The "word" for 2011:
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel” (1 Peter 4:17).
God gave me the word “judgment” for this year. What do I mean when I say, “God gave me the word”?
For some years God has—as I have prayed, I have had a sense of direction from God about how to pray. That is all it is.
Is this the Word of God? Of course not. The only thing that is the Word of God is Holy Scripture. And every word that anyone says has to always be tested by Scripture. Not only that, even if something is scriptural, people need to evaluate it through prayer: “Is God impressing this on me?”
So I want to say two things. First of all, every word is to be tested by conformity to Scripture. Secondly, even if something lines up with the basic principles of Scripture, your conscience is bound by nothing but the Word of God. You need to pray and say, “Lord, is this something you are laying on my heart?”
For some years I have had that sense of direction as I have prayed for the future, “God, how should I pray? How should I prepare God’s people? What should be a focus or foci of... as I think of preaching in this coming year?”
And for a number of years I kept that to myself, and then in November of 2004 I received the word “destruction” for 2005. 2004 ended with the tsunami, and that Sunday, January 2, 2005, as the tsunami had just happened, we didn’t know the results of it completely yet, but it ended up that 300,000 people, roughly, were killed. I shared that word and that God was shaking the world (“The Shaking of the World: Past, Present and Future”). And, of course, we had Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Then we had Hurricane Rita hit the western side of Louisiana less than a month later, on September 24. And people kind of took alarm at that.
One... I think the year after that or the year after that was the word “provision.” And then in 2007, I received the word “collapse” for 2008. And 2008 resulted in a collapse economically that is... we are still feeling, and we are not over yet and don’t believe your government and the financial whiz kids that talk on TV. We are still in that, and it is getting worse. That word was collapse.
And then I, you know, I thought, “Maybe I don’t need to be saying these words to people.” But anyhow I was sitting and praying, “God, what are you saying about 2009?” And this was late in 2008. And the word was “darkening” and God immediately gave me Scripture, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it or comprehended it” (John 1:5).
And then in 2009 God gave me the word “chaos” for 2010. As I meditated on that, I thought, “Boy, I don’t need to say that. So I was very hesitant. I decided not to say it to anybody.”
Then I said it to my wife and she said, “I think you are right not to share that.”
But as I prayed about it, something happened in the next month or two, and so I shared it and I shared it in a sermon. I shared it in the context of God’s provision. And the antithesis of chaos is God’s shalom.
“So, well, you know, Lord, I don’t know. You know, I don’t want to get into this trap and people are asking for words.” And it is, again, it is about a prayer focus for me. It is about how I think about what I am going to be preaching on. And I heard the word “judgment.”
How did I hear that word? Did I hear a voice? Of course not. I don’t need to be put in the asylum. I don’t hear voices. I don’t have things vibrating my tympanic membranes, you know. It is just that there is a sense of knowing that you know something.
And I heard that word “judgment,” and I immediately thought of a dream that I had on August 4, 2010. It was a very unusual dream. It was a double dream. I was dreaming. And I can’t even remember what I was dreaming, but I heard a voice speak to me in the dream. And the voice said, “A display of the justice of God is a manifestation of the grace of God because there is opportunity to repent.”
I woke up. Whoa, man. Whoa. Wow. And I went back to sleep.
And I dreamed again and again a voice spoke to me in the dream and said these same words. “A display of the justice of God... of the justice of God, a display of the justice of God is a manifestation of the grace of God because there is an opportunity to repent.”
And when I received the word in December for 2011, I remembered the dream because I wrote the dream down. And I really felt the dream was from God.
So I want to share with you some thoughts regarding the dream and the word. And that comes to us from 1 Peter 4:17.
I shared this with the Sunday Night Prayer Group before New Year’s, and also somewhat on New Year’s Eve night. And as we were talking, one brother shared some thoughts; another brother shared some thoughts, and God really impressed me with this Scripture.
“For time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
This is what God is saying to me. Now, is God saying this to me? Of course, I don’t know that. Nor can I say to you with absolute finality, “Thus saith the Lord.” There is only Scripture you can say that about. But if I have ever heard from God, this is what God is saying to me.
It is time for Christian people, particularly Christian leaders, to clean up their act. It is time for people to get their business straight with the Lord and their secret sins are going to be made public in 2011.
So I think of the phone call this afternoon that ... has crushed me and has put me in a very difficult spot because I was going along with a plan that allowed a local church session to deal with a matter themselves in private, and I honored their desire to do it that way.
Now, I have received a horrible rebuke from someone who felt I was very much out of order. I don’t believe I was out of order, but there we go.
So what is God saying to us for 2011? This is what he is saying. If you have got sin in your life, even if it is not a big sin, even if it is a little thing, even if it is an attitude rather than an action, you better get your business straight, because God is going to expose it to other people if you don’t privately deal with it to God. That is what God is saying to me.
So what is your sin in your life? It may be something like pride. And I have had my pride in the past week profoundly exposed a couple of times with a terrible faux pas that I committed while out of town in something I failed to do.
Our brother shared his experience. Immediately I thought of the word—which I had told you what that word was already, didn’t I? And I said, “Boy, that is the word for the year.”
The word is God wants to burn out of you and me the things that are hindering us from being all that God wants us to be.
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel?” (1 Peter 4:17)
So this is a good word. See? These words sound bad. But they are really good words. Judgment is a good word, if you understand it in light of the word in the dream. A display of the justice of God is a manifestation of the grace of God because there is an opportunity to repent. Where there is repentance, there is always restoration and healing.
We serve a God who wants to bless us. We serve a God who wants to make us happy. We serve a God who wants to make us fulfilled. He wants us to deal with our business because he wants there to be nothing in our lives that hinders us from receiving all that he has for us in the blessing of God.
That is the word that I have gotten from God. And it is that this is the year, more than any other year in which our sin will find us out.
Think of it. It may be your telephone making a phone call without your even doing it—they do those things, you know. They make phone calls because of your squirming or wiggling or whatever. It may not even be the last number you dialed. And it may call someone’s home and leave it on their answering machine so that there is a taped record of what you were saying in private.
Emails, Facebook. Facebook has become the means of adultery like nothing in the world has ever been.
You say, “What?”
And here is how it works. “Fifty years ago, Lulabelle and I were boyfriend and girlfriend. And I haven’t heard from her in 50 years, you know. But now, suddenly, she is angry with her husband—left her husband, and she connects with me on Facebook.” And, of course, every marriage has its negatives as well as its positives. Because every spouse has qualities like me.
And so, you know, romance it is not always there 100 percent. And our memories are amazingly distrustful. We remembered the best of certain things and forget the worst. And in other situations we remember the worst and forget the best.
“So now I have connected on Facebook with Lulabelle. And she has begun to tell me how much she loved me and never got over it and how she only married Jethro because, you know, blah, blah, blah.” And now we are connected.
By the way, I had a lady call me several months ago. This is how I realized this... my illustrations are always based on real things that happen to me (but distorted to protect people’s identities). And so I had this woman call me and she said, “My husband found on Facebook this woman that he had an affair with years and years ago back when we lived in Alexandria. This woman has attempted to contact him on Facebook. What should I do?”
I said, “Destroy the message. Don’t ever let him know she tried to contact him.”
See what happens? I am just telling you. Modern technology has given us an ability to fall into sin like nothing we have ever had before.
Now here is what I am telling you. If you have got something in your life, God wants you to be secretive about it and be open with him and say, “Lord, you know the story here. You know this. Lord, help me to deal with it.”
And if you can’t deal with it with just you and the Lord, call your pastor or somebody. If you are a lady, call your pastor’s wife or call an elder or an elder’s wife or whatever. But for the sake of Jesus, deal with your business because what I believe God is saying to me is judgment is coming and be sure your sin will find you out. God is not going to allow any cover-ups. No cover-ups. So deal with it—just you and the Lord and it is gone. You don’t have to worry about it. It is under the blood of Jesus. There is nothing blocking your prayers. There is nothing hindering you. Enter into the joy of your Lord and live for him in 2011 in peace and confidence.
But if you say, “Oh, I can’t deal with this. I am not ready to give this up...”
Maybe you love money. If I ever saw a place where people love money it is Beverly Hills. We stayed in a hotel on the Sunset Strip. They love money out there, and I never saw so many depressed people in my life. It is so unhappy.
Why does America have a pandemic of depression? Because it has a pandemic of narcissism. And as the Simon and Garfunkel song went, “I learned the truth from Lenny Bruce and all my wealth can’t buy me health and so I smoke a pint of tea a day.”
What does that mean? It means that the guy—even though he is rich, he is in misery and he smokes a pint of marijuana a day. That is a lot.
Oh, by the way, when I walked down a particular road, there were clinics lined up with all of these symptoms. Come in, and we will diagnose you as needing marijuana, and then you can go buy it legally.
I thought, “Wow!” I even carried a couple of the cards. I thought, “They ain’t going to believe this back in Podunk Holler.”
“How you gonna’ keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” Well, I don’t want to be hit by somebody toked up. So I am staying down here in Podunk Holler with you all.
I am telling you that judgment is coming. That is the word. Deal with your business.
Because a display of the justice of God—that is what judgment is—is a manifestation of the grace of God because there is an opportunity to repent.
Guess what? If you don’t deal with it, God will deal with it. That is what I am impressed with.
2011 is the year of nakedness. He is going to strip you naked in front of everybody in 2011, unless you get naked and real before God and deal with your business and say, “Lord, burn this thing out of me. Whatever you have got to do in my life, do it.”
Whether it is your love of money or whether it is pride or whether you have got a drinking problem or whether you have got a drug problem, prescription or otherwise, whatever it is. Deal with it.
Is that a bad word? See, I don’t think it is a bad word. I think it is a good word. It is a good word.
A display of the justice of God is a manifestation of the grace of God because it gives the opportunity for repentance.
What does God want? Listen. I want to say this in closing, and then we will head for some prayer.
God loves you. I mean he loves you. He really loves you. He loves you so much that he sent his only begotten Son into the world for you, and as Augustine said, “He loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
God loves you so much that God will go to any length for you to enjoy him because the best thing there is, is knowing Jesus.
I went down last night to turn some water on a spigot outside my house. It was very cold, and I looked up at the sky and I said, “God, I thank you I live right here.”
And I thought about a house that I visited and the coldness and the deadness and the unhappiness. It was like an ice palace but unbelievably fine.
Materialism leads to suicide because Materialism takes away the human soul. And when your soul is dead, what is there to live for?
So deal with your business.
Is that the word of the Lord for 2011? I believe it is. It lines up with Scripture. And 2011 has gotten off to an unbelievably amazing start for me. Here it is the 12th of January, and I have seen so much happen with so many people in so short a time. And I knew our brother was willing to share a few thoughts tonight, and he is not the only one I have been dealing with.
It is time for judgment to come, begin with the house of God.
Anybody have any thoughts before we take the time to pray? We want to remember our brother Elton.