Matt Hagee - The Crisis of Conviction
If you brought your Bibles, turn them to Philippians 4, beginning at the 12th verse, as this morning we continue in the sermon series "Conquering the crisis" with this message "The crisis of conviction". Today, we need to have enough conviction to understand that God did not make a mistake when he put us on the earth. We need to have enough conviction to know that if God is on our side, what can man do to us? We need to have enough conviction to declare, "If God be for me, who can be against me"? Today, it is my prayer that when this sermon is over: that you have enough God-given conviction down in your soul to recognize that you are God's agent of change in the earth today. He called you, "Salt" and he called you, "Light". And therefore, it is time for us, as the bride of Christ, to shine in this generation like never before. Read with me Philippians 4:12. If you're there, say, amen. "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengths me".
Heavenly Father, let your Holy Spirit show us in your word today what it means to live with great conviction. Help us to change this world for your glory by making your name known. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, amen.
You may be seated. In this life, you're going to have to make the choice between conviction or convenience. And we live in a world that is addicted to convenience. We consider difficult things to be abnormal and do everything that we can to avoid them. But sooner or later, you're going to find out, when an inconvenient time comes, what conviction can do. Conviction is what gives you the strength to take the next step. Conviction is the attitude that decides: no matter what I go through, no matter what others say about me, no matter who's against me, even when quitting looks good, I'm going to refuse to give up because God is on my side. Conviction endures and presses on and reaches forward in faith. Conviction takes the next step. And it might be a small step, but if God is in that step, it's worth taking.
Today, you need to have conviction that God has not brought you this far to let you fail. God didn't bring you through the storms of your life, God didn't spare you, God hasn't protected you, God hasn't provided for you just to throw it all away. If you've carried your cross this far, keep carrying it. If you've climbed up the hill this high, keep climbing it. If you've walked through a valley, keep walking, because God is with you. And if God is with you, he'll sustain you, he'll guide you, he'll comfort you. But whatever you do, don't give up! That's what conviction does. And it is the opposite of convenience. The apostle Paul has a prescription for convenience. And he said it this way: "I know how to be abased. I know how to abound in everything and in all ways, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". He had a conviction that went past convenience that said, no matter what comes my way, I'm going to live for God.
Paul had a number of "I know" statements. He told his pupil, Timothy, in the New Testament, "I know in whom I have believed. And I believe that God is able". Say that with me. "God is able". He told the church in Rome, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes". He didn't say, "All things were good". He said that God is so great: he can take everything and use it for your good. And here in Philippians, he says, "I know". "I know how to be abased". What does that mean? That means I know how to be with nothing. I know how to live when no one cares about you. I know what it feels like when everything goes wrong. I know how to be ignored. I know how to be overlooked. I know how to feel less than important. And I also know how to abound.
He said there are some people that they know only the bad side of life. He said, but can you handle it when life gets good? How many people let the good times pull them away from God? How often does church get full in a season of crisis? Why? Because when we're in trouble, we like that ever-present help in a time of trouble. But when everything's going right, we go to the lake. If that's the kind of relationship you have with God, he's going to use crisis to get closer to you. Paul says, I know how to be without and I know how to abound. I know how to live when everything's going good. I've been on both sides of the scale, Paul said. And he said, "And I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". Your strength comes from Christ. Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing".
If you face an hour of need, you know you can do all things through Christ, because my God shall supply all of my needs according to his riches in glory. When you walk through a fiery trial, you can do all things through Christ, because our God is an ever-present help in a time of trouble. When you're sick, you can do all things through Christ, because he's a healer. When you're lonely, you can do all things through Christ, because he's a friend closer than a brother. When you're lost, you can do all things through Christ, because he's the seeking shepherd, who is coming to save you. When you're bound by sin, you can do all things through Christ, because he is a redeemer who is faithful and true. Are you searching for an answer today? His name is Jesus. Are you needing a shield in battle today? He is my God.
If you're searching for an answer, he is the way, the truth, and the life! And you can do all things through Christ! Have you ever noticed how trouble doesn't get on your schedule: it just shows up? Life can be filled with such extreme joy that there's times you wonder: could it get any better than this? And then life can be filled with such bitter pain that you wonder if you can ever go on. But when you live with conviction, you'll know what Paul knew, "I can do all things through Christ".
In the hard times, I can press on. In the bitter times, I can forgive those who've hurt me. I can choose to rejoice in days of struggle. I can overcome guilt and the pain of my past. I can overcome the fear of tomorrow, because I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. The Bible is a book that is not filled with flawless lives. When you read the profiles of the people who are talked about in scripture, you don't find such righteous individuals who are so holy: they never made a mistake. Look at the life of Moses and David and Paul. If they came to church, security would make sure they got to sit next to them. The thing that made the individuals in scripture heroes of the faith is not that they were perfect, not hardly. It was that they lived with conviction. They lived with a deep faith in a God that they believed would never fail.
When the road seemed tough, it was conviction that allowed them to take the next step. When the burdens were great, it was conviction that gave them the strength to bear it. When the weight of the world was like a mill stone around their neck, it was conviction that said, "I will not quit" and keep pressing on. Are you going through a difficult day? Are you having trouble in your life? Are you facing trouble in your marriage? Are you at a breaking point in your business? Have enough conviction to believe that God will not fail you. Consider those who came before you and think about those who are coming after you. And allow the power of the Holy Spirit to lift up your head and anoint you with the conviction to carry on.
Don't look at the giant that you're facing and only see a problem that's bigger than you. Look at the giant that you're facing, and announce to him, "You are not bigger than my God". Don't consider the trouble that you're having and worry about where the answer is coming from. Jesus Christ is the answer, and your answer is on the way! Conviction moves forward. Excuses back up. Convenience will always make an excuse. And the world that we live in is addicted to excuses. Oh, don't blame me. Wrong! You are the person who is responsible for your behavior. It's called "Character," and it's your choice. Excuse is a cancer of the soul. It's what robs you of opportunity to see what God can do.
People say, "But you don't know". I don't know but God does. If I was here today talking to you about what I believed you could do, you would have permission to make every excuse you would ever need to make, because I don't know your potential. I didn't come today to tell you what I think about you. I came to today to tell you what God said about you. He said, "You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength". God knows you perfectly well. He's the one who made you. He numbers the hairs on your head. He knows the steps that you take. And he believes in you. Do you believe in him? He has a plan for you. Have faith that he will perform it. He said he'd make you the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. He said, "Whatever you ask in his name, he would do it". Don't let the world outside tell you what God is doing on the inside. Understand that the God you serve is greater. "Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world".
Consider Paul and what he had to press through. In 2 Corinthians 11, he tells us line for line and detail for detail. He says, "Five times, I received 30 stripes. Three times, I was beaten with a rod. Once I was stoned". That's with rocks, by the way. "Three times, he's shipwrecked. One day and one night, he spent in the deep". He said, "I was in peril of robbers. I was hunted by my countrymen. I was wanted in the city and in the wilderness. I fell into the hands of false brethren. I've been without food, without water, cold, and naked". And he says, "And these light afflictions". Could you imagine what he would think was heavy stuff? "These light afflictions are not compared to be worthy of what the reward that's waiting for me". That's conviction.
Compare Paul's light afflictions with what the modern American believes is hard times. The Bible speaks about a Laodicean church. It's the last church in the Book of Revelation. And it's the church of which Jesus said, "You're neither hot, nor are you cold... I'll spew you out of my mouth". They're called "The lukewarm church" for that reason. But to understand what makes them who they are, you have to take the name "Laodicea" and break it down. "Laos" means people. "Dicea" means demanding their rights. Why is the Laodicean church neither hot nor cold? Because they really don't care about anything other than themselves. They are a people who are constantly demanding their rights: give me what I deserve. If you want a portrait of the generation that is saturating our culture today, it's that culture. They're neither hot, nor are they cold, but just give me what I deserve.
Paul said, "These light afflictions are not worthy to be compared". What would the modern-American church consider to be light afflictions? The modern church would say, "Four times, I was late to Luby's because the preacher went too long". Three times, I didn't get into the parking lot I wanted, because the parking attendant wouldn't let me turn. Twice, I've been harassed by ushers who took me out of my favorite seat and put me down on the front row. They constantly want me to go to Sunday night. But there's nothing gluten-free at dinner on the grounds. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me. The world that we live in has had it so good for so long: that we really don't know what hard is. But when hard times come, there's one thing that you're going to need to pull you through, and that is conviction, conviction that Jesus Christ is all that you need.
Where does conviction come from? In the balance of this service, I want to share with you the three ingredients of conviction, and none of these words are fun. None of these create a shouting time in church, because these three words that create conviction are discipline, duty, and devotion. Discipline. The Bible says that a life lived without discipline is like a city with broken down walls. Proverbs 25, it says, "Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city with broken down walls". The verse that Paul said to Timothy, that in the end times, men would be lovers of themselves. And one of the describing things that he says is they will be without self-control. In the time of the Bible, a city without a wall was a place of total chaos, because anyone could come into town and do whatever they pleased.
When you live your life without discipline, you have no boundaries, and your life is chaos, because anything and everything can control you. The apostle Paul had a lot to say about discipline. He wrote to the New Testament church, "All things in moderation". If you understand the truth of that verse, you understand the truth of Christian character. We've wasted a lot of energy in church debating about what we abstain from and what we don't do. And Paul said, "All things in moderation". Physically, all things in moderation. Without discipline in your physical body, you're going to suffer in health. You can eat a tamale: you just can't eat a dozen. Somebody says, "Oh, yes, I can". No, you shouldn't. "All things in moderation". Without discipline in your financial life, the Bible says that you'll be a slave, because the borrower is slave to the lender. All things in moderation.
Just because you can put it on a credit card doesn't mean you can afford it. Without discipline in your spiritual life, you're not going to be able to live successfully, because the Bible says, "Take a stand in the evil day" and "Endure hardness as a good soldier". Why is it that the world is in the situation that it's in? It's because the church of Jesus Christ does not have enough discipline to take a stand in a day of deception. To discipline, you have to add the word "Duty". Duty is your responsibility. We often describe individuals, who do heroic acts, soldiers, and first responders, and law enforcement as heroes. And indeed, they are. But when you discuss the actions that they do that we consider heroic, they usually respond with, "I was just doing my duty". Why? Because duty is not what you want to do: duty is what you ought to do. Every one of us have a charge to keep.
Jesus Christ told us, "This is my commandment that you love one another". So guess what your Christian duty is? To love your neighbor. We have the opportunity to demonstrate, on a daily basis, his love to those who are around us. The question is, are you willing to do your duty? Everything you do in life comes with responsibility. As a husband, I have a responsibility to my wife. As a father, I have a responsibility to my children. The Bible expects me to provide, to protect, and to lead my family. That's my duty. As a pastor, I have a duty to this church. The Bible says, "Study to show yourself approved". "Be ready in season and out of season". As a son, I have a duty to my father to live with the conviction of the faith that he raised me in. As your brother in Christ, I have a responsibility to each and every one of you to intercede on your behalf, to go into heavenly places and ask God to open up his windows and pour out upon your life the promises of his word.
What happens if I don't do what God expects me to do? What happens if I don't do my duty as a husband? If I fail in my marriage, what burden have I placed my children under? If I fail as a father, and I leave them leaderless, how far will they go down the wrong path? What happens if I don't do what God expects me to do, as a pastor, if I don't take time to find out what he wants to send you from his word? One of the reasons that our nation is upside down is because the pulpits are void of the Word of God. What would happen if I came to the pulpit and said, "Here's the text: Jesus wept, so have i. Good-bye"? How would you go through the next week? What would you have to fight the good fight of faith with? What resources would you be leaning on if there wasn't anything that was given to you that would tell you who God is and what he has planned for your life?
Listen to me, pastors of America. When God brings broken people into his house on his day, do your duty and preach the word. Preach the word. It will not return void! One of the greatest problems that this generation faces is that people do not have the conviction to do what they ought to do. They're addicted to doing what they want to do. Consider Isaiah in his generation. The prophet in Isaiah 6 is in a heavenly place, and he sees the Lord seated on the throne. And he hears what the Lord has to say. He said, "Whom shall we send"? And Isaiah immediately responds. He says, "Here am i. Send me". He said, I'm willing to do whatever you want.
Now the thing you have to understand about this conversation is that Isaiah didn't ask God, "What are we doing"? He just said, "Send me". He didn't say, "Where do you want me to go"? He said, "Wherever you go, I'll follow. Whatever you need, I'll do it. Whatever you ask, I'm ready". That's conviction. That's discipline. That's doing your duty. Do you have the kind of conviction to do your responsibility when others reject you? 1 Corinthians 10 says, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God". "Do it all for the glory of God". Why? Because God is the one who gave you the ability to do it anyway. Others may quit on you, but don't you give up on God. Because God is for you: who can be against you? That's conviction.
If you're going to have conviction, discipline and duty are required. But the final ingredient is devotion. The final ingredient is the passion with which you live, the love that you have in your heart. How are you going to fulfill your responsibilities in this life if you do not love what you do? We have a generation that has given up on the family. Why? Because they love themselves more than they love the family. They've given up on the Word of God. Why? Because the Word of God requires that they crucify themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. Do you have that kind of devotion? Are you willing to do what God asks you to do without question? The God that we serve is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And if he required conviction of those who came before you, he's going to require conviction of you.
Our nation is at an hour of crisis, but you are the answer to the crisis. Have enough conviction to do what God has asked you to do. He wants you to be a person of prayer. He wants you to be a person of action. He wants you to be a person of faith. Don't wave your hand benignly and sit blindly while this generation runs towards the edge of the cliff. Stand up and speak up, filled with devotion for God, and a sense of responsibility that if God is for us, who can be against us. I assure you: you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Have enough conviction to believe in him today, because he will not fail you. Give the Lord a handclap of praise. Would you stand in the house of the Lord?
Heavenly Father, in this sanctuary today, there are men and women that you have called to change the world. Give them the divine conviction to live a life that is willing to do what you ask them to do. Help them today to believe beyond the shadow of any doubt that they can do all things through Christ. Even if it's difficult, nothing is impossible to those who believe. Those who are facing a storm, give them the conviction that you will guide them through this storm. Those who are in great need, give them conviction that you are the God who supplies their need according to your riches in glory. Those who are walking in an hour of doubt, give them the conviction to put their faith in God and know that he is the way, the truth, and the life. God, we lay this generation in your hand, and we ask that you use us as your hands and feet to demonstrate the love of God to those who desperately need it: that we might see your light shine in this nation once again: and that we would be more than conquerors through Christ who gives us strength. It's in Jesus' name that we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.