— Brother Phil Enlow: I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who can work with our ‘want to.’ Anybody here have a problem with your ‘want to’? Yeah, I mean, let’s be honest. We need the Lord. We’ve got strongholds in every one of us, and the problem is not the big bad Devil out there.
I’ll tell you, that Devil is scared that we’ll get this. He’s scared of the One who lives in us, because the One who is in us is greater than he that is in the world! You remember how the devils reacted when Jesus came around? They knew who He was. Have You come to torment us before the time? They were scared to death of what He was gonna do.
That Devil is scared to death of the Christ who lives in us. We need to get that. Don’t you ever be afraid of the Devil in that sense. The Devil will have no power over any one of us if he did not have help on the inside! That’s the issue. That’s what God is seeking to bring about, is the deliverance from these things so that the holds are not even there.
I was thinking about how Jesus gained the victory of the Devil. How did He do it, ultimately? He died! He gave up His life rather than give it for the Devil’s purposes. I mean, doesn’t that tell us the pathway for deliverance for us? He has given us a brand-new life. The only way to gain access, practically speaking, to that life is to let go of the other.
We don’t do that very easily. We don’t do that nearly as easily as we think we do. And I’ll tell you, like that lady discovered. Oh, this is great, this is wonderful! Wait a minute, I’ve got a problem here. You know, God is gonna bring us face to face with every issue of our lives, sooner or later.
Now, that’s not meant to cause you to be afraid. That shouldn’t cause any of us to be afraid. Isn’t that what He said? Don’t be afraid. Don’t be dismayed. Don’t come to a place where you say, oh my God, there’s no hope, there’s no answer.
I’ll tell you what, the Christian life is not going to be a cakewalk. It’s going to be a fight! But there is One in us and with us and for us, who knows what it takes! He is able to see the depths of my need when I can’t see it! And He is gonna bring about circumstances that force me to face that, be honest about it, and surrender it and bring it to Him! And however many times is takes around that mountain, He’s gonna be faithful.
Of course, one of the major reasons we get discouraged is ideas that are planted in us from our earthly experience. I’ve said this so many times. But I see it so much in myself. I see it in others…how easily we project onto God, and fall into the trap of performance-based ideas about Him.
How do you feel when you mess up, and you know you did? What does that do to your confidence? Do we just bounce up and say, well, God, forgive me, help me…but I know You’re for me, I know You love me? It’s, I don’t know how He feels about me now.
Emotionally, that’s where we get, very easily. And it takes a lot of walking with God to get over that. I’m still working on it. How about you? I’m still working on it. There is so much that the Devil has engineered. He has planted seeds in our hearts and minds. Some of it has to do with who we are in the world.
I mean, there’re plenty of people, I guarantee there’re people here, and your experience in the world has taught you, and the Devil has jumped on it, he has taught you that you are less than others. He might let you into His Kingdom, but you’re gonna be on the back row. You’re second-class. You’re not one of the favored ones. Look at so-and-so. God really loves them, but he tolerates me.
I mean, you fill in all the blanks, but you see where I’m coming from. If you get in your head that you are no good, you are worthless…and the world has taught you that, the people in your life have conveyed that to you, and the Devil has planted that seed, man, that is something God has to work on to get out of our hearts, to stop projecting that onto Him, and to realize His love, it doesn’t change!
I was just reading this morning about David and Bathsheba. My God, one of the great heroes of the Word of God, a man after God’s own heart, author of so many of the Psalms, the experiences that man went through, the battles he fought, how much he learned about God.
Boy, did that knowledge come in handy when he got in that terrible place. Imagine a man like that who becomes so careless. This is one of the ways we get in that place. He got so careless, he not only stayed home from the battle, but he saw that woman, and he didn’t think twice about sleeping with her. She was the wife of one of his special soldiers!
And then, he tried to cover his sin. When that didn’t work, he had her husband killed by the sword of the enemy! And the amazing thing is, even then, he had no clue! Oh God, we need the Lord, don’t we? You think about the need to be together and encourage one another. I’ll tell you, you get out there, and you just get to meandering and following your own natural inclinations, you’re gonna be in a world of hurt, and he was.
But what an amazing revelation it had to be, for him to be able to come to God, and pray what he did in Psalm 51. He didn’t base his prayer on, oh God, look at my track record. This was a mess up, but let me by on this one. He based it entirely on God’s unchanging love and faithfulness.
Folks, that is what God has for every single one of His! Well, we’ve said this so many times. Like I said, this is so repetitive, but we need it. God knew what He was getting into when He set out to save you! He saw every need! He foresaw all the issues of your life, and He said, that’s mine. I have the power to fix that. I have the power to deliver them from that, if they will only let go and be willing to die when they face the issue and trust in My grace. I can bring them through that, and I will. I’ll tell you, God is so faithful.
You want another example of the Lord…how many times have we used this, Peter? Did the Lord know what was gonna happen?
( laughing ).
Sure, He told him about it. He said, Peter, you’re gonna…before the rooster crows, you’re gonna deny three times that you know Me. Get real, Lord! I’d never do that, and they all said the same thing. But what else did the Lord say? I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. Thank God!
Oh, how that needs to get our attention when we come into those very places. Jesus knew about this. He has already prayed for me. He’s not sitting up there saying I’m done with you, I’ve had it! You’ve messed up one time too many. You’re just gonna have to stew in your juices. I’m done with you! No! I have prayed for you. I already knew this was going to happen. You needed to go through this.
There’s one thought that I had that I’m sure I’ve said this before. This is an area where we need to learn how to believe Romans 8:28, and in how many things?
( congregational response ).
All things. “…We know that…God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV). Do all things include failure? So…does failure lead to defeat? Is it meant to lead to defeat, or is it meant to lead to a steppingstone towards something else?
If we really see, through God’s eyes, everything that happens to a believer is meant by God to be a steppingstone forward not backward. How can such a thing be? How can it be like that? Because if our hearts are reaching out to Him, we’re gonna say, Lord, help me, to start with.
Forgive me, and we have a foundation for that. “If we confess our sins…” He is what? “…Faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” (KJV). See, the guilt issue’s been taken care of. But He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
But Lord, what is it that You want me to learn here? There’s something about me that I haven’t really got this yet, Lord. You’ve allowed this to happen. Help me to get the steppingstone. Help me to understand it so I can plant my foot and actually move forward because of this.
You know, I think we could safely say that Paul was one of the most knowledgeable people, not just doctrinally, but experientially in the New Testament. He went through years of obscurity with God teaching him and getting him ready. And then, there came a day when he began to share his gifts with others, and he went through hell. You talk about somebody who’d been through some deep battles, deep waters. God brought him through.
And he was able to stand up before the people and encourage them and write some of the very things that we read here, to encourage us! And late in his ministry—late in his ministry, he writes about something in 2nd Corinthians 1 that he went through. How many times have we referred to this?
He got in a place that was so bad. You talk about not having emotions? He wasn’t sitting there going like this. He despaired of life. He really thought it was over. This was a man who just threw up his hands and said, God, I’m in Your hands, but I don’t really think I’m coming out of this one. This was real. This is real deep stuff here. This wasn’t just a momentary thing. This was a valley of the shadow of death.
But do you remember why? When he came out of that, did he look back and say, God, what did I do to deserve that? It’s not a matter of deserving. It’s a matter of God trying to set us free and cut the ties that hold us captive!
There was something at this late date in his life that Paul did not understand about himself! He said, “…this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
Boy, is that significant. This is a God that, even if I had died, He could have taken care of that. This is a God who can do anything! But God had to take me this way…as much as I know about Him, as much as I’ve experienced, I was still running in my own strength in a lot of ways. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand. He had to take me down into that experience, but I learned it.
Not only did I learn it, God didn’t beat me up about it. The response from His heart was not, what’s the matter with you? He said, I know what was the matter with you, you didn’t. But I’m here to comfort. I want to fill you with a comfort, an expression of My love, and I’m doing this, not just so you can feel warm and fuzzy, I want you to take that comfort and help other people with it.
I’ll tell you, we’ve got a God who’s gonna take us down the narrow pathway to the Celestial City. Every one of us is gonna face battles. I was gonna say, every one of us is gonna face ourselves. That’s the one we need to face. We need to learn how to face ourselves, look at ourselves in the mirror, and see ourselves as we are. We are not gonna do it any other way than having to face battles.
I’ll tell you, if we get to the place where the Devil himself could rage in our face, and it wouldn’t affect us, there’s only one reason, because there’s nothing in here. That’s the place Jesus came to. The Devil’s coming, and he finds nothing in me. He has no hold here. Why? Because I have declared every bit of this dead to him, and that’s where He longs to bring us.
If the Devil has a hold in your life, there’s a reason. It’s because, whether you realize it or not, you gave it to him. It’s still living. It’s not dead. It’s still wanting its way, its will and its way, and God’s gonna bring us face to face with ourselves, and He’s gonna do it because He loves us, and He’s not gonna do it with a heart of condemnation, but with love and faithfulness.
He’s gonna bring us down every path that we need to walk so that we can learn to know Him and learn to experience Him in ways that will transform our lives, whether it has to do with a besetting sin, no matter how deep-rooted it may be, whether it has to do with wounds that we’ve experienced in our lives, whether it has to do with just general human nature and pride and whatever we’re made up of. God’s gonna bring us through. Praise God! Praise the Lord!
Somehow, He’s gotten me through this morning! Praise God! You think maybe the Lord’s trying to tell me something? Yeah, I’ll tell you He is. He is so merciful. Oh, God, I don’t want to serve Him because I have to or I’m afraid of Him. I want to serve Him because I love Him.
( congregational amens ).
I believe in His power. I believe in His provision. It’s perfect. He’s already defeated all my enemies. He wants me…but if I’m gonna experience that, I’ve got to do some fighting. But if I do some fighting, it’s gonna have to be with His armor and His strength. I can’t just blunder along, and be caught up in the world, and careless in myself, thinking I’m good.
I’ve got to be alert, just like Christian was walking through that…do you think he was a little bit alert walking through that dark path? Man, if I get one foot off the path, I’m gonna fall into a ditch here. But God brought him through.
And I’ll tell you, when the Lord tells us don’t be terrified or be discouraged, do you think He means it? Do you think He means you? See, that’s kind of where it gets down where the rubber meets the road. Every one of us is gonna have to come to a point where we realize, God loves me. He has provided completely for me. Every circumstance He allows in my life is to help me and deliver me and get me ready for what He has planned in the future. To God be the glory!
And I’m gonna say this, and I’ll probably say it again, because I know how the enemy works. There are no second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God! If you’re the worst of the worst, the lowest of the low, the weakest of the weak…anyway, whoever you think you are, you’re down here, you’re nobody, God loves you! You are not nobody! I don’t care what the Devil tells you. You are somebody in God’s heart!
( congregational response ).
And He’s got a plan and a purpose for you, just as much as He does for me or anybody else. There are no backseat, second-class Christians is the Kingdom of God. You are loved. You were provided for with the same sacrifice that has opened the door of heaven for every single one of us. To God be the glory. Praise God!
So, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” That is not just to Joshua. That is to everybody here this morning that’s looking to Him. To God be the glory. Praise God!