Matt Hagee - So Where Did He Go?
This is what the Bible says in 1 Samuel 3:1. If you're there, say, amen. "Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days". Say that with me, "And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. And there was no widespread revelation". Notice that the Bible does not say that the word of the Lord was scarce. It says, "The word of the Lord was rare". Oftentimes, when people hear about something being rare, they consider it to be not available and on short supply. But the word of the Lord was not scarce in the time of Eli and Samuel. The word of the Lord was something that was very tangible. It was known. It had been recorded. It had been read for years. It had been utilized in so many celebrations and in so many ways.
It wasn't that the children of Israel did not have access to the word. It was that they ignored the word they had access to. And if you look at what's happening in our generation in this nation, the same can be said. It is not that the word of the Lord is rare in our day. Here in the United States, we have an abundance of access to God's word. We have networks that air the word of the Lord 24-hours a day, all day long. We have technology that gives you the ability to search up messages, and you can watch them on your phone. You can watch them on your computer.
Right now, there are people who are joining us from all over the nation and all around the world, because the word of the Lord is not scarce in our day. But I would argue that the word of the Lord is rare in our day. And the reason it's rare is not because we don't have access to it, but it's because we are ignoring the word that we have. You see, the Bible tells us very clearly in the book of Hebrews that without faith, it is impossible to please God. So what is faith? "Faith" by its own biblical definition, "Is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen". And when you read God's word, God's word is a book of faith. And do you know what it's a book of faith for? The faithful. You have to be faithful to read this word. You have to be faithful to apply this word. You have to be faithful to use this word. Because until you let this word work in your life, you'll never experience the blessings that it can bring.
The reason that the word of the Lord is rare in our generation is not because we don't have access to it. It's because we have drifted from it. Our nation, like Israel, had a foundation that was so connected with the Word of God that you could not tell where the Word of God began and Israel started. Same here in the United States. You cannot tell where the United States began and the Word of God stopped. This is something that has been true from our founding fathers until the last generation. There is a deliberate effort right now to erase faith from our history. Why? Because if we can get one generation to forget faith, then we can turn that generation into a Godless society, and we're almost there. But just consider what some of our past leaders have had to say about our faith in this nation.
President Woodrow Wilson, at the turn of the 20th century, said that America was born to exemplify the devotion and the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of holy scripture. Where did he say those revelations come from? Holy scripture. That's not a preacher in a pulpit, ladies and gentlemen. That was the president of the United States. Could you imagine what would happen if a politician had the courage to say something like that again? President Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, said, "The teachings of the Bible are so interwoven with the whole civic and social life". Listen to this. He said, "It would literally be impossible for us to figure out ourselves and what life would be like if the teachings of the Bible were removed". Now if that's what Teddy Roosevelt said in his day, do you know what he would see in this day? What it looks like when the teachings of the Bible are removed.
You say, "Well those are leaders from way back when". Well let me give you one of the late greats. This one comes from Ronald Reagan. Ronald said, "Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive nation and a people, none have been more fundamental or enduring as the Bible". What's the point? If you want to see God's power, if you want to see God's presence, if you want to see God's hand in anything, it comes through the word. The Bible says in 1 Samuel 3:1: it says that there was no widespread revelation. That means that there was no vision. In the Book of Proverbs, it says, "Without a vision, people perish".
What's happening in the streets of America right now? People are perishing. Every night, look at the murder rates that you see recorded in major cities. Why are people perishing? Because they have no vision for the potential that life and how sacred and precious it is. Our economy is perishing. Why? Because we have forgotten that it is the Lord who gives you the power to get wealth. Our churches are perishing, because we have itching ears and will not endure sound doctrine. The word of the Lord is rare, but the word of the Lord is not scarce. And therefore, it is the individual responsibility of every person in this room and every individual who's watching tonight to decide that the word of the Lord that is not scarce is going to be applied in your life. It's up to you to do the work. "Faith without works is dead".
So this won't work until you read it and do it. It's just that simple. Let me ask you a question. What's the difference between an atheist who does not believe the Bible and a Christian who refuses to read the Bible he believes in? What's the difference between a cynic who does not believe in prayer and the child of God who says that they don't have time to pray? What's the difference between a heathen that thinks that church is a waste of time and a Christian who has to find time to go to church? When those things can be said to describe the church, we're living our life outside of the proper priorities defined by scripture.
Paul told the church, in the book of Hebrews, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together". David said, in the Old Testament, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'let us go into the house of the Lord'". Why? Because in God's house is God's presence. And in his presence, there is fullness of joy. In the world that we live in, we do not suffer from a lack of opportunity, but we have ignored the opportunities that are before us. And it has affected our nation in all the wrong ways.
Recently, there was a pew research poll that was distributed, defending the statement that we are a post-Christian era in the United States. And the statement was made that 4% of young people under the age of 24 believe that there is a God, not the God of the Bible, any God at all. Based on that information, it means 96% of the next generation either doubts or denies the existence of God. People say, "Well pastor, do you really believe that"? I believe that there's a lot of that that's true. How did we, as a nation, get to where we are? We either doubted or we have disbelieved that this word is true. We have behaved as if we do not believe that what is written here will come to pass in our lives. Like the fathers in Samuel's generation, we have made the Word of God irrelevant in our generation. We've raised a generation that does not see the word that we profess on Sunday lived out in our lives Monday through Friday.
We have not set the standard of truth around our dinner table and taught them that this is the reality that will bless you throughout all the days of your lives. We've turned our children loose to find their own examples instead of pointing them in the way, the truth, and the life that's controlled by the Word of God. How did it happen? Why did it happen? How do we fix it? The first step to fixing any problem is, first, admit that you have a problem. And I believe that it is time for Christians in America to admit we have a problem. We are great at telling the world about their problems. How many of you know people who know what's wrong with everybody else? But the word of the Lord is a mirror that when you read it, it reads you. And when we in God's house get right, then we have the power and the authority to turn the world upside down.
Consider the reality that the first church started in a prayer meeting that only had 120 people. And just a few short months later, the entire world was shaken by what the power of God was doing through that group of people. Why? Because they were right with God. When we get in that same position, we'll have the same power that they had. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, "If my people", who? "My people". "If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray". Where does it begin? It begins with humility. What does humility do? Humility says, "God, it's my problem". "Humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land".
Church, we don't need a change in political power. We don't need a change in our global economy. We don't need a U.N. Intervention to come in and solve our big problems. What we need is a change in our position with God Almighty. We need to abandon the God of self and get back to the God, our maker. We need to change our hearts to hunger and thirst after him. We need the Holy Ghost and fire to anoint our church once again. We need his hand to cleanse and heal our land. And I assure you, based on his word, he can do it!
People are running from the facts and embracing fiction because it makes them feel better. But whenever it comes to truth, what you need the know is we're not searching for truth: we found truth. "Thy word is truth". John 8:32, it says, "And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free". What you need to understand is that truth is the key to your liberty. Now the thing about truth is it's not always comfortable. It didn't say that the truth will comfort you and your comfort will set you free. It said the truth is something you need to know, and in knowing it, you will be free.
One of the reasons that people put God's word down is because it's uncomfortable when they read the truth about themselves inside of it. You need to know that that discomfort is God's truth liberating you from the things that are going to hurt you. This is a standard of truth that all other truth is measured by. Every other truth that is written or spoken in every other language is either confirmed or denounced by the Word of God. Why? Because God's word is truth. If you won't forget that one thing, then it's been worth all that you came for tonight, because in this world people are going to argue about truth. The good news is that argument is settled. This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Secondly, the Word of God is everlasting. It does not have an expiration date. "The grass may wither, the flower may fade, but the word of the Lord endures forever". Say that with me. "The word of the Lord endures forever". What does that mean? That simply means this: your problems may change but your promise does not. One of the vain arguments that people make about the Word of God is that this book is outdated, it's old fashioned, it's got all of these ancient theories in it. No, it doesn't. "The grass may wither, the flower may fade, but the word endures forever". It's alive. It's new every morning. When you read it, it reads you. It's a mirror that you look into, and it tells you what's going on in your life at that moment. Not only is his word eternal, but his word is Almighty.
What does that mean? That means that his word overpowers every other word. "Let God be true and man be a liar". That's what the prophet said. In 2 Peter, we read these words, "These are exceedingly great and precious promises". What kind of promises? "Exceedingly great and precious promises". Jesus Christ tells us that the Word of God cannot be broken, in John 10:35. It cannot be broken. That word "Broken" means that it is a contractual agreement that God makes with everyone who chooses to put their faith in it. In the Bible, we are called "The bride of Christ".
And in the Jewish culture, when two people got married, there was a ketubah. Here at cornerstone, we give as a gift to couples who get married, a symbolic ketubah. And what the ketubah was, was a forerunner to the marriage license. And what would happen whenever a young man decided he wanted to marry a young woman is he would go to that girl's family and he would say, "I would like to have her for a wife". Then his parents and her parents would sit down, and they would begin to write out the contract that was going to be lived out between these two kids. Sally is going to do all of the cooking and all of the cleaning, and Tommy is going to get up and go to work. Sally will give Tommy the remote. Tommy will give Sally flowers on her birthday. Whatever the details of it were, it was very much a contract that was written out between two families so that each would get to know and expect what the other would bring into the relationship.
Well, when you receive Jesus Christ, you became the bride of Christ. And he gave you a marriage contract that is written in his word. It means that you can have whatever the Bible says that you can have, and you can do whatever the Bible says that you can do. It means that you can be whatever the Bible says you can be. You can lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. You can cast out demons with the word. You can say to a mountain, "Be removed," and it shall be cast into the sea. You can ask anything according to this word, doubting nothing, and whatsoever you ask, he will do it! That's the kind of God we serve! Give him a handclap of praise in this house!
Finally, the word of the Lord is your sword and it is your shield. It is your sword and it is your shield. In the Greek, there are two words that describe the Word of God. One is "Logos" and the other is "Rhema". Logos is the written Word of God. Logos describes the scriptures. We get the word "Scripture" from the scribes whose it was to write out, from generation to generation, the written Word of God. The written Word of God is your shield. It protects you. It defends you. Psalm 91:4, it says, "His truth shall be your shield". Say that with me. "His truth shall be your shield". So when you read the Word of God on a daily basis and you behave like you believe in this word, it becomes a shield that protects you from the world that you're living in.
Let's consider the financial protection of God's word. Malachi 3:10, "Bring all of the tithes into the storehouse, and try me now to see if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out upon you blessings that you cannot contain until there is not room to receive it". Right there, God is saying, if you want financial protection that will rebuke the devourer for your sake so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, then you need to read my word and apply it to your finances, because I promise you I have an insurance policy that wall street can't match. The written Word of God is a shield to your family. Read Psalm 91. What does it say? It says, "No plague shall come near your dwelling". But not only is the Word of God a shield, it's also your sword, because the Word of God is not just written, but it is spoken. That's the rhema word. That's the Greek word for a spoken word.
Hebrews 4:12, it says, "The Word of God is living, and it is powerful, and it is sharper than any two-edged sword". Ephesians 6:17, it says, "Take up the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God". Whether you realize it or not, you are going to need a sword in your spiritual life. Why? Because whether you want to be or not, you are daily engaged in a spiritual battle. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord is engaged in a spiritual battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. And John 10 tell us, "The thief does not come but for three reasons, to kill, to steal, and to destroy". But here's what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. "I have come to give you life more abundantly".
So that's what you're fighting for every day on a spiritual level. You are either going to let the thief steal, kill, and destroy. Or you are going to use the sword and the shield of the Word of God to drive the enemy out of your life, and live in the abundance that Christ has promised you. How do you do that? You have to read it and you have to do it. You have to read it and you have to declare it. You have to read it and you have to speak it. The devil is not concerned about the family Bible that's collecting dust on your coffee table. But he trembles when you begin to use this word in your mouth. Look at Jesus, the author and the finisher of your faith. He was tempted in the wilderness. And with every temptation, how did he respond? He said, "It is written". Say that with me, "It is written".
What was he doing? He was quoting what he had read. How are you going to defeat the enemy? Quote what you have read. It's too late in a spiritual battle to go flipping through the scriptures trying to find something to say. You need to prepare yourself before the fight ever begins. And you prepare yourself by reading it, so that when you get in a spiritual battle, you can do it. Every time that Jesus quoted scripture to the enemy, the enemy changed the subject. Finally, he said to the devil himself, "It is written, 'you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only. Away with you, Satan,' and the enemy left".
What's the point? The power of the spoken word drove Satan away from Jesus Christ. And if you want to drive the devil out of your life, you're going to have to start speaking the word. If you to want to drive him out of your mind, declare the promise of his word that says, "His mind shall be in perfect peace that stayed on thee". If you want to drive him out of your house, then declare the word that says, "As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord". Do you want to drive him out of your emotions? Then declare that the joy of the Lord is your strength: and that this is the day that the Lord has made, and you'll rejoice and be made glad in it. Do you want to drive him away from your family? Then say, "My children are the heritage of the Lord. They are arrows in the hand of a warrior. And my house is a household of faith. I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor God's seed begging bread".
Child of God, when you honor his word, when you speak his word, you have victory in Jesus' name! As powerful and as precious as the Word of God is, for all that it can accomplish, it is useless in your life until you read it and do it. Jesus said, "Blessed is he who hears and does these words of mine". It's not enough until you actually put it to work. My prayer for each of you tonight is that the Word of God becomes so real to you that you know what David felt when he wrote, "I rejoice at your word as one who finds great treasure". Church, if we get back to this book, then it will be said in our day as it was in Samuel's day, "The Lord appeared again". I want to see God move in such a mighty way that there is no doubt or denial who God is and what a mighty God we serve. But he will not until we get this word back in our hearts, back in our lives, and use it for his glory. Would you stand in his presence tonight?
Father, we've heard your word. We've felt your presence. We thank you for your promises. Let this church be a church that hungers and thirsts after your truth and applies it. Let us see your promises come alive in our daily life: that it would show others what a mighty God we serve.