Beth Moore -The Present
I want to teach you, if you don't already know it, what a homograph is. A homograph is one of two or more words that are spelled alike but are different in meaning, or derivation, or pronunciation like to bow, this would be to bow. But if you could see Anna Beth, wherever she is right now my seven-year-old granddaughter, she has got a huge bow in her hair. They looked the same, but they are not said the same. And it may be, they may or may not sound alike, but they have the same spelling and different meaning. If I told you that you could tear a page out of your booklet and write on it, or that somebody might shed a tear this weekend, I would be using words that are spelled, that look exactly the same on the page, but they mean two different things and in these two cases, they are pronounced two different ways.
So, God put a word on my heart, this is where this all comes from. He began stirring up current circumstances and in this current season and with these current hurts, what in the world means the most to me right now? And so, I'm just sitting before him and I'm just taking all this down. I'm just thinking this through and kind of scratching my head. And I say out loud to him that, "You are present, your presence. At the end of it all, Lord, at the end of every situation and at the end of every day if I were to think, what is it that means more to me than anything in this world right now in this moment, it is that no matter who else is with me or not, my God is present". Anybody know what I'm talking about? Well, that word dropped in heart "present" I mean, just like, you know what I'm talking about. You'll know, you'll know, you'll know when you're under with the full conviction of the Scriptures, when you're feeling the power of the Holy Spirit. When you're in a church service and your pastor is bringing that word and I mean you're responding, you're responding, you're responding and suddenly a word hits you down in the bottom of your heart that nearly jars you in your chair, that's your word, girl. That's your word and that word "present" dropped on me.
And so, I wrote it down in my journal P-R-E-S-E-N-T, and I thought okay, what kind of present? And off we went. In English if you were to look up the word P-R-E-S-E-N-T, you would find four different words. I don't just mean four different meanings because you know how you can look up one word it's gonna have like 1 A-B-C-D, 2 A-B-C. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about four completely different times, entries that P-R-E-S-E-N-T shows up in your Miriam Websters and most of your Oxford College Dictionaries. Here are the forms of the word. There is present, meaning a gift. Then we have P-R-E-S-E-N-T that means the now. We are not in our past and we are not in our future, we are in our what, girls? We are in the present, in the present. Now, we have the same spelling, but this time we got the accent on the second syllable and it is present, and it means to give formally or officially. It means to give.
For the ESV the spelling of a word P-R-E-S-E-N-T turns up 160 times in the Scripture. Here's where it links to what we're doing because all four, all four of those entries are found in the Scriptures. And so, what I've decided to do so it won't be confusing is that I'm gonna give you a series of seven points that are gonna build on this connection this weekend and build around and circle around words that are spelled P-R-E-S-E-N-T this weekend in the Scriptures. But I've decided from the very top to give you point number one to make it very clear how all of it clicks together. So, this is gonna go up on the board, and I want you to hear it first. It says this, "God is present to present the perfect present for the present".
Here is what I hope to be able to prove to you. I don't just think this, I know this and I'm gonna show you this in the Scripture. I want you to understand with me that tomorrow when we get up, it will be a different present than right now's present. Right now we're present here, but we can't have this tomorrow morning. We will have now had a new present. But this I promise you, if you live to be 89, if you live to be 96, every single present, God has a present for you. I'mma be able to prove to you what it is at the very baseline. What he does above that, what he does as a result of that is up to God, but this I can tell you, every present has a present. Listen to me again, every here and now, what... listen, I'm saying whatever you are going through, and I'm gonna prove that to you in the Scripture that despite our circumstances, despite the difficulty of the season, you cannot live in any present where God would not have you any present. Oh, I need to say that to somebody else. There is no present you are ever going to live, you cannot exist in any present moment that there is not some kind of present God has for you in that present.
And so, I've never taught this before, I've never studied this before, but what I hope I'm going to begin to do, because I've been training myself now for the last week to think this way. I want to be able to think from this point on that whatever I'm going through at that moment, and God only knows what my future holds, but that every single one of those moments, every present I ever had, Lord, was my present here 'cause you have something for me here. You have a gift for me here and you have gifts that are coming from that gift to me here, Lord, and you know what? I want it, I want it because life is stinkin' hard. I want my present. I need to look at somebody that knows what I'm talking about. I said, life is stinkin' hard and I want my present! And the devil doesn't get to steal my present. He does not, he does not because God doesn't throw it to me like a football. God doesn't throw the present like a baseball. He takes his hand and he hands it to me and so it doesn't get to be stolen and highjacked. The only way it gets to be highjacked is if we're not standing there receiving it. Anybody know what I'm talking about? I want my present. Somebody say, "I want my present".
Okay, this is where we land in Genesis 32. This is the first time in the ESV that the word "present" is used and it is used as a gift. Now, let me give you a little bit of background here because this is Jacob's life here about to bounce in the middle of and Jacob, of course, has been a liar, and a cheater, and a thief, with his twin brother. He has stolen his blessing and his birthright and Esau, of course, let him do it right under his own nose. They have not seen each other in many years, around 20 at this point, and they are about to see one another because Jacob and his very large family are on the move going to a new place God is sending them and he has been told by some of his people, "Esau is on his way to you".
I want you to watch what happened here. I want you to pick up with me Genesis 32, verse 9, "And Jacob said, 'O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,' I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan.'" Now, that doesn't mean like his assistant and his... I mean, he was talking about like his staff in his hand. "And now I have become two camps". He says, "Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'"
Now, Jacob has done exactly the right thing. He finds out that he is about to meet up with someone that has every single ground possible to have something against him and to have vengeance against him, so he's done exactly the right thing. He has taken it immediately to God and this is a glorious thing. The psalmist does this over and over and you'll see many other servants of God do it. Moses does it. Jacob is going to remind God what he promised him, beautiful, beautiful. And he said, "You told me to go and you told me you were gonna be good to me". But then Jacob what is our tendency to do across the board when we don't do it it is because, honestly, we've let the Spirit of God and the Word of God so get to us that we are fighting our natural inclination. We're prone to do the same as him which is, "I have asked God "for this but I am going to have a backup plan in case God does not come through". Or this, "I'm gonna help God".
So, this is exactly what... look what he's done. He's brought it all. He's told him, "I'm scared of him. I'm frightened of him. I have the mothers of my children, my children with me". And here's where we are and so he brings us before the Lord who has promised him, "I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude". So verse 13, "So he stayed there that night..." There's just nothing like the night is there? Like in the day we're all like, "Jesus, come on now. You're gonna do it. Yeah, you're gonna do it". And then we get in the bed, something happens, something happens. We start flipping to this side and flipping to that side and kicking, and we have like restless limbs and all and we start all of a sudden thinking, what can we do here? What can we do? Because we are at the core of our human nature manipulators.
And so, how can we turn this? Because something about the darkness that befalls us at night here rise the doubts, and we start responding with how I can work the thing in case God doesn't work. "So he stayed there that night, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau". First time in ESV you would see the word P-R-E-S-E-N-T and it means gift. "For his brother Esau". Now please look, this is a present. I want you to look at this one present, talk about a Christmas stocking. Verse 14, "Two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, "two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milking camels..." You know, I just really, I stopped at that today because I thought, I never think of milk and camels. Camel milk, would you, you want your coffee black or...? Have you ever smelled a camel? I'll have my coffee black.
Okay, "Their calves, forty cows and ten bulls..." See, that's the thing that where Jacob is concerned, there's always bull, always. You're gonna find some bull. "Twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys". I did a little bit of math. That's 550 animals. Now, I'm gonna tell you something, if you've got a present for me, I do not want 550 animals. There's no world in which I want 550 animals. And it says, "These he handed over to his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants," I love this, "Pass on ahead of me and put a space between drove and drove". Talk about a presentation. So now, he's gonna send him first 'cause he's gonna need them to warm his brother up. So, go in droves where the presents, the gifts just keep on coming, just keep on coming. You got to love this guy. "He instructed the first, 'When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you? Then you shall say, They belong to your servant Jacob.'"
Notice how he's talking. You tell him when he says this, he's gonna ask you what are you doing coming through here? You're gonna say, "These belong to your servant, your servant Jacob". "They are a present sent to my lord Esau". I mean, is this some bull or what? That's the 11th bull right there. That's the 11th bull. It says then, "'And moreover, he is behind us. He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, 'You shall say the same thing to Esau when you find him, and you shall say, 'Moreover, your servant Jacob is behind us'. For he thought, 'I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.' So the present passed on ahead of him, and he himself stayed that night in the camp".
Isn't it interesting that we can do a whole lot of giving with a whole lot of selfish motive? And I wonder, now don't put this shoe on if it does not fit you. But I wonder if we're never prone to it more than when we know good and well we took something from somebody, and so we keep trying to give them something else. Anybody know what I'm talking about? That somehow we withheld something and now we're trying to make up for it by giving them something else. You ever given somebody a gift you didn't even like? That would be Jacob and Esau, whole lot of motives for giving presents. We don't always recognize something after a present right away. We're gonna study together how often it takes a while for that present to get unwrapped where we realize it really was a gift. How often have we been able to look on the other side of something, a very unwelcome gift, a very unexpected gift, but we come to a place where we realize it was a gift.
I gotta tell you something, I've gotta be careful the way I tell this because I don't want it to be really easy to figure out. This is the conundrum of every single public teacher is how you can be really, really personal in stories without giving away too much information. And I was in a situation a of couple months ago when I was introduced to somebody at a party that I never had seen face to face, and I didn't realize that I was going to meet them. I had no preparation for it. I just suddenly somebody said, "This is so and so," and I met this person and immediately, I realized who it was and it was someone who had done me some harm. Anybody know what I'm talking about? And it was such a moment and what was so strange about it that she knew, but I didn't know. So, she had already gotten herself ready for the awkwardness but I was completely caught off guard, completely caught off guard. And I could barely... I had a pair of sunglasses on and I never took them off because I was just like, I said, this is just exactly like God.
Honestly the whole time I chatted with her... see, we had to see each other as human beings with ups and downs, with, you know, some scars on us from getting hurt along the way, just being battered on planet earth, come face to face with somebody and suddenly maybe they are no monster at all. They're just a regular person trying to do their job even if you don't like their job. And the whole time I was sitting there and I thought, "This is just like you, just like you, just like you". Because he is a God that loves reconciliation and he will bring that thing around. He will bring that thing around. He will bring that thing around and cause us to come face to face with somebody we were just absolutely sure we knew how we felt about and suddenly maybe they aren't that bad after all. Maybe they're a regular person that has hurts just like we do, that has reason for doing what they did even if we don't think it was a good one. Maybe it's just like him to circle it all the way around so, why? So your heart and my heart can be made whole where that person is concerned, isn't that a gift? Isn't that a gift?
I laid in bed that night absolutely bug-eyed thinking, "You set me up". I felt like he wanted to go like, "Would you come if I'd have told you"? "No, you set me up". He did not set me up for failure, he set me up for healing. He set me up for healing. You come back around to that person, do not attack them. That's not what that meeting is about. That's not what coming back into contact with somebody from your past that you did not like, it is not an opportunity to say what you wanted to say way back then, what you have rehearsed over and over again. Thought, "If I ever get a chance, if I ever, ever get a chance to see them again, this is what I'm gonna say". No, it's not that time because if you belong to God, a full-circle moment is meant to bring us around to healing, to bring us around to victory. That's our chance to get it right, our chance to get it right, and we're gonna get it right and we're gonna sit back and be able to go, "That was a gift". You're not gonna believe what I'm gonna tell you but I'll be dad-blasted if she didn't become a friend. We don't bring it up. It's not like I want to talk about it and say, "Why did you do that"? This has all passed way, behold the new has come.
Made our first point, do you know what? I want to hear it because it is so foundational for everything. It says this number one, God is present to present the perfect present for the present. Number two is this: we can affect the direct deposit our present makes into our future. Our present is absolutely making a compulsory direct deposit into our future. That is a fact. What we can decide is that we want to do something positive to affect what kind of direct deposit goes from our present into our future, but I promise you based on the way the system is worked in the Word of God and how God made the natural laws of humanity and this world work with reaping and sowing.
I promise you that our present is making a direct deposit into our future, but I could decide how. I could decide that how could I cooperate in such a way that my present makes a really wonderful deposit, a direct deposit, so we're not having to write the check, it's already doing it. A month ago, that present was making a direct deposit in the future. Well, if you're thinking to yourself, "You know what? Does that mean I'm just like, I'm somehow given to faith". Nope, that's not what I'm talking about. In fact, God in his graciousness, his unfathomable sovereignty and in his wisdom and the way he set up the system where he determined that man would be able, of all the creatures, to make a choice and to be given a will to decide on the things of God or the things of this world.
The things that are good or the things that are evil, that's the way he set it up. Where we don't even have to be left in entirely to divine devices. That's how he did it because he wanted us also to come into cooperation through this thing he calls the human will. And he's going, "You can really have an impact on how this turns out". And how, according to our lesson, could we do that? What could we do in our present that would help affect a really good direct deposit into our future? Well, according to our theme here this weekend, what I'm suggesting to you is that whatever presents God has for us in our present we take him up on them. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Say it with me here. What if we learned: "Whatever, Lord, you're up to here, I want it," because if, in my present, I'll let Jesus do what he wants to do and bring the gifts into it, make it a gift to me, make milk that difficult time out of every drop of what it has good to give me.
I need to know if anybody is listening to me tonight. If I would cooperate with him and I would say, "I want everything this thing's got to give. Lord, whatever gift you brought me, you have only promised to do me good. So I'm asking you, you work this for good, you work this for good where I can look back on it years from now, Lord, in the season where I cried my eyes out that I'm able to look back on it and say, 'Even in the midst of all of that, those things were not good, but you know what? He gave me this gift, he gave me this gift.'" Three of you came together in this room. One of you who wrote me and two other friends, and one set of friends became friends out of a terrible, terrible loss. Nobody has to say that loss was a gift, but what we can say is, "Out of the worse time of my life, out of your grace, you had gifts for me".
That is how I could accept whatever it is he is willing to give because I gotta believe my God is good. He promises in his Word that he is and that he cannot do me wrong and he's got something to give me in this particular season, and I want it. I want it, I want it. If the enemy has done everything he can do to work evil, I promise you I want what my God has got to give me that is good. I want every good and perfect gift this season has to give me. That I want, that I want. And you know good and well I'm not talking about a prosperity gospel and tangible things. I'm talking about a prosperity of soul. I'm talking about what really does matter to us, not things that we can hold in our in our hands that we can pay for things with. I'm talking about the kinds of things that matter in here. What causes us to lay down and put our heads in peace on our pillow and have some kind of satisfaction and fulfillment in life.
I've been thinking all week long about gifts because this, of course, is our subject matter this weekend. And I was thinking about wonderful gifts I've gotten along the way, and I'm gonna tell you all about some of them as we go along, and I'm also gonna tell you about some other kinds of gifts I got. And I'm thinking about one particular birthday when Keith had a wrapped present for me and I couldn't wait to open it because he just had the oddest look on his face, and it was rectangular like this and it was pretty heavy, and I thought, "Man, there's something good in here". And he just kept acting so strange, and I thought, "Well, maybe he's just nervous about it and maybe he just really went out on a limb about it," and so I said, "Oh, I'm so anxious to open it". He goes, "Well, well," and he just acted so peculiar, and so I opened up the present and I could see it was a shoe box and I thought, "Wow, it's a pair of shoes".
And I was really impressed that he even knew what size to get me, I mean, does your husband know your shoe size? I mean, if he does, it's a beautiful thing, but I just couldn't imagine that Keith really knew mine, and not only that, but it was a big box, it was a wide box, it was, you know, a long box. And I opened it up and it was a pair of size 13 1/2 men's running shoes. And I looked over at him and I said, "What? Babe, what in the world is this"? He said, "Baby," he said, "I didn't know what you wanted, but I knew what I wanted". It's pathetic. That's what I got. God never doesn't know what you want. Never. Never. And what I want, Lord, when it comes right down to it, I want you to give me what I'm gonna want to have had for all of eternity instead of just right here. So, if I can't have them both, if it's not a want I can have here and that'll also matter in eternity, then God help me. God, have mercy on me. God, please hold me tight when it hurts, but I'm gonna tell you go with the glory. Go with the glory. Go with the glory.
And listen, every time, just so you know that I'm not all that brave when I pray it, almost every time you would ever see it in my journal, right after that I write: "Please have mercy". I don't want pain, I don't want pain any more than you do, but I do want some kingdom gain. Number three is this: Jesus is always present, that's our adjective meaning here, in our present. I know this is the obvious one and I wanna read you these words at the very end of the Gospel of Matthew: "And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you, to the end of the age.'" Jesus is always present in our present. Jesus gives to us in a way nobody else can give to us.
I was thinking of the portion of the Gospel of John where he says, "My peace, I give to you. My peace, I do not give to you as the world gives, my peace I give to you". You know something I prayed for many of us in this room this weekend? That you just get some peace over something that has been so tumultuous recently. Maybe it's just over the difficulty of your past, something with your parents, you're still so out of sorts with somebody who is dead and buried. Can anybody relate to what I'm saying? Wouldn't it be something if we just got some peace over it? Where we have struggled over this and struggled over this and try to worry. Some of you in this room, I've been here so many times, you are so worn out from trying to make something work, you do not have anything else to give. Or maybe you've just got some folks around you that are just honestly incarnate chaos. You have anybody like that? That as soon they're like a weed eater... I mean like a weeder, just, like, every time you hug them you just like get half your head cut off. Just like...
Do you have anybody in your life that you, like, are thinking, you can think very clear thoughts and then they start talking to you, and all of a sudden, like, you're going like, "What is my name? Where am I"? Anybody know what I'm talking about where just...? But I have a friend that calls them "scramblers". She goes, "Oh yeah, she's a scrambler," you know? I didn't say it, my friend said it. You know what kind of person I'm talking about where you can't even think straight? I mean, like you were thinking perfectly clear thoughts until they came up, now you cannot think of one thing. Not one thing. Not one clear thought. You had it all worked out and suddenly you don't know anything. You don't know your first name from your last name because they're a scrambler. Maybe you got a dozen of them, it's a dozen eggs, you just scramble them, scramble them. Listen, if, okay, if you were surrounded by scramblers, you probably are one, so anybody know what I'm talking about? You know what, that wasn't in my notes, I'm just gonna believe that was from God. Because, you know, if we've just surrounded, I mean, if no one's not a scrambler, then it's a whole family of scramblers. It's a whole church of scramblers. Peace. Peace.
Number four: Jesus is the preeminent present, and I do mean gift, if we'll fight to be present in his presence. How about that? That's a lot of presents. This is why I can tell you that in every present, God always has a present, always, always. It may be lots of things. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning," James says. Lots and lots of good gifts, but let me tell you there's a perfect gift, and his name is Jesus, and he is the present in every... I can have his presence, I can have his presence, I can have his presence. But let me tell you something, we will never regard it as the preeminent gift in that season, stay with me, if we refuse to be actually present in his presence. Anybody know what I'm talking about? Oh, he's the present all right.
Luke 11:13 says, "How much more would your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit," talking about the Holy Spirit of Christ, "to those who ask him"! But so often, when he's right there present with us, we are not present in our here and now with him, even in our disciplines. Have you ever had Bible study without God? I bet you have. Oh, I have too, when we just spent that whole hour in the Scriptures, any teachers that also have classes, any pastors, all of us, all of us have studied for hour, two, or three hours and we've done it all without God. It was like, "You know what"? And I'm not talking about being ungodly, I'm just talking about being kinda godless in the course of that lesson because you know what? We weren't present for the present. No, I had 10.000 things I was thinking about. We'll get up, and in our prayer time, our mind is all over here and all over here, we're telling God what all to fix and who all to fix and what all my mind's over here, we're just like appeasing him with the gift of our presence. And he's going, "No, no, the thing is, I really am I, like, with you".
Every now and then when I'm distracted in my quiet time in the morning, every now and then I'll just like look up from what I'm doing and I'll just sit there for a minute and I'll kinda look around the room and I'll think to myself, "No, see, he's present right here. I cannot see him with my eyes, I cannot hear him with my ears, but Jesus is right here". And I ask myself sometimes, "Beth, what would you say to him if he, like, showed up in the room"? Talk to him like that because we live by faith here and not by sight. So what about actually being present in his presence? What about not being all over the place, but actually just come and sitting down with him for a moment and just thinking, "My God is with me". Where you're aware that when you read his Word, that's the Holy Spirit breathe Word on the page. When I'm reading his Word in the morning, since he's speaking to me, I can speak back to him going like, "God, I'm hearing that word 'go.' I mean, am I where you want me right now or is there a go for me presently"? Talking because he's there, his presence, just sitting before him and going, "My God is with me".
Do you know that? Not just do you say it? Listen, what we believe is not evidenced by our words. We know how to say religious talk and Christianese. No, no, what we believe is lived out with the soles of our feet, with the palms of our hands, how we walk the thing out. I am asking you do you realize... no, I'm saying God is with you. We are losing in our day of social media. We've always got someone to talk to. We've always got someone on Facebook. We've always got something to read. We've got some Instagram pictures to see. I love all of it, I love all of it, I love all of it, but, like, Jesus is in the room with us. Anybody getting this with me? Like, we're losing the ability to actually meditate on the presence in the Word of God, that's what I'm talking about.
To actually practice his presence and just sit there and realize, "My God is with me. No, he really is here. No, he really is here. I'm just gonna, like, push back my chair and I'm just gonna stand to my feet and I'm just gonna say, 'I'm so thankful for your presence. Where would I be? What pit would have swallowed me by now? You, Jesus, you are everything to me.'" To be present, not just physically there, but present in it. How else would I know? We'll go, "He wasn't there for me"? No, I think sometimes he wants to say, "You know, actually it was you who weren't there. I'm here. I'm wondering right this minute where you are 'cause your body be sitting here, but your mouth, your heart to be present"? I wanna show you something that I found not long ago: a picture of me as a child. I'm gonna guess that I was right about five-years-old. I want you to see it.
Now, I'm an army brat, and I don't know if you notice those presents in the bottom of it... I had a big family. We just weren't of income to have piles of gifts, and you know, we couldn't have cared less, there was still shaking them, getting down in them, and counting how many. And it might have been three, it might've been four, it might've been five, and I mean, like, we got socks and stuff, and then my sister and I almost always got some kind of corresponding dolls. It's was meager, it was meager, but somehow, I look at that picture and something in my heart breaks. Not with sadness, but with love. I've looked at myself many, many times in the mirror as someone who had grown to be 5 feet, 5 inches tall. And I've thought to myself, "I hate that person". I don't know if you've ever struggled with self-hatred and self-loathing, but it was just overwhelming in my life. I just did so much to destroy myself and I just hated myself, and I could look in that mirror and just think, "I cannot imagine how you could love her"?
But I look at that picture and I think, "Oh, I can see how you love her". But you see, he already knew everything I was gonna do, and I wonder if you know that he sees you like that? It's not that he doesn't see you as a grown-up, but you know what I find hard about being a grown-up? Is that we just have to be so grown up. You know what I find so hard about both my parents being gone? Is that I am the parent. I'm the matriarch over a large family. It's like, "Whose lap do I crawl into? Whose baby am I? Who takes me in big, strong arms and says, 'I will always hold you and I will always keep you and you are precious and darling and delightful to me'"? And that is God. That is God. That is God. I just wept like a baby last week, just wept like a baby. Just whispered under my breath and in my heart: "Hold me. Hold me. Hold me". I could not feel his arms, I could not see his face, and I could not hear his voice, but I knew he did because he promised me he does. "And in my right hand I will hold you and nothing can snatch you out of your Father's hands".
Let me tell you something. Let me tell you how wild and wonderful the presence of God was to those who had had glimpses of his glory. Who had gotten as close to seeing manifestations of his presence of anybody that we see in Scripture. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12, I believe it's right at verse 4, he said that he heard things that cannot even be uttered. That he literally was in a vision, he said I don't know if it was in the body, I don't know if it was in spirit, but he was lifted up into what he called the third heaven, and what he calls, in that 4th verse, paradise. And he said he heard things that could not even be uttered.
I thought, "Listen, he doesn't even get into what he saw, he's just talking about what he heard". "I can't even put it into words for you," he says. The most impressive place in the Old Testament is in Exodus chapter 33 where God has already promised the children of Israel that, "you will go to the Promised Land". You will have an angel to protect you. You will go into it and you will have milk and honey. It is the land of promise, and I will keep my covenant to you, but you go on ahead, I'm not going with you. And so, Moses says in Exodus 33, "If your presence does not go with us, don't even send us. I'd rather we rot out here in the wilderness. Give me the thorns and the thistles, give me the brush, give me the desert floor. I would rather be right out here in the desert and have your presence than go anywhere into any land of promise and have all your promises fulfilled, but I don't have you". These are people who had gotten a glimpse of what it was like to really, really know him.
Now, I want you to see 2 Corinthians with me, a very familiar verse to many of you, perhaps. I want to read verse 17. It says this, "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Sprit of the Lord is, there is," somebody tell me. "There is freedom, or liberty, depending upon your translation. And we all with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit". Now, even though this is obvious in the text, the whole idea of his presence, I want you to see it in this particular translation, the New English Translation. It's a beautiful translation, I'm gonna bring it up on the screen, so that you can see it with me. What I want you to do is read it really loud. Give it some earnest volume and feel it sink down into your lungs. Read this with me. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom". It says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is," what? Say it again. And there's gonna be what? There's gonna be freedom.
Now, I wanna take you here for just a moment, because I want you to think about the fact that freedom is going to begin by being with him in the Spirit in our very own prayer closets. I wanna talk practicalities with you, because here's the thing. Any teacher is gonna say this, any big sister you have in the faith, or big brother in the faith is gonna say this to you. I want this to come to practical living for you, so that you know that the life of faith really does work. We won't just be cheery all the time, we won't just be, like, happy every minute, having fun every second, but the life of faith really does work. It does work and has satisfaction to it. It has meaning to it. We will live out the purpose for which we've been put on the planet. And we are meant to be victorious. We are not told that our lives will be easy, but we are told we are more than overcomers.
Are you living the reality of more than overcomers? If we're sticking around in our addiction, year, after year, after year, doing all our talking about all Jesus can do, but we got all our addictions going, we got all the splattered relationships one life can manage all over the place, we've got all sorts of hatred in our hearts, bitterness, and unforgiveness, and we're just gonna talk about all God has done for us, you know what I'm saying to you? It's gotta happen in the closet, or it's not gonna happen out in the crowd. If we don't begin to get some freedom in the prayer closet, by that I mean in your own intimate relationship with God, how in the world... see, we're not getting any freedom here, but we think we're gonna go out here and we're gonna live in our freedom, we're gonna be free from our addiction. No, that brokenness of addiction, that brokenness of the bondage of bitterness and unforgiveness, it's happening here. It's happening here. It's happening here. This is where we get our freedom.
See, you know how much freedom you're living in, in prayer, if you don't even feel like you can bring some of these things to dialogue with God. Do you talk to him, do I talk to him about our bitterness, about our unforgiveness, about our sexual dysfunction? Are these things we literally bring up to him in the place of prayer? And we wonder why we can't get any freedom out here. We're not even bringing it up here. But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We got him all to ourself in that prayer closet. This is where it's got to happen. This is where we begin to claim the promises of God and say, "Lord, you called me more than an overcomer, have you seen me lately? Where is the gap, Father, between my theology and my reality? I need you to build up my faith. I need you to break these chains off of me". I'm asking you do you strut more in your spiritual life out in the crowd, or is it happening here in the prayer closet? This is where you better do some stomping in the Spirit. Oh, I'm gonna wait 'til somebody agrees with that. Because I promise you it's not happening out here if it did not happen in here.
Some people say, "Well, you know what? There are people that really are called to prayer". Girlfriend, that would be you. I say to some of our brothers quit looking to your wife to pray over your home. Quit looking to her when you're saying, "I take care of everything else," bull. You take responsibility, you take responsibility in prayer. Don't just get up there and shave while she's in there praying, you be the one to pray over your family. You be the one to get in the prayer closet. That's what we've got to do. We can't leave it up to other people. We are not any stronger out in the crowd than we are right there in the closet of prayer. That's where freedom takes place. That's where freedom takes place, right here, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Would all of you turn with me... that was a lot, wasn't it? That was a lot. Well, I'm just gonna let that one sit. If that was offensive, forgive me and deal.
Okay, Psalm 46, go to verse 1. Psalm 46 verse 1, we are looking at verses that speak either outrightly or by inference to the presence of God or the presence of the Son of God in the New Testament. I want you to look here, because this is gonna be somebody's word. This is gonna be somebody's gift today out of Psalm 46 verse 1. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High God. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when the morning dawns". A gorgeous psalm. But did you hear verse 1? Are your ears up and alert for anything in this session that infers our outrightly says the presence?
Notice this, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble". Somebody say, "I said very present". It doesn't say he is a present help in times of trouble. It does not say that. He is a very present help. There is the present, there is his presence, and then there is, like, very present. Anybody know the difference between when God, like, I always know God is present but sometimes he's very present. Oh, give it to me one more time. I always know God is present but sometimes he's very present. oh, he is very present, and he has promised, listen, when there is trouble in your life, I'm not just present, I am very present. Get your V on there. Honestly, get up in the morning, if you're going through a season of trouble, I've been going through a season of trouble, and so I'm not just looking for him to be present, you promised me you'd be very present, very present. I'm right there. I'm waiting for you, 'cause I'm praying, and I'm knowing you are not just present with me, you are very present. You are very present. You are my very present help in trouble. Jesus is not just present in our troubles, he is very present.
Oh, somebody get some freedom today. Alright, I wanna show you, I'm turning you to 1 Samuel chapter 1, because I'm gonna show you another form of the Hebrew word that I'm about to show you on the screen. This is the word for trouble back in Psalm 46 verse 1 when it says that God is our refuge and strength, that very present help in trouble. It's a feminine noun meaning trouble, distress, anguish. It refers to a situation or a time of extreme discomfort, and affliction for many different reasons. Does that hit with anybody? Anybody just had some trouble lately? How about some discomfort or affliction for really any and many reasons, anybody, anybody? Do you know how often, since that is such a definition of most of our lives, do you know how often he promises I'm gonna be very present? It's like with my life, he went, like, "Beth, there's only gonna be a few days I'm not very present, because you know what? You are a woman born for trouble," anybody, anybody? Very, very present help in trouble.
Okay, look now up on the board and let me show you this in the second part of the definition. A feminine noun meaning a rival. It refers to a person who is threatening or a source of despair for several reasons. Is that already bothering somebody? But listen, you understand this because you're thinking of her or him right now. Trouble is not always just a circumstance, it can be a person, anybody? Do you have anybody in your life that just could be capital T-R-O-U-B-L-E? Like, they are the epitome of you are trouble, you are trouble. And it's talking about, in this particular context, it's a form of that same Hebrew word, and it's saying this, 1 Samuel 1:6. This is talking about Hannah, and it says, "And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her". "Her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her".
Anybody have somebody that just constantly competes with you? Won't it just drive you crazy? Just drives you crazy. Who is it that just, like, threatens you, constantly? That you just, like, I mean, like, when you walk in a room and they're there, it's like, "Oh, there they are". The rival, who are you picturing right now? Who would it be? Might be a woman, it might be a man, but that thing that brings that anguish up in you, that need somehow to compete, and that need to win.
I gotta tell you all a little story. Just here lately, I've been having so much pain in my shoulder and down my back and kind of in my neck, and one of my thorns in the flesh is that I deal, and have dealt with for a number of years, chronic physical pain. Anybody else in the room? Because I can really, really relate with you there. That's just kind of my thing, and God has blessed me in so many ways, but we all have a thorn in the flesh, and until he removes it, this is one of the things I deal with. And it's kind of widespread, because it's related to my actual skeleton, so it only hurts where I have a bone. And so, you know, that's not too bad, that's not too bad, so it's just really local, but I went, and I thought, "Man, but this does not feel like the rest of it".
And so, I finally had some tests done, well, I have a high-grade tear in this rotator cuff right here. And so, the tear is just a little bit more, and I'm gonna have to have surgery, and I don't wanna do that. So, I'm doing everything they've told me to do. So, I have to go to physical therapy. Now, how many of you have been to physical therapy for any reason? You can be in high school and go to physical therapy for a sports injury. Whatever it may be, for ballet, for crying out loud. Many of us have been. Well, I've never been. I've never been. I drive my body like you drive a Mack truck. I just, like, drive it. I just drive it. Like, I try not to notice, just go, just go, just go 'til something stops me. So, here I find myself in physical therapy, and the room is full, people are working out all over the room. Well, all of a sudden, I start watching everybody else, and I start wondering, "Can I do that exercise right there"?
And I start, in my mind, and I'm turning, right now I've got my arm on this thing that looks like, you know, a bicycle pedal, I'm doing my arms like this, and I realize that I am trying... I was told how many minutes to do it. Well, they had not come for me, so I kept doing it, and I did it faster, and I did it faster, and I did it faster. And then I watched other people's exercises, and one of 'em was having to stand with one foot up like this, and throw a ball, and remain balanced. Well, I got up, and I thought, "Can I stand like that and can I throw a ball"? You know, and it was so ridiculous, because I wondered if I could do it as well as they were doing it, or, better yet, could I do it better? Anybody know what I'm talking about? Just admit to me, just admit to me that there are times that you compete in a situation that is so incredibly ridiculous.
And I said to myself, "Beth, look in the mirror. You are competing with injured people. What is wrong with you"? I mean, that is sick, it is sick. I just wanna say to you, you know what, when we're out there and we're competing with folks, we're competing with... somebody in here is a really great blogger, and you're all competing with how many blog hits you can get, how good your particular post is going to be, all this competition. You're a great singer, and, like, you're competing with somebody on your team, there's just constant competition, constant competition. What if you just dropped out of the competition? What if you just went, "You know what, I'm not competing, you go ahead"? Because, and you may say, "But she's driving me crazy".
Listen, it's because she's an injured person. You're competing with an injured person. We're all flawed, none of us have got this thing totally together, and we're all walking on feet of clay, and we're this miraculous combination of spirit and dust, just dust of the earth stuck around a soul. This gift of heaven in this product of planet earth. This is 4.800 injured people in this room in one way or another. Let's stop competing with the injured. Even if they don't drop out of the competition, you drop out, anybody? You drop out of it. You don't compete, you just tell yourself, "I'm not doing it. I'm not doing it".
Let me tell you something, God is gonna be so faithful to you. Listen, God is so sweet. I think constantly, ladies, I want somebody to hear this. Yes, God is sovereign, and mighty, and holy, he is Lord and Master, Creator of heaven and earth, but in my personal relationship, what has moved me at times, to my face, is that he is also just incredibly sweet. That he will do something for us that he knows means something to us at the exact time we need it, just so that we will know that he's on to our pain, on to where we feel most insecure and feel most battered and bruised. It's the craziest thing. I tweeted something yesterday that had just stopped me in my tracks as I was considering how good God was being with just little things, and I said these words, and I wonder if this lands with somebody. "Odd how harsh times recalibrate our gratitude. Small gifts are trashed to spoiled brats, but to the poor in spirit, every trinket is solid gold".
Anybody know what I'm talking about? You know, when you're hurting, when we go back to being poor in spirit, and we do, don't we, don't we? Over and over again, don't we? Well, all of us are just one big crisis away from our next revival. I always think to myself, "I'm just gonna go ahead and have one, so I don't have to wait for a crisis, just, Lord, I wanna go ahead and have one". Somebody sent me, I said that on Twitter, and somebody wrote me back and said this, and I thought it was so profound. Proverbs 27:7 says this, "One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry, everything bitter is sweet".
Something happened after that that just left me in tears. A woman tweeted me these words, and please understand this, I wanna tell you something. God so timed this, I was so bloody, and battered, and bruised when this came to me that you cannot imagine, you cannot imagine. And I want you to hear what she tweeted to me. These are her words, "My sweet 83-year-old mom has Alzheimer's. Asked her the other day who loves her, she answered out of nowhere, 'Beth Moore.'" Who does that? What God does that? What God knows? I don't even get on there all the time. He knew to have it right there. He knew exactly what I was feeling. He knew, in ways I cannot describe to you, why that would mean something to me, exactly what I was going through, exactly why I felt battered and bruised, exactly why I felt like I had been turned on by some people that I loved and felt that I took up for.
Anybody know what I'm talking about? How does the God of heaven and earth running the universe know to make one woman, would you just post that right there and tell her? What would make him decide when that woman, 83 years old, could not remember any other names that she came up with mine, for crying out loud? I don't even know that we've had a connection. What in the world was that? That is the sweetness of God, and that is a God who says, "Listen, when you have trouble, I'm not just present," somebody say it. I am very present. Now, I don't wanna miss the present of his very presence. Psalm 34:18 says this, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit". You and I are talking about the presence of God becoming a present to us. That that becomes the greatest gift. That something really happens when we realize that Christ himself is the present.
You and I are talkin' about the presence of God becomin' a present to us, that that becomes the greatest gift that somethin' really happens when we realize that Christ himself is the present. I mean, there are all sorts of things he can give us. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of lights". That's what James tells us. There are gifts all over the Word. He tells us that he poured out the Spirit on us as the gift, and it is a gift that he is a gift that keeps on giving to us through the very presence of Christ, not only around us, but in our very person. He himself is the present, and when we're brokenhearted, when we're crushed in Spirit, says he is near. He is near. I want you to hear what that word "brokenhearted" comes from in the Greek. I love this.
I was reading Ann Voskamp's new book yesterday, a little portion of it, and she says these words, and I felt like it was so powerful. "There is a strange and aching happiness only the hurting know, for they shall be held". It's kind of this trade-off sometimes when you've gone through a really intense time of hurting or pain or betrayal, whatever, it might've ushered in the brokenness because you've known such a closeness with God, and he's been to you like your skin, wrapped around you. If you were willing and if I had been willing to be present in his presence, that's what he will always be to us. But then, you start comin' out of that, and it's not quite the same thing. Yes, he's present, yes, he's there, but Jesus reserves the right to show favor to the suffering. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted". That's what the Word of God says.
I want you to see the definition in the Hebrew of the word that translates "brokenhearted". It's a verb that means "to break, to burst, to break in pieces, to break down, to break up, to smash, to shatter, to bring to birth". I will come back to that in just a moment. "The word is most often used to express bursting or breaking". How about that? To me, that's the essence of wholeness, that I just bring all the pieces of my broken life and my broken heart, right in front of him, and just present it to him that. Did you notice that part that says, "to bring to birth"? What in the world is that? This is why I love to look into original languages because why in the world would giving birth have anything to do with the word "brokenness"? I want you to hear Isaiah 66:9. Says this, and it uses a form of that same word. This is God talking: "'Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?' says the Lord. "Shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?' says God".
Now, listen carefully to what that's saying, that with a birthing - I wanna talk to you right now in metaphorical terms, so stay with me here just a second - that there is a process of a breaking and a bursting forth in order to birth something or someone. Is that fair to say? How many of you in this room have actually, like, given birth in labor? And, I mean, you know what I'm talkin' about here. There has never been a baby born on this earth whose mother's water did not break. I'll go so far as to say without being more graphic than this... forgive me, you who are expecting your first child. Just go with me here for a moment. I might also say it's not the only thing that breaks. You feel like everything from your head to your toes is going to break, but do you realize that what the Word of God is saying, I'm just putting this together in this metaphor. What if this time of brokenness is so that you can birth something that never would have come to you otherwise, never, never?
Now, listen to me. I want somebody to get this with me because I have a background of childhood sexual abuse, early childhood molestation, and I wanna say, to some of you, I'm not glad that I did. Nothing about it was good. I am not thankful for that particular abuse. I don't think that's what God is asking me to be, but I will tell you what I am thankful for. That brokenness birthed a ministry, and I am not kidding. I am not kidding. I cannot tell you how often your calling and so much of the fulfillment of your destiny will come, your passion will so often be born out of your pain, out of what you were missing and you went to find what you were searching for, what had broken you, what had made life hard for you, and then God comes through for you, shows you the way, and, suddenly, girlfriend, you have birthed a ministry. You have birthed your calling because you went through the brokenness until somethin' was born. Oh, I'm just gon' wait for somebody to get it. Do you see?
There's nothing that can break you that God cannot birth something from. The breaking, if you are a child of God, does not get to destroy you. Nothing has the right to destroy you. Brokenness, for the life of the believer and for the life of faith, it's to bring forth a birth. Anybody, anybody, what's he trying to birth in you? Some presents are wrapped in mystery. Others are presented with sublime presentations. I wanna ask you a question. Why do we wrap presents? Why do we? Why exactly? Because, if you're like me, and you have holidays coming up, and you know that you are the family wrapper, and, oh, that I meant R-A-P-P-E-R, you know what it's like to labor over the presents. And when I was growing up, some of our presents were just set out by my parents, like, if there was a doll or something, it might often not have been wrapped. I wasn't used to wrapping every... no, my husband has wrapped every little thing. Why? So it will go on longer because there's something about the unwrapping that prolongs the suspense that makes the gift even sweeter. We wrap it so that we can sweeten the experience of opening it, untying the bow, taking off the ribbon, taking the lid off the box.
That is so often how the gifts of God work, so often shrouded in mystery. That's the way God's greatest gift to planet Earth began, that, literally, its box was this obscure stable, that present, the baby Jesus was literally, his present, the four walls of his present, this was a stable right here, a stable. The bow over it was the moon. There was no other bow. The ribbons were shadows and darkness over that night, all obscurity, all mystery, but make no mistake, there came a presentation. I want you to turn with me to Luke chapter 2, please. The Christ child has been born. Luke's gospel is the one that has the primary narrative, the most detail about the coming of God in the flesh, and then Matthew's gospel, as well, with the magi that bring the gifts to the Christ child, but I want you to notice something here that moves me every time I see it, and when I was looking up words for... that were forms of our primary or P-R-E-S-E-N-T, I came upon this verse, and it moved me again, Luke 2:22, "And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him", this is Mary and Joseph, "up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord' and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of Moses, 'a pair of turtledoves, or two pigeons.'" And it talks about Simeon being there, who was just waiting, who God had allowed to live until he would see the coming of the Christ child.
Now, stay with me here and see if this means anything to you because, for centuries and centuries, the firstborn males in a family had been brought on pilgrimage by their parents, brought to the temple as long as there was a standing temple, brought to the temple and literally presented, held up, before the Lord, precious to him, precious to God. He had said, way back in the Old Testament law, "The firstborn son belongs to me," and this just meant you were consecrating this child to him. So all these babies had just been held up. Parents had brought a sacrifice, and that they held this precious child up for the blessing. I want you to try to get this with me. All these babies, God never missed a one of 'em. They were doing exactly what they had been commanded to do, only this particular day, this particular day, if you wanna know the first time God walks inside the temple in the New Testament era, you'll see it later in the gospels, but this was the time he was carried as an infant. Mary and Joseph come to present their firstborn son to the Lord, only this time, they are holding up the Son of God.
I want you to try to imagine what is going on in heaven. I've got chills all over my arms thinkin' about it. What is going on in heaven after all of these baby boys had been held out before the Lord and blessed by the Lord? This one belongs to him. This is his baby boy. This is his one and only Son. Can you imagine what went on in the heavenlies when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "You shall name him Jesus, for he will save people from their sins" - this is the baby held up, precious, precious to him? Might've been obscurity to everybody else but Simeon and Anna in that temple court that day, but there was a presentation in the heavenlies we cannot even imagine. Here's what I want you to understand about the word "present". Remember, when we first began our lesson together, that the idea of presenting something is more than just giving something to someone. There is meant to be a formal presentation of sorts.
Now, you do this even when you go to lunch with somebody for their birthday when you set a present on the table for them to open, and you sit there and grin because you know you got them your favorite thing, and you're hoping that they will like it, too. I don't know anything else to do. "I liked it. I hope you do too". That's what we do. But that's a presentation when you've gone to the trouble to put wrapping around it or to put it in a beautiful bag and put the tissue in it and tie the bow. That's a presentation. So keep in mind with me, it's not just handing somebody something. It's presenting it to them, presenting it to them. And here we see it in Acts 1. This is after he has been raised from the dead. It says, In the first book, O Theophilus, "I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking about the kingdom of God".
"He presented himself alive". Every single place where he showed up, when they were locked up in that room toward the very end of the gospel of John, and, I mean, he just, like, shows up there. Oh, he's not just, like, goin' in there. He's makin' a presentation. He is presenting himself a lot. When they see him on the shore and he asks out to the fishermen in that boat, "Hey, did you guys catch any fish"? "No, we really didn't". "And, well, why don't you try over there on the other side of the boat"? Well, they've been up at it all night, but he says, "Why don't you try over there"? Well, they can't even drag in the number of fish. It's so heavy, and they realize, "It is the Lord". Oh, he didn't mean for that to just be "Let's just, like, meet," "Oh, that's an accidental meet-up," oh, no, no. He schedules his presentations. If he has ever disclosed himself to you and I've never seen him, like, with my physical eyes. He's never, like, just, manifest himself in that way in front of me, but I'm gonna tell you this: He's made himself so clear at times, and I like to know in my heart, "Oh, that one kept just showin' up".
That was a presentation, presenting himself. It says in Mark 5, verse 37, this is Jesus. He's been called in because a little girl is dying, and because he stops because a woman has grabbed onto the hem of his garment and been healed, he tarries a little bit, and now the girl has died. And so he's told, "You don't even need to come now". Well, he comes anyway, and it says in verse 37, "Jesus allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John. They came to the house of the synagogue, a ruler, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And then he entered, and he said, 'Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but sleeping.' Well, they laughed at him. And he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, the three..". Who were they? "Those with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand, he said to her, 'Talitha cumi,' which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, arise.' And immediately the girl got up and began walking, for she was 12 years of age, and they were immediately overcome with amazement".
Keep that in mind. By this time, the Lord Jesus has died. He's been raised again, and right before their very eyes after he had appeared to them over a period of 40 days, ascends right in their sight from the Mount of Olives into the heavenlies, where we know, according to the Scriptures, he sat down at the right hand of God, where he ever lives to make intercession for us. Now, this is Peter. Peter is called in because there is a woman who has done a powerful ministry in a city called Joppa, and she is sick unto death and then dies. "Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, and they had laid her up in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, "Please come without delay".
Now, do you see the faith? Because this woman is dead. "So Peter rose and went with them, and when he arrived, they took him to the Upper Room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out". Is anything looking familiar here at all? I want you to watch what this man does because he knows good and well that he does not have it in him to raise the dead. What he's gotta reach back to is "Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second, what did Jesus do? What exactly did Jesus do"? What you're gonna see here is him imitating, as clearly as he knew how to do, he is going to imitate what he saw Jesus do. Do you realize, when Jesus went in to that child and said, "Talitha cumi," he took in Peter, James, and John. Do you wonder if he glanced over at Peter, ever, one single time in that whole scene and thought, "Remember this, dude"? "But Peter put them all outside, and he knelt down, and he prayed, then turning to the body, he turned away from the dead," and it says, "he knelt down, and he prayed".
What do you think he's prayin'? I mean, I think he's relivin' that whole thing in his mind. "Okay, now, Lord, okay, what is it you did? What is it you did? 'Cause you gotta do it again. You gotta do it again. If you're gonna do it, it's got to be you. You gotta do it again. What exactly did you do"? Turns away, kneels and prays, gets up, turns back to this dead body, and he says, "Tabitha, arise". Did you notice that Jesus used the word "Talitha"? One letter difference. One letter difference. "Tabitha" is a proper name for this woman. "Talitha" means "little girl". "Tabitha, arise". And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Don't you know, she didn't like, "Who are you"? "What're you doing here"? She opened her eyes.
One of my commentators said, I think I've got it down here, word for word. Dr. Craig Keener's commentary on Acts says, "That she opens her eyes first might be a reversal of the first act of preparations for burial, closing the eyes of the deceased". In other words, the first thing they would've done as a preparation for burial, when they realized that she was dead, was that they closed her eyes. So we say, perhaps this was a reversal, that the very first thing that she did was "boo," those eyes opened right up. And it says, "He gave her his hand," just like Jesus did, "and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive". Da-da-da-da, presented, "I present to you Tabitha, alive and well, and eyes wide open". "And many believed in the Lord and praised his name".
I gotta tell ya somethin'. Have you ever wondered if you're vaguely presentable? I don't know if you have a past like mine that just makes ya feel like you could never be presentable, or maybe you just feel small, you know? It's not that you have been in such a ditch. It's just that you feel small and unable and incapable. For whatever reason, do you feel presentable? Maybe there's something about your physical self that just doesn't seem very presentable. I want you to understand something. If you are in Christ Jesus, I need somebody listening to this with me. If you are in Christ Jesus, as surely as Christ raised that child from the dead and then through Peter raised that woman from the dead, listen carefully somebody, you have been raised from the dead. You have been raised from the dead. These stone-cold dead, the Word of God says we were dead in our sins. Understand this with me. We were fodder for worms. We were corrupt, coldhearted. Our rigor mortis was the paralysis of our own hopeless condition. Can anybody, can anybody relate with what I'm saying? Darkness closed in around us like a coffin, and the voice of Jesus says, "Little girl, arise. Little girl, arise". Now, he's not gon' make us open our eyes, but for those who open our eyes and take him by the hand and get up, we have been born anew. That's what we've been. We've been born anew.
Now, listen to me, listen to me, listen to me. We just live on, like the most important thing in our lives is remodeling our kitchen, and we have been raised from the stinkin' dead. When was the last time you testified to somebody? "I was stone-cold dead in my sins, and Jesus Christ raised me from the dead". We keep acting like we've been overlooked, and we've been raised from the dead. We keep actin' like we got nothing to shake a leg about, and we've been raised from the dead. We keep actin' like we're hopeless, and all the while, you and I, in Christ, have been raised from the dead. We keep actin' like we're nothin' special when we've been raised from the dead, actin' like miracles don't happen any longer when there's one in our bathroom mirror, wearing our underwear. There's a miracle wearing your underwear. Do you understand what I'm saying? Actin' like the worst thing that could ever happen to us is to die. We've already done it. We lived through that one. All we got comin' is the death that awakens us to forever life. We have not had a near-death experience. We were as dead as a duffle bag. I need somebody to hear what I'm sayin' to 'em today, "dead as a duffle bag".