"Brought Out And Brought In" (March 2006)
Anytime the Lord starts repeating Himself it is always in your best interest to listen and take heed to what He is saying because God isn't like us, He doesn’t just say something to hear Himself talk. He always says what He means and means what He says and doesn’t speak unless He has something to say. Within the last twenty-four hours I have heard four different ministers mention the portion of scripture where God told Abraham to leave his father’s house and go into a land that He would show him. I know the Lord well enough to know that this isn’t coincidence- I know He is trying to tell me something. Another thing you need to realize is that when God is speaking to you (especially in repetition) what He is trying to tell you will be relevant to you-- to your situation, to your life, to what He is doing in your life.
This account of Abraham’s life is so full of revelation, instruction, and symbolism so there are many things that the Lord could show us from it. This month I am only going to share one main point that the Lord was showing me through His repetition of the story-- I believe this is a “word” for some of you that is relevant to what you are experiencing in your life.
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3) We see two things happening here. First, God tells Abram to leave the country where he is living- leave his father’s house, and leave his family. Secondly, God tells Abram that when he leaves He will bless him, make his name great, make him a blessing, and bless all the families of the earth through him. As you read the scripture, when did God say that He was going to give Abram all these wonderful blessings? After he leaves where he is living. That’s the point of this message: In order for God to “get something to you”, sometimes He has to “remove something from you”.
Abram lived in Ur which was a city of idolatry- they served and worshipped false gods. The One and True Living God put a call upon Abram’s life. That call would have been hindered if he had stayed in the country of his family. The blessing that God wanted Abram to receive might not have come to pass if he hadn’t moved because part of what God was doing in Abram‘s life involved giving him and his descendants the land of Cannan- the land he was called to dwell in. “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:6,7)
There is a scripture that sums up what I am talking about- it will be our theme scripture throughout this newsletter... “And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in.” (Deuteronomy 6:23a) This is the case with Abram- God had to “bring him out” (out of his father’s house, away from his family, out from among idolatry, out of the country he was dwelling in, in order to make a great nation of him; in order to bless all the families of the earth through him; in order to be a blessing; in order for God to change his name; in order for him to have a son of promise; in order to fulfill God’s plan for his life.
Earlier I said that when God speaks to you- either by His Spirit, through someone else, or through His word- it is always relevant to you. There are things that God is trying to get to you that He can’t, or won’t, until some other things are “taken out”. The Bible is full of examples of men and women who God had to “bring out” in order to “bring them in”. As we look at these examples we will also discuss how this effects your life- what does it have to do with you.
One example was the children of Israel. The Lord had to bring them out of the land of Egypt in order to get them into the promised land. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it.” (Exodus 33:1) They could not possess the land that was promised to them and live in Egypt at the same time. His plan was for them to live in their own land, in the land that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but it would not have happened unless He had brought them out of Egypt first. Egypt represents a place of bondage. We have our own Egypt that we have to be delivered from before we can possess the “inheritance” that God has for us. What is our Egypt? It’s “sin”- sin is bondage. “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.” (Romans 6:20) Sin will make you it’s slave. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16) It holds you as a prisoner in captivity. The difference between someone who is in bondage and someone who isn’t is freedom. Once the Israelites left Egypt they were no longer slaves in bondage, they were free. In order for God to “bring you into” the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 6:21b) (into freedom and liberty) He has to “bring you out” of your place of bondage- sin. Sin will always hold you back from enjoying the wonderful liberty that God has for you. It will keep you discouraged and living in hopelessness and fear. You’ll feel as if there is no way out; you’ll be a slave all your life. I have good news for you, Jesus has come to set the captive free and open the prison door to those who are bound by sin. (Luke 4:18) He has come to give you life- “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)- which is the opposite of bondage- sin brings death (James 1:15). If you have a besetting sin, it’s time to lay it aside and let God bring into a “land of freedom”. “...Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us...” (Hebrews 12:1) You’ll never experience true freedom as long as you are holding on to your sin. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Consider Samuel; he’s another. His mother took him from his own home and presented him in the temple to the priest Eli to raise and train in the service of the Lord. “Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.” (1 Samuel 1:1,2, 9-11,20,28) Had Samuel not been taking out of his home to the temple, he might not have become such a great prophet in Israel. He was the one who anointed the first king in Israel. He also lead the nation back to God during his time as priest. How different this story might have been if he had stayed in his own home. Samuel had to leave his home- his “comfort zone”. He had to leave the comfort of a mother and father’s love, having brothers and sisters around him, being a child and playing childhood games, the nights eating around the table with his family, the comfort of his own bed in his own room, in his own house, with his own family; instead of with a stranger- Eli and Eli’s unruly sons. In order to bring you into the “position” that God has planned for you, He might have to bring you out of your “home” too. (I am not necessarily talking about a geographical location. Sometimes God will call you to move physically, but I am also speaking figuratively.) I am talking about your “comfort zone”- that place that is familiar to you, that place where you “camp out” at and always retreat to. For some of you your comfort zone may be something like food- you overeat because it makes you feel good when things are getting a little too uncomfortable or hard to deal with. Sadly, for some their comfort zone is bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, or holding a grudge. I know that may sound odd, but there are people who have been hurt and won’t let go of the attitudes listed above because it makes them feel justified- so they are comforted by their right to feel that way. A comfort zone can be anything- it’s many things to many different people. If God is trying to “get you out” of your comfort zone, it’s because He wants to “bring you into” His plan for your life. “Woe to those who are at ease...” (Amos 6:1a) If you continue to stay in that comfortable place after His is dealing with you to leave it, you’ll miss the marvelous plan His has for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“ (Jeremiah 29:11- NIV)
Look at Joseph. There is much we could say about Joseph; his whole life was one of being “brought out” and “brought in”. He was taken out of his father’s house and sold into slavery. Then he was taken out of Potapher’s house and taken into the prison. From there he was taken out of the prison and brought into the palace. I want to focus on his being taken out of the prison in order to be brought into the palace. “Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:14, 41,44) The Bible said that Joseph was brought out of the dungeon. That dungeon was also defined “pit”- Joseph was brought out of the pit and into the palace. Many of you are in a “pit” as you are reading this. It might be a pit of despair, a pit of confusion, a pit of fear. You may be there by your own doing or you may have had no control in winding up there. If that’s you, the Lord wants to bring you out of the pit that you are in in order to bring you into your “palace”- a place of authority, wealth, prosperity, fulfillment, and service.
Paul is another example. He had to be brought out of his religious mentality in order to be brought into his ministry. “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” (Acts 22:3,4) Paul (Saul at the time) thought he was doing the Lord’s work by killing Christians. He was very zealous for God and did his religious duties, but he missed it completely. So much so that God finally met him on the road to Damascus and “got his attention”- He knocked him off his horse and caused him to be blind. After God brought him out of his religious mindset, Paul discovered that it wasn’t about being “religious” but about having a relationship with the Lord and then doing the works of the ministry from that motive. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Philippians 3:9,10) Some of you are being hindered in the ministry that the Lord wants to do through you because you are trapped in religious traditions- you are serving the Lord based on a strict code of “do’s” and “don’ts”, as well as the traditions of your church. You are doing it out of duty and wondering why nothing is happening. Our service for the Lord is motivated by love; not some religious tradition. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) “Serve the Lord with gladness.” (Psalms 100:2) Ask yourself, “Am I doing what I do for the Lord out of a motive of love or am I just religious?” If it’s not out of the right motive- He has to bring you out of that religious/churchy way of thinking and living and bring you into a desire to serve Him out of love and devotion. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
I want us to look at the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. You may not think that there was anything that she had to be brought out of in order to be brought into part of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. But in order for this “miracle” to come into her life, she had to be brought out of the fear of the opinions and criticisms of others. “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38) When she said, “yes” to God’s will, she knew she would be labeled an “adulteress”. She knew that those she loved would never believe her story about the angel coming and that she was going to be the mother of Jesus, the Messiah. She knew that people would whisper about her. She knew the stigma that the world would place on her. She knew that she stood a chance of being stoned because she was “espoused” to Joseph. But she didn’t let her fear of people stop her from embracing the will of God for herself and for the whole world. Are you letting your miracle be robbed because you are afraid of what someone else might say or think? Are you more concerned about them than giving the will of God access into your life? Do you back down and shy away from surrendering to His will because you are afraid of what your family, your spouse, your friends might think? If that’s the case then you need to ask God to bring you out of the fear of man because if you don’t, you will never say “yes” to God. “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” (Psalms 118:6) “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:6) “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Psalms 56:3,4) The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)
There are so many more examples: Rebekah, Ruth, James and John- the sons of Zebedee, the disciples, Moses, David, Gideon, etc. I don’t have time, or paper, to discuss them all, but every major character in the Bible had to be “brought out” of something before they could get something better- something that God desired to give them or do in their lives. God will continually do a work of bringing you out so that He can bring you in. There is one thing that is for sure, if you aren’t brought out, you will never be brought in; we learned this though the examples that we have talked about. Being “brought out” isn’t always easy sometimes it’s hard. It isn’t always pleasant. Sometimes it involves a big sacrifice. But the bottom line is-- there is no other way around it, you have to be brought out if He is ever going to bring you in.