Service Notes

Notes from Sunday Worship Services

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 6

Last week we saw Joseph, after spending two years in prison, become the prime minister of all of Egypt. After the seven years of plenteousness came the seven years of famine. People were coming to Egypt from all around the world to get food, and so far Joseph has not seen his family, but he was expecting them. Egypt was the only place that had food.

Genesis 42:1-38
  1. Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?
  2. And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.
  3. And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
  4. But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him.
  5. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
  6. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
  7. And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
  8. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.
  9. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
  10. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come.
  11. We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies.
  12. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
  13. And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not.
  14. And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies:
  15. Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither.
  16. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.
  17. And he put them all together into ward three days.
  18. And Joseph said unto them the third day, This do, and live; for I fear God:
  19. If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:
  20. But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so.
  21. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
  22. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
  23. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
  24. And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.
  25. Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them.
  26. And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence.
  27. And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack’s mouth.
  28. And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?
  29. And they came unto Jacob their father unto the land of Canaan, and told him all that befell unto them; saying,
  30. The man, who is the lord of the land, spake roughly to us, and took us for spies of the country.
  31. And we said unto him, We are true men; we are no spies:
  32. We be twelve brethren, sons of our father; one is not, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.
  33. And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:
  34. And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
  35. And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid.
  36. And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
  37. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.
  38. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

Verses one and two, especially the first part of verse one, Jacob said to his sons, “I have heard there is food in Egypt; go there that we may live and not die.” Joseph’s sons were men of initiative. Remember when they took revenge for their sister? It was well planned. One thing that we want to see in this story, of course, is that money cannot buy everything. The Bible says,

Luke 9:25
  1. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

So don’t see it as money; see it as everything in life, including education and everything else. So they did not have a money problem, but they would die with their money. I see a reason why they were hesitant. They knew Joseph was in Egypt. What if they saw him being mastered over by somebody? So they didn’t want to go. And we see that Benjamin didn’t go; his father said, “Lest some evil befall him.”

Proverbs 22:13
  1. The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.

I cannot remember how many times this scripture has come to mind. If you listen to your fears, you will not do anything. What if the roof falls down? And Jacob was afraid. There are two types of fear: one is a fear of what will happen if you do something, and the other is a fear of what will happen if you don’t do something; this fear pushes you into action.

In verses nine through eleven, we see that Joseph knew his brethren, but did not reveal himself. They said, “We are all one man’s sons.” I would love to listen to the tape, but I can imagine the tone of their voice saying, “No man would send ten of his sons to spy out one land. That would be dumb!” Think about it. Joseph doesn’t know what has been going on with them these twenty years. He doesn’t know if their father died, or if Benjamin is alive, or anything yet. So he hears them say, “We are true men; we are honest men” and he says, “Nay.” So he presses them for more information, and in verse 13 he learns that his father and brother are still alive.

In verse eighteen, Joseph says, “I fear God.” That should have been a clue for his brethren, for them to hear an Egyptian say, “I fear God.” They hadn’t mentioned God to him. But now this Egyptian ruler was saying, “I fear God, so I will give you this opportunity to live.”

I read this story a couple of times when I was younger, and I didn’t like the way that Joseph treated his brothers. I didn’t like the fact that he put them in prison, and he talked roughly with them. In those days, when I did not like this story, I used to preach baptism, but not repentance. As long as I could get you wet, my job was done. But baptism without repentance is just like taking a shower.

So we see that Joseph is ready and willing to forgive his brothers, but he is not going to forgive unless he knows that they repent. He wants to know the state of their hearts. There is that same story in John chapter four when Jesus met the Samaritan. He says, “Can you give me something to drink?” and she says “What relations are there between you and me?” and he says “If you knew who I am, you would not have to come here to draw water.” She didn’t understand, but she wanted this water. Knowing she did not understand, Jesus was trying to find ways for her to understand. This water has to come from a clean vessel. So he said, “Go to your husband.” She said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said, “I like honest people. Because you have had five before, and this one you have is not yours. So you tell the truth.” Now she says, “Wow!” So she tried to change the subject. But the point went through. So Jesus was trying to get people to the point where they would see their own state, and be ready to receive forgiveness.

In verse twenty-one, we see:

Genesis 42:21-24
  1. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.
  2. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.
  3. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.
  4. And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

I want you to see something. They only saw how roughly Joseph spoke to them. But they did not see the part where he had to turn around to weep and cry; they did not see that. You know, children, church-members, or anybody who cares for you, will say “He is rough. He won’t let me do this and that.” They only see the pastor when he is rough; they don’t see when he is crying, when he is lamenting. But he has two sides. And sometimes we don’t see the pain he is going through.

How come he chose Simeon? I don’t know if it’s an accident or on purpose, but I sincerely believe that Joseph was too smart to do anything by coincidence. He is learning, twenty years later, that Reuben told them not to sell him.

Now when they returned to their father, they see tha they have their money back.

Genesis 42:28
  1. And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us?

They didn’t say, “God has done something good for us.” When you have a guilty conscience, even the blessings of God will not seem good to you. It’s like you are running, and you hear somebody running after you, and you look back and there is no one there. These guys had been living for twenty years with a guilty conscience. Do you think this is a good way to live your life? It’s a miserable way to live your life. You may not have been there; if not, learn from somebody else. You don’t want to learn this lesson for yourself. If something happens to cause you to have a guilty conscience, you need to find whatever means possible to clear it up, so you can be free. Even if it means going to jail, you can feel free in jail. You can never do wrong when you do what is right. I read about a man who had an affair with another woman, and he was very well known. He was living with the guilt. No one knew, but he was living a hard life. So he decided to put that behind him. He called up the lady and said, “It’s over. I’m not enjoying it. I have too much to lose in life.” And the lady said, “It’s not over. Because if you say it’s over, I will put it in the radio, and the television, and the newspapers. It’s not over until I say it’s over.” So he was bound, until he read somewhere, “You can never do wrong when you do what is right.” So he called her and said, “Do whatever you want; I’m free.”

Even in prison, Joseph was doing what was right, and God knew it, and God was with him.

John 8:31-36
  1. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
  2. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  3. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
  4. Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
  5. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
  6. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

If you think you’re free because nobody is around to see your sins, then Jesus didn’t make you free. You are still bound. To be free, Jesus wants the truth.

Genesis 42:36
  1. And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

Now Simeon is in prison, and he will be released on only one condition: that Benjamin will come. And now the father says, “Benjamin will not come.” So what about Simeon? Basically, he is saying, “Who cares?” He said, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not.” So as far as he is concerned, Simeon is already gone.

Genesis 42:37
  1. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again.

I am trying to make sense of what he is saying here, but I cannot make sense of it. I don’t think Jacob would derive any benefit from killing Reuben’s two sons. Reuben has not said anything to convince his father at all. So Jacob said,

Genesis 42:38
  1. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

This is the same thing we’re talking about: fear. There is a bird in Haiti. You go hunting and kill that bird, that bird will fall upside down. That bird’s feet is not to touch the ground. And whenever they go down to catch any food, they have to have a branch so they don’t touch the ground. The story goes, that heaven was about to fall, and everybody was running around in panic, and this bird laid down with his feet up. When people asked what it was doing, the bird said, “I’m trying to catch heaven when it falls.”

Running around in panic will never solve anything. To overcome my fears, I sincerely make myself to believe that God knows my days, and they are counted. If it’s a fear of death, I overcome it by saying, “As long as the day is not here yet, I cannot die before then.” That doesn’t mean I’m going to go around and show you how I cannot die. But I don’t have to worry about it.

When I went to Haiti, I wanted to see how my brother was doing. Everyone said, “Don’t go, because it is too dangerous where he is. The prisons are all broken; there are dangerous men out.” I said, “What proof do you have of these things?” They said, “We have no proof, but it is too dangerous. Don’t go.” So I went. And all the time, I saw nothing to fear.

Faith comes from God, but if you let fear overcome, you may never have faith. You take a step in spite of your fear, and your faith grows. You’re still a little shaky, but you take another step, and your faith grows some more. Don’t wait until you’re ready to die, to take that step of faith. You might be too weak, then. Make a move now.

If there is anything to take from this story, it is this: don’t leave here in fear to take a move. I’m not saying you should just make any move, but don’t let fear stop your faith in God.

Bought With A Price

Sunday Morning Service, 9/5/10

Songs

  • [ Awakening]
  • [ We Fall Down]
  • [ What A Friend We Have In Jesus]
  • [ Grace Flows Down]
  • [ Days Of Elijah]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ All To You]

Testimonies

> Pat Taylor

It is so humbling to be here this morning. It’s certainly humbling to be heading to Jacksonville/Mayport area to start a fellowship. If you would have asked me at the beginning, at a little church on 16th Bay and Ocean View, I was definitely seeking something. If you would have asked me then, I could never have imagined preaching a message today, and I could never have imagined going to Jacksonville. I’m thankful for Sister Davis, her labors and her husband’s, who started the ministry we have today. I’m thankful for Pastor Thomas, who shared with me the first minute I walked in. I didn’t realize he was the pastor. We started chatting about my goals and dreams in the Navy, and then I asked, “So what do you do?” “Oh, I’m the pastor here.”

> Cedric Christian

I’m very thankful to be here, to labor with you all in this ministry. I’m also thankful for Pastor Davis and Sister Davis, for grounding this ministry. I want to thank all the pastors for enduring this race, for setting an example for us. If we seek God continuously, all day long, we will find ourselves in a far better place than if we’d gone our own way.

Seven years ago, I was seeking. I was tired of the way I was living, and I asked God for a place where I could learn about him. One day, I just said, “God, you’ve got to do this for me. I don’t know where else to go.” I just knew that God would answer. I kept that prayer in the forefront of my mind. I’m thankful that God answered that prayer; he brought me to a place that taught the truth, and I’m so thankful. I just want to encourage you all to continue in laboring for the Lord, and don’t give up on what God has for you.

Message: Bought With A Price

> Pat Taylor

What an awesome song to start this message with. Did you pay attendtion to the words on that song, All To You.

How many have ever bought a big-ticket item, like car, a big-screen TV, or a house? Did you ever get back from the store, and it didn’t work? How does that make you feel?

A lot of times, we won’t stick up for ourselves, but we’ll stick up for friends or family. My mom one time bought a car, and at my suggestion, she bought the warranty package. The air-conditioning went out, and she thought, “This is great; I’m covered.” But she wasn’t really covered, because the company she bought the insurance from had gone out of business. She told me, and I got mad. I wrote letters to everybody. I started at the bottom, but eventually I wrote to the president of G.M. and said, “If you don’t fix this, I’ll make it my life’s ambition to expose you.” Eventually, G.M. caved and fixed the problem.

My point is, when you buy something, you expect it to do what you bought it to do. We’re going to talk today about what Jesus did. He bought us with a price. I realize that in America’s culture, we talk a lot about freedom. I’m thankful that we live in a country where we have a choice to give our lives to something that really matters, and that’s Jesus Christ.

We can’t be Christians and do whatever we want. We’re bought with a price.

1 Corinthians 6:19
  1. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

So you and I are bought with a price. Actually, everybody in this world is bought with a price, whether they know it or not.

We talked about buying a high-ticket item. But what if you had purchased that thing with your life? What if you had been humiliated and tortured to death for that thing? What would you expect? What kind of expectation would you have?

> (Demonstrating with Jay Ugali representing Jesus)

A lot of us have the attitude like this:

> Hey, Jesus! Long time, no see! We’ve really got to get together sometime. How about Starbucks next week? Great! I’ll see you there. Bye, Jesus!

That sounds crazy, but that’s really our attitude sometimes.

1 Corinthians 6:20
  1. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Our body and our spirit are not ours to do with as we please anymore.

I want to thank our leaders and pastors and elders in this church. You can find programs in a lot of place, but our hallmark has always been sound doctrine. There are a lot of comfortable things out there, but they’re not what Jesus told us to do.

Let’s consider Jesus:

Hebrews 12:3-4
  1. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
  2. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

We haven’t resisted unto blood; we haven’t paid the ultimate price. We are beneficiaries of the one who paid the ultimate price, and thank God he paved the way for us. So our body belongs to God. It’s not ours anymore to do with what we please.

Let’s look at Jesus having a conversation with Peter. Peter was a leader; he was kind-of self-willed sometimes. He got a lot of people to follow him, even when it wasn’t to a good thing.

John 21:18-19
  1. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
  2. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

That doesn’t sound like what you hear in a lot of sermons. A lot of sermons teach that you can do whatever you want. “Go ahead; you can’t lose your salvation.” That’s a scary kind of doctrine to follow.

2 Timothy 2:4
  1. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

I love history. When I was in the Navy, I was stationed in Naples, Italy. I went to the Coliseum. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide. He told us, “A lot of people think of the coliseum as where they threw Christians to the lions. But that happened more in Naples. Here in Rome, most of the fights were with gladiators.” To begin with, the army was only open to people who owned land. But later on, the ranks started opening up. And the gladiator fights were kind-of like a high-stakes NFL. There were military recruiters in the stands. If the scouts saw somebody doing especially well, they’d nudge the emperor and say, “Let’s keep this guy; let’s put him in the army.” Now imagine that you’re on death row, and you get a choice: “Join the army, or die.” Now this guy who was on death row is now a soldier in the Roman army. He’s got one goal in life: stay live, by pleasing that guy who called him to be a soldier. Now let’s re-read the scripture with that thought in mind:

2 Timothy 2:4
  1. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

The only thing that stands between that guy’s life and death is how well he fights on the battlefield. How well do we measure up? This guy got a second chance. And we have a second chance. We were all in sin. Even the people you’d say, “He has a good lifestyle.” The best person you can find who is not a Christian is living in sin, and needs to be saved. So we were living in sin.

Paul was the Harvard graduate of his day. He was part of the upper crust of his society.

Philippians 3:8
  1. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

How do we measure our life? Do we count everything but loss for the knowledge of Christ? There are people who are going to spend eternity in hell without this message. We just saw two people who were recently baptized, pulled out of the fire, and thank God for that. But what happens next?

Mark 13:13
  1. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Larry Glander posted a letter on Facebook . How many people saw it? It was about a guy in hell who was writing to his friend who was a Christian. Look it up; it’s pretty frightening.

My brother Jay is a pretty good guy; he can probably crush my bones. But I’d rather wrestle Jay than what it talks about here:

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.

How many have ever seen The Lord of the Rings? It’s a classic movie about good versus evil. There are a lot of big battles with thousands of people versus the big ugly things that are coming at them. But it doesn’t compare with the spiritual battles that we fight. If you can see it with your eyes, it doesn’t even compare.

We can’t even see all the things that pull us from side to side, trying to distract us from our mission as ambassadors for Christ.

Here’s how I’d like it to work: Live any way you want; satisfy the flesh, and go to heaven. But that’s not how it works.

As you read the gospel, it never talks about living for God being like sitting on the beach watching the waves. The gospel talks about living for God being like a warfare. That’s how Paul describes Christianity.

Rod, does it take discipline to be in sports?

> Yes

What kinds of sacrifices do you have to make, to be a champion?

> Diet, sleep, discipline to lift weights or run or whatever it is you’re trying to do.

It takes discipline to win a sports championship. How much more should it take for an eternal crown? Paul said that we’re running a race. And in a race, they all run, but only one wins the prize. Fortunately, in Christianity, all those who finish, win the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  1. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
  2. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
  3. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
  4. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

This is my sidebar for Jeff Linger: Notice something about Paul. He didn’t say he’s worrying about others; he’s worrying about not finishing. He said, “I’m worried that after I have preached to others, I should be a castaway.” But Paul was the apostle of grace!

How many of you, in your testimony as a Christian, have had people come up to you and ask, “What’s wrong with ….” (Fill in the blank.) They know that you’re a Christian, and they believe that they’ll get a Biblical answer if they come to you. Jay Hunemuller and I used to be realtors, before the housing crash, when your house was still worth something, and you could actually sell your house for more than you paid for it. A lady came up to me one day and asked me, “What’s wrong with my tattoo?” Now, this message is not about tattoos. Pastor Thomas can preach that another day. If you have to start out a conversation with, “What’s wrong with …”, then you’re wrong. Whatever you’re going to ask about, it’s wrong. This lady wasn’t being argumentative; she was involved in a church, and some of the people in her church were giving her a hard time about her tattoo. I never saw it; I only knew she had one because she asked about it. So I prayed, in what little time I had. And the answer is, if you have to ask me, “What’s wrong with,” then there is a question in your mind. Nobody ever asked me, “Is it wrong to eat a piece of chicken?” or “Is it wrong to drive my car to work?” or “Is it wrong to read my children bedtime stories?” People ask, because there’s already a conflict in their minds. They ask because they’re already convicted.

If you ask me, I might say, “Do whatever you want to do. Go for it.” But Romans says:

Romans 14:23
  1. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

So even if you go to somebody and get your conscience soothed, and that person says, “It’s okay”, that doesn’t let you off the hook.

I want to take a poll. What kinds of things do people ask you about, when they ask “What’s wrong with …?”

  • shorts
  • gambling
  • cursing
  • a few drinks
  • clubbing

So a lot of these questions come up. If you’ve got to ask, then that’s what’s wrong with it.

Another thing is, do you have a long speech pre-prepared, all ready for some brother to question you about that thing you’re doing? If you do, give it up. You’re wrong. Give up. How close to the edge do you want to get? This is the question that every Christian ought to be asking themselves. I’m going to read this verbatim, because it’s so important.

The question should not be how close to the cliff you can get before going over. The question should be how close you can get to Jesus, to live a life pleasing to him.

Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all. How much is “all”? Someone asked Jesus, “What is the first and greatest commandment? What do I need to do?”

Matthew 22:37-38
  1. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  2. This is the first and great commandment.

We understand that sin is wrong. We know that if we ask, “What’s wrong with…” then it’s wrong. But what if you have something that in your own mind is completely okay? I’ll give an example. In Europe, they flavor everything with alcohol. Everthing. So I was going to a bakery to get a pastry, and they sprinkled rum all over it. I didn’t know, but a couple of days later, I heard this guy talking about how much he loved this particular pastry, because they sprinkle rum all over it. Anyway, I was out with some friends at a restaurant, and the owner was being nice to us, and he brought out some rum-flavored ice cream. Now, for the record, you’re not going to get drunk on rum-raisin ice cream. But there was a new brother with us, and he took one bite, and said, “Whoah! This has alcohol in it!” And I was in tune, so I said, “You’re right.” And we all stopped eating it. You’re not going to hell for eating rum-raisin ice cream, but you will go to hell for not having charity. We all know to avoid sin, but the Bible says:

1 Thessalonians 5:22
  1. Abstain from all appearance of evil.

It doesn’t just say, “abstain from evil.” We all want to do this. It says “the appearance of evil.”

1 Corinthians 10:23-24
  1. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
  2. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

So anything that looks like sin, anything that could be construed as sin, anything that could possibly give the appearance of evil, we want to get as far away from it as we can.

> Drawing a line on the floor

So this is the line in the sand. We say, “Jesus, I’ll live for you with all my life, up to this point. But don’t ask me to cross that line. God, if you ask me to go one step father, we’re going to have issues.”

Let’s go to the story about the rich young ruler. This is a man who asked Jesus a question:

Luke 18:18-19
  1. And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
  2. And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

As a side note, Jesus didn’t say that he wasn’t good; he was just establishing his identity.

Luke 18:20-21
  1. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.
  2. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

So we have a gentleman who appears to be doing well.

Luke 18:22
  1. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

The rich ruler wasn’t saying, “Yahoo! Good deal! Stay there, and I’ll be right back.” No; what did he say?

Luke 18:23
  1. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.

So that was his line in the sand. When Jesus came to him with that, he made a decision, and said “No, that’s as far as I’m going, Jesus.” Now, the things that he was doing were good. He should have been doing those things. And the thing that Jesus told him, he didn’t say that to everyone he met. But he knew that one thing was holding this man back.

I’m not seeking to afflict my flesh. No man does. But Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulations.” That’s a promise.

John 16:33
  1. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

So there are times when we can’t have what we want in this life. There are times when you’ll have to make a decision: either you get what you want, what’s comfortable to you; or you sacrifice what you want to be closer to Jesus.

Do we have our minds made up from day one?

> Jesus, whatever you have for me to do, I’ll do it.

We have to agree ahead of time. You don’t want to be standing there asking yourself, “God or the world? God or the world?” You don’t want to be standing there on the spot, making that decision. How many of you think I can train for the Boston Marathon if I’m running it tomorrow? It’s not like a test in school that you can cram for the night before. It’s something that takes a lot of preparation.

How many think it’s possible to have that kind of relationship with Jesus? Abraham was just a man. There are many people who had that kind of testimony in the Bible, but they were people, just like us. So can we make the same kind of decisions for God? Sure, we can.

Jesus didn’t promise anybody would be a multi-millionaire, but he did say that we would get something in this life.

Mark 10:28-30
  1. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
  2. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
  3. But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

> Why did he have to stick that “with persecutions” in there?

So Jesus requires obedience. Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. How many have seen The Passion of the Christ? I saw that in the movie theater. That wasn’t a popcorn movie. A few people brought popcorn in, but I didn’t see anybody eating. That was a very graphical movie. It really put things in a different perspective. When you think about the pain, the suffering, the agony; when you really dwell on it, how could we live any other way than giving one hundred percent for Jesus? Whatever Jesus requires, whatever the issue in our life, we’ve got a second chance. We were condemned; we were those death-row prisoners, and Jesus gave us a second chance.

The Bible says we are dead in Christ.

Romans 6:3
  1. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

When we came out of the water in baptism, our sins were washed away by faith. But what did we come up into? We came up into a new life.

Romans 6:4-6
  1. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
  2. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
  3. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

I encourage you today, this week, as you’re praying about it, to think about what it means to be dead in Christ. Having your sins washed away doesn’t mean you get a “pass” to live anyway you want. When you ask yourself the question, “What’s wrong with …”, or “Why can’t I …”; when you start asking those questions, ask yourself, “God, is this pleasing to you? How can I be a better, more effective servant?” Because it’s not about pleasing ourselves. I’m bought with a price. Our lives as Christians is about pleasing the one who bought us with the price of an agonizing death on the cross.

One, Two, Three

Men’s Fellowship, 9/3/10

> Jonathan Santiago

Are you enjoying our “hurricane”? How do you get a hurricane named after you? I think if I were Earl, I’d have mixed emotions. If they discovered a hurricane and called it “Hurricane Jonathan,” I wouldn’t want lives to perish. I’d pray that the hurricane moves east. At that point, people would say, “Hurricane Jonathan is dwindling; it looks like he won’t actually do anything.” Then I’d think, “I want to do a little damage… not actually kill anybody, but something…”

The topic tonight is “One, Two, Three”. Does anybody know what that means? Pastor Ulysse alluded to it in service. Jesus is number one, then Others, then Yourself. I got a lot out of that this week. Normally, when you’re studying a topic like patience, God teaches it to the teacher first. So the odds are, your week might not go that swell.

One: God

Matthew 22:37-40
  1. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
  2. This is the first and great commandment.
  3. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
  4. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Romans 13:10
  1. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The end of the law is love.

1 Timothy 1:5
  1. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Thomas taught a series on sexual sin. We as human beings are designed to worship something. We make fun of people in the Old Testament who worshipped rocks, or a piece of gold. But the principle is the same today. We have television and movies. These things can be an object of worship. Even as Christians, we may tend to worship the church, or the man of God, instead of God.

1 Peter 2:9
  1. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Luke 17:7-10
  1. But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
  2. And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
  3. Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
  4. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

So we’ll be serving God first, forever. Sometimes putting God first is an act of faith. Taking time to worship God is an act of faith. We say, “I just don’t have the resources; I have to take care of all these other things first.” Sometimes we have to set other things aside, whether it be work, or even our work in the ministry, to make time to have that connection with God. Jesse, would you share a time when it was a sacrifice to put God first?

> Jesse Rairdon

I’m standing in a room full of men who put God first, every day. I wanted to work on the Navy Base, and I was wrestling with how to use my time. But God pricked my heart to at least show up for Tuesday Bible studies. One day I didn’t have time for dinner, but a lady came over to the table and loaded it up with a bunch of food. She said, “God told me to bring this for you.” We tried to thank her, but she said, “Don’t thank me; thank God. God put it in my heart.”

Luke 10:38-42
  1. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
  2. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
  3. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
  4. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
  5. But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

What sign in the scripture; what sentence or word lets us know that what Martha was doing was wrong? There is a time to provide for the necessity of the saints, but what shows us that she was wrong?

> The fact that she was “cumbered”.

cumbered > To be distracted, or overly occupied (Strong’s)

That is a trip that any Christian with zeal can fall into very easily. We are surrounded by the flesh, even in the presence of God manifest in the flesh. Yeah, I’d want my house to look good, too, but we have to take time to get our priorities straight.

We have to love our neighbor as ourselves, not as we love God.

I downloaded this story. There was a shooting, a couple of years back, at Virginia Tech. This lady writes:

> I’ll give you a little bit of my background and then tell you the story because this has been a very, very hard road. I was born and raised Catholic, and yet I would have to say a disinterested Catholic. As for putting God first, we weren’t thinking of anything beyond this world.

> The months after the Virginia Tech shooting were extremely difficult. Sometimes Marian didn’t eat or sleep for days. She lost faith, she lost weight, she lost interest in her job and everything around her, and was exhausting her husband Chris.

> Then something happened that proved to be a turning point. Marian was in the woods behind her house, when the depth of her loss overwhelmed her:

> I got very, very angry, cursing out loud, crying. I started yelling at God, saying, “You know I taught her to trust You.” I was furious because I had told Caitlin that God would take care of everything and He let her down. That’s how I felt: “I raised her to believe and trust in You, and where the heck were You that day?”

In the rest of the story, she tells that a doe, a female deer, came up to her. It stopped her thoughts in their tracks, and a voice said, “You will see her again, if you go through me first.” This was a lady who didn’t understand Jesus, or even believe in God. But God used this opportunity to reach her. She talks about the experience, saying that her daughter was like an idol to her. She cared more about her daughter than her relationship with God.

There are a lot of good things, that we should have a burden for. But if we aren’t careful, we can put those things before God. But you don’t put anything before God, because God is a jealous God.

Romans 13:9
  1. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

God used this scripture to deal with me on a personal level this week:

Matthew 5:43
  1. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Leviticus 19:18
  1. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
Exodus 23:4-5
  1. If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.
  2. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
Exodus 23:9
  1. Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 23:7
  1. Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.

You might have heard the saying, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.” I was reading a book by an author who was an atheist up to the age of 30. He said, “How can I love my neighbor as myself?” We have things that we’ve done in our life that shame us, that we want to forget. We are very self-centered. We know how to treat ourselves. The scripture teaches us that we should treat others the same way.

I’m still in Matthew:

Matthew 5:44
  1. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

What about the people who curse our ministry? What about the people on base who call us a cult? Surely there must be some justification to speak ill of them, or at least to dismiss them? I think of Jesus suffering the nails of the cross. Did you ever have that burning feeling when you know you’re right, and you want to take vengeance right now?

There are two stories of martyrs in the Bible (well, there are more than two, but these two said the same thing.) One was Jesus:

Luke 23:34
  1. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Who was the other?

> Stephen

Right. He cried out with his last breath:

Acts 7:60
  1. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

When we’re faced with that temptation to not bless those who curse us, to do what feels natural, like taking revenge, or snickering under our breath… What if somebody was walking on base and came to someone from a different church, and they said, “Let me tell you about those guys from Christian Fellowship Church. They tell you all kinds of lies; they’re bad people.” Now that same person makes his way to us. He says, “What about those guys who said that about you?” If I were to speak evil of them, how would I be different? How does that help the guy who is looking for answers? The fruits of the spirit – love, long-suffering, peace – that’s what will save that guy. So I say, “Those guys may not agree with the spirit of God, but I love them anyway. I’d love to see them come out for fellowship.”

Two: Others

> Rick Hahn

John told me to share this, and at first, I couldn’t think of anything. But now I’ve got thousands of stories; I can’t tell them all, so I’ll just tell this one.

My biological mother was as evil a person as you could ever meet. She lived her life to make things as miserable as possible for the people around her. So at the age of fourteen, after I took her to court, my parting words to her were, “If you ever see these two eyes again (pointing at my own eyes), these are the last two eyes you will ever see.

I lived for the day when I could kick my mom to the curb and get my vengeance.

But after I got saved, at the age of seventeen, I realized that I couldn’t do that. So I went home, and she was evil as ever, but I was different. Fast-forward a few years, and there was a brother who had done me wrong, and I rationalized my hatred (I was careful not to call it that, but it was hatred) of that brother. And later, six months or a year later, I realized that my walk with God had come to a standstill. It wasn’t until I could forgive that brother to the point I could look at him with no anger that I started making progress again. So realize that your inability to forgive can hinder you.

> Jonathan Santiago

There was a scripture where Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you.” What was that commandment?

> That you love one another as I have loved you.

So he lived his whole life as that example.

The Bible says that charity is the bond of perfectness, but we’ve got to be prepared ahead-of-time, or the devil will steal that from us.

Three: Ourselves

Philippians 2:12
  1. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
1 Corinthians 15:31
  1. I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.
Revelation 21:7
  1. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

If we really love ourselves, we will love our salvation and our relationship with God. We will put God first, and other second, and that will take care of number three.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 5

Genesis 41:1-57
  1. And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.
  2. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.
  3. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.
  4. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.
  5. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.
  6. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.
  7. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
  8. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
  9. Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:
  10. Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker:
  11. And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.
  12. And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.
  13. And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
  14. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.
  15. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
  16. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
  17. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
  18. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
  19. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:
  20. And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
  21. And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.
  22. And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
  23. And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
  24. And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.
  25. And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
  26. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
  27. And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
  28. This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
  29. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
  30. And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
  31. And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
  32. And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
  33. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
  34. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
  35. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
  36. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
  37. And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
  38. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
  39. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
  40. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
  41. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
  42. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
  43. And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
  44. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
  45. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
  46. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
  47. And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.
  48. And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.
  49. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.
  50. And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
  51. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.
  52. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
  53. And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
  54. And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
  55. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
  56. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
  57. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

On Sunday, Joseph began in prison, and the butler forgot about him, and now we see that he spent two years in prison. But Pharaoh was troubled, and he called all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof. We’re talking about the whole country. Everybody came, and none of them could interpret the dream for Pharaoh. All of them could guess, and say anything. Actually, we saw in Daniel that they used to guess. That’s why the king said, “Tell me both the dream and the interpretation.” So they couldn’t just guess. We’re not going to go into all the details, but if I’m Haitian, I will dream in Haitian. Now, the butler came and said, “I do remember my fault this day.” I think he deserved credit, because no matter how long we’ve been away from God, it’s never too late to repent and confess and do right.

Now we read:

Genesis 41:14
  1. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

The Bible says,

Proverbs 16:7
  1. When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

When God is in it, nothing can stop it. I want you to pay attention to the last half of verse 14:

Genesis 41:14
  1. Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Joseph was raised in a culture where they did not have to be clean. Actually, they kept their hair, and beard, and everything. But the Egyptians were a clean people. They shaved everything except for the goatee, because it added to their dignity. Now, Joseph was going before the presence of the Pharaoh, and he was supposed to conform himself somehow to go there. It’s like we are sent on earth. Jesus prayed:

John 17:15
  1. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

So Joseph definitely had to put himself in the same shoes to put himself before Pharaoh. He had to change his raiment; he had to present himself. You should be dressed to be presentable whenever you go out anywhere. The Bible says we are ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) And when you are an ambassador, you represent the country. So Joseph had to be presentable to go before Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:15
  1. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

When I read this, I said, “Oh, my goodness! This is the opportunity for Joseph to sell himself. He could have said, “Oh, yeah. Since I was a little boy, I have done this thing. I’m used to it.” That’s your opportunity to write you resume.

Genesis 41:16
  1. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

I think it was a very smart move to say that. I’m sure that Joseph wanted to give the glory to God anyway, but I think it’s a good idea also, in case the dream was not a good one. So Joseph said, “Whatever comes, it’s not in me.” He took himself out of the equation. He said, “God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

I want to emphasize “an answer of peace.” It is one thing to have an answer, and another to have an answer “of peace.” If you know what’s right, and you don’t do it, you may do fine, but where is that peace? But he’s talking here about an answer of peace. Whatever God will give Pharaoh, it will be an answer of peace. I thought about the children of Israel, when they were asking God for an answer, but at the same time, they said, “Oh, I know the answer,” and they took the ark and moved it. You and I can come up with answers, but if they don’t come from God, they won’t be “of peace.”

Genesis 41:28
  1. This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.

Egypt is a picture of the world. You may wonder why would God need to tell them what is going to happen. But the leaders are the one to be able to have the dreams. This scripture goes from kings to fathers to department-heads to everyone. As leaders, you get the vision; you get the dreams from God. But someone else is given the interpretation. Pharaoh was king, and even though he wasn’t the king directly appointed by God, he was given the vision from God. He was troubled, and even his hired wise men could not give him the answer. The vision was given to him, but the interpretation was given to someone else.

We had a president of Haiti, Aristide, who was loved by everybody. When democracy came, everybody picked him because he was good. But we find out right after he got elected, he only had two advisers. With all the vision he had, he could not lead the country anywhere. So he got ousted, and came back again, and got ousted, and came back again, and the country wasn’t going anywhere.

So here is Pharaoh, a leader who was willing to get anyone, even a Hebrew from prison, and listen anything, as long as it made sense to him. It was a year ago when I saw this scripture. It was a time of trouble in the ministry, and I needed this scripture. It really helped. I had a devotion time in my home, and I used this scripture to say, “Tell me whatever you think.” You would be amazed. Even Junior had something to say.

So after he had told Pharaoh the dream, Joseph said:

Genesis 41:33-36
  1. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
  2. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
  3. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
  4. And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

After Joseph explained the dream, I continue to read, and I can imagine myself being in the room. And Joseph started to give counsel, advice to Pharaoh. And I put my head down and say, “Oh, my goodness, Joseph! You don’t do that thing! You don’t give advice to the king! It’s one thing to tell him the dream, but now you’re telling him what to do!” I’m sure all the wise men were thinking, “Now he’s going to get it.” Have you ever been embarrassed for someone when you heard them, maybe on the radio or the TV? I don’t think what Joseph said was wise. I think he should have waited for Pharaoh to say, “What do you think?” But I know that it was because of the providence of God.

I remember an instance when we had a sister in the church; she was the most beautiful girl in the congregation. And somewhere, she met a rich man in the country, and brought him to church. He was a businessman who worshipped in one of the mega-churches. So when he came to our humble little place, he didn’t even see where he could sit. He loved the sister, but he didn’t love our church. So he wanted to get married quick, and he said that everything would be taken care of by him and his church. If we wanted to assist, that’s okay. They had seven pastors to celebrate the wedding. We call them in Haiti, “Big-Coats”. They are not small pastors like me; they are Big-Coats. The person who opened the ceremony was a star in Haiti; they have TV shows with her; it was all very high-rank. But everything had to start right on time, because after that ceremony, there was another ceremony, so we had to be done on time. So five minutes before the start, none of the Big-Coats had shown up. The church was full. And five minutes after the start, none of the Big-Coats had shown up. So a lady walked up to the front and said, “Are there any ministers here?” I didn’t even think of myself as a minister; I was looking around like everyone else. But some other people pointed at me and said, “Yes, we have a minister right here.” So I was shaking as I walked up to speak. I’m sure that my wife was embarrassed. And it happened another time. There was a funeral, and none of the Big-Coats showed up, and finally a lady announced, “And now, Reverend Ulysse will deliver the sermon.” Since that time, even if you don’t see a piece if paper in my hand or in my pocket, I have a message ready in my heart. Because I don’t want anyone to be embarrassed.

Amazingly, we find that Pharaoh loved what Joseph said.

Genesis 41:37
  1. And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

Now, I have some problem with this. I’m sure that some of the servants were saying, “Yeah, that’s right,” but deep in their hearts, they were saying something else. And when Pharaoh said, ‘

Genesis 41:38
  1. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?

I’m sure at least one of them was saying, “Yeah, right here!” I’m sure also, some of them said also, “If his spirit of God is so great, how come we took them out of prison? C’mon, king! I know he said something nice, but…” And I’m sure that after he said it, they were saying, “You know, that makes sense. We could have said the same thing…” And that is the attitude of many non-Christians. They say, “I’m better off than you are. I’m not so sure that I need your God.”

But the thing is, this man was filled with the spirit of God. So remember, no matter how much better off some people think they are, you need to be filled with the spirit of God, and that makes all the difference. That was the difference between Joseph and any other wise men, and the Pharaoh knew it.

Genesis 41:39
  1. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

Let’s be honest, now. Do you think Joseph was after a job? Do you think Joseph even expected to have a job? I don’t think so. He was probably looking to find favor; he definitely wanted to get out. But I don’t think he expected to be made prime minister over all the land. But the Pharaoh said, “It would be foolish to think that of all these wise men, any of them would be wiser and more discreet than thou art.” All he cared about was the country doing well. It seems that he is saying to Joseph, “I’m not doing this for me; I’m doing it for my country.”

Genesis 41:40-42
  1. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
  2. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
  3. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Remember we talked about the ring, the signet? That is his identity. Joseph could stamp whatever he said with that signet, and whatever he said, goes. And whenever you see that gold chain, that is a sign telling you to bow down. It is as if someone called out, “Attention on deck!” And every knee should bow, and every tongue confess. When he delegates power, he gave it one hundred percent. He gave it all. He said, “If I were that wise, I wouldn’t have need for you. I trust you.” And as somebody said, he married him to Egyptians, and bound him. Like Christ, Joseph was thirty years old when he started his ministry.

Genesis 41:46
  1. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
Genesis 41:51
  1. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

I will read this scripture again when we continue, because we see that Joseph forgave everything, long before he saw his brothers again.

Genesis 41:52
  1. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Genesis 41:55
  1. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

Does anybody remember the phrase, “What he saith to you, do.”? Imagine the trust that he had! But that didn’t make him any lower than Joseph; he was still the king. When they came to Pharaoh, he said, “Whoa, whoa. Go to Joseph. Don’t come to me.” I remember when I first saw this scripture. It was a troubled time. That week, I got all my gray hairs. I shave my beard now, but if I let it grow, it would be all gray; I have no more black. And it happened in one week.

You know, when you start something in ministry, you are in every single part of it, trying to control it, thinking that this person cannot handle it? I was into that. But I learned that when you delegate, everybody has a task. When Junior cuts the grass, I don’t go to bed and dream about the grass. Will he mess it up? He probably will, but that’s his job. I don’t worry about it. To make it short, I asked everybody to sincerely talk to me and tell me, and the next thing I know, the people who I thought were closest to me, nobody loved me. If my wife didn’t love me, I would have no love at all. That’s when I decided, everybody has their own job. If it’s Jay’s job to bring money, and we have no money, I still have my job. That’s Jay’s job.

So no matter what happened in Egypt, the king could sleep well.

Genesis 41:56
  1. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

I have one lesson that I would like to get from this. You probably read this scripture and think that it’s a thing that happened a long time ago in Egypt. But don’t you find something in this dream and this interpretation that is for you? What’s wrong with being wise when things are going well? If I have job now and I get promoted, what’s wrong with keeping my old lifestyle, and saving that extra money to do something else with? Why do I have to change my house? It’s still okay with me. If my wife doesn’t like it, she can work and get a new one; I’m all right with that. Now God has blessed you, and you can do whatever you want, but you should be wise in case bad times come. When things are going well, don’t say “We have enough to spare now.”

Genesis 41:56-57
  1. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
  2. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

Whosoever will, let him come. That is grace. There is a scripture in the Old Testament that says of the Hebrew people, they should be the ones to give to other people, because they should have enough for themselves, and have extra. And I think that we as a people should have enough to take care of ourselves, as a ministry, and have extra. It is not pride to think we should have enough for ourselves, and not always be asking for help from the outside. I think it is wisdom.

Winning Souls

Sunday Plus, 8/29/10

Songs

  • [ Open The Eyes Of My Heart]
  • [ I Have A Hope]
  • [ Blessed Be Your Name]
  • [ He That Dwelleth]
  • [ Love The Lord]

Message: Winning Souls

> Pat Taylor

I want to thank Pastor Paine and Pastor Thomas for yielding their pulpit. Most of you know that Cedric Christian and I are going to Jacksonville, and they figured it would do us good to spend some time on the firing line, so to speak.

The topic tonight is “Winning Souls.”

Proverbs 11:30
  1. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

If you’re a Christian and want to reach out, how do you do it? How do I reach people with the gospel? How many of you want to improve your efforts at evangelism and reaching out to people?

There is an eternity that will weigh in the balance. Every soul on the planet will spend eternity somewhere. We want it to be in heaven, right? But few there be, the Bible says, that find the way.

We want to be a good testimony. This is something that has been on my heart for the last few months. This gospel changed my life, on this planet, for the better right here. And of course, for eternity, it gave me hope. I’m forty-seven years old, and I’ve been thinking about how to be more effective for the rest of my life. Moses was just getting started at eighty, but I don’t want to wait until I’m eighty years old to so something for God.

We’re going to go over four points tonight. This by no means is an exhaustive Bible study, because I’m limited to one hour, not three. (Adam pretty adamantly says “half an hour.”) So these four points are things I can do to see my personal evangelism get better.

When I was a brand-new Christian in the Navy, I didn’t know what to do. How am I supposed to reach people? I wasn’t raised real religious. Should I stand on the street corner passing out cards? I didn’t know.

I was baptized right here in Norfolk, the only place that I didn’t want to come after training in Great Lakes. But I came out and got baptized. Now, what do I do? Every time I passed somebody on the street and didn’t invite them out to church, I felt like a miserable failure. One day I was walking by a utility worker on a pole, and I was thinking, “How do I reach him?” You’ll be happy to hear that I didn’t climb up the pole to share to him.

1. Stand on the Solid Rock.

The first thing we can do is to stand on the solid rock. Have any of you trained in ice-rescue? What is the one thing you don’t want to do?

  • Stand on the ice.

Right. If somebody has fallen through the ice, the ice is really thin out there. So you don’t want to get anywhere near him, because if you do, then there will be two people out there who need rescued.

1 Timothy 4:12
  1. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Number one, we’ve got to be examples. You can’t preach the gospel and tell everybody about the solid rock if you’re standing on sand.

So the first few weeks after getting saved, I prayed “What do I need to do?” I prayed that prayer a lot. I didn’t know very much about the Bible, so I went to the library every night and studied for four hours. I came across this verse, and it was such a blessing to me, because it told me what to do:

Titus 2:1-10
  1. But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
  2. That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
  3. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
  4. That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
  5. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
  6. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
  7. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
  8. Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
  9. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
  10. Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

That helped me a lot in the Navy, where everyone around me was always complaining, “I hate this place.”

Titus 2:11-13
  1. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
  2. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
  3. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

So the best thing we can do, first and foremost, is to keep ourselves holy. Stand on that solid rock. This wasn’t about reaching out; it was about keeping your personal testimony.

2. Be ready to answer those who ask about your faith

People are always coming up to me and saying, “What’s wrong with you?” We’re a peculiar people. People want to know why we do what we do. Are you ready with a godly answer?

1 Peter 3:15
  1. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

You might never realize the impact that you have on people. But this is ninety percent of the issue, right here. The first part is to have a good testimony. The second part is to be ready to give an answer when people ask you. We worry so much about reaching out, but if you’re doing what you should be doing, Jesus will bring people to you.

3. Be friendly

This is really a kind-of nuts-and-bolts item. Be friendly. That’s how you win souls.

Proverbs 18:24
  1. A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

There are things we can do to develop ourselves. We can examine ourselves. “Am I approachable? Am I happy? Am I smiling?” I like Jay. He’s always smiling. I like looking at Jesse in service. He looks happy in life. Have you ever heard the saying?

> Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

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.

“One to another” does not always mean Christians. It says,

Galatians 6:10
  1. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

But it also says,

John 13:35
  1. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

I was looking for a U-Haul trailer, to get-outta-dodge. So I met somebody at the counter, and I thought, “I’m never going to see this guy again.” But I whipped out my card and said, “If you ever find yourself down this way again, call me up and I’ll treat you to a greasy cheeseburger.” Pastor Davis talked about connecting with people and taking control of the situation. When we talk about connecting with people, we’re not talking about going to their bar or their club or whatever. But I know I’ve made a connection with somebody when we’re standing together in the kitchen eating cold chicken together. (Guys, you understand the concept? Girls, you may not.) But we need to meet people in a personal, relevant way. We need to meet, and connect, and talk with people.

4. Get outside the building

We need to get outside of the building. Pastor Wilson, do you remember the time that you jumped up and down and screamed at the top of your lungs? I can’t do it justice, but he was being encouraging. He was screaming,

> GET OUT OF THE BUILDING!!!

He was saying, “Three or four of you, get a plan together and get out of the building to do it.” How many of you remember the “Headlines club”? We did those things, and we started to see fruit. To do that, we had to get out of the building.

Let me share something that I learned, just in the process of being cheap. I was trying to save a dollar. I’m a neurotic when it comes to clean cars. If I don’t clean it once a week, I start feeling shaky and jittery. So I go to the car wash and spend ten bucks. But then I figured, if I get a hose and do it in front of my house, maybe I’ll save a buck. But it actually turned into something else. Every time I go out and hose my car off and start cleaning it, I have a party on my lawn. I don’t know why, but people start coming out. The next thing you know, there are kids out there, squirting each other with the hose.

Last week, Cedric and I were out there, and a light-bulb came on. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m not the dullest, either. Here we are, out of the house, and we’re reaching people. We might only be five or ten feet out of the house, but already we’re reaching people.

That’s what it’s all about. I want to be effective. We’re not even inviting people out to church; we’re inviting them to know Jesus. You can do a lot of inviting people to know Jesus while you’re on the job, or in a coffee house. Priscilla and Aquilla reached a lot of people on the job; they were tent-makers.

I’m not one to do a lot of jumping-up-and-down. But we’ve got to seek God to be better examples. We have an obligation. Let’s get out there and connect with people, and meet people, and let them know; give them hope.

Exploring Joseph's Story, part 4

We are continuing to explore the story of Joseph. Last time, we left Joseph in prison. It’s been a while. Like Jesus, he was tempted and overcome temptation. He was falsely accused and ended up in prison. As we will see a little bit of his time in prison, I ask you to prepare your heart.

Genesis 40:1-23
  1. And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.
  2. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
  3. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
  4. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
  5. And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.
  6. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.
  7. And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?
  8. And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
  9. And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
  10. And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:
  11. And Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.
  12. And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
  13. Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.
  14. But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
  15. For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
  16. When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:
  17. And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
  18. And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
  19. Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
  20. And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
  21. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand:
  22. But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.
  23. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

The butler is the cup-bearer. This officer was the chief, overseeing the royal vineyards, and the storage room with all the drinks in it. He definitely had hundreds of people under him. The baker was the cook, he was the officer with all the kitchen department under him. He was in charge of all the royal meals. So these two were officers of great importance; they weren’t just simple guys. They were so important by reason of the confidential nature of their job. They were daily in the presence of the king. Also, basically they had the king’s life in their hands. They were the tasters: they had to taste the food and drink before the king. If somebody had to die, guess who it was? So the king had to trust them.

We see that something happened that the king was wroth against these two officers. We don’t know what it was. Maybe there was a conspiracy against the king, and these two were implicated. Or maybe it was as simple as a fly in the dining room. We don’t know. But we see that Joseph was imprisoned with them, and they continued a season in ward. Now remember who the captain of the guard was? It was Potiphar. He was an officer, also. So those three officers were buddies. And the captain of the guard chose Joseph to take care of those two men, because he knew him. By then, Potiphar was convinced of Joseph’s innocence. From the beginning, he was wroth; he was mad, but there is no sign that he was mad at Joseph. He wanted to find a way to let this guy go, but he had to keep him in prison. I don’t know if you can understand, but it was a matter of family honor. He lived in a society where every move you made was watched. He was happy when Joseph was his slave, but there is a greater thing at risk now: the family honor, his wife. He couldn’t just do what his heart would love to do.

Today, we don’t have this wisdom. We do things every day without thinking of long-term priorities. We don’t have to worry about honor and loyalty and all of these things. Today we see all these divorces going on. If only the parents would sit down and discuss these things, but it’s hard.

Think about the kids. If it wasn’t for them, I think that sometimes you would say, “You go your way, and I’ll go mine.” But because of them, whatever sacrifice it takes to keep this family together, it must be done.

Potiphar was going through hard times. In many relationships, you go through hard times every day, because you cannot just do the things that you want. There is a thing called “dirty laundry”. Old people like me would understand when I say, there are some things you go to the river to wash.

I heard some neighbors talking the other day. This lady died, and her son came to sell everything because he didn’t want to live there anymore. He was taking all the underwear out, no matter how old, or how long in the drawer, and putting it out for sale. How would that make you feel?

So Potiphar understood about family honor. It was very important to him.

I have no doubt that some times my wife and kids get together and talk about me, but I don’t worry. I know that they love me, and I know they won’t let anybody else talk about me.

I have a cousin who is in politics. He’s been trying for years to get me on his side. But he’s the type of cousin that I don’t even want him to know where I live. Because he’ll come to visit, and the next thing you know, this house where I live will be up for sale. So one day he called and said he needed me in New York. He flew me to New York, and then took me to Washington, and explained that he wanted to be president of Haiti, and he needed me by his side. I couldn’t stop laughing. He explained, “I know I am bad, but that’s what it takes to make it to the top. And once I’m there, I need clean people by my side.” He ministered to me, saying “Hubert, never underestimate your relatives. You laugh because you know me, but you don’t know the rest of the politicians. There are people worse than me. But your relatives will always be by your side, because relatives stick together.” Potiphar understood this kind of loyalty.

Romans 2:17-24
  1. Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,
  2. And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;
  3. And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
  4. An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
  5. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
  6. Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
  7. Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
  8. For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

We are proud of who we are and what we are. We are proud of our God, and our position and calling and everything. Just make sure that the name of God is not being blasphemed among the Gentiles through us. I admire Paul’s courage. He was hurting, but there was something he had to do.

We find when Ezra was leaving, he talked to the king about how his God is great and powerful. He was telling so many great things about God. But he was carrying so much treasure that he got scared, because he realized that robbers were all about the wood, and he didn’t trust God to keep him.

Ezra 8:21-23
  1. Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
  2. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.
  3. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.

After you were saying so great things about God, if you go to the king and say, “Well, king, we need some security,” isn’t that blaspheming? If you don’t have a security and confidence in God, then you should let your words be few. If you say one thing and do another thing, then you give occasion for people to say bad things about God.

My sister in Haiti was “more Catholic than the Pope”, as they say. She gave a place to live and everything we needed. But after a while, I felt ashamed, because I was basically doing the opposite of her, and using her. So finally I had to say, “We will get our own place.” You have to keep honor in the family.

So these officers, in one night they both had a dream. And in the morning,

Genesis 40:6-7
  1. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.
  2. And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?

That gives me the impression that they didn’t use to be sad every day. Remember, they weren’t prisoners like any other prisoners; they had their prestige. But when Joseph came to them, he said, “You don’t look happy today; you look sad.” When I was reading this scripture, I was thinking, “This is for me.” Joseph was not to preoccupied with his own calamities. He wasn’t too preoccupied, with all the things he was going through, to minister to others. Do you know, we are so preoccupied with our own lives, with our own problems, that we don’t even see other people’s sadness?

I am forty-five now. I am thinking, “In forty-five more years, I will be ninety. What have I done for the first forty-five years? How will I manage the rest?” I am preoccupied. You might be thinking, “I don’t know if pastors go through all that.” Yes. I feel like I don’t have time for mistakes in my life. And sometimes I am so preoccupied with my faults that someone is hurting, and I don’t even see.

Philippians 2:4
  1. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

God comes first, others second, and “me” third. That is the way it must be. When I pray, I start with a closed hand. I start with the thumb; it’s the fattest. It stands for God, and his power and might. Then I use the pointing finger to pray for the leaders and pastors. The next one, the longest one, I use to pray for those who are farthest away. The next one, closest to me, I use to pray for my friends and family. Then the smallest one, the last one, I use to pray for me. That’s the way it should be; you should come last.

So these two men had their dreams, then they were worried. They knew that if they were in the palace, they would ask the wise men for the interpretation, but they couldn’t wait until they got out. So Joseph said,

Genesis 40:8
  1. And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

That’s what Daniel said when the king was going to kill all the wise men for failing to tell him of his dream.

Daniel 2:11
  1. And it is a rare thing that the king requireth, and there is none other that can shew it before the king, except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.

You know there are things that you have going on in your life. You look for people to share with. You know that some people are just waiting to hear so they can tell so-and-so? And you have God right there and interpreation belongs to God!

What Joseph said reminded me of the Syrian army after Israel defeated them. They were in the hills, and they went back to their country, and said, “I bet their God is the God of hills. If we go to the valley, we will defeat them.” And God heard them.

1 Kings 20:28
  1. And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Joseph said, “God is the interpreter. He is in prison; he is in problems; he is everywhere. Please; tell me the dream.” He didn’t ask them to tell him the dream just because he wanted to know, or because he wanted to be a fortune-teller. He asked them because he wanted to do whatever it takes; from a desire to meet their needs. And this is what it’s all about. If you don’t have a desire to help somebody, if you don’t have a desire to lighten their load, you don’t need to know their stuff. And don’t be so quick to tell other people your stuff. They don’t need to know your problems. Sometimes I hear people talking to me, to the pastors, and I say, “I don’t want to hear this.” Because we are powerless! We don’t have the answers! God does!

Like a little boy, Joseph knew that his father knows everything. He was confident. So after hearing the dream, Joseph said:

Genesis 40:12-13
  1. And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
  2. Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

Wouldn’t you be scared to say something like that? He said three days, not three decades.

Three days are not long. I know that in some situations, three days can be very long. But three days – have you ever been in the Navy and ready to get out, and you start counting down the days? That’s what it was like for those guys. Three days: yeah, they were long, but they were counting down.

What I get out of this is, the visions are for the comfort of God’s saints are for a great while to come, and they are very far off. When you are ministering, and you want to make people happy, and you want your good works to glorify God, your own dreams, your own visions are afar off. For us, it is until Jesus come.

So Joseph said,

Genesis 40:14
  1. But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:

So not only were the officers looking forward to those three days, but Joseph was looking forward, too.

Genesis 40:15
  1. For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

He didn’t have to go and tell them about his brothers. If he told them that he was stolen himself, that was enough. Everything else was family. Also he said, “I have done nothing that they should put me in the dungeon.” I am sure that Potiphar didn’t tell them of his doubts. Of course you know that everybody in prison is innocent. So I’m sure the officers were saying, “Sure you are. You went after Potiphar’s wife and got caught.” But isn’t it right to try to get out of prison the right way? Even Jesus did that. He said, “Father, if it be your will…”

There is a story of a farmer who had been planning to cut a tree from his garden; he wanted to cut it down. There was a bird who was building a nest in his tree. And the farmer said, “I’m sorry; fellow, I don’t want you to lose your kids when I cut down this tree.” So he kept destroying the nest, and the birds kept rebuilding it. I’m sure the birds were saying, “I can’t believe it. Everything I do is going wrong.” Their little minds cannot understand things. It was for the bird’s own benefit.

That’s where Joseph was. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t get out in three days. But what do you think would have happened to him? He would probably have gone home.

So the baker heard Joseph’s interpretation and said, “That’s good news!” And the butler heard the beginning, “…shall Pharaoh lift up” and thought, “That’s good, too!” Then he heard the rest:

Genesis 40:19
  1. Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.

But Joseph was just the messenger; he had to tell them the way it is. He was as faithful to deliver the butler’s sermon as he was to deliver the baker’s sermon. We see then, like Jesus, Joseph ministered to two thieves. One went on to glory, and the other to condemnation. This is another way that Joseph was like a picture of Christ.

Genesis 40:23
  1. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

I don’t like to ask for favors. And when I do, then I am embarrassed to wait for them come to pass. But do you realize that we are doing the same thing to Christ? He said, “remember me, when you take communion.”l

You probably grew up on your own; you didn’t have to ask anybody for anything. Your parents probably gave you everything, and you didn’t owe anybody anything except, as the scripture says, for love. But it isn’t that way for everyone. I owe so many people so many things. I owe people who paid for school for me; I owe people who gave me clothes. I owe people for everything in life. I feel like I owe them my whole life. I remember one time in Fort Lauderdale when it seemed like I worked twenty-seven hours a day. I worked so hard that I would fall asleep and then wake up and run into the house saying, “I’m late! I’m late!” So one time I was so tired that I laid down to go to take a nap, and the phone rang. It was the daughter of someone who had helped me, asking for a ride. And I felt like I had an obligation. So I said, “I’m going.” I felt so powerful! I felt so great! Because I finally had a way to give something back.

Trust me; you don’t want to owe too many people.

If you don’t see Joseph as a picture of Christ in this scripture, you should. We see what God has done for us every day. It’s like he delivered us, and died for us, and we go back to the palace and live our lives. That’s exactly what we’re doing.

Luke 17:17-18
  1. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
  2. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

I want you to read this scripture for yourself, like I read it for myself. See your daily life, your agenda. See if you really go back and thank God. You should not even have a life to begin with.

Romans 1:21
  1. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

We know how powerful God is. We know how good he is. But we don’t respond accordingly. We just don’t. We live our own lives.

There is a gratitude to men. I want you to read the story in 1 Samuel 25 when you get a chance. David had been watching over a man’s flocks, and now David was running from the king, and he begged the man for some food, and the man said, “I have my own stuff. If David is hungry, he should look elsewhere.”

1 Samuel 25:21
  1. Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.

Then David said, “I’ll show him what ingratitude looks like. I’ll kill everything.” But we treat God the same way. And sometimes we not only show ingratitude, but we render evil for good.

John 10:32
  1. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?

Jesus had shown them many good works, and they were ready to stone him. But here’s where you need to be:

Acts 5:41
  1. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

It was predicted that Peter would be killed. When the time finally came, they were going to crucify him, and he said, “I am ready. There was a time when I used to run for my life and deny Christ, that I know him, but now I am ready. But I am not worthy to be crucified as my Lord was; I want to be crucified upside-down.”

Accounted worthy to suffer for Christ: that’s where we need to be. And if you suffer for Christ, it should not be comfortable.

For Such a Time as This

Wednesday Evening Service, 8/25/10

Songs

  • [ God Is Alive]
  • [ One Day]
  • [ This Is How We Overcome]
  • [ Revival In The Land]
  • [ One Less Stone]
  • [ Here I Am To Worship]
  • [ Made Me Glad]
  • [ Shout To The Lord]

> Pat Taylor

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to come here and worship and thank God for waking me up another day. There was a time in my life when I didn’t believe in God. I was very comfortable with that way of thought for a long time. But one day God showed me the proper order of things, and I could not deny him any longer. One day, by faith, God showed me that Jesus was real, and from that day I never looked back. At that time, I didn’t know Jesus; I wasn’t baptized; I didn’t know how to saved. But I knew my answers would come from Jesus.

Those of you who didn’t know me then might think I have it all together, but I didn’t have it all together. I was all messed up inside. But now I am here, clothed in my right mind, with a peace and a comfort every day. And I’m thankful to lift up Jesus, the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved.

> Ricardo McPherson

I’m reflecting a little on our conference. When Pastor Paine talked about the spirit of fear, I could relate, because we all struggle with fear. But God has not given us the spirit of fear. Where does it come from? From Satan: he doesn’t want me moving forward in God. When you find yourself having fear, ask yourself how much you love God, and stop to fill up on that love. We’ve all got to get out there and get the word out, as it says in Matthew 28:19. God bless you.

> Todd Morgan

The conference was definitely very exciting. The real message I got out of it was that God has something for us to do, a mission for us. I like how our Pastors capitalize on opportunities and go after them. We see that excitement in new people, and we should have that excitement every day of our lives. Like Rocky, we’ve got to get “the eye of the tiger” back in our lives. We’ve got to be hungry for the victory, not taking the glory, but giving it all to God.

> Debbie Paine

The worship was so electifying that Pete and I stayed up late talking about it. One of the things we talked about was the unity that we felt this weekend. It doesn’t end here. If we just run hard and fast through the streets like Jesus commanded us to do, there is nothing that can stop us. I’m so thankful for the incredible mind-blowing worship that we had. It wasn’t just Norfolk; it was Christian Fellowship International. We’re a part of something so much bigger than any one of us. I’m so thankful that God called me.

> Odell Boggan

It’s good. It was a good weekend. It’s good to know that we all care about the same thing: praise and worship and lifting his name up. Let’s continue fighting and pressing through. I look forward to what’s to come. That’s my driving force right now. Satan tries to make you feel like giving up, and I see people who struggle. I think about it for just a second, but I know that I’m going to get through it, and that’s why I’m here today. The vision is set; let’s get to it!

Message:

> Pat Taylor

The scripture that I want to bring is the one we heard this weekend:

Esther 4:13-14
  1. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
  2. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

That was a very powerful scripture for me this weekend, because God has given each of us talents and abilities. He has given each of us an understanding. I’ve done different jobs in life, and each time I’ve asked, “What did I learn from this? What can I get out of it?” This weekend, I really had an insight. Sometimes things don’t really make sense in life, but then you come to a place where you say, “Oh! Now I know why I have this talent, this ability, this insight.” I believe that this is that time. Just as Mordecai told Esther, God is going to do this. It might not involve you, but there’s going to be deliverance come from somewhere.

I guess my encouragement is to take this weekend and go forward with the message. We have the opportunity to go and bring forth fruit to the glory of God.

My Father's House

Sunday Plus Service, 8/22/10

Songs

  • [ The Heart Of Worship]
  • [ Amazed]
  • [ Better Is One Day]
  • [ All To You]
  • [ That’s Why We Praise Him]

Message: My Father’s House

> Pastor Thomas

Church, I’m tired. How many of you are tired? But it’s a tired that we all deserve. I’ve said it a couple of times already, but I’ll say it again. Thank you, to all of you who worked so hard to make this happen. You baked cookies, you set out tables, Dick Brand worked hard selling tickets and running the table. We’ve had a truly awesome weekend, and we’ve got the opportunity to do something with what we’ve received.

I asked God, “What would you have me to do tonight?” Our father knows better than we do, what we need and when we need it. I remember someone showing me a piece of paper and it said,

> Teenagers! Run away from home NOW, while you still know everything!

Jesus gave us the parable of the prodigal son. The father was very wealthy, and the son wanted his inheritance now. As Pastor Paine says, he wanted it out of season. Of course, we know the story. He went out and wasted it on riotous living, and when he came to his senses, he decided to return to his father’s house.

I just wanted to share a little bit about my father’s house. There was a fairly recent adaptation of the song, “In my Father’s House,” by “Audio Adrenaline”. They talk about there’s food to eat, and plenty of space to play in. What do you picture your father’s house being like?

When I was about eight, we lived in this flat above a house, and the only way in and out was through these stairs. My Dad was taking me out in the wintertime, and he stepped on some ice and cradled me and fell on his back and slid down the stairs into the snow. I thought it was a great ride, but my Dad was pretty badly injured.

In my father’s house, there’s love and peace and power and protection and great joy. We’ve all had friends that we looked up to, growing up. We saw the exterior facade, and we thought “These guys do more, they have more, they seem to be so blessed. I wish I was part of that family.” Most of the time, that’s not true. I had a friend named Terry Cooper. We were great friends, and he usually hung out at my house. One day I went to his house, and he said something that his Dad didn’t like, and his Dad punched Terry and the next thing I knew he was through the door and flat on his back in the next room. I said, “Bye!”

We all have the opportunity to receive the extra power of the Holy Ghost. Now, being saved and having that extra power isn’t the same thing. How many of you had a car and you filled it up with the cheap gasoline because you didn’t have the money for the hi-test? And it knocked and pinged, and you finally decided it was worth the extra money, after all.

The Bible says there will be rewards in heaven: gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble. These are rewards, so we’re talking about something in addition to salvation. If you don’t get involved in ministry, you might be saved, but that’s all. I never wanted to “just” be saved. It’s like the difference between having a car and having an eight-cylinder street rod. It’s like the difference between a mansion and a shack.

Before I left home to join the Navy, my Dad did everything in his power to prepare me for life. He taught me how to fix cars; he taught me how to evaluate friends and avoid being taken advantage of. When I left my house, I had confidence that I could face most things out there. And when I couldn’t, I knew I could always call my Dad.

When I was in the Navy, we didn’t have cellphones and e-mail and Twiiter. We had to call an operator and have them call another operator and finally say “Hi, Mom. Over.” We had to say “Over” so the operator would know to press the send or receive button. And I hadn’t done that for a long time, and my Mom was getting pretty worried.

My father sends us out on missions to do. He’s sending Pat and Cedric to Jacksonville, Florida. It isn’t Pastor Paine and myself sending them; he’s been preparing for this by working through the leadership of the ministry, by working through Pat Taylor. God has been preparing for this mission, to send Pat and Cedric to open this fellowship. It’s exciting to think about what God’s doing. Church, you might not ever be selected to go on that kind of a mission. But God has selected you for the job and the place where you’re working. You may not like where God has placed you. Do you think that Joshua liked going out into battle, knowing that if Moses didn’t keep his hands raised, there would be a slaughter?

I go out with the blessings of my father. When I left home, I left with the blessing of my father. And when I go out the door to do anything, I go out with my father’s blessing, and with his protection. He sends his bodyguards out to protect me; they’re called angels. God sends us out, and he sends us with protection. Why, then, do we get afraid to do what God has called us to do? Why do we get intimidated when it comes time to share the gospel? But if you just set aside your fears and start doing it, I guarantee that God will give you the words to speak. Is the pen the author? We are just the pen in the author’s hands, as Jesus uses us to write the gospel message to the world.

We have limitations. We can only see the stars we can see, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more stars out there. We can only know what we can know, but God knows more. So if God tells us to get out of the boat and walk on the water, that’s what we need to do. If there are other idiots in the boat who want to tell you differently, don’t listen to them.

Who is in your boat? Are there people in the boat who are holding you back, or are there people who are leading you on? Are they trying to jump ahead of you, or are they just sitting there?

> Though none go with me, still I will follow.

I’d like to share just one more thing. We talk about surrendering to God; we sing, “I surrender All.” How does an enemy surrender?

  • They raise a white flag.

But if you see the enemy coming, and you can’t see his hands, what do you want him to do? What do the police tell you to do? They say “Show me your hands.” God wants you to surrender and raise your hands and praise him. Maybe you’re still on the threshold of entering into your father’s house because you have not yet surrendered. Maybe he’s waiting for you to raise your hands.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Pat Taylor may never get to Florida. There was a documentary about Stonewall Jackson, and how he used to ride boldly into battle while the bullets were flying all around him. Someone asked, “How can you do that?” He said, “Because I know that if it’s my time to die, there’s nowhere I can hide that a bullet won’t find me. And if it’s not, then there’s nowhere I can go that God can’t keep me safe.”

If I’ve got a business to turn over to my son, I’m not going to do it without training my son. And the Bible teaches us to go and be about our father’s business. You’d better spend time in your father’s house now, and start doing his business. If you’re ever-learning, you’ll never come to the knowledge of the truth. You’ll never have the confidence to whup the devil until you’ve had the experience of going through his obstacles. Paul received a vision of the things he must suffer for God’s name. And because he suffered, there are cathedrals named after him, and the world has been changed. We’ve got to be willing to suffer for God’s name.

There was a man named Barnabas, who was a blind beggar. He heard people coming and going along the way, and one day he heard something different. He called out “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.” How did he know to call out? Because the conversation he heard that day was different. Do people hear something different in your conversation? So Jesus sent for him, and he dropped his beggar’s clothes and went to Jesus. He knew his life was about to be changed. Jesus asked him what he wanted, and he said, “Lord, that I would receive my sight.” He never went back to his old life. He probably was one of those in the upper room.

Church, you’ve got to drop your preconceived ideas about life. I wanted to be an archaeologist. Before Indiana Jones came out, I wanted to be an Indiana Jones. I wanted to find knowledge through archaeology and anthropology and reveal it to the world. But after I got saved, Jesus showed me that what he called me to share with the world wasn’t lying buried in the earth.

We are going to send people out. We are going to cover the world. But before we do, you’ve got to be willing to say “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” And don’t wait for a plane ticket in the mail; get out there and start today.

Conference 2010, Day 3 of 3

Conference 2010, Day 3 of 3

Songs

  • [ Rejoice]
  • [ All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name]
  • [ Holy Is The Lord]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ God Is Alive]
  • [ Sing, Sing, Sing]
  • [ Everyday]
  • [ At The Cross]
  • [ Light The Fire Again]
  • [ Field Of Souls]

Welcome

> Pastor Thomas

I’d like the members of our International Board to come up. Of course, Dan Lantis can’t be here today, but we have:

  • General Secretary Jesse Rairdon
  • Pastor Hubert Ulysse
  • Bruce Wilson
  • Larry Glander
  • Pastor Terrance Taylor
  • Jay Hunemuller

These men have very special jobs that they do. Brother Jay has been on our board for many years. He was our treasurer; now he has specialized in a very important part of our financial ministry. Pastor Taylor is in charge of our church ministries; that’s everything that has to do with our local church. Larry Glander is in charge of our AV department and everything that goes with it. Pastor Wilson is in charge of our overseas ministry; he’s in charge of everyone who is not here. Pastor Ulysse is our foreign missions director. Jesse is so new that I don’t know what to say about him, other than he’s a great guy, and I’m sure he’s going to do a great job. And of course our General Pastor, Peter F. Paine.

How many of you came here with expectation, and had that expectation fulfilled?

> (Lots of hands)

Now, how many of you came here not expecting anything in particular, and you’ve already received a blessing?

> (Lots more hands)

Church, if eleven men were called to teach the world, and our whole world has been changed by what they did, just think what would happen if all of us joined together in that same calling and unity!

> Pastor Paine

A few years ago, God spoke to the ministry about this thing we’ve been doing we call “Coming Together, Moving Up.” There have been a lot of changes, a lot of sacrifices. But we’ve done it, and I’m proud of you.

Pastor Wilson, would you come up? He’s going to stand beside me while I brag on him a little bit. Because of the position he filled when he came here, I asked him to put his “pastor” title down for a season. Having been a senior pastor for many, many years, we wanted to clarify the roles and the mission. Bruce humbly accepted that, but now we’re at a transition where we’re going to ask him to do something different again. Bruce, I’m going to ask you to accept the title of “pastor” again as we ask you to lead our fellowships and be their pastor, around the world.

> Pastor Wilson

I’m humbled today to be a part of this ministry. God has a special voice for Christian Fellowship. It is God’s truth, and I love that truth above anything else in life. I have something that I have to say; it’s been stirring up in me for some time. I guess it’s about four years ago when God laid it on your heart about making this move. I believe that God spoke to you, and we are here to see it done. We have felt the spirit of prevention, if you will. But we haven’t been prevented from anything. Many of you have been prevented from moving here. We see how God has anointed and blessed this ministry, but we have felt the anguish of this spirit of prevention. I don’t know why. Pastor, God has put into you the spirit of Ezra, and if I can, I will accept the calling to be your Nehemiah as we build together. We have made this move, and we will continue to see it move forward.

It’s time to step closer to Pastor Paine and work closer together with him. If you know Pastor Paine, you know he’s always a little farther ahead than you’re comfortable with. He came to me and said, “It’s time to move out.” I said, “Pastor, we don’t even have enough people here.” He said, “No, listen to me; it’s time to move out.” So as I stand before you, I want to announce our newest fellowship, Jacksonville Florida.

Not only does Jacksonville Florida have the third largest Naval presence in the United States, but it’s already connected with people we have out there. Leonard Gates will be stationed there. Brother Josh Knights will be stationed there. Joe and Amanda Harris are living near there in, believe it or not, Niceville, Florida. (If you know Joe and Amanda, you’re thinking, “Of course they live in Niceville. Where else would they live?”) So who is going to go? Brother Pat Taylor, and Cedric Christian, would you please come up? These men are prayerful and enthusiastic warriors, and it pains me greatly to have to let them go. But that’s exactly why we have to send them. We send them with our love and blessing, and they’d better send some people back to us.

> Pastor Paine

I was told by a professional speaker once, “If you have something uncomfortable to say, admit that you’re uncomfortable saying it.” I know that what I’m about to ask you to do is without a doubt the right thing. But I’m just not a good fund-raiser. It’s not one of my gifts. So here it is: as we sing “Field of Souls”, I want us to raise five thousand dollars as seed money for the Jacksonville fellowship. So if you want to give, come on up. We don’t want to raise more than five thousand. If you have five thousand to give, come on up and we won’t have to pass the plate. We accept cash, checks, and I.O.U.’s. And what I mean by that is, if you’re not in a position to give right now, you can make a pledge to give a certain amount of money over the next thirty days. And I say this from nothing but love: If you don’t have it to give, then don’t. If you feel like I’m squeezing you for an offering, then don’t give. God wants you to give out of a willing heart.

A lot of people are wondering, “I thought Pat and Cedric were going to Naples, Italy.” I thought so, too. But remember a few weeks ago, I preached a service about God closes some doors, and opens others. And in every preparation that we made, we found the doors closed to Naples, Italy. But as God closes one door, he opens another.

Message: For Such A Time As This

In Esther 4:4, Mordecai vented his grief. He was a friend of the Jews; he knew his cause was righteous and just. But Haaman’s spite was aimed at Mordecai. It was his goal to strike out at the Jews. So Mordecai appealed to God, and the Jews cried out to God, seeking a victory only God could bring.

In close victories, God would bring someone to bring it. And Esther was the one: a queen with a tender heart, and a determination. The Jew’s anger was her distress. And Mordecai said to her,

Esther 4:13
  1. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.

We’re in this together. When we weep, we weep together. And I think as a nation, we’ve been through some rough times. And the economists tell us it’s not over. They tell us that the tough times are still ahead. Saints, we’ve got some suffering to do, but we’ve also got some rejoicing to do. In the end, God didn’t tell us that we’re here on this earth so we would have to face a challenge, so we wouldn’t have to eat manna day after day after day. Manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, manner for dinner, manna for an evening snack as we watch David Letterman. They go to the manna cart and get a ba-manna sandwich, and it looks an awful lot like the manna pancakes they had for breakfast. And it looks pretty bad until they remember that it it wasn’t for manna, they’d have nothing. They’d be eating sand sandwiches. You heard the proverb:

> I thought I was poor because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

Is anybody ready for the victory that God has for your present distress? There’s a gospel song with an opening line: “I was sure that you would have reached down by now, and wiped my tears away.” Maybe you feel like that right now. Maybe you feel like, “Here I am, another day, facing my fears just like before.” So Mordecai said to Esther,

Esther 4:13-14
  1. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
  2. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

God is going to bless. That’s what he’s saying. He might use you, or he might use someone else, but God is going to bless. Let’s say it together:

> God is going to bless.

Again:

> God is going to bless.

One more time:

> God is going to bless.

So he might as well use me. Say it together with me:

> He might as well use me.

Again:

> He might as well use me.

One more time:

> He might as well use me.

But some of you, even as you say those words, are thinking, “Yeah, right. God will use someone else, but he won’t use me.” Some of you feel like your prayers don’t reach heaven. If I can help you with something today, let me tell you that your prayers reach heaven. Your prayers matter.

“I would have thought by now that you would have reached down and wiped my tears away.” Did you ever feel like that?

So Mordecai prayed for the Jews, and someone tapped Esther on the shoulder, and said “You are the one to be used.” My prayer is that as you hear the message today, you would realize that God has something for you to do. Let’s say it together:

> God has something for me to do.

Again:

> God has something for me to do.

One more time:

> God has something for me to do.

Now, I’m going to challenge you: By a show of hands, how many sincerely believe God’s got something for you to do?

> (Almost every hand raised)

So let’s pray to God, “Lord, as you reveal it to me, let me take that first step.” Say, “Lord, I’m ready to start moving.” I don’t know exactly where you are on that journey, but God does. Maybe the best step you can take right now is just to stop moving in the wrong direction. I’m going to illustrate. Adam, come help me.

> (Walking along…)

I’m walking.

> (Adam says, “Turn around! Turn around! Turn around!”)

I’m walking along, and I’m all messed up. “I don’t think I can turn back, God. I thought I was going to do great things for you, God.”

> (Adam keeps saying, “Turn around! Turn around! Turn around!”)

“I’m scared, God.”

> (Pastor Paine finally turns around. Adam says, “Come forward. Come forward. Take another step.”)

“Really, God? You can use someone else.”

> (Adam keeps saying, “Come forward. Take another step.” until Pastor Paine finally embraces him.)

Some of you think that God has quit on you, but all it is that you quit on God. And he’s still saying, “Turn around. Turn around. Turn around.” He wants you to take that first step today. Your pain is real. Your fears are real. But God wants to take away your fears.

Esther 4:13-14
  1. Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
  2. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

This is your moment. This is what God called you for: to live for him, to make a difference.

Esther 4:15-16
  1. Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,
  2. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

Do you believe that what you’re living for is worth dying for? Because if you can check that box, my friend, you can go forward in the good times, and you can go forward in the bad times. When you can check that box, you can go forward no matter what happens. When you run out of gas, you can tell God, “God, I’m going to use your gas.” Now there’s a time to put your shoulder to the wheel and move on, but there are times when you’re just out of gas. How did Esther do that? She said, “You fast and pray, and I’ll fast and pray, and I’ll ask the ladies at work to fast and pray, and I’ll do my best. If I die, then I die.”

Slide of mission statement

This is what we do, and we do it in Jesus’ name. We do everything in Jesus’ name. We baptize in Jesus’ name. That makes us different. Here’s another way we are different: we are called to provide fellowship to the military. Does that mean civilians aren’t involved? Not at all. We work together. Most everybody who is in the military was a civilian. And a lot of people who were in the military are civilian again. I was a civilian, then I was in the military, and now I’m a civilian. (Poof!)

We need to get better at focus, because if we get that right, we will change the world for the glory of God. So let’s focus on these ten words:

> Evangelize, Educate, Equip. Providing Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support Worldwide.

This is our mission statement, saints. Some of you are seeing these words these words for the first time, but it won’t be the last time. Let’s say these words together.

> Evangelize, Educate, Equip. Providing Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support Worldwide.

One more time.

> Evangelize, Educate, Equip. Providing Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support Worldwide.

I don’t know if this excites you as much as it does me. But if God asks me to give my life for a cause, I want to know what that cause is. I want to know what that cause looks like. I want to know what’s involved. I bought into this cause at nineteen years of age. I didn’t know exactly what I’d do. I didn’t know I’d be a pastor. But I bought into it. Now, if you don’t see this as your dream, as a vision you can embrace, keep on coming. We’ll provide you with Christian Fellowship and Spiritual Support, but it won’t be without an invitation.

Mary Ogden, would you stand? I’d like you and your husband to share your testimony.

> Mary Ogden

Michael said to me one day, “You know, you’ve always wanted to be in the military. You ought to pursue that dream.” So I called the Air Force and talked to them, but they wanted me to be enlisted. The Army pretty much said the same thing. I called the Navy, and they sent somebody to my house. They gave me a trip to Great Lakes to see what it was all about. They made the effort to obtain me as a resource, and they told me they would give me time for my education. So Michael and I signed up: husband and wife, child and dog. So we made the trip, and when we got there, they said, “Oh no, you’ve been cancelled. You’re not supposed to be there.” So we found a motel room, and it was a month before we got paid. But we were blessed. We were down the street from the Great Lakes Fellowship.

> Mike Ogden

I didn’t have a job, so I went everywhere I could looking for a job. I went in this one door, and the people asked, “Are you looking for a church?” I was Catholic, and there are Catholic churches everywhere. They said, “Are you looking for something different?” I didn’t know what to think, so I said, “I guess.” They told me about a place down the street and said, “You’ve got to go there; it’s fantastic.” To this day, I’ve never found those people again. I don’t know who they were; I’ve never seen them. But I went down to the fellowship and got saved, and I’ve been home ever since.

> Mary Ogden

And we really have found family and friendship here. We walked in the door, and there were people helping out with children. There were cookies on the table.

> Mike Ogden

And doughnuts.

> Mary Ogden

And doughnuts.

> Mike Ogden

And there was a fifteen minute sermon. Things were different back then.

> Pastor Paine

I hear you.

> Mary Ogden

We made our decision, and got baptized in a horse trough. And to this day, we are encouraged, and I thank you all for being here.

> Pastor Paine

We are all called to provide Christian fellowship and spiritual support worldwide. That’s the most important thing I’ve never done. And I’m asking you to sign up, too: again, and again, and again. Because God has given us a mission to matter. God is reminding in this conference that we not only matter to God, but we matter for God.

I’ll close with the words of Apostle Paul as he writes to Timothy. I want you to hear these words as they are written to you. We started with the Great Commission, and we close with a reminder of what it is to receive instruction from the apostle, the elder, the leader, to sign up for a mission that matters.

2 Timothy 2:1-19
  1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
  3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
  4. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
  5. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
  6. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
  7. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
  8. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
  9. Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
  10. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
  11. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
  12. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
  13. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
  14. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
  15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  16. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.
  17. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
  18. Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
  19. 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.

Saints, we’re going to work this field of souls until the trumpet sounds, until we go by the way of the grave. That’s our mission: to evangelize, educate, and equip; to provide Christian fellowship and spiritual support worldwide. I’m inviting everyone who hears these words to say, “Yes, I accept this mission.” Regardless of your age or education level, regardless of your job or rank in the military, regardless of the mistakes that you’ve made. As the choir sings, I’m asking you to accept this mission. When you can say, “Count on me, Lord,” please stand. And we’ll remain standing as Pastor Thomas closes us.

> Pastor Thomas

We received over three thousand dollars in cash, and over seven thousand in pledges, for a grand total of over ten thousand dollars to start off our Jacksonville Florida fellowship.

Conference 2010, Day 2 of 3

Conference 2010, Day 2 of 3

Songs

  • [ Awakening]
  • [ How He Loves]
  • [ Love Has Come]
  • [ Because Of Your Love]
  • [ What A Mighty God We Serve]
  • [ Again I Say Rejoice]
  • [ From The Inside Out]
  • [ Great In Power]
  • [ How Great Is Our God]
  • [ How Great Thou Art]
  • [ Hungry]
  • [ Enough]
  • [ I Bless Your Name]
  • [ Oh The Glory Of It All]
  • [ Send Me]

> Jeff Gill

Thank you. I really appreciate being here. I met this ministry in 1985. I got invited out at Newport News where I was stationed. I was an E-4 with bad evals, on my way out of the Navy. I had $80,000 in credit-card debt. I came out and gave my heart to Jesus and got saved in a little storefront church about the size of a Seven-Eleven. I had a whole stack of catalogs full of stuff I wanted to buy. I got baptized and went home and looked at those catalogs and said, “What do I want with this?” and threw them away. Four years later, I was out of debt. I eventually made chief.

I want to share with you: If you don’t have a working relationship with your pastor, then you should. When I first got saved, I dilly-dallied. I was a loner. God tried to prick my heart to share with people, and I didn’t want to do that. But in 1986, Pastor Davis came to Norfolk to clean house. Sometimes you’ve just to to clean out the cobwebs. Some of you remember that. I remember some heavy messages. I was praying with my eyes closed, “God help these people.” Then Pastor Davis took me aside and shared with me that this is the real deal. I walked out, and I’m sure that he thought I’d never come back, but I came back the next day. It was my first Thursday in church.

> Alex Rasumov

I’m thankful to be here; we’re all family. I appreciate you all. I came here from Waukegan, and my Mom came here from New Jersey. We drove together. Actually, I was born in Russia. God brought me a long way to find the truth. He planted a seed in me five years ago, October 10th, and I’m glad to be here.

> Pastor Thomas

Our ministry is so different. No other ministry is positioned to do what this ministry does. You might be in a small fellowship somewhere, or even stationed by yourself. But you are enabling our ministry to do what God’s called us to do. And that’s no matter where the US Navy pulls in a ship, our ministry is going to be there to encourage and to teach. Dave, would you give me a “C”.

> (Dave plays a single “C” note)

You might be in a small fellowship.

> (Dave plays a simple chord)

Or you might be here with the International Ministry.

> (Dave plays a full chord)

But it’s all the same note. It’s just a “C” note that’s been added to and added to. Maybe you feel all alone, but by being faithful, many people are going to hear the words, “Well done.” We are a team. There’s no “big I’s and little U’s.” We ARE Christian Fellowship.

It was amazing to me. I was looking at Mrs. Davis, Heather, Holly, Christy, and Kathy. Jeff Gill, when you were baptized, they were rug-rats. And don’t forget Adam. Adam is playing drums back there. I remember when we had received a donation of a drum set, and we didn’t need it, so I shipped it to Pastor Paine in Waukegan. Some time later I got a phone call at six o’clock in the morning, and a gruff voice said, “Listen.” There were drums banging away in the background. Then he said, “Thanks.”

> Mike Jackson

We are Christian Fellowship. Look around. Where are you going to go and find this group of people all together. What could do that? it’s God. We’re all here because we love God. Sometimes we feel like we’re all alone. You can have tons of people all around you and still feel all alone. But it’s times like this when we’re all together, that you can realize that you’re not all alone. You look at your brother or sister and realize: They’re still in the game! So for me, I was excited for this time. I haven’t seen some of you for a very long time. I truly appreciate all of you. This is what we’re living for, every hour of every day. I know you’re all encouraged. Just stay in the fight.

> Kenneth Ray

Can you feel the excitement that I have? The spirit that you have there is doing a great thing right here; it’s doing a great thing in Illinois. God is a spirit, and where that spirit is, there is liberty. People around the world are benefitting from the spirit of God that the conference is generated. I want to thank Pastor Paine and Pastor Thomas for the opportunity to be here by phone. I want to thank Mrs. Davis. And of course, I want to thank my beautiful bride, Jenny.

I’ve had several phone calls today from across the country. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to lead this fellowship. Last night we had about sixteen people gathering together in our small house. Then Pastor Paine called and shared with them, and they’re just soaking that up. Don’t we have great leaders? True leaders aren’t afraid to make mistakes, and they’re not afraid to let us learn from them. I’m thankful to have true leaders with us tonight.

There is an explosion about to happen. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but in order for that explosion to happen, we all have to work together.

I’m privileged and honored to serve God in this ministry. Thank you all.

> Pastor Thomas

I remember a poem written by a young lady:

> Come and celebrate with me, for the wold has tried to kill me and has failed

We are celebrating tonight, and it’s awesome. I just want to reach out to Dan and Mylene Lantis and let them know that we love them.

> Rod Williams

So how many of us are having a great time tonight? I’ve been thinking this weekend. I’m thankful for God’s spirit showing us that we can do more. I went to the base today with Terry and Gloria, because they wanted to see an Aircraft Carrier. For those of you who have never seen one, just think of a really big yacht.

Our purpose is to go out into the world and share with people. Jesus gave that commission to eleven disciples, but it says another place that he sent out seventy, two and two. Where I am weak, God is strong, and God has saved all of us to help one another.

I was also thinking about retirement. Here on earth, it has its benefits. But in heaven, there is no retirement. I’ve still got to reach out to see souls saved. I know that I can’t do it all alone; we need each other.

> Parrish Lee

I’ve got to give honor to God, who is the head over my life. I’ve got to give honor to my pastor, who built a rock. When I was in a valley, he took time to pull me up. And if I could, I’ve got to give some props to the man who took three hours and wouldn’t let me out the door, and that’s Pastor Thomas.

Up in Waukegan, they knew the anticipation of this very moment. If you’re getting only half a blessing, you’re cheating yourself, because God has got it going on up in here.

Pastor Thomas, I can’t thank you enough. You had to be there that day. You rebuked me for three hours, and I was ready to head out the door, but when you’ve got that fishing pole, you want to keep it in the water. That’s what it’s all about in this ministry: loving God and taking it everywhere.

Message: God Hath Given Us This Thing

> Pastor Paine

HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA!

> (jumping up and down)

HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA! HALLELUIA!

God is blessing people tonight! This is not crazy; this is God blessing people tonight! I just wanna please God, amen?

If you’ve got to sit quietly to get it, that’s okay. But if you’ve got to shout HALLELUIAH to get it, that’s okay. Come get blessed!

> (Brother Josh Knights starts dancing in the aisles)

David danced before the Lord, and we’re dancing before the Lord tonight. Maybe you grew up in a place where this is something that you made fun of, but I’m not making fun of it; I’m yielded to God tonight. Let God be God here tonight.

> (Brother Terrance Taylor II starts speaking in tongues)

1 Corinthians 14:1-4
  1. Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
  2. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
  3. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
  4. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Do you realize that sometimes the Holy Spirit is moving things that are bigger than we understand? That’s spiritual surgery taking place. Does anyone want to shout Halleluia?

> Hallelujah!

Does anyone want to shout, “Thank you, Jesus!”

> Thank you, Jesus!

I’m not going to apologize for what happened tonight. And maybe it’s just like God to make us feel just a little bit embarrassed. I’ve got seventeen pages of notes, and they end with these words:

The job is yours. The job is ours. The job is God’s. Let’s give the Lord a praise.

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