— Brother Phil Enlow: God, I want to be awake! God wants to have a people that are alive and awake, that believe in Him, that look to Him, that don’t look at any issue that they can see and feel and experience with their own eyes and say, this is impossible! Even God can’t fix this!
Now I doubt there’s anybody here who would ‘say’ that. But how many of us live as if that’s the way it was? God help us! But He is, isn’t He? Praise God!
I don’t believe, as I’ve said so many times, I don’t believe any of this has to do with a spirit of condemnation by God. It’s a spirit of encouragement. He knows exactly where you’re at. He knows where I’m at. And He’s not expecting me to be down the road somewhere, but He is expecting me, today, to live a certain way, and to have a certain attitude toward life and Him and His truth, and an expectation. Praise God! And you know, you think about faith…is faith necessary?
( laughing ).
Yeah! “Without faith…” we’re told, “…it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV). Now there are two convictions there. Obviously the one the He is, that He exists, that He’s real, there really is a being.
But how many of us fall short on the second one? Who does He reward? Those who…how do they seek him? Earnestly. You see, there’s a heart that God is looking for. He will impart what we need, but there’s a heart response that He’s looking for that means business. It says, God, this matters! God, I need You! I reach out for You! That’s what faith does. It reaches toward God. It responds! I get the fact that we can never do that unless God acts first, but He does look for a response from us. And I’ll tell you, that is so central.
And as I kind of indicated earlier, this is more than just mere facts. You cannot be saved by theology. You’re gonna have to have an encounter with the living God. Now, objective truth matters, but I’ll tell you, without the Spirit, without the active intervention of the Person of God, what you have is just dead. It’s dead letter, and it can’t help. But it’s more than those facts. It’s a conviction about the character of God and His heart for us.
Notice a scripture that we quote all the time. It’s in Jeremiah 29:13 if you want to read it later. “You will seek me and find me…” When? “…When you seek me with all your heart.” Boy, that’s an awesome promise! That’s a promise to you this morning, and to me. Do we take that personally? God wants us to. Is there anything that He has left out that you and I are in need of this morning? Is there something that He has not provided, and He’s just saying well, too bad for you, I’m not…no! Everything!
Think of what Jesus said in that parable. “Come; for all things are now ready.” (KJV). That’s the hope of the Gospel. God has promised everything. Jesus said, “It is finished.” That’s good enough for me. Praise God! That ought to be enough for every one of us.
Now, here’s something about faith that’s important, and I know there are people that miss this. But true faith is submission. How many people are there in the world, and I’ve encountered many of them, who see faith in God almost as a way to ‘get what I want’? Show me the secrets of how to exercise faith so God will fix my life the way I want it to be. It becomes a self-centered, ‘using God’ kind of thing. It’s almost like this becomes a book of incantations, and I’m gonna take the letter of the Word, and I’m gonna bind God to do what I want through this.
I believe God wants to take us a place where we can operate in true harmony with Him, where it’s not just that we exercise faith for specific things, but we are in harmony with His will! We’re not looking for our own…what we want.
I mean, Jesus is the ultimate example. Father, if there’s any way, “let this cup pass from me….” Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done. Everything Jesus did, He did as an expression of the heart of God. He spent time with His Father. He knew what His Father wanted. And so, real faith is simply laying hold of what God has made real to us that is ours, and that we need to exercise faith to take hold of. That’s the essence of it. True faith is submission.
And of course, you think of what Paul was seeking. What was Paul seeking in Philippians 3? What was he after when He was doing all this pressing? What was his heart? Was he after a better life, in this world?
No, he says, I want to, “…know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” That doesn’t sound like anything human nature would every seek. But you see, God had transformed his heart and turned his heart’s desire in a different direction. And so, in harmony with that desire, he sought God, and God gave him promises from the Word of God, and he exercised his faith in those, and God enabled him to lay hold of it in the face of everything that the enemy would try to introduce, to discourage him and to hinder him.
I’ll tell you, it is not, how can I get God to do what I want? Faith is not a formula. Faith is a real power that God gives to His people. Faith is a choice. How many times have we said that? If you’re waiting for that feeling, you will have a long wait.
God puts us in situation after situation, it is more the norm than not, where we have to literally make a choice very much like Abraham did. How many choices did he have to make when everything else was against it? He had to be willing to hear the voice of God, believe Him, leave his family, leave his country, go to a place and live as a stranger, wait for 25 years for a promise that became utterly impossible and still stand in faith! Man, there’s something supernatural going on there.
But I’ll tell you, that same power to believe what God has said against everything else, every weakness you discover in yourself, every obstacle in life, everything that says it cannot be…but we’re serving a God who can take what is not and make it real. That’s why faith is a conviction that something that you cannot see is nonetheless so real that my hope can be in that and not in this. That’s what faith is all about. It is a choice.
How many of you can look back…at times, and you know that you didn’t have any feelings, but you came to a place…what am I gonna do? How am I going to…what am I gonna believe? All these voices are shouting in my head that say everything contrary to what I believe God is saying. What am I gonna do? Am I gonna wait for that feeling? Oh God, if You give me a feeling, I’ll go with it. Or has God put you in a place where you’re gonna have to say I just choose, I don’t care if I ever have a feeling.
Your faith will grow a lot more in those times when you cannot see and cannot feel, and you have nothing to go on but what God has said. And if your heart says, I want you, Lord. I don’t know what to do. There’s a God who knows how to impart to you a faith and a knowledge. It doesn’t mean He’s just gonna answer it in a second just because you popped the question. But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who wants to lead His people, wants to be as real to us as He was to His Son when he walked this world. Oh, praise God!
Did He not show us how it works? He spent time with His Father. He looked to Him. He said, I don’t anything except what You do, can’t do anything without You. I’ll tell you, there is something that has to bring us to that place where we see that all that rises up against what God has said is gonna have to be laid aside.
You know, I made this point earlier, and I have been in many places where perhaps historically there was an emphasis on the working of the Spirit…it may have been some real. But an awful lot of that sometimes is working people up. You know, let’s get the music going. I’m glad for joyful music. But you can get yourself psyched up, and then they call that faith. Okay, now God can work.
Folks, that’s not how it works. Faith is deeper than that. Faith is more real than that. We don’t have to get psyched up to have real faith. We have to have a real God and heart that loves Him and an open heart to Him, and I’ll tell you, He will impart exactly what we need.
Now, here is a truth and a principle that I think is so central, to what I’ve had on my heart. I keep coming back to this, because it is, perhaps you could call it, the principle of dependence. You know, it’s been expressed this morning. We’re dependent, we can’t do anything without Him.
But I wonder if we understand, because, it answers the question, “How do I do all this?” How many of you have run into this? You know all the principles. You know the idea that we live by faith, but you find yourself coming up short on the ‘doing’ part of it?
( congregation inaudible).
Yeah. How do we do all this? And that’s the question. And here is the principle, and I don’t know how to say this. I’m just gonna have to trust God to say it and make it live in our hearts, starting with mine. But here is the principle. Everything God asks of us, He supplies—everything God asks of us, He supplies.
God is not looking for any resource that begins with your human ability. We’ve come at this idea from so many angles before, because the Devil will build that barrier between you and God. Yes, I see it, but there’s a bridge that I’ve go to build and cross so I can get to the place where I can have what God…no. Everything God gives, every ability that we lack…stop looking on the inside for the help that you need.
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have read the testimonies of people who seem to have tapped into this. Andrew Murray was certainly one of them…just finally came to the point where he realized, all this stuff that I lack, everything I need, God’s provided it all! I just have to step in and embrace it and believe it.
What do I lack today? Do I have to scramble and try and try and…how can I do this? Or do I simply say, Lord, You are asking me to believe? Well, where does faith come from? How many times have we made that point? Where does saving faith come from? Is God looking around in human beings and saying, well, there’s somebody, I can stir this up, and their faith will come…no! Faith is a gift of God!
It’s by grace…grace is that power that comes down and works on our hearts, and empowers us to do what God wants. That’s why the Gospel says, or the Word says, call upon Him, when? When He is near! Why is that? Well, in the first place, we wouldn’t want to call on Him when He isn’t.
In the second place, if He’s not there, we don’t have the power. His Presence, the overshadowing of His grace is what gives me the power to respond! All I have to do is let go, and surrender to that. It’s not pulling on some human virtue. I have none. It’s the renunciation of every possible hope in myself and placing it entirely in what He is offering in that moment. And I’ll tell you, He will impart.
You sit there and say, I just can’t do this, I can’t live this life. Well, good gracious! I can’t either. The Christian life is impossible! It’s supernatural. The only way that we can have any part in what God has given to us is to rely completely on what He has provided through Jesus Christ…and that comes right down to the entry into the Kingdom. I’ll tell you, when you come to that place, God will give you the faith that you need to lay hold of that, and it will become resident in your heart. That’s what has to happen.
But that’s the same principle by which we live. Where am I gonna get the faith to lay hold of all these wonderful promises and to see God work in the needs of my life? Oh, how we allow the enemy to erect barriers against that, and to make us feel us as though there’s something lacking in me, and if I can identify that and fix that, then I can have what God has given me.
But do you know what we need to be doing? We need to be identifying the sticking point. What is it that’s stopping me and keeping me right here, in this place? And then, say, Lord, You accomplish this in me. I cannot fix this, but You have provided everything I need to do everything that You have laid before me to do. I don’t care what it is in here, whether it’s something to believe, whether it’s a behavioral issue…don’t do this or do that…every single thing has to be supernatural! It has to be Christ in us.
That is my hope of glory, because I don’t have any in myself. I can’t look in the mirror and see a thing to trust in. But that isn’t the Gospel. The Gospel is a hope that comes from Jesus Christ alone.
What did Paul say about his own life? I have been crucified with Christ. He looked back and saw something that God had accomplished, that he was still entering into experientially. But this was not wishful thinking, this was a confidence that when Jesus said, it’s finished, He meant that I died!
That gives me ground to stand upon when the Devil comes. I have been crucified, but I’m living. I’m still alive. Ah, but something has changed. What’s changed? It’s “…not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Does that not put a whole different perspective on the Christian life?
I’ll ask the question again. What do you lack, today? What is it that’s the sticking point? I’m struggling with surrender. I’m struggling to really let go. You know, one of things that really struck me reading something that, in this case, it was Andrew Murray had written. He’s talking about surrender. And it was obvious that he had as much trouble with it as I do, or anybody else. But the conviction that took hold in His heart was, “You will accomplish my surrender.”
That sounds like a contradiction. But what he was saying was the very power that enables me to let go comes from You as I let go…I’m gonna start where I’m at. I simply start where I’m at. But whatever lack seems to hold me back and keep me from moving forward, I bring that to Him instead of looking inside and saying, where can I find the ability to do that. I say, Lord, You have provided the ability to do that.
That’s a deep truth. There is so much in Christian preaching today, that is all about doctrines to believe, sins to avoid, good things to do. But if you don’t preach this, what do you have? Very easily, you wind up with religion, and what we’ve referred to so many times as self-effort.
But I’ll tell you, the truth that God wants to burn into my heart, I confess this…like even about getting up here this morning. You know, there’s a war, in everything that we do in our Christian lives. Everything is going to be opposed. Your nature will fight. The Devil with fight. The world around you will seem to be…it’s an illusion that the Devil creates that this is the way your happiness lies is to pursue your dreams and you follow your desires. All of that will militate against everything that God has said!
But I’ll tell you, there is a God who can put such a conviction in here. But when we face those things, where does our attention go? Does it go down and in? Do you instantly look and say, where can I…how can I do this? Or do you say, Lord, You have made the way where I can do this, because it’s not I. This life is not I, it’s Christ in me. And I put my hope and my trust in that with this issue, right now, today. I am looking to You! I am trusting in You to accomplish in me this thing with which I am struggling.
The truth is that I lack everything. How about you? Is there anything you’ve got that enhances your salvation, any natural ability, any natural quality about you? No, it wouldn’t be salvation. I lack everything. He supplies everything. Let that sink in.
Oh, I’ll tell you, this is something we need to chew on. This is not something you can just kind of spit out and okay, I’ve got it, I got it. Everyone of us is gonna go out of here and face issues in our lives, and our instinct will be instantly to do exactly the opposite of what I’ve just said. But there’s a God who wants to teach us, and part of it is imparting this truth over and over again, so that we will see and understand.
It is no longer I. It is Christ in me that is my hope of glory. I need Him. I cannot believe in my own strength. I can’t surrender in my own strength. I can’t do anything in my own strength, but He provides everything in His person. This life that I cannot possibly live, He can live perfectly. And so, the more I learn to just yield and rest in Him, the better it works.
You know, I just…one scripture that I referred to…well, three or four weeks ago when we were down in South Carolina, that the Lord impressed upon me was not a bad thing or a negative thing. It was when that man said, “I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
We tend to look down on that and say, well…he was down here, and God just showed him mercy…and I’m way up here. I think he was the one that was in the right position. There was a willingness to respond, but there was sense of his need and he wasn’t shy about it. He said, yeah, I believe, but help my unbelief.
Can’t we go to the Lord that way? Will he not answer? I believe He will. I believe as the Lord teaches us, we can meditate on His promises. We can spend time with Him. We can ask Him to teach us, and lead us and help us to grow, and He will do exactly that.
Faith is necessary. It’s a matter of submission. It’s a choice. Everything that we need comes from Him, and it needs to be something with perseverance. But I’ll tell you, God will honor it. We live by faith and not by sight.
And I’ll tell you, God has given us the tool that we need, a supernatural one, to lay hold of everything that He has given us in Christ. May God help everyone right now where you’re at in your journey, and mine, to get hold of this in such a way that we actually start making progress. Faithful is He who called you, and He will do it. To Him be glory. Praise God!