1. DID YOU HAVE A SONG & PRAYER? (Fam: Yes, Sir.) TYL! Well, amen, PTL! Hallelujah! TYJ! Someone else lead us in prayer, will you? (Family prays) Amen! Well, that was a Spirit-led prayer to reveal the future, & as you said, whatever the Lord leads. But the future I'm going to reveal to you this morning is not what you're expecting!
2. BY THE WAY, YOU NEED TO PRAY FOR JOSH! He has gone back to the States & has become a drifter with no place to live, no money, no family, nothing! He deserted his family, his wife & his children. See what happens if people don't yield? They never dream they're ever going that far back, they never expect to, but they just move a little further away & a little further away & a little further till finally they have gone all the way! I'm sure there's some hope for him, though, because he did write & beg for prayer & ask for help. (Maria: The last message we heard, he was supposed to be on his way back.)—TTL! Well‚ we certainly prayed for him. I love Josh dearly, he was one of the founding fathers & a great help in our early days, so to think of him going back is just heartbreaking!
3. BUT PERHAPS THAT'S WHAT HE NEEDED, REALLY, A REAL BREAKING, A REAL HUMBLING.—Because that's been his problem, he's always been quite proud‚ quite self-righteous & quite overly-religious. The Bible in one place even says‚ "Be ye not overly righteous." (Ecc.7:16) I'm sure it's talking about being a little self-righteous & pretending to be a little more righteous than you really are, even thinking you're more righteous than you are.
4. THE MOST RIGHTEOUS PERSON THERE AT THE TEMPLE THAT DAY WITH JESUS WAS NOT THE VERY HOLIER-THAN-THOU, SELF-RIGHTEOUS, HYPOCRITICAL SCRIBE & PHARISEE who kept the jot & the tittle of the law, & even when he went to pick mint & anise out of his garden, he would pluck off ten percent & be sure that he tithed properly & all that sort of thing. But Jesus had to tell His disciples right there, "This man is not the most righteous, but the more righteous of the two is this poor publican & sinner!"—A tax collector, who to the Jews was the worst kind of a character you could possibly imagine! They were usually extortionists, cheaters, robbers of the poor, franchised tax collectors for the Romans, considered traitors to their brethren. The Romans would tell'm how much taxes they needed & how much people should pay, & then they could charge whatever they wanted to more than that for their own income. So they were hated by their Jewish brethren‚ considered the scum of the Earth, outcasts, traitors, everything you could possibly imagine.
5. SO HERE WAS THIS POOR TAX COLLECTOR IN THE TEMPLE PRAYING, "LORD, BE MERCIFUL UNTO ME, A SINNER!" And what did Jesus say to these Jewish followers of His‚ let's face it, who thought they were pretty righteous themselves. He asked His disciples, "Which one do you think is the most righteous?—It's this poor tax collector here who knows he's a sinner & is asking for forgiveness." (Luk.18:10-14)
6. SO MAYBE IT TOOK THIS BACKSLIDING ALL THE WAY TO SHOW JOSH THAT HE COULD DO IT, THAT HE COULD GO ALL THE WAY BACK IF HE DIDN'T FOLLOW CLOSER & OBEY THE LORD & HIS FAMILY, that he could fall so low, that he actually had become a bum on the streets of Hawaii! Maybe it took that to convince him that he was a sinner, to break his heart & break his proud spirit & have to write on a little slip of paper a note begging for help & forgiveness & send it to Faithy. (Maria: He didn't even have money for a stamp or an envelope‚ he just sent it via someone on a plane.) He gave it to somebody that was going that direction, he didn't even have money for a stamp!
7. MY MOTHER USED TO PREACH A SERMON CALLED "THE STRIPPING OF THE SLAIN", how Saul got further & further away from the Lord‚ being more righteous than the Prophet, more righteous than David, more righteous than God, he knew better, he knew best, until finally he got so far gone that the Devil not only killed him & his sons, but he wasn't satisfied with that, he even humiliated & desecrated his body & those of his sons, stripped them of all their clothes & their armour until they were stark naked & then pinned them to the walls of the city with their spears‚ hanging up there as a lesson to all. (1Sam.31:8-10) The stripping of the slain, how the Devil will strip you all the way—I'm not just talking about clothes, either, but of everything—every blessing of God, your family, your children, your job, the will of God, funds, everything!—And if you keep on going back‚ finally kill you & pin you to the wall!
8. LET THAT BE A LESSON TO BACKSLIDERS! You'd better value your job & thank God for your position, whether it's mopping floors or cleaning toilets or cooking food or running errands or maintenance or whatever it is! Thank God that you're in the house of the Lord! "I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." (Psa.84:10)
9. YOU ALL KNOW JOSH'S STORY & HOW HE RESISTED SOME OF THE NEW DOCTRINES THAT CAME OUT & considered, "Well, that's Dad's idea, & if some people want to do it, that's up to them, but I'm not going to."—And he went the other way. He started going the other way a long time back‚ until see how far it got him?—Clear out of his Family, forsaking even his own wife & children & becoming a bum on the streets of Hawaii without even a stamp or an envelope to write a letter! He had to write a note on a piece of trash & send it by somebody who could deliver it to Faithy‚ saying he was sorry & "please pray for me." TTL? I think you heard that request before to pray for Josh, & you prayed for him, so this is good news we just heard, that he is coming back! TTL!
10. THE PRODIGAL SONS SOMETIMES HAVE TO GO A LONG WAYS BACK, CLEAR INTO THE SWINE PIT WITH THE FILTHY SWINE! "And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat!" (Luk.15:16)—He was so hungry & had nothing left but husks, garbage! He was so hungry, so out of the will of God, in such a mess‚ that there he was in the swine pit! Have you ever been in a hog wallow?—A swine pit? It's the dirtiest, filthiest‚ stinking place you can possibly imagine! The hogs are in there & they love mud, they love dirt, they wallow in it! They're not happy unless they have lots of mud & dirt, & they mix all their shit with it while they're at it, & they lie down & wallow in it & roll in it & love it!
11. SO THERE'S HARDLY ANY PLACE ANY DIRTIER, & THAT WAS WHERE THE POOR PRODIGAL SON, THE SON OF THE KING, HAD LANDED‚ finally down with the swine in the swine pit, the hog wallow, in the mud & the filth & the shit! And yet when a pod dropped off the tree, he apparently had difficulty trying to beat the hogs to it, to pick it up out of the shit & the mud! "He would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat," he was so hungry!—Think of that!—Nothing left, not even a stamp, just a scrap of paper!
12. THANK GOD HE EVIDENTLY FINALLY DECIDED IT WAS BETTER TO BE IN THE FATHER'S HOUSE than to be out there working for strangers & aliens, the World, the Devil, with nothing! Be thankful you've got something! You may not think it's much right now, but one of these days you may look back at these times & think you were absolutely living in luxury & like a king & a queen! When the hard times come & the hard days come, you will look back on these days as the days of Heaven on Earth!