John Hagee - Streams in the Desert
In Psalm 63, David was going through one of those rough times in his turbulent life when he was driven from the throne by his son, Absalom: and amasa, his nephew: and Ahithophel, a friend that has become a vicious traitor. David has fled the capital City of Jerusalem and he's headed for the wilderness to save his life. The wilderness in Israel then and now is a bitter and barren wasteland. He walks across the northern edge of the wilderness of Judea to the area of the Dead Sea. It is an exceedingly dry and depressing place. He is away from the comforts of his magnificent palace. He is away from his family. He is away from the comforts of wealth and power and the trappings of royalty.
What did he miss most when I was in the wilderness? Read with me Psalm 63, the first four verses. Ready? "O God, thou art my God: early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: to see thy power", say that again, "To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name". What did David miss most? Not his palace, not his royal throne, not his family, not his friends, not the trappings of royalty, but what he missed most was God's house.
The 63rd Psalm, said David, missed these three things: one, he missed the place of prayer. "Early will I seek thee". Say that with me. "Early will I seek thee". Secondly, he missed the place of power. "I long to see thy power". And thirdly, he missed the place of praise. "My lips shall praise thee". Question: if you were driven into exile and you were in a dry and barren and desolate desert, what would you want most? The comforts of home? The surroundings of your children? The comforts of your air-conditioned house? Or would you miss the house of God more than these? David said, "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord".
In the house of the Lord, there is refuge from the storms of life. In the house of the Lord, the lost are saved. And if nothing else happened, that would make this house the most important building on planet earth. In the house of the Lord, the bondage and shackles of sin are broken. In the house of the Lord, burdens are lifted, and the sobs turn to shouts of joy, as God gives joy unspeakable and full of glory. In the house of the Lord, lives are baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. In the house of the Lord, sick bodies are healed, the lame leap for joy, and blind eyes see, and the deaf hear. In the house of the Lord, demon spirits are conquered by the liberating name of Jesus Christ. In the house of the Lord, the garments of praise replace the spirit of heaviness. In the house of the Lord, there is fullness of joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. In the house of the Lord, God's children come together, and the family of God prays, and magnify the king of glory! There is no God like our God! Give him praise and glory! Hallelujah to the lamb!
Two weeks ago, a Gallup poll found that eight out of ten adults in America said, "You could be a good Christian and not go to church". Look me right in the eye and let me tell you that's flat wrong. The Word of God says very clearly, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together". The Bible says, "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy". Jesus Christ is our example. We are not the example to each other. He is our example. We're following him, not each other nor the Gallup poll. Jesus is our example, and the Bible says, "And that he went to the house of the Lord on the sabbath day, which was his custom".
If you are following Jesus, who was Christ, and we are Christians, and you are like him, on the Lord's day, you go to God's house. The Lord's day is not your day: it's God's day. Then David says, "Thou art my God". That has two meanings. One, it means in the Hebrew, my God is real, the word "Elohim," Almighty. Elohim, Hebrew, plural tense, God's, meaning Trinity: God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. David, who guarded sheep under the stars, was saying, how can you deny the reality of God? "The heavens declare the glory of the Lord". He is the shepherd of the stars. He flung the stars against the velvet of the night, and he calls every one of them by name.
Now with the Hubble telescope, we are trying to discover where they are. God, from the Genesis of time, has called them by their name. When I pray, he answers by fire. When I pray, he shows up in the fiery furnace. When I pray, he shows up by the edge of the Red Sea and he makes a way where there seems to be no way. When I pray, the demons of hell tremble, because I'm praying in the authority of the supreme name of Jesus Christ. When I'm lonely, he is the friend that sticketh closer than a brother. When I am sick, he heals my body. When I am under attack, David said, he is my high tower, he is my refuge, he is my shelter in the time of the storm. He is my redeemer and he's worthy of our praise! Glory! Glory, glory to the name of God! Hallelujah!
David says, "He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies". A table is a place of provision. I want to tell you something. It delights the Lord to give you the best of things right under the nose of those that hate you. When Pharaoh pursues Moses to the Red Sea, God opens the Red Sea. Moses and the children of Israel go across. Pharaoh comes out and God drowns the lot of them while Moses and the children of Israel dance and sing. He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Moses and his people were slaves, but they were singing and dancing in absolute freedom while the monarch, the most powerful man on the face of the earth, had been turned to fish food in a matter of seconds.
I like that story. The three Hebrew children are in the fire. They heated the fire seven times hotter, and those who threw them in were consumed. But when they opened and looked, there was the fourth man in the fire liken to the Son of God. He prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. In the worst of times, God shows up, and he brings things that your mind could never imagine, things that are unspeakable, things that are unthinkable, things that are beyond anything you could dream or imagine, because he is a supernatural, all-knowing, all-powerful God! He is real and he can give you the desires of your heart! Hallelujah to the lamb!
The second meaning of that verse, "Thou art my God" could be and translated, I serve no other Gods. I do not serve the God of the Amorites, or the Hittites, or the Jebusites, or the pezerites. I only serve Jehovah God. I serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: the God of covenant, David was saying. I serve the God who parted the Red Sea for Moses and the God of miracles. I serve the God who appeared in the fiery furnace. I serve the God who muzzled the mouths of lions. I serve the God who sits upon the circle of the earth and weighs the mountains in a scale and the hills in a balance. I serve the God the blast of whose nostrils can split the cedars of Lebanon. I serve the God who is a giant killer, the waymaker, the Creator of heaven and earth. I serve the Lord of glory, the light of the world, the lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. I serve that God! Hallelujah to the lamb!
So let me ask you a question. What Gods do you serve? Those of you that are watching by television and listening by radio, what Gods do you serve? When you're in the desert of your days, upon whom do you call? When you've been betrayed by your dearest friend, whom do you call? When you're brokenhearted, when you're surrounded by tragedy, when you're staring into the grave of the dearest on earth, to whom do you turn? Where do you go if you don't go to God? David said there's only one answer. I go to the rock of my salvation. I go to my fortress. I go to the high tower. I go to the shield and the buckler. I go to the one who gives me a song in the night. I go to the one who gives me joy unspeakable and full of glory. I go to the one that gives me peace that surpasses understanding. I go to the one that can bring joy in the midnight hour when tears are slipping down my face and I'm in a Cathedral known only to God. I go to the one who makes streams in the desert. I go to the one who makes good things happen in the worst of time. I go to the one who is the living God, the only God, Jehovah God! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!
I think the kids have captured the statement, but it bears saying here. Our God is an awesome God. He's an awesome God! If there was no heaven to gain and no hell to shun, serving Jesus would be the best life. "Early will I seek thee," David said. There are two meanings to that also. Early in the morning, and let me remind you that prayer at the church is 6:30 in the morning. For some of you, that's an ungodly hour. So there's a second translation for that. "Early," meaning first thing in the day. So if you get up at 10 o'clock, first thing in the morning, talk to the Lord. First things first. Say that with me, "First things first". And if you really want to have an exciting day, put God number one on your agenda, and you'll be amazed how splendidly the days go by.
I've heard people say, "I'm just too busy to pray". When you're too busy to pray, you're too busy! You're not talking to the force that can make everything go right that day. David said, communion with God is more to be desired than the comforts of the royal chamber. Think about that. Communion with God is to be more desired than the comforts of the royal chamber. America's Christians are controlled by the comfort syndrome. Our churches are built for absolute comfort. We can go home and run five miles and call it exercise. But go to church, and if you can't park next to the front door, you consider it the Great Tribulation. We have padded pews, and deep-piled carpet, air conditioning, stereo sound system, stain-glass window and pipe organs.
But where is the fire of Pentecost that they had in a stark-cold stone room where cloven tongues of fire set upon their heads? I'd rather be in the stone room without the air condition and the power of God, than to be in a stain-glass Cathedral that was as dead as a morgue! In America, if a pastor were to ask the congregation to fast and pray for ten days in such a stark-cold disciplined place, well, they'd form a pulpit committee and find someone that had a little more balance in his spiritual life. This man is a fanatic. You know the definition of a fanatic: don't you? A fanatic is someone that loves Jesus more than you do. Church, Jesus Christ did not die at Calvary for your comfort. He said, "Take up your cross and follow me". Say that with me. "Take up your cross and follow me".
I give you this historical footnote: everyone who followed Jesus Christ got killed. That does not mean he called us to a life of comfort. The Book of Revelation says about the New Testament church, "They loved not their life unto the death," meaning they were willing to die for their witness to Jesus Christ. I want you to hear this. Where there is no cross, there is no crown. Where there is no burden, there is no blessing. Where there is no conflict, there is no conquest. The Bible says: fight the good fight of faith. We are at war with the powers and principalities of darkness. We have crosses to carry. There are giants to whip. God says, "Put your hand to the plow and don't look back". Quit whining about how uncomfortable you are, and suit up and show up for the army of the Lord Jesus Christ, and let the battle begin! The victory is ours, in Jesus' name! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!
David said, "My soul thirsts for thee". I want you to hear this. Only living things thirst. If there is no thirst in your soul for spiritual things, that means you are dead, twice dead, plucked up by the roots and don't know it. If you have no thirst for God, you are dead, no life, no fruit, no passion, no purpose. You are a religious corpse singing "Amazing grace," singing about a heaven you're not ever going to see. You are a form without a force. You have ritual but not righteousness. You have hype but not holiness. There's a difference. You profess but you do not possess. When you want God more than any other thing, God will give you the desires of your heart. I want you to understand something. Every person here and every one of you listening by radio or television have as much or as little of God as you want right now.
You have as much or as little as you're willing to pay the price to have. Jesus said, "I am the living water". Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. You can try to fill your empty soul with alcohol, and some of you in this room have. Some of you have tried to satisfy your life with pot and cocaine. Some of you have tried to satisfy your life with sexual fantasies. It will only break your heart. It will, in the final analysis, destroy your soul. It will leave you more bitter than ever and it will cause you to be nothing but a rung-out life on the scrap heap of humanity. The world jabbers about happy hour. Happy hour is where a community of drunks gather together to cry on each other's shoulder. The only legitimate happy hour is when God's children gather in the house of God and drink from fountains of living water. And their strength is renewed, and they find joy unspeakable and full of glory! Hallelujah to the lamb!
In the upper room, the 120, after ten days of being in the presence of God, they came stumbling and staggering out of the upper room, and Peter said, "These men are not drunk as you suppose". They have been filled with the Holy Ghost and fire. They came out of that room with power to heal, power to cast out demons, power to pray for the sick and they should be healed. Dear God, do it again. Let your church become hungry for a demonstration of the power of God. The world has many amusements, but it has no lasting pleasure. Pleasure is God's invention. Satan and his hordes have never been able to manufacture a single genuine lasting pleasure, not one!
Psalm 16:11, David says, "Thou will show me the path of life: in thy presence is the fullness of joy: at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore". Only Jesus can bring you pleasure. In your presence is pleasure for evermore. Only Christ can satisfy your soul. Satan whispers to you, "If you find Christ, you'll never live a happy day". Let me tell you something. Until you know him, you'll not have a happy day. David continues by saying, "In a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water".
I want you to hear this. Sooner or later, you're going to come to a wilderness. Sooner or later, you're going to come to a dry and barren land where no water is. Sooner or later, you are going to be in the desert of your days where your tears will be the only moisture you feel. When Israel was in the wilderness, Moses smote the rock. And from an unlikely source, gushed streams in the desert. Jesus is the rock in the weary land. We sing that song "Oh Jesus is the rock in the weary land". He is the source of living water in the wilderness. When there is no other source, he and he alone can give you living water, water that satisfies the soul, water that brings life, water that brings joy, water that brings peace.
Are you in a barren and dry and desert place? "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God... And all of these things shall be added unto you". He will make streams of water to gush out of a rock. He will make the crooked way straight. His angels will go before you and behind you. His Holy Spirit is within you. God sits on his throne, and all you have to do to accentuate the artillery of heaven is say, "Jesus". And suddenly, you hear the swoop of angels' wings sweep from the balconies of heaven coming to your dispatch! Demons tremble because you are God's child and the power of heaven is in you! And hell can't stop you! Hallelujah to Lamb of God!
David says in the latter half of verse 2, "To see thy glory". "Glory" is defined as praise, honor, and distinction, a ream or a spot of light. The fact is you can see God's glory. God's visible glory was made manifest in the holy of holies. There was a shekinah glory that dwelled over the mercy seat. When Solomon dedicated the temple, the shekinah glory of God came down. It was so powerful: the people could not go on worshiping. How would you like to come to church next Sunday morning and the glory of God filled this place until you couldn't see each other? Umm-hmmm. Since the Holy Spirit fell in the upper room, his glory is manifest through people. Why? Because God, the Holy Spirit, is in you. That's why we say the verse, "Greater is he that's within you than he that's within the world".
Get this. Your capacity to reflect God's glory is based upon the degree of your submission to the Holy Spirit. I want to say that one more time so you can get it. Your capacity to reflect God's glory is based upon the degree of your submission to the Holy Spirit. Christians, who are ruled by the flesh, cannot reflect God's glory. You are saved but you're useless. The flesh, when it is crucified, and the spirit comes in control, out of that person comes a glory of God. Just as a lightbulb can radiate 50 watts or a hundred watts or two hundred watts, so by your choices, do you limit God's ability to shine out of you. Do you want to bring glory to God? Then crucify yourself. Crucify your ego. Crucify your vanity. Crucify your pride, the arrogance, and become a servant of God. Shine for the glory of God! And you can only do that when you decide to do it. You crucify yourself! "If you will humble yourself," God says, "Then I will hear from heaven".
I want you to hear this spiritual principle. You either humble yourself by your decision, or God will humiliate you and put you on your face, and then you can seek the Lord. Verse 3 says: because thy lovingkindness is better than life. Say that with me. "Because they lovingkindness is better than life". How many of you've ever heard someone say, while doing something they really enjoyed, "This is the life"? How many of you've ever heard someone say that? Raise your hand. "This is the life". A golfer makes a birdie, and you say, "This is the life". When they miss a two-foot putt, they say other things, but a fisherman catching a trophy fish, "This is the life". An opera lover listening to Pavarotti, "This is the life". A sports fan watching the spurs, "This is the life," until we play the Utah jazz, and then poof became a nightmare.
King David says life is dear, but God's presence, his love, his anointing is better than life. God's presence, David said, is better than life. "In him, we live, and move, and have our being". Remove his light and you are in the shadow of death. Remove his love and life becomes as bitter as gall. Remove his hope and life becomes absolutely hopeless, full of depression. Think of this. God has shared life with the lowest level of animal form. But his loving kindness, he has preserved only for the righteous. "Thy lovingkindness is better than life". Say that with me. "Thy lovingkindness is better than life". "My lips shall praise thee". David is in the desert. It's bitter. It's barren. His response: "My lips shall praise you".
In the worst of times, I am going to praise you by an act of my decision, not by how I feel, not based on my environment, but based on my decision. Are you in the desert of your days? Then praise him and God will cause water to gush out of a barren rock, cool, clear, living water, streams in the desert. Are you in a battle? Praise him until your enemies are in chains and victory is yours. Are you discouraged? Praise him. Are you weary? Praise him. Are you vexed with problems? Praise him. Praise him! Praise him until the storm clouds are blown away out of your life by the breath of the Almighty God, by the wind of the Holy Spirit. Praise him until cloven tongues of fire sets upon your head. Praise him until the power of God fills your very being! Praise him until you're healed! Praise him until you have heaven's answer! Praise him until he shows up in the fire! Praises him until he divides the sea! "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord"! Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!