Matt Hagee - The Crisis of Control
If you brought your Bibles, turn them to Romans 8, beginning at the 37th verse, as this morning we begin a sermon series entitled "Conquering the crisis". This first message is "The crisis of control". This morning, we wake up in a nation that every direction you look and you turn, you either see, you hear about, or you become aware of a crisis. What you need to know about the kinds of crisis you're seeing is some crisis are intentionally created so that certain groups of people can control other groups of people. They're using the crisis to rob you of your liberty and your freedom. Still there are other crisis that are present, because we live in the times that saint Paul described to Timothy whenever he spoke to him in 2 Timothy 3:1 through 4. He said, "In the last days, perilous times will come, because men will be lovers of themselves, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God".
If there was ever a headline that could be written over the world we live in today, there it is. "Lovers of self, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God". Regardless of the crisis you pick and regardless of where it came from, why it's here: the truth is it is an all-out war in the world that we live in right now for absolute control of the free-thinking individuals that breathe the air that God Almighty gave them. And it's only going to be more intense until Jesus Christ returns. What you need to know about the nation that we live in is that our laws were not written to control you: our laws were written to protect your liberty from people who try to control you.
Abraham Lincoln, a great leader in a critical time of our history, spoke the words that Jesus said in scripture when he said of the United States, "If this nation falls, it will fall from within". He was saying that nothing from the outside can destroy us, but if we are going to be destroyed, it will be from the inside out. Right now, we are destroying ourselves from the inside out. We pride ourselves in being tolerant. But the one thing that we cannot tolerate is truth. The department of justice turns a blind eye to mobs, robbing, and looting, and burning cities: and then calls parents at school board meetings, "Terrorists".
We claim that we can negotiate with regimes of terrorists like the Taliban, but we consider Bible-believing Christians fanatics who need to be on a watch list. We started out as one nation under God, but now we claim that the name of God is far too offensive to be spoken in public education. What happened to the America that our forefathers prayed for? What happened to the America that our grandfathers fought for? How have we become so confused that we look at a transgender athlete sex change and call it courageous, but an athlete who gives a prayer and a thanks to God in heaven is somebody that's outrageous? Read with me Romans 8:37. If you're there, say, amen. "Yet in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, or any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
Heavenly Father, help us to hear your truth today: that we are indeed more than conquerors. Let this word penetrate the hearts and minds of those who are here and those who are watching. And let it awaken this nation to recognize the gift that we have in the freedoms that you have provided: and that we, Heavenly Father, are and can be one nation under God again. It's in your name we pray. Amen and amen.
You may be seated. In Romans 8:37, Paul is writing to a people who are facing crisis. And what he's saying to the church in Rome in the 1st century is something that we need to remind ourselves of here today. And what he says when he begins this passage is that he is supremely convinced God is in control. How many people worry about things that they cannot control, and they fill their life with frustration and confusion about problems that they cannot solve when the easiest thing for them to do is to remind themselves: there is one who is greater than you, and he's in total control.
When Paul wrote the words, "We're more than conquerors through Christ," he was writing to a church that was being persecuted, and being tortured, and being fed to lions, and imprisoned, and martyred by the Roman government. Why? These people were not Marching in the streets, burning down city blocks. They weren't organizing insurrections. All they did was have the simple conviction to stand up for their faith, and say, "Jesus is Lord" not "Caesar is Lord". You see, every good Roman citizen had to regularly take a loyalty oath. It was a very simple process, as Roman soldiers would stand in front of the gates of Roman cities. And as you went in and out of the city, all you had to do to pass through peacefully, it's very simple. It sounds like a passport: right? Just take a little bit of incense, throw it in the fire, and make one statement, "Caesar is Lord". Thousands of times a day, thousands of people would walk in and out of the areas that Rome controlled, and say, "Caesar is Lord," "Caesar is Lord," "Caesar is Lord".
And as long as you stayed with the government mantra, you could do whatever you wanted. But suddenly there was a group of people who had seen something so amazing. When this Jewish rabbi from Nazareth died at Rome's hands, and three days later he walked out of that grave, suddenly they realized Caesar is not Lord: Jesus is Lord. And once they made up their mind that Jesus was Lord, they could not play pretend with Caesar: they had to tell the truth about Jesus. And therefore, not taking this simple loyalty oath cost them their lives. Could you imagine what was being said to them by their friends? "What's the big deal? Just take the pinch. It'll be okay. We know Caesar's not Lord. Caesar's crazy". But the point is they knew the truth. And the Bible says, "The truth shall set you free". Paul answered the question of their crisis when he wrote the words of Romans 8:37. He said, "In all these things". Say that with me. "In all these things".
He had members of his church saying, "Pastor Paul, what do we do if Rome puts us in prison? Pastor Paul, what do we do if they send us to the coliseum? Pastor Paul, what do we do if they shut down our business? Pastor Paul, what do we do if they kick us out of our house"? And Paul writes to them and says, "In all these things". There's nothing they can do to you that's going to take away the victory that Christ has already given you. Paul said, "I am persuaded". What he's saying is I have seen way too much. I've seen God do too many things. And then he starts to list. He said, "I've seen him do this in death when he brought people back to life. I've seen him do this in life when he changed the events. I've seen him do this in supernatural things. I've seen him do it in natural things. I've seen him do it when I was in prison, and he set me free. I've seen him do it when I was beaten, and he restored me. I've seen him do it when I was blessed, and he gave me more. I've seen him do it when I didn't have enough, and he opened up the windows of heaven and gave me all that I needed. I am persuaded, because I've seen him do it with my present. I've seen him do it with my past. I know he's going to do it in my future. You cannot shake my faith, because I've seen him do too much"!
Being more than a conqueror has got to be your mindset before it can become your reality. You have got to make up your mind that God is in control of everything before you can experience the impact of that in your reality. If you don't make up your mind who's in control, then you will be controlled by everything that comes your way. And right now, there are people with power on the earth, who want to control you. Here's the problem: if God is in control, then the seat of power is already taken. They can't have what you gave to him. The world wants to control independent-thinking people right now. You think for yourself? You need to be stopped. But here's the problem: I decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. You can't have me. He's already got me. I made up my mind: this is the team I'm playing for. It's a mindset of faith. And faith is what leads to freedom. You cannot have freedom without faith.
Why is the foundation of this nation so interwoven with faith? Because you cannot have freedom without faith. Jesus said it very clearly. He said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". He said, "Whom the son sets free. Is free indeed". If you own something, you've got a deed for it. And Jesus Christ, the owner and the author and the finisher of freedom, signed your name in his blood to that deed. And when you received him, he said, "You are free indeed". Nothing can take it from you. So here's the question: if you have been set free, why on earth would you be willing to give that freedom to someone else when it cost Jesus so much to give it to you? Why? You've got to make up your mind. God is a God of choice. He said, "Choose you this day whom you will serve".
Make the choice, faith and freedom, or fear and tyranny. I choose for me. You choose for you. I've made the choice. I choose to live for Christ, my king, not live by the chance that the government can take care of me. I choose to be motivated that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I refuse to be manipulated by a system that wants to determine my destiny. I choose to be useful for his kingdom's sake. I refuse to be used as a statistic or a label or a pawn in the plans of man. I choose to decide when and where and how to live my life. I will not make excuses for what's wrong, but I choose when to fix what's wrong by Christ, who has given me the grace to do so. I choose to live with confidence, not build an identity on sympathy. I choose to live by faith, not live in fear. I choose liberty rather than the bondage of lies. I choose to do right even when others do wrong, so that I can walk in the blessings of God even when they cannot. I choose him. I choose his word. I choose his power. I choose his provision. I choose his protection. I choose his peace. I choose him, because as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
How can you be more than a conqueror? I'll give you one simple statement that can change everything in your life if you let it. Exceed the standard. We serve an exceedingly great God. The Bible says, "To him who is able to do exceedingly, and abundantly, above all that you could ask, think, or imagine". If we serve an exceedingly great God, then you should live a life that exceeds the standard. And right now, the world that we live in is trying to standardize everything. They want to standardize education. That's why we've got these problems happening in our classrooms. They want to standardize health care. Based on the statistics of who you are and how much you may or may not survive, we're going to decide how we're going to treat you. That's a problem. They want to standardize your income. That's why we have a pile of tax laws that are taller than you. They want to standardize your speech.
You say the wrong thing: you're canceled, deleted, not heard of anymore, because you said something they didn't give you permission to say. Why are they trying to standardize everything? Because the crisis that we're having in the country is a crisis of control. And everything that is standardized is easy to control. And the only thing that it takes for you to become a target is to exceed the standard. Just get out of the box that they've built for you, and the first thing they're going to do is put a lid on that box, and say, "Get back in the box". Exceed the standard in your speech. Stand up and speak truth boldly. Say something that's not popular. Say something that's not politically correct. And what happens? Canceled. Exceed the standard in your income. Do something like what the Bible says: "Six days you shall work". Earn.
And suddenly, they're going to find ways to tax you, to take those earnings so that you go down while others try and come up. Exceed the standards in your family. Take the Word of God and use it in your home as the lamp unto your feet and the light unto your path. Live by the convictions of this book, and what are they going to do? They're going to take your kids into public school and teach them that what mommy and daddy said at home is not true. You weren't created by God: you came from an ape. That's science. No, that's stupid. It's a crisis of control. But the good news is, you have the right to petition. Now "The right to petition" is not a brand-new phrase. It's something that's written in the first amendment.
The first amendment gives us freedom of speech. There will be people who will write me this week, and say, "Pastor, you can't say the things you said". Yes, I can. I have freedom of speech. With the freedom of speech, is the right to petition. And the right to petition gives you permission to go to a judge and to ask the judge for a ruling whenever you don't agree with what's being done. And the petition that you give to the judge, he takes that petition, and he considers your complaint, and then he looks at something called "Law". We used to follow those. And then the judge shows up and says, "Based on the law, this is what the answer is".
So the question for us in the world that we live in today is, "Where do we petition"? In the natural world that we're living in, where do we find a righteous judge when the world has turned a blind eye to people of faith? I've got good news today. Our right to petition is not just here on this earth, but there is a higher court. And the one who sits on the throne in that court is king above kings and Lord above Lords. Child of God, when you go into heavenly places in the mighty name of Jesus, what you bind on earth is bound in heaven. What you loose on earth is loosed in heaven. When you humble yourself and pray, prison bars are opened, the dead come back to life, he makes a way where there seems to be no way! When you petition, what do you say, because how you petition determines your outcome?
In Acts 4, we read of the 1st century church, the same group of Christians that Paul is writing to. And it says, "And when they had prayed". Say that we me. "And when they had prayed". It says, "And when they had prayed, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they all spoke the word with more boldness". When they prayed, they didn't encourage the preacher, and he did better. When they prayed, they all received, and they all had something to say. So what did they say? What was it about that prayer that literally made the doorposts of the room that they were praying in start to shake? Well, first and foremost, I can tell you what they didn't ask for. They didn't ask for God to change the circumstance. They didn't go before heaven and say, "Living down here is so hard: could you make it easier"?
They didn't go before the heavens and say, "Father in heaven, my boss doesn't like me: could you change their mind"? They went before heaven, and they said, "God, you are the Creator of heaven and earth, and you rule and reign". They said, you're in control. And they said, "You've seen the threats that they've made towards us, now give us boldness that in spite of what they threaten, we have the strength to overcome it". They didn't say, "God, change the circumstance". They said, "God, give us the strength to overcome it". And there comes a time in your life when you've got to stop praying, "Father, my will be done", and you start praying, "Father, thy will be done". Because sometimes God gives you the ability to conquer something by taking you out of it. And sometimes God gives you the ability to conquer something by taking you through it. It's not your job to decide which way you go. It's your job to be ready to do what he wants. So my prayer today is that when we pray, all would be filled.
Now the beauty of this is that as many needs as there are in this room, there's only one source that can fulfill it. Jesus said it this way: he said, "Whoever drinks of this living water will never thirst again". And one thing I know about people in the world today, especially Christians, we think if you do it once, it's done. But that's not what Jesus is talking about. He's talking about living water in a desert land. The people who heard anyone speak about water in the time of Christ, knew that what was being spoken of was precious because water equaled life. If you had a well, you protected it, because if it ran dry, you were dead.
And when Jesus said, "I am living water," what he was saying is, "I am a resource of life that will never run out. And whenever you need a drink, you come see me. And whatever you're looking for, you're going to find". He didn't say, "You're never going to thirst again, because you take one sip". If that was all the water that I needed for the rest of my life, I'm not going to live much longer. What Jesus was saying is, he who drinks of me, he's never going to have to look for another source. He's never going to have to dig another well. He's never going to have to fight another battle for life, because I am the source of life.
You need joy: I'm the source of joy. You need peace: I'm the source of peace. You need hope: I'm the source of hope. You need healing: I'm the source of healing. You need freedom: I'm the source of freedom. And as many times as you need it, I'll be here to provide it. Just come drink from me. Come drink from me on Sunday. Come drink from me on Monday. Come drink from me on Tuesday. Drink from me in the morning. Drink from me in the noontime. Drink from me at night. Whatever you do, don't stop drinking from me. Because every time you drink from me, I'm going to make you stronger, I'm going to make you better, I'm going to give you more confidence, I'm going to show you the path that you should take. Child of God, he is a resource of living water that's flowing through this sanctuary. And what he wants to know today: is there anybody here who's thirsting? Because if you drink from him, you'll never thirst again.
So I'm going to ask you to stand right where you are, as we close this service. The world we're living in has a crisis for control. And there are some of you in this sanctuary today, and there are some of you who are watching that your life is out of control. Today, I want you to make up your mind and put God in control. I want you to allow him to become the Lord of your life. Some of you have accepted him as Savior, but you still haven't received him as Lord. Others of you haven't ever done what needs to be done to call him your Savior. You haven't asked him into your heart. So as we close this service today, I want you to bow your heads before heaven. And I want you to pray this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, today I give you control, because when you're in control, I receive the blessings that I need everywhere that I need them. Today I need your spirit to give me strength. I need your grace to give me forgiveness. I need your mercy to wash me white as snow and make me new again. I thank you for the work that you have done to make me more than a conqueror. And I receive you as my Savior today, in Jesus' name. Amen.