Michael Youssef - It Is Supernatural - Part 1
Back in the '70s, there was a discussion or a debate, really, among evangelical leaders. The subject was, has the supernatural or the miracles have ceased after the disciples, after the early church, or does God still continue to perform miracles today? But then my mentor and a very dear friend, the late John Stott of England, he said, "You know, let me show you historically how in Bible history that there were certain times in which the supernatural activities has been intensified". And he began to walk through the history of the Bible. He said, "There was an intensity or intensifying of the work of the supernatural back in the days of the Exodus as people of God coming out of Egypt".
That was so clear. And then he went on to talk about why it was during the time of the prophets Elijah and Elisha there was an intensifying of the work of the supernatural become visible to the world, and then the exile time with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And then he made a statement those many years ago that I consider to be prophetic. He said the time may come when we in Christendom, referring to the west, where we face a spiritual darkness in which we can anticipate again the work of the supernatural to be apparent. How prophetic that was? Because we are coming into the dark ages. We're coming into the spiritual darkness, and therefore what I want to do is to encourage the people of God.
Whether you're listening to me here or watching around the world, I want to encourage the people of God to begin to think, and walk, and living in the supernatural, not in the natural. I want to appeal to all of those who love Jesus, who know the Lord Jesus to live in the realm of the supernatural, a world which has become so natural, and nature worship has become so intensified all over us around the culture. I want you to think not just how do we survive in this spiritual darkness, but how do we thrive in this spiritual darkness, in a world that secular materialism has dominated and is dominating every day, how do we live by faith in a quicksand of anti-biblical culture and becoming anti-biblical every day.
Now, beloved, this has deteriorated so much that even some believers do not know what it is like to live by faith in a thoroughly materialistic world. Part of my testimony, and many of you know this, is that God began in my life, and I testify to the glory of Jesus, of taking me through a training program into the supernatural, into living by faith in a faithless world, walking in the supernatural in an becoming extremely materialistic world to swim against the current of culture, and it began in Egypt in the late '60s when God supernaturally saved me from a certain death. That was the beginning.
To be sure it was a giant leap of faith, to be sure it was something that is so drastic that I still look back to even today, but then other process, smaller steps, smaller evidence, smaller directions. It's one thing to experience one time a leap of faith and then you kind of go back and live in the natural, and it's another to daily walk in the supernatural. On that day, God molded me into the person that I am and God molded my preaching. God used this to mold my teaching for those several decades, and that is why I'm doing today this series of messages entitled "It is Supernatural". Can you say it with me? "It is supernatural".
The events in the period of time I will be talking about here in the next six messages, it was a time in the Old Testament where paganism and natural worshiping of the natural God and the gods of nature has overcame God's people. Oh, they worshiped Yahweh on Saturday, but for the rest of the week they were bowing to Baal, and Ashtoreth, and Ashdod, and all the gods of nature. Elijah the prophet, in the midst of this darkness, in an earlier period of time than the time I'm going to be talking about challenged the prophets of Baal and the nature worshipers of wicked King Ahab and wicked, evil Queen Jezebel, and he challenged them on the Mount Carmel. And there God performed the supernatural act in front of their own eyes, but as soon as that the supernatural act of God became hazy memory in their minds, quicker they went back to nature worship and compromise.
At that point of history, God raised up the prophet Elisha to teach his remnant, his faithful believers within all of Israel because not all of Israel was faithful, just the faithful remnant, that it is supernatural. So I want you to turn with me please to 2 Kings chapter 4, verses 1 to 7. Now, as I said, this is the first of six in the teaching, "It is Supernatural". And here you find a woman, a widow. Widows in biblical times were at the bottom in every way. Financially they were at the bottom, socially they're at the bottom. Period. And this widow had less than nothing. Filing for bankruptcy would have been an absolute wonderful things for her to do, but she couldn't. They did not have bankruptcy laws back then. At least the court would have protected her from her creditors, but this was worse than bankruptcy.
Some of you may have looked down the road of bankruptcy or have filed for bankruptcy. This will be wonderful for this lady. This woman was facing shame, and degradation, and slavery. This woman had nothing to look forward to but servitude for her and her sons, and then she remembered the promises of God. She remembered the promise of God. What is these promises? Well, one of them is when the Holy Spirit inspired King David to write the following words: "I have been young. Now I'm old. I have never," can you say never with me, "seen the righteous forsaken nor his children begging for bread".
Here we see this dear lady at the bottom of degradation, but she did three things. And if you're writing, write them down. She did three things. I pray to God that those will come to you and to your memory all the time. First of all, she meets the conditions of the promise of God. And secondly, she manifests confidence in the provision of God. Thirdly, she maximize her capacity to receive the blessing of God. Let's look at these very quickly. They're not going to take long time at all so stay with me, stay tuned. First of all, she meets the condition for receiving the supernatural promises of God.
Look at verse 1, 2 Kings chapter 4. She said to Elisha that her late husband, that is the head of the household, and in an Old Testament context and culture, he is the leader of the home. The head of the household had been faithful to God. Her husband led the family into serving and obeying God. Her late husband spent his lifetime pleasing the Lord. The presumption on God's grace has reached a new low in the 21st century. We have become so confused that we have enthroned ourselves above God. We have placed ourselves in authority over God, and God has no choice but to obey us.
My beloved friends, our most desperate need today, I've been saying this and I'm going to say it till the day the Lord takes me home unless something changes. Our most desperate need today is to restore our sense of awe and wonder of our God, to restore our sense of humbling ourselves before God because it is that restoration that will cause us to say with John the Baptist, "He must increase, and I must decrease". This godly woman placed her faith not at her good works. She did not even base her faith on the faithfulness of her husband, but she placed her faith squarely in the God who keeps his promises. She placed her faith in the God who is no one's debtor. She believed that God not only meets her needs and the needs of all his faithful children, but he meets the needs of their children's children. Can I get an amen?
And so, she meets the condition. She meets the condition of the promises of God. Secondly, she manifests confidence in God's provision. Look at verses 2, 3, 4, and 5. The prophet Elisha asked her the question, "What do you have in your house? What do you have in your house"? First, she said nothing. It's the construction of the original language. First she said nothing, and then she kind of caught herself and said, "Well, a drop of oil in a jar". But that's nothing, right? I mean, it meant nothing in comparison to her desperate need, and we all have to agree with her, but she even wanted to offer what she thought to be nothing to God.
Beloved, we need to understand that God always starts with what we have. God always starts with what we have. So he said to her, "What do you have in your house"? Because there is where God wants to start. Why? Because God blesses faithfulness. God wants to give much, and I'm not just talking about material things, I'm talking about everything, to the faithful. God wants to send abundant provision to the faithful. God is looking for conduits. God is looking for channels not that ends. God wants to bless the cheerful giver. And so Elisha said to her, "What do you have in your house"? "A drop of oil at the bottom of a jar".
Probably if you lift it up to the sun, you could hardly see it. It's just a drop of oil. Elisha probably was saying to himself, I know. Don't go try to find it in the Bible. It's not there. "Great. We got an oil factory in our hands. We got an oil factory with God in it". Why? Because when God is in something; you may see the little, he sees the great. This widow could have thought, "Well, it's even embarrassing to tell him about the drop of oil in the jar. I better say nothing". For it is nothing in comparison to what she need. It was insignificant in relationship to her desperation, but she offered the little that she had. That was a huge step of faith in watching the supernatural. She met the condition of the promises of God, she manifests confidence in the provision of God, and thirdly, she maximized her capacity to receive from God.
Beloved, this widow in obedience to the Word of God through the prophet Elisha went and borrowed all the jars that she can borrow from all of her neighbors, all the jars that she can get her hands on. She expanded her capacity to receive from God. She maximized her capacity to receive from God. Let me ask you a question. Can we limit our capacity to receive from God? My answer is yes. Can we narrow our vision so much that we limit what God wants to do in us and through us? Yes. Can we place boundaries on God's desire to use you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you? Yes. Someone said that when we go to heaven we are going to see so many blessings that went unclaimed by God's people.
Beloved, it's not by accident that oil in the Old Testament is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is not by accident that the woman had a drop of oil in the jar of oil. Oil was not only used for cooking, but it was also used for the anointing of prophets, priests, and kings. Oil was a symbol of God's blessings, of God's power, and God's unction. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians chapter 1:21 and 22, it was the Holy Spirit's anointing that gave him authority. The Lord Jesus said to the disciples in Luke 24:49, he said, "Wait until the Holy Spirit anoints you". Even the divine Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, did not begin his earthly ministry until the Holy Spirit gave him the unction in the beginning of his public ministry. This anointing of the Holy Spirit is conditional upon being filled of the Holy Spirit. Listen, it's the longing of my heart. It's the longing of my heart.
Beloved, you cannot receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit when you are constantly grieving the Holy Spirit, when you're constantly quenching the Holy Spirit. You cannot exercise the power of the Holy Spirit in your life when you are living in continuous disobedience. You cannot experience the overwhelming blessing of the Holy Spirit until you have yielded to the Holy Spirit. Elisha said to the woman, here's the Youssef translation, here it comes, "Don't be chinchy. Don't be chinchy".
It's actually more accurate translation. I'll get it in the vernacular. Don't be chinchy. Expand your capacity to receive. Do not just be contented with few jars. Do not have such low expectations of what God can do in you and through you. Do not have a dim vision of what God wants to do in you and through you. In other words, don't settle for mediocrity. Don't settle for mediocrity. And that is why the moment she ran out of jars, the oil stopped pouring.
Beloved, God will only bless you to the capacity that you make available to him. You see, God will fill only the empty spaces in your life that you'll offer him. God will use and bless what you give him to use and bless. God's blessings will take the shape and the size of your container. Let me ask you this as I come close to the end. Has the Holy Spirit of God stopped being poured into your life? Has the Holy Spirit of God been hindered from being poured into your life? Have you stopped offering him empty spaces so that he can fill them? Think about this. She had a drop of oil in the jar, and yet Elisha told her to go and borrow multi-gallon containers and vessels.
I know this and I know this, and you know this. From the world's perspective, from the natural world, this does not make sense. From the natural, the supernatural never make sense. But from God's perspective, it makes sense to God. Indeed it brings glory to him, and that's what we should be all about in these last days. The promises of God are not conditional on the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the NASDAQ. They're not. They are conditional on your faithfulness, my faithfulness. They are conditional on our capacity to receive from his hand. They're conditional on emptying ourselves of ourselves so that we'll be filled more of God.
General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was in his 80s at this time. This American asked him, he said, "What is the secret of your success"? And he winced and he kind of stuttered for a little bit, and he said, "Well, if you put it this way," he said, "if there is such thing, it's because God has had all that is of me. God has had all that was of me". Can you say that? Can I say that? I pray to God that we can today.