This Week’s Sermon- Payday’s Coming: 3 Stories For Easter

This Day's Thought from The Ranch

(Part 1 of 3)

by Eric Elder


When some friends of mine got divorced and later remarried each other, another friend, and their mentor through it all, stood up at their second wedding and said:  “It’s Payday!”

What he meant was that after having walked with them through all of their troubles and heartache he was finally seeing the fruit of all of that hard work.

Although not every story ends the same way, we can trust that with God every story can have a “Payday” ending of its own–for God really does work “for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

As we get ready for Easter, I’d like to share 3 stories with you over the next 3 weeks to remind you that “Payday’s Coming!”  Yes, there’s pain and suffering in life.  Yes, there are trials and tribulations we have to walk through.  Yes, people leave us and hurt us and sometimes we hurt ourselves.

But somehow, someway, in God’s economy, He’ll work it all out for good if we’ll just keep trusting in Him and following His promptings along the way.  “Payday’s Coming!”  We just need to keep trusting in Him.

I know that’s easier said than done sometimes, though, so I’d like to tell you these 3 stories over the next 3 weeks to encourage you that it’s all worth it.  The 3 stories all happened to me over a recent trip to Texas and involve a romance novel, a powerful sermon and a white handkerchief.  I’ll also highlight the stories of 3 Bible characters along the way: Joseph, David and Jesus.

Today, let’s start with the romance novel and the story of Joseph.

I don’t usually read romance novels, but when I got in my car to start the 14-hour drive from Illinois to Texas one weekend, I thought I’d download a book to listen to as I drove.

I had discovered recently that a woman on my mailing list writes romance novels.  She had ordered some of my devotional books last fall, and I thought it would be interesting to read some of her books, too.  But she had so many to choose from that I didn’t know which one to read.  And to be honest, as a middle-aged man who had just lost his wife a little over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I was up for listening to a romance novel about 20-somethings falling in love, for a multitude of reasons!

I was almost at the entrance to the highway to start my trip, which happened to be near my wife’s gravesite, so I decided to pull over and park next to my wife’s memorial bench and find a book to download before I began my long trek.

Still not knowing which book to choose, I saw that the author had done a podcast interview about one of her books, so I decided to watch it.  In the podcast, she said she had never written a book like this before.  It was about a man whose wife had died a year earlier, and his wife had given him a letter to be opened on the one-year anniversary of her death.

The author said, “I try to be creative and I’ve never done this before: I did first-person male point of view.”  She went on to describe how she had written this book from the man’s perspective to capture what he was thinking and feeling as he walked through this season of his life.

I couldn’t believe it.  Here I was, sitting next to my wife’s gravesite just a little more than a year after she had died, listening to this podcast.  I felt like God wanted to speak directly to me!  I immediately downloaded the book, got on the road and started listening.

Within minutes, I was in tears, and I think I cried all the way to St. Louis.  The book captured everything I was thinking and feeling, having just gone through the same thing in my own life like the main character in the book.  The book ministered to my heart in such a deep and profound way.  Most of all, it opened me up to see HOPE again for my future.

I’ve always known that God was there and that He can work things out in the end, but this book gave me hope that He will work things out in the end.  There’s a big difference between knowing God can do something and God will do something.  While I have felt God’s comfort through the past year, now He was giving me His confidence.

My confidence began to build when I first got on the road and started listening to this book, and it continued to build throughout the rest of the trip, as I’ll share with you more over the next 2 weeks.  I knew that God was clearly directing my steps, and I knew He would continue to direct them, as long as I kept trusting in Him and listening to His promptings.  It wasn’t Payday yet, but I could see it coming.

If you need encouragement that God will work all things for good in your life, I’d encourage you to read the story of Joseph this week.  You can find his story in the Bible in Genesis chapters 37 to 50, and take special note of one of Joseph’s “Paydays” that he experiences in chapter 41.

I won’t go into the whole story here, because I think you’ll really enjoy it more if you read it yourself.  But suffice it to say, Joseph had been through terrible trials, from his brothers selling him into slavery, to being wrongfully accused and thrown into jail for a crime he didn’t commit, to seeing people he helped along the way forget about him and leave him in prison.  But Joseph never stopped trusting in God.

Just when things looked like they’d never, ever get better, Joseph got summoned from his prison cell to appear before the king.  By the end of that day, Joseph had been made 2nd in command over all of Egypt.  After all the trials that Joseph had gone through, his whole life changed in a single day.  But God had been with him through it all, guiding, directing and training Joseph to complete the work that God had called him to do.

Joseph summed up his own story like this when he later talked to his brothers who had sold him into slavery:

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph trusted God and you can, too.  God can provide just what you need, right when you need it, whether it’s a romance novel for the road or a summons from the king.

Payday’s coming!  Trust that God can take whatever’s bad in your life and turn it into good.  Then believe that He not only can do it, but that He will do it.  That’s His specialty.  And that’s His will.  As the Bible says:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Next week we’ll look at a powerful sermon, and a Payday that came for a shepherd boy named David.

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