an atheist in churchAn Atheist In Church

It's time to put our petty differences aside and rekindle our friendship.


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I know this message is for somebody, because the Devil was fighting me to be able to deliver
it.
So let's go forward together into the Word of God.
Peter has an instruction here.
He says, "In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders."
Everybody over 50 say, "Amen."
All the parents say, "Amen."
This is your verse.
Peter is a little older now.
He has that senior citizen discount swag going on in this letter he's writing.
He has that AARP swag.
"And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the
proud but he shows favor to the humble.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due
time.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that you're not the only one going
through something.
The family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
Touch somebody and say, "You're not alone."
You're not the only one.
You're not crazy.
It's a battle we all must fight.
Some fears we all must face.
Some things we all must go through, and we're in this together.
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you
have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and
steadfast.
To him be the power for ever and ever."
And let the church say, "Amen."
I want to speak to you for a few moments today on the subject When Anxiety Attacks.
What are you going to do when anxiety attacks?
My mom and I were texting this morning, and we were talking about my memory, how I remember
weird little things from my childhood.
She says I remember some of them incorrectly.
One thing I know I remember was around age 16 at Moncks Corner United Methodist Church
when Aunt Jackie…
She wasn't really my aunt, but I called her "Aunt Jackie," because when I was a little
boy I used to go over to her house all the time.
She let me watch The Dukes of Hazzard.
She pulled me aside, because I had made a commitment to Jesus Christ as a 16-year-old
boy, and she could see the passion and enthusiasm from my eyes.
She had changed my diapers.
She was at that age where you can say whatever you want to say, kind of like Peter was when
he was telling the church there, the people of God who were under persecution and under
attack at the hands of the emperor Nero.
Aunt Jackie pulled me aside and she was telling me some words of wisdom.
She said she believed God had a plan for me and that God was going to use me and do something
special from me.
She said, "I even told our committee…"
She was on the committee.
The Methodist Church has a lot of committees.
They have committees on committees.
"For God so loved the world that he did not send a committee."
Aunt Jackie was on all the committees, the flower committee and the chair committee.
She said, "I told the committee you wouldn't be here much longer, that this was the church
you were raised in but that God was going to use you for other things and we need to
let you go when God calls you, because he's going to use you and you're going to speak."
She was saying all these things to me.
Again, I had only been a Christian for a short time, so I was encouraged by it.
Then she shifted gears and went into this really serious mode.
She was like, "But the Devil doesn't like you, and he wants to use you as target practice
and bring you down as God is raising you up."
She told me…
This is the Southern way to say 1 Peter 5:6, which says, "Humble yourself under God's mighty
hand."
She said, "Don't get too big for your britches."
(It's a Charlotte thing.
We're a national church now, so I have to tell them.)
"Don't get too big for your britches, and keep yourself low so God can raise you up
high."
She told me that.
She said, "The Devil is after you.
He does not like the passion you have for God, and he's after you."
I'm glad she told me that second part, because I don't know if a lot of Christians get told
that second part.
So I thought I would join in with Peter, who said your enemy, the Devil, roars like a lion
looking for someone he can eat alive, looking for a family he can tear apart, looking for
a future he can ruin before it even has a chance to get started, looking for a church
he can divide, looking for a nation he can divide, looking for an addiction he can plant
in the heart of a 14-year-old so they'll never live a normal adult life.
"The Devil is busy.
The Devil is active," she told me.
The interesting thing about it is she was saying that to me, I think, because she thought
God was calling me to preach, but you don't have to be a preacher to have a bull's-eye
on your back.
In fact, I want you to write something down for me.
If you care anything at all about your future, your family, or your faith, write this down:
The birthmark of a believer is a bull's-eye.
Peter is here to teach us that we are born again into a living hope, but as you are born
into a living hope you are also born into an eternal struggle and a very real battle.
The day you become one with Christ, the Enemy…
Now I want to be careful here, because this is what we do sometimes.
We get way too carried away about all the stuff the Devil does.
Someone will say, "Well, I've just been under attack lately.
So, like, lately I just feel like the Devil has been attacking me so much.
It's just, like, so bad.
It's, like, my mom and my dad and everybody, like, my teachers and everything.
Like, my iPhone, I was charging it the other day, and I know I charged it overnight, but
then I woke up and it was dead.
It's just the Devil is in my iPhone."
No, it was your charger.
It wasn't the Devil.
"People on my job, they just hate me because I'm a Christian.
I'm just under attack.
My boss doesn't like me.
I'm just under attack right now."
No, you're not under attack.
You're underperforming.
Your boss doesn't like you because you're not doing a very good job commensurate with
the paycheck they have entrusted to you.
Yet there are those times and there are those seasons where you just get a sense that, "I
feel like I'm under attack."
It's something only Christians say.
It's not something you would say if you didn't believe in God, because you wouldn't believe
in the Devil.
You would just say, "Everything is falling apart," or whatever.
Do you remember when President Bush was reading to the elementary school class…?
There's a famous picture of his chief of staff having to go up to him while he's reading
a book and say to the president on 9/11, "A second plane hit the second tower."
He said, "America is under attack."
He told the president that, according to his account and his record after the fact.
He said, "America is under attack."
Now Peter is walking up to a church under attack, speaking to them on a personal level.
"I want you to know that you're under attack."
Not just the preacher.
People will come up to me all the time and say, "I'm praying for you, Preacher.
I know the Devil wants to take you out."
Well, I look right back at them and say, "Well, I'm going to pray for you too; write your
name down," because he'll take whoever he can get.
He's after construction workers and sophomores in high school and stay-at-home moms and attorneys,
prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I wonder, is it you?
Is it you he has been after with thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again
in your mind?
Thoughts of worthlessness or anxiety.
This seems to be Peter's primary focus.
The attack of the Enemy often manifests itself in an overwhelming sense of anxiety.
I know this is the manifestation of the attack, for if it were not the manifestation of the
attack, Peter would not singularly lift it in verse 7 as the focal point of his admonition
to the church under attack.
I feel like teaching today.
Are you ready to learn?
Give me about 30 minutes, because you're under attack, and there are some things you need
to know about this attack.
The good news is it is not an ambush.
Peter says the Devil is like a roaring lion.
That means he gives you a warning before the warfare begins.
Sometimes we act really surprised by things we go through and ways we struggle.
We come into situations that are harder than we expected them to be, and we ask God to
do great things in our lives, but the battle begins and we act like we weren't warned.
Peter said, "This lion, the Devil, is not silent.
He's a roaring…"
Come on, give me your best roar.
The Devil is all up in your face.
He'll let you know it's coming.
What you need to know if you are under attack…
I will not have you raise your hand, because perhaps the very people who need this message
the most would be the most reluctant to admit, "This is for me."
He said when you find yourself in a season of attack, that roaring lion is in your face…
I'm thinking right here Peter is going to say, "Run," because to me that's the only
reasonable advice when you're faced with a roaring lion.
Hello!
I don't even like dogs very much.
Holly is scared of rats.
Can you imagine if she saw a lion?
But he doesn't say, "Run."
Instead, he challenges us to resist.
It's a certain type of resistance.
He says to those who are under attack, "You need to come under the mighty hand of God."
I want you to see that phrase, because it touched me so deeply in my study.
I was hoping to explain it to you for a moment today.
The three things the hand of God represents.
This is verse 6.
"Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God."
That's an image that would have been familiar for a Jewish audience, for it was with a mighty
hand and an outstretched arm that God brought his people out of Egyptian slavery.
Peter wants them to know that same hand of God that has been actively fulfilling his
purpose throughout human history is still reigning over your life.
Humble yourself under that mighty hand.
The hand of God represents his plan.
I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that God's plan for my life has prevailed even
against my own plan that I thought was better sometimes.
How many are grateful for the hand of God?
If you're grateful for the hand of God, just wave your hand at me.
God's hand is not like your hand.
It's an invisible hand.
You can't see it, but you definitely know the effects of it when it moves, because after
you've lived a little while…
Peter said, "I saw what happens in the hand of God, the plan of God."
Peter is not writing this as advice unsolicited, and he's not writing this as advice uninformed.
Peter is a grown Christian man now, getting a little bolder about relaying his advice
from his experiences.
Who better to tell us about the hand of God than a man who walked with Jesus Christ in
the flesh?
Who better to describe to us the function of the hand of God than the one who saw his
face?
Jesus said, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father."
Peter didn't just trace the hand of God; he saw the face of God.
Now he says to those who were under attack, up under depression, up under disappointment,
dealing with failure, hit rock bottom, don't know what's next, freaking out, crying yourself
to sleep at night, feeling all alone…
He says to every believer, "You have the upper hand."
The hand of God is mighty.
The hand of God is strong.
The hand of God is over your life and will prevail.
His purpose will come to pass.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
If you find yourself under attack today, you need to know the hand of God is guiding you,
leading you, that same hand that split the sea open so his people could walk right through
it.
The hand of God will make a way where there is no way.
The hand of God will bring water out of a rock in a dry place.
The hand of God is over your life and he has a plan.
The hand of God represents the plan of God.
The hand of God represents the provision of God.
Who better to remind a church or a believer who is under attack that the hand of God is
the place where bread multiplies than the one who saw 5,000 fed with just a few loaves
and a few fish?
Anytime you've seen a kid's snack pack from Captain D's multiplied into a buffet, you
know something about the provision in the hand of God.
Peter was right there.
He saw what happened when they put the bread in Jesus' hand.
He knew that at times where you feel like you are in a place of lack, your provision
is never dependent upon your own ability to provide for yourself or your own ability to
create resource for yourself, but anything you put in the hand of God will multiply.
Anything you put in the hand of God, it just keeps coming.
Do I have any witnesses?
You've been through some hard times in your life, but hope kept coming.
You've been in some tight places.
You felt like you were running out.
You didn't feel like you could make it to the next day, but somehow strength kept coming.
Joy kept coming.
A tomorrow kept coming in spite of your past.
The hand of God is a hand of provision.
It's a hand of protection.
God has me in his grip.
Who better to help me see that the hand of God will protect me than the one who tried
to walk on water?
Do y'all know the Bible?
Go study this story in Matthew, chapter 14, where Peter got out there.
He's trying to make his way to Jesus.
He's coming toward him, and about the time he gets there…
Sometimes it's right when you're on the verge that you start to sink.
I never saw it before.
In Matthew, chapter 14, it says Peter in the storm got out of the boat, and when he walked
out on the water he did pretty well.
He came toward Jesus.
"But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save
me!'"
He cries out before he goes completely under.
He's sinking, but he's not sunk.
He's going down, but he's not out.
The lion is prowling, but he has not prevailed.
This is what I never saw.
Verse 31 says, "Immediately…"
That's the word.
"…Jesus reached out his hand."
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand.
Notice the construct of the narrative.
Jesus is not walking toward Peter; Peter is walking toward Jesus.
When Jesus sees Peter falling and hears him crying, he reaches out his hand, and Peter
is close enough for Jesus to reach.
The problem with some of us isn't that we're sinking.
It's that we won't stay close enough for God to get us in his grip.
I came to announce to that lion today, that liar, the Devil, that I'm in his grip even
when I'm going down.
Even though the winds and the waves are roaring and raging in my life, I'm in his grip.
God has me in his grip.
He has me in the hand of his protection.
He might let me suffer a little while, but he won't let me stay there.
He is my God and I'm in his hand.
"Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God."
It doesn't matter how well you can walk on water; it matters how close you are to his
hand.
It doesn't matter about your intelligence; it matters about your surrender.
It doesn't matter about your ability; it matters about your surrender.
Humble yourself.
I'm preaching to somebody.
I'm preaching to somebody so straight you can't even nod.
You're trying to hold back tears, but God sent a preacher with a message.
You might as well go ahead and cry out, "Lord, save me.
I can't do this on my own.
I am not enough by myself."
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and he'll lift you up in due time.
He'll get you up.
He'll lift you up in due time.
He'll let you go down low enough to know that you need him and bring you up high enough
to let the world know he's with you.
Verse 7 is what I've been trying to practice, that I can be under attack and not anxious.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I'm trying to do that.
After Code Orange Revival, I felt like I went under an emotional attack.
I don't even know that I'm out of it yet.
Part of it is probably because of adrenaline and physiological factors that have to do
with getting up 10 nights in a row and all of the hosting of trying to put up with guests
for 10 nights and make them feel special.
Part of it, though, had to be spiritual.
It was like for 10 nights…
If you weren't here in our church, you basically missed out on life by not coming to Code Orange
Revival.
Not only did our city go through a shaking after the revival but I went through a shaking.
I don't want to get up here and use you for a counseling appointment, because I don't
want to have to pay your hourly fee or anything like that.
I don't want you to worry about me, because I promise you I'm good.
I love my wife and my kids and we're good and everything like that.
Don't send me these emails.
"We're praying for you, Pastor."
That's not the reason I'm telling you this.
It'll make me feel like you missed the point if you send an email.
I don't want a card or anything like that.
Flowers, cookies, trying to get me fat on carbohydrates because you think I'm struggling.
I don't want any of that.
I don't need any of that.
I just want to tell you something.
While we were in here talking about 10 nights, celebrating 10 years, I felt overwhelmed about
"Do I have what it takes for the next 10?"
It's like once you've gone really high with God, as a leader, I think you feel a pressure
to go higher.
Then it's kind of hard, because you feel like maybe you've gone as high as you can go.
Maybe you feel that way as a parent, not as a preacher.
Maybe you feel that way in your business.
I don't know who I'm preaching to, but I'm going to open myself up here a little bit
for you today, if it will be helpful, because anxiety attacked me.
It hit me kind of hard.
I wasn't staying in bed.
I didn't go get addicted to some kind of pills or anything like that.
It was a thing in my mind.
"I don't have what it takes.
This is as far as I can take them.
I don't know if I'm the one to do it."
All this stuff that was going through my mind.
That's how I got over to 1 Peter, chapter 5.
I know that Scripture.
I love that Scripture.
That Scripture has helped me before.
Sometimes when you are up against a fight you have to go back to a weapon you know.
"I can't fight Goliath in this armor.
I have to get a slingshot."
It was a well-known verse, and I went back in there and considered the context of Peter,
who fell asleep in the garden of Gethsemane while he was supposed to be watching Jesus'
back.
Jesus came over to him.
He gave him two wake-up calls.
He hit the snooze button three times.
"Are you still sleeping?"
I looked at how Peter was telling the church to be alert, which is translated elsewhere
in the New Testament, "Be prayerful."
The Enemy eats Christians who sleep in times of battle.
Be alert to what's going on.
Realize that the birthmark of a believer is a bull's-eye.
The Devil doesn't like it one bit that you're moving forward in your relationship with God.
I started taking the verse apart, because the Word of God really is what I live by,
not just what I make my living off of.
I went into verse 7 really hard like I needed an answer.
When anxiety attacks, it will drive you to seek God, to seek his hand.
I was looking for him, because he said, "Cast all your anxiety."
While I was reading it, since I knew Peter wrote it and he's a fisherman, I wondered
if he was picturing casting the nets from one side of the boat to the other just because
Jesus told him to.
Sometimes anxiety in our lives is a result of our unwillingness to be obedient.
When he cast the net to the other side…
Maybe that's a word for somebody.
He said, "Cast all your anxiety on him."
Do it his way now.
"We fished all night and caught nothing," Peter said.
"But because you say so, I'm going to cast my net on the other side.
I've been trying to do this my way.
I've been trying to handle it on my own, but I'm going to cast my net on the other side."
However, it was in verses 5-6 that I found my answer.
In verse 5 he says, "In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your
elders.
All of you, clothe…"
The Greek word means tie on.
Tie it on, like a towel, like Jesus did when he took on the role of a servant.
He got a servant's towel and put it around his waist.
When Peter saw him tying on that towel, he said, "No, you don't tie on the towel, Jesus.
You sit on the throne."
But Jesus tied on the towel.
I wonder if, as Peter is telling them to clothe themselves in humility, he is having a flashback
of the Savior, who laid his riches in glory aside and made himself nothing, found in the
appearance of sinful man and became a servant, humbling himself even to death on a cross,
as he tied on the towel and washed Peter's feet.
Peter's response was, "No, Lord, you can't wash my feet."
Jesus said, "Peter, shut up."
That's not the exact conversation, but it's the essence of it.
He did what he came to do.
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.
Maybe my biggest problem was the fact that I always thought verse 7, the instruction
where he said, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you…"
You go to the Word of God sometimes and try to pluck up these little promises.
You try to do stuff.
"I like that verse.
That verse."
Back up and catch the essence of the text.
Verse 6: "Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up
in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
To really understand the essence and profundity of the connection, you need to see a more
literal translation of verses 6-7.
Peter is writing this letter in Koine Greek.
In the Greek language, as Peter is writing this letter, as you will see demonstrated
in verses 6-7, these are not two separate sentences.
It reads like this: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the
proper time he may exalt you [comma]…"
What happens next is predicated on whether or not what happens in verse 6 is applied.
In Greek it is one sentence.
"Humble yourself, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may exalt you in due time, casting
all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I've been trying to cast my anxieties and keep my pride.
The thing about it is you need to know the pride and the anxiety come in the same package.
If you insist on doing it your way, then expect to feel like the weight of the world is on
your shoulders, because it is.
You can't just do verse 7 because you decide to.
"God, take it off me.
God, take it off me.
I'm so worried, God.
Make me not worried anymore."
"Don't you care if we perish?"
That's what Peter said one time in the boat.
"Don't you care that we're drowning?"
"God, you said cast all my anxieties on you.
I'm casting them.
I'm casting them.
This isn't working."
Look at the word anxiety.
I'm telling the Lord in my prayers, "I don't know if I can do it.
I just need you to give me a sign that I can take the church forward the next 10 years.
Take this anxiety.
I'm casting it on you, Lord.
I am casting it on you, all of my anxiety."
After I prayed this way for a little while, the Lord spoke to me in my heart.
This is not an out-loud conversation.
I don't want you to think I'm really, really crazy, but this is the impression I got.
The Lord said, "Are you done now?
Shut up, Peter.
Are you done now?"
Look at the word anxiety.
Look at how it's spelled in English.
Look at what is in the center of the word.
Do you see it?
At the center of your anxiety, if you really trace it…
I'm not talking about a medical condition.
I'm not a pharmacist.
I don't know about all that.
I am not a neurologist.
I'm saying, spiritually speaking, the Lord told me at the center of your anxiety is your
pride.
The reason you're so anxious is because you have you at the center, and you can't sustain
it because it's not your throne.
"Even listen to your language," the Lord said.
"I don't know if I have what it takes.
I don't know if I can do it.
I don't know if I can make it.
If I, if I, if I, I, I, I…"
You can't spell anxiety without I.
It's right in the middle.
Do you know what other word I is in the middle of?
Pride.
Maybe the reason you've been carrying anxiety that you can't get rid of is because you've
been bearing weight you weren't meant to bear.
You'd better humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, because if you stay weighed down
with pride, you're going to be weighed down with anxiety, and God can't lift you up.
"I don't know if I have what it takes to make it through the next 10 years."
God said to me, "Did you have what it took to get through the first 10, boy?
You'd better cast your net on the other side.
You'd better call out to me in the time of the storm and humble yourself."
"Casting all your anxiety on him."
It's not a command to cast your anxiety on him; it's a result.
The command is to humble yourself under his mighty hand, and when you do, the anxiety
goes with the pride.
If you would get yourself out of the center and get God on the throne and lift your hands
to him and say, "I need you, Lord; I'm a sinful man…"
"Can't step without you.
Can't breathe without you.
Can't eat without you.
Can't pray without you.
Can't parent without you.
Can't preach without you.
Can't work without you.
Can't live without you.
No peace without you.
No joy without you."
God said, "Now I'm ready to lift you up above the wind, above the waves, above your pride."
My mom lost 80 pounds over the course of two years.
That's like an Elijah and one-fourth of an Abbey.
Eighty pounds.
That's about how much you curl with one arm.
What was weird is she didn't just lose weight.
See, my mom had bad knees and a bad back.
In fact, I wanted to give my mom the house we lived in when we moved into another house,
but she couldn't take it because it had stairs.
She said, "I would love to live in that house, but the bedroom is upstairs and I can't climb
the stairs."
You know what's a weird thing, though?
She would go to the doctor about her knees and about her back.
"I have bad knees and a bad back."
When the weight came off, the pain went with it.
I wish you could see her today.
She is like an Olympic rower.
Do you remember The Social Network, the Winklevoss brothers?
How much does she row?
Fifteen thousand meters a day.
I don't know.
I'm making this up.
She rows a lot.
She can climb the stairs and she can dance and she's lively.
It wasn't her knees; it was the weight.
Is the reason you're so anxious because of your pride?
Maybe the anxiety is the fruit and the pride is the root.
If you would pluck it up by the root, the fruit couldn't grow.
Get yourself out of the center.
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.
"Well, what if I look stupid?"
Some of you are about to try something right now that you've never tried before.
"What if I look stupid?"
I have good news for you.
Everybody else is thinking about themselves, not you, so they won't even notice.
"What if I, I, I, I…?"
Who better to teach us about humility than Peter?
He was sitting around a table having dinner with Jesus one time.
Jesus said, "All of you are going to fall away."
Look at what Peter said.
The Lord was speaking to me.
I preached this message one time before, but the Lord was speaking to me about it for this
particular group.
He reminded me what Peter said when Jesus said, "You know, you're all going to hit rock
bottom."
Sometimes the only way for you to find your foundation is to hit rock bottom.
Sometimes that's the best place to build from.
Sometimes that's the best place to lead from.
Sometimes that's the best place to be a better husband from: the place of "Lord, save me."
Not "Call me to come and I'll come," but "Lord, save me."
Then the hand of God gets involved.
Peter didn't know this.
He's sitting around the table.
He says, "Even if all fall away, I will not.
I will not."
Jesus said, "Before the rooster even gets his second crow out of his mouth, you're going
to be telling people you don't even know me."
That's exactly what happened.
Jesus warned Peter of the attack.
Sometimes we don't listen and we don't hear it, so we're surprised when it comes.
We act like it's an ambush when it's really normal.
It's normal to be attacked.
Jesus told Peter, "Satan has asked for all of you, and specifically he has asked for
you, to sift you as wheat, to sort out what's real from what's not real.
But I prayed for you, Peter.
I prayed for you, Peter.
You're going to fail, Peter, but I'm not.
You are shaky at best, Peter, but I am a solid rock at the bottom of your failure.
I prayed for you, Peter."
Now Peter writes, decades later, to a church under attack.
"Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, for your enemy, the Devil, is like a
roaring lion.
He's looking for somebody to devour.
He's looking for somebody he can shred to pieces with doubt and fear and selfishness.
He's looking for somebody he can get to walk away."
As a pastor, I'm just sick of having to make phone calls and visits with people every week
who are being devoured by the Enemy.
Peter says, "This is a time for resistance.
This is not a time for you to run; this is a time for you to resist."
"Yeah, but he's a lion."
"He is a lion, and he might be licking his lips and his fangs might be sharp and he might
have you in his sight and you might have failed and you might have done it and you might be
going down, but you need to know one thing about this lion," Peter says.
"After you have suffered a little while, God himself will step in and restore you and make
you strong.
He's a lion, but the lion is on a leash.
He can only go so far.
He can only do so much.
He can't keep you down forever."
"Humble yourself under the hand of God and in due time…"
This is somebody's due time.
This is it.
Anxiety stops here.
Depression stops here.
Fear stops here.
In due time he will lift you up.
I feel the hand of God reaching down for somebody today.
You've been going down.
If it's you, lift your hand.
If this message was straight to you, stand up on your feet and lift both your hands in
the air.
If this message was straight to you, straight to your heart, straight to what you've been
dealing with, straight to the battle you've been fighting, lift your hands.
God, we thank you for your hand of favor, your hand of provision, your hand of protection,
your hand of power, your hand of purpose.
We humble ourselves under your hand today.
We know the lion is loud, but we know the suffering won't last long.
It is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us.
So we look it in the face today and we declare the name of Jesus is greater.
The name of Jesus is higher.
You have all power in your hand.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to you.
Now lift your people, God.
Lift your people.
Lift your people as we lift you up in this place.
Lift their heads, God.
Lift their heads.
Dry their tears.
Calm their hearts.
Speak to the storm and the storm will cease.
We declare in the name of Jesus this is our due time.
Trouble won't last always.
The enemies we're afraid of today will be our testimonies in our tomorrow.
I'm going to say that again.
The enemies you fear today will be your testimony of triumph in your tomorrow.
God said, "It's just a little while."
The God who has called you into his eternal glory, what lasts forever.
After you have suffered a little while, he himself will restore you.
Peter said, "I know about it, because I've been there.
I've had me at the center.
I failed so bad I didn't know if I could ever bounce back.
I went back to my fishing business, because I figured God didn't have any more use for
me.
But when I was going down, that's where I found his hand.
When I was going down, that's when he reached out to me.
Just when it looked like the lion had me in his sights, that's when the God of all grace,
the God of all provision, the God of all power…"
Do I have a witness that immediately he'll reach down and pick you up?
Let's call on his name today.
Let's call on his name, the Savior of the world.
Call on his name!

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