TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Don’t Quit

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want you to look with me at Revelation, chapter number two, verse number one, Revelation two, chapter one, to the angel of the church of Ephesus write, “You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.? You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. Would you just repeat verse three out loud with me ready begin, “You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. This is Jesus speaking. He is speaking directly to a church, to a congregation of believers, and he is acknowledging the fact that they have not quit. In so doing he implies that others might have quit, or that there would have been reason for these folks to have quit. But he affirms them for choosing to not quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It's interesting. You know the Greek word for quitting, that's used in verse three of revelation two. It's translated in many different ways throughout the New Testament. But every single time it is associated with the concept of hard labor that produces fatigue. So the way that you could read Revelation 2:3 is, you have patiently suffered for me. You have worked hard to the point of great fatigue, but you didn't quit. This is Jesus speaking to a church. You didn't quit. You got fatigued, you got exhausted, you worked really, really hard, but you didn't quit. Others might have quit, maybe others did quit. But you, you didn't quit. He's affirming them for this. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You might remember that the church of  Ephesus is addressed other times in Scripture. In fact, there's an entire letter written to them. It's the book of Ephesians. But Paul made this comment about Ephesus. He said, when I go there to minister, it's like I'm fighting a beast. Some have said that that was literal that maybe Ephesus was a place that fed Christians to wild animals for public sport. Or maybe it was spiritual, that it was a place where there was increased demonic activity, and it was like going up against a spiritual beast to go there and try to do something for the Lord. Either way, what we know about emphasis is that it was not for the average choirboy. It was a place that required great effort to do anything on behalf of God. And it was a place where that evidently a lot of people chose to quit. But for this specific congregation that Jesus is speaking to, he affirms them, you didn't quit. Man, don't you want the Lord to be able to say that about you? That regardless of the trial, regardless of the tribulation, regardless of the good day, the bad day, when they said something nice, or they said something mean, that you did not quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Abraham Lincoln, he has quite a biographical sketch. In fact, it reads something like this. In 1832, he lost his job. He decided to run for state legislator later that year, and he lost. Eleven years later, his business failed. But in 1834, he was elected to the state legislature. In 1835, his sweetheart died. In 1836, he was clinically diagnosed with a nervous breakdown. In 1838, he was defeated for speaker of the house representatives in his state. In 1843, he was defeated for a nomination to run for US Congress. But in 1846, he was elected to the US Congress. In 1848, he lost re-nomination; and in 1849, they would not even allow him to be the land officer. In 1854, he was defeated for the US Senate. In 1856, he was defeated for a nomination to be vice president. And in 1858, he was again defeated in a run for US senate; but in 1860, he became president of the United States and the rest is history. When you read through that biographical sketch, there are far more failures than there are successes. There are far more defeats than there are wins. But something starts to stick out about Abraham Lincoln, he simply would not quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I've been thinking about something this week, and it's this, we live in a canceled culture that is obvious. But I'm going to tell you something, there's one thing you can't cancel, and that's a man that won't quit. It was something about Abraham Lincoln that said, I will not quit. It was something about that church at Ephesus that said, I will not quit. You know, at our house, we really like basketball, like a lot. In fact, my son got fired earlier today from his job as my Sunday morning assistant. Because I needed something in Campbellsville, and I'm in the pulpit, and I'm trying to find him. No one can lay eyes on him, and I just announced publicly that he had been terminated, effective immediately. And we got in the car ,and we were talking about this issue and, and he was a little concerned. And then we came to an agreement that if he could just have another game this coming week like he had last week, I would continue to allow him to be my son. Just keep putting the round ball through the little goal that goes to the net. We're going to be okay, Dawson. I'll let you still be my boy. We like basketball. We like it a lot.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Michael Jordan, perceived to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Do you know that joker was cut from his high school basketball team when he was a sophomore? Wouldn't even let him play varsity, cut him, sent him home to his mama. Michael Jordan. One of his greatest games, though, had 103 degree fever and flu-like symptoms and scored 60 points. This is what he said. He said I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed. It sounds to me like a man that just didn't know when to quit. It sounds to me like a man who said I will not quit. You can cut me, but I'm not going to quit. I can get a doctor's report that I don't care for, but I'm not going to quit. I can miss the game winning shot 26 times, but the next time the ball’s in my hands with no time left on the clock, I will take the shot. I will not quit. That is the sketch and the resume of Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordan. I wonder what does your resume look like? What does my resume look like? Because here's the thing, Abraham Lincoln, if you study his life, he was at the least you could say he was spiritually confused. Michael Jordan, there's no prominent moment in his life where he seems to have pointed to this really strong relationship with Jesus. But if both of those men could do things of such significance and be described as so successful, that they are the greatest to have ever lived in their prospective positions. Then just let me ask you something. What could someone do if they actually allowed God to get involved and would not quit? Because here's the discovery. Perseverance is not a spiritual gift, it is a decision. I'm gonna say it again, perseverance is not a spiritual gift, it is a decision. It's when you make up your mind that come hell or high water, I will walk through the fire, and I will walk on the water, but I will not quit. And there has to be something that comes back to the followers of Jesus Christ for such a time is this that says with a certainty inside of them some backing with the intestinal fortitude of their life, I will not quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I'm gonna show you something in Scripture. Over and over again, as you evaluate it from the book of Genesis all the way to the book of Revelation, there is something clear that sticks out, God is attracted to a persevering spirit, and he's not even trying to hide it. Over and over again, people who chose to not quit despite their circumstance, despite what went wrong, despite all the things that would have given them the excuse to quit. Those are the people that wind up filling the pages of your Holy Bible. Moses, do you realize that he had to go before Pharaoh 10 times before the people actually got set free. That nine times he failed, but he would not quit. And even once he's in the wilderness, he's trying to lead them to the Promised Land. He's got over a million people and you know what they're known for murmuring and complaining. He couldn't keep him off Facebook, and they would not leave Twitter alone, and every time they went there, they had nothing to say but a bunch of mean sarcastic hateful stuff. But he wouldn't quit. There was all kinds of reasons for him to walk away and say I'm not the guy for this, and I'm not gonna do this anymore, and I just want to quit, but you wind up with five books at the front end of your Bible that are a direct result of one man who said I will not quit. And I think that one of the reasons that some of us do not have the stories to fill the pages of our life is because if we're honest, we quit way too easy. Daniel, you're going to quit praying like that. We don't like it. We don't appreciate the way you worship your God. Stop it. Quit. You want me to stop praying? Well, that's a non-negotiable. No, I don't quit praying. So since you don't like it, let me just open the windows and show you what my prayer life actually looks like. And three times a day, he gave it to him. Even though they threatened him with a den of lions and said, if you don't stop praying, your life will be ended. I can't quit praying. And the impending result is that he does wind up in the lion's den. But does anybody know how the story ends? With a little bit of promotion on the other side of, but we want the miracle without the problem, but we don't understand there is no miracle without a problem. But you never make it through the problem to the miracle without the persevering spirit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

One of the favorite things my dad ever taught me comes from a lesson in his life. My dad was privileged to be a supervisor of other employees. And one of the things about my dad is that he's very quiet. He doesn't say a whole lot, but my dad is not going to eat a meal unless he prays over it. It's non-negotiable. He does not care who is waiting on him, how many people are around or who it makes uncomfortable, he is going to bless the meal. Well, one of his employees communicated that they were offended by his prayer life. They communicated that it made them uncomfortable, and that they didn't feel like that he should be allowed to do this, especially as a supervisor, and that he should quit it. Well, you know what the Don did, he just went through the drive thru or sit down restaurant or wherever they happen to be, and he continued to lay his food out in front of him, and to very cordially, very kindly, very quietly, but out loud, bless his meal. When it was all said and done, the other man had been transferred and my father had a $4 on the hour raise. And my dad taught me this, son, if praying gets you into trouble, praying will get you out of trouble. I need to help somebody this morning. You got to have some non negotiables in your life about I will not quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I think the church has become so accustomed to having the red carpet laid out in front of us that we are not prepared for any level of mockery, ridicule, or persecution that could possibly arise in the coming days. And because we love to have everything handed to us on a silver platter, I fear for the faith of many. You guys have planted over 25 churches in China. But right now 1000s of pastors in China are completely underground, trying to simply stay alive while not quitting on their faith. Men like Li De Xian, preaching, and the communist soldiers bust through the back door, grab him by the nap of the neck, take him outside and beat him ruthlessly. But as they walk away, he realizes quitting is not an option. Walks right back to that pulpit, and before they have rounded the sidewalk, they hear him preaching again. They come back in, take hold of the Bible that he's preaching from, drag him out into the streets and beat him to death with his own Bible. But when he stands before the throne of God, there's one thing he can say, I didn't quit.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

If we're honest, we can't handle a bad parking place. We'll come up with every excuse in the world. It's too loud. It's not loud enough. He's too direct in his preaching. He's not direct enough in his preaching buildings too hot, the buildings too cold. I don't like the fact there's a hypocrite sitting three rows in front of me. Like all these excuses and all these reasons to quit. But do you get it that two thirds of your New Testament would not be in your hand if the men and women of God that were used in the days of old had quit. 2 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 25, Paul testifies Just a moment. He says three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and the day I have spent in the deep of the ocean. I have been on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my country, and dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren lying about me and saying stuff that wasn't true. I've been in labor and hardship through many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst, often without food and cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, I pastor a bunch of churches. Just throwing that in there. Like, do you hear what Paul is saying? He's saying they beat me and I didn't quit. They lied about me, and I didn't quit. They put me in prison, and I didn't quit. And it seems to me that the thing he is most excited about in his life is that he didn't quit. I guess the thing that gets his motor turning what you got today, devil because I'll show you again, I ain't gonna quit. What do you plan on bringing my way this week devil because I proved it to you last week, and I plan on proving it to you again this week. There's a perseverance spirit inside this old country boy.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I just wonder. When's the last time you reminded the enemy I don't quit? In the midst of the fight in the midst of the battle and fight in the midst of everything raging against you. When's the last time something stirred on the inside of you and said, I will not quit. I get it that the enemy is trying to run you off and run you away, and scare you this way and scare you that way, but Paul looks back and says I will not quit. 2 Corinthians 4:8, he said it this way, “We are hard pressed on every side, but we're not crushed. We're perplexed, but we are not in despair. We’re persecuted, but we're not abandoned. We are struck down, but we are not destroyed, so we're not going to quit.” Just tell somebody don't quit. Romans chapter five, verse four, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character. Do you get it that you are not able to have good character unless you are willing to persevere? 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

One of the things that I share with my kids all the time, my daughter, especially, she's gifted with creative stuff, and she gets that from her father. But one of the things I caution her about all the time is I'm like Nat you're gonna have to understand, your gift can take you where your character is not yet ready to keep you. So what we have to do is sometimes we have to slow the process down so that the character can catch up with the gift. It happened to me when I was 20 like stuff started going my way. Next thing I knew I was standing in front of two or 3000 people at conferences, but my gift was taking me where my character was not yet ready to keep me. So what has to happen in us is when stuffs coming our way that we don't like, and stuffs coming our way that's difficult, you might ought to take that as a compliment, because God is probably letting you know in advance that he is preparing you for where he plans to take you as a result of the gift that he has put in you. Then when it feels like you gotta persevere, like don't walk away, don't quit because the character is being developed. That word perseverance in Romans chapter five, verse four, that same Greek word shows up in the New Testament a bunch more times. One place is in Titus chapter two, verse two. He says, “As for you, Titus, I want you to promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching, teach the older men to exercise self- control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.” That word patience is the same word as perseverance in the book of Romans. So he's saying that older men in the faith should actually model what perseverance looks like, so the younger men know. Know what it is to be a true man of God, that men of God, don't quit. That's what Titus is being told to teach his congregation, is he’s saying, I need some men who are elders in the faith, who will exemplify what it looks like to say we don't quit. We keep praying. We keep believing. We keep studying the Word. We keep standing for our faith. We keep on keepin on. We are on this firing line and we are not backing off. If I could go to page 212 and the hymnal, I'd sing it for you right now. Luke chapter 8, verse 15, but the seed, this is Jesus speaking the same word we're gonna get to it, “but the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and a good heart who hear the word, retain it, and persevering, produce a crop.” You know what he just told you, Jesus said this, that even if you get the seed of the Word on the inside of you, it will never be fruitful unless you are willing to persevere. That even the manifestation that comes from receiving the Word of God is directly connected to someone who is willing to persevere. James chapter one, verse four, “let perseverance, finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Spiritual maturity is directly connected to perseverance. 2 Peter, chapter one, verse five, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; to your goodness, knowledge; to acknowledge, self-control; to self- control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness. He placed perseverance right next to godliness. And ranked it above being a good person, having knowledge, and even having self- control. He's saying near the top of the totem pole, for a disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who will persevere. He's not finished, he goes on and says, for if you possess these qualities, in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I went to a pastor's retreat to pray. They gave me a Carhartt sweatshirt. I thought it was just a Carhartt sweatshirt. And then I went to lift something up and grab a hold of something. And as I reached out my hand I realized embroidered on the wrist was “long haul”. And the organizer of that time of prayer was trying to communicate to the pastor's present, I know you might feel like quitting, but you're in this for the long haul. You're not playing the short game here, you're playing the long game. And it is he that endures to the end, the same shall be saved. And I came to just remind somebody this morning, you're in it for the long haul. You're not playing the short game. Today, you might feel like quitting. But guess what? I've read the back of the book, so have you, and we know you win. Jesus actually teaches us the essential to winning. Look at this Luke chapter 21 verse 19. Same word that's used in Romans chapter five is interpreted here, as stand firm, and you will win life. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You ever just feel like a loser? It's just me, okay. My god, there's days I feel like I'm losing as a parent. There's days I feel like that Mandy is married to a loser of a husband. So many days, man, I wake up pastoring this church and I'm like, you're a loser. Just feel like a loser. Like your prayer life, you’re just losing. Okay, well nobody wants to be a loser, I guess that's why we're not gonna talk about it. What Jesus said, if you don't want to be a loser, you better stand and you better stand firm. You better make your back like a T-rail and announc to the enemy I ain’t backing up. I got a helmet of salvation. I got a breastplate of righteousness. My loins are good with truth. My feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel. One hand’s a sword of the spirit and the others the shield of faith. You come one step further devil, and you about to find out what standing firm looks like. Where's that believer? British Army, soldier, World War One, got scared. Rough conditions, bad setting. He decided I quit. Joker snuck off in the middle of the night. Pitch black darkness, doesn't know which way he's going, can't figure out where he's supposed to go. He's looking for a sign post, ran right into one. Looked up it was so dark, he couldn't see what it said, he climbed it. Got to the top of that post, and there was the face of Jesus looking him eyeball to eyeball. It was a roadside crucifix. And in that moment, it hit him, Jesus didn't quit. Jesus took that cross, despite my failures, despite my worthlessness, despite my sin, Jesus didn't quit. He climbed down off that crucifix, went back into the battlefield and won multiple medals of honor. Because he had an encounter with the cross of Jesus Christ, and realized, Jesus don't quit. For you, what part of your life is the enemy telling you to Quit? You'll never be a great dad, so why do you even try, just quit? You'll never be the kind of husband that she'll appreciate or she'll love just quit. You'll never be able to pray like those spiritually elite people. Don't even try, just quit. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, every time you read the word you can't make heads or tails of it, just quit even trying to have a daily devotion. Awe, you could go and offer to serve but they don't want you to serve anyway. What do you got to offer? Just quit. Go to church. Don’t many people do that much anymore anyway. Guess I'll just quit. Quitters never win. Aren't you glad you aren't a quitter? Aren't you glad you don't quit? Aren't you glad they're still breath in your lungs? Aren't you glad that there was all kinds of reasons for you to quit, but you just kept on keeping on? They're gonna play the music this morning, and as they play the music, I want to challenge you to think with me about what Jesus said in Luke chapter 21, stand firm, and you will win. You know when he said that. Have you read Luke 21? Luke 21 alludes to the end times. It talks about difficulties that are going to come on the followers of Jesus Christ. It talks about stuff that is super challenging to overcome. And It talks about having to labor with great intensity just to keep putting one foot in front of the other spiritually. Like, Luke 21 points to some stuff that's going to be really, really difficult. But Jesus, he looks at his followers in the present and prophetically to those in the future, you and me and he says, stay firm and you will win. Regardless of what hell throws at you, you will win. Why? Because the gates of hell can prevail against somebody that will stand. He just needs somebody somewhere who will stand. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You've made that decision for your business. You've made that decision for your family. You've made that decision for your walk with God you got to stand, but maybe there's others of you this morning that you're looking like as much as this message is meant to encourage you're actually right now wrestling with some kind of condemnation, because the devil is pointing out to you everywhere you've quit. And you're just like I've always been a quitter. Guess I always will be. My daddy was a quitter. My grandpa was a quitter. I'm a quitter. No, you're not. No, you're not. Because you're here today, and you didn't have to be, but you are. And the Holy Ghost set you up to give you an opportunity to begin again.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I feel like Zachariah. It's towards the end of the Old Testaments, a little book. He's, he's a preacher. And the Lord told him about this guy named Zerubbabel. He says Zachariah I want you to go, and I want you to encourage him. Zachariah got over there, and he found Zerubbabel. He's all beat up. He's all discouraged because he quit. The Lord asked him to do something, and he quit. The Lord wanted him to build a temple. People started murmuring, complaining, and driving him crazy and he quit. Zachariah walked over to him, and this is what he said. If I may paraphrase, you need to get some straight brother, you keep thinking, God's gonna send somebody else, and he's waiting on you. Because he doesn't see you for who you are. He sees you for who you can be. And this is an exact quote from Scripture, your hands started this thing. And your hands are going to finish this thing. And he told him, so shout grace, grace over your life, and begin again. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

My God, that's a word for somebody today. You ought to shout grace, grace over your life. You might have quit, you might have got knocked down, you might have stayed down like Zerubbabel for 16 years, but you've got to get up again. And when you get up the next time, there is a new level of perseverance on the inside of you, because something has been happening with your character, God's been working on you, and developing you. And there are greater things that are about to come in your life, because of the experience that is in your life up to this point, you are learning how to stand firm and win in life. So I just wonder, do you feel like standing firm. I'm gonna invite you to stand with me this morning. And I pray that as you get on your feet, there is a firmness that comes to your spirit man, of I'm not going to quit. Whatever place the enemy has been trying to make you quit. I'm not going to quit. I believe we're coming into an hour. Who knows the timeframe or the pace of it. But I believe we're coming into an hour where it's gonna take great intentionality for you to not deny Jesus Christ. To not quit on your walk with God, to not quit on your faith, to not quit and following hard after the Lord. So I think what we have to do is we have to build our life on those holy moments, those divine appointments that we have with the Lord that set the stage for us to go to that next leg of the journey. And just say, I'm not going to quit.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Father, bring a firmness to our spirit. Lord, I ask you right now, somebody is on their feet that when they stood up a minute ago, they were getting back in the game. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Like, it was literally like a coach calling them off the sideline and telling them to go to the scorer's table, you going back on the floor. God, I believe your Holy Spirit did that in somebody's life just a moment ago, that they're about to begin again. Lord, we want to build our life on a faith that has been purified and made holy through a relationship with Jesus. I’m going to ask Emily to sing this out over you, and I want you to just to kind of give yourself over to the Lord, as the Holy Spirit leads you right now, to those places where you need a firmness. Those places where you need to stand firm, those places where you need to choose right now, I'm not going to quit. Those places where you need to say I'm taking this opportunity to get back in the game. I'm going to begin again.

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