Faith is your greatest asset to overcome the barriers that keep you from moving forward. If you have enough guts to walk through that door, God will open the door. And when you act in accordance to what you believe, the hand of God moves.
There’s a book written called Marley and Me a few years back. It’s a story about this rambunctious killer dog that just destroys the whole house. Well I just want to tell you that I too could write a book and the title of that book would be Maggie and Me. See cause Maggie is Marley’s evil twin sister. She has eaten doormats, tennis balls, she’s eaten socks. And a few weeks back my wife called me and she said “Something very interesting happened.” I said what happened she says “I witnessed three miracles today.” I said three miracles in one. She said “Three miracles in one day.” I said really? She said “Yes.” I said what happened? She said “Well I was feeding the dog in the kitchen then I went upstairs but I could tell by the sound of her crunching that after awhile it wasn’t the normal sound of her dog food. So when I came down the stairs, I discovered that Maggie was eating her way through a pile of a thousand dollars in twenty-dollar bills.” I think that qualifies as demonic. Don’t you? She had gotten into the deposit that was in my wife’s purse and working her way through that.
Now there are three miracles, my wife says. I said what are those three miracles? She said “That dog’s digestive systems cannot digest the American currency. That’s the first miracle.” I said what’s the second miracle? “The second miracle is that our bank accepted half digested dollar bills.” I said what’s the third miracle? She said “That the dog is still alive and I have not killed her.”
I don’t know what you’re facing but I do know that He who is in this place, who is accompanying you as you watch this television program, that He is greater that any obstacle, greater than any barrier and He will empower you to overcome that which you are facing. You can bank on it, you can believe it. He is in the business of setting the captive free.
Four men loved their friend so much, one day they picked him up and they put him in a cot and they decided that they were going to help their paralyzed man, who had been paralyzed from birth, this is a grown man, they were going to carry him to a place where this great teacher was teaching because He had the reputation of healing people. And when they came up to this house, they discovered that it was completely packed out. People where looking through the windows, people were trying to get in the front door, but ten people deep; you couldn’t get inside. And the four of them looked at each other and said what are we going to do now? And they said I don’t know but you know we’ve walked for miles to get him here. One of them says hey why don’t we go up the side of the house and let’s walk across the roof and let’s make a hole and we’ll lower him right where the master is teaching. They calculated the spot and they lowered him down on this cot and when Jesus saw their faith, He said “Son your sins are forgiven.”
Now what in the world does sin have to do with this man? You know in everyone’s life we have barriers and sometimes, sometimes those barriers are caused by our behavior. And God in His glory and His richness, His blessing, His love, sees the barrier that exists and before the paralyzed guy even knew it Jesus chose to remove the barrier that prevented him from receiving that miracle. That’s how much God loves people. And when the Pharisees heard Jesus say “Your sins are forgiven” they took the opposite approach. They began to criticize. They began to blame. They said who is this guy that forgives sins. Only God can forgive sins and you know what? They were absolutely right. The Pharisees are absolutely right. Only God can forgive sins and Jesus, my friend, is God.
And when Jesus heard their criticism, He said tell me what is easier to say: your sins are forgiven? What takes more guts to say? Your sins are forgiven or take up your mat and walk? Well I don’t know if you’ve ever said to somebody take up your mat and walk but I can guarantee you that it’s a lot easier to say hey your sins are forgiven than to take up your mat and walk. And just so that you know that the son of man has authority in heaven and earth, He turned to the paralyzed man and He said “Get up, take up your mat and walk.” And instantly nerves that had never sensed any sensation and muscles that had never functioned before began to work as that young man sprung to his feet and began to walk in the sight of everyone and the Pharisees and their mouths were wide open and he looked back at Jesus and he smiled. Joy overcame him and then he looked at the Pharisees and he glared. And as he turned for the exit, there were four men who just so happened to be looking through a hole and tears filled their eyes because they knew that the one barrier that that man had faced had been overcome simply because they had the faith to get up and walk through that open door. They got down off the roof and they came down the sidewall and they met him for the very first time, this time standing instead of bending over to greet their friend that they loved so much.
Friend, I want to tell you I don’t know what it is that you’re facing. I know that there are people who are facing financial difficulties, marital difficulties, physical difficulties. I know there are people having problems with their family and as you go into the holiday’s you’re thinking here we go again. I know that there are people here that don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal. I know that you’re watching you have no idea what tomorrow holds but I do know one thing that God loves you and He comes with power to set the captive free and He will work powerfully in your life because He loves you, He sees you as the apple of His eye and that’s the truth.
My wife and I were at the perhaps most crucial and critical intersection in our ministerial history seven years ago when we were living in Central America. We had been doing crusades, open-air crusades for more than eight years and as we were headed to a financial meeting, my wife turned to me and she said “Honey I’ve got some bad news.” She said “We carry a personal debt of fifty thousand dollars because the ministry cannot move forward. There are a number of donors, there are a number of people who have not been able to give because of the recession and unless something changes we’re going to have to cancel our next crusade, we’re going to have let go of our staff, close the offices and move back to the United States.” Friend I got to tell you I broke down and I wept. I had worked for years seeing people’s lives changed and I couldn’t imagine that that would come to an end because of a financial problem that we were facing.
I asked her, I said “Well what do we need to keep the doors open at least another thirty days?” She said “I can float it with five thousand dollars for thirty days but nothing else. Anything less than five thousand dollars we’ve got to let go of the staff, cancel the crusade and move back to the Unites States.” I said “Okay that’s fine.” I said “Till what time?” She said “Till the 31st of March.” I said fine.
I sent faxes and emails and I made phone calls. I got on airplanes, I called everyone I knew and no one responded. Finally on the 28th of March, thinking I was going to have to cash it in, the phone rang. A missionary who had landed in Miami called me up and he said “Jason this is Mike! God is so good I just got back from Chile where I had poured forty thousand dollars into local churches and institutions and so forth and so on isn’t that great?” And I said “That’s fantastic.” He said “But as soon as the wheels of my aircraft hit the ground, the Lord spoke to me and told me that I need to send you five thousand dollars. How do you want me to send it?” And I said “You can send it FedEx.” And he did. He sent it FedEx and other funds began to come in and the crusade was on.
That first night we had six thousand people in a five thousand seat capacity tent. First night a guy came, looked like he had been run over by a truck. Sat thirty rows back. I gave the invitation, he came down to the front to accept the Lord into his heart. Within two minutes of that altar call, he spun around, screamed at the top of his voice and dropped as if he were dead. The ushers came out of nowhere, picked him up and delivered him to the tent that was adjacent to the big one, which was our counseling tent. The next night he came, he sat thirty rows back, I gave the invitation, he came down to the front. Within two minutes of praying he spun around, screamed and dropped to the floor again. The ushers came out of nowhere and picked him up and hauled him off to that tent adjacent to the big one. Third night he came, sat thirty rows back. I gave the invitation, he came down to the front, dropped after screaming and twirling around, the ushers came out of nowhere and off to the other tent.
Finally I approached the head usher. I said you know if he shows up again, why don’t you just sit him down in that other tent? Fourth night he came, sat thirty rows back. Came down to the front during the altar call. He was in his right mind during the entire time. Fifth night he came, sat thirty rows back, I gave the invitation, he came down to the front nicely dressed in his own right mind and at the very end of the night he raises his hand, he says, “I’ve got a testimony. I’d like to share. Can I have the microphone?” Now, if someone shows up to one of your crusades, spins around and screams and drops to the floor three out of the five nights, you might understand why I might be a little reluctant to just hand over the microphone.
But I was in a good mood that night since we had seen so many wonderful things. I said “come on up here. We might as well go out in a blaze of glory.” And he came up to the platform and he stood on the very edge with his nice polished shoes hanging over the edge of that platform, his pants were nicely pressed, his rust color leather jacket, looked out at that crowd and he said you know eighteen months ago I was the number one sales representative insurance in this country and I lost my job because of a dispute with my employer. Three weeks later my wife left me for another man and she took the kids. If there’s a way to break the ego of a man it is in his pocket book and in his heart simultaneously. He said I had nothing to live for. I had nothing to live for. I tried to commit suicide. I combined liquor with pills and nothing worked. Twice I came close. And Tuesday night I was headed to a bridge. I pulled out of my garage and I was headed down the street. Tuesday night and as I was going through this neighborhood I looked off to the left hand side and I saw two big white tents and a sign that read (SPEAKS SPANISH) which means there is Hope in Jesus.
So I pulled over to the side of the road and I prayed one sentence: God if You exist, make Yourself real to me tonight. And I came in the back of the tent and I sat thirty rows back. You gave the invitation and I came down to the front and then the next thing I know I woke up and I was sitting in another tent. And that happened Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Thursday night. But every night that I came to my senses there were counselors around me who loved me, helped me to pray through the issues that I was facing, helped me to forgive my wife and my ex-employer. And when I uttered those words I forgive you and I invited Jesus into my heart and I turned over a new leaf by becoming a Christian, He set me free by His power and those diabolical voices of suicide began to disappear and I have been suicidal thought free for the last three days. And I don’t know who you are, who put up these tents. I have no idea who put up this sign but whoever you are, thank you so very much.
And he turned and he handed me the microphone and I realized that I had almost cancelled a crusade because of money. A man’s life would have wound up at the bottom of a riverbed because of money. Let it be for anything else but money. Friend, I know that there are people here in this place and I know that you are watching via television. And you say Jason you have no idea what I’m facing. I know I don’t have any idea what you’re facing, but God knows. And God loves you and He is all powerful to set the captive free, to break the chains and to liberate those who are oppressed. That is God’s desire and that is His will and that is His plan if you open your heart to what He can do in your life.
If you’re watching via television, I want to invite you to begin a new life with God today by going to hourofpower.org/newlife. hourofpower.org/newlife and begin that new life with God today. And if you, my friend who are here this morning, are facing insurmountable barriers, you can read books and I would encourage you to do so to get a copy of that book, fine. But more than that, I would encourage you to partner with the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the one who has the power to help you overcome every barrier you face.
As I close, I’m going to ask all of you to stand at this moment as we pray together. Father, I thank You for Your wonderful presence and I ask God that each and every barrier that we’re facing in this place. You know what it is. I pray that Your power would come to set the captive free. And as I continue to pray, friend if you have a barrier, an insurmountable barrier. You’re looking for that open door, I would invite you to slip up your hand all across the sanctuary as we continue to pray. Slip up that hand right now if you are in the midst of a battle, you need that barrier to be broken, slip up your hand right now with the rest of us as we continue to pray. Lord, I pray that You would touch each and every hand that is in the air, each and every person that represents a barrier that must be broken. And I pray Lord that You would speak, and love, and give, and renew, and give guidance. In Jesus’ mighty name, set the captive free. Amen.