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Knowing You Are Loved

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when you know that somebody loves you, it puts you at ease; you don’t have to try to perform, impress, be good enough. you can relax, be yourself, you’re comfortable, secure. but a lot of people have an “I think He loves me” mentality when it comes to God; “I did good, I think He loves me, I earned His love.” the problem with this approach is, when we make mistakes, get off course, don’t perform perfectly, we think that God stops loving us. but God is not like people. people can love you conditionally; “if you perform perfectly, I’ll love you, but if you disappoint me, I’ll go find somebody else.” but God doesn’t change His mind when we make mistakes; if you run away from God, God will come running towards you. quit trying to earn this love. there’s nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less; it’s a gift, just receive it by faith. sometimes, we’re trying to become good enough, and then we’ll believe that God really loves us; take the pressure off, God loves you right now, and forever.

Romans 8:39 (NLT)
39 … nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God

Psalm 139:8 (NIV)
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

nothing that you’ve done can change God’s love.

Ephesians 2:4 (DLNT)
4 … His great love with which He loved us

not a little love or a conditional love.

Luke 12:7 (NIV)
7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered

do you really think there’s anything you can do to cause Him to stop loving you? how do you suppose God feels when we go around thinking, “I think He loves me”? get rid of the I-think mentality, and start having an I-know mentality. it’s very freeing when you can say, “I know God loves me.” voices will whisper, “not you, you’ve made mistakes, you’re not religious enough”; God doesn’t love you because you’re religious, or good enough, He loves you because you’re His child. when you receive this love, when you go from I-think to I-know, you’ll live with a confidence; quit trying to earn it, be good enough, you’ll live secure knowing that your heavenly Father loves you.

in the Bible, the book of John was written by the disciple John. what’s interesting is that he never referred to himself as John; he said “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

John 13:23 (NIV)
23 … the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

he could’ve just said, “John was reclining next to Jesus.” Matthew, Mark and Luke referred to themselves in their own gospels by their own names; if they had read John’s account, they would’ve thought, “who does he think he is, describing himself as the one Jesus loved? Jesus loved us all.” but John had an incredible confidence in how much God loved him.

when Lazarus was very sick:

John 11:1-3 (NIV)
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

they didn’t tell Jesus how much Lazarus loved him, or beg Jesus for help; they thought it would be more effective to remind Jesus how much he loved Lazarus. sometimes, we’re trying to convince God that we love Him; why don’t you do like Mary and Martha, and say, “Lord, the one You love needs healing, help”? what moves God is not just your love for Him, but recognizing His love for you. it pleases God when you know that you are dearly loved; that’s why the scripture says:

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

it doesn’t give God any pleasure for us to go around insecure, unworthy, beating ourselves up for past mistakes; shake that off, and go boldly to the throne. it makes God smile when we know that He is longing to be good to us. He has the amazing ability to treat us all like we’re His favorite. love isn’t just what He does, it’s who He is. when you start seeing yourself as His favorite, you’ll go to Him with confidence, pray bold prayers, ask Him for your dreams, expect new doors to open, not because of who you are, but because of Who your Father is.

He may not be pleased with all of your behavior, but that doesn’t change His love for you. when you go around guilty, beating yourself up, that doesn’t help you to do better; it pushes you down, causes you to struggle more. but when you receive God’s love, and know that despite your shortcomings He’s still proud of you, says you’re amazing, calls you a masterpiece, that’s what lifts your spirit, gives you the strength to do better, and break those chains that are holding you back.

Luke 19 has the story of Zacchaeus. he was a tax collector; in those days, they were known for being dishonest, cheating people, and were very disliked. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector; he was especially despised.

Luke 19:1-4 (NIV)
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

at that point, Zacchaeus realized that he was loved; out of all of the people there, probably including many people of importance, Jesus chose him to spend time with, making the point that you don’t have to have it all together for God to love you.

Luke 19:7 (NIV)
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

we don’t see people the way God sees them; we look at their behavior, how perfectly they perform, but God looks beyond all that. the people saw a notorious sinner; God saw the one that He loved. if you clean up how you live your life, God will be more pleased with your behavior, your life will go better, but it doesn’t affect His love for you. will you receive this love, or will you let condemning voices convince you that you’re all washed up? you have to say by faith, “Lord, I believe that I’m the one You love; despite my failures and mistakes, You still have a great plan for my life.”

1 John 4:10 (NIV)
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

if we try to perform to obtain this love, there will always be something that we can’t do right, to keep us from feeling good about ourselves; take the pressure off, and receive God’s love for you.

that’s with this lady had to do:

John 8:3-11 (NLT)
3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery… 4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”… he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”… 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

he didn’t say, “go, and sin no more, and then I won’t condemn you,” “change your ways, get your act together, quit giving into the temptation, then I’ll love you, be for you”; it’s just the opposite, he said “I don’t condemn you” first. before he talked about her behavior, addressed her issues, Jesus wanted to make sure that she knew that she was the one he loved.

but sometimes religion tells us, “clean yourself up, do right, perform correctly, then God will love and help you; if you don’t, He won’t have anything to do with you.” that’s not real love, that’s conditional love. your heavenly Father’s face is turned toward you. if you’ll receive this love, you’re going to live confident, secure, overcoming obstacles, rising higher, and becoming everything that He’s created you to be.

Recognizing Your Value

from JO’s sermon tonight:

too often, we base our value on how someone is treating us, how successful we are, or how perfect of a life we’ve lived; the problem is, all of those things can change. if you’re getting your value out of how people treat you, if they hurt or disappoint you you’re going to feel devalued. if you’re basing your value on your achievements, how much you make, what kind of car you drive, the title behind your name, then if something happens and you no longer have that position, your business goes down, then your value will go down. some people don’t feel good about themselves because they’ve made mistakes in life, they’re not where they thought they would be; now they’re living insecure, feeling inferior; they’re basing their value on their performance.

your value should be based solely on the fact that you are a child of the most high God; the Creator of the universe breathed His life into you. how someone treats you doesn’t change your value; what they say or do doesn’t lessen who you are. the mistakes you’ve made don’t decrease your value; that’s what you did, not who you are. you can buy a bigger house, drive a better car, but that doesn’t make you any more valuable; that increases your net worth, not your self-worth. you were already valuable when you had a small apartment and no title behind your name; that new position may give you more influence, but not more value. you can be a stay at home mom raising your children; you may not have the influence of a CEO, but you have the same value.

value is not based on what you do, what you make, who you know; that’s superficial, those things can change. your value comes from your Creator. God breathed His life into you; you have the DNA of Almighty God, royalty in your blood.

but the enemy works overtime trying to devalue us; he’d love for you to go through life letting what people say make you feel inferior, comparing your life to someone else’s, thinking that you’ll feel good about yourself when you catch up to them, live in that neighborhood, perform perfectly, break the addiction. nothing you do, achieve, overcome, will make you any more valuable; you are valuable right now. God calls you a masterpiece. you are one of a kind; you didn’t come off of an assembly line, mass-produced, God made you unique. put your shoulders back, start carrying yourself with confidence; you have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

Luke 4:1-3 (NIV)
4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

he was trying to make his value be based on his performance, his ability to perform a miracle.

Luke 4:4 (NIV)
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’

he was saying, in effect, “I don’t have to do anything to prove who I am, or perform to feel good about myself; I know who I am.” the enemy couldn’t deceive him into basing his value on performance, so he tried to get him to base his value on possessions:

Luke 4:5-8 (NIV)
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

he was saying, “I don’t need possessions to prove my worth and value. I don’t have to have what you think is important to feel good about who I am”

the enemy tried one final thing, popularity:

Luke 4:9-11 (NIV)
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

he was trying to get Jesus to show off; everybody would see and be amazed, he’d gain instant popularity, but Jesus didn’t need popularity to know who he was, the son of the living God.

the enemy tried to deceive Jesus into proving who he was. a lot of people live in a proving mode; they can’t feel good about themselves unless they prove to people that they’re important, talented. it’s a constant struggle to out-do, out-perform, out-dress; it’s very freeing when you realize that you don’t have to prove anything, impress people. take the pressure off. it takes a lot of energy to compete, prove, impress. if you live in a proving mode, it’s like you’re on a treadmill; as soon as you prove to one person that you’re OK, you’ll see somebody else that you need to impress, it’s a never-ending cycle. get off the treadmill; you don’t have to prove anything.

these days, there’s so much emphasis on name brands; sometimes, we have so many other names on us, we don’t know our own name. we’re counting on all the name brands, outside labels, to make us feel important. there’s nothing wrong with owning them, but don’t let them be the reason that you feel good about who you are. the latest thing will soon be outdated; if you live possession-based, you have to keep running from thing to thing, and it will wear you out.

relax; you can’t get any more valuable. you can buy more clothes, get more friends, but that doesn’t change your value. are you trying to prove your worth, value, by who you know, what you wear? or, can you say like Jesus, “I don’t have to have popularity, possessions, or performance to feel good about myself; I am secure in who I am, who God made me to be”?

when Jesus was riding into town on Palm Sunday:

Matthew 21:7-9 (NIV)
7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

he received a hero’s welcome, but a few days later, those same people…:

Matthew 27:22 (NIV)
22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”

when Jesus went to trial, and needed his closest friends to support him, his disciples, the ones that he had poured his life into, weren’t anywhere around.

if you base your value on people’s support, how much they approve and encourage you, if they stop doing that, you’ll feel devalued. if they tell you that you’re great, you’ll feel great, but if they change their mind, you won’t feel great anymore. people will say that you’re beautiful one day, and not care for you the next. if you don’t know who you are without them, if they leave, you’ll be lost; your identity was caught up in who they made you to be, and you’ll try to find somebody else to tell you who you are.

let your heavenly Father tell you who you are; get your value, self-worth, approval, from Him. He says that you’re a masterpiece, one of a kind, a prized possession. it doesn’t matter if somebody criticizes you; they don’t determine your value, and they can’t change it, so what they say doesn’t make you any less a masterpiece. you don’t need their approval, encouragement, or validation; don’t give away your power, and put your value and identity into somebody else’s hands. even good people can’t give you everything you need; somebody that loves you very much cannot keep you approved, validated, feeling secure. sometimes, we’re putting pressure on people to keep us fixed; let them off the hook, they’re not your savior.

people have issues, they don’t know any better; messed-up people can mess you up. if you’re basing your value on what they give you, you could end up dysfunctional. don’t let messed-up people ruin the rest of your life; if somebody hurt you, there’s a tendency to internalize it, and think that there’s something wrong with you; no, they’re treating you out of their hurts. hurting people end up hurting other people; that’s the enemy trying to steal your sense of value. if somebody did you wrong, instead of internalizing it, think that maybe they felt so unlovable that they tried to project it on you. if your parents didn’t approve you, don’t let that keep you from your destiny. base your value on what God said about you; that’s going to lift you up.

Isaiah 49:16 (NLT)
16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

He’s always thinking about you.

don’t spend your life trying to get something that people cannot give; let it go, or you’ll be frustrated.

David didn’t have his father’s approval; when the prophet Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s son’s, Jesse didn’t even bring David in from the fields. sometimes, the people closest to you can’t see the greatness in you, they discount and dismiss you; don’t take it personally, just keep being your best and getting your approval from your heavenly Father.

Jesus’ brothers, the people that should’ve supported him the most:

John 7:5 (NIV)
5 his own brothers did not believe in him.

people may leave you out, but God doesn’t. if David had to have his family’s approval, he would never have taken the throne. quit trying to make people be for you who are never going to be for you. if you needed their approval, you would get it; if you’re not getting it, that means that you don’t need it to become who you were meant to be. sometimes, it’s God teaching us to go to Him and not to people; David’s brothers made fun of him, his father discounted him, he was stuck out in the fields, but instead of complaining or feeling inferior, he turned to God. He’s the one that wrote:

Psalm 27:10 (AMPC)
10 Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child].

we all have people that are not giving us their approval. don’t live frustrated, trying to convince them to affirm you; let it go, keep your head held high, knowing that you’re approved by your Creator. you may feel average, ordinary, but because of your Maker, you are extremely valuable.

Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful

if you’re going to recognize your value, you have to see yourself as wonderful, not because of who you are, because of Who made you. life will try to make you feel like you’re anything but amazing; disappointments, betrayal, rejection, will try to steal your sense of value. people may try to make you feel average; do you want to believe what they say about you, or what God says about you? the scripture says:

1 John 4:4 (NLT)
4 you belong to God

you may feel average, think you look ordinary, nothing special about you, but because of who you belong to, that makes you extremely valuable. don’t let people discount you, or your own thoughts push you down; put your shoulders back, you belong to God. you don’t have to prove anything, try to impress people, just be who you are; be amazing. if you’ll do this, every chain that’s held you back is being broken; you’re going to live free, confident, secure, valuable, and become the masterpiece that God created you to be.

The Bible talks about how we have guardian angels:

Psalm 91:11 (CJB)
11 He will order his angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go

Hebrews 1:14 (AMP)
14 Are not all the angels ministering spirits sent out [by God] to serve (accompany, protect) those who will inherit salvation? [Of course they are!]

If you’re a regular reader, you know that every so often I see an angel here in my house. Sometimes, there is a clump of sightings; a few days ago, when I decided to make a separate file just for my experiences with angels (and with the others that I prefer not to name), I took a really close look at those clumps for the first time, and using my journals, verified that each clump corresponded to something VERY significant happening in my life… which of course makes perfect sense, when you think about it, because if the major event is bad the angels are there to help, and if the major event is good the angels are there to fight the forces that are trying to destroy what is good.

I just had another clump, ending a few days ago. What was really extraordinary about it… beyond the pure fact of seeing ANGELS, which I never lose sight of as an extraordinary blessing… is that all 4 of the angels were right outside of my house, presumably guarding it, and me; one of them was even at the window where I saw a particularly disturbing demon once. That means that ALL of the angel sightings since I battled the demonic presence have been OUTSIDE, which I believe means that none of the demons can get into the house right now, so they’re hanging around outside trying to exert whatever influence they can from a distance, and the angels have moved outside in order to fight them. Was the battle that I won with the help of the Holy Spirit really that powerful? Did the fact that I anointed all the ways into the house with oil shortly thereafter play any part, maybe in preventing them from getting back in after they recovered from their defeat? For now, there’s no way to anything but speculate.

I don’t know if something major is about to happen in my life in general, but I certainly had a gigantic and spectacular experience: I was walking down the hall to my room, and just as I got to the doorway, I saw, against the wall a little bit over the head of my bed, a very clear shadow figure. What went through my mind was: “bird it’s a dove angel no not in animal form oh my God it’s the Holy Spirit!!”

Luke 3:21-22 (NIV)
21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.

I saw it for maybe two seconds, long enough to see the wings flap downwards, and then it was gone… But the feeling remained.

Why was I given this precious gift of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit? A couple of other ladies in my church had seen a manifestation of a whirlwind a couple of days before, so what I saw may be related to something that is going to happen in my church, or possibly within the prayer ministry, since all of us are members. Or… was it a sign? I have been asking for God to give me a gigantic blessing; the ability, apparently possessed by pastor JO, to NEVER argue. How is it possible for anyone who isn’t alone on a desert island to never argue? How is it possible for someone with a spouse, children, and ministry, and a gigantic ministry-based business, with all the stress and struggles and difficulties and obstacles that that implies, to NEVER argue? I don’t know, but I don’t have to know; God did it for him, and therefore He could also do it for ME. I have claimed that blessing for myself, and asked God to do it again, to do it for me… and I think progress has been made. There was a recent major event that I was part of where there was a catastrophic screwup by someone close to me who had a pivotal part to play… And I never moved the slightest bit out of perfect peace at any time. It was so extraordinary that he, who is legendary for never noticing things, noticed and thanked me; my immediate response was to say that he should thank the Holy Spirit. HAVE I been fully given the ability to never argue again? Time will tell.

Much more important is: the Holy Spirit is REAL. He can be heard, felt, and SEEN. He is not a thing, he is not a senseless force, he is an individual, a “person” if you will, and he is God. He loves us, he looks out for us, he guides us, and he can choose to manifest himself to us if he wishes. If you want to know him better, and if you’re on this blog you probably do, and if you want greater interactions with him, which you probably also do, I’m going to bet that total devotion to God is the place to start. I spend countless hours every week praying, studying the Bible, doing church stuff, and of course on my online “ministry,” working on this blog. I keep a gratitude journal, I taped up Bible verses all over the house so that I have scripture going into my brain all day long, and every moment of my life is focused on God and what He wants me to do. That sounds like a gargantuan amount of work, and it IS, but look at the reward!! Give God your all; He’ll give you amazing things in return.

Faithful in the Routine

from JO’s sermon tonight:

there are times in life where we feel like we’re going in circles, doing the right thing but not making much progress, we don’t see anything changing. it’s easy to lose our passion, and get discouraged. but one test that we all have to pass is being faithful when nothing new is happening. it’s easy to be our best when we’re getting good breaks, things are falling into place; that doesn’t take much faith. what about when you’re working hard and not getting the credit? you’re being your best, but your marriage isn’t improving, honoring God, but not seeing increase? will you trust Him when it feels like you’re going in circles, stay passionate when you’re doing the same thing again and again?

when you’re faithful in the routine, something is happening that you can’t see; your character is being developed, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger, you’re being prepared for where God is taking you. the routineness of life is not exciting, but it is necessary; you won’t become all that you were created to be without being your best when it’s mundane, being excellent, having a good attitude, when it’s just another ordinary day, nothing exciting is happening. you could see it as boring, when is this going to change, but you understand this principle; you’re being prepared. when God can trust you to be faithful in the ordinary, then He’ll take you into the extraordinary; when you’re faithful in average days, then you’ll see exceptional days.

but sometimes, we’re frustrated, because we know that we have more in us, but we’re not seeing it happen; we don’t understand why we’re not making progress. God will always put bigger things in your spirit before they come to pass; you may be dealing with something mediocre, but God is preparing you for something great.

David was anointed to be the king as a young man, then God sent him back to the shepherds’ fields; he had a king’s anointing, yet he was taking care of sheep. your anointing will supersede where you are right now. God called David to rule a nation, but he was doing a menial task, day in and day out, boring, routine, nothing exciting. he could’ve gotten discouraged; “God, why isn’t it happening? You said I’d be the king.” if he had not passed this test of being faithful in the routine, he would’ve never taken the throne.

like David, you may know that you have more in you, you can feel those seeds of greatness, but you’re doing something menial, beneath your training, you’re being overlooked at work, nobody takes your advice, at home, nobody says thank you; be faithful where God has you now, in the routine.

this is where David excelled; out in the shepherds’ fields, he didn’t slack off, show up late, have a sour attitude, thinking, “when I get to where I’m going, then I’ll give it my all, when I take the throne, then I’ll show people what I’m made of.” no, he showed what he was made of when nobody was watching; he understood that he wasn’t working unto people, he was working unto God. he was excellent where God had him, even though he didn’t like it; that’s what led to the throne, all those ordinary days of being his best.

are you being excellent where God has you now? “this isn’t where I want to be; I want a better job, and to own my own house.” here’s the key; you’ll never make it there if you’re not faithful where you are. you won’t see promotion if you’re not being your best where God has you right now.

13 years later, after being faithful in the shepherds’ fields, going through all kinds of unfair situations, David suddenly took the throne. passing the test in ordinary days is what leads to exceptional days; that’s when you’ll see moments of favor, where God thrusts you years ahead. it’s not the big things that hold most people back, it’s the small things: being faithful day in and day out, going to work with a good attitude, sitting in traffic and not complaining, showing up to church week after week. being faithful in the routine is what prepares you for promotion. you may feel like you’re going in circles, not making much progress, but the right attitude is, “I may not like where I am, but God, since You have me here, I know that this is where I’m supposed to be, so I’m going to keep being my best, giving, serving, helping others, right where I am.”

we read about the great heroes of faith in the Bible, and their lives seem very exciting, but most of the time, their lives were routine. there will be more ordinary days than there are exciting days; if you live from big event to big event, waiting for something exciting to keep you encouraged, you’ll be disappointed. learn to enjoy where God has you right now; it may feel like you’re no closer to your dreams than you were years ago, but when you do the ordinary with a good attitude, that’s getting you prepared for the new things that God has in store.

sometimes, the reason that God is not changing the circumstances is that He’s using the circumstances to change us. if you’ll start passing these tests, being patient when it’s taking longer than we’d like, staying in faith when we’re not getting our way, having a smile even when we’re uncomfortable, we’re growing, developing, showing God that we trust Him. like with David, that’s when you’ll not just be anointed for the throne, you’ll take your throne.

Jeremiah 18:6 (ERV)
6 You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” This message is from the Lord.

the clay could say, “I don’t like going in circles; let me off this wheel so I can make progress.” what the clay doesn’t realize is that it is making progress; while it’s going in circles, the potter is forming it. you may feel like you’re spinning today, doing the same thing over and over, not making much progress, but God is making and molding you. when you’re faithful where you are, keep doing the right thing even though you’re not making progress, have a song of praise when you could be complaining, you are rising higher.

when Joshua was leading the Israelites towards the promised land:

Joshua 6:1 (NIV)
6 Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in.

in the natural, there was no way that the Israelites could get past that wall and make it to the promised land.

Joshua 6:2-3 (NIV)
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.

I’m sure Joshua thought, “God, we need to get into the city, and you’re telling us to walk around it, to go in circles?”

for 6 days, they didn’t see anything changing, but on the seventh day:

Joshua 6:15-20 (NIV)
15 On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and… circled the city seven times. 16 The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!… the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

researchers have found that the walls fell in such a way as to create a ramp over the rubble of the walls.

when you’re faithful in the routine, God will make things happen that you couldn’t make happen. you may have been doing the right thing for a long time, you feel like you’re being left out, falling behind, but God is closely watching you; your time is coming. it’s going to happen suddenly, unexpectedly; God has explosive blessings. no obstacle is too big, no wall is too high, no enemy is too powerful; one touch of God’s favor can catapult you years ahead.

Psalm 18:29 (AMPC)
29 For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

why did have God have them march around in circles, when he could’ve brought the wall down when Joshua asked? marching around that city was a test; God wanted to see if they would be faithful in the routine, trust Him when they were going in circles. you’re not always going to understand why something isn’t changing; don’t get caught up in the whys, it is simply a test. keep being faithful where you are, and those walls will come down.

when they were marching around the city:

Joshua 6:10 (NIV)
10 But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout.

God knew that if He didn’t keep them quiet, they would’ve talked themselves out of it; “why are we walking around in circles? Joshua has lost his mind.” if they would’ve gone around the walls with a negative attitude, even though they were doing the right thing, it would not have happened.

when you feel like you’re going in circles, not making much progress, don’t start talking about how it’s never going to happen; do yourself a favor, and zip it up. you can do the right thing with the wrong attitude and miss the blessing. when you go around the wall with a good attitude, that’s passing the test. Like with the Israelites, that obstacle that should’ve stopped you will suddenly come down.

Psalm 110:1 (NIV)
1 … “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”

they will become a steppingstone for you to rise to the next level.

on the surface, it looked like it was the shout that brought the walls down, but the shout without the obedience of walking around the walls would not have had the same effect.

God is a God of justice; He’ll make your wrongs right. you may have gone through some disappointments, situations that you feel like have put you at a disadvantage, but no person can keep you from your destiny, no bad break can stop what God has ordained for you. don’t get discouraged, don’t try to pay people back; the disappointments, bad breaks, betrayals, are all a part of God’s plan. God uses things that we don’t like, that we don’t understand, to push us into our purpose. sometimes, it feels like things are spinning out of control; the truth is, they are spinning in control. God is directing your steps, closing doors, moving the wrong people out. He controls the universe. He won’t allow the spinning unless ultimately it’s going to work to your advantage. the challenge is to trust Him while you’re spinning, when you don’t understand it.

when Moses was born, Pharaoh had put out a decree that all the male babies were to be killed; Moses’ mother hid him for 3 months. like with Moses, sometimes God will hide you; you’ll go through a season where you’re not being noticed, celebrated. you have all these gifts, so much to offer, but you’re being overlooked, ignored. these times when God hides us are times of testing, proving; are you going to keep being your best, even though you’re being overlooked? if you’re not faithful when you’re hidden, how can God trust you to be faithful when you’re out in the open?

Exodus 2:3-10 (CEV)
3 But when she could no longer keep him hidden, she made a basket out of reeds and covered it with tar. She put him in the basket and placed it in the tall grass along the edge of the Nile River… 5 About that time one of the king’s daughters came down to take a bath in the river… 10 And when he was old enough… the king’s daughter, who adopted him.

Moses went from being hidden to being noticed by one of the most influential families of that day.

when you pass the test of being faithful in the routine, there will come a time when God will say, “you can be hidden no longer.” He will cause the right people to see you, celebrate you; you’ll not only be noticed, you’ll be celebrated. you may feel like you’ve been hidden, overlooked, ignored; stay encouraged, God is about to bring you out. His face is going to shine down on you in a new way. you’re not going to have to make it happen; the right people are going to find you, doors are going to open that you couldn’t open, promotion is going to track you down.

John 2:1-7 (NIV)
2 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”… 6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”

6 x 30 = 180 gallons; if the workers took a 3 gallon bucket to the well, that would take as much as 60 trips to get all that water. I can imagine the workers thinking, “why are we doing this? we need wine, why are we carrying water?” they could’ve talked themselves out of it; instead, they kept doing the ordinary, carrying the water, faithful in the routine. it would’ve been easy to have stayed in faith if, when they drew the water out of the well, it immediately turned into wine, but nothing was changing. when God can trust you to be faithful getting water, when everything looks ordinary, then He will take you into the extraordinary. you may be believing for wine, but all you’re seeing is water; be faithful in your water days. don’t be discouraged by what you don’t see; wine is coming. it’s going to happen suddenly; it’s going to be unexpected.

John 2:9-10 (NIV)
9 and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

when you pass this test of being faithful in the routine, God has saved the best for last; what’s in your future is going to be more rewarding, exciting, then anything you’ve imagined. many of you have passed this test, been faithful day in and day out; the walls that have held you back are about to come tumbling down. God is going to take you into the fullness of your destiny.

The Power of the Blood

from JO’s sermon tonight:

in the Old Testament, the only way that they could have forgiveness for sins was to sacrifice an animal; without the shedding of blood, there was no remission for sin. every year, the high priest would go into the holy of holies, the most sacred place in the temple, and offer a sacrifice for his sins and the sins of all the people; it was called the day of atonement. If the sacrifice was acceptable, their sins would not be taken away, they would be covered; they would be good for another year. if everything wasn’t perfect, the sacrifice wouldn’t be acceptable; they wouldn’t have God’s blessing.

God wanted to make a new covenant that would permanently take care of sin, but it would take a special kind of sacrifice; the blood of goats and bulls wasn’t good enough. one day, when John the Baptist was ministering:

John 1:29 (ESV)
29 he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

when Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross:

Hebrews 9:12 (CEB)
12 He entered the holy of holies once for all by his own blood, not by the blood of goats or calves, securing our deliverance for all time.

his blood put an end to the old system of sacrificing again and again, hoping that we would be forgiven. now, we can live with the confidence that all of our sins, past, present and future, have been, not just temporarily atoned for, but washed away; this is the power of the blood.

when Jesus hung on the cross, he took all of our mistakes, failures, weaknesses, all the times we’ve blown it or ever will blow it, and forgave it. God has already forgiven you.

but this sacrifice won’t do you any good if you don’t receive it. if you go around guilty, condemned, trying to pay God back for your mistakes, no, the price has already been paid. receive His mercy, love. every day; “Father, thank You that I am forgiven, redeemed.” the accuser will tell you just the opposite; “God’s not going to forgive you, look what you’ve done, the way you’ve lived, you knew better than that.” it’s easy to believe these lies, go around with a heaviness, no passion for life; do you think that your mistake was too much for the blood that Christ shed? you’ve been redeemed by the sinless, spotless, all-powerful son of the living God; no mistake that you’ve made is too much for this blood. shake off the guilt, quit living condemned, and receive the forgiveness. we are under the new covenant. we no longer have to rely on the blood of bulls and goats; because of the blood that Christ shed, our sins have been permanently taken care of.

2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLT)
19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.

He has blotted them out.

too many people live condemned, always thinking about their past mistakes. they’ve asked God to forgive them every day for years, but they don’t understand; the first time they asked, God forgave them. since God let it go, why don’t you let it go, forgive yourself, and move forward with your life? as long as you’re looking backwards, living in regret, beating yourself up over past mistakes, you will never step into the new things that God has in store. you’ve been redeemed, restored.

Isaiah 44:22 (NASB)
22 “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud
And your sins like a heavy mist.

we all make mistakes, and have times when our lives are clouded by poor choices, but:

Isaiah 43:25 (NIV)
25 “I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.

quit remembering what God has forgotten; when you dwell on the past, relive your mistakes, all it’s doing is causing a new cloud to form. God is for you; the enemy is against you. you get to cast the deciding vote; are you going to believe the lies, live guilty, think you couldn’t be good enough for God to accept you?

Ephesians 1:6 (WE)
6 We have been accepted by God through Jesus Christ

will you receive it, start acting like a child of the most high God? after all that Christ has done for us, the incredible price that he paid on the cross, it doesn’t bring him any honor for us to go around feeling unworthy. let’s do our part and start believing that we are redeemed, forgiven, with an everlasting release from our sins.

for hundreds of years, the Israelites were in slavery. God sent plague after plague on the Egyptians who were holding them, but Pharaoh wouldn’t change his mind. when God commanded the death of every firstborn, the Israelites were given special instructions to protect them:

Exodus 12:5-13 (NIV)
5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats… slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses… 12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals… 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

when you say, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” what you’re doing, in effect, is putting the blood over your door post. when you’ve accepted the sacrifice of Christ’s salvation, that’s a place of protection; no weapon formed against you will prosper. there is a bloodline that the enemy cannot cross. if the blood of an animal could keep them safe in the old days, how much more so the blood of the son of the living God?

I’m not saying that negative things will never happen, you’ll never have a difficulty, that’s not reality, I’m saying that nothing will happen without God’s permission; because of the blood, there’s a hedge around you and your family. you don’t know how many things came against you, but because of the blood, they had to pass over. the forces of darkness are not moved by what family you come from, what church you go to, how many good deeds you do; what they respond to is the blood over your life. all through the day, “Lord, thank You that my children, my finances, my health, my future are covered by Your blood.”

God gives every person a chance; there will be destiny moments where you can make a decision that will set you on a better course to become who you were created to be. in the scripture:

Joshua 2:1-4 (NIV)
2 Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies… they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there…3 So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them.

Joshua 2:14-18 (NIV)
14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.”… [tie] this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and [bring] your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.

Joshua 6:25 (NIV)
25 Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho

the scarlet cord represents the blood; as long as you keep the blood over your life, enemies, sickness, defeat will have to pass you by. you’re protected by the blood.

Genesis 4:8-10 (NIV)
8 … Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.

Cain didn’t realize that the blood still speaks.

when the soldiers crucified Jesus, it looked like his enemies had finally finished him off; they didn’t realize that 2000 years later, his blood would still be speaking. his blood still cries out for mercy, healing, provision, freedom, redemption, salvation, abundance. Jesus not only defeated Satan:

Revelation 1:18 (GW)
18 I was dead, but now I am alive forever. I have the keys of death and hell.

Hebrews 2:14 (NASB)
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil

you may be facing some obstacles, but the good news is, the blood still speaks for you; “you are more than a conqueror, you can do all things through Christ, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.” when we make mistakes, we can live guilty and condemned, or we can let the blood speak for us; “Father, thank You that I am forgiven. I receive your mercy.” when we face an illness, we can accept it as our lot in life, or we can let the blood speak; “Father, thank You that You were wounded for my transgressions; by Your stripes I am healed.” when people come against us, we can get upset, try and pay them back, or we can let the blood speak; “Father, thank You that You’re my vindicator. You said that the trap that the enemy set for me, they would fall in themselves.”

God told Cain:

Genesis 4:11-12 (NIV)
11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.

this is symbolic of what Jesus did for us; when he shed his innocent blood, what the enemy used to be able to do, because the blood has been there, it’s not going to work anymore. things that used to grow in you, addictions, bad habits, a temper, the blood has canceled that out. Instead of accepting things that you know are less than God’s best, why don’t you start saying, “Father, I want to thank You that the blood that Jesus shed has canceled out every negative thing in my life; addiction, depression, spirit of lack. Lord, I want to thank You that I’m free.” when you thank God for the blood, the enemies tremble; the blood reminds them of their defeat, that what they used to be able to do, they cannot do anymore.

Revelation 12:11 (MEV)
11 They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb

keep this blood over your life, children, business, future; if you’ll do this, God promises He will protect you, cause things to pass over you. because the blood is still speaking, every generational curse is being broken, strongholds are coming down, what’s held you back in the past will hold you back no more. victory, breakthroughs, health, restoration, the fullness of your destiny.

High Time

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when we’ve been believing for our dreams to come to pass for a long time, or problems to turn around, and we don’t see anything happening, we’re not making progress, getting good breaks, it’s easy to lose our passion, and not expect things to change. it’s been that way for so long, that we start accepting it; “I’ll never get well, break this addiction, accomplish my goals. I tried, prayed, believed, but it didn’t work out.“ that may have been true in the past, but you are entering into a new season:

Romans 13:11 (NKJV)
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

when God first put the promises in your heart, you were excited, but now it’s been months, maybe years, it hasn’t turned out the way you planned, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen; God is saying, “you are closer now to seeing it come to pass than you’ve ever been.” you’re coming into a high time; that’s when things suddenly change in your favor, blessings chase you down, healing shows up, you meet the right person, break the addiction, God makes things happen that you couldn’t make it happen. to see this high time, you have to wake up out of your sleep; get your passion back, start believing again, expecting things to change, talking like it’s going to happen. you can’t be complacent and step into the fullness of what God has in store.

Romans 13:11 (AMP)
11 … this is a critical time.

this stresses the importance of the season. if you don’t stir your faith up, you can miss the new things that God wants to do. what you’re believing for is not way off in the distance, it’s close, it could happen today. live with this expectancy; there has to be an anticipation in your spirit that today could be your day. the problem with an “it will happen one day” mentality is that you will miss what God wants to do today. God wants to give you favor right here, right now.

Joel 3:9 (NKJV)
9 Wake up the mighty men

you are closer to seeing new levels and explosive blessings than you’ve ever been.

the opposite of high time is low time. some people live with a low time mentality; “I never get any good breaks, my boss doesn’t like me, I’ll never get back in shape.” as long as you have a low time mentality, it will keep you from rising higher. turn it around, get in agreement with God; “Father, thank You that this is my high time; I believe that I’m close to my victory.” you can talk yourself into defeat; instead, “I know that I’m close to my healing, the turnaround, meeting the right person, favor, promotion, stepping up to a new level of my destiny.”

what you’ve been believing for, dreaming about, may not have happened for a long time, now you’re tempted to settle there, and think that it wasn’t meant to be; God is saying that you’re close to your victory. this is not the time to get discouraged; this is the time to stir your faith up. you may not see any sign of it yet. the enemy would love to convince you to go to sleep, quit believing, praying, it’s never going to work out; don’t believe those lies, you are entering into a new season. in this high time, it’s not going to happen the way you thought; God’s not going to do it a traditional way. He’s going to do something unusual; you won’t see it coming. suddenly, your health turns around, you meet the right person, you get the promotion. God is full of surprises. He loves to do things not on a normal timetable, a normal way, but when we don’t expect it, it seems the least likely.

sometimes, when we’re dysfunctional, we like to be around other dysfunctional people so that we feel normal; don’t make the mistake of surrounding yourself with people who feed your dysfunction. as long as you accept your dysfunction, you’re giving it permission to stay. you may have been fighting depression, illnesses, addictions your whole life, but that is not your destiny; don’t be complacent and learn to live with it. get around happy people that lift your spirit, people that have what you want, where being free and victorious is the norm.

John 5:2-6 (NIV)
2 … a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda… 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

that seems like an odd question, but Jesus could see that he had been there for so long that he wasn’t expecting anything to change.

John 5:8 (NIV)
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

was the man going to let what he was expecting, the way it happened in the past, talk him out of it, or was he going to say, “if you say that I can get up, I’m going to get up?” he recognized that this was his high time:

John 5:9 (NIV)
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Jesus didn’t come at the normal time or do it the normal way; the man didn’t see anything different, but suddenly he came into his high time.

no matter how many years you’ve been waiting, it’s not too late. Sarah had a baby when she was 90 years old:

Genesis 17:17 (NIV)
17 Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?”

Genesis 21:1-5 (NLT)
21 The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would… 5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.

what God put in your heart, don’t talk yourself out of it; you are coming into your high time. you weren’t the most qualified, but they skipped over others and chose you; God showed up in the “wrong season.” the doctors said you aren’t going to get better, just live with it, but God healed you. God is going to surprise you and make happen what you couldn’t make happen, out of season, out of time, not the traditional way; it’s going to happen sooner than you think.

in the scripture, there was a famine in Samaria:

2 Kings 6:24-25 (NIV)
24 … Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in the city

the prophet Elisha showed up and said:

2 Kings 7:1 (NIV)
7 Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

there was no reason in the natural for the people to believe what Elisha said; it may be the same for you right now. but just because you don’t see a way, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a way. it’s easy to be discouraged, negative, let circumstances talk you out of it; that doesn’t take any faith. but when it seems impossible, that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “all the odds may be against me, but God, I know that You are for me. I believe that things are changing in my favor.”

2 Kings 7:3-16 (NIV)
3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other… let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans… the Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!” 7 So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives. 8 The men who had leprosy… 9 Then they said to each other… Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”… 16 Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of the finest flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as the Lord had said.

it happened 24 hours after Elisha said it; it had seemed impossible, no way in the natural, but we serve a supernatural God. He has some “by this time tomorrows” for you. when it looks the most unlikely, get ready for the most high God to show up and surprise you. yes, there are seasons of waiting, being faithful, doing the right thing when it’s hard, but at some point, that season of testing is going to come to an end. like the Israelites, you may feel like you’re in a famine, surrounded by difficulties; if you ever wanted to doubt, be discouraged, talk yourself out of it, it would be now. stay awake; God has some suddenlies in store for you. you are closer to your freedom, abundance, breakthrough, than you realize. keep expectancy in your spirit. those things that have held you back in the past, that is not your destiny, that is not how your story ends. don’t let negative circumstances convince you to settle where you are.

Jesus said:

John 4:35 (NIRV)
35 You say, ‘It’s still four months until harvest time.’ But I tell you, open your eyes! Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest right now.

notice the principle; now is the time to believe, to release your faith. what you’re hoping for is closer than you think. you’re in your high time.

many times, we know that there’s more in us, we’re supposed to rise higher, we can feel seeds of greatness, but we’re not making progress; as you keep honoring God, being your best, thanking God for the victory, suddenly, you’re going to take off, and go further than you ever imagined. don’t get discouraged because it hasn’t happened yet; keep honoring God, being faithful, hoping, praying, believing.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles

God has some wings for you. when this says to wait, that doesn’t mean to be passive, sit back, “God, why aren’t You doing anything? nothing’s working out.”

Isaiah 40:31 (AMP)
31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]

wait knowing that it’s on the way; “I’m close to my healing, breakthrough, promotion.” don’t drag around disappointed, focusing on how long it’s taking, how it’s never going to work out; that’s a low time mentality. you have to come over into high time. quit believing those lies that it’s way off in the distance; you’re closer than you think. because you’re honoring God, you’re about to see what you’re believing for; it’s going to be better than you thought, and it’s going to happen sooner than you expected.

I really need your prayers

Unfortunately, I have just been dealt a devastating blow, striking right at the heart of the restoration that I have been receiving. I know you don’t know the details, but GOD knows; please pray for me to have wisdom, strength, and peace as I deal with this situation, pray that the other person involved has a rapid and radical change of heart, and that restoration is restored as soon as possible. Thank you, and God bless!!