Robert Morris - The Palace Test
All right. We're continuing our series, "From Dream to Destiny". I want you to turn to two passages of Scripture: Genesis 39, open your Bibles, and then put a marker at Hebrews 3. And later in the message, we'll turn over to Hebrews 3. So, Genesis 39, Hebrews 3. So, this week is the palace test. Pride test, pit test, palace test. By the way, the next week is the purity test, then the prison test. Yes, they all begin with P because I am gifted. So... this is the palace test.
Genesis 39:1. "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh"... They both begin with P, by the way, "Captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites". Now, we know they were Midianite traders. Midian was the region they were from, Ishmael was the descendant they were from. "From the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there". Now watch verse two carefully. "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man". I hope you see the connection between those two phrases. The Lord was with him and he was a successful man. "And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him".
Remember. His master was an unbeliever. "Saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was from the time that he made him overseer of his house and all that he had that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake. And the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph's hand and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now, Joseph was handsome in form and appearance".
I liken myself to Joseph in the Bible. I think the reason it says that last phrase is because it's about to go into the purity test, how Potiphar's wife pursued Joseph. So it's telling us he was a handsome person. And so next week, by the way, is the purity test. You don't wanna miss that. All right. Here's what this talks about. It's an amazing statement. By the way, he's in Potiphar's house and Potiphar makes him second in command. And he just gives him everything. He says, "Just run the whole thing". And then he winds up in prison. The keeper of the prison does the same thing.
By the way, then he winds up back in the palace with Pharaoh and Pharaoh does the same thing. But look down at the end of that chapter, chapter 39 verse 23. This is when he was in prison. It says, "The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper". I have a very simple question for you. Would that be okay with you? Whatever you do, the Lord makes it prosper. Well, I feel like the Lord has given me four simple keys to being successful, to being prosperous, to being promoted in everything that we do: our job, our health, our finances, our family, our marriage, to being successful in whatever that God's called us to. Whatever we put our hand to. So, here are the four keys, all right? Here's number one. I want you to write these down.
Number one. The key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. The key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. Write that down. It's very important. And notice how many times it said the Lord was with him so he prospered. Now, the first thing we need to talk about here is that the word prosperity is not a bad word. I know that there is a hyper prosperity teaching and I do not agree with it. I know that it's wrong. I know you cannot support it by Scripture. I understand that. But the problem is that the rest of us now have heard the hyper teaching and we've even pulled back from the Biblical understanding of the word prospering. God wants to prosper you, to make you successful in your life, in your marriage, in your family, in your health, in your job, in your career, in your finances. He wants to prosper you so you can prosper others. He wants to bless you so you can be a blessing to other people.
And prosperity is not a bad word. It's all through Scripture. As a matter of fact, the word prosperity in the Hebrew means to push forward. It literally means to push forward. It's used 63 times in the Old Testament. One of the times, it's when the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson and he defeated his enemies. In other words, God came on Samson and pushed him forward. Now again, I wanna ask you. Would that be all right with you? Would it be all right if, in your job, in your career, in your family, God was always the, Lord, God, God. Just pushing you forward. Well, the key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. And let me tell you why. Because God never fails. God's never failed in anything He's done.
So, if we walk with the presence of the Lord, if we walk with God, we're gonna prosper because God's gonna prosper. Find out what God's doing and get in on it. Wherever God's going, and here's the problem. People go out from the presence of the Lord. You know, it's not that God removes His presence. It's that we walk away from the Lord. The bible says that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. God came to Adam, gave him a chance to repent. He came to Eve, gave her a chance to repent. He came to Cain and gave him a chance to repent and Cain would not repent. And so Cain went out from the presence of the Lord because God was walking one way and Cain decided to walk another way. When you walk with God, you're successful. When you don't walk with God, you're not successful.
So, let me show you a few Scriptures you can study right there Genesis 39. Genesis 26:12-13. "Then Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundred fold. And the Lord blessed him". Now, watch and see if God shies away from you seeing the word prosperity just because of the hyper prosperity teachers. Verse 13. "The man began to prosper and continued prospering until it became very prosperous". It looks like it's in the Bible. Deuteronomy 29:9. "Therefore, keep the words of this covenant and do them that you may prosper in all that you do". 2 Kings 18:7. "The Lord was with him. He prospered wherever he went". And 3 John 2 says, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health just as your soul prospers".
I want you to know that God would like to push you forward in your career, push you forward in your family, push you forward in all that you put your hand to. But the key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. Even an unbeliever, Potiphar, recognized that the Lord was with Joseph and that his house, Potiphar's house, was blessed because the Lord was with him. Here's a good question. Does your employer, whether he's a believer or an unbeliever. Does your employer believe that he's being blessed because you work for his company? That's what happened with Joseph. So, the key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. So, you might say, "Well, what's the key to the presence of the Lord then? If that's it, I wanna prosper. So, what's the key to the presence of the Lord"? Well, I'm ahead of you. I've got it all figured out here, all right?
Here's number two. The key to the presence of the Lord is obedience. The key to the presence of the Lord is obedience. Let me read you some Scriptures. 2 Chronicles 17:3. "Now the Lord was with Jehoshaphat because"... Here's why He was with him. "Because he walked in the former ways of his father David. He did not seek the Baals". In other words, because he obeyed. He walked in obedience. 1 Samuel 18:14. "And David behaved"... We could stop right there. "And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him". Now, we know that David didn't do everything right. We know that. It's in the Bible. But when he did mess up, he repented. He came back to the Lord. He humbled himself. When the prophet came to him, he humbled himself and he came back.
1 Samuel 18:12. "Now, Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul". Here's a very, very simple couple of questions. Why was the Lord with David? Because he obeyed. And why had the Lord departed from Saul? Because he disobeyed. Let me show you another Scripture. Deuteronomy 11:26-28. "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse". Now, here's God saying, "I'mma let you choose". "A blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God".
Listen to me carefully. This is not a works doctrine. We are saved by grace through faith. We go to Heaven by grace. But if you wanna succeed on this Earth, you're gonna have to obey. If you obey and walk with God, you will walk in success. Doesn't mean everything'll go right for you. Doesn't mean you'll never go through a storm. But it means God will take you through those storms successfully. Let me read you another Scripture. Job 36:11-12. "If they obey and serve Him," God. Capital H. "They shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they do not obey, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge".
Proverbs 28:13. "He who covers his sins", in other words, walks in disobedience, "will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them", turns from them, "will have mercy". You know that I believe in grace. I believe so strongly in grace, that we're saved by grace. If it's based on works, you've already lost it. You're already in trouble. Let me just assure you of that. Grace is a gift. If it's a gift, it can't be earned. I believe in grace. But I also believe in obedience. And I have seen that when I walk with God in obedience, I'm blessed. Everything I put my hand to is blessed. And when I walk away from God, there's a curse.
Now listen to me. It's not God cursing me. It's like... we live in a cursed... it's not like. We live in a cursed word. We live in a cursed world. It's like - this is what I was gonna say - there's a hailstorm going on around us with huge chunks of hail about that big falling all over the place. And there is this steel umbrella over God and whoever walks with Him. So, we walk with God and this thing protects us. We are protected and blessed and covered. But when we choose to walk away from God, we choose to walk out there in this hailstorm and hope we can dodge them. But we're not gonna be able to dodge them. So, the key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. The key to the presence of the Lord is obedience. Now, here's what some of you are thinking. "Well, I just don't obey. I'd like to obey, but I just don't obey. And I just don't, I just... so, Pastor Robert, I'm gonna need the key to obedience". I got that covered.
Here's point number three. The key to obedience is faith. The key to obedience is faith. Do you know why a farmer plants? Because he believes that he's gonna receive a reward. Listen. Many of us have more faith in the hot water heater... than we do in God. 'Cause what happens? When you turn the hot water faucet on, it's not hot. It's cold. And we just stand there. Waiting. Right? I lived in one house. The house I lived in before I live in now, they located the hot water three houses down, the hot water heater. I could turn the hot water on and go write a sermon and come back. Still not be hot. But what do... we just stand. You know why? We know. We know we turn that faucet on, it may feel cold, it's gonna get hot. Listen to me. You turn the faucet of obedience on, it may feel cold. It's gonna get hot. It's going to. Because you just gotta believe.
And here's the problem. We don't believe that there are rewards if we obey and there are consequences if we disobey. If we believed that, we would obey. But many times, we feel like we can disobey and get away with it. You don't get away with it. The reason children obey is because they believe they'll be rewarded if they obey. And they believe they'll suffer consequences if they don't. Ephesians 6:1-3. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment, with promise" or with a reward "that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the Earth".
I've asked people before and somehow they forget part of it. I'll say, "What's the promise if you obey or honor your mother and father"? They said, "That you may live long". That's only part of it. The promise is that things may go well with you. And I don't even know if you wanna live long if things aren't going well. That things may go well. There's a reward. And if children believe that they'll be rewarded if they obey, and if they believe there are consequences, and Proverbs tells us those consequences are spankings. If they believe that if they disobey there's a consequence, they will obey. We had these people in our home one time and they had a 2-year old son and he was tearing our house up. He's just running all over the place doing stuff and they're just sitting there talking.
How many of you have ever... have you ever been around parents like that? Doesn't that bother you? I mean, they were acting like they're just oblivious to this. And we're watching this child tear up our house. And so, I said to them, "Excuse me just a moment. Do you know that your son is tearing up our house"? And they said, "Well, boys will be boys". And I said, "Not in my house". And so, I said to them, I didn't think they were gonna respond the way they did but I said to them, "If you don't spank him, I will". And they said, "Be our guest".
So... In a moment, right after they said that, this kid comes over beside me. We had one of these plants there. I think it's called the banana plant with these big leaves, you know. He starts stripping the leaves off of our plant. And he's right beside me. And I said to him, "Hey". I said, "Look at me, son". I said, "If you pull one more leaf off of that plant, I'm going to spank you". Just like that. He looked at me for a minute, then he went like this. Now, the great thing was to get the leaf all the way off, he had to bend down. It was a perfect target. So, I popped him just like that. And he was shocked like that. And he just turn around, walked out of the room just like that.
About a week later, they came back over to our home. The first thing he did, we opened the front door. He walked right past everybody, he walked over to that plant, and he said, "Robert spank". He obeyed in our house. You wanna know why? 'Cause he believed. I helped him believe. I built faith in that young man's life. I also said to him, because I believe not only consequences. I believe in rewards. God is a rewarder. I did this with our children. I said to him, "If you'll obey when you're here, I'll give you $1". And every time he'd come and he would obey, I would give him $1. And I believe that God, there are not only consequences. I believe there are rewards. Listen to me. If you believe that if you worked hard for your employer even though he was an unbeliever that God would reward you, you'd be a good worker.
You know, there are a lot of people that say, "You know, when I get a better job and I work for a better person, I'll work hard". You're not gonna get a better job. Because if you're not faithful where you are, why would God give you more? Let me read you another Scripture on this. Colossians 3:22-25. "Bondservants, obey - obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality".
Now, turn to Hebrews 3. I'm taking a little more time on this point because I think it's so important. Because all of us want to obey. We want to do the right thing. But how do you obey? Well, you obey if you have faith. So, in Hebrews 3, when I saw this Scripture, I thought, "That's it. That's it right there". As a matter of fact, I thought of this Scripture when God gave me this point. Hebrews 3:18-19. "And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest". This is the reward of the Promised Land, who would not receive the reward of the Promised Land. "But to those who did not obey"?
Now, watch this carefully. Verse 19 says, "So, we see that they could not enter in because of", watch, "Unbelief". What? Where did that word come from? He was talking about obeying. You would think it would say, "Those who did not obey could not receive the reward". So, we see they could not receive it because they did not obey. No. It says because they did not believe. Because of unbelief. Listen to me. Faith produces obedience. If they had believed that God would reward them, then they would've obeyed. They disobeyed because they didn't believe. So, the key to prospering is the presence of the Lord. Because if you're walking with God, God always succeeds. The key to the presence of the Lord is obedience. The key to obedience is faith.
So, some of you are thinking, "Well, what's the key to faith"? Well, this is the most practical one of all. And it's simple. And listen to me. All of you can do it. Everyone here can do it. You'll choose whether you wanna prosper. Won't be me. Won't be anyone else. Won't be your boss. Won't be anyone. You have no excuse for not prospering. You'll choose whether you wanna prosper, whether you want the presence of God, to walk with the presence of God, whether you're gonna obey, whether you're gonna have faith, because this right here is something you can do. I promise you. Everyone can do it.
Here's point number four. The key to faith is hearing the Word. The key to faith is hearing the Word. Now, listen to me. You might think I'd say, "Doing the Word". I believe in obedience. I've already talked about that. But that's not what produces faith according to the Bible. Romans 10:17 says "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of the Lord".
Faith comes by hearing the Word. Listen to me. You wanna have faith? Hear the Word. Listen to as many sermons as you can. Download them. Get the iPod. Listen to CD's of sermons that preach the Word, that teach the Word. Not just the guys that give you five points for better health and all that stuff, but the ones that really preach and teach the Word. Get in the Word of God, read the Word yourself, memorize the Word of God, put it on your iPhone. When you have a few minutes, read it. Put it on notecards, put it on your mirror.
You know, obviously where you can still see what's behind you. Kind of to the side. But... Memorize it, meditate on it, study it, get the Word in you. Here's why the Bible says hearing the Word builds faith in you. Listen very carefully. Because the Word has the power to change your life. The Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and His name is the Word of God, and the Word of God is not a corruptible seed but incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever. And Heaven and Earth will pass away, but His Word never will, and His Word will never return void without accomplishing what He sent it to do.
Learn the Word of God. Know the Word of God. I'm telling you. I don't know how to impress upon you to spend time with the Word, to get to know the Word. Now, I want you to even think about these last three points. All right? I talked about prospering and the presence of the Lord, but obeying, having faith or believing, and hearing the Word. And that's what I'm telling you. It's very simple. You can prosper. You can prosper because you're walking with God. You're gonna walk with God because you obey. You obey because you believe. But you believe and have faith because you hear God's Word. That's how simple it is.
I wanna encourage you to hear God's Word even as you listen to this program. But not just listening to this program or other programs, but attending church, reading your Bible. Because as we hear God's word, we develop faith. And that faith then helps us to be able to walk in obedience. And that obedience brings the presence of the Lord in our lives. And just like Joseph was successful because of God's presence in his life, I want you to be successful as well. And I want you to step into the destiny that God has for your life. I am so encouraged because you watch and because you're hungry for God's Word. We are gonna continue this series next week. We're gonna talk about how to move from your dream to your destiny.