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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
Let’s pick up the story here. It’s Psalm 27: “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me and devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart – I will not fear; though a war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” And what we’re going to see is, from his personal journey, exactly who he was.
Who was he? In this first section, verses 1 through 3, he was a bold risk-taker. He was a bold risk-taker.
What’s he saying? In fact, he starts with the wicked, then he goes to some enemies, and then, it’s like, “If a whole army – I mean, a whole army. Or if an entire war comes against me.” What is he saying? “I will be confident.” Why is he going to be confident? It’s not because he thinks he’s stronger, better, wiser, or more godly. It’s because he knows who God is. And so, when you see God and know God for who He is, you’re a bold risk-taker.
Question: Are you a bold risk-taker? Are you a bold risk-taker in your relationships? Are you a bold risk-taker at work? Are you a bold risk-taker in your neighborhood?
Second thing, in the next section, we’re going to learn that he was a passionate worshipper. That’s who he was – number two – a passionate worshipper. And you say, “Well, Chip, where do you get that?” Look at verse 4: “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” He has declared, “I’m not going to live in fear,” and now, he’s going to say, “This is my personal, number one priority in life. One thing. One thing. One thing do I seek.” And what is it? “That I may dwell in the house of the LORD.”
David was a passionate worshiper, and what did he do? He pursued God. He pursued God. Did you see the word seek, seek, seek? It’s like he’s trying to find different words. At this point in Israel’s history, they worshipped in the Tabernacle. He says “dwelling,” “sacred tent,” “sacred tent,” “temple.” He takes three or four different words, and says, “When I corporately come with God’s people into the presence of God, and He manifests His shekinah glory and His power and His presence and His beauty, and when I’m up on the rooftop, or when I’m meditating on my bed, or like I have this thirst, like a deer panting for water, when I long to hear God’s voice and have Him speak to me,” he says, “that’s the number one priority of my life.”
His passion was for a person, not for prosperity. His number one passion was for God Himself, not for what God could give him. And he arranged his time, and he arranged his energy around pursuing God.
And what he does, he praises Him. He wants to behold His beauty. He wants to praise Him. And for some of us, it’s kind of like, “Well, I don’t really know how to do that.”
I brought three tools that have been helpful for me, because my confession is, at least the first decade or so I was a Christian – and I’m probably exaggerating; it was probably more – praise was not a big part of my life. I interceded, I prayed, I thanked, but this idea of acknowledging who God is, and worshipping for who He actually is, which enlarges your view – God says He inhabits the praises of His people. And so, a couple things happened.
I keep mentioning this book, because I’ve been reading it for over thirty years, but it’s called The Knowledge of the Holy, and it’s three or four chapters on the attributes of God. And as I began to read about the attributes of God, I began to enlarge my mind and my heart, and I would begin to praise Him for who He was.
A book that has been instrumental in my wife’s life – Ruth Myers wrote a book called 31 Days of Praise. Praise will strengthen your faith. Praise ushers you into God’s presence. Praise activates God’s power. Praise helps you overcome demonic opposition. Praise transforms your perspective. And praise brings pleasure and glory to God.
And what I know is, most of us are busy, and we come to God like we do other people: “I want to get this done. Could You take care of this? God, I have a problem. Would You take care of that?” And basically, for many of us, our time with God is, “Oh, God, will You fix this, take care of that, or give me so I get relief?” David was a worshipper. He was a passionate worshipper.
In fact, can I give you an example? If David was going to come to our services, he would have been here five to seven minutes early. Because David would have never dreamed that someone getting up and declaring the truth of God’s Word is more important than gathering and singing praises directly to God. And yet, we kind of live in a day – see, our behavior always tells you what you believe. So, if you can come ten minutes late, or fifteen minutes late, or eight minutes late, because the singing is just the singing.
Actually, we’re not singing to one another; we’re declaring the praise of the holy Creator of the earth. He finds pleasure in it. His presence is manifested in it. And it’s not just reserved for corporate worship. I’ll meet a lot of people, and they say, “Oh, yeah, I missed the last couple of weeks, because I wanted to do this, then, I wanted to do that. But I watched it on the internet.” I got news for you: You can get content – the presence of God doesn’t show up on the internet.
You need to be gathered with God’s people, and for some of us, maybe loosen up a little bit. See, part of us long to experience God’s presence; we won’t let our emotions get involved. And maybe the place to start is in a back bedroom. Put a pillow under the door and sing to God. What you’ll find is, your experience of Him will change. His power will get manifested, and your problems will sort of start shrinking.
Another little book that’s been very helpful to me is called The Handbook of Prayer by Ken Boa, and it’s nothing but Scripture, but he just takes you through praying Scripture back to God. And when I have done that, it’s amazing. There are mornings I get up – I don’t know about you, about how it works – there are mornings I get up, I don’t even want to go to the day. I don’t want to face the problems. I got a list this long, and I can’t get it done. There are two issues I’m overwhelmed with. There are demands – right? I mean, that’s – but if I stay there, and go into my day that way, it’s usually not a pretty picture.
And so, I have to stop, and I just choose – “God, I don’t feel like talking to You. Sorry. I don’t feel like reading Your Word. Sorry. But I want to remember who You are.”
And so, the first thing I usually do – and this morning was particularly spectacular – is, you know, the dog wants out very early, and I let the dog out, and then, I turn all the lights out in the house. And every morning, I just look up and hope that there’s a clear sky so there are stars.
And this morning, there were those puffy clouds in different places, and stars everywhere, and a sliver of a moon. And I looked up, and I saw the Big Dipper, and the Little Dipper, and all these stars, and I was just reminded, the God who spoke those into existence and holds them, moment by moment, by the word of His power, says to me, little ol’ Chip Ingram, “Everything you need, I’m here for you. I made all that, and I live inside of you. Just let Me help you.” And you know what? He will.
He was a bold risk-taker. He was a passionate worshipper who pursued God, and third, he was a wounded healer. We pick that up in verse 7. He says, “Hear my voice when I call, LORD.”
And then, notice the first thing. I mean, this is a guy that has committed murder. This is a guy that has committed adultery. This is a guy that realizes, when he looks at his fathering track record, it’s too late; he’s messed up. He says, “Be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
And then, he’s like us. He struggles with rejection. He struggles with abandonment. He longs and craves acceptance. So, listen to this prayer: “Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn away from Your servant in anger.” Well, why would God be angry? Well, he knows why God would be angry with him. Anybody in this room know why God should probably be angry with you? I do. And he’s praying. And he goes, “I’ve messed up. Don’t turn away; don’t hide from me.”
Notice what he goes on to say: “Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.” Without You, I don’t have a prayer! “Though my father and my mother” – or even if, or in the possibility that my father and mother would – “forsake me, the LORD will receive me.”
And so, what you hear is a man who’s a wounded healer. And you know what he was? What did he do? He was honest with God. He was just honest with God.
Later, David would write – you might jot this down; it’s been helpful for me – Psalm 145, verse 18: “The LORD is near to those who call upon Him.” That’s the first half of the verse. And I don’t know about you, but there have been times where I’ve called upon Him, and He didn’t fear near at all. Anybody there? “Oh, God, help!”
I had a guy write an e-mail – we’re on a journey with a fellow in another state, and he’s a doctor, and he’s real smart, and he’s real analytical. And people have challenged his faith, and we’re reading books together. And he wrote me a long e-mail, and he said, “I feel like I have this letter made out to God, but I just don’t know where to send it.” And we’ve read Mere Christianity, and The Case for Christ, and a number of books and all kind of different things. And he’s trying, with his mind, to put his arms around all of it.
And the second half of that verse says, “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.” See, God just rushes to help you, the moment – instead of posing, posturing, denial, excusing, blaming – you know, a lot of our prayers are, you know, “If my wife would just shape up,” or, “If my husband would start being more sensitive.” “If my son would finally repent.” You know, “If the educational system would get straightened out.” “If Hollywood would quit making all those bad movies.” You know, “If the government would just do something.” You know. All those things that you can’t control.
But what you see from David’s life, is – he had lots of ups and lots of downs – the moment you get honest with God, and own your mistakes, your struggles, your failure, and your weakness, you will not meet a God whose arms are crossed, whose toe is tapping, and looks down on you with, “I was wondering when you would come, because I have this cosmic ruler that I want to rap your knuckles and on your forehead.”
You will meet a God who, in every way, like you, has been tempted, yet without sin, who walked on this earth and had prostitutes fall at His feet and weep over His feet and dry them with their hair. He’s looked into the eyes of people that were His closest friends, who, moments later, would betray Him. He understands the pain of humanity. He completely understands where you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, so much so, that He went to a cross and died in your place, and rose from the dead, and said, “It’s finished.” And offers not just a one-time forgiveness for your sin, where you’re born again, but as a follower, sometimes after you blow it, when you’ve known the Lord for a long time, it’s harder to get honest with God, isn’t it?
“I should know better. I should know better. I can’t believe I did that.” And you hide it. And then, pretty soon, there’s no experience of God. And then, pretty soon, you start acting in ways, and people can see the difference.
You want to experience supernatural power? Be honest with God. Just get ruthlessly honest about the mistakes and the hurts and the past, and pray something like this: “Don’t turn away from me. Don’t forsake me.”
And then, did you notice this little phrase, “in his heart”? Something inside of him. He had ups; he had downs, but something inside of him said, “Seek the Lord. Seek the Lord.” And then, he’s speaking to himself, and, “My heart said to you, ‘I’ll seek Your face.’” Did you notice the word face, face, face? It pops up here. And the beauty of the Lord and His face – it’s intimacy; it’s personal.
See, there isn’t this little formula – Breakthrough: “If I do A, B, C, and D, then God will fix my marriage.” “A, B, C, and D, then my kids.” “A, B, C, and D, then, my business will…” I mean, that is just – forgive the terminology – that’s spiritual baloney. And it completely misses the point of the heart of God. He loves you. Supernatural power is available for those who are bold risk-takers, for those who are passionate worshippers, for those who are wounded healers.
And by the way, sometimes you ask God for a breakthrough – are you ready for this? Here’s His answer: “No.” “What?” Yeah, sometimes, “Oh, God, will You deal with this? Will You deal with this?” And maybe it’s a physical healing, or maybe it’s part of a relationship, and the other person has to change, and sometimes He says, “No.” And it’s not because you don’t have enough faith. The apostle Paul wanted a breakthrough.
It’s recorded in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. And Paul had quite a bit of faith. He, earlier in the same chapter, talked about God giving him this view of heaven. And we don’t know what it was, but there was something in his life that was a real, real pain, and once, he asked; God said, “No.” Twice, he asked; God said, “No.” Three times, God says, “No.” And then, God says this – 2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9: “ I’m not going to give you the supernatural relief in this situation. My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” But you can’t ever get power perfected in weakness until you get honest enough to say, “This is weakness. I can’t handle this. God, please take it away.”
And then, here’s the response that ushers in power. I love this. Verse 10 says, “Therefore” – not just, “I’ll put up with it. I’ll deal with it. I’ll try to have a good attitude.” What’s he say? “Therefore, I’m well-content with weakness, with insults, with distress, with persecutions, with difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” In other words, the apostle Paul says, “If this is the way you get supernatural power, and I’m made for eternity, and I’m in this little thing, short-term, called “time,” well, bring it on! Just bring on the insults! Bring on the distress! I don’t care what other people say. I don’t care if I stay in prison. This thorn in my flesh – if this a part of the journey, I want to experience Your power.”
The Church and the world doesn’t need to see more stuff and more buildings and more religion. They need to meet Christians filled with God’s power, who are going through difficult times and have joy, who restore things when people thought there was no hope, who live with a great attitude in terrible job situations, who lose their homes or lose their businesses, or going through difficult times. And your non-Christian friends are going, “How in the world can you have a good attitude?”
And you say, “Well, it’s not easy, but God’s grace is sufficient. Would I like my home back? Would I like my business? Would I like things to work out? Am I happy that, for reasons I can’t understand, after twenty-three years, my mate decided, ‘I don’t love you anymore,’ and walked off with someone else? It’s a fallen, painful world, but the Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is my Deliverer. He’s my stronghold. And it’s in those difficult and painful times that God works, powerfully.” He was a wounded healer, and what did he do? He was honest with God.
In the next section, we learn that there’s a part of this man that never gives up the fight. He was a fierce warrior. Verse 11 he says, “Teach me Your way, LORD; lead me in a straight” or, literally, a level – “path.” In other words, “God, in all the ups, in all the downs, in all the struggles, I want You to teach me. I’m listening. I want to figure out where You’re at work, and I want to join You. Teach me and lead me.”
But then, he tells why – because he understands he’s in a battle. Look at the – “because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desires of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.” Circle the word oppressors. Circle the word foes. Circle the word false witnesses. And then, circle malicious accusations. He was a fierce warrior.
And you know what he did? He followed God. That’s how simple. He just followed God. “What’s the game plan for a king in this season? What’s the game plan for a father who has really failed? What’s Your way and Your instruction, when you’ve sinned deeply and committed adultery? What do you do when there’s prosperity everywhere?” What he was asking was, “I want to learn; I want to follow. Whatever You say, that’s what I want to do.”
The moment you say that to God, I will guarantee His will, will be almost the opposite of the entire culture coming at you, and unfortunately, opposite of most Christians. See, where there’s faith, there’s power. Where there’s praise, there’s power. Where there’s honesty admitting weakness, there’s power. And what’s he doing right here? He’s a fierce warrior, but how is he fighting? I mean, he’s won on the battlefield. What’s he doing? He’s praying: “God, teach me. God, show me.”
This is like saying, “God, show me how to figure out this software program.” “God, show me how I relate to my grown son or daughter.” “God, show me how to deal with this physical disability.” God, show me, teach me, lead me. I want to do life Your way.” It’s just following.
And as you step and follow: power, as you step and follow: power. Why do you think there are those Old Testament stories – you know, they’re at the Jordan River. When they stepped, what happened? Whoo!
Peter: “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come.” “Come.” You know, he could stand in that boat forever. He steps; he follows, asking God what He’s up to, following Him. What would happen if each of us became fierce warriors for God’s agenda and stopped asking God, “How are things going with me and for me?” and started asking, “What is Your agenda? Will You teach me? Will You lead me?”
The hope for America, it’s, as we walk out of here, filled with God’s Spirit, expecting Him to work, being passionate worshippers who take bold risks, who say, “I will follow, no matter what. I can’t do it, but in my weakness...”
And the God of heaven will choose, because He’s promised to blow the wind of life in you and me. And you will get to be the recipients of Him doing things in you that you thought were not possible, and things through you that you thought were only for superstars. But see, when He does that through ordinary people like us, and shepherd boys, who gets the credit? He does.
Finally, he was a faithful servant. In other words, he didn’t give up. He didn’t give in. Here’s what He did: He finished well. Notice what it says. He says, in verse 13, “I remain confident of this.” Now, think of all that he’s been through. He’s had a son turn on him. He’s run for his life. He’s experienced a coup. He’s been in battles. He’s been hiding in caves. He’s seen amazing prosperity. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD” – where? – “in the land of the living.”
Now, he knows he’s going to see. He wrote Psalm 23, right? He knows that goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life, and that he’s going to spend that with the Lord, forever. What he’s saying is, “I am confident, I know for sure, I’m going to experience God’s goodness.” Where’s the land of the living? That’s the right now. That’s today.
Despite the difficulty, despite the circumstances, he’s going to finish well. Why? Notice, he gives this warning: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart and wait for the LORD.” When he says, “Be strong,” you know what he’s saying to people like us? “Don’t give up. Don’t give in.” Don’t give up on that situation. Don’t give up on that person. “Take heart,” means, “Don’t be discouraged.” Don’t get inwardly focused. Endure. Persevere.
See, where there’s perspective, there’s power. David understood – think of the part of the Bible that he had. He had the first five books, and a bit more. And he could read, in Genesis, about someone named Joseph. And what David was, a worshipper and a man of faith, and what he knew is that when you step out, and God does the impossible through you, and He has a great plan, sometimes the first thing He does is, you get betrayed by people who love you. And then, after you’re betrayed, you land in a pit.
And then, He may prosper you for a while, and then, people lie about you, and you could be falsely accused of things. And then, after that, just to top it off, He’ll stick you in prison. So, you’re in the pit, then you’re in the prison, so that you can end up the second most powerful person in the world, to save an entire nation and be exalted. Because what did we learn earlier? “Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that He may lift you up.”
See, David understood the Joseph journey. What he understood was – here’s the spiritual equation: If God is absolutely sovereign, and in control of all things, if God is good – that means He has my best interests in mind – but even in a fallen world, He’s all-powerful, He will orchestrate His power, His goodness, and His wisdom in the midst of the sin and betrayal and ugliness of other people, and out of that will come His goodness in me and through me in the land of the living. And what I have to do is not bail out. Because He always does something deep in you before He does something significant through you.
Who is David? David is a shepherd boy that became a king, and he was a bold risk-taker. He was a passionate worshipper. He was a wounded healer. He was a fierce warrior. And he was a faithful servant, a servant of God. What did he do? Very simply, he trusted God, he pursued God, he was honest with God, he followed God, and he finished well.
Here’s the question I think God is probably asking all of us: Who are you going to be, and what do you do? Do you live by faith? Are you a bold risk-taker? Are you a passionate worshipper? Are you willing to be a wounded healer? Are you going to fight? Are you going to realize life isn’t fair, and you’re not a victim, but the power of Christ lives within you?
Because see, where there is faith, there’s power. Where there is praise, there’s power. Where there’s honesty, there’s power. Where there’s prayer, there’s power. And where there’s perspective, and you see the big picture, there’s the grace and power of God, for Him to unleash in you and through you His purposes for all those around you. And that’s called “breakthrough.”