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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.

Emptying Out the Negative

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to go through life holding onto things that are weighing us down: guilt, resentment, doubt, worry. the problem is, when we allow these things in, they’re taking up space for the good things that should be there. imagine that your life is like a container; you were created to be filled with joy, peace, confidence, creativity. but if you allow worry in, it pushes out the peace; there’s not space for both. you can’t go above 100%; you have a limited amount of room. if you allow guilt to take up space, that’s space that you don’t have for the confidence you need.

the reason that some people don’t enjoy their lives is because their container, their heart, is contaminated with so many things. they have 20% worried, stressed out over their job, 12% bitterness, mad at their neighbor, 20% guilt, beating themselves up for past mistakes, 18% jealousy, their coworker is more beautiful; they don’t realize that 70% of their container is negative.  they wonder why they don’t have joy, creativity, passion; they only have room for 30% of what they should have. the scripture says:

Ephesians 4:27  (DRA)

27 Give not place to the devil

it’s not just talking about forces of darkness; that means, give no place to guilt, worry, bitterness. it can’t come in and automatically take over; you control what’s in your container, what you think about, choose to allow in. we all have negative emotions, negative feelings, you have to make the choice; “I’m not going to give this jealousy, bitterness, anger, valuable space and let it poison my life; I’m going to protect what I allow in me.”

every morning, when we wake up, we need to empty out anything negative from the day before. somebody offended you at work, they didn’t treat you right, it’s easy to let that offense stay, it feels good to carry around a grudge, but you have to be disciplined, and say, “no, I am not giving this offense any room. I am not going to let it sour my day.” they hurt you once, don’t let them continue to hurt you by holding onto the offense. being offended is not harming them, it’s harming you; it’s taking up space you need for the good things that move you toward your destiny. or you wake up in the morning and thoughts of worry come: how are you going to pay your bills, what if the medical report’s not good, you’ll never get out of this problem. don’t allow that in, don’t make the mistake of dwelling on it, just say, “no thanks, I know God’s in control, He’s got me in the palm of His hand. He’ll get me to where I’m supposed to be.” take inventory of what you’re giving space to; life is too short to go through it with negative things holding us down. 

David said:

Psalm 103:5 (GNT)

5 He fills my life with good things,

    so that I stay young and strong

I’ve learned, if you’ll empty out the negative, if you’ll make room, God will fill you with good things. you empty out the worry, God will fill you with peace. you empty out the insecurity, negative things people have said about you, God will fill you with confidence. 

my question today is; is God trying to fill you with good things, but there’s no room, your container is full of worry, regret, bitterness, jealousy? why don’t you start emptying that out? somebody did you wrong, you could hold onto that bitterness, but instead, “God, I forgive them, I let it go.” you didn’t just forgive, you made room for God to fill you with good things; that’s when He’ll give you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning. you had a tough season, the medical report wasn’t good, you should be stressed, worried; instead, “God, I trust You. You said that You would restore health back unto me.” you just made room for God to fill you with healing. you empty out the worry, and God will give you peace in the midst of the storm.

perhaps a coworker got the promotion that you worked so hard for. envy, jealousy will come; “I wish that was me, I’m smarter than they are, I don’t understand that.” instead of letting that stay, “God, I know You’re no respecter of persons; You did it for them, I know You can do it for me.” the good news is, God doesn’t run out of favor; He doesn’t have a limited supply. if you will empty out the jealousy, when it’s your time to be promoted, God will open doors that no man can shut. if somebody got what you wanted, that simply means it wasn’t supposed to be yours. if they got the promotion, be happy for them; God has something better for you. if they got the man you wanted to date, the girl you were interested in, don’t be upset, God knows what He’s doing; if it worked out your way, it would be second-best.

bottom line; what has your name on it is not going to go to anyone else. don’t go around bitter, jealous, in self-pity; that will poison your life. empty it out. God is in control, He’s directing your steps, and at the right time, what has your name on it will show up. God promises, if we will make room, He will not only fill us with good things, but He will keep us young and strong. and the reason some people are not young and strong, and I don’t mean just young physically, but young in their spirit, vibrant, passionate about life, is because they’re filled with the negative. worry will make you weak. living stressed-out will make you old, give you wrinkles, take your passion. being bitter, angry, resentful will shorten your life. Proverbs says: 

Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

30 A relaxed attitude lengthens life

you can be 80 years old and young at heart; your spirit never ages. I don’t want to get old, grouchy, grumpy, fall apart, I want to stay young, strong, good-looking, full of faith, joy, energy. the way this happens is, give no place to the negative. get in the habit of emptying out the offenses, empty out the worry. you make a mistake; empty out the guilt. you didn’t do your best; empty out the regret, do better next time. nobody gave you credit; empty out the self-pity. you had a bad break, you don’t understand it; empty out the questions. if you’ll get good at emptying out the negative, you’ll be young, strong, vibrant, full of faith and joy. 

Jesus said:

Matthew 5:8 (NIV)

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

    for they will see God.

that word “pure” in the original Greek, katharoi, is where we get our word cathartic; it means cleansing, releasing. if you have surgery, sometimes the doctor will put in a catheter, same root word; it’s a tube that drains out the wastes of the body. you can’t get up to use the facilities, that catheter automatically takes what’s not beneficial to the body out. the doctor knows there will wastes, he’s only alarmed when it’s not being released, when we’re holding onto things that should be removed.

when God says, “blessed are the pure in heart,” He’s saying, “you’re going to be blessed when you learn how to release the impurities of life,” when you get in the habit of emptying out things that will infect you. you know what bitterness is to our spirit? it’s infection. guilt, worry, doubt, self-pity, are all infection. these things are not unusual, impurities come to everyone; you have to push them out. it’s when we hold onto them that it contaminates our spirit, and causes us problems.

you weren’t created to carry around guilt, regret, bitterness, anger; that poisons your life. “I’m bitter because I had a bad break, I’m sour because somebody walked out on me.” I say this respectfully; that’s simply an impurity. why don’t you release it so it doesn’t infect the rest of your life? don’t let a disappointment, divorce, layoff, loss, poison your future. “I’m worried about my health, finances, children”; worry is a part of life. those thoughts come to us all; the key is to not hold onto them. recognize, they’re not beneficial, they’re not moving you forward; that’s an impurity that wasn’t meant to stay. you have to release it; “God, I don’t see a way, but I know You’re still on the throne, You’re bigger than this problem, You’re supplying all of my needs.” you just released the toxin.

are you holding onto infection, impurities: angry, jealous, worried, discouraged? maybe you had a disappointment, something didn’t work out. imagine that there’s an angel with a delivery with your name on it; it says, “beauty for ashes, new beginnings, opportunities, friendships.” he’s en route with those good things. the problem is, if you’re holding onto the old, there’s no place for him to deliver it. I wonder how many things are en route right now, the angel is standing by with our joy, peace, confidence, creativity, spouse, but because there’s no room, because we’re not releasing the toxins, the anger, bitterness, jealousy, worry, he can’t deliver those good things. instead of living blessed, excited about our future, we become infected. the good news is, you can get rid of that infection; it is not permanent. if you’ll start releasing the regret, the worry, bitterness, anger, then it’s just a matter of time before that angel shows up with your delivery. when you make room, God promises He will fill your life with good things.

this is what David did. he was an expert at emptying out the negative. his family looked down on him, treated him like he was second-class. he could’ve let that infection take root, lived insecure; instead, he let it go in one ear and out the other. he knew, if he held onto it, that would keep him from his destiny. David went to the palace, and served King Saul faithfully; he would play the harp when Saul was sick, to make him feel better. in return, Saul tried to kill him. Saul was jealous of David, chased him through the desert, made his life miserable. David could’ve become bitter, thought, “what’s the use? everybody is against me; life is not fair.”  instead, he kept his heart pure, and emptied out the self-pity. like David, we all have impurities, infections, people come against us, our plans don’t always work out. it’s easy to think, “why is this happening?”; it’s just life. the scripture says:

Luke 17:1 (MEV)

17 … offenses will come.

they’re not a problem unless you don’t know what to do with them. too many people make the mistake of holding onto them, they get bitter, live guilty, with a chip on their shoulder; that’s going to poison their future. you have to release the toxins of life; you may not be able to keep them from coming, but you can keep them from staying.

David had a pure heart; that means he kept the infections out. it doesn’t mean that he was perfect. David made mistakes; one time, he committed adultery and had the lady’s husband killed. he tried to cover it up; that poison started to infect his life. he finally admitted his mistake, repented:

2 Samuel 12:13 (MEV)

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

and things begin to turn around:

2 Samuel 12:24 (MEV)

24 Then David comforted Bathsheba, his wife. He went to her and lay with her, so that she conceived a son. They named him Solomon, and the Lord loved him.

once he got the infection out, his life was restored. when you make a mistake, and we all do, don’t run away from God, don’t try to hide it. go to God, repent, that means don’t keep doing the same thing, ask for forgiveness, and then here’s the key; you have to receive God’s mercy.  the enemy is called the accuser of the brethren; he’ll remind you of every mistake you’ve made for the last 30 years. it’s easy to live life in regrets, thinking about what you should’ve done differently; “I should’ve raised my children better, been more faithful in my marriage, finished college.” don’t go through life looking in the rearview mirror, down on yourself, living in regrets; you can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about right now. being against yourself doesn’t help you do better, it pushes you down. the moment you asked God to forgive you, He forgave you; why don’t you forgive yourself, empty out the guilt, turn off the accusing voices? God doesn’t remember your mistakes anymore:

Hebrews 10:17 (NIV)

17 … “Their sins and lawless acts

    I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV)

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

34 … declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Isaiah 43:25 (ISV)

25 “I, I am the one

    who blots out your transgression for my own sake,

        and I’ll remember your sins no more

if someone is bringing up the negative things of your past, it’s not God; that’s the accuser trying to deceive you into living condemned. how much space are you giving to guilt, shame, regret, being against yourself? whatever it is, it’s too much; you need that space for the good things God has to move you toward your destiny. if you’re giving space to guilt, you will not have the confidence you need to move forward; that will cause you to fail again. it’s a negative cycle; the only way you can break it is to rise up and say, “that’s it, I am done living in the past, focused on my mistakes, reliving my failures, beating myself up; this is a new day. I’m emptying out all that infection; I’m going to receive God’s mercy.”

you have to do this by faith, because every voice will tell you, “you’re a hypocrite. God’s not going to forgive you; look what you’ve done.” it doesn’t have anything to do with what you have or haven’t done; it has to do with what Jesus has already done. “I made a lot of mistakes; I don’t deserve to be blessed.” none of us deserve it; this is what mercy is all about. that’s why it’s called the good news; your sins have already been forgiven. you don’t have to pay God back for your mistakes; the price has already been paid.

when you fall down, don’t stay down, get back up again. when the accuser whispers, “look at you, you blew it again, you’ll never get it right,” just answer back, “yes, I know I’m not perfect, but I am forgiven. I may not be where I should be, but I’m making progress, I’m not where I used to be.” don’t let guilt poison your future; empty it out. sometimes, it’s hard to empty out the negative. when a person does us wrong, human nature wants to hold on to the hurt, become bitter, carry around a grudge. we think, “I’m not going to forgive them, they don’t deserve it,” but you’re not forgiving for their sake, you’re forgiving for your sake. as long you hold onto the hurt, anger, bitterness, it’s not affecting them, it’s infecting you.

unforgiveness is like a poisonous toxin; it may feel good to hold onto it, but it will contaminate your life. a lot of times, the reason we don’t forgive is because what the other person did was wrong; they were clearly at fault. but when you forgive, you’re not excusing their behavior, lessening the offense, you’re simply getting the poison out of you. you have to forgive so you can be free. quit looking at it like you’re doing them a favor; you’re doing yourself a favor. it takes a lot of emotional energy to hold a grudge, live with unforgiveness. you wake up, it’s always on your mind, thinking about how they did you wrong. you may not realize; you are spending emotional energy that you need for your dreams, goals, children. you won’t become all you were created to be if you’re wasting emotional energy on things that don’t matter. that unforgiveness is an impurity; yes, what they did was wrong, but you have to let it pass, release it. when you do, you’ll not only feel a new freedom, have more energy, but God will be your vindicator. He will make your wrongs right. you don’t have to pay people back; you’re not the judge, God is. leave it up to Him, and He’ll vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself. 

out of your pain can come your purpose. you may not get over it, but you can get past it. there is a season of mourning, but you don’t have to stay in mourning.  you don’t have to live bitter, stuck in grief, depression; you can move forward. when you go through a loss, things happen that you don’t understand, it’s easy to think, “I just need to get over this,” but sometimes that’s too strong, it can put more pressure on us. we think, “why do I feel this way? I must be doing something wrong.” take the pressure off; you don’t have to get over it, just get past it, keep moving forward, taking it one day at a time. God said that He will never give you something that you cannot handle:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NRSV)

13 … God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength

you may not understand why it happened, but the scripture says:

Philippians 4:7 (RSV)

7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

you’re not going to figure everything out; if you’ll let go of the questions of life, you will have a peace that goes beyond what you can understand.

towards the end of Jesus’ life, he’d been betrayed by a disciple, mocked by the soldiers, falsely accused, now he was hanging on the cross, wearing a crown of thorns, about to breathe his last breath. he did something significant; he could’ve just died and went on to heaven, but he said:

Luke 23:34 (KJV)

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

they didn’t ask for forgiveness, they didn’t deserve it; Jesus was saying, in effect, “I’m not going to leave this earth with anything negative in me.” he was showing us by example how we should release the toxins, impurities. when we hold onto the negative, it stifles our creativity, we don’t do our best work; it’s because there’s infection that’s slowing us down. are you allowing negative things in your container? to reach the fullness of your destiny, you need to operate at your maximum potential. if you have a little bitterness, guilt, jealousy, worry, if you add up all the space the little is taking, you’re only operating at a fraction of what you could. I’m asking you to empty all that out. God is ready to fill your life with good things; He wants to keep you young and strong. do your part, and make room for Him. every morning, empty out the guilt, worry, discouragement, and when the impurities and infection come, don’t let it stay, let it pass on through; keep your heart pure. if you do this, you’re going to step up to a new level, with more joy, peace, favor, healing, wholeness, the fullness of your destiny.

Since there’s no new sermon this week, I thought I’d update you on some interesting events in my life:

A couple of weeks ago, within the space of a few minutes, I saw 2 angels… and 2 other visitors that were NOT angels.

Yes, in case your church doesn’t discuss these matters, both angels and demons are real. Jesus had interactions with both sorts of beings; they can’t be dismissed like some of the fanciful-sounding creatures in the Old Testament that are described in such a poetic fashion that we can’t be sure what they refer to.

When I have seen angels in humanoid form, they have been basic human shapes, with no details, no features to their faces, no visible hair, etc. I’ve seen them 2 different ways; as insubstantial white beings, and as if they were made of shadow but in human form. In my recent experience, I saw one of each of these varieties… OR, I might have seen the same angel twice… but I’m getting ahead of myself:

I was pacing up and down my long hallway, thinking out loud about things, as I often do. The original angel, or my first sighting of it if it was the same one both times, was just standing in the doorway of my family room, almost up against the door frame, looking like it was watching me walk down the hall; almost as quickly as I saw it, it vanished. I continued with my pacing, and started praying.

A few laps of the hallway later, I saw what looked like the shadowy form of a man, walking, I could clearly see the legs striding, from just beyond the doorway of the family room into the kitchen; because the sightings were only a few feet apart, and the second time it was walking away, I might have been seeing the original angel leaving, or changing position… or maybe he was pacing too, who knows.

And that’s pretty much the whole story; I just saw each of them for a split-second, very clearly, and then they were gone.

It seems pretty certain to me that they were here because of the OTHER visitors I had that early morning. I’ve done a lot of thinking as to what to say about these others. Part of my goal with this blog is to give a complete story of the notable spiritual aspects of my life, for the benefit of those that are interested in that sort of thing. And part of my goal is to educate newer believers as to what might happen and what they should do about it. BUT, there are people coming here who are what we might call spiritually fragile, and some who are, how should I put this, highly stressed and suggestible… and I have a responsibility to not start a situation like has happened at other times on the internet when someone has described something scary and then all these other people started seeing it. I’m not going to be the cause of people jumping at shadows because they think that demons are attacking them.

Here’s what you need to know: Nothing that happens to us is hidden from God, or a surprise to Him. His angels, and the Holy Spirit, are always standing by to assist us; all we have to do is ASK. At no time is it possible for us to be helpless victims attacked by demons, because even if we didn’t always have help available to us, God has given us power over Satan and all of his minions:

James 4:7 (NIV)
7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And how do you resist? PRAY. That’s all it takes. This isn’t like a horror movie, which you shouldn’t be watching anyways, where there are evil beings that have all these powers against humans; demons will try to frighten and confuse you, but that’s pretty much it. It is very unlikely that you will have any problems with demons, but if you do, just remember to pray, and that will be the end of them. If this is a frightening topic for you, this is as far as you need to read of this post, ok?

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I’m still not going to give any details, but if you’re still with me I’ll give you a basic outline. With only one exception, when I have seen demons in my home, they have been very small, about the size of large rabbits, and they have, and this is important, RUN from me when I approached them; not only did they not do anything threatening, but they were AFRAID of me… and well they SHOULD be, because I am a woman of God, and I have the ability to call down the Holy Spirit upon them, against which they have no defense. What were they doing there, if they weren’t going to try to DO anything? Spying on me, probably. Possibly looking for an opening in my faith that they could enter through to pester me, which they will never find. Why me? The intensity of my religious life, the intensity of my spirit-filled church, and the fact that I’m part of the prayer ministry, makes me a tempting target; pretty much everyone in the prayer ministry endures spiritual attacks. These can always be overcome, but yes, they can certainly be aggravating for a while.

The exception to the demons being the rabbit-sized ones… alarmed me a little bit. It looked like it was trying to come in through the bottom part of a closed window, but as if… as if it was stopped cold by the boundary of the inner wall and could go no further. We can see from the Bible that there are different levels and/or types of demons and other afflicting spirits, and I feel certain, just from my spiritual perceptions, that this was something more serious than the others I have seen. I also feel certain that it WAS blocked from entering my home, whether from the presence of the angels, or because I was praying, or because I had called down the Holy Spirit, I don’t know,

There is no cause to be concerned about my safety or welfare. If the enemy is taking a greater interest in me, that is proof that my faith, my worship, and my prayers are powerful and effective. God permitted me to see that these creatures are taking an interest in me, but He also make sure that I saw that there was a barrier to entry into my home; it’s even possible that the rabbit-sized demons that I saw were also banished outside of my walls by my prayers by that point. I continue to pray intensely every day; I’m in no actual danger.

I’ll end with a bit of good news: Several times in the last few days, when I’ve been praying at length in my prayer closet, an amazing and powerful feeling has come over me. It took me a moment to realize what it was at first, because it’s something foreign to me; PEACE. Not peace in the way we normally think of it, where we mean we don’t have any particular strong stresses at the current time, or that we don’t feel tense, or that we’re not agitated or angry or upset about something, in other words, this was not the ABSENCE of bad things, bad thoughts, or bad feelings, this was an almost physical perception of a positive force… God’s peace, the peace that is promised us in so many places in the Bible. It differed from what we would normally think of as a calm or peaceful frame of mind the way joy differs from contentment… as if peace were an emotion, in a way. It’s a wonderful feeling. An amazing gift. If you need any more encouragement to do serious, hard-core, daily prayer, trust me when I say, this is an incredible reward for that faithfulness.

Called into the house

from JO’s sermon tonight:

sometimes, we’re doing the right thing, but it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference. we’re being our best, honoring God, but we’re not making much progress, not getting good breaks, our dreams aren’t coming to pass; it seems like we’re being overlooked. it’s easy to get discouraged, think God must’ve forgotten about us, especially when we see other people are being blessed, promoted, meeting the right person. thoughts tell us, “it’s because they’re more talented, attractive, come from an influential family. just accept where you are.” these thoughts try to make us feel insignificant, push us down, so we’ll settle for mediocrity.

this is what happened to David in the scripture. he was the youngest son of a man named Jesse; he had 7 older brothers. as a teenager, he got stuck out in the shepherd’s fields, taking care of his father’s sheep. he spent his days feeding the animals, cleaning up their mess, protecting them from harm; it was boring, lonely. his brothers were in the military, where it was exciting, prestigious. they wore a uniform each day, had respect and honor; when they passed by, people admired them. nobody thought of David; nobody celebrated him. in their eyes, what he was doing was insignificant; they discounted him, thought, “oh, that’s just David. he’s the youngest, he’s small, he’s not talented, he’ll never do anything great.”

they looked on the outside; what they couldn’t see was what was on the inside. David had a heart after God; he didn’t complain, slack off because nobody was watching, he didn’t get bitter, go around with a chip on his shoulder, he was his best right where he was. in the natural, it didn’t look like he would ever get out of the shepherd’s fields and do something significant. every circumstance said that he was stuck: his brothers looked down on him, his father didn’t believe in him, all the odds were against him. but one day, God told the prophet Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1-11 (NIV)

16 … Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” … 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”… 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

he discounted David, saw him as insignificant, didn’t even bother inviting him in. but just because people leave you out, that doesn’t mean that God leaves you out. people may overlook you, judge you by the outside, your height, weight, skin color; God looks on the inside. the good news is, God has the final say; promotion doesn’t come from people, it comes from the Lord. people may bypass you, they may not give you the time of day, but they cannot stop what God has ordained for you. if you’ll keep being faithful, honoring God, He’ll take you from the background to the foreground. people may try to push you down; God will lift you up. they may try to hold you back; God will thrust you forward. people don’t determine your destiny; God does.

when Samuel heard that Jesse had another son:

1 Samuel 16:11 (NIV)

11 … Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him…

I can imagine, David sees this man way off in the distance, coming toward him full-speed; David thinks, “is something wrong, is there an emergency?” the messenger shows up and says, “David, your father needs you immediately; come with me.” they take off running together back to the house. when David arrived:

1 Samuel 16:12 (NIV)

12 … had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

all those years David spent out in the shepherd’s fields, he felt ignored, insignificant, looked down on. his family discounted him, didn’t give him any credit. it looked like that would be his destiny, but in one moment everything changed. what happened? he got called into the house. people ignored him; God said, “I have My eye on David.” people discounted him; God saw his potential. they looked on the outside; God looked at his heart. He saw David doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. He saw him being faithful even when it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere.

you too may feel like you’re being overlooked, left out; the people that should be for you, cheering you on, are doing just the opposite, discounting you, trying to push you down. don’t worry; your time is coming.  God is watching you; He sees your faithfulness, dedication, integrity. like David, you’re about to be called into the house, see doors open that you could never open, see vindication, where God honors you in front of people that are trying to make you look bad. you’re going to see new levels of influence, where people that once disrespected you, didn’t give you the time of day, now they look up to you, admire you, ask you for advice. 

David was just minding his own business this day; as far as he was concerned, it was just another day at work, nothing special, taking care of sheep, keeping them from wild animals. suddenly, his whole life changed; it happened unexpectedly. you may think it’s just another ordinary day, going to work, coming home; you don’t know what God is up to. you never know when that messenger is going to show up saying that you’re needed in the house. you didn’t see it coming, you weren’t expecting it, but suddenly, you meet the right person, the medical report says cancer-free, you get that break that thrusts you to the next level; you were called into the house. 

what’s interesting is, David wasn’t dreaming about becoming a king, praying that one day he would lead a nation. he never thought he would defeat that giant, and become an overnight national hero. he was a shepherd boy, from a low-income family;  that influence, that kind of favor, never entered his mind. what God has in store for you is much bigger than you’ve imagined. we pray for things that seem reasonable to us. we ask for healing, protection, to meet the right people; that’s all good, but God has blessings that you’ve never asked for. if He showed you all that was in your future, it would boggle your mind. if you’ll do like David, and be your best where you are, you won’t have to chase promotion, promotion will chase you. you won’t have to go after blessings, blessings will come after you. when you keep God first place, the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NRSV)

2 all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God

one of the keys is to stay faithful where you are. Don’t wait until you get out of the shepherd’s fields, and then you’re going to be your best, when you get a more significant position, then you’re going to give it your all; you have to be excellent at the level you’re on right now.  pass the test in the small areas. if David would’ve slacked off, done a half-hearted job, he wouldn’t have been called into the house.  if you’re not excellent on your level, then you won’t see promotion and increase. if you’ll be faithful where you are, then when it’s your time to be called, promoted, healed, vindicated, all the forces of darkness will not be able to hold you back.

many of you have been faithful, done the right thing when it was hard. you haven’t listened to the negative voices trying to discourage you, but nothing has happened; you’re still in the shepherd’s fields, doesn’t look like you’ll ever get the break you need, get well, meet the right person. you may feel overlooked, but God is saying, “I haven’t forgotten about you. Samuel is on the way; you’re about to be called into the house. I’m about to do what medicine can’t do, restore with the enemy’s trying to steal, take you where you could not go on your own.”  

now do your part; keep being excellent where you are.  if God can’t trust you to be faithful in the wilderness, how can He trust you to be faithful in the promised land? those things that are not changing: people dismissing you, those times where you feel like you’re doing something insignificant, those are times of testing, proving, where you have to show God what you’re made of. that’s when your character is developed. 

it’s easy to slack off, “this doesn’t matter, it’s insignificant, nobody is watching,” but you have to pass small tests before God will release big things. if you’re not excellent on the level you’re on, you won’t get to the next level. you may not like where you are, you know you have more in you, it’s taking longer than you thought, but God knows what he’s doing. He’s closely watching you; if you’ll keep passing the test, staying faithful where you are, it’s just a matter of time before you see that messenger show up suddenly, unexpectedly.  it seems like another ordinary day, but the right person sees you, and your whole world changes. like with David, somebody that he didn’t even know, the prophet Samuel, came looking for him.

God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be. He’s already lined up your Samuels, who will search you out to be good to you. you say, “I’d love to believe this, it sounds good, but you don’t know my situation; I don’t come from a prominent family”; neither did David. “I don’t know anyone influential that can give me a good break, open a door”; neither did David. “I don’t have a good position. I’m doing something that seems insignificant”; so was David. if you see what you’re doing as not important, not significant, most likely you won’t do it with excellence. what makes it incredibly important is the fact that that’s where God has you now. you’re not there by accident; it holds the key to you rising higher. Samuel won’t come looking if there’s not excellence where you are. you don’t have to do it better than somebody else, just do it to the best of your ability, knowing that you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God. 

God knows how to vindicate you. if somebody’s trying to hold you down, don’t worry, God can go over them, go around them, move them out of the way.  bottom line;  God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

David’s own family didn’t believe in him. his father thought he was not tall enough, talented enough, smart enough. the good news is, when God is ready to call you, He doesn’t go check with your family; He doesn’t go ask your cousin, “do you think they have what it takes?” He doesn’t consult with your boss if it’s time to promote you. God doesn’t need people’s approval to do what He wants to do in your life. if people don’t believe in you, that’s ok; the God Who created the universe, the One who matters, He does. your family may not encourage you, but you can encourage yourself. people may not celebrate you; learn to celebrate yourself.

when you get called into the house, you don’t know where God is going to take you. but sometimes, when we see a person on the inside, in other words they’re blessed, prosperous, influential, we think, “that will never be me; I don’t have the talent like him, the connections, the good looks”; none of that matters to God. when you have a heart to know Him, when you’re your best right where you are, one touch of God’s favor can take you from the outside to the inside. you may not realize it, but you already have royal blood flowing through your veins. you’re wearing a crown of favor. God breathed his life into you; He didn’t create you to stay on the outside, to live in the shepherd’s fields. sure, there are seasons that we go through, tests we must pass, but don’t let that become permanent in your thinking; God has already lined up the Samuels to come push you into your destiny. you may be on the outside, but get ready; God’s going to bring you to the inside. 

God doesn’t want us to go through life just celebrating others; He wants you to be celebrated. sometimes, thoughts will tell you, “you belong on the outside; that blessed life, that prosperous, abundant life, that’s not for you, that’s for those people that are more talented, that have more beauty.” don’t believe those lies. you didn’t get left out. you weren’t shortchanged. God put greatness in you. there are gifts and talents that you’ve not yet tapped into. there are new levels in your future.

keep being faithful. like with David, your time is coming; you’re going to be called into the house. The good news is, God has your number; He has the healing that belongs to you, He has the baby with your name on it. you may be on the outside, but God’s about to bring you to the inside. you’re going to look up and say, “I feel better now than I’ve felt in years.” you’re not going to just be celebrating and admiring others, you’re going to be celebrated. there are blessings in your future that you never asked for or thought about. you may not see how it can happen, you feel like you’re stuck, you’re in the shepherd’s fields, but God has not forgotten about you. if you’ll keep being your best where you are, you’re about to be called into the house; new doors are going to open, the right people will show up, problems turn around, the fullness of your destiny.

Anchored to hope

from JO’s sermon tonight:

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

Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for

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

Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

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

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

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

Isaiah 49:23 (ISV)

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

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

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

Zechariah 9:12 (NIV)

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 4:18 (AMPC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick

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

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

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

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

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