We can all testify about where God brought us from to bring us to where we are today. But let’s be clear, God didn’t just save us from something, He saved us for something….. Ephesians 3:20&21 “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21. Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen”.
We were not an after thought that God had, We were created to be saved, we were fashioned to be free, we equipped to overcome whatever life threw at us. We are made to get over it, above it, under it or around it….We were designed for a purpose, and the amazing life we were destined to live was in the heart and mind of God, before the world was formed…...
Let’s begin with a few scriptures to say this better than I ever could….
2 Timothy 1:9 For He has chosen us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before timebegan.
Matthew 25:34 Then shall the King (Jesus) say unto them on His right hand, Come, you that are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared well in advance as our way of life.
What an advantage it gives you, when you already know what is going to be, before you even start out!! Our identity determines our actions, because how we see ourselves, and how we see God, will determine to a great extent our ability to see the unseeable and know the unknowable that He has intended for us…..
We’re closer than we think…..Often, the inner longings we have and the restlessness we feel, spring out of a deep sense within ourselves that we were meant for more, that we are capable of more, that we don’t have to sell ourselves short and settle for less than the greater purpose that was planned for us….
So many things that we feel are important, are about as necessary to our greater purpose and calling as a life guard at a jacuzzi or an algebra professor in a day care center.
But what would happen if we saw the God calling, and purpose and destiny within us, in the here and now, not out there somewhere….And we saw it as much bigger and more powerful than the fear, the intimidation, the insecurity and poor self-image we have at times! What if we knew it was impossible to fail. That instead of saying “What if” we said “Why not”!!! And what if we understood that every problem has a blessing embedded in it and a way to accomplish it!
Usually life will divide you up into many things that are all running in a thousand directions, but what if we could grab all these threads, running everywhere, and weave them together to all point in a single direction to bring us to that amazing place we always knew was there for us.
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
v14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.We may be involved in many things but what is one thing we are committed to above and beyond all else?…You know the saying…The chicken is involved when it gives an egg, but the pig is committed when it gives it’s piece of bacon!!We can be involved and yet be uncommitted….There are many things which Paul could do but there was one thing Paul did, because His one thing, was God’s pre-ordained purpose for him. And he accomplished far more for God’s kingdom by walking inhis own divine design, and by doing the one thing. We were at restaurant and we were waiting to be seated, and I saw that a number of delicious dinner plates were on display, so that customers couldsee what they could order. I saw one that really caught my eye, so I tried to pinch off a sample to check it out and realized it was fake. Oh, the scalloped potatoes and the gravy that was poured over an open faced sandwich, with corn and a slice of pie and ice cream on the side. It looked right, it had all the features, the appearance made your mouth water, but it had no purpose. It was only good to look at but it had no substance….no use, and totally was worthless to satisfy anyone….What is it in our lives that may have a good appearance, but it doesn’t fulfill our greater purpose it’s just a display version? Don’t judge your purpose by where you are now and what’s happening now. You’re still becoming and you’re still transforming… Once God revealed to Paul, what His plan was, he understood what he was called to be and do. He understood that he was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles, or those outside the Jewish community….And he was greatly used of God in advancing he kingdom, when he found his purpose. God has a butterfly in every caterpillar. I believe John Lennon of Beatle fame, was designed by God to be an apostle to the music world, but he missed his calling and ended up being deceived and misguided….His gift was forfeited because he never understood his purpose…. I believe President Trump, thought his purpose was to be a great business man, but God created him to be president of the United States, and his business background was just a tool to give him unique insights into dealing with our government and foreign governments…. I believe all of us have done things that we thought we were put here to do, but they were all just tools and training that equipped us to arrive at our God given purpose…. And that purpose is to make Christ known in a way that others might never be able to do because that is your own unique calling and God chosen design…. A guy was talking to a Chinese man and the Chinese man introduced himself and said “my name is Abe Schwartz” He asked the Chinese man, how he got such a Jewish name. Did your mom marry a Jewish man?.. “No, he said, actually I’m from the Ting family and when I entered this country, I was standing in line at immigration, the guy in front of me was named Abe Schwartz, and when my turn came and they asked my name and I told them, Sam Ting…. And the rest is history! So don’t just follow the crowd, and don’t let others decide your purpose, because God has a unique plan for you! And He will use you in that uniqueness! Acts 2:16 “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” God created us all to be dreamers and visionaries. God’s spirit is the spirit of revelation which leads, directs and brings you to the appointments and connections which He has set for you. God knows that once yousee it, you will be motivated to go after it. So He allows you by His Spirit to see what others might not see, and hear what others can’t hear, so that you can believe what others can’t get their heads around. God has a dream, custom made for you. That dream comes to bring you to your destiny and provide a stairway so that you can move up to your new reality….What if the things you enjoy doing, are inside of you in order to put you on a collision course with the gifts, the resources, the people, and the new reality that is prepared for you and you alone…. What if the things that are constantly racing in and out of your life are not random at all, but what God is intentionally doing and part of a higher plan… .What if There is nothing in our lives that is by accident…
My biological mother did not kidnap me and my two sisters and then abandon us by accident. I was not born into the family of two alcoholics by accident. I was not taken to be raised by a woman who had just lost her 3 1/2 year old daughter who was the same age as me, by accident.
You have not been through the experiences you’ve been through by accident. They have contributed to your wisdom storehouse and you’re lessons learned. You don’t live where you live and work where you work, and shop where you shop, and know who you know… by accident!!
Down deep inside, if we will take the time to process it, we all know that we are part of something far greater, bigger and more encompassing than ourselves and the niche we find our selves is providential at this juncture of our journey…
I heard Charles Swindoll say “We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. And soit is with everyone... we are in charge of our Attitudes”.
Every woman I know likes jewelry made from natural pearls. But every pearl is a pain with a purpose. A grain of sand enters the soft inner parts of the oyster. To ease the discomfort, the oystercoats it with the same material that lines it’s inner shell. It keeps applying coat after coat, until the irritation and pain of the sand is relieved, and WALLAH!!! A costly piece of jewelry comes out of a pain in the gut! (I could have said somewhere else!)
Sometimes God’s purpose will look more like suffering and sacrifice than anything else… but He knows how to transform it into something priceless and beautiful!
I like the illustration of the carrot, the egg and the tea bag…. They may all get in hot water, but they all are effected differently by it. The carrot goes in hard and is changed by the water so that it comes out soft. The egg goes in soft and is changed by the water so that it comes out hardened, The tea goes in the water and not only is it changed, but it changes the hot water that it is in.
We are called to be agents of change, in the hot water we are in, to do more than just go through stuff, but change the stuff we go through, because we went through it with the right purpose and the right perspective and the right attitude.
Sometimes we’re like this little girl trying to run from her shadow. Only to discover that it was attached to her. Our problems are attached to us and no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get away from them….For a moment, let’s compare her shadow to the problems we all face….
Let’s Look at 5 purposes behind the problems we face….(tell someone “you have a pain with a purpose) It doesn’t look like a pearl right now, but He’s working on it!
1.God uses our problems to DIRECT us - . Proverbs 3:11 “Despise not the guidance of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction” If the Egyptians weren’t about to descend upon the Israelites in the desert, trapping them at the Red Sea, they would not have been willing to see the miracle of the Red Sea crossing….Problem solved! Sometimes God has to light a fire under us to get us moving. Because it’s hard to steer a parked car. A parked car doesn’t take you anywhere. Problems often point us in a new direction and get us moving toward the changethat will bring us to success. Is God trying to get your attention? Sometimes it takes an uncomfortable situation to get us to change our direction.
2. God uses problems to INSPECT us - James 1:2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, v3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. v4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. v5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.
People are like teabags if you want to know what's inside them, just drop them into hot water!
Is God testing your faith with a problem? What do problems reveal about you? When you are passing through the storm, James tells us to be full of joy, because you know that the storm is testing your faith, and this will produce some lasting fruit when you come out of it. You will discover things about yourself that you didn’t realize before. Sometimes I lose my glasses and they’re right on my nose….Problems cause us to see what was right there in front of us…..
3. God uses problems to CORRECT you - Psalms 119:70 “There are many whose hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your ways. v71 It was good for me to be tested so that I might learn Your intentions. v72 The words from Your mouth are more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. 73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your ways”.
Some lessons we will never learn except through a few bumps and bruises. It's likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you were driven to do it, cause you had to know for yourself, and you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something - health, money, a relationship - by losing it. It would be great if we could just learn from the mistakes of others, but we are determined to make them ourselves! (Tell someone “It was the best thing that could have happened to me”.
4. God uses problems to PROTECT you - Genesis 50:20 “They intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. v21 So then, do not be afraid.”
A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something far more serious. I don’t even know how many times, , when I was delayed because of a problem, only to find out that we avoided something terrible if the delay hadn’t happened and my plans were not interrupted. But the Lord had gone before me and saw everything and He brought me through safely. Satan intended to harm me, but God intended it for good so that I might be encouraged by His oversight in my life.
5. God uses problems to PERFECT us. - Romans 5:2 “We boast in the hope of the glory of God. v3 Not only so, but we also glory in our tests and trials, because we know that they produce perseverance. v4 And perseverance builds character, and character produces hope. v5 And hope does not cause us to be ashamed, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. v6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still unable to help ourselves, Christ intervened for us”.
God is far more interested in building our character than He is in how comfortable we are. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you're going to take with you into eternity.
We can actually rejoice when we run into problems because they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it,until finally our hope and faith are strong, steady and reliable.
Have you ever been driving and you got tired or distracted, and you drifted for a moment on to the “rumble strip” at the edge of the road. Suddenly the car starts rumbling and vibrating and you feel like you are driving a Sherman tank! You know you need toquickly adjust your wheels or you will be over into the shoulder. The “rumble strip” is there to protect you, even though it may not be comfortable, if you’re smart, you’ll heed it’s warning. God will send some “rumble strips” into your life that may not be comfortable, and they can shake and rattle you, but if you are willing to make the proper adjustments, you’ll arrive at your destiny and stay out of the gutter.
Paul had himself a doosy of a problem…. He had been arrested and the orders were to bring him to Rome to be tried, but on top of that problem, the ship he was being transported on, hit a Northeaster and was sinking. (when it rains it pours) Notice that everyone else on board, was panicking and desperate because all they saw was the storm they were in, and it had their total attention, they could see nothing else. But Paul saw the storm as part of something bigger that he was part of, and he alone was able to see above the storm….
(ask someone, “can you see above the storm”)
Look at the account….Acts 27:22 “I urge all of you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. v23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me v24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar, and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ v25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.”
While everyone else was panicking, Paul was getting a word from God about how this storm fit into the bigger plan for his life and the kingdom of God.
They ran aground on the Island of Malta, and when the father of the governor of the island was healed, many others came for healing and the entire island came to Christ. Paul was on his way to one thing, but because of the big problem, storm, God accomplished something greater.
David was on his way to bring lunch to his brothers and on his way to do one thing, something greater happened, he slew Goliath.
When Abraham could no longer remain in his father’s house making idols, he would never have imagined as he journeyed to Canaan, during this major transition in his life, that he would open a new stream that would produce the Messiah and the Christian movement world wide…..
How could the fishermen disciples have known that their bad day of fishing, which left them tired and disgusted, would position them when Jesus passed by, to be the apostles of a new Christian movement in the earth!
None of it could have happened without the problems that set them up for their destiny!!!
Don’t give up too soon! Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions God has given you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go”.
Keep above the storm, as you understand that it’s not about the storm, but what’s beyond the storm that is God’s intentions for you…Storms will happen, but the real issue is, how will we respond when the storms come…..
In the account of Paul’s storm at sea, we are told that many gave up and left the ship too soon and they were lost. But all those who stayed through the storm, were saved.
The storm Paul found himself in, lasted 14 days of constant pounding, constantly threating to wash them all overboard, constantly about to sink the ship….
When you’re in that kind of prolonged battle, it’s easy to give up and quit, if you aren’t attached to something greater than the storm.
Some of you here today have been in one of those storms that seems to have come to roost on your doorstep and you’ve hoped it would pass, but here it is, still raging, and still pouring.
In spite of all of your prayers……in spite of all you’ve done…that storm is still ragging and it doesn’t seem to go away.
…Storms can get in your home
…Storms can cause turbulence for you in your familyrelationships.
…storms can get in the church and toss it around and bring confusion and disunity…
…storms can affect our health…suddenly the doctor gives a bad report and it crashes upon you….
…storms can come into all of our lives, in so many Ways!
When Paul was in the storm at sea, they began to lighten the ship, and started throwing everything overboard that was extra weight which could threaten the ship. Are there some things thatneed to be thrown overboard in the storm. If it’s weighing you down, then you won’t float like you ought to float and you won’t make progress like you should.
…There are some relationships that need to be tossed overboard….
…some habits … some lifestyle patterns.… some attitudes that need to be tossed….…because all they are doing is weighing you down!
When it comes down to it, the sacrifice is worth the outcome….
The biggest storm, can’t sink your boat unless it in your boat….(SO KEEP ON BAILING)
God told Adam he was going to give him a companion and it would be called woman. She will be the total package, beautiful, sexy, and she would complete his life.
God said this person will cook for you and wash your clothes, she will always agree with every decision you make. She will bear you children and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them. She will never nag you ,and will always be the first to admit she was wrong when you've had a disagreement.She will never have a headache, and will freely give you love, compassion and comfort, whenever needed.
Adam asked God what would a woman like that would cost him.
God said, "An arm and a leg."
Adam said, "What can I get for just a rib?"…And the rest is history....The storm cometh!!!
(don’t look for that in your bible, it will read a little different)
The words of Paul to those on board the sinking ship are my words to you today…..He said the angel told him “be of good cheer, and everything will be all right”. God always sees something better beyond each storm than you see…Faith, rooted in trust, will act like it before it sees it or feels like it!!!!!.
When you are in a storm you need to learn some storm songs you can sing.
Here are some of the songs I love to sing while going through my storms…
“in the eye of the storm”… says “In the eye of the storm, You remain in control, And in the middle of the war, You guard my soul. You alone are the anchor, When my sails are torn, Your love surrounds me In the eye of the storm”.
And another storm song I love…. “The anchor holds”….
“And the anchor holds, Though the ship's been battered. The anchor holds, though the sails are torn. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, and the anchor holds in spite of the storm. I have fallen on my knees as I face the raging seas, the anchor holds in spite of the storm”.
There is an important key to your victory over the storm in the prayer of Jesus for His disciples before He left them….
John 17:14 “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world just as I am not of the world. v15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one who is in the world. v16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it”.
We used to sing “This world is not my home, I’m just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue”…but so many who used to sing that, have began to see their treasure on earth and it has captured their hearts. We stopped thinking like pilgrims passing through, and we began to think more and more like homesteaders, and our lives began to be captured more and more by the things of earth, and less and less by the things of heaven.
Start believing now for more. Because we were meant for more than this… We were meant for streets of Gold, and gates of pearl.We were meant to live forever with Him in such glory that cannot be imagined or comprehended. . But so many are trading it for things that will pass away…
And it has begun to limit their vision and their mission and calling. It became about houses, and bank accounts, and social connections and entertainment.
Begin to believe now, for more!
When this is all over, what will be important is who did we bring with us. Who did we witness to that can never say, “No one told me” as they stand before the Lord. It will be about, was there a “go ye” in our gospel or just a “hold the fort” mentality. It will be about how many tears did we cry and how much sleep did we lose as we interceded for lost souls.
Let’s not allow the storms to take our eyes off the greatest prize and miss Him when He appears in the clouds of glory. Because if we miss that, we haven’t seen a storm compared to the storm that the tribulation is going to bring.
If we can’t pay the price, and count the cost to follow Him now. How will we be able to follow and obey when every Christian is gone, and the anti-Christ now runs everything, and in order to follow Christ, means you will lose your life.
Friend, no matter how hard you have it now, obeying Him here and now, is nothing compared to what it will be like after the rapture.
The five wise virgins in Jesus parable, kept the oil, (The Holy Spirit) flowing in their lives. But the five foolish allowed all the things of life to distract them so they didn’t keep the oil flowing. They ran out and didn’t even realize it….
The price of vigilance is well worth it…
Because we were meant for more than this!!!
When God finishes with your storm, the plan He has is exponential and there is no way we could ever get our head around it all right now!
Begin to believe now, for more…. So see above the storm… God will get you over it, under it, around it or through it, but He will get you there!!!!
Grab someone’s hand and let’s lift one another together. Let’s take a new look at the storm, and let’s see God’s great purpose and plan for your break through.
In the valley, he anoints my head with oil, He brings me into His peace and rest, He prepares a table before me, surely goodness and mercy go with me, His presence sustains me, and glory awaits me….Hallelujah!
Song…. It will be worth it all!