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Don’t waste your pain

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through disappointments, setbacks, loss;  pain is a part of life. it’s easy to get discouraged, bitter, and think, “why is this happening to me?” one of the best principles I’ve learned is; don’t put a question mark where God has put a period. all of us have things we don’t understand; one reason is, we can’t see the big picture for our lives. if you have a puzzle, on the front of the box there’s the picture; you see what it’s supposed to look like. maybe it’s a sunset overlooking the ocean; as a whole it’s fantastic, so beautiful, but if you were to take one piece and isolate it, you would think, “look at this funny-looking piece; it’s a mistake, it’s not going to fit anywhere. it’s an odd shape, there’s nothing beautiful about it.” but the fact is, that piece has a perfect place; it’s already been fitted, planned, designed. when the other pieces come together, it will fit in. the reason you can’t see it now is because they all are not in place yet. 

in the same way, sometimes we look at pieces in our lives that don’t make sense: “I went through a divorce, I lost a loved one, I’m going through cancer, my business went down; this piece couldn’t be a part of God’s plan.” but you have to trust that even in the painful times, the times you’re hurting, lonely, taking the treatment, on the surface that piece doesn’t make sense, but God doesn’t make any mistakes; He’s already designed your life, laid out all the pieces down to the smallest details. God never said that we would understand everything that happens along the way. He didn’t promise that we’d never have any heartache, pain, disappointment, loss, setbacks, but He did promise that it would all work out for our good. that piece that’s painful, doesn’t look like it makes any sense, when everything comes together, it will fit perfectly into place.

the key is what we do in our times of pain. pain will change us: heartache, loss, disappointments, they don’t leave us the same.  if you go through a divorce, legal battle, a friend betrays you, eventually that will pass, you’ll get through it, but you will be different. how the pain changes you is up to you; you can come out bitter, or you can come out better.  you can come out with a chip on your shoulder, blaming God, or you can come out stronger, with a greater confidence in God.  you can come out defeated, giving up on your dreams, or you can come out with a new passion, a new fire, excited about the new opportunities in front of you.  all of us experience pain; my challenge is, don’t just go through it, grow through it.  that difficulty is an opportunity to get stronger, to develop character, to gain new confidence.

anybody can give up, anybody can let it overwhelm you, but you know what that’s doing? wasting your pain. that pain is not there to stop you, it’s there to prepare you, to increase you, to develop you. the scripture talks about how God is in control, not just of our lives, but He’s in control of our enemies. Satan had to ask God for permission to test Job. the enemy may turn on the fire, but the good news is, God has his hand on the thermostat. God controls how much heat, how much pain, how much adversity;  He knows what we can handle. if it was going to harm us rather than help us, God would have turned back the intensity. in those tough times, when you’re uncomfortable, going through a loss, dealing with an illness, you could easily let it overwhelm you; it’s helpful to remind yourself, “I may be in this fire, but I know Who controls the temperature.  the God who breathed life into me, the God Who is for me and not against me, the God Who crowned me with favor, the God Who takes pleasure in prospering me, He’s in complete control. He’s not going to let it get too hot, He’s not going to let it defeat me. I may not like it, but I’m not a whiner, I’m a warrior. I know I can handle this.” you have that attitude, and you’ll come out stronger, increased, promoted, better than you were before.

we’ve all heard the saying, “no pain, no gain”;  if everything was always easy, we wouldn’t be prepared for our destiny. some of the things I face today, if I would’ve faced them 10 years ago, they would’ve overwhelmed me; I couldn’t handle it back then. God knows what you need, when you need it. every struggle is making you stronger, every difficulty is growing you up, every painful time, even though you don’t like it, it’s developing something in you that can only be developed in the tough times.  don’t complain about the pain; without the pain, we couldn’t reach the fullness of our destinies. we were not created to float through life on flowery beds of ease. we’re going to the sweet by-and-by, but we’re living in the nasty now-and-now.  we love to not have any pain, loss, disappointments, heartache, betrayal; that’s not reality. difficulties are a part of life. have the right perspective; in those tough times, God is getting you prepared. if it was too much, He would’ve turned back the temperature;  He’s got his hand on the thermostat. now quit telling yourself you can’t take it;  you’re not weak, you are well able.  you are armed with strength for this battle. you are full of can-do power.

the reason the fire is so hot is because God has something amazing in your future;  He’s getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny. God doesn’t just randomly say, “let Me give them some pain to make their life miserable,” “let Me hit her with a sickness,” “let Me hit him with some marriage problems”; there is a purpose for the pain. we may not always understand it, “why did I get sick, lose my loved one, why did my marriage not make it?”  I can’t answer that, but I can tell you, if God allowed it, He knows how to bring good out of it.  this is what faith is all about;  “God, I don’t like the pain, but I trust You. I believe You’re in control. I’m not going to just go through it, I’m going to grow through it. I’m going to keep a good attitude, I’m going to count it all joy, knowing that this pain is leading to my gain.”

sometimes, we bring pain on ourselves, make poor choices, get in a relationship we know is not good, get over our head in our spending; now it’s painful, we’re having to deal with the consequences. God is full of mercy; He’ll always give us the grace to get out of it, but the way to not waste your pain is you have to learn the lesson.  be big enough to look back and say, “here’s where I missed it; I ignored the warnings, I got involved in something that I shouldn’t have, I got out of God’s timing, got in a hurry. I’m not going to do that anymore.” there’s a lesson in the pain;  don’t be hardheaded and have to keep going through the same pain again and again.  we talk a lot about letting go of the past, letting go of the mistakes, failures, divorce, and yes, that’s true, but another way to say it is, “remember the lesson, remember what you learned in the experience, and then let go of the negative event.”

but if you go through a painful time and you don’t come out with what you were supposed to learn, you’re doing yourself a disservice. don’t keep repeating the same mistakes again and again. are you bringing pain on yourself? are you struggling in a relationship, not fulfilled, because you keep saying everything you feel like saying? here’s a newsflash; the pain will stop if you zip it up. don’t just go through it, grow through it. other times, we experience pain that has nothing to do with our choices; it wasn’t our fault, we were doing the right thing and the wrong thing happened. the scripture says:

Matthew 5:45 (GW)

45 … He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.

you can be the just, honoring God, being your best, helping others, and it rains in your life.  there are forces of darkness trying to keep you from your destiny. God could’ve stopped it, but He didn’t. even though it’s painful now, if you’ll stay in faith, that will lead you toward your destiny.  God knows how to take your mess and turn it into your message, take what was meant for harm and use it to your advantage. there are times God will allow us to go through a season of difficulty so He can birth something new on the inside. Paul said in Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 1:4 (ERV)

4 He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.

when you go through something you don’t understand, it doesn’t make sense, instead of getting negative, bitter, “God, why did this happen?” have a new perspective; the reason God allowed it is because He can trust you.  He knows He can count on you to take the same the same love, healing, encouragement, and share it with others. maybe you’ve been through something you don’t understand: a sickness, abuse, infertility, raising a difficult child, life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped, it’s painful. it’s easy to take on a victim mentality; “if God is good, why did this happen to me? why did these people mistreat me growing up? why’d I have this bad break?” it’s because God knows he can trust you. the forces of darkness tried to take you out, but God had His hand on the thermostat. He said, “not so fast, that’s my son, that’s my daughter; I’ve got an assignment for them to fulfill.” just like God said to Satan about Job:

Job 1:12 (NLT)

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“he’s not going to quit serving me, I know what Job is made of.”  God is saying the same thing about you;  “it may be painful, but I know what they’re made of.  it may be difficult, it may not be fair, but I’m not only going to bring them out, I’m going to bring them out better, and I’m going to use them to help other people who are struggling in the same areas.” God can trust you;  there’s a purpose for that pain.  do you know how many businesses, charities, ministries, have been birthed out of pain?  you and I can find the purpose in our pain.  don’t get caught up in “where this piece to my puzzle fits, it doesn’t make sense, this is an ugly piece”; keep moving forward, go out and encourage somebody else. healing comes when you get your mind off of your own pain, what you lost, what didn’t work out, and you go help others. but as long as you stay focused on yourself, you’re going to get stuck; there’s a blessing in that pain. you have something to give others; you can encourage people who are going through what you’ve been through.

we’ve all been through things that are uncomfortable, we didn’t like it, but God made a way when we didn’t see a way. if it wasn’t for His healing, favor, goodness, mercy, we wouldn’t be here. God’s counting on us to let our light shine. what you’ve been through can help somebody else get through it.  be on the lookout for somebody you can encourage;  don’t waste your pain. when you’ve been through something, in one sense you’ve been given a gift; you are uniquely qualified to help others struggling in that same situation. don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself; go out and lift somebody else up.  everything happens to us for a reason;  nothing is a coincidence. some things are to help us grow, mature, come up higher.  then there are times God will allow us to go through a difficult season, so later on we can be instrumental in helping somebody else overcome.  can God trust you with the pain? can God trust you to be uncomfortable? will you get negative, bitter, “God, why is this happening to me?”

I say this respectfully; it’s not all about you. what if God allowed it so three years from now you could help somebody else move forward? can God trust you?  we all have something to give. we’ve all been through a hurt, a loss, a disappointment; don’t see it as, “this is so bad,” no, you may not have liked it, but there’s a purpose for that pain. many times, all we can feel is the pain, “God, I’m uncomfortable”; the pain is a sign that you’re about to give birth to something new.  if you’ll stay in faith, eventually the pain will pass; you’ll give birth to new strengths, new talents, new ministry, new charity, new friendships, a new level.  the pain is for a purpose; a change is taking place. when you’re in a difficult time, don’t focus on the pain, focus on the fact that a new level is coming.  the scripture says:

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

2 … For the joy set before him he endured the cross

if you only focus on where you are, on the pain, you’ll get negative. have a new perspective, the right perspective;  “God, I don’t like this situation, but I know this pain is not here to stop me, it’s here to promote me. it’s a sign I’m about to give birth to something new.” when it’s painful, don’t get discouraged, get ready;  you’re about to give birth. that discomfort you’re feeling, it’s not just a random pain, those are birth pains. there’s a blessing in that pain, there’s a gift in that pain, there’s a ministry in the pain, there’s a new level in that pain.  don’t waste it; look for opportunities where you can encourage somebody else. can God trust you with that pain? will you get negative, bitter, or will you say, “God, I don’t understand it, but I know there’s a purpose for this pain”?  remember, God has His hand on the thermostat; if it was too much, He would have cut back the heat.  don’t just go through it, grow through it. if you’ll do this, your pain is about to be turned into your gain: you’re going to come out stronger, increased, promoted, new levels. that pain is going to birth you into the fullness of your destiny.

Who’s the boss?

from JO’s sermon tonight:

there’s a battle taking place in all of us; it’s a battle between the flesh and the spirit.  the flesh is our natural, carnal desires; that’s what we were born with. have you ever noticed how you don’t have to teach a child to be impatient, to be selfish, to get upset? nobody has to teach a child how to throw a fit; that’s what we’re born with.  the scripture calls it the flesh, or our carnal nature:  it’s things like pride, selfishness, impatience, getting upset. the flesh wants to be in control. the flesh is not going to be happy unless it gets its way. the easy way is to give in; that’s ok when we’re two years old, we’re growing, learning, people understand why we’re childish. the problem is not when we’re 2, but when we’re 42 and we’re still throwing a fit, being ruled by our feelings.  we think, “I feel like being rude;  I’m going to tell them off.  I feel like being lazy; I’m going to skip work. I feel like being impatient, I feel like compromising.”  as long as you’re allowing your feelings to be the boss, it will limit how high you can go. the scripture talks about dying to the flesh;  that means not giving in to what we feel. if you live on that shallow level of always having to please your flesh, you’ll never discover what’s really in you, the best of you; your gifts, talents and potential won’t come out.  you have to go beyond the surface.  if you’ll get past the temporary pain of not having your way, and choose to follow the Spirit instead of the flesh:

Galatians 5:16 (NIV)

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16 (ICB)

16 So I tell you: Live by following the Spirit. Then you will not do what your sinful selves want.

God will release more of His favor; you’ll continue to rise higher and higher.  too many people live on this surface level of letting their feelings and emotions run their life.  the problem is, our feelings will lead us down the wrong path. your feelings will tell you, “you’re tired, you don’t need to go to work today, just sleep in.” your flesh will tell you, “they were rude to you; don’t let them have the last word, be rude back to them.” your feelings will tell you, “I want another piece of pie, don’t make me wait, I’m hungry.” if you listen, you’ll hear the Spirit say, “no more pie; 7 pieces was enough.”  the flesh likes to be comfortable, but if you’re always comfortable, you’ll never grow. when you discipline yourself to do the right thing, the harder it is, the more you’re growing in that area. instead of seeing it as, “this is so painful,” turn it around;  “this may be uncomfortable, but I know I’m growing a whole lot, making progress.” the scripture says:

Hebrews 12:11 (ISV)

11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, for those who have been trained by it, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.

we need to think more about later on;  our feelings only tell us about right now.  but a mature person doesn’t get caught up in the emotion of the moment; they always take a step back and think about later on.  your flesh will tell you, “I want junk food, colas, desserts; make me comfortable.” at the time, it may taste good, but later on you won’t be as healthy as you could be. we get upset, and think, “I’m going to go tell my boss off, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.”  you can do that, but later on you won’t have a job.  at home, we know we should bite our tongue, not say something to our spouse, but it feels good to please the flesh; we say it anyway. later on, we’re sleeping on the couch, we’ve entered into World War III. even though it’s difficult, it’s much better to say, “flesh, you’re not going to rule my life.” when you do that, later on, you’ll not only still have a job, have a marriage, have good health, but your character is coming up higher; God can entrust you with more. 

maybe you’re at the sporting goods store, and you see those shiny new golf clubs, the ones you know you can’t afford right now. you know those funds are set aside for the monthly house payment, but they’re the latest, greatest clubs, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re on sale this week only. your flesh will tell you, “it’s a sign from God, you can’t pass that up.” then, you’ll hear a still, small voice, the Spirit whispering; “don’t do it; be disciplined, wait for the right time.” the flesh is always much louder, stronger, “I’ve got to have it, they’re on sale, plus there’s a special rebate.”  if you give in, and let the flesh be the boss, later on, when you to have to pay the bills, you’ll be depressed. it’s much better if you’ll pay the price for discipline today;  if you’ll not get onboard with those feelings, make decisions based off of wisdom, then later on there will be a great harvest.

when you see people that are blessed, successful, have good relationships, they didn’t get there because they were lucky; they were disciplined, they did the right thing when it was hard. the people that reach their highest potential are the people that are good at saying no to their flesh. those friends that want you to party all the time, your feelings will tell you, “just do it, it’s fun, you’ll have a great time,” but later on there can be addictions, trouble in relationships.  if you want to see the great harvest, God’s favor, blessing, increase, you have to make the decision to choose discipline today.  your feelings will tell you what you want, but that doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for you. your feelings will tell you, “they hurt you; hold a grudge, live bitter.”  at the same time, you’ll hear a still small voice whispering, “let it go, forgive. let God be your vindicator.”

the flesh and the spirit are constantly at odds;  you get to choose who’s the boss. nobody can make this decision for you; we can encourage it, cheer you on, tell you that you have what it takes, but only you can make the decision, “I am not going to live at this surface level. I’m not going to let the flesh control my life, taking the easy way out.  I’m going to dig my heels in. instead of letting my feelings rule me, I’m going to start ruling over my feelings.”  you’ve heard little kids use the phrase, “you’re not the boss of me”; next time your flesh tells you, “compromise, get upset, give into temptation,” just answer back, “you’re not the boss of me. I am not living on that surface level. I’m going deeper;  I’m going to become all that God created me to be.” Paul said in Galatians:

Galatians 6:8 (AMP)

8 For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

notice, when you do the right thing when it’s hard, when you sow to the Spirit, you’re going to reap blessings, favor, increase, not only eternal life, but abundant life here on this Earth. but when we give into our natural, carnal desires, keep doing what we feel, “I feel like being lazy, I’m going to be lazy. I feel like compromising, I’m going to give into this temptation.  I feel like staying up all night watching television.” when we sow to the flesh, we won’t reap anything good. but when you discipline yourself to take the high road, to say no to your feelings, you are sowing to Spirit. it may not happen overnight, but if you’ll keep making those choices, you will come into a great harvest.  Romans talks about:

Romans 8:1 (AMP)

8 … walk not after the dictates of the flesh

that’s saying, the flesh wants to be a dictator, the flesh wants to control your life.  what does a dictator do?  tells you what to do, when to do it, how to do it.  they make all the decisions, you just sit back and follow the orders.  in other words, you get stuck in traffic, your flesh tells you, “get upset, be stressed out.”  so many people follow the dictates of the flesh;  just like a good soldier, when they hear those orders, “yes sir, right away sir,” they get upset, go through the day stressed out.  or you wake up in the morning, your feelings may tell you, “you’re depressed, nothing good is in your future, feel lousy.” some people get onboard; they go around depressed, no passion. “I can’t help what I feel”; I’m not asking you to not feel anything, that’s not reality, God made us as emotional beings.  all through the day, you will feel things, but just because you feel it doesn’t mean you should act on it.  Paul said:

Ephesians 4:26 (DRA)

26 Be angry, and sin not

you may feel the emotion of anger, that’s ok, just don’t act on it, don’t fly off the handle.  you may feel offended, just don’t give in; “I’m not getting onboard with those feelings.”  or you may feel tempted to compromise, so strong, you don’t see how you can control it; but God wouldn’t ask us to feel something and not give in if we couldn’t do it.  yes, the feelings are real, but you have to ask yourself, “is what I’m feeling going to move me toward my destiny, help me improve, or is it just my natural, fleshly desires that are going to keep me from rising higher?”  who’s the boss, you or your feelings?  are you going to let the flesh stay on the throne, be the dictator?  “my flesh said, “get upset,” so I got upset. my flesh said, “don’t clean the house,” so I didn’t clean the house this week, this month, this year. my flesh said, “hook up with this other person,” so I kind of messed up in my relationship.” living by what we feel is a very shallow way to live.

I’m asking you to dethrone the flesh. it’s time to have a change in authority. you’ve seen how, in foreign countries, when they have a dictator, it’s very oppressive, pushing the people down. they can’t vote him out of the office, they don’t have a democracy. they have to take drastic measures;  they rise up and overthrow the dictator, they forcefully throw him out of office.  in the same way, your flesh wants to rule your life, to stay in control, tell you how to feel, lead you down the wrong path.  it’s not going to go down easily;  when you don’t give it what it wants, it’s going to throw a fit, get upset. you have to dig your heels in, be determined, and say, “enough is enough. flesh, you’re not the boss of me anymore.  feelings, you’re not going to rule my life. I am taking you off the throne. from now on, I’m going to start being ruled by the Spirit.” the apostle Paul said:

1 Corinthians 15:31 (KJV)

31 … I die daily.

he was saying, “every day I have to say no to my flesh. every day I have to take my feelings off the throne.” this is not something that we do one time and then we’re done, it’s an ongoing process. Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, he’s one of the great heroes of faith, yet he still had to deal with his flesh. you never get to the point where you’re so mature, you’re so spiritual, that you don’t have any of these fleshly, carnal desires. like Paul, every day, we have to learn to say no to certain feelings.  when you give into the flesh, there is pleasure; it feels good to have a pity party, eat ice cream, skip school and go down to the beach. the flesh loves to have its way, loves to stay on the throne. no matter how mature you are, every day you have to take those feelings off the throne.  Paul said:

1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) 

12 Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.

there are a lot of things we can do and get away with.  we can go through life with a bad attitude, hot temper, compromising, impatient; that’s permissible, but it’s not very profitable. if you live at that shallow level, letting your feelings rule you, you can only go so high. yes, you’ll survive, but it will be much less than you were created for.  I’m talking today about reaching the fullness of your destiny.  Paul said:

1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) 

12 … I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.

when we let our feelings rule us, we become a slave to anger, lust, self-pity. because we’re letting our flesh stay on the throne, it’s like we’re serving those things, held by their power.  but this is a new day; the flesh is being dethroned. no more living as slaves; we’re rising up and saying, “flesh, you’re not going to control us, we’re going to take the throne, make decisions that honor God, and move us toward our destiny.” the scripture says:

1 Corinthians 3:3 (AMP)

3 For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses].

it doesn’t say that these ordinary impulses will go away. the feelings will always be there; the problem is that when we give in, we come under their control. “I’ve always had a problem with my temper, I’ve always been impatient, I’ll never change.” here’s how you do it;  you have to quit feeding those feelings.  anything you feed is going to grow. when that emotion of anger comes, if you keep giving in, getting upset, flying off the handle, all you’re doing is making it stronger, giving it more power. if you keep feeding that self-pity, going around feeling sorry for yourself, it’s just like a person that’s addicted to a drug; the more he takes it, the more he has to have it.  he craves it, the desire becomes stronger. whatever area you’re letting your feelings rule, it’s going to grow.  if you get stressed out every time you get stuck in traffic, you’re feeding the impatience; just imagine you’re serving it a meal. you get real upset, “here’s a steak dinner, here’s some vitamins.”

if you want to get out from under the control of the ordinary impulses, you can’t pray them away; they’re a part of life.  the way you break free is you quit feeding them. next time you’re tempted to get upset, you feel that ordinary impulse, don’t respond.  put on some good praise music, think about all you have to be grateful for. what’s happening? you’re feeding your spirit person instead of feeding your flesh. as your spirit grows stronger, your flesh is getting weaker. you have to starve self-pity, the anger, the bad attitude.  if you keep sowing to the flesh, you’ll reap defeat, but if you’ll start sowing to the spirit, you’ll reap victory. even though those fleshly, normal impulses still come, they won’t control you anymore. this is how you know that you’re mature; not that you don’t have any temptations, not that you prayed away everything that bothers you, a sign of maturity is you still feel the negative emotions, but you don’t act on them, you don’t put them back up on the throne. you’re the boss of your life, not your feelings. proverbs says:

Proverbs 25:28 (AMP) 

28 He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls

when we keep giving into these ordinary impulses, our walls are down, we have no protection; we’re defenseless, the enemy can come in and have a heyday with our life.  here’s the solution;  God has given each one of us self-control. self-control is like a muscle;  if you never use it, if you never discipline yourself, your self-control muscle is going to be very weak. you have to start exercising it. start saying no to your flesh.  you have a destiny to fulfill;  God has amazing things in your future.  but the scripture says:

 Galatians 4:1 (CEB) 

1 I’m saying that as long as the heirs are minors, they are no different from slaves, though they really are the owners of everything.

if you’re throwing a fit at 2 years old, that’s ok, but if you’re 20 years old, 40 years old, 60 years old, still giving into the ordinary impulses, God is saying, “it’s time to grow up,” if you’ll take your flesh off the throne, God will start releasing some of these amazing things that He has in your future. spiritual maturity has nothing to do with how long you’ve been in church, how long you’ve known the Lord; it has everything to do with what kind of fruit are you displaying in your life. are you not living by your feelings? are you saying no to these emotional impulses? if you’ll keep ruling over your emotions, not letting the flesh have control, as you continue growing, maturing, coming up higher, you will get to the place where the enemy cannot bother you anymore. 

it doesn’t mean that you won’t feel the emotional, ordinary impulses, they’ll still be there, but they won’t affect you;  your flesh has been dethroned.  those feelings may try to get back up there from time to time, but you’ve developed so much self-discipline, you’ve sowed to the spirit so long, the enemy cannot go where you’re going. we may not all be there just yet, but don’t worry, you’re getting closer.  we’re coming up higher;  the flesh is getting weaker, the spirit is getting stronger. who’s the boss? you’re the boss.  now do your part;  keep saying no to the flesh. like Paul, keep dying daily. if you’ll do this, as you continue to grow, God is going to release the inheritance, the amazing things He has in store. you’re going to step into the fullness of your destiny, and become everything He’s created you to be.

Defining moments

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all make hundreds of decisions each day. most of them are routine, we don’t think much about them, but there are certain decisions that carry much more weight; they not only affect us, they affect our children and future generations. sometimes, what we think is an ordinary decision, no big deal, it’s really a defining moment. when you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to compromise, to get upset, to be bitter, you know, to make the right choice, you have to dig your heels in, be disciplined, not go by what you feel; that’s not just another routine choice, that’s a defining moment. the decisions you make in these tough times, when you feel like doing the easy thing, you feel like telling somebody off, you feel like being offended, you have to remind yourself; this is a defining moment, it’s going to impact my destiny, so I’m going to dig my heels in and do the right thing even though it’s difficult. the pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret; it’s better to be uncomfortable for a little while than to make a poor choice and be uncomfortable for a long time. giving in to what we feel, what we want, taking the easy way out, that pleasure is only temporary; the pain lasts much longer. in the heat of the moment, every voice will tell you, “it doesn’t matter, it’s no big deal, just do it, it’s not going to hurt anything.” don’t believe those lies; it’s going to impact your destiny. Jesus said:

Matthew 26:41 (ESV)
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

whatever area that you struggle in, before you leave the house, you need to pray: “God, help me to keep my cool today,” or, “God help me to keep my eyes on the right things,” “God help me to resist this addiction and not compromise.” then all through the day, you have to guard your mind; every temptation starts with a thought. this is where the real battle is taking place. when those tempting thoughts come, don’t dwell on it, don’t give it the time of day. if you allow it to stay, it’ll draw you in, and can lead you to compromise.  this is what Joseph had to do:

Genesis 39:1 (NIV)
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites

he continued to excel, and eventually Potiphar put him in charge of his whole household. Joseph was a good-looking young man, tall, dark and handsome. one day, he was walking through the house, minding his own business:

Genesis 39:7 (NIV)
7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

here Joseph was a slave, he been betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit; he could’ve thought, “God’s forgotten about me; what’s it going to matter if I compromise? besides, it’s her idea anyway. I’m tired of being stuck as a slave; I’m ready to have some fun.” he could’ve let his guard down, taken the easy way out, but he didn’t do it; he realized that it was a defining moment. he wouldn’t compromise:

Genesis 39:12 (NIV)
12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

notice how determined he was. sometimes, to stay on the high road, you have to take drastic measures. she lied about him, she falsely accused him; Joseph went to prison, but when it was all said and done:

Genesis 41:41 (NIV)
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”

what you do in your to defining moments will make you or break you. if Joseph would’ve taken the easy way out, given in to the temptation, I’m not so sure he would’ve made it to the throne. God would’ve forgiven him, of course, God always gives us another chance, but to reach your highest potential you have to pass these certain tests. the scripture says:

2 Timothy 2:22 (CEV)
22 Run from temptations

it doesn’t say to just casually get away, be careful, watch out, God specifically says “run”'; there’s a sense of urgency. this means, “don’t play games, your destiny is at stake.” that person at the office that’s overly friendly towards you, they’re making advances, God has a word from the Lord for you today: run. “I’m not going to do anything, I just like the attention they give me”; no, if you mess with fire, you’re going to get burned. that temporary pleasure is not worth the long-term pain. he may be tall, dark, handsome and rich, she may be hot, fine, good-looking, beautiful; it’s not worth missing your destiny over. maybe you’re trying to lose weight, you’re up at the mall, and you walk by the Cinnabon booth; run. don’t go over there thinking you’re just going to look and see; the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. when you turn the computer on, and that ad pops up that you know is not healthy; run. don’t go check it out. you may need to turn the computer off and go take a good run. when your spouse says something that irritates you, you’re ready to give him a piece of your mind, tell him off; right then, just like Joseph, you need to turn, and run away. you can explain it later. get out of compromising situations as quickly as you can. God will give you the grace to overcome what you can’t get away from, but He won’t give you the grace to overcome what you can get away from. sometimes, we keep falling into the same temptation, the same compromise, again and again; it could all change if we would do our part and get out of those situations.

one time, David was at home:

2 Samuel 11:2 (NIV)
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful

instead of running from the temptation, he said, “thank you Jesus.” the scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 … God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape

there will always be a moment of grace; there will be a time where you have the strength, the ability, to resist and walk away. the moment of grace doesn’t last hour after hour; right at the start, you’ve got to dig your heels in, be disciplined, to do the right thing.  David let his guard down, had an affair with the woman, then he had her husband killed; one compromise led to another. it could’ve all been avoided if he’d have done like Joseph and simply ran from the temptation.

Joseph’s father was Jacob. Jacob had a twin brother named Esau. one time Esau was very hungry:

Genesis 25:29-30 (ESV)
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!”

you would think Jacob would say, “sure, Esau, you’re my brother, you can have as much as you want,” but Jacob never missed an opportunity to take advantage of someone:

Genesis 25:31 (NIV)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

the birthright was extremely valuable. it belonged to the firstborn sons; it gave them a double portion. Esau was the oldest son; he had the birthright. but he was so hungry:

Genesis 25:32 (NIV)
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

when we let our feelings rule us, we never make good decisions. Esau wasn’t going to starve, he was a skillful hunter; it was just a matter of time before he found something to eat. but he was so moved by his feelings, he said, “ok Jacob, you got a deal; I’ll trade you my birthright for your pot of stew.” Esau chose to satisfy a short-term appetite, but it cost him a lifetime blessing; he gave away something extremely valuable because he was uncomfortable, he wanted to be happy right then. he didn’t think about the long term; he didn’t realize that was a defining moment. you can’t get on board with your feelings; your feelings will lead you down the wrong path. Hebrews says:

Hebrews 12:17 (AMP)
17 … he could find no opportunity… to recall the choice he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.

I wonder how many times we’re missing God’s best because we’re making decisions based on the short-term, what we want, what we feel; the flesh likes to be comfortable. . “I know I should bite my tongue, but it feels good to tell him off.” “I know I should be faithful in this relationship, but I like hanging with this other person.” “I know I should have integrity in my business dealings, but this is an easy way to get ahead.” the decisions you make in the defining moments will determine how high you will rise. will you be a Joseph, and do the right thing when it’s hard, or will you be an Esau, and compromise to accommodate how you feel? Esau was so furious with Jacob for tricking him out of his birthright, he was planning on killing him. Jacob got word that his life was in danger, and took off running.

many years later, Jacob had become so prosperous that the land couldn’t sustain all of his animals. he wanted to go back home; the problem was, the only route was through the land that Esau owned. Jacob decided to take a chance; he sent messengers to give gifts to Esau. the messengers came back, and said, “Jacob, Esau is coming to see you, and he’s bringing 400 men with him.” Jacob thought, “that means one thing; revenge. he’s going to pay me back.” Jacob was so full of fear, so uptight; this time, he sent hundreds of animals ahead of him, hoping that when Esau saw all the sheep, camels, goats, his heart would be would be softened. finally, the big moment arrived; he’s about to see the man he cheated, deceived, stole his double portion. Jacob told someone to take his family, including his young son Joseph, over to the side, hopefully so they wouldn’t get hurt; this little boy Joseph is watching all the drama take place. he knows his father cheated his uncle Esau. he knows that his dad has done wrong; he’s heard the stories.

Genesis 33:1-7 (NIV)
33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.

I can imagine Esau going over and hugging Joseph; it was a defining moment, not only in Esau’s life, this time he passed the test, but it was a defining moment in Joseph’s life. he saw his uncle show mercy to his father; he saw him forgive a wrong, take the high road. this incredible act of kindness left an indelible mark on on Joseph’s heart. fast-forward many many years later; this little boy Joseph is a grown man. he’s been sold into slavery, thrown into a pit, he’s been through prison; now, he’s the leader of a great nation, second in command only to the Pharaoh. there’s a terrible famine throughout the land; Joseph is in charge of the food supply, one of the most powerful people of that time. one day, his brothers, the same ones that threw him into a pit, the same ones that sold him into slavery, made his life so miserable, were standing right before him. they were trying to get food for their family. it’d been so many years, they didn’t recognize that it was their brother Joseph. they all bow down before Joseph in humility.

Joseph suddenly flashes back to that time when he was a little boy, and he saw Jacob, his father, bow down to Esau. all these emotions come flooding up in his heart. it’s like the same scene is playing out, but this time he’s in Esau’s position. he remembers how Esau showed his father mercy. he remembers how Esau forgave the wrong, treated him with kindness, even though his father didn’t deserve it. Joseph looked at his brothers; he could’ve gotten revenge, paid them back, but because of a defining moment that happened when he was a little boy, he too was full of mercy. he treated his brothers like Esau treated his father.

Genesis 45:14-15 (NIV)
14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

Joseph moved all of his brothers, 70 family members including his father, back to Egypt. he gave them the best part of the land. the decisions you make in your defining moments not only affect you, they affect your children. how you respond to a wrong that’s been done to you, how you handle a disappointment, your attitude in the tough times, that’s leaving a mark on those around you. sometimes, you have to do the right thing, not because you feel like it, but because you’re setting an example for your children. that defining moment will live on.

maybe you get a negative medical report; you feel like falling apart. but in that defining moment, stay in peace; you know God’s in control, the number of your days He will fulfill. when your children hit a tough time, you know what they’ll do? stay in peace. they’ll follow your example. your response in the defining moments speaks volumes. this is what’s creating your legacy; what you did in the difficult times, how you treated people that didn’t treat you right. any of us can do the right thing in the good times, that’s easy. but to reach the fullness of your destiny, you have to pass the test of these defining moments. the defining moments carry much more weight. make sure you’re passing the test. no person lives or dies unto himself. people are watching you, not just your children: your coworkers, neighbors, that person at the gym. what makes the biggest impression is not what we do in the good times, but it’s how we respond in the difficult times.

the next time you have an unfair situation, somebody does you wrong, your plans don’t work out, instead of making a quick decision that you may regret later on, why don’t you take a step back, and say, “I recognize that this is one of my defining moments. I’m not going to take the easy way out. I’m not going to be rude because they were rude to me. I’m not going to be discouraged because I went through a loss. I know God is still on the throne; this is not a surprise to Him, so I’m going to stay on the high road, in peace, and keep doing the right thing.” when you do that, you’re passing the test; that’s what’s creating your legacy. more than your accomplishments, your character, your integrity, how you treat people, that’s what’s being passed down to your children, future generations.

we may not always get it right, I’m not saying we should never make a mistake, but we should be improving; we should be better this year than we were five years ago. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but what we do after we make a mistake speaks volumes. are you secure enough to call and apologize? do you have the humility to say, “I was wrong, I blew it, forgive me, I’m sorry”? your children, relatives, coworkers, will never forget that; that defining moment will live on. when they make a mistake, because of your example, they’ll be inspired to do the right thing. we all have unfair situations, setbacks. the flesh likes to get discouraged, fall into self-pity, blame others. don’t get stuck there; move on to the next chapter of your life. that loss is to make room for a new beginning. all of us face these temptations, not to just compromise, but a temptation to get discouraged, give up on your dreams. God has made a way of escape; there is a moment of grace for every difficulty, I’m asking you to step into it, pass that test. remember, the decisions you make in the defining moments not only affect you, they affect your family line. choose wisely. stay on the high road. if you do this, your defining moments won’t defeat you, they’ll promote to you. you and your children will rise higher, accomplish dreams, and become everything God created you to be.

Separated for the better

from JO’s sermon tonight:

in the scripture, there’s a place called the threshing floor;  that’s where the wheat was separated from the chaff. back in those days, they didn’t have machinery, so they would lay sheaves of wheat on the ground, and have their oxen and cattle walk over them repeatedly;  they would break up the husk and straw. the valuable part of the plant, the grain that was used for bread and meal, would come loose from the chaff.  the farmer could have a great harvest, but if he didn’t separate the dysfunctional part of the plant from the functional, he would never make a living. even though he had something very valuable, if it didn’t go through this process, it wouldn’t do him any good.

in the same way, to reach our highest potential, God will take us through some threshing floors.  we start off like that stalk of wheat; the potential is there, we have seeds of greatness, we’re valuable, but the problem is, we all have some chaff.  along with the valuable grain, we may have some pride, selfishness or insecurities. unless God took us through the threshing floor, we’d never become what He created us to be.  God has to separate the dysfunctional part of us, the part that’s holding us back, from the valuable part.  if the wheat could talk, it would say, “I don’t want to go through the threshing floor. I don’t want animals walking on me; that’s uncomfortable, painful. leave me alone.” but the farmer knows, without the separation, the grain would never be useful. sometimes we think, “why am I stuck in traffic again? why won’t this person give me credit?  why did this friend walk away?” we don’t realize; we’re on the threshing floor.

what we think is a bad break, a disappointment, we don’t like it, we’re uncomfortable, but God is the one that ordained it.  instead of fighting it, if you’ll stay in peace, then you’re being refined; what’s holding you back is coming off.  like that wheat, you’re becoming more valuable.  that person at work that always gets on your nerves, always tries to make you look bad, as long as you let that frustrate you, ruin your day, you’re going to get stuck.  but when you recognize, “I’m on the threshing floor;  this is an opportunity to come up higher. I’m being refined, so I’m going to stay in peace, let God fight my battles.” when you have that approach, even if the situation doesn’t change, you will change; you’re getting better. the scripture says:  “our faith is tried in the fire of affliction.”

(not quite, but close:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (MEV)
6 … you have had to suffer various trials, 7 in order that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ )

we can’t pray away every difficulty.  there will be things that happen that you don’t understand: you went through a loss, a friend let you down, you didn’t get the promotion. recognize; you’re on the threshing floor.  even though it’s uncomfortable, if you’ll keep the right attitude, you’ll come out refined, more valuable, separated from what’s holding you back.  maybe you’re on the threshing floor today, fighting something you don’t like. why don’t you have a new perspective;  God wouldn’t have you there unless you needed it.  it may not be good, but God knows how to use it for your good. instead of living frustrated, sour, bitter, have the attitude; “I may not like this, but I know I’m on the threshing floor.  I’m being refined, I’m getting better, I’m coming up higher.”  God knows how to put you where you’re supposed to be.  if He has you there, don’t fight it; embrace it, stay in peace. if we would work with God, and let the situation change us, instead of trying to change everything we don’t like, we wouldn’t have to keep taking the same test. God will deliberately put us in situations so we can come up higher.  the right approach is, “if God has me here, I must need it. I’m going to keep a good attitude, knowing that I’m coming out refined, I’m coming out more valuable.”

in the scripture, the three Hebrew teenagers:

Daniel 3:12-27 (NIV)
12 … Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.” … 19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego… 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace… 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”…  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire… They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed

the only thing that was burned in the fire was the cords that were holding them back.  the fire didn’t stop them, the fire separated them from their limitations.  it was meant to destroy them, but in fact it made them better; they came out with a new conference, with a greater trust in God, not in the fire, but on fire.  just like with them, when you find yourself in the fire, you can stay in peace, knowing that God is not going to harm anything that you need.  that difficulty is not going to leave you broken, scarred, defeated;  all it’s going to do is burn off any limitations that are holding you back.  it’s going to separate anything that’s not God’s best;  you’re going to come out prepared, ready for the next level.

in the scripture, we see this principle; all the great heroes of faith went through their threshing floor experiences.  remember Peter? he was hot-tempered, used bad language. he told Jesus:

Mark 14:31 (NLT)
31 “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!”

but when he was put on the threshing floor, in the heat of the moment:

Mark 14:66-72 (NLT)
66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.”

68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway. Just then, a rooster crowed.

69 When the servant girl saw him standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again.

A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.”

71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.

when you’re under pressure, you find out what’s really on the inside. that’s when impurities in our character come to light.  if you’ll work with God and let Him refine you, you’ll come out better.  this is what happened with Peter; he didn’t stay there. one day he ministered, and 3000 people came to know the Lord, the most in the scripture:

Acts 2:41 (NLT)
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

he was so powerful that his shadow caused people to get healed:

Acts 5:15 (NIV)
15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Moses as a young man knew he was supposed to deliver God’s people. the dream was in his heart, but he got out of God’s timing, tried to do it in his own strength. he ended up killing a man, and had to flee for his life. he spent 40 years on the backside of the desert.  it looked like that one mistake ruined his destiny, but God never writes us off; he was on the threshing floor, being refined.  when he was 80 years old, the scripture says:

Numbers 12:3 (NIV)
3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

God was saying, “Moses, I haven’t forgotten about you. that threshing floor experience;  you may not have liked it, it may have been uncomfortable, but the good news is, it prepared you for the fullness of your destiny.” Moses went on to bring the Israelites out of slavery, lead them toward the promised land.  it would’ve never happened without the threshing floor.

Judges 6 tells about a time when:

Judges 6:3-4 (NIV)
3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel

God raised up a man by the name of Gideon to do something about it.  the problem was that Gideon was insecure; he didn’t think he could do anything great.  as long as he felt inferior, he would never reach his destiny. God didn’t say, “Gideon, too bad, I had something amazing in your future, but you have all these things holding you back, I can’t use you.” no, God never leaves us where we are.  this is what the threshing floor is all about;  God puts us in situations to separate what’s limiting us. God told Gideon:

Judges 6:14-15 (NIV)
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

it’s significant where Gideon was when he said this;  he was hiding in a threshing floor.

(sort of:

Judges 6:11 (NIV)
11 … Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.

in ancient Israel, a winepress was normally located inside a small building, and squeezing the juice out of grapes could be seen as a threshing process, so the concept is correct even if it wasn’t technically a threshing floor, which is for grain.)

he felt weak, inferior, less than; God answered him back, and said:

Judges 6:16 (NIV)
16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

when He first spoke to Gideon, He called him:

Judges 6:12 (ESV)
12 … O mighty man of valor

I can imagine, hiding there, something came all over him.  he thought to himself, “you know what, I’m not weak, defeated, I’m a child of the most high God.”  suddenly, fear left him, intimidation was gone; the threshing floor will separate what’s limiting you.  on the threshing floor, God will stir your gifts; you’ll hear Him speaking faith and victory over your life.

Gideon would’ve been satisfied to stay there hiding, just have enough to survive.  God said, “Gideon, this is not your destiny. you are not going to let the enemy steal your harvest the rest of your life; rise up and go do something about it.”  the threshing floor was never meant to be permanent. God is saying to us what he said to Gideon, “you’ve been on that threshing floor long enough; it’s time to go get what belongs to you.”  that means shake off the disappointments, low expectations, what people told you you can’t do.  people don’t determine your destiny, God does.  there is a great harvest in front of you; it has your name on it.

don’t let the enemy keep taking what belongs to you.  you are a mighty wo/man of valor.  like Gideon, you’ve been equipped, empowered, anointed;  you are well able to accomplish your assignment.  but all of us will go through these threshing floor experiences. it’s not because God has forgotten about you, is punishing you, is done with you, it’s just the opposite;  the reason you’re facing the difficulty is because God is getting you prepared.  He knows what you’re capable of, so He’s separating what’s holding you back.  you’re about to see new growth, opportunities, friendships. you’re going to come out refined, polished, stronger, matured.  you’re going to have a greater trust, confidence in God.  don’t complain about how big the obstacles are, what somebody did to you; that threshing floor is not defeating you, it’s promoting you.

the ark of the covenant was a large box where God’s presence was back in those days; it had been gone for a long time.  David had a desire to bring it back to Jerusalem:

1 Chronicles 13:3 (NIV)
3 Let us bring the ark of our God back to us

he had his men build a special cart, and very carefully they placed the ark of the covenant on this cart. they headed towards their destination, very excited; the ark was finally coming back home.  everything was going great, until:

1 Chronicles 13:9-10 (NIV)
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. 10 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.

David was so upset, so distraught, that he wouldn’t go any further.  he couldn’t understand how he could be doing the right thing, yet God took the life of one of his friends. he gave up on his mission:

1 Chronicles 13:13 (NIV)
13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.

what David didn’t realize was that that setback was divinely orchestrated.  the scripture says:

1 Chronicles 13:9 (NIV)
9 When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.

David just saw it as a bad break, but God was directing his steps.  at the threshing floor, just as wheat is separated from chaff, God was going to use that situation to refine David.  sometimes, we’re going along, and everything’s great;  life is good.  but we hit a bump in the road; lose a loved one, relationship doesn’t work out, business goes down. we don’t understand what happened.  but just like with David, those bumps in the road are not random; they happen at a threshing floor. when you come out, you’re not going to be the same, you’re going to be refined, with less chaff, and more wheat. if you look back over your life, the times you really grew, came up higher, developed more confidence, weren’t the good times, when everything was going your way, it was the times you hit a bump in the road.  you couldn’t see it at the time, but you were at a threshing floor. God used that to refine you; you came out better.

for three months, David was depressed, sitting by the side of the road; “God, it didn’t work out. I never dreamed I’d lose somebody along the way.”  but the threshing floor is a place where things die, so something new can be born.  that difficulty is not the end; the divorce, the loss, the child that broke your heart, is not how your story concludes.  something may have died in your life: a friendship, goal, dream.  the only reason it died was to give birth to the new things God wants to do. sometimes, you have to lose something to gain something better. God has to close a door before He’ll open a bigger door.

the threshing floor is not only a place of separation, it’s a place of preparation.  if David would’ve taken the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem the first time, before the bump in the road, he would have had no place to put it; a lot of people could’ve been hurt.

1 Chronicles 15:1 (NIV)
15 After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.

when you hit a bump in the road, God is not only separating what’s holding you back, but He’s preparing you for what’s in your future. some of the things God has in store, if He took you right now, you couldn’t handle it. He’s growing you up.  He’s maturing you, teaching you to trust, so when it’s your time to step up, you’ll be ready to go.

David thought it was over. for three months, he had been weeping, upset, never thought he could accomplish his assignment. one day, he looked out, and saw the house where the ark of the covenant had been staying. those people were so blessed, prosperous, full of God’s favor; something rose up in him, a new fire, a new passion.  he said, “God, I’ve changed my mind; I’m going to get back in the game and do what You called me to do.”

maybe you’ve hit a bump in the road, and it’s knocked the wind out of you. you don’t think, like David, that you could accomplish your dreams, your assignment. that threshing floor is not defeating you, it’s preparing you.  you may have lost something, but you to need to get ready; you’re about to gain something a whole lot better. God is getting you prepared for something amazing.  get your fire back.  get your passion back.

Proverbs 24:16 (VOICE)
16 For a good man may fall seven times and get back up again

you may have fallen, but it’s time to get back up.  you’re prepared, qualified, refined.  what God started in your life, He’s going to finish.

this is what David did.  scripture talks about:

1 Chronicles 15:25 (WYC)
25 … David, and the men of great age, that is, the elders, of Israel, and the tribunes, went with great gladness to bring back the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from the house of Obededom

a few weeks earlier, he didn’t think he’d ever smile again; now he’s full of joy, singing and dancing, seeing a dream come to pass. when we hit bumps in the road, the enemy always whispers, “you’ve seen your best days. it’s all downhill from here.  you’ve just been through too much.” don’t believe those lies; what you lost was to give birth to the new thing that God wants to do. even when you lose a loved one, don’t sit around discouraged the rest of your life; that loss is not a surprise to God.  the way that you honor their memory is to go out and do something great.  if your loved one was here, they’d tell you; “get back in the game.  dream a new dream. move forward with your life.”  there are times that you have to lose something so you can gain something to go to the next level.

of course, we don’t want to go through that disappointment, that setback, but you have to trust that God knows what He’s doing.  God will never take something away without giving you something better back in return. at the time, you may not be able to see it, but if you’ll stay in faith, and not let the disappointment, the loss, sour your life, then like David, you’ll come out prepared, qualified, ready for the next level. sometimes, God will take you through a season of being alone;  that’s a time where you can draw closer to God.  when you’d normally give energy and affection to another person, you turn it toward God.  without that aloneness, you would never have the depth, the consecration, the character. don’t fight a season of isolation; if you’ll embrace it, you’ll discover something that otherwise you could never have.

Jesus put it this way:

John 15:1-2 (NIV)
15 …my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit

God will take things out of our lives that are not good for us, we’re not moving forward:  He’ll take away a branch of impatience, a branch of insecurity. He’ll move a person that’s holding us back. that makes sense. but then he said:

John 15:2 (NIV)
2 … every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

this is saying; at times, we’re all going to experience being cut back.  sometimes, it doesn’t make sense;  “God, I was doing so good;  why did I lose that main client?  why did my friend walk away?  why did my child break my heart?”  we’re doing the right thing;  the wrong thing happens.  we tend to focus on the cutback, the loss, the disappointment, but the only reason God cuts us back is so we can bear much fruit, so we can rise higher.  God is the master gardener;  He will never cut something back, remove it, take it away, unless it’s the perfect time.  sometimes we think, “God, you messed me up; why did You take away my dad, cut back my business?”  God knows what He’s doing; the only reason He cut you back is so that you can bear much fruit.  if He had not cut you back, you would’ve been satisfied to stay where you were. 

God doesn’t want you to get stuck; He has new levels. on a regular basis, we’re going to see this pruning. in the uncomfortable times, in those tough times, you have to remind yourself; you are being pruned so you can bloom, so you can blossom, so you can see new growth. we’re all going to have these bumps in the road, these threshing floor experiences; the separation may be uncomfortable, but it’s making you better, getting you prepared. you may have lost something, but you need to get ready; you’re about to gain something a whole lot better. you’re going to come through every adversity, less chaff, more wheat; refined, purified, stronger, ready for the fullness of your destiny.

An expected end

from JO’s sermon tonight:

this is what God has done for each one of us:

Isaiah 46:10 (WEB)
10 I declare the end from the beginning

when God planned out your life, He started with your final scene, He started with where He wants you to end up, then He worked backwards. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 29:11 (TLB)
11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

your end has already been established; your final scene has already been shot. the good new is, you don’t end in defeat, failure, disappointment, you end in victory, more than a conqueror, fulfilling your purpose. when you understand that your end has been established, you won’t go through life discouraged because of a disappointment, bitter because of a loss, frustrated because a dream hasn’t come to pass; you’ll stay in peace, knowing that in the end, it’s all going to work out to your advantage. here’s the key; like any good movie, there will be twists and turns. you think, “I know I’m supposed to be going this way, why am I going the opposite direction? my goal is over here, why am I headed the wrong way?” there will be scenes that on their own don’t make sense. if you stopped right there, the divorce, sickness, loss, would look like it didn’t work for your good, looks like it got the best of you.

what you don’t realize is, that is not your final scene; as long as you’re breathing, your movie is still going. you may be in a difficult scene right now, something you don’t understand: a negative medical report, a setback in your finances. you have to remind yourself; that is not how your story ends, you have an expected end. the Creator of the universe, the most high God, has planned your days for good and not harm. if you’ll keep moving forward, at some point you’ll come into another twist, but this time: a good break, a promotion, a healing. God knows how to weave it all together. your end has already been established.

we see this principle in the life of Joseph. God destined him to become a great leader, to rule a nation, to help the Israelites during a time of famine. that was his end; it had already been established. Joseph started off well; as a young man, he was his father’s favorite child, went around wearing that coat of many colors, the coat that represented favor. but at 17 years of age, Joseph’s life had an unusual twist; his brothers were jealous, and:

Genesis 37:28 (VOICE)
28 As the Midianite traders were passing by, they brought Joseph up out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for about eight ounces of silver, the usual price of young male slaves. The traders set off with Joseph in the direction of Egypt.

he could have become discouraged, and thought, “I must not have heard God right. He showed me a dream that I’d rule a nation, but it sure didn’t happen.” no, Joseph understood this principle; he knew that was just one scene. he knew that his end had already been established, so he kept being his best. he was lied about, falsely accused; they put him in prison, another unusual twist. it looked like he was moving away from his destiny. and this is the real test of life; will you stay in faith when you’re doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening? will you continue being your best even when you’re not getting the credit? will you stay passionate even though the door closed, you didn’t get the promotion, you think you’re moving the wrong way? this is where Joseph excelled. in prison, he didn’t fall apart; he kept doing the right thing. 13 years after he was sold into slavery, he interpreted a dream for the Pharaoh; Pharaoh was so impressed that he brought him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation. he saw his dream come to pass; he saw the expected end. if Joseph were standing here today, he would tell you, “don’t get discouraged by the detours, the twists of life, the things you don’t understand. they are all necessary scenes in your movie. by themselves, they may not make sense, but when God brings it all together, you too will come out fulfilling your purpose, seeing what God has promised.”

but this is where many people get frustrated, lose their passion, “if God was good, why did I have the bad break? why did I go through the loss? why didn’t my relationship make it?” we may never understand why, but I can tell you this; God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to somehow work for your good. nothing that’s happened to you can keep you from your destiny. the only thing that can stop you is you; if you get negative, bitter, lose your passion, that can keep you from God’s best. you may have had unfair things happen, but I’ve learned; the depth of your pain is an indication of the height of your future. when construction workers are going to build a tall building, they have to dig down many stories first for the foundation; the taller the building, the deeper the foundation.

when you go through things that you don’t understand, difficult situations, you may not like it, it may be uncomfortable, but God is getting you prepared to take you higher than you’ve ever imagined. you may think it’s there to defeat you, but God’s going to use it to promote you. no bad break can stop you. all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back. God has an expected end for you; He’s already established it. but along the way, everything is not going to make sense. this is what faith is all about. you have to trust that even in the twists of life, in the things you don’t understand, God still knows what He’s doing, that even when, like Joseph, you know God promised you one thing, but you’re seeing just the opposite, defeat, betrayal, that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “God, I don’t understand it, but I trust You. I believe Your plans for me are for good, that You’ve already shot my final scene. You’ve already established my end. so Lord, I want to thank You that I will fulfill my purpose, that I will become everything You’ve created me to be.”

I’ve heard it said, God always ends in “all is well,” so if all is not well, that simply means it’s not the end. “it’s not well in my finances, I lost a big client last week, I’m discouraged”; no, stay in peace, it’s not the end, that’s just one scene. favor, promotion, good breaks, are headed your way. if it’s not well in your health, don’t settle there, “this is the way it’s always going to be,” no, another scene is coming; God promises, the number of your days He will fulfill. if it’s not your time to go, you’re not going to go. maybe it’s not well in a relationship; you went through a breakup, you’re lonely, you don’t think you’ll ever meet the right person. that’s not the end. that one disappointment, that one person that left, they can’t change your ending, they can’t re-write your movie. God has already established it; they don’t have that much power. God has already lined up the person of your dreams, somebody better than you can imagine; they’re just a couple of scenes away, it’s just a matter of time before they show up. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 14:27 (AMP)
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who can annul it?

this means that God has a purpose for your life. He’s planned out your days, lined up your scenes, and established your ending. then it asks:

Isaiah 14:27 (CEB)
27 … who can stop it?

God is saying, “I flung stars into space, I spoke worlds into existence, I’m the all-powerful Creator of the universe; now who can stop My plan for your life, who can change your ending?” people can’t, unfair situations can’t, tragedy can’t; God has the final say. when you’re on one of those detours, something that doesn’t make sense, you don’t understand it, don’t get upset, it’s just one scene; when it all comes together, like with Joseph, it’s going to work for your good. if Joseph hadn’t been betrayed by his brothers, if he hadn’t been sold into slavery, if he hadn’t been put into prison, he would’ve never made it to his throne; those were all necessary scenes on the way to his established end. what you may think is a setback is really a setup for God to get you to the fullness of your destiny. we can either go through life fighting everything we don’t like, upset, bitter, offended, or we can stay in peace, knowing that God is directing our steps, and even the twists, the things we don’t understand, in the end, they will work to our advantage.

there are times in life when it looks like our opponents, the depression, sickness, legal situation, is getting the best of us, we’re falling behind. it’s easy to get discouraged; “I can’t accomplish my dreams, the odds are against me, I’ll never get well, the medical report’s too bad.” you have to remind yourself that the end has already been set. when you feel like you’re falling behind, you’re outclassed, outsized, outnumbered, instead of being discouraged, have this new perspective; that means you’re about to see a major comeback. any moment, things are going to shift in your favor; a good break, a promotion, a healing.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (JUB)
14 Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph

not part of the time, not most of the time; God’s already lined up your victory parade. He’s already established your ending. when God breathed His life into you, He established your end first; He gave you a purpose, set your assignment, then He put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. He’s given you the gifts and talents, the confidence; how you start is not important. don’t let what you think is a limitation, a disadvantage, “if I was a different nationality, I come from the wrong side of the neighborhood, there’s dysfunction in my family”; that’s how you started, that’s not how you’re going to finish. the beginning does not determine your destiny; that’s just one scene. what matters is the expected end; the Creator of the universe has already destined you to leave your mark on this generation. He’s already put seeds of greatness in you.

God loves to take people who start off with all the odds against them, and shine down His favor, promote them, give them good breaks, to where they rise up and do extraordinary things. don’t let how you were raised, what you didn’t get, what you think is a disadvantage, cause you to settle where you are. the established end is not dependent on the beginning. it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. if you will keep honoring God, being your best, you are moving toward the destiny He has designed for you. it’s bigger than you can imagine. it’s more rewarding than you’ve ever dreamed. get rid of the excuses. you may have had a rough start, but you’re not going to have a rough finish. somebody may have put you at a disadvantage, but they did not change your expected end. Paul said in Philippians:

Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
3 … the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish

not a defeated finish, a mediocre finish, a lonely finish, a bankrupt finish; you’re coming to a victorious finish, a flourishing finish. when thoughts tell you otherwise, you’ll hear things like, “you have too many disadvantages, you’re too far behind, you’ve made too many mistakes”; let those lies go in one ear and out the other. God is saying, “I’m going to take you further than you can imagine. I have explosive blessings that can catapult you ahead. I have favor that can thrust you into your destiny. I’m going to bring out those seeds of greatness that I put on the inside.” God has established your end; you can be certain He knows how to get you there. now our part, all through the day; “Lord, thank You that Your plans for me are for good. You’re not limited by what I am right now. You’ve already shot my final scene. I may not understand everything along the way, but God, I trust You; I believe I’m coming to a flourishing finish.”

this is what Job had to do. he had some unusual twists and turns in life; some scenes didn’t make sense. everything started off great, life was good, but then the bottom fell out; Job lost his health, lost his business, lost his family. he could’ve gotten discouraged and given up. his wife told him:

Job 2:9 (NIV)
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

but in the middle of that discouragement, when everything had come against him, when a lot of people would’ve been bitter, angry, complaining, Job looked up to the heavens and said:

Job 19:25 (VOICE)
25 … I know my Redeemer lives

he was saying, in effect, “I know God’s still on the throne. I know He’s already shot my final scene. if this is my time to go, I’m not going to go bitter, I’m not going to go upset.”

Job 13:15 (NKJV)
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him

when you can keep a good attitude when the bottom falls out, when you can give God praise in the twists of life, in the things that don’t make sense, that’s when God will take you to a new level of your destiny. we hear a lot about Job’s loss, trials, suffering, and yes, he went through a difficult season, but here’s the key; he didn’t stay there. that was one scene; in the end, he came out with twice what he had before:

Job 42:10 (CEB)
10 …the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions.

he had twice the cattle, twice the sheep, got his health back, his joy back, his peace back. the scripture puts it this way:

Job 42:16 (LEB)
16 And Job lived after this one hundred and forty years, and he saw his sons and his grandsons for four generations.

notice: after the loss, after the disappointment, after the after the bottom fell out, he didn’t end on a sour, defeated note, his life was not over. Job went on to live a full, happy, blessed 140 more years, enjoying his grandchildren, accomplishing his dreams, fulfilling his purpose.

just because you have some twists, turns, things you don’t understand, that doesn’t mean your life is over. God has an after-this coming. when thoughts whisper, “you’ve seen your best days, you’ve been through too much, this is as good as it gets,” God is saying to you what He said to Job; “after the cancer, the divorce, the betrayal, there’s still a full life ahead of you. you haven’t dreamed your best dream, danced your best dance, laughed your best laugh.” shake off the disappointment, get your passion back; God has an after-this coming your way. He’s not only going to bring you out, but He’s going to pay you back for that trouble. you’re going to come out stronger, increased, promoted, better than you were before.

when it was all over, Job said:

Job 42:1-2 (MSG)
1-2 Job answered God:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.

he was saying, “nothing can change the expected end. God already established it.” the enemy cannot keep you from your destiny. Satan had to ask God’s permission to even test Job; that tells me that God is not only in control of your life, He’s in control of your enemies. you have nothing to worry about; there is a hedge of protection around you that cannot be penetrated.

when Jesus was about to be crucified, he told people:

John 2:19 (NKJV)
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

they thought he was talking about the building; he was talking about himself. Jesus, of course, understood this principle, that his end had already been established. he knew that his final scene had already been shot; it wasn’t him hanging on the cross in great pain, it wasn’t him in a tomb, buried in grave-clothes. he knew his final scene was him seated at the right hand of the Father, with all power, with the keys of death and hell. that’s why it says:

Hebrews 12:2 (VOICE)
2 … He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him

the way you stay encouraged in the tough times is you keep looking ahead, knowing that your end has been set, that you’re coming to a flourishing finish, that God always causes you to triumph.

the scripture talks about how Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb:

Matthew 27:59-60 (CEB)
59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away.

he had no place to be buried of his own. I can imagine Jesus, before he was crucified, asking that disciple, “can I borrow your tomb?” he was saying, “I don’t need to buy it, this is not how my story ends. this is only temporary; I’ll just be here a few days. I have an established end set by my Father, and no enemy can change it. they can put me in the grave, but they can’t keep me in the grave.” our attitude, like Jesus, in difficult times; “this is temporary. this addiction is not how my story ends. this defeat, this sickness, this betrayal, is just one scene; I know another scene is coming, a scene of victory, favor, and new beginnings.” your final scene has already been shot; don’t let the twists, turns, things you don’t understand, cause you to get discouraged. keep moving forward; in the end, it’s all going to work to your advantage. we know the final outcome; we don’t have to live worried and upset, God has established our end. if you’ll stay in faith, and keep honoring God, like Job, God’s going to pay you back for the trouble. like Joseph, God’s going to get you to your throne. no matter how you start, you’re going to come out with a flourishing finish, accomplishing your dreams, becoming all God created you to be.

I guess that seems a little redundant, as whatever a person thinks of the topic you couldn’t call it BORING, but here goes:

I spoke in tongues again last night. it took significantly longer to get started than it had previous times, long enough that I was feeling a little bit dubious, but once it got going it had the same strength as the last time. It’s still coming out very fast, and I had to consciously make myself breathe a couple of times, because I was apparently forgetting to breathe again.  I wasn’t aware of my normal speech being speeded up at all afterwards this time; whether this was because of not speaking in tongues for as long of a time, or for some other reason, will I assume become clear over the next few weeks. 

There were 2 really big changes this time. The first is that, unlike all the previous times when I was always able to at least get out the first few syllables when I wanted to thank God or the Holy Spirit for what was happening, this time I was totally unable to get a single syllable to come out of my mouth voluntarily, with I think just one exception; I have no idea what this could mean, other than that the Holy Spirit is intensifying his control during these times, and has been gradually transitioning me to him having full control.  The other change should objectively have really freaked me out, and certainly would have under any other circumstances; there were chunks of time where not only was I not able to form a single syllable of my own volition, but I could not even form the words in my HEAD. I have never before in my entire life experienced this inability to form thoughts in my head, and when it was happening I was still walking around, still speaking in tongues without a pause, feeling puzzled and amazed at this sort of blankness in my mind. I’ll be VERY interested to see if this happens again; I’m betting that it will, that this will be part of whatever evolution this process is going through. I just can’t imagine that something this bizarre is a one-time thing, especially not at this point in the process where what I’m doing is no longer brand-new.

In my post of 5-7, “Speaking in tongues: the home version,” I reported what I have to call an at least somewhat negative aftereffect:

“I felt very exhausted and kind of… I want to say headachy, but that wasn’t exactly the feeling… I felt so tired, with so much heavy, uncomfortable, almost painful feelings in my head, that I ended up going to bed and sleeping for well over 3 hours.”

I was pretty much dismissing it, because of having just been sick… but it happened again last night. Same feeling, same timeframe, shortly after midnight, and with the same result, going to bed and sleeping for 3 hours, which is longer than I would normally nap for, especially when I have not just been sick.

Something happening twice is certainly not definitive, but I think it’s highly significant.  As I did last time, I did a search to see if other people are experiencing this, and couldn’t find anything, so this is at the very least quite unusual. I have no idea what it means. It might just be that I’m overly sensitive in some way, and that’s why I’m getting knocked out like this. Maybe this is happening to prevent me from going overboard with speaking in tongues, since I certainly can’t have this mental crash every day.  The most plausible explanation still seems to me that some sort of alteration is going on in my brain to accommodate the Holy Spirit, something that normal people either don’t require or are not so heavily affected by. I don’t know whether this will eventually taper off and stop once my brain has been reprogrammed to handle it, or whether this is just the first step of a bigger plan; I can only speculate.  Considering that what is currently occurring is well outside the realm of anything I could previously have predicted or imagined, I suspect that what this is leading up to will be another quantum leap in my religious life. Stay tuned.

Shame off you

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we’ve all heard the phrase, “shame on you.”  when we were a child: “you didn’t clean your room, shame on you.” “you were mean to your little sister, shame on you.”  even as adults, we may not hear it out loud, but it plays in our thoughts:  “you fell back into that bad habit, shame on you.”  “you went through a divorce, shame on you.” we don’t realize how destructive shame is.  we use it to try to convince people to do better, but shame does just the opposite; causes us to feel guilty, unworthy, like we don’t deserve to be blessed.  shame is one of the enemy’s favorite tools; he’s called, “the accuser.”  he’ll remind you of every mistake, every failure, even things that weren’t your fault, he’ll try to deceive you into thinking that you were to blame. people that were abused as a child had no choice in it; he’ll whisper, “you’re not good enough, you deserved it, that’s why they mistreated you.” he’ll try to twist it, and convince you to carry around all this heaviness:  

Psalm 69:20 (NKJV)

20 Reproach has broken my heart,

And I am full of heaviness

but the scripture talks about how God has removed our shame. (NB: I couldn’t find a verse that specifically says that, but I’ve included a few that at least illustrate the concept):

Joshua 5:9 (NLT)

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.”

Luke 1:25 (NIRV)

25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people.

Genesis 30:23 (CEB)

23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my shame.”

whether it was your fault or somebody else’s, you don’t have to carry the heavy load of guilt, beating yourself up, feeling wrong on the inside. when the enemy says, “shame on you,” God says, “shame off you.  I’ve forgiven you, I’ve redeemed you, I’ve made you valuable.” what people did or didn’t do to you, they don’t determine your worth;  your worth comes from your Creator.  the most high God breathed His life into you.  He crowned you with His favor. He calls you a masterpiece. don’t go around ashamed, guilty, condemned; shake off the shame. every time you hear that voice whispering, “shame on you,” by faith you need to hear God answering back, “shame off you.” don’t accept the shame. 

and I’m not saying of course to be flippant, and think, “well, I made a big mistake, I hurt somebody, no big deal.”  no, we should be remorseful, ask for forgiveness, do better next time, but the problem is, if you don’t put your foot down, and say, “shame off me,” then even though God has removed it, that shame will follow you around. it’s more difficult to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive other people. the enemy knows that if we feel wrong on the inside, we’ll never become who we were created to be.  that’s why he works overtime to try to bring guilt, shame, make you feel like you don’t deserve to be blessed. you have to turn off the accusing voices.  you may have made mistakes, but the moment you asked God to forgive you, He not only forgave you, He took it one step further:

Hebrews 10:17 (NIV)

17 … “Their sins and lawless acts

    I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV)

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

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

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

Isaiah 43:25 (ISV)

25 “I, I am the one

    who blots out your transgression for my own sake,

        and I’ll remember your sins no more

when those thoughts try to remind you of mistakes in the past, saying things like:  “shame on you, you were unfaithful in that relationship,” “shame on you, you were dishonest in the business deal,” “shame on you, you were rude to that family member last month.” you’ve already asked for forgiveness; that means God doesn’t remember it, that’s a sure sign the accuser is at work. you can either accept the shame, feel wrong on the inside, or you can rise up and say, “no, shame off me. I know I’ve been forgiven. I know God’s mercy is bigger than this mistake. if God doesn’t remember it, I’m not going to remember it either.”

when the Israelites had been in slavery in Egypt for many years, they were very beaten-down; not only physically, but emotionally. they were constantly told they were no good, they couldn’t do anything right, they would never measure up. over time, they let that steal their sense of value. they felt inferior, insecure, like they had no self-worth. when a person is being mistreated, abused, especially for a long time, instead of recognizing that the other person is doing them wrong, it’s easy for them to accept the blame and start thinking they deserve what’s happening. before long, they’re not only ashamed of what’s happening, but they start to become ashamed of who they are. that’s the way the Israelites felt; that’s how the enemy twists things. but after 430 years, God brought them out of the slavery, out of the abuse. just as they were about to enter the promised land, God said to them:

Joshua 5:9 (KJV)

9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.

“reproach” means shame, blame, disgrace. notice, they couldn’t go into the promised land with the shame, feeling unworthy, not valuable; God had to roll away the reproach. in the same way, before you can reach your highest potential, you have to get rid of any shame. you may have made mistakes, people may have done you wrong, but you can’t sit around guilty, condemned, blaming yourself, blaming others. whatever your Egypt is, a divorce, an addiction, somebody that did you wrong, God is saying, “this day”; not tomorrow, not next week, not 6 months from now, today, God is rolling away the reproach. He’s rolling away the guilt, rolling away the shame.  it’s up to you to accept it.  you have to quit dwelling on your failures, quit believing those lies, that you’ve made too many mistakes, you’ve been hurt too badly, no, the reproach has been rolled away. 

when you get up in the morning, and you hear those voices, and they come to all of us, “shame on you,” you have to answer right back, “no, shame off of me. I know my reproach has been taken away.”  maybe you know God has forgiven you, but you still have this sense of unworthiness, like you don’t deserve it, you could never reach your highest potential. that shame has held you back long enough. today, God has removed the reproach, the chains have been broken, burdens have been lifted. God is saying, “shame off of you.” you have to get in agreement; quit listening to the accusing voices, quit believing the lie that you have to settle for second best. nothing you’ve done is a surprise to God. He’s not up in the heavens scratching His head, saying, “man, I didn’t see that last mistake coming, they threw Me off.”  no, God had the mercy before you made the mistake. He had the solution before you had the problem. why don’t you shake off the shame, the guilt? this is a new day; the reproach has been rolled away.

don’t let one negative event become your identity. don’t let one failure, divorce, bankruptcy, addiction, become who you are. it’s easy to take all the blame, let it consume you; before long, you become known as the man who blew his marriage, the woman that was abused, the young person that has the addiction. no, that’s what you did, that’s not who you are. that’s what happened to you, that is not your identity. the enemy would love to stick these labels on us: addicted, unfaithful, divorced, bad parent. don’t believe those lies. you may struggle with an addiction, but you are not an addict. what you do does not change your identity; you are still a child of the most high God. you may have failed in some area of your life, we all have, but you’re not a failure. you may have had some bad breaks, but you are not a victim. when those thoughts of guilt and shame try to relabel you, you have to remind yourself: “I am not who people say I am. I am not who circumstances say I am. I am who God says I am. God says I am approved, I am accepted, I am valuable, I am a masterpiece.”

in the scripture, names had a lot more meaning and significance than they have today. Isaac had a son, and he named him Jacob; “Jacob” means trickster, swindler, deceiver. every time someone said, “hello, Jacob,” they were saying, “hello trickster.”  “good morning, Jacob”;  “good morning, con man.”  “it’s time to go to school, Jacob”;  “it’s time to go to school, cheater.”  he had heard this so long, he didn’t know any better; he became exactly what people called him.  for years he was told, “you’re a con man”; he conned his brother Esau out of his inheritance. “you’re a cheater”; he cheated his uncle, went around tricking people.  later in life, Jacob got tired of living like that. one night, he went down to the brook to get alone with God. an angel appeared unto him in the form of a man:

Genesis 32:27 (ISV)

27 Then the man asked him, “What’s your name?”

“Jacob,” he responded

he was saying, “I am a cheater, I am a deceiver, I am dishonest.” the angel didn’t say, “you’re right, Jacob, you’ve lived a really terrible life, you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” the angel said:

Genesis 32:28 (NIV)

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel

he was saying, “you are not a deceiver. you may have let people talk you into that, but that is not your true identity.” Israel means; Prince with God. God took this man that had lived a life of dishonesty, gone around cheating people, and instead of giving him what he deserved, instead of shaking his finger and saying, “shame on you, Jacob,” God said, “shame off you, Jacob. you’re My son. I have destined you to leave your mark on your generation.  not in disgrace, not as a failure; I’ve called you to be a prince, to reign in life.”  first thing God had to do was remove the reproach. God had to get the shame off of him.

are you wearing any negative labels today? have you let circumstances, failures, or even people put a label on you that says, “not valuable, not worthy, addicted, bad parent, blew his marriage, didn’t raise his children right, doesn’t deserve to be blessed?” this is what grace is all about; none of us deserve it, but God says, “I’m going to bless you anyway. I know your true identity, I breathed My life into you.”  you may feel like Jacob; you made some poor choices, you could easily live with that sense of shame. but God in effect is changing our names today to prince, to princess, to redeemed, to forgiven, to highly favored people. Jacob could’ve easily told the angel, “I don’t see how God could ever make me a prince, I’ve made so many bad choices.” no, he accepted it into his spirit.  he agreed with what God said. in fact, he told the angel:

Genesis 32:26 (NIV)

26 … But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

he was saying, “I may not deserve it, but since the shame has been rolled away, I’m asking for favor, new levels, the fullness of my destiny.” God didn’t say, “Jacob, who do you think you are?  I’m not going to bless you, you know the life you’ve lived.” God said, “Jacob, I like your boldness. I like the fact that you shook off the shame, got rid of the guilt.  now, you’re ready to step up to who I’ve created you to be.”  you live like that, God will bless you in amazing ways. even if you’re still struggling in area, there is no shame to ask for help.  sometimes, we think we’re supposed to be perfect, we can’t let anybody know we have a bad habit, an addiction, this struggle, we’d be embarrassed.  no, don’t let shame keep you isolated. real healing begins when we get honest. the scripture says:

James 5:16 (MEV)

16 Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

some things you can’t overcome on your own; you need somebody to stand in faith with you. I’m not saying that you have to announce it, but you can find a person that you can trust to walk with you through it.  there’s something about getting it out in the open; don’t let the fear of what other people think keep you from your miracle. I’ve learned, everybody is dealing with something; the people that you think have it all together, look fine on the outside, they’re good at pretending. everyone has issues. it’s easy to hide things, and only let people see what we want them to see. the same person that comes to church on Sunday, waves to you so friendly, on Monday if you cut them off in traffic, they may wave to you with one finger in the air; the other person comes out.

even in the scripture, some of the heroes of faith, they all had their weaknesses. one day, Peter was preaching to thousands, telling a crippled man to rise and walk; another day, he was cursing people out, denying that he knew Jesus. one day, David was defeating a giant, leading God’s people; another day, he was committing adultery, having the lady’s husband killed.  he was so ashamed of himself, he tried to hide it for a year. he finally got it out in the open, confessed his faults, and God restored him. one day, Noah was building an ark, saving his family; another day, he was getting drunk, running around naked.

you think you have issues? you have nothing to be ashamed of. here’s another thought; most likely, the things you’re struggling with, didn’t start with you, they were passed down. now this is your opportunity to put an end to it; you can be the one to break the negative cycle in your family. the first step;  shake off the shame. don’t be embarrassed. don’t try to hide it;  you don’t have to go through life pretending.  if you’ll get honest, go to God and ask Him for help, find a friend to stick with you in the faith, you can overcome anything that’s holding you back. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. the enemy loves to heap on the guilt, the shame; he knows it will keep us from our destiny.  when you shake off the shame, God will take your scars and turn them into stars.  He will use you to help others. maybe you’re struggling in an area right now; the next time you hear that voice whispering, “shame on you,” instead of believing that lie, beating yourself up, getting depressed, why don’t you rise up and say, “no, shame off me”?

if you’ll start shaking off the guilt, the shame, then you can enter into your promised land. that’s when you’ll see the healing, the breakthroughs, the new levels. some people are living with a sense of shame because of something that happened that wasn’t even their fault;  they were mistreated growing up, somebody took advantage of them.  the way the enemy twists things, he’ll to try to convince you it was your fault, you deserved it, if you would’ve been better that wouldn’t have happened. don’t believe those lies; you can’t help how someone treated you when you were younger. if they did you wrong, the problem wasn’t with you, it was with them. God said that He will be your vindicator. God saw what happened, He saw the injustice. you may think, “nobody knows what I’ve endured, the hurt, the shame, the pain,” but God knows. He saw every person that lifted a finger against you.  He saw every lonely night, every tear, every hurt.  God said:

Isaiah 54:4 (AMP)

4 … For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach

God is going to pay you back for that injustice in such a way that you don’t even remember what happened. it’s not going to be on the forefront of your mind. He’s going to make your life so blessed, so rewarding, so fulfilling, you won’t even think about those people that hurt you.  now do your part; forgive the people that did you wrong. as long as you continue to dwell on it, you are allowing them to continue to hurt you. let it go. what they did did not change your identity.  you’re still a masterpiece, you’re still wearing a crown a favor, you’re still destined to do great things. why don’t you take off the old labels that say damaged, mistreated, abused? put on some new labels: accepted, approved, valuable, masterpiece. when you do that, God promises, you will not only forget the shame of your past, but He takes it a step further; in Isaiah 61, He said:

Isaiah 61:7 (AMP) 

7 Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]

you may have had some unfair things happen, but stay in faith; because of that injustice, God is going to pay you back double.  because of what happened, the person that walked out and broke your heart, the people that mistreated you, made you feel ashamed, that did not go unnoticed; God saw it, and He’s going to pay you back with double the joy, double the peace, double the honor, double the fulfillment. your life is going to be richer because of, or in spite of, that injustice. 

now this promise won’t do us any good if we sit back ashamed, guilty, beating ourselves up. put your shoulders back, hold your head up high; nothing that was done to you, nothing that you’ve done, has changed your identity. you’re still a child of the most high God.  His plans for you are still for good and not evil. you may have had some bad breaks, but really, those setbacks were a set up for God to bring you out with double.

are you carrying around any guilt, shame, heaviness? friends, this is your day to be free. the reproach has been rolled away. the door is open, but you have to walk out of it. take off the negative labels. when the enemy whispers, “shame on you,” answer right back, “no, shame off me. I’ve been forgiven, redeemed, I am valuable.” if you will do this, every chain is being broken. God is going to pay you back double for that injustice.  you’re going to enter into your promised land, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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