— Brother Phil Enlow: I don’t know, I’ve just had a sense that the Lord wants to prepare us, that things won’t always be the way they are. Even if that weren’t true, though, the truths that I have on my heart are still true and they are things that we need to know about, we need to live in the light of.
And…I took off last week on Daniel’s prophecy that we have referred to a number of times in the past, and I’ll just refer to it in Daniel 11. This where he prophesied of a dark time in Israel’s future, when a heathen king would come in and just be angry because he had just suffered some military disappointment, and he would decide that he was going to destroy this terrible worship of Jehovah. And he came in and slaughtered a hog on the altar of the temple and basically took over and just…it was just a seeming triumph for evil, for darkness.
And, of course, Daniel prophesied that many would fall under this. There would be a lot of compromise, there would be a lot of people who just wouldn’t be able to stand up to it, but he said, the people who know their God will be strong, and in the King James, do exploits and other translations different things. But the original Hebrew doesn’t have any idea of what they do, it just says that they do. Basically, they are people of action as opposed to all the rest who kind of fell under the pressure of what was happening.
How many of you believe that God wants us to be a people, regardless of the hour in which we live, who are able to act when He wants us to act? We’re not compromised, we’re not afraid, we’re not living in compromise or fear. And I believe that’s something in the heart of God.
And so, how do you get to that point? And so, the first part of this is the focus on the fact of knowing God. And it’s something we’ve talked about a number of times lately, but I seem to…I sense in my own life and in all of our lives, I believe God wants us to have a deeper perspective on what it takes to get to this point.
And one of the points that needs to be made is that this is not a “switch” that you “turn on” when times get hard. Either somebody already knows God and then they arrive at a time where that strength is called upon, or they get there and they’re not ready.
Folks, God is not wanting us to live in a compromised, careless, sleepy way and then suddenly expect that when times get difficult and when the challenge comes, we’re gonna be ready for that. God is working right now in every one of us to make us what He wants us to be.
And, one example that came to my mind — I didn’t use this last week — but the foolish virgins. As far as they were concerned, they were ready, weren’t they? But they had somehow just never really gotten what it was all about and so the time came when the Bridegroom came, they weren’t ready. And so, they were shut out. They had to go try to do something…but those who were ready went in.
There’s a sense throughout scripture, regardless of what the circumstance is, the principle of being ready long before anything happens is there, isn’t it? Ready for the coming of the Lord, ready for the things that are gonna happen.
Noah was ready, wasn’t he, when the time came for the judgment of the flood? Others throughout scripture, there’s this sense that God is always working in His people and there will come times when what He has been doing will be the foundation for doing something.
Folks, we don’t have what it takes. Absolutely, we do not have what it takes. We might think we do. We might think, oh, I know about all that stuff so I’m good. But there is a work that has to be done by…that only God can do. And it has to be done at the heart level, or we do not have what we need.
But oh, I thank God for His faithfulness! I thank God, who knows the way that we take, who knows how to prepare His people. God’s working in hearts and lives. And He’s bringing us to a place where we ‘know’ Him.
And you know, one of the things I did emphasize and I think we need to recognize this and repeat it until we get it: this is not just for special people. You see, what God has for His people is not just for, well, yes, that applies to the ones who are gonna stand up in the front and they’re gonna be the preachers, the apostles, the prophets, whatever. They’re the important people and they’re the ones who really need to know God. We’re just gonna hang on their coattails, I guess, is the way we sort of unconsciously think about it.
Folks, I’ll tell you something about the New Covenant: ‘all’ will know Him. That’s what it’s about. There was a sense in which in the Old Testament there were people who knew God and had a particular calling and people went to God through those people. That’s not the way it is now. God wants every single person to ‘know’ Him!
And I’ll tell you, what God is doing is making a minister out of every single member of the Body of Christ. There are no unimportant people…what God has purposed to do in His church, in the world involves every single person in the Body of Christ.
And you see this unfolded, and yet, how easy is it for us to sort of exempt ourselves and think, oh, that’s for the special people. You know, when we read about these wonderful stories, we find it hard to relate to them because we don’t have this exalted call. We’re not called to be a prophet. We’re not called to be a king. We’re not called to lead people across the Red Sea, so I guess we’re just part of the herd.
Folks, there ain’t no herd. This is something where every…God has a purpose for your life, right here, today. You matter. You might think your life is ordinary and I’ll get to that in a second. You know, let’s go ahead and get to that, because this is a point we’ve made several times lately and I just want to make it more clear.
This involves all of life. We tend to think of spiritual activity as one thing and ordinary life as another. And so, we come to the services, we fellowship with the people, we pray and we read the Bible. That’s when we get to know God. Then the rest is just kind of…that’s life, as though that’s irrelevant.
Folks, every part of life is important because getting to know God is not simply coming to a knowledge of information. It’s not about information. It’s about coming to ‘know’ Him! And the only way we can truly know Him is when we are brought face to face with needs in our lives, where we have a choice. We can just fall under it. We can look for a human solution or we can do what God wants us to do, turn to Him with our hearts and say, oh God, this is when I need You.
We just sang the song. Well, how appropriate. This is when I need You, Lord. You have created in me a sense of need because of something I’m experiencing in my everyday life. And so, I come to You to discover what it is that You are able…how You are able to bring me through this and change me! Not just get me through circumstantially, but change my heart through this.
You know, we tend to think of ordinary activities as just ordinary. What about your housekeeping? Oh well, that’s just…you know, boring, stuff I’ve got to do. It’s duty. There’s nothing spiritual about it.
I just…remember the story Brother Thomas told and I guess he repeated that many times and I’ve probably referred to it, about the lady he encountered who was just convinced that she had a ministry of God and she was just so frustrated that she couldn’t do it! And the situation was that she was living in a dirty trailer that she wasn’t taking care of. The dishes were piled high. It was dirty. Her kids were not well kept.
And Brother Thomas said, yeah, you have a calling from God. Clean your house, wash your dishes…put decent clothes…clean their clothes and put decent clothes on the kids and wipe their noses! You have a calling from God!
But most people don’t see it that way. If you’ve been put in that place, God wants you to learn about Him in that! That’s not an impediment. That’s not just a side track that is irrelevant to your spiritual life. That’s where God has you and that matters! Oh my, does it matter!
You tell Susanna Wesley that being a housewife and mother is unimportant. And then you ask John and Charles Wesley, her sons, about the influence that their godly mother had upon them…they touched the world, folks, in their day. And it all came out of the fountain of a faithful mother who worshiped God and instilled in them a sense of God and His salvation.
I’ll tell you, if God has put you in a place of keeping a household, that matters and every little detail of it matters! You might sit there and be bored to death and…oh, I’ve got to do the laundry, oh, I’ve got to clean! I’ll tell you, you look to God in those times. You fellowship with Him. You learn patience. You learn faithfulness. You learn honesty. You learn all the virtues that come with being a godly person.
You don’t learn them in school. You don’t learn them in the big stuff, the important stuff, as we think of it. You learn them in the everyday, ordinary things of life. Job…oh, that job! Oh, if I could just get a different job then my problems would be solved. God, help us to learn how to find His place in the beginning, and then to humble ourselves and say, God, You’ve got me where I’m at. Help me to be faithful!
Help me to learn the things that I need to learn! I’m gonna discover things in this place that I may not even like. It may seem mundane, ordinary, unimportant! How could this be relevant to the Kingdom of God and yet, God put you there so that you could confront, not stuff, but stuff in you!
This is the problem. The problem is not our circumstances. The problem is here and how we react to our circumstances. And if we will humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will help us to rejoice!
My mind goes back to a rather famous lady in the early days of the movement I once was a part of. And I’ve referred to her before, Sophie, the washer woman. I mean, here was an uneducated lady who made her living washing clothes in New York City! Poor woman…I mean, by every earthly standard, she was just one of the unwashed masses, if you would, just unimportant person.
Yet, she so radiated the Life of Christ that she touched untold numbers of people. They saw Him in her and her joy in spite of her circumstances. She bloomed where she was planted. But she didn’t treat the ordinary stuff of life as though it was ordinary and separate from her spiritual life. Housekeeping, job, school…any aspect of ordinary life.
How about failure? Everybody here just loves that one. When you really run up against yourself and you’re sure that you can handle this and you find out you can’t, and you blow up and things come out of you that you’d rather not admit were there. Does that matter?
It’s not that we seek that or just yield to that. But I’ll tell you, doing the best we can do, we’re gonna run into those circumstances. Does that matter? Is that important? Yeah, it is. Do we learn something about God at those times?
( congregational response ).
Can we have a real knowledge of God that does not take that into account? What is God like when we mess up really bad? What is He like when we lose our temper for the umpteenth time in a row and we’re struggling with that? Whatever it is, when we’re struggling with this one besetting sin…oh, God help me! Is that when…do you think maybe that’s when we learn about God? Do you think that’s when we come to know Him? Yeah. That’s at the heart of it. Surely God can help us right here.
But I’ll tell you, and there is life, I believe His Spirit is here. There’s life that is going out. But it takes more than information to change us, to make us the kind of people that Daniel is describing, the people who know their God and are people of action in a time of darkness. May God help us not to have this attitude toward life that all this ordinary stuff…I’m just so frustrated with it, I don’t want to mess with it. I want to find a different way. Oh God, get me out of it!
God’s got you in it! And He’s got you in it because He loves you, and He’s doing things in your life that He can’t do any other way. I’ll tell you, do you believe that God has a path marked out for us? We’ve used that so many times in Hebrews chapter 12. Yeah, God has a purpose for your life in His Kingdom.
Now you might not be the one who’s lifted up in the eyes of men, but you matter. Your life has a place and if you don’t fill it, there’s something missing. God wants to do something in your life just as much as He did in the lives of these famous people that we read about. May God help us.
You know, Paul, for example, said something that he had learned. He said I have learned…we use this scripture, this scripture was used recently. I have learned in every circumstance to be content.
Do you suppose he learned something about God? Yeah. “My God shall supply all your need…” (KJV). Well, how did he know that? Go to Bible School, sit in a seminar? No! God put him in places of deprivation where there was a need! He put him in places where he had plenty. He had to learn how to keep his spiritual equilibrium and his confidence toward God in those circumstances, and he learned it by experience.
There is no school in God’s Kingdom apart from the school of hard knocks. We’d love it to be some other way. We’d love to be comfortable and simply learn it up here and suppose that we’re ready for a time like this. Folks, it doesn’t work that way.
But another thing about knowing God that I think really matters is that this is not an attainment. Now, yes, these people knew God, but there’s never a time where, okay, now I know God and it’s all…it’s the end of the journey in the sense that I know all I need to know. Paul said, there’s one thing I do…and that was that he pressed forward.
And, his aim was that I may know Him. And what he meant by that is, I want to experience Him in every aspect of my life! I want to experience His provision when I run into the needs that I will inevitably run into in my life.
And here he was an apostle writing…the greatest apostle, no doubt, in the New Testament, writing to believers to encourage them and he doesn’t say, I have gotten to the place where I know God, now you get there, too. He says, I don’t count myself to have laid hold of all this, but this is a pattern of my life. I have set myself to learn from Him, to yield to Him, to come to a greater, deeper knowledge because there’s always more.
We never get to the end in this life. I’ll tell you, when we come to the hour when our toes are turned up and we’re ready to go along to be with Keith and the Lord…praise God! But you’ll be still learning! We will still be learning even as we cross that river, we will be learning from God and need Him. We will need Him every step of the way.
And so Paul describes the pattern of his own life. I am learning, I am continuing to come to know Him in a deeper way. That’s how you should live, because, watch out, there are people who just simply live their lives for what they can get down here. They’re simply gratifying earthly desires. That’s where their heart is. But that’s not what God has called us to. He’s called…they hate the cross. They don’t see what God has done for us in the cross. It’s a place where can die to that so that we can live to something that’s eternal. God has got to work that in us. There is no shortcut. Praise God!
So, getting to be a people who know God when it counts, when it matters, is something that happens in every single day life, as we look to God for the simple things. Have you lost your keys? Does God care about all the simple stuff? Does He care about the laundry that has to be folded? Does He care about the dishes that need to be washed?
Does He care about the job that you’re bored with? It’s the same thing every day. Does He care about traffic? Does He care about all the other stuff, ordinary stuff? Does He care about your school work…and you having a sense of…well, you’re dedicated to it? I mean, you’re willing to submit yourself to it. You’re willing to do your best, to learn, to honor God where you’re at? Do you care about that or is that something you have to get out of the way so you can get to the important stuff?
God has us at any moment in our life where He wants us and He does it because He loves us, because He knows what’s going on. He knows where He’s taking us. He knows why. Folks, that’s why all things ‘do’ work together, “…for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV).
I just sense…don’t you? I mean, isn’t that where we’re headed? Is the world getting better? Is it gonna get better? Are we gonna just all have a nice, comfortable life and live it out and everything’s gonna be peachy? No, there’s gonna be stuff happen. I’ll tell you, it’s gonna get worse.
But I’ll tell you, God uses life to prepare His people for the calling that they have. Now obviously, in the scriptures we tend to focus on the big, important people. But I want us, starting with me…I want us to recognize, even when we talk about these people, that these principles apply to us.
Now how did Joseph get to be the second in the land of Egypt? That was an awesome calling that God had for him. How did he get there? Did he go to government school? Did he go to some…hey, this is how you enhance your natural abilities? You’ve got all this ability, now we need to teach you how to use it to do the job.
No. God had him sent by his brothers, his own brothers…betrayed, sold as a slave to a foreign, heathen land, where they worshiped idols. And he becomes a slave in an important household there.
So what does he do? Does he just gets bitter and say, boy, I don’t know…this God…I don’t know about Him? Maybe those dreams I had…that was just a bunch of junk. I’m bitter at my brothers. I’m just gonna…no! There’s was something about him that had integrity.
And we’re talking about years here. We’re talking about a lot of time. This is where you get up in the morning…okay, what’s my day like? Well, his day consisted of organizing the affairs of an Egyptian household. He had to direct the affairs of other slaves and provide for the food and make sure everything was there, so the master…all he had to do was sit down and eat. He was busy with ordinary stuff. There was nothing spiritual, quote-unquote, about what he was doing, but he did it with integrity, didn’t he? He continued to do what he was supposed to do.
And then, of course, we know that, the…what happened with the wife there and how he got falsely accused and thrown into prison. These are thing we’ve talked about many times. But, how often do we hear this and not really identify with it, because we’re not one of those ‘important’ people.
Yeah, you are. In God’s economy every single one of you is important. Every one of you matters. He cares about you. And the circumstances He puts you in matter just as much to His overall plan as the circumstances He put Joseph in.
And so, Joseph took the opportunity there, not to get bitter, not to question God, not to give into all of the kinds of things that we would have given into. And, again, we’re talking years! We’re talking years of trying to deal with other prisoners, but yet, his character was such that the prison warden, whoever was in charge of the whole thing, put him over the prisoners. They recognized somebody who had integrity.
How easy is it to blow off the ordinary stuff as though that doesn’t matter? But, oh, if God gave me something important to do, I’d rise to the occasion. No, you wouldn’t. Your character and mine is formed in the ordinary stuff of everyday life. And our readiness to be His people in a time of challenge is formed by that everyday life.
And so it was with Joseph. And in God’s time — he tried to engineer his own deliverance, as we remember — but, in God’s time he was placed in that high position and he was ready. He didn’t even take vengeance on his brothers. I mean, what grace! You think about how unnatural that is!
You can’t say, oh, he was just a different kind of person. No! He was made of the same stuff as you and me. It took a work of the grace of God to fix that man’s heart to where he could react the way God wanted him to react. And there was no other way except as a slave and as a prisoner. I’ll tell you, God’s ways are not our ways.
Moses…man of great accomplishment, man who could stand up and command attention with his voice…you think that made him ready? That was all human ability. God had to bring him to a place where he was described as the meekest man on the face of the earth. Guy wouldn’t even stand up for himself.
I mean, how many of you, if somebody really got on to you would just take it, wouldn’t answer back? God got him to that place. Do you suppose maybe he learned a few things by having to humble himself?
And it wasn’t important stuff. He wasn’t out there taking theology lessons. He was keeping sheep. He was a shepherd in Midian and that’s all he imagined the rest of his life was gonna be. I’m just gonna live out my life, and when God called him, he said, here am I, send somebody else! But God had him ready to be the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. And God used him mightily.