“Will You Be a Victim or a Victor?”
by Dr. Danny Dodson
Danny Dodson is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Center, Texas.
Take your Bible this morning and turn to Daniel, chapter 2. “And in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit was troubled, and his sleep brake from him. Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king. And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit was troubled to know the dream. Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriack, O king, live for ever: tell thy servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill. But if ye shew the dream, and the interpretation thereof, ye shall receive of me gifts and rewards and great honour: therefore shew me the dream, and the interpretation thereof. They answered again and said, Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will shew the interpretation of it. The king answered and said, I know of certainty that ye would gain the time, because ye see the thing is gone from me. But if ye will not make known unto me the dream, there is but one decree for you: for ye have prepared lying and corrupt words to speak before me, till the time be changed: therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that ye can shew me the interpretation thereof. The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can shew the king’s matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean. 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. For this cause the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. And the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain; and they sought Daniel and his fellows to be slain. Then Daniel answered with counsel and wisdom to Arioch the captain of the king’s guard, which was gone forth to slay the wise men of Babylon: He answered and said to Arioch the king’s captain, Why is the decree so hasty from the king? Then Arioch made the thing known to Daniel.” (Daniel 2:1-15)
Then look at verse 22, “He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:22-23)
Verse 27 says, “Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;” (Daniel 2:27-28)
Many people are thinking and saying this morning, “Why Is This Happening to Me?” Have you ever thought that? “Why Me, Lord?” But I want to change the title: “Will You Become a Victim or Will You Get the Victory?”
Think about this story. Here’s a king who had a dream. He forgot the dream and he walks in and says, “You guys, if you don’t tell me what the dream is, I’m going to kill you.” That’s kind of a strange predicament to be in.
They say, “Well, there’s not anybody here that can tell you. Just tell us what the dream is.”
He says, “No. If I tell you, you’ll want some more time to conjure up something. You can tell me some story. So, I’m not going to give you any more time.”
I didn’t catch this for a long time. When they told Daniel, he said, “Why is the decree so hasty from the king?” and he went in to the king and the king gave him more time. “Why did he do it?” I don’t know. Maybe he trusted Daniel. All I know is that he did. So, anyhow, the king dreamed something that troubled him, and nobody could interpret that.
Notice Daniel’s circumstances. Daniel is a captive in a foreign land, in Babylon against his will. He was carried off into captivity as a young man. By the way, we’re pilgrims, passing through. This world is not our home. Amen?
But here you find also, Daniel is in right relationship with God and with man. He’s not a rebel. I mean, he’s where God allowed him to be. It says in Daniel 1:8 that he “…purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat…” Here’s a young man who has some scruples, some standards, some morals.
In chapter one he was proven. So, he not only purposed in his heart, he was proven and in verse 21 of chapter 1, he was practicing. I mean, he wasn’t wishy-washy, in one day, and out the next day, live for God one day, but not the next. Here is a young man who was serving God. I mean, he was carried off into captivity, beyond his control, but he was serving God. He could have used an excuse, like, “Well, it’s my parent’s fault, it’s not my fault.” But he was here according to the Will of God. He was a strong young man, and he purposed, and he had proven himself, and he was practicing. He was doing all the right things when this decree came.
By the way, they sought out Daniel and his friends to kill them, also. Here they were, living for God, doing everything they knew that was right, and the decree still came to kill them. Daniel said, “Why is the decree so hasty from the king?” In east Texas language that’s, “Why is this happening to me?” Have you ever thought that? “Why me?” Why do bad things happen to good people?
I learned early in life that they do. I found this out, too – the closer you draw nigh to God, the greater the conflict will be. See, most folks sitting in church, you don’t worry the devil at all. The devil’s not concerned about you, because you’re not serving Christ like you ought to. The closer you draw nigh to God, the ol’ devil is going to jump on you. The Bible says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12) So, if you’re living godly in Christ Jesus you will suffer persecution. You say, “Preacher, I’m saved and I’m not getting persecuted.” You’re telling on yourself.
On your job. If you men are not listening to dirty jokes, using foul language, and you really want to live for God, they’re going to call you, “Preacher-man.” They’re going to say, “Well, you’re just holier-than-thou.” They can use all of this religious terminology, amen?
But the cry of many is like the one in Psalm 73 where the Psalmist looked around and “... saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:3) It seemed like the wicked people are getting blessed and here I am, doing everything I know to do and “…my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.” He was kind of having a pity party, wasn’t he? Have you ever had one of those? He started asking the question, “Why, Lord, why me? Why my children? Why my spouse? Why my health? Why my job? Why is this happening to me?”
In Hebrews 12:6, the reason why it happens to the disobedient, it’s God’s chastening hand of mercy. Hebrews tells us that if you’re saved and you are a child of God, He will chasten those whom He loves. If there be no chastisement, “…then are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8) So, chastisement is good in one sense. It shows me that I’m a child of God, because God loves me enough to chasten me. By the way, kids, your parents ought to love you enough to chasten you, too. If they love you they will. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6)
There are two choices you can make when your world falls apart. Two choices. You can look inward and become a victim. You’re going to have a pity party. “Why is this happening to me?” You’re going to feel sorry for yourself. Let me remind you, Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. But if you’re not careful… Here’s what the devil wants out of a child of God. He wants you to begin feeling sorry for yourself. You’ll say, “Well, if this is the way God is going to treat me, I’m just going to quit serving God.” That’s what he wants. He can’t get your soul, because if you’re saved, you’re sealed. Just like the young man that walked the aisle last week and got saved. God sealed him unto the Day of Redemption. He can’t lose his salvation.
So, what can the devil get next? He can get your life. He can get your testimony. He can get you feeling sorry for yourself. So, you can look inward and become a victim, and get bitter. Our nation is filled with people that our society and our government has told them, “You’re just a victim. Your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, had to go through all this, so you’re a victim.” Hogwash. Get over it. Grow up. I’m sick of hearing all that stuff.
“Well, I’m adopted.” I am, too! Jesus adopted me into His family. If you’re saved, you’ve been adopted, too! I found out, sometimes, adopted kids get treated better. That doesn’t mean that you regulars don’t.
But I’m saying that, when your world falls apart, and if you’ve been saved any length of time at all and served God, it will. I went through it, when my world fell apart and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have anywhere to go, but to the Lord.
I think about the brother we heard preach last night. Fireball of a preacher! Started many churches up in South Dakota and surrendered to go the Mission Field and, BAM! His world fell apart, crushed. What did he do? He came home. He got things taken care of. But he didn’t stay down. Do you know why? He didn’t get bitter. I’m talking about folks who are serving God, who literally have given their life to God. Surrendered. Yielded. God, here am I. Use me. Then, out of nowhere, BOOM! The first thing is shock. What happened? I don’t understand this. Why? God, I’ve given You everything.
I think about Daniel Files who had just got to Thailand. The prayer letter said, “We just got on the field, got moved in and everything is going great.” He had to back with his daughter dealing with two kinds of Leukemia. I mean, he had surrendered his life. He could have stayed in Arkansas serving the Lord with his dad in the comforts of America. But God called him to Thailand. He gets his money raised. He’s there and he’s excited and BOOM! He’s serving God and his 12 year old daughter has leukemia. “Why Lord? What is going on?”
There are two choices. You can look inward, and say, “Poor me. God’s not fair. God doesn’t love me.” But you can also look up and get the victory, amen? That’s what you need to do because, look, there’s nothing new under the sun. You wouldn’t be the first person that something just fell apart on.
By the way, I’m not making light of these circumstances when they happen to you because I’m going to tell you, they’re devastating. When a family is torn apart. When you have a child that’s raped. When all kinds of wicked things happen. “Oh! Just look to Jesus…” That sounds really good, until it happens to you. Let me tell you what. There’s a struggle there. There is a shock there. There is a hurt there. There is, “What did I do wrong?” there. You can do everything to try to figure it out, but, if you’re not careful, the ol’ devil is going to keep you beat down. The ones that have ever done anything for God have gotten back up and said, “I totally don’t understand all that’s going on; but I know one thing – there is a God in Heaven.”
I’m sure this young man, Daniel, must have thought, “What have I done, God? I was dragged over here, in captivity. I’ve taken a stand. I haven’t dropped my standards. I’m living for You. What’s happening?” Daniel knew something. As a teenager he said, “There is a God in Heaven.” We’d better understand that, if we’re going to serve God. We’d better learn it, because anytime, anyplace, your world could fall apart. When that happens, you’d better know one thing: there is a God in Heaven.
America’s schools ought to get back to that. You cannot leave God out, and the fear of God out of society, and not have that happen. Those seventeen children that were killed in Florida. It was a shock. It was sudden. What happened? Folks, if we don’t get God back in the school, you can put all the gates up you want to. You can put all of the electronic devices up that you want to. You can take all the guns away that you want to. But if they don’t turn people to God, it’s still going to happen.
By the way, if you look in Proverbs chapter one, you’ll find out why this is going on. Because they “…have set at nought all my counsel…” (Proverbs 1:25) And when your derision comes, God said, “I… will laugh…” (Proverbs 1:26) America told God for 50 or 60 years now, “God, get out of our society. God, we don’t want You! Get out of our school!” When are we ever going to learn? Nobody is getting on the news media and saying, “Do you know what we need? We need God!”
There are two choices you can make when something comes suddenly. You can look within. You can become a victim. The hurt can be so bad. By the way, when it hits like this, people can tell you, “I’m looking to Jesus and everything is okay.” No. It’s not okay. Because, you’re going to get up tomorrow morning again and it’s going to hurt again. But I’ll guarantee you one thing. After a period of time, He can heal the brokenhearted. He’s the Balm of Gilead! He’s the Great Physician!
You say, “Preacher, you can get up there and preach like that because you never had anything happen to you.” Yeah. Like Brother Craig Bryan said, “I’m smiling,” but you ought to know the things he’s gone through. The death of a wife, and sorrow and heartbreak. He didn’t come here and say, “You all feel sorry for me.” But there is a God in Heaven. You can look in and become a victim, or you can look up and get the victory.
Let me look at three things in the obedient child of God, who Daniel was. Daniel was purposed. He was proven. He was practicing. I want to give you three simple thoughts. Victim or victory, because you make the choice whether to be the victim, or, “I’ll get the victory.”
Testing of Faith
Look at James chapter one. First of all, there’s a trying of your faith. I’ve heard for many years that a faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. God is going to test us. He tempted Abraham, and not with evil, but that word means God tested him. “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thoulovest...” (Genesis 22:2) and take him to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. Abraham never hesitated.
Do you know what our big problem is? Maybe, on a Sunday morning like this, when the invitation is given and the Holy Spirit of God has pricked your heart about being saved and, you know if you will come and let us show you the scriptures you can be saved… and you hesitate. That’s all the devil needs! But Abraham never hesitated. He went. He was going to sacrifice his son, because he had so much faith in God that, if he did kill him, God would raise him back up again. But God gave Himself a sacrifice, didn’t He? That was very prophetic.
Look in James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations...” or testings, “...Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4) A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted. God tries our faith. By the way, as we go through that, it strengthens us. It ought to make us stronger. That’s why, when David walked out there and faced Goliath, David was not really afraid of Goliath (maybe a little bit), but he knew one thing – that there was a God in Heaven. He said that, “God has helped me kill a bear. He’s helped me kill a lion. So I’m coming in the Power of God!” Amen? That little rock didn’t kill Goliath. God killed Goliath. I mean, God guided that thing. David prepared himself for it and by faith he flung it! But he had faith in God.
We’re talking about the faithful child of God, going through these things as a test of your faith and we see, one way God tests us is financially. “Well, I don’t have what I used to have, and I lost everything I had.” Well, sometimes God takes it away. We think that God always gives but, the book of Job says, “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away.”
Second Chronicles 32:27, “And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour:” Now, God’s not against the child of God having some money, okay? But He is against money having them. Very few people could God ever trust with a lot of money. I mean, Job had it. Job lost it. Job got it back. Abraham had great wealth. But for most folks, finances corrupt people.
About Hezekiah it said, “…he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much. This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. Howbeit…” The tone just changed, here. “…in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that…” (II Chronicles 32:27-31)
God will never leave us or forsake us. But have you ever felt like, ‘God, where are You?’ Have you ever been there? Like Heaven is brass. You know, with the Omnipresence of God, God is everywhere, but there are times it just seems like, ‘God’s forsaken me.’ Man, I’ve cried, I’ve prayed, and it seems like I’m not getting through. Folks, even when you can’t see it, God’s always working. Whether it’s on the scene or behind the scene, God is working. It says, “…God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” (II Chronicles 32:31)
How do we act when it seems like God is not acting? What do we do then? ‘Well, God, if You’re not going to help me...’ See, there’s a trying of our faith. God is putting us through a test, and Life is one big test. How much do you love God? It’s what Jesus asked Peter, “…lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15) It was a test. The Lord wants to see what is in our hearts.
Financially, those tests come into our lives sometimes and it’s more blessed to give than to receive. But Job said, “The LORD giveth, and the LORD taketh away… Blessed be the name of the LORD!” If the Lord gives, bless Him! If He doesn’t give, bless Him! So many people say, “Well, God’s only Good when I’m getting what I want.” That’s not true. Because God knows that getting can destroy us sometimes. That’s the passage of scripture that Keith Gomez preached when his wife died of cancer. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
Another way that He tries our faith is physically. Job 2:7, “So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” I asked the question, “Why did Bob Hughes, at 45 years old, get cancer and die?” Do you know what? God got the victory. Why did another preacher’s wife become vegetated for years? Well, God got the victory because they didn’t become a victim. Why did Bill Borden die, at 26 years of age, on the way to the Mission Field? In his Bible was written, “No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.” Most folk, would have said, “I quit. God’s not good to me. If that’s the way God’s going to be, I quit.” By the way, the old devil is out there. He’s the one that will stir you up. There is a God in Heaven, amen? What about H. G. Spafford? Three daughters died at sea? That’s where we get the song “It Is Well with My Soul.”
We got a prayer letter this week. Dan Irvin, missionary to Scotland, said, “My sister’s homegoing. God has so richly blessed our family with a special closeness. So, on December the 14th, when my sister Ellen was diagnosed with cancer and given 3 to 6 months to live, we all began hoping and praying for a miracle. Just 2 weeks later we were shocked as the doctor told her that he had only seen one other case as aggressive as hers, and changed the diagnosis to 48 hours. The Lord allowed her to stay with us 5 more days.” Folks, we don’t know.
Let me remind you, there is a God in Heaven. That’s what Daniel realized! I mean, Daniel was a young man. We’re talking about people who are faithfully serving, committed to God with their life. You can be saved and not surrendered and serving and experience the Chastening Hand of God. But we’re talking about folks who are sold-out for God, and these heartaches and problems will just, BOOM! You’re shocked. “What is going on here?”
It is the trying of your faith, financially, physically. Family. Job 2:9, “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.” The song they sang this morning from Charles Wiegle, when his wife just said, “I’m tired of the ministry. I’m through with the ministry. This is not for me.” She walks out. She died tragically, 5 years later. But that’s when he wrote that song, No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus. You ought to get that song and just go through those lyrics again. No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus. The world may not. But I’ll tell you what, there’s Someone that cares for you. When you walk through these valleys and problems, He’s there. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…thou art with me…” (Psalm 23:4)
Folks, our problem is we’re playing games with God. God is just a word and He’s kind of an emergency switch. If I have an emergency, I’ll call on God! No. God’s our God every day! He’s the God of the Mountain. He’s the God of the Valleys. He’s the Almighty God! He’s the All-present God! All-knowing God, and All-powerful God! He’s God! He lives within my heart. I love that presence and that fellowship every day.
I was thinking coming home the other day from Nacogdoches, how most folks use God as a Gimme Faucet. “God, what can You give me today? What can I get out of God today?” That’s not it! It’s the fellowship with God, to know that we’re able to walk with Him in the highways and byways. He’s there with us like on the road to Emmaus but they didn’t recognize Him. “Did not our hearts burn within us…?” (Luke 24:32)
Over at my desk this morning, I was thinking about the message for this morning and all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit brings this in. I was studying another message and all of a sudden I said, “I’ve got to put that one aside, because I’ve got to preach this one this morning.” The best thing in my life is quiet peace with the Holy Spirit of God, communicating. There’s nothing like it in all the world. God gives that quiet assurance that, there is a God, no matter what happens. Sometimes what you just have to do is, whenever you get knocked down, just believe there is a God and just pull yourself back up. “God, I’m trusting You. I don’t know why it happened. I don’t know why our finances went south. I don’t know why I’ve got cancer. I don’t know why my spouse left. I just don’t know why. But God, I know one thing, You’re still God and You’re still good. I’m going to trust You!”
Job’s response was, “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10) In Job 23:10, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Folks, if you’re a child of God and going to serve God, then God’s going to try you. It’s like a wild horse, it can be of no use until it’s broken. The song we sang at Mount Hebron in 1975, when I surrendered… We sang that invitational, “Take me. Break me. Mold me. Make me. I want to do Thy Will, O Lord.” Whether it’s sunshine or rain, comfort or pain, whatever it takes, Lord, that’s what I’m willing to do.
If we’re not careful, when bad things happen in our lives, we can get bitter or we can get better. We can become a victim or we can get the victory. By the way, He’s on our side. You make the choice whether you want to be a victim or not. You make the choice whether you want to be the victor or not.
Test of Friendship
Something else that happens is He tests our friendship. Look in James 4:4, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Folks, in a marriage there’s a honeymoon stage, a first love. There’s hardship, famines. There are headaches like the strife between Abraham and Lot. There’s a heartburn.
What happened over in Revelation, chapter 2, is that the church left their first love. They walked away from God. I don’t understand that, but I know it happens. How could anybody walk away from the God Who saved them? The God Who created them? The God Who cares for them. The God Who supplies their every need. What I pray every morning before I eat is, thank You, Lord, for being JEHOVAH-JIREH, The God Who Provides.
You know, we thank God a lot about what He provided. That’s what we’re in it for, “God, what can You give me today?” But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about HIM! “Thank You for being God!” Boy, He has provided. I mean, the heartburn will get you if you’re not careful, like Demas, “…having loved this present world…” ( Timothy 4:10) he walked away from the ministry. Just walked out on God! Like I said, I don’t understand that, yet preachers do it. Missionaries do it. Christian laypeople do it. They just walk away. We had one in our family that said, “I’ve tried your lifestyle. It’s not for me. Good-bye.”
You say, “Doesn’t that hurt?” Yeah, that hurts! You give your life and care and provide and love somebody. You try to give them everything that you can think of, and, “BOOM!” No appreciation. No anything. It hurts. But do you know what? I’m not quitting, because my faith is not built on a child or a spouse or a friend. My faith is built on the Lord Jesus Christ. They walked away, there, in Revelation 2:1-5. They left their first love. They were told, “You better remember and return. Repent! Or else!”
But we don’t even fear God, today. People think, “I can live any way I want to and God’s going to brush it under the carpet.” God brushes no sin under the carpet! The only safe place for your sin is under the Blood! As a Christian, when you sin, and you will sin, there’s an altar of confession and cleansing. I need it, you need it. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Jesus said this, “Ye are my friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15:14) As our brother said the other night, “Some call it legalism, I call it love.” Legalism has to do with works for salvation. Keeping commandments of God is not legalism, it’s loving and obeying God, because He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
We have folks who can’t even make it to church. God said, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) The day approaching is the coming of the Lord! Every service. Tonight’s more important than this morning’s service, and the next one, and the next one, until He comes! We think, “Well, I can come or stay home… It doesn’t matter to God.” Oh, it does matter to God, because He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” That’s the testing of your friendship.
Deuteronomy 8:2, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.” Let me just say this, God knows what’s in your heart, but He wants you to know what’s in your heart. It’s like tithing. God doesn’t need your money, but you need to tithe. You need to obey and give and have His blessing. He owns the cattle on the hills and all the wealth in every mine.
Test of Transforming
Let me give you the third thing: What’s going on when the world just falls apart and you get the big whammy on you all of a sudden, and it’s just a shock to you like it was to Daniel, who asked, “Why is this coming so fast from the king?” God tests your faith, He tests your friendship. But there’s a third thing: The Transforming, or the Changing of Your Life.
The most like Christ you’ll be is when you go through the deepest, darkest valley. When you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when you go through those trials, through the fiery furnace, through the lion’s den, whenever you’re there in a hospital bed and the doctor says, “It’s terminal, there’s no help.” That’s when you draw nigh to God and God begins to change you.
Paul said, “That I may know him… and the fellowship of his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10) He said, “I learned obedience by the things that I suffered.” That’s what Christ said, amen? We’re in a comfort oriented generation. “Make me comfortable. Don’t put any responsibility on me. I just want to live like I want to live. Make the cushions padded and soft.” We want everything easy! If you read Christian history, it wasn’t easy. Look at the last part of Hebrews, chapter 11. Some didn’t even give their name, that were sawn asunder, who were beaten, put in jail, tortured, and crucified! We’re sitting here, saying, “Poor us. Preacher expects us to be at church three times a week. That’s too hard.” I’ve got a Greek word for that, Phooey! That’s a bunch of junk!
God expects obedience! Just like you tell your kid, “Go and make your bed. Take the trash out and clean your room up.” Do we say, “If you want to. If you don’t want to, that’s fine, too. We’ll come and clean it up for you.” Some parents do. (That was free!) We expect obedience.
God wants to transform your life. Think of Isaiah. When I saw the Lord, “...high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” I said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:” He said, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips:” I’m just a stinking, rotten, wretched sinner! Do you know what he said? “LORD, here am I, if You’re looking for somebody. Could You use me?” Folks, God wants to transform your life.
April 19, 1973, 1209 Lynn Street, when the preacher walked out, the Holy Spirit walked in. I said Good-bye to the preacher, the Holy Spirit began working. I mean, He went to cleaning this old sinner up before He could use him. He said, “Get rid of this, get rid of this, and get rid of this. Do this, do this, and do this.”
“How do you know it was the Holy Spirit?” He’s living in my heart! It coincided with the Word of God. That’s what was happening to a liberal Methodist. I got my eyes opened. I got baptized. I became an Independent, Fundamental, Pre-millennial, Temperamental Baptist that’s against everything, almost. But I’m for a whole lot of things, too. I’m for God having control over your life and changing it because, only God can change a life. It’s a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. You can try all you want to keep the rules. “I’ve tried that stuff. It ain’t for me.” But you get the Holy Spirit of God in here and it’s not you doing it! It’s Him doing it through you! That’s when it gets good.
Romans 12:2, “…but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...” God used the death of a baby to get David to say, “I’ve sinned.” Boy, that would be tough, wouldn’t it? You say, “Well, I’m just not going to do it.” Even in Egypt, the old Pharaoh would say okay. Then he’d always change his mind. Finally, it took the death of his child. Pharaoh! God killed that firstborn right there. Then he changed a little bit. It changed for a little while until things eased up and he went after them. Then God killed him. Folks, God means business. We sit here, playing a game, “Well, I don’t want to serve God. I’ll come to church when I feel like it. I’ll give when I want to.” That ain’t going to work when you’re playing a game with God.
Your world is falling apart, testing friendship, your faith and your life. God used a famine to bring a family back together in Joseph’s day. Look at all the bad things you might say happened to Joseph. His brothers sold him into slavery. I had brothers like that. My parents would have sold me if they could get away with it! I mean, and those brothers were jealous. They hated him and sold him. They told their daddy a lie. He was sold into Potiphar’s house and then a wicked woman lied about him and had him put in prison. There’s not another person in the Bible that’s more like Jesus Christ than Joseph was. All these things are happening to him.
When Jacob’s sons came to Egypt to find out what the whole story was, the brothers were thinking, “Oh no, he’s going to kill us.” Do you know what Joseph told them? “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
When your world falls apart, there is a God in Heaven. Shall not the God of all the earth do right? God makes no mistakes. There’s a song written by that title, God makes no mistakes. Whatever God allows, we ought to look up instead of looking down and getting bitter about it. Don’t get bitter at God, and get mad at God, and quit on God. We ought to look up. There’s victory on the other side even though we don’t understand it now.
I’ve had several missionaries tell me recently about something that happened. One of them, it was something that was bad that happened, and God allowed it to happen. God’s not the Author of sin. But through the bad had happened, they came to a realization of some other things they found out about that turned out to be good.
We don’t know the end of the story. By the way, instead of jumping on somebody’s case… I mean, people do wrong and our first thought is, ‘Crucify them.’ But the Bible says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We’ve got to be careful, because it’s very easy sometimes, when somebody does something to you, you’ll want to choke them. At McDonald’s when they just kept running past me, I wanted to choke every one of them! But something inside said, ‘No. You’re a preacher, you can’t be doing stuff like that. I’m a Christian. I shouldn’t be doing anything like that.’ But I thought it! What does that mean? I’m human.
Those bad things that happened to Joseph brought a family together. Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He didn’t say that all things were good. “...all things work together for good to them that love God…” That’s Who we’re talking about today. “…to them who are the called according to is purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:28-29)
Why is this happening to me? Go back to Daniel 2. Why is this happening to me? We find a secret here in verse 22 through 23, “He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.”
I like verse number 25. It’s just kind of something you chuckle at, when Arioch came in and told the king, “I have found a man.” Like, “Look at me. I’m the politician, here. Look what I did for you.” Slap him. He’s probably a Democrat, maybe Republican, I don’t know.
Look at verse number 28, “But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets…” Aren’t you glad?
Look at verse 47, “The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings…” Do you know what? If Christians would just live like Christians, it might be that some leaders would look and say, ‘Do you know what? You’ve got the God of gods, and you’ve got the Lord of lords!’ But our biggest problem is that we call ourselves Christians and don’t live like a Christian.
There is a God in Heaven. May I say, I don’t care who or what you are, what your family is going through today, there is a God in Heaven. If you’ll trust Him, my Lord knows the way through the wilderness. All I have to do is follow.
Did Job understand why he would lose everything within a couple of days? Did he understand? Do you know what turned the captivity of Job? When he began to pray for his friends that were pointing fingers at him. “Maybe if you hadn’t been such a sinner and such a wicked man God wouldn’t have to punish you.” When he began to pray for his friends, God turned all of it around when he began to pray instead of pout. There are tears that are shed when bad things happen.
This one illustration should come to mind: That shooting that happened in that Florida school? They were warned and did nothing about it. Can I tell you something? We are warned. How many times? We’ve had three or four different preachers preach from this pulpit who gave a warning. Do you know what we do? We go back to sleep, just like the FBI. God is giving us plenty of warning.
Friend, if you’re here today and you don’t know for sure that if you died, you’d go to Heaven, let me tell you what. There’s a warning going out. If you don’t get saved and you die without Christ, you will go to Hell, according to the Bible. But here’s something else, God loves you. He proved it. When He died for you, He gave His life that you might have everlasting life. The warning is that, if you reject Christ, you’re going to die and go to Hell. You don’t know when you might die. Look at those kids that went to school that day. They had no idea. Thank God for those folks who jumped in front of bullets and saved some lives. Please trust Christ to save you today!
Men who preach from this pulpit are sounding the warning. They’re jumping out like this, WARNING! For 120 years Noah preached, “God is going to judge.” Really? We walk out with no fear of God. We have folks that have probably been in a Christian home, a Christian school all their life and they play the game. They’re going to die in their sin and go to Hell, because they’ve been warned. The evidence is in the Book.
Folks, no matter what has happened or what will happen, there is a God in heaven. By the way, the devil has not given up yet. He may be at your doorstep tomorrow. It may be your child or your family tomorrow. It may be your finances tomorrow. But I’m going to tell you something, there is a God in Heaven.
I just hate that our schools won’t teach about that God, because He’s the Answer. He is the only Hope there is. I know what actually should happen. Those who call themselves Christians ought to rise up. By the way, we’re still in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave! We ought to still march down.
I’ll guarantee you, a lot of those people in the School Board, (and I’ve heard their testimony) claim to be Christians. C’mon, don’t get quiet! A Christian has to stand up. Daniel stood up. In a foreign land! Those Hebrew children didn’t bow. They didn’t burn, either. They took a stand.
Folks, sometimes it just takes one person. Why not be that person? Why not say, “I’m not going to put up with this junk anymore. It’s either God’s way, or I’m out of here!” We need some boldness.
When your world falls apart, God is testing your faith and testing your friendship. He wants to transform your life for your good and His glory. Will you keep on trusting Him? Will you look in or look up? Will you be a victim or a victor?