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Crossfit: Training for Eternity

Eric Walsh

Description

Society’s focus on health is increasing. Yet even physical health is temporary. Christians must strive to be more than fit, like Christ we must be “cross fit.” 

Presenter

Eric Walsh

Pastor and Physician

Conference

Recorded

  • October 31, 2015
    11:30 AM

Series

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Happy Sabbath family. It is a privilege to be with you here at AMEN in beautiful South Carolina. A place I hope to one day retire to, taxes are less. I appreciate the invitation, and definitely want to say publicly, I appreciate all of your prayers. You need to know that when you pray for someone who is far away from you, God has a way of allowing that person to feel the power of your prayer. I can tell you that there were times in the deepest darkest nights when it was your prayers that lifted me out of deep depression and darkness, as it felt like the whole world was coming down upon me like Elijah in that cave. So I just want to thank you publicly and all those who will listen to this on AudioVerse for those prayers. They were very, very needed and still are, amen.

Let's get right into God's word for today in Genesis 39:19. The Scripture says 19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

The message this Sabbath morning is entitled Crossfit: Training for Eternity. Let us pray.

Father God we thank you for this opportunity to worship you on your holy Sabbath day. Lord, I am unworthy. Lord, my mouth is not as clean as the message I pray that you would send through it. But I ask Father God that you would wash me in the blood of the Lamb. That Father God that every word that is said, would be said to your names honor and glory. Is our prayer in Jesus’ precious and holy name, Amen.

Our story this morning we go to the Book of Genesis and we talk about one of my favorite Bible characters, Joseph. Joseph was an unfortunately blessed fellow. He was given a gift of the ability to interpret dreams, and it backfired on him. In simply telling his brothers and his father what he had seen and experienced, created a jealousy and a rivalry among his blended type family that caused Joseph to ultimately escape a murder plot and be sold into Egyptian slavery.

I think one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Scripture would have to be the scene of Joseph as he looking back on his brother's, shackled probably to the side of a mule, or a horse. As he begins to walk off into the distance and his brothers behind him get smaller and smaller, as he cries out for them to not do this terrible thing that they are doing. What will father say? He probably cried out, and how will you go on after this?

As he is moved away in the distance by his captors his brothers must drop their heads, some in celebration, some in shame. As they had to now come up with a plot to convince their father, that they did not do what they did.

When Joseph arrives in Egypt he is sold to a man named Potiphar and you know the story, it's a powerful story that Joseph is so pleasant in his slavery, that he causes Potiphar’s house to prosper.

I want to submit to you, my mother used to read little quotes of Ellen White to us on Friday evenings. And I want to paraphrase one that stuck with me is that we should always be the head and not the tail. God requires of us excellence and I want to submit to you that whatever training Jacob gave Joseph back in his homeland shone through in Potiphar’s house. When Joseph was given a position of privilege, things went well, in fact they prospered. So powerful was Joseph’s work that his master's wife began to notice the young, handsome, strong man. At that time in Egypt, I guess maybe they had had their own sexual revolution, and she made advances towards Joseph, the Spirit of Prophecy tells us not once or twice but more than once, and the Bible records the final time when she tries to get at him, when alone. Joseph rather than sinning against his God leaves his coat, he runs out of his coat to escape sin. She's enraged, and comes up with a lie to tell her husband. You know the story, she tells him that in fact it was the opposite that Joseph was the one making the advances and Potiphar had to be upset and disappointed all at once. His house had never prospered the way it did with this Hebrew boy in his house. But now because for no other reason but the way that society would look at him, a man of society, he had to punish Joseph. Now you have to believe he had some reservation about the story because in fact, Joseph could have, and probably believed by Potiphar, should have been instantaneously put to death. Instead, the Bible says. Genesis 39:20 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

One of the things you need to know is that prisons are not common in the ancient world. That's why a lot of the punishments for crimes, if you stole something you lost a hand. It was a whole lot easier than the cost of locking someone up for years at a time. It was easier than building prisons. There are not a lot of prisons in the ancient world, but Egypt's sophistication allowed them to have prisons. The King himself had his own prison, usually where people only stayed until they were going to be finally sentenced to that punishment that they were going to finally get. That’s where Joseph was placed.

It brings up one of the first of the lessons I want to give today. Lessons I learned in my own prison experience.

The first lesson is this, doing right does not mean that things won't go wrong.

In fact I challenge you to understand that if you are seriously committed to doing God's work, persecution and trial will follow you. Right now our country has still in place the Second Amendment protection of our religious freedoms, but I wonder if you see as I do, the chiseling away at that freedom. I wonder if you feel the way I feel that it won't be long until that amendment will be itself in some way amended. That in fact we have gone down the slippery slope of exemptions on this issue, and with that those who seek to do good, who only seek to follow God's way, to carry out their own beliefs in their own manner, will reach a point of terrible persecution as prophesied in Scripture. I submit to you, you don't have to be doing anything wrong for trouble to come your way.

When I say fit, the F the I and the T stand for something. The F is for faithful, the I is in, and the T is trials. We are to be faithful in trial, in tribulation, in trouble and in temptation. Joseph was all of those things, he had done nothing wrong to his brothers yet he was sold into slavery and almost murdered. He had done nothing wrong to Potiphar or his wife, yet he was now in prison. I submit to you that if you think doing right means no trouble will ever come, you have bitten of a fruit that has deceived you.

I won’t get into the Egyptian prisons for time's sake, but they were a pretty sophisticated system and the death penalty was a common outcome. That is what Joseph was facing. Genesis 39:21 begins with one of most important words in all of Scripture, it is a conjunction, it is the conjunction but, and I like the conjunction but. I had a teacher that once told me that when you read the word but, it means that whatever you just read is not as important as what you're about to read. Don't miss that. And so the Bible says Genesis 39:21 21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  

Did you get that all of these terrible things that happened to Joseph, however even in his trials and his tribulations, he had not lost the mercy and favor of God. It seems anti-thetical it seems to be an impossibility.

I want to submit to you that sometimes God allows trial to perfect the character of his children. You read a lot about what happened to me, it was all over the media, but I can tell you that what happened externally pales in comparison to what God has done for me internally. You see being a physician, speaker, Director of Public Health Officer, all the great accolades that came with the positions and the degrees, I have a master's in public health, a doctorate in public health, all of those things. Let's just be honest it can go to your head.

We can get caught up in our own success. We can begin to believe that there is something special about us.

I'm here to tell you that you serve a God that loves you so much, He will send something into your life that will keep you grounded and rooted. What we must learn to do in our trials, is to learn the lessons that God is teaching us. Not get angry with those who are causing us the trouble.

The Bible says in Genesis 39:22. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.  Joseph is so important to God and he so good at being a servant and a worker, that even in the prison he is promoted to a position of privilege and leadership.

Which leads us to the second lesson. See your prison as a place of preparation.

As I was going through what I was going through and the trials and the difficulties came, I began to study the Psalms. The Psalms came alive for me, that is the only way I can describe it. There are other texts in Isaiah and Jeremiah that did as well, but the Psalms came alive for me.  I realized that all of the earthly preparation that I had gotten in institutions of higher education, would not prepare me for the Kingdom of God. You missed that. The degrees had no bearing on my salvation. God had to put me through a new residency, He had to put me through a new training program. He had to put me through the School of Hard Knocks, as it were, for me to begin to understand what is really at stake in this world. Because I had begun to believe that through public health and medicine, we could save this world. Trials began to remind me that this world is not salvageable in that sense. What this world needs is Jesus. Each one of us, especially as health care providers, need to understand this. We are privileged to practice, and that our first and most important profession must be our profession of faith.

Every patient we come in contact with, as we heard in the testimony earlier, every interaction we have is an opportunity for us to share the love of Christ. Even with those who differ with us who cannot stand what we believe. Every opportunity to interact with someone is to introduce them to Jesus Christ.

God is preparing me for something else. As your trials come, He is preparing you for something else. Remember that in our trials in our difficulties when sickness comes upon us, death, when job loss, when financial trials, no matter what the situation is. Ask God, what is he teaching you. And be humble enough to learn the lesson.

The Bible says Genesis 39:23 23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.

Joseph goes into the prison and even in the darkness and the dungeon of an Egyptian prison, Joseph has the prison itself prospering.

Lesson number three is this one, you can and must prosper in your prison experience. You must for the glory of God do well, even in your darkest hour.

When darkness had come upon me and the difficulties were coming, I was looking for where to go. God called me to the small island of Guam. Even as I was working through the challenges and the difficulties and the pain, God said, you are not to sit and sulk you are to serve, as we will come back around to. I challenge you that when you’re in your prison experiences, when trials come upon you, I challenge you to look for how God can use you in your darkest of hours. You'll be surprised how wonderful a pain medication service is. Genesis 40:1-4 40 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.  And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.  And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.  And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.

The fourth lesson is similar to what I just said it is this. Serve others while in your prison experience.

God brought me back to the mainland, one of the things he did for me was aligned me with a clinic that serves the homeless and I was able to become their chief medical officer. I remember going in and starting to see patients in a clinic where people are truly homeless, this isn't make believe homeless. In fact many of them live just outside the clinic grounds, and on your way home you drive by their tents, and their makeshift shelters from the blazing south California sun. As I saw the patients and you start to hear their stories, you begin to realize that even your prison is someone else's palace. Even your darkest hour would be someone else's major come up.

Serve others. There is power in service to liberate you from all of the things the enemy tries to do to you in your trials. To make you depressed, to make you doubt God, to make you question his benevolence, that is what the enemy does when you're going through deep trials, and he starts to ask you, if God is so good why are you in this mess?

But Service says, no, God called me to serve and guess what? As long as I am serving God, I have not fallen out of his favor. Because service to the Christian is a privilege, it is an honor. As long as I can serve, I am on God's side. As long as he's still willing to use me, I am okay with my creator. Because I know that I'm not the first, nor the last to suffer because of what I believe.

Genesis 40:5-7 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.  And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.  And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore why look ye so sadly to day?

Now see some of us that were in prison on trumped up charges, on the vilest of charges, I mean literally charged for attempted rape. We wouldn't be so concerned about how sad everybody else was. Some of us would be in prison so mad and we’re like, good I'm glad somebody else is upset.

Genesis 40:8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you. It is incredible that in his prison experience, Joseph’s attention is on alleviating someone else's suffering.

In fact the fifth lesson is this one. Give God none of the blame and all of the credit.

You see what Joseph did? He says listen, I can't, he doesn't take credit for being able to interpret dreams, he learned that lesson in the process. What he says is, God can interpret your dream, God can relieve your anxiety. He can take away from you the worry that is upon your heart. Joseph had enough to worry about himself, he didn't know if he'd ever see his brothers again, or is father. He never knew if he'd see the light of day again. He didn't even know if he would live, if a sentence would come down one day and he would be put to death. But Joseph's focus wasn't on his own suffering. Powerful. It was on serving others. I hear about that the pods in the clinics that AMEN is looking to do and the free clinics. The pastor and the physician that were here earlier talked about the blending of the medical ministry as a form of evangelism, an outreach into a community. I want to submit to you as times get hard, this is one of the reasons the Spirit of Prophecy tells us, that it will be this right arm of the Gospel that will still be functioning even in the last and the latest of times. Because one thing that will not be abated from this earth, in the last days, is the suffering of those who do not know Christ. It will remain an open door for us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Genesis 40:9-11 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;  10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:  11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.

12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

Joseph said listen, your dream is a good dream, you're going to be restored everything is going to be okay. But then the word but comes again. And Joseph says.

14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:

For the first time we hear Joseph actually go into detail he says.

15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.

Lesson number six. Don't be too proud as you are going through your trials to ask for help. One of the things God does is, He sends people into our lives who will benefit us.

I tell you I was marveled when I went to Guam to see the ministry of some of the physicians there. Flat out ministry. I didn't know it existed in that way, anywhere in our Adventist world. I saw patients every day come in and see Dr Robinson, some of you know him. The prayers that Dr Robinson would have with the patients.

In fact I had one patient, I told Dr Robinson this story before I left the island. I was taking care of the mother and two daughters were in the room and their father had died about six months earlier. We were talking about the changes that were happening in the clinic, I was leaving, Dr Robinson had announced, I think by that time, he was soon to be leaving. The woman said to me, my husband was raised a Catholic, he'd been on this island most of his life, she said, but his interaction before he died, with Dr Robinson as his physician, he turned to us on the ride home one day from this clinic, and he said, “I want to be whatever religion Dr Robinson is.” The wife said he's a Seventh-day Adventist, that's the name of the clinic. He said, I want to be a Seventh-day Adventist because whatever religion that physician is, that's the religion I want to be.

I was glad to be able to be in an environment where I could ask for help from these types of physicians. Meaning I could learn in a very practical way what it means to mix ministry, something I had thought I'd always done, but in a whole other level with what all of the literature. Writings by Pastor Finley on the walls in the clinics, you'd come into the room sometimes, and the patients, because they had been waiting a little while, would be in there reading on the state of the dead or on spiritualism, or they would be reading on the Sabbath, because that was what was up in the rooms. It was as if God was telling me that there is power in our literature, especially when it is mixed with our love. I challenge those of you who have practices, where you can do it, to just lay out our magazines, our tracts, just put them around in the building. Sister White talks about casting them out like leaves and allowing them to just kind of scatter everywhere. Scatter them around your office.

It helped me to be helped by them. There are a lot of people that are so proud they won’t ask for help in time of trial. That's part of the humbling process. That you understand that you are part of God's family, and that you have siblings who God has in position, who can help you.

Genesis 40:16 is kind of funny, when the chief baker saw what he saw, that interpretation for the butler was good, he finally gets up the courage to ask for his interpretation. You know you get the feeling that this guy was like, okay let me see what this guy says, if he gives him bad news, I want no part of his interpreting. 

Genesis 40:16-18 16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:   17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.

18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:  19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.

Now that was a tough word to have to give.

But it is the seventh lesson. Always speak the truth, especially in your prison experience.

You see, when trials come upon you, sometimes you can be tempted to backtrack. They came to me and said, look if you just recant and apologize we can make this all smooth. But I said, if I recant and apologize for having my own beliefs, for believing that God's Word is true. If I do that, then I say God is not forthright in this point in the scripture. If I do that, that means that God may not be forthright and truthful in other parts of the scripture. I have to believe Sola Scriptura in its entirety. Because John 3:16 loses its power if another verse is made void. So you must learn to speak the truth. That challenge is going to come upon God's people now. Are we willing to speak the truth in love? Are we willing to say what needs to be said to a dying world? If a car is driving off of a cliff and you have a way to stand in front of it and warn them that the bridge is out behind you, do you try to lure them to the side of the road without jumping up and down and screaming, the bridge is out.

Brothers and Sisters, the bridge is out. This world is about to hurl itself off of a terrible cliff. The interactions we have with our patients, for some, is the last warning they will get before they reach the cliff. And that's hard because it's not politically correct. It can be uncomfortable to ask a patient if they want to pray. It's not always easy, but if you believe Jesus sent you into this profession, then you have to believe he will open the doors for you to share his love.

Genesis 40:20 says 20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.  21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:  22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.

Verse 23 is one of the toughest verses in the story of Joseph.

23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

That's tough. Because you have to ask yourself if you're in Joseph's of shoes, where is the bottom of this fall? Your brother's move from murdering you, to selling you into slavery. The Masters in whose house you probably became comfortable, you get falsely accused, and he sends you into prison, into a dungeon.

You reach the dungeon and it seems as if your escape route has arrived. The two men from Pharaohs own side come to be with you and one of them you're able to prophesy a good end for. And when he gets out he forgets you. In fact he forgets Joseph for two years. I would have to submit to you that those are two of the longest years in all of Scripture. That Joseph had to ruminate on all that had gone on, all of the failings, all of the problems, all that time the enemy had to nitpick at Joseph. And to try and convince him that God had forgotten him too.

The last lesson is this one. Men may forget you, but God will never forget you.

Men may forget you. They may reject you. You may be blacklisted. You may be counted out. But I have learned that Earth's greatest institutions, pale in their ability to provide to the creator of the universe. I have learned that God does not own a thousand cattle on a hill. I have learned that God owns the cattle on a Thousand Hills. I have learned that, even when you are rejected of your own, when even those closest to you push you away, I have learned that the God of the universe draws ever closer to your side. Men may forget you, but you don’t serve a God who can forget you. He remembers you even in your prison experience, even in your darkest place. That is where we become CrossFit. That is where we are trained for eternity.

The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that it was during this experience that he was being trained, not just for eternity. Joseph was trained in the prison, and in slavery, and in rejection to be the second in command in all of Egypt. Powerful. He learned Egyptian judiciary systems in prison. He learned the customs by serving one of the elite in Egypt. He learned everything he needed to know, to do God's work at the end of his life, through the trials in the early and middle stages of his life.

The stories written to give us confidence that God will not forget you and that everything we go through, some of you are going through some tough stuff. We dress up and we come to church, we look clean we put on a smile, we say Happy Sabbath. And some of us are aching inside right now. Men may forget you, God will never forget you.

Ellen White says it like this. She says

Joseph’s faithful integrity led to the loss of his reputation and his liberty. This is the severest test that the virtuous and God- fearing are subjected to—that vice seems to prosper while virtue is trampled in the dust. 

The seducer was living in prosperity as a model of virtuous propriety while Joseph, true to principle, was under a degrading charge of crime the most revolting. Joseph’s religion kept his temper sweet and his sympathy with humanity warm and strong, notwithstanding all his trials. 

There are those who, if they feel they are not rightly used, become sour, ungenerous, crabbed, [and] uncourteous in their words and deportment. They sink down discouraged, hateful and hating others. But Joseph was a Christian. No sooner did he enter upon prison life than he brought all the brightness of his Christian principles into active exercise; he began to make himself useful to others. He entered into the troubles of his fellow-prisoners. He was cheerful; watch this for he was the Christian gentleman. God was preparing him under this discipline for a situation of great responsibility, honor, and usefulness, and he was willing to learn the lessons the Lord would teach him. He learned to bear the yoke in his youth. He learned to govern by first learning obedience himself. He humbled himself and the Lord exalted him to special honor. {Lt58-1880 (January 12, 1880)

We're all going to need to learn to be more like Joseph. There were those who would have wanted me to react with hatred and anger. But in the quiet times of my study at night in prayer, the words of Christ would come to me. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

In closing I’ll read just a couple of verses I think of when I think of being CrossFit.

1 Corinthians 9:24 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

Michael Jordan trained the way he did, Kobe Bryant trains the way he does so that they can win championship rings that they can put on their fingers. Some of these people are temperate, they have a lot of things they don't do and they are faithful and they are working, so that they can win an earthly prize.

Paul says if they can do that for an earthly prize how much more should we do it for a heavenly prize?  1 Corinthians 9: 26-27 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

The Greek word for castaway there is navagós se and the Greek word adokimos means to be disqualified. Paul says listen. I don't want to have run this Christian race and fought this Christian fight, I don't want to have gone through all I've gone through, all the trials and tribulations, all the training and then be lost. He says, I do not want to be adokimos. I don't want to be disqualified. Brothers and Sisters the Word, God is telling us that we must cross train. We must be ready. In fact, we always talked about getting ready when I was a kid, I think it's time we be ready now. 

On this October 31st when the world celebrates Halloween, I'm reminded of the very important thing that happened in 1517. The great reformer, Martin Luther, nailed to a door in a church in Germany the 95 Thesis. The Bishop was selling indulgences and Luther would not have it. He nailed it to that wall, righteousness by faith is encapsulated there. 

 

I want to leave you with this last thought. One part of that 95 Thesis is this statement. 

“The church’s true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He said this because on November 1st was All Saints Day, and they would have relics brought in from all over. People would come from all over the empire, so Luther timed his posting on the 31st of October very carefully so that as many as possible would be influenced by what he was saying, that as many as possible could hear of the trial that would happen on the 1st. When he would make his rebuttal. He did it, he timed it well, as they were coming to prostrate themselves before these relics in order to gain favor and try to move from purgatory into heaven and all of the beliefs of that time. 

But Luther left us with a pearl here, as a church. “The church's true treasure is the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I leave you fellow health care workers with this. The true treasure of each of our practice is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Be CrossFit for Him and you interact with others. He is coming very soon. We must be ready.

 

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