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Living at rest

from JO’s sermon tonight:

rest doesn’t mean that you’re on vacation, you never do anything; we all have to work, deal with challenges, interact with different people, but we’re supposed to do it from a place of peace, not stressed out, worried, fighting everything that we don’t like.

Hebrews 4:11 (ICB)

11 So let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s rest. 

that’s a place where we know God’s in control, fighting our battles. here’s the key; once you enter this rest, you’re not going to automatically stay there. life is full of peace-stealers. there will always be people and circumstances trying to pull you out of rest. if you’re going to live in peace, you have to put up some boundaries, and not allow everything in. you can’t watch the news 24 hours a day and expect to stay at rest. your mind wasn’t meant to take in all the tragedies, accidents, killings, over and over; that’s going to pull you out of rest. do yourself a favor; turn it off. be careful what you feed your inner person.  if you watch all the news about the price of oil going up, layoffs, bankruptcies, it’s going to cause you to live stressed-out, worried, on edge. you can’t feed on negativity, discouragement, and expect to stay positive and faith-filled.

I like to watch the news, of course, to know what’s going on in the world, but after about 15 minutes, I’ve learned everything I need to know; I don’t keep taking it in again and again. the 24 hour news, most of that repeats every 30 minutes; it was designed for people flipping on and off, not to watch over and over. put on some good news; feed your inner person encouraging things that build you up, cause you to stay positive, hopeful, and inspired. what we take in through our eyes and ears eventually gets into our subconscious mind; if you’re taking in all the negative, violence, discouragement, that’s going to depress your spirit.

you need to be aware of what’s pulling you out of that rest. sometimes, it’s our own choices; if you get on social media, and you’re constantly comparing your life to everyone else’s, that’s going to discourage you. you’ll never feel good about who you are as long as you’re competing with others, because there’ll always be somebody more beautiful, talented, successful; that’s a peace-stealer. put up a boundary, and say, “I am not going to live in somebody else’s world, obsessed with what they’re doing, where they’re going, what they’re eating, driving. I’m going to run my own race.” you can miss your destiny caught up in somebody else’s life. successful people are too focused on their own race to look around to see what everybody else is doing. quit comparing; it’ll pull you out of your rest.  

some people are peace-stealers; they’re high-maintenance, always having a problem. every time they call, they’re having a major crisis; they expect you to come running to bail them out, encourage them, keep them fixed. they’re good people, you love them, but you shouldn’t allow them to continually dump their problems on you. if you don’t put up a boundary, they won’t be the only one unhappy; you’ll end up unhappy. and I’m all for helping, loving, taking time to care, but some people won’t deal with their own issues as long as they can dump it on you; that’s the easy way out. as long as you’ll bail them out, feel sorry for them, let them unload their burdens, they’ll do it again and again. what they’re doing is, they dump it all on you, and then they go home and go to bed, while you stay up and worry about, “what are we going do about this?” it’s easy to take on a false sense of responsibility, where you jump every time they call, try to keep them fixed, but you are not responsible for other people’s happiness; don’t let their unhappiness keep you from being happy.

I have enough drama in my own life; I don’t need somebody else’s. if they won’t make good decisions, if they want to live upset, bitter, offended, in a crisis mode, that’s their choice;  you can’t stop that, but you shouldn’t let them control you, and make you feel guilty if you don’t help, let them call you all hours of the day. you are not a garbage can; you have to protect your peace. like a business, you need to have hours of operation; times when you’re open, times when you’re closed. “I’m open for them from 2 to 4 in the afternoon.” when they call you at 8 o’clock at night, when you’re in peace, spending time with your family, enjoying your children, that phone rings, normally you’d rush over, answer it, get all uptight; no, next time, “sorry not open for business right now.” “You mean don’t answer the phone?” yes, that’s why God created voicemail. don’t let their crisis steal your peace.

have you noticed, some people are alarmists; everything is a major problem, major crisis, they need you right now, tomorrow will be too late? they have a spirit of alarm; if you don’t put up a boundary, you’ll get pulled in, they’ll get you all stirred up, stressed-out. don’t fall into that trap. if you don’t make them respect you, you’ll be dealing with this same issue 20 years from now. your destiny is too important to let people who are not dealing with their own issues hold you back; recognize, that’s a peace-stealer. you need to make some changes. “what if I hurt their feelings?” what if you miss your destiny? God didn’t call you to keep everyone happy. and sure, do your part, be a giver, go the extra mile, but don’t become a garbage dump, where you allow someone to always dump their burdens on you; that’s out of balance. you have to protect your emotional energy; you have a limited supply. if you’re taking in all this extra drama, involved in things you should never be involved in, you’re not going to have the emotional energy for what you need: your dreams, children, assignment.

I’m not saying to be selfish, I’m saying be wise; you can’t fix everyone, you can’t make people do what’s right. you’re not called to straighten everyone out; you’re not the Savior, we already have one. some people don’t really want to change; they like the attention it brings to have you at their beck and call. a lot of times, instead of helping them, we’re really enabling their dysfunction, doing them a disservice. if you don’t bail them out, maybe they’ll start taking responsibility. if they can’t reach you every 3 minutes, maybe they’ll learn to encourage themselves. life is too short to go through it being controlled; you shouldn’t spend all your time trying to straighten everybody out. some of your relatives that are upset with each other, they’re going to be upset 30 years from now; don’t waste your valuable time being upset with them. if they don’t want to be happy, that’s fine, but don’t let them keep you from being happy; turn it over to God, and enjoy your life. 

sometimes, you have to make hard decisions to reach your destiny. you can’t fulfill your assignment trying to please everyone; if you’re trying to keep everybody around you happy, the one person who will not be happy is you. “what if they get upset, start talking about me?” they won’t be the first, and they’re not going to be the last. I would rather have people upset with me than to not become who I was created to be. if you’ll put these boundaries up, you’ll live more peacefully, be more effective, and move quicker into your destiny. when you tell someone, “I love you, but you can’t call me every 3 minutes, I can’t keep you cheered up, keep bailing you out again and again,” if they get upset, they weren’t really your friend, they were a controller, a manipulator. they like you for what you can do for them, not for who you are. you don’t need friends like that; make a change, and God will give you true friends. here’s the key; if you’re doing all the giving, and never receiving, that’s out of balance.

I heard somebody say, “if you surround yourself with people that need you more than they feed you, then that’s a red flag.” the longer I live, the more I realize the importance of having the right people in our lives; you won’t reach the fullness of your destiny with people that are constantly dragging you down, you’re having to always spend your time and energy keeping them fixed, encouraged. you need people who feed, inspire, challenge you, people who are happy, where you laugh and have fun, people who are consistent, not living in a crisis mode, moody, up-and-down, but people that are stable. I read a study that said, for every happy friend you have, you are 20% more likely to be happy. if I understand this right, if you can just find 5 happy friends, there’s a good chance you’re going to be happy. this is what the scripture says:

Proverbs 13:20 (NET Bible)

20 The one who associates with the wise grows wise

it’s true in the negative just like the positive:

Proverbs 20:19 (AMP)

19 He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets;

Therefore do not associate with a gossip

think of it like this; it for every peace-stealer you allow in your life, you’re 20% more likely to live stressed, on edge, to have a crisis. I’m asking you to find happy friends. I’m not saying you have to cut people off, never speak to them again, I’m saying, you should put up some you boundaries. you don’t have to make a big announcement, just little by little, spend less and less time with that person. if you don’t get the wrong people out of your life, you’ll never meet the right ones. especially in your inner circle, the people who are closest to you, need to be stable, consistent, happy, Godly, responsible people, that move you toward your destiny. 

Proverbs 27:17 (CEV)

17 Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other.

this is the reason many people are stuck. who do you have in your life? what are you giving your time and energy to? putting out fires, trying to keep someone happy, feeling guilty because you can’t meet their demands? that’s going to wear you out; it’s time to make a change. you can’t please everyone. 

we see this principle with Jesus. after a long day teaching the people, praying for them, the scripture says:

Mark 6:31 (CEV)

31 But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.”

there were still many people that needed prayer, needs that had not been met. I’m sure some of them thought, “we traveled all this way, and he didn’t even wait to pray for us, he let us down.” Jesus wasn’t being rude, overlooking needs; he was taking care of himself. he knew he needed to get away and get quiet, so he could be refreshed and restored. there will always be people that need you, somebody that needs rescuing, encouraging, help. if you try to meet all the needs, you’ll end up rundown, over time even burn out. your number one priority is to keep yourself healthy. you shouldn’t be pressured into doing things that you know are going to wear you out, over time even keep you from your destiny. if Jesus was willing to walk away from needs to protect his peace, stay at rest, we need to be willing to walk away from things that we know are stealing our peace. 

in Mark chapter 4:

Mark 4:36-38 (NIV)

36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. 

Jesus was asleep, at rest in the middle of the storm. 

Mark 4:38-39 (NIV)

38… 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, these disciples had seen Jesus heal a paralyzed man, cure the leper, do all kinds of miraculous signs; you’d think, since they had seen the miracles, and Jesus had just told them, “let’s go to the other side of the lake,” they would believe they would make it, but doubt, fear crept in, and they panicked, and woke Jesus up. 

like with these disciples, there will always be people that try to get us out of our rest. they may be good people, mean well, but they tend to focus on the negative, blow things out of proportion, see everything as a crisis. if you allow them, they’ll get you all wrought up, stirred up; you have to put your foot down, and say, “no, I’m staying at rest. don’t wake me up with your worry, fear, doubt. I know God is still on the throne; He brought me through in the past, and he’ll bring me through this next time.”  

now, the situation, in the natural, may be a crisis, they were in a storm: you got a bad medical report, your child is off course, your business has gone down. but when you know that the God Who controls the universe is on your boat, the God Who speaks to storms and they obey, is right there with you, you’ll have a different perspective; you won’t let circumstances pull you out of rest. you won’t let people who are panicking, stressed out, cause you to panic. you won’t stay focused on the size of the problem; you’ll stay focused on the size of your God. don’t let your own negative thoughts wake you up from your rest. don’t let people wake you up with their worry, doubt. stay in peace, and God will do what He promised; He’ll get you to where you’re supposed to be.

how we respond in the storms of life, the difficult times, influences how people respond around us. if Jesus would have woken up all panicked, “wow, this is really bad,” those disciples probably would’ve jumped overboard; “if he’s worried, we’re really worried.” but because he stayed at rest, not only could he bring peace, but people around him calmed down. when you live at rest, your family will be more peaceful. when you don’t get stressed out at the office when everybody else does, people around you will calm down. when you’re stable, consistent, in a good mood despite what’s going on around you, like Jesus, because you have peace on the inside, you’ll bring peace to the outside.

don’t let people wake you up with their negativity. like at a hotel; when you don’t want to be bothered, you put the “do not disturb” sign on the door. why don’t you put a “do not disturb sign” on your life? you’re announcing, “I’m staying at rest. don’t wake me up with your turmoil, drama, fear”; tell those peace-stealers, “look at the sign on the door; ‘do not disturb.’ I have entered into the rest of God.” life happens. there will be plenty of opportunities to wake up from that rest. even though people and circumstances may bypass that “do not disturb” sign, you have the final say; you have to dig your heels in, and say, “no, I’m staying at rest. I know God’s still on the throne. I am not going to lose my peace over something I cannot change.” how many times do we let small things pull us out of that rest? you get caught in traffic, a coworker was rude to you, somebody’s talking about you; don’t let that get on the inside.

you’ll never keep away all the peace-stealers. if you’re waiting for them to change, traffic to change, your boss to change, you’ll live stressed, worried, your whole life. they may never change. the good news is; you can change. you can enter into this rest. you can put that “do not disturb” sign on. despite what comes against, you make up your mind; you’re going to stay in peace. that “do not disturb” sign, most of the time, it’s not for other people, it’s for you; it’s to remind us to stay in peace. are you allowing things to pull you out of rest? anyone can be peaceful when everything is going their way; the real test comes when life happens, when the remote control is lost, the car wash damages your car, the disciples come rushing in, panicking, “we’re in a storm, this is really bad.” the easy thing to do is to panic with them, get all upset. recognize what’s happening; those are peace-stealers, trying to pull you out of your rest. 

this is what happened with the Israelites. God had just delivered them out of slavery. they were headed toward the promised land, life was good, until the Pharaoh changed his mind; he and his army came chasing after them. the Israelites ended up at a dead end, at the Red Sea. they had nowhere to go; it looked like they’d certainly recaptured, or maybe even killed. they began to panic, they were so afraid. the scripture says:

Exodus 14:10-11 (NCV)

10 When the Israelites saw the king and his army coming after them, they were very frightened and cried to the Lord for help.

11 They said to Moses, “What have you done to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert?

Moses knew, if they would’ve stayed upset, fearful, worried, that would’ve stopped God from working. he said to the people:

Exodus 14:13 (NLT)

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. 

notice, there was a condition; God will fight your battles if you’ll stay at rest. quit worrying about the medical report, being upset over the contract that you didn’t get, stressed by those people who are talking about you; if you’ll remain at rest, God will fight your battles. I’m asking you today to identify the peace-stealers in your life. what’s causing you to be stressed? are you carrying a load that you’re not supposed to carry, allowing someone to dump their burdens on you, trying to be the savior? turn that over to God; don’t let them pull you out of rest. are you allowing traffic, people, a grouchy boss, to upset you? they may not change, but you can change. put up this “do not disturb” sign; not just for others, but to remind you to stay in peace. friends, life is too short to go through it letting peace-stealers determine our destiny. if you’ll make this decision with me that you’re going to live at rest, you’ll not only enjoy your life more, but God will do for you what He did for the Israelites; part Red Seas, restore your health, bring vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny.

(No new sermon this week.)

The short answer is: like a person of God, of course.

What does that mean? First and foremost, that you do not blame, accuse, complain about, argue with, or get angry at, God. EVER. God always knows, and does, whatever is the best and right thing to do, whether it looks that way to you or not; think about all the times that God didn’t give you what you wanted, and later on He gave you something BETTER, and/or you found out that the thing you wanted would have been a disaster for you if you had gotten it, either directly, or by preventing you from receiving some other blessing. You also have to remember, He is the God of everyone on Earth, not just of you, and He takes everybody into account when he makes His decisions; somebody else might have needed the thing you wanted more than you did, or been a better fit for that situation… or, the way things worked out may have been one part of a complex plan whose resolution you’ll probably never see.

The next thing you have to do is resist the urge to keep asking WHY. No matter how many times you ask, you’re not going to know the reason, and if you DID know the reason, it wouldn’t change anything, and probably wouldn’t make you feel any better… do you REALLY want to find out why you didn’t get picked for something? Is your ego up for that?

What SHOULD you do? As with any negative circumstance, the most important thing is for you to stay in faith. If your faith wavers from a disappointment, then it’s not real faith. Look at this as an opportunity to increase and strengthen your faith, which will benefit you in countless ways later on.

Focus on what you can learn from your situation. Do you need to take some classes to gain skills that are more desirable to employers? Do you need to get in better shape to be more attractive to the people you want to go out with? Do you have to become a better listener, or more compassionate, in order to have more and better friends?

This will not only be useful to you now, but you will be able to use what you’ve learned in the future to assist and encourage people who are going through a similar experience. Keep your eyes open for those people; God will send them your way, and you have to be ready to get out of your comfort zone and share your own failures and disappointments, and how you overcame them, so that they will feel better and learn how to deal with theirs.

Try to find ways that you can create something good from the disappointment. This won’t always be possible, of course, but if you have free time now that you would not have had if things had gone the way you wanted, find something really awesome to do with that time, like working for a charity, visiting lonely elderly people in a seniors home, etc.

As with any other situation, you want to keep thanking and praising God throughout the time that you’re dealing with disappointment. Remember the countless other things that He has done for you, and the infinite ways that He is awesome, and bring those things up in your prayer time every day… you ARE praying every day, right? God does not respond to people who are sulking, whining, or complaining; God responds to a positive attitude, thanks, praise, and faith. Use your disappointing situation to demonstrate to God how devoted you are to Him, and how sure you are that He is going to bring you into your promised land; I can tell you from extensive personal experience that when you do this, God will reward your radical faith and radical obedience with radical blessings.

That sounds silly, doesn’t it? Let’s think it through, though: The Bible makes clear throughout the New Testament that demons, what we would be more likely to refer to in the modern era as evil spirits, exist; Jesus cast them out many times… out of PEOPLE.  We know that demons can exist inside of animals, too, because Jesus allowed, or perhaps assisted, demons to go into a herd of pigs:

Luke 8:32-33 (NIV)

32 A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission. 33 When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs

There is no mention in the Bible about whether or not evil spirits can afflict physical objects. We have to be VERY careful about believing anything in the spiritual realm that is not specifically discussed in the scripture, because it’s all too easy to embroider our beliefs with nonsense that has the power to lead us in the wrong direction. Sometimes, you have to wait until you or someone you trust completely experiences something that indicates what the answer is. Before today, I would have been unable to give a definitive answer to the demons question, because I had nothing to go by. As you’ve probably already guessed, that has changed:

When I got home from prayer meeting and started trying to use the computer, it started a non-stop freak out, with the screen going black and/or to snow, and all the applications freezing up; I couldn’t even get the quit box to come up to see if I could quit out of something and fix the mess.  For most of the time this was going on, nothing was showing as red (locked up) on the activity monitor, and when something DID show as red and I was eventually able to quit out of it (because the activity monitor was also locked up), it didn’t change anything.  This disaster did not pause, it was not sporadic, it did not slow down or taper off; it was going full-tilt for over 20 minutes.  Desperate to not have to restart the computer, which would mean closing my transcription file and thus having to redo the transcription, and because I know from prior experience that demons DO still exist in the modern day, and CAN be cast out, at least from people, I took a leap of faith and said, “Any spirits that are afflicting my computer or electronic equipment, I cast you out, in Jesus name”… and then it STOPPED!!  Not slowed down, not tapered off, not paused, STOPPED, INSTANTLY, and did not begin again.

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

I’m a believer and not a doubter, but I sat there holding my breath for a couple of minutes before I fully accepted that this had really worked.

In my mind, this is solid proof that evil spirits CAN exist in physical objects… or at least SOME physical objects, perhaps only those with electricity running through them… and they can be cast out of objects in the same way they are out of people. 

How does that translate into day-to-day life? I don’t know. Electronic devices are subject to all sort of problems, the vast majority of which, I assume, are not demonic in nature, so most of the time if we try to cast out demons, we are not going to see an effect.  It’s also possible that demons might expand an existing problem, or set a problem into motion and then depart to wreak havoc elsewhere, in which case trying to cast them out might have only a partial effect, or none. On the other hand, there’s certainly no harm in trying, so the next time your computer, phone, whatever, starts going crazy in 10 ways at once, give it a shot… and let me know how it turns out.

 

Edit 4-8:  The fairly new battery of my car had died.  I have a charger for car batteries, also fairly new, and that had been verified to work previously;  it did not charge the battery. We tested it on someone else’s vehicle, and it appeared to be working. He thought that maybe the battery had run dry, but we checked it, and it still had plenty of water. At this point, I was told that I need a new battery, which is not cheap. As what I believe is called a Hail Mary pass in football, in other words something highly unlikely to succeed but you do it anyways and pray, he offered to let me use HIS charger on the battery to see if it would work.  When it had been on long enough, he went to retrieve his charger, and took the key with him so that he could see if it would start. He was not hopeful about it. Before he got the key in the ignition, I cast out any demons that might be infesting the car or any part thereof in Jesus name. For good measure, I asked the Holy Spirit to fill the battery and the car, and asked God to make it start. 

It did!!!!!!!!!

Peaceful on purpose

from JO’s sermon tonight:

if you’re going to live in peace, it’s not going to happen by accident. every day, we have opportunities to get upset, be offended, live worried. life happens: people get on your nerves, you get unexpected bills, a family member’s in the hospital. if you wait for all your circumstances to calm down, then you’re going to have peace and stop worrying, you’ll be waiting your whole life. God never promised that He would keep us from difficulties, that we wouldn’t have storms, but He did say that He would give us peace in the midst of the storms: 

Philippians 4:7 (RSV)

7 …the peace of God, which passes all understanding

that means, despite what’s going on around you, you still have peace: “the medical report wasn’t good, but I’m not worried; I know God has me in the palm of His hand.” “I didn’t get the promotion that I worked for, but I’m not upset; I know God has something better coming my way.” “my coworker was rude to me, but I’m not offended; God is my vindicator, He’ll fight my battles.” you have to protect your peace; you weren’t created to live worried, uptight, on edge. this is the reason many people have health issues: they can’t sleep at night, their food won’t digest right, they have ulcers. it’s because their mind is never at rest; they’re constantly trying to figure everything out, worried about their health, upset about their job, stressed-out over the traffic. your mind needs a break; it wasn’t meant to go all the time. the scripture says:

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

22 Cast your cares on the Lord

you have to learn to turn it over to God. you weren’t designed to carry that heavy load; it will frustrate you. here’s the key; when you rest, God goes to work, but when you work, God rests. if you try to be God, God will step back and say, “ok, you figure it out, you handle it all, and I’ll take a break.” but when you come back to a place of peace, and say, “God, I trust You, my life is in Your hands. I’m not going to worry, live stressed; You have this all figured out, so I’m going to be still and know that you are God.” that’s when God goes to work.

in the scripture, David faced all kinds of opposition: people came against him, enemies were trying to take his life; he could’ve lived worried, stressed out, but he understood this principle.  he said:

Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV)

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

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

one version says:

Psalm 23:2 (CEB)

2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;

    He leads me to restful waters;

he was saying, “the way I keep my sanity, protect my peace, is on a regular basis, I go down to the still waters, and I empty out all my worry, fear, anxiety.”  he let his mind rest. I’m not talking about a physical place, I’m talking about in your spirit. it can be chaotic all around you, traffic, people, problems, drama, but on the inside, there’s a rest; you’re at peace. worry is a thief: it will rob of your sleep, joy, creativity. you don’t make good decisions when you’re worried. if you allow it, worry can keep you from your destiny. the scripture says:

Luke 12:25 (PHILLIPS)

25 Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries

if we could, some of us would be 23 feet tall. what are you worried about? what’s keeping you awake at night, stealing your joy? it’s time to come back to the still waters. when you get quiet, when you’re in peace, it will help you to have the right perspective. but when we worry, we’re making our problem our God; what you see as the biggest thing in your life, in one sense that’s your God. if you worry about your health, night and day, you can’t sleep, that’s all you talk or think about, you’re making that sickness your God. do yourself a favor; take the worry, sickness, financial difficulty, off the throne, and put God back up on the throne. use that same energy to thank God that He’s still in control.

every time you’re tempted to worry, turn it around and thank Him that He’s taking care of that situation. let the worry be a reminder to switch over into praise, into things that are of a good report. you have to guard your mind; this is where the main battle is taking place.  good thoughts, they don’t automatically come into our mind; most of the time, especially in difficult situations, the first thoughts are negative, things like, “that pain in your side, that’s dangerous, same thing your grandmother died from,” “you’ll never get married; you’ve been single so long,” “you’ll never get past this bad break, all the odds are against you.” the easy thing to do is to believe those lies, start dwelling on it;  “what if I don’t get well, the report isn’t good, I can’t make those payments?” don’t fall into that trap. your life is going to follow your thoughts; if you live worried, anxious, uptight, you’re inviting discouragement, bad breaks, negativity. you have to turn your worry into worship, thank God that He’s fighting your battles, that no weapon formed against you will ever prosper.

when I look back over my life, most of the things I worried about never came to pass. I wasted a lot of time and energy being uptight. it’s easy to wake up in the middle of the night and find something to worry about. a lot of people these days are professional worriers; they can multitask and worry while taking a shower, brushing their teeth, driving to work. somebody asked me, if I could do anything over again, what would I do differently? I told him I would trust God more; I wouldn’t lose sleep worried about the budgets, if I was able to minister, if people were going to like me. none of that worrying helped me to move 1” forward.

I wonder how many things you’re worried about that are never going to come to pass. are you trying to solve a problem that hasn’t happened? “what if I get laid off next year?” what if you don’t, but you spend a whole year worrying about it? “what if I never get married?” what if you do; how much time are you wasting, worrying?  “what if this pain in my side is something serious?” go to the doctor and get checked out, but don’t spend 3 years worried, then find out it was nothing. Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 6:34 (GNT)

34 So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own

God has given you grace for today; you don’t have grace for tomorrow. don’t try to figure out the next 5 years, play out all the what-ifs; the what-ifs will depress you. the truth is, if a what-if does come to pass, God will give you the grace to handle it. “what if the report’s not good, my love one doesn’t make it, I do get laid off?” then the peace that passes understanding will be right there waiting for you. God promises that He will arm you with strength for every battle. we may not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future. don’t miss today worried about tomorrow. today is a gift; we can never get this day back. I believe, like with me, many of the things you’re worried about are not going to happen, and if they do, it’s not going to be as difficult as you think; you don’t have the grace for it today.

and sure, we should plan, use common sense, but at some point, you have to turn it over to go to God, and say, “God, You know what’s best for me. You said You’d give me grace for every season. just like You clothe the lilies of the fields and feed the birds of the air, I know You will take care of me.”  it’s very freeing when you learn to turn things over to God. you’re not supposed to go through life weighted down by worry, stress, anxiety; start lightening your load, go back to the still waters, empty all that out. really, it’s important, every morning you should start the day off in peace, not stressed, hurried, rushing around. look at the sunrise, listen to the birds singing, breathe in God’s goodness, thank Him for His blessings on your life. Hebrews talks about:

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV)

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest

that means; you have a problem, but you’re not losing sleep over it, you know God is still in control. this is one of the main ways we show God that we’re trusting Him, by staying in peace. not up when your circumstances are up, down when they’re down;  you’re stable, consistent, in the rest of God.

are you losing sleep over something you can’t do anything about? as long as you’re honoring God, being your best, then you can rest. you may be facing an illness; you can’t make yourself get well. of course, do what you can, use common sense, but at some point you have to turn it over to God, and say, “Lord, I trust You to bring the healing, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my life.” worrying doesn’t help you to heal. living stressed, uptight, studies show that weakens the immune system; come back to a place of peace. or, you may have people in your life that are not making good decisions. you can’t make people do what’s right; don’t let their poor choices sour your life, you have to protect your peace. don’t go the next 20 years all worried about somebody else; turn them over to God. if you’ll get off the throne, so to speak, and stay at rest, then God will get on the throne, and do what you can’t do. in His own way, His own timing, He’ll make things happen.

but really, if God is not changing them yet, what makes us think we can change them in our own strength? and sure, we should be good examples, we should pray; what I’m saying is, you shouldn’t live stressed out over somebody else’s poor choices. you have a destiny to fulfill; you need your energy, wisdom, creativity, to become all God’s created you to be. are you trying to change things that only God can change? your load will get a whole lot lighter if you’ll turn it over to Him and enter into His rest. 

Acts 12:1-6 (NIV)

12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. … he proceeded to seize Peter also… 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover… 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Peter was sleeping so soundly, the angel had to hit him to awaken him. if you knew that the next day your life might come to an end, you were in great danger, would you be sleeping soundly, or would you be pacing the floor, stressed out, “God, please help me, don’t let them kill me”? it’s good to pray, ask for God’s help, but at some point we all have to do like Peter, and say, “God, I’ve honored you, prayed, believed, I’ve done my best; now, God, I’m going to rest. I’m not going to worry about the medical report, live stressed out over the situation at work, be upset because I don’t see anything happening; I trust you.” if Peter would’ve been stressed, worried, maybe the angel wouldn’t have showed up; maybe he wouldn’t have been freed. but when God saw him resting, God said, “alright, let Me go to work.” I wonder if you would see situations turn around if you’d simply come back to a place of peace.

worry doesn’t make anything better. being frustrated doesn’t get God’s attention. begging God, reminding Him what’s wrong, that only makes us depressed. take the problem off the throne, and put God back up on throne. if you’re talking more about your problems than you are about God, you have the wrong thing on the throne. I saw a saying the other day: “dear problem, my God is so much bigger than you.” but even in prayer, instead of praying in faith, sometimes we complain about what we don’t like: “God, these people at work get on my nerves, You better do something. God, my back’s been hurting for 6 years. God, these prices are so high, I need your help.” instead of begging God, reminding Him of everything that’s  wrong, why don’t you try a different approach; do like Peter, go to sleep, enter into His rest.

sometimes, when I pray, I say, “God, You know what I need, what I want, all about me, so Lord, I just want to tell You that I love You, I trust You, and I thank You for getting me to where I’m supposed to be.” not begging God, but praying from a place of rest, talking to Him from a place of peace. our actions speak louder than our words; when you can sleep soundly, like Peter, in a time of great need, you’re showing God that you trust Him. you’re saying, “God, I know You’re bigger than this problem. You said You would never sleep, so I’m going to go to sleep. even though things aren’t perfect in my life, I’m going to relax, knowing that You’re on the throne, and You are fighting my battles.” that’s a very freeing way to live. my message to you today is very simple; go to sleep. enter into His rest. quit worrying about everything, quit trying to figure it out; turn it over to God. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:16 (NLT)

16 I am sending you out as sheep among wolves

sheep are very calm, peaceful animals. they don’t get upset. I’ve never seen a sheep having a nervous breakdown, pacing the fields, stressed out, uptight; they’re always at ease. what’s interesting is, sheep are basically defenseless animals; they can’t run fast, they don’t have sharp teeth, they can’t really kick. they rely on the shepherd to take care of them. the shepherd keeps them from danger, protects them from wild animals, tells them where to go. they don’t worry; they know, as long as they’re with the shepherd, everything will be fine. we can take a lesson from the sheep; stay in peace, the good Shepherd is watching over you. the God Who knew you before you were born, breathed life into you, is guiding, protecting you.

and yes, there will be some wolves in our path, attacks, things we don’t understand. don’t fall apart, don’t start complaining; be like a sheep, stay in peace. you don’t have to run, get all worked up; the good Shepherd will fight your battles. He will lead you into green pastures, restore your soul. you may go through some valleys, difficult seasons; you don’t have to fear any evil, for the Lord your God, the good Shepherd, is right there with you. sometimes, the reason we’re not seeing God work in our life is that we’re not acting like sheep; we’re worried, living stressed-out, trying to change things that we can’t change. why don’t you come back to a place of peace, the still waters? you’ve worried about that problem long enough; let your mind take a break. some people never let their mind rest; they go on vacation for their body, but their mind is still worrying. they worry on the beach just like they worry at home. that doesn’t help us to move 1 inch forward.

in the scripture, when God told Ananias to go pray for Saul, Ananias didn’t want to go. Saul was having believers arrested and put in prison; he was the greatest enemy of the church. but:

Acts 9:3-8 (NIV)

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied… 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.

that moment was a turning point in Saul’s life; he left there a changed man. but Ananias didn’t know anything about what had happened on the road to Damascus; he still thought Saul was a huge threat:

Acts 9:13-14 (NIV)

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

Ananias was worried; he came up with reasons not to pray for Saul.  he didn’t realize he was worried about something that God had already taken care of. he didn’t know that Saul had already had a change of heart on the road to Damascus. when he went to pray for him, he found out that Saul was an ally instead of an enemy. 

some of the things you’re worried about, just like with Ananias, you can’t see it yet, but God has already changed it. He’s already spoken to the right people, lined up your healing, arranged that breakthrough; it’s just a matter of time before you walk into it. no use losing sleep over that child that’s off course, that negative medical report, that situation at work; the threat has already been canceled, the solution is already en route. stay in peace, and like Ananias, you’ll come into what God has already done. friends, don’t let worry rob you. if a thief came into your home every week and took your groceries, clothing, furniture, it wouldn’t take long at all before you got fed up, and said, “no more, that’s enough”; you’d put a stop to it real quickly. that’s what you have to do with worry.

don’t go another 5 years letting worry rob you of your joy, peace; put your foot down, and say, “that’s it, this is a new day; no more worrying for me. I’m going to guard my mind, stay by the still waters, live from a place of peace.” remember, when you rest, God goes to work, but when you work, God rests. whatever is bothering you, whatever you’re tempted to worry about, I’m asking you to take that off the throne, and put God back up on the throne. make Him bigger. use that same energy to thank Him that He’s working in your life. if you’ll do this, you’ll experience peace that passes understanding. no matter what happens on the outside, on the inside, you’ll be at rest. you’ll overcome obstacles, accomplish your dreams, and become everything God created you to be.

(No new sermon this week.)

God should be the center of your life, but most people who make this claim about their own lives spend many hours doing various non-work activities, and then claim that they don’t have time to…  whatever part of worshipping God you’re talking to them about.  God is not fooled by these sorts of rationalizations, so if you’re making them yourself, you need to STOP. Many of the things you can do as part of worshiping God and learning the Word can be done along with other activities; the rest, you need to figure out a way to make time for, because you will benefit more from these things than from anything else you’re doing.

You can, and should, be praying, in other words talking, to God all day, every day:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what activity you’re doing, you can always pray. If there’re people around you, you can pray silently inside your head; remember, God can read your mind. Thank God for every good thing that you receive. Praise Him for all the wonderful things He is and does. Ask Him for all the things you want, including all the changes you would like to make in yourself and your relationships. And pray for everyone you know, for all the things they need or want.  If that’s not enough to keep you busy, take a look at the news; you’ll find plenty of suffering people to pray for.

You should be attending a Bible-based church if at all possible. If you’re not eager and happy to go, you’re not in the right one. I’m biased, of course, but I would recommend a small church where there are lots of ways that you can participate in a close, committed community. And you absolutely SHOULD participate in every available activity; if your church doesn’t have prayer meetings, life groups, etc, then, unless you absolutely love it, you should be looking around for a different one.  

And, you need to be spending time every day with the Word. I’m on track to go through the Bible 3 times this year; you don’t have to go that far, but you should at least try for once.  I know, I know, some of those books are very dry and hard to get through; if necessary, skip over those books if it means that you’ll read the rest of it.  There are many Bible-reading plans that you can sign up for that have already broken the Bible into 365 pieces, and they will email you your daily reading, so you don’t have to figure out by yourself how much to read each day.  If you absolutely, positively cannot handle reading and studying, sign up for the Daily Audio Bible, and you can LISTEN to the entire Bible being read over the course of a year; you can listen while you’re doing other activities, so there’s no excuse of not having enough time.

I highly recommend setting up a prayer closet, even if all that means is dragging a chair over to an empty corner and having a notepad and pen to take notes. You don’t have to spend hours there, but you can absolutely find 5 minutes everyday to go to your closet and focus on prayer. Spend more time when you can, but at least set aside those few minutes every day to show God that He is your highest priority.

There are many wonderful sermons available on TV, YouTube, and in podcast form.  If you already have some favorite pastors, listen to their material; if not, check out some of the popular ones and find some that you enjoy. Even if you’re doing in-depth study of the Bible like I am, you will absolutely benefit from listening to the insights from what we might call “advanced Christians.” 

Keeping your mind and emotions focused on God during a busy and stressful day can be greatly enhanced by listening to praise and worship music. If you don’t know where to start to find music that will lift you up and help you feel closer to God, do a search for Christian radio stations; most of them have a way to listen for free on their websites, and then you can hear lots of currently popular songs. Once you find stuff that you like, you can get the MP3s, find the videos on YouTube, or just keep listening to the radio stations.

And finally, if you’re a reader with more time to read, there are many excellent books written about God, the Bible, living your best Christian life, etc. I wish I had time for this, but the only book I have time to read these days is the Bible. All of the major pastors have books, and beyond that, I’m guessing that the ratings on Amazon can give you a useful idea of what else is good to try out.

How much time does all this add up to?  I’m sure it seems like a lot if you haven’t been doing any of these things. *I* manage to do them all except read the non-Bible books, AND I spend a bunch of hours transcribing a sermon most weeks…  and mind you, I also average a dozen hours a week with church stuff, because I’m a hard-core participator and volunteer.  YOU can do it too. Start small, and work your way up to doing all of it; the benefits of dedication to God are the best possible use of your time.

An Easter meme

psalm 23,1

Psalm 23:1 (KJV)

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

 

I didn’t think that you needed to see any more empty tomb images, or to hear the Resurrection story again, so… I made this meme to show how much Jesus loves us, and why he made such an enormous sacrifice for us.

Feel free to use it, but if you do, please include a link back to this post.

 

Balanced books

from JO’s sermon tonight:

this is an accounting term; it means to make up for loss. when an account is low, or when there’s a deficit, you balance the books;  you add revenue to equal it out.  you have to first determine how much the account is behind;  you take all losses, deficits, total them up, then you know how much you need to add. when the books are properly balanced, no one can tell there’s ever been a loss; there is no deficit. in the same way, God has promised that He will balance the books in our lives. we all go through things that put us at a deficit: an unfair situation, a rough childhood, a friend betrayed us, we lost a loved one. if nothing changed, we would be out of balance; we would go through life with that loss, thinking, “I must have gotten the short end of the stick; God must not have had a good plan for my life.” life is not always fair, but God is fair; He will add up all the losses, disappointments, heartache, tears, and He will pay you back.

Hebrews 10:30 (AMPC)

30 For we know Him Who said, Vengeance is Mine [retribution and the meting out of full justice rest with Me]; I will repay [I will exact the compensation], says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge and determine and solve and settle the cause and the cases of His people.

God knows what you’re owed. you’re not going to live in a deficit mode. you may go through seasons where you’re out of balance: a loss, disappointment, something doesn’t make sense. but don’t worry, your time is coming; God is going to settle your case. He’s seen every tear you’ve shed, every person that’s done you wrong, every injustice. nobody else may know, but God knows, and He is not to going to leave you out of balance. you are not going to end up in the red: lonely, disappointed, at a disadvantage. that’s all temporary; the Creator of the universe is adding up all the deficits. you may have gone through things you don’t understand; you could easily live discouraged, with a chip on your shoulder. no, get your passion back; God is saying, “I’m about to balance your books. compensation, healing, vindication is coming, promotion is headed your way.

God pays attention;  He’s keeping the records of who’s trying to push you down, discredit you. He’s adding up all the deficits, and at the right time, He’s going to balance your books. some of the things God is going to pay you back for, isn’t because of wrongs done to you, but because of what your parents had to put up with, because of injustices to those that went before you. there are people in your family line, they kept doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. they gave, served, honored God, but they never saw total justice. well get ready; God is going to bless you to make up for what should’ve been theirs. God is not going to leave your family out of balance;  you’re going to come into blessings that you didn’t work for, good breaks that you didn’t deserve, doors will open that should’ve never opened. it wasn’t because of anything you did; that’s God paying your family back for what they were owed.

this is what happened with the Israelites. they had been in slavery for 10 generations. they were mistreated, taken advantage of, forced to work long hours, given these quotas that were impossible to meet. after 430 years, God brought them out of slavery. they could’ve left, and that in itself would’ve been a great miracle; they were finally free. but they didn’t leave empty-handed, with their heads down, in shame. they had worked 430 years without pay; they were owed a whole lot. God said, “alright, it’s time to balance the books.” on their way out, God caused them to have favor with their captors; the same people who had mistreated them, looked down on them, made their lives miserable, they had a change of heart:

Exodus 3:21-22 (NIV)

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

Exodus 12:35-36 (NIV)

35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

that was God balancing the books, paying them back for those 430 years.

God sees every deficit, every wrong done to you and your family;  He knows what you’re owed. there’ll be a day, like with the Israelites, where God says, “enough is enough; it’s time to balance your books.” He’s promised that He will compensate you. quit worrying about what you lost, who did you wrong, who put you at a disadvantage, who’s not giving you the credit; God saw what happened, and He’s saying, it’s payback time. you’re coming out, not empty-handed, looked down on, seen as second-class, you’re coming out promoted, vindicated, respected, with abundance, favor that you didn’t deserve, blessings chasing down. that’s the God of justice, paying you back for what you were owed. God saw what happened, and He’s going to make it up to you.

here’s the whole key; you can’t go around with a chip on your shoulder, thinking about what mama and daddy didn’t give you; God knew what your parents weren’t going to be able to give you; it didn’t stop His plan. if you will stay in faith, God will balance your books. if you didn’t get as much in one area, He is a God of justice; He’ll give you more in another area to make up for it. you may feel like you got shortchanged in life: you didn’t have a good childhood, you’re dealing with an illness, your boss doesn’t give you any credit. don’t worry, God sees what you’re owed. He’s keeping the records. He may not be able to give you another childhood, or bring a loved one back that you lost, but He can make the rest of your life so rewarding, fulfilling, you don’t even think about what you didn’t get.

balanced books means, you’re not living from a place of deficit, loss, always thinking about what you’re lacking. maybe somebody walked out of a relationship and broke your heart; don’t live bitter, give up on life, that is not the end. you may be out of balance right now, that loss is extra heavy, but God saw the hurt, betrayal, and He’s going to pay you back. He’s going to bring somebody better into your life than you’ve ever even imagined. or maybe a dream didn’t work out, you didn’t get the scholarship, the medical report wasn’t good, now you have to take a whole other round of treatment. in these tough times, when life doesn’t seem fair, you have to keep reminding yourself that He is a just God, He sees what you’re going through, and you are not going to live from a place of deficit.

all through the day, “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re balancing my books. I believe that payback, healing, vindication is coming.” this is what allows God to pay you back for what you are owed. not going around discouraged, blaming others, in self-pity. the hand you’ve been dealt may not have been fair, but it is not a surprise to God; He already has a way to settle your case. every time you’re tempted to worry, just turn it around, and thank Him that payback is on the way, that you too are going to live from a place of no loss. God knows how to balance your books. He didn’t promise that unfair things would never happen, but He did promise that He’ll compensate you for what you are owed. He’s already lined up the right people to search you out. He can make things happen that you could never make happen. you may have gone through a disappointment, a bad break, somebody did you wrong; get ready, payback, vindication is on the way. 

there was a young lady in the scripture named Leah;  she and her sister Rachel were both married to Jacob. Rachel was much more beautiful:

Genesis 29:17 (ESV)

17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance.

so Jacob didn’t give Leah much time or attention:

Genesis 29:30 (ESV)

30 So Jacob… loved Rachel more than Leah

I’m sure Leah felt inferior, not good enough, at a disadvantage. but the scripture says:

Genesis 29:31-32 (NIV)

31 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

Leah went on to have 4 sons before Rachel had one baby. back in those days, having a son was a big deal. God was saying, “Leah, since your husband is not treating you right, since you didn’t get the beautiful looks like your sister, I’m going to balance your books and give you something that will cause Jacob to notice you; I’m going to let you have children before your sister.” God shows special favor to people that are seen as having a disadvantage. 

you may think somebody else got all the good breaks, good childhood, good looks, good personality; don’t worry, your time is coming. God has some advantages for you that going to cause you to stand out. you’re not going to live always being in the shadow of somebody more beautiful, talented, successful; God’s going to cause you to shine. you’re going to excel, be known, leave your mark. what you think you didn’t get in looks, personality, upbringing, God is going to make it up for you; He’s going to balance your books. and like with Leah, those times when people try to make you feel inferior, small, try to discredit you, that does not go unnoticed; God sees every injustice, every tear, hears every negative comment. the scripture says:

Matthew 10:29 (WE)

29 Are not two sparrows worth only a small amount of money? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father knowing about it.

how much more does God see everything that happens to you? you’re His child, His most prized possession. when somebody does you wrong, God takes it personally. He doesn’t sit back and say, “I wish they wouldn’t do that”; no, that’s when God gets up and goes to work, just like, as parents, if we see somebody mistreat our children, we go overboard to make things right. the way your heavenly father is, is if somebody does you wrong, you go through an unfair situation, God sees it, and here’s the beauty, God never brings you out the same, he’ll always bring you out better. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

7 Instead of your shame

    you will receive a double portion,

and instead of disgrace

    you will rejoice in your inheritance.

And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,

    and everlasting joy will be yours.

don’t complain about the disappointment; it puts you in position to receive double. that bad break may look like a setback, but really it is a setup for God to show out in a greater way. God is about to balance your books. people that have been against you, some of them for years, tried to push you down, treat you condescendingly, things are about to change; they’re going to see God’s favor on your life, and treat you with the respect and honor that you deserve. 

when the Israelites were in slavery, Moses told Pharaoh again and again to let the people go, but Pharaoh wouldn’t listen; he didn’t respect Moses. he thought, “who are you, Moses, to tell me what to do? I’m the pharaoh, I’m leader around here; I’m wearing this royal robe, I live in the palace. Moses, you’re a shepherd; you don’t have any credentials, you’re not successful, you live out in the desert, you’ve been wearing those same clothes for 40 years; you’re nothing compared to me.” he dismissed Moses, saw him as secondary. this happened over and over. every time Moses went back to tell him that another plague was coming, Pharaoh didn’t even give him the time of day; “here comes that crazy guy Moses again, trying to tell me what to do.” what’s interesting is, after the last plague, when Pharaoh finally decided to let the people go, they not only gave the Israelites their gold and silver, Pharaoh said:

Exodus 12:32 (NIRV)

32 Go. Take your flocks and herds, just as you have said. And also give me your blessing.”

now, instead of looking down on Moses, seeing him as second class, he recognizes God’s hand on Moses’s life; he sees the honor, influence, anointing, so much so that he asked Moses to bless him. part of God balancing your books is, people that don’t respect you, try to discredit you, push you down, they’re going to have a change of heart, and see God’s hand of blessing and favor on your life. they’re going to ask for your blessing.  the scripture says:

Proverbs 21:1 (NASB)

21 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

God knows how to change people. you don’t have to play up to someone, try to convince them to like you, let them control and manipulate you; just keep running your race, being your best, walking in your anointing, honoring God, and God will turn the hearts of those that are against you. it may not happen overnight, it may take years, but God will balance your books.  there will be a day, like with Moses, when he saw the person that disrespected him the most, the Pharaoh that wouldn’t even look him in the eyes, is now asking for his blessing. it says in Proverbs:

Proverbs 16:7 (NKJV)

7 When a man’s ways please the Lord,

He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 

don’t be upset when people do you wrong, you go through an unfair situation; just keep honoring God, and one day, they’ll ask for your blessing. one translation says:

Proverbs 16:7 (MSG)

7 … even your enemies will end up shaking your hand

instead of criticizing you, they’ll end up celebrating you.

in the New Testament, no one was more opposed to the church than Saul:

Acts 8:3 (NIV)

3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

when Stephen was stoned to death for being a follower of Christ:

Acts 7:58 (NIV)

58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

one day, Saul was on the road to Damascus:

Acts 9:1-12 (NIV)

1 Meanwhile, Saul… went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him… when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything…12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

Ananias was one of the main believers. think about what God did; Saul is sitting there blind, and the one who has the answer to his prayer is the one he came to arrest. he was Ananias’s biggest critic; now he needs what Ananias has. instead of wanting persecute Ananias, he wanted his prayers.

you may have people like Saul in your life; they’ve been against you for years, maybe not that vocal, but they’re condescending, try to push you down. don’t worry; payback is coming. God is your vindicator. you keep taking the high road, doing the right thing; one day, God will cause them to need what you have. they’ll come to you asking for your help, blessing, favor.

Ananias said:

Acts 9:13-15 (NIV)

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel.

Ananias went and prayed for his greatest enemy; he did good to someone who had spent years doing bad to him. this is a test we all must pass; will you be good to the Sauls in your life when you have what they need?  will you show them favor, even though they’ve been mistreating you?  if you want God to balance your books, you have to be the bigger person and bless those who have cursed you; in their time of need, don’t withhold what you have. don’t say, “too bad, Saul, I’m glad you’re blind, now maybe you’ll leave me alone,” no, do good to those that persecute you.

 Acts 9:17-18 (NIV)

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.

Saul became the apostle Paul, who wrote over half of the New Testament. 

but when people come against us, unfair situations happen, it’s easy to get upset, try to pay somebody back, or prove to them who we are. no, don’t waste your emotional energy on the Sauls in your life; wait for God to do it His way. God sees every injustice, He hears every negative comment, He’s adding up all the deficits, wrongs, and at the right time, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. He’ll cause people to need what you have. your time is coming. you are not going to live in a deficit mode. you may have gone through a double dose of trouble, but get ready for a double dose of blessing. the God of justice is saying, “it’s payback time.” God is about to balance your books: promotion, healing, vindication is coming. because you honor God, even your enemies are going to be at peace with you. 

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