How to make your life count – Joshua

RECEIVING GOD’S PROMISES

 

Joshua 1:1-11

Notes extracted from Rick Warren

 

Joshua was one of the greatest generals who ever lived. He accomplished the impossible in spite of incredible odds and opposition. His life he was engaged in some kind of battle or other. Many of you can identify with that – life can seem like one long battle sometimes!

 

Background of Joshua 1 – the Israelites were on the verge of crossing into the Promised Land. They’d been 40 years in the wilderness. Now they were ready to cross the Jordan River knowing they were going in to possess the land.

 

Joshua 1:11 “Three days from now you will cross the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord is giving you for your own.”

God said, “Joshua, you’ve got a tremendous future ahead of you. I am going to do great things in your life. Everything I’ve promised and more. But it’s going to be a fight, a battle”. He says you must take possession of what I want to give you.

 

What will the future hold? The answer to that is it’s going to hold a mixture of blessings and battles. God says to you, “I have great things I want to do in your life. I have things you haven’t even dreamed of, how I want to bless your life. All your past is prologue, all your best days are ahead of you. But it’s going to be a battle. You must possess your future.”

In Joshua 1, God gives Joshua a pep talk. He says, “I know you’re going to be in battles for the next 20 years so I want to encourage you. I want you to do three things and these three things will sustain you through life.”

Twice in this chapter the word “success” is used. If asked, every one of us would want to be successful. What does it mean to be successful? Success in business? The arts? Sport? – these do not necessarily equal success in life!!

Jesus told a story of a very rich successful farmer who was rich in this life but a FOOL in regard to his spiritual life [life with ref. to God] – was he successful?

 

God’s instructions to Joshua. 1) Set up a plan. 2) Stay in the Word. 3) Step out in faith.

 

  1. SET UP A PLAN [Know were you are going]

 

God plans. He has a plan for your life. If you’re going to be like God you’ve got to learn how to plan. You need to know where you are going because that’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.

  1. 2-3 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river. . . . I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.”

 

“get ready”. God says, “Get ready for the future!” Prepare for what’s ahead! You must prepare to possess what God has promised.

Here is a wonderful example of faith and works – the Christian life is not a passive sitting around waiting for blessings to fall from heaven. God says to the Israelites “I have given you the Promised Land – now go and possess it”.

 

Paul says a similar thing in Philippians 2:12-13

12 …… — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

 

What is Joshua’s response? v. 11a So Joshua ordered the people `Get your supplies ready’.”

Have you given any thought of what’s going to happen next year in your spiritual life? Or do you just kind of drift through life.

 

God says, “Do you want to be successful? First, get ready!” Don’t go through life unexamined. Look at where you’re going – get direction. Set up a plan. [Know where you are going]

 

Notice, “Moses, my servant, is dead.”

One of the ways you prepare for the future is to let go of the past. Joshua and Moses were very, very close. Joshua had been with Moses for 40 years. He had been his understudy. Now, Moses was dead. How would you like to replace Moses as leader? I’m sure Joshua felt a little nervous – or may be a lot.

 

Yet, God said Joshua, “I have a plan for your life.”

Sometimes we let past relationships keep us from receiving God’s promises. It may be a death, a divorce, a friend moves a way, or maybe you’re still saying, “How can I gain the approval of that person in my past.” God says, “Let go of the past so you can get on with the present.” He wants to work in your life and do great things. You will never possess your future as long as you perpetuate your past.

 

Does that mean you forget your past – cut off your roots? NO! BUT there is a difference between remembering your past / learning from it and clinging to it / living in the past!!

 

ILLUS.: A Meg-church in USA started and pastored by one man – He died and a new pastor came. Nearly every hall and classroom was in memory of the first pastor. After a year the new pastor could stand it no longer – being told Pastor “So-and-so” used to do this and that. One Sunday morning he collected all 23 portrait of the First pastor and line them up in front of the pulpit – He began his sermon by pointing to the portraits and reading Joshua 1 – “Moses my servant is dead” – i.e. let the past remain in the past let us get on with the present!

 

ILLUS.: My sister Jayne and my brother’s wife Esther were killed in a motor accident in 1976. Some time later my brother wrote a little booklet entitled “Lessons I have learned in the night” – in the closing section he writes this – “Finally, I am learning to close the door on the past and look to God for the future. God, in his wisdom and love, has chosen to take Esther to himself, and therefore it would be sinful for me to try and live with memories, in an effort to bring her back. Following the death of that great leader, Moses the lord said to Joshua, Moses, my servant, is dead, now therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Leigh continues “God has spared me for a purpose, and it is my desire to discover that purpose and do his will at any cost.”

 

God said, Moses is dead! It’s over. He’s buried. Moses was dead but God wasn’t. God had a plan for Joshua’s life that went far beyond what Moses had done. He said you’ve got to let go of the past – don’t live in the past. Many things in the past were good, some of them were bad. But let’s go on.

 

What do you need to bury? A bad failure, a bad experience, a hurt? Let it go. Joshua had to prepare himself.

Proverbs 13:16 (Living Bible) “A wise man thinks ahead”.

 

God says to Joshua, Set up a plan! Not your own plans – Not as the world plans, leaving God out altogether. Not as some Christians plan, tacking God on to their own plans, asking God to be a rubber stamp. BUT plan according to God’s criteria – knowing God’s way [Know where you are going].

 

  1. STAY IN THE WORD

 

God says to Joshua, “You’re going to be in the battles for the next 25 years, you’re going to be fighting, and the Bible is your instruction manual for conflict. It is the manual for the battles of life.”

Notice v. 7 “Be careful to obey all the Law. Do not turn from it to the right or the left that you may be successful wherever you go.”

 

“don’t turn from the right or left”. It is easy to get side-tracked today, as a Christian? Often people start out well and then they get side-tracked — sometimes by very good things. – by their career. Or by sport, or a hobby, or a financial difficulty, or an illness, or having more children, whatever. Somehow they lose their focus on the Word.

The Word. That’s the key.

  1. 8, one of the greatest promises of the Bible, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

 

Keep your mind saturated with the Word of God and you’ll be successful. The point is this: God’s promise of success has absolutely nothing to do with your ability. It is not your ability but your commitment to His Word that God promises will bring success in your life.

 

How do you stay in the Word? Three ways:

Don’t let it depart out of your mouth.” — talk about the Word of God.

Meditate on it day and night — think about the Word of God.

Be careful to do everything written in it– always obey it – do it!

 

What does it mean to stay in the Word?

It means I talk about it, I think about it and I live it.

 

2 Timothy 3:16 (Living Bible) The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and helps us to do what is right.”

God’s word “straightens me out”, it shows me the path I walk on, how to walk on it. It shows me when I get off the path, it shows me how to get back on the path, it shows me how to stay on the path. “It’s good for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work”. The Bible says that God’s Word is your soul food.

 

Spurgeon once said, “A Bible that is coming apart is usually owned by somebody who’s not”. Usually your Bible is coming apart or you are.

 

I imagine Joshua is a pretty busy man. He’s the leader of an entire nation. He doesn’t have a lot of spare time. But he made time to read the Bible, to pray. He was a man of communion with God. Busyness is no excuse. You must make time to stay in the Word on a regular basis.

 

  1. STEP OUT IN FAITH

 

Many people think faith is just something you believe. Faith is more than mental assent. It’s more than just knowing. It’s an action.

ILLUS.: I can believe a plane will fly but it doesn’t mean anything until I get on board.

Some say, “I believe in Jesus”. So what? So does the devil. Faith means, “to commit yourself to”. You must step out in faith because faith is an action.

 

Three times in this passage there’s a phrase, be strong and courageous [bold]” v 6, 7, 9.   There are going to be a lot of things in your life that will distract you, discourage you, depress you but be strong and courageous. Step out in faith!

The background: The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had the chance 40 years earlier, and they blew it. Now they get the second chance. They’re at the edge of the Jordan river, ready to cross over into the new land, knowing that the moment they cross that river it’s an act of war against the seven other nations already living there. There would no telling how long it would last. Every one of the seven nations was larger and stronger than the Israelites. Now you know why God is says, “Be strong and courageous”.

 

What gave Joshua the confidence to move ahead? v. 9 “Remember I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord, am with you wherever you go.”

God said, “Remember who you’re doing this for. You represent the King of Kings. You’re on assignment from the Almighty God. Who do you think told you to do this? If I told you to do it, I’m going to be with you.” When God tells you to do something, He gives you the power to do it. God has never sponsored a flop. God says “I’m going to be with you; step out in faith!”

 

“Afraid” and “discouraged”. These are two enemies that will keep you from becoming all God wants you to be. Fear keeps us from getting started. Discouragement keeps us from continuing.

This double whammy hits us — fear and discouragement — and they keep us from making our lives count. They keep you from being all God wants you to be. It’s fear that keeps us in the desert, when we could be living in the Promised Land. It keeps us from becoming all God wants us to be. He says, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged! I am with you!”

 

Joshua was a man of courage. What is courage? Courage is not having no fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear.

Courage is when you move ahead in spite of your fear and you witness to that person at work or you tackle that assignment or try that project or go after that dream. You do it in spite of your fear.

 

Literally, in this story, they had to step out in faith. In chapter 3, they came up to the Jordan River, – probably overflowing – it was springtime – the flood stage. Normally the Jordan River is about 100 feet across, 20 feet deep. But in the flood stage it had swelled over the banks. Even today, for a modern army to cross a river like that takes some time. But for a group of rag-tag slaves who came out of Egypt, it was impossible! God said, “I want the priests out in front carrying the Ark of the Covenant. I want the priests to start walking out into the water, taking the step of faith, trusting Me and I’m going to do a miracle.” He didn’t tell them of how He was going to do it.

 

The priests took the Ark of the Covenant in front of the whole nation of about a million people and began to walk into the Jordan River. God dammed up the river, further up stream at a place called Adam, about 17-19 miles north. I don’t know how He did it. The fact is the water stopped.

Joshua 3:15 “As soon as the priests stepped into the river the water stopped flowing and piled up.” As it piled up, the water lower down began to subside. Eventually it was dry. The priests had to stand there in the middle of the river while one million people passed through, then they were the last ones to leave. They had to have extended faith that it wouldn’t start up again. They literally had to step out in faith. It’s a beautiful lesson for us.

 

The principle: the first step is always the hardest. Always! In anything! In writing a term paper / essay in an exam, what’s the most difficult sentence? The first sentence. If you play rugby, the first tackle is always the hardest tackle. After that you of get used to it, it’s not so bad. The first step is always the hardest.

 

What is your Jordan River? What is the barrier that is keeping you from becoming all God wants you to be? Where is it in your life? Is in a relationship? A career? Something you’re holding on to that you don’t want to let go of? Is there something keeping you in the desert and out of the Promised Land?

 

What I admire most about Joshua was that he was a man of conviction. He was willing to stand alone for what was right. He was willing to go against popular opinion. He was willing to do the unexpected, the unusual. Even when society said, “Do this!” he said, “No, that’s not the way to do it.” He was a man of conviction. The Bible says that 40 years earlier, Moses had chosen 12 spies and they had gone into the Promised Land to spy out the land and they came back. Ten of the spies said, “No way! We can’t do it! They are powerful and strong. They are like giants. They’ll eat us up. We were like grasshoppers in their sight.” Everybody said, “Yes, that’s right! We can’t do it.”

But there were two men who said, “We can!” Joshua and Caleb. They said “We can do it! We can take them on! They’re like bread ready to be eaten up. Let’s take them on!” The entire nation said no, but two men said yes. It’s interesting, forty years later, God had to let the entire adult population die off and only two of those original people got to go into the Promised Land — Caleb and Joshua.

 

Maybe some of you are saying, “I don’t know why I should step out on faith. It’s pretty comfortable right where I am. I like my life as it is. Why should I step out? I’m getting older.” Joshua was 80 years old when God called him to cross the Jordan River and go into battle for the next 25 years.

 

It is never too late to say “Yes!” to God – to make our lives count.” That’s what Joshua did.

 

The verse that best reveals Joshua’s character is 25:15 – Joshua said at the end of his life, Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Have you made that decision in your home – in your life? It’s a choice. What kind of person are you going to be a year from now?

God says, “Make your choice.” The future begins with a commitment. “Choose you this day whom you are going to serve.” Other gods? Or God.

 

Joshua 3:5 “Then Joshua told the people, `Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you!'” They’re getting ready to cross the Jordan and he says, Consecrate, dedicate, surrender yourself to God, for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you! All the past is prologue. The best is yet to come.”

 

“Consecrate yourself for tomorrow God will do amazing things among you.” There will be battles. Even when the children of Israel got into the Promised Land there were still battles to be fought, giants and problems to be overcome. Even in the Promised Land there are battles. But there are blessings.

 

The name Joshua means Deliverer, Saviour. He was the deliverer for his people. He delivered them into the Promised Land and he beat off all these seven nations and 31 different kings. His name means Deliverer. Hundreds of years later God told Mary to name her boy Joshua. Jesus is a Greek word for Joshua in Hebrew. Jesus was named after Joshua because he, too, would be a deliverer. God said just like that great deliverer of old I’m sending a new deliverer to the world.

 

What’s the parallel? The parallel is that the other Joshua (Jesus) wants to take possession of your life. Just like the first Joshua was to take possession of the land, Jesus wants to take possession of your life. The only question is will it be a battle? This chapter is packed full of promises. The promise of power, of presence, of prosperity, of peace, of all these things in his life. In v. 5 He says, I’ll be with you and no one will be able to stand up against you.

 

Many of you have already taken that first step and opened your life up to Jesus Christ.. If you haven’t, do it today.

After you’ve taken that first step of faith, I challenge you to make three commitments – if you haven’t already done so:

 

  1. I’m going to spend time praying and planning. Set some goals — some spiritual goals. How much of the Bible do I want to read? Set up a plan to memorise Scripture, to have a daily quiet time, start tithing, get involved in a ministry, some kind of spiritual goals. Set up some family goals, some physical goals, some financial goals, some social goals, some mental goals. All these areas God wants you to work in. Career goals. Balance your life. But first make a commitment to pray and to plan.

 

  1. I make a commitment to stay in the Word. Make a time. Make a commitment to increase the time spent daily in God’s Word.

 

  1. Make a commitment to step out in faith. Join a small group. Get involved somewhere in a ministry. Begin giving of your financial resources. Share your faith with others.

 

Set up a plan, stay in the Word, step out in faith. God says, “Then I will bless you, there will still be battles even very tough battles, but remember the I will be with you”

 

Prayer:

 

Father, what a great man this Joshua was, not in and of himself but because He was committed to a great God. May we like him, be men and women of conviction and character and compassion and communion and courage. May we possess the future – receive all that you plan for us. Lord, you desire to bless your people I pray that today we would recommit ourselves to you.

 

 

RECEIVING GOD’S PROMISES

 

Joshua 1:1-11

 

“Three days from now you will cross the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord is giving you for your own.” (v 11b)

 

  1. Set up a Plan [Know where you are going]

 

    “Moses, my servant, is dead. Now then, you and all these people get ready to cross the Jordan river . . . . I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” (v 2-3)

 

“So Joshua ordered .. the people `Get your supplies ready‘.” (v 11a)

 

  1. Stay in the Word

 

    “Be careful to obey all the Law . . . do not turn from it to the right or the left that you may be successful wherever you go.” (v 7)

 

    “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (v 8)

 

  1. Step out in Faith

 

       “Be strong and courageous!” (v 6, 7, 9)

 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (v 9)

 

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

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How to make your life count – Joseph

SUCCEEDING IN SPITE OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Genesis 39:23

23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (NIV)

Notes extracted from Rick Warren

 

Two of the great laws of life we must eventually learn are:-

  • things don’t always go as planned;
  • many circumstances you have in life are uncontrollable;

 

ILLUS.: Businesses go bankrupt, employees get fired, students get passed over for scholarships, business plans fail, friends move away, cricketers and rugby players lose matches.

 

Life just doesn’t always go the way we want it to go. Many things in life are beyond our control. Many things in life are caused by factors I can’t control.

ILLUS.: You didn’t choose who your parents would be, you didn’t choose your race, you didn’t choose your sex, you didn’t choose when and where you would be born, and the circumstances surrounding that.

 

These are the cards that you’re dealt in life. How you play them is your choice. We all know people who have overcome great adversity to make their life count.

How to make your life count in spite of your circumstances.

 

Let’s look at a man named Joseph [the coloured coat Joseph] who really made his life count. He went from a, a slave and a prisoner to the second highest-ranking person in the nation of Egypt which was the most powerful country in the world at that time. He went from the pit to the palace. He showed that what counts in life is not your circumstances but your character. The Bible says that character, not circumstances, will determine what you do with your life.

 

  1. Joseph’s circumstances.

 

Genesis 37-50, the story of Joseph. This story has it all — revenge, deceit, lust, seduction, attempted murder, violence, rape, false charges in prison. It would make a great TV drama.

 

We could summarise Joseph’s difficulties in three words:

He was rejected at home. His dad liked him but nobody else did.

He was seduced and slandered at work.

He was forgotten by friends.

The first thirty years of his life, nothing went right.

He was rejected at home. He was the second to last of thirteen children – he had eleven brothers and a sister. There was a lot of rivalry and bitterness. The brothers were jealous of Joseph. There was favouritism. They didn’t like him.

Genesis 37:4    4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (NIV)

 

One day they plotted, Genesis 37:19-20     19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.    20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

 

That’s real brotherly love! They put him in the well and soon some slave merchants came by to whom they sold him to for twenty shekels. He was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave to a man named Potiphar. Overnight he went from pampered son to slave.

That’s rejection by your family! Some of you think you’ve been rejected. Joseph knew rejection.

 

Then he started working for Potiphar and he was very successful. He was put in charge of everything in the home. But Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph. She tried to seduce him.

Genesis 39:6-10     6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome,

7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”     8 But he refused. ……

10 And though she asked Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her. (NIV)

 

Sexual harassment in the work place is about 4000 years old. It works both ways: men to women and women to men. Joseph refused. He holds onto his morals.

At one point in a fit of passion she grabbed him by the robe but he slithered out of it and he lost his coat but he kept his character.

She framed him: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

When Potiphar came home she told him “That Hebrew slave tried to rape me!”

 

So Joseph is thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s falsely accused. Things are going from bad to worse.

He gets into prison and again he rises to be the jailer’s right-hand man; in fact, he is given the keys. Imagine trusting a prisoner with the keys to the jail – Joseph was man of character!

He befriended two of Pharaoh’s staff members – the baker and the cupbearer [wine-steward]. He had helped them out.

One of them got out, he promptly forgot Joseph. “Please be kind enough to mention me to the king and help me get out of this prison. But the wine steward never gave Joseph another thought – he forgot all about him.” [Gen.40:14+23]

 

Sometimes jealous people will try to hurt you and immoral people will try to tempt you and ambitious people will try to use you, but you can still succeed if you have the Lord in your life.

 

“The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” Gen.39:23

 

  1. Joseph’s Character

 

Three times in this story it says, “The Lord was with Joseph.”

Why was God with Joseph? What was Joseph that made him so different.

What do I do when circumstances seem to work against me and my dreams? What do I do to make my life count? How can I make an impact when it seems like everything is conspiring to make me mediocre?

Like Joseph I do three things:

1) I fulfill my responsibilities. Wherever you are you do what God’s called you to do right there.

2) I maintain my integrity. No matter what happens in the situation, I keep my purity and integrity and maintain my standards.

3) I trust God’s sovereignty.

 

(1) Fulfilled his Responsibility:

He was dependable, reliable. He always gave his best no matter what. As a result he’s promoted to leadership.

First as a slave, Genesis 39:6 “Potiphar gave Joseph complete responsibility over everything he owned. He hadn’t a worry in the world with Joseph there.”

 

Potiphar had no worries. Can your boss say that about you? The Bible says Potiphar prospered because of Joseph. Does your boss prosper because of you?

 

Then he got thrown into jail.

Genesis 39:22-23 22 So the warder put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.

23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (NIV)

You can’t keep a good man down! He gets thrown into prison and the next thing he’s assistant warden! The cream rises to the top. If life gave him a lemon he made lemonade.

Joseph is saying, “I don’t know why these things are happening to me, but I do know how I’m supposed to act. I don’t know why these circumstances have been caused in my life, but I do know who’s Lord of my life.”

Whenever anybody turned any responsibility over to Joseph, he didn’t have to have any worries at all; he was reliable. Do you do your best with your job, even when you hate it? Joseph is in prison on false charges and he’s rising to the top. Do you spend all your time dreaming about what “might be” — the things you’d like to see?

 

Eventually Joseph gets out of jail – he tells Pharaoh how to avoid the impending crisis – an Pharaoh give him the job!!

Genesis 41:38-40 38 So Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone like this man [Joseph], one in whom is the spirit of God?”      39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no-one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

 

The quality of your work reveals the quality of your spiritual life. The Holy Spirit was obvious in Joseph’s life.

Is that true in your life? There’s a direct correlation between shoddy workmanship and a poor testimony. When I call myself a Christian and I don’t do good work, that’s an insult to God’s reputation. It doesn’t insult His character because nobody can touch God’s character, but we can damage His reputation.

“Harry claims he’s a Christian but he’s the laziest guy in the office! He takes extra long tea breaks. He just does the minimum.”

 

Christians ought to be the best they can be at work no matter what they do – Whether it shining shoes or being chief executive of a multi-national Company. You’re not called to be better than others are but you are called to be the best you can be. I’m not called to be the best pastor in England. I am called to be the best pastor I can possibly be. You’re called to be the best you can be.

Joseph fulfilled his responsibility.

 

Law of Success — Luke 16:10      10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (NIV)

 

When I make it big then I’m going to be faithful!” What are you doing about the day by day responsibilities right now? Are you being faithful in the little things? “When I get out of debt I’m going to start tithing.” Who are you trying to fool? “When everything gets settled down, I’ll start reading my Bible.” If you’re not faithful with little responsibility, He’s not going to give you great responsibility.

 

The Bible says that every task, no matter what it is, is an opportunity to develop and demonstrate faithfulness. Everything you do, people are watching you and God’s watching you. Are you being faithful in the little things?

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it all heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men knowing that the Lord is your real master and He will reward you.” God always rewards faithfulness in the little things.

 

(2) Maintained his integrity.

Joseph was a man of moral purity so much that Mrs. Potiphar had to invent things about him.

Genesis 39:10, the boss’s wife came to Joseph, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.” Can you imagine the internal battle going on in Joseph’s mind?

He refuses to give in. “I’m a slave against my will in a foreign country. Life has not gone as I’ve planned it. I’ve lost my dream, I might as well lose my morals too! Life is tough! I owe it to myself to get a little pleasure. Who cares? What’s God done for me? My life is going in reverse. I’m not upwardly mobile, I’m downwardly mobile.” Besides, if he befriended the boss’s wife, he might even get more promotion. But he would not give in!

 

What makes him maintain his standard of purity and moral integrity even when his world is falling apart.

Two things:

  • “My master trusts me with everything in this entire household. How can I do such a wicked thing as this?
  • It would be a great sin against God!”

 

What motivated his purity? His loyalty to others and his love for God.

He said, “My master’s made me in charge of all this. How could I do it to him?” Whenever you sin you hurt somebody else. Whenever you lower your integrity, you hurt other people. He would not give in!

 

Proverbs 14:32 “Wicked people bring about their own downfall by their evil, but good people are protected by their integrity.”

 

Sometimes when you resist temptation of any kind, you’re not going to feel good about it at that time. I’m sure Joseph was probably saying to himself, when he kept turning down Potiphar’s wife, “I’ve got to be crazy to walk away from this! Nobody would know.”

We might be tempted in all sorts of ways, “If I could make one little change here on the form and fill in the wrong figure, I could save £500! I’ve got to be crazy to not do it — to fudge a little bit here and things will work out right. I’ll forget conveniently to tell this to my suppliers or my customers.” Just conveniently shave the truth a little bit. You’re not always going to feel real good when you resist temptation.

 

Look where Joseph’s integrity got him. He says, “No!” he gets fired and he gets put in jail. How good do you think he felt about his integrity?

 

The point is: In the long run it always pays to do the right thing. In the short run you may feel sad, but in the long run you will feel glad. You’ll say, Thank God I didn’t do that for a moment of pleasure or a few extra ££’s!

 

Potiphar’s wife grabbed onto him, stole his coat. He left his coat and ran out of there. But he kept his character.

So when things go wrong in my life and things aren’t working out right, I fulfil my responsibility and I maintain my integrity,

 

(3) God’s sovereignty.  

As a young man God gave Joseph a dream of making an impact with his life. One day in total naivete he shared it with his brothers and dad: “God gave me this dream that one day I’m going to be a great king and everyone is going to bow down to me, even you guys. Isn’t that great?” How would you like your younger brother to say that to you?   They weren’t too excited about that. It was a right dream but it was very naive to share it with those people.

 

For thirty years Joseph’s life went downhill. During that entire thirty years, God never explained to him what was going on. He must have often been confused. He had no idea what was going on. He had every reason to doubt God’s love. “God, You gave me a dream. What happened?” He had every reason to be bitter: “Why me, God? You give me a dream and now I end up a slave, falsely accused of rape, and in prison in a foreign country.” Things are not going well.

 

But years later it all became clear. Joseph was eventually promoted to be second in command under Pharaoh. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. He said, “We’re going to have seven years of plenty and then seven years of famine.” Pharaoh said, “What should we do?” Joseph said, “We ought to start a national savings system where for seven years we save all the extra crops and put them in storage so that when the seven years of famine come Egypt will have plenty to eat.” Pharaoh said, “You’re in charge! You do it!” And he did it.

 

God blessed Joseph so much that when the seven years of famine came not only did Egypt have more than enough food that they had stored up in advance, but it said all the other nations came to Egypt to buy food, among them the Israelites. So, many years later, Joseph’s own brothers come to Egypt to buy food from a man unaware that he is their brother that they tried to murder and then sold. What would you do in that face to face encounter? He’s second in command. He could order their execution immediately. But he didn’t.

 

Genesis 45:7-8 “God sent me ahead of you to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Two very important lessons of life we’ve got to learn if we’re going to deal with circumstances:

 

  1. Pain often has a hidden purpose. Usually you don’t figure out what the purpose is until after the pain is over. We rarely see the purpose of it while we’re in pain.

 

  1. God often redirects our lives through a failure, a mistake, a disappointment, a broken dream. He often re-channels our life the way He wants it to be.

 

ILLUS.: Our plan was to go to Turkey as missionaries – that is what we prepared for and work towards – God didn’t let it happen. We felt that we have been abandoned in UK. We still don’t have all the answers – I certainly would never have been Pastor at Binscombe. {Maybe some of you wish we had gone to Turkey!}

 

I am sure many can look back a say “Why did this or that happen?”

 

Joseph said, “God sent me ahead of you.” Notice his reaction to his brothers who tried to murder him. Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Many of you have been harmed by other people — a former spouse, a parent, a brother or sister, a teacher, a boss, a former girlfriend — they meant to harm you. There’s no doubt about it! They meant to harm you! But God meant it for good. He has a plan that is greater than your problem.

 

One of the most popular words around today is the word “victim”. We’re all victimised now. In Christ, you don’t have to stay a victim. You can be a victor! Those people may mean it for bad but God means it for good. That’s a fact of Christian life. You don’t have to allow people to continue to hurt you from your past. They meant it for bad but God is greater and God meant it for good.

 

Bitterness is refusing to trust in God’s sovereignty. It’s saying, “I don’t really think God has my best interest at heart…. I don’t really think God’s in control…. I’m bitter because this is happening to me and I don’t think God knows what He’s doing by allowing it.”

I am not saying He caused it. He didn’t. But nothing happens in this world without God allowing it. What about all the sin? God gives us freedom of choice. He chooses to allow us to have freedom of choice. As a result innocent people get hurt. That’s the bad news.

 

The good news is that God can turn it around. They may mean it to harm you but God means it for good to develop in your into what He wants you to be — that special person with the character He wants you to have.

 

Joseph had a persistent faith. For thirty years nothing goes right. Even when he didn’t understand, he trusted God.

Where did his dreams get him? Into slavery. Where did his integrity get him? Into prison. Where did his helping others get him? Nowhere.

But you don’t see him bitter, having a pity party. You see him fulfilling his responsibility, doing the best he can with what he had.

 

What do you do when circumstances disrupt the dream God has given you? You do what Proverbs 3:5-6, says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. [Don’t try to figure it all out. Trust in God, He’ll help you. Ask Him.] In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

 

When I’m going through a circumstance that I don’t like, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Is it my fault? A lot of things I bring on myself.
  2. What can I learn from this?
  3. How does God want me to act in this circumstance?

 

Philippians 1:27 I think summarises Joseph’s life. “But WHATEVER HAPPENS, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It’s not so much what happens to you, but what happens through you. It’s not so much your circumstances, it’s your character that makes you great. Whatever happens make sure your everyday life is worthy of the gospel. One of the secrets of Joseph’s success is that he honoured God in everyday life — in the trivial, the mundane, the day to day chores he honoured God.

 

The issue is character, not circumstances.

 

SUCCEEDING IN SPITE OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES

 

Genesis 39:23 “… the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

 

  1. Joseph’s Circumstances

 

  • Rejected at home

 

…his brothers … hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Genesis 37:4

“Let’s not kill him . . . let’s throw him into this well so he’ll die without our touching him!” Genesis 37:22 (GN)

 

  • Slandered at work

 

… and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”        But he refused. …..        she asked Joseph day after day…

She told Potiphar this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us tried to rape me” Genesis 39:7,10,17

 

  • Forgotten in prison.

 

“… remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. … The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Genesis 40:14,23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Joseph’s Character

 

  • Fulfilled his responsibility

Potiphar gave Joseph responsibility for everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Genesis 39:6

 

The jailer put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. Genesis 39:22

 

So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38

 

Whoever can be trusted with little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with little will also be dishonest with much. Luke 16:10

 

  • Maintained his integrity

 

              Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. Genesis 39:10

 

…everything my master owns he has entrusted to my care.…. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:8-9

 

              Wicked people bring about their own downfall by their evil, but good people are protected by their integrity. Proverbs 14:32 (GN)

 

  • Trusted God’s Sovereignty

 

           “God sent me ahead of you . . . to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Genesis 45:7-8

 

           “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

 

           “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“But WHATEVER HAPPENS, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Phil. 1:27

How to make your life count – David

DAVID : THE SECRET OF GREATNESS

I Samuel 16:7

(Notes extracted from Rick Warren)

 

What is the secret of greatness? It depends on who you ask. Hollywood might say, “A pretty face is the secret of greatness in Hollywood.” At Westminster they might say, “Connections and knowing the right people are the key to greatness.” In the City – London’s financial world – they might say, “Financial clout and the Old school tie is the key to greatness.” If you go to one of the football games today they might say, “Ball skill is a key to greatness — physical fitness.”

 

What does God say greatness is?

I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things that man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

heart“. God says that greatness is determined by character, not by reputation. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Character is the bottom line. If you want to make your life count, if you want to be great, it’s a matter of the heart.

 

David was one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was a king, a shepherd, a poet, a general. He wrote the most beloved book in the Bible — Psalms. He united the tribe of Israel into one Kingdom. He was a giant killer. He had an incredible line up of achievements. But God wasn’t impressed with any of those things.

 

What impressed God about David was his heart.

In Acts 13:22, God said David is a man after my own heart.”

What about you and me? Do we want to be?

How do you develop a heart for God?

Let’s look at David   – How did he handle life?

There are four great tests of the heart in life: sin, stress, service, success.

 

David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.

David’s response to stress was a trusting heart. He trusted God when under stress.

David’s response to service – when he was asked to serve – was a servant’s heart.

David’s response to success was a humble heart. He didn’t let it go to his head.

 

  1. David’s response to sin was a repentant heart.

 

He had a tender, sensitive conscious. When David blew it, he admitted it. He didn’t hide it. He didn’t deny it. He didn’t make excuses for it. He didn’t rationalise it. When somebody confronted him with his sin he said, “You’re right. I blew it.” He was sensitive. He was willing to repent.

 

Psalm 51:1-3 “O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stains of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again for I admit my shameful deeds.” This is David’s prayer of confession after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He lays all the cards on the table. I blew it. It was wrong. He doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t excuse it. He doesn’t blame Bathsheba. He is honest before God and that’s the first characteristic of a heart after God.

 

The Bible tells the truth. It’s called the Holy Bible, but you’ll never find a book that has more murder and rape and incest and problems. It’s all in there because the Bible tells the truth. When it talks about man it talks about his good and his bad.

When George Washington, first president of the USA, was first painted he said, “Paint me, warts and all.” He didn’t want any air brush stuff!

The Bible paints David, warts and all. He was a king, a poet, a great leader. He was also a liar, a betrayer, an adulterer, and a murderer. It shares his successes but it also shares his struggles and weaknesses.

 

You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. Now God’s aim is to make us perfect – like Jesus! BUT we come as sinner. David is called a “man after my own heart”. He was a great sinner but he was also a great repenter. You don’t have to be perfect to have a heart after God. You just have to be a great repenter.

Being just a sinner is not the worst thing you can be in God’s eyes!! Rather it is being a sinner and not being willing to acknowledge the fact and seeking God’s forgiveness – that is a far worse state to be in.

 

Ps. 51:17.   …..a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (NIV) “God will not reject a repentant heart,”

David believed in a forgiving God. He focused more on God’s forgiveness than he did on his own failure and that’s why “He’s a man after my own heart.”

 

Satan has conned many into thinking, “Because of my past God can never use me. Because of my past, I’ll never amount to anything great in the kingdom of God.” Wrong! If God could use David, He can use anybody. Don’t let the devil say that to you. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to repent quickly and admit it when you’re wrong.

 

Evaluate your heart. Compare it to David’s. How do I react when I sin? Do I deny it? Excuse it? Rationalise it? OR Do I repent before God?

God says when it comes to sin, a man after My own heart has a repentant heart.

 

  1. When it comes to stress, he has a trusting heart.

 

Few people experienced more stress than David.

Psalm 118:5-6 5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. 6 The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. …… (NIV)

Psalm 118:5-6 “In my distress I prayed to the Lord. He answered me and rescued me. He is for me. How can I be afraid?”

Very few people had stress like David did. He had constant war with his neighbouring nations. He had to fight giants, run from Saul and hide in caves for years. Incredible family problems — his family was a mess. He had one son rape his daughter and another son kill that brother. He had another son rebel against him and take over the throne and then was killed. Lots of tragedy and stress in his life.

David said, “I pray, I trust, and I keep moving.” Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is moving in spite of your fear. He said, God is my rock, God is my shield, God is my fortress. When I am under stress I trust God.

 

Ps. 73:26 “My mind and my body may grow weak but God is my strength. He is all I ever need.”

Everybody else was afraid to take on Goliath. But David wasn’t. Everybody else said, “He’s too big to kill! He’s too big to hit!” David said, “No, he’s too big to miss!” And David refused to wear Saul’s armour. He said, “God’s all I need. God is my strength.”

Everybody has their dark days, down days, depression. Depression is not a sin. It’s what you do with it. Depression is a warning light. David wrote some of his most beautiful Psalms while he was depressed. Ps. 116:10 “I kept on believing.” Some of you need to do that. You’re going through dark times right now. Keep on believing!

 

When you develop a photograph you take it into a dark room. Photos develop in the dark through a process of very strong acid. If the acid isn’t strong enough the picture doesn’t come out clearly. Some of you are going through dark times right now. You’re going through a process of acid. It is eating you up! But God is developing you. A beautiful picture is going to come out! Keep on believing.

 

When you sin, have a repentant heart. When you’re under stress, have a trusting heart.

  1. David’s response to service was a servant’s heart.

 

He was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, more than willing. His desire was always, “I want to do God’s will more than anything else.”

 

Acts 13:22      22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (NIV)

Could God say that about us? David did everything God asked him to do. He had a servant’s heart.

Characteristics of a servant’s heart:

  1. He was whole hearted. Ps 119:10 “With all my heart I try to serve you” With zeal and enthusiasm. He did it because it was a joy not a duty. He wanted to serve the Lord.

 

That’s different than us today. So often we’re lukewarm. We say, “Get somebody else to do it. Let somebody else serve there; I don’t have the time.”, Some say, “What are you looking at me for? I’m not your servant!” That’s an attitude of life for many. A servant to nobody, much less God. They’re too independent. David had a servant’s heart. Jesus said, “If you want to be great you must be the servant of all.” Greatness comes through service. You’ll never be great until you learn to be a servant, serve other people.

 

The test comes in serving in the areas we don’t enjoy – Not simply doing what we want and then claiming it is for others. Parents often fall into this trap with Children. They run their children here and there – to dancing or swimming or some other activity – then are deeply hurt / offended when the children don’t appreciate them and thanks them. The question is – “Who was it for – the child’s benefit or the parent’s ego?”

We can make the same mistake in many areas!!

 

  1. He was focused. He refused to be side-tracked by less important things. Psalm 119:18 18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. (NIV) – —   —–“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” That would be a good verse to put on your TV. Write it on the cover of some magazines you’ve got! The good is often the enemy of the best.

For many people Trivial Pursuit is not a game it’s a way of life / lifestyle.

They are chasing one thing after the other, the latest fad.

 

David was focused. He wanted to serve God because that was what was going to count for eternity.

“Some things are not necessarily wrong, they’re just not necessary.” You can still be a Christian and do a lot of things, but why would you want to? The good is the enemy of the best. Get rid of trivial pursuits in your life and make your life count. Why? Because God says, That’s what it means to be a man/woman after My own heart.

 

  1. He was sacrificial. David was willing to invest his time and his money. 2 Samuel 24:24 “I will not offer to the Lord, sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” David was going to build an altar to God and a man told him he could have his land, rocks, cattle — that he would pay for the whole altar. David said, “No way! When it comes to serving God, I don’t serve God with freebies. I don’t serve God with my leftovers. I don’t serve God when it doesn’t cost me. I owe everything to my creator, my saviour. I will never offer to the Lord that which cost me nothing!”

 

If you claim to be a Christian, what is it costing you? It doesn’t cost me much to be a Christian in the UK. If it was illegal to be a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Greatness always requires sacrifice. Mediocrity — you just try to get by. What is the minimum I can do and still call myself a Christian? What is the minimum I can do and still say I believe in God. I’ll be a mediocre Christian. Greatness always requires sacrifice.

 

David was a man after God’s own heart because when he sinned he repented quickly. When he was under stress he turned to God and trusted him immediately. And when he served he trusted Him wholeheartedly, freely, willingly, and sacrificially. He eventually experienced the fourth test. If you do the first three the fourth is inevitable.

 

  1. Success. David’s response to success was a humble heart.

 

I Samuel 18:14 “In everything David did, he had great success because the Lord was with him.”

everything“. He was probably one of the most successful men who ever lived. After he knocked off Goliath he became a national hero. His name was known everywhere and people even wrote songs about him, Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. They praised and adored him. The Bible says that all Judah and Israel loved David. He was Mr. Popularity. He could do no wrong. He has one after another — an unbroken string of successes. He’s Mr. Famous. At the top of his career. That is the ultimate test of your heart.

 

How do you handle praise? Success? Material success? Do you spend it all on yourself? How do you handle the good life? We may not always think we have an easy life but look around the world – we live on Easy Street?

David’s response was that he gave all the glory to God. He refused to take credit for himself. He didn’t let it go to his head.

Someone said, Man is an amazing animal. He’s the only animal if you pat him on the back, his head swells.

Very few who can handle adulation and praise. Very few people can handle success without it ruining them. There are very few people who can handle financial success without it ruining them.

 

How do you handle it when people praise you? It’s much easier to handle adversity. When everything is going well we tend to forget God.

 

David’s attitude.

Psalm 115:1

1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory,

David gave all the credit and glory to God. He did not let it go to his head.

He had a humble heart.

 

How could he be so balanced? How could he handle it? Because he knew the truth.

 

Psalm 75:5-7 “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and he deposes another.” (para)

David knew this from personal experience. There was a long delay between the time he was chosen by God to be the king of Israel and Samuel the prophet came and anointed him while he was still a shepherd. From the time he was anointed to be the king and the time he actually assumed the throne was 20 years. In those years the current king, Saul, tried to kill him. David ran for his life and hid in caves. There was delay between what God had said he was going to do in his life and when it actually happened. But David refused to grasp for power. He refused to push his will up the ladder, to force his way up to the top. He said, God’s in control. He waited on God’s timing. He was a humble man.

 

Those people who grasp the most for power are those who are least qualified to use it. They are usually the least qualified to handle the spotlight. They don’t have the character. They are overexposed and under-developed. David said, I’m going to trust in God.

 

How do you handle success? When things are going well, do you tend to pray less? When everything is fine and wonderful, do you let the spiritual discipline slide? You get away from God. You start thinking life is pretty good, you’ve done it on your own. How do you handle it? When you get that promotion, do you have a haughty heart or a humble heart?

 

These four qualities are the very qualities that most people overlook when they are looking for a great person. They don’t look for humility, a servant heart, a repentant heart. But these are the exact same qualities that God looks for when He says, “That’s a great person! That’s a person after My own heart!” God is still looking for people with great hearts.

 

2 Chron. 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him so He can show His great power in helping them.” God is looking for people to use. He is looking for people to bless. He’s doing a heart search and when He finds somebody with the right heart, He blesses them.

 

If God did an X-ray on your heart what would it reveal? a repentant heart? or “It wasn’t really my fault… it was somebody else’s fault… It’s not that bad… Everybody is doing it!” or “No, God, it was wrong. I’m sorry and I’m changing it!” A repentant heart.

 

Would it reveal a trusting heart or an anxious heart? God, I’m trusting You in the situation. I don’t know where the money is coming from but I’m going to trust You in the situation. I don’t know but I’m going to trust You.

 

When it comes to service, would it reveal a servants heart or “Let somebody else do it… I don’t have time to help… I’m too busy.” “Lord, help me to not be too preoccupied with things that are worthless, that don’t matter. Help me to make my life count.”

 

When things are going great do you say, “Lord, it’s all from You and I’m grateful and I’m humbled by it.”

 

God is looking for people to use. We’ve all got talent, ability, know how. We’ve got all these things and God can use them. We could be a modern day Paul, a modern day David.”

 

God didn’t just called you to be a mediocre Christian. God doesn’t want you to just be average. God is looking for people to use, He’s looking for people to bless, people who will be great for God. It all starts with a commitment that says, “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to have a heart after You. My desire — before financial independence, before popularity, before my our ambitions, before anything else — is to have a heart for You.” That’s the kind of person God uses.

 

Acts 16:36 “For when David had served God’s purpose in his generation, he died.” It’s so simple. David served God’s purpose in his generation and then he died. I don’t know a better epitaph. He served God’s purpose, the eternal. He did it in his generation, the timely. He served the Timeless in a timely way. He did the eternal in a contemporary setting. He served God’s purpose in his generation and then when he was finished, he died, went on to be with the Lord, in heaven. When you die, is that your deepest desire, to be able to say, “I served God’s purpose in my generation and then I died.”

 

What is keeping you from really becoming a great man of God? A great woman of God?

=> Is it guilt? The antidote is a repentant heart.

=> Is it stress? God says, “Trust me. I’m going to take care of your needs. I’m the master, you’re the servant.

=> Is it service? “Let somebody else do it! I’m too busy having my own fun, doing my own thing, being my own god, running my own pleasure trip through life.” It’s not helping anybody. Are you bored? Give your life away in service.

=> Is everything going well in your life? Good. Be grateful and be humble.

 

We can look at these four characteristics and say, “I fail on all counts – this is hopeless!” We can be come despondent and want to throw in the towel. BUT none of us has arrived! None is perfect – David wasn’t! BUT he wanted to be – Do you?

 

It starts with a commitment. “God, I’m not perfect but more than anything else, I want to be a person after Your own heart.” That opens the gates to greatness in your life.

 

Thank You, Father, for Your word. May we have hearts like David for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

 

DAVID : THE SECRET OF GREATNESS

 

I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

(God) “David is a man after My own heart Acts 13:22

 

FOUR TESTS OF A GREAT HEART ….

 

  1. First test: sin.

David’s response: A Repentant Heart

 

    “O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stain of my sins. Wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. For I admit my shameful deed . . . ” Psalm 51:1-3 (LB)

 

    “God will not reject .. a repentant heart.” Psalm 51:17 (GN)

 

  1. Second test: Stress.
David’s response: A Trusting Heart

 

    “In my distress I prayed to the Lord and He answered me and rescued me. He is for me! How can I be afraid?” Psalm 118:5-6 (LB)

 

    “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength: He is all I ever need.” Psalm 73:26 (GN)

 

       “I kept on believing, even when I said, `I am completely crushed’. . .” Psalm 116:10 (GN)

 

  1. Third test: Service.
David’s response: A Servant’s Heart

 

       “With all my heart I try to serve You” Psalm. 119:10 (GN)

 

“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” Psalm 119:38 (GN)

 

“I will not offer to the Lord sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (GN)

 

  1. Fourth test: Success.

David’s response: A Humble Heart

 

    “In everything David did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.” 1 Samuel 18:14

 

    “To You alone, O Lord, to You alone, and not unto us must glory be given.” Psalm 115:1 (GN)

 

    “For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another.” Psalm 75:6 (LB)

 

“For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward Him, so He can show His great power in helping them!” 2 Chronicles 16:9 (LB)

 

How to make your life count – Moses

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES!

Hebrews 11:23-27

(Notes extracted from Rick Warren)

Today we’re going to look at Moses who is one of the greatest people in the Old Testament. He got the Ten Commandments from God. He led the Israelites out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt. He wrote the first five books of the Bible. He was used in a great number of different miracles. An amazing man!

 

Why did God choose Moses? Well first God chose Moses! TRUE!

But also Moses chose to obey God. Moses made a number of very important choices. He settled some key questions in his life that every one of us has to eventually deal with.

 

  1. The issue of identity. Who am I?
  2. The issue of responsibility. What am I going to do with my life?
  3. The issue of priority. What is really the most important thing in life?
  4. The issue of difficulty. How much am I willing to commit to what I’m going to give my life for?

 

These are issues that every one of us has to deal with. Moses made the right choice in each instance. They were not easy choices – and I doubt whether they were snap decisions!

 

If I asked you, “Do you want to be successful? [I don’t meant necessarily famous] Do you want to make a difference in your world? “ Most of us would say yes!

As we now look back on Moses’ life and ask. “Was he successful?” The answer is a resounding ‘YES’.

The question is how and why?

 

  1. Discover what God made me to be.
  2. Accept responsibility for my own life.
  3. Establish a value system for my life.
  4. Never take my eyes off the goal. People who succeed are focused.

 

  1. DISCOVER WHAT GOD MADE ME TO BE.

 

Moses was born a Hebrew slave but he was raised as Pharaoh’s grandson in Pharaoh’s palace, which was the most opulent place in the world at that time. Moses had an identity crisis. He had to decide: “Am I Jewish or am I Egyptian? Am I a slave or am I royalty?” The consequences of that decision would effect the rest of his life.

If he chooses to say, “I’m Pharaoh’s grandson” he has fame, fortune, a life of luxury, a promising career, heir to the throne.

If he chooses to say, “I’m Jewish of Jewish slaves,” he’ll be rejected. He’ll be despised. He’ll be thrown out, humiliated and he’ll live the life of a slave the rest of his life.

 

Moses refused to live a lie. He was a man of integrity, of character. He made his decision in v. 24, “By faith, Moses, when he had grown up refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”

“refused”. It means to disown, reject, to leave no door open. It’s settled, done. Moses insisted on being what God made him to be and no amount of peer pressure could convince him.

 

God made you for a purpose.   He has a purpose for your life. He wants you to be you. If you don’t be you, who’s going to be you?

 

The first secret of success is be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not. I am not talking about doing your own thing and tramping all over others – Rather what the bible says, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould!!”

Stop trying to conform: to look like everybody else, drink like everybody else, talk like everybody else, buy the same thing everybody else has. Be yourself – not your sinful self BUT the kind of self that God intends you to be.   Discover what God made you to be.

 

  1. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY OWN LIFE

 

  1. 25 “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”

“chose”. If you want to make an impact with your life, it’s your choice.

It is true that God chooses me and takes the initiative to draw me to himself. But I have choices to make too. I can draw near to God – pray to him as much as I like. I can read my Bible as much as I want to read it. It is my choice. God has given you the freedom of choice and the choices you make determine your future.

 

  1. 24 we have Moses refusing and in v.25 we have Moses choosing. He follows a negative action with a positive action.
  2. 23 God chose Moses as a baby but in v.25, Moses had to chose God. v. 24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up.”

“when he had grown up.” A mark of maturity is when you start accepting responsibility for your own life. When you stop blaming other people.

As a baby it was OK for Moses to live off of his parents’ faith. But when he had grown up he had to make that decision on his own. He had to go God’s way because he wanted to go God’s way.

 

Three facts of life:

 

  1. I cannot live off of other people’s spiritual commitment. You’ve heard people say, “My parents were Christians” or “My dad was a missionary” or “My husband/wife is a believer“. So what? You need a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Some of you are teenagers; it’s time to grow up! You need to stop living off the spiritual apron strings of your parents and get your own faith. When Moses grew up, he chose.

 

  1. I can’t blame others for the direction of my life. Society says the exact opposite. It says “It’s not your fault. You’re a product of your environment. Blame other people for your messed up life.” The way you spell BLAME is B-LAME — when you’re blaming you’re being lame. I cannot blame other people for the direction of my life. It’s my life. I can’t control all the circumstances but I can choose how I’ll respond.

 

  1. No one can ruin my life except me. And I’m free to choose my response. I am not trying to minimise the difficulties people face at the hands of others. We sometimes do suffer as a result of another’s sin. BUT how I respond to that is my choice! {Joseph suffering at the hands of his jealous brothers is a prime example!}

 

  1. ESTABLISH A VALUE SYSTEM FOR MY LIFE

 

If you’re going to make your life count you need to settle the issue of what is really important. Clarify it in your life. Moses clarified his values and priorities.

  1. 26 “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

“regarded”. The word means to evaluate, to consider, to weigh in the balance, to judge. It’s not something you do quickly. You need to sit down and seriously consider What in the world am I living for?

What are you living for? If I were to ask you the five or ten values — the pillars — on which you’re building your life, would you be able to do it? Think it through. It says, Moses regarded what is important and what is not important. Most people have never done that and that’s why they’re failures at life. They don’t know why they are, they don’t know what they want to accomplish in life, and they don’t know what’s really important. You need to establish values in life, things that you will build your life on, the things that will be important to you. Write them down if necessary!

Why? The fact is if you don’t decide what is important in your life, others will do it for you. If you don’t decide what’s valuable for your life, what you’re going to base your life on, other people will. The world is more than happy to pressure you into its mould and to dump its value system on you. We have a lot of Christians today who know the Lord, but they’ve bought into the world’s value system. They’re living that system without even thinking about it rationally. They’ve automatically adopted it.

 

What is the world’s value system?

  1. Power and prestige. I want to be famous / noticed.
  2. Pleasure. I want to feel good. I want to be happy. I want to have fun.
  3. Possessions. I want to make a fortune. I want to be wealthy.

 

All temptation falls into one of these three categories. Sit down with your children and watch television and evaluate the advertisements. Almost every if not every advertisement in the world falls under one of these three categories. It’s either an ad to produce pleasure or power and prestige or an ad for possessions. Every single advertisement is based on the world’s value system to get you into one of these things.

 

What is ironic is that Moses, by the world’s standard, had it made. He had all three:

 

Power. He was heir to the throne of the most powerful country of the world at that time.

Pleasure. Every whim would be satisfied in the palace of Egypt. He was on easy street.

Possessions. The wealth of the world was concentrated in Egypt.

 

Moses had it all! Power. Pleasure. Possessions. He had it all but he walked away from it. Moses walked away from the very three things most people spend their lives trying to accomplish.

 

Why? Because he knew they don’t last. They won’t last fifty years from now much less for eternity.

 

Moses said “Yes” to God. You must realize that when you say “Yes” to God it means you say “No” to certain other things. It’s easier to say ‘Yes’ to God than it is to say ‘No’ to the other things.

We want Christ, plus all the things the world offers. I’ll just tack Him on and have a little time for God on Sunday morning. But I’m buying into the system. Jesus said, “you can’t serve two masters”. The problem with a lot of Christians today is they’re afraid to say ‘No’ to the world’s value system. What we lose when we don’t say ‘No’ is our happiness because compromise only makes us miserable when we try to live for the Lord and live for the world at the same time. It can’t be done. It makes us miserable.

 

We need to learn to say ‘No’. And you need to learn to say with conviction, “I’m not going to be sucked up into this world’s system, the rat race, the hollow lifestyle that says life consists of pleasure, passions, possessions and prestige. It doesn’t last. I’m not going to buy into that. While everybody around me is going to buy into it I’m not going to buy into that!” That’s the kind of person Moses was and that’s why he made an impact with his life. He went against the flow.

 

What was Moses’ value system?

 

  1. He discovered that God’s purpose is more valuable than popularity.

God has a plan for my life. I’m going to lead these people to freedom. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He said, I’m going to give up the prestige, the power, the popularity because it does not last.

 

ILLUS.: I had a great years at High School – I was not the greatest student because I enjoyed my sport [probably too much] In my final year I was a prefect, Captain of the Athletic team and a member of the First Rugby XV. Everyone in the school knew who I was. When I went back a couple of years after leaving school nobody knew me.

 

One minute you’re the hero and the next minute you’re a zero. People couldn’t care less. Pride and prestige is fleeting. This year’s superstars are next year’s has-beens. You can’t live for the fame of other people. It’s fleeting. It doesn’t last. Moses said, I’d rather do God’s purpose and do what He’s told me to do than be in this place of power and prestige. He wasn’t impressed by popularity.

 

  1. People are more valuable than pleasures.
  2. 25 “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God [they were in slavery at the time] rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”

I like this verse. The Bible always tells the truth. The Bible never lies or sugar-coats. It says there is pleasure in sin. The Bible says sin is fun. Of course it’s fun; if it weren’t nobody would do it! But it’s for a season, a short time. It doesn’t last. He could have temporary pleasure being the next Pharaoh of Egypt or he could go do what God had called him to do and help the people who were in pain, who needed to be set free. He could have stayed there in pleasure and today no one would even have known Moses’ name. He’d be some mummy in some tomb in Egypt. Nobody would even know who he is. But he chose the right thing. Any whim would have been satisfied there but in order to do the right thing he chose discomfort over pleasure.

 

That’s an unheard of value in the 1990’s. Choosing discomfort over pleasure because it’s the right thing to do? How foreign to our society! He did the right thing. Why? For the sake of people. The problem with many of us is we want to serve God but we only want to serve Him when it’s convenient.

I don’t want to go to pray meeting tonight – I’ll miss my favourite Soap / football match – it isn’t convenient”. That’s a minor inconvenience compared to the fact that in many countries you could be arrested for going to church, put in jail, lose your job. We have such a convenient Christianity. It’s so easy! Moses said people are more valuable than pleasures.

 

  1. God’s peace is more valuable than possessions.
  2. 26 “He regarded the disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt.” In v. 24, he rejects the world’s measure of success.

In v. 25, he rejects the world’s pleasure.

In v. 26, he rejects the world’s treasure.

He does what is right because God’s peace is more important than possessions. He could have stayed in the palace of Egypt and had every possession he ever wanted — wine, women, song. He knew that no possession could give you inner peace. He would have been miserable not doing what God wanted him to do. Peace comes not from the things you own; peace comes from being in the centre of God’s will, being what God made you to be, doing what God made you to do. That’s where peace comes.

 

Many people think you can purchase happiness. “If I just get this for Christmas I’ll be happy! If I could just afford a bigger house / car….” A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. My value has absolutely nothing to do with the kind of car I drive. My self worth and my net worth are two different things.

 

What do you value? What matters most? The issue is that God’s peace is more important than possessions. That’s what counts. It’s amazing to me that Moses gave up the very three things we spend our lives trying to get: pleasure, possessions and prestige. What motivated this guy? What made him do that and live that way?

 

  1. 26 “Because he was looking ahead to his rewards.” He had perspective. What motivates you to reject the world’s value system and accept God’s value system for your life? It’s your perspective. It’s all in what you’re looking at. Are you looking at the here and now or the eternity. Most people live for the here and now, totally unaware of the fact that they’re going to spend more time on that side of eternity than the 60, 70, 80 years they live on this earth. That’s not wise.

 

Your values are determined by your vision. Whatever you’re looking at is what becomes most important in your life. What are you focusing on?

We can focus on the things of this world and doff our caps at God – we end up with a distorted view of God and this world. OR we can focus on God and worship / obey him and as a result we will have a correct perspective on this life!!

What are you looking at? What is the most important thing to you? Things that are going to last? Or things that won’t last even ten years much less for eternity?

Moses was a man of vision. He had eyes of faith.

 

  1. YOU NEVER TAKE YOUR EYES OFF THE GOAL

 

  1. 27 “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”

 

“persevered”. He refused to give up no matter what happened — impossible situations, critics, whatever. We are not talking about being stubborn – some people can endure all sorts of criticism but are simply being stubborn and pigheaded – we are talking about perseverance of God’s vision.

Moses spent most of his life waiting. From the time that God gave Moses the vision, the dream of setting free an entire nation after 400 years of slavery to the time it was fulfilled and they were ready to go into the Promised Land was 80 years. Could you wait that long and not give up? If God tells you something and it doesn’t happen until 80 years later? He spent 40 years in Midian just waiting for God to say “Start!” Do you ever get tired of waiting on God? Do delays ever tempt you to give up? Have you learned the difference between “No” and “Not yet”? Have you learned that God’s delays are not God’s denials. One of the tests of faith is “How long can you wait?” You must keep your eye on the vision, the goal, on what counts in life so you don’t get discouraged.

 

That’s the key to endurance and perspective.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin which so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”

let us run with perseverance” and “let us fix our eyes on Jesus” — those two go together. When you fix your eyes on Jesus you’re going to run with perseverance. What have you got your eyes on?

 

What are you living for? Who are you living for? Yourself?

Somebody said, “the self made man worships his maker”. If you’re living for yourself that’s a pretty small god. What are you going to do with the rest of your days on this earth? Whether you have 150 days or 150 years or just till next Sunday? I don’t know and you don’t either. None of us know how many days we’ve got left. What are you going to do? It’s very important because what you do with those days on earth and how you spend them are going to profoundly influence where you spend eternity and how you spend eternity. This is a testing ground, a proving time. God is watching. Why sell out millions and millions of years for a few things here and now in the world’s value system that isn’t going to last!

 

Conclusion.

How many of these issues have you settled in your life?

The issue of identity? Who you are. So you don’t have to keep trying to dress and act and be like everybody else in order to be acceptable.

 

The issue of responsibility? Have you said, “I’m not going to blame anybody else for where I am or who I am?” You are just as spiritual as you want to be. You can’t blame anybody else. You’re as committed as you want to be.

 

The issue of priority — what really matters in life? What counts?

 

The issue of difficulty — what you’re going to put into it and keep your eyes on the reward, on the value.

 

The most important issue is your relationship to God. If you haven’t ever established that relationship to God, do it today. Say, “God you made me for a purpose and I want to start living in that purpose today to the best of my knowledge. I want to go Your way and accept Your values, not the world’s values.” It will cost you. It costs to be a Christian. It’s free for us but it cost Jesus. It cost Him His life and it will cost you, yours. When you become a Christian you give up everything you’ve got… and then you never had it so good! You cannot out give God. All of a sudden you’ll say, “This is why I was made. This is why I’m here.” This is what counts… not stereos and CD’s. These are the values that are going to last.

 

 

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES!

 

Hebrews 11:23-27

 

Moses settled 4 key issues:

 

   *Identity: Who am I? v. 24

   *Responsibility: What will I do with my life? v. 25

   *Priority: What is really most important? v. 26

   *Difficulty: How much am I willing to commit? v. 27

 

 

 

THE FOUNDATION FOR PERSONAL SUCCESS.

 

 

  1. Discover what God made me to be.

 

   By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. v.24

 

 

 

 

  1. Accept responsibility for my life.

 

He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. v.25

 

     Three facts:

 

* I can’t live off others’ spiritual commitment

 

* I can’t blame others for the direction of my life

 

* No one can ruin my life except me

 

 

 

 

  1. Establish a value system for my life.

 

    He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.   v.26

 

     The World’s Value System:

 

            *     Power/Prestige v.24

            *     Pleasure v.25

            *     Possessions v.26

 

     Moses’ Value System:

 

* God’s purpose is more valuable than

   popularity. v.24

 

* People are more valuable than

   pleasures. v.25

 

* God’s peace is more valuable than

possessions. v.26

 

 

  1. Never take my eyes off the goal.

 

   By faith, he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. v.27