Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

Get Excited

Sunday Morning Service, 10/17/10

Songs

Message: Get Excited

> Pastor Thomas

I was telling Larry, I hope the message has the same effect on everybody else that it had on me. It really kicked my butt as I was studying it. I haven’t preached on this in a long time, and I think it’s way past due. I want start by telling tell a story:

A pastor was visiting a small country church, and for a few services, he watched and listened. Then he said, “We’re going to have a special service.” He talked it up and got everybody excited about it. When they came in, there was a drape over the altar, so you couldn’t see it. Then when the pastor came in, they took the drape off and it was a huge casket there in front of the church. The pastor preached a eulogy, and it was about somebody who didn’t minister, didn’t share, didn’t witness, didn’t do anything. People started to think he was a real jerk. Then after the eulogy, they put up a screen and people walked by the casket, one by one. People still in line heard the gasps and groans ahead and wondered what was going on. Then as each person looked in the casket, they saw their own face in a mirror.

I saw a commercial yesterday that just blew my mind. They brought a huge snack-tray out of the car, and it’s built like a football field. They probably spent all day Sunday just getting that tray ready. There’s always something. People don’t have time for church, and it’s a shame. Church isn’t about what we do on Sundays; it’s about what we do every single day.

In the Bible, they were called “Christians” because they were “Christ-like”. Now we call ourselves “Christians” because we joined ourselves to a church – on Sunday mornings. But what do we do with the rest of our time? We can even use our kids as an excuse not to come to church, because we want to spend time with them. We can say that Sunday is the only day we get to sleep in. What if Jesus had decided to sleep in rather than hanging around that garden?

Matthew 28:19-20
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  2. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Church, that might have been to the eleven, but the eleven were supposed to go out and make disciples. This message was for the church. At that time, the church consisted of eleven people; that’s all. This passage is based on a historically significant event.

When Hezekiah found the book of God’s word, he wept. And when he took it to the king, the king wept also, because they realized how far from the law they had gone. So they not only read it in front of the people, they made sure that priests were ready to explain anything that the people didn’t understand.

Philip wasn’t one of the twelve, or the eleven, was he? But he was out there delivering the commission. The Bible says that all men must be apt to teach.

2 Timothy 2:24-25
  1. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
  2. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
2 Timothy 2:15
  1. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

You must be able to rightly divine the word of truth. What does Mark 16:15 say? Go ye out into all the neighborhood?

Mark 16:15
  1. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

We had eleven baptisms this week. Nine of them were military. Some people ask why I’m always talking about the military. Because they’re the only ones doing something! I’m taking care of the cow that gives the milk. Church, I want you to know that if you don’t share the gospel of Christ, you won’t survive.

[Ezekiel 3:17-18

If you refuse to share the gospel with people where God has put you to be a testimony, and they go to hell, then God will count their blood on your hands. Because God put you there for a reason.

[Ezekiel 3:19-21]

What God has told us to do is for our benefit. It’s what saves other people, and in turn, preserves us. My grandmother used to preserve things. She had three basements in her house. It was an old house; it had a coal basement, a regular basement, and a smaller one where the walls were lined with preserves. What does it mean to preserve? It means you keep something in a state where it’s usable. That’s my definition. Church, what are you doing to preserve your soul?

Jesus, when he started his ministry, we hear that he gathered disciples by word of mouth. We see the very first example in the gospel of John:

John 1:35-37
  1. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;
  2. And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
  3. And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

The disciples heard John testify of Jesus, and these two men followed Jesus.

John 1:38-40
  1. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou?
  2. He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
  3. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

Andrew heard “Follow Jesus, and the next verse said:

John 1:41
  1. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

The very first thing he did was to tell his brother, “We have found Messiah!” He was excited about what he heard. And we know that Peter was the greatest of the disciples; he was the one who brought the Gentiles into the fold. But somebody had to get excited before there was Peter.

Jesus ministered to thousands, yet there were only a hundred and twenty in the upper room. He healed ten lepers, and only one returned to thank him. Church, you say that people don’t want to listen to you. Well, how is your attitude? I can take any conversation and turn it around to talk about Jesus. But if you don’t have that love, that excitement, that drive to see people saved, you’re going to talk about everything else but Jesus.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well,

John 4:7
  1. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
John 4:28-29
  1. The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
  2. Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
John 4:39
  1. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

Their conviction came from what the woman had to say.

John 4:40-42
  1. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
  2. And many more believed because of his own word;
  3. And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

She had to get people out to hear him. She was enthusiastically getting out and telling people about what Jesus had done. Many of them heard her and that caused them to believe. Others were skeptical, but checked it out for themselves, and then they believed. But all this started because of one Samaritan woman.

When the man was healed who was possessed of demons, he wanted to follow Jesus, but he told him, “No, stay here and be a witness.” If everybody stays in the church, where is the witness? Does not the Bible tell us to go out and do the work of an evangelist?

Church, what moves you? Where is this excitement that comes from inside us, that compels us to tell people about Jesus? If they have rejected the message, they have rejected not you, but Christ. They might not be ready, but the Bible says that in their day of visitation, they will remember you, and they will cry out to God, and God will be there to minister to them.

When blind Barnabas was outside the city begging, he heard the news. They didn’t have the Times, the Wall Street Journal, or USA Today. They had conversations. People talked about Jesus; they knew about Jesus; they had heard about Jesus. Barnabas sat there and heard people talk about Jesus. But one day, he heard something different and cried out, “Jesus, thou sound of David, have mercy on me!” What would cause him to do something different? There is a difference between when people talk about Jesus, and when Jesus is in their midst. And Barnabas cried out.

How can people cry out if you’re only talking about Jesus, and there’s no Jesus in your midst? When you talk about church services and activities, you’re talking about Jesus. But when you share about what Jesus has done for you personally, then Jesus is in the midst. I like church cards; they’re handy. You can write something on the back and hand it to someone and use it to invite people out to church. But that’s not evangelism. Evangelism is telling people what Jesus has done for you.

Luke 8:5-8
  1. A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
  2. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
  3. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
  4. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

When farmers spread out the seed, not every kernel developed. But that doesn’t stop them from throwing it out on the ground. You cast the seed on the ground, and it’s some of it will take and some of it won’t. It’s not up to us to decide who is worthy and who isn’t. None of us were worthy.

Are you praying about who you can share with, and make a difference in their life? How many years (not weeks or months) has it been since you sat down and shared the salvation message with somebody? Then ask yourself why.

> Well, nobody has come up and wanted to talk about it.

If a man has a business and he doesn’t get out and talk about it to anybody, whose fault is it that his business doesn’t grow? If you start a restaurant and never turn on the lights or open the door, would you wonder why nobody comes to your restaurant?

It’s not fair to keep the word of God to yourself. It’s not fair to the lost. It’s like seeing somebody in an accident and going on your way. “Why should I help that guy?” Because his life is at stake!

Romans 10:17
  1. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

They’re not going to get anything unless you talk to them. They’re not even going to listen to some preacher on TV. But God has sent us to carry the message.

1 Corinthians 3:6
  1. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

If your job is to sow, then sow it. If somebody comes along and encourages them, that waters their spirit. And God adds the increase. But if God can’t get through to them, they’ll wither and die, just like a plant that never gets watered.

When people heard the first message, the spirit of God tugged at their hearts. But God wouldn’t have been able to do that if Peter hadn’t done his part. Three thousand souls died when Moses brought the law down from the mountain.

Jeremiah 1:8-9
  1. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
  2. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

Don’t try to think ahead-of-time what to say. Because whatever you work out in your mind, it isn’t going to happen that way. If you study the word of God, then God will give you the words to say. But if you don’t study and you don’t pray and you don’t talk, then you don’t go to heaven.

Let me repeat that in case you didn’t get it the first time:

If you don’t study and you don’t pray and you don’t talk, then you don’t go to heaven.

Larry, what was that email you sent me?

> A Letter from Hell

That was a very powerful reminder that your best friend, your buddy, needs the word of God more than he needs anything else. Paul wrote it this way:

2 Corinthians 3:2
  1. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

Have you ever heard the phrase, “I can read you like a book?” You’re so upset that everybody around you knows about it. How many of you have seen somebody like that? Their attitude, their posture, everything about them says, “Stay away!” But if you’re lifting up Jesus, people will be drawn to you. And if they’re not, what kind of aura are you putting out?

  1. God made us a watchman.
  2. He tells us to give sinners a warning.

If we warn them and they don’t listen, then their blood is on their own hands. But if we warn them and they repent, they’ve delivered their soul. Either way, if you warn them, your job is accomplished.

Church, you don’t have to walk by a casket and see a mirror to know that souls are dying because you’re not doing your job in Christ. And if the church doesn’t do it, then the church dies. People say, “How come we’re not seeing the church grow?” Well, how many of you are talking about it? I can only do so much from up here.

Ezekiel 3:17-21
  1. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
  2. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
  3. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
  4. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
  5. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

Exploring Joseph's story, part 9

Last time we left Joseph and his brothers together, and Benjamin was made to look like he stole Joseph’s cup. Joseph said that Benjamin must stay, and Judah spoke:

Genesis 44:33
  1. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.

After he spoke and reminded Joseph of all he had told him before, he pleaded that Joseph would take him as a slave. Judah had a family back home, and as far as we know, Benjamin was a single man. Joseph was saying, “Wow! He has changed!” He could have said, “Well, Benjamin, I’m sorry about this. We’ll tell your father where you are.” But instead, he said:

Genesis 44:34
  1. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Let’s read what happened next:

Genesis 45:1-28
  1. Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
  2. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
  3. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
  4. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
  5. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
  6. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
  7. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
  8. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
  9. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:
  10. And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:
  11. And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
  12. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.
  13. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.
  14. And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.
  15. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.
  16. And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
  17. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;
  18. And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
  19. Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
  20. Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.
  21. And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.
  22. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.
  23. And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.
  24. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
  25. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
  26. And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.
  27. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
  28. And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

All that Joseph had seen could not affect him like when he saw the love of the brethren.

The Bible says

[love brothers whom you have seen; god not seen]

That’s why God says,

[greater love hath no man than this]

God knows when we’re faking it, and he knows when we really love. That’s why Joseph could not refrain himself, and had to open himself up. That’s God’s weakness, too. That’s how to get God to open up to you. Isn’t that great to know? God has ways to approach him. Loving your brothers, loving him is one of them.

So Joseph wept, and the Egyptians hear him.

Genesis 45:3
  1. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.

I can imagine Joseph crying and asking, “Is it true? Is my father still living?” But his brothers were “troubled at his presence.” The word “trouble” doesn’t really cover it. They were terrified at his terrified. If you’ve never been terrified, you don’t know what it is. Joseph had the power to kill them and it would be justice. Death isn’t a big deal; it’s the anticipation that terrifies. That’s what was going on right here; they were terrified. They were thinking, “My Dad was worried about losing two; now he’s going to lose all of us!”

That’s what was going on when Saul heard a voice from God:

Acts 9:1-3
  1. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
  2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
  3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Now, we read about it, and we don’t really think about it. We don’t think about how it would be if you were riding along and suddenly there was a great light from heaven.

Acts 9:4
  1. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Wouldn’t you be terrified? If not, you would have to be a really strong or woman.

Acts 9:5-6
  1. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
  2. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

You know that you don’t have to be terrified. There are many ways to get the experience if you want it, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. As I was reading this, I thought about many times in the past when I could have been dead, and it shook me up. Just thinking about it is terrifying.

When you are terrified, it seems like God can get anything out of you. You say, “Lord, just tell me what you want! I’ll do anything!” Is that how you want God to treat you? I don’t think so. You don’t need God to act like a beast toward you. You want him to deal with you every day.

Genesis 45:4-7
  1. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
  2. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
  3. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.
  4. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

What you have just read is the application of grace. These guys had already stopped making excuses. They had given up. When somebody gets to that point, it’s up to us to make a difference. Joseph saw how terrified they were, and he tried to make things easier for them. He said, “C’mon, guys. I’m your brother. Don’t be grieved. It’s God, not you.”

When someone truly comes to you and says, “I’m sorry,” and you see that they mean it, it’s not the time to say “You were wrong.” It’s not the time to go over what they did and should have done. It isn’t recorded that Joseph asked them, “Why did you do that? What were you thinking about?” It wasn’t the time.

Matthew 11:28-30
  1. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  2. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
  3. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Jesus didn’t come to judge the world. He didn’t come to tell them how bad they were. He came to save them.

Remember in Acts, after Peter gave his speech, he said:

Acts 2:36
  1. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

I don’t know how you can read this chapter and not see Jesus in Joseph.

Acts 2:37-38
  1. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
  2. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Once you get to that point, it’s over. Let’s just say, “Come, repent. Just make it right.” We don’t go into the past. We understand that what happened is in the past; just don’t repeat it.

John 6:35-40
  1. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
  2. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
  3. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
  4. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
  5. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
  6. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is Christ, and this is exactly what Joseph was doing. So he continued to calm them down:

Genesis 45:8
  1. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Joseph realized that God’s hand was in everything. If we can get into this habit of seeing God’s hand in everything that happens, life would be so much easier. As I said, there is no recorded place where Joseph spoke to his brothers, asking why they had sold him into slavery. Joseph trusted God, and didn’t have a guilty conscience. Was it the will of God that they sold him? Was it the will of God that he went into prison? Was it the will of God that he was falsely accused? That’s a tough God! If so, then I guess Joseph’s brothers were innocent.

There are two ways to see the will of God. Remember, God can do whatever he wants; he has absolute power. God didn’t ask us who we want to be our Dads and Moms. He didn’t ask us in what country we wanted to be born. In his plan, he didn’t ask us questions. There are even examples in the Bible where people were born blind, and God didn’t do it for their sins or their parents’ sins. He did it for his own glory. So is it possible that God could put bad things in Joseph’s brothers’ hearts so they would sell him into slavery? It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s how it happened.

Romans 9:10-19
  1. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
  2. (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
  3. It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
  4. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
  5. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
  6. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
  7. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
  8. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
  9. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
  10. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

It’s like I said, the brothers could say, “It’s not our fault. Who has resisted his will? He made us such a way that … Why doth ye yet find fault?”

Romans 9:20-22
  1. Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
  2. Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
  3. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

So this is one side of it. God has the power; he can choose to do whatever he will. But there is another side. The government has the power to do whatever they want. And unfortunately, there are some dictators around doing exactly that. You say, “Where is that happening in America?” Let me tell you, when they choose to do something, it happens. If they decide that I deserve to be killed, believe me, I will be killed. We have what are called, “Secret Services”. They make things happen.

So let’s say you have an evil heart, and you are in jail. They might come to you and make a deal. You are already in jail, and you have the skills, so why not?

God might have a job to do. He didn’t make you evil; you chose to go the wrong path. But he has a job to do, and he may use you. God may use your lie to get somebody to come to church, but you will still be punished for your lie. You may steal money and give to the church, and God may use it to benefit the church, but he will still punish you for stealing.

So in Joseph’s case, God had a plan, and he used their evil hearts to accomplish that plan.

In the church, I don’t care to know everything that goes on. There are some details that I’m just not interested in. But if there is something that I want to know, I know who I can call on, because they have the gift of knowing everything that is going on.

Would you be used by God as Joseph, or as one to sell Joseph?

2 Timothy 2:19
  1. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

We don’t always know who are God’s and who are not, but God know.

2 Timothy 2:20-21
  1. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
  2. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

It’s really up to us what kind of vessel we want to be. In a great house there are many types of vessel. There is fine china set out where you can see. But under the sink, there are other vessels. Under the bed, there are other vessels. There are vessels that are outside; they are not used inside, but they have their uses. You don’t take the pan that you used to cook the rice, and put it on the table. So there are vessels for every use, but it’s up to you to decide what kind of vessel you want to be.

So do you want to be one of the brothers who sold Joseph? Or do you want to be Joseph?

I tried to fit this chapter into one hour, but I couldn’t. So we will jump ahead:

Genesis 45:15
  1. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

His brothers were terrified, but after Joseph explained all this, and kissed them, and wept upon them, he finally made them feel comfortable enough to talk with him. This is a very important part of ministry. It’s hard work to get someone who is terrified to understand that a loving relationship has been restored. It takes a lot more than saying, “You are forgiven.” They may say, “I know that person loves me, but we will never have as close a relationship again.” You really have to go overboard to restore that relationship.

I remember when a certain family had made an accusation toward me. Then when things had cleared up, they thought I had something against them. Even the people around me said I shouldn’t talk to them. I could not please the church by not talking to them; I just didn’t feel it was right. So slowly and surely I came back into contact with them. I wanted to make them feel comfortable. And after a long while, they said, “You know what, pastor? You are very difficult to understand. People don’t know when you are mad at them, or when you have something against them. They don’t know what to think about you.” I said, “You know what? I think you complicate me. I am too simple, and you think that I cannot be that simple.” If I do something, then that’s what it is.

Don’t complicate things. When you love, just love. After you open, sincerely open your heart, that’s when your brother or sister will feel comfortable with you. That’s what we see in the parable of the prodigal son:

Luke 15:17-19
  1. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
  2. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
  3. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

We see that he wants to make things right.

Luke 15:20
  1. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

You see what he did? He didn’t give his son a chance to say anything, because he was already prepared to receive him. That’s the way we should be with our brothers and sisters.

Luke 15:21
  1. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

The father would not even answer him. He said,

Luke 15:22
  1. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

“That’s not the time, son. Now is the time to party. Later on, we’ll talk.”

That’s what Joseph did. And as we read later on, we’ll see that even then, his brothers did not trust him. They thought, “After our father is dead, then he will kill us all.” That’s why the Bible says,

Matthew 5:23-24
  1. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
  2. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

And we read later on, that Pharaoh said:

Genesis 45:20
  1. Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

They were going to leave Canaan, and they couldn’t bring everything with them, but Pharaoh said, “Don’t worry about it. There are good things here waiting for you.”

We have so many good things here, and we enjoy them so much, I think sometimes we wouldn’t want to go to heaven if Jesus said, “Leave it all behind. There are much better things in heaven waiting for you.” I read somewhere that we cannot take anything to heaven except what we spend to save souls. That’s how you take your money to heaven; that’s how you take your car or your house: by using it to save souls.

Genesis 45:24-26
  1. So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
  2. And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
  3. And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

As we continue reading, I want you to take a close look at Jacob. He had two names, a fleshly one and a spiritual one. I want you to pay attention to when they are used.

When they told Jacob that Joseph was still alive, he didn’t believe them. And when they told him all the words of Joseph, he still didn’t believe them.

Genesis 45:27-28
  1. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
  2. And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

People don’t believe good news. It’s like sharing the gospel. They want to see; they want to touch. But even so, that doesn’t stop God from working. And this man who thought he was going to the grave in sadness had just the opposite waiting for him.

So while you cannot see what God is doing; while we remain in our unbelief, as you read the rest of this chapter, I ask you to be wise, to be humble, and be forgiving. God is working. We don’t know how; we don’t understand things, but God is working. We can trust him. We can trust God. He cannot be mistaken; he is too wise. He knows exactly what he is doing. Your job is to brothers, love your neighbor, love God, and see the blessing. God bless you.

Making A Difference

Sunday Morning Service, 10/2/10

Songs

Message: Making A Difference

> Pastor Paine

This message has three main parts. It’s my prayer that you will look for God’s message for you.

  1. Understanding the Great Commission
  2. Supporting the Mission of the Great Commission
  3. Understanding My Role in the Great Commission

1. Understanding the Great Commission

The great commission comes at the end of all four gospels, but today I’d like to read the account in Matthew. Those who crucified Jesus did so because they didn’t understand who and what he was. It’s easy to condemn them, but that same kind of action takes place today when we don’t understand Christ’s will in our lives. We crucify him afresh.

Remember that Jesus didn’t just claim to be a prophet; he was the messiah. And if you met someone who was the messiah, and you didn’t believe that he was, what would that make him? A liar. An impostor. And people believed that Christ was an impostor. When I say today, “Jesus is messiah”, no one finds that challenging. Do you? But people did back then.

Matthew 28:1-2
  1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
  2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

If you’re not familiar with the term, a sepulcher was a kind of a cave, with a door like a round wheel that you had to roll away to see the opening.

Matthew 28:3-4
  1. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
  2. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Those who were positioned there to watch the grave of Jesus, so that no one could take away his body, saw the angel and fell down as dead men.

Matthew 28:5-6
  1. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
  2. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

So you’ve got the guards laying as dead men. Mary and Mary, following the angel, were about to see the place were Jesus had lain.

Matthew 28:7
  1. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

So now, Mary and Mary were told, “Go tell the disciples: Jesus is going before you.”

Matthew 28:8
  1. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Did you ever have fear and great joy? I was prayerfully thinking about what that might be. Mothers, do you remember your child’s birth? That can be a time of fear and great joy. When Debbie gave birth to our twin daughters, there was no room for me in the delivery room. As I looked through that window, I won’t compare my emotions with Debbie’s, but believe me, I had fear and great joy.

Matthew 28:9
  1. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

How do you hold someone’s feet? You fall down right there and worship him.

Matthew 28:10
  1. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

Mary and Mary went not knowing what they might find. They were told, “Go tell the disciples.” They went, and met Jesus, and fell down at his feet, and Jesus said, “Go, be about my business.”

In verses 11-15, the guards decided that they’d better come up with a story.

Matthew 28:16
  1. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

Mary and Mary didn’t doubt, but some of the disciples did. It was a lot to overcome; it was a lot to digest, wasn’t it? They had seen Jesus crucified. They thought, “It is possible?” How many of you, if you were there, think you would have believed without a doubt at all? One? Two? How many of you think you might have been on the doubting end? I don’t know how I would have reacted.

Matthew 28:18
  1. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Now, he didn’t say “I am God’s friend.” He said, “I’m God.” If you didn’t believe his message, that would be blasphemy, wouldn’t it?

Matthew 28:19-20
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
  2. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Come to the book of Acts, chapter 2:

Acts 2:22
  1. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

Now, this is Peter, explaining the story of Christ.

Acts 2:23
  1. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

Can we agree that Peter was not a politician? Did he say, “Let me tell you this in a way that’s easy for you to hear?” No, he said, “You guys messed up.” In 2010, we’ve all messed up. But Peter’s going to talk to them about more than that. He said, “You know that guy you crucified? He was the messiah!”

Acts 2:24
  1. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Then he goes on to make reference to David:

Acts 2:25
  1. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

This is David.

Acts 2:26-29
  1. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
  2. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
  3. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
  4. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.

They understood David. Those who were in the audience that day understood David, that he had this promise. And he’s saying, “David is dead. We know where his grave is, and he’s still in it.”

Acts 2:30-31
  1. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
  2. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

This is really powerful. Think about who he’s talking to. He’s saying, “David got it. David understood who Jesus was. He died and he’s still in his grave, but Jesus is not.” He’s telling him about what’s happened here: David foresaw the resurrection of Christ.

Acts 2:32-36
  1. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
  2. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
  3. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
  4. Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
  5. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

And these guys realized, “Oh my goodness! We made a mistake!” Did anybody come to Christ because you realized, “Oh my goodness! I’ve made a mess of my life!”

Acts 2:37
  1. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

That’s the best place to come to God: “What shall I do?” Sometimes we try to explain ourselves; we try to tell God how we got there. But the best place is, “What shall I do?” I don’t have any explanation, just “What shall I do?”

I’m a private airline pilot, and you have to get permission from the tower to do what you’ve got to do. So I thought I had permission to taxi out to the active runway. And I sat there waiting for permission to do the next thing. Then I heard a very alarmed voice saying, “What are you doing in the active?!!!” I could have said, “I thought you gave me instructions…” And I thought, “Is there a plane about to land on me?” But I said, “Awaiting instructions!” Then the tower said, “Take off! Now!”

Sometimes we need to realize that we have totally painted ourselves in a corner before we ask God, “What shall I do?”

Acts 2:38
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

He didn’t say “You have to go fix it.” He just said, “Repent.” Have Godly sorrow. Repent doesn’t only mean you’re sorry for what you did, but you’re not going to do it again. Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery? “Go and sin no more.”

To clarify it, Peter said that this message wasn’t just for this day and this season:

Acts 2:39-40
  1. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
  2. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Some received it; some didn’t.

Acts 2:41
  1. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

It was a big crowd. There were a lot of folks there.

Acts 2:42
  1. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

So in the beginning of this message, they were all in one accord in one place. There wasn’t any disagreement among them that this was the answer. They had heard from Jesus.

Now in the church world, there is an argument about what should be said at baptism. And I understand the argument. I understand the challenge. The challenge is that Jesus said,

Matthew 28:19
  1. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Then Peter said,

Acts 2:38
  1. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The answer is that Jesus said, “God is not divided. God has a name.” And Peter understood that Jesus is the name.

In Acts 8, 16, 19, and 23, people were baptized in the name of Jesus. So I fully embrace Matthew 28:29. I just believe that when we carry it out, we should use the name of Jesus. In fact, that’s the way it was done for several hundred years, before there was any argument at all.

2. Supporting the Mission of the Great Commission

1 Corinthians 12:4
  1. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

One of the devil’s tricks is to convince us that if we’re not the one teaching or preaching or baptizing, then we’re not needed. But if we acknowledged everyone who made this service possible today, we’d be here all day just acknowledging people.

1 Corinthians 12:5-11
  1. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
  2. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
  3. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
  4. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
  5. To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
  6. To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
  7. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

As God will.

1 Corinthians 12:12
  1. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

So also is Christ. And sometimes we think we’re not supporting, we’re not doing our part, if we’re not the person in front. But without every aspect of the church… Have you ever gone to a nice restaurant? Did you appreciate the people who prepared every aspect of that meal? I used to be one of the people who showed up early-early-early on Sunday mornings to help Mrs. Davis to prepare the Sunday meal. I knew then that it was important. We all work together, don’t we? And saints, you are part of this ministry; you are part of the message.

Maybe your testimony isn’t one that you get to share publicly, but maybe you’re like the blind man who was given his sight, and say “All I know is that I was blind, and now I see.” Maybe you’re like the woman who gave two mites, and Jesus used her as an example, saying “She gave more than you all.”

Your part is important. Every part is important. Some of you have had the experience of breaking a finger or a toe. And you don’t think that finger or toe is very important until you break it. I once broke the index finger of my right hand. I’m right-handed, and the index finger of my right hand is pretty much a part of everything I do. I thought about that a lot while my finger was healing, but even since then, I don’t start every prayer with “God, I thank you for the index finger of my right hand.”

Maybe you’re one of the number referred to in Acts 2:42 – you continue steadfastly. You’re part of those who make up that number, and every day you’re there. You underestimate the importance of your contribution. And maybe you don’t show up for a service or a Bible study, and then when you do show up, nobody asks where you were. You can blame the people for that, but don’t blame God.

Maybe your gift is giving. Maybe you’re like the little lad with five loaves and two fishes. Maybe you’re the person who takes the far parking space to save the near one for someone else.

My prayer is that you’ll look for your part in this message. My prayer is that you’ll say:

> “God, what do I do? I’m at the part of my life where I need your instruction. I need you to tell me what to let go of in life and I need you to tell me what to embrace. Tell me what to do, God. I’ve tried it my way; I’m ready for your way, God.

3. Understanding My Role in the Great Commission

It takes prayer to understand your role.

I want you to answer these questions:

1. How has God gifted me?

What is it that God has gifted you with? He’s gifted you with something. Every one of us has been gifted with something. And if you believe the lie that you don’t have something to contribute, let me say that you matter. Every one of us brings something to the table, because God made you. God loves you. And that gift that God placed in your life is important to the body of Christ. Would you please say the words, “I am important to the body of Christ” until you believe it? God has gifted you.

2. How has God equipped me?

Isn’t that the same thing? No, it isn’t. God has gifted you. And then he’s placed something in your life that enables you to be uniquely qualified to bless the body of Christ, your neighbors, and co-workers.

These are some spiritual questions. Don’t take them too lightly.

3. What makes you cry?

I don’t mean “sad” cry. What about a happy cry? Pastor Ulysse, I remember the time a family man came to me, with tears on his cheeks, saying “Pastor, I got a raise. And now I make enough to sponsor a child in Haiti.” I thought, “Isn’t that just like God!” Who got the bigger gift, the child in Haiti or the family who got to sponsor him? I don’t know.

What makes you cry? What makes you so happy that you can’t hold it in any more? What makes you sing for joy?

4. What makes you dream?

If things could change, and you could write the script, what do you dream about?

Talk to God about what gives you joy, what you cry about, what you sing about, and what you dream about.

5. Where’s your passion?

When you were a kid, what was it that made you smile? What was it, when you looked out the window of the school bus or the family station wagon, that just made you smile? I know exactly what it was for me. The first time I heard a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I heard it, and I heard it inside my chest, and I said, “Oh yeah! That’s me!” And my Dad said, “Sit down.” I was a kid, but now I’m talking about something spiritual. I hope it’s spiritual, now that we’re all grown up.

Can I tell you what excites me? Seeing somebody say to the Lord, “What do I do?” That excites me.

What gives you peace? What gives you purpose?

When we understand the great commission, and we understand our role, our purpose in that great commission, when we live the great commission, our life will have purpose.

Responsibility of Spiritual Leaders

Wednesday Evening Service, 9/29/10

Songs

Message: Responsibility Of Spiritual Leaders

> Pastor Thomas

1 Peter 4:17
  1. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

You know, it’s easy for us to look at somebody else and judge what they’re doing. But it doesn’t matter what somebody else does, what I do, or what Pastor Paine does. Judgement for you as an individual will start at you and your house. And if it starts at us, we will have to take Jesus’ advice to John.

John 21:22
  1. Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

If we’re going to be spiritual leaders, we will have to own up to our life, and take that responsibility.

Micah 6:8
  1. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

I think the one thing that hurts most Christians is arrogance. They suppose themselves to be better than those who run abortion clinics, or who suffer from alcoholism. But each of us are so close to falling on our faces before God. We are each a decision away from being a sinner. If you would read through Psalms 119, the first and last verse of each section. Each section starts off with God’s word, his testimony, his righteousness.

We must do justly. In the Old Testament, the example was in the outside man. But the New Testament deals with the internal, spiritual man. So when it talks about doing justly, think about it spiritually. Are we behaving justly towardly with each other? Are we walking humbly toward God? We must be the ones out there setting the example. And we must realize that it is not us who does it.

There are those who had a gift for music, and they got arrogant and don’t even sing gospel anymore. That’s because they didn’t hold their gift in humility. We must hold our gift in humility. We don’t realize that when we take credit for what Got does in the spiritual arena, we must suffer the consequences. That’s lying.

Hebrews 13:17
  1. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

There’s a responsibility that comes with spiritual leadership, whether you’re a pastor, or a department-head, or a fellowship-leader, or just a Bible-study teacher. You are responsible for what happens. You are responsible for what others hear. You will be held accountable for what you teach. Like the captain of the ship, you are spiritually responsible for what happens “on your watch.”

So if you’re not being responsible in the ministry where God put you, how can you expect him to send you to start a ministry elsewhere? This message is intended to give you the guidelines for what a good spiritual leader is.

Hebrews 13:7
  1. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

There are three things in here.

  1. Speak the word of God You can’t speak what you don’t know. You have got to spend more time in the word of God. You have got to spend more time studying and learning. You’ve got to spend the extra time to put the word in your life so you
  2. Have faith that others will follow Adam and I were talking about a movie where Robert Redford was thrown in prison, and everybody looked to him for leadership, because a leader leads. Do you have the faith radiating in your life that people will want to follow? Or are you waffling about what you’re doing? If you don’t have consistent faith, people won’t follow you.
  3. Consider the end of their conversation Your conversation will condemn you or bless you. It will condemn or bless others.
John 12:48
  1. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
Matthew 12:36
  1. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

How do we joke? What do we play around with? There’s not one thing wrong with hobbies like motorcycles or classic cars, but is that the most important part of your day-to-day conversation? Other people will be drawn to Christ or turned away, depending on your conversation.

Larry sent me an Internet video about a Letter from Hell. It’s about a guy who went to hell and said, “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” Then it finishes with “Wish you were here.”

1 Corinthians 11:1
  1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

There is a big weakness in churches, even ours. It’s discipleship. It’s creating followers who are disciples of Christ. Are we mentoring people in Christ Jesus? Are we following God ourselves, and then asking people to follow us?

You who are enlisted, why aren’t you striving to be chief? We’ve had people in our ministry who I never thought would make chief. I never thought Paul would make senior-chief. I know that guy! I’m amazed that the Navy was so desperate. But he leads. He teaches Bible studies. He actively looks up people when they pull into port. You who are officers should rise to the highest rank you possibly can. And no matter what position you’re in, you should live such a life that people really miss you when you leave that position.

When we first started the church here, I went to a company called “Blazer Finance.” I used to give out those loans at 30%. It was a job. But I had the highest collection rate than any of the other branches. I told them that I would give them a year, because I was starting a church. I stayed a little more than a year, then gave them one month’s notice. The president of the company flew in from Florida and tried to talk me into staying. That’s the testimony that every one of us should have.

Hebrews 6:12
  1. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

> God, how can I deal with those people?

We’ve all dealt with that. Patience is a hard thing, especially when you know that eternity is at stake. But those who have patience and faith will inherit eternity.

Matthew 5:9
  1. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

I love that song that came up a few years ago in England. It was about walking around in heaven, and people were walking up and saying “Thank you!” You should have that kind of faith.

James 4:6-10
  1. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
  2. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  3. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
  4. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
  5. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

It’s very difficult to look beyond your own personal experiences and see the difficulty that other people are going through. We walk up and put our arm around someone and say “I know what you’re going through” but we don’t. We must have a heart of compassion as leaders, and try to understand.

I remember in Naples Italy, before all this fancy modern communication, we had to wait in line to get a phone. I remember calling Pam or Pastor Davis, and walking out. There was this guy sitting on the steps just crying. I’d just had a fantastic conversation. But I sat down next to this guy and asked what was the problem. He said, I called home, and this guy answered the phone and said, “Your wife doesn’t want to talk to you right now.” That was a ministering opportunity. This was that kind of guy who mocked and made fun of me for being a Christian, but in that moment, God opened a door. So I talked and prayed with him, and afterwards he came up to me and said “Thanks. I don’t know what I’d have done if you hadn’t been there for me.”

James 4:8
  1. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

It doesn’t say to draw nigh to church, or to a program. Pastor Davis used to say that the time would come when we’d have all kinds of programs, but programs won’t save anybody.

Romans 1:16
  1. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

We can have the best band and the best singers and rock thousands of people, but if we don’t have the truth, and if we’re not feeding people with the truth, then we’ve failed as spiritual leaders. Some day you’re going to see somebody crying and in need of the gospel, and then you’re going to have to draw nigh unto God.

You can be good at all kinds of things, but:

2 Timothy 3:7
  1. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I’m not putting down education. Get as much of it as you can. But take it like the Old and New Testament. Anything you learn out there … I love archaeology. I love the new technology they’re using to share the knowledge with each other. But all that technology won’t save a soul. God bless Brad Logan; he spends more time in school than any man I know. He got two masters degrees in one school. Now he’s got what, three? four masters degrees? And he’s working on his doctorate. But what’s more important is that he draws nigh unto God. So remember as spiritual leaders, the more you draw nigh unto God, the better you’ll be as leaders.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11
  1. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
  2. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

Church, one of the things that always amazed me about God: we live in the flesh, but our spiritual man will pay the consequences for what we do. Our spiritual man struggles with us, yet we say “I’m not going to listen to you.” And our flesh will go into the ground, but our spiritual man will suffer the eternal consequences. I know that when we die, we will stand before God and be judged by what we did in the flesh, not what our church’s doctrine said. If the Bible says

Ephesians 4:29
  1. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

You’ll be judged by what you say. I remember when I returned from overseas with a 106° temperature, and delirious, and they were pouring ice-water over me. My friend Terry said afterwards, “I’ve never heard anyone with such a foul mouth.” That’s just the way I talked. Of course, you try to clean up your language around your Mom, but I was out of it. Dad and I had a long conversation after that was all over.

There was a movie with two guys in a Vietnam foxhole, and one of them said, “When I get home, nobody will ever know I was out here.” And the other guy started laughing, “Of course they’ll know. You’ll tell everyone by the way you talk.” Because every other word was profanity.

Church, will people know who you are by the way you talk?

Romans 14:12
  1. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

You could be my best buddy, but I won’t be able to say one thing in your favor on judgment day. I will be held accountable as a pastor for what happens in this church. I will be held accountable for what you know, for what I put out in my services, for what I put out in counsel, or in the activities I led. But you will be held accountable for what you did. You will be held accountable for your behavior around everyone in your sphere of influence. You will be held accountable for what you said, for what you did, or the example you set.

When you’re born again, you’re born as a leader in God. You know all those commercials about people joining the military or going to school and becoming a great success. They never talk about the failures. But the best leaders are the ones who lead from the trenches.

Acts 16:10
  1. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.

Let God call you to be a leader.

Sunday Plus

Sunday Plus, 9/26/10

Songs

Message

> Pastor Thomas

This morning, I had a message that was toally different from what I preached on. I wanted to talk about the power of collective power. There was a power, when we were all gathered together in one mind and one accord, that was totally awesome.

> Jay Hunemuller

Jim Ottoson just called me a few minutes ago to ask me about service. What really stood out for me was the power of faith. Most of us have experiences of the power of miracles, and we need to share those with people we meet. If people don’t get to see and experience that power of the Holy Ghost, then they won’t know that it’s available for them.

> Jaucelin Fenelus

When I think of my family, the part of the message that really touched me was, are they seeing that power in their life. It’s a challenge when we see something that gets us out of our comfort zone, and God doesn’t do it so we can fail. God does it so we can grow stronger.

> Dwight Hoenes

God has really been dealing with me about opening up to share with the people around me.

> Scott Shepherd

I liked when you were talking about who you are choosing to spend your time with. I have friends who are not Christians, and it’s not that I’m not supposed to spend time with them. I’m supposed to rub off on them, rather than them on me. They should be looking to me for answers and direction in their life; I shouldn’t be asking them for advice. In this life. we are going to meet some unsavory characters; if not, Pastor Thomas wouldn’t be here. But we have to be careful that we’re sharing the goodness of God with them, and not trying to get something out of the world.

> Sepie Hoenes

Having small children, it’s hard to be positive, from day to day. I read somewhere that you should encourage your children ten times more than you scold them. That’s hard.

> Jeff Linger

Pastor Thomas shared about what’s in the tree will come out in the fruit, and what’s in the well will come out in the water. I want to have a powerful life in God; I want to be an ambassador. I know that the only way I can have that is if I am plugged in with Christ. I do want to have a powerful walk with God, so I can have a powerful testimony. I want people to look at me and know that I’ve spent time with God.

> Jay Ugali

I remember a message Pastor Thomas preached about a black hole and what it does. Nothing can escape it, not even light. It just sucks all the light in. Some people are spiritual black holes, and just suck the joy out of people. Some people just want to share about how bad their day is. But if you constantly share of joy, it rubs off on people. When you hang around people who are positive, that’s who you are going to be.

> Rich Snow

The biggest thing I got was about the power of our thoughts. If we’re expecting bad, that’s what we’ll get. But if we’re expecting great things, that’s where God will send us.

> Connie Chavez

There was a study where these scientists had two jars of water, from the same fountain. One jar, they would cuss at, and the other they would encourage and talk good to. The one that received the negative thoughts started getting dark and murky, and the other one stayed crystal clear.

> Favela

I’ve been here for a year, and this was the first church I’ve been invited to, by my good friend Juan. When I come, I’m always inspired; I get a fresh breath. A lot of non-believers also take the word as a bad thing, and you are what you think you are. I know I’ve made mistakes; I’ve backslid so many times. But now I want to be used. I’m afraid to make mistakes; I’m afraid of a non-Christian judging me. But I know that fear doesn’t come from the Father; it comes from the devil. As a congregation, I think we should work together; there are so many lost souls out there. I’ve met so many people who have gone to church all their lives, yet don’t believe. I’m Samoan; if you didn’t go to church, you got beat up. In a way, I’m glad it happened. No matter what I do, no matter what mistakes I make, I know God is true to me.

> Pastor Thomas

I’ve got new glasses called “monovision”. One lens is focused for close-up, and one for distance. Try getting used to that! It’s like being a Christian. It doesn’t come easy at first; you’ve got to work at it.

One thing that makes this church different is our knowledge. We know how to sit down and teach; we know how to quote scripture appropriately. But you can’t share what you don’t know; you can’t talk about an experience you never had. I want you to know. I want the word of God to not only be read, but also experienced by you. I want you to get excited about it like some people get excited about their favorite football team. I want you to be more excited about the gospel and your salvation than you get about anything in the world. So get excited, and tell people about it.

The Power To Transform

Sunday Morning Service, 9/26/10

Songs

Message: The Power To Transform

> Pastor Thomas

I want to talk about your prayer life, and the effect it has on you and the world around you. How many were here Saturday night at conference?

God has given us so much power, and most of that power will never be tapped by the average Christian. Before we moved into this building, some thieves cut the main wires to our building to steal the copper from them. They didn’t take the power; but they stole our connection to that power. Church, the world wants to steal your connection with God. They want to steal it, so that you will have no power.

It’s said that what’s in the well comes out in the water, and what’s in the tree will come out in its fruit. My grandma had an apple tree that produced beautiful apples, but if you ate one, you’d have stomach cramps for the rest of the day. It was in the nature of that tree to produce sour fruit.

Our nature is manifest in what we do every day. How many have ever had a bad Monday morning?

Whose fault was that? Yours, because you had a bad attitude about Monday morning. How many of you love your job?

> (some hands)

It makes a difference, doesn’t it?

You may not speak it, but you live what you believe. If you believe that God can do something, then you live that way. If you don’t believe, then you live that, too. But we can believe in a powerful life, and we can live a powerful life. All we’ve got to is to have faith, and connect that faith to our belief system. And we have to connect it with our heart.

There’s a video I’d like to share. How many have read the latest Dan Brown novel, “The Lost Symbol”? In the book, they believe in Noetic Science. They believe that thought has power, mass, energy, and weight. Anyone who has taken business courses knows that if you think great things, then those things will come to you, and if you think negative things, then those things will come to you, too. Now, God doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor; he cares if you’re faithful. But this science of the mind: have you ever seen people who move pencils by their thought?

What they’re doing is blowing on the pencil when you’re not looking. Have you ever heard of spoon-benders? I’ve got something here: (from http://www.mind-energy.net/archives/167-Spoon-bending-instructions-and-pictures.html)

> 1. Go in your drawer and pick out 10 or so spoons. And lay them out on the table. Use your feeling and let them tell you which spoon will bend. (I know it sounds funny but this is what I did the first time). > 2. When you feel you have the right spoon and mind you pick one that is fairly thin to start out with. > 3. Hold the spoon vertical and look at it and ask it to bend. Or say you will bend for me. Really believe it. > 4. Start your meditation. Breathe in and breathe out. Breathe in energy from the universe and imagine it as a golden ball above your head. > 5. Breathe out negative feelings and put the recycled air into your solar plexus. (The energy) > 6. Keep doing this for about 15 breaths while massaging the spoon just below the bowl of it. > 7. Make your self lightheaded while really concentrating on your breathing and producing energy and thinking the spoon will bend.. > 8. Then at the point of when you feel you?re ready with all thoughts clear except the spoon get ready > 9. Look at the spoon for about 2 seconds and think you will bend for me, while still breathing, breathe faster and hype yourself up.. > 10. Look out the window or at something for about 1 second and start to bend the spoon, and say very loud BEND! BEND! BEND! (really get into it) you will notice that the spoon becomes like rubber. > 11. Your spoon will feel like rubber and it will bend for you. > 12. After you have bent the spoon around two or three times, lay it down and wait about 1 min. the spoon will harden again.

> I have noticed that the more people that are around you the collective energy will help you get there more. Make a lot of noise. Laugh. I did this the other day and it was my fifth spoon and it felt like rubber. Have them touch the spoon before bending it.

> You have to believe the spoon will bend. Tell yourself you have done this a million times already. After you have a spoon bent, keep it around you and whenever you have doubt look at it and remember that you did this and you can do this again.

> You will bend the spoon, I promise.

We live in a physical world, but we fight against principalities and powers. So we also live in a spiritual realm. People dabble with this kind of thing, and I think they’re opening themselves up to some really nasty spirits. Michael Crichton wrote in a book called “Travels” about bending the spoon. I don’t doubt that these things happen; I really don’t.

> Dr. Emoto Video

This scientist really believes that positive thoughts, positive words made those beautiful crystals, and negative thoughts produced those ugly things. We are seventy percent water. I don’t know if his theory is true, but we know that we have to think positive thoughts.

I’ve held a child in Sri Lanka who was burning up with fever. This woman who was a Buddhist, and heard there was a worship service. She brought this child to me, and Pastor Sunil and I prayed. You could just feel the heat go away, and the child’s glassy eyes cleared right up. Why don’t we see these miracles happen every day? Because you fill yourselves with such worldly stuff that the spirit of God can’t move in your life.

Spirits are spirits. Bad or good, the only difference is whom they work for. Satan was an angel of light. So don’t get all wrapped up in the foolishness that’s out there. Remember that medium from Jamaica? Cleo was her name. It’s amazing that she could tell the future, but she didn’t know she was about to be arrested for fraud. Just amazing.

What is it like in your house? What is it like for you and your children? What is it like for you and your co-workers? Is it an environment of stress and strain? What causes that? You say, “I can’t help that; I can’t change it.” But one man changed the world: his name was Jesus Christ. One man took that gospel and shared it. One man can change the world.

Jesus taught a lot about words:

Matthew 21:19
  1. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.

Jesus looked at that tree, and it presented itself as if it had fruit. And you can get fruit out of season, sometimes.

Does God walk up to you, because you look good, and he expects you to have fruit? You get all dressed up and come to church on Sunday, but there’s no power in your life; no fruit on your tree.

Matthew 21:20-22
  1. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
  2. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
  3. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Here we find the first two elements: faith and believing. We can have faith that God will move this mountain, or whatever it is that we go into prayer about, but we doubt that we can be the instrument of that change. We doubt, because we don’t have his fruit in our lives. Church, you’ve got to bear that fruit every day.

Mister Beck, Mrs. Davis’ father, was studying the Bible, and realized that he had to get baptized in Jesus’ name. Not too long afterwards, there was a knock on his door, and there was a man standing there saying “God has told me to come here because you need to be baptized in Jesus’ name.” What was the common denominator? Faith. The man at the door had to have faith, and Mr. Beck had to have faith. That’s exactly what happened with Ananias, and that’s what happened to Cornelius and the Gentiles at Corinth.

Acts 10:4
  1. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

What memorial is your faith making before God?

So Cornelius was in Caesarea, and he was praying. Joppa was a long way away. So he sent men to Joppa. And Peter had a vision. There are some things that he was forbidden to eat, but God showed him a vision of those things, and told him to eat. Peter said, “I have never eaten anything that is unclean.” God did that three times, and then Peter met the men Cornelius had sent. He went to meet him; Cornelus told his story, and Peter said, “I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons.”

I associate with people in this church that Ed Thomas would never have hanging around with when he was lost. I wasn’t a really nice character. But when I got saved, I started hanging around with a different kind of people. Some of you are powerless because you hang around with powerless people.

So Peter said, “I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons,” they prayed, and the Holy Ghost fell upon them.

There are a lot of people in the world who say the right things and do the right things when they’re in church, but most of the time they’re living a completely different life. It takes practice to realize what is Godly and Ungodly. It is only the word of God that will save your soul.

Romans 1:16
  1. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

That power has got to be in your life.

Mark 16:18
  1. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

The hem of the garment of Jesus was as close as this woman could get. She thought, “I’ll go to him, and he’ll pray and lay hands on me, and I’ll be healed.” But when she got there, she changed her philosophy. She said, “If only I can touch the hem of his garment, I’ll be healed.” That is not a magic trick. We’ve seen all kinds of phony people in the world who pull stage tricks to fool people. They hurt the church. But you have the power to change people. You can change people’s minds.

I love the story in Acts 2, where they were all gathered in the chapel with one mind and in one accord. Can we say today that we’re all in one mind and one accord? If we passed out 3x5 cards and asked everybody to write down what’s on their mind, would they all say the same thing? We haven’t seen everyone in one mind and one accord for a long time. And we’ve got to change that, because every time the Bible says they were in one mind and one accord, powerful things happened.

Acts 4:31
  1. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Dan, you’ve been in earthquakes. What was it like?

> It was frightening

I’ve been in Japan during an earthquake. It’s pretty powerful; you’re standing there and the buildings are swaying, and everyone is saying, “Lord, let this not be the time.” Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.

Every time you read about great things happening in the Bible, the people were unified. You can’t do that by hanging out with non-Christians who don’t believe that Jesus can move mountains. If you hang around those kind of people, you’ll never have power. If you don’t pray and study those things, you’ll never have power.

I’ve had a guy come up to me and say, “I want to have a beach ministry.” Come on, guys! I wasn’t born yesterday! I know what he really wants! What do you really want? Are you ready to boldly walk up to someone’s door and say, “You need to be baptized in Jesus name, and God sent me here.” Don’t do it if you’re not sure. That guy might slam the door in your face.

Church, the power of God is there for you, but it’s just untapped in your life. You’ve let someone cut the cord that connects you to the source of grace. We’ve got to reconnect that cord. Jesus is there for you, just as he was in the book of Acts. We know that in the next generation, if Jesus tarries his coming, they’ll also be able to connect to that power. But will they have the witness? The only way is if they see us and say, “I want that power. I want what they’ve got.”

Remember the “Three Chairs”? Chair One was straight and hard and not all that comfortable. That was the people who lived for God no matter what it takes. Chair two was comfortable and padded. That was the people

The first generation who left Egypt remembered the miracles that God had done for them; the second generation talked about them, and the third generation forgot them. If that’s the kind of legacy you want to leave behind, be an easy-going, no-power Mom or Dad.

When I visited Haiti, I saw children playing jump-rope with wire. I saw them playing soccer with makeshift balls that only moved a few feet on each kick. They didn’t know anything better, because nothing better was available. But the blessings of God are available to everyone, whether you know abou tthem or not.

You know when someone walks up to you who has something powerful, something magnetic. And you want to follow them. Church, people need to want to follow you to church.

My next-door neighbor is very involved in his church, but he goes to our website and listens to our messages. He comes to me and says, “That was a great message.” Why doesn’t he come here? I’m working on it. But what drew him to our website? I’m not the pastor when I’m under my car trying to fix the stupid thing; I’m a guy with an attitude, just like you.

God wants to impress upon you with his power. Make that connection. Look at your life. Are you plugged in?

Wednesday Worship, 9/22/10

Wednesday Evening Service, 9/22/10

Songs

Closing Words

> Pastor Paine

Perhaps you listened to these songs tonight and you don’t get it. They seem like just a bunch of old songs. If it seems that way to you, remember that somebody paved the way; somebody paid the price. Amen?

I was watching a documentary about NASCAR. They had one of the first guys in organized racing. His car, by today’s standards, couldn’t even keep up. But it was interesting to hear the people of today talk about him. “He paved the way. He did things nobody had ever done before.” And yes, they took it to the next level, and the next, and the next. But somebody paved the way.

So as we listen to songs tonight, remember that there were grandparents, and great-grandparents, and aunts, and uncles who go way back. The song that is brand-new to you today and warms the cockles of your heart, if you live to be as old as me, someday some young person will hear it and say, “Where did you get that old song?”

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 8

We have been going through the story of Joseph, and we see the series of tests his brothers have been going through. We get this morning to the point where they are going through the final exam, the final test. I hope that you pass this test also, as did his brethren. If you don’t pass this final test, it doesn’t matter how you did in the previous tests. If you don’t pass this final test, you miss it all.

Genesis 44:1-34
  1. And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.
  2. And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.
  3. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.
  4. And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
  5. Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.
  6. And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.
  7. And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:
  8. Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?
  9. With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.
  10. And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant; and ye shall be blameless.
  11. Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.
  12. And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
  13. Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.
  14. And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.
  15. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?
  16. And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.
  17. And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.
  18. Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.
  19. My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?
  20. And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.
  21. And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.
  22. And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
  23. And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.
  24. And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.
  25. And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.
  26. And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our youngest brother be with us.
  27. And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons:
  28. And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces; and I saw him not since:
  29. And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.
  30. Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;
  31. It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
  32. For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.
  33. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.
  34. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Last time we left with the test of jealousy, and we find that they passed it beautifully. Today we see that while Joseph’s brothers were sleeping, Joseph had his servants fill up their sacks, and put his golden cup in Benjamin’s sack.

As the brothers got up early in the morning to leave, and I’m sure they were rejoicing. I’m sure they were saying, “Yay! We made it!” Then we see in verse 4,

Genesis 44:4
  1. And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men; and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?

In verse seven, they answered the servant,

Genesis 44:7
  1. And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing:

Basically they said, “You must be out of your mind, sir. If your cup is missing, you should be looking in your house, not bothering us.”

Genesis 44:8
  1. Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?

They said, “We have proven ourselves. We wouldn’t steal silver or gold. In fact, we are going to challenge you:”

Genesis 44:9
  1. With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.

“We are so confident that none of us did that, if you find it, with whomsoever you find it, let him die.”

We become arrogant when things are going well. The best example I can think of is Job. Before I read that book, I heard the story of how Job was a faithful man, and a great man of God. But when I started to read that book, I said, “Wait a minute. I thought Job was good and his friends were evil. But his friends were just saying, “I’ve seen people who sin, but nobody was punished as hard as you. When everybody thought you were so great, you must have been sinning.” And Job said, “Trust me, I’m innocent.” Basically, that was the whole conversation. Then the young man reproached him, and God appeared and said, “Job, you’re not that good. If you were that good, where were you when I created the world? You should have helped me.”

So if Job was not that good, what about you and me?

So Joseph played the game two ways. If the brothers passed the test, he would gain all his brothers. And if they didn’t, then he would still have Benjamin.

John 13:34-35
  1. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
  2. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Joseph was testing to see how much love they had for Benjamin, even though it was obvious that his father had more love for Benjamin than for them. So after that, the servants searched them.

Genesis 44:12
  1. And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

Can you picture now what’s going on? The cup is found, and in Benjamin’s sack! I would love to see Benjamin’s reaction, because he was innocent, really. And the brothers reaction, because Benjamin, really, was the one who should not be found with the cup in his sack. They rent their clothes. If they believed that Benjamin had stolen the cup, I’m sure

Genesis 44:15
  1. And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?

Of course, this was the game that he was playing. He didn’t use the cup as the Egyptians did, because he had something far greater. So Judah said to him,

Genesis 44:16
  1. And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.

He was the spokesperson for all of them. Now, he said “The question is not the cup. The question is a spiritual one. God has found the iniquity of all of us, not the iniquity of Benjamin.” Benjamin could have argued, “I did not take it.” And he would be right. But they all said, “We do not need to go there. It’s over. It’s a spiritual issue. The Lord has found our iniquity.” The spiritual man judgeth all things. The natural man cannot understand the things of the spirit. They were spiritual men.

When you or I get in an accident, we use our flesh; we use our emotion, and we forget about our spiritual nature. The first thing you do is blame whoever hit you, and then find out if they have insurance. You don’t go at first to the spiritual man and say, “God, is it possible that this is just an accident? Is it possible that this is your will?”

When David was running from his son, there was a man who ran after him and cursed him. And David’s bodyguard said, “Let me take of his head?” Then David said,

2 Samuel 16:10-11
  1. And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
  2. And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.

When things happen, you cannot just react without thinking. Abishai was saying things about David, like how bloody and criminal he was. So David said, “Let him alone. Who knows? Maybe it’s God who is telling him to curse David.” And if David said, “Take off his head,” he would never get to the point where he says, “God, I give up. Do your will.”

In the case of Joseph’s brothers, they could have argued that they didn’t steal anything, but they finally got to the point where they said, “I give up.”

There is a thing called the nature of human nature. We need to discover that. We look around and say, “We are all saints. We look good. We’re all in church.” But this is not our true nature. Our true nature is not good. One of the true human natures is arguing. You are always arguing. It is easy to see another’s sin. But it is hard to admit you are wrong. Why? Because it of our true nature.

When God chose Saul to become king, he specifically told him to slay the Amelekites:

1 Samuel 15:3
  1. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

He meant everything. If he could include the infants, you know he meant everything. But we see in verse eight:

1 Samuel 15:8-9
  1. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
  2. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

Don’t you see yourself in that? Don’t you see how easy it is, whenever it is convenient, you are faithful to God. If it doesn’t hurt your time and money, you do it. So everything that was vile, he destroyed it. But God told Samuel to tell Saul that he hadn’t done what was commanded.

1 Samuel 15:13-15
  1. And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
  2. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
  3. And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.

Do you know what happens? When it’s you in the position, you don’t judge as hard as you would judge someone else. You say, “It was just an oversight; I can fix that.” But if it was somebody else, you would say “That is wrong! You need to be punished!” So Samuel explained that God was not happy.

1 Samuel 15:20-21
  1. And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
  2. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.

“I mean, what’s wrong with that? In general, I obeyed everything. What’s the big deal with a few oxen?” And Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice,” and so on, and finally Saul got to the point where he said,

1 Samuel 15:24-25
  1. And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
  2. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.

If you look at verse 25, that was not a true repentance. He was saying, “Okay, let’s get this over with. You pray for me, and God will forgive me, and we’ll go on.” But Samuel said,

1 Samuel 15:26
  1. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

That’s where he got hurt. And in verse thirty,

1 Samuel 15:30
  1. Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.

He said, “If you go, then everybody will see that I am not king, and they will see the problem between us, and that would be bad.” He was more worried about that than about his sin. If you sin and you repent, would you still want to beg for honor after that? We need to discover our true nature.

There is a well-known story about a pastor who took a walk in his neighborhood. He saw a young man cleaning his lawn-mower. He said, “Are you getting ready to do some work?” He said, “No pastor, I’m getting ready to sell it.” The pastor said, “How much do you want for it?” The man said, “I really need a bicycle. So I need to get enough to buy a bicycle.” So the pastor said, “I have a bicycle, and I need a lawn-mower. Would you be willing to trade?” The man was agreeable, so the pastor went home and cleaned up his bicycle, and made the trade. Then he took the lawn-mower home and got ready to mow the lawn, but he pulled the cord and “brrp!” It didn’t start. He pulled again, and “brrp!” It didn’t start. Then he saw the young man riding the bicycle, and called out to him. The young man said, “Pastor, I forgot to tell you one thing. In order for this lawn-mower to work, you must curse at it.” The pastor said, “I cannot do that. I left the old man behind.” The young man said, “Believe me, pastor; if you keep working at it, the old man will come back to you.”

We leave our old man behind, and we think we left our nature, but if you keep on working on it, it’s still there. If you practice being good and holy, you begin to think that you are something you are not. Then if you return to your true nature, it’s hard to say “I have sinned.” It’s hard to say, “I am wrong.” Then when the test comes to find out if you have true repentance, you will not pass the test. As long as you find ways to defend yourself, as long as you find yourself still arguing, you are not ready for true repentance.

David sinned before the Lord, a terrible sin. He tried for a long time to cover that. He covered, and covered, and finally God sent the prophet to tell him that story. After David listened to that story, he was arrogant. So he said, “This man, whoever he is, should be killed!” So the prophet said, “You are that man.” And God reminded him who he was.

2 Samuel 12:13
  1. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.

You see how easy it is, when you stop arguing? When you stop covering and stop hiding, and you go back to your nature and admit who you are? If you are saying you have not sinned, you are lying. It should not be an embarrassment to say you have sinned, because you have a sinful nature. That’s who you are. And even if you are doing good, it’s not because of you; it’s because of the Lord. And the glory and praise should go to God, because he covered you. You see, right after David said, “I have sinned,” the prophet said “God hath put away thy sin.” After David had killed and lied and everything, all he had to say was, “I have sinned.”

It is my position that as Christians, we should always be willing to be wronged. This is not a popular position. You are brought up to fight for your rights, but I say as Paul did, why do you not rather suffer wrong? Maybe there is more glory in that. But many people do not want to hear this, so I say, “You are not wrong to fight for your right. God will allow this. But it would be better if you would let it go.” That is a powerful thing, when you know you are right, and they are wrong, and what’s more, they know that you know they are wrong, and you just let it go.

So back to our story, when his brothers said they would be Joseph’s servants,

Genesis 44:17
  1. And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant; and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.

As we get to the last part of the story, if it doesn’t make you want to cry, then you are made of rock. Judah spoke, and he was not faking it. He said, “I cannot go to my father and see him die of grief. Take me, and let the child go.” He was willing to do that.

The final exam is love for the brethren. And if you pass that test, God will say, “I forgive you.” This is my prayer, that you will discover your true nature, and give up, and let God give you a truly happy life. God bless you.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 7

Last time, we left Joseph in Egypt with Simeon, and the rest of his brothers in their father’s house.

Genesis 43:1-34
  1. And the famine was sore in the land.
  2. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.
  3. And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
  4. If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:
  5. But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.
  6. And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?
  7. And they said, The man asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred, saying, Is your father yet alive? have ye another brother? and we told him according to the tenor of these words: could we certainly know that he would say, Bring your brother down?
  8. And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.
  9. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:
  10. For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.
  11. And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:
  12. And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:
  13. Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:
  14. And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.
  15. And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
  16. And when Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the ruler of his house, Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
  17. And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.
  18. And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.
  19. And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house,
  20. And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food:
  21. And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand.
  22. And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks.
  23. And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.
  24. And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.
  25. And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there.
  26. And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.
  27. And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?
  28. And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.
  29. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.
  30. And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.
  31. And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.
  32. And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
  33. And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.
  34. And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.

In the last chapter, the last thing that Jacob said was that they were not going. But this was a worse famine than Jacob had ever seen. So Jacob responded to his fear by waiting as long as possible. He took the easiest path available to him.

Genesis 43:2
  1. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.
Genesis 43:10
  1. For except we had lingered, surely now we had returned this second time.

The fact is, nobody knows about tomorrow.

Proverbs 27:1
  1. Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

Nebuchadnezzar saw the example of the Hebrew children, yet did not repent of his ways until God brought him down to the lowest level. Like him, Jacob waited until the last moment. And then, he said,

Genesis 43:2
  1. And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.

But instead of facing the facts, Jacob said, “Why did you open your big mouth and say that you had a brother?”

Genesis 43:6
  1. And Israel said, Wherefore dealt ye so ill with me, as to tell the man whether ye had yet a brother?

When you’re self-centered, you don’t think about anyone else’s situation. All you think about is yourself. “Why did you deal so ill with me? You’re killing me!” He was blinded because of selfishness. It’s amazing: if Jacob, a man of God, can go this far, then imagine what can happen to you and I. His sons, whom he was supposed to be leading, were the ones to show him reason. They said, “We were just telling the truth.” And Jacob knew that, but it’s like Jacob was saying, “You could have told a little lie.” People lie all the time; they lie about their age; they lie in many different areas. Jacob was good at that. So he is basically telling his sons, “You should not tell every little thing.”

Because of this position, the same thing that caused Joseph so much hardship is happening again. Now they are all suffering because of Benjamin. So finally, they are going back, not to save Simeon, but because there is no food. He says in verse 11, “If it must be so, do this: take a gift.” Of course, we know that it still wasn’t an act of kindness he was doing. He remembered the way he had bought his way out of a bad situation with Esau, and he was trying the same thing again.

How nice it would be if he would trust in God! We are in the same situation. We can trust him a little more. But what happens? We have to be cornered first.

Genesis 43:14
  1. And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.

If only he had that attitude in the beginning, he would have saved much suffering. Like Esther, who said, “If I perish, I perish”, Jacob was forced to put his trust in God. We do this all the time, but it is not the right way to be. We should trust God in the beginning.

So they traveled again to Joseph, and Joseph commanded them to be brought into his house, and they were once again afraid, because of the money.

Genesis 43:18
  1. And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, and fall upon us, and take us for bondmen, and our asses.

When I read about that, I always think of communion. God invites us to his table, but some people, because of their lifestyle, hold back. And others, because they see that, also hold back. But it should not be this way. The Lord’s table is open.

Lamentations 3:22-23
  1. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
  2. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

If you understood God’s grace and mercies, you would not be afraid to come to him, to come to his table and eat and be happy. But if you don’t understand, then you are not converted; you are not renewed. Paul said that his spirit was renewed, day by day. What you went through yesterday, you should not carry with you today. It should be a brand-new day with you. That’s why the Bible says to be angry and sin not.

Ephesians 4:26
  1. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Every day, you should have this joy in your salvation. If you don’t, then you need to ask God to renew that spirit, that joy of salvation.

The grace of God is what God gives you, that you don’t deserve. But the mercies of God are about what God should give you, that you deserve, but God holds back. God’s grace and mercies are there for you every day.

So Joseph’s brothers were worried about the money they found in their sacks, and Joseph said:

Genesis 43:23
  1. And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them.

As much as Joseph was careful to give glory to God, I am sure that he shared about his God with his servants. But Joseph’s brothers didn’t know what he was talking about.

We continue reading, and we see that Joseph ate by himself, not with the Egyptians. This should have been a clue to his brothers, because even though Joseph was a great man in Egypt, he was still a Hebrew, and it was not lawful for Egyptians to eat with Hebrews.

Genesis 43:32-33
  1. And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
  2. And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another.

And again, how did he know how old they were? I mean, after a certain age, it’s hard to tell. But Joseph placed them exactly according to their birthright and age.

The whole story started with jealousy. Joseph’s brethren hated him, because his father had made him a special coat. I’m sure that Joseph was ready to forgive them. He wanted to forgive them. But first he had to find out if they were ready to be forgiven. So Joseph wanted to test them, to see if they were still jealous.

Genesis 43:34
  1. And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.

So Benjamin’s mess was five times as much. Five times! That’s a lot. Joseph watched them, to see their expressions. Would they look at Benjamin’s mess and say, “Why does he get so much more than me?” So Joseph tested them.

And God is doing the same thing to us. He gives somebody else something that you really want, just to see your reaction. Now how do you and I react when someone else is lifted up, when you think you should be the one? This is exactly what Joseph is looking for. Do you know that it is way easier to sorrow with those who rejoice, than to rejoice with those who are rejoicing? If you didn’t know that, then pay attention next time.

When you are young, your lies are quickly found out. But when you get older, you get better at lying. Sometimes they are very hard to find out. This is why Paul told Timothy,

1 Timothy 5:24
  1. Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

After David killed Goliath, Saul said to David, “You are not going back home; I like you.” So David became a man of war, and after they came back from battle, we read:

1 Samuel 18:6-9
  1. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
  2. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
  3. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
  4. And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

Some time, you may not kill your brother or sister yourself, but if it would happen by accident, you may say in secret, “I didn’t do it, but if it happened, then … it helps.” That’s what happens inside us! David was a glory for Israel. The king was happy that finally somebody could face Goliath. Then what changed? Nothing changed. He stayed faithful. He didn’t do anything but what the king asked. He thought he was doing great things by killing as many as he could. Then what happened? He had to flee for his life. And if it wasn’t for God’s grace and mercy, Saul would have killed him.

There is another story that you and I know well. It’s Jesus speaking of the kingdom of God being as a man who had a field, and he went early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. In the first hour, he agreed to pay everybody a penny a day.

Matthew 20:3-16
  1. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
  2. And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
  3. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
  4. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
  5. They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
  6. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
  7. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
  8. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
  9. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
  10. Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
  11. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
  12. Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
  13. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
  14. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

God is a righteous God. There is no injustice with him. There is no rising up or going down without God. Nothing is impossible to him. Even if I were, I suppose, the first guys. You agreed for a penny! How could you suppose that you would get more? That’s the way it is with God. We have to trust him. And we’d better do it sooner, than later. If there is any delay, it is from us; it is not from God. The sin of jealousy holds us back.

John 21:21-22
  1. Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
  2. Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

That was a harsh answer. But that’s the answer that jealousy deserves. Jealousy happens in every aspect of life. When you are examining yourself, dig deep and root out this jealousy. It will kill you, and it will kill others.

Search Me

Sunday Morning Service, 9/12/10

Songs

Testimony

> Jake Wood

I’m going to Naples, Italy, and I don’t have any fear. I’m going to spread the gospel, evangelize, and do the mission. I’m definitely going to establish a foothold, so when we go to Naples, we’ll have something.

Message: Search Me

> Pastor Paine

I’ve got a very challenging message to present. I’ve been praying about it for some time. Pastor Ulysse made some powerful references last week to what it’s like to have unconfessed sin, or some situation in your life that would prevent you from being blessed. I knew that was a big part of what God laid it on my heart to share today. Pastor Ulysse, would you share with us the story you told, not the one from scripture, but the one about the unfaithful husband?

> Pastor Ulysse

There was a well-known man in the community who had an affair with a woman. They managed to keep things between themselves for a time, but the woman was enjoying it and the man was not. Finally, the man came to her and said, “I cannot go this way any more; I will make an end to it.” The woman said, “I’m sorry that is your opinion; it is not mine. It’s not over; I’m ready to spread the word all around. It will be headline news in all the papers and the television. Is that what you want?” Of course, this was a well-known man. If the word of his crime got out, he might even have to go to jail. So he sought for counsel. He was advised that he can never do wrong by doing what is right. He finally decided to do what is right, even if it meant that he would go to jail.

> Pastor Paine

1 John 1:9
  1. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Galatians 5:1
  1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:7
  1. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

Yes, I understand the context with which Paul was writing, but I ask you today to hear these words of Paul in the context of your current life circumstances. Some of us know what it’s like to be set free. Some of us have known the joy of being completely forgiven and set free. We knew that we were covered and washed by the blood of the lamb. We totally embraced this freedom. But somewhere in life, we slipped and fell. And the devil still has his foot on your throat and won’t let you go. Today is the day that God will release you. Today is the day you say, “If I have to go public, I’ll go public.”

Today you may say you’ve been cut off from this freedom that God offers. Ye did run well, who did hinder you that he should not obey the truth? We are called, as Christians, to run this race that is set before us, to fight thd good fight of faith, and finish well.

Today, someone has decided to sit on the sidelines of Christian service, and doesn’t even know why.

You may ask, “What does this message have to do with me?” Living for Christ is a decision. It isn’t a one-time or one-day decision. It’s an every day decision. My wife Debbie and I have been married for a little over thirty-five years. What is the day that I said “I do?” I could say that it was that first day, or I could say that it’s been every day since.” There have been times when she has had to go back to that first commitment and say, “For richer or poorer, for better or worse.” Some days I wasn’t so handsome. There have been some days when I’ve been pretty ugly in my actions and my attitude.

You tell me you’re a Christian, and I believe you. But it’s time to renew that commitment to Christ. You’re not wrestling against others; your battle is spiritual.

Ephesians 6:12
  1. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

I’m speaking to someone today. You’re lukewarm and you don’t even know why. If you’re ready, God is ready to speak to you today. The devil will be unmasked, and your direction will be made clear.

Romans 12:1-2
  1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
  2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Is that a one-day decision, a one-day sacrifice? Or is it an everyday sacrifice? I’m speaking to someone today. Your honeymoon with Christ is long over, and you’re wondering where the love went. Let God say to you, “This is it.”

I’d been a Christian for perhaps a dozen years, and I hit a very dry, lonely place in my Christian walk. If you’re a brand-new Christian, that might not make any sense to you. But if you’ve been around for a few years, you’ll understand. I felt my prayers didn’t even reach the ceiling. I knew better, but it just seemed like I was going through the motions. I’d reached a point in my life when that just wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to quit, but my relationship with Christ had grown cold. I was crying out to God, and I drew a line. I said, “I’m not going to sleep until you speak to me, God. I need direction. I need an answer. I was praying, and I said, “God, speak to me through your holy spirit.” And in the wee hours of the morning, I read this verse from James:

James 1:8
  1. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

It was as if a spiritual highlighter was on the page, and that verse was illuminated. And I responded in a foolish manner. I said, “I’m not double-minded.” And I started listing all the things I was doing for God. And the spiritual highlighter illuminated the page again. I said, “God, if that’s your answer, then show me.” And the Holy Ghost spoke to me and asked, “When was the last time you just cried out to me because you loved me? When was the last time you just longed to be in my presence with no distractions? When was the last time you read your Bible when you weren’t preparing to teach?” I realized that God was helping me; he was showing me; he was telling me that I had become very mechanical in my relationship.

> Honey, I’m home! You look very lovely. You make beautiful children. Have you ironed my shirt yet?

Hebrews 12:1
  1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Saints, maybe that’s the only part of the message you came to hear today. You know what “beset” means? It means to be attacked from all sides. If you have a bracelet that has jewels all the way around it, it is “beset” with jewels. In this scripture, “beset” mans attacked from every side. There is no angle that isn’t covered. And how do these attacks come? We’re carrying the weight of sin. That’s what besets us.

If you went to the doctor to be tested for cancer, you don’t want the doctor to say you’ve got cancer, do you? But if you have it and he doesn’t tell you, what’s the treatment? You’re not even praying to be healed from it, because you think you’re fine. You come to church and you’re lukewarm, and you’re not even praying to have the spirit of God renewed in your life.

Lay aside the weight. Lay aside the sin that so easily besets us.

I’m talking to you today about asking God to search the secret compartments of your life, to reveal to you why you’re beset, why you’re stuck. You say, “That’s not the situation with me, Pastor. I came in raising my hands to praise God.” I was dreaming, literally dreaming one time that I was praising God. And I woke up on my back with my hands raised. And I thought, “That’s so cool. YEAH, baby!

But some of you can’t even raise your hands to God. What kind of relationship is that? A real one. A warrior who’s been shot at and left wounded on the battlefield. Some of you have been hurt by those you love so much that the tears can’t even come. Have you ever been hurt so much that you couldn’t cry? I’ve been hurt so much that all the air went out of my lungs and I thought I was just going to die.

Today is the day to look at God and say, “I’m going to have a relationship with you no matter how much it costs, no matter what it takes.” I asked Pastor Ulysse to share that story because there was a man who said, “It’s better to live in prison than with this secret.” I want you to pray and ask God to show you have to have a better relationship.

Lamentations 3:40
  1. Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.

Saints, there are so many preachers today who teach us, almost as if they teach us how to manipulate God. “If you really want to make God bless you, here’s how to do it.” How about just telling God you love him? Are you ready to let God lead you through the process of self-examination?

In 1973, I’d heard of this gift of the Holy Ghost, of speaking in tongues. And I decided that was what I wanted. I’d been told by some leaders that it’s all a show. I’d been told by others that it was for the book of Acts, but not for today. But I’d seen good sincere people who received the gift of tongues. I attended a tarrying service and I told to God, at eighteen years of age, “I’m staying here tonight, God, until I get what I want.” I was ready to stay until they locked me in and came back in the morning. It was like I was giving God an ultimatum. But what I really meant, regardless of the awkwardness of my prayer, was “God, I’m staying here until I get what you’ve got for me.” And they didn’t have to lock me in.

Are you ready to get what God has for you? You say, “I’m ready to get what God has for me, as long as I don’t have to reveal this sin in my life.” If you think you’ve got a secret from God, the devil has you fooled.

2 Corinthians 13:5
  1. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

You’re God’s people. God loves you. Sometimes you think you’re all that and a bag of chips, and sometimes you don’t, but the reality is, we’re God’s people.

Galatians 6:4
  1. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

This is about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:1
  1. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Some of us have yielded to temptation. Some of us have gone through the phase of just going through the motions. God doesn’t want a lukewarm relationship. God wants a relationship where he can guide us, lead us, and use us. Some of us have yielded to temptation, slipped into sin. And the worst part was, we didn’t get caught. Why is that the worst part? Because Satan uses the guilt to keep us from moving forward. If you get caught, you can be forgiven, right? But some of us have done something so bad that the world would never forgive you. That’s why I had Pastor Ulysse share that story. There was a man who decided that even if he went to prison, he’d have more freedom in prison than if he never got caught and sentenced for the crime he had committed. When you are totally free with God, when you’ve got no secrets to hide, that’s when you can really be free. But when you have secrets to hide, the guilt keeps you lukewarm.

Revelation 3:15-16
  1. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
  2. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

I’m reaching someone today. I’m saying, “Stop being lukewarm.” Today is the day for you to say, “Devil, stop it. I won’t live with this sin anymore. I won’t live with this secret anymore.”

Lamentations 3:40
  1. Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.

Don’t you believe in grace? Don’t you believe in forgiveness? You say, “But what will people say?” I wonder how Paul dealt with the fact that he had killed Christians prior to his conversion? I wonder how he wrestled with that. The scripture doesn’t say how people reacted, but Paul said, “I’ve wrestled with it, and God said ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’”# Sunday Morning Service, 9/12/10

Songs

> Jake Wood

I’m going to Naples, Italy, and I don’t have any fear. I’m going to spread the gospel, evangelize, and do the mission.

Some of you are bound by sin. Today is the day to put it on the altar. Stop thinking it’s secret. Let God in, and call the devil a liar. Say “Devil, you’re a scum; you’re a liar, and you can’t have this anymore.”

There’s a brother or sister here today and this is your “set free” day. What is this your “get out of prison” day? What if you say “Today is the day you forgive me, God.” We know David’s sin. He took Bathsheba when she was another man’s wife. He tried to cover it up by killing Uriah, her husband. The prophet Nathan came and woke him up, spiritually. And when David came to his senses, he said:

Psalms 51:10-13
  1. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
  2. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
  3. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
  4. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Do you have a picture of restoration today? I wonder how Peter felt after he denied Christ? I wonder if there were hecklers in the crowd when he preached afterwards? I wonder if he said, “Yeah, I’m that guy. But I got over it.” Will you do this? Will you say to Christ, “Show me the way to be made whole?”

1 Peter 3:21
  1. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

The last part of that verse says, “the answer of a good conscience toward God.” That is the prayer I have for each one of us tonight, that you would have the answer of a good conscience toward God.

1 John 1:9
  1. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Are you ready to get back in the race? I’d be remiss if I didn’t make the invitation, if anyone has not yet accepted Christ. You say, “I’m not sure if I want to accept that invitation. If living for Christ is so hard, I’m not sure I want to.” Oh, but heaven is real, and so is hell. There are people who say, “If God is so good, how come so many bad things happen to good people?” Because we’re on earth. You know where that’s not going to happen? In heaven. So do you want to go there? If you don’t like the idea that bad things happen to good people, make sure you go there. That’s one reason I want to go to heaven. The other reason is that I don’t want to go to hell. We’re going to have an altar call, and if you’re ready to make that decision, I want you to come to the altar.

Tonight, we’re going to have a discussion about “Returning to God.” We’re going to find out that people have returned to God under the most amazing circumstances, and God has blessed them.

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