Robert Jeffress - Avoiding The Elvis Syndrome - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Elvis Presley might've been a big fan of southern Gospel music, but those who knew him personally said he didn't always match the lifestyle he sang about. Well sadly, many Christians suffer from the Elvis syndrome. They go to church and sing hymns on Sundays and then live like the devil the rest of the week. So today we're going to see that while the basis of our salvation is God's grace alone, the evidence of our salvation is our obedience to God. My message is titled, "Avoiding the Elvis Syndrome", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Now listen, everything in the Bible is true, but not every account in the Bible is complete. We know, for example, there are many other things Jesus said besides what we have in the Gospels, the Gospels tell us what we need to know. He did many other works. Not every account in the Bible is a complete account, even if it's an accurate account. Many times the accounts we have in the Bible are summaries of what happened, and I think that's what you've got going on here. I think in reality, what happened was, all the way back they said, "How are we going to break the news to our father, Jacob? Because if we tell him part of the story, we have to tell him the whole story".
And so they get home, Jacob said, "Tell me, what happened, what happened"? They said, "Dad, why don't you come over here and sit in your favorite chair? We've got something we need to talk to you about". "Well what, what"? "Well dad, remember 25 years ago when you sent Joseph to check up on us, and we told you that he had been eaten by a wild animal, and we brought you back that tunic and that multi-colored garment that was covered in blood, and we told you that he was dead"? "Yeah, how could I ever forget that"? They said, "Well, that's not exactly all of the story". And they began to tell him what really happened.
And when they reached the climax of the story and tell him that the prime minister of Egypt with whom they had been dealing was in fact Joseph, and Joseph said, "I am Joseph, is my father is still alive"? The Bible says Jacob was stunned. Literally, in Hebrew, it means his heart grew cold. Some people believe that he fainted. Some people believe he had a mild heart attack, doctor votive, right there. We don't know, but it was absolutely like a thunder bolt from heaven when he heard those words. You see, for 25 years, Jacob had been believing a lie that his son, his favorite son, was dead. And it's interesting, during those 25 years, as soon as he heard the news from the brothers that his son was supposedly killed by an animal, it's like the pilot light went off in his life. For the next 25 years, you never find one instance of Jacob praying about anything, worshiping God, even thinking about God, because he had believed the lie that his son, his favorite son, was dead.
Let me ask you today. What lie have you embraced that has extinguished your love for God, your hunger to know God and obey him? We all have different lies we allow to govern our lives. I remember in high school being called to the ministry and so excited, and I would read every Christian book I could get, and I would spend hours a day reading the Bible, meditating on scripture, memorizing many different books of the entire New Testament, until I went to college. And soon after arriving at college, I was introduced to religion professors in that so-called Christian university who told me that this book is not inerrant, it's not infallible, there are all kind of errors in the Bible. And they sought to teach me all the errors and contradictions in this book. It didn't take long at all for that to quench the spiritual desire I had. If this book is filled with error, if it's nothing more than any other religious book, why would I want to spend time reading it and memorizing it? And why in the world would I devote myself to preaching it to other people?
That governed my life for longer than I care to imagine, the lie that you can't believe in the Bible. Other Christians have adopted the lie, and they've ordered their life around the lie, that even though they're saved, they're going to still be slaves to those old habits and addictions that have ruined their life. They can never break the chains. They can never break free. Romans 6:7 says, "If we have died with Christ, we have died to sin". Sin has no more control of our life than we choose to allow it to have. But some people have believed that lie and are acting accordingly.
Some people, some Christians, have bought into the lie that there's something else they have to do to earn God's forgiveness besides trust in Christ, and they spend the rest of their life overcome with guilt and anxiety because they can never be sure they're truly saved.
Some people have bought into the lie that because of some deep and dark mistake they made years ago, some sin they committed, that they can never truly be forgiven, they can never be used by God in any significant way, they are relegated to always been second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.
Some believers have bought into the lie that this life is all that there is, that they'll never see that Christian husband, they'll never see that child, that parent again. What lie are you allowing to govern your life?
You know, if you had said to Jacob, for those 25 years, Jacob, let your mind run wild. If you could imagine anything that could be true that would change your life, what would it be? He would have hesitated, and he would say, I don't want to voice it, but if I knew my son Joseph was alive, it would change everything. What is it that, if you knew was really true, would change your life? I mean, think about it. What if you knew with 100% certainty there is a God, there is a heaven and a hell, there really is just one way to God, through faith in Jesus Christ, that there is a heaven for you if you know Christ, that's going to go forever and ever and ever, that you are going to see that loved one again, if you knew that with absolute certainty, would it change your life? It did for Jacob. Jacob had embraced a lie, but when he embraced the truth, it changed him. And it changed him specifically in his change of latitude, his change of location.
Look at verse 28, "Then Jacob said, 'it is enough, my son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die'". Because he knew this thing he could only hope for was actually true, he did a u turn. He was ready to go someplace different, have a difference in location, a change of address. But here's what's interesting. He gets everybody loaded up, they head toward Egypt, but on the way to Egypt, they stop at a place called Beersheba, it was on the border, right as you left Canaan, Israel, was Beersheba. Beersheba had been a place where Jacob's grandfather, Abraham, had met with God. It's the place where his father Isaac had met with God. And he stops here to do two things. First of all, to offer a sacrifice of praise to God for what he had done for him. But then also to seek God's direction, to seek God's direction. He wanted to make sure before he went a step further that going to Egypt was really a part of God's plan for him.
Now this is how he had changed. 25 years earlier, had he heard the news that Joseph was in Egypt, he wouldn't have prayed about anything, he would have got there as quick as he possibly could, but he was a changed man. He wanted to be in the latitude, the location, that God wanted him to be. So he stops in Beersheba to ask God for direction. Now, you say, well, what's the big deal? Why does he need God's direction about whether or not to go to Egypt? Two reasons, first of all, there'd been all kinds of warnings from Jacob's forefathers to not go to Egypt. They would say to him, his father and mother probably said to him repeatedly, "Whatever you do, Jacob, stay out of Egypt," because it was always a disaster when God's people went to Egypt. It just always turned out badly. So he had drilled in him since he was a little boy, stay out of Egypt, don't go to Egypt, bad things happen in Egypt.
I used to tell our girls when they were growing up and were teenagers, my word to them was, "Remember, nothing good happens after midnight. Nothing good happens after midnight". They still recite that to me to this day. That's the only thing of mine they ever remember that I said of significance. But I do hope they'll pass that along to the triplets and all my other grandchildren and so forth, that there's nothing good that happens after midnight. Well, for the Israelites, it was nothing good happens in Egypt. So he wanted to make sure this was God's will. And secondly, this seemed counterintuitive, I mean, after all the promise was it was going to be in Canaan and Israel that this nation grew and grew. It was hard for him to understand why would God relocate the whole nucleus of this nation to Egypt? So he prays sincerely for direction.
Look at verses three and four of Genesis 46, "God answered and said, 'I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again, and Joseph will close your eyes'". He wanted to be where God wanted him to be. Now the center of God's will for Jacob and the family was Egypt. But notice the process God used to move them to Egypt. How does God signal to you that it's time for you to change location or direction in your life? Notice these four ways God dealt with Jacob. First of all, through difficulty. When God wants you to move, sometimes he'll make it difficult in your present circumstance. Look at verse 18, "And Pharaoh said, 'take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of all the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land'".
Now Jacob was very interested in going to Egypt for a visit to see his son Joseph, but why would he want to move his whole family? I mean, he was 100 plus years of age. Why go to that hassle and move permanently? How did he change Joseph or Jacob's heart to make him want to do that? Well, first of all, he gave him difficulty in his present circumstance. Now remember this, God's plan all along had been to take this nucleus of 70 people, put them in Egypt for 400 years where they would grow and multiply into a mighty nation of nearly 3 million people that Moses would lead out of Egypt back to the Promised Land. So how does God get people to move if they don't feel like moving? Well, he used a famine to do so. You see, the famine hit everywhere. It hit Egypt, it hit Canaan, it hit the whole world. In Egypt, at least there was food to be had. There was grain to be purchased. In Canaan, there was nothing, it was desolate. And that difficulty made them open to the possibility of moving.
Now, listen to me very carefully. Just because you're going through a difficult time in your present location, your circumstance, doesn't always mean you're supposed to move. Sometimes God is telling you to persevere, learn some lessons, but sometimes it gets to a point where it's intolerable and God is using that difficulty to move you. In fact, he had done the same with Jacob years earlier as a young man. Remember Jacob went to work for his uncle Laban and they had a great relationship until the end. The Bible says, "And Laban's attitude toward his nephew changed". And Jacob used that as a sign that it was time for him to move. Sometimes God will use difficulty to move us. And instead of saying why is this person doing this to me, why is my boss treating me this way, why are circumstances so bad, the question is what is God trying to say to me in this difficult circumstance? Is it stay or is it time to leave?
The second thing he used was desire. Look at verse 28, "Then Israel," that is Jacob, "Said, 'it is enough, my son is still alive, I will go and see him'". If God wants to move you in a different direction or to a different location, he will put a desire in your heart to make that change. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you what? The desires of your heart. God, many times, works through the desires that he places in our heart. Now, just because you have a desire to do something different doesn't mean you're supposed to do something different. A lot of people fall for the myth of the grass is greener some place else. Do you know people like this? They're always changing, always changing jobs, always changing churches, always changing mates, thinking I'm gonna find some greener grass. I love what one wag said, he said, "If the grass is greener in somebody else's pasture, it may be because it's better taken care of". I mean, one reason you may feel like you're in a desert is you haven't given where you are, the relationship you're in, the career you've chosen, all of your best efforts. But sometimes God uses desire. He will quench the desire, any desire you have for your present situation, and give you a desire for a new situation. He did that with Jacob. If he wanted to move Jacob, the best way to do it was to put his favorite son someplace else.
Thirdly, God uses direction to move us. Jacob sought God's direction. God spoke clearly to him. Look at verse three of Genesis 46, "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again, and Joseph will close your eyes". Now be honest, don't you wish sometimes God would speak that clearly to you? That he would shout from heaven and say, this is my will? Usually that doesn't happen, have you discovered that? But that doesn't mean God doesn't give you direction. James says, "If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who freely gives to all people and upbraids no one". God will give you direction if you seek it. Sometimes his direction comes from his word. Sometimes it comes from the wise counsel of others. Sometimes it comes from circumstances. Sometimes it comes from the desires that he places in our heart. But remember this, the only person more interested in your discovering God's will and obeying it is God himself. And God will make his will clear to you if you genuinely, sincerely seek it. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and don't lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight".
Finally, God uses delight in our life to move us to a new latitude, a new location. And by that, I mean when we find God's will, there is a unique delight that we experience. Look at verses five through seven of Genesis 46. "Then Jacob arose from Beersheba, and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, and their little ones, and their wives, and the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him, and they took their livestock and their property," there it is, "Which they had acquired in the land of Canaan and came to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him, his sons, his grandsons, his daughters, his granddaughters, and all of his descendants, he brought with him to Egypt".
Can you just picture that sight, all of these wagons, loaded to the hilt, these scraggly Hebrews walking alongside of it? They must have looked like the Beverly Hillbillies coming to Egypt. They loaded up their truck and they moved to Beverly, Hills, that is, swimming pools, movie stars. That's the "Beverly Hillbillies". This was the ancient Beverly Hillbillies, coming into this sophisticated city and country, loaded up with all of their stuff. What was the result? Look at verse 28, the delight they experience. "Now Jacob sent Judah beforehand to Joseph to point out the way before him to Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a long time. Then Jacob said to Joseph, 'now let me die, since I have seen your face, that you are still alive'".
If you had asked Jacob 25 years earlier, and for the last quarter of a century, what in your wildest imagination do you wish you would know is really true, he would have said to know that my son Joseph is alive and that I will see him again. Notice how God worked in Jacob's life to get him to that very spot. He used difficulty, he used desire, he used direction, he used delight to put him in the center of his will. The safest place to be, the best place to be is in the center of God's will. And if you seek to know God's location, his latitude for your life, he'll put you in the very same spot. Richard Cecil once said, "The story of all of the great characters of the Bible, men and women, can be summed up in this one sentence. They acquainted themselves with God and they acquiesced to his will in all things". That's a winning formula for experience lasting satisfaction, lasting delight, in every part of your life as well. Acquainting yourself with God and acquiescing to his will in all things.