God shows up, he makes the weak strong, he makes the fearful bold, and he makes the insecure secure. The Lord is with you and his presence has empowered you. But you will never believe that until you’re willing to confront the impossibilities in front of you. Ephesians 3:20 says, “To him, I was able to do measurably more than we can ask or imagine.” We walk around and quote that verse all the time. “God’s going to do more. We can ask or imagine. It’s going to be great.” Do you ever look at the second part of that verse? It says “According to his power within us.” I think we’re waiting around for God to do the unthinkable and I think God’s waiting around for us to finally just release him into the situations he’s sending us. He’s just waiting for us to be willing to be broken before him that his presence would shine and he would do amazing things. So, close your eyes with me. Here’s all I’m trying to do today is I’m trying to raise your faith.
I’m trying to stir the atmosphere and I’m trying to stir your heart to make you believe that maybe this defeated Christian life that we’ve lived for so long, maybe that’s not from Jesus. Maybe that’s more of the work of religion and self and ungodly beliefs. If the presence of God is with you and so is the power of God. And just because we haven’t seen things in the past, doesn’t mean we won’t see them in the future. Let’s choose to come into agreement with what Jesus says is true about us and our lives and allow him to move. In fact, in your own way, maybe just could you give the Holy Spirit permission? Can you say, “Lord, just like Gideon, would you come and clothe yourself with me.” Fill me from the inner most to the outermost. And I give you permission and authority to lead me into any impossibility to do whatever you want to do and would you stir up our faith, God, that we would walk with you into these situations and we would expect you to move because you are here. You are good. So, just like Jesus, we want the Holy Spirit in power that we might go around doing good healing those who are under the power of the devil because you are with us. The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. May you become who he says you already are by being aware of what he says is already true. He’s here not because you’re good but because he is good. And so, Lord, I pray that we would be at church that continues to host your presence in new and profound ways. That you would reveal yourself to us and that we would have the faith and the courage to release you into the world around us. Break us God that your light, your fire, your power may set the enemy’s camp into chaos and that a great victory would be won for the glory of God. We love you, Jesus. In your name, we pray. Amen.