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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #984

How Long, Oh Lord?

August 14, 2011

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 984 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Now we can stand back and look at the story of Joseph’s life, and we can see the greater purpose of God and we can say, oh yeah, just hang on Joseph, it’s gonna be okay. We’re, you know, I know you’re feeling bad right now but we’re not a bit stressed. We know how this story comes out.

But Joseph didn’t know. He was a lot like us when we’re in the middle of something we don’t know. We don’t have the answers and it doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t look good. It looks like everything is going in the wrong direction. God, my purpose is over there, why am I over here? Why am I going further in this direction? Oh God, how long? Lord, you promised. How long, O Lord, am I gonna have to put up with this?

But he didn’t waste…evidently, I mean, it’s so evident from the story and from the account of his life, he didn’t waste time and allow that to infect what he did and how he thought and how he behaved. He was an honorable young man who served God. Folks, many times that’s what we need most. If God is not giving you the answer you want right now, we need to learn how to stand and how to put our trust in God.

What does the prophet Isaiah say? “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light.” (KJV). What is he supposed to do? “…Trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” Stay. Don’t give up the ship. Put your faith in Him. And the thing that we need to be most concerned about is don’t build your own fire. You don’t have light, don’t try to make light. We serve a God who is in charge and who knows better than we do what outcome He wants.

So, of course, here’s Joseph and, you know, I can see where, in a sense, he would say, well, you know things aren’t so bad. I’m with a master who respects me. Yes, I’m owned, but I’m respected. I have responsibilities. He’s put his entire household under my care because God is blessing me. Lord, this is good, Lord. I’m thanking You.

So the devil says, well, I’d better do something about this. We can’t have this now. So all of a sudden he gets Potiphar’s wife to acquire a roving eye. You know Potiphar was a busy guy. He probably didn’t pay as much attention to his wife as he should’ve. And she got to looking at him, a handsome young man, and she just wanted him. She tried her best to seduce him and talk him into carrying on an affair with her. He wouldn’t do it.

And you remember the story how one day they were alone in the house and she grabbed his cloak in an attempt to seduce him. He did the honorable thing, he got out of his coat and he ran out and so she screamed rape. So now, on top of everything else, he’s done everything right. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He’s done it right. What is his reward? He’s falsely accused and he’s thrown into prison!

And the Psalms seem to indicate that it wasn’t a fun place to be. There were shackles of iron. It hurt. I’m sure they weren’t kind to people who were in that kind of circumstance, and there he was.

What would you have done? What would I have done? Would you start to entertain doubts and start to say, oh God, I don’t know about this? Here I’ve put my trust in You and it looks like it’s going from bad to worse. God, I don’t know whether this is the right thing to be doing. Am I a fool?

Nobody has ever thought that, have you? But this is the reality, folks. We are human beings and we’re gonna have to have the kind of faith that can stand up to all of this kind of thing and only God can give it, and only if we’re willing to open our hearts to Him and to turn from our own way. As I said, one of the biggest things that hinders us is that we imagine outcomes. We get our attention focused on that.

Do you remember Naaman? Naaman came…Naaman hurt and had leprosy, was a Syrian. And he had a little servant girl who was Jewish. She must have been captured in a battle and she was serving him. She said, hey, there is a prophet in Israel, go and he’ll pray for you. So he goes down there all big, important man, loaded down with gifts and soldiers. I mean this is an important guy. And he goes, and the prophet doesn’t even come to the door. Not only that, the message that he says is go dip in the Jordan River seven times and you’ll be cleansed.

So what was his reaction to that? He was mad. Who does that guy think he is? Doesn’t he know how important I am? Aren’t the rivers back home are a lot better than that muddy old Jordan. What did…he was just angry. We’ve got a lot of that in us when things don’t go our way according to our expectations.

But, God wanted to make Himself know to that man in a very special way. He had a servant who said, My Lord, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, wouldn’t you have done it? How much more, just go down and dip and be clean? Well, the Lord used that simple exhortation from his servant. He said, okay. And so he did and he was clean.

But how much like Naaman are we sometimes when we bring our plans, our desires, our expectations and expect God to be our servant! And if he doesn’t do it our way, well bless God, you’re wrong or something’s wrong. Oh, my God. God is looking for a people who will walk humbly with Him and say, God I trust You. What did Job say? “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Do you think there’s a reason God put that in there?

( congregational response ).

Job come out pretty good, didn’t he? Do you think there’s anybody who’s ever really, really, really put their trust in God who’s gonna come to the end and say, boy, what an idiot I was? What a fool! I’ve wasted all my life, all this stuff I could have done in the world, all of it is gone and I’ve wasted my life. I’ve put my trust in something that’s just of no value whatsoever.

Oh, I’ll tell you what, there is nothing—there is nothing outside of coming to know Him and walking in His will. May God bring us His way, His time. Boy, I’m saying this to myself as well. We are all cut from the same cloth, folks. We are made of the same stuff. We need God to work in our hearts and to give us what real faith is about. Praise God!

So anyway, you know how the account went on. Joseph was there in the prison and this wasn’t just a two week vacation. This was years of sitting there. I mean, can you imagine? We can’t get through a week sometimes. If something we don’t like happens, oh God, how long? It’s been a whole week, Lord! Let alone when it goes on and on and on and on and nothing changes.

But the amazing thing is once again Joseph didn’t let it get him bitter. I know there was anguish. You know he was. He was like us, but somehow he had enough of a knowledge of God. He was convinced that righteousness was worth it even in the darkest dungeon of Egypt. And so he continued to do the right thing and he was noticed by the people who were running the prison and it wasn’t long before he became a trustee. He was somebody who helped the prison, helped run the prison, keeping it orderly, take care of people. He was somebody with responsibility.

Of course, he did try to help himself, didn’t he? Do you remember when the butler and the baker were thrown in…they fell out of favor with Pharaoh and they got thrown in there. All of a sudden they had dreams. I haven’t looked this up recently, but it seemed like the baker had three loaves or something in a basket and the birds came and ate it. Whatever it was, it was not a good message for the baker and it was a really good message for the butler. He was gonna be restored and the other guy was gonna have his head…you know, off with his head.

But Joseph wasn’t content just to give them God’s message, he did just like we would have done. He said, put in a good word when you get up there. This isn’t right. I’m here, I’ve been unjustly accused. I’ve got to do something here. He tried that and as soon as the butler got back there, he forgot all about it.

Now you remember how much time went by after that? It wasn’t two days later that he said, oh I forgot. It was two years. You think about two years under those circumstances. This is now many, many years that have gone by. He has ample time to think back about the awful things that his brothers did to him. Ample time to cry out Lord, how long is this gonna go on. Oh, God, I’m trying to do what’s right. I’ve been faithful, Lord. You know that everything that’s happened to me has not been because there was some fault in me, Lord. I was trying to do what’s right and look at my circumstances. Oh, God, how long are you gonna not hear my prayer?

God heard his prayer the first time, but there was something that God was working in him. This man was gonna sit on a throne. Can you imagine if a teenager had just suddenly bopped up on the throne and said, okay, I’m in charge here, guys…what kind of a ruler he would have been? That would have been a mess, but God was building a faithfulness that can only be forged in the fires of trials.

What does Peter say? “…Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” He said, your faith, well I’m gonna have to read it. I thought I could quote it there for a second. “These have come…”(NIV). This is 1st Peter chapter 1. “These have come…” Why? Why have they come? Why have the trials come? Why can’t we just float through life and have a push-button faith so that whatever we need is just right there, right now? God’s just a divine vending machine, and we are so wise and so smart that we can just go to God and push the right button and everything…the blessing will plop out, and we’ll take it, and we’ll go on our way and everything will be cool.

“These have come so that your faith…” What’s God focused on? Our comfort? No, He’s focused on faith. There is a quality in our spirits that is so married to Him, so committed, so full of hope and confidence in Him, He says, that is worth more than anything you can put a value upon.

But I’ll tell you, you and I put great value on our reputation. We put great value on our possessions. We put great value on the esteem of men. We put so many earthly things and God is seeking to cut us loose. Every one of those things is something of this world that is like a chain that holds us here. God is cutting those chains in our lives so that we can be free to serve Him.

“These have come so that your faith…” your faith, your faith, your faith. And it says it’s “…of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire”may be proved genuine.” God is going to put His people to the test and He doesn’t put us in the fire to destroy us but to refine our faith and to prove that it’s real, to prove that it’s something that He put there.

You and I don’t have this. We weren’t born with it. If you don’t get it from God, you don’t have it. That’s why, if God ever deals with your heart, you need to open your heart to Him. Let Him shine the light on whatever is going on, whatever you need to know about in your life, let Him shine the light, because He’s a God of mercy. He knows everything about you, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but He loves you and He’s got the answer to everything that’s wrong. Open your heart to Him.

Believers, God is looking to prove that His faith is “genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Can you imagine that day? Think about Joseph when he was in the middle of the trial, maybe right before it all got resolved, and the devil was pounding all this bad stuff in his head, stuff worse than anything you and I have ever had to deal with. And you contrast that with what it will be like on that day.

Can you imagine how we will look at Joseph, and the Lord will hold him up and there’ll be glory shining upon him and the Lord will say, look at this man who was faithful to me. I want you to know that I hold him in high esteem and heaven holds him in high esteem because he believed Me when nobody else was believing Me.

And Joseph is gonna fall on his face and bow before Him and give Him the glory and the praise. Man, is there anything worth more than that? Do you not believe that God will…I don’t know how to put this. I don’t want…because ultimately He’s gonna get the glory. But do you not think He’s going to be honored, and willing to honor those who have honored Him? Of course He is. We will have such an inheritance from Him in glory that there’s no way to compare it. And it doesn’t mean it’s all over there, we can enjoy Him here. Thank God He was here this morning, wasn’t He? He is here.

( congregational response ).

Praise God! We can rejoice in Him. You may be here this morning and having to rejoice through tears, I don’t know, but you can still rejoice because He hasn’t changed. And He loves you even when you’re experiencing that. Sometimes the ones who are in the hardest place are the ones God is working in the most. We take it just the opposite. Praise God!

But, here’s Joseph. But you know, of course, what happened when all of a sudden dreams come back into the picture and Pharaoh had a dream, a couple of dreams, as a matter of fact. And he didn’t have a clue. He knew, something caused him to know that they meant something—that they were important, and he called everybody in and they couldn’t tell him what it was about.

Of course, the butler is serving him his wine and hanging about and doing his job and oh, my goodness, I remember. This day I remember there’s a guy down in the prison, he can tell you. Because I and the baker, we were down there and we had dreams, and he told us what was gonna happen, and it did. Pharaoh, you need to get the guy.

So Joseph got up that morning and of course it was just another morning, another day to him. Okay, here we are, another day in jail, a place I don’t belong. All of a sudden the officials showed up and they get him out of there. They give him a bath which he probably needed, put good clothes on him, and got him all ready to go. And suddenly he goes all the way from the prison of Egypt standing before Pharaoh.

And God gives him the ability to understand what Pharaoh’s dream was about and God was merciful to a heathen nation for the sake of His people. You think about it. There were seven years of plenty coming but God knew that behind that, seven years of terrible famine. And God took this faithful young man and put him number two in the greatest nation of his day.

I’ll tell you, we serve a God Who can do what He wants. He’s not bound by our schedule. He’s not bound by what we think is important. He has His own plan. The wisest thing that you and I can do is to just throw ourselves upon Him and say, Lord, not my will, Lord, but Yours be done. You are the One Who is in charge. There’s nothing that can stay Your hand, there’s nothing on earth. You can do whatever You need to do in this world.

And if my lot in life is to glorify You and take a bullet, praise God. Let somebody look and see Christ in that and believe and put their faith in Him. Let the one who pulls the trigger see what it means to put their faith in Jesus. God can take any circumstance and get glory out of it and in the end we will stand with Him in light. Or He can make you rich and able to give to the kingdom, I don’t know. God can do whatever suits His purpose.

And so here’s Joseph and, of course, you remember how the story played out. There was indeed great plenty, and man, they just stored up the barns until there were no more barns. They had to build them and build them and build them and storehouses of food. They just had plenty, but all of a sudden there was nothing! And there was nothing up in Palestine where his family was. And it wasn’t long before they heard, hey, there’s food in Egypt. And you know how they went on several occasions.

Of course, Joseph recognized his brothers. How many of us would have taken the opportunity. Look what God did. They did me wrong and God has put them in my hands. He wants me to crush them. This is my chance. I can take care of business now. God’s put me in a place where I can straighten…I can take care of business. I can fix this.

He didn’t have that spirit, did he? There was a spirit of compassion and ultimately, when he revealed himself to his brothers, they were terrified and he was weeping for joy. He said, don’t be afraid. Get everybody and come to Egypt. There’s going to be several more years of famine. I’ll take care of you here.

You know, his brothers were still kind of a little unsure about all of this. I mean, they didn’t have much choice. But you can see it when Jacob—when Israel died, what happened? His brothers came to him and said, our father talked to us and told us to tell you not to take vengeance on us. We know you’ve just been…what they’re saying is, we know that you’ve just been waiting because you didn’t want to do this when Jacob was still around. But now, we’re just afraid now.

You remember what Joseph said? That’s something that we need to understand in our lives. He says, you meant it for evil. I mean he was honest. You weren’t trying to do me good. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. We serve a God who can take any circumstance and turn it around for something that is good. And I want to have that kind of a spirit that doesn’t hold grudges, doesn’t hold bitterness, doesn’t blame. I’ll tell you, if we understand that God’s in charge, and we blame and hold grudges, who are we really blaming?

( congregational response ).

We’re blaming God. You might as well look in the mirror and say, God I’m blaming You, or look up or whatever. God, I’m mad at You, You did me wrong. You let that happen. It was wrong. But he saw something in the purpose in the love of God, the same thing that David saw, the unfailing love of God.

God, You’ve never failed me. When I was in that darkest place I didn’t have the answers, Lord. My heart was crying how long, oh Lord, how long is this gonna go on. I know he prayed that. I know there were times that he went to bed and he wept and he cried and the devil was pounding his brain with the injustice of it all. But yet his heart was willing to say, but Lord, I trust you. Lord, I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. I’m want to keep doing what’s right.

May God build that quality of spirit in us! There’s no other way it happens other than our having to be refined in the fire. God give us grace, and He will. But there’s a people who are willing to walk with Him and we don’t look like much now. But do you have any idea the glory that God has prepared for His people? Is that just some sort of fairy tale that you just sort of signed on to or is that real? That’s God promise.

( congregational amens ).

I believe His promise. You know, if we live to be 100, well, for me that’s not much longer, but if we live to be 100, that’s still not a long time. Our life on earth is short. The life beyond is forever and we have the opportunity to serve Him here in the face of the darkness of this world.

I’ll tell you, God is gonna have a people. I want to be part of those people. I want to understand. I want to be able to say along with Joseph, you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. My God is bigger than your evil and He’s gonna get His job done.

Folks, we have the opportunity to be a light in this world. We can only be a light if we’ll let self die in the face of the circumstances of life and put our trust in Him and give Him the glory. There’s gonna be a light that will shine. Somebody will see it. God’s not through calling His people. As long as we’re here, somebody is gonna see the light.

I don’t know what God’s plan is. I don’t know what His timetable is. Sometimes I’m tempted like everybody else to say, oh Lord, how long do we have to put up with this world. Maybe you’re young and you don’t see it that way, but you wait a while. This world is gonna become a miserable, weary place that you just don’t want to live here that much longer. I mean I want to be here as long as the Lord wants, but my home is not here. God’s got something better and I believe in Him and I put my trust in Him today.

And that’s His call to us. If you’re in the place that David is at, and there’s something in you that’s crying out, “How long, O Lord…How long will You hide Your face…How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” That’s the cry of your heart. You do what David did. You express your faith in Him. You do it against what you feel. You praise Him. You look to Him and you say, God, my times are in Your hands, not mine. Lord, I may think I know how this is gonna work out, but I don’t and I want Your will, not mine.

( congregational amens ).

I’ll tell you, we serve a God who is faithful throughout the pages of this book and throughout the pages of all history ever since. We have every reason to look back and to take comfort and hope and for that comfort to feed the quality of endurance that God is building in every one of us. He is faithful, folks. Praise God!

( congregational amens ).