Jentezen Franklin - Stop Hiding, Start Living
Seems like that when people are afraid, they look for a cave to hide in. The first reference of a cave in the Bible is when Lot came out of Sodom and Gomorrah. He had obeyed God. He had done what God told him to do. But once he got outside, because his wife turned and turned back, was turned into a pillar of salt, the Bible said that he began to waiver in his faith. He began to question the decision that he made. He became depressed, afraid, discouraged. And he found a cave at Zoar, and he went in it. And he got drunk in that cave.
His world was caving in, and he found a dark place because he was afraid, and he was worried, and he was defeated. Fear will drive you in a cave. Fear is faith in the enemy. Fear is false evidence appearing real. Fear is a dark room where you develop your negatives. Fear will paralyze us from our purpose. Fear will blur our reality of a living, powerful God. Fear will cause the devil to have a square dance. He loves it when you become fearful and enter into a cave of fear, worry, depression, darkness, and discouragement.
David ran into a cave and there he gathered men, 300 men, who were in debt, discouraged, and discontent. They all gathered and became cavemen and lived in a cave. You've got all those people who were defeated and they lived in a cave together. And there he hid from Saul. Hid in fear from Saul's army that was trying to kill him. It seems like over, and over, and over in the Bible, when people were in trouble, when God's people, the Israelites, were being invaded by the Philistines or some other alien nation, that they would run.
The Bible says of Gideon's time that the people of God hid themselves in the caves and in the dens in fear and trembling. The normal reaction when people are afraid is to hide in a cave. The same is true for us today. Of course, not a physical cave. But there are emotional caves, and caves of depression, and caves of isolation. That when we get hurt, when something happens, we retreat, and we cave. Cave in, and go into that dark place, and live there isolated among ourselves. There are two great dangers about caves.
Joshua 10:16 tells the story of how that Joshua defeated five armies, but the five kings of those armies went and hid in a cave. And when Joshua heard that they were hiding in the cave, he commanded that a large stone be rolled in front of the cave. Now I want you to listen carefully because the hiding place has now transformed into a prison. If you retreat and hide in a cave long enough, it will become a prison.
Now the hiding place was a prison. I know what it is to be hurt. I know what it is to go through hard things and rejection. All of us do. But the enemy wants you to take what has happened and go into a hiding place. And if you don't get over it, and if you stay offended and hurt, then that hiding place will become more than a hiding place. Emotionally for you, it will become a prison. And once it becomes a prison, here's the critical thing. Then there came a time when Joshua called them out, and he hung those five kings. And then he did something strange. He took their bodies and threw it in the same cave.
Notice that if you don't come out of the place of past hurt, it will become a prison. And if you stay there long enough, it won't just become a prison, but it will become a grave. If you don't let go of what happened, the cave will become a grave. If you carry an unforgiving spirit, an unforgiving attitude, an unforgiving mouth, because that's where it shows up, then it will become a grave to God's plan. To God's purpose. It will become a grave to relationships. It will become a grave to your dreams and the call of God on your life.
Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, the Bible said, and he took, in the time that Jezebel and Ahab were killing all of the prophets, he hid 100 of them in a cave. And Elijah showed up and said, "What are you doing in the cave"? Elijah had a different attitude. He said the preachers, in a time when sin is rampant in our nation, where are the preachers? And they said shh. We're in a cave. Elijah understood that a silent preacher is no better than a dead one when a nation is in a crisis. We can't afford to be so diplomatic that we don't disturb our generation by preaching the truth in a dark and dying world.
Elijah says, y'all can stay in the cave if you want to, but God has not called me to live in a cave. I'm going to confront Ahab. And he went and confronted Ahab, and he said meet me on Mount Carmel. And the 400 prophets of Baal go up to Mount Carmel, and Elijah prays. And the God who answers by fire sent fire and consumed the altar, and he slew the false prophets and started revival in the nation. A cave can be an attitude. A cave can be an intimidation. Afraid.
Those prophets were afraid and fearful. They were intimidated at the name Jezebel and Ahab. God is calling us in this hour to not live in caves of fear. Live in caves of worry and dark depression. But to come out of that cave before that cave becomes a prison and that prison becomes a grave. We cannot afford to live in a cave. Moses was called to bring God's people out of Egypt. And he felt the stirring of that call when he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, and he got involved and accidently killed the Egyptian. And he was shoved out, so to speak, into the wilderness. And there he lived in a cave as a shepherd.
And there's a scripture that says these very words. After 40 years, he had resolved in his mind, I tried, and I failed, and I'm not going to try anymore. He was living in a cave. A cave. And the scripture said that he made this statement. The Bible says he was content. After 40 years of shepherding, he gave up on the call. Gave up on the dream. Gave up on the purpose that God had on his life, and he became content. I want to tell you a cuss word in Christianity. It's content. The moment you become content, that ought to be like a cuss word to Christians.
It ought to be foul language. You can never afford to enter into the cave of contentment that says I don't want any more. Just leave me alone. Let somebody else do it. I'm fine to come to church, but I don't want any more from God. He settled down. He said let somebody else do it. Let somebody else fight that battle. I'm tired. I've tried to bring unity and peace, and nothing happened. But while he was in that cave, just before his cave became a grave to his purpose and his destiny, God lit up a bush. God sent a fire. And that fire purged his spirit.
I am here today to say to you that you have to come out of that cave of failure. Come out of that cave of sadness. Come out of that cave of sorrow. Come out of that cave of an unforgiving spirit. Come out of it. You're called to greater things and higher things than to isolate yourself and live less than what God has planned for your life. I guess what I'm trying to say to you is I want you to come out of the cave. The cave is what the enemy wants to become a prison. And then the cave will become a grave to all that God has for you. And we're not called to live in caves. Caves get emptied of their occupants when Jesus shows up.
In John 11, Lazarus was bound hand and foot, dead three days, and put in a cave. And they had put the stone in front of the cave. But Jesus walked up to the cave and said Lazarus, come forth. And I believe God has sent me today to those of you watching by television. To those of you in Gwinnett. To those of you here in Gainesville. Spartanburg. Orange County. Wherever you're watching this on the internet, I hear the Lord say speak it, and I'll back it up. It's time for you to come out of the cave of past hurts. It's time for you to come out of the cave of fear and intimidation. To do what God has called you to do. And He's saying come out of the cave. Because I've got life for you. I've got freedom for you. What gives Christianity power to transform lives is Jesus wouldn't stay in His cave. Everybody take a praise break if He brought you out! Hallelujah!
When Jesus came out of that cave, He had the keys of death and of hell. That's why that addiction can't hold you. Because He has the keys. He unlocks prison doors, and He rolls stones away, and He calls the dead back to life. Your marriage doesn't have to live in a cave of past hurt. Somebody made a stupid choice. Somebody did something dumb. Somebody messed everything up, and the enemy wants you to live in that cave of hurt. That cave of anger. That cave of bitterness. But Jesus is saying come out of the cave. It's over. I decree a new thing in your life, and you can be healed from the pain of the past.
Get out of that cave. The power of the church is an empty cave. An empty tomb. I think that the story of Gideon is so critical because God called him when he was in a cave. I love that about God. He doesn't wait until we get strong to whisper great dreams in our ear. He doesn't wait until we have tons of money and power when He says you're going to do this, and I'm going, it's going, he tells you when you're in your dark cave. He whispered to Gideon, you are a mighty man of valor.
You know what you need when you get a word from hell? You need a word from Heaven. And he's in the cave, and he's afraid, and God calls him. He says, you are a mighty man of valor. And he's sitting in a cave, trembling. God does not speak to present pain. He speaks to future potential. But there's something that I noticed about that story that I'd never seen before. The Bible said that Gideon sent home all of those who were afraid. And he was with 300 men. And God said tell them to take a lamp, a glass pitcher with a torch, a light, and a trumpet. Surround the enemy.
And when I tell you, break the glass, let the light shine, and blow the trumpet. And then shout. And listen to what He said shout. The sword of the Lord and Gideon. What's wrong with that story? Gideon didn't have a sword. The Bible just told you all he had was a torch, a glass pitcher, and a trumpet. But God said there's going to be victory. It's coming out of the cave. And a bunch of cave people are going to come out of what they've been hiding in, and they're going to go out. And I'm going to give them a victory by the sword of the Lord and the sword of Gideon.
Here's what I want you to understand. In Jewish thought, it means this. That the Word of God is a two-edged sword. And when it goes out of God's mouth, that's a sword with one edge. But what you say is the two-edged sword. So the point is simply this. You have to speak what God says if you're going to come out of the cave and do what God says. You have to speak what He speaks. It's got an edge, and it's a sword with an edge when He speaks it. But what makes it a two-edged sword is when you speak what He speaks. So I just simply say what God says. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am the head and not the tail. Above only and not beneath. I am blessed. I am highly favored. Because God said it.
And that's one sword. But when I say it, it's a two-edged sword. And the Lord is going to give victory by the sword of the Lord and Gideon. What are you saying? You need to say, in all of these things, we are more than conquerors through Christ. You need to say, when you're in your darkest cave, "I'm coming out". God has not called me to a spirit of fear, but He has called me to higher ground. And I have the sword of the Lord and the sword of Jentezen, and I refuse to let the enemy get me to talk something different than what God is saying.
I am free. I am delivered. I am clean. I am holy. I am a child of the Most High God. Somebody thank Him that there's power to get you out of the cave when this book gets in your mouth. And I just feel like there's a lot of people who have been held captive in caves of past hurt, isolation, divorce, mistrust, deceit, lies. Somebody hurt you so deeply that you caved in, and you've been there a long time. Grief. Hurt. And while you were there, maybe even bankruptcy. You failed.
So just live in that cave and become content with a lesser life. That is not God's will for you. God's will for you: if you're a widow, if you've been divorced, if you've been bankrupt, if you've been hurt, if you've been broken, God's will for you is not to live in the pain of the past. Make that cave a prison and sooner or later, that cave will become a grave for you. Your hope, your dreams, your joy will die in that cave that has become a grave. But I hear the Lord saying, call them out. Tell all the cave dwellers, come out.
Come out, wherever you are. Roll the stone away. Take the death clothes off. Get a smile back on your face. Stand up on your hind legs and say, I will live and not die. And declare the... I feel the Holy Ghost in this place right now. I really do. I'm not about to die in the cave the enemy tried to put me in. I won't be intimidated. Cave of addiction. Cave of unforgiving spirit. Never going to speak to anybody again. Trust anybody again. Come out. This is your deliverance day. We serve the one who says I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me shall never die. That cave cannot hold you. Because there's an empty cave in Jerusalem that says you can come up, and you can come out, and you can live again.
Stand to your feet. Every head bowed, every eye closed. No one moving, please. Pastor, you're preaching to me, and I'd like to get right with God today. If that's you, boldly lift your hand right where you're standing. Boldly all over this room. There they go. All over this room. Boldly lift your hand right where you're standing. Up in the balcony, lift it high and unashamed.
There in Gwinnett, lift it high and unashamed. Because this is the power that will bring you out of that cave of past shame and guilt. No more excuses. It's time to come out. Every one of you that raised your hand, first I want you to get out. Here they come. Clap your hands because they're coming out of the grave. They're coming out of the cave. They're coming out of the addiction. They're coming out of the shame. They're coming out of the fear. They're coming out of the darkness. They're coming out of the depression. Coming out of the worry. A better way to live life than fear and worry. Past pain. We're going to pray this prayer.
And I tell you on the authority of God's word that when you say what He said already that He'll back it up. So pray this prayer. Say it from your heart, and God will hear your words. You're important. You're highly valued by God. Very, very highly valued. We live in a world that devalues us. Sin tries to humiliate and devalue us, but Jesus values you greatly. Greatly. Every person has high value to God. Every person. Whew. Somebody needs to hear that. That cave of insecurity that you've lived in, you're coming out of it. Pray this prayer, everybody, out loud.
Lord Jesus, I give you my life. I thank you that what you did on the cross was you nailed my sins and my shame to that cross, and your blood washed it all away. And now, I am forgiven. And then when you rose from that borrowed cave, you gave me the power to get up and come out of my cave of past shame and guilt. So I come out in Jesus' name. I am forgiven. I am alive again. I was dead, but now I'm alive. I was blind, but now I see. I was lost, but now I'm found. And I am free in Jesus' mighty name.