Jentezen Franklin - What Happens In The Time Of Famine?
If you'll go to Genesis 26, I'll preach a few minutes. Hallelujah. "There was a famine in the land besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech, the king of the Philistines. The Lord appeared to him there and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land that I have put you'".
Genesis 26:3. "'Dwell in this land. I will be with you. I will bless you for you and your descendants. I'll give you these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father'".
Genesis 26:6. "So Isaac dwelt in Gerar".
Genesis 26:12. "Then Isaac sowed in that land". What land? The land that was in famine. "And reaped in the same year a hundredfold, and the Lord blessed him".
Genesis 26:13. "The man began to prosper. Continued prospering until he became very prosperous". That's a good one. Well, that was just in his soul.
Genesis 26:14. "For he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, a great number of employees". I love this part, "And the Philistines envied him". The ungodly.
So I want to talk to you about what to do when you get in a famine. When things dry up. When you're going through a tough time. I want to show you something in the scripture. When we talk about famine, we really don't understand, in the blessed state that we're in in America, what a famine is. I survey this group here. I don't see anybody in a famine. I hear you saying, "I might starve to death because he's going to preach a long time", but you're not going to starve to death. You don't look like you're starving. When you're starving, your belly is swollen.
I held a baby, we went in after the earthquake in Haiti, and there were families there that had not eaten for three weeks. And there many little babies. I held one of the babies. Prayed for it. Its belly was swollen. Their hair turns orange. Someone who is starving, their hair turns orange. And belly way out here. And it was just unbelievable. Flies and... when I think of famine, it's not just the hunger that kills people in a famine. Many times it's the disease that comes as a result. The water. The unsanitary conditions. Just - it's horrible. It's horrible.
Usually, there are two things that cause a famine. Usually it's either war or it's weather-related. And they were in that kind of famine. Swollen bellies. Disease. People dying. Crops failing. Everything. Nobody had food. Nobody had nothing. And God said to Isaac, stay right where you are.
I want you to see the contrast between him obeying God and staying in a place that God said, it's your land. I've given it to you. This is yours. And just because you're in a famine, you don't walk away from it. Just because it's not producing for you right now, you don't quit, pack your bags, and go somewhere else that looks better. You stay right where you are. I'm giving you a stay here command, God said to Isaac. I don't want you to do like your father Abraham. I don't want you to do like Naomi. Naomi got in a famine. We're told about it in the Book of Ruth.
And the Bible said that she was in the city and in the place, the Holy Land. She was in Bethlehem, which means house of bread. But it seems like there's something wrong with that. That the house of bread would be breadless. And she was without bread. And there was a famine in Bethlehem. And she and her husband, and her two sons and their wives left Bethlehem, the house of bread, and they went to Moab, which was a city, listen to this, 25 miles away. Now I realize they didn't have transportation like us, but that's not very far, and it's a very logical thing that you're in famine, and people are starving to death, and there's no food, and everybody is going. All the other families have gone.
So Naomi, why don't you and your husband, and your sons and their wives pack your bags and go to Moab? And that's exactly what they did. They went to Moab. But when they got there, they found out and heard that there was bread in Bethlehem. See, when you're in Bethlehem, God's house, and it's breadless... And there will be famines. I don't care how blessed and called you are to a place; a business, a marriage, a job, a calling. There are times when you go through leanness. There are times when you go through hardship. There are times when you go through battles, and you have to persevere. You have to. It's hard. It's tough.
We are so quick to jump ship, and hop over somewhere else that looks so much better that we don't ever stay where God told us to stay and sow in that land. In that marriage. In that business. In that place. We're always looking for something way out there that's easy. And go get it quick. Get rich quick. And we don't understand that all the things that you need, God has given you if you'll sow into that land. But she gets over here in Moab. She gets in Moab - which was a cursed place, by the way. She left a type of God's house. And sometimes even in God's house, you go through a famine. You go through dryness. You can't hear God. You can't feel God. You come to Free Chapel, and you don't get much out of it.
That breaks my heart and hurts my feelings, but it's the truth. You sit there, and it's just another service because you just aren't feeling God. You just aren't getting it. Something feels dry. But what do you do in the time of famine when you know this is your house of bread? Listen to me. When the house of bread is breadless, stay there until the bread comes back. Because if you can ever find a place that ever fed you, that God put you in, it's a matter of time before the bread comes back. But sometimes God will let you go through famine to prove you. To test you. To see what is in your heart.
And the Bible said when they went to Moab, her husband died. Her two sons died. And she says I'm bitter, and just let me die. But her daughter-in-law, the only one left that stayed with her, the other one left, said there's bread in Bethlehem. Let's go back. But notice that in famine, they left. And they traded three funerals for one famine. Sometimes it's better to stay in the house... My worst day in the house of God is better than my best day in the world. And you know what? I may be going through things, and sometimes we feel like that.
Listen to me, young people. Sometimes it will look like everything out there in Moab is fun, and there's no shortage of fun, and music, and party, and all kinds of stuff going out there. And here I am in the house of God. When I first got saved, it was exciting, but now things are dried up, and no big miracles. What do you do? You take the Word of God in that land. Sow it into your life. Sow it into your life. Sow the dreams of God in. Get in services like this. And if you'll stay in God's house even when it's breadless, there will come a time when it'll come back. Listen to this. A hundredfold. You can't get the hundredfold unless you make it through a famine. In that land that was famine is the land that brought forth a hundredfold.
I think we need to understand what the scripture says in Proverbs 17:24. Wisdom is before the eyes of him who has understanding. But to the eyes of a fool, they are on the ends of the earth. Listen to that scripture. It says that wisdom is before the eyes of him who has understanding. Another way of saying that is when you're a wise person, you begin to appreciate the people that you have around you. You begin to appreciate the things that you have around you. But the fool, his eyes are upon the ends of the earth. If I had that. If I could go over there. If I was in L.A. If I was in Chicago. And they never see what they have.
If I had that man and not this man. If I had that girl and not this girl. If I had that woman. She doesn't have the problems that this woman has. You are stupid. They all have problems. You're just going to trade out problems. Sow into that land. Sow into that marriage. Why don't you, instead of having an affair, have an affair with your wife, and go off on a weekend? Why don't you sow into that land when it's in a famine? It can produce a hundredfold. That can produce divorce, and attorneys, and all another stuff. Sow into that land.
When I think about the Lord, listen to this, God uses less than perfect places in our life to do something in famine that feasting cannot do for us. God uses less than perfect places. He says, I'm telling you, Isaac, I'm telling you now. God shifts it. Now we're back to the story, and I'm going to close it in a minute. But He says, "Isaac, I don't want you to do like your daddy did. I don't want you to do like Naomi did. I want you to stay in this land. Don't go nowhere". I know it's not a perfect place. I know it's not beautiful as Egypt always...
See, Egypt had a river, so they never had a famine. And the enemy wants to show you the glitz and glamour of the world and says, if you'd just go do that. But the truth is, sometimes its better when you're in a famine to stay right here. And I'll sow the Word, and I'll sow the truth into my life. And I may not be prospering right now, and all my friends have gone over there, and they're doing just fine without God, and doing just fine without the Word, and all this discipline and trying to live for Jesus. But I'm telling you that there's something about sowing into your life when you're in a famine. Sow into that ground. God told Isaac, remain right here. I want you to stay in this place.
The word Gerar means to drag off roughly and to chew up. I'm telling you that my will for you is not easy, or better, or more comfortable. I'm telling you to stay in Gerar. Well, what is that? It's a place where they're going to drag you off roughly. They're going to treat you ugly. They're going to chew you up and spit you out. And oh, by the way, you're in a land that the Philistines are all around you. There's war-like people all around you.
And it would be so much easier just to leave, and to go over here to Egypt where everything looks fun. But I want you to stay right there where you'll get drugged off roughly. Where you get drug off roughly. Where you get chewed up. Spit out. Where you're going through all kinds of stuff. And everybody over there that ain't even living for God. Don't even try to live for God. They're doing so good, and here you are, getting chewed up, and spit out, and drug off roughly, and treated wrong, and war-like people all around you.
Anybody ever felt that way as a Christian? As a believer? You don't quit. You don't go back to the addiction. You don't go back to the alcohol. You don't go back to the drugs. You don't go to another lover. You don't get out of there. You stay in the house of bread. And bread will come again, even when it seems like it's breadless. You stay there. Plant there. Sow there. And the Bible said that he sowed. He sowed in that land. What land? The famine. Dust bowl.
Can you see him hitching up the mule and the plow? Hadn't rained in weeks, months, years. And this crazy man takes the only valuable possession that he has left. Handfuls of hope seeds. His family. What he does with those seeds is going to determine if his family lives or dies. And he hitches that mule and that plow and starts plowing that old dry ground. It has no moisture at all. It's like a dust bowl dust. If you would have looked from an advantage point, you would have seen dust just coming up. And he's out there whistling like a crazy farmer. He's plowing with the mule. He's taking the seed, and kicking the dirt on top of the seed, and kicking it, and dropping it behind that plow. And everybody's thinking he's crazy. All of his friends have left. But God told him to stay there.
I'm saying to you that Jesus Christ was a root out of dry ground. And some of the greatest things God will do in your life is not when you're on top of the mountain and everything's blessed. But some of the greatest things God will do for you is if you learn to stand in the middle of the famine and keep sowing the truth of God's word until you see it break through. He located Lazarus on the fourth day when he was smelling of decay. He found David on the backside of a desert. God works in unusual places. Surprising places. He found Moses in the desert. He found Job in the trial. He found the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace. He found Daniel in the lion's den. He found Elijah under a juniper tree, trying to kill himself. Suicidal. Wanting to die.
He found Jeremiah in a pit, Peter in a prison, and Paul in a storm. And God said, I use surprising places to bring My glory out of them. And if He's got you in one, don't run. Don't pack your bags. Stand and sow into that land. Do the best you can with what you've got. And God is faithful. I need everybody to take a praise break. If Jesus was a root out of dry ground, He can make you one. Come on. Take a moment and praise Him. I'm almost done. Praise Him.
Now here's my question for you. If you missed everything, get this. How well do you respond to the "stay here" command? Even when you don't understand, and even when you're praying and nothing is happening, and there's no breakthrough, how well do you respond to God's stay here command? Because that's the only place you can get a hundredfold is when you stay and everybody else leaves. God doesn't want you to be like everybody else. How do you respond when God says stay right here? Don't leave. Don't move. Stand still. No clouds, no rain, no nothing. Stand still. Everybody else has left. Stand still right here. Stay where you are.
I'm preaching to some Isaac's whose eyes are on the ends of the world. And God says everything you dream of is right in where you are if you would just sow into it. I could see him... I love it. Because the Bible said that when he sowed into that land. He didn't sow into what he wished it was. He didn't sow into what it ought to be. He didn't sow into I wish it was this, and it ought to be that. You sow into what you have. And the Bible said he reaped a hundredfold in that land. Isaac sowed in that land and reaped the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him.
Can you see him? For every seed he dropped in that dusty ground, God gave... I could see him making those rows, and dropping corn seeds, and green bean seeds, and potato seeds, and tomato seeds... I'm going to preach it like I want to. Okra seeds, and... You hungry yet? Cornbread seeds. I don't know, wherever that comes from. But he was dropping all those seeds. And he comes back. And in that land, for every seed of corn he dropped, he has a hundred corn stalks. In that land. I could see him eating. And the Bible said the Philistines envied him.
Can you imagine him getting that hundredfold harvest of tomatoes? For every seed, 100 tomatoes. For every seed. For every okra seed... Do they have seeds? Every seed. I don't know. But whatever. All that stuff. Farmers, give me some help out there. My God. I guess what I'm trying to say to you is He will bless you in that place if you will sow into that place. He stayed where he was. He endured the famine.
Perseverance. Per means through. Severe. Perseverance. You got to get perseverance. Just because it gets tough. Just because you're in a place where your dream isn't happening like you thought it would work. And now the business is struggling and stuff. You have to have perseverance. Through severe times. Through hard times. Through trials. Through hardships. You go on through. You sow the Word. Sow encouragement. Get in a good church like this. Sow it into your life, and it will get you through those hard times. And if you'll hold on, God is faithful. And he reaped a hundredfold.
I want to close with this true story. The Civil War came late and hard to southern Louisiana. A dozen years before the Civil War, a soldier returned from Mexico, and he gave some dried peppers to a man by the name of Edmund McIlhenny. Dried peppers. Nobody in southern Louisiana had ever tasted, this food came from Mexico, and nobody had ever tasted these hot peppers. And the man loved them so much, he lived on a place called Avery Island in south Louisiana. Still exists today. Major tourist attraction today. I'm going to tell you why in a minute.
And he took some of the seeds and planted those peppers among his vast garden and harvest. And he loved that taste. He loved it. And he and his wife had a salt mining business because Avery Island is on a salt dome. But when the Civil War came, he and his family, and all the families on that island, fled to other places. Mostly Texas. And they left that. And when the war took place, it was an area where the war really got rough, and they burned his farm down. Everybody else's farm. The fields were wiped out. It was nothing but total devastation.
They came back after the war, and he's doing a survey of what he has. His house has burned down. His fields and crops are all gone. Everything is torn down. The fences, it's everything. It's just devastation. And all of the other people on the island left. They went to New Orleans. They went to other places, other cities. There's nothing here. It's a salt dome, and there's no life here. But this guy wouldn't leave. His crops are ruined. His house is plundered. Everything is gone. Everything was dead except in the overgrown fields of peppers. Those hot peppers survived. And they spread like weeds, and they were all over the place. And it was the only thing that would grow.
So he said well, let's see. I've got plenty of salt. I've got peppers in abundance. And he found some French vinegar in an old whiskey barrel that had been kept for three years. And he took that old vinegar, mixed it with the peppers and the salt into a special recipe, making hot sauce that nobody had ever tasted in that whole region of the world. And it was so good that he told his wife, and she agreed, "This is good stuff". And they started putting it on everything. And one day, he went to the city dump and was going through trash, and he found 350 perfume bottles. Little glass perfume bottles. He took those glass perfume bottles, cleaned them out, and took his sauce, put the sauce in the perfume bottles, and started going around to different cities around, selling his little hot sauce.
And it caught on like you wouldn't believe. Grocery stores started asking for it. And the next thing you know, he ended up, true story, with a little perfume-looking bottle of hot sauce called Tabasco sauce. It came from a man, when everybody else was leaving, and saying this land is useless, he said I'm going to sow into this land. And this Tabasco label is in 22 different languages, 175 nations. It's a five-generation organization. It's not a public company. It's privately owned by him and his family for five generations of millionaires.
In 2014, it sold over $200 million worth of those little peppers, salt, and vinegar. But can you imagine that five generations would have missed the mega-blessing? And this is natural, but apply it spiritually. Five generations of untold blessing because a father said, "I'm in a famine, but my eyes are not on the ends of the earth like a fool. There's something right here that God can bless. If I'll sow in the same land in the time of famine, I'll reap a hundredfold. And God will bless me and my descendants for generation, after generation, after generation". You have to clap better than that.