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It’s all good

from JO’s sermon last night:

life is full of things that we don’t like: disappointments, a friend betrayed us, we didn’t get the promotion. we see these things as being negative, thinking, “that was bad, it didn’t work out, my prayers weren’t answered.” but God won’t allow a difficulty unless He’s going to somehow use it for our good. this means that everything that happens in life, we may not understand it, but if you’ll keep the right attitude, it’ll push you further into your destiny. every closed door, the delays, the person that did you wrong, the loan that didn’t go through, God says, “it’s all good. I’m in control. it may not feel good, but trust Me and I’ll use it for your good.”

when you understand this principle, life is much more free. you don’t get upset because a coworker is playing politics, trying to keep you down; you know it’s all good. God allowed it, and He’s going to use it. you tried, but the business didn’t make it; you don’t give up on your dreams, you know it’s all good, it’s a part of the process. even simple things; you get stuck in traffic, you don’t let it frustrate you, ruin the rest of your day. you know God is directing your steps; He may be keeping you from an accident, or developing patience in you. whatever it is, keep the right perspective; it’s all good.

this boils down to trusting God. we’re never going to understand everything that happens in life. if you try to figure it all out, you’ll be frustrated. God has an advantage;  He can see the big picture for our lives. He knows where the dead ends, shortcuts, bumpy roads are. sometimes, He’ll close a door that we’re asking him to open because He knows it would be a waste of time. when you’re a mature person, instead of getting bitter, you say, “God, I trust you. I may not like it, but I believe You know what’s best for me.” some of the things that God has in your future, if He gave them to you right now, you couldn’t handle it; He loves you too much to let it happen. He’s developing your character, growing you up.

that boss that gets on your nerves, doesn’t treat you right, you keep trying to pray him away; the reason he’s not going anywhere is because God’s using him like sandpaper to rub the rough edges off of you. as you keep doing the right thing, keeping your mouth closed, being respectful, that’s doing a work in you; you couldn’t develop your character without him. you may not like it, but it’s good; it’s getting you prepared for the next level. God is asking us, “do you trust Me with your closed doors, unanswered questions, things you don’t understand?” instead of fighting everything you don’t like, why don’t you have this new perspective; it’s all good? “this grouchy boss, I can’t stand him, but I know he’s good for me.” “this child that’s hard to raise, this sickness I’m dealing with, this dream that’s taking forever, I don’t like it, but I’m not going to live bitter; I know God is on the throne. He’s in control of my life. it may have been meant for my harm, but He’s promised He will use it to my advantage.” Paul said:

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God

not some things, but all things. they may not be good at the time; it’s painful to go through a loss, discouraging when a dream doesn’t work out. by itself, that may not be good, but God’s promised He’s going to bring it all together; one day. you’ll look back, and say, “that was good.” “I’m discouraged because I lost a loved one. I’m bitter because a business partner cheated me. that wasn’t good”; the problem is, you’re isolating that one incident. God hasn’t brought it all together yet; if that difficulty was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. that setback was really a setup for God to show out in your life. but you have to get rid of a victim mentality, and have a victor mentality. when you have this attitude, that it’s all good, you don’t go around with a chip on your shoulder because you had some bad breaks; you know no weapon formed against you will prosper, weeping endures for a night, but joy is coming in the morning, it’s just a matter of time before God brings it all together.

we celebrated Good Friday recently. we call it good today, but 2000 years ago, when Jesus was crucified, it didn’t look like a Good Friday; the disciples thought it was the worst day of their lives. their dreams were shattered; the man they had given their lives to was gone. doubts filled their minds; “maybe he wasn’t who he said he was. maybe he tricked us, and we wasted all this time.” I can imagine Mary, the mother of Christ, weeping and weeping as she sees her son on the cross; she’s heartbroken, in so much pain. if someone would’ve suggested, “Mary, this is a Good Friday,” she’d have thought, “what are you talking about good, look what’s happening?”

we all face these times when life doesn’t make sense: a dream dies, a relationship comes to an end, we come down with an illness. nothing about the situation seems good. good would’ve been the last word we would’ve used to describe this Friday; a better description would’ve been tragic, lonely, betrayed Friday. in the heat of the battle, it’s easy to get discouraged. the disciples could’ve said, “God, why did you let Judas betray him? why did you let the soldiers crucify him? God, why did you abandon your son in his time of greatest need?” but a few days later, after he arose from the grave, cooked them breakfast on the beach, appeared to them in the upper room, they realized he was who he said he was. they looked back on that Friday and said, “it wasn’t what we thought. it wasn’t depressing Friday, tragic Friday, it was all a part of His plan. it was Good Friday.” they looked back on what they thought was the darkest day of their lives, and they called it good. 

what am I saying? it’s all good.  it may not be good right now, it may not make sense on its own, but God knows how to bring it all together. what you think is going to stop you, hold you back, can I tell you, if you will stay in faith, one day you will look back and say that it was good. if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, we wouldn’t have salvation. God used the betrayal to move Jesus toward his destiny. the betrayal at the time didn’t seem good; it hurts when somebody does you wrong, walks out on you, breaks your heart. you may not see it at the time, but without that betrayal, like Jesus, you couldn’t become who you were created to be. if they left you, you didn’t need them; if they walked away, they weren’t a part of your destiny. it may be painful Friday right now, but keep moving forward; Sunday is coming, new beginnings are on the way, a resurrection is in your future. 

when God brings it all together, when you meet that person of your dreams, somebody better than you ever imagined, you’ll look back and say with a smile, “it was a good Friday when that man left.” that supervisor that’s tried to keep you down for years, you didn’t realize it, but staying there with a good attitude, giving it your best, doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening, that was developing your character, getting you prepared for the next level. you wouldn’t be who you are today without that difficulty. you may not have liked it, but you can look back and say, “that was a good Friday.”

God’s ways are better than our ways. the right way to pray is, “God, this is what I want, what I’m believing for, but God, You know what’s best for me. I trust You.” if you’re only going to be happy if God does it your way, that’s not really trusting. that’s not praying, that’s giving God orders; “God, here’s what I want You to do, when to do it, where to do it, who to use.” I’ve found, God doesn’t take orders. this is one of the main reasons we get frustrated, discouraged, because it’s not happening our way. but when you develop this trust, you let God do it His way; you know it’s all good. if the door opens, you thank God; if it doesn’t open, you still thank Him.

God can see things that we can’t see. sometimes, God will close a door because we’re believing too small. you may have dreams that haven’t worked out yet, you’ve had some disappointed Fridays; don’t get discouraged, God knows what He’s doing. keep honoring Him; your Sunday is coming. He’s going to open doors bigger and better than you ever imagined. just as God opens doors, God closes doors; we love the open doors, we celebrate God’s favor, but when the door closes, it takes maturity to say, “I don’t understand it, but I’m not going to fight it or get bitter. God, I trust you.”

when you’re hurting, disappointed, every thought will tell you, “this isn’t fair. God, why did You let this happen to me?” I’m asking you to trust God; He knows what He’s doing. it may not seem good, but when He brings it all together, you’ll look back and say it was a good Friday. Jesus would tell you, “it was good that Judas betrayed me”; sometimes, your enemies will do more to promote you than your friends. my enemies thought they were going to stop me, discourage me, intimidate me; they don’t realize God used them to light a fire on the inside. they helped me learn how to pray bold prayers, declare God’s favor, be a victor and not a victim, stand strong and fight the good fight of faith. they meant it for harm; God used it to my advantage. it’s all good. even your enemies; quit complaining about the opposition, people trying to push you down, make you look bad;  they don’t control your destiny, God does.

you may be in a Friday today. nothing in your life seems good: you’re dealing with an illness, struggling in a relationship, you have people coming against you; it seems dark, lonely, discouraging, you don’t see how it could ever work out. stay in faith; God wouldn’t have allowed that if it wasn’t going to move you toward your destiny. you’re in Friday; the good news is, Sunday is coming. when you see your resurrection, when God vindicates, promotes, heals, restores you, when He pays you back double for that unfair situation, that’s what turns defeated Friday into Good Friday. no more betrayed, disappointed Friday, no, it’s blessed, joyful, victorious Friday.  it’s all good; even things that at the time seem bad. God wouldn’t have allowed it if He wasn’t going to use it for good.

we may not always see it; “I don’t believe this, I’ve had bad things happen, and it did nothing but pull me down.” you don’t know what God was doing behind-the-scenes. or maybe God hasn’t brought it all together yet. this is what is faith is all about; when things happen that we don’t like, disappointments, bad breaks, betrayal, we can get negative, live bitter, or we can say, “God, I trust You. I don’t understand it, but I believe when You bring it together, it’s going to work for me and not against me.”

sometimes, God will inconvenience us so we can help somebody else. instead of being frustrated when our plans don’t work out, we have to remember, it’s not all about us. “these people at work, they’re negative, they complain, compromise; when is God ever going to move me out?”  have you ever thought maybe God has you there on purpose, to let your light shine? maybe God’s counting on you to be a good influence on them; quit fighting it. the Psalmist said: 

Psalm 37:23 (KJV)

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

if God has you there, He’s ordered your steps. the delays, inconveniences, the bad breaks, we may not like it, it may be uncomfortable, but instead of trying to pray it away, resisting it, why don’t you embrace it, and say, “God, this is where You have me right now, so I’m going to be my best, keep a good attitude. I may not like it, it seems bad, but I know a secret; it’s all good.”

this is what Joseph did in the scripture. nobody had more bad breaks than him: as a teenager, his brothers betrayed him, threw him into a pit, sold him into slavery, he was lied about, falsely accused, spent years in prison for something that he didn’t do. it was one bad break after another. he could’ve lived negative, bitter, but he understood this principle; even though it may look bad, feel bad, be unfair, when it comes together, God’s going to use it for our good. after 13 years of trouble, God not only vindicated Joseph, but he promoted him; he was put second in command of the whole nation. looking back, Joseph would tell you, the whole time, God was directing his steps. all of those bad breaks were part of God’s plan to get him to where he was supposed to be. the betrayal felt bad, but the truth was, is it was good; it was another step toward his destiny. being sold into slavery, that was unfair, wrong, he didn’t like it, but he wouldn’t change it; without that disappointment, he would’ve never become who God created him to be.

quit fighting everything you don’t like; God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to move you forward. the right attitude is, “God, this doesn’t make sense to me, but I believe when You bring it all together, one day it will make sense.” all those years, Joseph was doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening; that was getting him prepared for his destiny, developing his character, strengthening his spiritual muscles. he was proving to God that he could handle it. what we all must do when we face things we don’t understand; quit seeing it as being negative, and embrace it as a part of God’s plan for your life. God will never give you something that you cannot handle. Joseph would say that those difficulties looked like setbacks, but really they were setups to push him into his destiny. he would tell you that it’s all good. 

you may not see it at the time, but the closed doors, disappointments are good. the bad breaks, they may be uncomfortable, but when God brings it all together, it’s not going to work against you, it’s going to work for you. I’m asking you to trust Him. it may be Friday in your life, you don’t see anything good; don’t worry, Sunday is coming. God is in control; everything that was meant to stop you, God is going to use it to push you forward. He’s bringing it all together right now; you’re coming into Good Friday, blessed Friday, healthy Friday, victorious Friday.

(No new sermon this week.)

During my Pastor’s sermon last week, I was sitting and listening intently; my mind wasn’t wandering, I wasn’t looking around see what other people were doing, I was paying attention to what he was saying. And then, with no warning…:

1 Kings 19:12 (WEB)

12 … there was a still small voice

It said that I should pray in my prayer closet first thing after I get up every day, in addition to doing so in the evening (which I have been doing every single day for months). This dropped into my mind completely out of a clear blue sky; I wasn’t thinking anything about prayer, the prayer closet, my schedule, or anything remotely connected with these topics… I was just listening to the sermon. I can’t remember what Pastor was talking about at that exact moment, but the topic was prosperity; he wasn’t saying anything about prayers, prayer closets, or schedules either. I specifically thought at the time how what popped into my head had absolutely nothing to do with anything Pastor had spoken about… and I knew that it was God giving me what most of us hope passionately for all the time… instructions!!

Interestingly, as part of the sermon, Pastor gave one of his rare mentions of the original languages; it was an interesting point that was EXACTLY what I had emailed to him a month earlier, which he had never seen because his wife is a little bit unreliable in passing things along. That’s way beyond the bounds of coincidence, so I think it was a sign that I received a true word… not that I had had any doubts.

Needless to say, I had been praying from the moment I woke up every morning anyways, but if God wants me to be more formal about it and actually be in my prayer closet, that’s what I’m going to do, every day for the rest of my life. That is the sort of obedience God is looking for.

A few days later, I’d had a terrible nighttime prayer closet session because I’d had a major personal issue come up that evening, and it had overwhelmed my mind. I’d had some bad sessions before, when I was exhausted or had too many things going on and was babbling rather than focusing, but this was worse. I always feel bad, frustrated, when prayer does not go well, but I’d never done anything about it. This time, however, maybe half an hour or so after I left the prayer closet, here came the still small voice once more: it told me to go back and do it again. I’d never done that before, it had never even OCCURRED to me to do it, so there was no doubt in my mind as to the source of this request; needless to say, I did it. 

Why did I get TWO instructions in such close proximity, and about the same thing, my prayer closet? Clearly, God wants me to go to a new level in my prayer life. Why, or why NOW? I think that something big is coming, and that this is preparation and/or a test… Time will tell.

The takeaway from this is: God will sometimes tell you, in actual words, something that He wants you to do. He won’t shout it, He won’t beat you over the head with it, you’ll just get that one, quiet instruction… and then the rest is up to you. It’s easy to let doubt take over, to talk yourself out of it, to let it just slip out of your mind; God generally will not do anything to prevent this. He’s not looking to force you into doing anything, He wants you to do something for your benefit, and He wants you to demonstrate your obedience by doing it just based on that single request. You might not WANT to do it, because you don’t feel like you have the time or the energy; I’ll admit to having had a sort of mental whimper at the idea of adding another formal prayer session to my jam-packed schedule. God understands that, He even expects it, because after all He made us and knows us intimately; the important thing is that you make the immediate decision to obey, and that you carry out. 

If you want God to give you more instructions as to what you should be doing in your life, and don’t we ALL want that, you need to pay attention and be ready to take action; God will do the rest.

Being a barrier breaker

from JO’s sermon tonight:

so often, we let our environment, how we were raised, people’s expectations of us, set the limits for our lives; we adapt to what’s around us. if you take an acorn and plant it in a 2-foot pot, it will never become what it was created to be, not because there’s something wrong with the acorn, but because of the environment that it’s in. it’s easy to just fit in, go with the crowd, be like everyone else, but God didn’t create you to be average, He created you to stand out, go beyond the norm, leave your mark on this generation. you have seeds of greatness on the inside. you’re supposed to go further than the people that raised you, live better, be more successful, set a new standard. you may be in an environment where people have addictions, low self-esteem, depression, poverty; you can’t stop that. but here’s the key; don’t let that become normal in your thinking. if you accept that as who you are, it will keep you from your destiny.  the scripture talks about:

John 15:19 (NIV)

19 … you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.

John 17:14 (NIV)

14 … they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

you may be in a limited environment, but you don’t have to be of it; don’t let that environment get in you. if you see struggle, lack, poverty, long enough, your mind can become conditioned to think, “this is who I am, I’ll always struggle, I’ll never have enough.” no, that’s where you are, but that’s not who you are. that may be what’s been normal; the good news is, you are a barrier breaker. you have the power, favor, talent, ability, to break out, go further. God breathed His life into you; He calls you the head and not the tail. don’t let your mind become conditioned for mediocrity; don’t let that change who you really are. sometimes, people will try to put us in a box, tell us things like, “you can’t start that business; you don’t have the resources. you’ll never afford a nice place to live, get well, meet the right person.” because their thinking is limited, they’ll try to put their limitations on you. you have to put your foot down, and say, “I refuse to be mediocre because people around me are mediocre. I refuse to be addicted, depressed, have low expectations. I know I’m a barrier breaker; I’m going to set a new standard.” 

it starts in our thinking; nothing will change until you make up your mind that you’re not going to accept mediocrity. why don’t you take the limitations off yourself? you have so much potential; break out of that box and try something new. the enemy would love to keep that potential from ever coming out; he’ll use bad breaks, negative comments, people, circumstances, to try to keep you from believing in yourself, believing that you can rise to the next level. many people have let their minds become conditioned to think that they’ve reached their limits, they’re just average, they’ll never do anything great. what’s happened? instead of breaking out, they’ve adapted to their environment. 

I saw a study that was done with fleas. researchers put all these fleas in a container, and then put a lid on the top. the fleas immediately tried to fly out, but they hit the lid again and again; before long, they realized they were stuck. at one point, the researchers removed the lid, but much to their surprise, the fleas didn’t try to fly out anymore. they had hit that lid so many times, they had become conditioned to think that they couldn’t get out; even though the lid was off, they didn’t even try. 

sometimes, like these fleas, because of the environment we’re in, the times we’ve tried and failed, what people have told us, we become conditioned to think we can’t do anything great, we’ll never accomplish a dream, get back in shape. no, it may not happened in the past, you may have tried and hit that lid a few times, but can I tell you; the lid is coming off. it’s time to try again. you were not created to live contained, get stuck; recondition your mind. your life is going to follow your thoughts. if you believe you’ve reached your limits, then you have. if you believe you’ll never get well, then you won’t. because your mind has become conditioned with limitations, it will keep you from your highest potential.

you have to get rid of these thoughts that are holding you back; you may not see how you can do it in your own ability, but you’re not on your own; you have the most powerful Force in the universe breathing in your direction. God created you to rise higher, break barriers of the past, overcome bad habits, to be free from generational curses. people may have labeled you at risk, average, less than, but God labels you well able, equipped, anointed, creative, a masterpiece. the good news is, people don’t determine your destiny, God does. what they said about you, the environment you’re in now, how you were raised, cannot keep you from your purpose. God has already taken into account every detail of your life: every bad break, negative comment, how you were raised, what somebody did, He’s factored that all into His plan. if you will stay in faith, instead of holding you back, it will propel you forward; instead of defeating you, it’ll make you stronger God knows how to take what was meant for your harm and use it to your advantage.

people around you may accept mediocrity. they may be fine with being average, having little goals, working at an ok job, but don’t let that spirit rub off on you. that is not who you are; you’re the exception, a barrier breaker, not limited by education, how you were raised, by that environment. God has destined you to rise higher, go to the next level. 

your mind can become conditioned to accept not having enough, struggle, lack; the problem is, if you accept it, you won’t do anything about it. it’s easy to get comfortable with mediocrity, just adapt to our environment. instead of just fitting in, being like everyone else, start seeing yourself as a barrier breaker, as the exception; you’re supposed to stand, out rise higher. maybe everyone in your family is depressed, except you. you broke out; you’re happy, full of joy. everyone is addicted, except you; you’re free, clean, helping others. everyone is struggling, can’t make ends meet, can’t get ahead, except you; you’re blessed, good breaks are chasing you down, opportunities are looking for you, your gifts and talents are coming out in greater ways. why is that? you’re the exception. not arrogantly, like you’re better than someone else, but a quiet confidence, knowing that you were made for more.

are you accepting things that are less than God’s best? have you adapted to a limited environment? you have big dreams in your heart; you know there’s a new business in you, a management position, a book, a better house. but, you’re doing as good as your friends, you’ve gone as far as your family; no, don’t settle there, break out of that mold. nothing would be more sad than to come to the end of life and realize what we could’ve become; “if I’d have just lived with an at-possibility mindset instead of this at-risk mentality.”  don’t go through life and miss your destiny. you weren’t created to get stuck, settle, stay at the same place year after year, you were created to excel. there is potential in you right now, just waiting to come out; you have gifts that will cause new doors to open, talent that will bring new opportunities.

get rid of low expectations. quit making excuses to settle where you are. you may be in some kind of limited environment, dysfunction, addictions, depression; the good news is, you don’t have to stay there. that is not your destiny. somebody may have labeled you at-risk, but the Creator of the universe labels you at-possibility. you’ve gone as far as your family and friends, that’s good, but don’t settle there; you’re the exception, you’re supposed to go further. dare to take some steps of faith. life is flying by; you don’t have 10 years to wait around. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you; His favor on your life will cause you to go where you could not go on your own.

if you’re going to be a barrier breaker, you have to get rid of the excuses. quit thinking about what you didn’t get, what you can’t do, how the odds are against you. you and God are a majority; you have what you need. you’re a barrier breaker; you can defy the odds, beat the cancer, break the addiction, start the new business. you can go further than the experts have told you. you have to recondition your mind. instead of dwelling on all the negative things people have said about you, dwell on what God says about you; “I will run and not be weary.” or, instead of, “you can’t break that addiction,” “I can do all things through Christ. whom the son sets free is free indeed.” instead of, “you’ve reached your limits, this is not for you,” no, “the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter. God’s plans for me are for good and not evil, to give me a future and a hope.”

nothing will happen until you change your mind. are there strongholds keeping you back? have you adapted to an environment, letting what people have said, what’s around you, set limits for your life? God is saying, “this is a new day. you are a barrier breaker. I’m going to take you further than you’ve imagined, help you set a new standard. you’re going to defy the odds.” now do your part; let this seed take root in your spirit. don’t talk yourself out of it; get in agreement with God.

for years, experts said no one would ever be able to run a mile in under 4 minutes. they studied the human body, and thought it would collapse under that much pressure. scientists said it was not only dangerous to try, but it was literally impossible. but a young man named Roger Banister didn’t believe the negative reports; he didn’t let his mind become conditioned to think that it couldn’t be done. in May of 1956, he made history by running a mile under 4 minutes. what’s interesting is, 46 days later, someone else broke the 4 minute mile. within 10 years, 336 people had run the mile under 4 minutes. it hadn’t happened for years, now it was happening all the time. why was that? the barrier was broken in their minds. for years, they believed what the experts said; they were convinced in their own thinking that it couldn’t happen. once that barrier was removed, they were able to do things that seemed impossible. 

has your mind become conditioned to think that you can’t accomplish your dreams, get well, break that addiction? if you’ll recondition your mind, start thinking better, believing that you’re a can-do person, knowing that you have seeds of greatness, you too will break barriers that you thought were impossible. here’s the beauty; when you break a barrier, you make it easier on those that come after you. you’re paving the way your children, your relatives; that’s what it means to set a new standard. God is a progressive God; He wants every generation to increase. 

there was a young man in the scripture named Hezekiah.  he was raised in a very dysfunctional home. his father was Ahaz, king of Judah; he set up idols for the people to worship, he was a very hard king, cruel to the people. because he didn’t honor God, the nation went downhill and became very poor. five different armies came against Judah; they lost every battle, the place was decimated. you would think Ahaz would learn his lesson, turn to God, ask for His help, but it was just the opposite; he closed the doors of the temple and began to sell off the sacred treasures. Hezekiah was raised in this environment of compromise, defeat, mediocrity. he could’ve turned out like his dad, adapted to that environment, but Hezekiah understood this principle; when he became king, the first thing he did:

2 Chronicles 29:3 (NLT)

3 In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them.

he turned the nation back toward God. his father chose to compromise, push people down, but Hezekiah’s attitude was, “I may have been born into mediocrity, but I’m not settling here; I’m going to put an end to this generational curse and start a generational blessing.” Hezekiah was a barrier breaker.

you may be in some kind of limited environment; if Hezekiah were here today, he would tell you, “you don’t have to stay there.” how you start is not important; how you finish is what matters. do yourself and your family a favor; break out of that mold. don’t pass negative things down to the next generation. you can be the difference-maker, the one that sets your family on a course to honoring God, a course of blessings, favor and victory. I’m asking you to recondition your mind, get rid of strongholds that are keeping you back. you’re not at-risk you’re at-possibility; stir up your seeds of greatness, be a barrier breaker. if you’ll do this, God is going to breathe on your life in a new way. you’re going to go beyond barriers of the past, overcome obstacles, accomplish dreams, and become everything God created you to be.

Living at rest

from JO’s sermon tonight:

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

Hebrews 4:11 (ICB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proverbs 13:20 (NET Bible)

20 The one who associates with the wise grows wise

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

Proverbs 20:19 (AMP)

19 He who goes about as a gossip reveals secrets;

Therefore do not associate with a gossip

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

Proverbs 27:17 (CEV)

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

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

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

Mark 6:31 (CEV)

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

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

in Mark chapter 4:

Mark 4:36-38 (NIV)

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

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

Mark 4:38-39 (NIV)

38… The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exodus 14:10-11 (NCV)

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

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

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

Exodus 14:13 (NLT)

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

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

(No new sermon this week.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 8:32-33 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

It did!!!!!!!!!

Peaceful on purpose

from JO’s sermon tonight:

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

Philippians 4:7 (RSV)

7 …the peace of God, which passes all understanding

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

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

22 Cast your cares on the Lord

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

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

Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV)

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

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

one version says:

Psalm 23:2 (CEB)

2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;

    He leads me to restful waters;

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

Luke 12:25 (PHILLIPS)

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 6:34 (GNT)

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

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

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

Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

Acts 12:1-6 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

Matthew 10:16 (NLT)

16 I am sending you out as sheep among wolves

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

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

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

Acts 9:3-8 (NIV)

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

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

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

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

Acts 9:13-14 (NIV)

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

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

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

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

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