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Your destiny is calling

from JO’s sermon tonight:

in the scripture, God called Abraham:

Genesis 17:5 (NKJV)
5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.

at that time, he didn’t have any children; he and his wife Sarah were too old to have kids. it looked like God made a mistake. Abraham could have thought, “God, what do You mean? I’m not a father of many nations; I’m childless, my wife is barren.” here’s the principle; God calls you what you are before you become it. people call you what you are after it happens; God calls you what you are before it happens. when God rejected Saul as the king of Israel, He told Samuel:

Acts 13:22 (NIV)
22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart

what’s interesting is that David wasn’t a man, he was a teenager; he was out taking care of his father’s sheep. he was a boy, but God called him what he would become. in the same way, God calls you blessed, successful, strong, healthy, talented. that may not all be true right now; you could say, like Abraham, “God, what do you mean? I’m not blessed, I’m struggling in my finances. I’m not healthy, I’m dealing with this illness.” don’t worry; it’s on the way. God calls things that are not as if they already were:

Romans 4:17 (NIV)
17 … God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not

Romans 4:17 (AMPC)
17 … God in Whom he believed, Who gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed.

there are promises that God has spoken over you, dreams and goals that He’s placed in your heart; you didn’t come up with them on your own. those aren’t just your ideas; God put them there. the scripture talks about:

Psalm 37:4 (AMPC)
4 … secret petitions of your heart

that means the things you’re dreaming about. you haven’t told anyone, it seems too big, too far out; that’s your destiny calling. that’s God telling you what you can become. you may not see how it can happen, every circumstance may say, “you don’t have the talent, you don’t come from the right family, you tried last time, it didn’t work out.” don’t talk yourself out of it. God has spoken it, He controls the universe; all He’s looking for is someone who will agree with Him, someone who will rise up in faith, and say, “yes, I can hear my destiny calling. I may not see a way, but God, I know you have a way; if you speak it, I believe I can become it.” human nature says, “when I see it, I’ll believe it.” faith says, “I’ll believe it, then I’ll see it.”

God will speak things over you that don’t seem logical: when you’re sick, the medical report says you won’t get well, God says just the opposite; He calls you healthy, whole, strong. when the odds are against you, don’t have the connections, resources, experience, God calls you successful, prosperous, the head and not the tail. when you’re struggling with an addiction, everybody in your family has had it, if you’ll listen, you’ll hear your destiny saying, “you’re free. this addiction is temporary. the buck stops with you.” God doesn’t call you what you are; He calls you what you can become. people can’t see what God sees in you. God sees your potential; He knows what you’re capable of. He’s the one that breathed life into you. don’t let people talk you out of it. don’t let family members convince you that you don’t have what it takes; they’re calling you what you are, God is calling you what you can become. they can’t hear what you hear.

don’t expect people to cheer you on. don’t count on your friends to keep you encouraged; they may not be for you. they may think you’re far out, and try to talk you out of it. don’t worry; you don’t have to have other people. when you hear your destiny calling, that’s between you and God. some things, you have to go alone; you have to say, “God, they may not be for me, but I know You are for me. You put this promise in my heart. I’m not going to be moved by who’s not cheering me on, I’m not going to give up because nobody’s encouraging me, I know You being for me is more than enough to get me to where I’m supposed to be.” you and God are a majority. that promise is not dependent on your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, your boss, the critics, the naysayers; it’s dependent on you. when you’re tempted to get discouraged, to settle for mediocrity, you have to dig your heels in, and say, “I don’t think so; I am in it to win it.” keep pressing forward, honoring God; your destiny is calling.

in Luke 1:

Luke 1:5-18 (NIV)
5 … priest named Zechariah… 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old… 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him… 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John… 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

he was saying, in effect, “I can hear my destiny calling, but I don’t see how it could happen; we’re too old.” God was telling him what he could become, but because he had been childless for so many years, he couldn’t conceive of it. when you’ve been a certain way for a long time, you’ve prayed and believed and it hasn’t happened, it’s easy to settle for who you are, instead of believing for who you can become. too often, we get comfortable with mediocrity; that may be who you are, but you don’t have to stay that way. God is telling you what you can become. freedom, wholeness, breakthroughs are in your future.

maybe you’ve been single a long time; you don’t think you’ll ever meet the right person. that is not the end, that’s a season; God has already lined up a divine connection for you, somebody better than you can imagine. perhaps you feel stuck in your career, you can’t seem to get a good break. that’s not permanent, it’s only temporary; there is a promotion in your future, new levels up ahead. don’t do like Zechariah, “this is too good to be true, I don’t see how”; let the seed take root, that’s your destiny calling. Zechariah said to the angel:

Luke 1:18-20 (NIV)
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

what was that? God knew that if he went around saying, “it’s never going to happen. this angel told us we’re going to have a baby; we’re too old,” the promise never would’ve come to pass. you can talk yourself out of your victory. when you hear your destiny calling, you may not see how it could happen, but don’t start talking about how it’s not going to work out; do yourself a favor, and zip it up. it may seem unlikely, the medical report says no way, the child is off course, but if Gabriel were standing here today, he would say the same thing to you that he said to Zechariah; “I stand in the presence of Almighty God; what He promised you will come to pass.” if you will stay in faith, all of the forces of darkness cannot keep it from happening. God will open doors that no man can shut. He’ll turn situations around that look impossible. when there are obstacles trying to stop you:

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

that means, if you can’t get through it, God will cause you to go over it. bottom line: God will get you to where you’re supposed to be. people, bad breaks, sickness can’t stop you; God has the final say. we’re not supposed to get stuck at one level; be grateful for where you are, thank God for what He’s done, but keep your faith stirred up. God wants to take you from glory to glory, victory to victory. there are new mountains for you to climb. He’s going to open new doors, give you greater influence, bring gifts and talents out in a new way. this is where you are, but God is saying, “you can become something greater.”

Luke 1:57-61 (NIV)
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”

back in those days, it wasn’t good enough for the mother to name the baby; women didn’t have the authority and influence that they have today.

Luke 1:62-64 (NIV)
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.

friends and family came up with what they thought the best name for the child was; sometimes, well-meaning people will try to name your baby. We all have “theys” in our life. we should listen to counsel, take advice, but you cannot let other people name your baby. don’t let somebody else name your future; you know what God put in your heart. you can’t please people all the time and please God all the time. sometimes, people will name you something that you’re not: average, not talented, addicted, too short, too tall. don’t let them put limitations on you, and convince you that you can’t accomplish your dreams. sometimes, because of their own issues that they’re not dealing with, their own insecurities, they’ll try to keep you down so they don’t look so bad. you may have to disappoint a few people in order to fulfill your purpose.

life is too short to hang around people who are not making you better, pushing you forward. you don’t have time to waste on people who are causing you to compromise, draining your energy, getting you off course, negative, critical, bitter, jealous people. your destiny is calling. you have an assignment to fulfill. “what if I hurt their feelings?” what if you miss your destiny? what if you don’t become all that you were created to be? who’s naming your baby?

it’s interesting how, back then, the mother couldn’t name the child, so they had to look at Zachariah, the father, and ask him what the baby’s name was. the principle is, let your heavenly Father name your future. that’s why we say at every service, “I am who God says I am.” we’re saying, in effect, “I’m not who people, my circumstances, my past, my mistakes say I am, I am who the most high God, the Creator of the universe, the One who spoke worlds into existence, says I am. people may tell you, “you’re addicted, you’ll never get on the right course”; the good news is, they can’t name your future. God says, “you are free, clean, whole.” you may not be there yet, but God’s telling you what you can become.

your past may tell you, “you’re washed up, you’ve made too many mistakes, you’re a failure,” but your heavenly Father says, “you are forgiven, redeemed, restored. My mercy is bigger than any mistake.” the critics, naysayers, haters, may tell you, “you’re not valuable, attractive, you don’t have anything to offer.” don’t believe those lies; they don’t have the authority to name your future. your heavenly Father says, ”you are one-of-a-kind, you’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” He named you a masterpiece, a prized possession. He’s crowned you with favor. you have royal blood flowing through your veins. He’s created you to reign in life as a king/queen. make sure your heavenly Father is naming your future.

when God gave Abraham the promise that his wife Sarah was going to have a baby, she was 70 years old; it didn’t seem possible. in fact, when Abraham told Sarah, the scripture says:

Genesis 18:12 (HCSB)
12 So she laughed to herself: “After I have become shriveled up and my lord is old, will I have delight?”

she had been barren for so many years, they had prayed and believed; everybody else was having babies, but Sarah couldn’t have one. now, when she heard this promise, that after all these years, when it defied the laws of nature, that she was going to have a baby, that was so far out that it was funny to her. sometimes, God will put a promise in our heart that’s difficult to believe; instead of latching on to it, too often we do like Sarah, and think, “that’s never going to happen for me: I’ll never get out of debt, be able to pay my house off, have the funds to build that orphanage I’m dreaming about. I’ll never be free from this depression, I’ve had it my whole life.” this is the way Sarah felt. God did something interesting:

Genesis 17:15 (HCSB)
15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai, for Sarah will be her name.

Sarah means “princess.” if anybody didn’t feel like a princess, it would’ve been Sarah. I can imagine she felt inadequate, unattractive, left out; life hadn’t treated her fairly. God knew that He had to change her mindset; her destiny was calling, but she had been through so much, she couldn’t hear it any longer. now, every time someone said, “good morning, Sarah,” they were saying, “good morning, princess.” “how are you Sarah?” “how are you princess?” over and over, she heard that word, “princess”; something began to come alive on the inside. she started carrying herself differently. instead of discounting the promise, now I can hear her telling people, “I’m going to have a baby. God’s going to do something special in my life.” she let the seed take root. at the age of 90, against all odds:

Genesis 21:2 (HCSB)
2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time God had told him.

the promise that God put in you may seem far out; it’s taking a long time, you tried, and it didn’t work, but God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. what He started in your life, He’s going to finish. there’s no problem too big, no dream too great; God is not limited by your age, income, background, nationality, medical report. He has all power. when He speaks, worlds come into existence. He wouldn’t have given you that promise if He didn’t know how to bring it to pass. why don’t you shake off doubt, negativity, and get a fresh new vision for your life? God is calling you into new levels: freedom, health, abundance, victory. if you’ll get in agreement with Him, He’ll take you places that you’ve never dreamed. He’ll make things happen that you could never make happen on your own. if you could do it on your own, it wouldn’t take faith.

God will put things in your heart that seem beyond your talent, ability, reach. God will use people to speak life into your destiny. I believe He’s using me now to let you know that you have seeds of greatness, you haven’t seen your best days, you have what it takes to accomplish your dreams. that obstacle cannot stop you. that sickness is not going to defeat you. you haven’t made too many mistakes, missed too many opportunities; your future will be brighter than your past.

now do your part, and stir your faith back up. don’t let disappointments talk you out of it. don’t let what somebody did cause you to live bitter and give up on your dreams; God has beauty for those ashes. He said that He would pay you back double for the unfair situations. nothing that’s happened to you can keep you from your destiny. there are new levels, friendships, opportunities up ahead. don’t let a bad break name your future. don’t let the disadvantage convince you to settle for mediocrity. God put greatness in you. He created you to leave your mark on this generation. you’re supposed to set a new standard for your family. you may have had some setbacks, but the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. the most high God is breathing in your direction.

in the scripture, God called Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:5-6 (NIV)
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

God was saying, “Jeremiah, before you showed up on this earth, I already knew everything about you. I knew every weakness you would have, every shortcoming, every person that would do you wrong, every bad break. I’ve already calculated all that into My plan for your life.” like Jeremiah, it’s easy to come up with excuses: “God, I don’t have a good personality. I still struggle with my temper. God, these people did me wrong. I didn’t have a good childhood. my boss plays favorites.” God has already taken that into account; it doesn’t have to stop you. God went on to tell Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:7 (NIV)
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’

Jeremiah 1:7 (KJV)
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child

if you’re going to reach the fullness of your destiny, you have to get rid of the say-nots. say not, “this problem is too big,” “I’ll never get well,” “I don’t have the talent,” “I’ve had too many disadvantages,” “I have too many weaknesses,” “I’ve gone as far as I can.” before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God equipped and empowered you. you are not lacking. you didn’t get shortchanged. you are well able. don’t let the say-nots keep you from your destiny. get your mind, words, vision going in the right direction. you are who God says you are. He says you are strong, healthy, forgiven, redeemed, successful. you may not be all that yet; you have to believe it first, and then you’ll become it. if you’ll do this, you are about to rise to a new level, overcome every obstacle, accomplish every dream, and become everything God’s created you to be.

God = LOVE, not hate

(No new sermon this week.)

I shouldn’t have to say this, but it’s sadly apparent that some people still don’t get it. God is love. LOVE. How many times does it say in the Bible that we should love people? Not that we should love everyone EXCEPT people in a certain category; EVERYONE. We are supposed to love EVERYONE. I am at a loss as to why some Christians simply do not understand this; Jesus said it often enough.

Jesus did not say to love everyone EXCEPT Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or people of any other religion

Jesus did not say to love everyone EXCEPT people who live in Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other part of the world. 

Jesus did not say to love everyone EXCEPT people of a different color, or from a different part of the country, or in a different political party, or who don’t subscribe to the same flavor of Christianity that you do.

This one is harder: Jesus did not say to love everyone EXCEPT wrongdoers, criminals… or even the worst sort of criminals. God loves every single person, and never stops hoping that every single person will choose to live a righteous life and be full of faith. We need to be the same way. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. 

This one is probably the hardest of all: Jesus did not say to love everyone EXCEPT people who have hurt you. It doesn’t matter what harm someone does to you, you have to forgive them and love them. ALL of them. No exceptions. You can read the Bible 100 times, in fact I highly recommend it, and you will never find where Jesus said that there was one single exception to loving everyone because somebody hurt you. 

It can be a challenge to love people who are different, who are evil, who have done harm… but we all have to do it. If you’re struggling with this, ask God for help; He will give it to you. As with all other areas of obedience to God, this one brings blessings when you have mastered it; don’t do it for that, though, do it because it will please God… what could be better than that?

*** HALF A MILLION HITS ***

Yes, it’s true; the blog that I used to check once a week to see if I had gotten *A* hit, the blog that took over 10 MONTHS to get its first 100 hits, has now gone over 500,000 hits!! My entire second YEAR, I didn’t get much beyond 5 HUNDRED hits, and now I’m up to 500 THOUSAND hits. 

I’ve worked hard, if I told you how many hours I invested in the average post you just wouldn’t believe me, but that has only been a small part of it; God has simply blessed me. I’ve done nothing to promote this blog, but a steady stream of people come here and find something that helps them, something that they need. Again, that’s all God’s doing; I post what He tells me to, and He brings the people. 

Thanks for being part of what I guess at this point you’d have to call my ministry!!

If you have received something of value here, could you please do me a favor? The restoration that I’ve been waiting years for has gotten close enough to almost touch; please pray that it happens very soon. I know that you don’t know any details, but you don’t need to; God knows.

Sing to the promise

from JO’s sermon tonight:

all of us have things we’re believing for, dreams we want to accomplish, problems we’re hoping will turn around. we know God put the promise in our heart, but don’t see how it can happen. maybe the medical report is not good, a child is off course, we don’t have the funds we need; it doesn’t seem possible. this is the way the Israelites felt; they were in the desert, it was hot, they were tired and thirsty, but all they could see was more sand, rocks, barrenness. and just when they thought they were done, they came to this place where there was an old well. I can imagine they were excited, thinking, “finally, we’re going to get some water.” they rushed over to it, but the well was dry. they looked down it, and they could see that it hadn’t been used in years; it was filled with dirt, rocks, all kinds of debris. it was another disappointment, but:

Numbers 21:16 (NIV)
16 … Beer, the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”

God gave them the promise; “water is coming in the desert, things are about to turn around, I’m going to do something out of the ordinary.” but the promise didn’t automatically come to pass. it didn’t happen just because God said it; there was something the Israelites had to do. the scripture says:

Numbers 21:17 (NIV)
17 Then Israel sang this song:
“Spring up, O well!

right in the middle of the desert, when they were discouraged, when it looked impossible, instead of complaining, they started singing, “spring up O well.” they were making a declaration of faith. they were saying, “Lord, thank You that the water is coming, that You’re making streams in the desert, supplying all of our needs.” the verse goes on to say:

Numbers 21:17-18 (NET Bible)
17 … sing to it!
18 The well which the princes dug

that’s the key; you have to sing to the promise. it didn’t look practical in the natural; the well was dried up. every circumstance said, “water is not going to come out of this empty well.” thoughts told them, “you look foolish, you’re wasting your time singing to a well.” they could’ve talked themselves out of it, said, “Moses, we’re not going to sing, we’re hot, we’re thirsty, we’ll sing after we get some water.” instead, they kept singing this phrase over and over, “spring up O well,” thanking God for the promise. and all of a sudden, in the middle of the desert, water began to shoot up out of that dried-up empty well; they saw the promise fulfilled.

there are promises that God has put in you. every circumstance may say, “it’s not going to happen, you’ll never get well, meet the right person, accomplish that dream.” it’s been a long time, you feel like you’re in a drought, but you have to do like them and sing to the promise; your praise, thanksgiving, declarations of faith, is what causes water to flow in the desert. it doesn’t take any faith to sing after the water shows up, it’s easy to sing once the promise is fulfilled, but the singing, praise, is what causes healing, abundance, breakthroughs to spring up.

sometimes, we’re waiting on God, but God is waiting on us. why don’t you start calling out those promises that He’s put in you. if you’re dealing with an illness, instead of complaining, “spring up O healing. Lord, thank You that You’re restoring health back unto me, that the # of my days You will fulfill.” you don’t have the funds you need? “spring up abundance, promotion, opportunity. Father, thank You that I will lend and not borrow, that whatever I touch prospers and succeeds.” you’ve been single a long time, believing for a spouse; “spring up, O good-looking husband.” you’re believing for children; “spring up O offspring. Father, You said my seed would be mighty in the land, that children are a gift from the Lord. Father, thank You that my baby is on the way.” that’s what it means to sing to the promise.

let me encourage you; you and God are a majority. if you’ll stay in faith, sing to the promise, tell it to spring forth, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. God has the final say; when He hears you thanking Him before the answer comes, praising Him while you’re still in a drought, declaring His favor when the odds are against you, He’ll make things happen that you could never make happen, open doors that no man can shut. it’s easy to complain about how it’s not going to work out, talk about how impossible it is; that’s going to cause you to get stuck where you are, live discouraged, settle for mediocrity. why don’t you start singing to the promise?

there are goals that God has put in you, dreams, healing, promotion, restoration; they’re lying dormant. you may not see how it can happen; you haven’t had the breaks that you need, you could easily settle there and think that it wasn’t meant to be. those promises are still alive. you have to start calling them out: “healing, talent, good relationships, joy, peace, spring up in me.” all through the day, “Lord, thank You that my healing, good breaks, divine connections, the right people, are coming.” you may be sick; you can sing your way to health. you may be discouraged; you can sing your way to joy. you’re stuck in your career; you can sing your way to the next level. “this sounds good, but you don’t know my situation; I got passed over for the big promotion, the medical report says I’m not going to make it, I’ve had this addiction so long, I don’t think I’ll ever break it.” that’s exactly where the Israelites were; they were in the desert, tired, discouraged, but they dared to sing to an empty, dried-up well, to thank God for provision when it looked foolish.

every voice may tell you it’s not going to happen; you have to dig your heels in, and say, “spring up healing, new levels, promotion.” don’t complain about the problem; sing to the promise. thank God that things are changing in your favor, that blessings are chasing you down, that your children will fulfill their destinies, that as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord. when you sing to the promise, don’t complain about the drought, who treated you wrong, live discouraged because the well was dried-up and empty; that doesn’t do anything productive. when the odds are against you, it looks impossible, you’ve had bad breaks, dare to say, “spring up O well. Lord, thank You that You’re opening up new doors, freeing me from this addiction, bringing divine connections across my path.” you have to do this by faith. when the Israelites sang, “spring up O well,” they couldn’t see, taste, feel, or smell water; there was no reason, logically speaking, for them to believe that water was around. if you just go by what you see, feel and think, you’ll talk yourself out of it. that’s why the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

if the Israelites would’ve looked at it in the natural, instead of singing, “spring up O well,” they would’ve sang, “this old well is empty, dried up.” in difficult times, you’re going to be saying something; you’re either going to be singing about the problem, or singing to the promise. either talking about how big your challenge is, or talking about how big your God is. either saying, “I’ll never get out of this drought,” or “this drought is only temporary; I know water is on the way. spring up O well: victory, abundance, healing, favor.” the scripture says:

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

God is not limited by the natural; He’s limited by what we believe. when you start singing to the promise, believing that He can make streams in the desert, thanking Him for what He’s put in your heart, God will show out in your life in ways greater than you’ve ever imagined. but too often, we think, “I’ll wait until I see the water, the promise, then I’ll sing, have a good attitude”; that’s backwards. you have to sing first. Isaiah put it this way:

Isaiah 54:1 (CEB)
54 Sing, barren woman who has borne no child;
break forth into singing

he didn’t say, “sing because God gave you the baby, you saw the problem turned around”; this text was written to women who were barren. back in the Bible days, if a woman didn’t give her husband a child, she was looked down on; they lived with a sense of shame. that’s why you read about people like Hannah; she was so distressed that she couldn’t have a baby, she went to the altar again and again, wept and wept.

1 Samuel 1:10-13 (NIV)
10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly… 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk

Isaiah wasn’t writing to people that had their children; he was writing to people who were barren, waiting for the promise, believing for their healing, hoping to meet the right person, praying that the business will turn around. what are you supposed to do when you’re barren? beg God to help you, complain about how long it’s taking, live discouraged because life hasn’t dealt you a fair hand? no, Isaiah said, “sing when you’re barren, break forth into song.” here’s the principle; praise is the birth position, thanking God is what causes promises to come to pass. complaining will keep your baby in the womb. focusing on negative circumstances will keep you barren. but when you switch over into praise, you say, “Lord, thank You for Your goodness and favor in my life. I know You haven’t brought me this far to leave me, so thank You for new levels, breakthroughs, that I will become everything that You created me to be.” that’s not just being grateful, that’s getting into the birth position; you continue to do that, living a life of praise, then you will give birth to everything that God’s placed in your heart.

but when we’re barren, it’s easy to live discouraged, go around feeling sorry for ourselves. when you start thanking God that things are changing in your favor, I can imagine God saying to the angels, “what’s that sound I’m hearing? most people would be negative, worried, complaining, but listen to what they’re saying; they’re thanking Me that the answer is on the way, singing about the victory before they see the victory. angels, go to work: restore their health, open up new doors, bring that dream to pass.”

the Psalmist said:

Psalm 22:3 (GNV)
3 But thou art holy, and dost inhabit the praises of Israel.

if you want God to show up, don’t complain, don’t talk about the problem; sing to the promise, thank Him that it’s on the way. the promise that God put in you is like a seed; it has to be watered. the way that you water that seed is through your praise, by thanking God that it’s coming, living with expectancy. the reason that some people stay barren, don’t see the promise fulfilled, is that they’ve stopped watering their seed. they were excited at first. they believed that they were going to reach their dreams, break the addiction, meet the right person. but over time, when they didn’t see it happening, they got discouraged.

if you plant an apple seed and don’t water it, it’s not going to grow. there’s nothing wrong with the seed; the seed is still full of life, potential, it just needs to be watered. in the same way, the seed that God put in you may not have come to pass yet, but the good news is, it’s still alive. you may have to water it for another month, a year, or 20 years, but if you’ll keep watering that seed, thanking God for the promise, at the appointed time, it will come to pass. God can bring water out of an empty well, make streams in the desert; learn to sing to the promise. thank Him that it’s on the way. under your breath, make declarations of faith: “healing, baby, promotion, spring up.” if you’ll live with this expectancy, always watering your seed with praise, God will make things happen that looked impossible.

The people of Judah were going to battle an enemy army:

2 Kings 3:9 (NIV)
9 … After a roundabout march of seven days, the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them.

it looked like they would be an easy target for the enemy, but:

2 Kings 3:11-17 (NIV)
11 … An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat is here… 13 Elisha said to the king of Israel.. 17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water

he was saying, “it’s not going to happen a natural, ordinary way, it’s going to happen supernaturally.”

2 Kings 3:20 (NIV)
20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.

they went on to defeat the enemy army.

every time you thank God that the promise is coming, you’re preparing to be blessed. the medical report may say that you’ll never get well, but you go around saying, “Father, thank You that with long life You satisfy me, that I will live and not die.” thoughts will tell you, “why are you doing that? don’t you know that there’re no clouds in the sky, that it doesn’t rain in this valley?” don’t worry; it’s not going to happen a natural way, it’s going to be supernatural. out of nowhere, your health shows up, you meet the right person, your business takes off, suddenly you’re out of debt. when you sing to the promise, you’re making preparations for God to do what you cannot do. He said that He would give you water without rain; that means that God can promote you even though you don’t have the qualifications, experience. God can heal you without the treatment, even though medically speaking they said it was over. God can promote you beyond your salary, education, He’s not limited by your job, income; He owns it all.

when you say, “Father, thank You that my children make good decisions, they will fulfill their destinies,” there may be no sign of it at the time. if somebody heard you, they could say, “what are you talking about? your children don’t make good decisions; they’re off course, they’re always in trouble.” don’t be moved by what you see; be moved by what you know. we know that because we’re praisers, we sing to the promise, because our declaration is, “spring up salvation in our children,” it’s just a matter of time before the water shows up. we know that the breakthrough is on the way. God is saying, “if you’ll do your part and sing the promise, I’ll do my part and bring the water, show you favor, open new doors, help you break that addiction.”

you may feel like you’re in one of those valleys where it never gets water; you’ve been in a drought, you haven’t had good breaks, you could easily settle there. this is not the time to get discouraged; this is the time to start declaring, “spring up O well: promotion, healing, favor.” don’t complain about the problem; sing to the promise, thank God that things are changing in your favor, that your best days are still out in front of you. if you’ll do this, the drought is coming to an end; dreams, healing, new opportunities, new relationships, are about to spring up.

Overcoming weariness

from JO’s sermon tonight:

as we go through life, one challenge we all have to face is with weariness; it’s easy to get tired. weary means, to lose your sense of pleasure, to not feel the enjoyment that you should. you can be raising great children, but because you’re weary, you’re not enjoying them. you can have the job of your dreams, you worked hard to get it, but now weariness has set in, and you’re not passionate about it anymore. sometimes, because the battle is taking longer than we thought, we become weary. when the difficulty is lasting longer than expected, we’re working hard but not seeing increase, we’re believing for the baby, but year after year goes by and we’re still not pregnant, weariness will come. if the enemy can’t take you out all at once, his next strategy is to try to wear you down.

many people are suffering from battle fatigue; they’ve been standing a long time, trying to break the addiction, believing for the promotion, praying for that family member, but it hasn’t happened yet. they never dreamed that they’d still be single, dealing with the illness, trying to get the loan; now, they’re tired. Paul said in Galatians:

Galatians 6:9 (RSV)
9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing

God knew that weariness would come, or He wouldn’t tell us to not get weary. He said, “don’t be weary in well-doing”; that means, you’re doing the right thing, but not seeing right results, it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference. let me encourage you; your time is coming. your due season is on the way. don’t let time talk you out of it, discouragement cause you to give up, negative thoughts convince you to settle where you are.

your mind will give you good excuses; “I’m too tired to fight this addiction, believe for my marriage, stretch to the next level; I’ve been doing it so long.” if you dwell on those thoughts, you will allow weariness in; you’ll become more tired, weary, discouraged, negative. weariness cannot automatically come; you have to open the door. when thoughts tell you, “it’s never going to work out, it’s been too long,” just say, “no thanks, I know my time is coming. God is still on the throne, I am strong in the Lord, I’ve been armed with strength for this battle.” the scripture tells us:

Isaiah 27:5 (KJV)
5 let him take hold of my strength

this is what David did. he was doing the right thing, but the wrong thing kept happening to him year after year. his family looked down on him, and treated him like he was second-class. he could’ve been sour, upset; instead, he kept taking care of his father’s sheep, doing it with a good attitude, being a person of excellence. how could he keep standing strong? all through the day, I can hear David under his breath, reminding himself, “don’t get weary in well-doing.” when he was being good to King Saul:

1 Samuel 16:23 (NLT)
23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

1 Samuel 18:10-11 (NLT)
10 … David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

1 Samuel 19:9-10 (NLT)
9 … As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.

David could’ve been frustrated, and thought, “God, what’s the use? I’m doing the right thing, and this man tries to take my life.” instead, he kept telling himself, “David, don’t get weary in well-doing.” he understood this principle; when you give in to weariness, you lose your strength. when you start thinking, “it’s not fair, it’s been so long, it’s never going to work out,” the energy you need to move into your destiny is being drained out.

I’m not asking you to never feel weariness, it will come, I’m asking you to not allow it in. when you’re weary, you won’t have the passion, determination, courage to fight the good fight of faith. don’t let battle fatigue keep you from your victory. don’t let weariness stop your dream from coming to pass. you are closer than you think. when it’s the most difficult, you face the greatest temptation to settle, that means the victory is near; the promotion, healing, breakthrough is about to show up.

the prophet Samuel had anointed David to be the next king when he was a teenager; 13 years had gone by, but there was no sign of it happening. one day, David and 600 of his men:

1 Samuel 30:1-3 (NIV)
1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way. 3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.

it was the worst defeat of David’s life, his darkest hour. the scripture says:

1 Samuel 30:4 (NIV)
4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

David was depressed, discouraged. I’m sure he was tempted to think, “God, this is the final straw. I’ve been doing the right thing for years, I can’t take it anymore; I’m done.” he could have given up, and that would’ve been the end of his story; he never would’ve taken the throne. but when David was tired, when he felt like throwing in the towel, he did something that we all must do; he dug his heels in, and said, “I’ve come too far to stop now.” the scripture says:

1 Samuel 30:6 (MEV)
6 … David encouraged himself in the Lord his God

he made this decision, “I’m not allowing this weariness in; I’m going to stir my faith back up.” while the other men were weeping, discouraged, complaining, I can hear David saying, “I’m strong in the Lord, anointed, well-able. the forces that are for me are greater than the forces that are against me.” you can talk yourself into defeat or victory, weakness or strength. when you speak to yourself the right way, courage, determination, vision come.

every time you say, “this is too hard,” strength is leaving. “I can’t do this anymore”; you’re getting weaker. “I’m so disappointed, I can’t believe this happened”; you’re inviting discouragement. when you say, “I am well able,” you’re inviting strength. “I can do all things through Christ”; you’re inviting favor. you may feel tired, but don’t verbalize it; don’t give life to it by speaking it out. the scripture says:

Joel 3:10 (KJV)
10 … let the weak say, I am strong

it doesn’t say, “let the weak talk about the weakness, let the sick talk about the sickness, let the disappointed talk about the bad break.” no, turn it around; “yes, this is tough, but I’m strong in the Lord. I know that God is fighting my battles. He always causes me to triumph.” that’s what it means to take hold of His strength. Isaiah put it this way:

Isaiah 40:31 (TLB)
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

“wait on the Lord” doesn’t mean to sit back, be passive, idle, “ok, God, I’m tired, worn-out, do Your thing, renew my strength.” that word “wait” in one translation says:

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

waiting is supposed to be active; “Lord, thank You that You’re turning this situation around, that You’re bigger than this cancer, stronger than these opponents. thank You for bringing my dreams to pass.” you won’t soar with the eagles if you’re negative in your thinking. you won’t run and not be weary if you’re focused on your problems, and how impossible it is.

what causes your strength to be renewed is when you live with this expectancy; you have this hope that God is working in your life, this knowing that He’s in control, that He can open doors that no man can shut, that He will get you to where you’re supposed to be. when you get your mind going in the right direction, God will give you rest; you don’t have to go through life weary. nothing that’s happened to you has stopped God’s plan for your life. like with David, it may be taking a long time, you may have had some setbacks, but God is still on the throne; He knows how to get you to your destiny.

David not only stirred himself up, he got his men stirred back up. they went and attacked the enemy:

1 Samuel 30:18 (NIV)
18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken

3 days later, King Saul was killed in a battle:

2 Samuel 1:2-4 (NIV)
2 On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp… 4 “What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”… Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

and soon after that:

2 Samuel 2:4 (NIV)
4 Then the men of Judah came to Hebron, and there they anointed David king over the tribe of Judah.

that was some 13 years after he’d been anointed to be the next king. David was closest to seeing the promise come to pass when he faced his greatest challenge. when it seems like everything is coming against you, it’s taking a long time, now you have this new problem: the medical report wasn’t good, business went down, the situation at work intensified. stay encouraged; that’s a sign that the victory is near, things are about to turn around, the breakthrough is on the way. don’t get weary in well-doing. it may not happen overnight.

you have to do like David, and be in it for the long haul. those 13 years, David waited for the promise; he had to deal with battle fatigue, thoughts told him, “David, it’s never going to happen. you wouldn’t have these challenges if you were going to take the throne.” weariness came knocking at his door again and again. the reason he saw the promised fulfilled was not because he never felt weary, not because he was superhuman, was never tempted to be tired and discouraged; it was because he didn’t allow the weariness in.

when you’ve been in a battle a long time, you have to especially be on guard; it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “I’m tired of standing strong, fighting this illness, believing for my dreams.” when you feel that weariness, instead of giving in, learn to look up, and say, “God, I’m asking You to renew my strength.” when you do, you’ll feel strength coming to you. God will breathe new life back into your spirit.

you may be tired today; you’ve been dealing with a challenge in your health, a relationship, finances, for years. you used to believe that you would overcome, but now you’re worn down, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen. let me encourage you; what God promised, He’s still going to bring to pass. you may have given up, but God has not given up; He has your healing, breakthrough, promotion, the right people. now do your part; get your passion back. start taking hold of His strength. don’t allow that weariness in.

the enemy wouldn’t be fighting you so hard unless he knew that you were close to your victory. he couldn’t take you out, so he’s trying to wear you out, get you weary, discouraged; don’t fall into that trap. all through the day, “Lord, thank You that You’re renewing my strength, that I will soar like the eagles, that I am strong in the Lord.” that battle may be taking a long time, but I believe right now, strength, hope is coming into you. God is filling you with fresh courage, determination, vision. you will run and not be weary, walk and not faint. that’s what happens when you don’t give in to battle fatigue.

you may be in a situation that looks impossible. you could easily let that overwhelm you, but God has given you strength for that battle. quit telling yourself that it’s too much, and start taking hold of His strength. that cancer, legal problem, situation in your finances, is no match for you; it may look like it’s permanent, but it’s just a matter of time before God turns it around. don’t let weariness talk you out of it. it may be taking a long time, but, like with David, the promise is on the way. if you’ll stay in faith, God will not only renew your strength, He’ll renew your health, marriage, business. He’ll make a way where you don’t see a way.

in 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah had just called down fire from heaven and defeated 450 of the false prophets that worshipped the god Baal. they were all killed; it was a great victory in Elijah’s life. but there was a lady that lived there by the name of Jezebel:

1 Kings 19:1-4 (NLT)
19 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life

here’s this incredible man of faith, one of the great heroes in the Bible, he’s seen God bring a child back to life, a few days earlier he outran a chariot, he just called down fire from heaven, a great miracle. now, because one angry woman is after him, he doesn’t want to live. he’s laying under this tree, depressed, discouraged, doesn’t want to go on:

1 Kings 19:5 (NLT)
5 … But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him

the angel woke him up. usually, when an angel shows up in the scripture, it’s to do something supernatural: open prison doors, close the mouths of hungry lions. but this angel did something interesting; he said:

1 Kings 19:5-8 (NLT)
5 … told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

his whole attitude had changed. why was Elijah discouraged, depressed, not wanting to go on? because he was tired, worn-out, hungry. he didn’t need a miracle; he just needed some sleep.

sometimes, when we’re weary, it’s not a spiritual problem, it’s a physical problem. he had just run 24 hours to try to get away from Jezebel; he just needed some rest, a good meal. in other words, the angel didn’t wake him up and say, “be free from your weariness, healed from this depression,” he said:

1 Kings 19:5 (NLT)
5 … told him, “Get up and eat!”

he was saying, “Elijah, take care of yourself; get back in balance.” too often, we’re fighting battles in our mind, no passion, discouraged, not because of the enemy, but because of how we’re taking care of ourselves. you are a 3-part being; physical, spiritual, and emotional. you have to take care of all 3 parts. you can pray 24 hours a day, but you won’t feel well physically; your body needs to be cared for. you can go to the gym, workout 5 hours a day, 7 days a week, but if you’re not taking time for your spiritual and emotional side, you’re not going to be your best.

living balanced is the key. you can’t stay up all night and not get the proper sleep and expect to feel good the next day. you won’t have the passion you need, the creativity, you won’t make good decisions. some people are praying for a miracle; they’re discouraged, they have no energy. but if the angel showed up, he would say the same thing that he said to Elijah; “get some sleep, start eating better, take care of your physical body.” you can’t drink 25 cups of coffee a day, eat sugar all the time, and expect to feel good. I’ve read where one of the causes of depression is simply not getting enough sleep. What am I saying? pay attention to practical things. you can’t go against natural laws and expect God to bless you. your body is the house you live in; the scripture calls it:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
19 … your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God

I’m asking you to take care of your temple. don’t put junk in your temple. your spirit, the real you, cannot live on this earth without your body. we need you here a long time; don’t have your life cut short because you’re not taking care of what God has given you. it’s easy to work all the time, get up early, stay up late, always thinking about the business, what we have to do next, but being a workaholic is doing yourself a disservice; your mind needs a break. your body needs to relax. that’s why in the Old Testament, God required them to take a Sabbath. they didn’t have a choice; one day a week, they couldn’t even pick up a stick, they had to rest. even when God created the universe, on the 7th day, He rested. He didn’t have to, He’s God; He was showing us this principle. David said:

Psalm 23:2 (NKJV)
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters

that wording is interesting; “He makes me lie down.” this implies, if you don’t take care of yourself, if you live overworked, run down, stressed out, you don’t get enough sleep, eat right, eventually that’s going to catch up to you. if you don’t take time to lie down in green pastures, God will make you lie down in green pastures; you’ll probably come to a point where you have to rest. what I’m saying is; don’t wear yourself out to where God has to make you slow down.

too many times, we end up unhealthy, we can’t do what we used to do, not because of the enemy, but because we are not taking care of our temple. you need recreation, to laugh, to have fun; laughter is like a medicine. it releases stress, causes you to have more energy. you will be your most productive, effective, not when you’re working all the time, but when you’re balanced physically, spiritually, and emotionally. if you neglect one area, it will limit what you can accomplish.

a lot of people are good at taking care of the physical and emotional, but they don’t take care of the spiritual; there’s no connection to God. your life will be more rewarding, fulfilling, when you’re in a relationship with your Creator. God breathed his life into you, He knows what your purpose is, what you can accomplish. when you make Him a part of your life, you will go further than you can in just your own ability, talent. the scripture says:

Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)
6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.

His favor on your life will take you where your talent could not take you. if you’re going to reach your highest potential, make your spiritual life a priority. when you get up each morning, take time to thank God for the day; don’t just rush out of the house all stressed out, start the day off with a grateful attitude. all through the day, meditate on His promises, keep your mind filled with thoughts of hope, faith, victory.

friends, you don’t have to go through life weary. maybe today, you need to make an adjustment. a practical thing, like a Elijah, taking better care of yourself. or maybe an adjustment in your attitude, in how you’re seeing things; you’ve been dealing with a challenge for a long time, now you’re suffering from battle fatigue, you don’t think you can go on. this is a new day; God is breathing new life back into your spirit. dare to take hold of His strength. get your passion back. when you feel weak, start declaring, “I am strong.” if you’ll do this, you will run and not be weary, God is renewing your strength so you can soar like the eagles. health, courage, freshness is coming.

God provides a dental miracle

(No new sermon this week.)

There are few things more terrifying than when something goes wrong with your teeth, right? Even people who aren’t terrified of the dentist like I am are very unhappy about it, because everything that goes wrong with your teeth requires those excruciating shots, painful and hideously noisy things going on in your mouth, often days of residual pain in your mouth, and the most painful thing of all… when you see what it’s going to cost you.

God has helped me enormously with my fear of going to the dentist. First, he got me to a man who is probably the best dentist on the planet, who took my fears and concerns seriously, and made a real effort to keep me from freaking out. But as He often does, God had even more in store to help with my dental fears; when my dentist’s son graduated from dental school, he came to work at his father’s practice… and this kid is cute, cute, cute, CUTE… and did I mention CUTE, LOL? He’s also incredibly sweet, and if I was 15 years younger… but I’m not, but it still greatly improves my dental experience to see this extraordinarily attractive young man when I go. 

These things provided a little bit of necessary comfort when I was eating recently, and I felt something strange with one of my molars. What had happened, it turned out, was that the tooth had BROKEN, leaving a long and hideously sharp spike of enamel that immediately started gouging the side of my tongue. As you might imagine, my life was passing before my eyes; a broken tooth means getting a crown, a lengthy and painful procedure requiring 2 dental visits and normally costing upwards of $1000… and I don’t have dental insurance.

So there I was, examining this emptiness where the chunk of my tooth used to be, with my tongue getting cut to ribbons, looking at having this horrific dental procedure… and did I mention that this was late Thursday evening? The dentists’ office normally closes at NOON on Friday, and of course they’re gone over the weekend, so if they couldn’t take me on an emergency basis on Friday, guess what? The thought of what my tongue was going to look like if I had to wait until Monday made me weak in the knees. It was such agony that I literally got a nail file and filed the end of the spike down to make it shorter and less pointy. 

I got in my prayer closet and prayed that one of the 2 dentists would be able to take me on Friday. When I called first thing in the morning, the receptionist assured me that the younger dentist would be able to find a way to see me so that I could get a temporary crown to protect what was left of the tooth, not to mention my tongue, until it could be fixed next week. She had to call him to get specifics, and when she called me back she said that he had some prior plans, but that he would make it back to the office in the early evening to fix me up. That was a great relief. 

Before I went to the dentist, I got in my prayer closet again. I prayed that there would be something they could do other than give me a crown. The back of the molar was not visible without a flashlight being stuck in my mouth, so there was no cosmetic issue, and I didn’t care whether my chewing would still be perfect or not; just please save the tooth and spare me the crown. And then something silly came out of my mouth; I asked that the dentist be able to just file off the spike and not do ANYTHING to fix the tooth. I was sort of embarrassed to hear myself say that, and I followed up by saying please let whatever had to be done be as quick, painless, and inexpensive as possible.

When I got to the dentist’s office, and Dr. Adorable came out… ahhhhhhhhhh. I’m sure it sounds adolescent, but if you could SEE this kid, with those wide blue eyes and those long eyelashes… anyways, I described the situation to him, and he told me that it was very unusual for a tooth to break that way, that normally if a tooth broke and something was gouging the tongue it was because there was a broken filling with a sharp edge, not a spike of enamel like I had. When he looked into my mouth, he immediately exclaimed about how awful the spike was. When he felt it with his finger, and remember they wear those thick gloves, even through the glove he was exclaiming again about how sharp it was. He also verified that my tongue was pretty cut up, of which I was painfully aware.

So he’s looking at it, and tilting his head and looking at it, and then he said one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever heard: that this was very unusual, but that if I had to break my tooth this was the perfect way to do it, because the tooth was not cracked, the dentin was not exposed… And so I did NOT need a crown, and all he needed to do was file off the spike!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For my $, that was about the best news since Jesus was resurrected. I remembered what I had prayed, which had seemed so silly at the time, and which I had not consciously chosen to pray; I believe that this was the Holy Spirit helping me to pray again, getting me to ask for a miracle, which is basically what this was… the dentist made clear that this was NOT A common occurrence.

When he was ready to grind it down the spike, he told me to let him know when it got uncomfortable, so that he could pause. I have an extraordinarily low threshold of pain, but it never got uncomfortable.

When he was done, and seeing me out, I wasn’t sure how the payment was going to be handled, since the clerical staff was gone and the computers were logged out. When I asked him, he said that he wouldn’t charge for such a minor thing!! He interrupted his plans, made a trip back to the office, sat in traffic, spent time assisting me, and used dental equipment… but there was no charge. This kid is really super-sweet, but that’s extraordinary even for him… and that’s the power and favor of God again.

God is good, ALL the time!!

Remember, every time something goes wrong in your life, every time something important is about to happen, every time something crucial is about to be discovered, every time a pivotal decision is about to be made… PRAY. God rewards constant prayer with extraordinary blessings and unprecedented favor; I’m living proof.

Faith for the middle

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to have faith at the start: when that new baby is born, you marry that beautiful girl, start that new business. that’s exciting, there’s adrenaline flowing. it’s easy to have faith at the end, when you can see the finish line, the dream is in sight, you fought the good fight. having faith at the start and faith at the end is no problem; the real challenge is having faith in the middle, when it’s taking longer than you thought, you don’t have the funds, the medical report wasn’t good. that little baby you were so excited about, he was so cute, he couldn’t do any wrong; now, he’s a teenager, and you’re convinced he’s not your child, you’re having his DNA tested next week. 

the mistake we make is that we get discouraged in the middle. we think, “God, I know you gave me this child, but he’s making my life miserable.” “God, You brought this spouse into my life, but there’s conflict.” “God, You blessed me with this business, but I don’t have the funds I need to run it.” in the middle is where most people lose the battle. but God never promised that we would reach our destiny without opposition, disappointments, things we don’t understand. the scripture says:

1 Peter 4:12 (NKJV)

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you

that means, don’t be upset because that person did you wrong, don’t start worrying because business went down; God is still on the throne. nothing that’s happened to you has stopped His plan for your life. He’s not in the heavens scratching His head, thinking, “oh man, that one threw me off, I didn’t see that bad break coming.” what God promised you, He still has every intention of bringing it to pass. 

I know that you can have faith at the start and at the end; my question is, will you have faith in the middle, when it’s not happening the way you thought, when it seems like you’re going backwards, when every voice tells you to give up, “you must’ve heard God wrong; you wouldn’t have this opposition if you were on the right course.” don’t believe those lies; it’s all a part of the process. here’s the key; when God puts a dream in your heart, He’ll show you the end, He gives you the promise, but He won’t show you the middle. if He told us all that was going to come to pass, many times we would talk ourselves out of it. 

in the scripture, an angel appeared to a young teenage girl called Mary. he said:

Luke 1:28-33 (NIV)

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”… 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

God showed her the end; she was going to be the mother of Christ, have honor, be respected and admired for generations to come. I’m sure Mary was excited; she couldn’t believe it was happening. but later, I can hear her saying, “God, You didn’t tell me that having this baby would cause my fiancé to want to call off the engagement, I would have this baby in a manger with smelly animals, I would have to live on the run for 2 years trying to hide my baby from King Herod, my son would be mistreated, mocked, ridiculed, and I’d have to watch him be crucified, die a painful death.” 

what am I saying? God doesn’t give us all the details. what you’re facing may be difficult, you don’t understand it, it doesn’t make sense; this is where your faith has to kick in. are you going to get discouraged, and talk yourself out of it, or are you going to do like Mary, and say, “God, you didn’t tell me that these people would do me wrong, that I’d be dealing with this illness, that business would be slow, but God, I know You’re still on the throne, this is not a surprise to You, it’s a part of the process, so I’m not going to live discouraged, give up on my dreams, I’m going to do like Mary, and have faith for the middle.” 

this is what Joseph did. God gave him a dream that he would rule a nation, that his brothers would bow down before him. God showed him the end, the promise was planted in his heart, but what God didn’t show him was the middle. 

years later, when Joseph was ruling the nation of Egypt, and was one of the most influential people of his day, the dream had come to pass. I can imagine Joseph saying, “God, You told me that I would take the throne, but You didn’t tell me my brothers would be jealous and throw me into a pit. You showed me the kingdom, but You didn’t show me that along the way I’d be sold into slavery, falsely accused, and put in prison for something that I didn’t do.” 

if Joseph were here today, he would tell you, “don’t get discouraged in the middle. don’t give up when life doesn’t make sense.” you know that the promise is in your heart, you know that God told you that you’ll be healthy again, see your family restored, meet the person of your dreams. but every circumstance may say just the opposite; looks like you’re going in the other direction. do like Joseph; keep believing, keep being your best. God has not brought you this far to leave you; He hasn’t failed you in the past, and He’s not going to fail you in the future. don’t get discouraged by the process. 

the start is fun, the end is exciting, but the middle can be messy. in some way, we’re all in the middle, we’re all on a journey. there are things that you’re believing for, you know that God has planted that seed, but over time, it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “it’s never going to happen, there are too many obstacles.” God has you hearing this to breathe new life into your dreams. what He’s promised you is already en route, the process has already been started: the healing, the right people, the breakthrough, the new business, is already on the way. now do your part, and have faith for the middle.

David could have said, “God, You promised me that I would be the king, but You didn’t tell me that I would have to face a giant twice my size, You left that detail out. You didn’t tell me that King Saul would chase me through the desert, and try to kill me. You didn’t tell me that my own son would turn on me, try to take the throne.” when you study the great heroes of faith, one common denominator that you’ll find is that they had faith for the middle. when it looked impossible, the promise seemed a long way off, they kept moving forward, knowing that it was a part of the process. 

sometimes, God leaves out certain details on purpose. there’s a reason that we don’t know all the details; we wouldn’t move into the fullness of our destiny. because, none of us like adversity, we like to be comfortable, but you won’t become all you were created to be without opposition, disappointments, struggles, that cause you to stretch your faith, grow, develop your spiritual muscles. 

when God brought the Israelites out of slavery, they were headed toward the promised land; God showed them the destination, the land flowing with milk and honey. He got them started, but in the middle, God didn’t abandon them. He didn’t say, “I gave you the promise, now you’re on your own, good luck in the middle.” no, all along the way, God supernaturally provided for them, He gave them manna, something like bread, to eat each morning out in the desert. when they wanted meat, God shifted the direction of the winds, and hundreds of thousands of quail came into the camp. when they were thirsty, and couldn’t find a stream, God brought water out a rock. 

He protected them from enemies that were much bigger and more powerful.  when Pharaoh changed his mind, and came chasing after the Israelites, they were at a dead-end at the Red Sea; they had nowhere to go, it looked like they were done. God supernaturally parted the waters, and took them through on dry ground.  again and again, God showed them favor, made things happen that they could never make happen. God was showing us, “I’m not just the God of the start, I’m not just the God of the finish, I’m the God of the middle. I’m the God Who will bring you through the storm, trial, difficulty.” 

when you’re in the middle, God has given you the promise, and like the Israelites, you know your destination, but you’re en route, raising that baby, believing for your healing, running your business. along the way, you’ll face situations like them, where it looks impossible, the odds are against you, the opposition is much stronger. be encouraged; the God of the middle is right there with you. there may be some Red Seas in your path, seems like you’re stuck; the good news is, God knows how to part the waters, make a way. 

you may not have the funds you need to go to college, run your business, but God knows how to shift the direction of the winds, and bring quail into your camp, so to speak. God can still bring water out of a rock; don’t give up in the middle. the scripture says:

Isaiah 43:2 (GNV)

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the floods, that they do not overflow thee.

Isaiah 43:2 (TLB)

2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!

why is that? the God of the middle is with you. it goes on to say:

Isaiah 43:2 (CEV)

2 … When you walk through fire,

you won’t be burned

you may be in the fire, the flood; God is saying, “you’re not staying there; you’re going through it.” and when you’re in the middle, you have to remind yourself; this too shall pass. it’s temporary. now quit giving so much energy to something that’s not going to last. quit wasting time worried about the situation at work, discouraged over the medical report, upset about over what they said; that’s not your destination, you’re only passing through. 

the trouble is not permanent. the sickness, legal situation, loneliness, is just a step along the way. but if you make the mistake of letting it overwhelm you and get discouraged, then you’ll settle there, and let what should’ve been temporary become permanent. this is where many people miss it; they give up in the middle. I’m asking you to keep moving forward. David said it this way:

Psalm 23:4 (KJV)

… I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

he didn’t say, “I stay in the valley,” “I set up camp in the valley,” “I build my house in the valley,” he said, “the valley is not my home.  I don’t settle in the middle, get discouraged by opposition, give up when life doesn’t make sense.” he had faith for the middle. 

when things come against you, you’re tempted to settle, you have to dig your heels in, and say like David, “I know He’s not just the God of the finish, He’s the God of the middle, I’m not going to settle in the valley, get stuck in the middle, I’m going to keep moving forward, knowing that God will get me to where I’m supposed to be.” this is what it says in Psalm 138:

Psalm 138:8 (NLT)

8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life

it doesn’t say that we have to work out our own plan, make it happen in our own strength, be frustrated when it’s not happening the way we thought, no, we can stay in peace, knowing that the Lord, the God Who created the universe, spoke worlds into existence, has promised that He will work out His plan for our lives. 

sometimes, it does feel like we’re going backwards; we know we should be going that way, we’re going just the opposite, but God knows what He’s doing. His ways are better than our ways. right now, He’s behind the scenes in your life, working out His plans. that means, He’s arranging things in your favor, moving the wrong people out of the way, lining up the breaks you need. you may not see anything yet; you have to walk by faith, and not by sight. 

in the middle, Joseph could’ve said, “it’s never going to work out. I’m a slave, in prison, in a foreign land, and you’re telling me I’m going to rule a nation?” what Joseph couldn’t see was that behind the scenes, God was working out the plan for his life. 

in the middle, David could’ve said, “I’ll never take the throne. I’m a shepherd boy, from a low income family. I don’t have the talent, connections, experience.” but God is not dependent on what you don’t have. when He breathed His life into you, He equipped you with everything that you need; what you think you don’t have enough of, the favor of God will make up for it. His anointing on your life will cause you to go further than people that have more talent than you do.

in the middle, Abraham could’ve said, “we’ll never have a baby; that’s impossible, we’re too old.” what he couldn’t see was that behind-the-scenes, God had already ordained a little baby named Isaac that had Abraham and Sarah’s name on him.

you may not see how your dream could come to pass: medically speaking, you won’t get well, it doesn’t look like you’ll ever break that addiction, on your own you’re out of luck. the good news is, you’re not on your own; you’re not doing life by yourself, your heavenly Father, the most high God, is working out His plans for your life. there may be some obstacles that look insurmountable, but God has the final say. when you have faith for the middle, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. He’ll turn situations around that look impossible, take you further than you’ve imagined. 

Paul said in Ephesians: 

Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand

in life, we will all have days of trouble, disappointments, opposition, but the same God that said there will be a day of trouble also said that there will be a day when the trouble comes to an end. you may be in a difficulty right now; be encouraged, it’s temporary. that trouble has an expiration date. God has already set an end to it; you’re in the middle, but at the appointed time, the end will come. that legal situation, it’s just one of those days of trouble that God talked about. instead of being discouraged, keep reminding yourself, this trouble is not permanent, it has an expiration date. just like there’s a day of trouble, God has a day of deliverance, healing, abundance, breakthroughs. 

when you have faith for the middle, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. you may be in one of those days of trouble right now: trouble in your health, relationship, mind. it’s easy to think, “it’s never going to change, I’ll always be depressed, struggle in my finances, with this addiction.”, no, you need to get ready; God is saying, “your day of deliverance is coming. your day of freedom, joy, victory is on the way.

in Mark 4:

Mark 4:35-37 (AMPC)

35 … He said to them, Let us go over to the other side [of the lake]… 37 And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat, so that it was already becoming filled.

Mark 4:38-39 (NIV)

38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

what’s interesting is that Jesus knew there was going to be a storm before they left that night; he’s God, he knows everything. why did he tell them, “let’s go to the other side,” if he knew there was going to be a hurricane, a major storm? because he also knew that storm could not keep them from their destiny. he knew that there would be difficulties in the middle, but when he declares, “we’re going to the other side,” all the forces of darkness cannot stop him; he’s going to make it to the other side. 

in the same way, when God puts a promise in your heart, speaks into your destiny, you don’t have to be moved by the winds, worried by the storms, upset and panicked because there’s a few hurricanes during the journey. God is in control of the universe; what He’s spoken over your life will come to pass. 

the reason Jesus didn’t wake up on his own in the middle of that storm is because he knew the disciples could handle it. if they were all going to die, he would’ve gotten up without them having to wake him up. when we’re in a storm, a lot of times we get all upset and panicked, “God, You’ve got to help me. God, You’ve got to fix this right now.” the reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because He’s ignoring you, not because He’s uninterested, it’s because He knows that you can handle it. 

He wouldn’t have allowed that storm if it was going to sink you. now quit being upset over something you can handle. quit worrying about that situation at work; God is not ignoring you, He knew there’d be a storm before He sent you out. He’s not waking up because He’s growing you up. He’s teaching you to have faith for the middle. 

if He came running every time we had a difficulty, our spiritual muscles would never develop; we would never really trust Him. but when you’re calm despite what comes against you, that’s a sign of maturity, that you have faith for the middle. if God is not turning it around yet, the winds are still blowing, the waves are still rocking the boat, take it as a compliment; that means you can handle it, it’s not too much for you, you have the most powerful Force in the universe breathing in your direction. 

sometimes in life, things don’t work out right. you thought it would be the best part of your life, but you came down with an illness, somebody walked away and broke your heart, the business didn’t make it; you hit one of those days of trouble. every voice will tell you to stop trying, you’re not making a difference, but if you’ll look up through your eyes of faith, you’ll see your heavenly Father nodding His head yes, saying, “keep going, you’re doing good, I’m in control.” 

when you’re in the middle, and things stop working, the key is just keep doing the right thing. you can’t control everything that happens to you; just be your best, and trust God to take care of the rest. He is not just the God of the start, not just the God of the finish, He is the God of the middle. He has you in the palm of His hand. He’s behind-the-scenes right now, working out His plan for your life. 

don’t be discouraged by the process. you may be in the fire, but you’re not staying there; you’re passing through, coming out. if you’ll have faith for the middle, the God of the middle is going to show up and show out in your life. like with the Israelites, He’ll be providing for you, protecting you, and you won’t get stuck in the middle; you will make it into your promised land.