05-03-2020: One Well Placed Nugget of Hope

Matthew 12:22-30 & 2 Chronicles 7:14

(Matthew 19:26, Philippians 4:6-7, John 16:33, Philippians 4:8-9, & John 10:10)

Summary: Forget about what the news media is reporting, forget about what the popular opinion is right now on the internet and start to focus and call on the only opinion that really matters! God’s opinion!

I. Introduction.

As of this morning – there are billions of people all over the world – sitting around and thinking about a lot of things. Do I go out – do I stay in?

First a word on “social distancing”: “I can’t go out because of the virus” sounds weak, whiny, and boring. Try instead: “I’ve sworn an oath of solitude until the pestilence is purged from all the lands of the realm.” Sounds more valiant and heroic – and people might – just might, mind you – even think you are carrying a sword and shield….And maybe we should – the “Sword of the Spirit” and the “Shield of Faith!”

            The reports on the news of this Corona Virus are somewhat disturbing and have grown to be debilitating to many people. The 24-hour news cycle climate we’ve grown to live in and be accustomed to – has created the endless political media battle as to not waste a good crisis if you can use it to your advantage.

Both political parties attempt to use this strategy and if we – the church – are to be honest with ourselves – we reluctantly sit back in disgust! Simply watching and allowing rather than taking action! Will the economy rebound and what about the stock market? Am I going to be able to continue to work? When can I go to my favorite restaurant? Will take-out be the way of dining in the future? When will all this end? When will things get back to normal? What will “normal” really be?

II. Scripture.

To find your answer – listen closely to these Scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” – 2 Chron. 7:14.

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.

30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”.

III. Summary: “What is God Telling Us?”

Now – let me sum up what these two Scriptures are telling us. Just keep in mind this is God talking – this is notman’s conjecture…but this is God talking to us! “If My people will humble themselves and call upon my name, I will heal their land!”

It’s easy to read and hear that scripture and think “OK Lord, get busy! Handle it, handle it!” Far too many say “okay, but soon there will be a cure” – and in the meantime – anxiety, fear, and panic continue to strangle the world.

            We already have the solution to the problem! There is strength in unity and what scripture says here is – to realize this circumstance is bigger than any of us. And when we come together praying and seeking God – knowing only He has the ability to meet our need – His own words declare His willingness to help and heal the entire planet – where we live!

Now notice…scripture doesn’t say how many of God’s people. There is no magic number – it just says “Gods people”!

A. The Time Has Come – The Common Denominator.

The time has come again – God is looking for righteous men and women all over this land to cast their faith and their hope in His amazing ability and trust God with what you know – not what you are witnessing nor what you think you know!

Every story we find in the Bible – we find the common denominator of faith and hope! From the children of Israel to the message of the gospel and the resurrection Victory – which Jesus accomplished the morning when He arose from the tomb. Every one of them – including Jesus – believed and pinned their hopes on God’s amazing ability – for the outcome! From Noah to the woman at the well to the women at the tomb – the world has consistently given the report of failure and doom and gloom! But God has consistently delivered miracle after miracle in spite of how things appeared to be to the rest of the world – in the natural!

Forget about what the news media is reporting – forget about what the popular opinion is right now on the internet and start to focus and call on the only opinion that really matters! God’s opinion!

The politically correct opinion won’t tell you what I’m about to tell you – but this is a spiritual fight from the pit of hell with the focus of stealing – killing and destroying the souls of humanity!

B. Back to Normal! Really???

I hear so many say we want to just get back to normal! Is normal what we really want and are willing to settle for? After all – Normal is mediocrity – Normal is God not kept present in our courtrooms, schools, some churches – Normal is God not kept present within our lives and families.

There is nowhere you will find in the scripture – God’s abundant life and God’s blessings with the description of normal or mediocre! If it is normal you want – then you are not being Godly.

For far too many – normal has been a way of life far too long! If you are a Christian – God has called you out of obscurity – to live anything but a normal life! Yet far too many are doing exactly that!

We haven’t been singing “Jesus take the wheel”! We have neglected the calling we all have been called to – and that is to be the salt and the light of Jesus to the world! This crisis has come along and caught the majority of the church asleep at the wheel!

Now I hear people at all levels saying: “when we get back to normal….!” Instead of returning to “normal” why can’t we unite together and call on His name and see salvation and healing take place in our land! God has already given and equipped everyone with a measure of faith – and there is not one person who has not been equipped with Gods amazing faith gift – which is His spiritual defense mechanism with the ability to put a thousand to flight! To merely say to a mountain “MOVE!” – and through our faith in His ability – The MOUNTAIN MUST OBEY!

C. The Test of Life.

Here’s something to think about! Why is it when we’re young – we’re so willing try to test our abilities and are so willing to take a test? You know what I’m talking about – the test designed to grade our ability to perform?

In fact – we usually can’t wait and have anxious anticipation between each level of responsibility that life offers us. Our Spiritual walk and relationship with God through Jesus our Savior should be no different – it’s the most important test of our lives!

D. Back to Basics.

I often wonder why we don’t look forward to, and with the same anticipation of embracing our spiritual walk and level of relationship with God, as we do with our zeal for the adventures of life? It’s time we who call ourselves Christians get involved in what’s going on!

(ILL) In the military when things didn’t go right – we would always turn to the basics. It’s time we got back to the basics of faith – those things that caused every one of us to step out and trust our hearts to Jesus in the first place! It’s time we fell in love again – with the things of God!

IV. The World Challenge to the Church.

One common characteristic tied to every level in everyone’s spiritual walk is the fact sometime or another their measure of faith is going to be challenged! That time has come for all of us! This is now a worldwide challenge to God’s church – not the structure but His people! The challenges from the accuser are always going to be daily – no matter what level of relationship they are at with God!

(TBS) “Life is but a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow” and all that matters in this life – and will hold water on the day of judgement – is what we have done for the Kingdom of God! (Not Works Righteousness!)That’s something that should never be very far from a Christians thought pattern! A lot of people when asked if they believe in God – almost always respond by saying “yes”.

Very few are ever asked the follow up question of – “what have you done for God lately?” Sadly – very few would be able to answer if asked – with something substantial or meaningful they have ever done for God! (“…Least of these…”)

A. No Greater Time in History Than Now – Stand Firm!

There has never been a greater time in history then right now – to call on the name of the Lord and stand firm in faith against the attack on humanity from the accuser and the pit of hell!

There are only two sides to every situation – good and evil! (P) Is it really that simple? And you have to be on one side or the other because you get nothing by “riding the fence” – besides maybe a sore fanny if anything!

While the accuser would like for you to think there is a gray area concerning good and evil – there is no gray area! There is no sugar coating anything – when it comes to the accuser and spiritual matters! If what’s happening is good – it’s from God! If what’s happening is not good – it’s not from God!

John 10:10 is very descriptive in saying that Jesus came so we could have life more abundant and the accuser’s main objective is and continues to be – to steal, kill, and destroy!

Philippians 4:8-9, NIV:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Does what we are witnessing and all the mayhem we are seeing happening in real time around the world – sound like anything we just read? The answer is no! What we are witnessing is meant for death and destruction from the pit of hell!

John 16:33 New International Version (NIV):

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus has overcome the world and through Jesus and what He accomplished on the cross for us – we are also overcomers by the righteousness He has covered us with! That is – if we are willing to activate our God-given measure of faith and believe! When we are willing to take scripture at face value and have faith in Gods promises – it’s not what can we do? It’s what can’t we do! With our faith called to action believing in God and His amazing ability making a way for us!

B. Two Requirements Before God Will Use You.

There are only two requirements for God to use anyone in the world and make their name a household name for the whole world to know! (1) Be willing to be used by God and (2) have faith – believe – God can accomplish the task you’ve been called to! I believe most people would say they believe and most would also

say they would be willing. Yet sadly though – very few are willing to attempt to do both at the same time! I

don’t know about you – but the word “EVERYTHING” comes to mind when I think of the things, I’ve tried to help God figure out in my life – at one point or another!

Fact is, we’re all guilty of doing the same thing! And by that – I mean trying to attach some degree of difficulty to our need multiplied by our ability – rather than using our God given measure of faith and just trusting – resting in – Gods ability to answer our need!

Our human nature is taught at a very early age – to try to determine every degree of difficulty for every situation! Society calls it – “self-dependency!”

Having faith in God to meet our needs – is all God-faith dependency! Thus, requiring us to be totally God dependent – rather than the self-dependent nature we have learned to labor and lean on in life! It’s 180 degrees different – a complete turnaround from what the drummer is playing and the beat of the world’s way of living!

V. God’s Expects Our Trust in Him.

We weren’t born self-dependent or reliant! We came into this world quite the opposite! Our life was completely dependent on someone else for everything! And the thing is – we were 100% completely OK with depending on others for everything. Our measure of faith and trust – we were born with!

Amazingly enough – we were also born with the ability to use both from day one! Everything we have ever needed or will ever need – God made sure we were equipped with from the moment of conception.

OK – one more time? Everything we have ever needed or will ever needGod made sure we were equipped with from the moment of conception.

Every day of the learned behavior of the world and self-dependency – the accuser has used to try to steal – kill or diminish what we had 100% trust in – on day one!

Our parents told us they loved us and expected us to trust them – from the moment the first time we met them and we did – without issue! God’s Word lovingly instructs us to do the same in our relationship with Him – through His Son Jesus. But human nature and learned behavior continually raises our question of what to do with our desire to control our circumstances – with our self-effort!

A. Relax Our Grip on Control.

God’s Word instructs us to relax our grip of control – to trust in His immeasurable capabilities! To let our self-effort “rest” in Gods amazing love He has for each and every one of us!

Philippians 4:6,7 NIV: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

100% of the time resting in someone else’s abilities is hard to do! That’s because Warriors – want to do something valiant! Singers – want to sing a song the whole world will want to sing! Composers – want to write the score for something so compelling every musician will long to play their work! Ministers want to write that sermon that will cause “Standing Room Only” at every service with baptisms every day and people begging to serve. Everyone wants to do something!

B. We are Not Alone in Letting Go.

We’re not alone in both this self-imposed – and continually reminded accuser dilemma! In fact – “all” of the recipients of the miracles we read in the Bible – faced the exact same dilemma we’re discussing right here! Their needs were all bigger than their abilities! They all needed God to step into their situation and come through for them – didn’t they?

If we want to receive the full benefit and blessing of what God wants to do in our lives! By faith – we must follow his instructions and wait or rest for His perfect timing of deliverance!

C. To Keep the Faith . . .

To keep the faith – keep believing – resting in His most capable hands until God provides! When we do that – God is duty bound and held accountable to accomplish what we ask by His Word –  – which never fails!

Otherwise if we don’t – we end up settling for less than we deserve – called mediocrity! Mediocrity is easy…Normal is easy! Resting in the easiness of Gods instruction is not easy! All because our human nature wants to impose degrees of difficulty – self–effort continually thinks its labor can bring things to the table!

Well – here’s what God thinks and I’m inclined as you should be also to think! We deserve so much better than what we can bring to the table!

“With man nothing is possible! With God all things are Possible!” You see, God knows even on our best day – we’re fortunate to be able to make it to the table – let alone bring something of value with us!

V. The Last Hurdle.

The last hurdle for all of us – before we see God work in our circumstance – is resting in God’s ability instead of our own self-effort to deliver our desired results!

Elijah, Joseph, David, Moses, Ruth, Esther – and the list is long –  – through their faith – gave God’s people well-placed “nuggets of hope”. Today we have hope – because of God’s gift of grace – delivered and administered by none other than His very own Son Jesus!

How much more are we blessed – we, who know Jesus as Lord and Savior – who has become our hope – our qualification for every promise and blessing God wants to give us – including healing – safety and protection from all things – seen or not seen!

We have been called to use our hands – feet and voice to place everywhere we can – the nuggets of hope Jesus offers to all!

There is no hard and easy for God! And for us to think such thoughts – doesn’t limit God – those thoughts only inhibit our ability to believe and receive! We need to focus our energy of self-effort into resting in God’s love and giving nature He has always had towards us!

Using our energy to rest sounds foreign to us – but if God designed our DNA – don’t you think He has already given us the ability to do what He asks of us! The answer is absolutely yes! All God asks of us is – “use our energy of self-effort and allow it to be consumed by resting in His ability and willingness to work all things for our good!” Matthew 19:26 validates this:

“Jesus looked hard at them and said, ‘No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.’”

VI. Conclusion.

Are you willing to ask God – to help you level up and trust everything to His plans for your life?

If so – God will take you to levels you never dreamed of and places you could’ve never imagined – with His Goodness and Blessings leading you every step of the way!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?” Surrender it all over to Jesus:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Jesus is telling us: “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

When you are willing to believe – God is able to deliver! Amazing Victories you can’t imagine – indescribable destinations beyond belief – divine health and prosperity – all the glorious things God’s idea of abundant life has placed in your future and destiny!

This week go out of your way to be kind and help renew humanity’s outlook and show the world God’s Love through your actions and ability to place nuggets of hope – in a world full of fear, uncertainty, and despair!

Raise your expectations and let’s call on God for His help and both expect and rest in God’s amazing ability to heal humanity and our land!

Let us pray: O God, our Father – Help us all to remember Your Holy Words of Isaiah 42:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Help us to put away our desire of self-effort and embrace the unforced rhythms of Your sweet grace and rest completely in the amazing plans You, our Father God – has for us – Your children! Assist us, Father – with plans of hope – plans for our welfare and our neighbors’ welfare as well! The amazing plans for the abundant future You – our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – has already created for us and the entire world we live in – to arrive at as well! Help us Father – to be brave while trusting in our faith of You – as we assist a Great Awakening of your presence all through the land and with all people – according to your will. Help us, O Lord and Savior – to realize we have been chosen as Your people and as such we can call on You as we rise up like lions instead of lambs and overcome our circumstances! We pray this in our sincere faith and trust in Your love for us – Amen.