Why do I say that? Because sometimes change is scarier and is scarier a proposition or more challenging a proposition than people remaining the way they are. Do you want to be changed for the better?
For some people the answer isn't always yes. Hello and welcome to Destined for Victory with Pastor Paul Shepherd, Senior Pastor of Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. Spiritual growth, really any kind of growth, takes courage and determination.
It can be intimidating, even scary at times. Today Pastor Paul gives us two examples of people who had an opportunity to grow but who ultimately decided against it. Stay with us now or stop by pastorpaul.net to listen on demand. That's pastorpaul.net. Now here is Pastor Paul with today's Destined for Victory message, junk removal for the soul. One of my mentors that really helped me in those early years was Bishop C. Milton Granham and he preached at a convention. I was also a preacher at that convention in 88 and I sat through his service and he told a story that impacted me.
I've never forgotten it, but it helps me to make this point now. There was a form of blindness that once they were able to correct with an operation, they were offering to people who had that specific form of blindness. And so this one gentleman said, yes, I would love to see and he had that particular condition and so he had the operation and the doctor said it's successful.
He was bandaged up after it and they did whatever they had to do for the recovery process. But at a certain point, they took the bandages off and they had the man open his eyes and they said, the doctor standing in front of him said, do you see me? To which the gentleman said, yes, yes, oh my goodness, yes, I see you. And the doctor said, okay, good, and he said, how many fingers do I have up? And he was holding up four fingers in front of him and the gentleman said, wait, and he grabbed his hand and counted them as he touched them and said four. And then he said, look over there, do you see that piece of fruit?
Yes, yes, I see it. He said, what is it? And the gentleman said, bring it to me. He said, because if I touch it, I can tell you what it is. And they continued to do more and more exercises like that where he was asked to identify something he saw, but when he was asked what it was, he could only answer once he touched it or once he heard it.
Why? Because he was accustomed to interacting in the world with all the other senses leading the way. He had to use hearing, he had to use smell, he had to use touch.
You see what I'm saying? The other senses ran his life, all of his life, until this moment. Now he's had a successful operation in this unique form of blindness. He now has a new sense, never had before, but when you ask him what he's looking at, it's the other four that tell him. And he experienced, Bishop Granham went on to say in this message, this man experienced so much frustration because the sight, yes, gave him a new opportunity, but he had to relearn the whole world based on a new sense. And it became so frustrating for him in the early days of having to still function with the other senses leading the way and then adding the responsibility of learning to identify his whole world now merely by his eyesight.
It became a frustration that was overwhelming and Bishop said, and at a certain point the man closed his eyes and chose to go back into voluntary blindness because he didn't have the fortitude to have to learn the whole world again based on a new sense. And I need to tell you something, sometimes it takes courage to change, to grow, to allow newness to be introduced into your life. Sometimes it takes courage, it doesn't come easily. So are you willing to do whatever it takes even if it's hard, if it's difficult, if it's going to put you through some changes you didn't count on? You're hoping your life gets easier, but for a season it might get tougher. Are you willing to pay the price?
Do you have the courage to change? You know what, that's an illustration just from modern life, but let's go back to the Bible. Genesis and you'll find a story of a man named Jacob. If you're a Bible reader you know exactly who I'm talking about. He is one of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob, born along with his brother Esau. Now Esau was the firstborn, literally he came out of the birth canal first. And Jacob came out right behind his brother. The Bible tells us that he was grabbing his brother when they came out of the womb.
It was a sign of what was to come. Jacob lived his life as a trickster, as a deceiver, as a supplanter. That's how Jacob lived, that's who he was.
You know the stories, I don't have time to walk you through them, but you know exactly how it manifested. You remember the day when, as young men, Esau was out hunting. He was a hunter, he was a man of the outdoors, a gamesman, that sort of thing. And Jacob was not that, Jacob was home cooking. And so when Esau came in famished, you know that story, he came in and said, hey, I'm about to die, he came in probably dehydrated, needed shade, needed water.
But he just knew he felt like he was about to die. He tells his tricky brother, who he thinks is going to look out for him, hey man, I need some food right away, what you're cooking, that stew, what you're cooking, I need some, give me some. And Jacob, always the trickster, like some of y'all, said, oh sure, I'll hook you up, but first give me your birthright. I wanted to switch the birth order functionally, and I want what the firstborn is entitled to, which is twice as much as his twin brother.
Why? Because the firstborn is given the responsibility to carry the family name and the family enterprise into the next generation. Jacob wanted what Esau had, Esau wanted food, but what kind of swap off is that? I've had some great meals in my life, so have you. None of us have ever had a meal, a single meal, worth a lifetime of privilege and inheritance and blessing and awesome responsibility. But Esau, not thinking straight, not realizing all I need to do is get in the shade, get some water, if my tricky brother won't get me some of that stew, I just call for somebody else in the house, come bring me some water, help me get in the shade, and can y'all bring me something, I can't have that stew, because it costs too much.
He's not thinking like that, and the Bible says he despised his birthright for a momentary sense of satisfaction. Let me tell you something, every time I preach on that, I say, don't be too hard on him, because a whole lot of us have sold out for a little bit of nothing. Some of your relationships, you know good and well that was stew. Might have been good-looking stew, but it was stew at the end of the day. And some of y'all, if you're just going to be honest, say, and it wasn't all that good. Oh, see, see, y'all perpetrating the fraud. You know good and well some of that stew wasn't worth it. Can't how hungry you were.
They go get you some water and be done. But the fact of the matter is, he sold a lifetime for momentary satisfaction. We'll be right back with more of today's Destined for Victory message from Pastor Paul Shepherd. To listen to any of Pastor Paul's recent broadcasts, be sure to stop by pastorpaul.net to listen on demand. That's pastorpaul.net. And Pastor Paul joins me in the studio after today's message.
But first, let's rejoin him for the second half of the teaching, Junk Removal for the Soul. Now, this whole family is jacked up. This whole family is tricky.
Read this story when you get a chance in Genesis. Whole family tricky. Mama was tricky because when the time came when Daddy Isaac is getting ready to die and, you know, the man had to pronounce the blessing on his children, there was a special blessing on, again, the firstborn.
Esau was entitled to a certain blessing from his dad, Isaac. His brother and his brother's mama both tricky. Rebecca is as tricky as Jacob.
So she gets in cahoots with Jacob and they both are going to conspire to steal the blessing that is supposed to go to Esau. How jacked up a family is that? Mama loves one son, one twin son, more than the other son.
Jacked up. Your family is not the first. Jacked up families all through redemptive history. Rebecca, and you know the story. I don't have time for that.
You read it when you get a chance. They conspire and they dress him up as though he is Esau, but it's really Jacob. And, you know, his father's eyesight was failing, so he couldn't tell just by sight.
And so they pretended. Bottom line is he stole the blessing and the birthright. And this time Esau's mad, I'm going to kill him. And Rebecca said, son, your brother's angry. He talking about killing you. You going to have to leave here. Maybe you can come back sometime down the road.
Right now you got to go. She sent him down to Uncle Laban's house in another region altogether. And he goes to Uncle Laban. But here's the problem with tricky families. Just like game, recognize game, tricky, recognize tricky. And so he gets down there and doesn't know that his uncle is tricky, but Uncle sees him come down there, sees him fall in love with one of his daughters, Rachel. Okay, okay. And he goes, he said, man, I want to marry your daughter.
What's it going to take for me to marry Rachel? And he said, well, you got to work for me for seven years. The Bible says he worked for Uncle Laban for seven years, and the Bible even says those years seem like just a few days. That's how sprung he was. Anytime seven years seem like a few days, you are sprung, brother.
But that's what happened. After the seven years, he said, all right. And he said, all right, we're going to have the wedding. Had the wedding, but at night, they introduced the bride into dark chambers, and the groom comes into dark chambers, and he spends the night with a woman, wakes up the next morning, looks at who he spent the night with in the light of a new day, and he said, what? Because he spent the night, and he has married Leah, Rachel's sister. And he was expecting to be his sister-in-law. Now that's his wife. Runs to Laban.
What did you do? You knew I worked for Rachel? Laban, Tricky Laban. Oh, I didn't tell you? You can't have the younger daughter until you marry the older. Said those seven years were for you to work off Leah so you could have Rachel. Now, if you want Rachel, that's going to be another seven years. Tricky! And he got to marry Rachel, but he is still committed, and he's got to stay there for at least seven years, even married to both of them, so that he can work off the debt. Tricky! Bottom line is, he lives a whole tricky life.
And here is my point. This man gets to the place he spent 20 years away from home, away from Canaan, 20 years dealing with the trickiness that he married into, and finally it's time for him to have a fresh start. But there can be no fresh start without facing the consequences of his past.
And as it is in his life, so it is in yours. Some of you want a fresh start, but I came to let you know you can't have a fresh start until you have the courage, I'm on the courage point, to face the consequences of what you've done to this point. See, you got to understand, you can't just pretend like your past doesn't exist. God's going to give you the ability, if you have the courage, and he can even give you that, if you ask for it.
He's going to give you the ability to work through, not to look past, not to act like it didn't happen, the things in your past. Your mistakes are your mistakes. They're always going to be there. Your issues are your issues.
Until they get dealt with, they're always going to be there. You've got to have the courage now to work through it and to do it God's way. So I won't even turn to it in the interest of time because I've got to wrap this up in a few minutes.
Let me just tell you, go to Genesis 32 when you get a chance, and what you'll see is the 20 years are done. He has worked for Laban. He's dealt with all this trickiness. He is still realizing I've got to deal with what I did before, so he's got to go back home and deal with Esau. He leaves Laban in a tricky way.
You'll read that in Genesis 32. Laban runs after him and says, nuh-uh, nuh-uh, nuh-uh, you're not going to do this, and they have a little intense fellowship, and then you'll read about how they work it out. Laban lets him go on his way after they work it out, but he's on his way to deal with the worst of his past, what he did to his brother Esau, and here's what I want to point out to you. He sends, he hears, as they're on their way to Canaan, he gets word that Esau is coming for you. I can't tell somebody your past is coming for you. You can't ignore it.
You're going to have to deal with it. His reconnaissance team went out, and they came back and said, hey, Esau on his way, and he got 400 people with him. 100, H-U-N-I-D, 400. With 400 of them coming, you're going to have to deal with your stuff. He gets that word.
400 of them coming, oh, my Lord. So he starts sending waves of appeasement. He sends folk with gifts. He knows his brother has every right to kill him, and he's sending all this stuff, and he finally gets to the place you read about in 32 when he finally sends his family, and he's now alone. He says, I'm coming. Y'all just go ahead, but he spends a night alone. He needs that night alone because he's not ready to face Esau till he faces himself.
You're not ready to face your challenges, the issues of your past, until you're ready to face God honestly, and so in Genesis 32, beginning with verse 24, here's what you'll find. Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. What man?
What are you talking about? Where did a man come from? He just said he's alone. God sent an angel in human form to have a wrestling match. He recognizes this guy. Wherever he came from, he must have what I need, or God wouldn't have sent him, and he grabs him, and they literally wrestle throughout that night.
Jacob is alone. He's afraid. He's tired of himself. You won't get anywhere till you get sick of yourself, and he got sick of himself, and it held onto this man. The man said, I got to go. He said, nope, nope, nope. You're not leaving here till I get a blessing, and you know the story.
Read it. The man smote his hip and caused him to have to limp from then on, but he left him with a blessing. In fact, he said before he left, you're no longer Jacob. You're Israel. You're no longer a trickster, a deceiver, a con artist.
Get over. You're now a prince with God. Brothers and sisters, that's what you got to do. You got to wrestle until God wins. When you wrestle with God until you lose, till you give up, till you're tired of you, till you're sick of you, till you say, Lord, make me something better than who I am, what I am. I'm tired of being tricky. I'm tired of being whatever you have to fill in that blank with, tired of packing an attitude all the time, tired of being hateful, unforgiving.
Whatever it is, call yourself who you are. No future in front. You got to wrestle until you lose because when you lose to God, you actually win. Jesus showed you that in the garden. He said, I don't want to have to go through this for these people. He knew what he was facing, carrying the sins of literally the whole world upon him. He said, if there's any way I can do this another way, please let this cup pass from me. Then Jesus knew. I can't even ask for that.
That's not, I know why I came. He said, nevertheless, not my will, but yours, Father, be done. Wrestle with God, my friend, till you lose, till you surrender.
I'm so glad I grew up in a church. The saints put you on the altar and said, stay there till you give it all up. Stay there till you say yes.
When you say yes, when your fight's gone, you actually win. And I came to tell somebody, you're going to get stronger, wiser, better, but there's going to be a process. There's going to be a pattern. You're going to have to identify the things that have to go. You have to renew your mind. I'm sick of being me. And you're going to have to say, okay, Lord, introduce the newness.
That'll take me where you want me to be. Thanks so much for being here for today's Destined for Victory message, junk removal for the soul. Pastor Paul Shepherd joins me now from his studio. Pastor, today's message is part of a series of messages entitled Embracing Newness.
Can we talk about this newness and what that's all about for a moment? Yeah, I was studying the book of Ephesians like I've done over the years for a new approach to some of the concepts that Paul shares. And I locked in on a few verses there in Ephesians chapter 4. And it dawned on me that spiritual growth and development will always have this three-fold approach. And what I mean by that is Paul says, there are some things you have to put off and then you have to renew your mind and then there are some things God wants you to add to your life. And as I was studying that this time, I thought, wow, that'll preach in a way I probably never focused on in past Ephesians series. And so I decided to take those messages and talk about embracing newness because you've got to be willing to take off some things in preparation for what God wants to do in your life. Then you have to allow him to renew your mind so that when you put on the newness, it becomes part of who you really are. And so our spiritual growth and development really will always have those three aspects.
And I hope this series is going to make that real clear. You know me, I like to be practical, so I talk about really practical things because Paul does there in Ephesians 4. For instance, he says, y'all got to quit lying and tell the truth.
Pretty practical. Yeah, and I had never really thought about that. Like, wow, he's writing believers, but he didn't assume that they're automatically going to tell the truth because they're saved. So he gives us the instructions how to put off lying, how to renew our minds, and how to add truth telling to our lives. And I unpack that and many other concepts in this series. I think it's going to be a real help and blessing to listeners. I look forward to hearing from you as to how God uses this series in your life. And we look forward to it as well, Pastor.
That series began yesterday and continues for the next couple of weeks. So be sure to tune in and learn how to embrace the newness of your life with Christ. Well, we have a great resource to share with you today, yours by request for your generous donation to Destined for Victory. It's a booklet from Pastor Paul titled You're in God's Army Now. This is a great companion guide to the messages earlier this month right here on the program, one that explains how to be an effective soldier in the Army of God. That's You're in God's Army Now, a booklet from Pastor Paul and our gift to you by request for your gift to Destined for Victory. Please call us at 855-339-5500 or visit pastorpaul.net to make a safe and secure donation online. You can also mail your gift. Our address is Destined for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538.
Once again, the address, Destined for Victory, Box 1767, Fremont, California 94538. Newness can't start with the stuff, with your life, with your lifestyle, with your actions. Newness has to start between your ears. Newness starts in the mind. Newness starts in the attitude. That's what the apostle just told you. You got to be made new in the attitude of your mind. That's tomorrow in Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, The Gift of Frustration. Until then, remember, He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. In Christ, you are destined for victory.
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