THE GOD OF THE BREAKTHROUGHS
By Mark E. Hardgrove, Ph.D., D.Min.
Text: 1 Chron. 14:8-17, NKJV
8 Now when the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went out against them. 9 Then the Philistines went and made a raid on the Valley of Rephaim. 10 And David inquired of God, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?" The LORD said to him, "Go up, for I will deliver them into your hand." 11 So they went up to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there. Then David said, "God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water." Therefore they called the name of that place Baal Perazim. 12 And when they left their gods there, David gave a commandment, and they were burned with fire.
How many of you have ever needed a breakthrough in your life? You were up against a wall that wouldnít move, a door that wouldnít open, and you needed a breakthrough. There are probably some people here today who need a breakthrough. You feel like youíve been beating your head against a wall, but nothing is happening. You feel like your knuckles are raw from knocking, but no one is answering. Youíve been praying and crying, pushing and pulling, but thereís no movement, no sign, no evidence that anything is about to happen anytime soon. You are at the end of your rope, just about at the end of your hope, and everything within you is crying out, ďGod! I need a breakthrough, and I need it now!Ē
Some of you need a breakthrough in your finances. Youíve shuffled bills and cut back until thereís nothing left to cut. Youíve stretched dollars so far they are about to snap back and hurt somebody. Youíve pinched pennies until youíve rubbed the head off Abraham Lincoln and you need a financial breakthrough.
Some of you need a breakthrough in your marriage. Youíve been hanging on and hanging in, but you feel like youíre about to lose your grip. You want to feel appreciated and loved, but you feel like the fire has gone out and you are cold and lonely in your own home and marriage. You need a breakthrough.
Some of you need a breakthrough in your spirit. You used to feel God move, but now youíve begun to question whether those experiences were even real. The Holy Spirit used to move up and down the avenues of your soul and set your feet to dancing, but now itís all you can do to drag yourself to church on Sunday morning. You need a breakthrough.
Some of feel like you need a breakthrough on the job. You feel like youíre stuck in a job you canít stand, but you donít know what else to do. So you show up, go through the motions, get your paycheck, and go back home. But youíre not fulfilled, youíre not growing, and you dread every day that you have to get up again and go work. You need a breakthrough.
Some you need a breakthrough in ministry. Others need a breakthrough in parenting. Some of you need a breakthrough in life. There are people who need a breakthrough in love and they want to find the person that God has prepared for them. There people here who desperately want life to mean something, but instead one day bleeds into another day and they feel like they are going nowhere as life parades past their door every day. They need a breakthrough.
The good news today is that our God is a breakthrough God, and if you are His child, and if you are serving Him and seeking Him with your whole heart, then I know that God will make a way for you. God will open doors that no man can close. Heíll part the Red Sea back up the Jordan River in a heap. Heíll bring down the walls of Jericho. Heíll shut the mouths of lions. Heíll open prison doors. Our God is a breakthrough God!
You know this in your mind, and yet there are people who are crying in the midnight hour, ďGod, why havenít I gotten my breakthrough yet?Ē
Look at the text with me today and letís explore the steps that David took that led to a breakthrough for him and Israel. As many of you who have read the Bible through know, the two books of Chronicles cover much of the same time and history as the books of Samuel and Kings and, as such, these two books contain some of the very same accounts found earlier in the Bible. Our text today has a parallel account in 2 Samuel, chapter 5. It is an account from the life and leadership of King David, and in this account we see a great example of how God can give us a breakthrough in our life if we are willing to follow some very basic steps.
I) ACCEPT YOUR ANOINTING
Verse 8 tells us that, ďDavid had been anointed king over all Israel.Ē The first step in your breakthrough is to find and fulfill your place of anointing. Your anointing is the calling of God upon your life and the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in that calling. If David was anointed to be king it is doubtful that he would ever have experienced a breakthrough trying to function as a priest or a prophet. He was a king, and his breakthrough would come in the area of his anointing.
Step number one on your way to your breakthrough is to find out where God wants you. What ministry are you called to? What person has He paired you with? What plan does God have for your life with respect to employment? If you are not operating in your area of anointing you will not experience your breakthrough. For example, there are people pastoring churches who are not called to pastoral ministry. They are operating outside of their anointing and until they yield to Godís call, and the ministry gift that the Holy Spirit has placed upon their life, they will never experience a Divine breakthrough.
David was anointed to be king and David experienced a kingís breakthrough on the field of battle. The thing about a calling is that it is Godís call upon your life, it is His decision for your life, and when we yield ourselves to His call, the anointing will follow and the breakthrough will come in that area of our life. In fact, if we try to function outside of His call and anointing the doors will close, those around us will not affirm our call, and we will be frustrated and unfruitful. The first step is to accept our anointing, that is, to claim our calling and to let God be God in our life.
II) PURSUE YOUR PURPOSE
When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up to oppose David. When we embrace Godís destiny for our life the devil will come against us. After all, there is no breakthrough unless there is something to break through, some obstacle to overcome, or some opposition to triumph over. But when that opposition comes we cannot surrender to defeat or give up on our dream. If we know that we are operating in Godís plan and purpose for our life, and if we are embracing our divine destiny, then we need to keep on keeping on.
When David heard that the Philistines were coming up against him, he didnít run and hide in the kingís palace. Instead, when David heard that the Philistines were looking for him, he took the fight to them. The second step in our breakthrough is to pursue our purpose. We have to want it enough to pursue and to persevere with passion. We have to stand up like men and women of faith and refuse to allow fear or doubt or discouragement keep us from finding and fulfilling our destiny and experiencing our breakthrough.
The truth is that breakthroughs rarely (if ever) come to the passive, the timid, or the fearful. Breakthroughs come to those who are willing to embrace and pursue their divine purpose and courageously live a purpose driven life. We used to sing a song when I was a kid that said, ďQuitters never win, and winners never quit.Ē
I have seen too many ministries on the brink of a breakthrough, only to fail and fizzle. Iíve watched too many marriages about to overcome the challenges of married life, only to die in divorce. Iíve watch too many people on the precipice of promise, quit and concede defeat to the devil, when they were within a hareís breath to their breakthrough.
There are no breakthroughs for people who quit every time they hit a bump in the road or who face opposition. Breakthroughs come to people who pursue their purpose with passion and refuse to let their dreams die; people who are willing to fight the forces of hell and to cross through high water to do, and be, and achieve what God has placed in their heart. Breakthroughs never come to the complacent, but breakthroughs come to those who refuse to quit, to cower, or to concede defeat. Breakthroughs come to those who keep on keeping on, and who persist in their purpose until heaven shows up and God shows out.
I wonder how many times weíve been one prayer away from our breakthrough, but we quit praying. Or weíve been one praise away from a victory, but we stopped praising. Heaven must weep when Christians are one knock away from the open door, but we stop knocking, one invitation away from seeing our loved one saved, but we stop asking, one good dayís work away from a promotion, but we quit trying. There are no victories for people who surrender to defeat. There are no breakthroughs for people who refuse to passionately and persistently pursue their God given purpose and calling.
III) DISCERN DIVINE DIRECTION
The next thing that David did, as the Philistines continued to harass the nation, was that David inquired of God. He asked, ďShall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?Ē David was seeking Godís direction before he took any action. The reason some people never experience their breakthrough is because they take action without asking God what His will is in the situation. Then, when they get themselves in over their head and backed into a corner, they want God to bail them out.
The third step in our breakthrough is to seek Divine direction. Are we operating in Godís will? Some will say, ďWell, Iím moving in my calling, and Iím pursuing my purpose.Ē But have we sought Godís direction regarding the course of action we are about to take? Is this Godís will? Do we have Godís assurance that His approval is upon our plan of action?
David asked God straight up, ďWill you deliver the Philistines into my hands?Ē and God said, ďGo up, for I will deliver them into your hand.Ē David had assurance from God before he presumed to take action against the enemy.
You might ask, ďHow do I know when I have Godís assurance?Ē I believe that if we have an ongoing and dynamic relationship with God, when God is in it we will have a peace about it. If we are uneasy, if there are red flags, and if we just donít feel that we have Godís assurance, then wait. Wait I say on the Lord until you know that you are acting in agreement with His will in this circumstance. Do not tempt the Lord your God. Donít leap from the pinnacle of the tower just to see if God is going to catch you. Ask Him for His approval before you get out of the boat and try walking on water.
Breakthroughs are not accidents. We donít just stumble into breakthroughs. Real breakthroughs come as a result of consistent effort that is based upon a strategic plan of action that comes from asking God what His will is. In war the generals devise the plan of action and the lower ranking officers, the non-commissioned officers, and the soldiers carry out their orders. David was king and his men would carry out his orders, but David knew that even he must seek Divine direction before stepping onto the field of battle and into the line of fire.
As believers we are told that Jesus is the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) and as such we need to seek His will before we act. We need to know that we are following His plans and we need to have the assurance that our actions are in agreement with His purpose for our lives. Breakthroughs are not accidents; all our victories are planned by God. He said
11 For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV)
God has a plan, but we will only be able to move in His will when we pray and seek Him with our whole heart.
IV) MOVE WITH A MANDATE
What happened next? David led his army against the Philistines and defeated them at Baal Perazim. Once David had Godís approval for his action, he moved with a mandate and took decisive action. That is the fourth step. This is not the time for half-hearted effort. This is not the time to second guess and to waver between two opinions. This fourth step in your breakthrough requires that you move in faith and take the fight to the enemy. It requires bold action bathed in prayer and built on faith.
I once heard the story of three missionaries going to a strange island in the South Pacific to try to reach the natives. As they unloaded their little boat and walked a little further inland, the two younger missionaries asked the older wiser missionary what they should do with the boat. The older missionary never looked back, he just said, ďBurn the boat.Ē
They were astonished. They asked, ďWhat do you mean, ĎBurn the boatí? We donít know what we will find here. We donít know if the people will be helpful or hostile toward us. We donít know if there will be food here to sustain us. What do you mean, ĎBurn the boat.íĒ
He said, ďYou should never have gotten into the boat unless you were committed to reach the people here. I came here because I knew it was Godís will for me to be here and sink or swim, live or die, Iím committed, and Iím not going back. Burn the boat!Ē
Hereís a little secret about breakthroughs, they are not the result of passively waiting for God to do something to you; breakthroughs come when you allow God to do something through you. Look at Davidís words in verse 11. He said, ďGod has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.Ē Do you see that? God used Davidís hands and Davidís actions, and Davidís decisive action to provide a breakthrough for David and for Israel.
We are told that because of this breakthrough David named this place Baal Perazim. I know this sounds odd because we are used to names like Jehovah-Jirah or Jehovah-Rapha. Baal is the name of the false god of the Philistines, so why does David name the place, Baal Perazim? Some say that the word baal is just a Philistine word for god, and David used their word for god to remind them that the God of Israel granted His people a victory over their enemies.
Others say that the translation indicates that God had given Israel a victory over the gods of the Philistines, with the literal meaning being ďThis is a breakthrough over Baal.Ē When the enemy came in against the people of God, God was like a flood of fire and fury in defeating the followers of Baal, so this shall be called Baal Perazim.
Iím not sure which view we should take. Either one can be a good explanation, but I know one thing for sure, and that is, that our God is a breakthrough God. When I didnít know how I was going to feed my family and pay my tuition in seminary, I refused to quit because I knew it this was Godís plan for my life. I found out that my God is a breakthrough God. He set me up with a scholarship and I earned my Master of Divinity degree with my tuition paid for me. My God is a breakthrough God.
When Sun and I were going through a rough patch in our marriage I wanted to quit, but instead we stayed, we prayed, and almost twenty-seven years later we can say that our God is a breakthrough God.
Let me tell you, church, when you need a miracle, our God is a breakthrough God.
When you are up against an impossible situation, our God is a breakthrough God.
When youíre dry in your spirit and thirsty for more, our God is a breakthrough God.
When you need employment in a bad economy, our God is a breakthrough God.
When your kids donít want to come to church, our God is a breakthrough God.
When we need revival in our country, our God is a breakthrough God.
When we enemy comes in like a flood, our God is a breakthrough God.
Donít tell me God wonít show up and show out. Donít tell me that the age of miracles is over. Donít tell me that God doesnít still answer prayer. Youíve come along too late to change my tune or silence my song, because despite what anyone says, and regardless of what anyone does, I know that if I am walking in my anointing, if I am pursuing my purpose, if I have the assurance that my actions are according to Godís plan, and if I will move with a mandate from heaven, my breakthrough is coming. I may not see it yet, but itís coming. The world may not acknowledge it, but itís coming. The devil may not like it, but itís coming. Jesus said that if I ask and keep on asking, it will be given. If I seek and keep on seeking, I will find it. If I knock and keep on knocking, it shall open unto me, because my God is a breakthrough God (Mat.7:7, NKJV)! I said my breakthrough is coming; itís already on the way!
So where do you need a breakthrough? Do you know what Godís purpose for your life is? Are you pursuing that purpose? Are you taking action only after youíve sought Godís direction? And once you have Godís approval, are you moving decisively in faith and anointing? When you do these things, the breakthrough will follow. But if you ignore any one of these steps, you will short-circuit your breakthrough and your life will be a series of unfulfilled dreams and frustrating failures.
Are you ready for a breakthrough? Well the good news is that our God is a breakthrough God. He wonít do it to you, but Heíll do it through you when you are ready and willing to allow His will to be accomplished in your life.
I want to pray for people today who are ready for a breakthrough: Step number one, accept your anointing. Step number two, pursue your purpose. Step number three, seek Divine direction. And step number four, move with a mandate and act decisively.
You may be at any of these steps today. You may be seeking to understand your anointing, trying to find out what God has called you to. You may be trying to pursue your purpose as you confront the discouraging word of the enemy. You may be trying to find Divine direction and you are seeking God assurance before you act. Or, you may be ready to take decisive action and move with a mandate. Whatever step you are at today, I believe you can move to the next step and be one step closer to your breakthrough when you leave, than you were when you walked through the door. Or, it may be that today is your day and your breakthrough is just a prayer away. Wherever you are in the process, I want to pray with those of you who are seeking a breakthrough.