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Summary: You can can on four things. 1.Troubles will come, 2. God will be with You in those troubles. 3. God will work them out for your good. 4. It will be worth it.

“Functioning in a Dysfunctional World”

October 21, 2007

I was reading an interesting story in the book of Joe this week. What? You haven’t heard of that book? It’s not in the King James Version or even the NIV or Living Bible. I read it in a magazine I get called “REV!”. It was pretty interesting. Let me share it with you. It goes like this:

There was a pastor whose name was Joe. He was blameless, upright, feared God and never lifted his messages from without giving proper attribution. He had two sons and two daughters who never misbehaved, and a growing church of 2000. And His district had just honored him as Pastor of the year.

And, behold, there came a day when Satan appeared before God, and the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant, Pastor Joe? For there is no pastor like him in all the land, for he is blameless, upright, fearing me, and never turning in his district reports late.”

And Satan answered God, “Does Pastor Joe fear God for nothing? Have you not blessed his average attendance figures? But if you cause his offering to dip and his secretary to run off with his treasurer – AND $100, 000 – surely he will curse you to your face.”

And God allowed Satan to test Pastor Joe. And his offerings DID dip, and his secretary DID run off with the treasurer – AND $100,000.

Now when three members of the local ministerial association heard of Pastor Joe’s troubles, they stopped by his office to comfort him.

And Pastor Joe wept bitterly, saying to his friends, “I should have stayed in business school and become an insurance salesman.”

And the pastor from the First Church of the divine Potential said to Pastor Joe, “You’ve got to keep a positive attitude about all this. Don’t cave in to negative thinking, but envision a bright future for you and your church. If you just believe it – you can achieve it.”

And Pastor Joe wept even more, saying, “But our church is facing scandal and financial ruin.”

And the pastor from the Holy Ghost Revival Tabernacle said to Pastor Joe, “Fa-riend, something lucrative is going to happen to you! Jeee-sus is going to pour out the glorious riches of heaven upon you and your church – but FIRST send your seed faith gift to the Holy Ghost Revival Tabernacle. Then God will multiply your gift a hundred, a thousand times – but just believe!

And Pastor Joe dropped his head on his desktop, saying, “But I DO believe!”

And the pastor from the Unified Universal Unity Center said to Pastor Joe, “Dude, I’m detecting some really negative energy here. Like, you’ve got to readjust your reality and envision a positive future. I can see it, man! Offerings are up, your secretary is busy typing up Sunday’s bulletin, and the treasurer just discovered an unposted deposit, which means the church has $100,000 more in the checking account than last reported.”

And Pastor Joe said, “I’m going for a walk.” And he left his comforters.

As he walked, God spoke through the dust devil in the parking lot, “Who is this who darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man. I will question you, and you shall answer me.

Where were you when I laid the churches foundation and declared the gates of hell should not prevail against it? Where were you when Rome attempted to wipe out Christianity and itself crumbled and Christians prevailed? Where were you when the Wesleyan revival saved England from a revolution like the one in France? Where were you when the Puritans and Pilgrims brought Christianity to America?

Where were you when Phinias F. Bresee and the people were marching around the tabernacle when they started the Church of the Nazarene?

“Where were you when I changed lives at the first Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angles? Where were you when I inspired contemporary Christian music and the Jesus movement? Oh, that’s right, you were the one with the peach-fuzz beard and that awful paisley shirt.”

Then Pastor Joe replied to the Lord, “I know that You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” And Pastor Joe returned to his church.

The secretary and treasurer – and the $100,000 were still gone. But God was there!

I wanted to share that little story with you because of the last line. “But God was there.” We need to hear that don’t we? We need to always remember – that no matter what – God will still be there. You can count on it.

There’s a couple of other things you can count on, too. My dad used to say something about being able to count on death and taxes. I guess that’s true. I guess you could include them with trouble. In this life, one thing you can count on is (1) trouble. We live in a fallen world, in fallen flesh, with an adversary that wants to destroy us. Jesus said,

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