The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘God Is Moving!’ preached by Pastor Michael White on Sunday, 9/9/2018, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click the arrow above.
God Is Moving
God is moving, whether you can see it or not! We all have things we’ve been praying about for years. After contending in prayer for some time, it can be tempting to give up. If we don’t see God moving in response to our prayer requests, we can get discouraged and even walk away! But I’m here this morning to tell you to hang on, because God is moving!
Our church’s Manhattan location meets in a rented space: we’ve rented the basement of a Russian Orthodox Church since 2002. Years ago, the Lord started speaking to us about owning that building. We’ve been through several rounds of the church’s Board inviting us to submit a purchase proposal, only to be told that the Board can’t come to a consensus to sell. It’s been a frustrating process to say the least. Until recently, I had all but forgotten about God’s promise to give us that building; but this week, I had a dream that reminded me: God is moving.
In my dream, the head priest at the church upstairs called me out of the blue. I had taken all plans to buy the building off the table; but he contacted me, completely unsolicited, to ask me if we were still interested in buying the building. We had a long, drawn out conversation for what seemed like hours about how to get his Board on the same page, with everyone willing to sell. Keep in mind that, throughout this whole process, this man has been our biggest opponent; yet in one moment, he had become our biggest advocate.
This was a big reminder from God to never give up on the things He has told me to hope for; to never stop praying for the things He has told me to believe for.
Even If You Don’t See it
God is moving, even if you can’t see it. He is moving, even if it doesn’t seem like it. God is moving, even if you can’t feel it!
There are two types of “words” you can receive from God:
1) The logos is God’s written word. He is speaking to you through His word. As you read through God’s word and see a promise that applies to you, your job is to receive it and appropriate it (i.e. take possession of it).
2) The rhema is God’s spoken word. He will speak to you in prayer. He will speak to you through other people. God’s Holy Spirit is moving; and when He has a message for you, He will find a way to get it to you!
Every word God gives you – whether logos or rhema – is a seed you get to plant into the ground through prayer. It may take time; but eventually that seed will sprout and start to grow. It may take time, but sooner or later the branches will begin to bud and you will start to see fruit!
Here’s where we often get confused with the words God has given us: making the seed grow fast is not your responsibility. Jesus reminded His disciples that there is an element of mystery and unpredictability to the way God’s promises unfold:
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” – Mk 4:26-29
Positioning yourself to receive God’s promise is important; but making the promise come to pass is not your responsibility!
Look at the language Jesus uses: the seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer “does not know how.” The farmer certainly has responsibilities. First, he has to leave the seed in the ground. If he digs up the seed just to make sure it’s there, he’s not going to get any fruit! If he takes the seed and continually plants it in new ground (i.e. hopping from church to church), he’s not going to get a final product. But if he leaves it in the ground, the earth – the fertile, faith-filled environment into which he has planted – will yield crops “by itself.”
The farmer also has to protect the seed. It is the farmer’s job to make sure pests don’t damage his harvest. When an animal comes in to dig up the seed, his responsibility is to take that animal out. When an animal comes to dig up what’s been planted, his responsibility is to make sure nothing happens!
In your life, the “pest” is most often Satan whispering lies into your ear. You might even have well-meaning friends and family members telling you to move on and forget about the promise! Maybe you heard wrong, they might say. Maybe that’s not for you, they might believe! But your job in those moments is to protect the seed. Keep it in the ground – in an environment of faith – so it can take root and grow!
The Wind of God
Are there areas in your life where it seems like God has stopped moving? Are there seeds God has given you to plant that seem dead in the ground?
Do you remember God’s promise to Moses?
“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’ ” – Exodus 6:6-8
He gave the promise to Moses as seed; but Moses had to protect it. When Pharaoh told Moses no, Moses had to protect it. When the people whined and complained that things were getting worse and not better, Moses had to protect it. Watch what happened when Moses brought God’s people to the edge of the Sea:
And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?”
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” – Exodus 14:10-11, 13-14
Moses knew they didn’t have to fight the Egyptians. God had already promised He – not they – would defeat them! But Moses did have to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.
And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. – Ex 14:19-20
Here is what God does as you’re waiting for His promise to unfold: He shields your vision. The Angel of God, who had been in front of God’s people, moved and went behind them. God knew His people were anxious. They were looking backward as their enemy chased them, instead of forward as God led them! So he blocked their view. He would not allow them to see the false future the enemy wanted them to believe.
I know this feeling. This past week, our 4-year-old son woke up in the middle of the night, barely breathing. My wife heard him first, and ran to help. I heard him trying to cough and catch his breath, and I was right behind her. We knew something was very wrong: he had had bronchitis before, but nothing like this. I threw on clothes, grabbed our boy, ran to the car and headed for the emergency room.
Two blocks into the drive, I pulled over and dialed 9-1-1. Our son had coughed, and couldn’t catch his breath. Cops pulled up within 60 seconds. The EMS was there one minute later. They immediately hooked him up to a nebulizer and gave him a steroid to open up his airways. The ambulance sped off, and I followed in the car.
When I was in that car, following my barely-breathing son in an ambulance, my mind tried to go to a dark place. You know exactly what I mean: in one moment, you start imagining everything that could go wrong. You start planning out the angry conversations you’re going to have with God if things don’t go your way! I had to make a decision in that moment to take my eyes off of what the enemy was doing, and put them back on what God was doing. God shielded my vision! I had to turn off the doubt and the fear, and put my eyes back on Jesus. I had to protect the seed!
When the enemy is right on your heels, don’t let your mind go into those dark places. God is going to do what He has promised to do! He will keep the promise alive.
One hour later, our son was stable and breathing well. We stayed in the emergency room overnight for observation, and headed home the following morning. God is faithful. He did everything He had promised to do. Our boy – the promise – is happy, healthy, and at home.
You see, even when God’s people didn’t see it, God was moving:
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. – Ex 14:21
Before the waters move, the wind blows. Sometimes we get so focused on the water – what has to move – that we miss the wind – what God is doing here and now. If the wind hadn’t blown, the waters wouldn’t have been divided! Are you hearing me?
God is moving. Take a moment to stop and ask Him, “Lord, what are You doing, here and now, in this moment?” Take your eyes off the waves, and open up your heart to the wind. He is moving; but if you keep focusing on what He isn’t doing, you will miss what He is doing! Don’t be so focused on seeing the water move that you can’t feel the wind blow!
So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. – Ex 14:22
God turned the problem into protection. He used the Red Sea – the very thing that seemed like it was blocking God’s people from their destiny – to protect them as they passed through on dry land. He used those same waters to annihilate the enemy.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. – Ex 14:27
God Is Moving
Through that dream, I knew God was inviting me to believe in His promise like never before. We will get that building. He will do everything He promised to do. He always has, and He always will.
I woke up from that dream and took out my prayer journal. I started writing down every area in my life where God had given me a promise. I focused on the places where it didn’t feel like He was moving. I repented for my lack of faith. I asked Him to shield my vision: to take my eyes off what the enemy was doing, and put them back on the Cross. Then I prayed, “God, help me to feel the wind.”
God is moving. Can you feel it?
© Michael D. White, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.