On 17th of August, Pr Michael Koh of Vision Christian Fellowship in California, United States came to preach in FGA KL about how we can get securely established by God.
Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. (Psalm 94:12-13)
The verses above are comforting because they tell us that God disciplines us with the future in mind. Even though there are times you feel pruned, crushed, and broken, these processes are crucial to build our discipline and spiritual formation to fulfil our destiny in life. In other words, our difficult times in life hold the seeds of our future destiny.
Joseph, for example, was a man of destiny, where he was sent ahead to Egypt to save His people from the famine.
He (God) called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; and he sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. (Ps 105:16-17)
But sometimes, we wonder if we were sold or sent. Perhaps, you are sold to bad luck, bad people, or even demons. When you are sold, that means you are assigned to an authority figure to be in control of you.
But as God’s children, we cannot be sold but can only be sent by God; though in this process of sending you ahead, you may feel sold. However, be encouraged because events do not randomly happen in the space of time. But they are prophetically ordered by God to fulfill His purposes.
For example, Joseph was a man of destiny from the start. We know that his father have intentions to raise him up amongst his brothers, by giving him a coat of many colors. But this evoked the jealousy of his brothers who later sold him naked to the Potiphar guards. Suddenly, Joseph was stripped of everything.
Sometimes, in fulfilling our destiny as well, God also strips us of the things that we thought we could rely on such as our resources, connections, favor, and basically everything that gave us significance. But when we are brought to a zero, something rise up from the landscape of nothingness. We see the steadfast love of God, whereby He has made a covenant that He will never leave or forsake you.
“God has promised us no matter what the situation is and what has been taken away from you, there will be one thing that appears in the midst of ‘zeroness’ and it is his covenant love, a dynamic love of God. There are three things that began to come out of this relationship, He began to give us the seed of fruitfulness, intimacy, and God’s destiny in us,” said Pr Michael.
It is in the zeroes that these seeds began to appear, so that we are not confused with any false support other than God. God is preparing us for the days ahead because He can only work in our life when we rely on the real source of supply, which is God Himself.
“Within that framework of utter poverty and utter incarceration, there’s something that’s coming up that causes us a quality of life that is distinct. But in abasing, you find a certain amount of grace arising,” said Pr Michael.
Pr Michael recalled his days as a church planter in Kuantan in the 1990’s. Not receiving any income, he would break his Maggi mee into half for breakfast and dinner. On some days, he had to rely on his church members to invite him for dinner.
At one point, during a bleak and discouraging time, Pr Michael shared only five people came to church. But somehow, the Lord touched one of the attending boys to provide food for him. So, every day, he would find three trays of curry faithfully awaiting him at the bottom of the staircase of the shop lot he stayed in.
“We need to develop a certain muscles that allow us to live unto God and to be attentive to His provision, not shaken by things that seem to slipping away of us. God sometimes exercise those muscles when our normal supply is not there,” said Pr Michael.
What is the thing that allowed Joseph to remain sane in the prison and become the man of destiny for the time of famine?
“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” (Gen 40:8)
Joseph sets himself up as someone who can hear from God supernaturally to the officials of Pharaohs. (Gen 40:8) Imagine the preparation he had to go through in prison. He had to fight the daily angst of overcoming depression in the darkness of the prison. Only then, he can hear the Spirit of God to interpret the dreams. We know that Joseph wanted to get out of prison (Gen 40:14), yet he was not discouraged from the waiting.
Jeremy Shu-How Lin, a famous American professional basketball player, is another picture of the spiritual tenacity of Joseph. Having rejected by Stanford University for basketball, he entered Harvard University, which did not offer an athletic scholarship.
Even after Jeremy graduated, the mainstream teams never picked him. But instead, he was drafted into the NBA Development League three times with his hometown Golden State Warriors.
He played well and always dreamt for the time God would lift him up. All he had was a supernatural hope. Can you imagine the strength and hope he need to muster in training at a professional level but never getting the chance to play in the court? Jeremy had to work against all hopelessness and disappointments.
He continued playing before he was sold to the New York Knicks in the year 2011 to 2012 seasons. But one day, Jeremy could not withstand the struggle to have hope and he broke down in front of his pastor.
“What Jeremy said that he had to do is to experience the grace of God every day. He has to exercise his spiritual muscles. He has to pray until God lift up his depression that everything would end up with nothing.
“Some days, there were hopefulness but some days were very dark. It is in those dark days, he had to exercise intentionality in building his spiritual muscles. These are the times when you’re in Potiphar’s house and you’re in prison, you just got to believe that God would turn up and show up. In this place, God is showing how to move from zero to a breakthrough,” said Pr Michael.
When God comes into our life, God is the lion of the tribe of Judah. (Rev 5:5) If you come to Him, He will tear apart things that are useless and corrupted from you.
Eventually, Jeremy came to place of playing out of obedience to God. The Knicks were losing until Jeremy was finally chosen to play in February 2012. After having practiced in obscurity for five years, Jeremy was chosen to play for the first time in the courts. He played so well that he unexpectedly turned the table, and single-handedly led a winning streak for his team. His performance were so amazing that he scored the most total points by a single player in the first five starts, since the 1976-1977 NBA season. And this started a worldwide following of Jeremy, coined as ‘Linsanity.’
“If we are only good when there’s a crisis, it’s not going to cut it at all because it’s too late. What training does—that repetitive way of doing things the hard way—it straightens our soul.
“Training involves a repetitive faithfulness, what you called as obedience over a period of time. It is something that insinuates into our blood and instincts. And it is this training, which causes us to deliver when the time comes… because there comes a time in your life that you get tapped on the shoulder to do something that other people cannot do,” said Pr Michael.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” (Gen 41:15)
The Pharaoh said to Joseph that he has heard about the small and insignificant favor Joseph did for the cupbearer in prison. Although the incident happened in the prison, far away from the ‘mainstream’ events of the palace, Pharaoh heard about Joseph and summoned him.
“The place where you’re at, will be the place where rumors shall arise. People would say, ‘I have heard that you have gone through trials and handled it well. I heard that you have something distinct in you and you have heard it from God.’ Wouldn’t it be great that all the things we are going through now, all the practices you are going through, will result in you having the Spirit of God in you?” asked Pr Michael.
Like Joseph, God has a destiny for you to fulfill in your life. Hence, do not be discouraged with the challenges and troubles in your life now because God is in the process of crushing, breaking, and pruning you to fulfill your destiny.
Work your hardest and do your best during this training period. Don’t give up!
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