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I’ve been going through an all-new level of disaster in my life for the past couple of months;  I’ve decide not to tarnish the positive tone of this blog by discussing it here, and I won’t go into it now.  (If anyone wants to pray for me, just ask for God to bring me full restoration before the holidays start; He’ll know what it means.)  A friend in another city, who I had gotten through the worst period of HER life years ago, suddenly announced that she has a friend who is religious, of my same ethnicity, and who lives right by me, and she was going to call her and tell her my troubles, and she knew that this friend was going to want to drop by and see me every day to help me out…!!!  That seemed crazy, but I had ASKED God to bring me a friend that I could have daily contact with, preferably that lived close by, and of course ideally religious…  I never even thought of the ethnicity thing (I did not previously know a single person outside of my family whose background was from the same country we originally came from), or that a STRANGER would decide sight unseen to provide the every-day support that I have given so many times but never gotten back.  Crazy, but my faith told me that it would happen.

Earlier today, the doorbell rang and…  you guessed it, there was the friend’s friend, announcing her intention to start helping me out every day!!  Is there any confusion as to the only way that THAT could have happened?  Made even more amazing by my having ASKED for a nearby daily-contact friend.  As always, God brought me what I asked for with the perfect timing, and better than I could have ever imagined!!

Finishing Grace

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it doesn’t take a lot of effort to start things: a diet, school, a family. starting is easy; finishing is what can be difficult. any young lady can have a baby, but it takes a mother to really raise that child. any two people can get married, but it takes commitment to stick with it for the long haul. anyone can have a dream, but it takes determination, perseverance, a made-up mind, to see it come to pass. the question is not will you start, but will you finish? will you finish the diet, school, raising your children? too many people start off good, they have big dreams, they’re excited about their future, but along the way they have some setbacks, it’s taking longer than they thought, somebody didn’t do what they said; over time, they get discouraged, they think, “what’s the use? it’s never going to work out,” but God is called the author and finisher of our faith. He’s not only giving you the grace to start, He’s giving you the grace to finish.

when you’re tempted to get discouraged, give up on a dream, relationship, project, you have to remind yourself, “I was not created to give up, quit, I was created to finish. you’ve got to shake off the discouragement, self-pity, what somebody said. if you will keep moving forward in faith, honoring God, you will come into a strength that you didn’t have before, a force pushing you forward; that’s finishing grace, that’s God breathing in your direction, helping you to become who He created you to be. this grace is available, but you have to tap into it; it’s not going to do us any good if we sit around in self-pity thinking about how difficult it is, what didn’t work out, “my college professor, he’s so hard, I’ll never pass his course”: no, you have the grace to finish. quit talking defeat, start talking victory; “I can do all things through Christ. I’m full of wisdom, talent, creativity. I will pass this course.”

when you do that, finishing grace will help you do what you could not do on your own. even in simple things: you start cleaning your house, 5 minutes later, “I don’t feel like doing this, I am so tired, this is so boring.” no, turn it around; “I am strong in the Lord, full of energy, healthy, this is no match for me.” if you’ll tap into this finishing grace, you’ll vacuum your house like you’re on a mission from God. maybe you’re tempted to give up on a dream, things haven’t turned out the way you planned; it was going fine at first, but then you had some obstacles, and you think, “it just wasn’t meant to be.” here’s what I’ve learned; the enemy doesn’t try to stop you from starting, he’s seen a lot of people start, that doesn’t bother him, but when you have a made-up mind, and you keep pushing forward, doing the right thing, taking new ground, when he sees you getting closer, he’ll work overtime to try to keep you from finishing.

when you have setbacks, disappointments, people coming against you, a negative medical report, don’t get discouraged; that’s a sign that you’re moving toward your finish line. he was fine when you got started, he was fine when you were way back, no big deal, but when you began to make progress, you got his attention; that’s when he threw out some obstacles and challenges. where you confused him is he thought you would give up after the first few difficulties. he thought you’d get discouraged when that friend turned on you, when you lost that client, when your child got in trouble, but instead, you kept moving forward, thanking God that He’s in control, fighting your battles, that no weapon formed against you will prosper. what were you doing? tapping into finishing grace. when you should’ve gotten weaker, you got stronger.

when you should’ve been depressed, you had a smile on your face. when you should’ve been complaining, you had a song of praise.  instead of talking about how big the problem was, you were always talking about how big your God is. when you should’ve gone under, God caused you to go over. when you didn’t see a way, He made a way. when people came against you, he fought your battles, and you came out better than you were before. you may be up against challenges right now; it’s because you’re moving forward, making progress. keep reminding yourself; He’s the author and finisher of your faith. God helped you to get started, that’s great, but there’s something more important; He’s going to help you to finish. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you.

Philippians 1:6 (WYC)
6 trusting this same thing, that he that began in you a good work, shall perform it till into the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 (CEV)
6 God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.

one translation says:

Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
3 the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

not a defeated finish, where you barely make it, beat up, broke, no, you are coming to a flourishing finish, a finish more rewarding than you ever imagined. this is what happened to a man is the scripture, Joseph. as a teenager, God gave him a dream that one day he would rule a nation. his father, Jacob, loved him very much. everything started off great for Joseph: he had a big dream, supportive family, life was good. but along the way, things started to go wrong. his brothers, who loved him very much at one time, this was their little brother Joseph, they were always taking up for him, making sure nobody harmed him, but these same brothers turned on him; they were jealous, and they threw Joseph into a pit, and left him there to die. they eventually changed their minds, and sold him into slavery, to a man named Potiphar.

Genesis 37:27 (NIV)
27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

it looked like his dream was done: betrayed by his family, a slave in a foreign country. if that wasn’t bad enough, they put him in prison for 13 years for something that he didn’t do. surely Joseph was depressed, angry, bitter, upset; nothing had turned out right. no, Joseph understood this principle; he knew he had the grace, not only to start, but to finish what God put in his heart. he knew that the enemy wouldn’t be fighting him if he wasn’t heading toward his destiny, so he stayed in faith; he kept doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening, not working unto people, but working onto God. one day the Pharaoh, the leader of the nation, had a dream that he didn’t understand; Joseph was able to interpret the dream. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he brought him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation. Joseph’s dream came to pass. God has put something on you that will override people being against you; it will override bad breaks, injustice. you have the grace, not to just start, you have something even more powerful, the grace to finish.

when you have an attitude like Joseph, you cannot stay defeated; life may push you down, but God will push you back up. people may do you wrong, but God will be your vindicator. situations may look impossible, but God can do the impossible. when you have finishing grace, all of the forces of darkness cannot stop you. sure, you may have some setbacks, bad breaks, injustice, but don’t worry, it’s only temporary. it’s just a detour on the way to your destiny. that’s a sign that you are moving towards your finish line. the enemy doesn’t fight people that are going the wrong way; people that are off course, discouraged, distracted, bitter, angry, that’s where he wants you. he comes against people that are headed toward the fullness of their destiny, taking new ground, people like you that are coming into a flourishing finish. our attitude should be, “I have a made-up mind. I’m going to keep moving forward in spite of the bad break, loss, negative report, critics. my destiny is too great, my assignment too important, to get discouraged, distracted, bitter, I’m not going to become half, 3/4, 90%, I’m going to become all that God’s created me to be.”

when you’re tempted to get discouraged and settle, it’s because you’re close to your breakthrough, seeing the problem turn around, meeting the right person. pharaoh is about to call you, so to speak. the good break, healing, contract is on the way. you’ve got to tap into this finishing grace. you’ve come too far to stop now, you’ve believed too long, worked too hard, invested too much. it may be difficult, negative voices may be telling you, “it’s never going to work out, forget it, just settle where you are”; no, don’t believe those lies, you are close to your destiny. when the going gets tough, you have to dig your heels in and say, “I am in it to win it. I am not moved by this opposition, by what I see, by what I feel, I’m moved by what I know, and I know this;  I have the grace to finish. God began a good work in me, and He’s going to complete it. so I’m going to keep honoring God, being good to people, being my best.” every day you do that, you are passing the test; you are one day closer to coming into your finish line. the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 33:25 (ESV)
25 … as your days, so shall your strength be.

this means that your strength will always be equivalent to what you need. if you were to get a negative medical report, you’re going to have the strength to deal with it. you’re not going to fall apart, “I can’t believe this is happening,” no, your strength will always match what you’re up against.

Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

in the difficulties of life, if you will get quiet, turn off the negative voices, you will feel a peace that passes understanding. you should be falling apart, but there’s grace for every season. sometimes in life, we think, “how am I going to make it up that steep hill? I’ve gotten this far, but how am I going to deal with this illness, raise this difficult child, I went through a loss, I don’t think I can go on.” no, God has some strength in reserve for you. when you hit a tough time, don’t worry, there are two more cylinders about to kick in, a strength you haven’t tapped into; you’re going to feel a force pushing you forward, taking you where you could not go on your own. that’s finishing grace. the closer you get to your destiny, the tougher the battles become. the higher you go up the mountain, the more God promotes you, the steeper the hill is: the critics will come out of the woodwork, people may not celebrate you, unexpected challenges, a health issue, a business slows down, you lose a loved one. it’s easy to think, “I was doing so good, if I just wouldn’t have had this bad break, now I’ve got this steep hill to go up.”

no, that challenge is a sign that you are close to your destiny. the same God that gave you a place to start is the same God that’s going to help you finish. He knows exactly where your path is leading. nothing you’re facing is a surprise to Him. He knows every hill, disappointment, setback. He said that His grace is sufficient. you will never come to a hill where you don’t have the strength to climb it. you may face some challenges, where you think, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it up this”; the reason you think that way is that you haven’t needed that extra strength yet. you have not felt the full force of finishing grace. when it kicks in, it’s going to propel you forward; you’re going to climb mountains that you thought were way too steep. you’re going to overcome obstacles that look insurmountable, accomplish dreams that you thought were impossible. how could you do this? finishing grace. you tapped into strength in reserve.

this is what the apostle Paul did in the scripture. he faced some huge hills; it didn’t look like he could fulfill his destiny. he was doing the right thing, sharing the good news, helping other people, when he was arrested and put in prison. the closer he got to his destiny, the more obstacles he faced. he was alone, in a dungeon, on death row. it looked like God had forgotten about him, but Paul wasn’t defeated, depressed, feeling sorry for himself; even though he was in chains, they couldn’t stop what God wanted him to do. since Paul couldn’t go out and speak publicly, he thought, “no problem, I’ll start writing.” he wrote book after book: here’s a letter to the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Romans, the Corinthians. he wrote over half of the New Testament, much of it from a prison cell. they thought they were stopping him, but they were doing just the opposite, causing his voice to become amplified. here we are, some 2000 years later, still feeling Paul’s influence. what they meant for harm, God used for good. people may try to stop you, but finishing grace will get you to where you’re supposed to be. they may push you down, but finishing grace will lift you right back up.

they may try to discredit, belittle, leave you out; don’t get upset, they are a part of the plan to get you to your destiny. God will use them to propel you forward. as long as you stay in faith, and keep honoring God, you will accomplish your assignment. He is the author and finisher of your faith. quit focusing on who’s against you, how steep the hill is, how impossible it looks; God has the final say. He brought Joseph out of prison, Paul stayed in prison, but they both fulfilled their destinies. if God doesn’t turn it around the way you thought, He may do like he did with Paul, and cause you to have great influence right in the midst of your enemies. in the midst of those difficulties, you can shine, be a bright light, have God’s favor. no person can stand against our God. no bad break can keep you from your destiny. God has given you finishing grace; He’s going to get you to where you’re supposed to be. when Paul came to the end of his life, he said:

2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course

one place says:

Acts 20:24 (AMP)
24 But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy

notice, he didn’t finish defeated, depressed, sour, he finished with a smile on his face, a spring in his step, a song in his heart. that’s what it means to have a flourishing finish. we all have things come against us. it’s easy to lose our passion and drag through life, discouraged, negative, bitter, but there is no victory if you finish your course that way. you have to make up your mind; “I’m not only going to finish my course, I’m going to finish it with joy, a good attitude, not complaining, but with a song of praise, not thinking about what I don’t have, but thanking God for what I do have, not looking at what’s wrong in my life, but thanking God for what’s right in my life.” when you tap into finishing grace, you won’t drag through the day, you’ll enjoy the day. in the race of life, if you’re going to finish your course with joy, you’ve got to guard your fire, you can’t let your flame go out. too many people have lost their passion. at one time, they were passionate about their dreams, but they had some setbacks, and now they’ve lost their zeal. if that’s you, remember, God is not done with you; you have not seen your best days. you’ve got to shake off the blahs, the discouragement; there is a flame that is still alive on the inside of you. the scripture talks about:

2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV)
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God

it’s not enough to just finish; you’ve got to finish your course with your fire still burning. the scripture talks about how the saints of old died in faith:

Hebrews 11:4-28 (NIV)
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country…
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died…
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice…
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter… 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

we’re all going to die one day. you have to make a decision; are you going to die in faith, or are you going to die negative, bitter, complaining, “I can’t believe this happened.” make up your mind that you’re going to die full of joy, with your fire still burning. God didn’t breathe his life into you, crown you with favor, put seeds of greatness on the inside, to start the race; He sent you to finish it. The scripture talks about:

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NIV)
11 … The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
 or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

you don’t have to finish first, you’re not competing with anybody else, just finish your course. you weren’t created to give up, to quit; we can all find a reason to drop out of the race, some kind of excuse, but you have to dig your heels in and say, “I am determined to finish my course.”  if you will tap into this finishing grace, you’ll have a strength that you didn’t have, you will finish your course with joy, complete your assignment, and become everything God created you to be.

We’ve all seen some evildoers get what they deserve, and we understand that because we’re not seeing every detail of their lives that others are getting what they deserve and we don’t see it, and of course all evildoers suffer the ultimate penalty, disconnection from God…  but why would God choose to NOT directly punish an evildoer?  Here’s one reason:

Romans 2:4 TLB 

4 … Can’t you see that He has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance

God wants to redeem us rather than punish us, which is probably lucky for most people.

It’s natural for us to want evildoers to suffer for what they’ve done, but we should pray for them instead;  forgiveness and redemption are what pleases God, not revenge.  Yes, sometimes this is hard…  but it is RIGHT.

 

Prepared blessings

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when God laid out the plan for your life, He lined up the right people, the right breaks, the right opportunities. He has blessings that have your name on them: there is promotion, contracts, a business, a spouse. He’s already destined them to be yours. if you will stay in faith, and keep honoring God, one day you will come into what already belongs to you; it’s a prepared blessing. this is what happened way back with Adam and Eve. in the book of Genesis, it talks about how in the first five days God created the heavens, the Earth, the sky, the land, the water. when He finished the big things, He didn’t stop there; He started on the small things, the details. God planted a garden; He put beautiful flowers in it, luscious fruits.  He designed these rivers to flow through it, put precious treasures in the ground, onyx, gold, silver; He went to great lengths to make sure it was exactly like He wanted it, down to the smallest details. when He got finished with it, He put the last touches on this magnificent garden, the scripture says He took Adam, who He had just breathed life into, and put him in the garden.

Genesis 2:8 (NIV)
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

notice, Adam came into a prepared blessing, something that God had already finished for him. he didn’t get there and have to work night and day, constantly struggle, think, “how am I going to survive?” there were fruit trees all around, crystal-clear streams flowing right before him, provision everywhere he looked. he didn’t have to live worried, thinking, “well, I’ve got food and water, but how am I going to provide for my family, make a living?” there were resources at his disposal; onyx, gold, silver, everything he needed to live a victorious, abundant life was right there in the garden. God had put it there specifically prepared for him. in the same way, God has some prepared blessings in store for you. He’s working behind-the-scenes, arranging things in your favor, getting it all perfectly in place, and at the right time He’s going to bring you into your garden, into what He’s already finished. you couldn’t make it happen on your own. you didn’t deserve it, you didn’t earn it, it’s just the goodness of God bringing you into a prepared blessing. God controls the universe; He knows how to bring you into your garden.

“I’ve been single so long, I don’t think I’ll ever meet the right person”; no, God has a husband, a wife, that has your name on them. God’s getting it all prepared, and at the right time, God will say, “okay, I’m done; here’s what I’ve been working on.” you’ll meet the person of your dreams. you’ll say, “God, this was worth waiting for. You outdid Yourself.” don’t get discouraged. you may not see anything happening, but God is working, getting your garden prepared; when it’s finished, He’s going to bring you into it. what God has in store for you will boggle your mind. right now, God is getting your garden prepared, putting in the right provision, lining up the right people, and when it’s fully in bloom, when God gets it exactly like He wants it, He’s going to bring you into it. suddenly, you’ll be promoted, suddenly you get the contract, suddenly your health improves, suddenly the problem turns around. when you come into your garden, it’s going to be bigger, better, more rewarding than you ever imagined. this is what God said:

Deuteronomy 8:7-9 (NASB)
7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything

notice, in the garden God has prepared for you, there is no shortage: no shortage of resources, no shortage of opportunities, no shortage of creativity, friendships, joy and peace. in your garden, you will not lack any good thing. when you’re tempted to get down, to look at what you don’t have, no, turn it around; “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re bringing me into my garden, a land of no shortage, a land where my gifts and talents will come out to the full, a good land where I will fulfill my destiny, a good land where I’ll live healthy, happy and whole, a good land where my whole house will honor You.” God’s dream for your life is to bring you into a garden of abundance, filled with favor, with opportunity, with good health, with great relationships. you may not be there yet, but don’t worry; your garden is on the way. David said:

Psalm 31:19 (TLB)
19 … you have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence you.

there are businesses stored up for you that God’s about to release. there is promotion stored up that has your name on it, good health stored up, a new the house stored up, a spouse stored up. because you love the Lord, God is going to bring you into what He’s already prepared. you’ve honored God, you’ve been faithful, now you’re not going to have to go find the blessings; the blessings are going to find you. something is looking for you right now. not defeat, lack, bad breaks; favor is looking for you, contracts are looking for you, good health is looking for you. you’re going to come into your garden, a prepared blessing, something like you’ve never seen. if you could see what God has stored up for you, the people you’re going to meet, the places you’re going to go, the good breaks that are going to find you, you would be amazed; it’s going to be the surpassing greatness of God’s favor. too often, we make excuses, we come up with reasons why this is not going to happen for us; “that sounds good, but I don’t have the training, talent, connections, I come from the wrong family, the wrong nationality, I’m too short, I’ll never come into my garden.”

no, God is not limited by your circumstances, by your family, by who’s against you; when God breathed His life into you, He put a blessing on you that overrides anything that comes against you. the blessings God has stored up for you cannot be stopped by people, bad breaks, injustice; God has the final say. the garden He has prepared for you, He has every intention of bringing you into. we see David in the scripture as a powerful king, a great leader, one of the heroes of faith, but David wasn’t raised in a wealthy family, an influential family, he wasn’t trained to take the throne, just the opposite; he came from a very poor family. he was the eighth son of a man named Jesse. his brothers were involved in the military, they had somewhat significant positions; David’s job was to take care of his father’s sheep.

he was looked down on, seen as secondary; his family thought, “that’s just David, let’s stick him out in the shepherd’s fields, he’s never going to amount to much.” in the natural, it didn’t look like David had much of a future; he came from a low-income family, no education, his own father didn’t believe in him. but just because people write you off doesn’t mean God writes you off. circumstances may look like you’re stuck, too bad, you’ll never rise higher, but that doesn’t change what God has prepared for you. the blessing God put on you will override any curse. the blessing will make up for what you didn’t get, who was against you, for any disadvantage. what God has prepared is not affected by people or circumstances; His blessing will cause you to step into the fullness of your destiny. one day the prophet Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel:

1 Samuel 16:3-13 (NIV)
3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
4 Samuel did what the Lord said. … Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.

(here is some of the classic commentary about this story:

“b. There remains the youngest: This shows the low regard David had among his own family. First, his father didn’t even mention him by name. Second, he wasn’t even invited to the sacrificial feast. Third, he was only called to come because Samuel insisted on it.

i. “So small was David in his father’s esteem that it wasn’t considered necessary to include him in the family when the prophet of God called them to sacrifice.” (Redpath)

ii. When we consider that David was the youngest of eight sons, we aren’t surprised at the low regard he had in his own family. It wasn’t because David’s character or conduct was unworthy, it was simply because he was the youngest of eight sons.

iii. God often chooses unlikely people to do His work, so that all know the work is God’s work, not man’s work. He wants to work in a way so that people regard His servants as they regarded Samson: they wondered at the secret of his strength (Judges 16:5).

iv. “You may not be intellectual or well thought of in your family circle; you may be despised by others for your faith in Christ. Perhaps you had only a little share in the love of your parents, as David did. But remember that those who are rejected of men often become beloved of the Lord.” (Redpath)”

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0916.htm)

you don’t have to worry about somebody else getting your blessing; the oil that’s been prepared for you will not flow to anyone else. when it’s your time to be blessed, don’t worry, nobody can take your blessing. “my coworker got the promotion I deserved; I worked harder, but my supervisor overlooked me”; no, if you didn’t get it, it wasn’t supposed to be yours. your oil will not flow for anyone else. the blessing that belongs to you will be your blessing; nobody can take it. what’s destined to be yours, nobody else can have. that house that has your name on it, you’re supposed to have it, the oil is not going to flow for someone else. that promotion, that contract, that husband, they have your name on them exclusively. that’s why you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to get all upset, God’s got you covered; nobody is going to get what belongs to you. when you see somebody being blessed, they get a big contract, a baby, move into a new house, don’t get jealous, “I wish that happened for me, I go to church more than they did,” no, that doesn’t have your name on it; if it was supposed to be yours, the oil would not have flowed. you can be happy for them, knowing that what God has for you will be better because it’s prepared specifically for you.

if God were to give you what shouldn’t have been yours, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden; you’re not anointed for it, it’s not right for you. God has the right people lined up for you, the right promotion, husband, gifts, breaks. nobody can take what’s yours; your oil is not going to flow to someone else. sometimes, when we see a person blessed, they get a big promotion, we think for some reason that them being blessed is going to stop God from doing something good to us, like they’re using up all of the God’s favor, though He has an unlimited supply. no, He did it for them, He can do it for you. maybe you’re single, you’ve been believing to meet the right person for a long time, and one of your good friends just got married; it’d be easy to be jealous, envious, think, “that’s not fair.” no, turn it around; “God, You did it for them, I know You can do it for me. that person that has my name on it, they’re coming in.” you don’t have to covet what somebody else has. don’t covet their spouse, covet their gifts, covet their promotion, or anything they have; God has blessings specifically prepared for you. our prayer should be, “God, give me the blessings You have prepared, not for my neighbor, my cousin, my coworker, but God, bring me what you have prepared for me. in the scripture:

1 Kings 17:2-4 (NIRV)
2 Then a message from the Lord came to Elijah. It said, 3 “Leave this place. Go east and hide in the Kerith Valley. It is east of the Jordan River. 4 You will drink water from the brook. I have ordered some ravens to feed you there.” 5 So Elijah did what the Lord had told him to do. He went to the Kerith Valley. It was east of the Jordan River. He stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning. They also brought him bread and meat in the evening. He drank water from the brook.

he had his provision, a prepared a blessing. here’s the key; Elijah didn’t have to try to find the ravens, he just had to get to where God wanted him to be, and the ravens found him. in the same way, there is a place where God has commanded you to be blessed; the ravens are already there, your provision, favor, abundance. the real question today is, will you do what’s required to get to your place of blessing? Elijah could have said, ” God, I don’t want to leave, I’m comfortable, I like it here, my friends are here,” but if he would’ve stayed, he would’ve missed where he was commanded to be blessed. and sure, he could’ve survived, he could’ve endured, but if you want to see God’s best, you’ve got to be willing to do what God’s asking you to do. maybe down deep you know you’re supposed to get away from some friends that are dragging you down, a bad influence causing you to compromise; as long as you stay there, you’re going to miss your prepared blessing.

“if I make these changes, I won’t have any friends, I’ll be lonely”; you may be lonely for a season, but God will always bring you new friends, plus He will bring you better friends. it may be difficult for a period of time, but before long you will come into that commanded blessing, where the ravens are, greater opportunities, greater fulfillment, greater relationships. it may not be leaving a friend or moving physically, it may just be in your mind; you need to leave the negative thoughts, leave the worry, leave the fear, leave the doubt, anger and resentment. God has a place of abundance, but you’ve got to be willing to leave what He’s asking you to leave. or perhaps it could be for you; you need to leave your comfort zone and take a step of faith. you can’t reach your highest potential if you play it safe all of the time. is there something God’s asking you to leave? God likes to do new things:

1 Kings 17:7-10 (NIV)
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath.

his place of blessing changed. he could’ve thought, “I know God sent me to this brook, these ravens have fed me for years, I am not leaving”; he would’ve missed the new thing God wanted to do. your place of blessing can change. don’t hold onto the old when you know God is leading you somewhere new. be willing to take a step of faith; get out of that comfort zone. don’t stay stuck at a position where you haven’t grown in years and years; God has some greater things in front of you, prepared blessings, but you’ve got to be willing to step into it. this is what a lady did in the scripture:

Ruth 1:3-16 (NIV)
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth… 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband… 8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home.. they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters… Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her… 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Ruth knew deep down that she was supposed to go with Naomi and help take care of her; Naomi was an older woman. so Ruth moved to Naomi’s home town; they lived together.

Ruth 2:2-16 (NIV)
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek… 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

now when she went out, the wheat was already there waiting for her; a prepared blessing. later, that owner ended up marrying Ruth:

Ruth 4:13 (NIV)
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife

now, Ruth didn’t have to work in the field anymore; she owned the field. when you do what God asks you to do, you move when He asks you to move, you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, when you get to your place of blessing, God will speak to people to be good to you that have never even met you. He will command his ravens to feed you. in other words, good breaks will find you, provision, divine connections, supply; when you’re in that place where you’re commanded to be blessed, you won’t be able to outrun the good things of God. there is a garden that God has prepared specifically for you. just like with Adam, He’s put resources in it, provision, opportunity, the right friends. you need to get ready; God’s about to bring you into what He’s already finished for you. it has your name on it, it’s going to be bigger, better, more rewarding than you ever imagined. stay in faith. keep doing what God’s asking you to do. be willing to leave when He asks you to leave. if you’ll do this, you’re coming into your garden; favor that you didn’t deserve, good breaks that you didn’t earn, provision, abundance, healing and restoration; the fullness of your destiny.

Mercy vs grace

I saw an essay about the difference between the 2, and thought it might be a good idea to touch on it here:

Mercy is when we don’t get what we do deserve…  in other words when God withholds punishment when we have behaved badly.

Grace is when we do get what we don’t deserve…  in other words unmerited favor and blessings.

We are fortunate that God is so generous with both of these things…  especially to those of us who love Him best.

At a time when I was undergoing a great deal of stress, God brought me some wonderful people to comfort me and lift me up;  3 young Moslem men…  not American Moslems, either, but men in Arab countries.  I’m American, Christian, female, and twice their age, yet they have invested an astonishing amount of time and effort into supporting me, just from the depth of their caring and compassionate natures.  We have also spent hours talking about God;  it has been one of the most powerful experiences of my life.  Their love, their passion, for God is inspirational and deeply moving.  We have shared many things with each other, and they have educated me and shown me just how much we have in common.  The most powerful thing they shared is something that, with a few word changes, could be something that I would say about God:

“Allah says, ‘I am as my servant expects Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he thinks of Me, I think of him. If he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. When he comes closer to Me by a handspan, I come closer to him an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer by a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him. If my servant comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”

I wept the first time I read it.  My first experience with interfaith has been an unimaginable success, in addition to the extensive emotional benefits.  I am so blessed!!

This was my first time reaching the 10K mark for the month;  it’s amazing how many people want to read about God on a blog!!  Thanks to all my visitors for this milestone!!  :)

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