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4. Some Deny Themselves, Others Honor Themselves

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And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 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: 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. And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: 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. 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 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. (Genesis 40:9-15)

The Heart’s Frequency 

During my 40-year ministry, it has not been because I majored in literature that I have been able to understand the Scriptures and it has not been for being an eloquent speaker that I have been able to give sermons. I am able to understand the Scriptures and give sermons because the Lord has been in my heart since the day my sins were washed away.  Before that, I did not have the Lord in my heart.  There was only my own heart and I was preoccupied with the flesh and my desires. It was like the radios made in North Korea, which have soldered circuits to set the frequency to receive only North Korean broadcasting.

People receive education in various fields, run businesses, and consider themselves to be intelligent and broad minded. However, their thoughts are still set on the flesh and the desires of the heart. Thus, they cannot see and understand a different world. If the soldering that fixes the North Korean radio to receive only one channel is removed, the radio can freely receive other frequencies. Likewise, when we receive salvation, the heart of Jesus flows into our hearts that previously heeded only the flesh and desires of the heart. Upon receiving salvation, Jesus entered my heart and since then has guided me.  I find it very amazing.

The Church With Which God Is Pleased 

After I received salvation, I preached the gospel in the city of Kimcheon. I was invited to many church revivals as a guest speaker.  We went around and preached the gospel.  As a result, many of the members in those churches received salvation. When I returned to those churches some six months later, however, I found that the people who we thought had been saved were all spiritually dead. I thought, “How can a saved person be like this?” Then I realized that people who are saved and born again will lose the force of their faith unless they hear the spiritual message from a pastor who is born again.  That was when I began to establish and lead churches.

I received my spiritual training under precious servants of God, but they did not teach me how to minister or how to handle church administrative affairs. I had been in the Presbyterian Church since I was young and I was very familiar with it. Nevertheless, I did not want to run my church like the churches I had known. I had seen much corruption and moral decay in the church, such as a pastor leaving a church without a second thought, if a higher salary was offered else where. I thought to myself, “Our church should not become that kind of a church. If the congregation is to be blessed, it should be a church with which the Lord is pleased.”  As noble as my thinking might have been, not knowing how to establish such a church was extremely painful. However, the loving Lord was in my heart and led me to establish a blessed church.

Later, the gates opened for me to preach the gospel at leper colonies.  Through that mission many lepers received salvation. I preached the gospel in prisons, and many inmates received salvation. While we were able to publish books, establish a sermon broadcast, and begin a missionary school, none of these things were accomplished through me. They were accomplished through the loving Lord.

The Peace I Gained When I Prayed 

God never spoke to me saying, “Hey, Pastor Ock Soo Park! Stand up. If you go to the seventh pine tree in the mountain forest, there you will find a 30 year-old wild ginseng root.” It was not that way.  God led my heart because He was in my heart.

Starting out, ministering in the city of Daegu, we had no food to eat, charcoal with which to keep warm in winter, or money to buy the things we needed.  Because of this hardship, I often remained in the chapel, locked the doors, and prayed for hours. At the beginning of my prayer, I would pray, “God, give us food. Please send us money. Please give us charcoal.” But as one, two hours passed, without realizing it, my prayer would change and I would be praying, “God, allow us to publish books. Let us broadcast sermons. Let us dispatch missionaries. Let us run a missionary school.” My heart was so filled that while praying I would forget about the rest of the world.  It felt as though I was having a conversation with God: just Him and me, at the throne of God. Then, as I concluded the prayer, saying, “In Jesus’ name I pray,” I came back to the reality of sitting on the cold chapel floor and the reality of my hunger and the cold. I liked to pray because every time I prayed, my heart was free and peaceful.

One Sunday night, after service nearly everyone had gone home.  Three or four brothers remained, sitting faint, with their heads down, beside the dying embers in the furnace. Times were hard and we were extremely poor. I spoke, “Brothers, let’s be strong! We may be like this now, but later we will preach the gospel through broadcasting sermons and publishing books. We will dispatch missionaries and run a missionary school. Let’s be strong!” The brothers said nothing because what I had said had no relevance to our situation.  After that, some of the brothers said that I was paranoid-delusional. Their opinion gave me a pause. I asked myself, “Am I really paranoid-delusional? Are those things so far from the realm of the possible?”  Although I posed these questions, I knew to a certainty that it was not I who was praying for these things, but that God was leading my heart.

Peter Who Trusted in Himself

Peter, a disciple of Jesus, denied Jesus three times, and Judas Iscariot committed the terrible sin of selling Jesus.

Before He was arrested, Jesus said to the disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.” Then Peter said, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” Jesus said to Peter, “Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” To this Peter replied, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.”

I thought about what brought Peter to say this.  Whatever a person says has to have support in his heart, if his words are to have power. Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. (Mt. 26:33) This came from Peter’s own will.  He had the faith to believe in himself.

Peter was with Jesus for three years, from when he first met Jesus at the Sea of Galilee until Jesus’ crucifixion.  With his own eyes, he had clearly seen Jesus make water into wine, heal the man with the infirmity for 38 years and lepers, bring Jairus’ dead daughter and dead Lazarus back to life, feed five thousand people with five barley loaves, walk on the sea, and work many other miracles. Even so, he did not change his heart to that of Jesus. He may have thought, “Jesus is truly amazing. He is indeed the son of God,” but Peter never went through the process that Jesus spoke of when He said, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt. 16:24)

Peter experienced something that night he had not experienced previously. When Judas Iscariot brought the soldiers to arrest Jesus, Peter felt a rush of loyalty and devotion such that he drew his sword to protect Jesus. But he was so powerless before all the soldiers, and he might have hidden from them. The other disciples had all run away when the soldiers came, but because he had said, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended,” there was nowhere for Peter to go. He could neither accompany Jesus nor abandon him.  He could only follow from afar.

Denying Himself

Peter denied Jesus before a damsel three times, saying that he did not know Jesus. In the end, he cursed and denied Jesus. Peter realized who he was only after having denied Jesus. “Ah, I thought I could do something if I tried, but that was absolutely wrong. I thought I would be able to keep from denying Jesus if I tried…”

There are many people here among us today who trust in themselves just as Peter did. They say, “Hey, everything is done by people anyways, what is there we cannot do?” People who think this way cannot rely on the Lord.

Peter discovered who he was.  He wanted to cry out loud, in front of others, but he could not. He was afraid people would say, “Hey, why are you crying? You there, aren’t you Jesus’ disciple?” and he’d be caught. He ran out and wept bitterly. As he wept, he realized that his determination, his will, and his effort were all for naught, and from that point on Peter denied himself, believing in Jesus rather than in himself. As the heart of Jesus entered Peter’s heart, Peter was moved by the power of God to go on and do great works, beginning on the day of the Pentecost.

The Result of Following My Own Judgment

Judas Iscariot was different from Peter. Judas Iscariot, too, had believed in himself.  He trusted his own mind and heart and dealt with matters accordingly.  He, too, had never denied himself. Judas and Peter were both Jesus’ disciples.  They both betrayed the Lord, but the point came where Peter, realizing that trusting in himself was foolish, became a person who would no longer live by reacting to his own conclusions.  He discovered that his decisions, his efforts, his will, his opinions were all as nothing, and he could no longer honor himself.

Judas, however, continued to honor himself, even after he had sinned.  He did not follow the will of Jesus, but rather he followed his own thoughts. Judas saw Jesus being sold and repented. He repented bitterly, brought the thirty pieces of silver he had received from selling Jesus, and went into the temple where the priests had gathered. I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood. (Mt. 27:4) The priests laughed and said, What is that to us? See thou to that. (Mt. 27:4) Judas was enraged. “What are thirty pieces of silver that I sold the Lord?” He threw the money onto the temple floor, because by then, for him, even silver had become worthless.

What was Judas to do? If he had said, “My judgment until now has been wrong. It was stupid of me to trust in myself!” and had he denied himself, he could have received direction from Jesus.  Judas, however, tried to take care of the situation himself, even though he realized his sin and was suffering from it. He went to the priests and threw down the money, but even then Judas, himself, was still sitting in the driver’s seat of his heart. That was the difference between him and Peter.

Returning the money he received from selling Jesus and being remorseful were not something Judas should have done. He should have had the thought, “This is the result of me following my own thinking and judgment. If I cast my thoughts and judgment out, Jesus will take care of this problem!” However, Satan made Judas to act according to his judgment and thoughts, to the very end. Judas ultimately killed himself and ended his life in a shameful way.

Opposite Results of Two Sinners

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. (Gen. 40:1~4)

The chief butler and the chief baker both had sinned against Pharaoh. Their sins were revealed and they were locked away in prison with Joseph. One day the two of them had dreams and were talking about them. The dreams were very different.

The chief of the butlers told of his dream. In my dream, behold, a vine was before me; 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. (Gen. 40:9~10) The vine, of course, represents Jesus. I am the true vine, ye are the branches. (Jn. 15:1) There was no such thing as God or Jesus in the chief butler’s heart. We do not know how Joseph dealt with the chief butler, but we do know that God and His power in the heart of Joseph were absorbed into the chief butler’s heart.

Thus, the vine appeared in his dream, blossoms shot forth and brought forth ripe grapes, and those grapes were squeezed into Pharaoh’s cup and served to Pharaoh. This cup represents the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins. The chief butler was with Joseph and took into his heart the God that was within Joseph.

That, however, was not the case with the chief baker. He believed he could trust in himself, saying, “I sinned before the king by mistake and, by misfortune, I was caught. Although I am in jail, I’m a great and a smart person.” What did the chief baker say? 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. And in the uppermost basket there was all manner of bake-meats for Pharaoh: and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. (Gen. 40:16~17) He had all manner of bake-meats on top of the white baskets of bread. The white baskets of bread represent Jesus, the bread of life. The bake-meats were eaten, not by the king, but by birds, and the chief baker was ultimately killed.

What was the difference between the chief butler and the chief baker? The chief butler thought, “I thought I was great and smart, but I ultimately committed sin. I was an idiot. Why did I do such a foolish thing? I might die if I go on like this.”  While he was with Joseph, he discovered a world of the heart he had never known.  He received that heart from Joseph. The peace and hope of God began to flow into his heart, and he was able to have dreams that were different from those of the chief baker. He had hope.

The chief baker had trusted in his own judgment. Upon seeing that the interpretation of the chief butler’s dream was good, without thinking twice about it, he decided that his dream too would be good. Although he was in a position to receive the heart of Joseph, to gain life and receive the grace of God while in Joseph’s presence, because he was an official and Joseph served him, he lived despising Joseph. People with a mind to trust in themselves do not accept the heart of Jesus, even though He is right next to them.

Because the Heart of God Does Not Flow 

If you read the book of Ruth, you will read about Naomi, a woman who believed in God.  She took her husband and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to Moab and lived there according to her way of thinking.  Her two sons were married in Moab, and Naomi gained two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Naomi went to Moab to live a happy life, but her husband and her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, all died there. Only the three widows remained. Within this ruined family, Ruth received into her heart the God from her mother-in-law. Thy God, my God. (Ruth. 1:16) Although Naomi was a ruined woman who was not worthy of admiration, because Ruth discovered and accepted the God from within Naomi, Ruth could not leave her mother-in-law.

They were two women in ruins. Orpah, however, was different. She followed the desires of her flesh because the God of her mother-in-law did not flow into her heart.

In our church is the word of God, and there you will see many works of the living God, but people in the church who honor themselves cannot accept God. Many change by having the heart of God flow into them, but the heart of God cannot flow into people who honor themselves and, thus, they are led by only their thoughts, the flesh, and the desires of the heart.

If You Deny Yourself 

Have you ever denied yourself? Are you a person who trusts in himself who says, “That was a mistake. From now on I will strive to do better,” even when you do wrong? In the stories of the chief butler and the chief baker, Judas and Peter, and Ruth and Orpah, the people who believe in themselves cannot accept the ways of Jesus, even when they are near to Him, and are destroyed because they are unable to receive wisdom. The chief butler, Peter, and Ruth, however, knew their limitations and their weaknesses, and distrusting themselves, accepted the heart of God and went on to live blessed lives.

God’s Holy Spirit is living and working today, but He does not work on just anyone. Reflect upon yourself. Are you a trustworthy person, or are you a weak and unreliable person? When you deny and distrust yourself, Jesus becomes the Lord of your heart, and leads your life for you. How blessed and beautiful your life then becomes cannot be expressed in words. I hope that you will be like the chief butler, not the chief baker, and that you will find Jesus who changes our fate from receiving curse and damnation into receiving grace and blessings.

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