— Brother Phil Enlow: In every interaction that we human beings have with God, is God saying, here’s your way, here’s my way, make a choice? Folks, this isn’t just about...for all believers here, this isn’t just about people that don’t know the lord. This affects you and me. Boy, it hits me square between the eyes, and I thank God for it. I thank God he loves me enough not to leave me where I’m at.
But folks, we need to understand the nature of faith. There are so many excuses we make. But anyway, the problem was, you were not willing. I would have, but you were not. Man, that alone does away for me with all this extreme view of the sovereignty of God that says, he just exercises his sovereignty to choose one and not another. I’m not going to jump in the other ditch and say, we got a...God comes begging us to fulfil his plan. There’s a place in the middle where God confronts the human will and we have a choice, and he builds his kingdom around those who make the right choice.
We don’t make it because of any goodness in us! We make it because we are willing to renounce any claim to goodness. It’s exactly the opposite of what some people think it is.
What about the banquet that Jesus talked about? Yeah, what was the problem with that? He makes this perfect banquet, and he says, “Come, for all things are now ready.” (KJV). I have provided everything you need! You don’t have to...just come! What was the problem? Yeah, they made excuses.
One of the passages says, “...they refused to come.” (NIV). Well, refusing is not, ‘I just can’t.’ refusing is, ‘I won’t!’ something else is more important to me than coming. And that is exactly the issue when it comes to the lord and salvation in any fashion, any part of it. It’s not a lack of provision. God’s done everything.
He wasn’t asking them to make themselves over, to make themselves worthy to come. He said, “...come, for everything is now ready.” all you have to do is provide yourself. Just come, but you come on my terms. That wasn’t good enough. They weren’t willing. The things of this world were so much more important. That’s what they chose.
Oh God, I pray that anyone who hears this, who is in this place, you just should never really come to that place...that God will just turn you every way but loose, because he loves you! Not because he’s mad at you, but because he loves you. Man, if you saw somebody blundering along their way toward a cliff and you knew what was going to happen if they kept going that way, would it be an act of love to stop them and try to warn them?
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Yeah. Well, that’s what the whole human race is facing. There is a catastrophe ahead for everyone that does not humble themselves before the voice of almighty God and come and partake of his love and his mercy. Praise God! But it is not—it is not some feeling or inability, because I’ll tell you, if there’s anybody that begins to reach out to God, don’t worry, God will reach back. God will reach back! You don’t have to worry about that.
And of course, one other reference that you can write down if you want, is John 12:37, where it talks about the miraculous deeds that Jesus did. It says, for all those miraculous deeds they ‘would not’ believe! It wasn’t that they lacked evidence. It was right in front of them. But they knew that if they put their faith in him, it meant letting go of this.
You know, it’s a choice basically to serve self rather than God. And I don’t care what excuse is given, I’m weak. I’m too bad...something...I’ll do it later. There are a thousand and one ways that people have of doing like this to God.
The rich young ruler...man, he had it all together except one thing, didn’t he? He was rich. And that was his God. And God will have no other Gods before him. He wasn’t free. That thing had captured his heart.
You know, I think about the disciples. It might have even been in that passage where the disciples said, we have left everything and followed you...to follow you. What will we have? Kind of a natural question, I guess. But Jesus just told them about the glories of what was ahead, and it wasn’t just in the world to come. It was here. You’ve left houses and lands and fathers and mothers and all of that. I’ll give you a hundred times that much.
And it’s not like God promises to get saved and I’ll make you rich! That’s not it. But there’s a different kind of wealth. I’ll tell you, we have a family here that’s bigger than any of your natural families. And if we understand that—man, if we understand the relationship and the family into which God has called us, wow!
You know, one time Jesus’ family came to see him while he was in the middle of ministering. And everybody said, your mother and your brothers are here. And he took the opportunity to say, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” what was the answer? Those that hear the word and do it...doing it is not just hearing it, but it’s an action, isn’t it? It’s stepping out in faith believing it. There’s an obedience that comes and it’s a product of the will. I choose to believe it.
Demas walked with Paul for years and years and years, and it came time later on when the real condition of his heart came out, wasn’t it? And Paul had to write sadly, “...Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” (KJV). I’ll tell you, there is no room for any love, any earthly desire that trumps him. Faith means, what he says trumps everything.
Because otherwise, what are we really saying about God? Are we not impugning his character? Are we not saying, God, you don’t really love me. You don’t really care about me. If you did, you would let me do...you’d let me follow the inclinations of my own heart.
You know, one of the things that I thought to mention at one point in Isaiah, where Paul quotes...I mean in Romans chapter 10 he quotes from Isaiah. But back there it enumerates something very specific. It said, the problem with why they refused to believe was they had their own plans.
I’ll guarantee you, there’s people here, you’ve got plans for your life. You kind of know what you want out of it. You envision it. You’ve got your plans for your life. I’ll tell you, if we ever come to the foot of the cross, every plan, every affection, everything will be laid down. It doesn’t mean God is gonna make you leave your job, or a thousand and one things the devil will throw up and try to make us anxious about that. But I’ll tell you what, I trust his plans more than mine. He knows what’s best for me.
He knows...what did he say to the folks in Jeremiah’s day? “… for I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV). Oh my! Whenever you and I assert our self-will over against the idea of just letting him have our lives in surrender, whenever we do that, we are basically saying, God, I do not trust—I refuse to trust you. I refuse to believe that you really care about me, that you know what is best, and you want what is best. I know what I want and I will go for it! I will resist your influence in my life. Of course, the scariest thing is when you think you can kind of be a Christian and do that anyway.
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Oh my, that’s a scary place, because you’re going to come to the end of the way and say, wait a minute. Which way did I go? What was really the God...who was the God of my life? Am I my own God or did I allow him to be God?
You know, there’s one scripture that highlights one of the issues. It’s in Hebrews chapter 2, and it shows how the devil works in hearts. And I’ll remind you as you’re listening, everything I’m talking about affects believers in some degree. We face the same nature, the same pull. But I’ll tell you, when you come to Christ, there is still a basic surrender where my life is turned over to him, I belong to you now. Then he goes to work, and then he deals with the individual issues. But there’s something, there’s a crossing over into the kingdom.
But listen to what it says of Jesus. And it highlights the reason why he came and lived as a man. You know, we know in other places, it was so he could know and understand everything we experience. He’s been here! Isn’t that awesome? There’s nothing you can feel in your heart...no desire, no struggle, no temptation, no nothing that he hasn’t felt!
He’s not just somebody up there who doesn’t get it. He’s been down here and he gets it! I don’t care what the issue is in your life, he gets it! He knows! “… since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Now if you read that, superficially, what it sounds like is, I’m afraid to die someday. I’ll tell you, this is not that kind of death alone. This is the kind of death where I realize that what he calls me to is to let go of this life and the control that it wants to assert over me. I realize that his desires for me are better than me following the ways of the world, the wisdom of the world and simply the inclinations that arise from my nature.
I’m willing to let that go. I’m willing to take up my cross daily, every single day, and lay down my life with him. I’m identifying with him. I see what is wrong with me is measured by the fact that he went to the cross and took me with him. That’s what I’m worth. That’s what my earthly life is worth. I’m willing to let that go.
That’s how Satan holds people in captivity. They’re afraid. They’re afraid to let go. It’s fear! I’ll tell you, if there’s somebody here today that you just...there are things that have got such a hold on you. You don’t realize it, you’re the one in prison. You think, I can be free, I don’t want to...that’s prison over there to submit myself to Jesus. That’s prison. But you’re the one that’s in prison. And he came to set you free...came to set every one of us free. Praise God!
Oh the human race has it all backwards. What a mercy! What a love that God has for us! Unbelief is simply a rejection of God’s love and his truthfulness in order to embrace self. Let me say that again. It’s a rejection of God’s love. It is a rejection of his truthfulness, all the while embracing self and what self wants.
Anybody that doesn’t really believe God and surrender is basically saying, God, you’re lying to me—you’re not telling me the truth. I don’t really believe you. I don’t believe that’s best for me. I know what’s best. I’m going to do it my way.
I’ll tell you, you can grow up in this church and get to that place. Oh God, time and time again my heart goes out to the younger generation. You are living in a time that some of us have never seen. It’s not like when we were growing up. This world is on the fast track to judgment. People are living for themselves, they are finding every excuse in the world for doing what it is they want to do, whether it’s a deception that I can serve God and me too, or whether it’s just, “I’m the boss of me,” to put it in a childish way. I’m my own boss and I’m gonna do what I want to do.
That’s the philosophy of the world, and it glories in that, glories in it. Whatever inclinations that come from this nature, man, you better not only accept it, you better celebrate my right to be me.
I’ll tell you, it costs something. And it’s a battle, even to come into this kingdom. You’re gonna have every...every obstacle is going to raise its ugly head for someone to cross over into this kingdom. You’re gonna have to fight your way in. Haven’t we heard the scripture recently? The kingdom of God comes and everyone presses into it. There’s a forcefulness, there’s a willingness to fight.
Where does this fight come from? Is it some mysterious feeling that I have that comes over me that’s, oh, I believe? No! It comes down to, will I believe God or will I believe the world and my own nature? And if I believe God, I’m gonna have to take my stand upon what he says! I’m gonna believe it! I’m gonna commit myself to it! I’m gonna confess it! And I’m gonna take my stand and I’m gonna not give up! I’m gonna fight my way into this kingdom!
You know, I’ve used the illustration recently about that picture from “Pilgrim’s Progress” where the man was fighting his way into the castle. The castle was wonderful but there were obstacles. There were warriors that he had to actually press through.
Are you willing to fight your way into the kingdom? Are you willing to press through? Is it important enough to you to say, I will enter this kingdom! I will trust God! I will trust him for the strength to overcome whatever hindrances rise, whatever voices come to my head! I will press past them! I will believe God!
I’ll tell you what, there’s a God who’s looking for somebody like that! You say, I can’t do that. Yes, you can! You set your mind and your heart and your will to say, I will, and God will come to your help, will come to your rescue. I guarantee it!
How many times do you remember Brother Thomas talking about faith? And he said, faith starts where it’s at, with what it has and what it doesn’t have, it just starts.
And you go back to that principle of God beginning to deal with the heart. What is it that God is looking for that distinguishes one from another? There is a willingness to listen. There’s a willingness to embrace what you do know. There’s a willingness to reach out to God.
But when you do it, you need to know that there’s a God who will reach back to you! If you listen, if you’re willing, God will come! He will come running to your help and you will have the help that you need, step by step by step.
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Praise God! How about Hebrews 11:6? He that comes to God, “...without faith 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.” I promise you today, if there is someone who has never really crossed into the kingdom of God, someone who hears it here or somewhere else...if there is any inclination in your heart, if there is a willingness to lay down your will and say, this matters more than anything else. This matters more than my next breath!
You begin to reach out...I don’t care whether your excuse has been, I just don’t understand, I just can’t, I don’t know how. There are a thousand and one excuses. You begin to reach out to God and God ‘will’ begin to reach out to you! He will help you! I promise you on the authority of the word of God!
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I don’t have to guess about this! God has told us that! He, “...is rich unto all that call upon him.” (KJV). What does he say in that passage in Jeremiah 29 about the purposes and the promises that he has for us...the purposes that he has for us? He says, “You will seek me and find me...” when? “...when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV).
When God communicates with us in any fashion, it’s an awesome privilege, but it’s an awesome responsibility. Listen! Humble your heart before his voice. Reach out with all of your heart. Cry out to him whatever you don’t understand, whether you feel like you just can’t...whatever obstacle it is, God has the answer to your heart’s need! He longs to bring you into a place where his peace can dwell in here, no matter what’s going on out here.
You can know that you have passed from death to life! You know...you have a confidence that your life is in his hands, no longer in yours. And that he cares, that he has promised to take you all the way to the end! And you have this privilege now of looking to Jesus, knowing that he’s not just the author, but he’s the finisher. He’s the one who will take you every step of the way, all the way to his eternal purpose.
I’ll tell you, there’s a heart that is reaching. I know there are still people in this building perhaps, but in this world, that God is reaching their hearts. But whatever you think your problem is, it comes down to one thing, what do you want? If you want your life and what you want, and you are stubborn about that, there will come a day when God will step back. You might even feel a little bit of relief when he does. But it’s a terrible place to be because suddenly you’re in a place of deep deception for which there is going to an incredible shock one day.
But if God has ever spoken to you and put his finger on your heart and your life and the issues that stand between and him, and the need to surrender, oh, with everything within me, listen! I don’t care what the devil tells you. I don’t care what the world’s wisdom says about it. There is a God who loves you, who sent his Son to die on the cross for you, who offers you everything.
Your heart is full of the lies of this world and its wisdom. The truth of God will not come and coddle that! It will cut straight across it and say, you need me! You need me more than your next breath.
And I just pray...you know, this is about half of what I had down today. But that’s all right. I kind of felt like it might be this way. Because the truths, as I say, that I have tried to express today, they still affect us, folks. I’ll give you something as a Christian to meditate on this week. How much of the issues of faith do we realize are matters of the will? When we just can’t believe...we say, I can’t believe, and this and that, there is a problem with the will.
Because not to believe him is to believe something else. There is no neutral position. Human beings are not neutral toward God. We are enemies of God by nature. And I just praise God! There’s something in me that’s just risen up. This is so much in harmony with what the Lord has been saying, I believe.
There’s something that rises up in me that says, wait a minute, I do have a choice! Why do we tell the kids they got a choice and we don’t think we have one! Folks, there isn’t an issue in our lives where we don’t have a choice...to believe God.
But folks, if you have never crossed into this kingdom, God’s love...the problem is not on God’s side! You’re not too bad. You’re not too anything. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The price has been paid. There’s nothing more than just to humble yourself before his voice, and then call upon him based upon his promise and his truth. I’ll guarantee you will never be sorry. Praise God!
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Praise God! Do we have someone that we can rejoice in today?
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How many people here that have been brought to that place would say, yes, please listen?
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Praise God! Praise the lord! This is truth, folks!
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Eyes will be opened! Hearts will be set free! That’s what the gospel is about. Jesus came to set captives free! We are captives of our own nature that just will not yield. There is no barrier to faith that just simply choosing to listen, and trusting God for all the resources will not overcome. Praise God! He is Lord.