BAPTISM FOR THE HOPELESS
A devil is trying to take over this world. Society is trying to redefine everything and eradicate all godliness from us. A spirit is trying to destroy the lives of families, children, and churches. The time is now for the Church to rise. It’s your time to rise. It's your time to give God glory. It's your time to let God glorify His name through your life.
There's a moment in the lives of believers when we get up and go forward to the call of God. Not with any great pedigrees, or maybe even a history of faithfulness—but we hear the voice of God calling us. That's all that matters—His voice. When we move towards His voice, the touch of God comes on our lives, and we are changed from the inside out. His power transforms us. We are born again. Don’t try to make it deeper than that. It's just people like you and me that say, “God, I'm in. I don't know what you want to do with my life, but I know who you are. God, I know you created the Heavens and the earth by the words of your mouth. I am yielding my life to your purpose. Wherever it takes me, whatever it makes me into, whatever you give me to say, that is what my life will be all about.”
When Jesus Christ went into the waters of baptism, He had one request: Father, glorify your name. Scripture says, “A voice came from Heaven, and God the Father said, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’” That's a word for this generation. He has sent revival to America in the past. He has raised people out of the dust and ashes of nothing. He has given strength to the poor and those who knew they had no resources to do anything for the Kingdom of God. He will do it again, and His name will be glorified—one more time before He comes to take us all home.
Psalm 29, a psalm of King David, begins, “Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” David's not talking about something we must bring to God. We just show Him a heart that says, “God, I want to glorify you. I want my life to make a difference.” We are called to give our hearts to God; He does the rest through us. He brings glory to His name.
Allow God to show His glory. One more time. In verse three, David says, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters.” That means every trial, every voice trying to tell you, “You can't, you won't. You never will be.” The voice of the Lord is above these voices. God has the final word. “The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” Majesty means royalty. It means capable—the ability to do things only God can do. “The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars.” The cedars represent those entrenched, long-standing places in our lives.
The voice of the Lord breaks addiction and depression. His voice brings us out of weakness and into strength. It opens prison doors and sets prisoners free. The voice of the Lord heals us of wounds that might be so deep that only God can heal them. The voice of the Lord gives sight when we can't see a way forward. His voice strengthens us to believe that all things are possible through Jesus Christ. “Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. He makes them skip like a calf, Lebanon, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire.” He cuts through the impossible trials, places we must go through, and things we think we'll never be able to get through on our own.
“The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness.” Hallelujah. In those seasons, when we wonder what life is about and don't see the reason for where we are, God's voice comes. His power delivers us out of despair. Verse nine: “The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, And strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” When you don't know what to say, just say, “Glory. Glory to God!” It’s what we say when only God could have done what has happened in our lives. Sing glory to the name of Jesus! All glory, power, praise, and dominion belong to Him.
“The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever.” The Bible says when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of God will raise a standard against him. Amen. There's a point when God says, “Enough.” He says enough of the confusion, enough of the immorality, enough of the evil prospering in this generation. He says enough of taking away the dignity of institutions like marriage, enough of confusing our children and their schools. “The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.” It’s who God is. It’s what He does.
I have lived the miracle. I'm not bringing you a theory. I've walked this. I know what it's like to be in the wilderness. I know what it's like to have the cedars before you. I know what it's like to wonder what the future will hold. I know what it's like to live in despair. I know what it's like to be wounded and hard. I have seen the darkness, and living in Christ is incredible.
John 11 shows an impossible story. Lazarus is dead. As we read about in Psalm 29, other voices are at play. They are saying, “So sad. Too bad. I wish God had been here. It's all over. It's not going to happen. Four days in the grave—stinks by now.” Imagine if Lazarus could hear them. That would be awful to hear about oneself! Remember, the Lord's voice is above all. Lazarus is in an entrenched place. Not only is he dead, everyone around him is dead. Nobody is going anywhere in the cemetery. This is the cedars that David talks about in Psalm 29. It’s the impossible forest where nothing can be moved. Nothing humanly possible can be done for Lazarus in this place—many obstacles, including a stone that probably weighed about ten tons blocking his way out.
Maybe you are in an entrenched place. Maybe you feel like it’s all over. Perhaps there are other voices, be it family or friends, or even the commentary in your head, saying there’s no hope for you. Are there impossible obstacles? Are there endless reasons why you’ve been told you will never live again? Have you lost hope for a future? Maybe people are so bold as to suggest that you stink in one way or another or never amount to anything.
Suddenly Jesus appears on the scene, saying, “Did I not say to you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” What does everybody say in His temple? Glory. If Jesus Christ stood in this pulpit, He would say the same thing. Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God in what only God can do? God would come into your life and give you an undeniable testimony. Everyone around you would know He lives, He moves, and He's willing to take us in our weakness and become our strength.
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” This life is what God is giving this generation. He's calling people by name.
He’s saying, “Come out of the place where you are. Come out of the place where people have put you; come out of the place of death. Come out of the place of listening to other voices. Come out of the place of impossibility. I have something I need to do through you. I'm going to raise you from this place of death. I'm going to give you life. You are going to become a wonder to many. You'll shout, ‘Glory!’ in the temple of God.” I've said it a hundred times throughout my preaching: Isn’t it interesting that only a dead man could hear God’s voice in this story? Nobody else is listening. Nobody else believes anything could be done—but Lazarus, the dead man, hears Him. Isn't that amazing?
“And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’” Lazarus is all wrapped up with burial cloths covered in spices. He is not really in a position to add much to the equation. Even though there’s no way out, Jesus isn’t just saying to remove the cloths but to let him go. In other words, Lazarus is going somewhere. Get those bandages off! Get the grief clothes off this guy and let him go. Hallelujah. The next time we see Lazarus, he's sitting at the table with Jesus, and the scripture says people are coming to that table, not because of Jesus, but because of Lazarus. Jesus is there, but this man who was raised from the dead is drawing them to the place where Jesus is. That's your part. God will raise you and draw others to where Jesus is because of what He has done in your life. That's the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you're dead tonight, you're ahead of those still alive standing at the graveyard. When you're in a place where you know only God can save you, you can hear His voice. As Pastor Teresa often says, we preach the gospel of dead men living. God is calling somebody by name because you're needed. There's a testimony that's necessary for God's glory.
We've had enough theories about God; I'm done with the theories. We must know He’s alive and can raise people from the grave. God has a plan and a purpose for every life, and He can break the chains of addiction, open prison doors, heal bruised hearts, and give us sight. God can empower us with strength far beyond our own and give us the giftings of the Holy Spirit. For any of this to happen in your life, you've got to get up and get out of the grave. That's your part. Get up and get out. Do something. Move towards the voice of God. It's too late for just religion; it's too late for games. There are people out there who need God's testimony in their life. They need to hear you shouting, “Glory!” in the house of God. They need to hear you praising God for what He has done in your life. It's time. It's time to hear His voice and live. Hallelujah.
America is in deep trouble. We are offending a holy God. We've moved into the fields of the fatherless, and He said, don't do that because if you do, I will rise and contend for them. One of the ways that God will contend by His grace before His judgment is that He will raise a people that will display His glory once again. There'll be no more arguments about the reality of God. Who's going to argue with Lazarus? When Lazarus says, “Hey man, I was dead in the grave. Now here I am, alive by the grace of the almighty God.” How do you argue theology with a man like that? That testimony is what we need in this generation. We need weak people to stand in the strength of God and the foolish to speak with the wisdom that God only can give. That's revival, folks. Revival is the people of God. Respond one more time.
God raised me in His mercy. I was a man full of selfishness and hate and told I would never amount to anything. One day I heard His voice, and my life changed forever. It's that simple. No resume, no history of faithfulness, nothing to give God—but I heard Him. I heard Him call me. It was in my heart. It was deeper than an audible voice. I remember standing in the back of the church when the altar call was given, and I remember thinking, God, you can't mean me. That was the first thing that came to my mind. You’ve got to be kidding. You must be desperate in your Kingdom to be calling me. I remember thinking; I have nothing to give. Now I shout, “Glory! Glory to God!”