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It's a Wonderful Life, Part 2 (cont'd)

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2020 7:00 am

It's a Wonderful Life, Part 2 (cont'd)

Destined for Victory / Pastor Paul Sheppard

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December 18, 2020 7:00 am

Practical lessons and insights drawn from Luke chapter 1.

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Music playing Hello and welcome to Destined for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Well, there was a time in Pastor Paul's life when God told him to get up and go.

He and his wife Meredith had plenty of questions, maybe even a few doubts, but like Abraham before them, they stepped out in faith. Pastor Paul shares part of that story today, one that will encourage you in your own journey of faith. Today's message is straight ahead, so stay with us or visit pastorpaul.net to listen on demand. That's pastorpaul.net.

You can also listen or download the podcast at TuneIn or wherever you go to get your podcasts. Now, let's join Pastor Paul for today's message, It's a Wonderful Life. Music playing I've told you some of you have heard me tell the story. When I came to California, it was because the Lord told me that he was sending me to California to be a discipler and a soul winner. He said, I have thousands of people that I have called you to win and disciple.

Thousands was the term that he put in my spirit. When I accepted the invitation to pastor a small church that brought me to California, it was because of what the Lord had said. He said thousands were going to be won and discipled through my ministry.

So here I was in 1989 talking to this 34 people about thousands. When they asked me to come be their pastor, I said, let me meet with y'all and let me share with you the vision I have and then I'll see if y'all still want me to be your pastor. Because, you know, church folk, I wasn't going to assume that they could handle change. I figured if you're a 34 member church and God said thousands are coming, you know, some 34 member churches aren't interested in thousands because we don't get to run things. You know how that works in church? You ever seen church?

The same folk run it and nobody can come take our place. And so I wanted to make sure they knew. So I met with them and I shared with them this vision. I told them about thousands, everything God said I told them. And they were excited.

They said, oh, praise God. Yeah, we want you to be our pastor. When can you move out here? And I said, well, I could be here by Easter. This was in January, this meeting, 1989. I said, I'll be here by Easter.

All right, good. And they said, come on, you're our new pastor. And I'm leaving the church where I'm the associate pastor. My dad is the senior pastor in Philly.

We have a thousand members. And I'm poised to be the heir apparent. If my dad decides to retire, they want me to be the pastor in Philly. Everything's looking good. I'm making good money in Philly. Mortgage is low in Philly.

Everything is good in Philly. Now I'm going to California. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but God had said, go west, young man, go west. So here I am in my car driving across the country on 80. You all think 80 is just out here in the west.

80 starts on the east coast, goes all the way across the country. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and then Iowa. I'm driving all those states. I remember Wyoming. I'll never forget Wyoming because I went to get some gas in Wyoming. And it was this little rural area. It wasn't near Casper or any of the cities.

It was a rural area. And there was a man who didn't like to see people who looked like me. And it was his gas station.

And I'm in Wyoming. And I remember so well because I needed gas. And it was one of the ones you had to go inside to get him to set it up. And he didn't even want to look up at me.

I will never forget that man. He didn't even want to look at me. He just kept his head down. He saw who had pulled in, and he just put his head down. And I said, I'd like some gas and slid the money where he could see and all that.

And he just didn't say a word. I told him what number, and bam. And I just thought, if you just give me gas, you don't want me in your state. If you give me gas, I will get out of your state.

And I'm thinking, Lord, what have you gotten me into out here fooling with this stuff? So I get out here because the Lord said thousands are coming. I got to California. I'm here.

California didn't care. The first year the church grew from 34 to 45. I'm thinking thousands. I got 11 new members. One year of preaching, my best sermons.

Just ask me. I tell you, they were my best sermons. I was tanning up. Preaching in that little building, tanning up for a solid year, and I got 11 new members to show for it.

And you know how our minds work, especially mine. I'm like, okay, so the Lord said thousands, and I spent a whole year, and I got 11 more. How long is it going to take me at this pace?

How long am I? And I realized I will be dead before I have 500 members. You know what? You can't focus on anything but what God says. It wasn't my job to calculate and see how many people at this pace, how many. That wasn't my job.

God didn't tell me to do that. Do you know for seven years our church grew from 34 to 250? And that's good growth by regular standards because the average church in America has less than 100 attendees. And so here we were at 250, but I was perfectly miserable because the Lord had said thousands.

And after seven years, I got a couple of hundred. And I'm saying every week I'd be driving home from church telling my wife, we must have missed it. I thought I heard from God, but clearly this wasn't God. We must have missed God because I don't even want to go to my own church.

And my wife would keep me encouraged. No, honey, we heard from the Lord. The first time I went on a fast trying to figure out what God was doing, I holed up in a hotel, and I had my wife drop me off Monday.

I said, I'm going to check in here, baby. I'm going to be in here for three days and three nights because I need to hear from God. Three days and three nights. That's a nice Bible time. And so I said, I'm going to be in here for three days and three nights.

Come pick me up Thursday. And that's what I did. I checked in there. I took two and a half gallons of water. I remember it was a carrying case, two and a half gallons of water. I took that in with me. That was all. I took my Bible, my notes, and my water, and I said, God, go speak to me.

I went in there. I shut the curtains so I wouldn't know whether it was day or night. And for three days and three nights, I did nothing but pray, fast, sleep, and drink water.

That's all I did. Read the Bible. Read the Bible. And so for three days and three nights, I'm believing there's going to be thunder and lightning and earthquakes. I'm waiting for God to just come in that room, man.

It's going to be marvelous. I'm going to come out of here with such a testimony. Came out Thursday morning, got in the car. My wife said, what the Lord say? I said, just drive home.

Always asking questions. Why don't you just drive home? Do you ever get cranky when God's not doing what you want him to do? I've got an attitude. You're all too spiritual. You all never got an attitude with God. I've got an attitude.

I'm like, this is no fair. You send me all the way out here, seven years, and nothing but a couple of hundred folks. For the first seven years, it was a happy coincidence when somebody got saved.

That's the way it felt, like a happy coincidence. I was so excited when somebody wanted to get saved for seven years, because it rarely happened. Every now and then, I'd give the altar call, and somebody would come out, and I'm thinking, for real, you're going to get saved. But I want you to see a key thing that the Lord said to this man, Zacharias. The Lord told him that it's going to come to pass in the time that he had ordained.

In other words, here's what it says in verse 20. Behold, you'll be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their own time. The vision God gives you is for an appointed time, and you don't get to set the appointed time. He sets the time, and you have to wait for him and walk with him until his time comes. Now, see, we don't like that.

We want to be able to set our own time. God says, no, if I give you a vision, it's for an appointed time, and sometimes he'll give you a vision and not give you the timetable. Sometimes you know something's going to happen because God said it, but you have no idea when. Here's the other reason he doesn't give you advanced word, because he doesn't tell you what you're going to have to go through. From where you are to the fulfillment of your destiny, you've got some hell to go through.

Don't believe me? Ask Joseph. Joseph was 17 when he had the vision that one day his family would be bowing down to him. It took 22 years for that to come to pass, and most of those 22 years were full of hell.

See, we like the end result, but we don't like the process always. You've got to learn to walk with God through things you don't understand, things you don't like, and you have to believe him to bring it to pass. Stay with us. We're only about halfway through today's Destined for Victory message with Pastor Paul Shepherd. We want to thank all of you whose prayers and financial support helped Pastor Paul share the Gospel all over the world. And as we find ourselves still fighting our way through a season of uncertainty, your support is even more critical today because in times of crisis, people are often more willing to have conversations about Jesus or to listen to Christian radio programming like Destined for Victory. That's why your gifts are so important. Give online safely and securely from our website, pastorpaul.net, or give us a call at 855-339-5500.

Again, the number 855-339-5500. Have you ever questioned God? He welcomes your questions and concerns, but he wants you to voice them from a position of faith.

Here's Pastor Paul with the rest of today's message, It's a Wonderful Life. The fourth point is this. Questions born of faith do not offend God. See, there are some people who would say, don't question God. But the Bible doesn't say you can't question God. The real issue is, what is the question born of? Is it born of unbelief or is it born of the need for information?

Let me show you what I mean. In the same chapter, six months after the encounter with Zacharias and Elizabeth, the same angel comes to Galilee to Nazareth and has a new message. Look at it, verse 26. Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to the city of Galilee named Nazareth, and to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary, and having come in, the angel said to her, rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. Look at verse 29.

But when she saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son and shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, will be called the son of the highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom there will be no end. Now watch this. Here's a question. Then Mary said to the angel, how can this be, since I do not know a man? Now, that's a question, but it's a question seeking information, but it's still a question of faith. She believes the angel when he says you're going to get pregnant. All she needs is how's this going to happen because you haven't mentioned a man. She's seeking information. I say this to you because sometimes we have questions for God, and don't let super spiritual people tell you you can't question God.

Of course you can. Just make sure it's a question coming from faith. I believe you, Lord.

I just need more information as to how it's going to happen. You see what I mean? The question that Zacharias asked was not a question of faith. He said, how's this going to happen? I'm old. My wife old.

Can't you imagine Elizabeth over in the corner, oh, so now you got to talk about my age? But his question came from doubt. We know that because the angel said, tell you what, you're not going to be able to speak till it comes to pass because you didn't believe what God said. His was born of doubt. It's not whether you question. It's where the question's coming from.

You need information. Mary says, I believe you that I'm going to get pregnant. You know I'm a virgin. You know I've never known a man sexually, and yet you say I'm going to bear the Son of God. How are you going to do this, Lord? So I'm here to tell you, you can ask God questions. Just make sure it's a question born of faith. I'm not doubting you, Lord. I believe you.

I just need some information. She needs to know, in other words, what's the process you want me to go through, Lord? And she's going to find out later on what that process is. But please understand this, that even when the process takes you through a situation where you don't see how in the world this is going to happen, remember the analogy of flying.

You don't have to see out the window. You just have to read the instruments, and you have to listen to the tower. God has given you the instruments in His Word and given you the tower in the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit tells you something, don't doubt Him.

Trust Him and follow Him. That's what I had to do when I came to California after those seven years, and we're only at 250, and the Lord said thousands, I said, okay, Lord, I'm just going to keep preaching, keep on believing, keep praying. Year eight, by then we're in a little warehouse in Menlo Park. The warehouse, at its capacity, could only get 300 people in the sanctuary and another 300 in an overflow we had to develop. You know why I had to develop an overflow?

Because we didn't even have the foresight to make the fellowship hall an overflow. It happened accidentally. One day people came to me. One of my leaders came to me and said, Pastor, what are we going to do about the people in the back? I said, what people in the back? He said, oh, every Sunday there are people sitting back there because they can't hear.

They're just trying to hear through the wall what you're saying. I said, there are people in the back? We had to create an overflow in the fellowship hall because people wanted to come. The Lord was sending them, and they kept coming even when they couldn't get in the 300-seat sanctuary.

So I said, well, get a screen and put a speaker back there. And we developed overflow when it wasn't in the permit or anything that we got from the city. We had to do it because God was sending the people. And then that service filled up eventually. And then we started having two services and then two services with overflow and then three services and three services with overflow. We ended up having four Sunday services just to get everybody in. And the church was growing, and finally we said, we better build a bigger building. And that's how we built a worship center in Mountain View. We built one that sat 2,100 seats. And do you know God wasn't finished with 2,100? The church grew to two services with a 2,100-seat sanctuary. Then it grew to three services with a 21-seat sanctuary.

Then it grew to four services in a 2,100-seat sanctuary. You say, how does that happen? Because when God says it, it will come to pass. And so you got to learn to trust God. Don't try to understand God.

Just trust him. When I first got to California, the whole budget for the church was $60,000 a year. Whole budget for the whole year. Those 34 people gave me a budget of $60,000.

I'm coming from a church with 1,000 members, and we're taking in big offerings there and doing big things. And I'm out here. I said, $60,000 for the whole year?

Yeah. And then I thought, okay, now, how much of that is mine? I take it my salary's in there somewhere. 1989, they say, oh, yeah, yeah. We've designated $24,000 for you.

1989, I got here. I make more than that in Philly with a small mortgage. I had a house in the hood that we left in Philly that I sold in Philly to come out here. It was in the hood, so the mortgage was $200 a month because nobody wanted to move in there. But I'm like, $200?

I can do it. I'm not worried about the hood. There was a crack house across the street. They raided it and closed it down. I said, good. But we were good.

I could make it. But it was $200 a month. That was wonderful. Got out here, and I heard the trustees talking about, we're asking the Lord to give the pastor a house for under $1,000 a month. And I said, wait, what? And they said, yeah. And I said, so y'all got to pray?

I didn't know California. Y'all have to ask God out here for a house for under $1,000 a month. That's actually a prayer matter?

They say yes, and if it happens, it will be God. 1989. God answered those dudes' prayer.

My first house was 995. God made it happen. But even then, I got a $2,000 a month salary, and the trustees, they did me so wrong. They said, yeah, this is all we can pay you now, but when that vision that you said come to pass, I'm like, see, don't use somebody's vision against them.

That is so lame. When those people come, we're going to hook you up, pastor. Had to believe God through all of that. He helped us pay the bills. And do you know by the time I left that church 20 years later, we didn't have a $60,000 a year budget.

We had a $12 million a year budget. Why? Because where God guides, He provides. Don't question what God can do. He can do exceeding, abundantly, above all that we ask or even imagine.

Can you imagine God helping us take in a million dollars a month? God is able. Don't you question your God's ability? Whatever He has told you He's going to do, He will bring it to pass. And so what we have to learn to do is to walk with Him through everything He calls us to go through. Even when you question Him, make sure the question is of faith and it is not of doubt.

I had a lot of questions along the way. In this new season, I don't know where God's going to take destiny, but I'm down for the ride because I know what God can do. I've seen Him do it before, and I can't wait to see what He's going to do in the years to come. And so don't confine your God to your thinking. You know what that'll do? That'll make you a child of a lesser God. But the God of the Word is a God who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all that we can ask or even imagine. Do you want to demonstrate faith in God today? When He tells you to get up and go, get up and go. It's okay to have questions.

Just make sure you're asking them on the way. That's what faith looks like, and that's the life God blesses. Well, right now it may seem like the worst of times, but from God's perspective, these could very well be the best of times because it's during seasons of chaos when people are often more willing to embrace the cross. God's will is that all would come to the knowledge of repentance. And so right now, as we continue to walk through this season of uncertainty, let us be a safe place for the lost to land.

Let's choose to love them into the kingdom the way God has loved us. One of the best ways you can do that is by becoming one of our Destined for Victory partners, a group of people who give at least $20 a month to keep these radio and internet messages airing the whole year through. As our way of saying thanks for your partnership, we'll send you a few thank you gifts, including one of Pastor Paul's most popular CDs, The Best of Let My People Smile. Call 855-339-5500 to find out more about how to become a Destined for Victory partner and make your pledge over the phone. Or mail your gift, letting us know you wish to become a partner.

The address is Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. Or become a partner through our website, pastorpaul.net. For anyone who gives their best gift this month, we'll send you, when you request it, Pastor Paul Shepherd's DVD message, Refocus, a sermon in which he offers three guidelines to help us work through the challenges we're facing here in 2020 and encourages us to continue fulfilling God's purpose in our lives. Again, that's Pastor Paul's DVD message, Refocus, our gift to you by request for your most generous gift to Destined for Victory this month. See, everybody loves a vision, but when you have a vision, you're seeing the end. What you don't see is what you're going to have to go through between here and the fulfillment of the vision.

And that's what messes a whole lot of people up. All of us at Destined for Victory hope you have a great weekend and that you join us again on Monday when Pastor Paul Shepherd shares his message, It's a Wonderful Life. Until then, remember, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-14 02:01:52 / 2024-01-14 02:11:47 / 10

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