When opportunity knocks, you'll need courage to open the door and wisdom to walk through it. In just a few moments, Pastor Paul Shepherd shares today's Destined for Victory message, Seizing the Opportunities Before You.
But before he gets started, he joins us from his studio in California. Pastor, if there's been one thing that has been certain over the past many months, it's been the uncertainty of our times. It's one of the reasons we want to encourage everyone to have this month's offer, a booklet you've titled, God in Scary Times.
So tell us about this great resource and how what God did in Abraham's life can be an encouragement to us. It started with me thinking personally about what was it like to be Abraham, having to send your wife Hagar and your firstborn son Ishmael away from the family home. You know, that had to be awfully scary.
Then I thought about, well, what would it be like to be Hagar and to be Ishmael and suddenly you are put out of your home and you're going God knows where to do God knows what. That had to be awfully scary. Frankly, sometimes in our lives, we hit scary moments. They might not be what these people experienced, but if you've ever been through some tough times and my grandmama would have said, if you haven't yet, keep on living because it's going to happen.
It's going to happen, right? And the result is you're going to wonder, Lord, how in the world am I going to get through this, whatever your this is? And so I wrote this part of the series and I wrote this booklet with the desire and the hope and the prayer that God would help people understand that he is available to us even in scary moments.
His faithfulness is certain and although it doesn't feel very good, the Lord has promised that he is going to finish the good work he began in us. So I pray that those who received this booklet, which they can have at their request this month as they donate, I pray that it will be a real blessing and it will help them through the scariest moments in their lives. You know, the word of God tells us in 2 Timothy 1 verse 7 that the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. Again, the booklet is called Trusting God in Scary Times and it's our gift to you this month by request for your generous donation to Destiny. Destiny for Victory. Call 855-339-5500 or visit pastorpaul.net to make a safe and secure donation online. You can also mail your gift to Destiny for Victory, Post Office Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538.
Again, our address is Destiny for Victory, Box 1767, Fremont, CA 94538. Don't let the devil tie your past to your future. My history is what it is, but my destiny is what God said it's going to be.
Oh, I came to tell somebody something. I can't change my history, but I'm going to experience my destiny in Christ. Years ago, an American theologian wrote what we now know as the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. On today's Destiny for Victory, Pastor Paul Shepherd talks about two key words from that prayer, courage and wisdom.
You'll need both to reach your destiny in Christ. So here's Pastor Paul with today's message, Seizing the Opportunities Before You. 1 Kings chapter 17. Let me read some selected verses beginning with verse 1. Elijah the Tishbite of the inhabitants of Gilead said to Ahab, as the Lord God of Israel lives before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years except at my word. Then the word of the Lord came to him and said, Get away from here and turn eastward, hide by the brook-cheriff which flows from into the Jordan, and it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the brook-cheriff which flows into the Jordan.
The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. We'll pause right there. This is clearly part one because there's much more of this message that I need to deliver than I can do now, so I'll just get it kicked off in these moments and pick it up next week. This message, I'm sure, is a Rhema word for some of you. Rhema is a Greek term that just indicates it is a timely, very specific, timely word to meet certain targeted needs at a certain time. And this is a Rhema word for some of you who have been wondering how you're going to deal with the challenges you face, whether those challenges are financial or other types of challenges, but you're feeling really pressed, feeling really, I don't know what's going to happen. The Lord has sent this word especially for you, but even if you're not in a tight place or feeling like that, always take the word, jot it down, because sooner or later you're going to need that word.
And so whether you're in that space right now, pay attention to what I'm going to say in these messages because it will come in handy. Now look with me at verse one again. Elijah, who is a prophet, is sent by God to the king whose name in this season of Israel's existence is Ahab.
Ahab is a man who, although leading God's people, he is not doing it God's way. He, first of all, he married wrong. And I want to tell all of y'all who want to marry, make sure that you marry somebody who's going where God is taking you. Because if you marry in the wrong direction from where God's taking you, then you suddenly have the pull, do I do God's will or do I do my spouse's will? And it is never a good idea to marry somebody with the hope that they'll get their act together one day.
None of you have ever done that or known anybody who's ever done that. But I have met some folk who married somebody with just the blind hope one of these days they're going to get their act together. Or married somebody with obvious issues that they're not addressing and when somebody brings up where you know he or she has this issue or that or the other, what makes you think that you're, oh, I just believe that things are going to work out. I am so tired of people who just practice, it's not even blind faith, it's just presumption that is based on nothing.
If you're going to expect something that needs to be a track record, something that indicates I have the right to have this expectation. But I have over the years of being a pastor, I've had folk bring something in front of me and stand it up and say, pastor, here's. And, you know, and I'm looking at him like, really, this is what you want to bring in front of me. And pastor, and he said, you know, he not saved yet, but he said that he doesn't mind me coming to church and that one day he might, you know, he might just save himself one day. I'm supposed to be impressed. Listen, make sound decisions for your life because they're going to have major impact.
If you want to go somewhere good, then make sure your company is right. Don't be an Ahab marrying a Jezebel and think you're going to have something worth living your life with. And this dude was married to a woman, he was the king by title, but she ran the show. And one of the things she did is she made sure that the practice of serving false gods came into the life of Israel under Ahab's reign. That was a defined point. God said specifically way back in Exodus, the Ten Commandments, thou shalt have no other gods before me.
But no, when you hook up with the wrong person, they'll try to talk you into some nonsense. And so they have this mess of a marriage and she's leading God's people into idolatry. No, she wasn't the king, but she doesn't have to be the king. When you're the boss, it doesn't matter what your title is or is not. Whole lot of wives, well, he think he the head, but I'm the neck that turned the head.
Come on, some of y'all. And so they don't even bother him. Let him think he the head all he want, but that neck is where it determines where that head goes. And some sisters are proudly the neck. That's the way Jezebel was, and she had God's people in all kinds of mess. And so look at what's happening here in 1 Kings. God is ready to send a judgment upon his people, and he uses his prophet Elijah. Elijah pronounces there's not going to be dew nor rain for years until I say so.
That leads me to the first thing I want to mention to you for whom this is a rhema word. Doing God's will doesn't exempt us from experiencing difficulties, difficult things. Doing God's will sees a lot of folks think, just because I'm doing God's will, that exempts me from trouble.
Oh, wouldn't it be nice if that were the case? But how many of you have been like me, you've lived long enough to know you can get in a whole lot of trouble doing the will of God? You can get into all kind of mess.
You can get into all kind of difficulty. Sometimes the worst circumstances come after you've done the will of God. Do not let the enemy tell you if you were doing God's will, then you wouldn't be going through this.
Don't let the enemy tell you what Job's comfort is said to him. There must be something wrong with your life that you're going through all this mess. Somebody is going through all kinds of misery, and if you're not careful, you'll let some folk put you under false condemnation, and they'll tell you this is evidence that something's wrong in your life. No, no, you can get in a whole lot of trouble doing the will of God. I have been dead sinner in the will of God at times when I couldn't see my way out for anything.
It doesn't mean your circumstances dictate your experience with God. So I need you to know you're doing God's will just like Elijah did, but notice this. When he pronounces this word of prophecy, there's not going to be rain or dew until I say it, and it's going to be years long. This drought is going to be years long. What is he implying?
He's implying that since there's not going to be rain, all us are going to be in trouble, because drought means that the crops fail and all kinds of difficulty, we're all going to be hungry and thirsty and in major trouble, and he is a citizen right where the drought's going to be. See, wouldn't it be that folk love it? Well, see, I did the will of God. I spoke that word, and all of them were in drought, but God was just raining down on me personally. No, that's not the way that goes.
It's not that cut and dried. You can't see cause and effect all the time in the kingdom of God. Sometimes the effect seems to belie the cause. The cause is he's doing God's will.
The effect is I can't drink, and my food supply is limited, just like everybody else. You know, it rains on the just and the unjust, and so he's doing the will of God, but he's about to go into the drought just along with the other people. We'll be right back with more of today's Destined for Victory message from Pastor Paul Shepherd. Listen to the broadcast on demand at pastorpaul.net.
That's pastorpaul.net, where you'll find a host of great resources at our online store, including books and DVD messages from Pastor Paul. Now, with the second half of today's Destined for Victory message, your Guinness pastor was seizing the opportunities before you. I need you to know, doing God's will doesn't exempt us from experiencing difficult things, so I want you to stop, first of all, buying the lie.
Somebody is buying the lie. I wouldn't be going through this if I had just... And then here's what the enemy loves to do. He'll make you push rewind. Look back in your life at some dumb decisions you made, and then he'll say, that is because of this. Anybody ever... Stop looking at me like that.
How many of you ever know what I'm talking about? Maybe you married somebody crazy. See, if you hadn't married them, you know how much better off your life would be now? That's the devil.
Once you married them, that was yours. Now that they're going on their way, and yeah, they might have left you with a bunch of bills and mess and foolishness and stuff, but God's going to bring you through that. Don't let the devil tie your past to your future. My history is what it is, but my destiny is what God said it's going to be.
Oh, I came to tell somebody something. I can't change my history, but I'm going to experience my destiny in Christ. The devil is a liar. If you think my past is going to determine my future, you got another thought coming, because we serve the God of Romans 8.28.
He'll take everything and work it together for good. It wasn't good. I'm not trying to make it good. Yes, I got crazy in my background. Yes, I got crazy in my life right now, but I'm called according to God's purpose, and I'm going where God's going to take me from here, and I need somebody to shake off that condemnation. There is no condemnation to those of us who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
What does that mean? That means from this moment forward, I don't care what crazy mess you made in your past, from today on, I'm walking in the Spirit. Yeah, I made some poor choices back then, but now I'm going to do what God tells me to do.
When I'm not even sure I'm supposed to do it right now, I'm just going to err on the side of safety. I'm going to believe God that my future is brighter than my past. I need somebody to take that with you right now and declare it to yourself, my future will be brighter than my past, in Jesus' name. Because I can't change the past, but I can sure move past it.
I can forget those things that are behind and reach forward to things that are in front of me. I came to tell somebody who married bad and now somebody else, a believer, a faith-walking person is looking to you and winking and blinking and carrying on. Praise God.
Don't think, well, I'm too scared because, see, the last one acted like they knew the Lord was all spiritual, so I don't know. Just check this one out better, prayerfully. Be discerning. Have the right saints around you.
Get some folk around you who know how to discern. Come on, somebody. You know me, you know my pastor will approach, run him by me. I need you to come in.
He go to Mount Nebo. That's all right, have him take a day off from Mount Nebo and come to destiny one week because my pastor needs to... You ain't going to marry his member and he doesn't know who you are. That's just not the way that's going to roll. Running by me because I've had that happen every now and then since they come and they think he's looking good and nice and just something in my spirit saying, mm-mm. And sometimes it doesn't even have to be discernment. Sometimes it's obvious. Oh, I'm trying to help somebody. Sometimes I don't need no gift, no word of knowledge, no nothing. I want him to walk away for a few minutes while I pull you aside and say, what, you on crack now? Who told you this was a good idea?
What are you thinking? But I can't tell somebody. Just because you messed up with the first one doesn't mean that's going to be what happens again. Marry better, marry right, marry prayerfully and marry in covenant with folk who will tell you the truth. I told you all we got to build relationships that have kingdom quality to them.
What's kingdom quality? That means I'm not going to let you make a mess without showing you this is not a good idea. Some of you all got, you're surrounded by your fan club. You don't need your fan club.
Your fan club doesn't help you get where God's taking you. You need Proverbs 17, 17 people. A friend loves at all times and a brother or sister is born for adversity. You need somebody who loves at all times. I don't need, they call them fair weather friends.
That's not a friend. I don't need you when the sun is shining. I need you when it's storming, when I can't see my way.
That's when I need a friend to pull up and say, all right, we're going to get through this storm. And I need somebody who will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You need people in your life who say two things. One is a question, one's a statement. Make sure all the people around you have the authority to make two statements.
One's a question. The first is, you know I love you, right? If you don't have people who can say, you know I love you, right? What's coming after that is going to hurt your feelings. That's why they're giving you that anesthesia, you know I love you, right? That ain't nothing but anesthesia, getting ready to cut you up with the truth. You know I love you, right? And then the other thing they need to be able, come on, somebody needs to accept this.
I feel the tension. Yes, give folk permission. The other thing they're going to say to you is, can I see you for a minute? What's that mean? That mean they're not going to dress you down in front of everybody else.
They got something tough to say. Their point is not to embarrass. You need some folk who will say, can I see you for a minute, and they pull you aside. This is going to be a one-on-one conversation. When I'm out in front of everybody else, you are the most wonderful being imaginable. But in privacy, I got to tell you about yourself. Do y'all have people who you've given permission? Effectively what you need to say is, when y'all see me tripping, you better say something.
That's what you need. You need some folk, you've told them, when y'all see me tripping, say something. That's your job, to say something. Where they look at you and say, something wrong. All right, that's fine, but until you tell them, you're not helping them.
Have you ever met the kind of people who say, I saw it coming. What I need with you, Monday morning quarterbacking. The game was Sunday. I could have told you that before the game started. That's not going to help me.
Tell me when you have the opportunity. This doesn't look right. That didn't sound right. I don't think attitude's right. You need to get yourself together.
You need to apologize for that. You need people who will tell you what you need to hear. Make sure you got, you know I love your right, folk, and can I see you for a minute, folk. Because God wants to get you somewhere and the right people can help you get there. And so difficulty is going to be there, which is why we've got to have our lives organized in such a way that we are going to experience God's best in our lives despite the challenges that we face. Now let's look at verses two through seven and where I have to leave off, I'll pick it up in the next message. Word of the Lord comes to him, get away from here, turn eastward, hide by the brook, cherriff which flows into the Jordan and it will be that you drink from that brook and I've commanded ravens to feed you there.
Now the premise of this whole series is about fearless living and the fact of the matter is later on in the next message, I'll show you where the fear theme comes into play and how we have to address it. Right now though, I'm setting it up and I want you to understand when Elijah speaks this word and experiences drought along with the other people, when you're in God's will, you can have trouble just like everybody else. The difference though is your trouble becomes God's trouble. The reason why you want to walk with the Lord is because when you're in trouble, God says don't worry about it, you're not in there by yourself. And I began the good work in you and I'm going to bring it to completion and so I'm going to bring you out of it. Thanks for being here for today's message, Seizing the Opportunities Before You. For more information about Destined for Victory or how you can get your copy of Pastor Paul Shepherd's booklet, Trusting God in Scary Times, stop by our website, pastorpaul.net. That's pastorpaul.net. I came to tell somebody if you will take care of God's business, do his will, God has blessings that are supernatural in nature and he will bless you in ways that don't even make sense.
I'm not telling you what I think, I'm telling you what I live. That's next time in Pastor Paul Shepherd's message, Seizing the Opportunities Before You. 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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