Leaving God out of our decision making is dangerous and leads to difficulties that could have been avoided. In the Old Testament, Joshua made a decision just like this that led to Israel being at war with enemies it wouldn’t have had to face. But Joshua didn’t make the same mistake in the midst of these consequences. He cried out to God for a miracle in the battle and the Lord made the sun stand still! No matter if it is a difficult decision or the consequences of a bad decision, the God who is big enough to make the sun stand still thousands of years ago is still working all things together for good for those who love him.
Father, there are people here that are listening on video, listening on a webcast, listening in a home, and listening here live that have made some really bad decisions in their life and are still paying for them right now. But today you're going to bring hope to this building. You're going to speak hope. God, the biggest consequence we have faced as a human race is the decision that was made thousands of years ago when a person decided to listen to the devil itself, just decided to go above and beyond what God has prescribed and the boundaries that God has put on their lives. And Lord, this world, this planet is paying for that today, but thank you that we found hope in the midst of a bad decision thousands of years ago. The hope came in the form of the Son of God himself that would die on the cross for us.
There are people that are in this place and see no way out. They see no light at the end of a tunnel, but I pray, Lord God, today is going to be a different day. Somehow, hope is going to rise up inside of their hearts today. Something's going to happen. I believe, God, as your word goes forth. Let your word, oh, God not return void today. Let the word of God be powerful. This was your promise. If we preach your word, it wouldn't return void, and if we lift up Jesus, you'll draw men. That was your promise. So we have made a decision here, this church, we're going to lift up Jesus, so draw men. We'll preach your word, so don't let it return void. No one will leave here untouched by the word of God today.
That word can bring men a couple steps closer or all the way in, but we're believing no void place, but God, your work to take place in everyone's heart today. And God, what we're asking for is simply this, that when men and women leave this place, they're not going to say, "What great music, what a great choir." They're not going to say, "What great preaching, and what a great church." They're going to say, "What a great God they serve." In Jesus' name, and everybody said, amen. God bless you. You may be seated. [applause]
I'll let you decide the validity of the article. I've read it some 10–15 years ago. And because of the culture that we live in, some people are trying to disprove this, but I have a sneaky suspicion that God has a way of sneaking up on our culture and making himself known. It happened in Greenbelt, Maryland almost two decades ago. In their lab, they would do calculations on all of our satellites that we would send into space, and those calculations were important because they had to go backwards and forwards to make sure that when we send up our satellites or any-- whether it was a moon launch, whatever that would be, they wanted to make sure that because of the orbits of planets, they're making sure that we weren't running into anything up there and they wanted to be careful about that.
Well, over two decades ago, there was a calculation that was made and literally they said at Greenbelt, Maryland in the lab that the computers came to a halt. And it said when they went backwards and when they went forwards, literally, a red light went on and said when we were making our calculations, determining by the days and months and years from backwards to forwards, we wanted to make sure that we understood where all the calculations were going, whatever we sent up into outer space. We found out that our computers can no longer calculate because they said, the computer said there is a day missing in history that they didn't know what to do with. And some genius at the labs said, "I grew up in Sunday school, and I found out that all the way back in the book of Joshua, I remember the story where God intervened in the battle and made the sun stand still. And I just decided..." And this is what they propose. "Let's go back as close as we can, readjust the calculations and see if that's the missing day." And sure enough, the calculations all came back and the missing day was God's fault over 5,000 years ago when God made the sun stand still. [applause]
Once again, it's not science disproving the Bible, it's science confirming what God has already done thousands of years ago. And even one of the greatest minds that has been in human history, Albert Einstein said this, he said, "The more I study science, the more I believe in God." And I truly believe that what I want to do today is I want to bring hope and I want to take you to that very story today. I have to tell you this story backwards. Because everyone in this place, if you would join with me would understand what it's like. How many would say I've made some bad decisions in my life? Would you go ahead and raise your hand? And if you didn't, that's a really bad decision. So now you could put your hand up right now.
I want to show you the context of this miracle because some people are in a place that they would think, "I've done this and I have to pay for this. I'm all by myself, and God just leaves me to myself." I want to show you the context that this is a miracle from a really good guy who made a really bad mistake, and God intervened in the mistake and the really bad decision. In fact, the consequences went on for hundreds of years, and I'm praying today that we're going to find hope. As I was praying for you today, I'm believing hope is going to come to that home group, to that home fellowship that is meeting, those that are watching at the Jersey church. I'm believing for those that are right here. You're going to find hope before you leave this place today.
So let me tell Joshua's story backwards. I want to read from the book of Joshua, but I want to start with it backwards because it was one of the greatest, and he's considered one of the greatest Jewish generals to ever have lived in the history of Israel. And when you read Joshua, there is not a blotch on his record except for this one bad decision which coincides with the sun having to stand still. In fact, let me tell you that story. In fact, the miracle day, this is what the Bible says about that miracle day, Times Square Church. Let me read it to you in Joshua chapter 10:14, "There has never been a day before, and there's never been a day since when the Lord stopped the sun all because of the prayer of one man."
Think of that. The Bible says there was never a day like this when God literally intervened in his creation. Not only do we read that, we begin to go, "How did that happen?" And I have to just give you quickly the who, what, and why for just a moment. Really the what was the miracle, is basically God gave them more daylight so they can win a battle. God literally intervened in his creation. Stopped the sun, stops the moon, so they can have more daylight to defeat an enemy that they didn't realize that was going to become an enemy. Which is the who, which is a group called the Amorites that weren't even on the radar, and now they're having to fight a group of people that they didn't think they were ever going to fight. But I'll explain that part later.
But it's the why behind the miracle is that what blew me away as I was reading the book of Joshua. Because Joshua chapter 10 is a miracle. Listen to me close now. It is a miracle because of a bad decision Joshua made. It's not a miracle because God was going, "I'm blessing all these battles," which he did. He says, "But it's a miracle because you really, really blew it when you made a decision,all the way back in Joshua chapter nine." It was all because Joshua decided something, and all of a sudden his life and he thought even the history of Israel was going to be messed up.
Let me tell you the story really quickly. Moses has led the children of Israel out of Egypt. He has got them right to the edge of the promised land, passes the baton to Joshua and says, "I'm not allowed to go any further, but you're going to have to take them in." Joshua takes the baton, and that's where we get the book of Joshua from. He steps in to the Jordan river and is about to face his first battle, which is the story of the city with the giant wall that we call Jericho. The wall comes down, they go in, and all of a sudden they get on a roll and are defeating everybody. God's hand is upon the children of Israel.
They're about to take over the promised land and all of a sudden, as word started going out on how they were defeating everybody, there was a very, very cunning group of people called the Gibeonites that said, "If we don't come up with a plan, these guys are about to beat us." And all of a sudden some guys came up with a plan that said, "Let's try to defeat them and let's see if we can begin to go ahead and trick them and let them believe that we are from a faraway country, and that we just want to be in alliance with them." When actually they were around the corner.
Let me read to you the story from a paraphrased version. Joshua chapter nine tells the story. Joshua chapter 10 tells the miracle. Listen to this. The people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, and looked up and began to cook up a ruse. This is a paraphrase. They posed as travelers, their donkeys loaded with patched sacks, mended wineskins, threadbare sandals on their feet, tattered clothes on their body, and dry crusty bread. Did you see what these guys went through? They got a bunch of old clothes, went to the secondhand shops, sewed on a bunch of patches, let bread get really crusty and old. They got the oldest pair of shoes to make them think that they came from many, many, many miles outside of Canaan, and were just coming to build an alliance.
The Bible says they came to Joshua at Gilgal, spoke to the men of Israel. "We've come here from a far country. Make a covenant with us." What did Joshua do? Now, here's the part I want you to listen to today, and then we're going to really dive in to be practical, and unpack what this means to us. What did Joshua do? Listen to these words. Joshua 9:14, "The men of Israel looked them over, accepted the evidence." Here it is. "But they did not ask God about it." Listen to this. So Joshua made a peace with them, formalized it with a covenant to guarantee their lives. The leaders and the congregation swore by it. Does those words echo inside of you? "But they didn't ask God about it." Think of the decision that they were about to make, a covenant they were about to walk into, and all of a sudden a giant decision. Never asked God about it.
I want you to get something just to jot down some thoughts. You can do it on your phone, your iPad, in your Bible, and I want to give you some big rocks here because when I read this story, I know that there's some really bad decisions I've made in my life and some of us have made such bad decisions that consequences while you're sitting here are still being paid for today. And I want to help you through this today. Not only when there are consequences, but I also want to help you not to find yourself in that position ever again.
Number one, jot this down. There is a danger when you leave God out of your decision-making. There is a huge danger when you leave God out and you decide just to make the decisions all by yourself. In Joshua's case, it was who he was to get connected to and walk for a long time. That's why, listen to me, single people listen to me. Before you get married, get God's advice on the situation before you make a covenant with somebody. "But he's so good looking." There has to be more than good looks. Because you're going to wake up the next morning, and the looks will be gone. So you have to understand that it's not simply, "I feel good." We need God's word. We need God's mind on the decisions that we're about to make. And we need to pause here because what we're basically saying is this. If we were to pray and involve God, think of how much we would save ourselves in pain. We would save ourselves if we just involve God in the decision.
First Baptist Dallas Pastor W.A. Criswell said that this way. "We go further on our knees than by any other way, through a thousand mistakes we make that would never have been made if we would have just took the time to pray. There are hasty decisions we follow after, hot and intemperate remarks we make, false goals we pursue, and lost souls that we never win all because we didn't stop and just pray first." My goodness, I've been there. I've done that. Then all of a sudden I have examined the evidence, but I never asked God about the situation.
And that's why Proverbs three, four, and five, God invites us, five and six invites us to ask God's counsel. Listen to these words. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your," what? "Own understanding." Here it is. "In..." What? "All your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths." That's such a great word. When he says the words in all your ways. Solomon chooses a word which literally means not a main highway. He says it's a word that was used for little goat paths that were made there from the hooves of goats, and he says not even on the giant decision, but even on the little things. Just ask God.
He is inviting you to ask his opinion on things. If Joshua just paused and said, "Let's see what God says about this decision here." Let me just say something about this for just a few moment. Get this down. Here's what I've learned. Fast feet are very dangerous. Fast feet are very dangerous. Listen to me close. Here's some important words that even Solomon says from the Good News Translation. He says in Proverbs 19:2, "A person in a hurry will always make mistakes." "A person in a hurry will always make mistakes." "What do you mean, Pastor Tim, fast feet are dangerous?" When making a decision and there is an uncomfortable deadline, the answer is no if you have nothing from the Lord. Those who rush into something usually make a mistake, with what Solomon says.
Always get this. When you're called to make a rush decision, it's usually a rash decision. And that's why when people tell you, "We need a decision immediately," "We need to know if you're going to do this," "If you're going to buy this house," "You're going to buy this car," always remember this. "I'm unable to do that, and I have to decline because I'm unable to wait." Which basically says this, if you're being rushed today, that the only place you need to rush to is not into a decision but into the presence of God, to get God's mind upon a situation. That's where Joshua missed it. He missed that, and his fast feet all of a sudden brought him into a place that he didn't want to be. Joshua makes a covenant with the people that he never should have made.
And this is so important. "What do you do, Pastor Tim, when you begin to find yourself in that?" Because another name for covenant even for us today could be a contract. Not even just a piece of paper, it's something that binds us, whether it's by our name, by handshake, whether it's simply by us giving our word from our name and our character, any one of us. And here's what I've learned.
Number two, jot this down. Prayerless decisions will add more battles that could have been avoided. Prayerless decisions, prayerless decisions will add battles that you probably never would have had to fight if you just would've prayed in the first place. If you just would've asked God. If I just would have asked God. There were decisions that I've made without God that brought an additional set of battles that I wish never would have came, but I had to fight them because... and that's exactly what happened with Joshua.
When you make a covenant, the end, their enemies become your enemies. Their assets become your assets, their liabilities become your liabilities and all of a sudden it becomes us together. What did this covenant mean to Joshua? It meant that the Gibeonite battles would also become Israel battles that day. Israel was on a tear to go through the Canaan land, and all of a sudden it got put off course by a decision that they never prayed about, and not only did Joshua have to fight the battles that God prescribed, but he also had to fight the Gibeonite battles because of their mistakes and the lifestyle that they lived. And all of a sudden, what seemed to be one set of battles now begin to grow and you find yourself being pulled aside in every situation and in every direction. Listen to what happens.
It didn't even take a dozen verses. When Joshua said we'll make a covenant, all of a sudden he finds out these people live around the corner. They don't live far away. This was all a lie. And here's what happens, in less than 12 verses, their battles have to become Joshua's because he made a covenant. Listen to this. Joshua chapter 10:6, "The men of Gibeon hurriedly sent messengers to Joshua. Come and help us, your servants, they demanded. Come quickly and save us for the kings of the Amorites," who he was never going to have to fight in the Canaan land, "who live in the hills are here with their armies. So Joshua and Israel army had to leave Gilgal and begin to go rescue Gibeon." Joshua now had to fight their battles because of a prayerless decision. Now bear with me because there's some good news coming.
Joshua had a choice here. Think about it. Do you honor the covenant that you made even under deceptive terms? Because I have to believe that Joshua was thinking, "Do I honor this, or do I cry foul because you lied to me?" And I'm wondering if this was the mindset that Joshua was going to. "Do I have to do this because you didn't tell me the whole truth about you?" You get married and don't realize that they snore. You get married and, "You didn't tell me you don't pick up your clothes and you don't do dishes." You got married and, "You didn't tell me that we're not sharing bank accounts and you got your account and I got my account and that's my money because I earn it. You didn't tell me." So my question is this, can you break it when you find out they have six kids in New Jersey?
And the question is when you find out the information prior to making the covenant, can you get out? And I have to believe that's the question Joshua was even asking. On the way to going after the Amorites thinking, "If I just would've prayed. Do I have to... God, do I really have to do this? Because it came under false pretenses. They didn't tell me the truth. And all of a sudden I made a covenant, but do I still have to keep that covenant?"
Because let me just tell say something. People will look for a loophole on anything. They will try to find... This exactly happened. Doing a marital counseling situation, upset wife, real sheepish husband, and he just looked and he... She just all of a sudden started off. She goes, "Tell him, tell him what happened." And all of a sudden he goes, "All right. We're walking in the mall. A pretty lady walked by, and I looked at her. And my wife said, Jesus said that if you have lust in your heart, that's adultery and now she wants a divorce." I said, "Hold on one second here." I said, "I think somebody has bigger issues than what just happened in the mall." Because everybody, anybody could look for a loophole on anything.
I was reading the story that was sent to me of a man that was doing so good on his diet. Because the problem with him was every time he went to work, he went right by that bakery where the smell was amazing every single morning. You know what I'm talking about? You're going right by, and he smelled it every day. So what he did so he can begin to make sure that he is going to keep his diet, he changed his direction going to work every single day. And then one morning, just out of habit, he went by the bakery, smelled the pastries, and thought to himself, and this is what he said, "When I drove by it," he wrote this down. He says, "Lord, this is no accident. Jesus, it's up to you." Here's his prayer he wrote in his journal. "If you want me to have any of those delicious items, create a parking place directly in front of the bakery for me." And then he said, "And sure enough, the eighth time around the block, there was the parking place."
You can find a loophole for anything. And I can see Joshua going, "Look at this!" Calling the Jewish lawyers, "Hey, look at this. Can we get out of this Gibeonite covenant? They didn't tell us the truth." See, you give God the opportunity to do something miraculous with the bad decision when you keep your word. You give God the opportunity. Listen, when you honor the covenant that you want out of and you honor it, you give God the opportunity to do something miraculous with a bad decision. The miracle. Listen to me close. Some of you need to hear this. The miracle was not getting him out of the covenant. The miracle was God showing up in the bad decision that he made. That's what was going about to happen in Joshua chapter 10. The Gibeonites deceived, then Joshua didn't pray, and Joshua stayed, and God showed up because he knew that integrity was important. His word was important.
It's like David Jeremiah, the Baptist preacher from San Diego, said this, "Integrity is keeping a commitment even after the circumstances have changed." It's not me looking for a way, "You lied. You didn't say this, I'm out of this thing." Joshua honors what God honors and that his covenant. He fights for these people, wins the battle with the Amorites on that miracle day. I remember a verse the Pastor Carter used to talk to me about from Psalm 15. He says, "This word is so important to me. This verse is so important to me." And it says this in Psalm 15:4, "You keep your word even when it costs you."
That's what Joshua chapter 10 is. It's not trying to get out of something. It's not getting out of a marriage. It's not getting out of this thing. It's not getting out of this commitment. "My circumstance has changed at my job, so I'm not going to go ahead and pay this." "I'm not going to pay this bill." "I'm not going to pay this thing," and all of a sudden you're trying to get out of something. God goes, "You don't need to get out. You just need to get me in the situation that you're going through right now."
I want to give you, just in the last few minutes, my personal revelation on this story, what I thought had God spoke to me about a bad decision that I've made. So just pause for a second. Here's what God does. Joshua goes to battle, is about to lose the extra battle, and prays, and I'm thinking, "You should've did that in Joshua chapter nine." But he knew how to pray in the battle. That's kind of what Greg was talking about. People just start calling upon Jesus usually when the consequences start, not to get wisdom before the consequences happen. And so he prays in 10 when he should have prayed in nine, and God didn't go... Because I would have gone... I would have simply just been mean and just simply said, "Well, you should have did that before. Good luck for you Joshua." But God didn't do that, because God's not like us. And God goes, "I wish you would have done it here, but I am going to honor it because you kept your word, and I am going to show up here."
And this is where-- this is where you have to realize God's not like you, and God's not like me. Thank God we're not God. [applause] He finally prays when he should have prayed in chapter nine. Decides to pray in chapter 10, and this is what God does. He makes the sun stand still. Okay, let me help you on this for just a moment. The sun is the largest and most massive object in the entire universe. Stay with me for a second. The sun is the largest and the most massive object in the universe. "How big, Pastor Tim?" The diameter going across the circle of the sun is 864,000 miles, which means you can line up 109 planet Earths to go across the entire sun. 109 of our planets go across the sun. Listen to this. The circumference of the sun is 2.7 million miles, which means it's so massive you can throw in 1.3 million planet Earths to fill up the big ball called the sun. And that sun begins... You ready for this? Is always moving at 43,000 miles per hour.
Okay, not a trick question. How many would say that's pretty big? Just want to make sure that we're on the same page. Four of you, okay. Stay with me now. Here's what I think God did. God says, "You made a bad decision, Joshua. You made a bad covenant." "You didn't pray, Pastor Tim. You should have prayed about this." I think God shows up and says in this story, "I can take the largest and most massive object in the entire universe and make it do whatever I want it to do, so I am able to make all things work together for good." [applause]
You know what God was saying? Just look at it like this. "You don't understand my boss. He's a big man." Bigger than the sun? "My husband's a big dummy." Bigger than the sun? "I've got big debt." Bigger than the sun? "My kids have big problems." Bigger than the sun? You don't want to counsel with me when you come in and go, "I don't think I can make it through this marriage," and I'm going to look at you and go, "He made the sun stand still." "I think I got to get out of this debt so I don't... I'm going ahead and I'm going to claim bankruptcy." He made the sun stand still. If you're sitting here today and going like, "I don't want to do this anymore. I'm out of Christianity because the battles are too big." He made the sun stand still. "I don't think I can make it here in New York City. It's too tough." He made the sun stand still. "I don't think I can do this anymore." He made the sun stand still. Tell me your problem and I'm going to tell you about Jesus, who made the sun stand still. [applause]
There are some here and listen, you're about to get a divorce from a covenant that God goes, "You didn't even invite me in." You drove down the Jersey Turnpike, saw some stupid lawyer advertisement: I can get you out of a covenant for $300. And you didn't even realize you never got God into the covenant. And God says, "You didn't pray before, but this is a good time to start praying. That you're not going to become one of those other people that your kids are going to have to see your husband on the weekends. Because I can take somebody who's a big atheist, a big agnostic, and a big in all the other junk, and I can turn the thing..." Why? He made the sun stand still! [applause].
So you're like, "Why are you angry?" I'm-- don't know. [laughter] I'm not angry. I'm not angry. He can make the sun stand... Even if you prayed too late, he can make the sun stand still. He wouldn't get his big body out of bed, but God can make the sun stand still. "I'm here all by myself." He can make the sun stand. "I can't make it financially." He can make the sun stand still. You didn't pray before. Pray now, and invite God into a bad decision and say, "I can't do this by myself anymore. And if you would just show me mercy because nobody else... Everybody yells at me about Joshua chapter nine but I need Jesus to show up in Joshua chapter 10." [applause]
Let me close and tell you two things. The end of the story, the history of the Gibeonites is pretty amazing. Joshua was so upset with these people. You know what he does in Joshua chapter nine? These people come from an idolatrous nation, and this is what he says. Listen to Joshua 9:27. He says, "You know what you're going to do? You're going to cut wood and bring water to the temple." He just tells them, he says, "You're not even going anywhere. Your whole people are going to be drawing water and cutting wood, and you're going to do it for the temple, and you're going to know this is what we do for God." Because Joshua was upset. Those words in 9:27 seemed pretty angry words. He just goes, "You're not even going home. Cut wood and bring water."
And you know what's amazing? Bible historians tell us something incredible. That the longer that the Gibeonites we're cutting wood and drawing water, what was amazing was Joshua's mistake, because he invited God into the mistake, started to turn the hearts of these people hundreds of years later. You ready for this? This is incredible. After the Babylonian captivity and after the destruction of the temple, do you know who the next group of people to replace the Levites to start doing all of the work in the temple and became a God-fearing people? The Gibeonites. Hundreds of years later what you thought was going to be a problem, God goes, "Hang on. If I can make the sun stand still, I can take an idolatrous people and I can make them God worshipers with everything that's going on in their life." [applause]
"Pastor Tim, I don't want to make this mistake." I don't want you to either, but let me just say this. Making a good decision so you don't have to manage a Gibeonite decision is really important. Can I just say these three things to you really quickly? Number one, in every decision you have to make, one, start with prayer. Two, does the Bible speak to the issue? And three, did I get wisdom from the people that have more journey and are wiser and smarter than I am? I need wisdom from people that are not my cheerleaders going, "You go, whoo. You go, boy." I don't need all that.
Greatest words I've heard in this last month, I told the men yesterday at the men's ministry and in North Jersey was this: I need people in my life listen that can no me and not just know me. "What does that mean, Pastor Tim?" I need people that can no N-O me, and not just K-N-O-W me. I have to have people that go, "No, don't do that." "No, that's a right decision." I don't need you to go like, "You're the man. Ooh." I don't need all that. I don't need you to do that. It doesn't help me. I need people that can no me and go, "That's dumb. That's stupid." [gasp] Yes.
I start with prayer. I go to the word to see if the word speaks to this. "Man, I'm not really sure if I should tithe to the church. Let me pray about it." Go to the word of God. Let's see if it's there. And then you're going to come to somebody, they're going to go, "No, it's not right." "You are supposed to give." "God wants that." In any decision, start with prayer. Go to the word and go to wise people in your life. It's so much better to pray in Joshua nine than to pray in Joshua 10. But if you have to pray in Joshua 10, here's the joy, God shows up. It's so much better to get wisdom in nine. But man, if I need a miracle, God doesn't go, "You blew it. You're on your own." God's mercy is amazing for us.
Are you at your wits end? Do you find it hard to go on one more day? God knows what we need better than we know what we need. When we’re in charge of our own prayer requests we may be scripting our demise. Things go really bad when God lets us be god to our self. God answers like a father, not a Genie. Most of our prayer requests are telling god how we want Him to answer us, since God is our Father He does what’s right and best for us.Download MP3 Download MP4
Many Christians allow their failures to dash their God-given hopes and dreams. The chasm between our reality and God's promises seems insurmountable. Pastor Gary Wilkerson exhorts us to combat discouragement through knowing the “why” behind the “what” to which God has called us. Our past hurts and failures don’t have to derail us from what God wants for us today.Download MP3 Download MP4
Tim Dilena explains about how one of the worst things we can do in our Christian walk is to waste the trials God gives us. As difficult as it may be to believe, God has great plans for the toughest times in our lives, if only we let him work. Otherwise, as Dilena points out, “Something happened to you, but nothing happened in you.” Through our struggles, God wants to develop maturity and steadfast joy in our hearts that will outlast even the darkest nights.Download MP3 Download MP4
C.S. Lewis once said, “forgiveness is a lovely idea until you have to forgive someone.” When we choose to forgive we are not changing the past, we are changing the future. Tim Dilena reminds us in this powerful sermon to keep fervent in your love for God and for others so it will be easier to either cover an offense or confront the person with a heart for resolve. It’s always more rewarding to resolve a relationship than to dissolve one.Download MP3 Download MP4
In the Scriptures, God reveals his nature to us through his names. In Genesis, God reveals himself as Elohim, the transcendent Creator worthy to receive worship. In Isaiah, He reveals himself as Emmanuel: God with us—showing his great love for us by stooping down and meeting us. Our needs and brokenness aren’t hidden from him. He wants to create beautiful things out of the dead areas of our life. When we see that nothing can be hidden from him, a faith in his goodness and fear of his holiness is produced, leading to a shout of praise!
Claude Houde: I want you to turn to Genesis 1. We're going to go to Genesis 1:1. I want you to also prepare to look at Psalm 139. Psalm 139 and Genesis 1. The title of my message is Hallowed Be Thy Name. I spoke this word at our church last week, and we have been all summer at our church studying the names of God, the many names of God in scripture. It is so important, so vital for us to know and to understand the names of God. To recognize-- We need to know the names of God to recognize the truth, and to refute and resist falsehood.
We need to know the names of God, to know them well. It is essential to find rest and resilience in our faith, important to receive and renew His promises in our daily realities. It's also so important for every believer to know and to cling, and to hold on to God's name, for His people to know His names, because His name is demeaned, diminished, and sometimes disfigured in the world we live in.
It is so important to God that we have passages like Isaiah 52:5-6, where God speaks and says there are some such great consequences to when entire societies don't know His name, the true nature of His names. Isaiah 52:5-6, “For my people were taken down into Egypt. They were oppressed by the Assyrians. They have been taken captive, left in ruins by those who rule over them, because my name is blasphemed continually every day. Therefore, my people shall know my name in that day. They shall know that I am the LORD who speaks. Behold, it is I.”
It is essential for us to know His name, to recognize Him, to know it is He who speaks. And this speaks prophetically of entire generations, we look at our modern society, entire generations have literally been taken captive. They've been taken into spiritual exile. They've been taken, kidnapped by ritual, religious, antichrist philosophies, false worldviews, and partial or misleading, degrading representations of God's name.
Like you've seen in some true stories of people that have been kidnapped and they come back, and they don't recognize their own father, they don't recognize their own family. Now, the Bible has many names for God in scripture. I'm going to read you a few names of God in scripture. And if you're a believer, if you are walking with the LORD, you know the LORD Jesus Christ, when I read these names I want you to think and I want you to shout and say, “That's my God.” That's my God. Say that to the person next to you, “That's my God.”
Congregation: That's my God.
Claude Houde: Names of God in the Old Covenant, Old Testament: God Almighty, God in the Highest, LORD, Master, the LORD my Banner, the LORD my Shepherd, the LORD my Healer. Now when I mention names that have been real into your life, I want you to shout something when I'm reading these names. The Great I Am, the LORD is Here, the LORD my Justice, the LORD Eternal, the LORD my Deliverer, the LORD my Provider, Redeemer and King, LORD of Hosts, the LORD of Peace, the Creator, and My Father. Say to somebody next to you, “There's more.” Say that to somebody next to you.
Congregation: There's more.
Claude Houde: Names of Jesus in the New Covenant: Almighty, our Advocate to the Father, the Author and the Finisher of our Faith, the Bread of Life, the Beloved Son, the Groom, the Cornerstone, the Deliverer, the Good Shepherd, the Head of the Church, the Holy Servant, the I Am. [applause] Hallelujah. The Eternal God with Us, the Indescribable Gift, the Judge of All Things, the King of Kings, the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Lord of All, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, the Savior, the Lord, the Resurrected One.
He's our Hope. He's our Peace. He's our Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory. He's our Rock, and our Prophet, and our High Priest, our Redeemer, the Son of Man, and the Son of the Most High God. The Supreme Creator of All Things, the Door, the Way, the Word, the Truth, the Life. Our Victory, our Wonderful Counselor, Almighty, God, Prince of Peace. The Alpha, the Omega, the Only Way to God. Our Soon Coming King. The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever, the only one worthy to be praised, and to be shouted, and to be celebrated in this house.
Now I was in France two weeks ago when the country of France made it to the semifinals in the World Cup of soccer. I was in a hotel, in a normal hotel, everything was quiet, and all of a sudden the hotel exploded. I actually looked out of my room, people were running out in the corridors. And then when they won the finals, the whole country erupted, exploded. I looked around my hotel, some fancy businessman so sophisticated dancing, acting, shouting.
I want to stop for a second here in the house of God, and I want us to shout unto God. With a shout of glory, give Him praise. Hallelujah! Thank you, LORD, for who you are. Thank you for who you are in my life. Hallelujah. Thank you for who you are… make it personal… who you are in my life. Thank you my LORD, my God, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Deliverer. Thank you for who you are. Hallelujah. Come on. Hallelujah.
My soul exalts your name. Your people lift up your name. Your people worship your name. Your people shout your name, worship your name, adore your name. Hallelujah. Praise God. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Before you're seated, say to somebody, “That's my God.”
Congregation: That's my God.
Claude Houde: Hallowed be His name. Now in the scripture, God reveals his nature to us through His names. To fully understand the importance of God's name in scripture and in our lives, we must first grasp the significance of names in ancient cultures, and in biblical times. The names were so important that very often in scripture, God himself would change someone's name to reflect what He was doing in their lives, to reflect a new reality in their lives.
We see this in Abraham's life. His name in Genesis 17 was Abram, which means exalted or elevated father. It was evoking his wealth, his human success, his influence, his material's success, passing in human realm. But God changed his name to Abraham, father of a multitude, reflecting his calling to a spiritual heritage, an eternal and spiritual impact through his life.
God called a man named Jacob in Genesis 32, his name literally means the conniver, the deceiver, the schemer, but he received a new name after wrestling with God. God said, “I'm going to call you Israel. You're going to be a prince with God, one who overcomes as a prince with God.”
No matter what your past, no matter what your name has been, what your family name has been, he's called you to be a son, to be a daughter, to be a prince, and a princess with God. Say to somebody next to you, “Be nice to me. I'm a prince,” or princess. Say that to someone next to you.
Hallowed be thy name. Names are so important in scripture. God changed the name of the children of Hosea. He changed the name of Hosea's son and daughter to signify changes in his relationship with his people and their relationship towards Him, from Loammi which meant not my people to become Ammi, my people; from Loruhamah which means you've not received my mercy to Ruhamah which means you've finally received my compassion.
In John 1:42. Now when Jesus looked at him, he said, “You are Simon, the son of Jonah, but your name shall be Cephas,” shall be Peter, shall be the rock. Peter the son of, referencing his past, his family background, his human limitations. Peter the impulsive, the fickle. Peter, the unreliable. Peter, the choleric, the disappointing man, the failure, the emotional, the fragile, the unstable one, you shall be called the rock.
No matter what you have been, God can change and will change your name if you surrender to Him. So the question this morning is, are you ready to discover His names that He would change yours?
Claude Houde: Do you feel like you know it all? Do you feel like you've exhausted all of God's name because you've been a Christian for a long time? Are you allowing Him to write His name on your heart? And are you hungry and thirsty to allow Him to reveal His names in your life? Because this is an ongoing process in the desires and purposes of God.
Jesus said in John 17:26, “For I have made known your name to them,” he's speaking to his Father, “I've made known your name to them, but I will declare it yet again. I will reveal it, that the love with which you love me may be in them and I in them.” He wants to reveal His name in a deeper and deeper way into every season, decades of your walk with him.
In the Bible, the word name is a translation of the Hebrew word shem. And in the Old Testament in the Greek word onoma in the New Testament, together, name appears over 1,000 times in scripture, always carries the notion, the idea of power, of responsibility, of carrier's name, of purpose, of authority. And name not only expresses the essence and the significance of what is being named, but also when in relationship and duly authorized, it represents the access to the promises, power, and possibility of the name.
Now when God asked Moses to lead his people out of bondage, He gave him a fresh revelation of one of His name to equip him, to strengthen him. And when Moses went to the people, He said, “Well, go to your people and say, ‘The God of your father has sent me.' And they will say, ‘What is his name?'” And God said to Moses, “I am.” We sang it this morning. The worship service preached my message this morning. It was beautiful and anointed. God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Tell them the I Am send me to you.”
He reminds you this. No matter what you're facing, no matter what you are carrying this morning, He is the I Am. He's not the I was. He is not the I once was. He's not the I may be one day. He's not the I'm not anymore. He's not the I may be again. He's not the I have been to others, or someone else, or somewhere else, or yesterday. No. I am for you today what you need for me to be. I am your LORD, your God. Say, yes, please.
Claude Houde: Now, please listen well. The conquest in His name will be proportionate with the measure of your communion with His name. I would say it this way. Nomenclature does not equal substance. There's something funny sometimes, and if you've done this be in peace, don't send me an email, but sometimes parents give their children the name of somebody famous. I don't know if they think something is going to be communicated.
Now, we have the register of names in Quebec. And every year, I look at it because it's a public register of names that have been refused, name that have been accepted, and I see these parents with their names. For example, we have in Quebec a Michael Jordan Joseph… I hope, I think dad wants him to be a basketball player… a Bill Gates Johnson, a Bono U2 Stevenson, and a Celine Dion Trombley. Do you understand that the name alone does not produce the nature?
Claude Houde: Carrying or claiming the name does not produce character? The heritage of a name will not automatically reproduce its history. The testimony of His name yesterday does not produce guaranteed triumph today. You can say, “I'm a Christian. My family was a Christian. This is my religion. This is my background,” it is your communion that becomes your character that becomes your conduct that will give credence and it will give authority, it would give trueness, it would give value to the name of Christ over your life. Say yes, please.
Claude Houde: So it is a choice every day of our lives. It is a choice. It is a pursuit. It is a choice every day. Will I in my life hallow, will I honor, will I represent His name, or will I speak and live His name in vain? That's a choice. God said, “Every day, my name is cheap and it's reduced,” it's dishonored, it's blasphemed, it's hijacked, stolen identity of God's name.
So the disciples came to Jesus and they said, “Lord, teach us to pray. How shall we pray?” So he said in Matthew 6:9, you know it well, “In this matter, therefore pray. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Would you say out loud with me, hallowed be your name?
Congregation: Hallowed be your name.
Claude Houde: Hagiazo into Greek, elevated be your name, set apart. Your name has to be set apart. It's from the same root word as holy, sanctified, to elevate to the measure of His holy… the unique measure, His uniqueness, and holiness, and purity, His name is to be honored, it is to be respected, it is to be revered. It's not to be mixed up. Never lump God's name with anyone else.
I have had the privilege of meeting presidents of nations, of speaking to general assemblies of nations, to be one-on-one with prime ministers of our country of Canada, two of our prime ministers, to pray for the prime minister. And when you meet the prime minister or the president, you don't go, “Hey dude.” You don't go, “How are you doing, buddy? How are you doing, bubba?” You don't go like that with a president or a prime minister. You're ascribing the honor to this name.
Now Exodus 27 says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” You had hallowing His name, honoring His name in our lives, and you have taking the name of the LORD as vain.
Now, I wanted to propose to you that it's a lot deeper than we have thought it to be. This is the third commandment. This is in a list of commandments with thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal, thou shall not lie, thou shall not commit adultery or idolatry, and thou shall not take the name of the LORD in vain. I want you to know that it is a lot deeper than saying God's name in vain when I say a bad word when I hit my thumb with a hammer. It is possible for Christians not to curse, not to use God's name in vain in that way, but using God's name in vain is a lot deeper than that.
The word means, vain, empty or without meaning. It describes something as having no substance. It has to do with using God's name in a way that is inconsistent with who He is, His personality, His character; the stripping Him away, stripping the value that belongs to His name. When I act and proclaim that I am of His name and I act contrary to His name, contrary to His character, contrary to His Spirit, a false signature, a non-authorized use of His name to call on the privileges, benefits and resources of a name without the relationship and true communion with the name.
Now we have a food bank next to our church that serves 10,000 families a month, warehouses and trucks. And we also have a clothing store, very nice clothing store, but everything is very, very low priced, brand-new clothing that we sell very, very cheap. It's a fancy thrift store for everybody to come and dress their whole families, and it's hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing every year, and it's open on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, it's open to everyone. It's open to the public all week. It's open to the church, also. People come out.
And my daughter who's now heading one of our programs at our church, she used as a student to work as a cashier in the boutique at the clothing store after the church services on Sunday, but she would not tell people she was my daughter. And it happened more than once that some ladies would come in and they'll bring a whole bunch of clothes, put it on the counter, and they would say, “It's 50% off for me.” And then my daughter said, “Oh yeah? How come?” “Pastor Claude said so.”
So she would say, “Really? Pastor Claude? He said that to you personally?” Really? Some of you look shocked right now. I know people, ladies coming out of church lying to get free clothes. I know. This is great. Say to somebody next to you, “This would only happen in Montreal, never in New York City.” Say that to somebody. You see, she was using my name without the relationship, without the communion, without the authorities.
Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me your ways, O LORD, and I will walk in truth and unite my heart to honor your name.” What a prayer to say, “LORD, bring my heart to a place of never living it vain, speaking it in vain, or causing it to be vain in someone's life because of my testimony. I want my life to hallow your name. I want my testimony, my words, my family, I want my commitments, I want the truth, the joy, I want my trueness and my character to hallow your name. Hallowed be your name in my life.” [applause]
So we look at one name of God this morning, hallowed be thy name. We'll look at the first name of God that appears in the Bible. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God, Elohim.” Elohim. You need to learn this. We're going to do a little theology this morning. It's not boring. Theology is not boring. Theology is not for the elite. Theology is not for arrogance or condescendence. Theology is certainly not separated. In some circles, they think, “This is a life of the Spirit. This is theology. It's dry.” No, no, no. Theology is theos logos. It's speaking about God to learn of Him, to know Him, to experience Him, for the people that will know their God shall do exploits. Say yes, please.
Claude Houde: So we learn together the name of God, Elohim, and we learn that Elohim is pre-eminent. A little theology. He is transcendent. He's pre-eminent. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God, Elohim, created the heavens and the earth.” 35 times at the start of scripture, the only name used for God from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 is Elohim. Other names come later with what we call, through scripture, the progressive revelation. But first impressions are so important, and God introduces himself to creation as Elohim, the transcendent creator. He's pre-eminent. He's transcendent over His creation. He transcends His creation.
Why so important? He wants us to recognize that He is distinct from creation. God is not amalgamated with His creation. He transcends His creation. He's not a river. He's not a moon. He's not a tree. He's not a sun. He's not a rock. He's not a butterfly, or an animal or any other created thing. He is the creator, alone. Elohim, all-powerful creator, unique in His worthiness to be praised and worshipped.
Now, He transcends his creation is very important, because notice that religions and philosophies that worship created things. They will worship animals. They will worship a tree. They'll worship animalism and polytheism. Hinduism, for example, often time multiplying gods and elevating other things than him to the place of godship, they always have a low respect and a low acknowledgement of the value of human life. When I was in India, you understand with the worship, for example, of sacred cows, and you see this, I filmed this, where everything stops. And at the same time, you have hundreds of millions of children in famine.
When I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, I happened to be there the day, one of the poorest country in the world, hundreds and thousands of villages with no water, no electricity, children living in horrific conditions. And I was in the main city of Kathmandu, and actually I took pictures of this. It happened to be a dog worship day. They elevate and worship the dog. And actually, a lot of people saved money all year, and they put necklaces with pearls around the dog's necks and walked their dogs down the road, thinking it's going to bring something to them.
Christianity when it is truly preached honors God as creator and life as sacred; life in the womb, life outside of the womb, creation, because every human being is created in God's image, no matter where he is in the world, no matter the color of their skin, no matter what regime they're under. That is why Christians are the strongest mercy, compassion, and missions forces in the world. That's why we give to people around the world because they're created in God's image. And no matter what the color of their skin, they can be in Haiti or in Bangladesh, they are precious to our God. He's their creator.
Elohim. He's pre-eminent. He transcends creation and He transcends time. He's pre-eminent over time. In the beginning, God… don't miss this, another reason why He introduced himself as Elohim is to remind us that He's set apart, God is set apart from the limitations and constraints of time. God created the beginning. God created. And if God created time, God preceded time, because he could not have created something that already existed. Now understand this. He transcends time.
When you and I discuss and consider the concept of time, we do it in a chronological or linear way, and we must not, cannot reduce God, Elohim, the God of the beginnings, we cannot reduce God to our limited understanding because God exists outside of time. It is called in theological circles, the pre-eminence, the transcendence, the pre-existence of God. The only thing we have that is outside of time in our comprehension is eternity itself. So God is not limited by time, for God lives in eternity. He transcends His creation. We contend, we are affected, we're limited by the constraint of time, but God is timeless.
The scripture always refer to God in the present in the Bible, always refer to Him in the present, because you see, we have yesterdays and tomorrow but God doesn't have a yesterday, God doesn't have a tomorrow, God is always the now God. He is always the ever-present God. Say yes, please.
Claude Houde: He's the right-now, present God. When we get to heaven in our resurrected bodies and glorified bodies, we will also transcend the limitations and deterioration caused by times in our natural bodies. Don't look at anybody when I talk about deterioration, don't look at anyone. He transcends times. In heaven, we will experience what it is like to be with Elohim, the ever, right-now God. We will experience what it is to have no aging, no sorrow, no loss, no deterioration, and everything in Him will be in the now. Whether they are simultaneous or billions apart, we will live with Him in the now.
And I hear somebody in fourth row, seat number seven say, “Okay. What does that have to do with me? What does that theology have to do with me?” I'll tell you what it has to do with you. God is the right-now God. It means He's never late. God is never too late. God never runs out of time. I ran out of time. God is never behind schedule. God never forgets a time. He never forgets a promise to you. God is never late. Elohim, He never longs for the past, “Oh, the good old days.” He never says, “Maybe in the future.” He never says, “I'm out of time.” He never wastes time.
You say, “I don't know what's happening. It seems like nothing is happening during this longest time in my life. What are you doing, God?” He is doing something in you. He's doing a work in you. He never wastes time. [applause]
Certain battles on the earth. Now, what does that have to do with me? With God, who is Elohim, the same yesterday, today and forever. If you have this revelation, it brings your heart to confidence, and to trust, and to faith. He's beginning, He's the end, the first and last page of my life. He's Alpha and Omega. He will do all things well in his time. Now, certain battles on this earth seem to last a long time. But God, Elohim, all power and pre-eminence over the time gives to our victories eternal transcendence. In other words, when you hold on to God through the hard times, God will give you victories in people's life that will transcend times and have eternal value in their lives.
When I spoke this last week at our church, one of our dear couple of our church, Mark and Diane, he just a few months ago at age 68 was diagnosed with horrible terminal cancer, and he literally had a matter of weeks. When they told him in the hospital, he came straight to the church. He came straight to our office, I closed the room, my office, and we prayed with him. And it was amazing because he was in faith. He said, “I am ready. I want to glorify God with every last day of my life. I'm in peace. I want my life to speak.”
I have been with millionaires that were getting close to death full of terror and fear. He was so filled with peace, so filled with confidence in God. And I went to visit him a week ago. He passed just two days ago, we're doing a funeral next week. I went to see him in the hospital just a week ago, and he was telling me… I didn't realize this. He says, “Pastor Claude, it's incredible that you're here in my room." He says, “For 12 years, my wife came to Christ and I was so against it.” He's a former detective and he was doing all kinds of investigation, and he was so hardened. And he had been abused by a priest when he was a child, so he hated everything to do with Christ and church. And for 12 years, she prayed.
And he was telling me this. I didn't know all this. He said, “Pastor Claude, it's amazing you're in my room here.” He says, “You don't know all the things I said about you.” I said, “Don't tell me, Mark. Don't tell me. I don't need to know.” And he says, “For 12 years,” he says, “I would come in. I would hide in that big church, 2,500 in the first service. I would sit in the back and you'd started talking, and it's as if you'd point your finger right at my heart, and I'd tell my wife, ‘You've been talking about me to your pastor.'” And he says, “Sometimes I walked out.” He says, “One time, I forgot that we came in the same car. I walked out, I stormed out of the church. I have nowhere to go. I don't have a car.”
But he came to Christ. You see, his wife persevered. His wife through time believed in Elohim, who's ever-present God. Her prayers brought this man to faith. He's walking in faith. Now you say, “He died, didn't he?” No, no. His body has stopped, but he's forever now present with the ever now present God. Say yes, please.
Claude Houde: Hallowed be your name. He's Elohim, the pre-eminent, transcends creation, transcends time. He's pre-eminent and transcends space. He created the heavens and the earth; heavens and the earth, this merism. They call it a merism theology, a combination of two words to describe and define an entire entity. We have this in biblical poetry, they'll say, “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.” It's a merism. Before God created mankind, when he speaks of the heavens and the earth, before God created mankind God created a location, a space in which mankind would exist.
You and I know and experience only the heavens and the earth. We don't comprehend anything beyond the heavens and the earth because we exist in that space. Yet God existed when that space was not. He was and is pre-eminent. He transcends not only creation and time, but He also transcends. He's pre-eminent over space and over matter. Everything we see is tied to matter. Matter is the substance of everything material. Matter reflects the physical components of everything in the universe, but God transcends that. In order for God to be outside of time and space and matter, He must exist in another dimension that is not diminished or limited by time, space, matter like we are.
God operates in a totally another realm, which is precisely why you and I should never limit God to our comprehension, to our measure, to what we see, to what we hear, to what we feel, to what we taste, to what we smell.
God is doing things in your life. God has everything in control, and He's doing things in the invisible that you cannot fathom. “My thoughts are above your thoughts. My wisdom is above your wisdom,” says the LORD. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal. We call onto an invisible God who transcends everything we see. In this invisible world, no weapon formed against us shall prosper, and God is in control. [applause]
There's a lot more than what you see, because not only is He pre-eminent, but Elohim is ever-present. He's present. He is passionate in proximity. That's his omnipresence. He's there. He's there for you. He's here. He's ever-present. Jeremiah 23. He's not limited by space. There's no distance. There's no absence with God.
Jeremiah 23:23-24. “Am I a God near at hand?” says the LORD. “Am I not a God far off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places so I shall not see them? Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” says the LORD. The theological term is He is pre-eminent, he's transcendent, but he's everywhere. He is imminent. He is omnipresent in a very real realm of our lives every day.
Psalm 139. I ask you to look at Psalm 139 if you have it. Psalm 139:5, “You have surrounded me, you have hedged me behind me and in front of me, before me, but you lay your hand upon me.”
Verse seven. When I go, “Where could I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into the heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in hell, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the outermost parts of the sea, even your hand shall lead me. And your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely darkness will hide me,” before the night shall be light about me. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from you, even the night will shine as day.”
Claude Houde: He is not only pre-eminent, He's ever-present, and passionate in proximity. The psalmist says, “If I ascend into the heavens, if I make my bed into hell, behold you are present. You are there. But not only present in a very general, global, or even distance and all, he says, “You're present. Wherever I go, you're there, but your hand is upon me.” That God who is ever-present, creator of all things, with His hand on you. Actually not only leading me, but actually he says here, “There are seasons in my life where I don't see or feel anything, but your hand is holding me.”
How many of you can testify that in some season when you were walking in the valley of the shadow of death, He was holding you until the other side? Elohim is ever present, even when I say, “I'm too far.” He goes to the low and to the height, He goes to the East and the West. He says, “With me, with God.” The psalmist says, “With my God, I can never say I'm too far gone.”
“My child is too far gone, he's too away. I've drifted too far away. I feel him far away.” No, he's there. He's ever-present. He even says, “If I say surely the darkness will hide me.” No, there's no darkness with God. There's no secret, and there's no notion with God of this is public, this is private, secret, hidden. So this produces two things in us if you understand your God, hallowed be His name. If you understand your God, it will produce faith in the LORD.
There's nowhere I can be in my life, there's no geographical, doesn't matter what neighborhood you come from, doesn't matter what country you come from, it doesn't matter where you are. We use this, “I'm in a bad space in my life.” It doesn't matter where you are, what space you're in, no matter what place you are in your life, He is there. He's there with you, never leaving you, His hand holding you, lifting you up. [applause] It produces faith in the LORD and it should produce the fear of the LORD.
Claude Houde: He says, “Even when I think darkness is covering me, I'm okay, people don't see this,” God is there. He's there over your computer. He's there when you leave the church. He's there in your relationships outside the church. He's there in your heart. Here's there if you keep bitterness. He's there if you lie. Here's there if you cheat. It got quiet. I'm going to amen myself for a while. [laughter]
He's there. It should produce not a fear in sense of condemnation, but a holy sense of fear of the LORD, “LORD, I'm carrying your name and you. I can never hide from you. I can never-- everything-- my heart is before you.” But it's also an incredible comfort when people accuse you wrongly, when people misjudge you, when people are unjust, persecute you and people come against you with things that you say. That's not true. God knows the truth. He will be your judge. He will be your justice. Say yes, please.
Congregation: Yes. [applause]
Claude Houde: Even when I don't see God, even when I don't see any possible light, God says, “I am light. I am here.”
Claude Houde: Last week when I spoke this, I shared some testimonies, that we brought our people and shared. It was a God is Always Here testimony time. No matter where they were in that place, He transcends space, and time, and creation. He's pre-eminent. He's everywhere. One testimony after the other, we had this testimony of this young girl who for years was struggling and was losing, before she knew the LORD, to anorexia and bulimia. And she told us being alone in a room, she came back from the doctor, she was for the first time under 90 pounds.
She was killing herself with this disease, this mental and psychological disease, and she began to call on God. She says, “In my room alone looking at myself, I began to call on God to free me.” She came to the church, accepted the LORD. She joined a group of young ladies who have come out of this. And here she was two years later at her baptism testifying of being completely free from that bondage.
God was there in that room. God was there for those parents at four in the morning in a kitchen wringing their hands in terror and fear, their heart's sick with their son who's using and he's dependent on cocaine and crack and they don't know where he is and they grab their hands over the kitchen table. God was there. God was there. God is ever-present. And two Wednesday nights ago during the prayer meeting, they were standing with their son two years sober and standing beside them. God was there. [applause]
God was there for that young man, that young married man, young father who came back from work, was coming back with his wife in the car and she said, “I don't love you anymore. It's over.” And when she walked out of the car, he says he put his face on the steering wheel, said, “God, my whole world is exploding.” But God was there in the car hearing his cry, hearing his prayer, and his patience, and his perseverance in speaking love to his wife. And at a couple's conference we had two months ago, she tore up any divorce paper, and they're holding hand together in the presence of God. God was there. [applause] I'm talking about Elohim, the pre-eminent God. He transcends time and space, and He comes where you are.
He was there in that doctor's office. We had two couples, two parents come up with their son and their daughter, with Matisse and Victoria, both of them in the same period of time they were there. God was there when the doctor said that dreaded words, leukemia. And He was there through treatment, and He was there through the prayer, when their heart stopped and they're revived. But God was also there when the doctor said in both cases, “Remission. Complete remission. Both are cancer-free.” I want you to give praise to God. God is there. [applause]
Can you give Him praise? He's the ever-present, ever-passionate in proximity. [applause] Elohim is pre-eminent. He transcends his creation. He transcends time and space. And Elohim is ever-present, passion in proximity. And Elohim is powerful in creation and redemption.
From the outset, God wants us to understand Him in his power. Elohim means literally in Hebrew, the strong one. It has to do with a sovereignty and the authority of God, reflecting the infinite measure, limitless power of our God. That's how He presents himself. In the beginning God, Elohim, created the heavens and the earth. He's the all-powerful creator.
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep,” Genesis 1:1-2, “but the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.” Elohim is defined as the creator. The term created is only used in scripture for God. In biblical mindset, it's never used for men or for women because man does not create like God creates. Man can reconfigure things, he can recalibrate things, he can reform things, man does not create from nothing. Only God has the creative capacity to create from nothing, ex nihilo.
The earth was without form. It was void. It was formless. It was ex nihilo, without form, from nothing, from darkness. In the poetic language of scripture in the Psalms, or in Job for example, it reminds us of all creation shouts this out. Job 12: 7-9, “But now ask all creation, it will teach you. And the heavens and the earth, the birds of the air, the fish of the seas, and created things, and they will explain it to you. Who among all these, does not know that the hand of the LORD has created all things, in whose hand is the life, breath and soul of all mankind.”
Elohim is ever-present, passionate in proximity. That is why God is very prompt and confronting when people that walk with Him, when men and women walking with Him in scripture doubt His power. That's why He confronted Abraham when He gave him the promise and Abraham said, “Too late, too old. Impossible.” And God says, “Is there anything too hard for God? I'm Elohim, the creator.”
Psalm 8, “From my finger, from ex nihilo, I created all this.” That's why he told Mary when she said no, it's not possible, “Is there anything impossible for God?” He's the creator. He's the powerful Elohim, the powerful creator in creation and in redemption. Understand Elohim, the creator, does not need the material or visible elements that we consider necessary. He's beyond logic and tangible to accomplish His purposes. All He needs is himself and all we need is faith in Him.
So when you come to a place and you say, “I would need to see something. I see nothing happening in my son's life. I see nothing. I don't have the elements. I would need to see something happening. I see no change. I see no direction. I would need to have the necessary elements.”
All God need is himself and all you need is faith in Him. He can create love when there was no love. He can create a peaceful family when all you had was ex nihilo; void, and strife, and darkness. He can create a future when all you had is a horrible past. He could create a heart of flesh where all you see is a heart of stone. Some of you should be shouting right now because I'm telling your story. I'm telling your testimony. He created me out of nothing. There was nothing there, but He breathed into me and gave me life. [applause]
He can create. He can create a church that touches the world, 51st & Broadway, when there was nothing. There was nothing, and now prayers go here to the whole world. He's God. He's the ever-present, all-powerful creator. By faith, we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, Hebrew 11:3, so that the things which are not seen were not made of things which are visible.
Evolution teaches what? Francis Collins is a Noble Peace Prize Christian astrophysician, and he calls this the insane equation, the senseless, the insane equation, because portions of the evolution theory goes like this, “Nobody plus nothing equals everything.” But watches have watchmaker, and paintings have painters, and designs have designers, and creations have a creator. He's a creator of all things from ex nihilo.
In 1997, when the Hubble telescope took flight, it gave us a look through its powerful lenses into places we'd never seen before. We discovered staggering numbers of galaxies beyond our own. Our tiny earth is just one puny, little star, little planet, just puny in one puny galaxy, and our Milky Way galaxy is just a small disc-shape spiral. In fact, scientists now believe that each of the 200 billion galaxies they have discovered have up to 100 billion stars in each of them.
Now, if this is giving you a headache, if this is too large for you… I see some of you are going like this, “I don't know anymore.” If this is too large for you, just consider one they considered one galaxy they named Andromeda, is roughly 2.5 million light years away. Light years travel about 186 miles per second, which is about the speed that I speak.
Think of this. So, 2.5 million light years. So if you have a friend living in Andromeda and you send them a message at the speed of a radio wave which traveled the speed of light, you could receive their reply back in about 5 million years.
Now recently, there was a funeral of the famous scientist astrophysician and author, Stephen Hawking, he died in March at the age of 76, and they sent a message into space with a synthesized track of his voice to the nearest black hole… they actually have a name for it, it's 1A0620-00, take that and know that's going to be on the exam… located at 3,500 light years from this earth. The message should get there in five to 600 years.
But when you send a message to Elohim, He answers you right now. He answers you now. He created all this. He created all this, and He can create what needs to happen in you, in your life, your family, your home, your future, your children, your marriage, because He's the all-powerful creator. Shout yes, please.
Claude Houde: Now, why? Why is it so important to God? Why must we never forget He is Elohim, God, infinitely powerful in creation and redemption? Notice this, in Genesis, that's the first name of God. Before God reveals and demonstrates His kindness, His patient, His tender heart, His loving kindness, His long suffering, His name is mercy, and amazing grace, and amazing love, and the matchless and unimaginable patience, and kindness and mercy of God, He wants us to know Him as before that as the Almighty Creator who knows all things, sees all things, is capable of all things, is infinitely close to us but infinitely powerful to create from ex nihilo.
Why does he want us to hallow, to elevate, to consider His name to be hallowing, powerful, creator of all things in creation and redemption? Why is it so important, and this my last thought? Because Elohim, the pre-eminent, the ever-present God is also Elohim the personal God. His name is Elohim, but Elohim is Emmanuel, God with us. God with us in Christ. [applause]
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, tohu wa-bohu, complete emptiness. Darkness was upon the face of the earth, but the Spirit of God was moving upon the darkness, and the emptiness, and the tohu wa-bohu, and the void. The Spirit of God was moving.
Elohim is not only pre-eminent, and present, in passionate proximity and powerful, Elohim is personal and Elohim is plural. In the beginning, God the Father said, “Let us make man according to our…” Genesis 1:26, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image according to our likeness.'” Father, Spirit, and Son was there over the void, over the emptiness. Elohim the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit still moving to create. Notice, not to create partially. Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,” in Christ.
If anyone is in Christ, he will be a new creation. All things, old tohu wa-bohu, confusion; the darkness, the void, the emptiness, everything out of order, out of beauty, out of sequence. There is nothing left, there's nothing there. If anyone is in Christ, the creator Elohim is Emmanuel, I'll make you a new creation and all things can become new.
Do you not have the understanding that most of Christendom has set the bar of Christianity so much lower than God? God's purposes for us is not that we would be saved not to go to hell but pretty much continue to be the same people we were, lie a little, cheat a little, same character, same thing. No. He wants to transform us in His image that the likeness of God would be found in me, that His character, that His love, that His patience, that his truth, that His love, that His long suffering, that who He is would be reflected in me, that Christ would live, that his name would be hallowed in me and through me. Say yes, please.
Claude Houde: Please understand this, the new creation because Elohim came to us. The powerful creator is the all-personal Christ. Elohim is Emmanuel. Would you allow him? Do we still?
I've been walking with the LORD for more than 35 years? Do I still? I was being challenged by this message in the last few months, like, do I still allow God to move over the dry or the dark spaces in my life? Do I still allow Him to continue creating who He is in me? Do I still allow Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together? That's why Matthew 1:23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means God with us.”
Jesus embodies and fulfills all of God's name and attributes. “A child is born,” says Isaiah, “a son is given.” This is because the son existed before the child was born. Jesus is pre-existing. Elohim came to us to create where everything was without form and void.
Colossians says it this way, that Christ was there at creation. He is the image. Colossians 1:15-16, “Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him, by Christ, things were created that are in heaven and are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers, all things were created through him and for him.
Jesus did not make his debut in a manger on the first Christmas morning in Bethlehem, he existed and reigned before creation in the beginning. But Elohim became personal. He became Emmanuel. He was perfectly human, tempted in all things that he would come to the rescue, to secure all that are tempted. He was flesh and bone. He was flesh, bone, and blood. He was entirely human and perfectly God.
Claude Houde: Elohim. He was perfectly human. Jesus walked among us. He was flesh, bones, and blood, and yet he was perfectly divine. At one moment he was hungry because he was fully human, then next moment he would feed 5,000 because he was God. At one moment he would be thirsty because he was human, at the other moment he would walk on water because he was completely God.
And this child because he was completely human he could grow in knowledge and in stature, but because he was entirely God, he knew every heart, and intent, and thought of their secret hearts. Because he was human, he hung on a cross, and they crucified him and he died, but because he was entirely divine, entirely God, he rose up from the grave, resurrected God. And the same Spirit that raised him from the grave lives in me to create what he wants to create. You should shout. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. [applause]
“Emmanuel is with us, and the word became flesh and dwelled among us,” John 1. No one has seen God at any time but the only begotten Son, Jesus, who is from the bosom of the Father, He has shown him, He has unveiled him, He has incarnated him, He has declared him. Hallowed be His name. Elohim, He's the limitless, all-powerful creator, but he's my Emmanuel; so personal, my Savior who comes to me.
I'm going to ask the musicians to come. I'm going to close with these two testimonies. In the excellent bestseller Christian book Finding Your Way, there is the verified story that actually has been told many times even in the Pentagon, of seaman Elgin Staples and his mother. In August 9, 1942, Elgin Staples who was 19-years-old, and he was a seaman during the war aboard the USS Astoria, and they are attacked and the ship is sunk. He's lost at sea, is drifting, and he's holding on to a flotation device, a belt, a flotation device, is holding on for dear life. He's finally rescued from a very small rescue ship that sunk again.
While he's holding onto his flotation device and his mother is praying 8,000 miles away, his mom, his Christian mother, is praying for him because the only thing she heard is he was lost at sea. While he was holding onto this thing hours and hours and this is saving his life, he's at sea, and he sees that this belt, this flotation device is actually made in a factory in Akron, Ohio. And he's all, “Huh. This is where I'm from. This is my hometown, Akron, Ohio,” and he sees the number on it, a very clear serial number.
And finally, they come to rescue him and he's holding onto this thing because he's been sunk twice now, so he's holding onto it. And when he gets home, he gets his medal, and they have pictures of this, I showed the pictures, I shared this at our church. And when he came home to his mom, he told her the story and he gets out the flotation device. He gets out the belt. He says, “Look, mom. This was made here in Akron, Ohio.” And she begins to weep. And she says, “While you were away, I took a job at this factory in Akron, Ohio, and this number is my employee number. We each have a number.”
Do you understand? Do you understand that Almighty God, the creator who control the oceans, and the waves, and the wind is also the personal Emmanuel, God with us, who hears the prayer of a mother and they're going--? Oh please, shout out to God, He's your God [applause]
Hallelujah. I want to close with this. He's Emmanuel. He's Elohim. He's all-powerful creator, but he's also my personal Savior, LORD, God, his hand upon me in proximity. I have a group of men that pray for me, and this one brother, every time he prays to me if I have any doubt, if I had a bad week, bad month, an attack on all sides our church… over 5,000 come every week, so it's like a town, it's1 a village, so there's always 50 amazing stories and 50 battles. It's like a hospital. There's people living, dying, sick, and all this. So some weeks it's just they come and they lay hands on me.
I try to look like everything's okay, but recently he came, he says, “Whoo!” He says, “You need me to pray for you.” I said, “No, I'm fine. I'm okay.” When he finished praying, he said, “Remember, the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases.” I said, “Yeah. That's true, bro. That's true.” This means a lot to us, to this man and me.
This means a lot to us because years ago, now it's 14 years ago, he was struck with thyroid cancer that had spread. And he was a young father, three children. They didn't know if he was going to survive to a point where they said, “Call your notary. Set your house in order. We're trying everything we can, but…” So I went to visit him in the hospital one day. I would go visit him. And I stood there, and the nurse warned me. She said, “He's reacting. He has very strong reaction to one medication we tried. It makes him so sick, and he's freezing. He has high fever, but he's freezing.” And he had lost so much weight. He's over 6'2". He had lost so much weight. She said, “He's in a bad state right now.”
So I walked in the room, and they put all these blankets over him and this tall guy is shaking, his teeth shaking, and he's throwing up. And I'm very careful in those moments not to spit out clichés. And I was just standing there and we were talking, and then sometimes silence, and just praying and was holding his hands and praying. And then I'd be praying in the Spirit and talking. And I said, “Are you getting the messages and the streaming?” “Yes.” And he says, “Well, there one thing I miss.” He says, “I miss the worship,” because we only have the messages on streaming, not the worship.
He says, “I miss it.” He says, “When you pick up the mic at the end of the worship and you lead the worship.” He says, “It's not because you're a good singer.” I said, “Thank you.” “It's because you're a good singer,” but he says, “it's like I'm with my pastor and we're all worshiping together.” And he says, “You bring us the place.” He says, “I miss that.” This is not a voice audible, but this thought came into my Spirit, “Why don't you sing for him?”
Yeah, well, you can clap, but I'm in a hospital room. I understand. I can clap. I'm in a hospital room. There's no mic. There's no stage. I'm just there. There are nurses running around. I'm like, “Okay. Yeah.” And before I say anything, I'm wrestling this thing, I'm too proud so I'm, “Maybe I'll look foolish.” And before I can say anything, he says, “Why don't you sing for me?”
Claude Houde: I'm like, “Okay.” So it was strange because I'm standing there wanting to sing for him, but he's so sick. This is not the usual hospital visit. He's like a brother, so I hurt for him. So I went into bed actually, ended up lying in bed holding him. And then it hit me, “What if a nurse walks by? What is she going to think?” This is the strangest pastoral visit in history.
So we're singing. I'm singing songs in his ear, and he got to like it. He's actually calling out special requests. He's like, “Sing this one and this one.” He's a French guy but he's bilingual. And he says, “Well, why don't we sing that old one?” He says, “The Steadfast Love of the LORD Never Ceases.” If you know it, sing it with me.
(singing) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness. Oh God, great is thy faithfulness. [applause]
In the month that followed, he came out of the hospital. He's been in remission for 14 years, completely cancer-free. Because. Because. I want us to sing What a Beautiful Name. I want us to worship His name as we close, because He is Elohim. He's the almighty creator, but He's also the personal Emmanuel, God with us.
So here's my... A few months ago, I was watching a worship here and I heard the singers just singing What a Beautiful Name, actually singing Genesis 1. You were there from the beginning. You were there at creation. You were there before creation. I'm going to ask the singers to help us, and we're going to have a moment of worshiping his name. What a beautiful name it is, the name of Jesus.
Before we do, I want to make this call because I feel this message is for so many of us. It's for all of us, really, to be renewed in the heart to hallow, to elevate, to worship, to honor His name and not live it, speak it, represent it in vain. But I also feel it is for some, so many of us it is more than that. It's a moment in time that this date, this date of July 2018, is a moment God had an appointment with you this morning right here. It's a divine meeting because the enemy had come in like a flood, but today God has spoken truth to your heart and life, and He wants you to bring everything to Him. And so I'm going to ask you, please, to stand with me. Give me a minute. Please don't rush off. Allow yourself a minute.
Would you stand with me? And if you are here this morning, and this is the... Early this morning as I was praying, this is the call that was in my heart, so just respond. If this is you, don't even hesitate one second, step out of your seat, and come and bring it to God. You're here.
I felt someone say, “I have been in exile from God. Maybe I'm in church every week, but I was in exile. Like you said at the beginning, I was in exile from God. I felt He was so far away. I thought I was too far. These things I did not see. I see nothing. I understand nothing. I feel nothing. But this morning, I come to him. He's my God, He's Emmanuel, and I come and I bring everything to Him. I want you to come from all over the sanctuary. Even the balcony, we'll wait for you. This is important.
You're here this morning, you say, you're in a battle and you say it had been so long, so much time had passed in his battle. I prayed and wept, and fought and clawed, and felt almost to let it go, to give up, but this morning God spoke to me, He transcends time. So this long battle, I'm holding it and I'm bringing it to God this morning. I want you to come. This long battle for a son or for a daughter. This battle in your life. This battle that is secret or that is public. This battle that's holding you.
You were saying, “It's been so much time,” but God says, “As you hold onto me, I will give you victories that will transcend time. I will redeem the time, and I will give you back, restore what time and the enemy has stolen away.” So you come and you bring it to God this morning.
I have been through a season where I did not feel He was here. I didn't see anything anymore. I didn't feel like I had the elements to believe. I didn't see any progress. I didn't see anything developing. I didn't see anything changing. But this morning, the word of God came to my heart. He creates from ex nihilo. He creates from nothing.
So this might sound strange, but for some of you it's going to be exactly what you've been thinking the last few weeks. You're going to come out of your seat and say, “I'm bringing my nothing to you.” I'm bringing what appears to be nothing, what seem to be nothing.” I want you to come. I'm bringing it to you this morning, O God, because you're the God who creates out of nothing. You are the God who comes to me. You're the God who you are my Emmanuel. You're God with us. Well, I'm never too far, never too deep, I'm never too far away, and you are with me. Your hand holds me.
Patrick Pierre: Hallelujah. God, we worship you. We worship you. Lift your hands to Him. Just lift your hands as a sign of surrender to Him, and just tell Him, “I worship you, Lord.” I worship you above my problems. I worship you above my current situation. I lift your name high above every circumstance, above every difficulty, above every trial. I proclaim the name is Jesus, the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us.
Elohim, the ever-present, the ever-powerful, God who transcends time and space. God, I thank you that nothing can stay your hand, nothing can limit you. You can do anything, anywhere, at any time. You won. God, there is no power in hell. Lord, there is no disease, there is no sickness. Lord, there is no struggle, there is no battle. Lord, there is nothing O God that can stop you.
God, I praise you. I choose to worship you. I choose to focus on you and not my problems. I choose to focus on you and not my struggles. I choose to focus on you and nothing else. God, you are good and your mercy endures forever. You are good and you are the Savior of my soul. You are my forgiveness. You are my righteousness. You are my deliverance. You are my power. You are my everything.
I worship you. I worship you, God. I praise you this morning. I praise you this morning. I praise you. I praise you mighty God. I exalt you, Jesus. Hallelujah. I choose to lift up the matchless name of Jesus, for there is nobody like you, Lord. Hallelujah. I refuse to limit you, God. God, I thank you that the good work you've begun in us you're going to finish it, Lord. You finish what you start, O God. Hallelujah. I say God is good. The devil is a liar. My God reigns. Hallelujah.
And so Lord now, we receive your peace that passes all understanding. We receive peace in our soul. We receive freedom from anxiety, freedom from fear. God, we just thank you for what you've done today. There is an expectancy in our hearts, Lord. God, we worship you. We praise you. In the powerful name of Jesus. And all God's people said, amen.