Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Every person has a destiny they alone can fulfill … and God wants everyone to fulfill that destiny.   If you know what your God-given PURPOSE is, what does God need to do to prepare you for that destiny?  

The answer to that question is that He must refine our CHARACTER.  He must develop in us the kind of character that will support our destinies.  So God will take us through character building tests so that we can fulfill our destiny and satisfy our purpose.

This truth is illustrated in the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his story is found in Genesis 37 through 50.

What are the CHARACTER TESTS that we’ve talked about so far?   They are (1) Pride Test, (2) the Pit Test, and (3) the Palace Test.

Today I’m going the share with you the second half of The Palace Test.  The palatial home of Potiphar is where we find Joseph in Genesis 39.

2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.  3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. …  5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.

Last week we talked about the first two of four “keys to success” that we saw evident in the life of Joseph.  And, like Joseph, if we want to have success and fulfill our dreams and satisfy God’s design and purpose for our lives we must ….

KEYS TO SUCCESS, (1) The Presence of God in our lives, and (2) Obeying God (maintains His presence in our lives.  Each key builds on the other.  You can’t go to the second key without the first key, and you can’t get to the third key without the second.  Now for the third key.

3.  THE KEY TO OBEDIENCE IS FAITH!

If you truly believe something, you will DO it!  

Let me illustrate this way:  Faith is the reason farmers plant seeds in the spring.  A farmer believes a crop will grow from the seeds he plants.   Faith is not as mysterious as we make it out to be.  Think about it.  We practice faith EVERY DAY in small and large ways.  If you plan to drive a car today, when you get in you will turn the key.  And what is your expectation?

Here’s a good one.  I believe EVERY ONE of us here today has more faith in a hot water heater than we do IN God!   That’s right!  When we turn on the faucet, we expect our faith to be rewarded.  We expect HOT water!!  And we will WAIT at the faucet until our faith is rewarded.  We don’t go by our feelings!  (The water may feel COLD, but we believe the water will eventually get HOT!)

Many Christians turn on the faucet of prayer, and if it feels COLD at the start, they just turn it off.   And many Christians would obey God and live according to His will, but when they turn on obedience and don’t have the results they want, they just turn it off.

You see, obedience for a Christ-follower involves finding out what God desires and doing those things and not our own “thing.”  We have to obey God’s Word, even when it feels cold.  You and I can’t go by feelings.  Obedience requires faith.

If you and I would just turn on the obedience faucet and LEAVE IT ON, it’s going to get hotter and hotter … and MORE POWERFUL because God’s Word says that He rewards those who diligently seek Him!  He said that if we seek Him with all our hearts He will be found by us.

If, by FAITH, we turn on the faucet of OBEDIENCE, and we believe that obedience will lead us into the presence of God, we will be rewarded.

Look with me at Hebrews 11:1 and 6 (NLT):  Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. … And it is impossible to please God without faith.  Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.

There is a simple truth that children practice:   If they believe, they will obey.

Children are a great example of the link between faith and obedience.   Obedient kids love to please, and know there is a reward for behaving properly.

On the other hand …. Have you been around kids that are disobedient?  What do you think the problem is?  It’s quite simple:  they don’t believe there will be any consequences.  “Now Sweetie … stop that right now or you’re going to be in trouble, young man!”

Ha!  That child knows he’s not going to be in trouble because this parent hasn’t developed FAITH in the boy.  Instead, Sweetie’s unbelief is tied to the FACT that disobedience has NO consequences.

MY MOM AND DAD taught me to be obedient because they believed God’s Word.  They never used a literal rod to correct me.  They used the “rod of discipline.”  It took all kinds of forms.  

Proverbs 13:24 (NLT):  24  Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children.  Those who love their children care enough to discipline them.

FOR SOME CHILDREN … the rod of discipline is “time out.”  For another, just a stronger word works.  For other children, taking away a privilege will do the trick.   

My mother believed that a SPANKING helps a child BELIEVE that there’s a consequence for their disobedience … and I believed her when she said, “Do not … whatever.”  Or “Do this …”

Any kind of discipline also needs to be complimented with REWARDS!  If a child is obedient, they should be rewarded.  You shouldn’t reward disobedience, nor should you ignore the fact that rewards are part of the equation.  If you’re just punishing bad behavior you’ve got parenting all wrong.

God has told us that if we trust Him, love Him, and obey Him, HE has a ton of rewards that He can’t wait to dole out.  Lovers love to give, and our God so loved the world that He gave His Son.  And there’s more rewards to come.

So far … the KEYS TO SUCCESS are: (1) The Presence of God in our lives, and (2) Obeying God maintains His presence in our lives, and the key to obeying God is FAITH … what God says is true!   Okay … So … what is the KEY to FAITH?

4.  THE KEY TO FAITH IS THE WORD OF GOD!

This may blow you away … but SUCCESSFUL LIVING is easy!  You will be successful if you live in the presence of God … you can live in His presence if you obey Him … you will obey Him if you have faith … and you will have faith if you are drinking in the Word of God.  Read it, study it, meditate upon it!

Listen to this:  ROMANS 10:14 & 17:  14 But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him?  And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? … 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

God’s Word will not return to Him “void” … WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHING IT’S PURPOSE.    His word is living and active, and sharper than any “two-edged sword!”  His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path.  IF His Word is hidden in our hearts, God’s Word will keep us from sinning.  Those are all promises from God that you can read in His Word.

It’s the Word, the Word, the Word.  Jesus said God’s Word would never pass away.  Heaven and earth may pass away, but not God’s Word!

The key to having faith is OBEYING the Word of God.  We’ve already touched on that!  The KEY to having FAITH is HEARING the Word of God!!

Have you noticed today, and every Sunday, that we take long drinks of the Word of God? I hope so!  Faith doesn’t come “by Pastor Q” or any other preacher … unless you want to have faith in a preacher and not God!

And the more of God’s Word you have in you, the more faith you will have in Him!   Why?  Because His Word is life and truth!

How much of the Word of God do you have in you?

Why the Bible always under attack!  If Satan convinces you that God is a liar, and that God doesn’t keep His promises, and that living without God’s Word will no bring death upon you … he’s got you.

When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, HE kept quoting the physical, written Word of God.  Satan tried to twist God’s Word to trick Jesus into sinning!  Cult leaders and propagators of false religions work very hard to convince people that God’s Word isn’t enough.  That why they bring “another revelation.”  

Both Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, and Mohamed, the founder of Islam, claimed they were visited by an angel of God and given a “new Word.”  It’s obvious both men never read in God’s Word, “… even if an angel comes to you with another Gospel, let him be cursed.” (Galatians 1:8 & 9!)  Or if they read it they didn’t care.  

Joseph had God’s Word written on his heart.  He knew what God expected of him.  So, if you want the blessing of God and the SUCCESSFUL fulfillment of your purpose, it will require (1) practicing the presence of God, (2) practicing obeying God, (3) practicing faith in God, and (4) knowing the Word of God.

That’s what Joseph began doing in Potiphar’s home, and you and I can do it in our life, too!

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