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The First Step to Breakthrough

From the series Breakthrough

What situation in your life looks insurmountable right now? A marriage heading for the rocks? A child breaking your heart? A doctor’s report with the word “Cancer” written on it? What circumstance in your life is so big, so overwhelming, so difficult that it looks impossible to conquer? God wants to do the impossible through you. Not the hard, not the unlikely, He wants to do the impossible through you. The question is, how does that work? What do you need to do to in order to experience that kind of life changing breakthrough? Chip answers those questions in this message.

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Message Transcript

I was in a town in West Virginia, where my wife grew up – and I won’t mention the town, in case they ever hear this. Of course, they would know who it is. But it’s a place that, in its prime, was maybe three hundred people, and maybe it’s down to fifty people. And probably ninety percent of the people are unemployed. And there is house and shack, and it is just, it is the most depressing place I’ve ever been in my life. There’s so much junk, and they’ve seen it so long, they don’t even notice it anymore.

And so, we’re going to talk about breakthrough. God wants to unleash power into your impossible situation. There are five specific questions that I begin to ask and answer about how you understand breakthrough happens, where it begins, what’s the first step?

Now, question number one – you know, you kind of have to start with the basics – is, so, what is a breakthrough? I mean, God is speaking to me, and I’m thinking – I literally looked it up in the dictionary. I mean, what do you mean by the term? Three key definitions.

Number one, it’s an offensive thrust that penetrates and carries beyond a defensive line in warfare. See, when I’ve thought about breakthrough, honestly, I often keep thinking, You know, I’ve read about it in Church history, and I’ve seen it in the Bible. Someday, some way, God… and we’re going to see these amazing things happen, and we’re going to watch a breakthrough. And sort of it’s like, we wait for it to happen.

Breakthroughs are not something you sit around and wait for. It’s an offensive strike through enemy lines. God does it, but He’s already commanded it. He already wants it to happen. A breakthrough is when you take an offensive step and say, “I’m going to act on what I believe is true, and then, I’m going to trust God is supernaturally going to do the impossible.”

The second is, it’s an act or instance of breaking through a barrier. A breakthrough is … there’s a barrier; you’re stuck – and it could be a relationship, an addiction, a lie, a false belief. It could be what you’ve been through. It could be an environment at work. But isn’t it interesting that Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”? What was He saying? He says the Church is moving offensively, and when it hit barriers, here’s the promise: “I will be with you always, and all power is given to Me. You believe, you trust, we’ll break through.” So, we know this is on God’s heart.

The third definition that was interesting: It’s a sudden advance. There’s a process, and we’ll walk through the process. And there’s investment, and there’s prayer involved, and there are people involved, and there’s thinking involved, and there are some steps that you take. But as those things culminate, there’s change; there are differences – failure in relationships and addictions. God moves in powerful ways, and what people experience – Boom! There’s a breakthrough. There’s a sudden advance. It happens in individuals, relationships, organizations, in churches, and sometimes, God does it in whole societies and cultures.

I love the quote by George Müller. He said, “Remember today that you can never bring about the supernatural through natural means. Don’t even try.” And then, Müller, who never made his needs known and supplied the needs of – literally – thousands and thousands of orphans, daily, wrote, “Faith doesn’t operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which man can do. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”

And so, part of what we’re going to talk about is, how does that happen? How do you unleash God’s supernatural power in your life and in your home and in your relationships and in your neighborhood and in your work…? and what and how does God release that in a church?

Well, that’s what breakthrough is. Question number two: Is there a biblical pattern for breakthrough? In other words, these are kind of interesting ideas, but I don’t know about you, I’m committed to Scripture. Is there a biblical pattern?

And so, what I did – and by the way, I’ll spare you; I won’t go through it – I found myself on a plane, asking that question, and I started – about three hours earlier – and I started writing, from memory, from Genesis all the way through Revelation, of breakthroughs that I saw, breakthroughs that I saw, breakthroughs that I saw. And I started, even with, you know, God could have spoken one word, and – Bam! – we would have all creation. He made it. He can do it any way He wants.

But even how God did creation gives us insight about His heart and what He wants to do. Because when we get creation, in the beginning, He doesn’t just tell us how it all happened; He creates, and He says, “The earth is formless and void.” Those are very interesting Hebrew words that mean, “lifeless, dead.” Later, they’re used in places where there’s chaos, lack of life.

And then, what happened? He speaks. And when He speaks, “Let there be light. It’s good. Let there be plants. It’s good.” He speaks, He speaks, He speaks, “It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good.” And then, He creates us – “It’s very good.” He breaks through darkness.

There’s a reason He tells us, because that’s the pattern. Everything in life – mark this – every single thing in life is either broken and deteriorating, and moving toward chaos, or it’s moving toward health and restoration and healing – everything. And the eyes of the Lord are going to and fro, throughout the whole earth, that He could find a man or a woman or a student whose heart is fully His, so that He could strongly support you, just where you’re at, right where you live, with the IQ and the gifts and the background and experiences – both good and bad – that you presently possess, so that He could use you as an agent of breakthrough to stop the darkness and the chaos and the corruption and the wickedness, and to bring light and healing and love. That’s the game plan.

Well, I went through the – actually, the whole Bible, and I wrote for three hours. Here’s what I can tell you, just in terms of, does God unleash supernatural power to overcome the impossible? Well, once you get beyond the amazing story of creation, and then, you see the drift, the idolatry, the evil, the wickedness, then, one man finds favor, named Noah, and he’s an agent of breakthrough. And God protects, intervenes.

And then he, after the human race begins to get rebuilt, He finds Abraham. And the process of Abraham becoming the beginning of a nation that would be the jewel that God would demonstrate His power and His goodness, and His plan is always, “I love people. I love people. I love people. I love people.” He wanted to be with us in the Garden and walk with us in the Garden. He forgave Adam and Eve, and then over and over and over. But the hearts of men – we just bend and drift away from God, and we end up corrupt and greedy and selfish and hurting one another. Wars have always been with us, and God keeps intervening.

And so, with Abraham, he’s a hundred years old, living off a promise that he’s going to have an heir one day. And so, his ninety-year-old babe has a baby. It’s a breakthrough. Would you say that’s unleashing God’s power into the impossible?

And then, after Abraham, you find that there’s desolation and famine and difficulty, and so a Hebrew slave becomes the most powerful man in the world, under Pharaoh – to do what? Breakthrough and deliver the people. Four hundred and thirty years later, now they’re in bondage and slavery, and there’s an idol on every corner in Egypt, and what happens?

He brings Moses to do the impossible: ten supernatural acts, each one declaring Yahweh, the God of Israel, more powerful than the gods of Egypt. And then, there’s a breakthrough at the Red Sea, and then there’s a breakthrough with the manna, and then there’s a breakthrough with water out of the rock, and there’s a breakthrough where His presence is with them.

And then, Joshua comes along, and, “This is the land! I’ve already given it to you. You possess it. I’m good; I love you. I want you to have vines that you didn’t plant and wells that you didn’t dig, and houses that you don’t have to build. You’re My people; I love you, and I want to bless you and express that to you!” But there’s a lot of big guys over there, and there’s this big, walled city, and so, impossibility: The walls fall down. And we go all the way through Scripture, to these cycles.

Here are the cycles that you see, because it becomes very clear in Judges, and all the way through the Old Testament, later through the New Testament and new Church history, is there’s great need, and the great need is caused by great sin. So, people are hurting, people are discouraged, people have problems. The great sin brings about bondage; people were in slavery. And sometimes it’s whole nations, or sometimes it’s individuals. They’re slaves to their sin, slaves to corrupt government, slavery and bondage, the sex trade.

I mean, you can go all through history, this pattern, and then, this God, who created us, loves you, and loves these people. As far away as anyone has ever been from God, He still loves them, and He’s compassionate. And judgment occurs, and, by judgment, what I mean, consequences come to help us understand, “You know what? How we’re living is not the way to live.” It’s in the great kindness and love of God that the velvet vise begins to come on nations at times in the past, and it comes on people, and this judgment of, things don’t work.

And then, He raises up a deliverer who breaks through, a deliverer who is like a Samson, or a Gideon, or a Deborah, and then, later, a Samuel. And cycle after cycle – this cycle right here happens at least six times in the book of Judges. And I would tell you that it happens the rest of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Church history. But the impossible happens: Walls fall down. And each time, with Gideon, the impossible happens: Three hundred men defeat a whole army.

And then, the story goes on, and what is it? It’s the story of the supernatural power of God, reminding you that the walls that you have can come down, the giants that you face – the unleashing of God’s power, like with David, they can fall, just like they fell for him.

And then, you have a series of horrendous times, where all these kings turn away from God, and yet, then Josiah pops up, and Hezekiah pops up, and Asa pops up, and they start reforms. And every time there’s a reform, there’s a breakthrough, and there’s prosperity, and there’s love and there’s fellowship, and God is worshipped. And then, people drift away again, and we get four hundred years of silence. The greatest judgment in all the world is when you can’t hear God’s voice anymore. And then, the ultimate breakthrough.

We’re talking about the pattern – we’re going to look at the pathway. And part of the pathway, there are certain seasons where God prepares people, and certain seasons where He prepares organizations, and certain seasons where He prepares the entire world for major breakthroughs. And what we have in Jesus is the greatest breakthrough – God’s supernatural power unleashed.

Open your Bible, if you will, Mark chapter 1, and what I’d encourage you to do is, read. I’m going to give you mountain peaks. I’m going to walk through some mountain peaks, because here’s what I want you to see. So often, we start reading, and many of us have been Christians for a lot of years, and this is Jesus, and this is what He said, and sometimes we miss the whole point! The very first verse of the book of Mark – this is the beginning of the good news. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, it’s about God’s goodness. It’s about: God’s not down on people.

The word good news, it wasn’t a Bible term; it was borrowed from the day. When a king would go to battle and win a victory, they would make an announcement – good news. They would have a gospel announcement: “Our king defeated that other group.” And all the people would celebrate: “We’re free!” The gospel is an announcement.

Now, here’s what I want to do: I’m going to walk you through a little journey, and I’m going to skip around a lot, because what I really want you to see is: how did Jesus – are you ready for this? – how did Jesus teach His disciples to experience breakthrough?

If you’re taking notes, the first question was, “What is breakthrough?” The second question was, “Is there a biblical pattern of breakthrough?” And I think we’ve demonstrated that. The third question: “How did Jesus teach the disciples to experience and be agents of breakthrough?

Now, you’ll notice, I’ve already quoted the very first verse. This is the beginning of the gospel. It’s written to the Romans. You need to understand the Roman mindset. They’re powerful; they’re proud. They respect action and power. And so, this gospel writer doesn’t spend a lot of time in genealogies, not a lot of time quoting Hebrew fulfillment. I mean, he comes out of the gates – Jesus, the man of action!

And so, in a relatively few verses, we have His introduction, His baptism, and His temptation, and then notice, as you pick it up in verse 14, “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee.” His ministry starts.

Notice what He does. This is what Jesus came to do. He did not come to get people to live moral lives. He did not come to give them a philosophy or worldview, or to become a good religion on the salad bar of other religions. He came to proclaim the good news of God.

He came to make an announcement: “The God who made you, loves you. He wants to bless you. He’s for you. He wants intimate fellowship and relationship.” “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near.’”

And then, there’s a command. It’s twofold: “Repent and believe the good news!” Repent, metanoia – it means, “with your mind.” Have a change of mind. Think differently about God, think differently about yourself, and start thinking about it the way God thinks about it, and “believe the good news.” Believe that God’s for you. Believe that He loves you. And live out of the freedom and the reality. The Gospel is not: what can I do for God? How can I earn His favor? The Gospel is good news. This is what God has already done for you. Receive it; believe it. Let it fill you up, and then, out of thanksgiving and love, express that same kind of love to others.

Now, with that said, how did He teach His disciples? I mean, you think about it. The Creator of all of life decides to inhabit a teenage girl, supernaturally, lives a perfect life, begins His ministry, and this is the message, this announcement. So, what does He do?

And here’s what I want you to see, as I walk things through: He wanted to teach these good, Jewish, religious boys that He didn’t come to change the culture; He came for people to move out of their stuck religion, and the wickedness of the day, and to have a relationship with the living God.

And so, He announced what it was, and then, as you look at the book of Mark, what I want you to see: His goodness. His goodness. His kindness. And He’s kind and good to people in that day that religious people would say don’t deserve anything. The religious system of Judaism, and especially the Pharisees, is, “We earn our favor. We’re more righteous.” In fact, they were just self-righteous.

So, as you pick it up, notice, okay, He’s going to announce the good news. Skip down, if you will, to verse 21: “Then He went to Capernaum, and the Sabbath came, and Jesus went into the synagogue and He began to teach. And the people were amazed at His teaching, because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the Law. And there was a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit. ‘What do you want to do with me?’”

The first thing He does is eradicate evil. He’s in the “church” of their day, and there’s a guy demon possessed. He casts out the demon. So, there’s some authentication. “Whoa! Who is this guy?”

The next thing He does – as you skim, look at verse 29 – He goes over to Peter’s mother-in-law’s house, and she’s sick. And people are wondering, Wow, who is this guy? And He heals her.

And then, if you skim down a little bit after that, what you find is, there’s a real buzz here, and He spends almost all night, and the whole town comes out. He casts out demons and heals, casts out demons and heals, casts out demons and heals. I mean, it is like a rock concert starts, and He is, like, “Whooo!” And people are coming from everywhere.

And then, He gets up real early the next morning to pray, to stay focused, and the disciples say, “Jesus, last night, You were a super hit. Everyone’s talking about You. This is going to be awesome. Come on back.” And He says, “No, no, no, no. I’m on mission. There are many other villages and places I need to go.” So, He teaches the disciples it can’t be about them, it can’t be about us, it can’t be about just now – it’s fulfilling what God wants.
He begins a preaching tour, and in chapter 2, what’s He do? He heals a paralytic. I mean, in that day, people thought, you’re paralyzed? You must have done something wrong. It’s the old bad karma. So, He starts out healing people, declaring war on demons. Then, He heals this paralytic, and then, in the end of 2 and the early part of 3, He calls the disciples, deals with some theological issues.

And then, chapter 3, notice: “He went into a synagogue again, and there was a man with a shriveled hand.” His popularity is mushrooming. And now, the Pharisees are jealous. And so, here’s someone now. If you have a shriveled hand, you’re unclean. You don’t measure up. And they wanted to see, what’s He going to do? And what’s He do? He speaks – doesn’t even touch him. He speaks, and the man is healed. Afterwards, the Pharisees, the religious people, are plotting how to kill Him.

Then, the crowds follow Jesus. Skip down, if you will, verse 9 of chapter 3. It says, “Because of the crowds He told the disciples to have a small boat ready for Him, to keep the people from crowding Him. For He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him.” What’s the message? It’s a new preacher!

And you say to yourself, What’s He doing? He just keeps healing people and healing people, and touching people and touching people that no one thinks is worth anything! It’s good news! This isn’t measuring up. He just keeps loving people. And if you’re one of His early Jewish boys, disciples, you’re going, This is really different.

And did you notice? It’s not about how many services they have, or how many buildings they’re building. What is it? It’s His power. The world today doesn’t need to see more church buildings or more services, or our numbers increase, for that sake. They need to see the power of God in you, and in me, in our homes, in our work, in our neighborhood, unleashing the power that does good. That’s the Gospel. And that’s what He wants to teach them.

Well, notice, He appoints the Twelve, and they come with Him. And then, chapter 4, He begins to do some teaching, which is always very important, so He teaches them about the kingdom. And then, after He teaches them about the kingdom, He wants them to understand that they are agents to bring breakthrough in the lives of people. And we don’t have time to go into depth, but I encourage you to read it on your own.

Chapter 4, He teaches about the kingdom, about trusting God, about the soil – it’s responding to God’s Word, and He talks about how it grows with the mustard seed and how, if we don’t respond to the truth that we get, we don’t get more truth. And He talks about how it’s a supernatural thing that happens, and, in and of itself, it will grow. It’s the power of God’s Word as the Holy Spirit uses it, in the hearts of people that are open and willing.

And then, He says, “Let’s go to the other side.” Because what He wants to do now – He has helped them see, “This is My message. It’s good news.” But now, He wants them to understand, “This is who I really am. And I’m not only good, but I’m powerful enough to handle anything that ever comes up, any time, with anyone.” And so, He says, “Let’s go to the other side.” And these professional fishermen get into an impossible storm, and what’s He do? You know the story? He’s at peace; He’s asleep. They cry out, He speaks, and what happens? Whoo! It’s a breakthrough. And they go, “Who is this guy?”

And then they go to the other side, and there’s not just a guy with demons. If you read it later today, very carefully, it’s a demoniac that has a legion of demons in him, and no one – in other words, it’s impossible – no one can control this guy. So, anybody have demons in your life? I don’t mean necessarily literal ones, but I mean, we talk about, you know, the demons from our past, our family of origin, my addiction. And there may be some literal ones. And what’s He do? He speaks, and he’s healed. And He wants them to know that it really happened, so the demons get into pigs, so, visually, you can see, this is reality.

And then, they go back across, and as He’s going, He hears there’s a little girl that’s very, very sick. And as He’s walking, there’s a woman who’s in an impossible situation. I mean, the author makes it very clear. She’s used up all her money. She’s sought all the doctors she can find. Nothing works. But she believes there’s goodness in this Man – she’s heard; she’s seen. If I could just touch Him – and she does. Tchoo! The goodness of God is so great that Jesus, unaware, when someone draws near to the goodness of God by faith – supernatural things happen. She’s healed on the spot.

And did you notice what He said to her? “Daughter, your” – what? – “made you well”? “Your faith.” But she got to the point that George Müller talked about: I’m bankrupt. There’s nothing I can do. If this Jesus can’t help me, if I don’t get a breakthrough, there’s no hope.

And then, He’s on the way to help the little girl. The servants come: “It’s too late; don’t bother Him. She’s dead.” And this might be worth putting your nose in – Mark chapter 5: “Ignoring” – verse 36 – “what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, ‘Don't be afraid; just believe.’”

Are you starting to get the Gospel? It’s a declaration. It’s an announcement. How is He teaching these disciples? What’s He doing? He’s demonstrating the goodness and the love of God.

And then, if you would care to skip over to chapter 6 – the beginning – because hearing about it and watching it never makes it real in your life. So, chapter 6, He says, “Boys, going to send you on an expedition, but I want you to depend on Me, and I want you to experience what you’ve seen. So, no cloaks, no second bags, no money, no walking sticks. I want you to go to these villages – I’m on a preaching tour – and I want you to heal the sick, I want you to cast out demons, and I want you to announce the kingdom.”

And they go do it, and God works through them! Whoa! And they come back to Him, and they’re exhausted, and they’re excited. They’re now agents of breakthrough! “Lord, the demons – they listened to us! People were healed!” He says, “Well, let’s go get a break.”

And they go to get a break, and as they arrive, oh, my lands – He makes Mick Jagger, and every rock star in the entire world, seem like nothing, because the crowds swell and swell and swell and swell and swell. And He has compassion on them.

And so, in chapter 6, here’s – don’t miss this. In chapter 6, the disciples, after He teaches them, “By this time,” – verse 35 – “it was late in the day, and the disciples came to Him. In this remote place, he said, ‘It's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy for themselves something to eat.’” Notice Jesus’ response: “But He answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’”

Now, I don’t know about you, but they’ve seen some miracles. God’s used them to perform some miracles. There have been some breakthroughs. There are five thousand – and the way they counted in those days were five thousand men – who knows how many people. Okay, listen very carefully; this is what we lost. Jesus expects you to do impossible things. Period. God expects to do impossible things in you and through you.

And if you go on and read the story, you will say, “Well, how does it happen?” What’s He do? He said, “Well, what have you got? I’m not asking you to do something with what you don’t have. What have you got? Bring it to Me. Trust Me. And when you understand, by faith, how good I am, and you’re willing to obey what I’ve already said, I will show up in ways that declare and reveal My glory and My goodness to people that have no idea that I love them.” That’s what breakthrough’s about.

Now, when I read things like that, I get very encouraged, but I also begin to ask questions like number four: Is there an historical precedent that breakthrough can happen in our day? Right? In other words, this is great. This is great stuff. It’s Bible stuff. But does God still do that?

And I would say, if we could do a quick run of Church history – of which we won’t – what I’d say is, you would see that the book of Acts is a picture of breakthrough. And there will be many things that we’ll learn about what these very ordinary people did, where God, through a clear vision of people who believed what He said, who are very ordinary, transformed, by about the next three hundred years, the entire world.

And during that time, you’ll find guys like Athanasius, who stood his ground when all of Christianity was moving in a way apart from the truth, and there was a breakthrough. And you’ll see times where, then, corruption happens in the Church, and they get connected in this “Holy Roman Empire,” and everything that Jesus said and all that He taught and who we were to be, little by little by little, would begin to just be so far away from what was happening in the life of the Church.

And so, He would raise up a Saint Francis over here, and a group of monks over here, and a Teresa of Ávila here, and then a Jan Hus – a Czech priest, who said, “Wait a second! Man, it’s the Bible.” And then, a Luther, a Calvin, and a Zwingli, and a reformation would be birthed.

And they did it imperfectly, and they did some wonderful things, and then they did some really terrible things in the midst of it, because God doesn’t use perfect people, who have it all together, to do breakthroughs. They have blind spots.

And then, after that reformation, you have people like Tyndale, who said, “You know something? We’ve got this printing press. I’m going to start making Bibles in English that people can get,” and Hus made a copy, and, you know, breakthroughs are expensive, really expensive. They burned Hus at the stake as a heretic.

Probably the greatest breakthrough that happened in the last five hundred years was Martin Luther, and in my journey here, I was led very clearly by God to study Martin Luther, because the parallels of what was happening in 1512 through about 1560 are very akin to what’s happening in our world today.

Here’s the historical context: The Holy Roman Empire is now in cahoots with the Church. There’s corruption. No Bible for the common people. The only person who could interpret the Scripture was the Pope. Only priests had access to God. The Church and the Church laws was the authority, not the Bible.

People were paying, at this point, for their salvation, in indulgencies, trying to pay their way out of hell into heaven, and there was ignorance, poverty, a functional caste system with the nobles, hierarchy of the Church, and most of the world – illiterate peasants, called the Dark Ages.

After Hus blazed the trail, literally, no pun intended – Martin Luther shows up. He had a tortured childhood, very strict, strict parents – that’s putting it mildly. He had a conscience that he could never get right. And he found himself longing to please God. And he did get a good education, but in the middle of his education in law school, he had this horrendous experience – some sort of lightning or thunderstorm, along with the loss of a friend – and he promised God – he prayed – according to Church history, he prayed to Saint Anne, “If you get me out of this, I’ll be a monk.”

And he lived, and so he went to be a monk – Wittenberg. He got his doctorate, his master’s, then his – became a teacher at Wittenberg. And he had no peace in his soul. I mean, it was a complete works orientation. “The justice of God, the justice of God, what God demands,” said Luther, in his own words, “made me hate God. I hated God.”

And he was, like, obsessive/compulsive, over the top, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” He fasted; he did all kind of weird things to himself. He went on pilgrimages; he prayed for long periods…I mean, he just – anything that can earn God’s favor. And then, he would always come back realizing his own heart, his own motives, and he just hated God. And so, his supervisor, “But you’re a monk,” it’s hard to be a monk and hate God. I mean, it’s not a good job.

And so, his supervisor had him do his doctoral work in the original languages, where he taught the psalms, Romans, and Galatians. And after teaching those courses for about three years, on a certain day, at a certain time, for the first time ever, he read what the Bible said – not the indoctrination of the heresy that he had heard: “That the just shall live by faith.” “Therefore, we have peace with God, since we’ve been justified by faith.”

And the lights came on, and Luther had a – what he described as an “evangelical awakening,” and he thought it was no big deal. What he realized was, I’ve just rescued the authentic Gospel.

And he began to teach it, and things started happening in Wittenberg. And he – literally, the first was ninety-seven theses, not ninety-five, and people were excited, and there was a movement. And there was conflict with the Holy Roman Empire, and God, in His sovereignty, had this king, Frederick, who really liked Luther, and so the Pope didn’t want to mess with him.

And then, he did the ninety-five theses later, and I mean, all “blank” broke loose. And one man stood, very imperfectly, and because of that, the Reformation.

And here’s what happened to you because of that breakthrough: All individuals – you, normal people – can have a personal relationship with Christ. Salvation is by faith. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. You are a priest. You can talk to Him directly, and God wants to use you. Marriage was elevated. Peace and assurance, a joyful life, not living under the thumb of this angry God.

Scripture is the authority of your life – no teacher, no church, no organization. The Word of God is your authority. The equality of men and the basis of democracy are all rooted in, even peasants matter to God. Do you know what the message was? God is good. God is good. God is loving. God is great. God wants to bless people. He doesn’t think anymore of kings than He does of peasants.

Germany went through this tumultuous time, and the king hid Luther, and he translated the Bible into German for the common people. And despite his horrendous views of Jews, and some of his anti-Semitic – they were terrible early on, and then as he grew in Christ, he moderated them. And then, near the end of his life, he got frustrated. He said some terrible things, I mean, he was a very blunt – you would read some of his stuff and go, “Are you kidding?”

And the only thing I can tell you is, it’s encouraging to me. Because I don’t know if the Lord will come back, or maybe there’ll be another fifty years. But if I’m dead fifty years from now, I’m sure there are going to be some people that’ll listen to or read a sermon and say, “You know, how could Ingram be just – I mean, he seemed like he was really on about this, but he was so off – I mean, that –” Because we are a product of our culture and environment, but we don’t know it. And God can use ordinary people, where you are in your life now.

So, the first question is, so, what is this idea of breakthrough? Is there a pattern in Scripture? Yes. How did Jesus teach His disciples? Is there historical precedent? And I mean, it’s happening through history, and after Luther, it goes on, and we could talk about, then the next generation of them, and what Kerry did, and then Wesley and Whitefield and Edwards in America, and then the next generation of Moody and Spurgeon, and then the end of the century, Aimee McPherson at the turn of the century, and Billy Sunday, and then, all of a sudden, a war and Dawson Trotman and Billy Graham and Bill Bright – regular, ordinary people, like you and me, to whom God becomes so real and so good, they live out of what He’s already done for them, and they believe it to the point that they begin to look at other people as objects of God’s love and mercy, and they begin to treat and think and act that way, and live with a joy because they don’t have to measure up. You already measure up. That’s the Gospel.

Final question – maybe the most important one: How do you experience the first step of breakthrough? And I’m going to tell you, it is so easy to say, and so hard to experience. Are you ready? It’s to believe that God is good. Not intellectually – I mean believe. It’s to believe that He is willing. It’s to embrace that God wants to do, not something hard or difficult, but the impossible in you and through you. That’s His will.

If you were one of His disciples, He would turn to you, He would look you right in the eye, and say, “You feed them.” And you go, “What?” “You reach your neighborhood.” “What?” “You be the breakthrough at work.” “What?” “You take the first step in the reconciliation of this marriage.” “What?” “You break that addiction and bring other people with you.” “What?” It’s what He expects. And all the power is available to do it.

How? I don’t want you to intellectually be, “Oh, yeah. When I was there, it seemed like God really loved me, and He cares about me, and I’m valued and I’m forgiven, and His Spirit lives in me, and I have gifts, and He’s got a plan for my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” – and then, Monday morning.

I want you to read this over, and I want you to put your name in it, because I want you not to memorize this, or say, “God will love me more if I get this down.”

This passage was not written just to read at funerals. This is one of the most graphic pictures of God’s goodness in all the Bible. And when you personalize it – I mean, just in preparing for this, I just read, “The LORD is Chip’s Shepherd, Chip lacks nothing. He makes Chip lie down in green pastures, He leads Chip beside quiet waters.” Wow. “He refreshes Chip’s soul. He guides Chip along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though Chip walks through the darkest valley, Chip will fear no evil, for You are with Chip; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort Chip. You prepare a table for Chip in the presence of Chip’s enemies. You anoint Chip’s head with oil; Chip’s cup will overflow. Surely goodness and love will follow Chip” – not somebody, somewhere, sometime – me! – “all the days of Chip’s life, and Chip” – talk about promise – “will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

I want you, this week, to write your name in there, and I want you just to read it over. And by the way, as you’re reading, if you slip into praising God, it’s okay. If you – if problems about, “Oh, you mean God would really give me direction, or help me get through this?” And you start thinking, and thoughts come to your mind that solve problems, that’s okay. If you renew your mind – next seven days – okay? – at least a couple times a week, your intellectual assent that God is good will move from your head into your heart, and you will begin to see differently, and you will begin the first step for breakthrough.