— Brother Phil Enlow: I’ll tell you, we’ve got an awesome God, and trouble is not our enemy if we can understand the purpose of God. It is a friend that we can rest in God in.
I’m not making light of trouble. Trouble can be a traumatic, difficult thing. There are some terrible things that, from a human point of view, that God allows His people to go through. But I’ll tell you, there’s never a time, there’s never a place where, if you’re His child, He has left you for one second. He will never ever leave His own.
You know, I thought about some of this in terms of the lives of some of God’s children. And I guess in my current Bible reading, I’m in the life of Joseph. Ron is shaking his head again.
( laughing ).
We’re on the same Bible reading plan. But think about Joseph and how God made Himself known to him. Somehow, when he was a young man, God gave him some special dreams. Do you remember?
And in both of those dreams, it became obvious that his own family would one day bow down to him. And of course, that made everybody excited. But I’ll tell you…God gave him that and somehow planted a faith in him. It doesn’t even go into the details of what was going on in his heart and mind and how in the world he had this relationship with God.
I had a customer the other day ask me about that. What did he do for worship? He was all by himself in a foreign land. You know, we have this conception of what it takes to serve God today. There he was…but I’ll tell you, there’s a God Who absolutely called this young man, seventeen years old when the story really begins, and you can see the hand of God overshadowing him.
But can you not see the devil saying, boy, I heard this. I better do something. In the first place, I’ve got an easy job, because I know his brothers are older than he is. They’re gonna hate him for this. So, I’m gonna work on them, and they don’t even half know God. They’ve heard about Him, but they don’t really have any relationship with this God. So, I’ve got an easy job here of getting them mad at him.
And then you remember how the father sent him out to find his brothers, and they saw him a long way off and conspired together, first to kill him. And then the Lord intervened and put it in Rueben’s heart to say, no, let’s not kill him. So, they put him in a pit for a while, and then some slave traders came by or some traders came by that were headed for Egypt to do some business. And so, they get together, and they decide we’re gonna sell him into Egypt. Well, where did the inspiration for that come from?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. But do you see the purpose of God? Do you see the hand of God in spite what happened and how it happened? Do you see that there was a God who was absolutely over all? And so, there he is, and his brothers even later talk about…the guilt was beginning to well up in their beings, they’re realizing what they did, and they said, didn’t we see the anguish of his soul when we did this to him? God’s paying us back. Their conscience is really getting to them.
But that gives you an insight of what it was like. Can you imagine the feelings that were going through Joseph’s heart and his mind? And yet, what an amazing account it is of somebody who still had enough faith in God to be able to go down there and live as a slave, and don’t you see the hand of God blessing him in the middle of that?
He wasn’t alone. God was with him. He may not have had human fellowship in the Lord, but he had the Lord giving him a confidence and a faith still to stand. He was called to stand for years. Well, he was 17 when this started. He was 30 when he came to the throne, to be second in the kingdom there. So, that’s a long time. That’s 13 years of hell on earth, in a way, most of it.
God blessed him in a way, and then all of a sudden, Potiphar’s wife lied about him, had him thrown in prison. The scripture talks about his feet were hurt with fetters of iron in the Psalms, Psalm 105, I think it is. So, you see from the devil’s point of view, everything that the devil was trying to do to engineer this man’s defeat, to cause the vision of God, the purpose of God to fail.
Think about that. Do you think God’s purpose is gonna fail? See, that’s what He wants everyone of us to understand. God’s purpose is not gonna fail. What He’s looking for from me, what He’s looking for from you is a heart that says, God, by Your grace, I’m gonna keep believing You. I’m gonna keep trusting You. I’m gonna see that what is happening to me that I may not like at the moment is Your tool. The devil may be allowed to do it, but You’re the One who has engineered exactly what’s happening to me.
And so, of course, he gets thrown in prison, and I know that was a traumatic thing, and yet, there he is, and he’s trying his best. All of a sudden, he’s just serving God and looking to Him in spite of the thing.
What a faith that is! That’s amazing to me, that someone who knows as little as he did about God…you see the hand of God overshadowing that man’s heart, giving him that kind of faith and confidence?
We have the same God today Who will meet us with what we need for God’s purpose for us. Now, my purpose is not…I don’t expect to be on a throne someday. I don’t think anybody here is going to be, in that sense. But, every one of us has a place. Every one of us has a purpose whether it’s in your home, your job, your school, whatever it is, God has a purpose for your life, and He’s shaping you for that purpose.
God was shaping Joseph for an amazing thing that he was gonna be doing. It wasn’t about magnifying Joseph and saying, whoop-de-do, I can do as I please. This was lifting up a man for a purpose in an hour that was critical, central to what God was trying to do in the earth.
And so, God gave him a faithful heart, and it was recognized, and there he was running his section of the prison. All the prisoners were in his hands. And of course, you remember the account. I won’t go through every detail, but you remember how two of the king’s servants were thrown in there, and they had dreams.
I wonder where that came from! Wouldn’t it be something, again, to stand outside and watch all this as an outside observer, and you see the Lord saying, well, it’s time to do something. Okay, we’re gonna give these two guys some supernatural dreams, and they’re gonna wake up and wonder. And they’re gonna go to Daniel, and Daniel’s gonna explain them.
In three days, both dreams were fulfilled. One man was restored to his position. The other one was hung. And Daniel…I mean not Daniel, but Joseph, of course, was trying to help himself like any of us would. We’ve got our…how many times have you been in a situation you had your timetable? You had it all figured out how it was supposed to happen. Steve mentioned that this morning.
Wouldn’t it be good if we would just say, God, I don’t know? I’m just trusting You. Lord, You do what You need to do. You do it Your way, and You do it on Your time schedule, because that’s gonna be right. And then, I don’t have to worry about it. But I can just say, Lord, I know that You will give me the grace that I need step-by-step, whatever’s going on.
That’s my only place that You’re…that’s why we can have peace. If we don’t have peace, are we really trusting Him? See what’s going on there? There’s a degree of lack of…I don’t really know. I’m not quite so sure about this.
But anyway, Joseph tried to engineer his own deliverance, and that didn’t work. It wasn’t time. So, two whole years, and all of a sudden God says, okay, now it’s time. Now it’s time! Let’s give Pharaoh a couple of really scary dreams that he’s gonna worry about, and he’s gonna call all the wise men of Egypt to explain it, and none of them are gonna be able to explain it.
And there’s the butler serving him the wine, and he’s listening in on all of this. Now, I remember. There was a guy down in the prison there when you sent us down there, and he interpreted our dreams. This guy knows!
So, you know, Joseph gets up that morning, and it’s a morning like any other morning, and he’s not even thinking about it anymore. And all of a sudden, the prison warden comes in and says, get dressed, shave, here’s some fresh clothes. You’re going to see Pharaoh. Say what?
( laughing ).
I’ll tell you, there’s a God Who can do more than we can ask or imagine, if we’ll trust in Him. And, this God that was overshadowing everything the devil had tried to do up to this point…had brought him down and seemingly sidelined him. Nothing could possibly come of all those dreams that he had when he was a kid until God intervened. And there wasn’t a thing the devil could do about it.
They brought him before Pharaoh, and he interpreted his dreams, and everybody was so impressed, he was given the second position in the land. And then you remember how the rest of it happened.
But do you see, also in that, how God formed the man’s character? How many of us would have come through all of that, and had a terrible time with the trauma of what our brothers did to us? How many of us would have had that festering in here all those years? How many of us would have taken advantage of the situation and said, boy, now I’ll show them?
And yet, there was a tenderness of heart, and when it finally came time for him to make known to his brothers, he was weeping. They were scared to death when they realized who he was. And he’s weeping, and one after another, embracing them.
And then after dad died, they come to him, and they’re scared. Okay, I know why he didn’t do it, just because our father was still around. Now, he’s gonna take it out on us. We know what we did.
And he said, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. The devil was allowed to send some terrible trouble into my life, but that very trouble is what set me on the road that has brought me to this place today so that I can be here and save life.
What insight, what wisdom God had given His servant! Oh, wouldn’t it be good if we had that kind of insight in our lives? This is just for the high important people. Those are the ones we read about. But in God’s Kingdom, every one of us is just as important to Him, just as loved. We’re just designed for a different place.
But I’ll tell you, there’s a God who wants us to understand, just as if we were that person who was watching the world and seeing these things unfold, and being able to ask questions and say where we could understand, yes, God is using that wicked being down there. That’s His tool. He has no chance. He’s already lost. He just doesn’t believe it. He’s deceiving himself. He’s gonna fight to the bitter end! But all he can do is fulfill the very purpose of God. So, God’s children have no reason to be afraid or to be anxious or to have anything but peace.
You know, this is something that I’m super conscious of. We have got a lot of secondhand religion, secondhand faith. And, it’s wonderful that people can be exposed to truth, but that’s not enough! It’s got to become yours! It’s got to become personal, or what good is it? We could transmit the faith that we believe to every member of the younger generation, and they could recite it and know it and sing and do all those things, but if they never possessed it and came to know the God that we have come to know, what good is it?
So, how does God bring people into a practical knowledge of Himself except through trouble that drives us to Him and causes us to feel our need? I pray that God will bring whatever trouble it takes to bring you to Jesus Christ if that’s where you’re at…if it will cause you to realize the futility of this world.
The further I go, the more I see how stupid and ridiculous and idiotic it all is. Oh, God. I’ll tell you, God can deliver His people in a practical sense, but it doesn’t come by information alone. We need that, but we need the experience of God.
David had an experience with God, and so, he was able to realize what the real battle was. It was almost like he could step back like we were doing there, and seeing, hey, this is not just a battle with a physical enemy here. There is another thing going on. There’s a devil. There’s a false God. There’s a demon behind this, and that demon has the gall to challenge my God, and I know that He is God! So, this isn’t my battle!
Do we see that in our lives, or is that just a history lesson? Your troubles, your battles are not just your battles. They’re God’s battles, and He takes them personally! He wants us to come to Him! I mean, we can muddle through if we’re foolish enough to think we can, and just blind enough to charge ahead. I’ll tell you, God wants to use everything that Satan is allowed to do to turn our hearts to Him so we will come to Him from the depths of our heart and say, oh, God, I need You. I need You, Lord. Praise God. I need Him, don’t you? Oh, the further I go, the more I know I need Him.
What a blessed place that is! He’s not sitting here trying to bully me into fearfully serving Him and trying desperately to win His favor through my own efforts. Oh, God.
You know, we talked about Job recently and the place that he occupied. I believe that’s a pretty good example. I’m not sure, but I think this is a pretty good example of secondhand faith, hand-me-down faith. He lived sometime in the era after the flood. For all I know, Noah may have overlapped his life. I don’t know. Noah lived 350 years after the flood. But one thing is for sure. He knew about God. He knew there was a God who judges sin.
And from his own lips, we have the expression that, “…the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me.” (KJV). What was motivating his devotion to God was a whole lot of fear about this remote God who’s so great, and He judges wickedness, and I’ve got to do everything I know to stay on His good side.
Do you see that element in Job? And God saw him doing what he knew to do, but says, I’ve got better for you, Job. That’s not how I want people to relate to Me. I want them to know Me. And so, Job was taken down a dark, deep valley.
When he came to the other end, do you think he still had that same fear? Or do you think he came to a place where he had interacted with God? He knew God on a personal level. He didn’t have to just listen to the stories about Noah walked with God and look what God did! Isn’t that great? Now, Noah’s God becomes my God, and I know something about Him, because I’ve been there. I have experienced Him in the darkest times of my life. He came to my rescue.
And the blessing that He had afterwards was not just the fact that He had twice as much as he had before. God blessed him on that level, but the blessing that mattered was he had something that was real. He knew his God. God had removed the fear from his heart.
Everything the devil…did you notice in the beginning how the devil went before God. God brought him up, and the devil said, yeah, you’ve got a hedge about him. I can’t get to him. What do you expect? Of course, he’s gonna serve You. You’re blessing him.
But doesn’t that reveal something? Do you realize that every single one of God’s children has a hedge about you? If something comes through that hedge, it’s because God has allowed it. The devil could not just attack Peter. The devil had to get permission. He said, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.” (NIV). Here’s Satan asking for the permission to be God’s tool, if he understood, if he was willing to accept that.
But it was the same kind of spirit. Yeah, I know human flesh. I know humanity. You let me at him just the right way, and I can bring him down. And the Lord turns that thing right around and changes the individual and reveals Himself in a way that that person could never have known.
I know there are people here. You’ve been down roads you would never have chosen in a million years, but yet, it’s brought you to a place where you know something about God that you didn’t know before, and there’s a depth of faith and peace that you’ve got because of what you went through. Every single one of us could say that that have known Him any time. I thank God!
You know that song, “Thank God for the Valley,” that Jackie sang many times over the years, has a tremendous, simple truth. This is how we know Him. David had to go through the valley of the shadow of death, didn’t he? How many times we started to tell his story, and you know all the things that he went through, and the pathway to the throne was hell on earth, for how many years? We don’t know exactly. Probably, again, maybe 10 or 15 years. But it was a long time when he was on the run for his life.
The devil was free to attack him in so many ways, and yet, over and over again, he called upon God. He kept his integrity. He looked to God, and God was forming his character in it, but it was more than that! It was David coming to a place of rest, of confidence in God, of knowing God so that when he got on the throne, he knew…God knew there was gonna be stuff he was gonna have to deal with that was gonna be tough. But he was preparing His man just like He prepared Joseph, just like He prepared His Son, just like He prepared Paul and so many things that he went through.
You know, I thought about this in this context, as to what God is looking for in all of this. It’s easy to say God wants my behavior to match up to a certain standard, and then things will be good. Is that really what God is after?
What is the heart of the New Covenant? You know, there was a Covenant. There was a covenant where God said, this is how I’m gonna deal with you. I’m gonna do something that’s temporary. It’ll help prepare you for this, but there is a permanent Covenant coming. It’s not gonna be like that one. It’s not gonna be just a bunch of rules.
The Covenant that I’m going to do is I’m gonna put My laws in your hearts. Okay, and what was the result of that? They will…how many will know Me? They will all know ‘about’ Me? “…They will all know me, from the least…to the greatest.”
God wants a person-to-person, heart-to-heart, faith-to-faith relationship with every single one of His children. He cares about us. I mean, don’t we have the words of Jesus? He knows the…He’s numbered the hairs of your head. Do you think He doesn’t care about all the details of every single life?
I’ll tell you, when God brings trouble in our path, every single…His whole heart is to do one simple thing. It’s to bring us to a deeper relationship. God has purposed something, like I said, from the beginning. God has purposed to do something in eternity and to shape us for that. That’s what His heart is focused on.
Folks, I pray that God will help me. I pray that God will help every one of us to get this simple truth in a much more practical way. Trouble is gonna come in our lives. It comes at the hands of Satan, in one form or another. But Satan is only a tool. There is nothing he can ever do that can change the outcome of somebody who has put their trust in Him.
We can live with that confidence, and in that confidence, we can have a faith and a rest that will carry us through. God is gonna shape your life and mine. We might not like the process, but we’re gonna love the result.
And one day, we’re gonna stand there and just be blown away. The pictures of God’s saints casting…God gives us crowns, and we’re gonna say, my God, what did I do for this? Throw it down at the feet of Jesus! He is the One who has done it all. To Him be glory and honor! That Name is above every name.
But right now, we’re in the middle of the war. There’s a hedge about you. Satan can do nothing but what God allows, but when He allows it, God’s gonna take you through, and He’s gonna shape your character. He’s gonna build faith in you. He’s gonna glorify Himself. He’s gonna make you the kind of person He wants you to be in this world. He’s gonna help you to know Him in a way that perhaps you didn’t up until now. And there’s gonna be a lot more rest in it. To God be the glory!
In the world, you will have trouble! That’s a fact. But we don’t have to be afraid of it, because Jesus has overcome the world, and He has given us His peace, and we can lay hold of that in the middle of the worst trouble that we see, because God is faithful. Praise God!