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All to You
Matthew 11:1-11
Nate Heitzig

Matthew 11 (NKJV™)
1 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples
3 and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"
4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
5 "The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 "And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me."
7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
8 "But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.
9 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.
10 "For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'
11 "Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

New King James Version®, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

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War is Over, The

In times of difficulty, we tend to ask God, "Why am I going through this? Is this really Your will for my life?" We expect God to solve all our problems, when really He wants to use the problems to work on us. In this message, Nate Heitzig explains that though external difficulties can lead to internal doubts, God refocuses us by giving us eternal direction.

As Battledrums releases its debut album, The War Is Over, we take a look at these songs and how they apply to our life as we live in victory over sin. Join Skip Heitzig in celebrating these songs and what they symbolize for our Christian walk. The war is over--Christ has won!

FREE - Download Entire Series (MP3) (Help) | Buy series

Outline

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  1. External Difficulty

  2. Internal Doubt

  3. Eternal Direction

Study Guide

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Connect Group Recap: August 30, 2015
Teacher: Nate Heitzig
Teaching: All to You
Text: Matthew 11:1-11

Path

One of the top help-related searches on Google is "help with math." When you have a tough time with math, do you quit, pretend you know what you’re doing, cheat—or do you humble yourself and raise your hand for help? This has a spiritual tie-in: we need to humble ourselves and reach out to the Lord in our trials. Nate’s path through Matthew 11:1-11 was:
    1. External Difficulty

    2. Internal Doubt

    3. Eternal Direction
Points

External Difficulty (vv. 1-2)
  • External difficulties lead to internal doubts, but God refocuses us by giving us eternal direction.
  • Many have an unrealistic idea of what faith is. Faith means that you trust God no matter what is given to you, believing that He has your best interests in mind.
  • God will give you what you need, not always what you want.
  • Probe: Has there been a time when you felt God didn’t help you? Like John, did the tragedy of the moment lead you to an unrealistic idea of what faith is?
Internal Doubt (v. 3)
  • Doubt and unbelief are not the same thing: doubt is birthed in the mind and sown by circumstances; unbelief is birthed in the heart and sown by will. John experienced doubt, not unbelief.
  • Life is full of interruptions, but our interruptions are God’s opportunities.
  • Our objections to how things are going in life are God’s qualifications of demonstrating His will and ways.
  • We need to stop looking at our problems through the lens of interruption and look at them through the lens of opportunity.
  • Probe: Has there been a time when doubt consumed you? How did God show His will in the midst of the doubt?
Eternal Direction (vv. 5-6)
  • In response to external difficulty and internal doubt, Jesus responded with eternal direction, pointing people to Scripture.
  • The most powerful tool we have in times of difficulty and doubt is Scripture. In those times, train yourself to take your eyes off the pain and place them on the promise of God’s Word.
  • Life is like a fairytale: bad things happen, but every fairytale ends happily. Scripture promises us the ultimate fairytale life—tragedy and pain along the way, but a happy ending in heaven with God forever, void of tragedy, pain, difficulty, and doubt.
  • As you experience external difficulty that leads to internal doubt, remember your eternal direction and turn your interruptions into opportunities.
  • Probe: How has Scripture been a source of comfort and truth in the midst of trials in your life? How has the Bible proved to be a source of promise in the midst of pain?
Practice

Connect Up: How do trials lead you closer to God? How have trials refined your faith and trust in the Lord? Share your own experience.

Connect In: When someone in the body of Christ is going through a trial, how do you respond? What Scriptures do you share to encourage them? Keep in mind that the Scriptures God uses to help you will speak more sincerely to those you share with.

Connect Out: We live in a world full of pain and suffering. How can Christians show the love of God in a world out of whack? Discuss a time when you personally reached out to an unbeliever with the love of God. How did the person respond? Were you encouraged or discouraged? If the former, reflect on what went well. If the latter, was there anything you could have done differently?

Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to this teaching from Calvary Albuquerque. We're excited to hear from our special guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig, as he continues our series called "The War is Over," which celebrates the songs from our worship team Battledrum's debut album now available on iTunes, Google Play, and at battledrumsmusic.com.

In this series we examine what these songs symbolize for our Christian walk. If this message deepens your love for Jesus, we'd love to hear about it. Email us at mystory@calvaryabq.org. We invite you to open your Bibles to Matthew chapter 11 as Nate begins the message "All to You."

[MUSIC PLAYING BATTLEDRUMS, "ALLTO YOU"]

Lord God, we come before you right now, and as we open up your word, we do so with hearts that are ready to hear. Lord, each and every one of us has our own story, things that we've gone through, and we believe you have something to speak into our story, Lord. You have something to say to each one of us individually and as a group. And so right now, we open up our hearts and our minds and we invite you in this place to reveal truth to us, God, and to change us from the inside out. In your name we pray, Amen.

Hey, let me ask you a question. Who in here has ever been in a place in life where everything seems to be going your way, everything's perfect? The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. The grass is green. And then all of a sudden, without notice, the bottom drops out and everything goes wrong. It comes out of nowhere. It hits you like a freight train-- pain and tragedy. You weren't expecting it, and when it came, it took you by surprise. Possibly the death of a loved one, maybe the loss of your health, maybe you got fired from your job that you'd had for 20 years, possibly a divorce. Has anyone ever felt like God has failed you? Have you ever asked this question, why would God want me to go through this? Has anyone ever asked that question before?

You guys are the most honest service, but I think there's still a lot of people in here who have charmed lives if that's the case. I think it's OK to be honest and admit that we can love Jesus Christ, we can have a relationship with him, and at times we can still ask that question, Lord, why would you want me to go through this? This doesn't seem like your plan. This doesn't seem like your will for my life.

We as a nation are on a mad dash to find help, to find direction for our difficulties. We want to help with our finances. The US Census Bureau shows a total of 108,592,000 Americans that are on some kind of government welfare. People want help with their physical image. There are an estimated 15.6 million cosmetic surgical procedures performed each year. People want help with everything. The US self-help market is worth $9.8 billion, and on Amazon there 369,393 books under the topic of self-help.

If you type the word into Google, "help", right now you will get 7,000,310 results. And the top results in order are "help with math"-- that's a big one, "help with rent", and "help with anxiety." I find it fascinating that the number one thing that people search for is help with math. That's funny to me. And I think it's got some spiritual tie-ins as well. And I'm not talking about some kind of like, math and the Messiah, numbers in the Bible kind of a meaning there. What I'm talking about is in a very simple way, I think, in a very simple way, math has some spiritual tie-in.

What do I mean? Well, when you're a kid and you're in class and you're having a tough time with a math problem, what do you do? Well, you've got four options the way I see it. Number one, you can quit. You can decide you're not going to do that math problem. I don't care how long it takes that horse to beat the train to get to the city. I don't care about that. I'm going to throw this math problem away. You can quit and get a bad grade. You can cheat and end up getting expelled. You can pretend that you know what you're doing and then just get the wrong answer. You want your friends to think that you know the right answer. So you pretend that you're doing a good job, and they all look at you and say, man, he must really have the right answer. But all the while, you're just faking it. You're still going to get an F. Or you can do the most logical thing. You can humble yourself, raise your hand, and get help from the teacher.

You know, life is a lot like a math test. When problems come your way, when difficulties come your direction, you have four options. You can either quit and never move forward. You can pretend that you know what the right direction is and end up in the wrong place. You can try and cheat your way through life, but that'll only get you so far. Or you can humble yourself, reach out and give it all to the only one who can help you. Life is like a math problem. Yet some of us are too proud to raise our hand to ask for help. We're too proud to come to God to give it all to him. I don't know what it is, but some people feel like they have to know the answers to everything. They feel like they've got to have it all together. And if they ever admit, if they're ever honest that they don't know the right answer, they feel like that's a sign of failure.

Do you realize that the most basic principle, the fundamental truth of being a Christian is recognizing that we don't have it all together? That's the first thing we have to do before we can ask Jesus Christ to come into our lives is to admit that we're messed up, to admit that we don't have all the answers, to admit that we don't understand everything within this life. And oftentimes, when it comes to our own problems in life, we expect God to just solve our problems.

Another similarity to a math problem-- when you raise your hand up and you ask the teacher for help, does the teacher come and give you the answer? No, not usually. If she's a good teacher or he's a good teacher, they won't do that. They'll help you solve the problem. They'll give you the knowledge you need to do it on your own. They won't just solve the problem for you because then you don't learn anything. And oftentimes in our own lives, we expect God to come and solve the problems, to solve the equations. We expect God to put our problems into check. But the reality is that oftentimes, God wants to put our emotions into check. God wants to put us into check.

Well, today we're going to see that external difficulties lead to internal doubts. But God re-focuses us by giving us eternal direction. Turn to Matthew chapter 11, verse 1 and let's read the text together.

"Now it came to pass when Jesus finish commanding his 12 disciples that he departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to him, are you the coming one or should we look for another? Jesus answered and said to them, go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see, and the lame walk. The lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear. The dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, what did you go out into the wilderness to see-- a read shaken by the wind? Or what did you go into the wilderness to see-- a man clothes in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in King's houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes. I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, 'Behod, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' Assuredly I say to you among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist. But he is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

The first thing that we see here in our story, the first thing that strikes us is external difficulties. And in order to understand this, we've got to understand the life of John a little bit. John was going through some hard times. John had put it all on the line for Jesus. Having announced Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God, John baptized him publicly in the Jordan River, and said to all those who were watching, he must increase, and I must decrease. He publicly told all of his followers and disciples, hey, follow him now. Stop following me. He had put his reputation at stake. He had put his livelihood at stake. He had put everything that he had in the truth that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

And not long after he did that, John was imprisoned, imprisoned for his bold preaching and specifically concerning his outspoken disapproval of Herod's love life. Let's be honest. Not very many of us like relationship advice, do we? We don't like being told that the person that we're with isn't the right person for us. We don't like being told that by somebody that's close to us. And the same is true for Harold. And Harold had a pretty messed up love life, and he had a temper. You know, Herod's relationship life looked like, if Game of Thrones and Jerry Springer had a TV baby, that was Herod's love life. I mean, it was messed up.

Herod's particular love that he had was a lady named Herodias, which is a weird name anyways. Herodias was married to Herod's brother Philip when Herod laid his lustful eyes on her. And she was the daughter of another half-brother of Herod, making Herod's love interest his niece sister-in-law. That's really messed up.

Well, John boldly and publicly called Herod out, and he was promptly thrown into prison. So that's where we're at now in this story. John, the quintessential REI guy was taken from his camping lifestyle and thrown into a dungeon. He went from Into the Wild to The Green Mile, from Survivor to Shawshank. He had a radical change of circumstances. And we find him here in this story in a dungeon that's little more than a pit.

Man, who's ever been in that place? Everything seems to be going well. Your life looks the way it should be. You're doing what you love. And then at some point, somehow, something happens and you find yourself in a dungeon, a proverbial pit, where you don't know how you got there. You can't believe that this would be God's plan for your life. You don't understand why God would want you here, how can God use you here. And that external difficulty that you experience in your life begins to bring internal doubt. The external difficulties plague you, and you begin to question the promises of God.

No doubt John thought that this was only temporary. He probably thought that what he had done for Jesus meant that he was first on the list to be personally rescued by Jesus, Lambo-style, that Jesus was going to come in like Liam Neeson with a particular set of skills. He was going to rescue him, and they were going to be on the first train to Galilee sipping mojitos on the shore. He probably thought that he was due for a change, that this wasn't the way his life was going to end. I find that when pain and tragedy strikes our life, as long as it's only for a little bit, we can have faith in God. We can have faith in God as long as it's only temporary. But what happens when pain becomes you? When pain and tragedy no longer is just something that you're going through, it's who you are? When heartache isn't just part of your life, when heartache becomes your life?

Things change. Your perspective changes when pain is no longer temporary. See, John had a plan, but John's plan wasn't God's plan. And here we see John is basically crying out to the Lord by sending his disciples to Jesus, saying Lord, why haven't you helped me? And it's a fair question for John to ask. And sometimes, our external difficulty can lead to internal doubt, and we can ask the same thing. When tragedy hits the life of a godly man or woman, and we say, Lord, why? When a young child dies or someone gets cancer, we can say why? Why did God do this to me? What's the holdup here, Jesus? What kind of method are you using here? Lord, why haven't you helped me?

You know, some of us believe that the Bible promises us a utopian lifestyle. And many of us have an unrealistic idea of what faith is. Look, faith doesn't mean that we can trust God for all the stuff we want, and he is somehow obliged to give it to us when we trust in him. The concept of the faith the size of a mustard seed wasn't in reference to a Ferrari. Faith means that you trust God no matter what is given to you, believing that he has your best intentions in mind. Faith doesn't mean trusting that God will give you what you want. Faith really comes into play when God gives you what you don't want, when God gives you what you weren't looking for, when God gives you something that you'd prefer to live without. That's when true faith comes into play, trusting that God has a plan, that God has a purpose, and trusting that there is going to be a purpose through the pain.

A lot of us want to trust that God will give us what we want, but we don't trust that what God has given us is what we need. And I think if more of us lived life with that kind of principle, that what God has given us, despite how painful, despite how difficult it is, that what God has given us is what we need, I think it would change the outlook and the perspective that we have on pain. That's easy to say, but it's hard to do, isn't it? And you know you're not alone in that? Even some of the most spiritual people have days of doubt. People that we find in Hebrews' Hall of Faith dealt with extreme bouts of doubt and depression. Even though they knew the truth, they still dealt with it. Moses almost turned in his resignation letter as he listened to the complaints of Israel and said, I am not able to bear all these people alone because the burden is too heavy for me. If you treat me like this, please kill me now. Whoa, Mo, that's a pretty extreme resignation letter. Elijah wanted to commit suicide by deity after Mount Carmel, and Jezebel sent him death threats. He became discouraged, uncertain, and doubtful. And he said in I Kings 19, "take my life." Paul was discouraged as well when he said, "we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even life."

Have you ever felt like that? You despair even life? Maybe it doesn't mean that you're going to actually commit suicide, but maybe it means that when you wake up in the morning, you wish that you wouldn't have. You wake up and you wish that life wasn't real anymore. You walk around feeling like a zombie, trying to put on some fake form of a smile to make people think that you're OK. But you're dead inside. Inside you're broken. Inside you're dying. And you're so tired of feeling that way internally that some mornings, you wake up and you just wish that pain wasn't just internal, but it was external as well, and that it could just be the end. If you've felt that way, if you're feeling that way today, you're in good company. Because there's some great men of faith in the Bible who felt that way as well. So you're not the only one. And if you're here right now and it feels like your life is plagued with difficulty, then today's the day to give it all to God. You know, if there's one thing that's true that we all have in common, it's that we have all experienced pain. My pain might be different than your pain. Your pain might be different than her pain or his pain, but we've all experienced pain. We've all experienced external difficulty.

And now we see that John's external difficulty has led to internal doubt as we see our second point, internal doubt. Look at verse three. Verse three, John sends his disciples to Jesus, and they said to him, "are you the coming one, or do we look for another?" Are you the coming one, or do we look for another? Now, this coming from the guy who has said not too long ago, that this guy's the Lamb of God, that he must increase, that I must decrease. And now we see some internal doubt coming into play. Now first, we need to understand that doubt and unbelief are not the same thing. A lot of us think that it's the same, that having doubt means that you don't believe in God. But they're not the same. Doubt is burst in the mind and sown by circumstances, i.e. we cannot understand what God is doing and why he is doing it. And so those circumstances bring a seed of doubt into our mind. Unbelief is birthed in the heart and sown by will. It's an entirely different thing. It's refusing to believe God's word. It's refusing to obey what he tells us to do. One is birthed in the mind. One is birthed in the heart. One is sown by circumstances. One is sown by a willful unbelief. And for John, this question to Jesus was not rooted in willful unbelief, but it was founded in doubt, nourished by physical and emotional strain-- and let's be honest, rightfully so. A year and a half of solitude and despair had passed without any news of hope. There was no followers of Jesus coming to John, saying, hey, John, you're going to be out of here soon. Jesus is on the move. Pretty soon, he's going to overthrow Herod. We've got this plan. It's a heist. We're going to come in here. We're going to break you out. Things are going to get better. Things are going to change. No news-- only despair, only pain.

Isn't it interesting how time and difficulty changes our trust and dependence on God? Time and difficulty changes our trust and dependence. Not only did Jesus not depose and dethrone Rome, but Jesus was dining and drinking with sinners and Sadducees. I can imagine the conversations that John had with his disciples. So, so what's going on? Did he overthrow Rome already? Is he in Jerusalem? Is he on his way? Well, no, not really, John. Well, what's he doing? He's having parties with tax collectors. He's hanging out with Sadducees and talking about being born again. Wait, you mean, the guys that I was preaching out against in the desert-- he's hanging out with those people? Yeah, like a lot of them. And they're all coming to him, and their lives are being changed and transformed. But he's not ruling and reigning.

John probably looked at that and said, Jesus, what's going on? What you're supposed to be doing, you're not doing. And instead, you're hanging out with all these people that you shouldn't be hanging out with. And he began to question, not only who God was, but he began to question God's role and God's job. And the same happens in our life. When something happens in our life that we think shouldn't happen, and when things don't happen that we think should happen, we say, God, what's up? You're missing your cues. You're missing your marks. You're not doing your job. These things aren't supposed to happen in my life. This is supposed to happen in my life. I'm not supposed to get cancer. I'm supposed to have a cush life. And we can begin to question God's role and his job within our life.

Things were not happening according to John's 10-year plan. Instead of saving for his retirement, he was about to be retired by the angry side of an ax. How can this be God's plan? You know, how easily could John have reasoned from Isaiah 61 that Isaiah said, "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, to release them from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes." How easily could John have said, Lord, where is the freedom for the captives-- especially me? Lord, where is the release of prisoners from Herod? Where's the crown of beauty for God's chosen people? Why don't I have my crown yet, Jesus?

How easily could John have looked at that and began to doubt Jesus? See, John, as well as the other disciples and the majority of Israel, had a misinterpretation of scripture. They didn't understand that before the Messiah could reign as a Savior, he would first suffer and die as a sacrifice. As the Bible says, "there could be no forgiveness without the shedding of blood." After the cross and the Resurrection, they understood, but not before. Now let's not be too quick to criticize because we can do the exact same thing when we come to God and say, doesn't Jesus want me to be happy? Doesn't Jesus promise to give me the desires of my heart, not realizing that the desires are supposed to be his desires? Or we say things like, doesn't God promise to give me a future and a hope, not realizing that the future and the hope is Heaven? That's why it's called a future and a hope, not a right now and a hope. Or when we say things like, doesn't God promise that all things work together for good, again not realizing that the good is glorification of believers, i.e. Heaven?

How easy is it for us to look at scripture and misinterpret it in a way that fits us being angry with God for not getting the things that we think we should have? But it's easy to think that the kingdom should be now, and it's easy thing that that kingdom should be in the form of a six-figure salary, a six-bedroom house, and a 600 horsepower car. Uh-oh, that's a few too many sixes, I think. Thanks, Chuck Missler. It's easy for us to have a plan of what life is supposed to look like. And I believe that one of the key reasons that people doubt is because of a misinterpretation of scripture. When we misinterpret scripture, it causes us to doubt promises that God never made in the first place.

I was talking to a lady on Shock Therapy Live, a show that I do on Star 88. And this lady called in sobbing. She had been sick for 13 years, and she had experienced pain every day for those 13 years of her life. And she was at a place of utter brokenness, despair. And she began to tell us her story that 13 years ago when she got sick, she was watching a pastor on TBN who said that if she sent him money, she'd be healed. And so she began to send every cent that she had to these pastors that she was watching on TV.

And over the course of 13 years, she sent over $56,000 until she had no money at all. Instead of using her money to pay for medical procedures, she was sending her money. And whenever she called the pastors and say, hey, it's not working, the pastors would tell her, it's because you don't have enough faith. If you give us more money, we'll give you faith, to the point where she drove all the way to California and said, I have faith. I have faith. Why isn't it working? I believe that God can heal me.

And so she called us on the telephone saying, I believe that God can heal me. I believe it. I know it's true. What's wrong with my faith? Why isn't my faith working? And it was so painful to have to explain to her and tell her that the men that she had been listening to were liars, that they weren't ambassadors, they weren't prophets, but they were a pit of vipers, and that they were spreading lies into her life and making her believe things that God never promised.

It's why it's so important to interpret the scripture correctly. And not only does that break my heart, but it makes me so angry that there are pastors who are preaching lies that they put in the form of truth to make people believe certain things, to make people do certain things, not realizing that they're held to a higher standard, not realizing that by saying these things, it's not just taking people's money, but by saying these things, it's causing people to doubt God and possibly turn to unbelief, and that by saying these things, they can actually be responsible for someone ending up in hell because they can get to a place where if they don't believe one truth of God, they don't believe any truths of God. And they run away completely.

That's why it's not only important that we're plugged into a Bible teaching church, but that we ourselves are students of scripture, that we ourselves know the Bible and study the word of God. Look, don't believe everything that's said from this pulpit just because it's said from this pulpit. Be as the Bereans, testing all things, testing the truth. It's not just true because someone says it. It's only true if it's in God's word and if it's in accordance with the rest of scripture. Be a student of scripture. Study the Bible for yourself. Now, we're blessed with a great church and with a great pulpit, and I believe Skip Heitzig, my dad, is the best Bible teacher in the country. But just because something is said, don't take it as truth. Study it for yourself. Study the scriptures. Because as we study the promises of scriptures, if they're interpreted correctly, it will give you hope, not despair. And if the promises of scripture are giving you despair, there's probably something wrong with your interpretation of the scripture.

Sometimes we get this fool-proof theory of how the prophetic puzzle is going to come into play for our lives and we say, well, God, why wouldn't you want me to marry Harry Styles or Megan Fox? Why wouldn't you want me to make six figures by the time I'm 25? Why wouldn't you want me to live in a mansion? Why wouldn't you want me to have a finely manicured hedge of protection around my house? And then something happens to foil it. And I call those interruptions. It's an interruption to our plan. And when interruptions come, we get angry at God. And some even get their faith hurt because God didn't do it the way you thought he would. And perhaps, that's your story this morning. Perhaps you're grappling with doubt right now. Remember, Christian, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Don't believe me? Just as Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Peter in prison, Martha. Despite the interruptions to their plans, they had faith. And it's not over until it's over. Just ask Frank Reich and the 1993 Buffalo Bills. Somebody's going to Google that after this and understand what I said. When difficulty tackles you on the field of life, don't sit on the sidelines, thinking about how things should have gone, pick up the ball and run the race. Because it's not over until it's over, and with Jesus, there's always another do-over. So stop looking at what happened and start looking at what's happening. Turn your fear into faith because God wants to turn your interruption into an opportunity, an opportunity to show himself strong on your behalf.

You know, the Bible's filled with stories of Jesus turning interruptions into opportunities. God taking interruptions and using them as an opportunity to show himself strong. When Elijah was confronted with the profits of Baal, it was an interruption. But to God, it was an opportunity. When Moses led the people to a dead end at the Red Sea, it was an interruption. But to God, it was an opportunity. When Jesus Christ was unexpectedly taken captive, beaten, and crucified, it was an interruption to the disciples. But to God, it was an opportunity. Your interruptions are God's opportunities, Christian. Do you believe it? I'm not promising that your interruption will lead to deliverance. It didn't for John. But what I am promising you is that your interruption will always lead to an opportunity if you view it through the eyes of the promise, instead of through the eyes of the pain. Your objections are God's qualifications. When you are unexpectedly interrupted by a phone call with devastating news, it's an opportunity for God. When you are interrupted by losing your job without notice, it's an opportunity for God. When you or someone you love get interrupted with a bad news phone call from a doctor, it's an opportunity for God. And it's time to stop doubting the interruptions and start trusting the opportunities. Stop looking at your problems through the lens of interruption and start looking at your problems through the lens of opportunity. So that you can say, like Joseph, at the end of your life, what you meant for evil against me, God meant for good.

Let's now look at our last point and see how God turned this interruption into an opportunity as we see our third point, eternal direction. Look at verse five. Jesus' response to John. "Go tell John these things, the blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of me." Jesus now responds with eternal direction. The most powerful tool we have in times of difficulty and doubt is scripture.

And what Jesus does is reference the Old Testament prophecies proving that he is the Messiah-- Isaiah 29, Isaiah 35, Isaiah 61. And he tells John, hey, John, while I'm not leading a revolt like you thought I was, like you thought I should be, what I am doing is going out among the people. I'm healing disabilities as I see them. I'm encountering people. I'm bringing men and women into a right relationship with God. And when they're brought there, every other relationship is changed. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.

In response to external difficulty and internal doubt, Jesus responds with eternal direction by pointing to scripture. Look at verse six. Jesus continues on, and he says, "blessed is he who is not offended because of me." Jesus is saying, in effect, John, if you can't understand my method. If you can't understand my ways or my timing, I ask that you do one thing-- trust me. Trust my plan. When our external difficulties lead to internal doubt, let us trust in the eternal direction that Jesus has given us in his word. Isaiah 6:1 sums it up. And it says "in the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord High and exalted, seated on a throne. And the train of his robe filled the temple."

In our times of doubt, when the proverbial king is dead in our lives, let's train ourselves to take our eyes off of the pain and place them on the promise, on Jesus Christ who is on the throne, who is alive, who is well, who is reigning forevermore. The promise that Hebrews tells us that is an anchor for our soul, strong and secure. Don't let the pain define your perspective. Let God's promise define your perspective. When you look at life through the lens of pain, it will look pretty bleak. But when you look at pain through the lens of promise, that pain very quickly fades away and diminishes. The promise is Heaven.

And as we focus on that promise, life and pain grows dimmer. So don't focus on what you don't know. Focus on what you do know. People in life say they fear the unknown. But we as Christians know. And what we know brings us hope. We know that there is a Heaven. We know that God died for our sins. We know that through that death, he made it possible for us to join him. And we know that if we accept him and repent of our sins, we can go to Heaven. So I think that should be our motto as Christians-- we know.

There's a lot in life that we don't know. Who the Antichrist is, I don't know. Who exactly all the nations will be following him, I don't know. When will it happen? I don't know. There's a lot of blogs and people that claim that they do know, but I don't know. All I know is, in time, it will happen. All I know is that Jesus is coming back. I know that as a Christian, I am to be going into all the world and preaching the gospel. Our focus as Christians can't be on what we don't know, but on what we do know, on the eternal direction to preach the gospel, to see lives change through the transformational power of the word of God. Whatever else is going to happen is going to happen. What we know is that Jesus is coming back, and we need to get ready. Amen?

As we close, there's a couple verses that I want to point out before we close in prayer. Number one, I want to point out verses 7 through 10. This is Jesus' response to John's doubt. You know, when John doubted him, Jesus very easily could have turned it back on John and doubted John, and said, John, you fair-weather follower. I knew you weren't in it for the long haul. I knew you were going to doubt me in the end. But Jesus didn't shame John, did he? No, Jesus honored him. He said, what did you go in the wilderness to see? Somebody who was blown to and fro with the wind, is in essence what he's saying. He says, no. You came to see a prophet, and not just a prophet, but the greatest one who has ever been born of women. Look, when you encounter somebody who is in doubt, you've got an opportunity. You can either turn them back towards faith, or you can turn them towards unbelief. It all depends on how you respond to their doubt. Jesus knew if he would have been harsh with John, it probably would have driven John to a place of unbelief. But Jesus responds, not by shaming him, but by honoring him. And it turns him back to faith. He says that John is the greatest. There is none greater. He alone was the forerunner, the direct herald of Jesus Christ.

And then Jesus says something very, very interesting. He says, "But I tell you the truth, he who is lest in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he." We can buy the fact that John was the greatest of the prophets. But we who are even least in the kingdom are greater than John? How's that possible? John lived and died on the other side of the cross. You and I live in the new covenant with Jesus Christ. John, as great as he was, did not have the kind of privilege and closeness to Jesus that you do. We now have access to the throne of grace and to Jesus Christ that John never did. And now we as believers in this day and time can truly bring it all to Jesus. And let me tell you something-- Jesus doesn't just want part of you. He wants all of you. Our song "All to You" says, I give it all to you. Just as I am, I come. And maybe this morning, you resonate with those words that you despise even life. Maybe you feel like you don't have anything else to give. Perhaps you feel hurt, sad, messy, tired and lost. If that's the case, church, I challenge you to bring exactly that to Jesus. If you're hurt, bring that to him and he'll fix you. If you're sad, bring that to him and he'll give you joy. If you're a mess, bring that to him and he'll clean you up. If you're lost, come to him and you'll be found. Let's take part in the great exchange and come to God exactly as we are. If you bring God your age, he'll make your soul young. If you bring him your poverty, he'll make your soul rich. If you bring God your sickness, he'll make your soul well. If you bring God your days, he'll turn them to years. If you bring God your blindness, he'll give your soul sight.

Church, we're not promised a utopian story, but we're promised something a lot better. We're promised a fairy tale story. You say, well, that doesn't make sense, Nate. People always say, life's not a fairy tale story. I think it is. Notice that in every fairytale, something bad happens. Snow White's mom dies, and at the climax of the story, she eats an apple and falls into a death-like sleep. Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a needle and the same happens to her. Ariel loses her voice, and her dad gets turned into a creepy, little, raisin person. Elsa says, let it go, and it all turns to snow. Every fairy tale, though, has one thing in common. They all have a happy ending.

Christian, Jesus promises you a fairy tale life, complete with tragedy, pain, difficulty, and doubt. But all of that is leading to a happy ending. So as we experience external difficulty that leads to internal doubt, remember your eternal direction, and start turning your interruptions into opportunities. Amen?

Amen.

Lord, we thank you so much for your word, for the truth and the comfort that it reveals. And God, I believe that every one of us has external difficulties. They're all different. Some of them might be the same. But Lord, I pray for anyone that is letting those external difficulties lead them to internal doubt. Lord, I pray that you would help them to respond by looking to your word, to the eternal direction that you have given us, God. Help us turn our interruptions into opportunities. Help us to look to you.

And as we're praying right now, as we have our eyes closed and our heads bowed, I just want to add one thing. The promises that give hope, the promises that give life are only meant for a Christian. Only a Christian, someone who's received Jesus Christ, is promised a happy ending. And so if you're here today, and you're experiencing pain, you're experiencing sadness, you wake up feeling like you don't want to live anymore, you're searching for something, you're in that place where you have external difficulties that are bringing internal doubt, I want you to know that there's hope for you. If you receive Jesus Christ, you can stand firm on the promises that he has given us. You can stand firm on the promises that there is a future for you in Heaven, that when you die, this isn't the end. This is only the beginning, and in the meantime, you can come to God and receive a peace that surpasses all understanding.

And so if you're here this morning and you want to know that when you die, you're going to go to Heaven, you want that hope that is an anchor for your soul, I want you to raise up your hand. You're saying Nate, pray for me. Amen. Several hands all across the room. If God's speaking to you, you need help. All you've got to do is like a little kid in a math class, raise up your hand. It's as simple as that. Just acknowledge that you need Jesus Christ. Jesus is calling you. Anyone else? Keep those hands up if God is speaking to you right now. Amen.

Well, Lord, I thank you for those who have raised their hands acknowledging their need for you, acknowledging their need to be forgiven for their sins and to have a new life in you. And if you raised your hand up, I want you to just say this prayer after me. It's a simple prayer that you're going to say from your heart to Jesus Christ. Say, Lord, I know that I'm a sinner. Lord, I've done many things that have hurt you. But, Lord, I believe that you died for those things. And I believe that you rose from the dead. So Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life, and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and help me to live for you. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

We hope you've enjoyed this special service from Calvary Albuquerque with our guest speaker, Pastor Nate Heitzig. You can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. And just a reminder, Battledrum's album, "The War is Over" is on iTunes, Google Play, and at battledrumsmusic.com. Thank you for listening to this special message from Calvary Albuquerque.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/12/2015
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The Light Has Come
John 1:1-9
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Message Summary
Music is an integral part of the human experience and expresses our deepest feelings, fears, and hopes. Worship music in particular conveys our dependence on God and celebration of Him. Our worship team has written fresh expressions of praise in their brand-new project, The War Is Over. This summer, we will consider the biblical themes from which these songs are drawn. "The Light Has Come" is a song that celebrates one of the great themes of John’s gospel—God’s life that enlightens us has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
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7/19/2015
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Rend the Heavens
Isaiah 64
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The song "Rend the Heavens," written by our worship team, echoes words first uttered and written by the prophet Isaiah. His heartfelt cry for his people was that they would experience the presence of God in the most profound way. It is our prayer that we would all do the same. As we examine Isaiah's plea, we'll see how it has been answered and yet awaits a further and fuller answer. His prayer shows us three incentives in our relationship to God.
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7/26/2015
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Our God Will Fight for Us
Nehemiah 4
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Nothing is more comforting in war than knowing you’re on the winning side. When you face a hostile enemy with the knowledge that your cause is just, your resources are many, and your companions are brave, you’re ready for anything. And when you have a Commanding Officer who has never lost a battle, your confidence level is at an all-time high. Our worship team wrote the song “Our God Will Fight for Us” with these thoughts in mind. Let’s consider a fourfold strategy for facing the battles in our lives.
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8/2/2015
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Now I Live
Romans 5-6
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Our worship team has managed to put the most salient truths of the Christian experience into this single song. Every step detailed in this section of Paul’s letter to the Romans is expressed in condensed form in this new anthem of praise. Today we will walk through the four essential steps of spiritual growth and examine where we are in relationship to them. Some may still be on the first step, while others have camped on the second and third. The challenge from Paul’s message is to press forward to that fourth step of triumph.
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8/9/2015
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The Valley
Psalm 23
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Everyone knows pain and suffering to some degree. It’s guaranteed for all. As Job said, "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). He meant that hardship is as predictable as flames and flickers rising when a fire is lit. King David poetically referred to such adversity as walking down into a valley. Though everyone suffers, not all suffer well. Today we rediscover why the valleys are necessary and how they can even be rewarding.
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8/23/2015
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Let His Love In
1 John 3:1-3
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The heart is like a strong fortress that doesn’t easily admit outside forces in, even if God Himself is the One who is knocking at the door. I’ve found that even Christians can have a difficult time believing that God really loves them, and few experience that love regularly. Our Battledrums worship team has composed a song with this in mind, inviting you to let His love in. Our text in 1 John is a survey of this incomparable love of God, and will help you open your heart to it.
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9/6/2015
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By Your Stripes
Isaiah 53:4-6
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Today I bring you "Christianity 101." These verses in Isaiah not only capture the heart of our worship team’s song, but they present the very heart of the gospel itself. These three monumental truths are the cornerstones of the Christian faith and show our need for Jesus Christ. Though the passage itself highlights many profound aspects of the person and work of Christ, I want to keep it simple and confine it to three. Let’s discover the love of God afresh.
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9/13/2015
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Great and Awesome
Daniel 9:1-19
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Have you ever been shaken to the core, disillusioned, and disheartened? When such times occur and fear rises up inside of you, what assurance do you have that life will get better and you’ll be able to even go on? This song penned by our Battledrums worship team speaks to this, and Daniel the prophet instructs us with his prayer. Daniel held onto three assurances that God’s work in us and through us isn’t over but will keep marching on.
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9/20/2015
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Victory (The War Is Over)
1 Corinthians 15:50-58
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Victory is a decidedly Christian term. It is used in our spiritual vocabulary almost without effort or thought. We frequently celebrate that Jesus went to the cross and volunteered His life to be the payment for sin in order to justify us before God. But this is more than a simple concept. In this final message explaining the scriptural foundations of our new worship project, we now turn to the future when we will become winners over the last enemy of life—death itself.
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There are 9 additional messages in this series.