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My first experience of speaking in tongues can be found in my post of that name from March 4.  That first time it happened spontaneously, with no warning; I had asked God to allow me to do it if it was a real thing several weeks before, and had pretty much forgotten about it until it started coming out of my mouth.  I’ve asked a few times since then to let it happen again, and possibly as a result of that, or possibly “just because,” I’ve been doing it a little bit at other prayer meetings, or I guess I should say a little bit that I’m aware of, because I can’t really hear myself praying under my breath because of all the people speaking around me, so I honestly can’t be positive much of the time whether whatever is coming out of my mouth is coherent or not.  It never seemed to last for long, just a line or two, but it was a nice addition to the prayer meetings.

I had an extraordinary experience at prayer meeting today. As we started praying at the beginning, I asked I God to allow me to speak in tongues, but I didn’t think much about it or dwell on it in any way.  When the pastor asked us to walk around and pray, I started doing just that.  As I did, I realized that I had started speaking in tongues. It wasn’t just a line or two this time; it kept going. I pushed myself to speak a little louder, because as always there were a lot of loud people kind of drowning me out (that’s not a complaint, at least not about those who are doing it from genuine fullness of the Spirit rather than from a desire for extra attention), and there was a little bit of strain involved in exerting even that much control, but when I did I could hear more clearly that what was coming out of my mouth was what would’ve sounded to an objective listener like gibberish.  It went on and on, as I walked back and forth and up and down with my eyes wide in amazement.  This lasted TEN MINUTES or more!!  At least a half-dozen times, I tried to get some coherent words out, thanking God, thanking the Holy Spirit, that sort of thing, and each time with a little bit of effort I was able to say a few words, but I was never able to finish a sentence; again, not a complaint, just saying.  

Folks, this is POWERFUL stuff.  I should make clear that there was nothing scary about it, there was no pain or discomfort involved, no confusion, no fogging of my brain, no negative effects at all.  I wasn’t hysterical, having fits on the floor, or anything like that; I was calmly walking around this big meeting room, praying under my breath, and you would have had to have been close enough to me to step on my feet to realize that I was speaking in tongues.  The feeling, though, the feeling of my mouth and jaw moving without my control, the realization that I was filled with the Holy Spirit… it’s indescribable.

I wish I could explain to you how to do this, so you could try it and see for yourself.  All I can suggest is that you ask God to enable you to do it, and get in the habit of praying quietly out loud under circumstances where you will not alarm anyone or feel self-conscious if you start speaking in tongues.  If you know any people who do it, or churches where people do it, I’m sure they will help you if you ask them. I think the most important thing is to actually WANT to have that connection, to be open to it rather than hesitant or afraid. I know some people have a hard time giving up control; I myself do not, which is probably part of why it worked so well for me.  Just keep in mind that God already has complete control over you, should He wish to exercise it, so you’re not actually changing anything by consciously surrendering control, it’s just making sure that you have the right attitude for it to happen naturally.

This is another big step forward for my religious life. I’m so grateful to God for continuing to increase and expand and enrich my existence after my 4 years in the desert, so to speak.

The valley of blessing

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through difficult times in life, and things that we don’t understand.  when we’re in the valley, it’s easy to get discouraged, think that it will never get better.  too often we lose our passion.  but the scripture talks about the Valley of Blessing:

2 Chronicles 20:26 (NLT)

26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. 

(NB:  Technically, the people were blessed BEFORE they went into the valley, not while they were IN the valley.  Being blessed in a valley, in other words at a low point in your life, is a valid idea, but the Bible doesn’t mean it that way.  This is why it’s so important to look things up.)

that seems like a contradiction; we think, “I can’t be in the valley and be blessed; in the valley I’m discouraged.  I’m dealing with a health issue, these people at work won’t treat me right.” we see the valley as being negative; “as soon as I get out of this situation, I’ll have a better attitude.” but God doesn’t always remove the valley; He’ll bless you in the valley. David said:

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV)

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

it doesn’t say, “God will remove all my enemies, eliminate everything that’s bothering me, then prepare the table”;  no, in the midst of the trouble, in the midst of the adversity, He prepares the table. He doesn’t have to deliver you from it, He can deliver you IN it. 

one time, in the scripture, Isaac was in a great famine; nobody’s crops could grow.  the land was dry and hard, no water, but:

Genesis 26:12 (NIV)

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.

God didn’t have to deliver him from the famine; He blessed him in the midst of the famine.  you may be in a valley right now, fighting a battle in your health, your finances, in a legal situation; God knows how to turn that battlefield into your blessing field.  don’t complain about the valley; there’s a blessing in that valley. it wasn’t sent to harm you, it was sent to increase you.  you need to get ready; it’s not going to stay a valley of defeat, it’s about to turn into a valley of victory. what you think is a valley of disappointment, loss, heartache, God is going to turn into a valley of new beginnings, a valley of greater fulfillment. or perhaps you’re in a valley of sickness. you could easily be discouraged, and settle where you are; take heart, it’s only temporary.  it’s going to turn into a valley of health, greater strength.  God has you in the palm of his hand;  He promised, the number of your days He will fulfill. don’t be fooled by the valley; like for Isaac, it’s about to turn into a valley of breakthroughs, abundance, victory. it’s a valley of blessing. 

this is what happened in the scripture to the people of Judah; they were surrounded by 3 major armies who were quickly closing in on them. 

2 Chronicles 20:1 (NIV)

20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.

in the natural, they didn’t have a chance; they were outnumbered 10 to 1. Jehoshaphat the king called everyone together to pray:

2 Chronicles 20:13 (NLT)

13 As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children

you can imagine how worried, how concerned they were;  their lives were on the line. Jehoshaphat looked up to the heavens:

2 Chronicles 20:12 (AMP)

12 O our God…  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

when you’re in the valley, it’s ok to be honest;  “God, I don’t see how I could ever get out. I don’t see how I could get well, how my family could be restored.” that’s fine, but don’t stop there, do like he did; “God, I don’t see a way, but my eyes are upon You. I know You still have a way. I know nothing is too difficult for You.”  after he finished praying:

2 Chronicles 20:14-15 (NIV)

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah…  15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 

you may be facing big enemies today.  God is saying the same thing;  “quit letting it upset you, quit losing your peace; it’s not your battle, it’s the Lord’s battle.” God went on to instruct them:

2 Chronicles 20:16-17 (NLT)

16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.

King Jehoshaphat did something interesting:

2 Chronicles 20:21 (GW)

21 After he had advised the people, he appointed people to sing to the Lord and praise him for the beauty of his holiness. As they went in front of the troops, they sang, “Thank the Lord because his mercy endures forever!”

notice, in the valley, they weren’t complaining, they weren’t saying, “we’ll never get out, this problem’s too big, why does this happen to us?”  no, they were singing praises, talking about the greatness of their God. they were speaking faith into their future. what you’re saying in the valley is extremely important.  if you go around saying, “I’m never going to get out, I’ve got all these problems, I always get these bad breaks,” then you’re going to get stuck.  but when you start talking about how great your God is, how no weapon formed against you will prosper, how this problem didn’t come stay, it came to pass, “I can do all things through Christ, I am more than a conqueror,” when you start talking like that, that’s when God will show up and make things happen that you could never make happen. when these enemy armies heard all the singing, shouting, commotion:

2 Chronicles 20:23-24 (NKJV)

23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

just like God promised; stand still, and He will fight your battles. 

2 Chronicles 20:25-26 (NLT)

25 King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! 26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. 

isn’t it interesting; in the place where they had their greatest battles, their most powerful enemies, God didn’t call that, The Valley of Opposition, The Valley of Struggle, The Valley of Heartache; He called it The Valley of Blessing. when you face tough times, have this new perspective; that is not The Valley of Defeat, that’s The Valley of Victory.  that’s not a valley to hold you back, it’s a valley of promotion. it’s not a valid sickness, it’s a valley of restoration.  maybe like the people of Judah, what you’re facing looks insurmountable: the medical report doesn’t look good, you lost your biggest client, your child won’t do what’s right.  those enemies may look big, but one touch of God’s favor can turn it all around.  don’t get discouraged; God has not brought you this far to leave you. every voice may tell you, “that’s a valley of defeat;  you’re never going to get out, never accomplish your dreams”; the good news is, you don’t have to get out of the valley, God can bless you in the valley. 

the enemy may have meant it for your harm, but he doesn’t have the final say, God does;  He says, “stand still, and I’m going to show you my goodness. stay in faith, and I’m going to turn that battlefield into your blessing field.” what should have defeated you is going to increase you; you’re going to come out better. I love the fact that it took them three days to gather up all the spoils. it would’ve been a great victory if God had just defeated their enemies, spared their lives, but God never brings you out the same; He makes the enemy pay for bringing that trouble into your life. sometimes, we’re just hoping to make it through the valley; “God, help me make it through this dry season at work.”  but God says, “no, I’m going to turn that valley into a valley of abundance.”  there’s a blessing in every valley. David said:

Psalm 23:1-2 (NKJV)

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

we like that part of the passage, but a little later it says:

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

he was saying;  the same God that leads you to the green pastures and the still waters, sometimes will lead you to the valley.  you may not understand it, but if it wasn’t going to work for your good, God would have never allowed it.  when you face tough times, you have to remind yourself;  God would not be leading you to that valley if that’s all there was.  loss, defeat, too bad, you’re done; no, there’s a purpose for that valley, not to hinder you, but to help you.  not to hold you back, but to push you forward. not to weaken you, but to make you stronger. the key is our attitude in the valley. if Jehoshaphat would’ve thought, “God, I’ve served you all these years, I’ve done my best, and now look, these enemies are going to wipe us out, that’s just not right,”  if he’d have been negative, bitter, discouraged, he would’ve never seen this valley of blessing. most likely, he would’ve been captured, or even killed.  Psalms says:

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord

when you encounter a valley, sometimes it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong, it’s because you’re doing something right. God is ready to promote you, but the way He’s going to do it is by taking you through the valley of blessing.  we think, “God, if You’re going to bless me, don’t take me down, take me up. if You want to promote me, don’t let me lose my job.” but God’s ways are not our ways; they are much bigger.  His plan is better than our plan. don’t fight your valleys;  stay encouraged. every closed door, every bad break, everything that didn’t work out, that valley was not a surprise to God.  it’s an opportunity for you to go to a higher level. God is directing your steps when you’re on the mountaintops, and He’s directing your steps even when you’re in the valley.  and I’m not saying to accept defeat, settle for mediocrity, that isn’t God’s plan;  I’m saying, when you go through a valley, and we all do, when a door closes, you get a bad medical report, don’t get bitter, don’t live with a chip on your shoulder; start expecting new doors to open, new opportunities, new friendships. God wouldn’t have led you there if it wasn’t going to work for your good.  there’s a blessing that valley. 

don’t fight your valleys; they’re leading to your greatest victories.  in the valleys, we always gain something; we may not like it, but we gain experience, endurance, our character is being developed.  with every victory comes a new level of confidence, something that you’ll need later on to go to a higher level. the valleys are getting us prepared. God knows what’s in your future. He knows what you’re going to need, when you’re going to need it.  everything happens for a reason. a challenge you face today may not make sense, you may not understand it, but 15 years from now, because it deposited something in you, you’ll be prepared for what you face.  God doesn’t do anything randomly;  He’s specific, detailed.  if the valley wasn’t necessary, you wouldn’t be there.  if that setback, that disappointment, wasn’t going to add anything to your life, God would’ve never allowed it. don’t try to figure out why it happened; that will only confuse you.  just stay in faith, trust God that He knows what’s best, and you can be certain;  everything that comes your way in life, somehow, someway, God is eventually going to work that to your advantage. 

when David was a teenager, he went out to face Goliath in the valley of Elah (NB:  “Elah” is the Aramaic word for “God”).  it wasn’t a coincidence that he was in the valley. we see this principle;  Goliath, of course, was much bigger, stronger, had more experience.  it looked impossible, like David didn’t have a chance, but again we see God turn of valley of defeat into a valley of blessing. 

1 Samuel 17:48-49 (NLT)

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

David didn’t have a sword, so:

1 Samuel 17:51 (NLT)

51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.

David came out of that valley, not only with more experience, more confidence, more respect, but he came out with the sword of Goliath. fast-forward years later;  David was on the run from King Saul. Saul was jealous of David, and trying to kill him.  David had to leave in such a hurry that he didn’t have time to get his sword;  he had no way to protect himself.  he ran to the next city, went to the temple, saw some people that he knew;  he told them he was on assignment for the king:

1 Samuel 21:8-9 (NLT)

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

notice, something that had happened in the valley was now instrumental to David reaching the next level of his destiny. had he not gained the sword in the valley, he would’ve gotten stuck. friends, God has it all figured out; the valley you face today may not be for today, it may be for years down the road. but if you didn’t learn what you needed to learn, gain what you needed to gain, you wouldn’t be prepared for the new levels. don’t complain about the valley; there’s a blessing in that valley.  later on you’re going to use the experience, the confidence.  that sword, so to speak, will be waiting for you. in every valley, you’re gaining something; you may not realize it, but there’s a purpose.  nothing happens by accident; there’s no use getting upset and letting it sour your life. stand still, and you will see the victory.  one day, you will look back and see what God was up to.  you’ll say, “Lord, thank You for that valley; if I hadn’t have learned what I needed to learn, I wouldn’t be prepared.” or, “Lord, thank You for closing that door, or I would never have accomplished my dreams.”

God knows what He’s doing. every valley has a blessing; there’s something to push you forward, something that will be instrumental in you reaching the next level of your destiny. I don’t complain about my valleys anymore. I understand this new perspective; this valley wouldn’t be here unless it was preparing me for something greater, unless I was gaining something that I’m going to need later on. I’ve heard the saying: “trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional.” we’re all going to go through valleys, have things we don’t understand;  trouble is inevitable, but it’s up to us whether or not we get stressed out and let it sour the rest of our life.  when you go through a valley, when you go through things you don’t understand, don’t go around confronting people, don’t let it sour the rest of your life.  remind yourself; that is not going to work against you, it’s going to work for you. one day, you’re going to look back, and say, “what I thought was a valley of defeat, I realize now it was a valley of blessing.”

in 1 Kings 20, the Israelites had just defeated the army of Ben-Hadad on the top of this mountain:

1 Kings 20:23-28 (NLT)

23 After their defeat, Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “The Israelite gods are gods of the hills; that is why they won. But we can beat them easily on the plains… So King Ben-hadad did as they suggested.

26 The following spring he called up the Aramean army and marched out against Israel, this time at Aphek… 28 Then the man of God went to the king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: The Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the hills and not of the plains.’ So I will defeat this vast army for you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

when we’re on the mountain, getting good breaks, seeing favor, we know God is with us;  life is good.  sometimes, when we’re in the valley, we think, “God, where are You? why did this happen to me? will I ever get out of this trouble? will I ever get well?”  be encouraged;  He’s not just the God of the mountains, He’s the God of the valleys.  David said:

Psalm 46:1 (GW)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in times of trouble.

when you’re in the valley, God is not far away; He’s right there with you, a very present help.

Psalm 84:6 (TLB)

6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

on the way to your destiny, there will be some valleys.  you’ll probably shed some tears, have things you don’t understand.  but God doesn’t waste anything; this is saying, God collects every tear that you’ve shed.  He’ll use those same tears to refresh you; they will become pools of blessing.

when David was 37 years old, he was about to step into the fullness of his destiny. he’d just received his third and final anointing.  he found himself at the valley of Rephaim; “Rephaim” means “giants.” some 20 years earlier, he had killed Goliath in that valley, but now, he not only faced one Goliath, he faced a valley of Goliaths.  the principle; the closer you are to your destiny, the greater the opposition.  you may overcome one challenge, that’s good, but don’t be surprised if you face a bigger challenge;  that means you’re getting closer to your destiny. David and his men went out, full of faith, full of courage, and defeated the Philistines. the scripture says:

2 Samuel 5:20 (AMP)

20 And David came to Baal-perazim, and he smote them there, and said, The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters. So he called the name of that place Baal-perazim [Lord of breaking through].

when you face situations that seem impossible, you need to do like David; rename that valley. this is not the valley of debt, struggle, lack;  I’m renaming it The Valley of Abundance, The Valley of Promotion, The Valley of Increase. this is not the valley of cancer, heart disease, kidney failure; I’m renaming it The Valley of Health, The Valley of Wholeness, The Valley of Victory. this may look like the valley of loneliness, loss, disappointment, but I’m renaming it The Valley of Breakthroughs, The Valley of Victory, it’s The Valley of Blessing. friends, if you’ll start renaming your valleys, what was meant to stop you will instead promote you. the reason you’re facing the opposition is because, just like David, you’re about to step into a new level of your destiny. don’t complain about the valley, have this new perspective; there’s a blessing in that valley.  get your passion back. get your fire back. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. if you’ll do this, God is going to turn every valley you face in life into a valley of victory, health, abundance and blessing.

There’s no new sermon this week.  I’ve gotten so behind and so exhausted that having those extra hours to catch up on work and sleep has been a relief.

I was hoping that I’d have some brilliant insight to share with you, but after the Easter frenzy this has been a pretty quiet week. What I’ll share instead are quotes from an old, as in more than a century old, sermon from the legendary Charles Spurgeon:

“Is it not a curious thing that whenever God means to make a man great, He always first breaks him in pieces?”

“David was to be king over all Israel. What was the way to Jerusalem for David? What was the way to the throne? Well, it was round by the cave of Adullam. He must go there and be an outlaw and an outcast, for that was the way by which he would be made king. Have none of you ever noticed, in your own lives, that whenever God is going to give you an enlargement and bring you out to a larger sphere of service, or a higher platform of spiritual life, you always get thrown down? That is His usual way of working! He makes you hungry before He feeds you! He strips you before He robes you! He makes nothing of you before He makes something of you! This was the way with David. He is to be king in Jerusalem, but He must go to the throne by the way of the cave.”

” Why is that?  

 It is, first, because if God would make you greatly useful, He must teach you how to pray! … If God means to bless you greatly, He will make you pray greatly, as He does David who says in this part of his preparation for coming to his throne, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice: with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.” 

 Next, the man whom God would greatly honor must always believe in God when he is at his wits’ end. “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.” … Oh, it is easy to trust when you can trust yourself, but when you cannot trust yourself—when you are dead beat, when your spirit sinks below zero in the chill of utter despair—then is the time to trust in God. If that is your case, you have the marks of a man who can lead God’s people and be a comforter of others.”

“until you make much of God, He never will make much of you!”

He whom God would use must be taught sympathy with God’s poor people. Hence we get these words of David, in the sixth verse, “I am brought very low.” If the Lord means to bless you, my Brother, and to make you very useful in His Church, depend upon it, He will try you. “

“Half, perhaps nine-tenths of the trials of God’s ministers are not sent to them on their own account. They are sent for the good of other people… But another of the Lord’s children who has all the ins and outs and changes of an experienced Believer’s life, has them only that he may be better fitted to help others! That he may be able to sit down and weep with them that weep, or to stand up and rejoice with them that rejoice.  

 So then, dear Brothers who have got into the cave, and you, my Sisters, who have deep spiritual exercises, I want to comfort you by showing you that this is God’s way of making something of you. He is digging you out! You are like an old ditch—you cannot hold any more—and God is digging you out to make more room for more Grace. That spade will cut sharply and dig up sod after sod, and throw it to one side. The very thing you would like to keep shall be cast away and you shall be hollowed out, and dug out, that the word of Elisha may be fulfilled, “Make this valley full of ditches. For thus says the Lord, You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water.” You are to be tried, my Friend, that God may be glorified in you!  

Lastly, if God means to use you, you must get to be full of praise. Listen to what David says, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for You shall deal bountifully with me.” 

May God give to my Brothers and Sisters here, who are being tried for their good and afflicted for their promotion, Grace to begin to praise Him!”

If you are of a cheerful spirit, glad in the Lord and joyous after all your trials and afflictions, and if you can rejoice more because you have been brought so low, then God is making something of you and He will yet use you to lead His people to greater works of Grace!”

A message about cake

I have posted several times about how messages periodically appear while I’m using my dictation program that seem to be from my mother, who passed away a few years ago.  My name has appeared in many of these, and my nickname, and Mom/Mother, and “miss you,” and over and over, “love.”  My mother was a very determined person, just the type to find a way to do something like this, but…  there’s always the thought that my mic might be picking up cell phone signals…  but how does that explain my NAME…  or maybe the system “knows” that my name gets used a lot…  see the problem?  It has happened so many times, but still MIGHT be explainable by science;  it’s hard to be sure.

Yesterday, my pastor’s wife surprised my doctrine class with a special cake for our final day of class.  When, in the wee small hours, I started using dictation, “cake” popped up in the message…  TWICE.  There was no TV, radio or anything else on, and what is the likelihood that someone nearby was talking about CAKE on their cell at 4AM?

Why is God letting this happen?  I don’t know.

As a bonus, I was typing an email a few hours later, and looked up at the screen, and what I’d typed wasn’t there, but the Yahoo IM box had popped up, with the EMF’s name in it!!  Quite a morning so far…

Communion

Does your church ever do communion?  I hadn’t realized that anyone outside of Catholics did it, but apparently it’s reasonably common, although not necessarily being done every week.  I experienced communion for the first time yesterday, because my church does it just every so often so that it will be serious rather than a ritual…  yeah, I’m dubious about that too, it seems to me that we’re all too on fire for God to not take it seriously, but I’m new to this so I can’t say for sure.  I didn’t know if there was anything to it, but God brought me to this church for a reason, so I was ready to dive in:

I asked God to let me have the full experience, and:  I definitely felt something when I ate the bread, a kind of pressure all around my head. When I drank the grape juice, I was focusing on the taste in my mouth, wondering if I’d get any hint of salt, which I DD, but even more importantly, I got something I wasn’t thinking about, that metallic coppery aspect of blood. I don’t think the grape juice actually turned to blood in my mouth, but that this was how God responded to my asking Him to let me have the full experience.  Amazing!!

Pushed into your purpose

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we don’t always understand why things happen to us. maybe a friend you thought would be with you for years, somebody you counted on, had to move away suddenly; now you have to find new friends. or at work, things were going great, you had all this favor, but now there’s conflict; everything is a struggle, you don’t enjoy it. sometimes, God will let us be uncomfortable now so He can bless us later on. He’ll close a door; we don’t like it, we don’t understand it, but later on He’ll open up a bigger door; He’ll take us to a new level of our destiny. God is not as concerned about our comfort as He is our purpose. there are times God will stir things up: a friend will do you wrong, you lose a loved one, a business goes down. God uses loss, betrayal, persecution, to force us to change. He’s not trying to make your life miserable, He’s pushing you into your purpose.  every closed door is not a bad thing. every person that walks away is not a mistake; God knows we wouldn’t go without a push.  when everything is good, we’re comfortable; we don’t want to have to stretch, we don’t want to have to find new friends, develop new skills, step out into the unknown. what if it doesn’t work out?

we may not like it, but if God had not closed those doors, we would be satisfied to stay where we were. God loves you too much to let you miss your destiny. you have too much potential, too much talent, too much in you, to get stuck where you are. God will put us in these situations that force us to stretch, that help us to grow. every difficulty you’ve been through, every bad break, every person that did you wrong, that wasn’t meant to stop you, it was meant to push you, to mature you, to make you stronger. it’s deposited something on the inside, it’s made you into who you are.  you wouldn’t be prepared for the new levels if you had not gone through those things. don’t complain about what didn’t work out, the job you lost, the loved one that went to be with the Lord; it was all a part of God’s plan.  when you face a difficulty, especially things you don’t understand, instead of being critical, complaining, negative, have this new perspective; this is not meant to stop me, it’s meant to promote me. I may be uncomfortable, I may not like it, but I know God is using it to push me to a new level, to push me to greater influence, to push me into my purpose.

when I look back over my life, I can see the pivotal moments where I really grew, the times where I really stepped up to a new level; the common denominator was, I was pushed. I didn’t like it, I was uncomfortable, I wanted to stay; it took God closing the door, forcing me to take a step of faith, I was pushed into my purpose. sometimes we’re praying against the very thing God has ordained; we’re praying against what God has set into motion. the enemy doesn’t close every door; sometimes, God closes the door. God moves people out of our life because He knows they would become a crutch; they would keep us from our destiny, so God causes things to dry up to force us to change. quit being depressed over somebody that walked away; if they left your life, their time was up. step into the new season. if the door closed, you went through a disappointment, don’t complain; you’re about to be pushed into your purpose. you’re about to see new growth, new opportunities, new friendships.

in the scripture, the prophet Samuel spent years pouring into King Saul; he had mentored him as a young man, loved him like his own son. but unfortunately, Saul wouldn’t do what was right:

1 Samuel 15:2-9 (MEV)
2 Thus says the Lord of Hosts… 3 Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not have compassion on them but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”… 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, and lambs.

1 Samuel 15:10-11(MEV)
10 Then came the word of the Lord to Samuel, saying, 11 “I regret that I have set up Saul to be king because he has turned back from following Me, and he has not carried out My words.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried to the Lord all night.

Samuel was so heartbroken; he felt like he’d wasted all that time. God said to Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way

God is saying, “quit being depressed over who walked away. quit being sour over what didn’t work out. if they were supposed to stay, they would’ve stayed.” God went on to tell Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
16 … I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

notice the principle; if you’ll stop being discouraged over who left, God will send the right people. but as long as you’re complaining about the Sauls, what didn’t work out, “if they wouldn’t have left me,” you’re going to get stuck. when you accept it and move forward, you’ll not only step into a new level, but the Davids will show up; the right people will be there for every season of your life. Job said:

Job 29:18 (MEV)
18 “Then I said, ‘I will die in my nest

he was saying, he got his nest all fixed up, got his house like he wanted it, had a successful business, everything was going great, he was finally comfortable; what happened? God came along and stirred up the nest. God doesn’t send the trouble, but He will use difficulty to push us into our destiny. Job had a lot of things go wrong: he lost his business, lost his health, lost his family. if the story stopped there, it would be a sad ending. but Job understood this principle; right in the midst of the difficulties, he looked up and said:

Job 19:25 (NIV)
25 I know that my redeemer lives

he was saying, “I know God is still on the throne. He has the final say. this trouble is not going to defeat me, it’s going to promote me.” in the end:

Job 42:10 (NIV)
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

God used that adversity to give him double. don’t be surprised if, like with Job, when you get comfortable, when you get everything figured out, if God doesn’t stir up the nest. it’s not to harm you, it’s to push you; you have a bigger destiny. God has new levels, more favor, more influence, more resources. His dream for your life is bigger than you can imagine. every time I’ve seen major growth, every time I’ve stepped up to a new level, it’s because I was pushed; there was adversity, challenges, loss. maybe you’re in a situation now, you could easily be discouraged; you lost a loved one, went through a breakup, business didn’t work out. the enemy may have meant that for your harm, but God is going to use that for your good. God didn’t allow it to stop you, He allowed it to push you; like Job, you’re going to come out stronger, healthier, wiser, increased, better off than you were before. that sickness is going to push you into your purpose. that bad break is going to push you into greater fulfillment. or perhaps that betrayal, it’s going to push you into better relationships, into new happiness.

the pain is a sign you’re about to see a birth; the greater difficulty, the closer you are to that birth. you think, “this is as good as it gets”; no, you’re going to see God push you into a new level of your destiny. the betrayal, disappointment, bad break, it was painful, we don’t like it, but if you’ll stay in faith, it’s going to promote you. it’s difficult, but God doesn’t waste the pain; the pain is a sign of new birth. the betrayal wasn’t sent to stop you, it was sent to push you. don’t complain about who hurt you, who did you wrong; if that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. shake off the self-pity; get ready for the new doors that are about to open, the new opportunities, the skills, the new talents. when things are stirring in your life, when you’re uncomfortable, a door closed, a friend betrayed you, don’t think, “just my luck, always have these bad breaks,” no, turn it around; “God, I know You’re stirring things because You’re about to open up a new door, You’re about to take me to a higher level, You’re about to push me into my purpose.”

when you’re being pushed, it means that the door is open; something new is coming, new growth, new influence. God wouldn’t be pushing you if the door was closed and nothing new was on the way. when you’re being pushed, don’t be discouraged, be encouraged; it is the right time. get ready; something good is coming your way. a little baby, when he’s in the womb for nine months, everything is great; he’s comfortable, he doesn’t have to do anything, he gets his food from his mother, gets carried around all day, he can sleep whenever he wants to, it’s peaceful, calm, life is good. for a season, that’s healthy; he’s growing, he’s maturing, that’s where he’s supposed to be. but if he stays in that womb too long, instead of being a blessing, the womb will become a curse. it’s too small; it will keep him from his destiny, it will limit his potential. he has to get out. when he comes through the birth canal, it’s tight, uncomfortable, traumatic. up to this point, all he’s known is peace, calm, lying around doing nothing; now, it’s like all hell breaks loose. he thinks, “what in the world is wrong with mama? has she lost her mind? is she trying to kill me?” he’s being pushed, squeezed, pressured. he gets pushed again, pushed again, pushed again; finally he comes out, he’s born, breathes new life, steps into that new level.

it’s the same principle; when things are tight, when you’re being pressured, when you’re uncomfortable, it’s easy to think, “what in the world is happening? I liked it when it was peaceful; I want to go back to how it was.” but if you stay in that womb too long, in that protected place, it won’t be a blessing; it will keep you from becoming all God created you to be. God controls the universe; He knows what’s best for you. if you’re being pushed, it’s because the door is open; there’s something greater in your destiny. it may be uncomfortable; don’t complain. God is stretching you, enlarging you. you’re about to see new growth, talents, opportunities. the same God that opens doors, closes doors. don’t complain about people that betray you, do you wrong, leave you out; God uses people to get you to where you’re supposed to be. they may think they’re pushing you down; what they don’t realize is, they’re pushing you up, into your destiny. Judas thought that when he betrayed Jesus, he was stopping him; the truth is, he was promoting him. God ordained the betrayal. the scripture says:

Acts 8:1-5 (NIV)
8 … persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem… . 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria

it doesn’t say that Philip prayed and decided to go to Samaria. he didn’t have a choice; the persecution forced him out of his hometown. he was pushed out of his comfort zone. it’s interesting; God could’ve stopped the opposition. He’s God; He closed the mouths of hungry lions for Daniel, it would’ve been no big deal. but the persecution was for a purpose; He allowed that opposition to get them into their destiny. it was in Samaria that Phillip saw all his greatest days of ministry. if he had stayed in Jerusalem, he wouldn’t have reached his highest potential. maybe Jerusalem has closed up for you, so to speak; a bad break, a disappointment, a betrayal. don’t be discouraged; Jerusalem may have closed, but Samaria is about to open up. God wouldn’t be pushing you if He didn’t already have another open door. God loves you too much to let you stay in mediocrity; He knows how to get you out of your comfort zone. He opens doors, and He can close doors. it we don’t take the hint, He’ll push us. don’t be discouraged by your closed doors; that’s God pushing you. don’t get upset because of a bad break; if it was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. in the scripture:

Acts 27:23-24 (NIV)
23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar

Paul was on a boat headed toward Rome. they encountered a huge storm; the winds were so strong that it blew the boat aground. the whole boat fell apart. they all had to swim to this little island called Malta. (NB: Malta is a country in the Mediterranean Sea.) it looked like a bad break, a disappointment, but that storm didn’t stop God’s plan; it was a part of God’s plan. on that island, the chief’s father was very sick. Paul prayed for him; God healed him. they started bringing other sick people, same thing, God healed them. Paul ended up sharing his faith with the whole island. the winds that were meant to stop you, God will use to push you into your destiny. you may not like it, you may not understand it, but if you’ll stay in faith, it won’t defeat you, it will promote you. you’re being pushed for a reason. there’s something bigger, something better, something more rewarding in front of you. now you’ve got to be willing to go through the process; when it’s tight, you’re uncomfortable, you’re being squeezed, that’s a sign you’re about to see new birth. where you are is too small; that womb was fine for a time, it served its purpose, but now it’s a new day. there’s about to be new growth, opportunities.

keep the right perspective: “this sickness is not going to stop me, it’s pushing me. I’m coming out better.” “this trouble at work, it can’t hold me back; it’s pushing me, I’m getting stronger.” “these people that did me wrong, they can’t stop my destiny; they meant it for harm, but God’s using it for my good. He’s pushing me.” every difficulty you went through, every storm, every person that did you wrong, it was pushing you to mature, pushing you to know God in a greater way, pushing you to become stronger, more resilient. don’t be discouraged by the process. perhaps you feel like you’re being pushed right now; it’s tight, it’s uncomfortable. you need to get ready; God is about to push you into a new level. He’s going to push you into greater strength, greater influence, greater resources. you’re coming into a new season; health, favor, victory, breakthroughs. the winds that were meant to stop you are going to push you into your purpose.

Because I went to church on Sunday with ZERO sleep, as soon as I got home and wound down a little bit I went to bed. A couple of hours later, I woke up to take a bathroom break, and could remember a piece of a dream: I and some people from my church, including the pastor that had given that day’s sermon, were standing in front of what looked like the standard treasure chest that we’ve all seen in pirate movies, except it was significantly bigger and in particular significantly longer, at least double the normal length to width ratio. It didn’t have any fancy carvings or decorations or shiny metal like so many treasure chests have; I couldn’t find anything that looked quite right on Google, but this at least gives you a general idea of what it looked like, except it was easily twice this long, and was closed with no hint as to what, if anything, was inside of it.

Treasure-Chest

I don’t remember anything else about the dream other than the treasure chest, the church folks standing around, and 4 words that were spoken, although I don’t know by who: “Treasure of the Holy Spirit.” I’m pretty sure that I’ve never heard that phrase or anything similar before. It does not appear in the Bible; the closest I could find was this verse:

2 Timothy 1:14 (ERV)
14 This teaching is a treasure that you have been trusted with. Protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us.

Because there is endless scriptural evidence for God providing information in dreams, I take any dream with any hint of religious content VERY seriously, doubly so because, despite my all-day-every-day focus on God, I rarely have one. When I woke up from this one, I intended to write it down, but mostly dismissed it because the pastor had spent a significant among of time talking about the Holy Spirit, and I figured that was the reason behind the dream, the same way that anything else that happens during the day can turn up in a dream. And then I went back to bed, and back to sleep. And then I had THE SAME DREAM again!! That has NEVER occurred before in my entire life. There is no confusion about how THAT happened.

I think there’s only one place in the Bible where someone has a dream twice:

Genesis 41:1-7 (NIV)
41 … Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads.

And here’s what Joseph told Pharaoh about the dreams:

Genesis 41:32 (NABRE)
32 That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been confirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.

Of course, in that case it wasn’t the identical dream twice, but the same concept showed with 2 different casts of characters, so to speak, so my situation is not quite the same, and in any case just because it happened to Pharaoh that way doesn’t mean that my dreams are about future events, but it was worth a mention. I’m guessing that I just had the dream twice because I was ready to discount it and God saw it as important enough to make an issue out of… which then leads to me being a little bit concerned that there could be an important meaning to the dream that I’m not getting.

So, what DID it mean? Is EVERY aspect of it God-given, or did my subconscious embroider upon what God put there? In all of the Biblical examples, every detail of each dream from God was from God, but some of the dream elements were symbolic, which is why Joseph and Daniel were doing dream interpretation. The primary element in my dream is mention of the Holy Spirit; if the Holy Spirit didn’t exist, God would never have made it the subject of the dreams, so that settles that issue for me. Even more crucially, the Holy Spirit must be IMPORTANT, or, again, why would God make an issue about it? God’s wisdom in bringing me to this specific church is becoming clearer all the time; the vast majority of Christians, regardless of their denomination or lack thereof, have little or no focus on the Holy Spirit, because nothing is taught about it in their churches, sermons don’t include anything about it, and it just plain doesn’t come up, but THIS church has a consistent focus on it, and clearly that’s what God wants. I suspect that this dream came because, even after my experience with speaking in tongues, I still wasn’t really accepting the importance of the Holy Spirit, so God had to tell me more directly.

I can’t imagine that God would’ve permitted anything in the dream that is contrary to His will and/or my best interests, since the only logical thing for me to assume of anything in such a positive dream is that it is good in some way, and He knows that, so the presence of members of my church just gives me further confirmation that I am doing God’s will by being with them. The presence right next to the chest of the pastor who gave the sermon, only about the third sermon he has given since I joined, tells me that the things that he said about the importance of giving equal time to the Holy Spirit are true. It’s interesting that, although the other pastors have said similar things, the dream came after THIS pastor spoke, the one who I would’ve said was by far the least impressive speaker… clearly, I need to pay more attention to him and see if he is going to have something important to say, just in case this is a hint from God and not just a function of who spoke most recently.

And, what is the treasure? Why show a CLOSED chest and talk about a treasure unless the treasure is something I have not yet seen? Or is the treasure chest only there because that’s what my subconscious came up with in response to the word “treasure”? Does the presence of my fellow church members by the treasure chest indicate that THEY, and my experiences with them, are the treasure that the Holy Spirit provided by guiding me to join the church? I just don’t know. Clearly, in my nonexistent free time I need to do some studying about the Holy Spirit and try to figure out which of the things it supposedly does might qualify as treasure in my life. Or, the treasure might be something that it’s ABOUT to do, or it might be a combination of things, or… well, there’s no point in speculating right now, all I can do is be aware that something significant is going on… and be grateful for God taking the time to bring these things to my attention.

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