Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Don't Let Go

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Don't Let Go

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Don't Let Go

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Excellent video sermon by Mr. Aaron Dean. Has God been preparing you for the things in your life? Did God prepare Moses for the things he had to do in his life? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this interesting message by Mr. Dean.

Transcript

[Aaron Dean] She was four years old, shivering in the water near the shore – not because she was cold, but she was fearful. She was about to do something she had never ever done before and she didn’t know whether she wanted to do it at all. She did, yet she didn’t. 

Well, she lay back in my arms with her little life-jacket on, her little Snoopy skis on her feet, and had her legs pulled up to her chest, like I had told her. And I had my arms wrapped around her gently and lovingly. She was holding on to the end of the rope. At the other end of the rope was the boat, Michelle driving it. She probably knew this was going to happen, because her brother had learned to do this three years before, and she had seen him water skiing. As I held her, I saw little tears forming in her eyes, and I held her gently to try to encourage her – held her in position. I yelled, “Hit it!” Well, the engines engaged and the rope was tight and she started up, and just as she started to rise out of the water, she let go of the rope.

Michelle turned the boat around, came back up around, got the rope, set it all up again, and I said, “Hit it”, and she let go of the rope. After a dozen or more times of this, I could tell what she was thinking in her mind, and in her little voice, she said, “Daddy, how many times do I have to do this?” And she just figured that, if she did it enough times, then she’d be able to quit. That is what she was thinking. I could see that. So I told her, I said: “Crystal”, I said, “if you keep just letting go of the rope, we’ll be out here all day.” I said, “If you actually hang on to the rope and go up, if you fall, let go. But if you don’t fall, don’t let go.”

How many times in our lives do we see a task in front of us that is daunting – that we think we can’t handle – some trial, some circumstance, some health issue,  perhaps a job issue? But we don’t think we can handle it and we kind of let go of the rope. We let go. Do we have the faith of the One who is guiding us in our Christian pursuit knows what we can and can’t do?

Little Crystal didn’t trust herself – probably didn’t trust me totally either in this – and she probably asked herself why I was making her do this at such a young age? Before you think I am an ogre, this actually was a long time in coming. We lived…when we moved to Texas from the College – it came together when they closed Pasadena and moved to Texas – we bought a house on the lake. And the house had a swimming pool, as well as having the lake. And this…I had been preparing her for a couple of years already, actually, for this actual moment. She had learned to swim before she was two years old, and at age 4, she was a pretty accomplished swimmer for her age. She would run and play. She’d jump off the diving board. She’d go down the slide and she would do wild things with her brother, who was three years older. And water skiing would probably be easier for her than jumping off the diving board, sliding down that slide. I’d also, in the intervening year, put her on my skis and held her, and said, “Hit it!” so she’d gone around the lake, standing on my skis. I set a second rope and I gave it to her, so she could hold onto the rope, as well, and feel that. For her fear of falling in the water, I actually would let go at times, and we’d sink in the water. And we’d get up again, and I’d let go, and we’d sink in the water, to let her realize – and we were going at probably at twenty miles per hour, which is what you did. You are going at least that, because our two weights combined were about 200 pounds. I was about 170 and she was 30, so I knew that when she started skiing it wouldn’t take any power at all to get her up. I mean, she could ski in neutral practically. I remember once she said, “Daddy, you are going too fast!” I said, “That is just the wind blowing,” because we are in neutral. But it was interesting, I knew it wouldn’t be that hard. If she fell, it wouldn’t be anything at all for her. And so I’d been preparing her all this time. And she’d been going a lot slower than she had gone with me. I truly had prepared her for what she was going to do, but she didn’t know it. She didn’t realize all those things leading up to that was preparing her for the next stage – what she would do. She didn’t realize the end-goal that I want her to have – to build her self-esteem, to be able to do something that others couldn’t do, to gain some confidence in her abilities at a young age, so she would try other things. She was ready. She didn’t think she could do it, but she could.

I believe God works with us in the same way. After all, He is building a family as well. He is teaching His family – teaching us what He wants us to know. Christ, when He left, said He was going to prepare a place for the apostles and for all those of us who learn by them through God’s word. God knows what His short-term goals and His long-term goals are for you and for me, but we don’t always know what He is doing or why He is doing it. But He is the One in control and He sets those events in our lives to make us do what He wants and to learn what He wants.

We read famous characters in the Bible and are told those are examples for us. I would like to go to one of those today and kind of carry the story flow through for you, because when I was young, I was kind of, “Well, those were in the old days. God worked with them in the old days. In the old days God did all these things that He doesn’t do today.” But He does. He does the same thing in different ways to different people.

Turn to Genesis, chapter 15, if you would. Let’s start with Abraham, the father of the faithful. He had his weaknesses and his problems, just as all of us do, but it was interesting that God gave him some knowledge of what was going to happen. He made promises to him. He told him to leave Ur of the Chaldees, which he did.  He told him he would have a son and a multitude of children, and yet his wife was barren. Genesis 15, verse 12:

Genesis 15:12-14 Genesis 15:12-14 [12] And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and, see, an horror of great darkness fell on him. [13] And he said to Abram, Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; [14] And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
American King James Version×
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and surely, they will afflict them four hundred years. And also that nation whom they serve I will judge. Afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

Four hundred years before this would happen, God told Abraham what would befall his descendants – the ones he didn’t have yet – and they were going to be slaves. You’d think they’ll be a lot of people, but yet he started out so small. And so, if we look at the incredible events that God caused for this to come to pass – the events that he put Abraham, Isaac, Jacob through, and on down – to make this all happen – incredible trials. Why? To show the glory of God, which is really why each of us, as we go through our trials, to show God’s glory – what He can do, not what we can do.

Those involved would only have a glimpse of what was to come, without knowing the who, the what or the why. God doesn’t always describe everything in detail. That is something that we tend to look back on. And even then, we don’t always figure it out. But He lets us play a part in it. He lets us choose things. So Abraham and Sarah, who waited decades for a child, were told here that their descendants would be slaves in another country. It didn’t say where. It didn’t say exactly when it would take place, but they’d be there. What events could possibly move them out of the promised land that God had given them? Abraham was very wealthy. How many of you know wealthy people that become slaves? It generally doesn’t work that way.

We all face daunting tasks in our lives, so I ask you, as I’ve asked myself, “Are these random, or are these for a purpose, and how do we handle them?” Abraham had those promises – promises unfulfilled for decades. He and Sarah were going to have lots of descendants. That’s what God told them. They tried to solve the problem themselves with Hagar and Ishmael. And I found that, when I try to solve a problem myself, I end up with Ishmael, too – not literally, but when you try to do it on your own, it doesn’t work. Waiting for God to make things work, and to see what He has in store afterwards, is what is important. God chose them to give one child a promise. And he and Sarah eventually did conceive Isaac. When we hear or think we hear what God wants, sometimes we try to accomplished it just like Abraham did with Hagar.

Turn to Genesis 22, verse 11. Again, when we decide how to accomplish it, that is not usually how God works. And He works with what we choose, sometimes, and He will straighten us out and move us around – will set up the events and give us the chance to prove Him – that He is God.

Genesis 22:11-13 Genesis 22:11-13 [11] And the angel of the LORD called to him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. [12] And he said, Lay not your hand on the lad, neither do you any thing to him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from me. [13] And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
American King James Version×
But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” Again, this is Abraham about to offer his son, Isaac – asked to do something that almost no one can live up to. I know, if God asked me to offer my son – a different world, a different time, a different place than it was back then – but still, if you have to give up your son, it’s a hard thing. Verse 12: And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” – like God the Father with Christ – and then Christ had to die – Isaac didn’t. Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. God supplied the actual sacrifice. He still wanted a sacrifice, but He let him use a ram. God decides how and when to make a way of escape.

We are going to go back to Genesis, but we are now going to turn to 1 Corinthians 10, verse 11 through 13. God has a way of escape for us so we can prove Him.

1 Corinthians 10:11-13 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 [11] Now all these things happened to them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come. [12] Why let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. [13] There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
American King James Version×
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. These stories are for us. I often tell my students in ABC, the one thing that got me through life with different temptations, trials and tribulations and things that have happened to me, were these stories. There is always a story of somebody who had some situation similar to what you are in. One of the things I did…Mr. Armstrong, when he made me his aid – I turned him down three times, three weeks in a row…. The third time he said, “I’m not asking. I’m telling you.” So I ended up doing the job, but I prayed. I went through all the stories of the servants in the Bible – something I had to go through, because I knew I was going to go through some things, because that’s just the way things work. Every servant in the Bible did go through things – like Abraham’s servant. I thought that was one of the toughest ones – finding a wife for your future boss. I thought that would be a no-win situation. How did he come up with doing that by the well? Elisha’s servant went after the goods, and he got leprosy. I didn’t want to do that. I went through them all, because I knew I would be in some situations where it was going to take some wisdom, and those stories got me through. Those examples do make a difference. Verse 12: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. If you decide to do it yourself, you will fall. You will get your Ishmael. Verse 13: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted beyond what you are able. but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Don’t let go. God will help you bear it. It is only when we let go that we fail. God brings us around through repentance and things. He can do it again. Abraham did not have to sacrifice his son, but he was willing to obey, and God saw that. So Abraham and Sarah had Isaac. Now that is not a big start for multiplication – one son. And then Isaac had two sons. Now at this rate, in 400 years, you’d probably have around 200, if you only start with a couple at a time. And it was through Jacob that God was going to continue the promises.

Isaac favored Esau, the hunter – the wild, strong man. Rebekah favored Jacob, the softer one, and that was wrong. That shouldn’t have happened. That happens sometimes in families, including families in God’s plan. But God had to teach Jacob a few things, because Jacob had taken the birthright by offering a bowl of soup to his hungry brother. Now he should have given him the soup free. That is what you normally would do to help. Feed the hungry. That is a Christ-like attitude. Well, he wanted something back for it, the birthright. Of course, Esau despised it. “What is the birthright worth if I’m dead?” And he was right, but he really wasn’t going to die. He just thought he was. And then, with his mom in collusion, Jacob stole the blessing. He shouldn’t have done that as well – again, doing things through our way – which forced Jacob to have to flee. He goes to where his wife’s family was from, to Laban, and God often works with what we do, right or wrong, to bring us where He wants us to be. It could have happened in a different way, but that was the way it was.

But with Jacob the promise seemed to play a little more – began to grow. Through the deceit Laban played on Jacob, he ended up with two wives – one he didn’t want and one he really loved – again, causing problems. Here is a lesson we should all learn: You reap what you sow. God let him get a taste of what it is like to be deceived. Through the two wives and their hand-maids, he had twelve sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Gad, Issachar, Naphtali, Zebulun, Asher, Joseph and Benjamin. Hey, it is getting a little bigger now. A few hundred years down the road, but there’s still not a whole lot of them. They’re still wealthy. How does that promise come to play, and did they really believe it? Hard to say. The wife Jacob loved most was Rachel and she had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Two he favored. Again, something parents should not do – favoring one son over another – but yet he did. But God usually takes care of these things.

God made Esau fairly wealthy as well, so he wouldn’t have hatred and animosity for his brother.  When Jacob came back, he was afraid he would be killed by his brother. So God, I’m sure, blessed Esau, and Isaac did give a blessing on Esau as well, but Esau didn’t really believe these promises the same way. And so God took care of it so that Jacob wouldn’t be destroyed through the mistakes he made.

This favoritism, though, apparently kept Joseph close to Jacob. It gave him a little more of accounting for the sheep – not just simply a shepherd in the field, like his brothers, all the time. This would give preparation for Joseph that God would use later on.

Joseph had dreams. We read about those dreams in Genesis 37. Turn there next. God was working with him, but again, Joseph didn’t really know how that would work out. Genesis 37, we’ll read in verse 2 to start with. This made his brothers jealous and his father even rebuked him.

Genesis 37: 2 – These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report. They were over there doing something they shouldn’t have. I’m not sure what – whether it was with the sheep or with the people. Verse 3: Now Israel loved Jospeh more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. He was a 100-plus years at this time – again, past the 400-year promise. …and he made him a coat of many colors – a little favoritism shown there. Verse 4: But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers. And they hated him even more. Verse 6: So he said to them, “Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed. For behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose and also stood upright, and behold, your sheaves stood round around and made obeisance to my sheaf.”
Oooh, a little gas on the fire here. Again, why did he even tell them? Why did God give him these dreams? And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him yet more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream – verse 9 – and told it to his brethren, and said, “Look, I have dreamed dream more. And behold, this time the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me. And he told it to his father and his brethren, and his father rebuked him, and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to you in the earth?” His father knew what the dream meant. Verse 11: And his brethen envied him, but his father observed the saying – because his father had had some dreams too. He observed it. It didn’t make sense. Yes, they were going to be slaves in another 300 years, or whatever, and he knew some of those stories, but Joseph? A father bowing down to his son? That didn’t make sense. Joseph was being prepared, but for what? He didn’t know. Even his father made it clear what the dream meant, and it didn’t make sense. He knew what Joseph was saying. Was it random?

The next step: Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. The jealousy and the hatred…. And again, these dreams made his brothers more angry at Joseph. Now if I am favoring someone, I don’t do things to them that make other people angry at them. God gave these dreams to him to make his brothers so angry they were willing to kill him. And then one brother, Reuben, says, “No, no. Let’s just sell him.” But these dreams that God gave him – God was setting the stage.
If God makes my life miserable, I generally don’t think it is because He likes me. But yet, there is something in there that He’s doing sometimes. He didn’t see it. Joseph didn’t see it. But yet, God gave those dreams to him and he was being prepared for something. He didn’t know.

So Joseph was sold and he was wondering, “How could this be good?” And he goes to Egypt. Was it random he was sold to Potiphar – one of the wealthy men in Egypt? Joseph’s training from his father – his accounting and various things – were put to use. Potiphar recognized that Joseph was educated and able to do things, so he put him over his whole house. And it seemed like that was a good thing, yet that wouldn’t really fulfill the dreams that his great-grandfather had. He was wondering probably, “What’s going on?” Why? What purpose does God have in sending him into slavery? In all of our Cinderella stories – finding the slipper and the queen, or king, or whatever – most of the Cinderella stories aren’t slavery.

But all the while that Joseph was there, He remembered God. Joseph did have a connection to his father and grandfather and great-grandfather to God and these dreams. And yet, he’s got to be wondering during his dreams, “What is God doing?” He didn’t know why, but he didn’t let go. He didn’t say, “Okay God, You deserted me, I am deserting You.” I’ve heard people say that to me. “Well, God didn’t help me here, so I am through with this. I am through with religion” – sadly.

Certainly, God was blessing him. But then Potiphar’s wife lies about him, and says that he tried to rape her, and he gets put in prison. “How does that fit into this plan?” Joseph has to wonder. He tells the truth and yet he is put in prison. Why didn’t God just reveal the truth so Joseph meets Pharaoh. When I was a kid, I was told, “Tell the truth and everything will work out.” And he tells the truth, and he gets thrown into prison. It didn’t work out. Certainly God should be fair.

In prison, God again gave him favor. He basically ran the jail while he was in there, because they saw he was a good guy and knew what he was doing. He could take some of the workload off the guards and things. Again, his skills from honed in probably the most unforgiving of circumstances – in prison. Many would give up on God. But again, Joseph didn’t let go.

Through the dreams of the butler and the baker – we read about those – he foretells the dream. And they both promise that…the one that was free…”Hey, tell the Pharaoh I am down here and I interpreted this for you,” in the hope that he would get out of prison. He didn’t really want to be there, even though he kind of ran it. He still didn’t want to be there. But they forgot their promise. The butler and the baker were released.

God didn’t bring him out immediately. It wasn’t until the Pharaoh had a dream a few years later that the butler remembered, “Oh yes, that’s right, there was this young kid in prison that interpreted my dreams, and the baker was hung and I was brought back, just like he said.” So, finally, Joseph, because of that dream, interpreted the dream, and Pharaoh saw the wisdom – and God, I’m sure, directed him to. Who is wiser than someone who knows the future, and know what this means? So Joseph was put into something that he had been prepared for all of his life – he didn’t know it – to be at the right of Pharaoh – preparation for what God had in store for him. And here was God, who loved Joseph, and Joseph, I am sure, was wondering through all these calamities, “What in the world are You doing, God? Why am I where I’m at?” 

Have you ever felt that way? I have – a number of times. I heard Mr. Armstrong, in prayer, ask God, “Why?” about something in the work and events in the church. We all do that, because we all want to know. It’s like Daniel – “Tell me what this is.” “Daniel, that is not for you know.” That is a lousy answer, isn’t it? It’s not what we want to hear, but that is His business. And, if we knew, we’d probably be in trouble, so He is smarter than we are. We don’t always know. We just have to have faith that He is preparing something in you and in me, that He is working out for some purpose. Again, one in eight billion – something God knows about you, which is useful, helpful in the future.

It wasn’t until God had brought the famine on the earth that the dreams of Joseph, that he had with his brothers, would come true. The dream made his brothers hate him. Genesis 50. Let’s go to Genesis 50 to see a little bit more on this. His brothers – of course, the famine was there - Jacob sent them down with some money to buy food – the only place that had food was Egypt. And the Pharaoh ended up owning all the land because no one had food.

Genesis 50:18-20 Genesis 50:18-20 [18] And his brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be your servants. [19] And Joseph said to them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? [20] But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
American King James Version×
Then his brethren also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” This was right after he’d told them who he was. They were sure he was going to kill them. I mean, they would have killed him if it had been reversed, I’m sure. They already tried to kill him once, and sold him into slavery, so they were sure. But he says to them: “Fear not, for am I in the place of God?” He recognized that God does things, not us. “But as for you” – verse 20 – “you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it to pass, as it is this very day, to save much people alive. He didn’t hold a grudge, if you read the story. Of course, the brothers thought he held a grudge still. When Jacob died they thought, he is going to kill us now, because he just didn’t want his father to know he was going to kill us all. But he didn’t. And that’s what happens when you don’t do things wrong – you get paranoid. Paranoia – there is nothing worse than waiting to find out what the punishment is going to be. But God forgives.

I think I’ve read this verse many, many times during the dark periods in my life or dark periods or times in the church. There have been a lot of things that have happened. It is interesting. The closer you are to the top, the more things God seems to work out, and the more people want to be in charge, and the more people are after money, or power, or whatever. And, if you are honest and you are not seeking those things, you often get in the way of the people that do.

I always look at it like Joseph. “God, You’re doing something here.” I can tell stories all day. After one person tried to take over, I was exiled for a month. My life was threatened. Mr. Armstrong calls me up, and says, “Aaron, leave town immediately. You’re life’s been threatened.” I jumped hotels for a while – most people don’t know that in the church – but the same stories, the same people, the same motives, the same things. It happens – so many events like that. But again, verses like this will take you through. Does someone mean something for evil? God means it for good. You have to think that way.

Well, what about this promise of slavery – 400 years? Verse 21:

V-21 – “Now therefore, fear not. I will nourish you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

And then he moved them all to the best part of Egypt – Goshen – water, grazing ground for everything – with their brother the most powerful man under the Pharaoh. The people of Israel had to feel really good at this point – given the best land. Life was good and they multiplied. That part of the promise is coming true. And they are very wealthy, because they have the best part of the land. Again, they had this inheritance – Jacob was wealthy, and Isaac and Abraham and their brother obviously. And yet, there was that prophecy, in Genesis 15:13 Genesis 15:13And he said to Abram, Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
American King James Version×
, that said they would be slaves in a foreign nation. Now it is over 200 years before that – that the prophecy was made – and they are living it up and having plenty of wealth, food. And then all of a sudden, a Pharaoh comes up who knew not Joseph, and they are put into slavery. It finally comes true – this prophecy that would seem like it wouldn’t happen. Those favored were now cursed. The wealthiest, the most powerful nation in the world, now dominating their lives, even to the point of killing their babies. How would they be delivered from this? Prophecy did say they would come out with a high hand and much wealth, but how would that happen? Egypt’s armies could take over all the world.

God was in charge as always, again, without giving anyone the details – the preparation that was going to come. God speaks of knowing people from the womb in Isaiah 49, verse 1 (keep your finger where you are, because we coming back to Exodus):

Isaiah 49:1 Isaiah 49:1Listen, O isles, to me; and listen, you people, from far; The LORD has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name.
American King James Version×
Listen, O islands, to Me, and hearken, you peoples from afar! The Lord has called Me from the womb. From the bowels of My mother has He made mention of My name.

V-5 – And now the Lord says – who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength)…. Again, to glorify God is why this happens. Jeremiah also – chapter 1 – talks about God knowing him from the womb.

Jeremiah 1:4 Jeremiah 1:4Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
American King James Version×
Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you. Before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you. I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Wow! How many of us did God know? Where did He pick us from? You know the old joke – there are a million sperm and that’s the fastest one. I think He knows a lot more about us, starting earlier than we ever think He did in our lives. We can never do that. Jeremiah, of course, said, “Ah, Lord God! ….. I am only a child.”

I said that too. I told Mr. Armstrong, “There are a lot of other men around you who have been there a lot longer. Let them do the job.” I don’t know why he wanted me.” I did go through a lot of trouble. I knew it couldn’t be done, and I was right, but God can do it. That is how it works. You don’t know how it’s going to happen – if you don’t know what God is doing in your life.

People always ask me, how did I end up on the plane?, I said, “Ah!” There are so many things in my life He did, that I look back on now – even my father’s death – my mom was coming in the Church…. She didn’t even know Aaron was in the Bible when she named me. She started listening to Mr. Armstrong and got excited about it. My dad wasn’t excited at all. He really didn’t care about it. He liked sports and athletics. He was good in that. He was actually asked to play for the Minneapolis Lakers – that is, the LA Lakers now – but he didn’t, because he felt supervising, he made more money with a construction company. They didn’t pay people a lot back then for sports. But it was interesting, because he had a stroke and he was supposed to die. Actually, my mom got disowned by the Dean side of the family – there were four other brothers and a sister. And so my grandfather, who lived to be 98 years old, I never saw him. He died when I was three years old – which is sad. I wish I could have. But it’s interesting, because he (my dad) had a stroke, he was supposed to die. My mom was praying for him, and the family made fun of her for her crazy religion, and the doctor said he was going to die. And all of a sudden, he is healed. He gets well and he goes back to work. And then a year and half later, he gets killed in a construction accident. Well, you wonder, why? It gave my mom great faith, and then all of a sudden, he’s killed and it wasn’t even…there was a murder trial, because he was crushed by a run-away crane. And those cranes, with big balls, they go about three miles an hour under power, so they don’t really know what happened. They couldn’t prove anything, but everything about him – all the pictures, everything – ended up in that warehouse where Indiana Jones has the ark. I have hardly anything about him, but I hear stories about him. Because of that, Mr. Blackwell did the funeral and told my mom, “You ought to go to Big Sandy where the widows are.” So, if he hadn’t died, I’d probably have been into sports and all sorts of things. Instead, I was down there with the widows in Big Sandy, where I met all the many people in Big Sandy. And then four years later, my mom moved to Pasadena.

I went to school with all the evangelists’ kids and all the people that were in positions – positions that I needed to know later, with Mr. Armstrong, but I didn’t know that. I was just a kid. I had 12 years in Imperial, where I studied the Bible every day of my life. And then I went to college in Big Sandy, for a year-and-a-half, where I met Michelle – I managed to get her to like me enough that she would wait for me – and then I went to Pasadena. But in Big Sandy, because I had 12 years at Imperial, I had all the Bible classes already – because of the assistants at the college taught at Imperial – so I didn’t have to study. So I went into the kitchen and the two people in the kitchen – Ron and Rick Hoffman came from a school of culinary arts in Denver – and so I went in and asked him at night…. I had a day job – I was one of only two freshmen that had a day job – with the warehouse, delivering mail and stuff. And I went and asked, “Hey, can I learn to cook?” because we had 15 men clubs and 15 women clubs. And every semester you had a Men’s Night and a Ladies’ Night. So there were 30 dinners a semester. And then we had French club, Spanish club, and German club as well. I learned how to do Sauerbraten and all the things there, and making cherry jubilee, and Caesar’s salad from scratch with anchovy oil, the actual anchovies, and the whole packet. And I never had a recipe. It was, “Here, taste this, taste that,” just throwing stuff in. And so I learned to cook.

I went to Pasadena – didn’t do any cooking out there – because of events happening in Big Sandy that shouldn’t have happened – another trauma, similar to the ones we read about – so I went to Pasadena. In Pasadena, on graduation day, I was supposed to go to Salt Lake City as a trainee, which I didn’t expect – I wasn’t planning that direction. I didn’t expect that at all. On graduation day, Mr. Armstrong called, and asked me to fly with him. The phone rang during the brunch, and he said, “Do you know who this is?” I said, “Yes sir.” I felt like asking him if he knew who I am, but he’d asked for me, so…. I thought I was in real trouble, which I actually was, but I just didn’t know it. I said, “Well, I was supposed to leave Sunday to go to Salt Lake City.” And he said, “They’ll understand.” On Monday morning, at eight-o-clock, we left for Europe.

My first dignitary I served was King Leopold and Princess Lilian. And then, we went down to Jordan, and I served the Crown Prince’s family members. One thing I learned really quickly was the fact that water doesn’t boil at 212 degrees – at that altitude. Some things don’t cook quite the same. I had some fun and I didn’t get me bothered that I had English cream and I should have made my own butter. My grandmother taught me that.

But he asked me to fly because Mr. Armstrong wanted a college graduate and he wanted someone that could cook. How many Ambassador graduates know how to cook? I was kind of the lone wolf, I guess. I learned to cook and I ate really good – a lot better than going through the line. That’s how I ended up there.

But how much of this did God do? We don’t know. Time and chance happens, but when all these dominoes fall in one direction, you’ve got to wonder what God has in store for you.

Jeremiah didn’t have aspirations for himself. “I am a child. I don’t want to do this.” And, in an evil generation, I guess he was smart to think that way, because, if you try to be righteous in this world, you are going to get beaten up and be chewed out, and be mocked. But God doesn’t do things randomly. God knows you, and He knows what He has in store for you, and what lessons you’ll need to have to train you. When did He start? Maybe before you were born. I don’t know. It didn’t start with Crystal shivering in the water, I can guarantee that. It started, with her, a couple of years earlier, when I taught her to swim.

Let’s continue with Israel’s story in Exodus 2 – interesting things here in Exodus. Again, God doesn’t tell us everything. Do you think Moses was a random baby? The timing was right now – for that 400 year prophecy – that they would come out by high hand. Exodus 2, and verse 1:

Exodus 2:1-2 Exodus 2:1-2 [1] And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. [2] And the woman conceived, and bore a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
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There went a man of the house of Levi and took as wife a daughter of Levi.The woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw him, that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

God seemed to be involved, even in what Moses looked like. I’d like to read something from Josephus. This is something that was written by Gerard Calloway. His credentials: He has a PhD in religion from Columbia University, visiting assistant professor at Illinois College, taught at the University of Mississippi, the University of Illinois and the Wesleyan University, Columbia University and his research focuses on the New Testament and emerging Christian interactions with ancient Judaism in their Greco-Roman and near-Eastern ancient environments. That is a lot of credentials. He writes this: “During my pursuit of ancient quirks I want to discuss the strange first century interest in Moses’s beauty, as discussed in Hebrews 11 and Acts 7, and Philo of Alexandria’s recounting of it, and now, other common first century Jewish writers, such as Josephus. Josephus picks up on this broader first century promotion of this fine physique of Moses, but there is some major alterations and expansions. To recap, previous traditions directly relate Moses’s beauty at birth as the reason why his parents, particularly his mother, decided to save him from infanticide. Although Acts 7:20 Acts 7:20In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
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barely notes that Moses, at birth, was beautiful before God, Hebrews 11:22 Hebrews 11:22By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
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reasons that by faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw the child was beautiful – both built upon the reasoning found in the Septuagint – Exodus 2:2 Exodus 2:2And the woman conceived, and bore a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
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: seeing that he, Moses, was beautiful, they sheltered and covered him for three months. Philo exploits this rendering of Moses. He uses it energetically to explain why his parents saved him, and other parents did no such thing, and why Pharaoh’s daughter took an instant liking to him. It all came down to his beauty.”

Now tell me, if you are a princess and you see a baby floating by, and it’s ugly, will you pick it up and adopt it? It would seem that God was even involved in the genetics of Moses, because here was this baby that was beautiful. And Pharaoh’s daughter sees it, and falls in love with him instantly, and raises him in Pharaoh’s house. So in Exodus, verse 3, if you’re still there:

V-3-10 – And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, daubed it with slime and pitch, and put the child therein, and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. And his sister stood afar off to wit what would be done to him. And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river. And her maidens walked along by the river’s side. And when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. Again, did God put it in her mind to come down at that time, and all this? And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the babe wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maid went and called the child’s mother. She knew who it was. Pharaoh’s daughter couldn’t produce milk and so she got a nurse-maid, his mother. How would you like to nurse-maid your child as somebody else’s child? That would be hard. He was a goodly child and she loved him, and so did Pharaoh’s daughter. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages. So the woman took the child and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses. And she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

God not only saved Moses, but put him in position, preparing him for the largest organized movement of people in history. I mean, this is mass refugees. We have refugees that we talk about now. This was mass refugees. What was his preparation? Acts 7, verse 22 – I’m just going to read the verse. You don’t need to turn to it, but you can write it down. It says:

Acts 7:22 Acts 7:22And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
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And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

He was well educated. There is a great deal of time, in Exodus 2, between verse 10 and verse 11. That is the time when he slayed the Egyptian.

It is interesting – we look at Numbers 12:1 Numbers 12:1And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
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– after Moses had become a man – I would like to read something. He was versed in the wisdom of the Egyptians. This is a little bit of the story that I always wondered about until I read Josephus. I actually read Josephus when I was 12 years old, which is not a normal book for kids that age. But they kept talking about him in Bible class, so I finally…my dad had a copy, so I read it. It was a little bit beyond me, but it was kind of fun.
After Moses became a man, Numbers 12:1 Numbers 12:1And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
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says he married an Ethiopian woman. It says:

Numbers 12:1 Numbers 12:1And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
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And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married – for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

Now we do know he married Jethro’s daughter, so where did this woman come in from? Why is she there? Now it doesn’t say He didn’t have an Ethiopian wife, so obviously he had married one. The Bible doesn’t say how they met. but Josephus, in the Antiquities of the Jews, we read this:

“When Moses reached manhood there was a great battle fought between the forces of Egypt and Ethiopia. Moses in his first battle made a surprise attack on the Ethiopians and they were defeated. They began to flee Egypt while Moses followed them all the way back to their own country in order to engage them in battle. In the end, they retreated to Saba, the capital of Ethiopia. When Moses had punished the Ethiopians, he celebrated his marriage to Tharbis, the king of Ethiopia’s daughter, who had fallen in love with Moses, and had asked to give herself as a prize to Moses to stop the war.”

Now, if you are being attacked, and the prince of Egypt is going to be there, and you are going to marry him, that is pretty good status, isn’t it? I mean, your country is going to be a vassal, which is fine, because your prince is there, but now you are going to be princess for the people who conquered you. Wow! Great thing. It’s interesting.

It goes on – this is the other guy writing:

“For many years modern historians laughed at the idea of Ethiopia – that it could have been strong enough to attack and conquer part of Egypt – but in 2003, an ancient inscription was found on a tomb in Alcab dealing with the massive invasion of Egypt from the combined armies of Kush, along with its allies from neighboring lands. Many cities along the Nile were indeed ransacked by Ethiopians for their treasures.”

It kind of matches…what Moses and why he married her and the whole thing. Again, it is not in the Bible, but it is interesting to me, because I have always wondered about the Ethiopian woman.

What is interesting to me, too, is Moses – we are going to read next – how he killed the Egyptian. He leaves the country in exile. What happens to your status as a wife and princess when your husband is accused of murder and has to flee? Your status kind of goes down. Now when he comes back, and rescues, and destroys Egypt, and leaves again, he’s got status again, and she shows up. Wouldn’t you? And that is what Miriam and Aaron were talking about. Interesting take. It is something we don’t think about, but obviously, she was kind of in disgrace, and now all of a sudden she’s come back to the top.

Okay, here we go – Exodus 2:11 Exodus 2:11And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brothers, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brothers.
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– we’re going back there. The oppression of Israel Moses saw, and he killed the Egyptian, and he had to flee. He probably thought his role at this time was going to be over in Egypt.

Exodus 2:11-15 Exodus 2:11-15 [11] And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brothers, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brothers. [12] And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. [13] And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Why smite you your fellow? [14] And he said, Who made you a prince and a judge over us? intend you to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. [15] Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelled in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.
American King James Version×
And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. That took care of that. Nobody was watching. And when he went out the second day, behold, two of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow?” And he said, “Who made thee a prince to judge us? Do you in intend to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian? Uh-oh. Somebody was watching. So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” What moved him to do this? What moved them to say this? Did God create the situation? When Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. And then you have the story of Jethro’s daughters, etcetera.

Again, Moses didn’t know what he was being prepared for. He didn’t know God made him pretty. He didn’t know that God put him over the armies, that God taught him the wisdom. He knew that, but he didn’t know that God was behind it. Now, for the next 40 years, he was going to learn about God by being a simple shepherd. He never planned anything more than that. But it was different.

Hebrews 11, verse 24 through 27 – we read about Moses in the faith chapter of Hebrews. It is interesting what it says, because he had it all.

Hebrews 11:24-27 Hebrews 11:24-27 [24] By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; [25] Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; [26] Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect to the recompense of the reward. [27] By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
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By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin – see, it is pleasurable. He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible – the burning bush.

When the time came in his life when he was confronted with the choice between pleasures, wisdom, prestige, the power of Egypt, over the armies and choosing God’s people, he chose the identity of the people of God. This is Ruth, when she told Naomi, your people are my people; your God is my God. Obviously there was going to be great self-denial and suffering with the choice he was making, because we go through those things. God puts us through many events. Moses had to think his days were over. He wouldn’t need his army training now – “I’m herding sheep. Give me a dog, that is all I need!” But not so. We read what happened in verse 16 of Exodus 2:

Exodus 2:16 Exodus 2:16Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock.
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Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. (We all remember Charleston Heston doing that in the movie.) When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?” Verse 19: And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.” So he said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? – He helped out and you run off? – Call him, that he can eat with us.” Then Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses Zipporah, his daughter. Moses probably thought this was the only wife he was going to have from then on. He wasn’t planning on going back and finding his other wife, which joined him in the Exodus.

But Moses was thoroughly trained. He wasn’t being trained for war. God was training him to organize Israel and to lead them out of Egypt. He didn’t know this role until he saw the burning bush at age 80. At age 80, he had a glimpse of what was going to happen and what God told him to do – 40 years after fleeing Egypt. He had been prepped for this task – trained in Pharaoh’s house, trained in managing the army – the greatest army in the world at the time – and humbled, being a shepherd for 40 years – none of which he could have imagined at any point earlier in his life.

Why did he say no, to God? “I can’t talk. I can’t do this.” He was going to face the biggest army in the world – the army that he had led! And he was going to walk back there as a shepherd and tell them, “Let my people go” – you know, fight them off. He was probably thinking that “God is going to start some kind of war here or something, and I know what that army is like.” It’s like telling one of you go, and you have to go out here, and fight the American army. Yeah, right. He had to wonder. I’d be nervous too. But God was doing it, and he had been prepared, really.

Philippians 1, verse 6…God knows. He knew what Moses needed for preparation, just as He knows what you need for your preparation – maybe a one-time job, maybe a life-long event. I am surprised how many people in the work want to be Joshua and take over the work. Nobody seems to want to be Caleb. Caleb went in and he gave a good report, and he was able to live his life out and enjoy his family. Joshua got all the headaches. How many of you want to be a Joshua? Again, maybe a one-time job, maybe a life-long event. Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
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, though, makes it very clear.

Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
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Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ – perform it until you are ready for that first resurrection – to take your place in the Millennium.

When did God begin His work in you? We don’t really know exactly how or when. You think back and you see little things here and there. You don’t know.

I had prepped Chrystal – taught her to swim, standing on my ski’s, letting her fall, holding her tight, and I told her, “Don’t let go.” So after I told her she’d be out there all day unless she did it, I told Michelle, hit it! She lifted up out of the water – of course, “hit it” only meant getting it out of neutral – and she stood up on the water, and she held on, and she skied all the way around the lake without falling. She just didn’t know she could do it. She didn’t know she was prepared for it, but she was. It wasn’t just a skill – although some skill. It was the preparation that she’d had before and her letting go of her fear.

If you fear, you can let go – but your job and your assignment you can’t. You have to let go of fear and trust God implicitly. Preparation is not always easy. It wasn’t for Joseph. It wasn’t for Moses. And you may not even know that you are being prepared. You may have had things happen before you were even baptized for preparation – that you didn’t know. Moses certainly didn’t know what was in store for him. Joseph had his dreams, but he did not know how that was going to come to pass. Abraham was never told more than that one line: They are going to be slaves and they are going to come out rich. Nothing more. They were all wealthy until they became slaves. No one could have predicted that either. Preparation is not always easy, but God puts choices before you to help prepare you and He knows what He is doing.

I am giving an ABC class now. We’re about half-way through the year. I started the year by telling them, “God moved them somehow to apply.” He has something in store for them – something that they could learn, something that could help them in their future. We may not know what it is. Was it chance that you are here, or that they came to ABC, or others?

God says He calls us, so it wasn’t chance. He called you. God has plans for each of us. Our skill-sets are all different. Our first knowledge is different. The things that God puts us through are different. But we all live in the same world – Satan’s world – with all of its problems and all of its trials, and they will be magnified at the end time. As we near the great tribulation, it is going to get worse and it will be difficult. Turn to John 17. You see these ministers on TV with the health/wealth gospel, and when you read the words of Christ, you can’t think about a health/wealth gospel – “you tell the truth and everything goes wonderful.” No, sometimes you’re killed for it! Sometimes you are sent in exile for it. Truth doesn’t always mean you will be delivered at that moment.

John 17:14 John 17:14I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
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I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. You have to open your minds, read the words – the scriptures – to see that. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.

That’s you. It’s me – a few God has called over 6000 years out of the billions of people that are alive now and those who had been alive, adding up from Adam to the end.

You live in a world that values winning over character. I am always so upset at these game shows. It is about lying, cheat and steal to win – politics, sport, so many of those things. They value winning over character – a world that values outer beauty over inner beauty, a world that values accumulating wealth over giving in service to others. We have to be like Christ, because this world and its values are about to end and a new set of values are coming. What is important now is character, character, character. Think about the three things of real-estate: location, location, location. Well, the three things of Christianity is: character, character, character – knowing what is right and doing what is right.

God has prepped you in a way that you don’t even know. If you look back at some events, here and there perhaps, you see pieces of it, but you don’t know. But like with Abraham, as you go through your life, can you finish your life with God saying, “Now I know,” as He did to Abraham? “Now I know that you will do My way – to perform the actions that I taught.”

He called others to serve, to give, throughout your eight stages, as we heard about in the sermonette, all the way through – not necessarily knowing what each stage means until you look back at the end. When Christ returns, we’ll probably have other chores, but it will be nice to sit down and ask, “Which of those things did You do? Which did I do?” – to finally ask. But it is going to mean doing what is hard over what is easy. It is going to mean choosing right over wrong. It is going to mean choosing the truth over the lies of human reasoning. That is what God has called you to. It means faith and trust. You are being prepared for something bigger than you know.

Moses didn’t know he was being prepared for something special until he saw the burning bush. Joseph didn’t know why, until he saved his father’s people from starvation. God meant it for good, even when others mean it for evil.

God gives you opportunities to prove Him – to find out where you stand, so He can say, “Now I know.” Have faith. Don’t fear. And most of all, don’t let go.