Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Anchored to hope

from JO’s sermon tonight:

an anchor is something that holds a boat in place. once the captain arrives at his destination, he puts the anchor down; that way, he won’t drift, and end up in places that he doesn’t want to be. when the boat is anchored, it may move a little bit, with the waves and the wind, but the captain isn’t worried, he can relax; he knows the anchor is down. scripture tells us:

Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul

what’s going to keep your soul in the right place, cause you to overcome obstacles, reach your dreams, is when you are anchored to hope.  that means, no matter what you face, how big the difficulty, how long it’s taking, you know God is still on the throne, His plans for you are for good, that He’s bigger than any challenge. 

when you’re anchored to this hope, nothing moves you. the wind, waves, storms may come; you’re not worried, you have your anchor down. you receive a bad medical report, a lot of people would be upset, negative, not you, you’re anchored to hope; “I know God is restoring health back unto me.” you go through a loss, a disappointment, your emotions are pulling you towards discouragement, bitterness, but something’s holding you back; you can’t explain it, but down in here, you hear a voice saying, “everything’s going to be alright; God has beauty for these ashes.” that’s the anchor of hope. 

or maybe your dream looks impossible. every voice tells you, “it’s not going to work out, forget it, you’re wasting your time.” most people would throw in the towel, but your attitude is, “I may not see a way, but I know God has a way, He’s opening doors no man can shut.” when you’re anchored to hope, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. 

I’ve learned, there’s always something trying to convince us to pull up our anchor: delays, disappointments, bad breaks. in the tough times, when life doesn’t seem fair, your prayers weren’t answered, it’s taking longer than you thought, you have to make sure to keep your anchor down; if you pull it up, you’ll drift into bitterness, discouragement, self-pity. when you’re anchored to hope, it’s like you’re tied to it; you can’t go very far. you may have some negative thoughts, thoughts of doubt that say, “it’s never going to work out,” but your faith will kick in; “no, I know the answer’s on the way.” on paper,  it looks like it’ll take 30 years to get out of debt; you could accept it, but because you’re anchored to hope, something in you says, “no, I know God can accelerate it, He has explosive blessings coming my way.” or perhaps your children are off course, it doesn’t look like they’ll ever change; you should be discouraged, but you’re tied to hope. every time those negative thoughts come, trying to pull you away, your anchor kicks in; “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

my question today is, do you have your anchor down? do you have this hope, expectancy, that you’re going to accomplish your dreams, break the addiction, see your family restored?  or, have you pulled up your anchor, and drifted into doubt, mediocrity, not expecting anything good? I’m asking you to put your anchor back down. the scripture says:

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for

you can’t have faith if you don’t first have hope. one time, David had a lot coming against him; he was down and discouraged, he felt overwhelmed by life, he’d given up on his dreams, everything kept getting worse and worse. he finally said to himself:

Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul… Hope in God

he recognized that he’d let his circumstances convince him to pull up his anchor. he said, in effect, “I’m going to put my anchor back down; I’m going to hope in the Lord.” 

you may not have any reason, in the natural, to be hopeful; it doesn’t look like you’ll get well, meet the right person, start your business. you have to do like David, and hope in the Lord. don’t put your hope in your circumstances; they may not turn out the way you thought. don’t put your hope in people; they may let you down. don’t put your hope in your career;  things may change. put your hope in the Lord, in the God Who spoke worlds into existence, flung stars into space. when you have your hope in Him, the scripture says:

Isaiah 49:23 (ISV)

23 … I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed

and sure, you may go through some temporary setbacks, life will happen, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll come out better than you were before. 

this is what Joseph did. he had plenty of opportunities to pull up his anchor; he was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit. he could’ve become negative, angry, “that’s not right, my whole family did me wrong,” but he kept his anchor down. they sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused, put in prison.  it was unfair;  he had a good reason to be sour, nobody would have faulted him. but through all the trouble, all the things that didn’t make sense, he didn’t pull up his anchor. his attitude was, “God, You have the final say. people don’t determine my destiny, a bad break can’t keep me from my purpose, all the forces of darkness cannot stop Your plan for my life.”  because he was anchored to hope, he didn’t stay disappointed; he was vindicated, promoted, put in charge of the whole nation. Zechariah puts it this way:

Zechariah 9:12 (NIV)

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

“prisoner of hope” means that you can’t get away from it; you’re anchored to it.  you should be discouraged, but you can’t help it; despite all that’s come against you, like Joseph, you still believe that you’re going to accomplish your dreams. you should be overwhelmed; the obstacle looks bigger, Goliath looked stronger, more powerful, but like David, you have your hope in the Lord; you know if God be for you, who dare be against you. 

that sickness may seem like it’s going to be the end of you; you could live worried, stressed out, but you know that nothing can snatch you out of God’s hand. your hope is not in the medicine, the treatment, or the doctors, even though all of those things are good, we’re grateful for them; your hope is in the Lord, in the God who breathed life into you, makes blind eyes see, took Joseph from the pit to the palace, caused David, a teenaged shepherd boy, to defeat a huge giant.  I’m asking you to keep your anchor down; keep your hope in the Lord.

when your find yourself negative, worried, not thinking it’s going to work out, recognize what’s happened; you’ve pulled your anchor up. the good news is, you can put it back down. instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts, “you’ll never get well, break the addiction, meet the right person,” turn it around; “Father, thank You that the answer’s already on the way, healing, promotion, the right people are coming, favor’s in my future.”  that’s how you stay anchored to hope.

this is what Abraham did. God gave him the promise that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby, but they were 80 years old; it was impossible, it’d never happened before. Abraham could’ve dismissed it, thought, “I must’ve heard God wrong.” I’m sure his friends said, “Abraham, you really think you’re going to have a baby? you’re I’m an old man.” he could’ve talked himself out of it, but:

Romans 4:18 (AMPC)

18 [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith

sometimes, there’s no logical reason to have hope. you may have plenty of reasons why your situation is not going to work out, but you have to do like Abraham; against all hope, hope on in faith. keep your anchor down, don’t talk yourself out of it. God is not limited by the natural; He’s a supernatural God.

at nearly 100 years of age, Sarah gave birth to a baby; the promise came to pass.  it didn’t happen overnight; they waited some 20 years. they had plenty of times where they were tempted to think, “it’s never going to happen; we’re too old, it’s been too long”; if they would’ve believed those lies, pulled up their anchor of hope, they would’ve drifted into doubt, discouragement, and never saw the promise come to pass. (technically, they did have a LITTLE bit of doubt, which is why Abraham produced Ishmael with Hagar, but they eventually got back on track, and God’s promise come to pass.)

are you drifting today? worried, negative, in self-pity? why don’t you put your anchor back down, get your hopes back up? just because the promise hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. you may have had some bad breaks like Joseph; that doesn’t mean you’re not going to fulfill your purpose. God wouldn’t have allowed it if He wasn’t going to use it for your good. shake off the discouragement, the self-pity. what God started in your life, He’s still going to bring to pass. 

don’t let other people talk you out of what God put in your heart. don’t let someone convince you, even if it’s your Pastor, to pull up your anchor; God didn’t put the promise in them, He put the promise in you. that’s why you can have faith when they think it’s far-out, why you can believe for it when to them it seems totally impossible.  if you’ll stay anchored to hope, God will restore back to you double what you lost. what you’ve been believing for may be taking a long time, but what God started, He’s going to finish. God doesn’t abort dreams; keep your anchor down.

The scripture describes hope as the anchor of our soul; it wouldn’t use the word “anchor” unless there was a possibility of drifting. this is what happens in life; if you don’t keep your anchor down, if you don’t stay filled with hope, little by little, you’ll start drifting, getting a little negative, worried, discouraged, “I’m never going to have this baby, break this addiction, overcome this challenge, it’s been too long.” the problem is, you don’t have your anchor down. 

when you’re anchored to hope, you may have negative circumstances, but you’re not worried; you know that God is fighting your battles. you may not see how your dream can come to pass, but you don’t give up; you know that God is behind the scenes, arranging things in your favor.  you may go through a bad break, a loss, but you don’t get bitter; you know that weeping endures for a night, but joy is coming in the morning. here’s what I’m saying; when you’re anchored to hope, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have difficulties, it means when those difficulties come, you won’t drift.  nothing will move you. the storms, waves, tides may change, but you’re consistent; your hope is in the Lord. 

if you don’t keep your anchor down, the normal currents of life will pull you off course. not a major sickness, divorce, layoff, just everyday life. perhaps you don’t realize that you’ve drifted into doubt, you’re not believing for your dreams anymore. you used to be excited about it, now it’s been a long time, you’ve lost your passion. Have you drifted into self-pity? you had a bad break, somebody did you wrong, you used to be loving, kind, fun, now you’re sour, hard to get along with. maybe you’ve drifted into worry; you used to believe that God was in control, that He was taking care of you, but you pulled up your anchor, you’re living stressed out. you can get back to where you’re supposed to be; you can put your anchor of hope down today. start believing, expecting again. life is too short to go through it drifting, negative, worried, no passion. if you don’t have this hope that something good is coming, it will limit what God can do. 

you have to stir up your hope. otherwise, you’ll drift toward the negative. “if God is so good, why haven’t my dreams come to pass? why did I have these bad breaks?” it’s because there is an enemy of your soul that’s trying to keep you from your destiny. the good news is, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. don’t let what happens in life, big or small, convince you to pull up your anchor. if you’ll keep your hope in the Lord, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back.

and this is not about just about being positive, hopeful, this is about keeping your soul anchored to the right thing. I’ve learned, if you don’t stay anchored to hope, over time you’ll become anchored to something else. you can become anchored to discouragement, where that’s your default setting; you wake up in the morning discouraged, you see everything from a tainted perspective, everything is sour. it’s because you’re anchored to the wrong thing. I know people who are anchored to bitterness; they’re so focused on the bad breaks, who Hurt them, now that bitterness is poisoning their life. 

you may have a good reason to feel that way; I’m simply saying that staying anchored to those things will keep you from your destiny. it will cause you to miss your purpose. it’s time to cut those anchors, and come over into hope. God did not breathe His life into you, crown you with favor, give you a royal robe, so you could go around anchored to bitterness, doubt, worry. He created you to be anchored to hope, to go out each day expecting His goodness, knowing that the days ahead are greater than the days behind. 

and when you face difficulties, and we all do, keep the right perspective; if David would’ve looked at Goliath, and thought, “oh man, I’ll never defeat him. he’s twice my size; I don’t have a chance,” if he would’ve pulled up his anchor of hope, we wouldn’t be talking about him today. Goliath wasn’t sent to defeat David; he was sent to promote David. what you’re facing is not meant to stop you; it’s meant to move you toward your divine destiny.  instead of being negative, “why is this happening to me? how is it ever going to work out?” no, turn it around; “Lord, I don’t see a way, but my hope is in You; I know You have it figured out, You’ll get me to where I’m supposed to be.” Proverbs says:

Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick

if you don’t have the hope that the problem’s going to turn around, that the baby is on the way, that the new house is in the future, then your heart, that means your spirit, will be sick. when we’re not hopeful, something is wrong on the inside. even physically; when we’re stressed, rundown, worried, that weakens our immune system, it doesn’t fight off disease like it should. for your health’s sake, keep your anchor of hope down.

we all go through seasons in life where it’s not really exciting; it’s easy to have the blahs, lose our enthusiasm. those are the normal currents of life; nobody lives on cloud 9, where it’s exciting all the time.  part of the good fight of faith is to stay hopeful in the dry seasons. when you don’t see anything happening, when it’s taking a long time, keep a smile on your face. all through the day, “Lord, thank You that something good is coming my way.” “what if I do that and nothing happens?” what if you do it and something does happen? I’d rather go through life anchored to hope than anchored to fear, worry, bitterness.

sometimes, we’re a anchored to things that don’t come off easily. if you’ve been anchored to doubt, fear, discouragement for a long time, you’re going to have to cut those lines. the enemy doesn’t want you to be free. he doesn’t want you to go through life anchored to hope; he wants you to go around depressed, bitter, angry. it’s time to cut some lines. it’s time to say, “this is a new day. I’ve been anchored to that junk long enough. I’m done living bitter, depressed, no passion. I’m cutting those lines; I’m anchoring myself to hope.”

keep the right perspective: that sickness can’t defeat you. that addiction is temporary. the right breaks are already in your future. you may have had some disappointments, life threw you a curve; that cannot stop your destiny. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. when you stay anchored to hope, He’ll show out in your life in ways you’ve never imagined. a bad break, a disappointment, a divorce, a sickness can’t stop you. when life throws you a curve, don’t you dare pull up your anchor;  keep hoping on in faith. God has you in the palm of His hand. it may have been meant for your harm, but God’s going to turn it for your good. have you drifted into doubt, discouragement, worry, self-pity? I’m asking you to put your anchor of hope back down today. if you’ll do this, what is now your test will soon become your testimony, you will rise above every challenge, accomplish every dream, and become everything you were created to be. 

(No new sermon this week.)

One of my closest friends in church, I’ll call her Jane, is very ill, so much so that we fear that the end might be near for her; as you might imagine, we have all been praying for her. While I was in my prayer closet early in the morning a few days ago, during the time when I was praying for Jane, I inexplicably, and with no forethought, got the idea that I wanted a rose from my rosebush to bring to her when a group from our church would be visiting her in her home on the next day. 

Let me say at this point that this is probably the worst-looking rosebush in the Western Hemisphere. It has lots of bare branches, it always has yellow and brown leaves, bugs or snails or I don’t know what are constantly chewing up the leaves… it’s a WRECK. In addition, not only does this thing have a ton of big thorns, but the entire stem is covered with some kind of other sharp bristly stuff; this bush is like a medieval torture device. I don’t EVER bring anybody roses from this bush, because it’d be like giving them a bunch of barbed wire; that’s hardly an appropriate thing to bring to ANYONE, much less someone who is too sick to get out of bed without assistance. It was a moot point, though; there had not been any roses on that bush for a couple of months (I think that all the previous roses were dead or dying by Mother’s Day, which was May 8).

Obviously, then, the thought of taking a rose from that bush to Jane should never have entered my head. Having had the thought, it was beyond ridiculous to ask the SAY it; nevertheless, I equally inexplicably ASKED God to give me a rose for her on that bush.  Before I could figure out how THAT had come out of my mouth… I then, again with no premeditation, said that He could put a rose for her on there right now that would be ready to go on Thursday if He wanted to!!  Seriously, would YOU tell God, TWICE, that you wanted a rose from a bush that had been barren for 2 months, and that mostly produced THORNS? Have you ever heard of anyone praying for God to actually physically create something for them to give as a gift, or to physically create ANYTHING other than babies or maybe rainclouds? I was so stunned that I had asked for this crazy thing TWICE, that I immediately started babbling that of course she was not expecting a rose, and would be happy to see me no matter what, and I would give her all the love and encouragement that I could. I finally gathered up my wits and went back to praying.

When I got back to the family room about 10 minutes later, I went to the window and looked out… and there it was!! ONE tiny rose that had just opened enough to be completely out of the bud stage. That bush has NEVER, in the many years I’ve been here, put out just ONE rose; if it wants to bloom, it sends out a bunch of buds all at the same time, and they bloom pretty close to the same time too, filling every receptacle in the house. That’s the way EVERY rosebush blooms, according to everyone I’ve asked; one bloom on an otherwise barren bush just does not exist.

I examined the bush EXTREMELY carefully; there were no other roses, not the slightest hint of any other buds, no new leaves or new growth, no reddish tips indicating points where new growth was about to occur… Just that ONE rose. It’s not the parting of the Red Sea… but it WAS a miracle.

I pretty much needed another miracle, or at least divine assistance, to cut the rose down, because it was WAY over my head, and all the way in the back of the bush, with about 10 billion thorns between me and it. The Holy Spirit guided me, while I was looking up at the rose in puzzlement, to absentmindedly trim off some dead stuff; when I was done, it turned out that I had trimmed myself an open space through which I could stretch my arm to grab the branch that had the rose at the end of it, so I could pull the branch down and reach a spot that was thin enough that I could cut through it, a couple of feet below the rose, and thus get the rose detached from the bush. Possibly the trickiest part was maneuvering that long piece of rose branch down through the maze of other branches, leaves and THORNS, all without damaging the rose… but I did that, too, and without getting a single puncture or scratch on my skin. 

After that, it was comparatively easy to trim the stem down to a reasonable length, cut off all of the numerous thorns, and pick off all the… I guess the little green dots were aphids, and the little black ones were maybe ants… anyways, this bush is FULL of bugs, too, did I forget to mention? When I took it out of the glass of water I’d been keeping it in, I wrapped the bottom half of the stem in wet paper towels to keep it moist and fresh on a summer’s day, followed by a bunch of layers of plastic grocery bags to seal the moisture in and provide a dry handle to hold it by. There has probably never been so much effort involved in getting ONE rose ready to be given to someone… but it was worth it:

When I put the carefully-wrapped rose stem into her tiny, frail hands, I told her about the miracle in a few short sentences (she’s very weak, and we knew that we could not be there with her long); in the faint whisper that is the only voice she has right now, she said, “Praise the Lord,” and lifted the rose up to touch it against her lips. She is an amazing woman of faith, and she knew that the only way for that rose to have been there was that God put it there… for HER. 

***************

Looking back, I’m reasonably certain that my bizarre thought, and the way it came out of my mouth TWICE without intention or premeditation, must’ve come from the Holy Spirit, because it is so TOTALLY foreign to what I might actually expect myself to think. The Holy Spirit is frequently responsible for putting guidance, ideas and thoughts in our minds, so this is entirely possible. The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit helping us pray in tongues, and if he can do that, he can certainly help us to pray in regular words as well. I’ve seen many times in my church where God will ask one person to pray for another, and then God gives the prayed-for person a miracle; this could certainly be an example of that. Why does God not just give the miracle? He seems to want to keep us involved and praying for each other; it’s more work for Him, but then again, it’s not like He has limited time or energy or anything. More to the point, if He’s doing miracles, who cares which way He uses to do them? We just need to be grateful and give praise.

If you ever get something crazy in your mind when you’re praying… let it out!! You might end up with a miracle that will lift you up for the rest of your life.

It’s on the way

from JO’s sermon tonight:

what you’re believing for, promises you’re standing on, dreams you’ve been praying about, they’re already en route; the healing, promotion, right people are coming. you may not see any signs of it yet, everything looks the same; what you can’t see is, behind-the-scenes, God is moving the wrong people out of the way, pushing back the forces of darkness, arranging things in your favor, lining up the breaks you need. He’s called the author and finisher of our faith; He’s going to finish what He started in your life. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. you may have big challenges, but we serve a big God. your enemies may be powerful, but our God is all-powerful. that dream may look impossible; you don’t think you have the connections, resources, talent, but God can do the impossible. even when the odds are against you, God is for you and He’s saying it’s on the way.

sometimes, you need these words of faith spoken over your life. words have creative power; if you’ll let them take root, they’ll ignite the faith in your spirit. because life has a way of pushing us down; if you’re not careful, you look up, and you’re not believing like you used to, not passionate, dreaming, you don’t see how your situation could work out. here’s the key; you don’t have to figure it out. our job is to believe, go out each day with expectancy, saying, “God, I may not see a way, but I know You have a way. I believe my breakthrough is on the way.I believe my healing, promotion, freedom from this addiction, it’s just a matter of time before it shows up.” if you don’t have this anticipation that it’s on the way, then it can keep it from happening. you may have big obstacles in your path, you can’t overcome them on your own. the good news is, you’re not on your own; you have the most powerful Force in the universe breathing in your direction. when He speaks, Red Seas part, blind eyes open, dreams come back to life. we look at our circumstances in the natural, but He’s a supernatural God. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 45:2 (NKJV)

2 ‘I will go before you

And make the crooked places straight 

God is fighting your battles; no person, bad break, sickness, failure, can stop you. get your fire back; you have to stir your faith up. maybe at one time you believed, were passionate, excited about life, but things haven’t turned out the way you hoped; you’ve had some bad breaks and disappointments. God is saying, “it’s time to believe, dream again.” you haven’t seen your best days. what God promised you is still going to come to pass; it’s not too late, you haven’t missed too many opportunities. if it would have happened sooner, it wouldn’t’ve been the right time; now is the time. start believing again.

maybe somebody walked out on you, did you wrong, but that didn’t stop God’s plan for your life. don’t give up on your dreams, live hurt, wounded, thinking, “they ruined my life.” they don’t control your destiny, they don’t have that much power over you. what they did may not have been fair, but God is going to make it up to you; He’s saying new beginnings, friendships, opportunities are on the way.  they meant it for your harm; God’s going to use it for your good:

Genesis 50:20 (NABRE)

20 Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good

you may have struggled in your finances a long time, can’t seem to get ahead, now you’ve just settled there, thinking that’s the way it’s always going to be. God is saying, “I have increase on the way, favor, promotion, opportunities, that have your name on them.

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)

10 … I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! 

why don’t you get up each day, and say, “Father, thank You that abundance is coming my way, that I’ll lend and not borrow, You’re opening doors no man can shut.” when you live with this expectancy, that’s when dreams come to pass, doors open that you could never open, you’ll see explosive blessings that catapult you to the next level.

but too many people have given up on what God’s put in their heart. they tried and it didn’t work out, now they think the dream is dead: they’ll never get well, meet the right person, come into abundance. but what you think is dead is not really dead; that seed is still alive. God doesn’t abort dreams; He doesn’t give up on what He put in us.

in John 11:

John 11:1-14 (NLT)

1 A man named Lazarus was sick… 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days… 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.

but it’s interesting; Jesus said to his disciples:

John 11:11 (NIV)

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

Lazarus was clearly dead, but Jesus had a different perspective; he said he’s only asleep. could it be that what you think is dead, looks like your marriage is never going to make it, you’ll never get well, never accomplish the dream, like Lazarus, all the circumstances say that it’s over and done, but God says, “I have a different perspective. I can see things that you can’t see; it’s not dead, it’s just asleep.” it may look permanent; the truth is, it’s only temporary.

Jesus showed up at Lazarus’s house:

John 11:39 (NLT)

39 … he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

at times, we all have things in life that stink; maybe your marriage feels so dead that it stinks, that bankruptcy, that layoff stinks, that mistake you made that set you back, it stinks.

John 11:39-40 (NIV)

39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 

what’s the point? Jesus went to where the stink was. sometimes, we think that God will only help us if we’ve lived perfect, everything is nice and whole, but God goes to the stinky places in our lives. the person that hurt you, did you wrong, it stinks, God is saying, “let Me in. I’m going to wake up the healing, restoration, new beginning.” that mistake you made, you feel condemned, every voice tells you, “God’s not going to bless you. nothing good is coming your way; you blew, it you stink.”  God is saying, “no, roll that stone away; I’m not bothered by the stink.” God goes to the stinky places, where you were betrayed, lost a loved one, compromised. you feel disqualified; God says, “let Me in. the stink is only temporary; the dream is not dead, it’s just asleep.”

John 11:43-44 (NIV)

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Lazarus went on to live many more years. 

I believe today that things that you’ve given up on, that you think are dead, like Lazarus, they’re about to wake up: marriages, dreams, healing, abundance are waking up. God is saying to us what He said to the disciples; “it’s not dead, it’s just asleep.” healing, joy, victory is coming. it may have been asleep a long time, you think there’s no way it could happen now; that’s what Mary and Martha thought. but it’s not too late, too far gone; you need to get ready, God’s about to wake it up.

this is what he did for Sarah, a lady in the scripture. she and her husband Abraham had tried for many years to have a baby with no success. now, Sarah is 80 years old; everything logically speaking said, “there’s no way,” but what God has promised you, He’s still going to bring to pass.  God is not limited by the laws of nature. you’re not at the mercy of your age, education, background. God has unlimited power; one touch of His favor can turn a situation around. Sarah thought her womb was dead; what she didn’t realize was, it was only asleep. at nearly 100 years old, she gave birth to a baby; the promise came to pass.

like with Sarah, God has put dreams and promises in you. it may not have happened yet; you’ve tried again and again, and it didn’t work out. now, maybe you’ve settled there, and think, “it wasn’t meant to be,” but God is full of surprises; He’s about to wake up that dream you’ve given up on, bring back to life what you thought was dead. your latter days are going to be more rewarding, fulfilling, than your former days. you’re going to give birth to more in the future than you’ve lost in the past. your baby, promise, dream, is on the way.

as a young man, Moses made a mistake and killed a man. he was trying to deliver God’s people, he had that dream his heart, but he got in a hurry; he had to flee for his life. he ended up spending years on the backside of the desert. I’m sure he thought, “I had a big dream, I knew I was going to do something great with my life, leave my mark, but I blew it.” he gave up on his dream; he had nobody to blame except himself. but just because we give up, doesn’t mean God gives up. 40 years later, God said, “Moses, I’m here to wake up your dream. now it’s time to go deliver my people.” Moses went out and did just that; he saw the dream come to pass. 

like Moses, you may have made mistakes; we all have. like Sarah, you may have had disappointments, your plans didn’t work out, now you think it’s been too long. what you’ve given up on is not dead, it’s just asleep. that business you wanted to start, that book you wanted to write, that addiction you’ve been trying to break, every voice tells you, “it’s too late, you’re too old, it’s never going to happen.” no, get ready, God’s about to wake it up: your baby, spouse, business, freedom is coming. get in agreement with God; He’s waking it up. don’t let it go back to sleep; stir your faith up, believe that it’s on the way, go out with expectancy. when your mind tells you, “you’re never going to get well,” wake up the healing; “God is restoring health back unto me.” “you’ll never get out of debt”; wake up the abundance, “I will lend and not borrow.” “you’ll never overcome that problem”; wake up the victory, “God always causes me to triumph.”  keep your mind going in the right direction. 

in Mark 6:

Mark 6:1-5 (NIV)

6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

verse 6 says:

Mark 6:6 (GNV)

6 And he marveled at their unbelief

in Matthew 8:

Matthew 8:5-10 (NASB)

5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, Lord, my]servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed… 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

at one place, he marveled at their doubt; at another, he marveled at their faith. when God looks at you, what will He marvel at? “I’ll never get well; I’ve had this sickness for so long. I’ll never accomplish my dreams; I tried, and it didn’t work out.” when you think like that, God marvels at your unbelief; that ties His hands. why don’t you come over into faith? “yes, I’ve had this sickness a long time, but I know my healing is on the way. I had a bad break, it wasn’t fair, but I know God has beauty for these ashes, favor is in my future.” when we think like that, then God marvels at your faith; that’s what allows Him to do more than we can ask or think.

what’s interesting is, the people that doubted, had the unbelief, were the religious people. they were in the synagogue each week; they were the faithful members. I say this respectfully; sometimes, religion will try to talk you out of God’s best. it will tell you, “in the sweet by-and-by you can live a victorious life, but down here you just have to suffer through it, just endure, don’t expect too much.” if Jesus were here, he would marvel at that unbelief. some people are taught that the day of miracles is over, God doesn’t still heal, bless and show favor, that was for Bible days. but there never was a day of miracles; there’s a God of miracles. He’s still alive and on the throne. 

this Roman officer that had great faith wasn’t a religious person; he hadn’t been indoctrinated to think that it couldn’t happen. he simply believed; “that man is the son of God. I’ve seen the miracles; he’s done it for others, he can do it for me.” he received his miracle while the religious people went without. when you take the limits off of God, dare to believe for your dreams, don’t be surprised if people try to talk you out of it, say things like, “do you really think you’ll get well, start that business, break that addiction? I don’t know, seems kind of far out to me.” God is either going to marvel at your faith, or marvel at your unbelief. don’t let another person talk you out of what God put in your heart; believe big, dream big, pray big. God is longing to be good to you; He wants to make you an example of His goodness, so everywhere you go, you don’t even have to say anything, your life is a testimony. people look at you and say, “he’s blessed, she’s highly favored.” you radiate joy, peace, favor, victory; you’re a living testimony.

Jesus didn’t say to this Roman officer, “I’m not going to do anything for you, you don’t attend my church, you’re not my nationality, you don’t look like me, who do you think you are?” none of that made any difference. all that mattered to Jesus was, “this man has great faith, he believes I can do something out of the ordinary, so I’m going to show myself strong in his life.” you may think that you’re not religious enough, that God would never help you. people tell me often, “I’m not a religious person, I wasn’t raised in church like you,” almost like they’re apologizing. can I tell you; God is not looking for religion, he’s looking for people who simply believe in Him, that know He controls the universe, that He can do the impossible.

in the Old Testament, the Israelites had wandered around in the desert for many years. God was about to take them into the promised land, but there were 7 nations in their path that were much bigger. Moses didn’t know what they were going to do; in the natural, they could never defeat them. but God said:

Deuteronomy 7:1-2 (NASB)

7 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them.

God is saying, “you don’t have to fight these battles in your own strength; I’m going to go before you and clear the path, make things happen that you couldn’t make happen. I’m going to defeat your enemies for you.” like the Israelites, we all face times when the odds are against us. it’s easy to think, “this sickness is much bigger, stronger than me, this addiction, these people coming against me, they’re much more powerful.” don’t worry; God is going before you right now, clearing the path. on your own, you may be outnumbered. what you’re up against may be bigger, stronger, more talented, have more resources, but you’re not on your own; the God who controls the universe says He will take care of your enemies. in other words, the cancer may be stronger than you, but it’s not stronger than our God. that debt may look insurmountable, you don’t see how you could ever get out, but it’s no match for our God; He owns it all, He made streets out of gold.

you have the God Who spoke worlds into existence on your side; instead of saying, “I can’t do it,” dwelling on the negative, all through the day, “Father, thank You that You’re defeating my enemies, clearing the path. I know You’re stronger than this addiction, more powerful than this cancer, bigger than this debt. Lord thank You that healing, wholeness, freedom, victory is on the way.” the scripture says: 

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

6 … Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit

you don’t have to do it on your own. Moses said:

Exodus 14:13 (ISV)

13 Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and watch how the Lord will deliver you today

you may be up against something big right now. don’t get discouraged, don’t live stressed-out, stand still; God is clearing the path, fighting your battles. He’s going to give you victory over powerful enemies. it may not happen overnight, but as long as you’re believing God is at work, at the right time He’s going to take you into your promised land. that victory is on the way.

God can make things happen that we could never make happen. right now, He’s going before you, defeating enemies that are much more powerful. that debt may look like it’s going to be with you your whole, life but get ready; He’s clearing the path. that sickness, addiction, legal problem may be bigger, stronger, more powerful, but it’s no match for our God; He is all-powerful. I’m asking you to stir your faith up. don’t hear all this and be like the people in Jesus’ hometown, where he marveled at the unbelief; let’s be like the Roman officer, where Jesus marvels at our faith. those dreams you’ve given up on, those promises that you’ve let go of, you need to go get them back; they’re not dead, they’re just asleep. like with Lazarus, God is about to wake up what you thought was over and done: healing, freedom, the fullness of your destiny, abundance is on the way.

(No new sermon this week.)

A recent commenter brought up a familiar question in Christian circles; “Why did God take the person I love away from me?” My reply came out well enough that I decided to turn it into a post. Here goes:

Almost without exception, people that are in your life are NOT there because God brought them to you; we are not puppets, and God is not a puppetmaster arranging everything for us. We all have free will, and people are in our lives because we have used our free will to be with each other. When we really love someone, and especially if we really NEED someone, it’s natural, and greatly comforting, to believe that they are God-given, that the relationship was arranged by God or has a special blessing from God, that it’s a soul-mate relationship not like other relationships, and therefore you have God’s assurance that it will never end… but that is very rarely the case.

Of course, everyone believes that THEIR relationship is the exception, although by definition virtually none of them are; the proof of the pudding, as my mother would’ve said, is that if the relationship ENDS, it was NOT arranged by God for you to be with that person forever… PERIOD. There are certain occasions where God brings someone into our lives to teach us something, help us get through a certain difficult season, toughen us up, grow us up, or increase our faith; this sort of person leaves because God never intended for them to be with you long-term. If you’re one of the fortunate few that God DOES bring a “forever person” into your life, your proof of that will be that you will in fact be together forever.

Does God help us with our relationships? Certainly. If you pray for courage, strength, wisdom, patience, etc, to deal with your relationship, God will give you those things, and other kind of guidance as well, which you’ll see if you’re paying attention. If the still small voice is telling you to do something in your relationship, and you ignore it because you want your relationship to be easy and feel good all the time, don’t turn around and complain later that God didn’t help you; He didn’t mess things up, you did.

No matter how much you want someone, or how hard you try, relationships still end more often than not. God does not, for the most part, decide whether or not relationships work out; although He will certainly sometimes remove someone from your life if they’re bad for you, for the most part we use our free will to decide whether or not we want to continue in relationships. If somebody left you, it’s because they used their free will to leave you, not because God took them away.

Yes, it hurts worse than anything when someone you love and want leaves you, but that’s no excuse to start blaming God. Even though the only thing you want in the whole universe is to have that person back, you need to get practical about it; if somebody LEAVES you, that means that they don’t WANT you… and why would you want someone who doesn’t want you? You must know that it does NOT represent God’s best plan for your life for you to be with someone who doesn’t want you. Focus on finding a high-quality person who DOES want you; ask God to help you find that person, and He will… although not necessarily as soon as you would like, and not necessarily with the spectacular good looks that you probably think you need to have in your partner in order to be happy.

Love is not a perfect thing. You can love people who do not love you back, some of whom will fake loving you because you have something they want for the time being. You can love people who, when they get to know you better, stop loving you. You can love people who will eventually grow tired of you, no matter how great they objectively agree that you are. You can love people who are simply not emotionally capable of having a long-term relationship, and so will leave even if they still love you. And on and on. 

When a situation like this occurs in your life, you have to learn from it, get over it as quickly as possible, and move on; stop dwelling and agonizing over it, looking for some hidden truth. There isn’t any. They didn’t want to be with you, so they left. This is just basic human nature and free will in action; stop blaming God. Find someone who DOES want to be with you, and build a relationship with that person. Look for someone who is a good Christian and loves God as much as you do; that’s the best possible basis for a relationship. And remember; someone who wants you to give them all the benefits of marriage, but won’t commit to marrying you, is not the right person for you!!

Just obey

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many times, we don’t realize that God is speaking to us. we have an impression on the inside, a prompting to be good to someone; that’s not random, that’s God talking to us. or, you’re in a situation and you feel an unrest, uneasiness; on the surface, it seems fine, looks like a good opportunity, but down in here an alarm is going off, something is saying, “it’s not right, stay away.” that’s not just your nerves, being overly cautious, that’s God wanting to protect you. when you feel these impressions, promptings, don’t ignore it, talk yourself out of it, just obey. if you’ll follow that still small voice, it says in Psalms:

Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life

the scripture talks about our inner ear; not our physical ear, you won’t hear an audible voice, but if you’ll be sensitive to what your inner ear is hearing, the still small voice

1 Kings 19:12 (WEB)

12 … After the fire, there was a still small voice

promptings, suggestions, alarms, then God will keep you from heartache and pain. He’ll lead you into promotion and favor, use you to be a blessing to others.

in the book of Deuteronomy, God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and different instructions to follow. then God said to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NLT)

2 Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.

God was saying, “don’t debate it, reason it out, over-analyze it, just do what I’m asking you to do.” too often, we feel these impressions, we have a knowing on the inside, but we dismiss it, and think, “I’ll do that later.” we override it; “I feel an unrest, but it looks like a good opportunity.” or, we over-analyze it; “that couldn’t be for me, that doesn’t make sense.” no, don’t talk yourself out of it. don’t come up with excuses. God is saying to us what he said to the Israelites; “just obey.” God knows what He’s doing. He can see things that we can’t see. don’t talk yourself out of it. when you obey that still small voice, God will use you to brighten people’s day. here’s the key; any time you obey, a blessing will always follow. you’ll never be good to someone else without God being good back to you. 

I wonder how much higher we would go, how much more of God’s favor we would see, if we would just obey; not argue, try to reason it out, come up with excuses. God wants to lead you down the best path for your life. He knows where the favor, promotion is, where the right people are. if you’ll be sensitive to His voice, pay attention to what your inner ear is hearing, there’s no limit to where God will take you. if you’ll start being faithful in the small things you know you need to do, you hear that voice, that impression tells you, “you need to get to work on time,” that’s not just your conscience bothering you, that’s God talking to you. you feel that prompting; “you need to quit drinking so much coffee. you need to take that course to improve your skills. you need to stop being sarcastic to your spouse.” God talks to us about practical things. sometimes, we think, “He only talks to us about redemption, salvation, doctrine, righteousness.” yes, but He also talks to us about keeping the house clean, not staying up all night watching television, not leaving the grocery cart in the parking lot, putting it back where you found it. how about everyday things? 

if we will obey these promptings, God will keep us out of trouble. we’ll avoid unnecessary heartache and pain. we know that God says, “go into all the world and share the good news,” but God also says, “slow down on the freeway, quit eating so much junk, forgive your coworker, be kind to your neighbor.” pay attention to the practical things; the more you pass these tests, the more God can trust you, the more favor He’ll release in your life. but if God has to argue with you about everything, you make excuses why you shouldn’t follow those promptings, you’ll get stuck. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 1:19 (NKJV)

19  If you are willing and obedient,

You shall eat the good of the land

when you learn this principle, to just obey, you feel that impression to call a friend and encourage them; “I’m going to call them.” you hear that prompting, “be more disciplined in your spending,” you’re obedient. you have that knowing on the inside; “I know I need to eat healthier, visit my parents, take that class,” the I-knows are God talking to you.  you didn’t just come up with that; God is asking you to do it. don’t dismiss it, put it off; the I-knows will lead you down the best path for your life. 

one way we know it’s God; it doesn’t go away, it keeps coming up again and again. in the middle of the night, you’re not even thinking about it, and there it is; that’s God wanting to get your attention. the scripture says, “God leads us by promptings.” one version says, “by suggestions.”

(I was unable to find any verse with translations using these words, but these 2 verses say the same basic thing:

Romans 7:6 (AMPC)

6 … we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit 

1 John 3:22 (AMPC)

22 And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions )

God won’t force you to do something; He won’t override your will (USUALLY; on rare occasions He will). He’ll suggest it; it’s up to us to do it. I’ve learned, the more you obey, the easier it is to obey. the more sensitive you are to His voice, the more you respond, the easier it is to respond. you’ll get to the place where you’re guided by these promptings; you take the suggestions, pull back when you feel an alarm. that’s how the Holy Spirit leads us. Paul talked about:

2 Timothy 2:21 (TLB)

21 If you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold—the very best in the house—so that Christ himself can use you for his highest purposes. 

God is looking for people that He can count on, people that at the slightest impression, smallest suggestion, they move. God says, “go here,” they go, “bless this person,” they bless them, “change in this area,” they change. they don’t argue, make excuses, they’re not too busy, they just obey. 

Psalm 25:14 (KJV)

14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him

when you honor God, He will tell you secrets, whisper things in your inner ear, give you insight that you otherwise wouldn’t have known. you don’t know how you know it, you can’t explain it, you just know it. sometimes, we hear about people getting into trouble for insider trading; that means, somebody on the inside of the company is giving information to somebody on the outside that’s going to affect the price of the stock. that way, they can sell off or buy more; they have an advantage, because they have inside information. that’s what God does for us; He knows where the good breaks are, how to propel you years ahead. if you’ll be sensitive to that voice, God will give you inside information; you’ll know things that you shouldn’t have known that will propel you toward your destiny.

don’t ignore what you’re hearing on the inside; it may not seem logical, but God can see things that you cannot see. He knows where the advantages are, how to accelerate your dreams, make things happen quicker than you thought. God knows it all; we have inside information. don’t ignore those promptings; that’s God whispering secrets in your ear. if you’ll just obey, God will give you an advantage, make things happen that you could never make happen. 

in the scripture:

2 Kings 5:1-12 (NIV)

5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”… 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry… 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” 

he came up with all these excuses; that doesn’t make sense, that’s not logical. God is not going to explain everything that He asks us to do.  this is what faith is all about; you just have to trust Him. Naaman almost missed his miracle:

2 Kings 5:12-13 (NIV)

12 … So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”

2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)

11 But Naaman… said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 

he had a preconceived idea of how God was going to do it. you can’t put God in a box; He may not bring your dream to pass the way you’re thinking, He may not turn the problem around in a traditional manner. God’s ways are not our ways; they are better than our ways. stay open, and let God do it His way.

Naaman didn’t want to do a small thing, but I’ve learned, small acts of obedience lead to big blessings. it’s not necessarily what you’re doing, it’s the obedience that activates God’s power. when you obey in small things, when it doesn’t seem like it matters, no one is watching, you don’t feel like it, but you keep doing the right thing, you’re faithful, a person of excellence, obedience in the small leads to God’s blessings in great ways. 

2 Kings 5:14 (NIV)

14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

I can imagine when Naaman got in, he thought, “this is dirty, it stinks, I don’t like it”; everything in his mind was saying, “you’re wasting your time, this is not making any difference.” if you allow it, your mind can talk you out of your miracle. negative thoughts can keep us from God’s best.

what’s interesting is, Naaman didn’t have the faith that it was going to happen; he didn’t believe he was going to get well, he wasn’t singing praises, thanking God that the answer was coming, he was complaining, negative, sour. the healing wasn’t in the water, or he would’ve been healed the first time; the healing was in the obedience. could it be that your healing will come when you obey? your promotion, breakthrough, restoration will come if you just keep doing the right thing? “I’m being my best, honoring God, I don’t see anything happening”; don’t worry, your time is coming. God rewards obedience. your healing, the right people, opportunities, freedom, are coming. keep being obedient; stay on that high road. it may be uncomfortable, it may not be fair, but God is in complete control; He’s a rewarder of those that honor Him.

I love the fact that Naaman’s obedience overrode the fact that he didn’t have the faith; this is how powerful obedience is. there are times in our life that we don’t feel like we have the faith we need; we want to believe, but we don’t see how we can get well, accomplish a dream, how our future is going to be bright. here’s the key; until your faith grows, just keep being obedient, doing what you know to do, following that still small voice. your obedience will override the fact that you don’t have enough faith. Naaman went from complaining to giving praise:

2 Kings 5:15 (VOICE)

15 … I am convinced that there is no God who exists in the entire world like the True God in Israel.

I’m not for complaining, talking defeat, being negative, there are examples where that keeps people out of their promised land, but in this case, obedience overrode all that. like Naaman, when you face situations you don’t like, you don’t understand it, the odds are against you, just keep doing the right thing; your breakthrough is on the way. when you obey, miracles happen, healing is released, new doors will open. every time you obey, you’re sowing a seed. when it’s difficult, you’re uncomfortable, you don’t feel like it, but you do it anyway, you are sowing an extraordinary seed. that means, you’re going to reap an extraordinary harvest. God will never ask you to do something and not give you the power to do it.

when He asks you to walk away from a friend that’s pulling you down, or to get rid of a habit that you know is ruining your health, He’s not trying to take something from you, He’s trying to get something better to you. if you will just obey, you’ll come up to a new level of your destiny.

is there something you’ve been putting off that you know you should do? maybe you feel like you have a great right to hold a grudge, to be angry, they did you wrong; all that’s going to do is poison your own life, affect your dreams, your health. you have to forgive so you can be free, so your healing will be released. not just physically, but when you let it go, God can make you emotionally whole. that’s when He’ll give you beauty for ashes. you’ll start loving, laughing, dreaming again. I know that faith gets God’s attention, but obedience activates God’s power; you can have great faith, but if you’re ignoring the still small voice, overriding what you know God wants you to deal with, it can keep you from your miracle. 

and sometimes, God asks us to do a hard thing. God told Abraham to take his son Isaac, this was the son Abraham and Sarah had waited 20 years to have, they’d prayed and believed, and now finally little Isaac is here:

Genesis 22:2-11 (NIV)

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—…Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham… set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance… 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Genesis 22:12-13 (CEV)

12 “Don’t hurt the boy or harm him in any way!” the angel said. “Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.

what’s interesting is, rams don’t normally go that high up in the mountains; that’s not natural to them. but when you do what God’s asking you to do, every step you take in obedience, the ram is taking a step towards you. you may not be able to see it, “I’m doing the right thing, it doesn’t look like anything is changing.” what you can’t see is on the other side of the mountain: your healing, provision, abundance, breakthrough is making its way towards you. like with Abraham, we’re not going to understand everything God asks us to do. it may be difficult: it’s hard to forgive someone that hurt you, keep a good attitude when the medical report is negative. but if you’ll sow this extraordinary seed, and be obedient, then get ready, you’re going to see God’s favor in extraordinary ways. 

I’m asking you today to just obey; don’t try to figure it out, over-analyze it, just do what you know God’s asking you to do. pay attention to the still small voice. start listening with your inner ear; God wants to whisper secrets, give you inside information that will propel you toward your destiny. if you’ll do this, God is going to lead you down the best path for your life; you’re going to see favor, increase, promotion, healing, vindication, the fullness of your destiny.

Not relying on people

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s great when people believe in us, cheer us on, make us feel valuable. we love when our spouse compliments us, a friend is there to give encouragement, a coworker stays late to help us on a project. God uses people to help move us toward our destiny. but here’s the key; you can’t become so dependent on people that you’re getting your worth and value out of how they treat you. it’s easy to become addicted to compliments, encouragement, them cheering you on; now, you rely on them to keep you feeling good about yourself, to always be there to validate you, to make you feel approved. like a drug, if they don’t keep you fixed, meet all your expectations, you get discouraged, feel inferior, work overtime to try to win their approval. the problem is, you’re trying to get from people what only God can give; your worth, value, doesn’t come from another person, it comes from your Creator. if you rely on people, you’ll be disappointed; people will let you down, get busy, not be there when you need them. sometimes, people will even turn on you. 

in the scripture, Peter was Jesus’ close friend; they were with each other day and night. but when Jesus needed Peter the most, when he was about to be crucified, Peter denied that he even knew Christ. Jesus could’ve been upset, “God, I don’t understand it; why wasn’t my friend there for me?” he would’ve missed his destiny. 

quit relying on people; what they do or don’t do doesn’t determine your worth. what they give you or don’t give you cannot stop your purpose; God breathed His life into you, crowned you with His favor. quit waiting for people to approve you, and start approving yourself. people may not encourage you; you can encourage yourself. people may not make you feel special; you can make yourself feel special. “I’m a child of the most high God. I know I’m crowned with favor, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece.” you’ll have better relationships if you’ll start validating yourself. if you’re always depending on somebody else, you’ll become needy, a burden, waiting for other people to keep you fixed.

your friends, family members, they have enough problems of their own, issues that they’re dealing with, to not come home and have to work on you for 3 hours. that’s not only hurting you, it’s unfair to the people God put in your life; they’re not responsible for your happiness, to keep you cheered up. don’t put that extra pressure on them; learn to receive your value, self-worth, from your heavenly Father. if you’re basing that off of what people give you, then, if they change their mind, stop doing it, you’ll feel devalued. but when you go to God for it, nobody can take it away. it’s not dependent on how somebody treats you, how they make you feel, how many compliments they give you; it’s dependent on the fact that you’re a child of Almighty God, and you know He has already approved you. that’s where you’re getting your value. 

“my parents didn’t raise me right, I didn’t have a good childhood, my spouse never compliments me, my boss didn’t give me the credit that I deserve.” I say this respectfully; if you didn’t get it, you didn’t need it. they can’t stop your destiny. what they say or do cannot override God’s plan for your life. shake off the negativity. that person that walked away, did you wrong, made hurtful comments;  shake off the disrespect, don’t believe the lies that you’re not talented enough, attractive enough, good enough. they don’t determine your value, lessen your self-worth; the only power people have over you is the power that you give them.

Jesus had all kinds of people come against him: politicians, religious leaders, haters, critics, trying to discredit him, make him feel inferior, cause him to give up. he could’ve taken the bait, thought, “I must not be too special; listen to what they’re saying, look at how they are treating me.” but Jesus understood this principle; he knew his value didn’t come from people, it came from his heavenly Father. he said to them:

John 5:41-42 (TLB)

41-42 “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me

he was saying, “I don’t need your approval to feel good about myself. I don’t have to have your encouragement, support, to keep me moving forward.” Paul said:

Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

13 … I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency

not in our own strength, but when we know the Creator of the universe lives in us, equipped, empowered, anointed us, we can put our shoulders back, hold our head up high, knowing that if God approves us, we don’t have to have people’s approval. 

it’s good when people encourage us, cheer us on; what I’m saying is, don’t become dependent on that. if somebody’s not giving you what you expect, not validating you, that’s ok, you can validate yourself, approve yourself; you are self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. you can feel good about who you are, knowing that God hand-picked you, created you in His image, put seeds of greatness on the inside. what am I saying? you don’t need somebody else’s praise. you don’t have to have people’s applause; you have the applause from the One who matters most, the God Who spoke worlds into existence. I’d rather have his applause than people’s applause.

“if I could convince this person to like me, they know a lot of people; maybe some new doors would open.” the scripture says:

 Psalm 75:6 (TLB)

6 For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God 

God knows where all the opportunities are. He can make things happen for you without you having to convince somebody to like you. you don’t have to play up to people, try to win their favor; if they don’t want to be your friend, it’s their loss, not yours. do yourself a favor, and keep moving forward; they’re not a part of your destiny. God has divine connections, people He’s already lined up; they’re already in your future. 

sometimes, the reason people don’t give us what we need is because they don’t have it. nobody gave it to them; they didn’t see it modeled growing up. if they weren’t raised showing affection, with people expressing feelings, being good to each other, the problem is, they don’t have it to give. if you’re trying to get it from them, you’re going to be frustrated. why don’t you let them off the hook, and go to God for what they can’t give you. here’s the key; God has it all. if you’ll learn this principle, to not rely on people, but to go to Him for your encouragement, approval, self-worth, then you won’t live stressed out because somebody is not giving you what you expect. if nobody’s complimenting you, you can compliment yourself; get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror, “good morning you good-looking thing.” God calls you a masterpiece. say what God says about you; ”I’m strong, healthy, one-of-a-kind, highly favored.” you have to build yourself up, encourage yourself, compliment yourself.

you cannot rely on your spouse, parents, coach, teacher, Pastor; they may mean well, they couldn’t love you any more, but no person can meet all of your needs, only God can.  if you’re just looking to people, eventually you’re going to become resentful, bitter, start holding that against them; it will sour your relationships. the truth is, it’s not their fault; maybe they have issues, they could be doing better in areas. but if you’ll not rely on people, and go to God instead, you won’t be dependent on what somebody does. if they’re not giving you what you need, and that was the only way to get it, they would control your destiny. God didn’t design the plan for your life, and say, “ok, it’s all dependent on if these other people do what’s right, if they encourage you, cheer you on, never let you down”; no, God put everything you need within your power. and instead of us living needy, “why won’t they compliment me, be my friend?” the right attitude is, “nobody owes me anything. I don’t have to have people’s credit, applause, support, compliments; I am self-sufficient. I know where to go for everything that I need.”

why don’t you let the people in your life off the hook? maybe they did the best they could. they may have made decisions that you don’t understand, feels like they put you at a disadvantage, but you didn’t have to walk in their shoes; maybe nobody gave them what they needed to give to you. bottom line; nobody owes you anything. God is keeping all the records; He has seen everything that’s happened in your life. the injustice, bad breaks, person that did you wrong; those people cannot pay you back, make you whole, only God can. He said He would give you beauty for the ashes, pay you back double for the unfair things that have happened. quit looking to people to make it up to you, trying to get somebody to apologize, admit they were wrong, give you what they don’t have. if you’ll go to God, He’ll bring you out better; He’ll make the rest of your life more rewarding, fulfilling than it would’ve been if that hadn’t have happened in the first place.

when you let people off the hook, and quit trying to make them perform perfectly and keep you fixed, not only will their life be better, but your relationships will improve. no matter how good a person is, they can’t give you everything that you need. if you look to God, you’ll never be disappointed. no person has 100% of what you need. I’ve heard it said, in a relationship, the most the other person will have is 80% of what you need; there will always be 20% that they don’t have to give you. the mistake we make is, we leave the 80% to go find the 20% in somebody else. the problem is, that next person will be missing 20% as well. the key to a good relationship is to recognize the other person’s strengths and weaknesses, then give them room to be who they are; don’t try to squeeze them into your mold. if you’re relying on another person to meet all your needs, become everything in your life, you’re going to be disappointed; you have to let them off the hook. 

sometimes, God will let us go through seasons where we’re not getting what we expect from people; on purpose, He’ll have them withhold it, to teach us to not rely on another person, but to get our encouragement, value, worth from Him. God uses approval, validation, from other people to keep us going, keep us moving, but at some point, like a mother weans a baby off a bottle, so the child can grow up, God is going to wean you off having to have people’s compliments and applause. that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen, it means you’re going to get to a place where you’re not dependent on someone else cheering you on so you can feel good about yourself; you’re not dependent on them complimenting you, keeping you encouraged. it’s nice to hear, but you’ve developed this self-sufficiency; you don’t rely on people for their approval, you go to God for your approval.

the higher God takes you, there will be more disapproval, more opposition, more critics. if you’re basing your worth and value on how people are treating you, how much they’re cheering you on, and you’re trying to keep all of them happy, you’ll never become everything God created you to be. you’re never going to keep everyone happy; quit trying to please people. when you come to the end of your life, you’re not going to stand before people and give an account, you’re going to stand before God. He’s not going to say, “did you keep everyone happy, please all your family, have the support from your coworkers?” He’s going to ask, “did you fulfill My purpose for your life, run your race, finish your assignment?”

maybe you’re not getting from people what you used to: the compliments, support, encouragement. instead of being frustrated, have a new perspective; God is growing you up, getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny. the less you depend on people, the stronger your spiritual muscles are going to become, and the higher you’re going to go.

in Judges 7, the Midianites joined forces with 2 other armies; they crossed the Jordan River, and were about to attack the Israelites. Gideon put out a call to all of his men; 32,000 Israeli warriors showed up ready to fight. Gideon was feeling good; he had a large army to protect the people of Israel. they marched out towards those enemies, but God said to him:

Judges 7:2-3 (NIV)

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

he lost two thirds of his army. I’m sure Gideon gulped, and said, “God, did you see what just happened?” 

Judges 7:4-7 (NIV)

4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”

his army went from 32,000 to 300. I can imagine, Gideon thought, “God, I was confident with 32,000, a little worried with 10,000, but God, 300 men? this is impossible.” God was saying, “Gideon, you don’t need everyone that you think you need. you’re depending on too many people.” God is saying that to us; you don’t need all of your coworkers to support you, all your friends and family members cheering you on. the less you depend on people, the greater the anointing in your life. when you’re not depending on someone else, hoping that they’ll help you, thinking that they’re the savior, then God will release His favor in your life in a greater way. Gideon went out with those 300 men, 1% of what he started with; God supernaturally helped them to defeat those armies that were much bigger and much more equipped. 

in the same way, God is going to give you victories where the odds were totally against you. you know you could accomplish your goal if you had the support, the connections. you could overcome that obstacle if you had the strongest players, the best people on your legal team. God is saying, “don’t worry about it.” you don’t have to have all those people; you and God are a majority. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. quit saying, “if they would just train me, if they’d just get behind me”; if you’ll quit depending on people, the anointing will increase in your own life. you’ll accomplish more with less help, with less people, because of God’s favor on your life.

are you frustrated because you don’t think you have enough support? have this new perspective; the greatest Force in the universe is breathing in your direction right now. are you discouraged because people are not giving you what they used to? it’s because God’s growing you up. quit trying to get from people what only God can give; go to Him for your value, self-worth, encouragement. if you’ll start passing these tests, not relying on people, you’ll not only live more confident and secure, but like Gideon, you’re going to overcome obstacles that look insurmountable, accomplish dreams that seemed impossible, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

Taming MY tongue

The most recent JO sermon, about taming your tongue, resonated very powerfully with me. I have a very strong personality, and it has been my fate that the people closest to me have often been of the belligerently argumentative variety, so, as you might imagine, I’ve spent a great deal of time in heated argument… and WINNING, yes, but the point is, although there are certainly times to speak vehemently and persuasively against opposition, and God has been training me for decades to be ready for those times, in personal relationships, God clearly wants us to exercise patience and gentleness rather than killer debate tactics. As JO so often says, the Bible does not say that whoever wins an argument is blessed, or that the person who argues the longest or best is blessed, or that the person who is right is blessed, or that the person who dominates others by the force of their personality is blessed, it says:

Matthew 5:9 (NIV)

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

It also says:

Romans 12:16-18 (NIV)

16 Live in harmony with one another… 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

That’s a pretty clear message. But how does one do this in practice? A strange idea came to me, which often means that it is of divine origin; whether it is or not, I’m giving it a try. I made labels to stick to the upper frame of my monitor. First, I put “flesh” in one corner, and “spirit” in the other corner; this will keep in the upper part of my mind all day long that I have to make the constant choice between the 2 every time a conversation develops the potential to veer away from the productive and the positive. 

Then, I needed a reply for when someone makes an unpleasant pronouncement about what they’re going to do, a decision they’ve made, or some wrong-headed way that they think or feel. I’ll respond with a sentence that begins with what I wrote on my third label, “I’m sorry that you’ve chosen to…” followed by do, not do, believe, etc, and that’s it; no argument, no debate, no discussion, just a polite ending of that line of conversation that might, just MIGHT, cause them to rethink their choices, or at the very least realize that these decisions ARE choices, not requirements, for which they bear full responsibility. 

And finally, if they throw something belligerent at me, or try to push my buttons and get me to participate in a negative conversation, I’ll shut it down with something along the lines of what I put on my fourth label, “There’s no gracious way to…” followed by “discuss this,” “respond to that,” etc. Again, that politely shuts down the conversation, and it has the possibility of getting them thinking about what the gracious things to do and say might be.

These labels will be right in my line of sight all day every day; this will get them down into my spirit. If I can consistently implement their ideas, that will constitute spectacular spiritual progress for me… and allow me to pass what I think might be the final test before God brings me to my next level of restoration. Pray for me!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 410 other followers