Matt Hagee - Getting Back To Greatness
- Buy this sermon
- Contact us
If you would please stand for the reading of God's word. And if you brought your Bibles, turn them to the book of 1 John 4, and the 4th verse, as this morning we begin the first of two sermons on the topic of greatness. This message is entitled "Getting Back to Greatness". You know as a nation, we've heard a lot about this idea of greatness lately. It started to become a challenge that was extended to us by a candidate, who has now found himself a president. And greatness is much more than a hook in a campaign slogan. It's much more than a catch phrase. The reality of our existence is that we are surrounded constantly by greatness but seldom recognize it. The sunrise and the sun that shines each and every day is a very great thing, but we seldom take time to recognize it.
Creation all around us, all of the things that you see in the environment where we have been given the privilege to live are great things but we don't notice it. In the nursery right now is greatness. We might see the curtain crawlers as sleep deprivation agents. And their parents are pleased to leave them there for but a little while. But only God could create them. And therefore, in them, we have a vision of greatness. The breath that you breathe is a measure of greatness. As often as we take it for granted, your inhale and your exhale, and we consider the fact that we live in an atmosphere where everything is perfectly balanced so that we could exist here, when you put all of the things that needed to happen in order for that to be a reality, you recognize that the very breath that you breathe, as you stand there and listen, is a matter of God's greatness on display, which is why the Bible says: let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Indeed greatness is in our world every day and it's often ignored. There's a truth in the poet's line that the world knows nothing of its greatest men, because we as a world, have deceived ourselves about this topic of greatness. We've taken the things that are great, and we've substituted them with superficial things that really aren't great. In our culture, we think fame is great. We think money is great. We think power is great. And the reality of it is those are anything but. Fame might get you some attention. It might make you a figure that people notice. But the reality of fame is it will not bring you character. And character is what's required for greatness.
Money might be able to buy you a lot of things. It might fill your life with plenty of stuff. But what good is that stuff if you're way too tormented to enjoy what money has brought you? Money may buy you a life, but it will not give you peace of mind, because peace was bought with a price that Jesus paid because he is the Prince of Peace. In this world, people think power is great. They constantly struggle to gain it. And the thing about power is it might cause people to respect you. It may even force them to fear you. But power is not great at all. One of the greatest generals that ever lived was Alexander the Great. He received that title because of the things he could do with his army. But as much as he could accomplish in the military: he wasn't accomplished in himself. And he died at the age of 30 because he couldn't control his own desires. He had power but he wasn't great.
If anything in this life, if anything in your life is going to ever be considered great, it must be in touch with the source of greatness itself. And the very source of greatness is none other than Almighty God. And so today, as we discuss "Getting back to greatness," we're going to see how we, individually, must choose within ourselves to return to what God placed in us when he bought us with this precious blood of his only begotten son. Read with me 1 John 4:4. If you're there, say, amen. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. Say that last part with me again, he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Heavenly Father, this day, as we declare your word, let the greatness of God come alive in us: that we might be able to indeed do your work in this life for the sake of your kingdom. In your precious name do we pray and ask. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. This verse very clearly tells us that our God is greater. John is writing to his church in Ephesus. And the first thing that he reminds his church is that greatness is within them. He who is in you is greater... The thing that you need to recognize is that you do not need to go in search of greatness. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have received his greatness. Often times, we just forget how great God is. Everything that God did in the Bible was great. Whenever he created the heavens and the earth, often times we read in the word that behold, the Lord said, "Let there be light". But when you read a little further, it said, "And he created two great lights". The great God just didn't create a light: he created a great light. One light is called the sun. It's so great that it wakes up the earth every morning. It keeps us warm.
Science has not been able to calculate the intense amount of heat that God locked inside of it. But when God created it, he knew just how much it would need. And being great, he made it a great light. In the evening time, the moon and the stars a great lights. They're so great in numbers that we here on earth can't even count them. We've got telescopes now that give us the ability to look deep into space. And the deeper we look, we recognize the farther it goes. For years, we believed that our solar system was it. And now, we know that there are so many galaxies and so many stars and so many things in the spaces that we can't even begin to put them down on paper and recognize how many of them there are.
That's great when you consider it mathematically. But think about it this way: scripturally, the Bible says: he has numbered the stars and he calls them by name. What we can't even count, God knows personally. Because when you're calling it by name, you're getting pretty personal. God doesn't look and say, that's star 14 trillion 627. He says, that's Charlie. How great is God? So great that he could create such marvelous things that we get to see as testaments of his greatness. But even greater still, the concept that he created you. Look around you. In this room, in this sanctuary, look at yourself. Those of you watching by television, recognize that you were created by the same great God who made these great heavens and this great earth.
The same God, who knows the star by name, he knows you by name. He has numbered your days. He has charted your course. Before he formed you in the womb, he knew what you would need in this life, so he equipped you with great gifts and talents to use while you're here: that with your gifts, you might bring glory and honor to his name. It's no accident that you survived to make it to service today. You're here on purpose. It's not fate. We often like to discredit God's hand in our life. We say, oh, I was just lucky: I guess. There's no such thing. You've just had him working things out on your behalf. This great God sent you here. He didn't send you to this world that you just might exist. He sent you to this world for such a time as this. He didn't send you here that you just might survive. He sent you here that you would be more than a conqueror through Christ.
Today he knows you. He knows what you need. He knows where you are. He knows what you've been through. He walked with you through it. He knows what you're headed to. He's preparing a way before you. Church, the greatness that you're looking for is not something that was created by man! It's something that came from Almighty God! And when you received him, he gave it to you! Don't let the world weigh you down! Don't let critics slow you down! Don't let burdens bring you down! But let the greatness of God arise in you, and let his enemies be scattered! Greatness begins with responsibility.
Recently, in his inaugural address, president Trump made it very clear that there was a shift in power taking place in Washington. And often times when a candidate wins, the shift that he's talking about is the one from one party to the other. However, president Trump didn't say that the shift was going from one party to the other, or from one value to another. He made it very clear that there was going to be a shift in power from the government back to the people. And if that is the pathway to greatness, then greatness comes with responsibility. Winston Churchill said that "The price of greatness is responsibility". The declaration that the shift of power goes from the government to the people is both encouraging and it is challenging.
First, let's deal with the encouraging. It's exciting for me, as the father of four young children, to hear that the power is coming back to the people, because I believe that I know best how to raise my children and take care of them. If I do my job and raise them right, then they'll take care of my grandchildren. You see when power is in the hands of individuals, then the threefold cord that our forefathers spoke of becomes a reality. But when power is taken into the hands of the government, suddenly you begin to lose what our founding fathers fought for. And the threefold cord is simply this: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Say that with me, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those words should never be forgotten, and they should be considered as to how deliberate they were penned.
First, let's consider the issue of life. Why did our founding fathers value life? Why did they say, "All men were created equal"? Because they recognized that life is something that only God can create. No government ever created a life, but they can take a life. With one judicial act of government, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. And with the legalization of abortion many years ago, they launched an industry, not a medical practice, but an industry. And the reason it's an industry is because it makes more than 1.1 billion dollars a year. That is a generator. And it has taken more than 60 million American lives. It hasn't accomplished 60 million successful procedures: it has murdered 60 million unborn babies. Now the government made that decision. The government didn't create those lives. God in his greatness did through the process of procreation. But the government made it possible for those lives to be taken.
Now we have a president, who in his first week of office, president Trump reversed a very important decision about abortion. This discussion was made by the previous administration. In 2009, the Obama administration put out an executive order that reversed, in Layman's terms, what's known as "The Mexico City Policy". How many of you know what that is? Not very many. It's not a geography lesson. And one of the reasons why we talk about this in church is because Thomas Jefferson made it very clear that if American citizens were going to remain free, they had to stay well informed. And since we live in a society of fake news and Facebook, it's imperative that you have a place where you can get well informed. Your status update is not headline news. The Mexico City Policy?
First, you have to understand where it came from. The Mexico City Policy was first put into motion under Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan, in the '80's, wrote a policy that stated that "No federal funding", now when you hear the words "Federal funding," it sounds really classy. But when you need to see is your dollars in uncle Sam's knuckles, because that's where they got them. They took your taxes, and they're going to fund different things as the federal government. So Ronald Reagan wrote a policy that said, "No federal funding will be given to any international government that supplies abortion on demand". And in Mexico city, the Mexican government, if a citizen walks in under socialized medicine, and says, "I demand an abortion," they don't have to pay a dime. The government covers all of the costs. And since we are funding them, as a country, tax dollars worked to earn, are going into a country where children are being killed on demand. You say, well, it's an abortion. No, it's the murder of an unborn child.
So Ronald Reagan put that in place in 2009. President Obama took it out, and he started sending your dollars down to Mexico to perform procedures like abortion. In his first, not week, in his first day in office, president Trump took his pen and he reversed that order, and said, "No federal funding is going to go to international governments for the purpose of abortion". The office of the president released a statement. He said, "I am a pro-life president". He said, "I will stand up for all Americans, including the unborn".
Mr. President, the unborn cannot applaud you. They cannot cheer for you. The lives that you have worked to save cannot be heard. So on behalf of those who have no voice, Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas wants to thank you for taking a stand for life. Now with every strong decision comes strong, the word I'm look for is "Conflict". And here's what the opposing side says, "In his first day of office, president Trump stands against a woman's right to receive health care". That's not true. He didn't say, if a woman is sick, she can't receive medical attention. Pregnancy is not a sickness. And it's not treated with aspirin. When you change from being pregnant to not being pregnant, you have either delivered the baby or you have lost a life. An abortion does not need to be considered health care. It needs to be considered what it is, cold-blood murder.
So our founding fathers said that we should have life because only God could create life. And then they said that "We should have liberty". Now liberty is different than freedom, because everyone has a relative level of freedom. Every prisoner in a prison cell has to freedom to walk the eight-feet by eight-feet of their prison cell. They just don't have the freedom to walk outside of it. And the reason that they didn't choose the word "Freedom" is because when they lived in Europe under the kings and the royal system, as individuals living in the kingdom, they had freedom to do what they wanted on a daily basis so long as the king on the throne approved. So when they came to America, they said, God gives life and we want liberty.
Liberty is whenever you, as an individual citizen, have the freedom from government. You get to live your life in the way that you best see fit. You don't have anybody tell you what's right. You choose for yourself what is right. And liberty is worth standing up for. Freedom from government control, when is the last time we've been able to talk about that in the United States? Right now, in the United States, we've got judges that tell people when and where they can't pray. You want to pray at your graduation: it's against the federal law. You want to pray at the football game: it's against the federal law. Forget that the auditorium and the stadium are filled with people who want to pray. The judge says you can't pray. Is that liberty?
When the government tells you what you will and won't do, what you will and will not accept, whenever you choose to live your life by Bible statute, and the government says that your Bible-based convictions are not longer constitutional: when they tell you, "Accept same sex marriage," when they tell the baker, "Bake the cake," and they tell the photographer, "Take the pictures," and they tell the church, "Do the ceremony": is that liberty? If power is coming back to the American people, if liberty is going to be returned to us, then we must not waste this moment. We must answer our prayers. We must be the individuals, who are willing to go to work, so that liberty can be protected. And in protecting it, it can be preserved. And in preserving it, we can pass it onto our church and to our grandchildren.
I've heard people talk about the move that's happening in the United States, and they say, "It's a second chance". Let me tell you, for the church, it's not a second chance. For us, it is our last chance, and we cannot waste it. We must decide if we're going to get back to greatness that it is time for us to take a stand for righteousness in a world of darkness. It is time for us not to remain silent in the face of evil, but to call evil what it is, and then go to work overcoming evil with good. If we see a need, as a church, we need to meet that need instead of outsource that need to the government. It's time that we rediscover what our identity is. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. We are the body of Christ. We are the hands and the feet of Jesus.
We must become what the Bible calls "The Church Triumphant". And the way we triumph is not through force, but with the power of God's love through Jesus Christ. We must triumph over deception and lies, with the voice of truth. We must triumph over poverty and lack, with empowerment and kindness. We must triumph over selfishness with sacrifice and over greed with giving. We must triumph over sorrow with joy, and triumph over despair with hope. Where does that kind of triumph come from? It doesn't come from a government plan! It doesn't come from a social group! That kind of triumph comes from a God who is greater! And he placed that greatness in you! For greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world! Our God is greater. Say that with me: our God is greater. Now say it like you're trying to wake up the church up the road. Our God is greater!
Believe that every day. He is greater than every enemy, because he took your enemies to a place called Calvary, and he conquered them there. He is greater than every sickness, because he bore your sickness upon his back, and by his stripes, you are healed. He is greater than every need, because my God shall supply all of my needs, according to his riches in glory. He is greater than every bondage and addiction: for he is the anointed one who breaks the yoke of bondage, who sets captives free. And whom the son sets free in this house is free indeed. He is the God who is greater than every mountain that you're climbing, because he can take that mountain and cast it into the sea! He's greater than every sorrow, because in his presence is the fullness of joy! Church, we don't need to find greatness! We need to turn greatness loose! Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered!
The third thing that our founding fathers fought for was something that sounds so simple, but in reality it's the greatest struggle of every man's life. It is the pursuit of happiness. I think that those words are so appropriate, because they didn't say, we want life, liberty, and the guarantee of happiness. They said, you have an individual responsibility that if God gave you life, and you have liberty, you then pursue happiness. Your responsible for how you get there. You choose your path. And you pursue it, because when you possess it, it will be yours and yours alone. We don't like to consider the work and the effort that is required for the pursuit of happiness, because we live in a world where we want everything guaranteed. What's my guarantee? What's my warranty? What rights are mine?
As a society, whether we know it or not, we have become addicted to irresponsibility. Have you noticed that there isn't anything in this world that's anybody's fault anymore? People make miscalculations. People have poor timing in right decisions that turned out wrong because of the timing. You spill hot coffee in your lap. No, it's not your fault. It's that mean corporate company that made that coffee so hot. How dare they serve you what it says on the cup, "Hot coffee". You fall off the ladder hanging your own Christmas lights. It's not your fault. The ladder shouldn't have been so high. The house shouldn't have been so tall. The lights shouldn't have been so small. The staples shouldn't have been so weak. And as you fell and you slipped, you went, "I'm going to sue yooou"! It was a four-foot ladder, but now you've got trauma and you can't work anymore, so you need some relief because it's not your fault: it's Santa, he did it.
This pursuit of happiness is not a guarantee: it's an opportunity. And what you do with it is your choice. You're responsible for yourself. If you want to know where greatness comes from, not only was it placed in you when you believed in God, but it begins in you the moment that you take responsibility for yourself. When you make up your mind and stop blaming others for what's going on in your life, when you decide that whatever you're facing, whatever you're needing, whatever attitude you currently possess, whatever words you choose to say or not to say, all of those things are a matter of what you decided to do. Nobody made you do it! And we can't help but blame others. Adam did. It's in our carnal nature.
The first thing that Adam did when he was caught in trouble, he said, it's her fault. And it's human nature built in our carnality that does it even to this day. How many of you have kids that blame something on everything else? I asked my three year old the other day, "Did you spill that"? She said, "The cup did it". We didn't send her to a weekend camp to learn how to blame the cup. She found a target: she shot at it. But as she grows, it's my responsibility to teach responsibility. You see this is where the battle for greatness is won and lost, not in a voting booth, not on a ticket, but within you. You. You have a choice to make right now, to take the greatness of God that is in you and apply to that greatness, your strength, your talent, your ability, your heart, your soul, your mind, your body, and live a great life! Or possess that greatness and let it go to waste, making excuses about why things aren't better.
You see there's a lot of people who talk about what they want. But many of them are unwilling to receive it. Many of them are unwilling to work for it. A lot of people begin to discuss the way they want things to be, but they're not willing to do anything about it. And if greatness requires responsibility, the other thing that it also requires is great commitment. If you're going to be great at anything, you must be completely committed. You cannot try it every now and again. You have to consistently pursue your goal so that you can accomplish what you set out to do. You cannot talk about what you want and not be willing to go to work for it. The difference between a wish and reality is work. The world is filled with those who talk about it. And they say, some day, some day, some day. Day that the Lord has made, and it is your opportunity to do something for his kingdom and your purpose in it.
Don't let this moment go to waste. It is time to go to work to accomplish the destiny that God designed for you! What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail? What would you attempt to achieve if you knew that whatever you set out for, you were going to succeed at? The Bible says very clearly: all things are possible to them that believe. That's a declaration that says, if you'll go to work and trust in God, whatever you pursue from his purpose and his plan for your life, it will come to pass. What would be different in your life, in your marriage, in your family, with your children, in your finances, in your physical body if you knew that whatever you wanted, you could have? You're never going to have what you want until you're willing to work for it. That's how God designed us.
Just think about it. Whenever he blew life into the dust that was Adam, after he shaped and fashioned man, and poof, Adam became a living being, just as Adam was rubbing the dirt out of his eyes, God said, go to work. I built you a garden: go keep it. Adam didn't say, hey, man, I'm getting all my stuff together: just calm down. I thought I'd take a year off and go backpack, I mean you're only young once. It's day one, dude. No. God designed him, God created him, and God put him to work. Guess what? God designed you, God created you, and if you want it, you're going to have to go to work. We talk about what we want to improve in our physical shape. You talk about one thing, and then you don't do what needs to be done to accomplish it. We talk about what we want in our families. We realize the lives we're living are very busy. The culture we have is constantly moving. And we get so caught up trying to be important, that there are moments when we forget what's really important.
So we say, I'm going to spend more time with the family. I'm going to work on my marriage. And then we begin to make promises that we don't keep. For example, we made the promise on our wedding day, "For better or for worse". And one of the greatest problems in our society is that we leave the house ready to give the world our best, and we come home wore out and give the family our worst. That needs to change. And if it's going to change, you have got to become completely committed. Because if you're not committed, you'll sabotage yourself when it comes to greatness. People say, I want a great marriage. Do you know where great marriages come from? From two people who have taken it as their personal responsibility to make that marriage great.
I mean wife, what would you do? What would you do if your husband pursued you now like he did when you were dating? Whew! I got one "Whew" back over there. I mean what would you do if flowers showed up for no reason? What did he do wrong? If he went to work, and before his work day got started, he sat down and he wrote you a love letter, not an e-mail, but a real letter: not with hashtags and emojis but real words and then he licked the envelope, and stamped it, and sent it. And six months later, it gets there? But what would you do if you opened up the mailbox and you saw his handwriting, and you went...? Aye mi amor. And then you check to make sure it was him. Oh, whew. Men, husbands, fathers, providers, hunters, gatherers, what would you do if you came home from work and you smelled food? Not just, not just any food, fried food. Not just fried food, but fried food with gravy, and she offered you seconds? And it wasn't a cheat day: it was just a day and then there was cobbler and ice cream. Whew.
And when it was over, your child brought you the remote. And said, here father, watch what you will. You might call it great. And the reality of it is it doesn't require much. But if you'll just do a little bit of work, your family will get a lot better. It's the same with children. You want to know where great kids come from? Leadership, not friendship, leadership. You say, are you telling me not to be friends with my kids? No. One of my best friends is sitting right in this chair. But subordinated to his leadership. He is first my leader, and then my friend. As a friend, he encourages me. As a leader, he directs me. And I always have to remember it's my responsibility to remember which voice is which. One of the things that we do these days is we give our kids waaay too many choices. They don't get to choose till they pay taxes. And I'll give you a case and point.
Joshua, in the Bible, he made a declaration. Israel's deciding what they're going to do with their future and their faith. And Joshua says, you guys decide for you. And then he says: and as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Now you say, what does that have to do with choices? He didn't get the family together in the living room and go, kids, I want you to think about something really important. And you don't have to answer me right now, but just think about this. Would you like to serve the Lord? And after you think about it, we can talk about it tomorrow over cheerios. No. He didn't consult the kiddies. He just stood up and said, when it comes to Joshua's house, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".
Now why did they follow him? Not just because he was the father. They followed him because what he said was true. And not only did he say the truth, but he applied the truth. You see your children will never accept truth that you don't apply. The reason I'm willing to follow this man as a leader is because I have seen him do what he says on such a consistent basis that I know beyond the shadow of a doubt it works. Not only do you tell the truth to your children, not only do you apply the truth to your children, but you remind your children with an application of truth. And now I'm talking about discipline. If your child thinks that your name is "Huh" or "What," remind their rear end that it is "Sir" or "Ma'am".
You say, well that's a tough policy, pastor. The reverend didn't write it: the Lord did. The point I'm making is simply this: no matter what you want to do, whether get back to greatness as a nation, get back to greatness as a family, get back to greatness in your life: you must first take responsibility for yourself, make a complete commitment to your goal, and in closing, don't waste time. Don't procrastinate. Don't say, maybe tomorrow I might. Make up your mind that right now is the moment. And in this moment, you're going to begin walking towards the greatness that God designed for you in this life. Church, don't ever forget it: greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world. Give the Lord a handclap of praise.
Would you stand to your feet with every head bowed and every eye closed. Right where you are in this sanctuary, I want to close this service this way. So much of God's greatness is ignored. I think if we're going to be responsible for what we want to accomplish in our life, we should first be thankful for the great things that he has already done. So I want you, as a grateful child of God, just to take a moment in the close of this service, and lift your hands and raise your voice, and begin to thank the Lord for his greatness.
Father, we thank you, because indeed you are great and greatly to be praised. We thank you, because your hand has sovereignly and divinely made a way where there seems to be no way. You made a way through your son Jesus Christ for us to be saved, set free, and redeemed. And for that, we are grateful. You made a way, Heavenly Father, for us to overcome powers and principalities through the authority of your name and prayer. And for that, we are grateful. You made a way for us, as a church in this nation, to be able to stand here today and see a future of hope. And for that, Lord God, we are grateful. Help us never to take for granted your greatness and always consider your hand in our lives. As we move towards your purpose Lord God, give us strengths to endure the hardship of a good soldier and wisdom to know which steps we should take. As we walk in this divine path of righteousness, let us ever be thankful for what you have done, and be looking forward to what you are going to do, and work today because it is the day that you have made. And what we do in it, we ask to glorify you, because you are indeed great. And we worship you today, Almighty God. We thank you because you are worthy. In Jesus' name, we say, amen.