— Brother Phil Enlow: I’m so glad He’s on the throne, knows what He’s doing! Praise God! You know, if we’d get our mind off of, and our eyes off of ourselves, and all those things, it would be a whole lot easier, because I tell you, we serve an amazing God.
And I guess, if I had to summarize what I was thinking about is, what is the Lord looking for from us? That needs to be a little bit tighter title but, what does He want from us? I don’t know. Maybe that’s a simpler one. But what is God really looking for in His children?
You know, you’ve got people out there that think He’s looking for effort and righteousness that they can produce and all those kinds of things. But I’m so glad it’s not that, ‘cause it’s not in me to live up to anything that He’s…that He can set before me that I need to do.
But there are things that God is looking for out of His creatures. And, I want to understand and I want to cooperate, because even what Dave just shared…I mean, we all experience that, every one of us. It could have been any one of us up here talking about something like that, where we suddenly realize something about ourselves, and then the Lord has to bring us back to the center of the fact that He’s in charge and we’re looking to Him.
But, I guess one scripture that might be a good jumping off place is one we’ve heard many times in the past. It’s in Isaiah 66. And the Lord, through Isaiah, is dealing with a people who have, basically, chosen their own way. They…I don’t know to what degree they realized it, but they were still, in some sense, acknowledging the Lord and trying to do stuff for Him. But really, they were on the throne of their heart.
I’ll tell you, that’s a dangerous place. I pray there’s nobody here or nobody that hears this, that this applies to, where you are sort of acknowledging God and taking ideas and fashioning them into…weaving them into your life and somehow claiming His blessings but, basically, you are the one running the show. I’ll tell you, God has got to bring us to something different than that. That will never fulfill His purpose. That’s the thing that’s wrong with us, is self-will.
But anyway, “This is what the Lord says: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” (NIV). See, what can you do? I’m the greatest. I’m in heaven. The earth is just a footstool for me. What are you gonna actually do for me?
“Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being? declares the Lord. This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” That’s a pretty good outline, isn’t it? Because the first thing that God is looking for from me and for any one of us is summarized by the word ‘humble.’ The word ‘humble’ has to do with taking a low place.
You know, literally, particularly in this day, if you had somebody who was a king, the appropriate response for somebody coming in his presence was to get down on the floor and bow down. And it was an acknowledgment of your position relative to them.
Well folks, we’re talking about the…we’re talking about God! We’re talking about the highest being in the universe who has a purpose that was created in His heart and mind before this world began. And He has allowed this world, through the choices that men have made, to come into a place where we have a need before Him. We cannot fix what is broken. There is only one possible way that we can relate to this God, and that is to take that low place.
It’s not groveling. You know, somebody could come before a king and, they don’t really feel particularly humble. They don’t really want to do it in their hearts but they know the right thing to do is to get on the ground, or get on the floor. Folks, we need to see the reality. Being humble starts with an honest assessment of who I am and what I am.
And, you know, if God is going to…if we’re gonna have a relationship with God, it’s gonna have to start with a divine revelation of our need. You know, we were singing about that, coming before Him, just as we are, with all of our needs. But you know, people don’t think they have a need. People think that they can sort of navigate their own path. They might want God to fix this or fix that, but basically, as I say, they’re gonna stay on the throne of their life.
God, in order to even initiate a relationship, has to bring us to such a sense of lost-ness, hopelessness, in terms of where we’re headed in life, the destiny of our souls, He has to bring us to a genuine revelation of that before we will ever bow down and say, okay God, I surrender. I turn my life over to You. I put all of my hope and care in what You can provide and what You can do.
There is no other place to be! I mean, anybody who stops short of this has missed everything! ‘Cause this is what God is looking for from your heart and mine, is to come to that place. And I don’t know, there is a place, there’s a beginning point where God has to bring somebody to that point before they will say, yes, Lord, come in and be Lord. Reside in my heart, direct my steps, provide for me the gift of your righteousness, but Lord, your presence in me to begin to change me so that I, who am not fit for your Kingdom, will become fit for your Kingdom.
You know, these are things we’ve talked about many times, but somehow, I felt like the Lord wanted to focus a little differently this morning. But again, what is God’s purpose? Once we come to that point, what is God’s…what is God doing? Why doesn’t He just save somebody and take them on to heaven? See, His purpose in building this family is that we learn and we grow up in a world that hates Him, that is going the other way, where we are forced to swim against the tide, and make choices to serve Him in the face of everything that is going wrong in this world.
God is going to call His people, in a place, out of a furnace of affliction, is one expression that He uses. And so, humility…what God is looking for from those of us who know Him. He is looking for every one of us, at every point in our lives, to humble ourselves, to take that place of submission, of confidence toward Him. You know, the scripture says, and scriptures we’ve used many times, “…Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must…” (KJV). Do what? There are two things.
( congregational response ).
“…Believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” You know, there’s a saying that’s popular out there in many places and it’s absolutely true, that one way to express what faith is, is I believe God is who He says He is! I believe He can do what He says He can do! I would add something to that and I would say, I believe God ‘will’ do what He says He will do!
So, faith is absolutely a confidence, that instead of trusting in me and trusting in anything that has to do with this world, any resource here…I’m not trusting in my church, I’m not trusting in a man or a person, I’m trusting wholly in what Jesus has provided in the will and the purpose of God! I have no other confidence, no other hope, nothing that I can trust in. How in the world does somebody come to that if God doesn’t impart that?
( congregational amens ).
But to whom does He impart it? Who is the one who absolutely winds up with this quality we call faith, this ability called faith? How does that get in here? God has to speak! But the one who winds up with faith in here is the one who bows and surrenders and receives that Word, without just sitting here, and debating it, and questioning it, and saying, I want my way and I’m gonna compromise here.
This is surrender. This is saying, Lord, what You’re saying is exactly right and I put my faith in You! And so, faith is born and there is a confidence toward God that absolutely becomes the anchor of the soul.
Now, you know what the scriptures calls the anchor of the soul is hope. But, what is hope? It’s faith directed at the future. There is a confidence that I have in Him right now, but that confidence is that He will do something to change my…to secure my future. My future has already been defined by God. It’s already been secured, but not by anything I can do, but by what Jesus has done.
And so, that faith begets in me a hope and an expectation. It’s not simply a ‘hope so,’ is it? It’s an absolute expectation in what God is going to do! Praise God! What a foundation He’s given us to stand upon! Thank God!
But I’ll tell you, if we’re going to walk in this, we’re gonna need what He’s talking about here. This is what God is looking for. Because once I enter the Kingdom, now what? Now we just said, He is going to conform us…that’s what I was leading up to. His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. We’re not like Him. Our character is not like Him. Our values are not like Him, not naturally.
And so, in order for us to absolutely learn, within this context of a broken world, to become like Him, that means we’re gonna have to let Him work in us, and become what…and change us so that we don’t act and react to the world. We don’t react with…in the case of what Dave said. We don’t react with this anxiety. Well, we all do. So, do you think we might have some needs here? Yeah! And so, God has got us in this furnace of affliction.
So, what is my place? Is it to complain? We do. Is it to have resentful feelings? ‘Course you would never do that, would you? I know! You know, why is it like this? Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t…why doesn’t God fix this? Why are my circumstances like this and they’re doing great? What did I do?
There are a million and one things that the enemy will throw into our minds that will be anything ‘but’ simply a childlike faith and a humility that bows before God and says, God You know what You’re doing! You love me. I am trusting in You.
And you know, this faith leads into what we call trust. To me I would make only the subtle distinction that trust is the practical side of faith. That’s when we’re in the fire. That’s when we’re in the circumstance. And instead of questioning and fearing and believing the worst, we’re continuing to say, God, I may not understand this, I may not like it. I don’t like it, necessarily, but I trust You. I know who You are! I know You know what You’re doing. I know that regardless of how this feels, I know You have my best interest at heart.
And I’ll tell you, one of the things you discover as you go along is that we don’t know ourselves nearly as well as we think we do. As long as we are in this flesh, we will discover things about ourselves that will not be pretty.
And if you think you’re doing great right now, and you truly know the Lord and you’re looking to Him, just wait. God will bring you to something that will just...oh, my God! How could I react like that? How could I be like that? It’s just so contrary to what I know in my head. My theology is correct but, oh God…the emotions that I have to deal with and the questions and even the anger sometimes! There are a thousand and one reactions that we have. And I’ll tell you, we need to be able to take that place of humbleness.
You know, one of the biggest things is when God uses a circumstance that involves people, and they do something that, maybe it’s really and truly wrong. But God allows it. And so, we are injured in some fashion. Maybe there’s a real injury. Maybe there’s just an emotional injury. And so, we direct our anger at them, but it’s not righteous indignation, is it? It’s a human reaction of anger and frustration that blames them, instead of looking past that and saying, God, You allowed that because You wanted to show me what I am made of.
And so, this is the issue. We’ve said many times it is not my job to straighten people out! And if you expect to go through this world and not have anything bad happen to you, not have people mistreat you, you are in for a rough ride!
( congregational response ).
God is going to allow all kinds of things, but every one of them is nothing more than an instrument of God’s love and God’s purpose to make us like Himself!
( congregational amens ).
And so, what He’s calling upon me and every one of us…I need this absolutely as much as you do. I was sitting here waiting and hoping the service would just go on and I could sit here and listen. I’m telling you the truth. But I have to humble myself to this, and say, Lord, You just have to take over because I have not got it! I don’t have it, Lord! But You do!
You see, it isn’t just this, oh, poor me, kind of thing. That’s a bad reaction, isn’t it? That’s not real humility. Real humility is the ability to be honest, and realize what I am and be able to face everything that comes along where the Lord shows me something about me that I don’t want to face.
We don’t want to humble ourselves to that. We want to blame and look and excuse and find everything in the world…every possible way to deflect from the real issue that God is absolutely gonna do what it takes.
I’ll guarantee, and I know for a fact, that there are many battles going on. There are things I don’t know about in individual lives. Your way is hard right now. And the Devil is beating you up with emotion about it. Why does it have to be this way? Oh, God, what’s wrong? Why are You treating me this way? And you know the only possible solution to this is to humble ourselves, and learn how to say thank You, Lord. Lord, help me!
And I’ll tell you, our best example has a name, and His name is Jesus. A scripture we’ve used so many times, “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” (NIV). “…All you who are weary and burdened…Take my yoke upon you and learn from me....” What is it that we learn? Ah, the first thing is, I’m humble. Ah, here’s the Son of God, the One who spoke the universe into existence, He is walking around in human flesh, humbling Himself, to that process.
Was it an easy place? Oh, no! It was a lot harder than you and I will ever face. You know, you think about…I mean, He was 30 years old before He made Himself known to anybody, except His mother, and the Lord witnessed when He was a baby and all those kinds of things. But I mean in terms of, okay, here’s the ministry that God has…the purpose for which I came to earth…30 years, He’s just humbling Himself to His parents, to His work, to just getting up in the morning and being the kind of person that the Father wanted Him to be.
‘Cause we know He never sinned. I mean, the power of God in Him just enabled Him. But I don’t think we realize the degree to which He was dependant on the Father, how much He had to humble Himself. You know we have this…we rightly uphold the deity of Jesus Christ. In him dwells all the fullness of deity bodily, but I’ll tell you, when He was here, He lived a life of dependence and humility where He knew His place.
When He was raised from the dead, now He’s got the new life. He’s got the Eternal Life and the new body. He still looked at Mary and said, go tell my brothers, I’m going to “…my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Instead of, I’m way up here…I’m standing right here beside you. We have a Heavenly Father. I’m taking my place of subservience to Him. The Son of God does exactly—did exactly, and still does, what He asks of us.
I’ll tell you, does this not all go back to the very heart and the purpose of God? Everything that arises against that, is nothing short of rebellion and evil. It leads right straight to death. There’s nothing else that can happen other than just coming to that place of saying, Father, “…not my will, but yours be done.”
And I’ll tell you, there are battles to fight, to make that happen. You’ve got a lot of folks out there that their idea of Christianity is that nothing bad should ever really happen to us or at least not continue to happen. We ought to be able, if we get sick, just to go…
( snapping fingers ).
…Say the magic formula, the magic words. If only we had enough faith. I’ll tell you, God has all kinds of purposes. God can heal! He can raise the dead, or He can take somebody through an affliction and make Himself so real to them, in a way that He couldn’t have any other way. God has purposes that are particular to you and to me. We are different. Every one of us has a unique place in His Kingdom and He is doing something that no one else has the power to do. Oh, to Him be glory! Him be the praise!
But you know, it’s hard to praise Him when things aren’t going the way we think they ought to go. “How long, O Lord?” David prayed. You know, we all say that, but you know one thing about David was always…even when he complained and questioned and all of that, his bottom line was, but I know You’re good. But I trust You.
That’s getting our ‘buts’ in the right place. We can express our emotions sometimes, but…and the Lord understands that. He knows what it’s like to be here. That’s why He can be a “…merciful and faithful high priest…” ‘cause He’s been here. He stood up against everything that ever afflicts any of us, and He knows what it’s like.
You know, I thought about a scripture we’ve used many times. I think it’s in Hebrews 5. I’ll just refer to it. But, though he were a Son, “Although He was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” There was a scripture before that that I meant to look up, so I guess I will look it up.
Hebrews chapter 5. “During....” This was when he’s talking about His life. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
I’ve sort of had some ideas about that, but I think I see just a little something else that I’ve never really noticed before about that. “…Save him from death…” What does that mean? What is it that brings about death? Sin! Sin is the thing that, inevitably, when sin takes root and that’s the dominating principle, that leads to death. Jesus was tempted, “…in all points…” the scripture says, “…like as we are, yet…” What?
( congregational response ).
“…Without sin.” (KJV). You look at chapter 9 of Hebrews and you will see that He, “…offered himself without spot to God…” But there’s a little phrase in there. It says, “…through the eternal Spirit….” Do you know it took God’s power working in Him, in order to enable Him to be sinless?
There were real battles that had to be fought. We don’t want battles. We want nice little sayings that will just make all the bad stuff go away and make life comfortable. But there are battles, sometimes, that have to be fought. Jesus went forty days in the wilderness and we have this little summary of some of the temptations.
I’ll guarantee it wasn’t this quiet little conversation at the end. There were pitched battles when the Devil came at Him with everything he had, and He had to rely on God and call upon God for help and strength. God, it’s not in me! I’m a human being. I have come here with the weaknesses of those around me. Oh, God, I need You!
Why did it take three hours of incredible prayer, in the Garden of Gethsemane? He was the Son of God. He should have said, I can handle this. Big deal! Bring it on, Satan! But He didn’t do that, did He? He cried out to His Father. Under the same…just fighting against the same feelings that try to rise up and take control in us. He fought against them and He took them to prayer in battle. There was a war that was going on! I’ll tell you, that’s where the war was won!