Creflo Dollar - Don't Be Afraid of Pressure - Part 2
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We've been talking about maturity through suffering. And sometimes it's the things that we go through that help to shape us and to mold us so we can be prepared to do the assignment that God has for us down the line. How many of you have ever been through some stuff? And if you didn't raise your hand, I'll cast that lying demon out of you in just a moment. But I tell you what. I've never gone through something where I didn't have an opportunity to see how it matured me down the road. 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 6 through 7 in the NLT. That's our text for this, and I want you to listen to this. Don't be afraid of trouble. Don't be afraid of persecution.
Verse 6 and 7 says, "So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while". Says there's wonderful joy ahead, even though you may have to endure many trials for a little while. And the key here is endurance. God will equip us to outlast our trouble, if you don't give up, cave in, and quit. Now, quitting is easy, but if you quit, you're gonna never know what could've happened. You will never know what would've happened down the road. Verse 7 says, "These trials will show that your faith is genuine". The trial of your faith is not to test to see if you have faith or not to test to see if your faith is sufficient, but the trial of your faith is to move all of the self-dependence out of your life.
To many of us, we depend on ourselves, and God wants you to depend on him. Too much of you depending on you, you forget all about him, but there's some things that will happen in your life that you won't have the answer for, and that's why I depend on God. He said, "These trials will show that your faith is genuine". How genuine is your faith? We'll find out when you go through a trial. You know, church folks like to talk and say, you know, churchy stuff and real spiritual things; but when the trouble comes, when the persecution comes, then we're gonna find out if your faith was real. Was it genuine faith? "It is being tested, as fires test and purifies gold. Though your faith is far more precious than mere gold, so when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world".
So, don't be afraid of trouble. Don't be afraid of it. I know it sounds weird about the joy that's ahead of you. I know it sounds weird when the Apostle Paul says that, you know, when I'm weak, I'm strong. I know it sounds weird when the Bible tells you, "They that live godly shall suffer persecution". So, if you plan on living godly, you're going to suffer persecution. And nothing great is ever accomplished and done without going through something. And some of you can't even handle somebody talking about you on Twitter. Amen. But God's preparing a people. God's preparing a church. God's preparing callings and anointings to do things that you didn't even know you could do.
Some of you are going to begin to walk in anointings you didn't even know you had. I said this last week, and I'll begin... somebody said I already stopped, you started. No, I'm just weighing you out to see where you are this morning. God is preparing and maturing us to function in the capacity and the anointing that we were created for. God is preparing and maturing us. See, God knows the thing that he has for you. God knows the plan that he has for you. But you have to mature into that plan. You have to mature into that anointing. You have to mature into that calling. And part of this maturity is you're gonna mature enough where you're not walking in unforgiveness. You're gonna mature enough where, you know, you're not holding things against people, that you're treating people right, that you're not acting wicked. You're gonna mature enough that you're not gonna hop into bed with somebody you ain't got no business being in the bed with. We done already put a name on your bed. You should be able to find it.
Mature people know where they're supposed to lay their head. But a lot of things we see amongst Christian people, the issue, the real issue is immaturity, immaturity in the body of Christ, sitting back in self-righteousness and judging other people when you're just one step away from hell yourself, if it were not for Jesus, but immaturity sits back and they judge people. Immaturity gossips about people. Immaturity wants to always, you know, slander people. Immaturity lies. Immaturity, they do all of those things. Immaturity and the flesh, they go hand in hand. And God's saying, "I need you to mature. There are things I need you to understand, but I can't give it to you until you mature. There are things I want you to operate in, I can't give it to you until you mature. There's an assignment I have ready for you. I can't even call you to it until you mature".
And that's what I've seen most of the time is... it's not people are bad people. They're just immature. Someone hurts you, it's only because they've been hurt. Someone treats you mean, that's how they treat themselves. And we've gotta grow up from that. We've got to mature from that. "Well, I don't need Jesus no more". That's an immature child talking. God ain't even paying you no attention. You'll grow up one day, and you'll realize that was foolish talking. It's time to put away childish things, amen? And so when we examine this area of maturity and why we're talking about this. Spiritual maturity is achieved through becoming more like Jesus Christ. We've gotta find out what he's like. It's achieved when you become more like Jesus Christ. And after salvation, every Christian begins the process of spiritual growth with the intent to become spiritually mature.
Now, I want you to look at something real quick before I start. Philippians chapter 3, verse 12 through 14. I want to read this out of the New King... let's go with the NLT first. This is the Apostle Paul talking, and Paul understood how important it was to mature, but yet he knew it was a process, and I want you to understand that this is a process. I'm not asking you to become totally spiritually mature today. I am saying get on the path. Start the process. Some of you may ask, "Well, how long is the process gonna take"? Well, until Jesus comes. We should be finding some area of our lives that we need to mature in until Jesus comes.
Now look at this, verse 12. He says, "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection or maturity," perfection, not flawlessness but perfection, maturity. He says, "I'm not saying that I've already reached this place of maturity, but I press on to possess that perfection, that maturity for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing". Now notice what it says. He says, "Absolutely not. I have not achieved this level of maturity that God wants for me", but he says, "I am focused on this thing. I'm focused on this". And he says, "Now, here's one thing that I'm focused on". This is important. "Forgetting the past". Wow. Stop right there. "Forgetting the past".
You know, your past can be one of the greatest enemies to your spiritual maturity. You keep hanging on to the past, while God's trying to pull you on into your future. You keep hanging on to who hurt you, how they hurt you, how bad it felt. You keep hanging on to what you did, what you should not have done. You keep hanging onto all of that stuff, and I told you before, we all have a past, but we shouldn't live there. We need to go forward. Your past, you have something connected to your past that you need to cut off, because no matter how far you go in the future and go forward, it just seems to pull you back, keep pulling you back, and you've gotta let it go. You've gotta let it go. When God forgave you, and dealt with you, and made you the righteousness of God, the only area where your sin still exists is in your memory. You've gotta let it go. Your past is something that God doesn't even deal with anymore.
Why are you back there trying to deal with it? It's done, and what's done is done. You've gotta go forward. Your past is full of fear. Your past is full of intimidation. Your past is full of condemnation. Your past is full of pain and full of hurt. And you'll find yourself just sitting there meditating on something that's already happened. That's not you anymore. And that's why it's not fair for you to judge somebody from your past experiences with them, because hopefully they're no longer like they used to be. Hopefully, they've gone forward, and they're a new person. He says, "But I forget about the past, and I look forward to what lies ahead". He says, "That's going to be a part of my maturing. I'm forgetting the past, and I'm looking to the things that are ahead".
I guarantee you, if you don't have a vision for what's in front of you, and you're stuck with some kind of nightmare of what's behind you, you will remain spiritually immature. Paul said, "I press on to reach the end of this race, this path that I'm on, this path of maturity, and receive the heavenly pride for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us to". He's calling us to this heavenly prize. So, Christianity, Christian maturity requires a radical reordering of your priorities, changing over from pleasing self to pleasing God and learning how to believe God and what he's done for you. So, the key to maturity is consistency and perseverance, and doing those things we know will bring us closer to God. I depend on God. I said I depend on God. Doesn't bother me what people say, and I depend on God. I'm gonna walk in love, because that's the mature thing to do. I'm gonna walk in forgiveness.
That's the mature thing to do. I'm not gonna hold something against somebody that was in a past situation. That's the mature thing to do. I depend on God. I pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ, and I declare my dependence upon him. I make a declaration of dependence upon him. It's in him we move, and breathe, and have our being. Praise God. And some folks don't understand like you. You know, there's something about spending time with God every day. His voice brings a calmness, and an ease, and a peace, just by getting a scripture. And maybe it's five minutes, and you go before God and say, "Lord, I depend on you today. I need you today. I submit myself to you today, God. I want you to do through me, and whatever you want to do through me, and help me to treat people right", because God's not really concerned about how you profile in that church with your Christian, your hat on, and how you step in, and the scriptures you memorize, and how you can talk perpendicular, hallelujah, and how you can jerk when you feel something, trying to act like you're spiritual.
No, no, no, no. God's more concerned about how you treat one another. He's more concerned about how you treat that waitress when you go to lunch. He's more concerned about how you treat that neighbor. He's more concerned about it, I mean, just, just speaking to people, just being kind. That's spiritual maturity. It's really immature if you feel like you have to perform every time you come to church, 'cause somehow you feel like you've got to prove to somebody, actually, it's you seeking validation. You're working hard to be validated. You're really inferior, but you have this false sense of superiority, and you're like, you know, I'm inferior, but I've gotta do something about that.
I can't let everybody know that I'm inferior, especially men. Men are so inferior, they've spent time with a cover over them so nobody can discover the real you. And what happens is a false identity grows through that cover, and we really never get to know the real you. I depend on God, and I recommend for you to do the same thing. He will make a difference in your life, amen? He'll make a difference in your life.
Look at Galatians chapter 5:16. Now, this is just our base scripture for what we're gonna be talking about for the rest of this series. Galatians 5:16 tells us that we're to walk by the Spirit. And before we read that, this Greek word used here for walk actually means to walk with a purpose in view, to walk with a purpose in view. Galatians 5:16, "This I say then, 'Walk in the Spirit.'" Walk with a purpose in view. Walk in the Spirit. Jesus said, "The Word I preach unto you, it is Spirit and it's life". Walk in the Spirit. How do I do that? Walking in the Word of God, walking in the Spirit, walking in the Word of God. How you gonna walk in the Word of God if you don't know the Word of God? How you gonna know the Word of God if you don't, you know, set a time and on purpose and have an intent?
Be intentional about learning the Word of God so you can walk in that Word. He says, "And you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh". We spend so much time working to not fulfill the lust of the flesh that we spend no time walking in the Spirit. And if you'll spend time walking in the Spirit, that'll, that itself will take the place of walking in the flesh or walking in a mindset that goes against the Word of God. That's what the flesh is. It is a mindset that goes against the Word of God. So, walking in the Spirit, if you'll walk in a mindset that lines up with the Word of God, you won't have to worry about not walking in a mindset of going against the Word of God. And most people walk, and their mind is set against the Word of God, and they go against the Word of God in their life, because they're not spending any time setting their mind to the Word of God.
See, that scripture by itself has been made so deep and so spiritual, you know. "Oh, I've gotta walk in the Spirit". Well, what does that mean? Practically, what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? I mean, think about that. I remember when they first show, "Walk in the Spirit, brother, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh". Basically, what it says, if you walk in the Spirit, you won't sin. But I'm like, "How do you do that"? You just, you just, I'm like God is a practical God. God wants you to know exactly what it means. To walk in the Spirit is to have a mindset that lines up with the Word of God, and you can line your life up with that. To walk in the flesh is to have a mindset that goes against the Word of God, and then you line up with that. He said, "Walk in the Spirit, walk in the Word, walk in your understanding of the Word".
Mature in this Word, and you won't have to worry about doing something that's against the Word, because you know the Word. And most of the people who do something against the Word don't know the Word. They don't come to church to sit down and listen to the Word. They come to church to have church. "Oh, I came to have church". Somebody said, "What's having church"? Just, you know, circus, playing around a little bit, doing a couple of cartwheels, hollering and screaming and, "Oh, I had church". Didn't learn nothing now; but, "Oh, I had church". What'd the preacher talk about? "Well, he talked about, let me see". Don't even know what the preacher talking about. You just waste your time. You should've stayed home and had a extra bowl of Cheerios or something like that. You just waste your time.
We come here to be edified. We come here to be built up. That is the purpose. No, I come here to worship God. Okay, I see what you're saying, but if I had the time to get in the Word, I would show you, and I should go, we'll see it in a series. You know, when you worship God... you remember the series on worship? It's more, it's out of your heart, and it takes place probably after you've been edified. In other words, worship takes place every day. Worship is going to God and say, "All right, God, here I am". "Present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable worship". Worship is saying, "All right, God. Do with me and through me what you desire. Do with me and through me what you want me to be at work. Do with me and through me how you want me to handle this situation".
See, we come to church and sit down and say we're worshiping God. Now, the worship takes place when you're out there amongst everybody else, and you say, "Oh, God, do with me and through me what you want to do". That's worship. Well, what do you come to church for? To be edified, to be built up, to get yourself in a place of maturity, so you can be spiritually strong, so the devil can't take advantage of your ignorance and deceive you. And then when you hear something that's not correct, people are gonna say what they want to say, but if you've living by the Bible, and what I'm trying to teach is the Bible, if you're living by the Bible, you'll know that's not correct, according to the Bible.
Now, it might be correct according to the norms and values of the world, but I don't recommend you live in the norms and values of the world. You should live according to what the Word has to say; because when the world fails you, when systems fail you, then the Word of God will not fail you. And instead of you looking at how the world does stuff and then you do it, we should be the church where they should be revolving around us and looking at how we do stuff, and then they do it. But the reason why that can't happen is because the church acts just like the world. So, you're picking stuff up from them when they should be picking stuff up from us. Spiritual maturity.
Now look what he says in 2 Peter chapter 1:3-9 in the NLT. I'm telling you, God alone is our resource, and all the growth of grace comes through him. Look at this. Verse 3 through 9 in the NLT, "By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life". And the church said amen. Did you notice past tense? He has already given us everything that we need. Now, there's something about that, that says if he's already given me everything that I need, I'm gonna reach out with my faith, and I'm just gonna go ahead and receive it. I'm gonna take possession of what may not be visibly in view; but if I can find what his Word says and release my faith to take hold of that, he's already given me whatever I need to live a godly life.
And so I take hold of that by faith, in Jesus's name, and I receive it. Faith takes hold of what Jesus has made available. Faith takes possession of what grace has made available. You should be saying to the devil, "Devil, don't let me find this in the Word". Once you find it in the Word, you're like, "Uh-oh, you in trouble now, because now I'm taking hold of this with my faith". He says, "We have received all of this by coming to know him". Wow.
Do you know him? Do you just know about him? Do you know him? Do you have a intimate, personal, daily relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ where you talk to him, and he speaks back to you? Wow. Because if you don't know him, you're missing the whole point where Christianity is concerned. Christianity is about a relationship between you and your heavenly Father. Christianity is not about a bunch of rules and regulations and, you know, handle this, and hold this, and Christianity is about a personal relationship with God, and he then begins to lay out the protocols for you.