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About this series
Unleashing God's Power into Impossible Situations
What do you do when a circumstance or relationship in your life is so hard, so big, so overwhelming that it truly becomes impossible? You need a divine, supernatural intervention. In this new 5-part series from Chip Ingram, you’ll discover the steps to experiencing breakthrough and how to make breakthrough a normal part of your life.More from this series
I was in a town in West Virginia, where my wife grew up – and I won’t mention the town, in case they ever hear this. Of course, they would know who it is. But it’s a place that, in its prime, was maybe three hundred people, and maybe it’s down to fifty people. And probably ninety percent of the people are unemployed. And there is house and shack, and it is just, it is the most depressing place I’ve ever been in my life. There’s so much junk, and they’ve seen it so long, they don’t even notice it anymore.
And so, we’re going to talk about breakthrough. God wants to unleash power into your impossible situation. There are five specific questions that I begin to ask and answer about how you understand breakthrough happens, where it begins, what’s the first step?
Now, question number one – you know, you kind of have to start with the basics – is, so, what is a breakthrough? I mean, God is speaking to me, and I’m thinking – I literally looked it up in the dictionary. I mean, what do you mean by the term? Three key definitions.
Number one, it’s an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare. See, when I’ve thought about breakthrough, honestly, I often keep thinking, You know, I’ve read about it in Church history, and I’ve seen it in the Bible. Someday, some way, God… and we’re going to see these amazing things happen, and we’re going to watch a breakthrough. And sort of it’s like, we wait for it to happen.
Breakthroughs are not something you sit around and wait for. It’s an offensive strike through enemy lines. God does it, but He’s already commanded it. He already wants it to happen. A breakthrough is when you take an offensive step and say, “I’m going to act on what I believe is true, and then, I’m going to trust God is supernaturally going to do the impossible.”
The second is, it’s an act or instance of breaking through a barrier. A breakthrough is … there’s a barrier; you’re stuck – and it could be a relationship, an addiction, a lie, a false belief. It could be what you’ve been through. It could be an environment at work. But isn’t it interesting that Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”? What was He saying? He says the Church is moving offensively, and when it hit barriers, here’s the promise: “I will be with you always, and all power is given to Me. You believe, you trust, we’ll break through.” So, we know this is on God’s heart.
The third definition that was interesting: It’s a sudden advance. There’s a process, and we’ll walk through the process. And there’s investment, and there’s prayer involved, and there are people involved, and there’s thinking involved, and there are some steps that you take. But as those things culminate, there’s change; there are differences – failure in relationships and addictions. God moves in powerful ways, and what people experience – Boom! There’s a breakthrough. There’s a sudden advance. It happens in individuals, relationships, organizations, in churches, and sometimes, God does it in whole societies and cultures.
I love the quote by George Müller. He said, “Remember today that you can never bring about the supernatural through natural means. Don’t even try.” And then, Müller, who never made his needs known and supplied the needs of – literally – thousands and thousands of orphans, daily, wrote, “Faith doesn’t operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which man can do. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
And so, part of what we’re going to talk about is, how does that happen? How do you unleash God’s supernatural power in your life and in your home and in your relationships and in your neighborhood and in your work…? and what and how does God release that in a church?
Well, that’s what breakthrough is. Question number two: Is there a biblical pattern for breakthrough? In other words, these are kind of interesting ideas, but I don’t know about you, I’m committed to Scripture. Is there a biblical pattern?
And so, what I did – and by the way, I’ll spare you; I won’t go through it – I found myself on a plane, asking that question, and I started – about three hours earlier – and I started writing, from memory, from Genesis all the way through Revelation, of breakthroughs that I saw, breakthroughs that I saw, breakthroughs that I saw. And I started, even with, you know, God could have spoken one word, and – Bam! – we would have all creation. He made it. He can do it any way He wants.
But even how God did creation gives us insight about His heart and what He wants to do. Because when we get creation, in the beginning, He doesn’t just tell us how it all happened; He creates, and He says, “The earth is formless and void.” Those are very interesting Hebrew words that mean, “lifeless, dead.” Later, they’re used in places where there’s chaos, lack of life.
And then, what happened? He speaks. And when He speaks, “Let there be light. It’s good. Let there be plants. It’s good.” He speaks, He speaks, He speaks, “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good.” And then, He creates us – “It’s very good.” He breaks through darkness.
There’s a reason He tells us, because that’s the pattern. Everything in life – mark this – every single thing in life is either broken and deteriorating, and moving toward chaos, or it’s moving toward health and restoration and healing – everything. And the eyes of the Lord are going to and fro, throughout the whole earth, that He could find a man or a woman or a student whose heart is fully His, so that He could strongly support you, just where you’re at, right where you live, with the IQ and the gifts and the background and experiences – both good and bad – that you presently possess, so that He could use you as an agent of breakthrough to stop the darkness and the chaos and the corruption and the wickedness, and to bring light and healing and love. That’s the game plan.
Well, I went through the – actually, the whole Bible, and I wrote for three hours. Here’s what I can tell you, just in terms of, does God unleash supernatural power to overcome the impossible? Well, once you get beyond the amazing story of creation, and then, you see the drift, the idolatry, the evil, the wickedness, then, one man finds favor, named Noah, and he’s an agent of breakthrough. And God protects, intervenes.
And then he, after the human race begins to get rebuilt, He finds Abraham. And the process of Abraham becoming the beginning of a nation that would be the jewel that God would demonstrate His power and His goodness, and His plan is always, “I love people. I love people. I love people. I love people.” He wanted to be with us in the Garden and walk with us in the Garden. He forgave Adam and Eve, and then over and over and over. But the hearts of men – we just bend and drift away from God, and we end up corrupt and greedy and selfish and hurting one another. Wars have always been with us, and God keeps intervening.
And so, with Abraham, he’s a hundred years old, living off a promise that he’s going to have an heir one day. And so, his ninety-year-old babe has a baby. It’s a breakthrough. Would you say that’s unleashing God’s power into the impossible?
And then, after Abraham, you find that there’s desolation and famine and difficulty, and so a Hebrew slave becomes the most powerful man in the world, under Pharaoh – to do what? Breakthrough and deliver the people. Four hundred and thirty years later, now they’re in bondage and slavery, and there’s an idol on every corner in Egypt, and what happens?
He brings Moses to do the impossible: ten supernatural acts, each one declaring Yahweh, the God of Israel, more powerful than the gods of Egypt. And then, there’s a breakthrough at the Red Sea, and then there’s a breakthrough with the manna, and then there’s a breakthrough with water out of the rock, and there’s a breakthrough where His presence is with them.
And then, Joshua comes along, and, “This is the land! I’ve already given it to you. You possess it. I’m good; I love you. I want you to have vines that you didn’t plant and wells that you didn’t dig, and houses that you don’t have to build. You’re My people; I love you, and I want to bless you and express that to you!” But there’s a lot of big guys over there, and there’s this big, walled city, and so, impossibility: The walls fall down. And we go all the way through Scripture, to these cycles.
Here are the cycles that you see, because it becomes very clear in Judges, and all the way through the Old Testament, later through the New Testament and new Church history, is there’s great need, and the great need is caused by great sin. So, people are hurting, people are discouraged, people have problems. The great sin brings about bondage; people were in slavery. And sometimes it’s whole nations, or sometimes it’s individuals. They’re slaves to their sin, slaves to corrupt government, slavery and bondage, the sex trade.
I mean, you can go all through history, this pattern, and then, this God, who created us, loves you, and loves these people. As far away as anyone has ever been from God, He still loves them, and He’s compassionate. And judgment occurs, and, by judgment, what I mean, consequences come to help us understand, “You know what? How we’re living is not the way to live.” It’s in the great kindness and love of God that the velvet vise begins to come on nations at times in the past, and it comes on people, and this judgment of, things don’t work.
And then, He raises up a deliverer who breaks through, a deliverer who is like a Samson, or a Gideon, or a Deborah, and then, later, a Samuel. And cycle after cycle – this cycle right here happens at least six times in the book of Judges. And I would tell you that it happens the rest of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Church history. But the impossible happens: Walls fall down. And each time, with Gideon, the impossible happens: Three hundred men defeat a whole army.
And then, the story goes on, and what is it? It’s the story of the supernatural power of God, reminding you that the walls that you have can come down, the giants that you face – the unleashing of God’s power, like with David, they can fall, just like they fell for him.
And then, you have a series of horrendous times, where all these kings turn away from God, and yet, then Josiah pops up, and Hezekiah pops up, and Asa pops up, and they start reforms. And every time there’s a reform, there’s a breakthrough, and there’s prosperity, and there’s love and there’s fellowship, and God is worshipped. And then, people drift away again, and we get four hundred years of silence. The greatest judgment in all the world is when you can’t hear God’s voice anymore. And then, the ultimate breakthrough.
We’re talking about the pattern – we’re going to look at the pathway. And part of the pathway, there are certain seasons where God prepares people, and certain seasons where He prepares organizations, and certain seasons where He prepares the entire world for major breakthroughs. And what we have in Jesus is the greatest breakthrough – God’s supernatural power unleashed.
Open your Bible, if you will, Mark chapter 1, and what I’d encourage you to do is, read. I’m going to give you mountain peaks. I’m going to walk through some mountain peaks, because here’s what I want you to see. So often, we start reading, and many of us have been Christians for a lot of years, and this is Jesus, and this is what He said, and sometimes we miss the whole point! The very first verse of the book of Mark – this is the beginning of the good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, it’s about God’s goodness. It’s about: God’s not down on people.
The word good news, it wasn’t a Bible term; it was borrowed from the day. When a king would go to battle and win a victory, they would make an announcement – good news. They would have a gospel announcement: “Our king defeated that other group.” And all the people would celebrate: “We’re free!” The gospel is an announcement.
Now, here’s what I want to do: I’m going to walk you through a little journey, and I’m going to skip around a lot, because what I really want you to see is: how did Jesus – are you ready for this? – how did Jesus teach His disciples to experience breakthrough?
If you’re taking notes, the first question was, “What is breakthrough?” The second question was, “Is there a biblical pattern of breakthrough?” And I think we’ve demonstrated that. The third question: “How did Jesus teach the disciples to experience and be agents of breakthrough?
Now, you’ll notice, I’ve already quoted the very first verse. This is the beginning of the gospel. It’s written to the Romans. You need to understand the Roman mindset. They’re powerful; they’re proud. They respect action and power. And so, this gospel writer doesn’t spend a lot of time in genealogies, not a lot of time quoting Hebrew fulfillment. I mean, he comes out of the gates – Jesus, the man of action!
And so, in a relatively few verses, we have His introduction, His baptism, and His temptation, and then notice, as you pick it up in verse 14, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee.” His ministry starts.
Notice what He does. This is what Jesus came to do. He did not come to get people to live moral lives. He did not come to give them a philosophy or worldview, or to become a good religion on the salad bar of other religions. He came to proclaim the good news of God.
He came to make an announcement: “The God who made you, loves you. He wants to bless you. He’s for you. He wants intimate fellowship and relationship.” “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near.’”
And then, there’s a command. It’s twofold: “Repent and believe the good news!” Repent, metanoia – it means, “with your mind.” Have a change of mind. Think differently about God, think differently about yourself, and start thinking about it the way God thinks about it, and “believe the good news.” Believe that God’s for you. Believe that He loves you. And live out of the freedom and the reality. The Gospel is not: what can I do for God? How can I earn His favor? The Gospel is good news. This is what God has already done for you. Receive it; believe it. Let it fill you up, and then, out of thanksgiving and love, express that same kind of love to others.
Now, with that said, how did He teach His disciples? I mean, you think about it. The Creator of all of life decides to inhabit a teenage girl, supernaturally, lives a perfect life, begins His ministry, and this is the message, this announcement. So, what does He do?
And here’s what I want you to see, as I walk things through: He wanted to teach these good, Jewish, religious boys that He didn’t come to change the culture; He came for people to move out of their stuck religion, and the wickedness of the day, and to have a relationship with the living God.
And so, He announced what it was, and then, as you look at the book of Mark, what I want you to see: His goodness. His goodness. His kindness. And He’s kind and good to people in that day that religious people would say don’t deserve anything. The religious system of Judaism, and especially the Pharisees, is, “We earn our favor. We’re more righteous.” In fact, they were just self-righteous.
So, as you pick it up, notice, okay, He’s going to announce the good news. Skip down, if you will, to verse 21: “Then He went to Capernaum, and the Sabbath came, and Jesus went into the synagogue and He began to teach. And the people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the Law. And there was a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit. ‘What do you want to do with me?’”
The first thing He does is eradicate evil. He’s in the “church” of their day, and there’s a guy demon possessed. He casts out the demon. So, there’s some authentication. “Whoa! Who is this guy?”
The next thing He does – as you skim, look at verse 29 – He goes over to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house, and she’s sick. And people are wondering, Wow, who is this guy? And He heals her.
And then, if you skim down a little bit after that, what you find is, there’s a real buzz here, and He spends almost all night, and the whole town comes out. He casts out demons and heals, casts out demons and heals, casts out demons and heals. I mean, it is like a rock concert starts, and He is, like, “Whooo!” And people are coming from everywhere.
And then, He gets up real early the next morning to pray, to stay focused, and the disciples say, “Jesus, last night, You were a super hit. Everyone’s talking about You. This is going to be awesome. Come on back.” And He says, “No, no, no, no. I’m on mission. There are many other villages and places I need to go.” So, He teaches the disciples it can’t be about them, it can’t be about us, it can’t be about just now – it’s fulfilling what God wants.