24 Mar 3/24/19 “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”
The message this morning is the final part of a series we been in for four or five weeks entitled “The Bible Doesn’t Say That.” And here’s one thing the Bible does not say: “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.” I even heard some local officials here in our city at one of the council meetings say that: God helps those who help themselves. Let me just answer the question up front. He doesn’t help those who help themselves. He waits till you get to the end of yourself, or He wants till you get to the end of your rope, because what “God helps those who help themselves” really means is “God, I got this. I can handle this. And you’ll help me in this endeavor, but I got this. Don’t worry. Let me handle it.”
Now here’s why it’s difficult. And by the way, and I’m praying about starting the book of 1 Corinthians next week and working through the book of Corinthians, a message to the church. There’s so much in there that is so valuable to us as believers. So be in prayer about that because that’s a daunting project, a daunting task, months, months, months, and months of preaching in that book, and studying and really looking to what God has to say to the church today.
But what we have to do is balance the commands in Scripture to obey. And God calls us to action, but He also calls us to trust in Him. So you see this healthy tension. Okay, I’m called to do certain things, but I’m also called to fully trust in God. We also have to find the balance between the Scripture that says, “I’m dead in sin. I’m dead to it. Thank God for that, I am dead to sin. Thank you for the cross, but,” according to Romans, “in my flesh dwells no good thing.” So how have I been set free, but still there’s this taskmaster calling me back to obey?
So it is a balancing act. God calls us to do certain things, and there are certain conditions that need to be met. For example, you don’t have to raise your hand, but how many of you in this room hire employees? Or if you’re an employer, imagine this. You own a business. Would you just hire anyone? If you’re filling for a certain position, would you just hire anyone off the street? Of course not. You’re looking for what? Certain qualities, certain abilities, certain character traits. Same thing when it comes to God. He goes to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong, loyal, on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to him.
So thank God He has given us tools, which I’m going to talk about. He has given us trust, and we trust in Him, and He has given us time. Time is your friend. We think, Oh, if God would just hurry. No, that’s not always good. Just like one of the best dinners I’ve ever had—I’ll brag on my wife—was when Al and Brian were here last Sunday. We actually went to our house, and Morgan cooked dinner. And God knows how to humble you because as soon as I walk in the house, she says, “The toilet’s plugged.” So I’m walking through my house with a plunger. Coming off a wonderful service. Thank you, Lord.
But anyway, this chicken and potatoes, turned on the crockpot early in the morning for hours and hours, just roasting in there and seasoning and manuka honey and barbecue sauce. It’s like the chicken was made of it. Why? Because it was soaking into that. It was absorbing that. The vegetables, everything just tasted wonderful. That wouldn’t happen in a minute or two; you’d probably get sick because the chicken’s not done. So, don’t worry so much about the time factor, but worry about the God factor. God, what are you doing in my life?
And I think you need to be reminded. I was so reminded this week, and it brings me to tears sometimes during worship, but as a child of God, you are accepted. You have worth. You have value. You don’t have to do all these things, “Daddy, did you see me? Did I gain more favor, more approval?” And we have this image of God as a hard taskmaster, demanding and demanding and demanding: “Do this, do this, do this.” Sometimes we think about Him as like our earthly fathers. I know I’ve shared this before, that I was trying so much to gain his attention by excelling in baseball and by doing all these things: “Dad, look, look, look.” We can sometimes move that into our view of God. But as a child of God, you’re already accepted. The reason I say that is there’s a lot of freedom in resting in that, versus “I have to do this,” and “I have to be good,” and “I can’t go there,” and “I have to do this.”
Now, as you rest in God, you don’t want to do those things. That loving relationship pulls you to holiness and abiding in Christ. There are some conditions I hinted at last week. It was so funny, I had things to say last weekend, but every time I came up here, I was like, “I don’t need to say anything. We just need to go into a time of prayer.” I was struggling this week because I know God wants me to talk about these things, but I feel sometimes we talk about them enough, or maybe last weekend was enough, and I can just move on to different topic. And I’ve been praying all week, “God, just show me,” and He waits until the last minute often. The conditions are, and what I am going to talk about is, God will help you, God wants to help us, but we have to become a weeper, a warrior, and a worshiper. And in the early morning prayer this morning, Merrill, I think you prayed those exact things that the church needs, and it’s like, “Oh!” Have you ever had that boost, you go from “I am not sure” to “Oh yeah, now I know, now I can walk up there, and I have that assurance that God wants to move in our hearts”?
Because the sad reality for Westside Christian Fellowship is not everyone is a weeper. Not everyone is a worshiper. Not everyone’s a warrior. We have a mix in here. We have a mix of Pharisee and a person who wants to be drawn closer to God. We have a mix of those who will never touch a morning worship at 6 a.m., and we have those who are desperate for more of God in the morning. We have those who are lukewarm and carnal, and they don’t want to come here too often or they’ll be too convicted, and we have those who want to be convicted by God.
And it’s so interesting to watch those different dynamics taking place. I can run into somebody at the store, they heard the same message, and they can say, “Oh, that moved me to tears. Praise God, I was set free.” And I run into someone else: “Where’s your wife been?” “Oh, she doesn’t like your messages. Last week you really upset her.” Same message, same service maybe they were at. What’s the difference? Remember, the same sun that melts the wax also will harden the clay. The heart has to be open. There are even people who come here Sunday after Sunday after Sunday as mere routine. Well, we go to church on Sunday. That’s what we do, we’re kind of bored in here, and just going through the motions. I want God’s Word to speak to all of us.
So here’s how you could say this. God helps those who are humble. God helps those who humble themselves. So let’s talk first about the warrior. You’ll hear that song sometimes, “This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles.” It’s a warrior; it’s a person who recognizes there is a battle going on. I like what Elisha prayed: “Open the eyes of my servant, Lord, so that he can see what’s going on in the spiritual realm.” I’m convinced that if God would open your eyes to the spiritual realm, you would fall on your knees and begin to pray. Prayer would be your daily staple—before breakfast, before Starbucks, before 300 mg of caffeine brewing. You would be praying because God would open your eyes, and you’d see the demonic realm: “That’s what’s after my family? That’s what’s after my marriage? That’s what’s after my children? Oh God!” But then He’d also open your eyes like He did in Elisha’s case and you’d see the angels of the Lord encamped about you, holding fiery swords, I’m sure. They’re there. There’s this battle.
And it’s so ironic because this battle we can’t fight like we think we fight—like Navy SEALs and the Marines, let’s fight. It doesn’t work that way. In this battle, you’re calling down heaven, you’re pulling down strongholds. It’s like prayer and worship are the only things that engage this spiritual host of heavenlies against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. That’s why the Bible says, “Pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ, bringing every thought into captivity.” And there this spiritual battle going on, so we are called to be warriors.
You can see this from Mark 14:37. There’s a whole bunch I could have taught on this whole opening, where Jesus is in the garden and different things, but I just want to get to the point here.
Then [Jesus] came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?”
And Jesus says what?
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.
There so much here. And Jesus goes on again to say, “Watch.” That term watch is throughout the Bible, watching. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. What does willing mean? Well, the Spirit of God is a willing participant. What does that mean? Well, He willingly participates with you. See, the Holy Spirit participates. “Lord, I want to go in this direction. The flesh is weak. I don’t want to listen to the flesh, I want to go to morning worship.” (Did you know we have a third service? Ok, 6:00 a.m. 6:30 in the morning, whenever you want to get here, there’s a third service going on. No preaching, just music and God’s preaching.)
But anyway, “Holy Spirit, I want to go.” So He’s a willing participant. He’s willing, but the flesh is weak. So who prevails? The flesh. And that’s in all areas of life. People say, “Stop beating up the sheep.” Well, the sheep need spanking sometimes. Right? “Come on, guys, get motivated!” So I’m not just going to hang my hat on that early morning worship. It has to do with all forms of worship, all types of seeking God with all our heart, with all our strength. So the spirit is willing, “Lord, I want to do that.” So does the Holy Spirit, but the flesh is weak, and the flesh pulls us back.
It’s interesting though. He said here, “Watch and pray.” It doesn’t say He will keep you away from temptation. Watching and praying allows you not to enter into it, and I’ll explain that in a minute. So watching is this: it’s being prepared, it’s armed, you’re cautious, you’re alert. That’s how you need to be as a Christian. I have this wonderful analogy. Now you see all the spring flowers and all the green grass. When I go running out in the desert, you know what I’m looking for? Rattlesnake. Right now I’m looking, for the next few months, like this: I’m walking circumspectly, Paul says. I’m guarded, I’m alert. And what if I bring my five-year-old there, and they’re chasing butterflies and just throwing things, going all over? No, no, no—watch out! Watch out! If that thing bites you, I’m going to claim the promise that no serpent, no snake biting you is going to harm you, I’m going to claim that, but I still don’t want her to step on a rattlesnake.
But see, that’s how most Christians live their Christian life—chasing butterflies. They don’t watch out for the lion who is sent to kill, to steal, and to destroy—the thief, the lion that comes after them. You will never see in the Bible this image of a lazy, lackadaisical, aloof Christian because that plays right into the hands and the plans of the enemy. So Jesus says be prepared, be armed, be cautious, be alert about what’s going on.
And then He says, praying. What does praying do? Well, praying gives me strength, it gives me discernment, and I say, “Lord, what is your will?” So see, it’s this image of being prepared and cautious and alert and saying, “God, give me strength. God, give me discernment. God, what is your will?” Anybody need those prayers answered? Hello? “Lord, what is your will for my children? What is your will for my life? What you doing here? Give me discernment. Is this business deal something you want me to do? Is this mission trip something you want me to go on? Is this something you want me to purchase?” and there’s this praying and discernment of what God’s will is.
I guess I’m going to go forward, but there’s a portion of this sermon I’ve been considering Xing. And usually when that happens, I’m not supposed to X it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And let me just shoot you straight. We’re not watching, we’re not praying. This is what’s not happening in our homes. Parents, wake up. What is coming into your homes? Sarah doesn’t need a cell phone, Mikey doesn’t need to be addicted to Minecraft, and Frankie doesn’t need to pick his own friends. We are allowing the enemy to rule and reign in our homes. Remove the ungodly influences. Remove the ungodly influences in your home. If you’re able to remove it, well, remove that.
Well, Shane, that’s a little hardcore. You’re the watchman! You’re their dad, not their friend. You’re their mom, not their shopping partner. You’re to be prepared and discerning and watching. Many people have their kids picking their own friends. “Well, I don’t really know them.” Oh, they’re fine, Mom. No, they’re not. They’re probably having them look at pornography and tasting alcohol at twelve years old. Be careful. You’re called to be the watchman in your home. That’s exactly what’s happening in our culture. And people often say, “I don’t know what to pray.” You don’t know what to pray? Pray over them. “God, guard them from lust. Guard them from fear. Guard them from anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders,” you name it. Begin to pray over your children, over your grandchildren, even if they’re not in your home. Take that position.
Listen, if the Bible is not what prayer says it is, we might as well just step out of here and go eat lunch. My house shall be called a house of preaching? My house to be called a house of worship? No, “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” That’s how you’re going to defeat the onslaught of what’s is going on our culture. Do you see the news? Now some airline is saying you can go on and get your tickets and you don’t have to be a he or a she; you can be an X? So if I’m sitting next to them on the plane, I can’t refer to he or she but gender-neutral? School districts, airlines—what is the world coming to? We have lost our mind. We’ve lost our moral compass. And much of this starts in the home. Parents are allowing the internet to raise their children. They’re allowing ungodly neighbors to raise their children. They’re allowing all these things to raise their children, raise their kids.
I don’t know if you saw recent statistics, but now 50 percent of the younger generation think that socialism is a good thing. Oh, don’t get political. I’m not political, that’s biblical. There are not free handouts. That’s not biblical. Cradle-to-grave entitlements is not biblical. You work, or you don’t eat, and if you work, you work hard. You work, you work hard, and God blesses that. He doesn’t bless laziness and slothfulness. That doesn’t lead to anything. People that leave their kids millions of dollars destroy their kids. See, there’s got to be hard work and integrity, and God blesses that. But where are they learning this? From the educational system. The parents aren’t involved.
What about praying over your kids? Be filled with the Spirit of God. Be set free. Take away things if you need to. Who rules your house? Who leads your house? You’re called to be the watchman, not the little one. Take that little device, and you’ll watch him scream and throw a fit because that addiction is coming out. It’s no different than withdrawing an addictive substance from an adult. We have to watch our homes, pray over them, pray for safety: “Lord, set them free. Give them strength and boldness.”
I remember hearing about a man who at home would setup two chairs facing each other, and he would sit in the one, and he would say, “Devil, now you sit in the other, and you’re going to listen to me pray over my family, pray over my marriage.” And he would pray the promises of God over his children. The enemy can’t do anything with that. What does the devil do with that? What he does is he gets you out of the prayer closet. He gets you out of watching and being prepared and being alert, and he dumbs us down. But God calls us to that higher standard. There is a difference, right?
I brought up this analogy again; I used this last night. My daughter let me use her little hammer to put up some pictures. Worked pretty well, but sometimes, this isn’t going to work. This isn’t going to work. Sometimes you’ve got to get out the big twenty-five-pound sledgehammer, and you have to say, “Not in my house, devil. Not in my house. You’ve got to go through me before you get to them.” See this works great on little nails. It works great on little nails, but if I’m going to break my concrete driveway, that’s not going to do anything. That’s actually going to break under the pressure. And what you are facing, the onslaught we are seeing today in our nation, is going to require this, where you pound the enemy. It might take twenty thousand hits, I don’t know, but you come in ready for warfare. This is how I fight my battles, and the enemy says, “Oh, he came prepared.”
This analogy has to shift your focus because there’s so little praying in the church. You can actually gauge a church by its prayer meeting. I’ve had one person, from many of our large churches in our area, one person, maybe two, who say there’s no prayer meeting. And what does the leadership say? “But look how we’re growing. Look how big we are. God must be moving.” No, not necessarily. You don’t challenge people, they’ll come. There’s a form of godliness many times.
Interesting though. The Bible doesn’t say, “Watch and pray so you won’t be tempted.” When Jesus said here, “Lest you enter into temptation,” what is enter? Enter is “fall into.” I fall into temptation. Here’s an illustration by Colin Smith. This will help a lot of people here. If you’re dealing with temptation, and you just can’t overcome it, listen to this:
Imagine a salesman knocking at your door. You open the door, and he tells you what he is selling. At that point, if you’re not interested, it’s not hard to say, “Sorry, I’m not interested. Try the nice folks next door.” But suppose you invite this person into your home. . . . Now he sits down in your living room and makes his presentation. He shows you the product. He talks to you about how much you need this and how much better your life will be if you have it. Some relationship begins to be formed, and your mind and your heart become engaged. Now it’s harder to say “No.”
Now it’s harder to say no, is it not? Have ever done this? You let them in? Whatever it is—the solar company is coming to my door, the vacuum salesman, a set of knives I don’t need. Oh, come on in. Once I let them in, “You know, that sounds good,” now I feel bad, and I have to buy something because I feel bad, versus just stopping them at the door. This is what it means to enter into temptation.
Here’s how temptation works in all our lives. It knocks on the door. It knocked on the door of Jesus. Okay, Shane, now you’re getting blasphemous. No, the writer to the Hebrews said that He was tested, He was tempted in all points as we are but was without sin. He closed the door on the salesman. That’s how temptation works. It will knock at the door. That’s why the thought life is so important—what we entertain, what we allow to come in. And we begin to entertain it. Is that you, good friend? Well, I can just entertain it. It’s not dangerous yet, is it? Remember how good I felt? That released some pressure. Maybe the person is changed now. Maybe if it’s a relationship. And you begin to entertain that guest. And as your mind goes, your feet soon follow, and we open the door to temptation. So prayer is the brick and the mortar to building a safeguard. Prayer is the armed guard, always alert. Prayer is the roadblock preventing an accident.
So He’s saying here, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” Now add fasting to this, and you just supercharged the engine. Come on, guys, you know what a supercharger is. You all want one. You have to cut out a hole in the hood of your vehicle, and you have this big blower sticking out, with the supercharger adding tons of horsepower. What’s the supercharger doing? All it’s doing is allowing more oxygen to go in and to combust the engine to explode, pulling in more oxygen. So that’s prayer with fasting. You’re pulling down more of heaven. You’re filled with the Spirit of God, and when you go into somebody’s life, you can cast out that demon. You can say, “Out of my child, out of my house. You have no authority here.”
Why? Because now you’re filled with the Spirit of the living God. You didn’t just get off four hours of Netflix, watch a lot of junk, wondering why your house is falling apart, wondering why your marriage is going down the toilet because you’re not filled with the Spirit of God. That’s the difference maker. See? Oh yeah, you know now. This has to be grabbed sometimes. This has to be pulled out, and you say, “Now we’re doing damage. Now I’m going to take down, I’m going to pull down those strongholds in my home and in my own personal life.” You are called to fight. See, this is not popular. You are called to fight. Passivity is not an option. Passivity is not an option. We don’t want to tell Christians that they are in a battle, they are called to fight. Joel Osteen is not going to say this. Andy Stanley’s not going to say this. Many big mega-churches are not going to say this. They have to well-construct a sermon so it doesn’t pierce the heart too much—too much conviction of sin—or they’ll run to the front doors. But you have to get before God and ask, “What does your Word say?”
Show me one Scripture after the service that says we are going to be passive Christians from here on out. Are you following the news on what’s going on in Africa? Christians by the dozens are being slaughtered right now. Right now! Last week. Raping their children and killing them in front of them, killing them for their faith. Right now. Our blessing has become our curse. We are so comfortable, it’s led to complacency.
And then the next group here is God helps those who become worshipers. A. W. Tozer said that “we make new converts into workers rather than worshipers.” Somebody asked me, “Wait a minute. You missed one. Weeper, warrior, worshiper, and worker.” Ironically, they’re a worker. Isn’t that funny? But when you’re a weeper, a warrior, and a worshiper, you will become a worker by default. It’s part of you. And there are so many workers who are not worshipers. They’re not weepers. They’re not filled with the Spirit of God.
One of the policies we have here—it doesn’t work all the time—but we want those who work here, those who serve here, to be in the services, to be involved, and be built up. Because you can be a worker and slide away from God—rigid, going to the motions. We’re not called to be workers primarily. We’re called to be worshipers. “Oh, Martha, Martha, worried about much to do, but your sister’s worshiping Me.”
And then as you worship God, you become a worker, we need more workers, don’t get me wrong. I actually visited a hospital home in East Lancaster Saturday or Friday. A friend of mine I’ve known for many years is dying of congestive heart failure. He knew my father, and I talked with him, then I talked to the owner of that home and said “Hey, we’d love to bring the church in and add it to the list.” But then once I contacted <Rhianna?> who helps oversee the scheduling, guess what she said? And she’s right on. “We don’t have enough.”
Can you believe that? I just told this lady we’ve got a church to come by and minister to them, and she said, “Oh, that would be so great. That would be incredible.” But we don’t have enough workers. So basically, I have to tell her we can’t. A church this size cannot go and invest a little bit. Now, many people do. Please don’t misunderstand my heart. This is why these kinds of messages are so hard for me because on one hand I want to build up and encourage. But on the other hand, sometimes you’ve got to rally the troops. Even if you can go once a month, we need people to work and help in these areas.
So back to the worshiper. I shared with you, if you were here last weekend, one of my greatest burdens—let me tell you, you know some of them—one is seeing people dying spiritually with living water right here, but another great burden I have is so many people, especially over the years who aren’t here anymore, they say, “I attended Westside,” but they never experienced God. Can you imagine that? I attended church, but I never experienced God. And of course, the famous verse for this is Matthew 15:22:
And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!” My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”
Can you picture this woman? Have you ever had a son or daughter demon-possessed? It’s horrific. Demon possessed. They’re not who they were, little Sally playing with dolls at five, and at fifteen, she’s tormented. You lose sleep over it. What’s going on? So she comes to Jesus and says, “Have mercy on me, Son of David.” But what?
But He answered her not a word.
And this is where many people go south instead of the right direction. Well, fine then. I knew you couldn’t help anyway. God has it out for me. Listen, there’s a time in everyone’s life, including mine, quite often, where God answers not a word. Not a word. But we can learn from her.
And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
I think it was Brian or Al who explained last weekend, and it was so true, that not only did Jesus not answer her, now His disciples are belittling her and telling her to leave. Have ever had others come against you when you’re seeking God? That just adds icing to the cake. Like Job’s wife. Job’s wife said, “Curse God and die.” What kind of spouse is that? God’s not answering, now the world’s against you, you think she would run away and cry and get bitter at God?
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
So Jesus is saying, “I was not sent to you, woman. You’re a Gentile,” a Canaanite, possibly, from the land of Canaan. “I wasn’t sent to you. I was sent for My people.” Did she give up?
Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
That needs to be our motto. God is not listening, but you still come to Him and say, “Lord, help me.” God’s attracted to worshipers. That’s a cry God will not pass by. He listens for the praises of His people. He listens for the worshipers. When they stand, even in the midst of a storm, and they stand there as the thunder is thundering and the rain is pouring down on their heads, and they stand there, and they say, “Even in this storm, I will praise you. I will worship you.” God says, “I hear that person. That worshiper I will help. It might not be yes right away, but I will help. I will listen, and maybe in that storm I’m teaching you. I’m breaking you. I’m molding you. I’m shaping you.”
It’s so ironic. I’m just going to brag on the worship team for a minute, but so many people comment on our worship team, and Brian even said, “How do you have so many talented voices? Boy, they’re anointed.” I always think, Do you want to go through what they went through? You want to fight what they fought? From cancer to demonic influence and different things? Often the anointing comes from tremendous pain. A pastor just can’t anoint himself with his degree. That’s not anointing. Anointing comes from this brokenness, where God breaks a person, and out of that, God says, “Ok, the clay pot is now back in the hands of the Potter. You want to be a vase? No? I called you to be this,” and God begins to reconstruct.
Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
God is attracted to worshipers. I’m preparing for the Easter message. I like to get something in my heart weeks prior, and I said, “Oh God, this is incredible.” I just read, I think it was Friday, as I’m ending one of the Gospels—I try to just keep going through the Gospels so that I’m always in the Gospels. I just want to hear what Jesus is saying. Who did He appear to the first time? Did Jesus appear to these men? Mary, in whom He cast out seven demons. So this woman in whom He cast out seven demons, she is set free, and Jesus comes back to her. He appears to her first after the resurrection. She was a worshiper. See, God is attracted to worshipers. He is attracted to those where there is no deceit in them, they’re not double-faced, they’re not hypocrites, where they’re worshiping.
So do you need God’s mercy this morning? Then worship Him. Worship Him. There are so many hymns and songs that have come out of pain. One is a new song right now that many churches sing: “Miracles.” “You’re the God of miracles.” Do you know he wrote that after his baby died? I’ve told you about the song before, the well-known hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul.” “It is well with my soul,” as he’s going back over the ocean, and there’s the spot where his daughters drowned. And you’re going to write a hymn? “When sorrows like sea billows roll . . . it is well with my soul.”
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Remember that one? What a friend we have in Jesus. The guy who wrote that was on horseback, living in the 1800s, came up to a creek, and he was behind his fiancé, and she fell off the horse, hit her head on a rock or something, and died. She’s laying right there in the creek. Meets someone else, that fiancé dies before their wedding day of an illness, and he writes “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Have you heard of the hymns “To God Be the Glory” or “All the Way My Savior Leads Me”? Many churches do that. That was put together by Fanny Crosby. She was blind. So were John Milton and George Matheson. “O love that will not let me go.” And William Walford, “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” All blind. I don’t know if you have problems, but that would be a big challenge.
What about if you have a baby, and you can never see your child? You can never see your child’s features. You can only hold them; you can’t see what they look like. But out of that pain can come tremendous anointing, can come a tremendous love of God. That’s why you’ll see many people worshiping with tears coming down their face, sometimes at the altar, because they know God is the one who set them free. They know God is the one: “Although I cannot see, God, you set me free. I was blind spiritually, but now I see.” And from that becomes a powerful worshiper. What about Annie Johnson Flint? “He Giveth More Grace,” “God Has Not Promised,” many other hymns. She was confined to her room with crippling arthritis for most of her life.
Oh, the great privilege of being a worshiper. The great privilege. Guys, it’s a privilege. It’s a privilege to worship God. So why are many people bored? If there’s something you’d rather go do other than worshiping, something is wrong. If it’s “Oh, did Shane just say ‘another song’? Doesn’t he know what time it is? I have to go shooting. That movie starts in an hour. King stomach is calling my name.” Don’t get me started when football season starts. So many, “Oh, the baseball game.” But see, there’s something wrong in the heart. A worshiper wants to worship. Sure, of course, we’ve got other things to do, but the worshiper, there’s something in your heart that wants to worship.
So God helps the worshiper. He helps the warrior, those who want to fight God’s battle. And “warrioring” is “Lord, I’m on the same side as you. What’s going on in our culture, I’m going to fight these battles.” What’s going on in our culture and in our nation is a spiritual battle. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. You say, “But, Shane, look what’s happening. It’s everywhere.” You’re right. That’s where God will often take an army of tens of thousands. God says, “Get rid of them. Get rid of them. Give me three hundred men.” Why? “So that no flesh should glory in My presence.” Nobody will get credit. We’ll look back and say, “But God. But God.” He’ll use the least likely. How does he raise up possibly the greatest preacher to reach more people than the world has ever seen through Billy Graham, through a farm boy, with no education, in the Carolinas? He uses the foolish things to confound the wise. And I’ve read his stories, I’ve watched the movies. One thing is certain: he doesn’t even know how he got there. “God decided to use me.”
And then finally, oh God, help us in this area. God helps those who are weepers. Luke 23:27:
And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him.
It’s this incredible image. And when you think about what’s coming up, Resurrection Day, in a month or so, and you think about the cross and the path to the cross, and as Jesus is carrying this cross, beaten, bloodied, and these women are weeping for Him and mourning and lamenting. But Jesus said—what did He say?
But Jesus, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” (emphasis added)
Now I don’t want to take this text in a direction it’s not meant to be taken, but the whole point is Jesus is saying there is coming a time where the judgment of God is going to fall upon Jerusalem. Don’t weep for Me, be weeping for you and for your children because you have disobeyed God, you have drifted from the Messiah, you rejected Me. Here is the Prince of Life, coming to His own people, and they rejected the Messiah. But there is a wonderful principle there because the condition of our nation, the condition of the family, the condition of everything that’s going on, should turn us into weepers. We don’t walk around crying.
It’s an interesting parallel here because we’re called to be weepers but also joy-filled. So on one hand, we’re weeping for the atrocities that are taking place—“Oh God”—and we’re getting our hearts broken before Him, but then we get up, we’re to be joy-filled, filled with joy. It’s not a dichotomy. It’s not Jekyll and Hyde. It’s the fruit of the Spirit operating in a position of brokenness and weeping. Why is weeping so important? Because weeping breaks up the stagnant fountains of the soul. You have to feel the pain that we’ve caused, maybe we’ve caused to our children, to our families, or what’s going on in our nation. How can we allow these things?
And look how ugly it’s getting on this whole issue of abortion, for example. Look how ugly it’s getting. Now you have abortion doctors explaining how they do it—and proud of how they do it. There are people on the news, on clips, saying, “If it’s born alive, I’ll just break it’s neck.” Doctors! Where’s the weeping? Where’s the travail? Where’s the righteous indignation that says, “Oh my God, use us to stop this evil!” Instead, what do we do? Oh, that’s not too appealing. Next YouTube video. Next Netflix video. And we become callous. Things that should break us and cause us to weep and look at the condition of the family, we’ve just become callous.
You don’t think Christians become callous? Look at our entertainment choices. What would’ve never been allowed in our homes fifty years ago is now welcome and accepted. Callous and weeping is the only thing that sets us right back up on the right pedestal, meaning Christ on the pedestal, but it sets us right back up where we need to be, a position of spiritual authority. Psalm 42:3 says, “My tears have been my food day and night.” Psalm 30:
Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
It’s interesting. You can’t just work this up. Ok, Shane wants me to cry. Let me try to be a weeper. How does that look? It has to take place in your heart, and you say, “God, break my heart for the things that break yours. God, break me. I want to weep. I want to worship you,” and God begins to do a work in your heart. Sorrow is so important to our Christian faith. But not to live in it. I look at sorrow as a springboard into what God’s called us to do, often. Because what happens when you’re sorry or mad at something? You want to make a difference.
I told you before, down by the LAX Hilton many years ago, maybe twelve years, but I went, and I heard about partial-birth abortion, I heard about what’s going on in our nation, I heard about ungodly legislation. I wasn’t even a pastor yet, and I went back to my hotel room, and I prayed and prayed. I cried myself to sleep. I said, “Oh God, if you give me a voice, I will not shut up. I will cry out from the rooftops. I will be that voice crying in the wilderness.”
But where did it start? It had to start with prayer-stained pillows and sheets and weeping and “Lord, how is happening? This is not right.” And from that, there’s a righteous indignation, where not even the enemy himself can stop you because you’re filled with the Spirit of God. But it had to be broken in the prayer closet, where weeping may endure, but joy cometh in the morning. There’s pain and sorrow, but there is wonderful advantage of being broken before God. The church needs to be broken. You, many of you, need to be broken. There’s too much arrogance in this room. There’s too much pride. You haven’t shed a tear in years. No wonder we’re not seeing powerful moves of God.
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.
If we’re so filled with pleasure and the things of this world, we will be devoid of the Spirit of God. We will quench and grieve the Spirit of God. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.
So I’m going to end on that note. If you’re saying, “Praise God,” that means you need to hear this message. Guys, I don’t know how else to wake the sleeping church. We are being lulled to sleep.
So I’ll have the worship team come up. I’m going to close in just a minute. A lot of this is for believers, but I also want to encourage people that don’t know the Lord. You can’t call God Father if you don’t call His Son your Savior. Many people say, “The man upstairs, oh, I know who God is.” Even in the church. “I know about God.” But has His Son saved you and set you free? Has God redeemed you? Do you truly know Him, or do you only know about Him? Because you will never be a worshiper, a weeper, or a warrior for the things of God if you don’t have a relationship with Him.