Matt Hagee - Growing Pains
The Bible speaks constantly about the cleansing of the Word of God. It begins in Exodus 30. In Exodus 30, God tells Moses that in the tabernacle where the people of Israel were going to meet with God: that he should build a bronze laver. And this laver, is a huge wash basin. It's filled with water. And at the bottom of it, there are mirrors. Now God was so adamant that the high priests had to wash before they went into the holy place: that he said in Exodus 30:20, "If the high priest does not wash, he will die".
Now how many of you, if you knew that God was going to kill everybody who didn't take a shower before they came to church you'd be willing to get in a little soap and water? The thing about this laver is that when the priest looked into the water, and he saw in the bottom, the mirrors, he went into the pure water and began to wash his hands. But he could see his reflection. And it was a reminder that he needed cleansing. You and I must be reminded that we cannot save ourselves: we needed cleansing. We needed a Savior. One of the greatest lies that you'll ever tell yourself is that you could have done it all by yourself. Jesus said it well in this chapter. He said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing".
Every time we open the Word of God and we look into it, it's like we're looking into a mirror. And what we see in it is our reflection. This book is alive, which means when you read it, it reads you. If all you're getting out of the Bible is scripture verses for somebody else, you're reading it wrong. How many of you know people that go, "Oh, I found that scripture right there. That's for you, honey"? "Uh-hum. Yes, all liars, all liars..." That's not what scripture is used for. Scripture is not so you can see others. Scripture is so you can see you. And when you recognize what isn't of God in your life, you change it. This is how James said it: it said, "Do not be hearers only, but be ye doers of the word. Lay aside every filthiness and every overflow of wickedness, and receive the implanted word. For a man who hears only and does not do what he hears is like a man who looks into the mirror and forgets what kind of man he was".
Ladies, how many of you, if you went and checked your reflection in the mirror, and you saw that your mascara had run, and that your lipstick was smeared, and that one earring was missing: how many of you would like in that mirror and God, "Girl, you look good"? No. You'd thank God for the mirror. And you'd begin to do whatever you needed to do to make yourself presentable again. But there are people, who open up God's word, and they see their reflection, and they see their flaws, and they see what needs to change: and they go, "Man, you look good". They're hearing but they're not doing. Paul said to the church in Ephesians that he, Christ, would sanctify us with the washing of the water of his word. How would he sanctify us? With the washing of the water of his word.
One of the things that's wrong with many churches these days is there's not enough word in that church to wash off the filth of sin. Paul told Timothy, "I desire that men everywhere would lift up holy hands without fear and without doubting". Do you know what holy hands are? Holy hands are clean hands. Do you know how they got clean? By the washing of the water of the word. That means that at some point in the week, they began to read this word, and wash the filth off of their spirit, so that when they came into the presence of the Lord on Sunday, they could receive the blessings of God that were made available to them in the sanctuary.
I've heard people say, who go to church, "Well I just don't get blessed in the services". That's not God's fault: that's your fault. And I can prove it to you. When I was a child, my mother could cook the best food. She still does. If she ever invites you to dinner, go. But before you could sit down and eat what she had prepared, do you know what she would ask you? "Have you washed your..." because he wasn't going to let the filthiness from outside, inside. And she certainly wasn't going to let it work at her table. God is the same way. When you come into his presence and you don't receive the fullness of joy, it's not that he hasn't done what he said he would do: it's that you don't have your hands clean and ready for him to pour into them the blessings that you need to receive.
How do you clean your hands? You read the written word. You give yourself the opportunity to allow that word to begin to develop you. And it's painful. That's where the growing pain comes from. When you read the word and the word reminds you, you need to change: that's when you have to begin to struggle. That's when you have to decide that you must decrease that he might increase. That's when scriptures like, "If any man come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me," become real. But every child of God begins with the written word. Just as newborn babes crave milk, you were created to live off of the written Word of God. Don't allow any other source to become your resource other than this book.
1 Peter, he said to the New Testament church, "As newborn babes desire the pure milk of the word that they may grow". How do they grow? The word. When Kendal and I brought our four children home from the hospital, we didn't give them a printed menu of options of things that were available for supper. They were newborn babies. We said, you're going toe get milk in the morning, you're going to get milk in the noon time, you're going to get milk at night. Why? Because as newborn infants, that was all they could digest. You, as a newborn Christian, the only thing that you were created to digest is this word. Often times, people will add other things in order to create some kind of spiritual progress, but it's not effective. Only the written Word of God is what you need. Let's consider this example here of how the written word works in our life.
Matthew 4:4 through 7, and 10, in this passage, Jesus Christ, the author and the finisher of our faith, is being tempted by the devil. And there's some things that you need to understand about his temptation. If God allowed his son to be tempted, you will be tempted. And God sent his son into the wilderness. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit led him into the middle of the wilderness. And there, he fasted 40 days and was tempted by the devil. The first thing you need to recognize is that the devil did not show up on day one. He didn't show up when Christ still had strength. He showed up on day 40, when Christ was hungry, when he was tired, when he was needy. He was emotionally, physically, and spiritually spent: and that's when the devil showed up.
The greatest temptations of your life will come when you are emotionally, spiritually, and physically out of gas. The devil came to him and he tempted him. And the way he tempted Christ is the way he'll tempt you. He tempted him with doubt first. He said, "If you are the Son of God..." He wanted to call into question the identity of Jesus Christ. Jesus knew he was the Son of God since the Genesis of time, because nothing had been created without him. He knew he was the seed of the woman. He knew that he was the Messiah. He knew all of these things.
And the first thing the devil wanted to do was challenge him with what he knew. "If you are the Son of God..." When the devil comes to tempt you, the first thing he's going to do is open up the door of doubt, "If you're really saved, you wouldn't think like that. If God really loves you, he wouldn't let you go through that. If you're truly blessed, you would actually be more than a conqueror instead of trying to struggle through these situations all of the time". Do any of those questions sound familiar?
The next thing that the devil did is he tempted Jesus with something he could do. He said, "If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread". Now if the devil asked me to turn a boulder into a krispy kreme truck, I couldn't do it. But when you're the Son of God, whose spoken word created the heavens and the earth, you can look at a rock, and say, "Croissant," and that's what it's going to be. And the message is very clear. You will never be tempted with something that you cannot do. You will always be tempted with something that you have the power to accomplish. Now here's the blessing of this teaching.
When the devil tempted the Son of God himself, the Son of God didn't look at the devil, and say, "Do you know who you're Messing with? You know how long I've been around and the things I have the power to do? Do you know where I was in the Garden of Eden? Do you know who I am? Do you know who I belong to"? He didn't get into an argument or a debate about who he was and what he had the power to do. When he was tempted by the devil, when he was physically, spiritually, and emotionally at his weakest: he did something that you and i, when we are physically, spiritually, and emotionally at our weakest, can do. He said these words, "It is written".
Child of God, when you are under attack by the enemy, don't get into a fight that you can't win. Run to the source that wins every time, and declare, "It is written". If you're in a battle for your life, declare, "It is written". If you're in a battle for your business, "It is written". If you're in a battle for your family, "It is written". When you begin to speak the written Word of God, it becomes the living Word of God. And when it becomes the living Word of God, it brings you victory, in Jesus' name! Give the Lord a handclap of praise!
You've heard the story that pastor has told many times of the man who was demon possessed, came into his church, and tried to shoot him. Have you heard that story? If not, Google it. No, I'm kidding. But here is something that story that you need to know that applies to this situation of the written, the spoken, and the living word. Pastor was teaching the congregation at the time about how Jesus dealt with demons. And in the early 70's, churches teaching about deliverance from demons in the United States was not very common.
Now you can find demons all over the place. But back then, they were kind of rare. And so while he was preparing for this series, pastor is in prayer. And he feels the Lord tell him, "You will be attacked, but you will not be harmed". And immediately, he thinks that the attack is a spiritual attack. He thinks that the attack is going to be criticism from other pastors. He thinks that the attack is going to be from denominations that don't support what he's teaching. So he just considers that a word from the Lord and he presses on with the teaching.
Now in the process of this situation, it becomes apparent that there is not a spiritual attack, but a very real physical attack. And that very real physical attack appeared when an individual, demon possessed, comes into his church with the intention of shooting him. He stands at a distance of about eight feet with a revolver. And he says to pastor, "Get on your knees and beg for your life". Do you know what pastor heard in his spirit? He heard, "You will be attacked but you will not be harmed".
Now how does that line up with this situation? That man said, "I have a gun in my hand". Pastor said, "I have a Bible in mine". And he said, "No weapon formed against me should prosper". Where did he find that? In the written word. And whenever he said it, what did it become? The spoken word. And whenever the gun started going off and the bullets missed right and left, what was it? The living word. Child of God, "My word shall not return to me void. But it shall accomplish every purpose for which I sent it". God has given you a written word. Allow it to become in you a spoken word, so that from that spoken word, you can walk in the living promises of God. Because if God be for you, who can be against you? Give the Lord a handclap of praise!
Now what is God interested in when it comes to our growth? He said, "You didn't choose me. I chose you: that you might produce", what? Does this look fruitful to you? But this is what a lot of people, who go to church, produce for God. "Well I didn't like the songs. And I don't like the usher. And I wish they'd do it different. And I believe that if God was really at work in that church, we'd have more signs and wonders. And I don't agree with everything they say down there". Is that fruitful? But there's a lot of people that that's what they utilize the Word of God to do. They want to come in and receive. And rather than believe in faith, they want to behave like this. You need to know that God has some hearing aids. Because faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
God doesn't want to see just a bunch of dried up leaves in your life. He wants to see fruit in your life. He wants to see people that needed a touch, and he used you to touch them. He wants to see souls that were lost, and he used you to bring them to Christ. He wants to see those who are weak made stronger, because they heard the testimony of what God has done in your life, and you demonstrated what revelation said: that we've overcome him by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Don't let your testimony be, "When we all get to heaven, what complaining there will be". And so when God, the vine dresser, comes by, and he says, "You've been sitting in that church for 25 years, and all you've ever produced is this".
Jesus said, in John 15, that every branch that is in him that does not bear fruit, he prunes. So you need to know that you are in one of two states. You are either being lifted up or you are being pruned. Why? That you might bear fruit. God looks at your life, and sometimes he'll use just gentle touches, something the pastor said during the service, something that quickens your mind and reminds you that there are things you need to do for him. When pastor Hagee gets up to take the offering, and God says, "Yes, I'm talking to you: you need to tithe". That's just his way of pruning you so that he can make room for fruit in your life. You walk out of there, and you say, "Well, I don't know that God was really talking to me". God says, "Look, man: I can talk gentle or I can talk tough". He'll sometimes use a sermon. And other times, he'll use a storm. He says, "Hey, I remember when it was snowing and you stood without a shirt on at that football game. But then it was raining and you stayed home from church".
Have you ever met people that are so stubborn with God? The Bible says that stubbornness is as the sin of idolatry. Ask Jonah. He needed a big hearing aid. Ask Saul on the road to Damascus, as he's knocked from his horse, blind. Ask anybody who gets audited by the IRS, and their mother-in-law moves in on the same weekend. And God says, how far do you want to go, because I'm going to do whatever I need to do to keep my promise. And that promise is that my word will not return to me void. But it shall accomplish whatever I sent it to do. And God's word in your life is intended to produce one thing, fruit, fruit.
Child of God, you need to know this: if it's in the root, it's in the fruit. People often wonder: what's God going to cut out of my life? Things that you're growing that are not in your roots. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness. That's the fruit that God wants to see in your life. God wants to see you walk in his word. Whenever you do not demonstrate these kinds of behavior, you need to know that God's coming after you. And he's going to use whatever he needs to use in order to get your attention.
He says, I heard what you said to your wife last week. I know what you thought about your boss during staff meeting. I know you're going through a trial, but I'm going to remove everything that you depend on until the only thing you need is me. If it's in the root, it's in the fruit. If you're going through a trial, and you're grafted into the vine, there's strength in the root, so there's strength in the fruit. If you're in a trial of sorrow, there's joy in the root, so there's joy in the fruit. If you're in a trial of need, there's abundance in the root, so there's abundance in the fruit. If you're in a day of battle, you need to know that there's victory in the root, so there's victory and triumph in the fruit. If you're walking into the fires of hell, you need to know that the God, who overcame the flames, is the root that you're connected to. So the flames will not burn you. The water will not drown you. The enemy cannot defeat you, because God is working in you. Child of God, if it's in the root, it's in the fruit! Give the Lord a handclap of praise!
Keep growing. Keep struggling. Keep pushing, because sooner or later, your harvest is going to come. God didn't get you out of the mess you were in to leave you abandoned where you are today. He pulled you out of where you were from, and he built you upon his written word. And he gave you the power of his spoken word, so that the promises of his living word could produce a harvest in your life. I don't know what harvest you need today. I don't know if it's in your family. I don't know if it's in your business. I don't know if it's in your physical health. I don't know if it's in your future. I don't know where it comes from, but I know this: if it's in the root, it's in the fruit, and the harvest is coming! Give the Lord a handclap of praise!
Can we stand in this place this morning? I want to ask each of you this question. Jesus said to the disciples, "You're already clean because of the word that I've spoken to you. And if you abide in me and my word abides in you, you can ask the father. And what you desire shall be done". He didn't say, "It might be done". He said, "It shall be done". So how many of you this morning have a desire in your life today, and you know exactly what it is? It may be physical, financial, emotional, spiritual. You know exactly what you desire from the Lord today. And you want to ask him for that before you leave this place. If that's you, I want you to put two hands in the air. And I want everyone in this room to repeat this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, in the authority of your name, by the power of your written word, I go to the throne of God today. And I declare in faith that your word abides in me, and I abide in you: therefore, I can ask for my desire and it shall be done. So God, my father in heaven, I am asking you today, in Jesus' name...
Now I want you to fill in the blank. If you're asking him to bless your business, I want you to tell him exactly what you need. If you're asking him to touch your physical body, I want you to tell him exactly what you want healed. If you're asking him to mend a marriage, I want you to speak to that marriage, in Jesus' name. If you're asking him to open a door, tell him exactly the door you want opened. If you want a mountain moved, speak to that mountain. If you want a weapon destroyed, talk to the Lord about the shield that you want him to be, as he removes every obstacle in your life.
Heavenly Father, there are people in this sanctuary this morning that are reaching out to you in faith believing. They're coming to you, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Let your written word that is spoken in their mouth today become a living promise in their life: that when they leave this place, they would know that they have been heard in heavenly places, and they're now walking in divine blessings here on this earth. Let them know that what they've asking for, they have received. Let them know that what they're seeking, they shall find. Because they've knocked on the door of heaven's throne room today, and God has opened up the windows and poured out blessings that they cannot contain: therefore, bless them in their businesses. Bless them in their marriages. Bless them in their physical bodies. Bless them in everything that they put their hands to. Bless their children and their grandchildren. Bless them in the mighty name of Jesus, and make them the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath: that the goodness of God would overtake them, and the blessings of God would shower down upon them. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray and we receive this.