Friday, December 25, 2009

The Power of Desperation

From the Pastor of the church that made the film, Facing the Giants, Senior Pastor, Michael Catt has written several books. He is a wonderful writer. This book, The Power of Desperation, is jammed pack with valuable truths! Please read and apply the quotes below.

Desperation is a powerful force. Desperation focuses our attention and energies on the things that count. p. xi

"Desperation now precedes revelation," my now-deceased friend, Manley Beasley, was accustomed to saying. "When you're desperate, God may finally have your attention." p. xii

God cannot bless us until he has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, he claims all. There's no bargaining with him. - C.S. Lewis p. 5

"A glimpse of Jesus will save you, but to gaze at him will sanctify you." - Manley Beasley p. 16

"The grace, the groans and the glory are all part of the eternal purpose. Where there is no groaning, there is no growing now, nor glory to come." - Vance Havner p. 19

Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. - Deuteronomy 8:2 p. 19

The wilderness can indeed be a productive time. Sufferings have their purpose. They drive us to desperation and prayer. p. 31

Isn't that true of many believers? They are delivered from sin, but somehow they are never delivered from self. They are set free from their past, but they live in failure and defeat in their present. They stop seeking. They settle, get comfortable, and lose their passion and purpose. They become "good" Christians with little impact for the kingdom. Wandering in circles, they mindlessly move from home to school, to career, to retirement, to glory, but they never make a real difference. p. 32

He earned a B.N. (Be Nothing) degree in the seminary of suffering and sheepherding. Faith works best when there is no natural hope. God speaks best when all other voices are silenced. p.34

The hardest part of the wilderness experience is seeing what's really in our hearts. God removes the facades. He cares nothing about how great our peers say we are. He knows the truth, and He reveals it to us. He uses the dust and desert to expose our hearts and our motives. "Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands." (Deut. 8:2, italics added). p. 34

"We will never crave to e filled until we are convinced we are empty." - John Blanchard p. 43

I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and width, height and depth, and to know the Messiah's love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 p. 43

PUSH: Pray until something happens. p. 51

"The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin." - A.W. Tozer p. 67

This is how we know that we love God's children when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. 1 John 5:2-3 p. 67

And to whom did He swear they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18-19 NASB) p. 70

In verse 18, he says they couldn't enter because of disobedience; in verse 19, he says unbelief was the cause. Well, which was it -- disobedience or unbelief? It was both. For obedience and faith are two sides of the same coin. You act on what you believe and you obey whom you trust. p. 79

If He were to explain how everything works out, then faith and obedience wouldn't be required.

  • God told Noah to build a boat and spend 120 years doing so, even though it had never rained.
  • God told Moses to cross the Red Sea and walk across on dry land. But it's hard to believe God can part the waters until you stand back and see the salvation of God.
  • God told the Israelites to follow the ark into the Jordan. Then, and only then, would it dry up and permit them to cross.
  • God told Joshua and the people of Israel to merely walk around Jericho and sound the trumpets, and the walls would fall.
  • God told David to conquer the formidable Goliath with a few smooth stones and a slingshot.
  • God told Mary she would give birth to the Son of God, even though she had never been with a man.
  • And God continues to do impossible things through ordinary people. pp. 83 - 84
"I will never despair, because I have a God; I will never presume, because I am but a man." - Owen Feltham p. 89

God, you are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. - Psalm 63:1 pg. 89

God isn't pushing me to fix it; He's pushing me to faith it. p. 90

Admitting we can't is the first step toward admitting He can. p. 90

We must remember that God uses the wilderness to get our undivided attention. And to write songs in our heart whose lyrics can only be discovered in despair. p. 97

God takes the old clay and starts working it to make it into a new and usable vessel. While we tend to throw away broken vases and call them junk. God throws away the unbroken items and calls them useless. It's our willingness to be broken and remade that allows us to fully experience all God has for us. p. 115

The vessel in Jeremiah's prophecy was marred, but it as in the hand of the potter, so there was still hope for it. The potter didn't quite. God has taken vessels just like you and me -- marred and flawed as we are -- and used us in great and mighty ways. "He made it into another jar," a useful vessel. God is not finished with you. He does not view failure as final. p. 116

Nothing can touch us until it has passed through the will of God. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper" (Isa. 54:17 KJV). God has a plan for my life. God is working according to a fixed, eternal purpose. p. 118

What we might see as marring, God sees as an opportunity to form us into His image. What we may see as problems are in fact possibilities for God to work in us. p. 118

But if the potter's work is to be permanent, the vessel must go through the fire. In the fire the vessel is strengthened and made useful. Some of the greatest moments of our lives turn out to be the times when we are broken, molded, and reshaped by the Lord. Painful times cause us to cry out to God, and there we find Him, sitting, working, molding, and making us into His likeness. pp. 118 - 119

"God does not witness to the world by taking his people out of suffering, but rather by demonstrating his grace through them in the midst of pain." - C. Samuel Storms p. 121

He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff -- they comfort me. Psalm 23:3-4 p. 121

It is well known that the Chinese symbol for the word crisis represents both opportunity and danger. Pain and suffering may bring danger, but they also bring an opportunity for maturity and growth. p. 129

We cannot let the folks whose motto is "You can't do that" run our lives. p. 131

  • Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by twenty-three publishers. When he finally found a publisher, his first book alone sold six million copies.
  • Vince Lombardi didn't become a head coach in the NFL until he was forty-seven, and now the Super Bowl trophy is named after him.
  • During their first year of business, Coca-Cola only sold four hundred Cokes.
  • During the depression, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts had trouble getting anyone to join the Augusta National Golf Club. They tried to sell houses and build a subdivision around the course to help pay for it.
  • In the first three years in the automobile business, Henry Ford when bankrupt twice.
  • Michelangelo spent seven years lying on his back to paint the Sistine Chapel.
  • After years of unsuccessful experiments, imprisonment for debt, and ridicule from family and friends, Charles Goodyear finally developed a type of rubber that would not be affected by temperature extremes.
  • NBA great Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
  • Archie Manning's dad committed suicide, and Archie was the one who found him dead. He almost gave up football at Ole Miss.
  • In 1905 the University of Bern rejected Albert Einstein's Ph.D. dissertation.
  • Abraham Lincoln failed at most of his attempts in business and politics.
  • John Bunyan wrote The Pilgrim's Progress during a long stay in prison.
  • The official church rejected Martin Luther.
  • John Knox is buried under a parking lot.
  • Joseph made it to Pharaoh's palace by way of both the pit and prison.
  • Moses experienced forty years in the desert before he led God's people out of Egypt.
  • David ran for his life for years before finally becoming king of Israel.
  • Jeremiah was the weeping prophet.
  • The apostle Paul had enough scars to make any man want to quit.
  • Today the church is growing in Muslim countries despite incredible opposition and persecution. While American Christianity seems to be declining, the persecuted church is prospering. pp. 132 - 134
When Jesus is in sight, the impossible becomes a Him-possible. p. 136

"There can be no hope without faith in Christ, for hope is rooted in him alone. Faith without hope would, by itself, be empty and futile." - Ernst Hoffmann p. 139

Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put you hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God. . . . The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night -- a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:5, 8 p. 139

It's easy to come to church, fellowship with believers, and never touch Jesus. We can be in the crowd and never really be part of the congregation. We can sing songs but never worship. We can take notes on sermons, and never apply the Word to our hearts. Attendance doesn't mean we're paying attention. I believe Jesus is passing by the aisles of our churches every Sunday, looking for people who are desperate for Him. Unfortunately most of us miss Him because we aren't really desperate to worship and adore the Lord of glory. pp. 155 - 156

"Unbelief makes the world a moral desert, where no divine footsteps are heard, where no angels ascend and descend, where no living hand adorns the fields, feeds the birds of the heaven, or regulates events." -- F.W. Krummacher p.g 159

Then Jesus said to him, "If You can?" Everything is possible to the one who believes." Immediately the father of the boy cried out, "I do believe! Help my unbelief." Mark 9:23 - 24 p. 159

Let's be honest with ourselves. The average church doesn't want Jesus to be there. We don't want the kind of people that Jesus attracted: sinners, prostitutes, the demon-possessed, tax collectors, outcasts of society. We like to sit in our nice, neat circles in our folding chairs, having our little theological discussions about everything from predestination to who will care for all the pets left behind at the rapture. Are we not, in fact and in practice, an unbelieving generation? We hear stories of power in other places around the world, but where is the power of God in the American church? Where's the church that is doing things that cannot be explained apart from the infusion of Holy Spirit power in the life and breath of the body of Christ? p. 167

Jesus tells them to do what we must do as well. "Bring him to Me!" Whatever the situation, take it to Jesus. No issue is too great, no need too small for Jesus. Take your family, your prodigal, your broken marriage, your desperate situation to the Savior. Throw yourself at His mercy, and see Him while He may be found. p. 167

"We can never be blessed until we learn that we can bring nothing to Christ but our need." - Vance Havner p. 179

Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. My salvation and glory depend on God; my strong rock, my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. - Psalm 62:5 - 8 p. 179

"The grand design of God in all the afflictions that befall his people is to bring them nearer and closer to himself." - Thomas Brooks p. 215

Lord, I call You; my rock, do not be deaf to me. If You remain silent to me, I will be like those going down to the Pit. Listen to the sound of my pleading when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. -- Psalm 28: 1 - 2 p. 215

One reason many people are unwilling to be broken is because they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. God has a different set of scales, and He weighs by different measures. Nothing offends religious people more than someone showing them up, especially when that person is sincere. p. 223

To stand before an audience of One, you have to come knowing you are nothing and that He alone is worthy of praise. p. 223

We may not think much of giving a cup of cold water or of visiting someone in prison, but Jesus does. He notices the small things that pass the attention of the casual onlooker. He watches the treasury and sees the widow's mite. He sees the prayer made in secret. We may not know until eternity how our afflictions, brokenness, and sacrifices were used to further the gospel. p. 227

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