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It’s Just a Matter of Time

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today аbout: It’s Just a Matter of Time. We all have things that were believing will change: we’re fighting an illness, we’re struggling with an addiction, we’re dealing with fear, depression, anxiety. We know what God promised that he would restore our health, that he would free us from the fear, we prayed, we believed, but we don’t see anything improving. But what you can’t see is: the moment you prayed in the unseen realm, the source of what was coming against you was cut off – the source of the fear, the source of the addiction, the source of the sickness.

Now, you may not see any manifestation for some time, there may not be any evidence that things have changed, and this is when many people get discouraged. But there will always be a period of time, where it looks like God didn’t do what he promised: the fear still comes, the medical report hasn’t improved, the addiction looks just the same, but what’s feeding those things has been cut off. May seem like it’s still alive, but the truth is: the fear is dead, the sickness is dead, the trouble at work is dead. Don’t be discouraged because you don’t see anything happening, it’s just a matter of time.

One day Jesus was leaving Bethany, he saw a fig tree off in the distance, he was hungry, so he went over to get something to eat, but the tree didn’t have any figs. Jesus said to the tree: “May no person ever eat fruit from you again”. He cursed the tree, but when he said it nothing on the outside looked any different, the tree was still just as full and healthy as before. I can hear the disciples begin to whisper, “What happened? It didn’t work, did he lose his power”? They had seen Jesus speak to a blind man and healed his eyes, and they heard him speak to the storm and calmed the sea, but this time when Jesus spoke nothing changed, there was no evidence that what he said had happened.

But the next morning, as the disciples were passing by, they saw the tree, the scripture says, “The tree had withered from the roots”. When Jesus spoke to the tree nothing happened on the outside, but on the inside, down in the roots, the source was cut off. When the roots are dead, the tree is dead. It may still look alive, it may still have green leaves, still have wide branches, but it’s just a matter of time before the outside catches up with the inside.

It may look like that sickness you’re dealing with is still alive, that anxiety is just as bad as ever, the addiction just is strong. You prayed, wondered: why God won’t do something? God did do something: the moment you prayed, he cut off the source. That addiction may look like it’s alive, but if you could see the roots, you would realize – it’s dead, it’s just a matter of time before the outside catches up. That sickness may seem permanent, like you’ll never get well, have a new perspective: the roots have been cut off and don’t be discouraged because it still has green leaves, you don’t see anything changing.

The Psalmist said, “The strength of the wicked is being cut off, and the power of the godly is being increased”. Everything that’s trying to stop you, you need to see that power as being cut off. It may be hindering you now, but it’s not permanent, it’s not going to last. Why? It lost its source. Every day it’s withering, every day it’s getting weaker, may look the same on the outside, but on the inside it’s drying up.

When Jesus spoke to the tree, there was no evidence that anything changed. Maybe you’re believing for something and you don’t see any sign of things improving. You’re speaking faith over your health, but the medical report is not getting better. You’re praying for your child, but he’s not getting back on track. If you just had some evidence, if you just saw a little sign, then you would believe. No, this is what faith is all аbout: you can’t be moved by what you don’t see, you have to be moved by what you know. “Father, I want to thank you, that the moment I prayed, you cut off the roots. I know this sick this is not permanent – healing is coming. I know this addiction is not how my story ends – freedom is coming. I know this depression doesn’t have the final say. Father, I thank you, that it’s withering up”.

And some of the things that you’re concerned about, God has already done. You haven’t seen it yet, but in the unseen realm things have changed. That anxiety you’ve been praying about, asking God to take it away, it’s already dead. That trouble at work – God has already cut off the source. Now, do your part: stay in faith until it manifest, keep thanking God, keep talking like you’re free, keep thinking like you’re healthy, keep living like you’re victorious.

I talked to a man that had struggled with an addiction for many years. He said, “Joel, I asked God to help me, but nothing happened”. He didn’t see anything on the outside changing. Wasn’t getting any easier, so he assumed that God wasn’t doing anything. He lived with the mindset, “I’m addicted, I’ll never be free, it’s too strong”. He was waiting to see the manifestation before he believed God was working, but faith says, you have to believe that when you prayed the miracle was set into motion. You can’t wait to see the evidence and then you’re going to believe – you have to believe first. You may not see any sign of it, but deep down you have to know, the source of that addiction has been cut off. When you know the roots have been cursed, you’ll have a different mindset. Instead of thinking, “Maybe one day it will happen”, you’ll know, it’s just a matter of time. God has already spoken it, he’s already cut off the source. Now, all you have to do is walk it out.

And I told him what I’m telling you: you may not see anything happening, but the moment you prayed, God did something. Instead of thinking, “One day I’ll be free”, try a new approach, “Father, thank you, that I am free. Thank you, that this addiction is dead, that it doesn’t control me, that you’ve already put an end to it”. He started living with the attitude, that it was already cut off. He kept thanking God he was free, talking like he was free. And I saw him about six months later, he said, “After 22 years of being addicted, today I am totally free”.

Are you waiting for the evidence to believe what God said about you? Are you talking yourself out of it, because you don’t see any sign? If you’ll get in agreement with God, you’ll see what he’s done on the inside, show up on the outside. The source of what’s trying to stop you has been cut off. “Well, Joel, it seems like it’s still alive. Seems like as strong as ever”. Don’t be moved, don’t be fooled by the outside.

Victoria was in our backyard one time, we had these beautiful rose bushes. She’s got some scissors and cut off one of the roses and brought it inside. The moment she cut it off it was dead, it was separated from its source of life. What’s interesting, is it didn’t look dead it didn’t look any different from the other roses that were still on the bush: it was still beautiful, still colorful, still smelled good. She put it in a vase, for a couple of weeks it was right by our kitchen sink: still looked beautiful, healthy, but the whole time it was dead, it was just a matter of time before it withered up.

You may have things in your life like that rose: the sickness has already been cut off, the depression, the fear, the addiction. The moment you prayed it died, but it still looks just the same. You don’t feel any difference, nothing is changing: that’s okay, that doesn’t mean that it’s still alive. Like that rose, at some point it’s going to wither, you’re going to see what God promised you.

Now the scripture says, “Don’t faint in mind”. The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. Thoughts will tell you, “Nothing happened when you prayed, you’ll never get well, you’ll never break the addiction, you’ve had it too long”. Don’t believe those lies, the roots have been cut off, it’s just a matter of time before you see things change in your favor.

We have some friends, every Easter they send us a dozen rosebuds. They come in this large box, they have a long stem with the rose bud on the top. What’s interesting is even though the rose is dead, even though it’s been cut off from the bush, when you put that stem in water, the rose will bloom. It’s dead, but it will still blossom. It has no life, but it will still get bigger, increase and expand.

There are times when even though God has cut something off, it will get bigger. Even though he cut off the trouble, it will blossom, you’ll be tempted to think, “Joel, this sickness isn’t dead, it’s getting worse. This anxiety is not dead, it’s increasing instead of decreasing”. No, stay in faith, it may bloom, it may blossom, but it’s still dead. All through the day, “Father, thank you, that the source of this trouble has been cut off. Thank you, that you have cursed the roots of this fear. Thank you, that you said this sickness has to go. So, Lord, I’m gonna stay in agreement with you, I know it’s just a matter of time before it withers up”.

When we were trying to acquire this building, the former Compaq Center, we had all kinds of opposition. But after two years we finally got enough city council members to be for us and we won the vote. We were so excited, we knew that God gave us the building, but three days later a company that owned most of the property around the facility filed a federal lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. I thought the opposition was over, but it was just beginning. We had this huge company coming against us, they were the largest taxpayer in Texas, a big real estate company.

Now we had this giant in our path, I was tempted to think, “God, what are we gonna do? They have more resources, they have more influence”. But I did what I’m asking you to do, I said, “Father, I want to thank you, that the source of those coming against us has been cut off. They may be bigger, stronger, but God, I know, you being for us is more than the world being against us”.

Like that rosebud that blooms even though it’s dead, don’t be surprised if opposition blossoms against you, adversity blooms, giants try to stop you. It looks like they have the upper hand, no, stay in peace, their source has been cut off. It is not permanent, it is just a matter of time before you see the hand of God.

All the odds were against us, it looked like this building could be tied up in the courts for many years. We were told, that the other side would never back down, but one day they called out of the blue and said they wanted to meet. We met, they agreed to not only let us have the building, but to lease us nine thousand covered parking spaces. That two-year legal battle suddenly came to an end.

You may have things that you thought were dead: the addiction, the trouble at work, the legal situation, but now it’s blooming, it’s getting bigger. You think that your prayers must not have worked, no, the roots have been cut off. It may bloom, but it lost its source. What you’re dealing with is only temporary, it cannot last without the source. That rose bloom looks so beautiful for a couple of weeks, seems so vibrant and so healthy, but then it suddenly begins to wither.

You’re about to see some of these suddenlies: things you’ve been praying about, you believe that the source has been cut off, but it seems like it’s still alive – no, get ready, that addiction is about to suddenly go. That depression is about to suddenly stop. That opposition is about to suddenly be defeated. That sickness about to suddenly change. It may be blooming now, that’s a sign that it’s on the way out, that’s a sign that you are close to your breakthrough, you are close to a new level, you are close to seeing freedom, like you’ve never seen.

When you walk into someone’s house and see a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They can smell nice, they can look nice, you never think about the fact that the flowers are dead, that in a few weeks they’re going to be thrown out. When negative things are blooming in your life, like those roses, it may seem like they’re permanent, like they’re going to be there forever. What do you have to remind yourself: it’s only temporary. That sickness may be blooming, it looks so impressive, I know a secret: it’s not going to last.

That trouble in your marriage looks permanent – no, this too shall pass. Your child’s off-course, looks like he’ll miss his destiny. No, the source of that trouble has been cut off. Maybe blooming now, that doesn’t mean that it’s not dead. God is already putting end to it. Now it may take a little time to see what God promised, but it’s on the way. Don’t talk yourself out of it, don’t get discouraged by what’s not happening.

I’ve heard it said, “The enemy makes the most noise when he’s on his way out”. You think about how, when Jesus told demons to leave people, very often they let out a loud scream, they’d make all this noise, all this commotion. When the enemies stirring up trouble in your life, making a lot of noise: your health went down, finance is not good, your child is acting worse – don’t panic, that’s a sign he’s on the way out, he makes the most no commotion when he’s about to leave.

There was a lady that had a dream. In this dream she was in her house, she saw this very evil looking person come in and start taking her possessions. She was watching from the second-floor over the banister, he was putting her things in this large bag. In this dream she began to pray, she said, “In the name of Jesus I have authority over you, leave my things alone”. The men begin to mock her, he said, “I don’t have to listen to you, I’m not stopped by you, I’m not afraid of you or your prayers”.

He continued through the house, putting her things in that bag. She said it again, “You have to go”. He laughed and said, “I don’t have to leave, your prayers don’t stop me, you have no authority over me”. But this time she noticed, while he was saying that, he started putting all of her things back. He kept mocking her, laughing, causing a commotion, at the same time he was returning everything that he took. This went on until he put everything back in its proper place. As he was running out of the house, she could hear him down the street still saying: I’m not afraid of you, you have no authority over me.

See the scripture says, “The enemy comes like a roaring lion”. He’s not a lion, but it’ll make a lot of noise, he’ll talk a lot of trash, but his bite is not near as much as his roar. Sometimes though, we’re praying and it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, it’s like the enemy is mocking us, saying, “You’ll never get well, you never break the addiction, your child will never get back on track”. If you’ll just stay in faith, keep praying, keep believing all that time he stirring up trouble, causing a commotion, what he won’t tell you – is he’s putting everything back. He may laugh, but he’s putting your children back, it’s putting your health back, putting your freedom back, putting your dreams back. Don’t get discouraged when things get worse. What you lost is only temporary, it’s all coming back.

Jesus said in Mark 11, “Whatever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive it and you will have it”. It doesn’t say believe that you receive it when you see it, when your health turns around, when the breakthrough comes. The key is: you have to believe that it happens when you pray, when nothing has changed, the medical report hasn’t improved, the fig tree looks just the same. You don’t have any evidence, but you believe, when you prayed, your healing came. You believe, when you prayed, you were free from the addiction.

You have to receive it in your spirit before you’ll ever see it in the natural. You have to be healed in your spirit, before you’ll be healed in your physical body. But too often we believe we’re going to receive it, “One day I’m going to get well. I’m going to be free” – that will limit us. The prayer of faith says, “When I pray according to God’s word, I believe it happens right when I pray. I have it in my spirit”. You have to receive it in your spirit or you won’t see it in the natural.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she and my father prayed on December 11th 1981. That day my mother believed she received her healing. She had just been given a few weeks to live, she looked so yellow, she only weighed 89 pounds, nothing in the natural said she was healed. For months nothing even looked any different, she didn’t feel any better, in fact it looked like the cancer was winning. But my mother just kept saying, “Father, thank you, that on December 11th, when we prayed, I received my healing. Thank you, that that day the tide of the battle turned in my help”.

She kept thanking God, she kept calling herself healthy, she kept declaring scriptures over her life: I will live and not die, with long life God will satisfy me. Eventually the healing she received in her spirit, when she wasn’t well, begin to show up in her physical body. She started getting better and better today 38 years later my mom is still healthy and whole.

But when you believe, that you receive when you pray, you don’t keep asking God to do it, you start thanking him. If I’ve already received my healing, I don’t have to keep asking God to heal me, keep begging him, “God please heal me”. No, instead you start saying, “Father, thank you that I am healed. Thank you, that I am free. Thank you, that I am blessed”. Maybe you’re believing for a scholarship, “Father, I’m asking you for this scholarship, so I can continue my education. Lord, I believe, I’ll receive it right now in my spirit” – you receive it by faith. From then on, “Father, thank you for that scholarship”.

You keep thanking God, you keep talking like it’s coming. Every circumstance may say, “It’s never going to work out”, you may not see anything changing – that’s when you have to dig down deep and say, “I am not going to give up on what God promised me. I am not going to let negative thoughts talk me out of it. I’m not going to let what I don’t see, talk me out of what God put in my heart. I know, what I’ve received in my spirit is already on the way”.

Hebrew 10:23 says, “Hold fast the confession of your faith”. You have to hold fast what God put in your heart. There are forces constantly trying to convince us, that what God said is never going to happen: it’s been too long, there’s no sign, it would have happened by now. No, in the unseen realm things have already changed, the miracle has already been set into motion. The roots of what’s been trying to stop you have already been cut off. Now, stay in faith until you see the manifestations. Don’t talk yourself out of it. You may be tempted to let it go, you’re about to give up on your dream, your health, your children. No, get a new grip: it’s closer than you think, you wouldn’t be hearing this if it wasn’t about to happen.

When I was growing up, my father would always have a big conference at Lakewood every thanksgiving – it’s one of the highlights of the year. He would fly in missionaries that we support from all over the world. One year he decided, he wanted to feed everyone at Lakewood. So, months before the conference, he prayed and asked God to give him two cows, that way we would have enough food to feed all the people. He believed, he received it when he prayed, but week after week went by and there were no sign of any cows. He kept believing, telling the church that the cows were coming, but every voice said, “You’re wasting your time, nobody has ever given you a cow. You better go down to chick-fil-a and eat more chicken”.

As it got closer, thoughts whispered. “Just buy the cows. You have the money, it’s never going to happen”. He finally got so worn down, he quit talking about the cows and went out and bought the meat for the conference. A couple of weeks later he had a dream one night. In this dream he saw this huge snake out in a field. Inside this snake he could see the distinct outline of two cows. He woke up and it was like God said to him, “I just want you to know, you let the enemy have your cows”.

Those cows already belong to my father, in the unseen realm they were on the way, but when we get discouraged, when we quit believing, “Well, it’s never going to happen, I’ll never get well, never meet the right person. Joel, look at the fig tree, it hasn’t changed”. Now my challenge to you is: don’t lose your cows. What you’ve received in your spirit is already in route, it’s just a matter of time, before it shows up.

Hold fast your profession, keep believing, keep thanking God that it’s on the way. God is faithful. Don’t let the lack of evidence convince you, that nothing is happening. In the unseen realm things are changing, forces that have stopped you in the past have been broken, the roots have been cut off of that depression, that addiction, that sickness. May look like it’s still alive, but it’s just a matter of time, you’re going to see what God promised. And the reason it’s more difficult, the reason it seems like it’s getting worse, is because the enemy is on his way out. I believe and declare: what you’ve received in your spirit is about to show up in the natural. Get ready for healing, promotion, breakthrough, the right people, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

You Are Enough

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today about You Are Enough. It’s easy to go through life thinking that we’re lacking in some area: if we had more talent then we could do something great. If we had a better personality, if we were more confident, more attractive, then we could reach our dreams. But as long as you’re discounting yourself, thinking you’re at a disadvantage, it’s going to keep you from rising higher. When God laid out the plan for your life, he carefully studied it, he thought about what you would need and what it would take to get you there, then he matched you with your world. He gave you the talent you need, the creativity, the strength, you’re the right size, you have the right personality, you come from the right family. You didn’t get shortchanged, you’re not at a deficit, you are good enough, you are talented enough, you are attractive enough, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

But sometimes life will try to push us down, thoughts will whisper for everything that we’re not: you’re not as talented as your friend, you’re not as attractive as your co-worker, you’re not as smart as your cousin. That’s okay, you’re not running their race, you don’t need what they have. If you needed it God, would have given it to you. If you needed to be taller, you would be taller. If you needed a different personality, you would have one. If you needed to come from another family, that would have happened. God doesn’t make mistakes. When he created you he wasn’t having a bad day, he didn’t accidentally leave something out and now you’re at a disadvantage. He calls you a masterpiece, he’s crowned you with this favor, you have royal blood flowing through your veins. You’re not lacking, you didn’t get shortchanged, you have everything you need to fulfill your destiny.

Now quit comparing your looks, your gifts, your success with someone else and be you. You are powerful, you are anointed, you are gifted, you are amazing. Nobody can do you, like you can do you. “Well, I wish I had her looks, I wish I had his talent, I wish I came from their family”. Well, if you had what they have, it wouldn’t help you, it would hinder you. It wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden. Why? It was designed for them. The reason it works for them is because it fits. You don’t want what doesn’t fit you. What fits you is what you have. Now, quit wishing you were them and recognize: you are enough.

And yes, it’s good to admire people, it’s good to celebrate their gifts, but don’t get so caught up in who they are, that you forget who you are. You are gifted, you are talented, you are one-of-a-kind. If you don’t realize you are enough, then you’ll always be dependent on other people to make you feel good about yourself. When you live thinking that you’re at a deficit, you’ll undersell yourself, you’ll play up to people, you’ll let them control you, that’s where you’re getting your validation. But when you know you are enough by yourself, you don’t rely on people to approve you, you get your approval from your Heavenly Father.

The problem with relying on people is people can change. One minute people were saying to Jesus hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, they were laying down palm branches, celebrating his arrival. Three days later, those same people were saying “Crucify him”. If you only feel good about yourself when people are telling you you’re great, then if they leave, you’ll forget who you are. If you’re relying on them to make you feel valuable, attractive, talented, you’re letting them control your self-worth. But when you realize, you’re enough all by yourself, when you’re not living from a deficit mentality, doesn’t matter what people do or don’t do, you know you’re a masterpiece, you know you are one-of-a-kind.

David said in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need”. It’s very powerful when you can say, “I have the talent I need, I have the personality, I need I have the looks I need, I have the family that I need”. But David had plenty of opportunities to live from a deficit mentality. We know him as the greatest king that ever lived, but before that he was discounted by his father, left out in the shepherd’s fields when the prophet Samuel came to choose the next king of Israel. David’s father made him feel like he was not good enough, unqualified, too small. When David took lunch to his brothers, when they were in the army, one of his brothers made fun of him said, “What did you do with those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of”? He’s saying, “David, you’re not talented, you didn’t get what we got”. If David would have relied on people to get his approval, he would have never stepped into his destiny.

Now, maybe someone is trying to discount you, make you feel like you’re not talented enough, not attractive enough, not up to par. Do yourself a favor, let that go in one ear and out the other. They didn’t breathe the life into you, they didn’t know you before you were formed in your mother’s womb, they don’t control your destiny. Do like David, “Father, thank you that I have everything that I need. Thank you, that I am enough all by myself”. You don’t need people’s approval, you don’t need their validation, the Most High God has approved you, he’s the one that matters. Now, get rid of a deficit mindset and step up to who you were created to be.

While back one afternoon I was at home, riding my stationary bike, exercising. I had my earphones in, hooked up to my cell phone, I was listening to a podcast. I put my phone at the front of the bike by the handlebars. At one point I started riding really fast, the bike began to shake and my cell phone fell off. When it did, it jerked my earphones out. I stopped and went down to picked him up, but the little white rubber tip came off of one of the earphones. I looked around for it everywhere and couldn’t find it, was the strangest thing. I looked under the treadmill, I moved other equipment, I checked up on the windowsill, thought maybe it popped up there, I looked all over the bike on and on, it was nowhere to be found. Later that evening I was watching television, went to scratch my ear, felt something funny, it was the white rubber tip. I had it the whole time, but didn’t realize it.

I wonder, if you’re looking for something, that you already have. You’re looking around you, but God is saying: look in you, you have the talent, you have the creativity, you have the confidence. Psalm 34:10 says, “Those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing”. You need to see yourself as a no-lack person: you’re not lacking the strength you need, you’re not lacking the favor. “Well, Joel, I never get any good breaks. I don’t see how it could accomplish my dreams. I don’t think I’ll ever meet the right person”. That’s a deficit mindset, that thinking will keep you from your destiny. You have to turn it around, “Father, thank you, that your favor surrounds me like a shield. Thank you, that goodness and mercy are chasing me down. Thank you, that divine connections, the right people are headed my way”. What you need is in you, but you have to stir it up. As long as you think you’re at a disadvantage, you were shortchanged, that will limit your life.

2 kings chapter 4, there was a widow, her husband was friends with the prophet Elisha. She came up to Elisha very discouraged and told him, how her husband had died and how now she was in such debt, that the creditors were coming to take her two sons as payment. Elisha asked her: what do you have in your house? She didn’t have to think twice, she said, “Elijah, I have nothing at all, except a small jar of oil”. She was saying, “I’m at a deficit, I don’t have enough, I’m limited”. And sometimes like this lady, we’re discounting what God has given us. We have some talent, but “Joel, it’s not enough. I have my degree, but it’s not enough education”.

This lady was about to miss her miracle, because she didn’t recognize what she had. She was looking outside the house, but Elijah said, “What’s in your house”? God will always have what you need, within reach. It’s not something far off, it’s close to you. One time Sampson was surrounded by the Philistine army. He didn’t have any weapons, looked like he would be captured. He looked down and saw the jawbone of a donkey, just so happened to be at his feet. He picked it up and used that to defeat a thousand men. That wasn’t a coincidence, that was the hand of God. What you need will be close to you.

Elijah told this woman to go out and borrow as many large empty containers that she could find. She went from neighbor to neighbor asking for them. She came back to the house, Elisha said, “Now, I want you to pour that little bit of oil that you have into another container”. That didn’t make sense. What good was it going to do to transfer the oil from one container to the other? The lady poured the oil and the oil kept flowing out, it kept coming. She filled up one container, then another and another, the oil never stopped flowing, until all the containers were full. She took that oil and sold it and had plenty to pay her debts.

When God asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense, many times the act of obedience is what brings the miracle. God could have filled those containers without her pour in the oil, he could have had somebody show up with a bunch of full containers, but the miracle was dependent on the lady doing her part. Is God asking you to do something, that you don’t want to do? To forgive that person that did you wrong. You’re thinking: God that’s not fair, they don’t deserve it, they hurt me. Is he asking you to take care of that elderly neighbor or to give that friend a ride to work each day? And you’re thinking, “Man, that’s out of my way. God, I’m busy”. The blessing is in the obedience.

There was a man in the scripture named Naaman. He was a captain in the Syrian army, but he had leprosy. God told him to go wash in the Jordan river and he would be healed. God could have healed him like Jesus healed people by speaking to them or by having someone lay hands on him, but God asked Naaman to do something unusual, something that he didn’t understand. At first he wouldn’t do it, he came up with all these excuses, he said, “I’m not gonna go wash in the Jordan, that river is dirty. We have much cleaner rivers where I live back home”. He almost talked himself out of it, but he finally decided to do it. When he came up the seventh time, his skin was perfectly healed. The healing wasn’t in the water or everyone that touched the water wouldn’t been healed. The healing was in the obedience. Don’t miss your miracle because you won’t do what God’s asking you to do.

What’s interesting is Elijah didn’t take anything to the widow’s house. He didn’t bring her a check, he didn’t have a friend come plant her a garden, he simply showed her what was in the house. The principle is: you already have what you need, you’re not waiting for it, maybe one day it will show up, there are miracles in your house. Sometimes we’re looking on the outside, but you have to start looking on the inside. God is saying, “I’ve equipped you, I’ve empowered you, I’ve anointed you, you have seeds of greatness”. Are you discounting what God has given you? Are you overlooking what you have? It may seem small, that gift may look like not enough, but when you use what you have, God will multiply it. When you pour the little bit of oil, that act of obedience is what will cause the oil to keep flowing.

This lady said, “I have nothing except a small jar of oil”. God is going to use what comes after the except. “I have nothing except a little training, I have nothing except a few connections”, he’s going to take what you think is insignificant and turn it into something extraordinary. When we come to the end of our ability, that’s when God steps in. If you can accomplish your dreams all on your own, you don’t really need God’s help. If you can overcome that obstacle by yourself, doesn’t really take faith. Don’t be discouraged when what you’re up against looks too big, you don’t have the resources, the opposition is stronger. You’re in perfect position for God to show out in your lives. It looks like a setback, really it’s a setup. God is about to make things happen that you couldn’t make happen.

When my father went to be with the Lord back in 1999, I knew I was supposed to step up to pastor the church, but I didn’t think I was enough, I didn’t have the training, I had never been to seminary, I’m more quiet and reserved, I didn’t want to get up in front of people. I told God all the things I didn’t have and all the reasons why I couldn’t do it. It was like God said, “Joel, what else do you have in your house”? I said, “God, I have nothing except a little training, a little confidence, a little faith, just this small jar of oil”. God said, “That’s all I need, use what you have and watch what I’ll do”. God took that little bit of oil and turned it into more than I ever imagined.

What am I saying quit discounting yourself, quit talking yourself out of your greatness. God is not limited by what family you come from, by your education, by what you think that you don’t have. All he’s asking you to do is use what comes after the accept. “I have nothing, Joel, except this high school diploma. How can I do something great? I don’t have a extensive education”. Neither did Bill Gates, neither did Steve Jobs, they did okay. Use what you have and God will multiply, he’ll turn it into something extraordinary.

Jesus had been out teaching all day and he told the disciples that he wanted them to feed the 5,000 people that had gathered. They said, “Jesus, that’s impossible, we’re out in the desert, we have no food except five loaves of bread and two fish”. God will never ask you for something, that you don’t have. If he ask and you don’t think you can do it, it’s because you have it and don’t know it. Go back and see what else is in your house, what can you use after the accept. Jesus prayed over the fish, over the loaves, they multiplied, they were able to feed all 5,000 plus they have 12 baskets full of food leftover.

But when you look at what you have – your resources, your training, your experience it may not be enough: it’s just five loaves, it’s just a small jar of oil, what good would that do? Now, get ready, God’s about to multiply what you have, he’s going to do something unusual, something that you didn’t see coming. Doors open that you couldn’t open, opportunity where you weren’t qualified, the right people tracking you down. He’s going to take what looks insignificant and turn it into something extraordinary. He’s going to multiply what comes after the except.

This is what happened to my father. He was raised very poor, his parents were farmers, they lost everything during the great depression. As a little boy he barely had enough food, went to school with holes in his clothes, she was so worn out that he had to keep putting cardboard in the bottom. Didn’t look like he had much of a future. Nobody in his family knew anything about God. They were good people, but they didn’t have any kind of faith. But at 17 my father went to church with the friend of his, that was very persistent. That day daddy gave his life to Christ, the first one in the family.

He begin to feel God telling him to become a pastor. He told his parents that he was going to leave and go out and start ministering. His parents said, “John, you better stay here with us, all you know how to do is work on the farm”. He had no training, no experience, no funding, but somehow he recognized, he had a little cup of oil, he had five loaves. It wasn’t much, but he could feel those seeds of greatness. Every circumstance said he was unqualified, he was at a disadvantage, he was shortchanged, but God doesn’t create anyone without putting something significant on the inside.

That’s why the enemy works overtime, trying to convince you, that you’re not enough: “You’re not good enough, you’ve made too many mistakes. You’re not attractive enough, you’re not important enough”. Don’t let those lies keep you from your destiny. He wouldn’t be trying to discourage you, if he didn’t know, there was something amazing in you. It may be a little now, but if you’ll keep pouring that oil, taking those steps of faith, God is going to take you where you’ve never dreamed.

My father left the farm at 17 years of age, didn’t have a car he had to hitchhike. He started ministering in the prisons and in the senior citizens homes. God began to open door after door and he went on to start Lakewood and impact the world. And I think about where I would be today, if my father would have believed he was not enough. You can be the one like my father to affect generations to come, you can be the one to set your family on a different course. You wouldn’t be hearing this, if there wasn’t something greater in front of you. Quit looking at what you don’t have, what you can’t do, what you didn’t get: you have everything that you need.

All David had was a slingshot and five smooth stones. It looked like it was not enough. Goliath was almost twice his size, he was a skilled warrior, had been trained in the military, were in a full set of armor, extremely powerful. Here David was a shepherd boy, he was a teenager, he had no formal training, no experience. He could have said, “God, I have nothing, except this slingshot”. God is going to use what comes after the except. When Goliath saw how small David was, he began to laugh, he said, “Am I a dog, that you had come at me with a stick”?

I’m sure, David was tempted to think, “Am I crazy? I’m gonna fight this giant with only a slingshot”? But the scripture says, David ran toward Goliath. You would think he would try to sneak up on him, try to surprise him, to gain the maximum advantage, but when you know who you are, when you know you’ve been equipped and empower, when you know God being four here is more than the world being against you, you won’t run from your giants, you’ll run to your giants. David swung that rock, hit Goliath in the forehead, knocked him unconscious. He went over and took Goliath own sword and finished him off. What you have may look like not enough, it may seem ordinary, but when God breathes on it, it will become more than enough.

A friend of mine’s father pastored a large church. As a young man he always looked forward to working there. During college he got a job at this business, where he would go into the different offices and clean and repair the equipment. So they gave him keys to all the offices in the building. He carried it around this big key ring, made him feel very important, this was years ago. After he graduated from college he came back home to work at his father’s church, so excited, but his father only gave him one key, the key to his office. He said, “Dad, I want all the keys. I want to be able to get in anywhere”. His father said, “No, this is the key I want you to have”.

He was disappointed, felt like my dad doesn’t even trust me. Few years later his dad became ill and wasn’t expected to make it. This friend would go to the church at night and pray for his father. He liked to pray in the main sanctuary. Since it was after hours he would always have to get somebody to let him in. He’d called the security guard or you’d see somebody through the glass doors and have to knock, but it bothered him, that he didn’t have a key. One night he went up to pray for his father and couldn’t get in, called the security guard. The guard said he was out and wouldn’t be back for a couple of hours. My friend went around the building, trying to see if any doors were unlocked, jiggling on them, but nothing was open. He was so frustrated.

Just when he was about to leave, he decided to put his key in and see if he could jiggle it around and somehow get the door open. He put that the key win in so smoothly, he turned it and the door opened. He was surprised, he walked through the lobby to the main sanctuary door, put the key in, turned it and it opened. Went to the choir room, put the key and turned it and it opened. He didn’t realize his father had given him the master key. All that time he had what he needed, it wasn’t that the father didn’t trust him, it was that the son didn’t know what he had.

Do you know what your Father has given you? Do you know you have the key to unlock every door to your destiny? You didn’t get shortchanged, your Father didn’t say, “I can’t trust you”. God has great confidence in you, he believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Why don’t you start using that key, believing that you have what you need? Don’t go through life thinking that you’re locked out, you can’t reach your dreams, you can’t overcome that obstacle, you’ll never meet the right person. No, you have the key. Your Heavenly Father has given you everything you need to fulfill your purpose.

Now do your part, get rid of a deficit mentality. Every morning get up and say, “Father, thank you, that I am enough. I am strong enough, I am talented enough, I am attractive enough”. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, like that widow abundance is about to flow, God is about to multiply what you have. Your gifts are going to come out in greater ways, new doors are about to open, breakthroughs, promotion, favor, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

What is your word for 2020?

God will often give us a word to show us what our expectations should be, or what our focus should be, for the year. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, and sometimes in response to prayer. It’s really useful to have, so if you don’t have one yet for this year, or even have never had one before, try making a point of praying about it and really listening to what comes into your mind, and see what you come up with!

As long-time readers will recall, starting in January 2011, my life was a series of devastating losses, that continued through the end of 2014. And then:

2015: Joy
This was the best year of my entire life! The joy was in ways I could never even have imagined!

2016: Comfort
The comfort only came partially the way I thought it would, but it DID happen. This was probably the second best year of my life; not as exciting as the previous year, but the word wasn’t excitement, it was comfort.

2017: Kintsugi
This is a Japanese art form in which pottery is deliberately broken and then mended with a gold lacquer; the repaired vessel is considered much more beautiful and valuable than the original. I thought it meant that my life would be reassembled that year, but what actually happened was the final breaking of what I had from my former life… and THEN the rebuilding did start in earnest, although it’s been a long and slow process; knowing what my final result was promised to be has given me endless hope and encouragement.

2018: Silent/Silence
I had to make the conscious decision to stop thinking that I could use my gift of gab, the power of logic and intellect, to make the most important person in my life analyze the situation and restore our relationship; although I make decisions based on rational thought, very few other people do in the relationship arena, especially when strong negative emotions have been released. I had to embrace Christian graciousness, and stop trying to win this battle by being the best debater.

2019: Rest
This was incredibly welcome; a year where I had God’s permission to kind of put my feet up, catch my breath, and decide where to put my time and effort and energy in the future.

2020: Push
I should’ve seen this coming; after you rest, you can go back to working twice as hard and well as before! Now that there’s some concrete progress toward restoration at long, long, LONG last, this will be the year that I make that final sprint across the finish line!

Has God given you a word, for this year or previous years? Feel free to share! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Positioned for Increase

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today аbout: Positioned for Increase. We all have to deal with things that come to an end: we lost our main client, a friend we could always count on is moving away, or loved one went to be with the Lord. We’ve seen God’s blessing in the past, we know we have his favor, but it feels like that favor has been taken away. But God will never remove something, unless he has something better coming. If he didn’t stop certain things, we would never get out of our comfort zone, we would stay with the familiar. So, sometimes God will put an end to what doesn’t make sense to us, we don’t understand why the friend walked away, why the business pushed us out, why sales aren’t what they used to be? God is not doing that to make your life more difficult, he’s getting you in position for increase. He had to stop what was working, to force you to stretch, so you can come into greater provision, greater favor.

This is what happened with the Israelites, they had been in slavery for many years, when God supernaturally brought them out. These two million people headed into the desert toward the Promised Land. The problem was, there was nothing to eat out there, no way to survive. So, every morning God gave them something called “Manna”, it was like bread that formed on the ground. And as they traveled the desert for forty years, one thing they could always count on was the manna. They had armies to fight or enemies to fight, they had to overcome, there were snakes and scorpions, but every day, like clockwork there was the manna. They knew, that was the hand of God taking care of them.

What they didn’t realize, was the manna was only temporary provision. They were satisfied, they had something to eat, but God wasn’t satisfied, he was taking them into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land filled with food and resources. When they got close to the Promised Land, something interesting happened. The scripture says, the manna ceased and they never saw the manna again. Imagine what the people thought, after forty years of having manna, over 14,000 mornings they got up and had breakfast at their tent. Now, it was nowhere to be found. I can hear them panicking, “God, what’s happening? Why aren’t you providing for us anymore”?

They would have lived off of manna the rest of their lives, so God on purpose stop the manna. He said, “From now on, I want you to cook your own food. You don’t need this manna anymore, there’s provision all around you”. And he said, “I’m bring you into this land of abundance”, it wasn’t a coincidence that the manna stopped, when they were about to go into the Promised Land. When something ceases in your life, it’s an indication that increase is coming. God never stop something, unless he has greater provision on the way. Maybe a friend walked away, a contract fell through, you had a setback in your family. Now, it’s not as easy as it used to be, the manna is not coming, you have to cook your own food – it’s because you’re about to step in to a new level.

The manna drying up is a sign: you are close to your Promised Land. What you were satisfied with was only temporary provision. You were blessed, life is good, but God has so much more in store for you. He had to cease the friendship, he had to move that person away, not because they’re not good, but they were limiting you, they can’t go where you’re going. God had to close that door, so he could bring people into your life, that will push you into your purpose. People that will help you and not hinder you. Or maybe that position that you were counting on didn’t work out. You were hoping it would last, but it wasn’t permanent – it’s because it was only temporary provision. God stopped the manna not because he’s forgotten about you, but he’s about to take you into your Promised Land. He ceased it for one reason: to increase you, to take you where you couldn’t go on your own.

But when things cease, it’s easy to think, “God, what’s happening? Where is the manna? I’m counting on it, it’s been this way for years”. It’s tempting to live worried, “I think we’re doing something wrong, we must have stepped out of God’s favor”. Well, God didn’t ceased the provision because he’s through with you, he ceased it because he has something greater coming. And so, when the manna stops appearing, instead of being discouraged, have a new perspective: you on the verge of a new level, that’s an indication, walls are about to come down, giants are about to be defeated, you’re about to see failure, promotion, opportunity, like never before.

My friend Tony Dungy played professional football for many years. After a successful career in 1996, he landed a job as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football Team – was a dream come true. He knew it was the hand of God opening the door. For six years everything went great, they were winning more games, making more progress – the manna was there every morning, the favor, the provision. But one day he was expectedly let go, they fired him. He thought, “God, I know you brought me here, I know this was your favor”.

But when the mama stops, that’s a sign, God is up to something. The question is: will you get negative? “God, this is not fair. I can’t believe this happened”. Or will you say, “God, I know, you wouldn’t have closed this door, unless you were about to open a better door. So, Lord, I thank you, that you’re in control, that your plans for me or for good, that what you started in my life you will finish”.

The manna cease is a test. Many people get bitter, give up on their dreams. You have to understand, the reason the manna stops, the reason people walk away, the reason doors closed, is you are close to your Promised Land, that’s God taking away the temporary provision. May seem permanent to us, we were satisfied, but God’s dream for your life is much bigger than your own.

Coach Dungy was disappointed of course, but he didn’t sit around in self-pity, thinking about how bad life was. He knew, the same God that opened the door in Tampa Bay had now closed the door. It wasn’t long after he was let go, that he received a phone call from the Indianapolis Colts Football Team, they said, “We’re looking for a coach, are you interested”? Coach Dungy took the job, he went on to win the Super Bowl with the colts. What looked like a great disappointment: being pushed out, the manna ceasing, was really a great blessing.

Has something ceased in your life: you went through a disappointment, closed door, somebody walked away? It’s more difficult than it used to be, the manna is not there every morning. God is saying, “Get ready, I’m about to do something, that you’ve never seen”. He didn’t cease the provision because he’s through with you, he stopped it because it was only temporary. He’s about to launch you into a new level. Now, don’t let it sour you, “Why did this business push me out? Why did this company leave me out”? It wasn’t their choice – God was shutting the door, God was moving them away, it was God stopping the manna.

God told the Israelites, “You don’t need this manna anymore, there’s provision all around you”. See, they were so close to the Promised Land, and there was all kinds of food available. If God had kept giving them the manna, they would have missed the abundance, that belong to them. When the manna ceases in your life, like with them, you’re so close to your Promised Land, the provision is already there. Now, you have to cook your own food. God is not going to do this for you. You can’t stay with the familiar, with what you’re used to, with what’s easy. You have to stretch, get out of your comfort zone, take some steps of faith. There is greatness in you. You weren’t created to live off of manna, don’t have a manna mentality, don’t complain about what stopped in your life: if it ceased, it wasn’t supposed to be permanent. It’s a step on the way to your destiny.

The Israelites had to accept having no manna, meant that it was a new day and God was doing a new thing. If they would have been sour, because the manna ceased, they would have never seen walls of Jericho come down, they would have never conquered city after city and lived in the land of abundance. Are you letting what ceased in your life caused you to be sour? Or do you see it as a sign, that you’re about to go into your Promised Land?

When the manna ceases, you have to dig down deep: “This business may have slowed down, but father, thank you that you’re about to open up new doors. This person walked away, Lord, thank you, that you have someone better coming. This marriage is difficult, but father, thank you that piece, restoration, harmony is on the way”.

Here’s a key: the closer the Israelites got to the Promised Land, the less God did for them. When they were in slavery, God sent plagues on the Pharaoh, the Israelites didn’t have to do anything, they just sat back and watched. God changed the Pharaohs mind, God parted the Red Sea, God drowned all their enemies. In the desert God brought water out of a rock, God gave them quail to eat, on and on, they saw the hand of God, manna every morning. But when they were about to go into the Promised Land, God said, “Now, I want you to cook your own food. I’ll bring the walls down, but you have to March around them seven times. I’ll defeat these enemies, but you have to go in and posses the land”.

As they got closer, they had to grow up. God expected them to stand on their own two feet, to encourage themselves, to fight off the fear. He was saying, “The day is over, when I’m going to bring you the manna, the provision is all around you. I’ve brought you this far, I fought all your battles, I gave you breakfast every morning, but for this, to enter this place of abundance, you have to step up”.

With the Promised Land comes a new level of responsibility. Maybe in the past you’ve relied on other people to keep you encouraged and cheered up, God is going to begin to wean those people away. At some point that manna is going to cease, not because God doesn’t love you, but he wants you to stand on your own. You can’t reach your destiny always depending on somebody else. You don’t need that crutch, start encouraging yourself. All through the day, “I am strong in the Lord. Something good is going to happen to me. God being for me is more than the world being against me”.

To enter your Promised Land, you have to cook your own food. Some of the things God has done for you in the past, having people to encourage you, causing it to be easy, just make it everything go your way, that’s not going to continue. If God kept doing everything for us, we wouldn’t see the abundance all around. You may wonder: why certain things are more difficult? Raising your children used to be easier, at work it’s more complicated, in your finances: you’re working harder for the same income.

Stay encouraged, you’re cooking your own food. That means you’re close to your Promised Land, you’re about to go in: that’s when you’ll see shifts in your favor, that’s when you’ll see increase, promotion, opportunity, like you’ve never seen. But you have to pay this test of not falling apart, when the manna ceases. When things are not coming as easily, take it as a compliment, you’re growing. God is saying, “I don’t have to keep feeding you manna. I don’t have to sustain you of this temporary provision, you’re getting stronger, where you can handle the fullness of what I have in store”.

Before the Israelites could enter the Promised Land, they had to say goodbye to the familiar, goodbye to manna, that they had seen for 40 years. Imagine when it quit coming: they could have been discouraged, lost their passion. Instead, they said, “Fine, we’ll step up and go get our own food”. They went out and found all kinds of corn, grains, it was all available.

Some people never succeed, because they’re not willing to say goodbye to the familiar, they won’t say goodbye to a friendship that’s holding them back, goodbye to a job, where they’re not fulfilled. Or goodbye to old mindsets, to limited thinking. When God stops the manna, when that relationship or let’s say that friendship is not feeding you anymore, it’s just pulling you down, not doing anything good: if you’re not willing to say goodbye, you’ll miss your Promised Land.

When you know you’re supposed to take a step of faith and teach that class, start your business, write that book, move into that new neighborhood – don’t stay where it’s comfortable. You can’t play it safe your whole life and become who you were created to be. God is the one that put the desires in you, he’s the one that caused the manna to cease. It was good for a season, but you weren’t made to live off of manna. You have to say goodbye to some things, to keep moving forward. And it doesn’t mean we’re bad, but everyone is not supposed to be in your life forever. When God closes a door, the longer we hold on to it, the more miserable we’re going to be.

When the manna ceases for a certain position: you know you’re supposed to move on, you have bigger things in you, but you’re afraid. The problem is, the grace for that old position is not going to be there, God has moved on. Favor is waiting for you at your next assignment. You have to strength, get out of your comfort zone. If you’ll say goodbye to the familiar, you’ll see the new things God has in store.

This is what I had to do. I worked behind the scenes here at Lakewood for 17 years and I thought that’s what I would do the rest of my life. I was happy and fulfilled. But in 1999, when my father went to be with the Lord, everything changed for me. I knew, I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I like to be in behind the scenes. I was comfortable, I didn’t want to have to get out in front of the people. When my father was here, it was easy, like with the Israelites, the manna came to me every morning. But when he passed, it was like the manna ceased. He was gone and nothing I could do could bring him back.

And sometimes God will close a door. No matter how much we don’t like it, it’s not going to reopen. The good news is: God never ceases the manna, unless he has greater provision coming. He never closes a door, unless he’s about to open another door. But too often we try to hold on to old manna, old friendships, old positions, old mindsets. When that manna ceases, that means God is doing a new thing. You have to let go.

It’s interesting, the manna God gave the Israelites was only good for one day. They could gather enough for three or four days, but in two or four hours it would spoil, it wouldn’t last. When we try to hold on to old manna, what God used to do, a friendship that was right for a season, but not now, a position where we’re not fulfilled: all that manna is spoiled, you’re not growing, it’s not feeding you. Maybe in your career, what used to challenge you does it challenge it anymore. You hear God telling you to stretch, to move forward. You wonder: why you’re not fulfilled? Why you’re not growing? That manna is old, it’s not feeding you anymore. God has freshness, he’s a God of new beginnings. Yes, the manna was good for a season, it brought you to the Promised Land, it sustains you while you were learning, but at some point the manna is going to cease – that’s when you have to prepare your own food. You have to step up to who you were created to be.

When my father died, I was afraid, but I did what I’m asking you to do: I got out of my comfort zone, I said goodbye to the familiar, I stepped up to pastor the church. And God has taken me further than I ever imagined. But had my father not gone to be with the Lord, had that manna not ceased, I would have never made it into my Promised Land. You don’t have to lose a loved one, but there are times, God will cease good things in your life. You don’t feel like you have the favor that you used to, don’t get discouraged, you’re about to step up to a new level. God is taking you from glory to glory. What you were satisfied with was only one level of glory, it was temporary provision, he’s about to take you to a new level of glory, where you’ll see increase, favor, like you’ve never seen.

God told the prophet Elijah to go down to the brook called Cherith and the ravens would feed him there. He arrived at the brook, he had provision week after week. He didn’t have to go get the food: like clockwork, every day the ravens came to him. He had home delivery before Domino’s. I’m sure, he thought, “It can’t get any better than this. God, you’re so good to me, for months the ravens kept coming”.

He was comfortable, he knew he had God’s blessing. But one day, the brook dried up and the ravens quit coming. God said, “Elijah, now I want you to go to the city of Zarephath, I have a widow that’s going to take care of you”. Elijah could have said, “That couldn’t be God. He’s blessed me here. I’ve seen his favor, I’m gonna stay where I am”. He could have held on to the old. The problem was: the brook dried up, the ravens quit coming. Why? It was temporary provision

Elijah went to the city of Zarephath, that’s where his ministry began. He saw some of the greatest miracles ever recorded in the scripture. It’s not a coincidence, that had happened after the brook dried up, after the manna ceased, when it seemed like God had forgotten about him, when it looked like he didn’t have the favor and influence that he once had. Actually that was a sign, that he was about to step in to a new level of his destiny.

Are you frustrated, because the brook dried up? Discouraged, because the manna stopped, things are not happening like they used to? What you don’t realize, is God is positioning you for increase. It looks like a setback, but really it’s a setup, he’s about to do something, that you’ve never seen. The brook drying up is not the end, it’s a sign: greater provision is coming, greater influence, greater anointing. And don’t complain about the brook, get ready for the new things God is about to do. Thank him, when you don’t see any sign of water, trust him even when doors close, keep stretching and doing the right thing. The brook may have dried up, what you can’t see, is a flood of God’s favor is headed your way.

In 2006, a friend of mine had a dream to put the Bible on computer, so he developed a website where the Bible was available and you could make notes out to the side, like a traditional print Bible, you could pull out scriptures and send to people – a lot of features that had never been done before. He thought it was a good idea, but after the first month, only 20,000 people had visited the site. And he was okay with it, but they were hoping for a lot lot more, plus there was very little engagement. He and his team has spent a lot of time and money, after a year they were ready to shut it down, it wasn’t worth the effort.

Two weeks before they pulled the plug, he had another idea: what if, instead of making a website with the Bible, they made the Bible available on a mobile phone, that way people would have the Bible everywhere they went. He was a little concerned about how such a big book would fit on a tiny screen, but something felt good on the inside. In 2008 he and his team designed and built a mobile website for the Bible. Not long after that, Apple announced that they were offering the opportunity to develop what we now know are apps for our phone. He submitted his app, it was approved and available the first day the App Atore launched on Apple. They were hoping for 80,000 downloads the first year, but in three days they had 83,000 downloads. Today the Youversion Bible App, developed by my friend Bobby Grunwald, has been downloaded on over 400 million phones in every country of the world.

What’s interesting, is the success came after the brook dried up, after the manna ceased, when Bobby was tempted to give up. Sometimes God shuts the door to push us into our Promised Land. He ceases the manna, because it was temporary provision. Yes, it would have sustained us, but what God has in mind is much bigger, much better.

Maybe the manna has ceased in some area of your life, you’re tempted to give up on a dream, lose your passion. But, like with him, it means greater provision is coming. The brook drying up is a sign: God is positioning you for something that you’ve never seen. Now, it’s not the time to get discouraged, now is the time to get ready. Stir your faith up, you are close to your Promised Land. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare: like Elijah, like with Bobby, supernatural doors are about to open, new relationships, new opportunities, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name, amen.

Outlast the Opposition

From JO’s sermon this week:

I want to talk to you today about Outlast the Opposition. We all have things that come against us in life: people that aren’t fair, we’re dealing with an illness, our business has slowed down. We’re praying, believing, doing the right thing, but nothing is changing. It’s easy to get discouraged and think that it’s never going to improve, but the way you win some battles is not by defeating the opposition, but by outlasting the opposition, you have to have staying power. You can’t be weak and give up, because it’s not happening on your timetable. Some enemies are stubborn, you have to outlast the trouble at work, outlast the difficulty in your marriage, outlast the slow season in your finances. We want God to deliver us from the attack, but if he’s not changing it, it’s real simple, you have to outlast the attack.

Sometimes we feel like God is forgotten about us, we’ve seen him turn situations around in the past, but this problem seems like it’s never going to go away. No, God is still going to turn it around, but this time he’s going to do it a different way. You have to have a holy determination, a made up mind, where you dig your heels in and say “I am in it for the long haul. Quitting is not an option, I’m going to outlast this sickness, I’m going to outlast the addiction, I’m going to outlast this injustice”.

This is what David did. He defeated Goliath in five minutes, no big deal. God favored him and he quickly brought down that huge giant, overnight he became a national hero. But there was another man named king Saul, that was against David. Saul was on the throne of Israel, when God promised David the throne. God could have had David defeat Saul, like he defeated Goliath, quickly, no problem, but this time was very different. David had been anointed to be the next king, and after he defeated Goliath he left the shepherd’s fields and went to the palace to serve king Saul. But Saul was jealous of David, he could see the favor on his life.

One time David was playing the harp for Saul, trying to make him feel better, Saul threw a spear at David and barely missed him. David had to run for his life, he spent months in the desert, in hiding, living in caves, with Saul and his men constantly on his trail trying to kill David. Wasn’t fair, David hadn’t done anything wrong, he was being good to Saul. You would think that God would stop Saul, vindicate David and put him on the throne, like he promised. But God doesn’t do things the same way, for some victories we have to prove, we’ll do the right thing, when the wrong thing is happening. We have to be good to people, when they’re not being good to us. We have to stay in faith, when it’s unfair, when it’s taking longer than we thought, when we don’t see how it’s going to work out.

How bad do you want what God promised you? If you give up easily, you don’t want it bad enough. If you let people talk you out of it, bad breaks discourage you, or delays cause you to quit believing, that will keep you from God’s best. There are two kinds of faith: delivering faith and sustaining faith. Delivering faith is when God instantly turns it around, that’s when we defeat our Goliath. We don’t have to wait, we don’t have to endure, God suddenly shows out in our life. We believe in delivering faith, we’ve all seen that, but most of the time we’re going to need sustaining faith, that’s when God takes us through the difficulty, through the challenge. He could turn it around right now, he could change it in an instant, but if God did that every time, our faith would never develop, would never grow like it should.

Something happens in the struggle, when our mind says “It’s never going to work out”, but in our heart we know, “What God promised is on the way”. Our mind tells us, “You’re wasting your time. There’s no use even believing”, but you just keep on, keeping on. Keep on trusting God, keep on thanking him that it the way — that’s sustaining faith. And don’t expect everything to be easy, don’t expect every person to be for you. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. The victory is on the other side of the opposition. It takes staying power, a made up mind, someone that’s not moved by the circumstances.

At one point David saw Saul and his men sleeping. David snuck up on them and could have easily taken Saul’s life. This was his big moment to get revenge, to pay him back, to put an end to the misery that Saul was causing him, but David wouldn’t do it. Saul had been anointed to be the king, David knew to touch not God’s anointed. Had he taken matters into his own hand, that would have kept him from the throne. You have to pass the test of honoring those, that are in authority. Not because they’re doing right, but because of their position.

It’s easy to be disrespectful to people, when they’re being disrespectful to us. It’s easy to want to vindicate ourselves. “Here’s my big chance, pay them back, get revenge, make them look bad, after all they did it to me”. No, stay on the high road, let God be your vindicator, let him pay your enemies back. He sees what’s happening, he sees the injustice, he sees the wrongs, if you’ll leave it up to God, he’ll vindicate you better that you can vindicate yourself.

Month after month David kept doing the right thing, he could have been sour, “God, it was easy to defeat Goliath, why is this taking so long”? But, David understood, some opposition you have to outlast. If you get discouraged, worn down, it’s never going to happen, that’s going to keep you from what God has in store. In 13 years after David was chosen to be king, after all the hiding, being mistreated, king Saul was killed in a battle. Saul was suddenly taken away and David became the king.

What’s interesting is David never defeated Saul, he just outlasted Saul. When you let God fight your battles, he’ll get you to where you’re supposed to be. Some of the challenges that you’re facing, things that are not changing, your being your best, it’s not improving, that like David, you have to outlast that opposition. Don’t worry about defeating it, if you’ll just outlast it, you’ll see the victory, God will take care of your Saul’s. You keep honoring God and you won’t even have to fight, God we’ll move the wrong people out of the way, he’ll open doors you couldn’t open, he’ll turn that situation in your health around.

Now outlast the sickness, outlast the loneliness, outlast the trouble at work, you have to tap in to your staying power. The scripture says (Matthew 24:13), “He who endures to the end will receive the prize”. Don’t give up in the middle, don’t get discouraged because it’s not happening as fast as you would like, your time is coming.

Friend of mine works for this big company for years, his supervisor has been was against him, he was always putting him down, trying to hit to make him look bad. The supervisor even went to the main boss to try to get this man fired, but the boss wouldn’t do it. The boss took all of his other recommendations, why wouldn’t he take this one? Because God is in control of your life, not the boss, not people, not a sickness, not an addiction, God has the final say.

This supervisor was constantly spreading rumors about the man, trying to poison the other employees, but this man, my friend, he just kept doing the right thing, overlooking the offense, being good to other people. I never heard him complained, I never saw him discouraged, and this went on for years. One morning this supervisor was called into the main office, he’d been working for the company for over 20 years, looked like he would retire there, but that day he was unexpectedly terminated, they let him go. A few minutes later they called my friend in, out of all the people there, they gave him the supervisors position. He said, “Joel, I don’t have the qualifications, there were other people in front of me, but for some reason they chose me, to head up the whole department”.

The scripture says, the trap the enemy set for you, they will fall in themselves. You may have people coming against you and to make you look bad, discredit you — you don’t have to fight those battles, just outlast them. Keep doing the right thing, keep being faithful each day, and God will take care of what’s trying to stop you. Are you frustrated over what’s not changing, you’re praying and believing and it’s not improving? It’s because that’s not a Goliath, that’s a Saul. You can’t pray it away, you can’t make it work out, you have to outlast it. Now trust God’s timing, God knows what he promised you, he knows what he put in your heart, and at the right time it will come to pass.

In the book of Exodus, God told Moses to go tell the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, they had been in slavery for many years. Moses told God that he didn’t want to go, that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to him. He finally went, but just like Moses thought, Pharaoh basically laughed, said “Moses, who are you to tell me what to do? You have no authority here, I don’t have to listen to you”. Moses went back and said, “God I told you it wouldn’t work out, told you he wouldn’t listen to me”.

What’s interesting is, the scripture says (Exodus 7:3), God caused Pharaoh to be stubborn so he could show his power in a greater way. God had Moses go back and tell him again and again, but God already knew Pharaoh would say no, he caused him to harden his heart. Moses could have thought, “God, I give up. I’m doing what you asked me to do, but it’s not making any difference”. No, Moses kept doing the right thing, even though nothing was changing. Everything in him said, “You’re wasting your time. It would have happened by now, this man’s never going to change his mind”. He had to outlast Pharaoh’s stubbornness.

I wonder if you’re upset about an enemy, that God is causing to be stubborn. He’s not letting it turn around yet, because he’s going to use that situation to catapult you to a new level. All you can see is “Nothing is improving”, what you can’t see is what God is about to do, the doors he’s about to open, the healing, the vindication, the favor, the promotion that’s coming. And yes, you may have some stubborn enemies, the good news, they’re not too stubborn for our God. He wouldn’t have allowed it, if he wasn’t going to bring you out better. And you have to get you a fire back, dig your heels in a little bit deeper and show the enemy, you’re more determined than he is. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you, he didn’t let the Pharaoh say no, because he’s more powerful. God is setting you up to show out in your life. He allowed that opposition not to stop you, but to promote you.

Now you have to be more stubborn in your faith, than the stubborn things that come against you. That sickness may be stubborn, you can’t seem to get well, that’s okay, I’m more stubborn than the sickness, I will live and not die. “Father, thank you that healing is coming, thank you that the number of my dad you will fulfill”. That financial difficulty maybe stubborn, it’s been hindering my family line for generations… Can I tell you? I’m more stubborn, I will lend and not borrow, “Lord, thank you that abundance is coming my way, that what I touch will prosper and succeed”.

Moses went back and told the Pharaoh again and again, “Let them go”. Pharaoh was stubborn, but Moses was more stubborn. Every time the opposition tells you “No”, you need to go back and tell it “Yes” one more time. Don’t let the enemy have the last word, keep speaking faith over your life, keep declaring favor keep, calling yourself blessed, healthy, strong, victorious.

Well Pharaoh finally decided to let them go. These two million Israelites headed toward the Promised Land. Wasn’t it long before Pharaoh changed his mind, came chasing after them. It looked like a setback, but really it was God setting them up. The Israelites were at a dead end at the Red Sea, they had nowhere to go. But just because you run out of options, doesn’t mean God has run out of options. God told the Israelites (Exodus 14:13): the enemies you see today, you will see no more. The Red Sea parted, the Israelites walked through on dry ground. When Pharaoh and the army came chasing after them, the waters closed up, they were all drowned, they saw those enemies no more.

You may have situations don’t look like they’re ever going to work out, God is saying to you what he said to them, that depression you’re about to see it no more, that is not your destiny. That struggle in your finances, you can’t seem to get ahead, you’re about to see that enemy of lack no more, God is about to release you into abundance. The sickness that’s hindering you, the addiction, the loneliness, the anxiety, you might as well have a going-away party, you’re going to see them no more.

This is a new day, God is doing a new thing. Now you need to keep this tenacity in your spirit, this is not the time to be weak and slack off, get worn down. You’ve been armed with strength for everybody, you are not weak, you are well able to outlast what’s trying to stop you.

Over these last twenty years that I’ve been pastoring, I’ve had to learn to outlast some things. When I first stepped up to minister, every thought told me that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t qualified, that I didn’t have the talent. I tried to push them down, but they kept coming back up, they were stubborn. I couldn’t pray them away, I couldn’t believe them away, I had to outlast the insecurity, outlast the fear, outlast the intimidation. I wish I could tell you, if you have enough faith, if you’re bold enough and competent enough, then you’ll never have to fight fear or discouragement or people coming against you, but that’s not the case. Some things you just have to outlast, you have to be more determined than what’s trying to hold you back.

Twenty years later I don’t fight those thoughts anymore, the enemies I saw back then I don’t see today. What am I saying? Don’t get stuffed in the middle, don’t believe the lies that where you are is permanent, you’ll always be that way. No, outlast that opposition, keep believing, keep reprogramming your thinking, keep thanking God that he’s bigger than what you’re facing.

Few years after I started pastoring, the church began to really grow, more people started watching. That was great, but with the greater exposure comes more critics, people that don’t understand you and people that don’t want you to succeed. At first I wasn’t sure how it’s going to work out, seem like every week someone was coming against us, trying to discredit us. But I’m never debated with people, I didn’t try to change their minds, I just kept running my race, being my best, honoring God.

About ten years in I felt this weight lift off of me. It was as if God said, “Okay, Joel, you’ve outlasted your critics, you passed this test, the enemies you see today you will see no more”. Sure I still have a few critics, maybe a couple, but people can’t keep you from your destiny. God being for you is more than the world being against you. My encouragement: don’t fight with your critics, just outlast them. Let your actions speak for you, let your success do the talking.

Paul said in Ephesians 6:13, “Having done all to stand”. He was saying: when you’ve done everything you know how to do, you’ve done your best to get well, you’ve treated people good that weren’t good to you, you’ve worked hard, but you haven’t seen increased, what do you do? Get discouraged, give up, think it’s not going to happen? No, just stand. Standing is trusting God, knowing that he’s in control. When you’re standing, you’re not frustrated by what’s not happening, you’re not complaining about how long it’s taking, you’re at peace, you’re at rest, you know, what God started in your life he’s going to finish.

The amplified version says, “Stand firm, immovable”, that means you’re not moved by the medical report, you’re not moved by how your child is acting, you’re not moved by the contract that didn’t go through, your steadfast, you keep believing, you keep thanking God, you keep being your best. Quitting is not an option, giving up is not in your mindset, you know what God promised is on the way. If it hasn’t happened yet, no big deal, I’m gonna keep standing.

Somebody asks you, “Are you still believing to get well? You’ve had that sickness all long, time I saw the medical report, what are you going to do”? I’m going to stand, I’m going to keep trusting God, I’m going to keep thanking him that healing is coming, I’m gonna keep declaring that I’m healthy, whole and strong. “Well, how long are you gonna stand”? I’m gonna stand until I see, what God promised come to pass. God is looking for people who have stubborn faith. Anyone can get discouraged, anyone can say, “Pharaoh said no, it’s not going to happen”. If you’re going to reach your destiny, you have to make up your mind, you’ll going to stand, no matter what comes against you and no matter how long it takes.

The apostle Paul outlasted betrayals, shipwrecks, beatings, being lied about. He had plenty of opportunities to give up, he could have said, “God it’s not fair, all these things have come against me”. Instead, he had stubborn faith, he said in acts 20:24, “None of these things move me”. He wasn’t moved by the opposition, by the bad breaks, by how unfair it was. He just kept standing, he went on to write over a half of the books in the New Testament. We need to get to the point where we can say like Paul, “None of these things move me. Not moved by the economy, not moved by what’s not working out, I have a made up mind, I’m going to keep standing, keep trusting, keep believing, I’m going to outlast what’s trying to stop me”. This is one time that it’s good to be stubborn, you’re not going to be talked out of what God put in your heart.

I was at the beach one time, when our children were small. Alexandra was three and Jonathan was six. We were having a fun time making castles in the sand, when this little yellow bumblebee came landed right beside us. Well, Alexandra screamed and took off running and I just swatted it away and we went back to play. Thirty seconds later the bumblebee was right back, flying all around us, and the kids started screaming again. I’ve got my towel and I swatted it down to the ground. I thought I showed him who’s boss. A minute later he was right back buzzing back and forth, annoying us. This time I not only swatted him to the ground, but I got my tennis shoe and I squashed him in the sand as hard as I could. I thought I am tired of dealing with him.

A couple of minutes later I looked over just to make sure he was still dead, I couldn’t believe it: I saw one wing barely start to move, I saw this other wing rise up out of the sand, he walked around for a few seconds like he was dazed. I was amazed not only that he was still alive, but that he could get back up again. About that time he took off flying in the air away from me, and just when I thought we were through with him, he turned around and headed straight back toward us. I thought you gotta be kidding, this bee is like the terminator: “I’ll be back”. He came and buzzed by my head like four or five times, I had to dodge to miss him. Alexandra said, “Dad, get the towel”. I said, “No, Alexandra, this bee deserves to live. I’m a thousand times bigger than him, and I still couldn’t kill him”.

When life tries to push you down, step on your dream, squash your health, you’ve got to do like that little bumblebee and get back up again. Outlast what’s trying to defeat you. The power in you is greater than any power, that’s trying to stop you. The scripture says (proverbs 26:16), “A good person falls seven times but gets back up again”. You have come back power, God wouldn’t have allowed the adversity, if it’s going to finish you off. It’s just another step on the way to your destiny.

We see this with Joseph: he was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, lied about, put in prison — it was one bad break after another. 13 years of injustice, disappointments, surely he would be bitter, discouraged. No, he understood this principle, he just kept standing, kept doing the right thing. One day while he was in prison for something that he didn’t do, the guards came and said, the Pharaoh wanted to see him, the leader of the country. He didn’t have an appointment with him, he had never met the man, but when it’s your time to be promoted, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back. When you pass this test of outlasting the opposition, the good brakes will come looking for you, the healing will come to you, the right people will find you. It will happen unexpectedly, out of the ordinary.

Joseph went and interpreted the dream for the Pharaoh, he was so impressed, he made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt. When we study Joseph’s life, we realize, God wasn’t asking him to defeat his brothers, he wasn’t asking him to break out of the pit, to escape captivity. God was simply asking him to outlast the opposition, that all had to happen for him to become the minister.

Some of the challenges that you’re facing, things that bother you, you can’t sleep well, you’re wondering: why it’s not changing? God is not asking you to overcome it, he’s just asking you to outlast it. It’s all a part of his plan. It’s necessary to get you to your destiny. Yes, the Pharaohs may be stubborn, things may not be improving yet, stay encouraged, God is still in control, he has you in the palm of his hand. What he’s promised you is on the way. Now do your part, keep standing, don’t be moved by what’s not changing, have this stubborn faith. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, like with Joseph, things are going to suddenly turn in your favor, you didn’t see it coming. Promotion, healing, vindication, new levels, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus’ name.

Change Your Name

From JO this week:

I want to talk to you today about Change Your Name. It’s easy to go through life letting people put names on us, things like average, unqualified, poor, addicted. Sometimes our own thoughts have named us: not talented, not good enough, unattractive. As long as we’re wearing these names, believe in the lies that people and circumstances have told us, it’s going to keep us from our potential. You have to change your name. I’m not talking about on your birth certificate, I’m talking about in your mind. Who do you believe you are? How do you see yourself? When God breathed life into you, he named you blessed, prosperous, talented, one-of-a-kind. He calls you a masterpiece. People will call you average, ordinary, nothing special. If you accept those names you’ll be average, ordinary, nothing special. And what’s holding many people back is they have the wrong name.

A man was walking down a busy street in Thailand, he came upon this tattoo shop. In the window there were many of the tattoos they offered. One said “Born to lose”. He couldn’t believe anyone would have that tattooed on them. The owner came up, they struck up a conversation, he asked the owner if anyone ever got the born to lose tattoos? The owner nodded his head yes and said in broken English: before tattooed on body, tattooed on mind. He’s exactly right: if you accept the name in your mind, if you believe negative things people have spoken over you, if you let life name you, you’re giving it the right to come to pass.

In your mind is your name born to lose or born to win? Is your name poor, broke, defeated, or is your name blessed, prosperous, more than enough? Have you let life name you addicted, struggling, limited or do you go by what God names you: free, whole, victorious, overcomer? Anything that’s telling you otherwise, you need to change those names.

In the scripture Jacobs wife Rachel died while giving birth to their second son. The baby was born fine, but she was in so much pain, just before she died she named the baby Ben-Oni, which means Son of my Sorrow. Here the little baby had done nothing wrong, but he was going to have to go through life being called “Son of Sorrow”. Back in those days the names they gave people were much more significant than today. Those names could literally determine the person’s destiny. It seemed like for little Ben-Oni is just bad luck, his mother was in pain, she took out her misery on him, she pronounced that he would live a painful, sorrowful, depressing life.

And sometimes the people that should have been speaking faith into you, naming you talented, valuable, masterpiece, have done just the opposite. Because they were hurting, because they were in pain, they named you “Less than”, “Not good enough”. They may not have said it, but how they made you feel, putting you down, not showing your love and affection. The good news is: what God names you overrides what people name you. They may name your Son of Sorrow, son of pain, son of defeat — God names you son of victory, son of favor, son of blessing. Don’t let the negative things people have spoken over you, how you were raised, what you didn’t get, determine your destiny — change your name.

A few minutes after Rachel died, Jacob came running in, the nurses handed him the baby and said here’s your son, his name is Ben-Oni. When Jacob heard that something rose up on the inside, he said “No, that is not his name. No matter what’s happened in the past, no matter what someone else said, he will not be called Son of Sorrow, his name is Benjamin”. Benjamin means son of strength, son of power. In that one moment, with that one name change, he went from “Son of Sorrow” to “Son of strength”. Benjamin went on to do great things, he became a great leader. Out of his genes, out of his family line came the kings of Israel, one king after another.

God had a great assignment for Benjamin, but he knew, if he had gone through life being called “Son of Sorrow”, that would have gotten on the inside. He would have seen himself as limited and defeated. So God stepped up and said, “No, he will not be the Son of Sorrow. He is not the son of defeat. This child is a son of destiny, this child has greatness in him”.

Now maybe someone has tried to name you average, unqualified, unattractive, too many mistakes. God is saying to you, what he said to Benjamin: I’m changing your name, no more Son of Sorrow, no more son of not good enough, I’m renaming you: son of strength, daughter of destiny, child of greatness. Now you have to do your part and get rid of the old names. The enemy would love for you to live as the Son of Sorrow, when God has called you the son of strength. He knows what’s in you, that’s why he’s been fighting you since you were a little child, trying to change your name, through people, through disappointments, through your own mistakes and failures.

But when you learn to change your name back to who you were created to be, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. When you know you’re a son of strength, equipped and empowered, talented and creative, surrounded by God’s favor, with royal blood flowing through your veins, then doors will open that no man can shout, the right people will suddenly show up, you will overcome obstacles that look too big. When you have the right name, you’ll go further than you ever imagined.

I know a man that was told by his high school counselor, he wasn’t very smart, and that he should pursue the lowest skilled job that he could find. The counselor may have met well, but people don’t know what’s in you, they can’t see your seeds of greatness. That’s why David’s father left David out in the shepherd’s fields, when the prophet came to anoint one of the sons as the next king. David seemed ordinary, he wasn’t like his older brother Eliab, he was tall, handsome, he looked like a king. David’s father thought: David will never amount to much, nothing special about him. He named David average, but God named him giant killer. He named him a shepherd boy, God named him a history-maker. His father named David “Not going to amount to much”, God named him king of Israel. Don’t let what people can’t see in you talk you out of who you know you are.

This counselor didn’t see anything special in this young man, he named him below, average, not talented, barely get by. For 30 years this man believed those lies, he went around thinking: I’m not smart enough, I’m not up to par, I don’t have what others have. He worked at the local factory and stayed at the lowest level position year after year. One day that factory closed, he went across town to another factory and applied for a job. They had a policy that every applicant had to take an iq test. He took the test, his score came back at a genius level. The owner called him and said “What are you doing applying for this low level position? You’ve scored higher than anyone in our company’s 60-year history”.

That day a stronghold was broken in his mind, he realized what that councilor couldn’t see in him did not define who he was. What people have spoken over you or what they haven’t spoken over you hasn’t changed what’s in you, it didn’t lessen your potential, the greatness is still in there. He did what I’m asking us to do, he changed his name: no more “Not good enough”, no more “Not talented”. He started seeing himself as bright, as valuable, as one with seeds of greatness.

Eventually he started his own company, he went on to invent several products that are now patented and very successful. You can’t stop people from saying negative things, but I’ve learned, you are not what people call you, you are what you answer to. They may call you unattractive, unqualified, not up to par, that’s fine, just don’t answer to it. When thoughts say: hello fearful, hello depressed, hello insecure, “You must not be talking to me, that’s not who I am, I am confident, I am secure, I am victorious”. Well, “Hello sick, hello limited, hello chronic pain”. Sorry there’s no one here by that name, you must have the wrong address, I am healthy, whole, energetic, that’s who lives here.

Are you answering to something that you’re not? Quit giving your time and energy letting those negative thoughts play, that is not who you are. When thoughts whisper: you don’t deserve to be blessed, you made too many mistakes, you’re unworthy. Recognize what’s happening, they’re trying to rename you. When you hear forgiven, redeemed, restored, that’s when you need to listen. Well, “Hello unqualified, inexperienced, less than”. Excuse me, do you mean anointed, highly favored, well able? That’s who I am. When thoughts tell you: you’re not attractive, nobody wants to be around you, you don’t have a good personality, you’re too tall, too short. Don’t give that the time of day. When you hear, “Hello masterpiece, hello good-looking”, yes, how can I help you? Now you’re calling my name. Answer to victorious, answer to fearfully and wonderfully made, answer to overcomer.

Growing up my friends at school used to call me Peanut, because I was very small. Nobody said it in a derogatory sense, but I can tell you, it didn’t help my self-esteem. All through the day, “Hey Peanut, how’s it going”? Playing basketball, “Peanut, pass me the ball”. I couldn’t stop them from calling me Peanut, but I never let peanut get on the inside. I didn’t let them change who I knew I was. And yes, I was small, but deep down I knew, there was a history maker in me. I wasn’t as strong as some of my friends, but I knew there was a giant killer on the inside. They couldn’t see it, all they could see was peanut, but I never let peanut take root in me.

Even going into high school, my freshman year, I was 4 feet 11 inches tall, I grew a lot after high school. But you can imagine at my basketball games people say, look at that little kid, look how small he is. I never saw myself that way, I may have been 4 feet 11 on the outside, but on the inside I stood 7 feet tall. People can call you a lot of things, but you don’t have to let it get in you.

Go back to what God says about you, let your Heavenly Father name you, not people, not your mistakes, not your past. God calls you exceptional, he calls you redeemed and forgiven, he calls you healthy and whole, he calls you a masterpiece, a giant killer, a history maker. Now do your part and let what he names you override all the other names. Your assignment is too important to go through life we’re in names like inferior, unqualified, average. I’m asking you to change those names and get an agreement with God.

A friend of mine grew up in El Salvador, his father was an alcoholic, would become very violent when he was drinking. His mother moved to the United States when he was a small child, and he was raised by his grandparents. As a young boy he felt lost and confused, he did very poorly in school, he didn’t interact socially with people. And one day he overheard his grandparents talking about how he was mentally impaired, how he was a slow learner, how he needed help. They sent him to a psychiatrist and he confirmed that the little boy had all these learning disabilities. He was told again and again he would never amount to much, he wasn’t talented, he wasn’t smart enough.

At ten years old he was about to move back to the States with his mother, he told his grandfather that he needed an American name. He had never heard his grandfather say one good thing about him, but his grandfather looked up in the air and started thinking. He said: okay son, this name needs to be something very strong, something that says honor, something that says valor, it needs to be the name of a great leader, of a genius, of someone that will impact the world. He said: I’ve got, it your new name will be Erwin.

Well, the little boy had never heard the name Erwin, he didn’t like that name, he wanted a normal American name like John or Bill. Over the years he moved from state to state with his mother, he could have changed his name at any time, but he wouldn’t do it. As much as he didn’t like his new name, what made him keep it, is that was the only time he’d ever heard anyone say he was going to do something great. His grandparents, teachers, counselors, never encouraged him, but that day he heard that he was going to impact the world, that he would be a person of honor and valor, that that was the name of a genius.

He knew all the negative things said about him, but this day someone was saying he was exceptional, that he had seeds of greatness. And every time he was tempted to sweep back, settle for mediocrity, he would remember what his grandfather said the name Erwin represent. Today our friend Erwin McManus is an amazing pastor, author, filmmaker, one of the brightest minds around. But I wonder, if we would have ever heard of Erwin, I wonder if his gifts would have ever come out if he had not changed his name, if his grandfather had not reminded him who he really was, not who people he was, not who the experts said he was, not who the environment said he was, but who God said he was: a masterpiece, valuable, talented, with seeds of greatness.

Maybe like with Erwin, no one has ever told you who you really are. Life has put some names on you, told you what you can’t do, what you’re not, how you’ve made too many mistakes. God has you hearing this, because he wants you to change your name. No more mediocre, no more born to lose, there is greatness in you. When God created you, he put a part of himself in you, he’s equipped you, empowered you and anointed you. He crowned you with his favor. Your new names are blessed, prosperous, well able, forgiving, talented, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece.

When God gave Abraham and Sarah the promise that they were going to have a baby, they were both way too old. It looked impossible, but God did something unusual: he didn’t just give them the promise, he changed their names from Abram to Abraham. Abraham means father of many nations. When God changed his name, they didn’t have one child. Yet, every time someone said, “Hello, Abraham”, they were saying, “Hello, father of many nations”. They were speaking faith into his destiny. What you continually hear starts to get down on the inside. That’s why it’s so important to have the right names: I am blessed, I am talented, I am healthy.

“Well, Joel, I don’t feel healthy”. Well, keep calling yourself that, that’s what allows it to happen. “I don’t feel blessed, I’m in debt, I’m struggling, I’ve got these bills”. You’re right where Abraham was. He could have said, “We don’t have any children, we’re not gonna have a baby. God my wife has gone through the change of life”, that’s why God changed his name, so he would hear it again and again: you’re the father of many nations. You may not feel blessed, you’re tempted to talk about what you don’t have, how it’s not going to improve. That’s why you’re here, God is changing your name from lack, from struggle, from not enough – to blessed, to prosperous, to more than enough.

Now you have to keep calling yourself what God says about you. May not happen overnight, Abraham waited for years, but every time you call yourself what God named you, it’s getting deeper on the inside, it’s changing your self-image, it’s reprogramming your thinking. I’m sure many times Abraham thought, “We’re never going to have a baby”. About that time someone would walk up and call his name, “Hey, Abraham”, he would be reminded, “You’re the father of many nations”. You have to call yourself blessed, before you’ll ever be blessed. You have to call yourself healthy, while you’re still fighting the illness. Call yourself free, while you’re still struggling with the addiction. Having the right names is what’s going to help you to stand strong, so you can become what God says about you.

God changed Sarah’s name from Sarai to Sarah. Sarah means princess. If anyone didn’t feel like a princess, it would have been Sarah. She had been barren for over 80 years. She didn’t feel attractive, didn’t feel special, everything told her: you’re finished, you’ll never have a baby. She could have said, “Don’t change my name, just call me Sarai, I’m not a princess, that’s not going to do any good”. No, she accepted the name-change, she said in effect, “This seems impossible, the odds are against me, but if God says I’m a prince’s, then I’m going to get an agreement with him”. And every time someone said, “Good morning, Sarah”, they were saying, “Good morning, princess”. She heard that so many times, something began to come alive on the inside, faith started to rise up. It wasn’t long after that before the promise came to pass.

You may have situations, that you don’t see how it could work out in your health, your career, a relationship. What you’re up against looks permanent, like with Abraham and Sarah, God is changing your name. You’ve had that addiction for years, God is calling you free. You haven’t been able to have a baby, you’ve been barren, God is calling the fruit of your womb blessed, he’s calling you a mother. Your dream seems too big, you don’t have the experience, the training, God is calling you successful, he’s calling you bountiful, flourishing, abundant. Now, the whole key is: will you do like them and accept the name-change? Will you keep calling yourself what God calls you, even when it doesn’t make sense? Every time you do it it’s getting stronger on the inside, and eventually you’re going to become what God named you.

Luke chapter 1 and angel appeared to Zechariah, and told him that his wife Elizabeth was going to have a baby, that they were to name John. Well, like Sarah, Elizabeth was way too old. Zechariah questioned the angel and asked: how it was going to happen? The angel told him, that what God promised, would come to pass, but because Zechariah doubted, he would remain silent until the baby was born. From that moment on he couldn’t speak. Nine months later, Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy. The family, the relatives were so excited they came over to the house to celebrate. Verse 59 says, “They wanted to name the son Zechariah after his father”.

God said his name is John, but they wanted to name him something different. We all have some “They’s” in life, people that will try to name you something that you’re not. They may be well-meaning. When my father was a teenager, his parents told him that he couldn’t become a minister, that all he knew how to do was pick cotton. God named him a pastor, but they named him less than, not up to par. If he would have accepted their names, he would have never impacted the world. Don’t let they name you, let God name you.

Elizabeth said to them, “No, his name will not be Zechariah, his name will be John”. They said, what do you mean? Nobody in your family is named John, that doesn’t make sense. They went to Zechariah, the father, to ask him what the baby’s name would be. He still couldn’t speak, so he wrote on a tablet, his name is John. Suddenly he was able to speak again. But what’s interesting is, the mother couldn’t name the baby, women in those days didn’t have the influence that they have today. The family, the friends, the neighbors, they couldn’t name the child. The only one that had the authority to name the baby was the father. They had to go find Zechariah to see what the child’s name would be.

The principal is your Heavenly Father is the only one, that has the right to name you. Don’t go through life letting other people put their names on you. They’ll try to name you addicted, struggling, defeated. God names you free, whole, victorious. The “They’s” will name your average, mediocre. God names you a masterpiece, one-of-a-kind, exceptional. People will try to name you washed up, too many mistakes. God names you forgiven, redeemed, and restored.

Have you let the “They’s” name you? Have you let life convince you who you are, letting those negative thoughts tell you that there’s nothing good in your future? Like with Abraham and Sarah, right now, God is changing your name. Your new names are blessed, prosperous, one-of-a-kind, valuable, child of the Most High. Now, do your part and accept the name-change. Tune out all the negative and keep calling yourself what God calls you. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, strongholds that have held you back are being broken, you are about to step up to who you were created to be, new levels of influence, favor, restoration, healing, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

Everything Serves His Plan

(Now that I know about the website that’s publishing full transcripts of JO’s sermons, and it just takes me a couple of minutes to make a post about it rather than half the week, I thought it would be nice to start posting sermons again. You’ll notice that these are full transcriptions, including personal stuff that I would always edit out because it’s not part of the message per se; to make this as quick and easy as possible, so that I’ll be more likely to keep up with it, I’m just going to give you the whole thing from now on. I do still want to get back to making some posts about my personal spiritual journey, too, although that might not start until the first of the year.)

I want to talk to you today about how everything serves his plan. We all have things happen to us in life that we don’t understand, things that are taken longer than they should, doors that have closed. We did the right thing, but we didn’t get the promotion, or people that have turned on us, a co-worker said untrue things and now it’s set us back. It’s easy to live frustrated and fight against everything we don’t like. “God, why is this happening? When are you going to turn it around”? We think that it’s holding us back, but Psalm 119 says, “Everything serves his plan”.

Not just the good things, not just the times where you’re being promoted, you’re seeing things change in your favor. We know that serving God’s plan, we’re moving forward, but what we don’t always realize is the delays are serving his plan, the betrayals are serving his plan, the person that walked away is serving his plan. That door that closed, the contract that didn’t go through, if that wouldn’t have happened, you couldn’t reach your destiny. You wanted it so badly, what you couldn’t see is God had something better. He loves you too much to let you miss your purpose. You may not like it, it doesn’t seem fair, but it’s serving his plan.

That silent season, where you’re doing the right thing, but nothing’s improving: you’re being overlooked, people with less experience, less talent are passing you by – that’s an important time, you’re being developed, you’re getting stronger. Without that season you wouldn’t be prepared for what’s coming. When you understand that everything serves his plan, then you don’t live frustrated, when things are unfair. You don’t get upset, when you don’t get your way. You realize, the closed door wasn’t a bad break, it was God shutting the door. The person that walked away wasn’t a coincidence, it was God moving them away, they were serving his plan.

When someone serves your dinner, they’re doing you a favor, they bring you the food, make sure you have water, clean the dishes when you’ve done. They’re helping you, working for you. We need to see difficulties in a new light, that person at the office that’s against you, always trying to make you look bad, next time they do something unfair, instead of getting upset, under your breath just whisper, “Thank you, you just served me”. You can’t reach your destiny without opposition, without delays, without closed doors. Why are you upset over something that’s designed to move you forward? It may be uncomfortable, you may not like it, but it’s serving you. God wouldn’t have allowed it, if he didn’t have a purpose. Nothing can happen to you without his permission.

Before Jesus could be crucified and rise from the dead, he had to be betrayed, somebody had to lie about it, make things up, he had done no wrong. If everybody would have loved Jesus, if everyone would have celebrated him, we wouldn’t have salvation. Part of the plan for Jesus life was to have opposition, people that didn’t understand him. It’s not a coincidence that Judas, one of his 12 disciples, a person Jesus handpick decided to betray him. Judas didn’t come up with that on his own, he was a pawn in the hand of God, he was serving Jesus destiny.

What if Jesus would have said, “Father, this isn’t fair. I’m doing the right thing and my own disciple betrays me”. No, Jesus understood, without the betrayal he couldn’t fulfill his purpose. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, they didn’t know what he looked like, Judas said, “I’ll identify him by giving him a kiss”. Judas walked over like nothing was wrong and greeted Jesus the kiss. That kiss was a significant moment, that helped unlock Jesus destiny.

You could say, that Judas did more for Jesus, than any of the other disciples. Without the betrayal, we wouldn’t have salvation. But none of us like opposition, especially people coming against us, trying to make us look bad. How do you know that Judas Kiss is not about to unlock your destiny? How do you know the bad break, the disappointment, the betrayal is not setting you up for something you’ve never seen? You may not like it, but it’s serving his plan.

When Judas Kissed Jesus, I can hear Jesus under his breath saying, “Thank you, Judas, you just served me, you just move me closer to my destiny”. That co-worker that keeps getting on your nerves, you’ve been praying for God to move them away for six years, you know why they’re not moving? They’re serving you, God is using them like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off of you. You’re learning to be patient, learning to be kind, learning to overlook an offense.

The scripture says, our steps are being ordered by the Lord. It doesn’t say they’re being suggested. If you weren’t supposed to be there, you wouldn’t be there. God allowed it, because it’s necessary to move you into your purpose. Now, quit being upset because of that person that’s trying to make you look bad, you need them to reach your destiny. Don’t be discouraged over the door that closed, wasn’t a coincidence, it’s positioning you for something bigger. See, God doesn’t take us in a straight line from a to b to c. Sometimes he’ll take you from a to b, and then up to m, and then back to d, and then up to r, it may not make sense. Sometimes it’s going to feel like you’re going backwards, you have to trust him, when you don’t understand. You have to know, everything is serving his plan.

That’s why Paul said, “All things work together for good to those that love the Lord”. All things may not be good: the sickness is not good, the loss is not good, but the promise is, it’s going to work for your good. Now the test is: while God is working it out, while it’s not good, will you stay in faith? When you don’t see any improvement, when it’s uncomfortable, unfair, will you believe that God is still on the throne, that he’s working behind the scenes, that what he started in your life he will finish?

This is what Joseph had to do. For years he went through bad breaks, betrayals, disappointments. As a teenager his brothers were jealous of him and threw him into a pit. They were going to leave him there to die, but they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming and decided to sell him. Joseph never dreamed he would become a slave, working in a foreign country, felt like God had forgotten about him.

At one point, the wife of the man he worked for falsely accused him, lied about him, Joseph was put in prison for something he didn’t do. He had plenty of reasons to live bitter, but you never read where Joseph had a bad attitude, you never read where he complained. He understood this principle, that everything is serving his plan, not just the good things, not just when he had a dream that people would bow down before him, not just when his father favored him and gave him the coat of many colors, but even the bad breaks, even the unfair situations.

Thirteen years later, after all the disappointments, delays, betrayals, just like God promised, Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt. But what interesting is, if any of those bad breaks had not happened: if his brothers had not been jealous, if he had not been thrown into a pit, if he had not been sold as a slave, if the wife had not lied about him, if he had not been put in prison, he wouldn’t have made it to the throne. Every step was necessary, they were all instrumental. The things you don’t like, the things that are unfair, the things that are taken longer than you thought, like with Joseph is serving his plan, it’s moving you towards your destiny.

Years later, his brothers came back to the throne, looking for food during a great famine. Joseph was in charge of the food supply, he said to his brothers, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to harm you. You meant this for evil, but God intended it for good”. God will use people being against you, to move you into your purpose. That’s why you shouldn’t take it personally, you need a Judas Kiss to reach your destiny, you need people that try to throw you into the pit so to speak, try to discredit you, push you down, so you can take your throne. If Joseph’s brothers betraying him would have kept him from being the prime minister, God would have never allowed it. People can’t override what God has ordained for you, bad breaks, detours, delays, injustice, that doesn’t stop your destiny, just the opposite, it’s moving you into your destiny.

Few years after Victoria and I were married, we received an unexpected tax bill in the mail. The person that was doing our tax returns lived in another state, he wasn’t familiar with a certain law in Texas. Now, we owed thousands of dollars. We were a young couple, saving up for a down payment for a house, this was going to take all of our funds. Not only that, about half of what we owed was in penalties. I thought, “God, this is not fair. I hired a professional, he messed up, I’m having to pay for his mistakes”. We ended up finding a man to help us get it straightened out, he’s a tax attorney. For several weeks he was at our house every night for hours: we were going over documents, filling out new forms, we became good friends.

About 10 years later, when I was working at Lakewood for my father here in the television department, someone offered us a construction permit for the last full-power commercial television station in Houston. A tv station in a big market is very valuable, but I was young and didn’t know how to buy a construction permit. Then I thought: I’ll call my attorney friend, the one I met during the tax issue. Six months later we had a signed contract, we owned the station. We put it on the air and everything was great.

Eventually my father went to be with the Lord and I became the pastor. Three years after that, we acquired the Compaq Center. It was going to cost a hundred million dollars to renovate, we decided to sell the station. We sold it for a significant profit, those funds were instrumental in us renovating this place. But it all started back with the tax issue. I couldn’t see it at the time, I thought it was a bad break, now I realize, it was all serving God’s plan. If I had not had the tax problem, I would have never met my attorney friend. Without the attorney, I would have never pursued the station. Without the station, we may not have had the funds to renovate the Compaq Center.

I wonder if you’re upset over something that’s serving God’s plan: a closed door, a person that walked away, a delay that’s taken longer than you thought – it doesn’t make sense. Stay in peace, it’s all a part of the plan. It may feel like it’s hindering you, really it’s helping you. It looks like it’s setting you back, but really it’s setting you up for something you haven’t seen. God knows what you’re going to need in the future. I never dreamed I would be a pastor, I never dreamed one day we would own the Compaq Center, but God knew. That tax issue that was somebody else’s fault, that looked like a bad break, the truth is, it was God ordering my steps into something that was unfair.

If you don’t understand that everything serves his plan, you’ll get bitter, discouraged, give up on dreams. This is what keeps many people from seeing what God was doing behind the scenes. The reason Joseph saw it all come together, is he kept doing the right thing, when the wrong thing was happening. He kept being good to people, who weren’t being good to him. He passed the test. And some of the challenges that you’re facing now, the things that don’t make sense: it doesn’t have anything to do with now, it’s setting you up, it’s positioning you for something in the future. If you will stay in faith, you’re going to see how God begins to connect the dots, how it was all strategically orchestrated, all part of God’s plan.

There was a man on a boat, a big storm came up and his boat capsized. He was able to swim to the shore, but he ended up stranded on a deserted island all by himself. Week after week went by, he was so miserable, he didn’t think it’d ever be found. He kept praying for God to send someone, but it seemed like the heavens were silent.

Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, one day while he was out gathering food, he came back and the little thatched roof hut that he had built, somehow had caught fire. He stood there and watched it go up in flames, like pouring salt on the wound. He said, “God, I give up. I ask you to help me and one bad thing after another happens”.

About an hour later he looked way off in the distance and could see a boat coming. He perked up, it got closer and closer, he couldn’t believe it, it was the coast guard, coming to rescue him. He ran out, gave them a big hug, said “How in the world did you find me”? Captain said, “We saw the smoke coming, from the fire that you built”. Sometimes what we think is a disappointment is really God positioning us for a new level. I didn’t like the tax issue, but I do like being in the Compaq Center.

If your hut is on fire today, instead of complaining, being bitter, have a new perspective: it’s serving his plan. It may not make sense right now, being in the pit is uncomfortable, being falsely accused is not fair, the Judas Kiss, the betrayal, the closed doors, that can be discouraging. You have to keep reminding yourself, it’s not working against you, it’s working for you. Sooner than later, you’re going to see what God was up to.

A friend of mine had a dream to play professional football. He’s extremely talented, very fast and athletic. His father was one of his coaches and was always working with it. In high school he was the star player, a running back that broke many of the school records. His future looked very bright. Started training harder than ever, getting ready for college, coaches from major universities would attend his games. His junior year he was offered a full scholarship to one of the most prestigious football schools. He was excited, his dream was coming to pass. But during the fourth game of his senior year, he was hit below the knee and heard something pop, he tore his acl.

He laid on the field in shock, knowing that his season was over. He had never missed a game, never had an injury, so disappointed. He was raised in a good family, but they didn’t know much about God, they didn’t have any kind of faith, just wasn’t part of their life. A friend invited him to a youth camp. When he heard the minister speak, he felt something so strong on the inside, that night he gave his life to Christ. It was a complete turnaround in his life.

After the surgery he was doing all the rehab, doing his best to get back in shape, but sitting on the sidelines, watching his team play, he begin to feel new desires in his heart. He no longer wanted to play football, he wanted to become a pastor. His friends, his family, they couldn’t understand, didn’t make sense after all those years of training, but deep down he knew he was supposed to go into ministry. So he passed on the big football scholarship and he enrolled in a leadership college.

Today our friend Nick Nilsson is one of our pastors here at Lakewood, a great minister. Nick told me, if he had not had that injury, if God had not put his football career on hold, he would have never pursued ministry. God had to pause what Nick thought he wanted to do and redirect him to what he was created to do. At first, he didn’t understand it, it didn’t seem to make sense, but you don’t know what God is up to. God will never close a door, without opening a bigger in a better door.

What you’re tempted to be upset about, if you’ll keep the right attitude, one day you’ll look back and say like Nick, “Lord, thank you for closing that door. Now I see what you were doing, taking me somewhere better than I ever imagined”. “Lord, thank you for moving that person out of my life, or I would have never met my amazing spouse”. “Lord, thank you that that company wouldn’t hire me or I would have never started my own business”. Nick says, “I still love football, but I wouldn’t change a thing, this is what I was born to do”.

“Well, Joel, why is this challenge taking so long? I don’t see anything happening, when is it going to turn around”? Sometimes God doesn’t remove the obstacle, because he’s using the obstacle to develop us. He’s getting us prepared for where he’s taking us. We don’t grow in the good times, when everything’s going our way, everyone’s for us, things are falling into place. We like that much better, but we wouldn’t reach our potential. We grow when it’s difficult, when there’s resistance, when we’re uncomfortable, when we have to stretch. That’s why you can’t pray away every challenge, you can’t pray away everything you don’t like. If the situation is not changing, that God is using the situation to change you.

After Joshua died, the Israelites were in the Promised Land, they were living their dream. But the scripture says, “God left certain enemy nations in the land. He did this to teach warfare to the next generation of Israelites who had no experience in battle”. God could have had Joshua wipe out all the opposition, clear the path. The problem is, this new generation, when they faced an enemy army, they would have been defeated. They didn’t have the experience, the training the strength, God had to taught them up, so he left obstacles in their path on purpose.

If God made everything easy for us, if we never had a delay, a detour, a Judas Kiss, we wouldn’t be prepared for where we’re going. God has amazing things in your future, things that you’ve never imagined, but to get there you’re going to have to defeat some big Goliath, overcome some big obstacles, outlast some strong opposition. It’s not going to happen if you’re weak, if you get overwhelmed, upset, “God why is this happening”? Now, you have to stand strong and show the opposition, that you’re more determined than they are. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. That problem is not there to stop you, it’s there to prepare you. The challenge is not going to defeat you, it’s going to promote you.

Every day you stay in faith and thank God that he’s working, do the right thing when nothing is improving, your spiritual muscles are growing, you’re getting stronger, more determined, developing a greater trust in God. Instead of complaining about what’s not turning around, see that as an opportunity to develop your faith. Don’t just go through it, grow through it. It’s serving his plan, it’s there to get you prepared. Now, you have to do your part: keep the right attitude, keep being good to people who aren’t being good to you, keep excelling at work when you’re not getting the credit, keep thanking God when it’s not turning around. Don’t worry about nothing’s changing on the outside, something’s happening on the inside, you’re getting stronger.

In the scripture, three times the apostle Paul asked God to remove the thorn from his side, something that was bothering him. God could have easily removed it, he parted Red Seas, he opened blind eyes, but God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”. His grace doesn’t mean God is going to remove every challenge, doesn’t mean the opposition is going to let up, it means he’s going to increase your strength, so it doesn’t feel as difficult. As you get stronger, what’s against you becomes easier. God didn’t lessen what’s coming against you, he simply added to your strength.

Now you can handle what you normally couldn’t handle, you’re not bothered by what used to bother you. That person at work, that always got on your nerves, sour your day – he didn’t change, he’s still the same old jerk, I mean the same person, but look at you – he didn’t change, but you’ve changed. Now, you don’t let it steal your joy, you don’t pay any attention to it. What’s happening? You’re growing. The obstacle is not changing, but it’s changing you. That’s God’s plan working.

Now, you may have situations you’ve been dealing with a long time that are not improving, you’re tempted to get tired, worn down. I believe right now God’s grace is coming on you in a new way, God is breathing strengthen to you, fresh passion, fresh vision, a second wind, so you can stand strong and outlast what’s trying to stop you. Now, tap into this grace. Don’t go around, “Why did the door closed? Why did they betray me? When is it going to change”? Turn it around, “Father, thank you, that your grace is sufficient for everything I’m facing. I may not understand it, but I know, it’s serving your plan. And I’m not going to just go through it, I’m going to grow through it. Now, I believe, when it’s all set and done, I’m not only coming out, but I’m coming out better”.

The Psalmist said, “All my troubles turned out for the good”. God is saying to you today, “Everything that’s come against you is going to turn out for your good”. The Judas Kiss didn’t feel good, the betrayal, but it’s going to turn out good, it’s leading you to a resurrection, to something you’ve never seen. The pit was uncomfortable, being falsely accused wasn’t fair, but it’s taken you to your throne, to new levels of influence. The football injury was disappointing, the closed doors were discouraging, but God’s about to open the door better than you’ve imagined.

Perhaps your hut is on fire today, the medical report is not good, a child is off course. What you can’t see, is the Most High God is headed your way. Something that looked permanent is about to suddenly turn around. I’m asking you to trust him when you don’t understand, don’t fight everything you don’t like, stay in peace, everything serves his plan. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, what is meant for your harm is being turned to your advantage. You’re about to see God connect the dots, things you didn’t understand, it don’t make sense are about to come together: new opportunities, new levels, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.