Sermon February 26, 2017: Flowing in the river of God
Ezekiel 47 is a wonderful chapter that begins with the place of sacrific; in chapter 47 verses 1 and 2, the river comes out of the temple, comes out of the place of sacrifice, and that’s our lives, as we give ourselves to Jesus the river begins to flow, and it talks about the river is reaching the ankles. You know: when we give our lives to Jesus how much of our lives do we actually give to Jesus? You say: Jesus you can have this much of our life.
You know: when you walk in a river there’s only this height of your pants you need to lift up and then you can walk anywhere, but then it says that the river rises up to the knees, this is the river of God. You know brothers and sisters, there is a river of this world and there is a river of the Spirit, the river of this world makes you want money, you want things, all this kind of things, more and more things.
You know: one time when I was in college I was in sociology class and the professor asked this question: what people in America commit suicide at a higher ratio than other groups? I said prostitutes, he said no, drug addicts, he said no, we kept asking and he said: no, no, no, then he surprises us all. He says: per capita millionaires are the ones that commit suicide at a higher rate than any other group of people. So we spend our whole life trying to become that and when we get there we find that there’s nothing there, and then we hear Jesus calling us, asking us: would you go and share your faith with your neighbor? would you go and talk to somebody about Me? and we go: no, I’m gonna do what I wanna do.
You know: it’s interesting, I was in New York City at one time and this guy came up, and he was trying to sell me drugs, I said: no I’m not interested, I’m a christian, he said: God bless you brother, I said: what? he said: I am a christian too, you know so many people say I love God but do we love Him to the point we obey Him? Jesus said: if you love Me you will obey Me, and that’s not only in twenty verses, it’s in the whole Bible. The first command that Jesus gave to the New Testament Church was come and follow me, and you will become fisher of men.
But the Church has a sickness, it’s a terrible sickness, it’s called that the whole Church suffers, it’s called the SDI sickness. Christians get Saved, then they get Delivered, and then they get Isolated.
You know: after 18 months after someone becomes a christian they have no meaning for relations with non-christians, we become an isolated group in society, we simply relate with each other while there are lost people among us and we just ignore them, we just don’t have a vision, I can’t help Lord there’s too many! but then the river comes up to your knees and gets too strong for you to do your own thing, and you begin to flow in the river of God. And all of a sudden fruit comes out of your life, people coming to Jesus, people getting delivered of their sin and you discover something: the adventures of God, the adventures of God.
You know: if you only do your own thing you’ll never find these adventures, you’ll never find the Lord of the harvest, you’ll never find the warrior Jesus. I wanna tell you: the Lord of the harvest is marvelous but until you go into the river you are never going to find Him, you are not going to find Him here.
Jesus left the 99 to go and find the lost one, Jesus left the 99 to go after the one, then the river begins to flow and you say: yes God, I’m gonna go look for that person. And you know: God is looking, He’s looking for that person to obey Him in anything, He has adventures for you that you know nothing about, He has ministry for you that you know nothing about. But when you begin to flow in the Spirit you discover that it’s wonderful to serve Jesus!
I love Church but if it was only about the Church I would get bored after a while, I’d be bored after a while, I love Church but I also love to reach the lost, I love to introduce Jesus to them. Brothers and sisters: do you know anything that I’m talking about? Would you like to stay in that sickness or would you like to get out of it? how many want to get out of the SDI sickness? yeah I want to get out of that.
As we continue to read this chapter we see the river rising and rising, and wonderful things are coming into the river and into the person’s life, I know this Pastor pours wonderful, wonderful things in you but then we run into a problem here, there’s a swamp. A swamp is where the water flows in but there’s no outlet so water gets stuck, so even though it’s good water it gets stuck and then it starts to stink, it starts to get nasty. Who would want to drink out of the swamp, is there someone here that likes to drink out of the swamp? What happens to people who are swamps? depression, self-anger, frustration, a lack of fulfillment in your life, all these things are true about swamps. There’s a show on tv called Swamp people, you don’t wanna be a swamp, you want that river to flow, you wanna say: yes to Jesus, but God I’m afraid.
You know: one time general William Booth was at his daughter’s house, this man started the salvation army, and his daughter said: father can you just relax for a little bit? sit in the chair, relax for a while, he was living in London at the time. All of a sudden in that time of relaxing he saw orphan children walking by him, London at that time was such a chaos that it was full of orphans, they were like slaves subject to their masters, the churches, their hands were down, it was too big of an issue for the church to handle.
And God said: William, I will give you the strength to reach out to these children, I will give you the strategy to reach these children, I will give you the means to reach these children, surely after that he began to fund many orphanages throughout England and all of a sudden he found himself reaching about a hundred thousand children. London began to change, the spirit of that city began to change because one man sat in front of God and he listened to His command.
You know: at the same time he was doing this in London there was another man there and this man decided to start communism, and that was his answer for London, communism never worked but Jesus works.
And when you think about this like, you are sitting in your chair right now and the Spirit of God is looking at you, and He’s trying to discern if you are going to obey Him or not, He has a plan for you, He has a purpose for you, but He is waiting for you to sit in front of Him. And you could say: sorry God I’m too busy, I don’t have time to obey, and He goes: oh if you knew all the adventures I have for you, oh if you ever knew the joy of My Presence.
I will tell you a secret: I find a greater presence of God on the street than I do on the Church. You know: at one time I was in Germany and God spoke to me in the middle of taking a bite, He said: I want you to go the prostitutes of Frankfurt, my wife was sitting next to me, I said to myself: I wonder if she’s open to this thought, I said: Debbie God told me to go to the prostitutes, she said: of course you need to go! so I went to the leader, I said: I’m supposed to go to the prostitutes, he said: you are a man of God, if you heard it from God then you should go, I asked him: would you go with me? he said: no!
So I took three people with me, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, so I went downtown in Frankfurt, I was there in front of a house of prostitution, I said: God, how am I going to know what You want me to do in this place, He said: go inside, I said: okay God! I know every demon in hell are going to jump over me, I stepped inside and I wanna tell you before God: I stepped into the presence of heaven itself. I saw Jesus, I saw angels beside Him and I saw heaven, inside a house of prostitution.
I went inside and sometimes there were nine men in a single room but God gave me a Scripture on the way there, in Proverbs chapter 6 warning people about going to the prostitutes and how their end would be hell itself so I began to talk to these men, one said: how do you like the scenery? I said: no, no, I’m a man of God, I’m gonna read you the Scriptures that talks about the judgment that comes to the men that go to these women. One of these guys started shaking, I said: this is fornication, he ran out of the place. Then I kept going from house to house ministering hundreds of men, I saw men from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, all over Asia come to Jesus in the houses of prostitution.
And then I went to this one door, there was a girl, I said: do you speak english? she said: yes, I said: God wants to set you free, she started crying, just unbelievably crying, I said: why are you crying so much? other girls came, they thought I was beating her up, they said: what are you doing to her!? I said: I told her that God wants to set you free. So they said: come into our room.
So here’s Pastor Doug with six prostitutes preaching the Gospel, and the Spirit of God fell in that room and then one girl said this, she said: sir I got a story to tell you, three days ago I cried out to God, I said: if You are real send a man of God to my door, wow!
And I know the Lord looked over all of Germany and said: who is crazy enough to take over this job? He said: Doug is here! I used to do all these things for the devil so why not do them for God now?
The next day I took ninety christian to the houses of prostitution, over two months we ministered at the houses of prostitution, hundreds and hundreds of men and women came to Christ, we hired a special taxi, the girls would get right out on the taxi and we would take them to the german countryside to minister them.
One day they threatened my life, the man who holds the house of prostitution said: if you come here tomorrow we will kill you, so I decided it was time for a new strategy, I thought: God will give me the strategy I need. So He told me: Look at Psalms 150, it talks about praising God and when you praise the Lord He sends an ambush against the enemy, He will bind his hands and bind his feet.
So we had two teams, we had a praise team, your job is to praise God as long as we are in the house of prostitution, so they would stay out and sing and we would go in and preach, once again, hundreds and hundreds of people came to Christ. The Church in Frankfurt was strengthened, woman after woman were set free.
One day two men came up, one came to this house of prostitution, the other came to this one and this one began to curse me, my translator said: I’m not going to translate that, you don’t want to know what they are telling you, this man got into the car here, this man got into the car over here and they would stare at me and curse me, and ran into each other, I said: God, what is going on?
And He reminded me of the Prophet in the Old Testament who stood with an entire army in front of him, and the other men said: what are we going to do? and he said: Lord open his eyes, his eyes were open and the army of God was everywhere, the army of God was everywhere!
And so you know, we kept going in because God said: I have set confusion in the enemy’s camp, and if you remember that story He blinded the entire army, they couldn’t see where they were, they couldn’t see their way, and that’s what happened in Frankfurt. The enemy was blinded and he didn’t know what to do! and so we took the land for Jesus, we took the land for Jesus.
What have you done for Jesus? What adventure awaits you, what have you done for Christ? Oh brothers and sisters we could be all day here I could tell you stories just like this one all day, my wife can tell you, because as you go into the river and God speaks to you it can be the craziest request! and you have to say yes to Him, Boston needs Jesus okay? Boston needs Jesus.
You know: I have been in Boston 10 years already, I live in Summerville on Winterhill, we are Youth of the Mission Boston, we just saw in the last 10 and a half years twenty eight thousand people come to Christ. So you know why so many people in Boston aren’t receiving Jesus? because nobody is telling them, would you agree? You see, if you don’t tell your schoolmate about Jesus it’s on you, if you work all day and you don’t tell people about Jesus it’s your problem.
Earlier in my life I used to work in western Pensylvania, I was a steel worker, I didn’t know Christ, I was miserable, I was a carpenter in the steel mill and I almost committed suicide that year but I came to know Christ and He changed my life, so I began to volunteer for Billy Graham’s campaigns, and I was in a training for counselors, I was training all the counselors, and this one man came to me. He said: Doug how you doing? I used to work with you at the steel mill! I said: oh thank God you became a christian, he said: no! I was a christian all along, I said: I’m gonna kill you! you are an idiot, I was going to kill myself, I was in the worst time of my life and you never spoke to me about Jesus, why didn’t you say anything?
He said: I don’t know, I said: you are not my friend, walk away from me, I never want to see you again. Could somebody say that to you tomorrow? Can somebody come up to you and tell you: you know you have been around me all this time and you never spoke to me about Jesus, can your neighbors or schoolmates or work mates tell you that?
You see: Jesus wants us to obey Him, the first command, I will make you fishers of men, the last command: go into all the roads and preach the Gospel to all men, and then the last thing He said before He leaves this Earth is: you will be filled with the Spirit so you can be witnesses in Jerusalen, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth. Why did He give you the Spirit? to be His witnesses, amen?
He said in Jerusalen, I can see myself going, Jerusalen is easy man, I can go there, it’s easy, then He said Judea, wait a minute we don’t talk to gentiles, that’s Judea and gentiles, and then He says: Samaria, wait a minute we actually hate samaritans, and then He says: go to the ends of the Earth.
So if you look from Acts chapter 1 until Acts chapter 8 there’s about 30 years that have passed, the Church never left Jerusalen, for thirty years they were stuck in Jerusalen because they were having a good time! Why would they want to leave Jerusalen? the Spirit is moving, people being added to the Church lately, my family is here, my house is here, my job is here, why would I go? maybe because God commanded you to go?
So in Acts 8:1 and 2 it says: “Great persecution came up against the Church, they went from house to house and dragged them out of the house, and they killed many of them, they raped women and they were scattered” and the Bible says they were scattered in Judea and Samaria. Wait a minute, didn’t He tell you to go there like thirty years ago, and you listened to Him? now a lot of you are dead, your homes are destroyed, you are a mess, but it’s interesting what they did.
And in the fourth verse it says that they began to preach in those places where they were scattered. You see: God loves everybody and He wants us to go, and those that don’t go get depression, the lack of fulfillment, they look at my children and they say: why is it my children aren’t obeying God? well because you aren’t obeying God, you are not telling others about Jesus, and then you see the children’s life and you see the children going in one or another direction, and you say: what did I do wrong?
By God’s grace I can say my children are all on fire for Jesus, their husbands and wives are on fire for Jesus, my fifteen grandchildren are on fire for Jesus because my wife and I always said: yes Lord. I have had adventures in forty five countries of the world, I snuggled bibles in China, I got caught, they took my passport, four men had machine guns pointing right at me and I said: God this is a good time for You to help me, and He gave me an idea.
There was a guy selling ice cream so I said to the guy who was harassing me: it’s so hot today, it’s so hot isn’t it? I had bibles in my suit, there was a hundred degrees and I had a suit on, and I said: I want some ice cream, I said: I got like fifty dollars, I will buy all the guards ice cream, he said: let’s do it! so I took them over to the ice cream place and while we were having an ice cream the rest of my team put in one thousand and five hundred bibles.
I want you to have those adventures, I want you to come into the river, I want you to find the Lord of the harvest, can you say amen? If you want to say yes to Jesus, I want to obey God and sure, I’m gonna give your Pastor a whole bunch of DVDs from the Billy Graham organization, these are evangelistic DVDs tremendously done, thirty minutes long, I want to ask your Pastor to give them to you, you give them to your neighbor and they will be saved just by watching them.
We are going to put tools in your hands, there are so many great apps now that we are showing to your Pastor, there’s a phone app I have in my phone that has all the language in the world with the Bible and the Jesus film, if you run into someone that doesn’t speak in your language you tell them: here, watch this and it will put it in their language, we are going to put tools in your hands, we wanna use a site called bible.is, so if you are talking to someone who is from India and he doesn’t speak english guess what, it’s in their language.
The Jesus film is in your phone, there’s a short version for children, show them that one, the other one is too long, show them to believers, the children’s version brothers and sisters will convert them, they will get saved through it. Once I showed it to thirty people from Nepal and all of them said: we wanna serve Jesus, we want to put these tools in your hands, amen? Do you want to join the army of the great commission?
Well what we are going to do is sing a song right now called: take courage, and while you sing that song take courage. If you want to say yes, I’m gonna join the army, I don’t want to be a swamp no more, I want the river to flow in and I want it to flow out, then guess what: when you let the river flow your heart gets bigger, you get more love, you get more joy, you get more peace, you have the ability to preach to more people so more water can come in and more water can come in, and all of a sudden you have a fruit in your life everytime you look at it, there will be fruit coming out.