Things Don’t Just Happen
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” and if you know Paul’s testimony, most of them were not good. He testifies in II Corinthians 11:24-28 and just enumerates the things that had happened unto him. When you talk about something that happened, in most cases it’s not something you intentionally did to yourself. It is a circumstance that came about, a happening. Something happened. It was unplanned. You weren’t prepared for it. Good things happen as well. Quite frequently, the things that happen to us are undesirable. We’re not really excited about it. Paul said in II Corinthians 11:24, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” That’s what happened. He was preaching the Gospel, trying to get the Word of God out, trying to do the will of God. What happened? They gave him 39 stripes. That happened numerous times — five times.
He said, “Thrice was I beaten with rods,…” Three times when he was trying to serve God, he was beaten with rods. “…once was I stoned,…” He wasn’t on drugs. I believe they killed him and God raised him back to life at Lystra. I believe that’s what he testified about in II Corinthians when he talked about being caught up to the third heaven. He was beaten and scourged and stoned. He said, “…thrice I suffered shipwreck,…” That’s a blessing. He was headed somewhere and got shipwrecked. It really did turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It didn’t look or feel like a blessing. This is not how he planned it. He would not have asked for it to be this way, but there was a Divine design to every happening in his life.
Quite frequently, I’m afraid that when things happen, we fall apart and get so upset we lose sight of the will of God. When things happen, sometimes we change plans and leave the will of God rather than allowing the circumstance to produce the desired end.
He went on talking about things that happened to him. “…a night and a day I have been in the deep;” Verse 26, “In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,…” That’s a real blessing, have somebody rob you. Bad things happen to good people, don’t they? Car accidents and things. Shipwreck he talked about, but car wrecks and disease and things that happen and you just can’t find any rhyme or reason to the circumstance. From your perspective looking at it, you can’t imagine how anything good could possibly come from this? I’m certain that whenever Paul was robbed, he wasn’t too excited about having the little bit he had taken away from him, having his life threatened, having money and belongings taken away by force. He said, “…in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;” He talked about the perils of life.
The world in which you and I live, there are some perilous things. There will be people that turn on you, sometimes your own countrymen. Sometimes it will be the heathen, but sometimes it will be the brethren. You can’t decide who does what as far as what they do to you. The only thing you can do is decide that you’ll respond as you should. He talks about, “In weariness and painfulness,…” If you don’t have any of that, you’re not working hard enough and you’re not old enough. You get a little bit older, you’ll know what pain is. You work hard enough, you’ll know what weariness is.
Once I was calling Bryan Sharp. I was in a Spanish conference. Ezequiel Salazar, who is a pastor in Los Angeles, California, was my interrupter — I mean interpreter. You say about three words, and he’d say 15. You say two and he’d say 10. I don’t know, maybe he was preaching his own sermon. I was preaching with Brother Salazar and I had only been sleeping a couple hours a night. I was completely exhausted. I had just flown in there preached and got a bite to eat and went back to the motel room. I laid down and when I woke up, it was five o’clock. It was a winter day and it was dark. When I woke up, immediately I looked at the clock. I started to kind of panic. I thought, “Is it five o’clock in the morning? Am I supposed to be getting ready to go to the airport? Is somebody coming to pick me up? Am I late for my ride?” I thought, “Is it five o’clock in the evening? Am I supposed to be getting ready for church? Where am I at?” I sat there for a little bit and it dawned on me that it was five o’clock in the evening. I said, “Okay, I got a little bit of time. I need to call Bryan Sharp.” I called and in my mind I’m in California because I’m preaching and Brother Salazar is my interpreter. Mary Joyce, Bryan’s wife, answered the telephone. I said, “Mary, is Bryan there?” She said, “Brother Corle, he’s out hunting.” I said, “Come on, Mary. Don’t mess with me. I’m too tired. Get him on the phone.” She said, “Brother Corle, he’s out hunting.” I said, “Mary, look. I’m in California. It’s five o’clock here. It’s seven o’clock there. It’s dark here. Don’t tell me he’s out hunting.” She said, “Brother Corle, it’s not dark here.” I’m sitting there thinking, “What’s happened? Some cataclysmic event has taken place while I was sleeping. What’s going on?” I said, “Just never mind.” So I hung up and I’m sitting on the edge of the bed trying to figure this out. All of a sudden it dawns on me. I’m not in California; I’m in New York, opposite coast, an hour later than Sharp. I didn’t know where I was at, didn’t know what was going on. Everything I tried to do, I was just in a cloud. Now if that never happened to you, you’re not working hard enough. You get too much sleep.
He talked about being in weariness. He talked about being in perils. He talked about painfulness. He talked about watchings often, staying up through the night praying, crying out to God. He talked about hunger. Nobody usually stays hungry intentionally. It’s because there is a lack of food. If you have hunger and there is food, you go ahead and satisfy the hunger. You eat. He’s talking about need. You understand some things that happened to him. He was without what he needed — his physical provision, sometimes. That was not by choice. It wasn’t a planned fast in this case. He talks about fastings a little bit later, “…in fastings often, in cold…” where he didn’t have the heat he’d like to have. “…and nakedness.” He didn’t have the proper clothing. He said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Carrying the burdens and the heartaches of other people, people I love, people that are going through it. He said, “You don’t begin to know.”
Brother Hyles said to me several years ago when we were in a meeting together, “You know, Doc, when you know as many people as we know, traveling like we do, if you’re not careful, you just cry all the time.” It’s the truth. The more people you know, the more heartache you know about. Somebody that you love is going through it all the time. Somebody is in a mess all the time. Somebody is hurting all the time. The more people you know, it just multiplies the heartache and burden.
Paul said that he had started these churches. He won these converts. He loved these people and he said, “You don’t begin to know the burden that falls on me daily with the care of the churches and the concern about the direction they go.” He was worried about the church in Galatia. It was going the wrong direction. He had a hand in that thing and it had taken a turn for the worse. That letter would imply that.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” and I want you to understand most of the things that happened unto him according to his own testimony in II Corinthians 11, most of them were not good. It’s not that nothing good ever happens by chance, and really it’s not by chance. The things that come, the things that happen that you didn’t plan, they come upon you. A lot of them are not good.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” They have fallen out, not to my destruction. He said, “…the things which happened unto me…” God’s intention was not to destroy me by allowing them to happen.
The first thing people want to do when something undesirable happens is question, “If God loves me, why did He?” and “If there is a loving God, why would He?” The first thing we want to do is question the integrity of God or the love of God or the goodness of God, instead of understanding that everything that God allows in my life has an end to it. It has a Divine purpose. Sometimes the good things don’t produce what the bad things produce. You understand that, don’t you?
Job talked about how God afflicted him. Do you know what he said? He said, “For God maketh my heart soft,…” (Job 23:16) Affliction will do that to you. The good times will callous you. God prospers His people, too, but sometimes prosperity will callous you. Sometimes it will get you cooled down and indifferent to spiritual things. It will get you satisfied with something less than God’s best. He said, “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out…” not to my destruction, but they “…have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” He said, “The Gospel has gotten out as the result of my calamity. These undesirable circumstances in every case had a Divine purpose and there is some way that they made a difference for somebody and enabled me to get the Gospel to somebody or tendered somebody’s heart, or God used my testimony to affect them. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these things. They just happened. I would have planned it different, but it happened different than I planned it.” God knew what He was doing. It didn’t just happen. It happened with design. It happened with the hand of God in the background orchestrating everything that came to pass in my life. He said, “It happened to the furtherance of the Gospel.”
I understand there is human intent and things. In verses 15-18, Paul talks about human intent. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” People sometimes have bad intent, but even when they have ill intent, God has a purpose. He could prevent that stuff. He’s still in charge. On your worst day, He’s in charge. When it looks like your whole world is falling apart, He’s in charge. He’s not afflicting you to destroy you or to be unkind to you. There is a Divine purpose.
If you recall in Genesis 50:20, we find Joseph, who was a godly young man, and he was preferred by his father because he was a blessing. The Bible tells us that his brethren hated him. They cast him into a pit and sold him into slavery. Then he was lied about and imprisoned. Then he was forgotten by the one man that could have helped him. Here he is in a strange land for a number of years. It didn’t look good for him, but four times in that passage of Scripture it says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” Intertwined with all those negative circumstances, four times it says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” If you gauged it like we do, if you looked at the circumstances in Joseph’s life, it didn’t look like God was within a million miles, but the Lord was with Joseph. God was at work in the life of Joseph. God was making a prime minister for Egypt. God was raising somebody up that could win the heart of the king of Egypt. God was making a refuge for His people, a place for them to go in the coming famine. God was doing some stuff behind the scenes. The things that God was doing were not immediate. They were down the road, but it took years of preparation. It took hardship. It took sorrow. It took affliction. It took betrayal. It took a number of things to make him what God intended for him to be.
Humility always comes before exaltation. God had to humble him so he could raise him up and use him. God had to bring him down so He could bless him. Joseph finally revealed himself to his brethren, and then his brethren, when their father died, were afraid of him. They thought, “Now that our father is gone, the only reason Joseph hasn’t done us in is because of Dad. Now that Dad is gone, we have had it.” They began to plead with him and tell him lies, telling him their father said this and their father said that. Do this; do that. Joseph was wise enough to understand that his brethren had evil intent, but they could not have done anything they had done to him without God permitting it. He said in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Sometimes people that do things to you, their intent is evil, but God can take their evil intent and use it for His glory. God can take their evil intent and behind the scenes have a Divine will, and even though their intent is to destroy you, God can use the very thing that they intend to destroy you with to raise you up.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” He said, “A lot of things happened to me. Some of them weren’t very desirable.” As a matter of fact, many of them weren’t very desirable, but he said, “They have fallen out. The outcome, the end result has been the furtherance of the Gospel. It hasn’t been my destruction. I’m still here. God wasn’t going to grind me to powder with the circumstances.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” How many things? All things. That’s the good ones and the bad ones.
He didn’t say all things are good, but all things work together for good. How many of you like biscuits? I don’t eat more than half a dozen at a time. Biscuits have several ingredients. I’ll tell you what is really good. Go out to the kitchen and get in the flour bag. You get a big scoop of flour and put it in your mouth. Mmm. Isn’t that good? You don’t like flour? I thought you liked biscuits. It’s one of the main ingredients. Well, maybe one of the other ingredients. You may not like the flour, but I’ll tell you what is really good. The shortening in biscuits, go out there and scoop a big scoop of shortening out of the can. Ummm, yummy! Huh? You don’t like shortening either? I thought you like biscuits. You like biscuits but you don’t like any of the ingredients. Yet once they are all mixed together and go through the fire, you like the outcome.
That’s the way life is. It’s made up of a bunch of ingredients. Any single ingredient by itself may not be very palatable, but God knows what He is doing. All these things work together for good, for your good, for the common good, for the furtherance of the Gospel, for the glory of God. He knows what He’s doing. People get bitter because of one circumstance that’s unpalatable. The truth is if they’d let God do what He’s doing in their lives without getting bitter, they’d like the outcome. Paul said, “The things, mostly negative things, the things that have happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel.” “…all things work together for good to them that love God,…”
In Luke 23, you’ll remember Calvary looked like defeat, didn’t it? The only reason I’m going to Heaven is because of something that was a bitter pill for the Son of God. He drank that cup gladly. The truth is He became sin for you and me. When He died there at Calvary, it looked like defeat, but it was victory. It wasn’t just victory for Him; it was victory for me and for you. It was eternal life for us. What happened at Calvary was necessary.
I don’t believe Jesus shrank from the suffering of Calvary physically. I think the thing that He shrank from in His heart was to become sin, the perfect, sinless Son of God. He said, “…Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:…” I hate sin. I don’t want to become sin. I’ve never touched anything defiling. Our fellowship has never been broken, but if this is the only way, if it will further the Gospel, if it will make salvation available to a bunch of sinners, “…not my will, but thine, be done.” There are a lot of times your will is in conflict with the furtherance of the Gospel. There are a lot of times that the things that you would like to happen cannot happen and the common good be served. It would be better for you, but worse for the cause. Can I remind you there is something bigger than all of us? There is a cause out there bigger than me, bigger than you, bigger than our ministry, bigger than our church, bigger than life. It’s big. That’s what Jesus came and died for.
In Acts 5, the Bible tells us that the apostles were beaten and threatened. Do you know what the outcome was? Jerusalem turned right-side up. The heathen crowd said they turned it upside down, but what they were doing was bringing people to repentance and turning it right-side up. It looked upside down to the heathen. It looked upside down to the religious lost, but really what they were doing was setting the record straight and turning people from sin to Christ, getting them born again. The Gospel was being furthered, but it wasn’t very palatable. It wasn’t very enjoyable for the apostles to be beaten, to be threatened.
In Acts 7 we find Stephen being stoned. There was a certain young man that held their garments while they stoned Stephen. His name was Saul. The Bible says as they stoned Stephen, his face was as the face of an angel. He said, “…Lord, lay not this sin to their charge…” He saw Jesus standing as he fell to his death, and testified verbally. There was a young man there that was a persecutor, who never got over what he saw. The things that happened to Stephen had fallen out to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Do you remember when Paul finally met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus? Jesus said, “…it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” A prick was something kind of like the electric cattle prods today. If you’re moving animals, you use an electric cattle prod. In Biblical times, they used a pointed stick — a prick. Their intention was not to wound the animal, just to create enough discomfort to get them headed where they’re supposed to be. What the Lord said to Paul was, ever since the death of Stephen, you’ve been under conviction and fighting it. You’ve been kicking against the pricks. You’ve made it more painful than it had to be. You’ve wounded your own conscience by fighting conviction kicking against the pricks instead of cooperating and responding. What happened to Stephen was necessary. It wasn’t very palatable. Do you understand the Apostle Paul penned by the inspiration of God 100 chapters of the Bible? Do you realize he started dozens of churches in Asia Minor? Do you realize there are multitudes and multitudes of people saved because of the ministry that God gave the Apostle Paul? Do you understand that Stephen didn’t have 10,000 converts personally, but he did have one? It was the result of him taking the right stand with the right spirit, dying with grace. The things that happened unto him happened to the furtherance of the Gospel. One guy got saved that had been the enemy of the Gospel as a result of what happened to Stephen. Paul just never got over what he saw on that day.
In Acts chapter 8, the Bible tells us there was a great persecution. Do you know what happened? They went everywhere preaching the Word. They were driven out of Jerusalem by a persecution. They were pushed out of their homeland, driven from their roots and their moorings, but the end result was here they are going every direction but they’re taking the Gospel with them. They spread the Gospel everywhere. It wasn’t an easy thing that got the Gospel out; it was persecution. It was being driven from their homeland. The things that happened unto them were not things they would have chosen. Those things that happened were for the furtherance of the Gospel.
In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Barnabas had a demon possessed girl saved. It caused a great ruckus. The people were making a living on her calamity with her problem because she was reading fortunes and palms. She was into every kind of reading. Somebody was making wealth on that. The Bible tells us they got beaten up and thrown into prison for soulwinning. What happened? The Bible says that at midnight they praised God and sang praises and prayed. The Bible says the prisoners heard them. If they had been griping and complaining, the prisoners would have heard that, too. If they had been saying, “I just don’t know why God let this happen to me.” The prisoners would have heard that, too. They understood that there is a Divine plan in everything that happens unto us. They were doing the will of God and some bad stuff happened. They were doing the will of God and things they didn’t expect to happen happened, things they didn’t want to happen happened.
Do you know what the outcome was? They praised God and they prayed and got an answer. They had compassion on their enemy because when the fella was about to take his life Paul said, “…Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” That was after the earthquake that God sent in answer to prayer. That was after the bands had been loosed and the doors had been opened and they had been set free from their bonds. Do you know what happened? The jailor got saved. His family got saved. Revival broke out in the prison. If you don’t think revival broke out in that prison, just read the text. There was an earthquake and the doors were opened. The bands were loosed. It was midnight. Everybody was at liberty. They could have escaped. The jailor thought they had. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” If you don’t think that is a revival, go to any state penitentiary, open the prison doors for about 15 minutes at midnight and see if you can say, “We’re all here.” I’m telling you, they weren’t worried about getting out. They wanted to find out who his God was, but Paul and Silas had to end up in prison for the furtherance of the Gospel. They had to be beaten and suffer hardship for the furtherance of the Gospel.
We’ve been listening to these charismatics so long we start believing the gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity, and if you’re right with God, nothing negative ever happens. That’s not so. Read your Bible. Everybody that is doing the will of God has some things come into their lives that they would not ask for, that they do not enjoy. God never requires you to enjoy the negative things, but He does want you to endure them and stay right with Him. He does want you to come to the conclusion that He’s smarter than you, and there is a Divine design to everything that He permits, and that there is good that will come from this even if you can’t figure it out.
In Daniel chapter 6, the Bible tells us that Daniel was cast into the den of lions, not a lion’s den. It could be an empty lion’s den, but he was dumped into a den of lions. The result was God protected him. I’m sure he had some anxious moments. They kept those lions pretty hungry. If you don’t think they were hungry, when Daniel was taken out and those who accused him were cast in it says that the lions had mastery of them and brake their bones before they hit the bottom of the pit. They didn’t even let them hit the ground before they started devouring them, but they didn’t harm Daniel. Why? Because God has control over all that stuff, but don’t get the idea he didn’t have some anxious moments. He was human like you. He didn’t care much for hungry lions, at least up close and personal. He wasn’t too excited about it. He wouldn’t have asked for that, but that’s what it took. He would not cease praying to save his life. He was willing to put his life on the line. The things that happened unto Daniel being cast into the den of lions, it did have an end. You say, “What happened?” When he got taken back out of the den of lions the king said, “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.” (Daniel 6:26) It sounds to me like he got saved. If he didn’t, he sure got the fire scared out of him. He got the fear of God put in him, came to the realization that there is a living God. It’s Daniel’s God. Daniel had to go in a den of lions for that to be a reality.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the burning fiery furnace, I don’t imagine they were too excited about that. Another decree came from the king who declared that their God was the living God and it had impacted him. It affected his entire kingdom.
In Ruth 2:3, the Bible tells us when Ruth came back with Naomi “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was…” Her hap — this just happened. This wasn’t planned. She didn’t know where she was. She had no motive or intention. She wasn’t trying to manipulate any circumstance. It just happened this way, but if you know the program of God you know about Boaz and Ruth. You know it didn’t just happen, but it tells us, “…and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” The seedline of the Saviour. This Gentile girl got in right there. It wasn’t an accident, folks. There was design to it. As far as she was concerned it was her hap. She didn’t plan it, didn’t know what was planned. She just went out and found a place where she could glean after the reapers. God made sure she landed in the right spot.
The Lord knows what He is doing in our lives. Sometimes it’s our hap to suffer. Sometimes it’s our hap to prosper. Sometimes it’s our hap to be in a place, we don’t even know why we’re there. Certainly it’s our hap to be in a circumstance we can’t figure out and say, “I don’t know what good could come of this. I can’t see any good reason.”
Romans 11:25 talks about the blindness of Israel as a nation. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” They’re blind. It’s kind of frustrating. I’ve been to Israel a couple times and tried to talk to some Jews. You can’t talk to them. It’s easier to talk to just about anybody than to talk to a Jew about the Gospel. They’re blind. They can’t see, but could I tell you the church age falls in that blind spot for them. God extended His grace to us. He’s coming back to them. Don’t worry about it. He hadn’t forgotten them. They’re still His chosen nation.
I’ve been working on a sermon on this subject, but I really believe a lot of the circumstances we’re facing with the weather and all these hurricanes, tornados, and natural disasters and earthquakes, we’ve been messing with that little nation of Israel. The Bible talks about the dividing of the land, and when you divide the land it’s going to bring judgment. That’s this road map. We just need to mind our own business and let them kill their own terrorists. Those Palestinians are a bunch of squatters from eight or nine countries. There are no Palestinian people. I defy you to find their history. It started in modern times with Yasser Arafat. They have no history beyond him. If you check their heritage, they come from eight or nine different Muslim nations. They didn’t live there once and were thrust out and came back to reclaim what was taken. They came as squatters to try to take away what was rightfully Israel’s. We need to stay out of that. That’s not our business. You let that sovereign nation take care of it. We start tampering trying to get Israel to give away what God placed in their hand, and God is going to deal with us. You mark her down. He’s serious about that little nation of Israel. We didn’t threaten them militarily. We just put so much financial pressure on them they went ahead and yielded. I believe we’re under judgment today because of that. Maybe it will bring us to repentance. Maybe it will bring a national revival. Maybe God will use some of these negatives to bring to pass the furtherance of the Gospel in America. We’ve just about become a heathen nation. We’re in a tragic state. I’ve never seen so much apathy and indifference among the people of God. Just total unconcern, everything else is more important. They squeeze God in on occasion, if they don’t have anything else to do, but everything else is back burner. We’re in a bad way spiritually in America, but that blindness was for the church age. He said, “…blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
In I Corinthians 10:11, speaking of the judgment of God on Israel He says, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” He said that everything that happened to the Old Testament Jew in judgment was done for an example to us and they’re written for our admonition. The reason God judged them was to give us fair warning, and He put it in Scripture so we’d know, so we’d be admonished by it. It was an example to us and an admonishment to us.
Do you remember the blind man in John chapter nine? The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Why is that man blind? Because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”
Jesus said, “Neither.” He wasn’t saying that the man or his parents had not sinned. He said that the affliction wasn’t because of sin. Do you know what He told them? “This man’s affliction is for the glory of God.” He said, “He had to be blind so I could heal him and show the power and glory of God.” This fella at random, it wasn’t because of something he had done wrong. It wasn’t because God was angry with him. This man had to be blind. It just was his hap to be blind, so that the Lord Jesus could give glory to the Father.
The truth is things don’t just happen, folks. I’ve broken down all over the world. I told my wife years ago, “Honey, I am going to get an airplane license.” She was serious. She said, “I’m not flying with you.” I said, “Why?” She said, “Every thing you get in breaks down. I want to break down on the ground.” So I never went and got my pilot’s license. That’s why I’m still alive.
I broke down everywhere in the world. You name it. I can show you spots all the way across 70 and 76 and 40. I’ve got spots all over the place, towns where I’ve been towed in, lost the rearend of the vehicle, lost the transmission, lost a clutch, lost the engine, lost a wheel. I’ve had preacherboys change tires and go ten miles and have wheels flying down through the median because they didn’t tighten the bolts. I’ve broken down all over the place, but do you know what? I have won people to Christ all over the place when I’ve been broke down. I didn’t always handle it real well. I don’t like this stuff. How dare God mess with my plans?
I was supposed to be in Phoenix for a Revival Fires Conference. I went to Martinsburg to catch my airplane. They told me that I wasn’t on the list. I said, “I’ve got to be on the list. Right here is my ticket. I bought it two months ago.”
They said, “Something happened and there is a glitch in the computer. You’re not in there.” I said, “You’ve got to get me on the plane.” They said, “We can’t. It’s full. There is another one going out in two hours.” I said, “Look, you’ve got to get me on this airplane.”
They told me that they’re not going to get me on the airplane. I was mad — I mean righteously indignant. I went over and sat down and crossed my arms and pouted. I was mad. Finally they got me on the next airplane, flew me to Pittsburgh. It was already clear. I’m not going to make it. I’m the main speaker in a Revival Fires Conference, co-hosting it. I’m not going to get there. I was mad. “You bunch of dumb bells. They can’t even keep your name in the computer. Throw the stinkin thing out and write it on a piece of paper.” I flew to Pittsburgh and they put me on this plane to Phoenix. Every seat is full. They jammed me in a seat on the aisle. There is a guy beside me and a guy at the window. The guy in front of me decides he wants to lay on my lap. He lays his seat down. Then the stewardess comes back the aisle and jams the cart up against my arm. She said, “Would you like something to eat?”
I said, “What would I do with it, sit it on his head? No, I don’t want anything to eat. I just want to get where I’m going.” I had a wonderful spirit She said, “Would you like something to drink?”
I thought about that for a minute. “Yes, Ma’am, I’ll take a cup of coffee.” She sat a cup of coffee down there. You’ve got to understand this guy is laying on me. I’ve got somebody tight against me on this side and the cart is here. I can’t touch my coffee. I’m just looking at it. The girl working the rows behind me tells the girl up in the front, “I need two bottles of wine.” She picks them up by the small neck and hands them to the girl back here who grabs them by the bottom and when she squeezed, they popped up in the air. I could see it happening, but I couldn’t do a thing about it. They hit my coffee and dumped the whole cup of hot coffee on my leg, and down on my seat. She said, “Oh, oh, I’m sorry.”
I said, “That fixed everything. It’s okay now. You’re sorry.” I’m soaked in coffee, missing my engagement. Then the fella beside me tried to console me. He said, “The same thing happened to me last week.” I said, “Really?” I wouldn’t even speak to him. I got great comfort out of the fact that somebody dumped coffee. I don’t care what happened to you last week. I’m sitting there stewing. I was just mad. I’m not talking to nobody. I’m sitting on the airplane and the Lord just smote my heart.
He said, “Dummy, what are you going out there to Phoenix for?” “I’m going out there to preach and try to challenge them people to be soulwinners and live for God.” “Like you’re doing?” “Well, you know.” I said, “Okay, Lord, ease up. I’ll talk to him.” Finally I turned to talk to this guy. I said, “Have you ever been saved?” He said, “What do you mean saved?”
I pulled my New Testament out and showed the old boy how to get saved.”
He got under conviction and just started sobbing. I said to him, “Now if you want to trust Christ, I’ll help you with a word of prayer, but you’ve got to mean it.” He said, “Okay.” I said, “Lord Jesus.” He yelled, “Lord Jesus!” Passengers are trying to get out on the wing, afraid to get contaminated by religion. The old boy got saved. He had been a Catholic. He was sitting there sobbing. He said, “You know. Now I’m ashamed of myself.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “My first wife died a couple years ago. I wouldn’t let her go anywhere but the Catholic church. She never heard this.” I said, “Hopefully somebody told her sometime. I can’t promise you they did, but hopefully somewhere somebody told her about Christ and she got saved.”
About that time we landed. I stood up and got out of my seat, and out of my coffee. I stepped back so he could get out. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a hundred dollar bill and stuck it in my pocket. He said, “There you go, young man.” By the way, when I started talking to him, I asked what he was going to Phoenix for? He said, “I’m going to a Nascar race. He was an older guy, retired. He said, “I build seating. I put the seating in nine Nascar Supertracks. I have free passes for life to all of them. I’m just going to watch a race.”
Seriously what happened to me was I had a plan. My plan was to get on the first flight and get to Phoenix on time to preach. God said, “I’ve got a more important plan for you. There is a 78-year-old man that is lost on his way to Hell. He’s a Catholic and nobody will talk to him. I’m going to cancel your flight, and jam you on a plane next to him so you can talk to that guy.” God had to drag me through the mud and dump coffee on my lap so the guy would talk to me, since I wouldn’t talk to him.
The things that have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. It messed up my plan and ruined my day, but it made that man’s day once I finally got my heart right with God. Now I know you’re a lot more spiritual than me. You don’t get mad about stuff when it doesn’t go your way, right? I was having what I thought was a bad day, but it wasn’t the devil. God had a plan and somebody had to mess up the computer, bump me off of my flight, so I’d end up in that plane. When I got on there, I was so stinkin mad and rebellious I wouldn’t talk to the guy. So God dumped coffee on my lap, and when He dumped coffee on my lap, that guy talked to me and I still wouldn’t talk to him.
“What are you trying to say, Preacher?” I’m trying to tell you it wasn’t what I planned. God altered my plans and it just happened that way, but it didn’t just happen. The things that happened happened for the furtherance of the Gospel. If you cooperate with God, some good will come of all that stuff. Wouldn’t it be sad if you go through all that for the furtherance of the Gospel and you never further the Gospel? Wouldn’t it be sad if you get so upset about the circumstances that take place in your life, but you don’t complete the task that God put you in that circumstance to complete? Wouldn’t it be bad when you missed the whole purpose for the problem, and you still go through the hardship and nothing good happens?
About a month ago, I was trying to get to Memphis, Tennessee, and preach for Dr. Ron Westmoreland. I left here and flew to Philadelphia. When I got to Philadelphia, a storm blew in. I couldn’t get there. “What did you do?” I probably handed out 70 tracts. I witnessed to every gate agent, everybody else cussing. Do you know what they did? They sent me back home. Trip in vain. It wasn’t in vain. That’s the way they marked my ticket — trip in vain — no charge. They flew me back to Harrisburg. Brother Mark Mahan had to come get me at midnight. You say, “What happened? What good?” I don’t know. God flew me there and it wasn’t to get me to Memphis, because if He wanted me in Memphis I would have found a way to get to Memphis. I tried every option. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed at the house. I don’t have many days at the house. I would have rather stayed home than flown to Philadelphia and back at midnight. But the truth is something good will come of that. I may not know what it is till the Judgment Seat of Christ, but I witnessed to a dozen people. I handed out 70 tracts. It was a trip in vain according to their programming, but it wasn’t in vain.
“Well, it just happened.” It did, but things don’t just happen. Whatever God allows in your life is for the furtherance of the Gospel. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”