“Don’t quit on your first day and don’t quit on your worst day.”
Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
I refuse to give up; I refuse to quit. I will not be moved by circumstances. I will receive if I don’t quit believing.
In 1970, we had worked hard in our church and had built it up to about 125 people whom we loved dearly. After spending five years of hard physical labor, there wasn’t a part of the old building that didn’t have some piece of my hide nailed to it. I said, God I don’t mind doing this, but it’s time for a harvest, I’m hungry for a harvest. It was during that time that I got the vision of the great feast which I want to share with you today.
As Christians we have such a wonderful feast that is available, but there has to be people to enjoy it. Restaurants close because people don’t come. I mean there have been some very fine restaurants that have opened with great promise; they were going to be famous! Everything about them was good. They looked good, the sign looked good, the food was superb… they just had one problem, the people didn’t come. You see that will close down any steakhouse. Or close down any church house.
So here I was preparing the house for a great feast, and I began to cry out, “God I will do anything that is right and I will do anything that works.” I never have examined the theology of that, it was just my heart crying out to God. It has got to be right and it has got to work. Some things are right, but they just don’t seem to work. Some things work but, unfortunately, they are not right and we must be people of integrity and people of honesty. I wanted Calvary Cathedral to always be subject to change, God’s way.
So what did God do in response to my prayer? He sent in a group of hippie young people! They didn’t look like I was accustomed to folks looking and they brought drums and guitars with them to worship. We had never had those in our church before because as you know, Jesus didn’t have drums in his church. But we have come a long way baby! So we started doing a lot of things differently but you know what, young people began to come, lives were being changed and we decided we would continue do some things differently.
Throughout that time we did not compromise the Word of God, but how many know that there are different baits that you put on the hook to catch different fish. We learned through that experience that the harvest is ready, the people are hungry and we stand ready to serve a great feast. The meal has not been altered. But in the presentation, if we want to see a harvest, we must be willing to change – God’s way.
There are many things I love about being a pastor but do you know what touches my heart the most? It touches me to look out across the congregation and remember when some of those present came into our first location. It was a remodeled post office building at the corner of Berry and Willing Street. I remember the hunger, the fear, the bondage, the sin, the poverty or the total chaos that ruled and reigned in some of those lives. I remember in many cases when they came up and shook my hand for the first time and said “Something here has touched my heart and I believe this is where God wants me to be.” They began to come to church, to take notes, tithe, pray and believe for the first time that God really did have a good plan for their lives.
Then, later, as we have moved into the downtown location I remember so many who came in under similar circumstances. Not everyone comes in that way. Many people come just happy to have found a good place to worship God and to hear the word of God. But for the most part, some kind of a need draws a person to start coming to church.
It is an incredible privilege to see God move in the lives of those who not only hear the Word, but are willing to step out in faith and see their lives forever changed. I am so blessed today to be in a position to see the great things God has done in the lives of the people of Calvary. God is faithful! I want to ever be thankful for all that He has done.
John 7:38-39 (KJV) He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
My heart goes out to people have been raised in negative circumstances. I want you to know that there is hope to be found in God’s Word no matter what background you come from. You may have been raised in a sewer, but God wants you to swim in a reservoir of pure water. Jesus said, “Out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” He was speaking here about the Spirit. When the Spirit of God fills a believer’s life, He works to make that person more like Jesus.
There was a time in my life that I could certainly testify to the purifying power of revival. After swimming in a sewer, it is so wonderful to live pure, to have a pure mind, to go to bed pure, sleep through the night pure, and wake up in the morning pure! There is not a greater joy on this earth, outside of being born again, than putting your head on the pillow and knowing there is nothing between your soul and your Savior. Instead of laying your head on your pillow and praying that God doesn’t return that night, you can put your head on your pillow and say even so Lord Jesus come quickly. This is the purifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is revival. Revival is purity.
John 10:10 (KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Don’t call my God a thief! I think I have the grace to handle it, but I hope no one gets in my face anytime soon and tells me that sickness is a wonderful blessing from God. You ought to live with it for a while before you call hand to hand combat with what comes from the very pit a gift. We must have the foundational understanding that life, health, blessing, forgiveness and salvation are gifts of God.
Someone might imply to you that an automobile accident or incurable disease is a disguised blessing from God. Before you go down that road, put yourself there and see how it feels when you can’t sleep or do anything that you did at one time and tell me that sickness is a blessing. Having preached the goodness of God my entire ministry, today I am more solid in my belief than I have ever have been. I do not accept the works of the devil as being the works of God. You may say, “But God brought good out of it.” Sure, God can bring good out of anything but I have news for you, God was not the originator and God did not send it.
It goes against the very nature of a loving Father to bring harm to His children. Our God is not a child abuser. I have spent countless hours with oppressed people, depressed people, abused men and women, people who have lived their entire lives with someone telling them that they are no good and that they don’t measure up. Until one day, like a hunting dog that has lost what it takes to hunt, they lose hold of who they are in Christ and the truth that they are loved by a good God.
I thank God for the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the good news that can we be saved and that sin and death have been defeated. We must never muddy the water or forget that there are two forces at work in the world. We must learn to recognize who we are dealing with by what we are experiencing. Satan, who always comes to steal, kill and destroy, and God, whose very nature is to bless His children and give them abundant living. He is Father God, the God who loves you and me.
Philippians 3:12-13 (KJV) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before
There is a life-giving action word in verse 13 – the word “forgetting.” Paul is showing us the importance of forgetting because remembering is one of our biggest problems. We remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. If you are going to be successful in your Christian walk, there are some things that you need to remember, but there are also some things you have got to forget.
So what does Paul mean when he tell us to forget? I like to put it like this, we refuse to let the failures and disappointments of the past cloud our future. “Well if I had only invested in that.” Maybe so, maybe no. “If I had only done this or that.” I have known people that have said, ”If I had just married George instead of John.” Then they went back to one of those school reunions and saw what they looked like and said, “My Lord, I came out good after all!”
Nostalgia will get you in trouble sometimes. Thinking about what should have been, might have been, and could have been. The thing you need to realize is that it is probably just the way it should be. Refuse to let the failures and the disappointments of the past cloud your future. Investments that you made or you didn’t make, a job that you accepted or rejected, relationships… all kinds of things. Whatever the past is, there is not a thing in the world you can do except profit from what you have learned.
We must remind ourselves that whatever is past… is past. There is wisdom in the saying, “It came to pass.” Just as Paul said, “Forgetting things which are behind,” there are things that we all have to forget. You can hold on to it to your own frustration and destruction or you can let it go. Once you have let go of the past you will then be in a position to reach forth to the future that God has laid before you.
John 3:6-7 (KJV) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Jesus said it best, “Ye must be born again.” This is the cornerstone of our faith and the hope of a new beginning for this lost generation. I would not attend, nor put my tithe in a church that would not tell people how to be born again and give an opportunity to come forward and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
I have had people tell me, “Well Brother Nichols, at our church once a month we have a social gathering and then we kind of spring it on them.” What these people don’t understand is that you don’t have to bootleg salvation or put Jesus in the back room. You don’t have to have a little social gathering and trick people into possibly getting saved. You can put it out there in front of God and everyone else and allow them to receive the precious gift of salvation.
I thank God for the altar calls we see in every service and I prophesy in the name of Jesus that the strongest altar calls and the greatest harvest of souls are yet to come. I thank God for every drug program and any incentive to keep people from doing those things that should not be done. But there is only one thing that can break the habit of cocaine, marijuana and alcohol. It is the power of rebirth and the transformation that takes place as the Sprit of God dwells within us.
Folks, the devil is after you, me, every child, and every grandchild. He is after our families. But thank God for churches like Calvary Cathedral International that will make sure that every person who comes into any of our meetings will hear the clarion call of the Gospel as spoken by Jesus himself, “Ye must be born again!”
How many have ever heard of Helen Keller? I pray that they never take stories like that out of our schools. This young girl who was blind, deaf and thought to be mentally impaired was reached by a nurse who was gifted of God.
Helen Keller grew up to be one of those marvelous women who became a symbol of hope. One of her quotes challenges me, it says,
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than out right exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. There is not such a thing as security in this life outside of a total heart trust and faith in God.
These words from Helen Keller are so powerful to my heart. You see mountain possessing faith is not for the cautious or the fearful. You cannot continuously play it safe and achieve God’s good success. David said, I would have fainted except I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Security does not exist outside of God. Security in this world is not an absolute, everything is subject to change. The only safe place in the world is being in the center of God’s plan.
Helen Keller’s quote sounds like it would have been spoken by someone who conquered one of the great mountains of the world. Instead, it was the thoughtful evaluation of a woman who overcame blindness, deafness and became one of our great symbols of hope. Why not choose to be an overcomer? Step out in total heart trust and live the adventure God chose for you.
Numbers 13:30 (KJV) And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Nothing works until you believe the promise of God. This is what we learn from the verses above. When you get an unshakable word from God, don’t let go; real faith keeps on believing even when things appear impossible. Even when things fail to go your way, hold on to the promise.
The greatest enemy of our faith is fear and we must be on guard against it at all times. The command is to be of good courage and “good courage” means to live without fear dominating your life. I believe that God has instructed us not only to call people to be born again but to challenge the body of Christ to, by the grace of God, lay hold of life and that more abundantly. We must not think we can tolerate the demons that whisper doubt and unbelief. You may think it will go away or is simply a result of your humanity but the fear, the phobia or weakness that you tolerate today will one day destroy your faith. Folks, if there is a fear in your life, it is not a disgrace. Stand up today in the name of Jesus and declare that fear will not rule or dominate your life. Fear will not steal God’s best from me!
This stance will place you in what I call the faith minority. Few people understand mountain possessing faith. When you share it with some folks they just don’t get it. They will clear their throat or pat their foot until you go on to something else. We must remember that not everyone is tuned for God’s best. But I am willing to be in the minority, because the faith minority becomes the majority.
If you have mountain possessing faith, you will be a faith leader like Caleb who always had a good report. You will be able to look at the impossible situations and giants that stand before you and say with confidence, “We are well able to possess the land.” You can be convinced because you believe the promises of our God who never fails. The God who says to you today “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Billy Graham tells the story of hearing many contradictory and unbelieving voices from those around him when he was a young man. When he needed answers, he would take his Bible and head out into the woods. It was there that he would stay until he got some answers. As he spent time in the presence of God what was hazy and confusing would become clear to him.
I think that’s a mighty good idea, to get away from the voices of men and just to hear the voice of God. I don’t know how long he stayed out there, maybe a day or so, but he said when he came out of the woods, that he had settled something in his heart.
You see, he had made the decision that above every book, above every voice of man, above every theologian or philosopher, that he would believe the Word of God to be God’s eternal Word. And, if he doubted anything, he would doubt the word of man, not the Word of God. This is most likely what has kept him so solid through the years. Billy Graham is one of the great hearts of this generation who has never had a scandal, nor been disgraced. He has just kept preaching the Word of God, the voice and final authority that has guided him throughout his life.
Today, why not make the choice to let God’s Word be the final authority in your life. Above every other voice, let the Word of God reign supreme. Then, you will be able to say with the psalmist, “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalms 119:89 KJV).