Which Way Will You Choose?

May 7, 2002 PM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

If you would, turn in your Bibles with me to the book of Matthew chapter twenty-six. Matthew chapter twenty-six. When you reach the book of Matthew chapter twenty-six, please signify by saying amen. We will read Matthew chapter twenty-six, verse forty-seven down to verse fifty-six. Amen? That’s forty-seven through fifty-six.

47. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

49. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

50. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.

52. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

53. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54. But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

55. In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

56. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled...

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we thank You for who You are and for what You do. Father, hide Your son behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. And Father, as I decrease I ask that You would increase. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, dear Father, be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. I thank You for anointing me to preach the Gospel. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

You may be seated in the house of God.

The title of tonight’s message is, “Which way will you choose?”

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter tried to defend Him with the sword. But then Jesus rebuked Peter and said, “Don’t you know that I could ask of My Father, and He will give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?”

You see, when we look at Jesus, He understood the fulfillment of a thing. You see, He understood that in order for the Scripture to be fulfilled He could not look for a way of escape.

You see, too many times our destiny requires for us to be in a position that’s very uncomfortable. But instead of trying to fulfill... Oh, my God. Instead of trying to walk in a place of fulfillment, we’re always looking for a way of escape.

He rebuked Peter. He said, “If you stop this thing, the Scripture won’t be fulfilled.”

You see, too many times we get in a position where we’re trying to help our brothers and sisters out of a situation. But if we don’t allow them to go through every now and then, how in the world is God going to fulfill their destiny for their lives?

He said, “Don’t you know that if I pray to My Father, I can ask Him to send twelve legions of angels? But I’m not about escaping. I’m about fulfilling.”

Look at your neighbor and say, “I will be fulfilled.”

Jesus understood His destiny. You see, when you don’t understand your destiny, every time there’s a struggle you’ll always be looking for a way out. But see, if I’m really, really, really going to allow the thing that God has called me to to come on my life, I need to learn how to go ahead and move through that thing with the wisdom and the understanding that God provides me.

And if by chance He doesn’t deliver me, I’m still not going to bow my knee. I’m going to walk in that way that God has ordained for me to walk in.

Are you looking for a way out? Or are you looking for fulfillment? Are you looking to escape? Hello, somebody.

You see, we search for a way of escape, don’t we? You see, when somebody reacts in a defensive way, fear has come upon them. And fear will put me in a place where I’m looking to escape.

But Jesus was not afraid. Do you hear what I’m saying? But see, fear will cause me to react, because I’m looking for a way out. You see, it may look as if I’m big and tough. But what it’s really all about, I’m looking for a way to escape the situation that I’m in.

See, the Bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of what? And of a sound mind. You see, when I begin to walk in a place of a sound mind, even though fear may come, I’m going to rebuke fear. I will not be afraid. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art what? With me.

He said, “Wait a minute, Peter.” He said, “I ain’t trying to get out of this.” He said, “If I don’t die, there’ll be no resurrection. I know that you’re trying to defend Me. But see, if you defend Me, the Scripture won’t be fulfilled.” Do you hear what I’m saying?

Every now and then you have got to let somebody go through the struggle. Because you don’t know why they’re going through the struggle. Do you hear what I’m saying? A lot of times it’s to bring them to another place of maturity.

But see, if it’s... It’s like mama. If mama’s always getting me out of something, I’ll never be mature. If pastor’s always trying to get me out of something, I’ll never come to that place of maturity in the Spirit. But if he allows me to go through, and just sits back and watch over me while I go through, then everything is going to be alright.

Why are we always looking for a way of escape? (Tongues.) Why are we always looking for a way out? Ask yourself that question. Whenever a trial comes your way, are you always searching for a route of escape? Or are you willing to get on your knees and say, “God, now here I am. Now what are You trying to teach me here?”

Because there’s a lesson in your struggle. There’s a lesson in your experience that’s uncomfortable to you. There’s something that’s being taught to us.

If I would only open up my mind to God and say, “God, what is it that You’re trying to show me? Are You trying to draw me close to You? Or is there pride in me? Or is there something about me that I need to change, or something I need to work on? What is it? Are you trying to bring patience into my life? What is it? What are You doing with me, God?”

But I’m not going to look for a way to escape. I want right where I am to be fulfilled.

You see, what happens is this. If we do not allow ourselves to go through sometimes, then every time something comes up I’ll be on the telephone calling somebody. You see, we look for prayer partners. And there’s nothing wrong with somebody to pray with you. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

But every now and then I need to say, “Lord, I’m going to get on my knees. And it’s one on one. It’s me and You, Jesus. You’re my God, and I’m the sheep of Your pasture. And You’re the good shepherd. And You’ll look out for the sheep. And I’m your sheep. Now Lord, pour oil on my head.”

Are you looking for a way of escape? Are you looking for a way of escape tonight? Are you looking for a way out? Just ask God why you’re there. He said, “Call upon me and I’ll answer thee.” He said, “I’ll show you great and mighty things that you don’t know about.” He said He’ll show you.

“Why am I there, Lord? Why am I in this place?” He said the trying of my faith worketh patience. He’s working something for my good. You see, it may seem like it’s for your bad right now. But He’s working it out for your good.

You see, something bad has got to happen a lot of times, before we can appreciate something good. You see, if something good always happen, then I won’t appreciate the good. But if something bad happened every now and then... Hello, somebody. Then when something good happens, I’ll learn how to appreciate it.

If Peter had been in charge, Peter would have summoned all the angels in heaven. Said, “Wait a minute. This thing can’t happen.”

But Peter wasn’t in charge. He didn’t have understanding. And that’s why it said with all of your getting get understanding. Get understanding. And if you do the will of God, remember I said it’s God’s will first, and then understanding comes.

You see, if you’re trying to get an understanding before you go ahead with His will, then you’re going to be in a place of confusion. But if you go ahead and fulfill His will, then once His will is going ahead and been finished, and once you’re working on His will, then understanding is going to come. Bam. A revelation. A light bulb will come on in your head. “Oh, that’s what you’re talking about, God.”

Jesus said, “Peter, you’re about to mess up everything. Let Me go through this.” You see, Jesus understood what He was going through. But see, He wasn’t by Himself.

You see, a lot of times we try to get by ourselves, so that we can go through something. But see, Jesus had His disciples with Him. Even though they didn’t understand... Do you hear what I’m saying? They were still with Him.

You see, when you’re going through something, you can’t isolate yourself. Because when you begin to isolate yourself, you open yourself up to the adversary. But see, if you’re going through something, the people around you may not understand what you’re going through. But those that are closest to you are going to be standing right beside you. Hello in this house tonight.

Even though Peter was wrong he was saying, “Jesus, I’m in this thing with You.”

Are we looking for a way of escape before we find out why we’re there? Saints of God, instead of facing His crisis with the philosophy of, “I need escape,” Jesus faced it with an attitude of fulfillment.

Whenever you’re doing something for the Lord, at one point or another you’re going to wind up in the fire. If you’ve never been in the fire, sweetheart, baby doll, home boy, you just wait a while. And when you get in that fire, the devil going to try to turn it up seven times more than what it ought to be turned up. See, that’s when you’re going to find out if you’re really going to serve Him or not.

See, Jesus was in the fire, wasn’t He? But He wasn’t even worried about it. He said, “Because I lay down My life.” He said, “Can’t nobody take this thing from Me.” And can’t nobody take your life except Jesus allow it. And to be absent from the body (hello, somebody) is to be present with the Lord.

So why are we so afraid of somebody harming this flesh? Why are we so afraid of somebody harming our emotions? We’ll close up, won’t we? When we get hurt, we’ll shut down, won’t we? (Tongues.) I feel the Holy Ghost in here. And if anybody try to get in, we start jabbing, don’t we? You better get back. That’s what we do.

But see, Jesus opened up Himself. And He was hurt time after time. And even when He hung on the cross, He was opened up wide. He was saying, “Here I am, the Savior of the world. And all that they have done to Me, spit on Me, slapped Me, beat Me, I’m still open to You.”

Somebody needs to open themselves up tonight. Open yourself up. Get hurt every now and then. Yeah. Get hurt every now and then. Then it’ll give you a toughness to your hide.

See, if you don’t never get hurt, you’re going to have a tender backside, ain’t you? And every time you turn around, whap. Something’s going to keep hitting you in that spot. But if you allow yourself to open up and get tough, then no matter what the devil brings your way, you’ll be able to stand.

Jesus said, “I ain’t trying to escape this.” He said, “The Scripture got to be fulfilled. It has to be fulfilled.”

We cannot prevent crisis from coming into our lives. You see, some people try to take precautions for everything. They drive themselves crazy trying to make a precaution for this, a precaution for that.

I mean, you got to have the basics. You got to have your insurance, your life insurance, your car insurance and all that. But you know there’s going to be some things that are going to slip through every now and then.

But if you always trying to make a... He give His angels charge over me. You got to say the Scripture every now and then. ...to keep me in all of my ways, lest I dash my foot against... You have got to quote something, if you want to cover every area. It’s always just doing something physical. It’s doing something spiritual.

And the older we become, the more serious life becomes. One thing that we have got to realize is that our decisions affect more than just ourselves.

You see, a mature saint will understand that. My decisions that I make are going to affect more than just me. Whether it affects my house or whether it affects my brothers and sisters, it’s going to affect more than just me. And when I learn to die to self, then I’m going to make sure that the decisions that I make won’t just benefit me. Oh, my God, my God.

You see, Jesus made a decision to die. And He knew that He was going to be resurrected with glory. But He knew that was not just going to benefit Him. He knew it would benefit all those that receive Him as Lord and Savior.

What are we doing in our lives that’s just benefitting us? Is what I’m doing or what I’m about to partake in, is it going to hurt the body of Christ? Oh, my God. Hey, I feel You, Jesus. Is it going to hinder the work of God that I may go forth, or that I might go higher? Is it going to affect the body?

You see, when I really become somebody that’s called to the Gospel plow, that’s my first response and my first reaction. How is it going to affect the body?

See, Paul had a revelation. He was saying that things that he could do he wouldn’t do them, because it may affect somebody else adversely. They might not be mature enough to handle this.

How are my decisions going to affect my brothers and sisters? Is it going to cause me to get ahead? Oh, my God. Or is it going to really help the body of Christ?

There’s a shortness of time. The time is truly short. And I don’t know about you, but when I stand before Him I want Him to say, “Well done.” I don’t have time to get up there and Him say, you know, “Well, what about this I told you to do?”

“Well, so and so hurt me.” Mm hmm. “So and so was talking about me, so...” I feel Jesus all over this house tonight. “You know, I was going to do it. But you know, that would have took me out the in crowd. And Lord, I wasn’t getting out the in crowd.”

Will you fulfill your destiny? Or are you looking for a way of escape? Or are you just looking for something to benefit “me”? Where am I in my walk? What attitude to we take when the foundations are shaking and the walls are falling? Are you looking for a way of escape?

Or you standing still and saying, “Lord, I know what You said. Your promises are yea and amen. And if You said it, that settles it. And it’s sure to come to pass. Who I thought was going to be with me may not be with me, but it’s still going to come to pass.” Oh, you don’t hear me tonight.

See, everybody that start off with you might not end with you. Do you hear what I’m saying? Will you fulfill the plan for your life? Or in the midst of the struggle are you looking for a way of escape?

Peter took that attitude of escape. He allowed his instinct to take over. You see, when a person gets backed into a corner, instinct begins to take over.

But God is looking for somebody that’s going to let the Spirit take over. What are You saying, Holy Ghost? You see, when you’re backed up against the wall, you’re right for a miracle, aren’t you?

When you don’t have nowhere to go, when you look around you like the children of Israel, and Pharaoh was following them... And all they had in front of them was a Red Sea, you right for a miracle. He’ll part that sea, won’t He? And He’ll cause you to walk through on dry ground, that the Scripture might be fulfilled about you.

But He was saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” Jesus was still here on earth. He’s saying the same thing about you. “This is My beloved son. This is My beloved daughter in whom I’m well pleased.”

Because He’s looking at the motives. He’s looking at the agendas. And He will be pleased with you right now if your motives and your agendas are right. But if the motive is not right, all that you do is going to be burnt up in the fire. If the agenda not right, it’s going to be burned up in the fire.

Lord, look at all that I did. You mean all that prophesying and all that laying hands, all that speaking in tongues, rolling in the floor, staying in church all night?

He said, “You can come in. But all that work you did is burnt up in the fire.”

Are you looking for a way of escape?

Peter’s action was what we call zeal without knowledge. See, I can have a zeal to do something. But if I don’t have the knowledge to back it, then nine times out of ten it’s going to come out wrong. Might as well say ten times out of ten. He had the zeal to do it. But he lacked the knowledge to go along with the zeal. Instead of submitting, he was defending.

Instead of us always trying to defend ourselves, why can’t we learn to submit ourselves? As soon as the adversary comes to us, we draw our swords. And we’re ready to strike.

But Jesus said, “I don’t even have to do it like that. Because there’s a plan for me.” There’s a plan for you tonight. You don’t have to try to fight your own battles. He’ll fight your battle for you.

“But it’s in me to fight.” Well, get that out of you, when it’s according to the flesh. Because the battle is won where? In the Spirit. Because while we wrestle not against flesh and blood, we battle against things that we cannot see. But you got more power than the very thing that you can’t even see.

Wait a minute. How am I going to have power against what these eyes can’t see? He gave us power, Holy Ghost power, Word power.

Saints of God, you may be in a hard place right now. But don’t look for a way of escape.

I’m going to leave these three things with you tonight. Suffering leads to glory. Shame leads to honor. And weakness leads to power.

Come on, give God a handclap of praise.

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