Matt Hagee - Great Expectations
If we're going to receive the unexpected, overwhelming, beyond what we could ask, think, or imagine goodness of God in our tomorrows, we're going to have to willingly let go of what we're holding onto today, and take a leap of faith into the hand of a God who will not fail you, and receive his goodness according to his word of promise. Today we look at Hebrews 12:1 and 2, and we see the example that the Holy Spirit has for us to follow. If you're there, say, amen. Read with me. "Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin, which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God".
Heavenly Father, thank you today for what you have done for us through Christ our Savior. Thank you that in him we have an example that when we put our trust in you, all things are possible. Let our faith soar today, as we recognize that as long as we place our hope and belief in God, we are more than conquerors through Christ our Savior. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. Paul, in Hebrews 12, is building a case. Consider, if you would, that he's an attorney and he's arguing before a jury. And he's trying to convince them that God can be trusted. And so he begins with the verse that we've just read, "Since we now therefore", and this would be as if a preacher was getting to the end of his sermon and he said what most of you long to here, "And in conclusion". You see, with those words, "Since we now therefore," he's not only summing up everything that he has just finished saying, but he's connecting you to it. And so in order to understand what these two verses mean, you have to look at Hebrews 11 and 12 together, because they're not separate.
Paul is building a case that God can be trusted. And he's using the things that God has done in the lives of others to prove it. And as you look forward to what God can do in your tomorrows, you need to look back and see what he's done in the lives of others, and recognize that if he's done it for them, he'll do it for you. You know sometimes, in order for us to take this leap of faith, as I describe it, we've got to overcome two very significant things. And the first thing that we have to overcome is our feelings. And feelings are very fickle things. Feelings change all the time. Feelings are depending on all of the things that are surrounding you. Sometimes you feel like you can do great things. Sometimes you feel like you can't do anything. Sometimes you feel glad. Sometimes you feel mad. Sometimes you don't feel anything at all. And when it comes to taking a leap of faith, you can't rely on your feelings, because your feelings are far too fickle.
And the other thing that you have to overcome are your facts, because sometimes the facts are stacked against you. Right now, we have statistics that we keep on almost everything in this world. And whenever you listen to the statisticians, they can talk you out of almost everything. Single people, they'll talk you out of marriage, because statistics say that seven out of ten marriages end in divorce. Why do you want to sign up for that? I mean it's a scientific fact. There it is. They didn't say you had to get a divorce, but they said the facts are seven out of ten do get divorced, which is why, now, 60% of young couples are just living together: they're not getting married. Because they can't overcome the facts and build their family on faith. And what God is telling us to do if we're going to receive the unexpected blessings that he's promised us in our life is we've got to overcome both, our feelings and our facts, and take a leap of faith into what God has planned for us.
People say, "Well I'd like to". Wonderful. Then do what Hebrews 12 says, "Look to Jesus". You see when it comes to getting your feelings and your facts out of the way, you have to put in another word, and that's "Focus". Paul begins Hebrews 12:1, "Look to Jesus". Say that with me. "Look to Jesus". Say it like you heard it. "Look to Jesus". What is he saying? He's saying, don't get distracted! "Look to Jesus. Since we now therefore are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," let us lay aside every distraction. Let us lay aside every sin. You know what sin is? It's a distraction from what God wants you to do. Let us lay aside everything that so easily entangles us. Oh, I'd like to move forward with God, but I'm still entangled in the offense of yesterday. Oh, I'd like to move forward with God, but you just don't know my family history. Oh, I'd like to move forward with God, but there's just no way he can get me out of this mess. Paul said, lay it aside. And look to Jesus. Because when you look to him, you'll find everything you need. People are looking for answers.
Maybe you're here in this sanctuary, searching for a solution. "Look to Jesus". He is the solution. When you look to him, you find a counselor. For the Bible says, "His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace". You don't have to find an answer when you look to Jesus: he is the answer! And if I was really trying to preach hard, I mean if I really wanted you to remember what I was telling you, I'd probably say something like, "Can I get a witness"? You see, if I was to say, "Can I get a witness," the truth is I wouldn't be asking you to testify, because, "Since we now therefore," according to the words of Hebrews 12, "Are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses". If I was making my case that God could be trusted, I wouldn't ask you to come up and testify that God could be trusted. I would go back to the witnesses. And I would say, "Abel, can I get a witness"? And Abel would come and he would testify God can be trusted.
God will not allow you to be forgotten. You see, Abel didn't live very long, but what he did in this life, he did faithfully for God. And because he lived faithfully for God in this life, God let Abel's impact go well beyond the grave. Think about it. Abel brought one sacrifice. And shortly after that, Cain took his life. But right now, 191 countries are listening to this preacher talk about the faithfulness of Abel thousands of years after he's off of the earth. Why? Because when you live for God, God will not let you be forgotten! Abel would testify he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Don't let people make you believe that this life is the only life you'll ever live. Thousands of years after he breathed his last, we're still talking about the faithfulness of Abel.
You know I think there's two tribes. There's the "they" tribe and there's the "we" tribe. And the "they" tribe and the "we" tribe sometimes sneak off the reservation and they raid your peace of mind, because they like to show up in statements and raids like this. Whenever you're making a decision, people walk up, and they say, "Well you know what they say". Who's they? Everyone. Oh, okay. And you begin to build your future plans and your strategy for life on what they say. And if they are not certified in their expertise, then the next group of people that show up off of the reservation of terror is the "We" tribe. "Well, we think". Well who's we? Everyone. And suddenly you're pulled this way and that way, and persuaded by what we think.
You see when you look to Jesus, you don't get distracted by "They," and you don't get distracted by "We". And you don't care if they think you're foolish. And you don't care if we think you're wrong. All you care about is continuing to faithfully do what God called you to do, because faith will never make you look foolish! Are you still believing for the healing in your family? Are you still believing for the restoration of that child? Are you still believing for the miracle that hasn't come? Are people starting to tell you you're foolish for thinking that these facts can change? Are they telling you that you're foolish for feeling like anything will ever get better? Don't listen to the facts and don't follow their feelings. Tell "They" and tell "We" that my God is for me: who can be against me? It's going to rain!
Can I get a witness? Abraham and Sarah want to testify. They'll testify that when you don't have any strength, and no longer care to do what he told you to do, what a mighty God we serve. Maybe you're walking out of this year exhausted with all that you've been through. And you've gotten to a point where you say, "God, I know what the promise is. But even if it showed up, I'm not sure I have the strength to do it". Believe me: when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was in her 90's, that's exactly how they felt about childbirth. Look. We know you're faithful. But faithful left a long time ago! But Sarah would testify, because here's what the Bible says in Hebrews 11:11: it says, "Sarah received strength".
Think about that. In her own self, she might not have wanted to do what God said to do! But God is so faithful. He said, Sarah, I'm going to give you the strength to do what I need you to do. She received strength to conceive a seed. And she bore a child, the Bible says, "When she was past the age, because she had judged him faithful, who had promised". She heard what they said at the doctor's office: "Sarah, it's just not going to happen". She heard what we thought down at the country club: "Sarah, you guys should just go ahead and put that nursery away". She heard what Abraham said, "Baby, I'm sorry. I need a nap". But when it came to what Abraham, and all of the friends, and all of the families, and all of the experts said, she put all of that a aside, and she judged God faithful. She said, in spite of what I'm hearing, in spite of what I'm seeing, in spite of what I'm feeling: you're faithful. If you've said it, you're going to do it
And when Abraham no longer had the power and Sarah no longer had the drive, God gave them the strength to conceive and bear a son. They would testify that if God says it, you can believe it. If God says it, he keeps his promises. If others are telling you it's impossible, all things are possible with God. If somebody tells you it's not going to happen, and God said it's going to happen, don't worry about what they say: decorate the nursery, your child, your blessing, your miracle, your breakthrough is on the way! This is what Proverbs 3 says: it says, "Trust in the Lord", say that with me, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart". Why is it in your heart? Because your heart is where you keep your feelings. If you're going to have faith, you've got to overcome your feelings. So if you're going to trust, you've got to give God your heart. In spite of what I'm feeling, I trust you.
And then the next words are, "And lean not to your own understanding". Where do you keep your understanding? In your mind. This is where you store all your facts. This is where "They" and "We" come and throw their fiery darts and fill your head with information that you need to know. And you know what we do? We lean on it. It becomes our crutch. I've seen this happen before. It happened to my father, and it happened to my grandfather, and it happened to my great grandfather. So now it's just my turn. You're leaning on your understanding. You're not focusing on the one you're supposed to be following. God doesn't need to read your medical chart to determine your destiny. He's the one who gave you life.
So Proverbs says it's a matter of trust. "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart. Lean not to your own understandings. In all of your ways, acknowledge him, and he'll direct your path". Can I get a witness? You want to rely on the authority of God's word. Paul says, if I could go back, I would call Abel, and I would call Abraham, and I would call Sarah, and I would call a great cloud of witnesses. But if I could get just one witness, I would say, "Look to Jesus". He's the key witness in this case, "Can God be trusted"? Because he trusted the Lord. He trusted the Lord whenever he said, I need you to let the living word be made flesh and dwell among them. He trusted the Lord every time he prayed in his earthly ministry for a miracle to be done: that that miracle would be done. He trusted the Lord whenever he knelt in the garden, and he said, "Father, if it be thy will, let this cup pass from me". And God was silent. And Jesus knew exactly what the silence meant, move on. He said, I trust you. "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done".
There are some of you, who are praying, and you're asking God to do something different than what he has planned for you. And you're interpreting his silence as wait. No. His silence means move. Jesus trusted God the Father whenever the soldiers came and arrested him in the garden. He trusted them, when he trusted God the Father whenever the Sanhedrin falsely accused him. He trusted God the Father whenever Pilate sentenced him. He trusted God the Father when the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross. He trusted God when he said, "Into thy hands, I commit my spirit".
He trusted him when he breathed his last breath of life and was laid in a borrowed tomb. He trusted him when they rolled the stone in front of the tomb. He trusted God in spite of the shame. He trusted God that Sunday was coming. He trusted God that what man tried to take away, God the Father would give back. He trusted him that he was going to come out of that grave. And when he came out of the grave, he would have the keys to death and hell, and the chains of sin in one hand. And he would be sitting on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. He placed his trust in God and God did not fail! And God will not fail you!
When I was a child, my parents thought it was wise that I be taught how to swim. So they went down to the community neighborhood where we were living, and they signed me up for swim lessons in a public pool, put me in my swim suit, got me in the pool. And what did I do like all the other four years old? Held onto that side of that pool because this was life and out there was death. And I believed that they trusted this woman simply because she had a shirt that said "Life guard". They didn't need no background check. She could have got that at a costume shop. And you know what she said? She said, "Matthew". "What"? She said, "Let go of the wall and kick out here to me. I'll catch you".
If they ever tell you they're going to catch you, don't believe them. Because from my experience, you know what she did? I let go of the wall. I kicked. And do you know what that crazy individual that my parents didn't even do a background check on did? She started backing up. Just keep kicking. Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, kick. I started dying. She should know I don't know how to swim. That's why I'm here for lessons. What do you mean "Kick, kick, kick, kick! Help"! She picks me up from out of the water. I spit and I cough. And she takes me right back to the wall. And you know what she says? "Now push off again". You'd have thought I'd learned something. "Kick, kick, kick, kick". It was horrifying. I didn't want to let go of what I knew would hold me, and get out here floating in the middle of something I'm not familiar with all because somebody says, "I'm here for you".
And what I'm telling you is this: if you're going to get God's best for you this next year, you can't be like this scared little kid, holding onto what you know. You've got to be willing to push off into a place where you're going to be very, very, very uncomfortable. And you know what Jesus is going to do? Kick, kick, kick. You want that business to grow? I'm a provider: just keep kicking. You want to get more? I want you to give more: just keep kicking. You want your prayers answered? But they're not going to come whenever you want them: you've just got to keep kicking. You want that marriage to be restored? Don't give up: just keep kicking. I know you think you're drowning, but I'm right here. You're not going to die. You're not going to lose. You're not going to fail. I am a God, who has never failed, and I'm not going to start with you! Just keep kicking!
Can we stand? Don't lose focus. Don't get distracted. The God that we serve can do exceedingly, and abundantly, above all that you could ever ask, think or imagine. But you've got to make up your mind. I'm letting go of what I know and I'm going to kick with all I've got, because if God is for me, if he's out in front of me, and he's drawing me, and he's pulling me into deeper waters, I can't stay where I'm at. I've got to give it all I've got. I've got to take that leap of faith. So if that describes you, I want you to raise your hand right where you are. And now I want everyone in this room to raise their hands and repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, today I believe all things are possible, based on the promises of your word. And today I let go of the fear of my past, of the pain, of the rejection, of the chains that ensnare me and keep me from running the race that you have for me. Today, as I let go, I believe that you will do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that I could ask, that I could think, that I could imagine, because that's what your word says. And your word will not return void in my life. So Lord, I'm asking you...
And now I want you to fill in the blank. If you're asking him for the blessing in your family, then I want you to give him the names of the people that you want to see that blessing in. If you're asking him for the blessing in your marriage, then I want you to begin to thank him that he is going to mend and heal and restore. If you're asking for the blessing in your finances, you know exactly where you want that blessing to come from. And I want you to ask the Lord to do it and do it in a miraculous way. If you're asking for physical healing, I want you to begin to thank the Lord that you are being physically healed even now as we pray in this sanctuary. Now continue in prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, your word says, "Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find". So I'm asking you today, in faith believing. And I am thanking you in praise. Because you will do what you promised, in Jesus' name.