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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Praying Circles Around Your Walls – 10

Praying Circles Around Your Walls – 10
Subject: An Unoffended Life
by Rick Welborne

Joshua 6:1-5 (NKJV)
1  Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.
2  And the LORD said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.
3  You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.
4  And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
5  It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him." 

Matthew 11:1-6 (NKJV)
1  Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
2  And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples
3  and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
4  Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
5  The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." 

--Listen to the context of this setting with John the Baptist: Jesus is doing miracles everywhere He goes…He is healing diseases, casting out demons, and restoring sight to the blind.

--Unfortunately, it seems that poor John the Baptist is missing out on the miracles and he definitely needs one in prison. Jesus is rescuing almost everyone except His most faithful follower. 

--You remember John was Jesus’s cousin as well. It just seemed as though Jesus could have worked just one more miracle and rescued him or at least organized an elite team to rescue him.

--Wow, instead of rescuing John Jesus sends him a message thru his disciples and tells him about all the miracles that are happening. Instead of rescuing him He sends him this message:

Matthew 11:6 (NKJV)
6  And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.

--Have you ever felt like God was doing miracles for everyone else (even people who obviously did not deserve it) but you were being passed by? God seems happy to answer others prayer but not yours.

--I wonder if that was how John the Baptist felt? What do you do when you feel like God is answering everyone else’s prayer but not yours?

1. We try to live our lives unoffended by God. 

--Of course we are not in prison waiting for our heads to be cut off but Jesus promises us that we will be blessed if we aren’t offended. It is so easy to be offended or to take up someone else’s offense.
Luke 17:1-5 (NKJV)
1  Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
2  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
3  Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."
5  And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith." 
--Offenses are going to come and we have to make sure that we guard our hearts from being offended. It is a choice. Be careful who share your mess with.
--You may get over it in a day or so but the person you share it with may carry it for a lifetime. Be careful running home and telling mom and dad what a jerk your spouse is…they pick up that offense.
--John Bevere’s book…Bait of Satan is a wonderful tool in training you how to live a life unoffended by people. Today we are talking about not being offended by God or toward God.
Jeremiah 12:1 (NLT)
1  LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You don’t see when they close their doors.
--There are many couples or individuals this could apply to you or maybe you feel like it is you. God has used people in incredible ways to pray for and see miracles in other people’s lives.
--They prayed for the salvation of another family’s prodigal and God answered. They prayed for a friend’s healing and they were healed. A friend was going under financially and God showed up as you prayed.
--You even have family or friends who live ungodly lives and we feel God should judge them severely and they win $150,000 thru a lottery ticket. I know that person! Just not fair.
Jeremiah 5:27-28 (NKJV)
27  As a cage is full of birds, So their houses are full of deceit. Therefore they have become great and grown rich.
28  They have grown fat, they are sleek; Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked; They do not plead the cause, The cause of the fatherless; Yet they prosper, And the right of the needy they do not defend. 
--If we would be honest with one another…many of us live in this place where we are wondering why God can be so good, so generous with others, so merciful but not with us…where are you, Lord?
2. We live in the ellipsis of life.
Ellipsis – is the triple dot punctuation. Ellipsis indicates a pause in speech or an unfinished thought.
--Every time I write anything…I have always used ellipsis but just did not know what it was called. When I pause for effect in my sermons I am using ellipsis. 
--When we are waiting on God to answer a prayer for us, we are in a period of ellipsis. It is a divine pause where we are simply waiting on God to complete the thought…to complete the miracle.
--We usually use the NIV for this portion of scripture because it says plans…but listen to it in NKJV.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NKJV)
11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
12  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
13  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
14  I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
--For whatever reason God has chosen…we have a Lord Who uses ellipsis for His honor and His glory. What makes no sense to us and what seems so unfair to us is just God being sovereign. 
Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV)
8  "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9  "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10  "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. 
--What would have happened to Joseph when God made him wait 22 years for his dreams and visions to come to pass? A pre-mature deliverance may have put him in the wrong place. 
--I am sure Joseph asked God more than one time…what is going on in my life? Did I really receive dreams from you or was it just my own desires coming through?
--Even ungodly Egyptians seem to be blessed with their servants and overabundance of food and luxuries. He was in a pit, sold into slavery, accused of adultery, forgotten in prison. It is not fair!
--Could it be that this is one of those ellipsis moments where we can say with Esther and Mordecai…For such a time as this. God is not as interested in our comfort as He is in His will.
--Listen to what Joseph had to say after approximately 22 years of abuse and what appeared to be abandonment by God…you see he chose not to be offended by what God was doing…he lived unoffended.
Genesis 45:4-8 (NIV)
4  Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!
5  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.
6  For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping.
7  But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8  "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 
--You see, the last chapter has not been written…God is still working on your book (on your life) and He is still working everything for your good if you love Him.
--Listen to the testimony of this couple from an Assembly of God church in the Washington D C area. They were used mightily by God to pray miracles for others but struggled having their prayers answered.
John and Heidi – Living an unoffended life is not some Zen-like experience. It is living a life surrendered to His sovereignty, His majesty, and His love. Jesus promises blessings if we are not offended when He does things for others. And if He does it for them, He might do it for us. I don’t know why God does what He does. I do know that 100% of the prayers I don’t pray won’t be answered.
--You can give up or you can hold on. You can let go or you can pray through. You can get frustrated with God or you can choose to live an unoffended life. 
3. Even now!
--Mary and Martha had a very good opportunity to be offended at Jesus. Their brother Lazarus was dying so they sent for Jesus.
John 11:5-6 (NIV)
5  Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
6  Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
--What? Lazarus is dying and Jesus knows it but it appears He purposely stays where He was two more days… He intentionally let Lazarus die and then had the gall to say He was asleep…let’s go wake him up.
--What kind of God-man is this that even death is sleep to Him…notice the only people who were upset or potentially offended had no idea what Jesus was up to. 
John 11:2-4 (NIV)
2  This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.
3  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
4  When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 
--Watch this…Jesus owes Mary…she had shown ultimate humility and worship when she poured perfume on His feet and wiped His them with her hair. Sometimes we feel God owes us for some reason.
--The two sisters even use psychology on Jesus…Lord, the one you love is sick. That is funny to me. Jesus knew Lazarus was sick and obviously Jesus loves everyone. 
-- Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."  Listen to Martha’s declaration of an unoffended life.
John 11:21-22 (NIV)
21  "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
22  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
--Most of us would have stopped with v 21 if you had been here Lazarus would not have died. Martha adds the conjunction but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
--Even when it seems like God is four days late, it’s too soon to give up on God. Even when it seems like your dream is dead and buried, it’s too soon to give up. Even now!
--God can reverse the irreversible! Even now He can say Lazarus come forth…dream come forth…healing come forth…prodigal come back to God…Even now!!

--Don’t quit…Don’t give up because there is an “Even now!” on its way! Live unoffended by God!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Revival – 3 – Evan Roberts – The Welsh Revival

Revival – 3 – Evan Roberts – The Welsh Revival
Subject: Keep Showing Up
by Rick Welborne

John 20:19-29 (NLT)
19  That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.
20  As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!
21  Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
22  Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23  If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24  One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.
25  They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
26  Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.
27  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
28  “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
29  Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” 

--This portion of scripture was so impactful on Evan Roberts and because he could never quite get passed these verses, they ended up leading him into a great revival. 

--Evan was not your ordinary young man…he came from a very dedicated Christian family…I just wonder how much the percentages go up for young people to experience revival when their parents are dedicated to God. 

--He owed much to his family because you would rarely see him without his Bible and was often found doing very in depth studies of God’s Word. Felt he would someday be a preacher.

--He felt it was reasonable service to attend the means of grace…to always be faithful to church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
24  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 

--He was working in a coal mine when an explosion took place…He escaped but when they found his Bible they found it opened to the verses about revival:

2 Chronicles 6:37-41 (NKJV)
37  yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, 'We have sinned, we have done wrong, and have committed wickedness'; 


38  and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been carried captive, and pray toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and toward the temple which I have built for Your name:
39  then hear from heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.
40  Now, my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and let Your ears be attentive to the prayer made in this place.
41  "Now therefore, Arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. Let Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, And let Your saints rejoice in goodness. 

--Many believe that the dream Evan kept circling in prayer was revival for Wales. From our text a verse that he could never shake from his heart and mind was this:

John 20:24 (NKJV)
24  Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

--He wanted to make sure he was in the right place when Jesus showed up and that in no way was he going to miss God’s visitation when it came. How many are apathetic and careless about God’s presence.

Luke 19:41-44 (NKJV)
41  Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
42  saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43  For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side,
44  and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."

--Let’s look at the reasons why Thomas wasn’t there when Jesus showed up.

1. Thomas did not show up because he did not believe Jesus was alive. 

--Sadly Thomas was labeled “doubting Thomas”. He had to see for himself…did not trust others testimonies.
It does not matter what you say…I must see.

John 20:24-25 (NLT)
24  One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.
25  They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” 

--Show me a miracle or a manifestation of the Lord or I will not believe.

John 4:48 (NKJV)
48  Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe."
--Pastor, we have heard you say and even heard you pray for God’s manifest presence to show up…Yes, I have not because I do not believe but because I do, He can show up.

--If we believe in the resurrection power of Jesus, let’s believe that power can show up and change us and make us alive. Save the lost, heal the sick, and set the captives free. Listen to Paul defend the resurrection:

1 Corinthians 15:12-22 (NIV)
12  But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
14  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
15  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
16  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
17  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
18  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
19  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
22  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 

2. Thomas did not show up because he did not value the fellowship of other believers.

--If you truly do not believe Jesus is going to show up, it makes it uncomfortable to meet with others who believe He is going to be there…why are they so excited.

--We even judge people who can seem to have an extra-ordinary hunger and desire for Jesus to show up. We often have a lady who dances in our services…I used to wonder why she did that so often. With such zeal.

--I decided one day to ask…her answer may surprise you…it did me. She said I dance because I expect God to heal me. Heal you of what? I have severe rheumatoid arthritis all thru my body and I believe God will heal me!

--Doesn’t it hurt you to dance…She said it hurts me to stand or walk but faith tells me to keep dancing until He heals me. Maybe before we judge people we might should find out what is going on in their lives.

--If we will value fellowship with other brothers and sisters we may want to walk a mile in their shoes instead of looking down our religious noses at them…Ouch or amen!

--If we are gathering in His Name we have a biblical right to believe He is going to show up:

Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)
20  For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." 

--Jesus is very much pleased when we want to meet together and wait on His Presence to come. Learn to run to God’s House when there is adversity, not away from it.

3. Thomas did not show up because He did not understand what Jesus wanted to do for them.

John 20:19 (NLT)
19  That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 

--First of all Jesus wanted to show up and fill them with peace…they were afraid of the Jews…who or what are you afraid of in your life?

--Next, He wanted them to know for sure Who He was…the risen Son of God…feel My hands and My side. Third, He wanted them to know what God’s will for them was…As the Father sent Me…I am sending you!

--Fourth, He wanted them to receive Holy Spirit into their lives…He breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit…the Ruach…the Breath of God!

--Fifth, He gave them power to see people’s sins forgiven.

--Evan Roberts kept showing up day after day at church until a preacher (Seth Joshua) came to preach. Seth Joshua found it unusually hard to preach at that meeting because he felt such resistance and hardness of heart.

--At the conclusion of the service Joshua began to cry out over and over again…Bend us, bend us, bend us, O Lord! Bend us, bend us, bend us, O Lord! Bend us, bend us, bend us, O Lord!

--Many believe that these were the words that God used to start the Welsh Revival or at least, it was a marker for those who believed revival came at that time.

--A young lady who was in that service (Maggie Evans) stood and cried out in agony of soul begging God to forgive her as she repented. This is surely a sign of revival.

--A young man by the name of Evan Roberts rolled off of his pew into the aisle and lay there unconscious for a long time…when he awakened He was baptized in the Holy Spirit and was infused with power.

--He went to his principal of the school (Mr. Phillips) where he was attending and asked permission for a school meeting where he could share what happened to him. 

--Mr. Phillips thinking that it was only a passing fad granted young Evan his request…the rest is history…a revival broke out that shook a nation.

--All this happened because a young man was determined to be so hungry for God that he was going to keep showing up. 

--What about us…but pastor, others are not showing up…it is not about the number who show up as much as it has to do with the hearts of those who do!

The 1904–1905 Welsh Revival was the largest Christian revival in Wales during the 20th century. While by no means the best known of revivals, it was one of the most dramatic in terms of its effect on the population, and triggered revivals in several other countries. "The movement kept the churches of Wales filled for many years to come, seats being placed in the aisles in Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Swansea for twenty years or so, for example. Meanwhile, the Awakening swept the rest of Britain, Scandinavia, parts of Europe, North America, the mission fields of India and the Orient, Africa and Latin America."

--Lord, do it again!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Praying Circles Around Your Walls – 9

Praying Circles Around Your Walls – 9
Subject: A Cloud the Size of a Man’s Hand
by Rick Welborne

Joshua 6:1-5 (NKJV)
1  Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in.
2  And the LORD said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.
3  You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.
4  And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets.
5  It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him." 

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NKJV)
41  Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain."
42  So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
43  and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again."
44  Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' "
45  Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
46  Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

--In standardized math test Japanese children consistently score higher than their American counterparts. Are Japanese children truly that much smarter than American children?

--Researchers have found that it may have to do with effort more than with intellect. In one study, students were given a very difficult puzzle to solve. The researchers knew the kids could not solve the problem.

--They wanted to see how long each group would keep trying before they finally gave up. The American children lasted on average 9.47 while the Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes. 

--In other words, Japanese children tried about 40% longer. Is it any wonder that they score higher on math tests? They concluded it had to do less with their intelligence quotient and more on persistence quotient.

--What does this say…it says that whether it is math, athletics, music, or academics that there are no shortcuts. There are no substitutes. Success is a derivative of persistence. Strong consistent effort.

--More than a decade ago a study was done with musicians especially violinist. Three groups…world class violinist, good violinist, and those who would simply play professionally.

--In the study they found those who would become professionals logged about 4000 hours of practice time, good logged 8000 hours, and the world class logged over 10,000 hours.
--Of course, having natural ability dictates some of your potential but nothing can compare with someone who is willing to put in the time of persistent effort. 

--Persistence seems to be the magic bullet and ten thousand hours seem to be the magic number.

Neurologist Daniel Levitin – The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianist, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery. 

--Question…Is prayer any different? 

Batterson – It is a habit to be cultivated. It is a discipline to be developed. It is a skill to be practiced. And while I don’t want to reduce praying hard to time logged, if you want to achieve mastery, it might take ten thousand hours. This I know for sure: the bigger the dream the harder you will have to pray. 

1. We all face droughts in our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)
13  No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 

--Several centuries before the drought that Honi faced there was another drought in Israel. For three years there was no rain and no puddles for the kids to jump in.

--This is important to hear and understand…God promised Elijah that He would send rain but like every promise, Elijah still had to circle the promise in prayer. He had to have persistent prayer.

--After being a youth pastor for fourteen years and a lead pastor for 27 years I still get amazed at the problems people have in their lives…when I think there couldn’t be anything new or strange, there is.

--Being the youngest in my family gave me a unique perspective that maybe my siblings did not have…I could watch and learn from their mistakes and not repeat the insanity they did.

--Today we have opportunity over and over again to learn from others mistakes and failures and maybe even learn from our own mistakes but we keep repeating the same junk hoping for a different outcome. 

Proverbs 26:11 (NKJV)
11  As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly. 

--1 Cor. 10:13 gives us all a promise as we face these droughts in our lives…Paul tells us that many other people have been thru the same mess, and it is assumed that we understand, they survived.

--Paul also tells us that God will not test us beyond our ability or our strength to be able to survive the test. I know all of us have been at that point (including your pastor) when we felt like we passed that point days ago.

--Paul also says something that I find extremely powerful about God…He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. Again it is assuming we do not give up and that we keep praying.

--The most powerful thing that Paul shares with us is that God is faithful…say that with me…God is faithful! Again it assumes that as we trust God in the drought that God is faithful and will bring us out.

--As I was preparing this portion of the message God reminded me of His faithfulness to me and His promise to me. Eight years ago your pastor was going thru a drought. It was tough and tempting to just bail out.

--In the middle of that time three couples show up from Houston, Texas. They were assigned by their church to help them find a new pastor. The Superintendent from South Texas recommended me to them.

--They came to church to hear me preach and then we went to lunch. We talked for hours. They pretty much offered the church to us. I told them I could not give them an answer until I heard from God.

--God, is this your will to take me out of the drought I am in? I need to hear from You! While I am typing this the song is on Pandora “Thy will be done”. Lord, please speak to me.

--The couples left that afternoon waiting to hear what my answer would be…of course my heart was heavy and my head was spinning. What am I to do? Is it time to go?

--I am not sure why God can’t talk to us at 9:00am but at 3:00am the next morning God woke me up and said:

“I have ordained you to pastor Life Church Assembly of God and I have not changed My mind. If you will trust Me and remain faithful to Me, on the other side of this test (this drought) you will see growth and miracles like never before!”

--I said Yes, Lord, and called the church in Texas at 7:00am to let them know. The three couples had already been telling their people we were coming. They were just a little presumptuous. 

--Of course, I thought God would immediately turn my drought and the church’s drought into a deluge of God’s mercy and blessings. It didn’t happen that way. I had to keep circling God’s promises. Look at us now!

2. We all have to wait for the cloud to appear.

1 Kings 18:41-44 (NKJV)
41  Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain."
42  So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
43  and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again."
44  Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' "

--God had promised Elijah that He would send rain, but like every promise Elijah had to continue to circle the promise in prayer…he would find out that he would have to pray hard.

--Elijah climbs to the top of Mt. Carmel, fell on his face, and prayed for rain. Don’t miss this…God had promised to send rain but Elijah had to do his part and pray.
--I really do not care what camp you are in…pray and keep praying hard or pray once and then start praising God for the answer. Praising is just another part of praying. Elijah knew rain was coming but he kept praying.

Luke 11:9-13 (NLT)
9  “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
10  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
11  “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?
12  Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!
13  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” 

--The persistent widow kept coming to the judge repeatedly asking for justice…her persistence paid off. Six times Elijah told his servant to go and look for rain but there was no sign of rain.

--This is when most of us give up…nothing happening…I am done. Elijah was like Honi…I am not moving from this place until the rain comes. I believe Elijah would have prayed a thousand times.

--Something happened between the sixth and seventh prayer…something changed in the atmosphere…Elijah told his servant to go and look one more time. 

--The surprised servant said I see something rising from the sea…I see a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. That’s not much but when God is involved that is more than enough.

1 Kings 18:41-46 (NKJV)
44  Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' "
45  Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
46  Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

3. We cannot give up right before the miracle takes place.

--What if? What if Elijah had given up after the sixth prayer? Elijah would have forfeited the miracle that God wanted to send. You see, Elijah was not the only one who needed rain.

--We all need to keep praying…we need to pray hard…not just for us but for all those who will be impacted by our prayer. As we have kept praying here at Life Church, the growth and miracles are coming.

Luke 18:1 (NIV)
1  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 

Hudson Taylor – There are three great stages to every great work of God; first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done!


--Don’t stop praying…I see a cloud the size of a man’s hand and I hear the abundance of rain!