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Watch 2022 online sermons » John Bradshaw » John Bradshaw - Pressure

John Bradshaw - Pressure

John Bradshaw - Pressure
TOPICS: In The Word, Pressure, End times

Thanks so much for joining me. We are about to open the Bible together. This is God's Word. We're going to pray first that God will speak to us and give us ears to hear. Let's pray together now.

Our Father in heaven, we're grateful for Your Word. We are thankful for the presence of Your Holy Spirit. I pray You'd touch our hearts. Bless both speaker and hearer that we might be transformed by Your grace, by Your presence, by Your Word, by Your power. Bless us, we pray, for Your glory, in Jesus' name. Amen.

If you've ever been scuba diving, you'll know that the deeper you go into the ocean, the greater pressure you experience from the water above. Now, that makes sense, because the deeper you go, you have an increasingly large blanket of water pressing down on top of you. Water or not, scuba diving or not, wherever you are right now, there's pressure. Our atmosphere, created on day two of Creation week by God, is, is a huge layer of gas. It's about 300 miles thick. Although most of it is within 10 miles of the earth. The higher you go, the thinner the atmosphere gets.

So the pressure caused by the atmosphere lessens the further you get from the earth. This is one of those occasions where you want more pressure and not less. At sea level, air pressure is about 14.7 pounds per square inch. Now, that's one kilometer per square centimeter. At 10,000 feet, the pressure is 10 pounds per square inch. All that gas weighs something, you know. Now, as you know, the atmosphere is made up mainly of... what? What's, what's the primary component in the earth's atmosphere? And it's not oxygen. It is...nitrogen. Seventy-eight percent. Oxygen makes up 21 percent of the earth's atmosphere; then you have some argon, a little bit of CO2, tiny amounts of several other things. That atmosphere exerts pressure.

If you have a barometer, you understand that a barometer measures changes in atmospheric pressure. You don't notice it, but the barometer notices it. It notices that pressure changing. Remember that pressure is good for you. Without that atmosphere we don't survive. It's essential. You go too far up there, you could get altitude sickness, and altitude sickness can be fatal. We are safe where we are in spite of the pressure being exerted, maybe because of that pressure being constantly exerted. We survive here because of it. Our existence is owed to a certain amount of pressure. But there are times in life when the pressure increases, when the heat rises.

It's not the pressure that's the problem, you understand; it's how we relate to it. When the pressure increases, how do you react? You know, it doesn't always work out well, and we see this in the Bible. In fact, as we look today in the Bible, we see something that, quite frankly, is alarming. When there's a hint of pressure, a strong man, with good reason to be confident in himself, speaks up and boldly declares that he'll do what any Christian believer would want to do. What you'd naturally think that you would do. What you'd hope any believer would do. But when the heat went on, when the pressure rose, this man fell apart like a house of cards, like a tower of Jenga blocks when one too many has been pulled out of the base. Down he fell.

Let's begin in our Bibles in Matthew chapter 26. And as we turn to Matthew chapter 26, we remember the setting, the context. It was the night before Jesus' death. Judas had been promised 30 pieces of silver for his cowardly betrayal of Jesus, selling Him for the customary price of a slave. In today's money, Judas realized around $200 for the sale of the Messiah, the One who "spake, and it was done; [who] commanded, and it stood fast". The disciples had broken bread together with Jesus. Jesus had conducted the first communion service. They sang a hymn. Wouldn't you love to know what it was they sang? And then they went out to the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley. And Jesus says some things that had to have absolutely...astounded them.

This is Matthew 26 and verse 31: And Jesus said, "All ye shall be offended...of me this night: for it is written, 'I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.'" Jesus quoted Zechariah 13 and verse 7. By the way, after Isaiah, Zechariah is the most-quoted prophetic Old Testament book in the New Testament. "All of you shall be offended," Jesus said. The Greek word "skandalizo": You will be scandalized. And then He adds in verse 32: "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee". Try as He might to get this into their hard heads, try as He might to convince them that He was going to die there in Jerusalem, the disciples simply couldn't wrap their minds around this concept. Messiah wasn't supposed to perish. In their thinking, Messiah was going to restore national greatness to Israel, drive out the hated Romans. And yet here's Jesus telling them that He is going to die. He said, "After I am risen," indicating He was gonna die. And Peter heard this.

Now, you can expect Peter to react in a certain way. This is the same man of whom it says in Matthew 16, and Mark 8 and Luke 4, "Then Peter took Him," Jesus, "and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee.'" This is when Jesus said, "Get thee behind me, Satan". The text implies that Peter took Jesus off to one side to talk with Him by himself. Jesus had told Peter and the others at that time about His divinely appointed destiny. "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day". Peter couldn't take that. The Bible says he rebuked Jesus.

Now, the Bible says Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves. The multitude rebuked the blind men. The disciples rebuked those who brought little children to Jesus. Jesus rebuked the devil. Peter wasn't playing. He was very serious here. He got in Jesus' face. He rebuked Jesus. Back here in Matthew chapter 26, he's up to his usual antics. Matthew 26, verse 33: "Peter answered and said unto Him, 'Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.'" And do you know what "never" means in the Greek? It means "never". And here was Peter, just fine when the winds were calm, just fine when the sailing was plain, just fine when they're breaking bread and they're singing hymns. Jesus speaks to his heart.

He's not trying to upset Peter. He's just trying to warn him: Peter, I wish you knew what you were really made of. Peter, you need a trifle more humility and a little less bravado. Peter, "Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice". Three times. And here comes the big one. This is Peter speaking. Peter says, "'Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.' [And] likewise...said all [of] the disciples". "Not me". "No, not me either. No way in the world". "I would never dream of doing such a thing". And it was Peter leading the brigade of deniers. "I'd sooner die than deny You".

You see, Peter and his friends were not prepared for the test. Now, they thought they were. But they weren't. They were self-confident to the extent that they were ready to deny the plainest statement of the Son of God. You know, don't you, that when Jesus speaks, or when the Father speaks, what He, what They speak, comes to pass. "'Let there be light'; and there was light". "Rise, take up your bed and walk". And so he does. "It's going to rain, Noah. Tell them, even though it's never rained before, it's going to rain". And it did; it rained and rained and rained. And Jesus said, "You are going to deny me".

So this is really the opposite of faith. Jesus speaks. We believe what He says. That's faith. But Peter's self-confidence was so strong he was ready to deny the plainest statement of Jesus and live by his own works, by his own wits, and not by faith. Peter meant what he said. There's no doubt he was sincere, but he didn't understand the test that was coming. He didn't understand his great need, he didn't understand the true state of his heart, and he didn't understand what God was willing to do for him in that moment. You know how it played out. They came to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus and Peter and James and John. Jesus prays; the disciples wait.

It was a cool night, you'd expect. One would think, a quiet night. No one's home entertainment center could be heard. No noisy vehicles driving by. No thump, thump, thumping of somebody's car stereo. And in that quietness, the disciples...fall...asleep. It's interesting that in verse 40, Jesus says to Peter specifically, "What! Could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that [you] enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak". That's verse 41. It happened again. Jesus prayed and prayed. The disciples slept. A third time Jesus prayed, and the third time He returned, and He said, "Are you still [asleep]"?

I want you to see a contrast here. Jesus prayed and prayed. Peter slept. Both knew they were approaching a serious trial. One didn't take it very seriously. Let me ask you: Can you recall a time when you prayed and prayed? You probably can. When was that? Was it when your child lay in a hospital bed? Was it when your parent or a sibling was desperately ill? Was it some time when somebody was getting treatment for cancer? We can all get up for that. But that's not what Christianity looks like. That's what need looks like. Lord, I need You now, so I discovered this thing called prayer. What was your prayer time like this morning? If it was appropriate, if it was as it should be, we thank the Lord. But ask that question in a church, and if there was a show of hands, which, of course, there should not be, if there was, you know that not many people would be able to say with sincerity that they had prayed that day as though they were bracing for trial.

My friend, we as a people are approaching a time of great trial. Jesus is coming back soon. We know He is; we believe He is. We must not forget it. We don't talk about it as much as we do, but Jesus is coming back soon. Yea, verily, the fact is that every day we face great trials. Let me ask you this: What is temptation? Think about it like this. Temptation is an attempt on your life; that's what it is. Temptation is the devil trying to strangle the spiritual life out of you. You know why I say that? According to Romans 6 in verse 23, "The wages of sin is" what? It's death. A life of sin does not see you walk on the streets of gold. A life of sin without repentance in your heart, a life of sin separate from God, a life of sin where there's carelessness towards faith in God, that's lethal. That's deadly.

We talk about social distancing these days. Too many people are practicing "spiritual distancing". A friend told me that. Staying away from church, spiritual distancing. Staying away from God, spiritual distancing. Staying away from prayer, spiritual distancing. Staying away from those who love God and live like they do, spiritual distancing. Come on, friend, now is the time to press closer to God, closer to the church, closer to your fellow believers. We need each other in a time like this. We need the church, and we need God. Peter slept! And Peter, well, we know what happened to Peter. Same chapter, Matthew 26: "Peter sat [outside] in the palace: and a damsel", a young lady, a maid servant, "came unto him, saying, 'Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.'" And he said, "I [don't] know what [you're talking about]".

Now, I'm not against Peter for this. There's a little Peter in all of us. There's a lot of Peter in a lot of us. We're good, we mean well, but, but, man, we are weak. And we don't know how weak we are. It's not until the pressure comes... that we truly realize what we're made of. You think you had a good day 'cause you didn't rob a bank? Well, that's good. But take a close look at what's going on in your heart. You think it was a good day 'cause you didn't get high? No, that is good. But God wants to do a complete work in our lives. We need help. Peter didn't realize how much help he needed. "You'll deny me, Peter". "Never! I'll never deny You". And here he is, that same night, he's denying he ever knew Jesus. The pressure is rising for Peter. And so he gets out of there. But when he relocates himself, another one says in verse 71: "This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth".

Now Peter denies it with an oath: "I do not know the Man". That's as plain as you can be. "I do not know the Man"! Another one says, "Surely [you're] of them, ...your speech [gives] you [away]". Now, you know how accents can be. You know it's a hundred miles in a straight line from Birmingham in England to York, which is also in England. But put the two accents together and it sounds like they're from worlds apart. A Brummie and a Yorkshireman? Very different. It's about 70 miles from York north to Newcastle, in England again. But the accents are vastly different. New York and Kentucky. Same planet, sounds like a different world. Here they are, saying to Peter, "You sound like one of them".

And what does Peter do? You know... it's very typical of a human being. You want to get out of trouble. Naturally enough. Stand too close to the fire, you move; you don't want to get burned. That's, that's appropriate; that's self-preservation. Uh, you're driving along the freeway, you look into the mirror, and you see that there's a police officer either behind you or way back there. And you look down at the speedometer, and you say to yourself, "I need to slow down, because if I don't slow down, it's not going to end up well," right? Self-preservation, that's natural. In many cases, it's, it's helpful. But when you read the Bible, the Bible doesn't really encourage us to self-preservation. It encourages us to glorify God. As a matter of fact, you read in the beatitudes and Jesus said, "Blessed are [you], when men...persecute you, and...[speak]...evil [of] you ...for my [name's] sake".

So, Jesus doesn't promise us a life without trouble. As a matter of fact, in John 16 in verse 33, Jesus said, "In [this] world you will have tribulation". The question is, what happens when the pressure comes on? And what did Peter do? So very human. He'd been caught in a lie. But he's motivated to get out of a jam. He's not motivated to tell the truth. Same man, a few hours earlier, he's ready to die for Jesus. And now? Verse 74 says, "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, 'I know not the Man.'" The text indicates he may even have been threatening with his language. And then... the rooster crowed. He remembered the words of Jesus while his off-color language was still echoing off the stone walls. "[And] he went out," and the passage says, "he wept bitterly".

As you might expect. The pressure was intense. That's true. But Peter buckled under the weight of the pressure. A sports team's worth is often measured by how they respond to pressure. Anyone can beat easy opposition. But when the pressure comes on, that's when the test is. Uh, an, an army can look good during peace time, but it's not until war time that you find out whether that fighting force is worth 10 cents. If the training has been right, and the preparation has been good, if in a time of peace you use that time to get ready for the time of stress, well, that's good. You are ready when the pressure comes on. Pressure is often good. If you've ever used a pressure cooker, you know how helpful pressure can be. Pressure cookers increase the boiling point of water. Uh, boiling point of water is usually 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Pressure cooker increases the boiling point to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, that pressure produces a higher temperature, and the higher temperature is what causes the food to cook faster. That pressure is good. So now, let's switch this. Pressure might be, in our Christian experience, temptation. Temptation. Anybody can be a Christian when you go to the store and you park out, and there's a parking space right out in front. And it's 72 degrees with just a gentle breeze blowing, and it's filtered sunshine. And somebody complimented you for the way your hair looked or the song you had sung or...some reason. And now you feel like you're 10 feet tall and bulletproof, and you're ready to go about your business, and everybody's good, and you love the world. And then temptation comes, and then temptation comes, and then those lousy friends call you, and then things are troubled at home, and then you have financial trouble, and your pockets are empty when they ought to be full, and the kids are getting at you, or maybe it's your parents getting at ya, ugh!

You know, Jeremiah asked this question: "If [you have] run with the footmen, and they have wearied [you], then how [will you] contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, wherein [you trusted], they wearied [you], [will you be] in the swelling of the Jordan"? He is saying, if in a time of relative ease you're struggling, then what's it going to be like when the pressure comes on? My friend, I'd encourage you to think about some of the things that are written in this Bible. We know the Bible says there's coming "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation". And I don't say that to you to be doom and gloom. Uh, the patriarchs and prophets look towards the end of time wishing that they could be there. We have talked about the return of Jesus, and we've sung about the return of Jesus, and we've preached, and, and listened to sermons about the return of Jesus, and our hearts have thrilled.

Man, the closer we get, the more excited we ought to be, praising God. He, Jesus, is coming back soon. But before that great deliverance, there's going to be some pressure in this world, and I understand people worry about that. You've heard the story, I'm sure, and I have, too, about the dear sister who spoke to the great preacher and said, "Great preacher, you said in your sermon", and this may have been Moody, was it Moody? Was it Spurgeon? "You said that you don't believe that you have the faith to be a martyr. If you don't have the faith to be a martyr, what hope is there for me"? And the great preacher answered by saying, "Oh, I don't have the faith to be a martyr right now, but if God calls me to be a martyr, He will give me the faith to be a martyr at that time".

So we don't want to look ahead with misapprehension. The last thing we want to do is look ahead with fear. The Bible says, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee". We have nothing to be afraid of. The Bible says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but [a spirit] of [courage] and of a sound mind". Thank God for that! In Christ there is hope. There's hope for us today. But the pressure's gonna come on. How are we going to be in that great day? In the book of Revelation and in chapter 6, the question is asked, "Who shall be able to stand"? What a question! "The great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand"?

I want to give you now a biblical example of somebody who stood. Are you ready? Because this example ought to be greatly encouraging to us. We are turning in our Bible to Daniel chapter 6 and verse 1: "It pleased Darius to set over the [kingdoms] [a] hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king should have no damage". This was quite the position for Daniel to be in. He had shown himself to be a trustworthy man and a steady man. He had demonstrated he was a man of God, and this new king trusted Daniel. Verse 3: "Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought to set him over the whole realm".

Let me just say this. When you're in a difficult situation, or any situation, let your light shine. It will be seen. People will notice. I'm not suggesting everybody's going to fall at your feet, but in every situation in which you find yourself, God is giving you the opportunity to shine as a light, and that's why we're in this world, to let others know that there's a God who sent His Son Jesus to save this world from its terrible fate. Daniel 6 in verse 4: "Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him".

This was frustrating for them. They wanted to take Daniel down, but they couldn't find any fault in his life. And so they came up with a plan. And it was an effective plan. This is verse 5: "Then said these men, 'We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.'" And do you know what they did? They went to the king, and they said, "King, let's pass a law that nobody is able to worship anyone or anything except you" for this given period of time. And the king was egotistical enough to be able to say, "That's a good idea". He didn't think it through. Maybe he didn't know Daniel well enough to realize that because of this law, he was being hoodwinked into losing a very good man.

So now, what happens? The law has been passed. "Don't let anyone worship anything or anybody except you, and if they do, they'll be put to death". "Fine with me," said the king. "Fine with me". And how did Daniel react? I've been in some precious situations. I really have. But nothing like this. You've likely, you've no doubt been in some precious situations, but, most likely, not like this. How would you react? It's clear, right? We'd honor God. We'd do the right thing. Oh, no, man. Worship the king? Wouldn't do it. There is only one God, one true God, and He says, "You shall have no other gods but me. Don't bow down and worship graven images". Oh, there's no way in the world that somebody like you or me would ever do that. But do we know ourselves?

Peter had spent three and a half years living in Jesus' shadow. And I mean that practically literally. He had traveled with Jesus. He had worked miracles, at least, God had worked them through him. He had learned a lot; he had been humbled. He'd been around other men who were as human as he was, and they were all pressing towards this one thing. They were disciples of the Messiah. They were representing Him. They had driven out demons. And Peter didn't even have the wherewithal, what could he have done? "Hey, aren't you one of His"? "Um..." He could have just run. He could have said to his friends without a bit of shame, "They were going to kill me. I had to run".

Would there have been any shame in that? I don't think so. I think we would have said, "Oh, thank God that Peter didn't die. They could've killed him out there. They might have nailed Peter to a cross". He didn't even run. And they said you've been with Him three and a half years. You must be a great man of faith by now. Oh, not me! Let me demonstrate to ya what a man of faithlessness I am. And Peter came apart. Came apart! No longer was he this great man, this big shot. "Oh, no, I'd rather die". Wonder what I would have done if I was in Daniel's shoes. I wonder what I would have done. I wonder what you would have done. There's a way to find out, I think. And that's by going to the Bible and reading verse... let's start in verse 9 of Daniel chapter 6, shall we? "Wherefore King Darius signed the writing and the decree". Verse 10 says, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed", he understood; he got it.

When Daniel was fully cognizant of the law and that the law was now in force, with understanding, the Bible says, "he went into his house". Would you do that... if you were about to break the law and put your life at risk? No, you'd have gone to a friend's house. You'd have gone into the woods. You'd have gone into the wilderness. Daniel went to his home. He was saying, "They will know where to find me". And so he knew that the writing had been signed, and he went to his home, his very home, "his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem", now, why is that significant? Because if the window was facing the great big pagan temple in downtown Babylon, and Daniel had been seen praying, people would have said, "Oh, well, he's, he's praying to the king. He's praying in the direction of the royal palace. He's praying in the direction of the temple. He got the memo. He has come into line".

Daniel was not a conformer. He was a non-conformer, or a nonconformist. He wasn't going to be pressed into a mold by anybody who was demanding that he break the law of God. So, Daniel, knowing the law had been signed and was in effect, he went to his house, where he could be found. The windows were open, facing toward Jerusalem, so that nobody would misinterpret what he was doing. "He kneeled upon his knees", now, I've thought this through many times. I might have sat down, found a comfortable chair, reclined a little bit. Maybe I would have closed my eyes...and silently prayed. Maybe I'd have done that. And so I just imagine there were some spies peeking from behind a bush or looking up through the window, and they see Daniel in his chair, eyes closed, mumbling silently.

I don't know if you mumble silently, but, get the point. They see Daniel maybe saying something, but they don't know what. And his eyes are closed. He's reclining. You know what I think I'd have done? Knowing me as well as I know me, I, I would have said in my heart, "There's no way I'm going to disobey God. There's no way. I will honor you, Lord. I will do the right thing". And I'd have gone home, all right, gone into my bedroom and gone into my closet and closed the door, shut the windows, pulled the blinds, kept all of the lights off, and knelt down in the corner. I would've got right in the corner surrounded by the hanging clothes. And I would've said, "Lord, you knew that You could count on me, didn't You? And here I am, as faithful as the day is long". Not Daniel. He goes home, into his house; window is open. He kneels down on his knees. He's not sitting in the La-Z-Boy. He kneels on his knees. That's a prayer position for Daniel.

What's he doing, do you think? What's he going to do? Oh, there he comes. He's walked into the room. No question, he's praying because he's on his knees. He knelt down, not once, king might have said, "The brother forgot". Not twice, king might have said, "He still might have forgot". But three times a day! Daniel was in a groove, and he wasn't coming out for anybody. Not once, not twice. "This is what I do. Yes, I'm praying, and I'm praying to God. I might have been down here in Babylon for decades, but I have not forgotten who I am. I am a follower of the Most High God. Nothing you can do can dissuade me from that or turn my feet out of the path". I'm looking at this: He prayed, the Bible says, and he "gave thanks before his God". Thank you, God! They're going to throw me into a den of lions. Thank you, Lord! I've got spies looking through my bedroom window. Thank you, Jesus! My life is coming to an end!

I've thought, What? How can he do this? And I certainly don't think that he was thanking God that he was going to end up in the belly of a lion. Thanking God that God was, thanking God that no human being could sever Daniel's relationship with the God of heaven. Daniel was in with God, and nothing was going to get him out. And you and I, we think of that story, we read it to the kids, and we say, "Good old Daniel, good old faithful Daniel". "Dare to be a Daniel". Yes! "Dare to stand". Sure! But you can't stand without a foundation. You can't stand without your feet on the ground. The building doesn't stand unless before the second and the third and the fourth and the fifth floors are built, there's been work down here; there's been digging in the ground. It's grunt work, thankless, dirty, but it's what has to happen in order for something to stand up.

Why was Daniel able to stand? If we... look, there's a danger here. We tell the kids, "Obey. Obey". You tell that to a 5-year-old? Five-year-old can obey at times; other times, ah, that's a hopeless cause. You tell that to an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old, or a 40-year-old or a 66-year-old? "Obey". And that'll work for that long, and after that, pshh! down it goes. Because nobody has the ability in herself or himself to stand and be a Daniel when the pressure is on, unless something fundamental is happening in that person's experience. Let's find now the key to Daniel's spiritual success. It wasn't simply that Daniel said, "Not obeying him. I'll obey God".

Now, that resoluteness was part of it. Remember, it was Joseph who said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God"? I understand that. There are times you've got to say "no" to the devil, "yes" to God, in fact, many, many times. But before that, there's got to be something that goes on. Ladies and gentlemen, we are pressing towards earth's last days, and if we don't understand this simple thing, there is no way we are going to be able to withstand the pressure. Let's understand what enabled Daniel to stand when he stood for God. Let me read all of verse 10, Daniel 6 and verse 10: "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God", and here it is, "as he did aforetime".

Daniel gave thanks and prayed to his God just like he always did, as his custom was. Daniel stood up on that day 'cause he stood up on day 1 and day 2 and day 3 and day 4 and day 5. He plugged into God, connected with the Most High, and he grew in the grace of God. Now, I remember, you know, when I was in high school, I think I remember, at least; it's been a while, any kid knows, if you're in school, high school or university, you have midterms, and then you have finals. Well, let me ask you a question. Did you ever go to school, and on opening day, opening day is when the teacher says, "Well, how are you doing? What's your name? This is my name. What do you like to do? Have some cookies. Let's talk about the way the year is going to go".

That's opening day, right? Midterms aren't until the middle of the term. No teacher ever said on opening day, "Here's the midterm". No teacher ever said on the second day of the school year, "Today is the day we sit the final". No, because there's got to be preparation until the midterms, and then there's got to be preparation until the final, right? And you know how it goes, there are some freaks of nature who just front up to the final without studying, and they pass. Well, let's, let's, let's not worry about them. There are some who are able to cram the night before, but, but, but that doesn't work spiritually. You cannot roll up to the final exam, your spiritual final exam, without having put the work in, done the study, and think you're gonna ace it. You cannot.

This was Peter. He fronted up to the exam. Oh, what are You talking about? I would rather die than deny You. But then when they started asking the hard questions, Peter shriveled. Shriveled up! Because there hadn't been enough of the preparation that had been done. Do you see? You do your study on day 1 and on day 2 and on day 3. You get to the midterms; you're going to be all right. You just are. You get to the final, and you're going to be okay. We don't do the final on day 1. Day 1 is for getting to know the parameters of the class. Day 2 is for A-B-C. You know, it's day something-else that you start studying Pythagoras' theorem, advanced calculus, and so forth. That's later. It's really important to start at the beginning.

That's where Daniel started. That's where Daniel started. He started with, "My Father in heaven". He started with reading the scriptures and getting into his mind the things of God. He started with walking by faith. He started with serving others. And Daniel grew. Come on, now, there's going to be a final exam one day. I hope you don't mind me putting it that way. Are you doing the study day to day? There's going to be a final test one day. Are we preparing now? Are we putting in the, the time with Jesus now? How do we think we're going to stand then when we barely give Jesus the time of day today? And not as though it's only earth's last days; it's only the final test, what about the joy that we experience? What about the, the love of God that floods our heart and the love for God that we respond to God with? Where does that go if we aren't connecting with God on a daily basis, experiencing His blessing, understanding His grace, experiencing His power, living the life that God designs for you?

If you get in a car in San Diego, California, and you start driving east, it won't be too long and you're driving through the Imperial Valley, and it's part of a desert system. And you, you're driving out of San Diego, there are boulders and rocks, and it's, it's dry and arid. It's desert. But suddenly, you get to the Imperial Valley, and over there they are growing the lion's share, or at least an enormous amount, of the produce that we, that we consume on a daily basis all around the country. They're growing lettuces and cabbages and watermelons and cauliflowers, and stuff is growing like crazy! What happened? They just added water. The land is fertile. Take the water away, there's nothing going to grow. Maybe weeds? Add water, phshew! It's Edenic out there.

Thank you to the people out there who are feeding the nation, thank you. Just add water. Just add Jesus, and your life thrives. Just add the Holy Spirit, and you're not the same person anymore. Just add the presence of God into your life; your outlook changes; the words you use change; the things that interest you change. You find yourself getting on God's program and less on your own program. Friend, what are you doing with your days? One of the greatest talents that God ever gave us was time. Imagine during a time of isolation, people cannot say to God, "Oh, I didn't have time to read the Bible". Yeah, you've got time. "I didn't have time to think about heavenly things". Oh, sure you do. You don't have time to experience the great love of God?

You know, Jesus, before His great test, spent time with His Father. Yes, that was in preparation for the test. But also, this Jesus needed the, the, the life-giving water of the presence of His heavenly Father. I need that, too. You know, I was mowing my grass the other day, and I think it was the second time for the year that we'd cut the grass, and I noticed something. Looking out into the yard, you know, it was looking, it was looking a little scruffy, but could have been worse, except there was this one patch; phshew! the grass was freakishly long. And I wondered about that. I thought, How in the world would it be that this one patch in the entire yard is lush, green? It's like it'd been fertilized. And I got over there, and we have this oddball thing in one patch of our back yard; it's kind of throughout the neighborhood, where water just kind of seeps out of the ground after a heavy rain. You would call it a spring, but it's a, it's, it's not a spring. It's a poor excuse for a spring.

As this water sort of oozes out of the ground, right there, and that kind of grass there was getting watered constantly after a rain. So there'd been rain, and now, after the rain and the beautiful warm weather, there was water flowing to that patch of grass. What you water...thrives. What you feed thrives. Feed your carnal nature will thrive. Feed your spiritual nature, and your spiritual nature will thrive. What are you feeding today? Peter was feeding his ego. "I'll stand. I'll be fine". Peter should have said when Jesus said, "You're going to deny me, Peter," Peter should have fallen on the floor, grabbed the feet of Jesus. "Oh, don't let it be! I know how weak I am. I know that I, I flash like this. I get angry. I know I have my problems, my inadequacies. Oh, Jesus, I cannot deny You! No! Don't let it happen. Please, O God, don't let it happen". But he didn't say that. The children of Israel: "[Everything] that the Lord has [said] we will do".

Oh, boneheaded! They should have said, "We are sinners, man. Oh, we, Lord, we need Your help". That's the key: Lord, we need Your help. You've read Philippians 1 and verse 6. It says, "He who has begun a good work in you" is faithful to perform it "until the day of Jesus Christ". That's what we need: Jesus doing His work in our life. If Peter had thrown himself at Jesus' feet and said, "You work in me," Jesus would have said, "I gotcha". But Peter didn't pray that prayer. Daniel was praying the prayer every day: Lord, I'm leaning on You. I'm feeding on You. I'm trusting in You. I am nothing without You. See, that's Christianity. Lord, none of me and all of You. That's Christianity. That's righteousness by faith. I have no righteousness of my own, but I accept by faith the righteousness of Christ. I believe now that He lives His life in me and will do His will in my life.

In the end of time, God is going to have a group of people, a group of Daniels, and not because they've gone to the spiritual gym and they have bulging spiritual biceps, but because they have come to Jesus, and they've said, "I'm nothing without You". They've gone to God and they've said, "Baptize me with Your Holy Spirit, daily". They've gone to the presence of the Almighty, and they've said, "Let me be dead to self". I know. It's easier said than done. But if we don't start practicing this now, if we don't start praying the prayer, if we don't start experiencing Jesus living His life in us, then we will never demonstrate to the world the wonders of the character of Jesus. We will never grow up into, unto "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ".

And Jesus offers that to us today. He offers it to us. He said, I can do in your life "[exceeding] abundantly above all that [you could] ask or [dare to] think". I can do it, Jesus says. Are you willing to have it done? That's the key: Are you willing to have it done? Peter learned from his mistake. God forgave him. You've denied Jesus just like Peter has. We all have. Thank God it wasn't long after, Jesus assured Peter that He loved him still and had a great work for him. It's not about whether you failed or not; it's a question of will you come back to Jesus and receive Him again and receive His Holy Spirit again.

If you've wandered far from God, He'll have you back. If you're playing church, God can give you a new spiritual experience, put some spiritual backbone in you. If you're having faults, if there are weak spots, God can help you with that, and remember that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound". We serve a mighty and a loving God. He wants to do in your life what He did in Daniel's life. He wants to do in your life what He did in Peter's life. I forgive you, Peter. "Feed my sheep". Where are you today? What are you feeding? What's that flourishing green spot in the lawn of your heart? I hope it's not weeds. Let Jesus grow in you His character. Let Jesus produce in you His righteousness. Let Jesus do His work in you.

The pressure's on. The pressure is on, and it's only going to increase, and this is our opportunity to shine for Christ. Are we going to take it? I think we are. We're going to ask Jesus to do in our life what we cannot do in our own; this is Christianity. Writing the check is the easy part. Getting the day right, that's the easy part. Understanding the doctrine is the easy part. But day to day, denying self, letting Jesus' will be done, turning from temptation and saying, Jesus, strengthen me now. "Not my will, but [Your will], be done". That's where the rubber meets the road.

What are you watering? What's the pressure doing to you? Pushing you away from Jesus or pushing you towards Jesus? Come on, let's pray together. Let's pray like we mean it and ask God to do what we could never do ourselves. Come on, we're going to pray.

Father in heaven, we understand something about pressure. It's good, or bad, depending on what we allow that pressure to do in our lives.

And so I would pray now, for myself. And, friend, I'm praying for you, too. I'm praying for you.

Father in heaven, allow us to have that experience Daniel had. Let it be said of us, that today or tomorrow, or in earth's last days, we stood for You, because that's what we did aforetime; that was our custom, our habit. It's just how we lived our lives. Right now I know there's a lady somewhere, a man somewhere who's saying, "But I'm weak, and I keep messing this thing up".

Friend, be encouraged. God's strength is made perfect in your weakness. Father, take that heart; take that hand. There are too many of us... is it all of us? We get frustrated because we're not what we ought to be.

So, Lord, do in our lives what You ought to do. And let us live in the peaceful assurance that we've surrendered to You; You have us; we have You. We claim Your righteousness, not to excuse our sin, but to take away our sin, and to present us faultless in Your presence. We thank You for the certainty of the soon return of Jesus. Keep us now, keep us until then, we pray, and we thank You, as we claim Christ as our own, in Jesus' name. Come on and say with me now: Amen.

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