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from JO’s sermon tonight:

there are genes locked up in your genetic code right now, not from your physical relatives, but from your heavenly Father. before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God not only knew you, but He put in you these destiny genes. the apostle Paul says: 

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)

10 … living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live

God has already preprogrammed in your DNA: gifts, talents, favor, opportunity. those genes are lying there dormant; you might not even know that they’re in you. the scripture says:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (TLB)

9 … no mere man has ever seen, heard, or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord.

there are seeds of greatness locked up in your DNA; ideas, inventions, books, songs, movies, businesses, contracts. when that preprogrammed time comes, set by the Creator of the universe, nothing can stop it:  people can’t stop it, how you were raised can’t stop it, a bad break, an addiction, poverty, lack, nothing can stop what’s the most high God has already put in your DNA.  don’t just look at it in the natural, what you don’t have, “I don’t have the connections, I don’t have the resources, my family, we’ve always had these addictions.” no,  you need to get ready; they are destiny genes about to open up in your life. what God has locked up in your DNA is about to kick in and thrust you to a new level.  suddenly: you get promoted, a good break, the business takes off, your health improves, you break the addiction. you didn’t see it coming, you didn’t even know it was in you. what was that? a destiny gene.

you may not see how you could ever get out of debt, ever get well, ever accomplish a dream.  what you can’t see is what’s already in your DNA, what’s already been preprogrammed to open up: favor genes, idea genes, abundance genes, health genes. if you will keep honoring God, helping others, expecting good things, at the right time, you’ll step into your moment; suddenly, it will come to pass. there are destiny genes in your future that are going to open up and thrust you to a new level. you’re going to discover talent that you didn’t know you had. you’re going to find yourself doing things you never thought you could do: writing, inventing, singing, developing, exceeding your expectations, living bigger, more generous, more fulfilled than you ever imagined.

“this sounds good, but I think you’ve got the wrong person: I’m not that talented, I never get any good breaks,, I come from the wrong family.” no, you come from the right family; your heavenly Father, the One who spoke worlds into existence, the One who flung stars into space, He not only breathed life into you, He put a part of himself in you. you have the DNA of Almighty God. He didn’t create you to be average, mediocre, to endure, just get by, He created you to excel, prosper, set a new standard for your family, leave your mark on this generation. you are not limited by your environment, by what family you come from, by what you did or didn’t get; your destiny genes will override every negative circumstance.  you may have had some unfair situations, disappointments; before anyone could put a curse on you, God put a blessing on you. before you were born, before you showed up on planet Earth, God put in your DNA these destiny genes.

God saw every disappointment, every unfair situation; He didn’t say, “too bad, look what they’re going to go through, no use Me putting anything good in their future.” just the opposite; God saw the bad break and said, “I’m going to put something special right there. I’m going to make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble.” God saw the unfair situation, the lack, poverty; God said, “I’m going to put a destiny gene of increase, of favor. I’m going to take them to a new level.” maybe you struggle with an addiction, something that’s been passed down, been in your family for a long time; God saw that. He’s already put a destiny gene of freedom, wholeness, a breakthrough.

nothing you’re facing is a surprise to God; you may have had a setback, but stay in faith, a comeback is on the way. it’s just a matter of time before that destiny gene that’s already in your DNA opens up and takes you to a new level. you may be in an environment that feels limited, you don’t think you could ever get out; what you can’t see are the destiny genes that are put on the inside of you.  you probably can’t see right now:  a professional golfer, successful businessperson, entrepreneur, doctor, lawyer, teacher. those genes are lying dormant, but don’t be fooled; at the right time, they will activate and take you where you could not go on your own. Ecclesiastes says:

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NCV)

11 …Time and chance happen to everyone

that means, there are moments of favor, increase, blessing, that are already in your future. good breaks, the right people, ideas, healing. against all odds, you’ll rise out of where you are, and go places you never thought possible. God has already lined up your good breaks, the right people to help you; those moments of favor have already been established.  quit worrying about how it’s going to happen, that’s not your job;  your job is to believe. all through the day, “Lord, I want to thank You that You put destiny genes in me. where I am is not where I’m staying. I may not see how it can happen, but I believe You have it all figured out.” one touch of God’s favor can put you 50 years down the road. one destiny gene opening up, and you’ll pay your house off, break the addiction, get healthy again, accomplish those dreams.

some of those destiny genes that have already been preprogrammed to take you to the next level, they’re about to be released in your life. you’re about to see divine connections, people with opportunity and influence to help you go further.  what you couldn’t make happen on your own is going to suddenly fall into place. you’re going to discover gifts you didn’t know you had, ability to do things you never thought you could do: starting your own company, running that business, building an orphanage, paying your house off.  what happened? a destiny gene opened up.  it was already in your DNA, but you stepped into your moment; time and chance came together. you may feel like you’re blessed, God’s been good to you, but what God is about to do, when this next destiny gene opens up, is going to far supersede anything you’ve seen in the past.  God said in Exodus:

Exodus 34:10 (GNT)

10 … I will do great things such as have never been done anywhere on earth among any of the nations. All the people will see what great things I, the Lord, can do, because I am going to do an awesome thing for you.

you know what’s in your destiny? you know what’s in your future, already preprogrammed to come to pass? something awesome, something that you’ve never seen. don’t believe those lies; “you’re stuck, you’ve reached your limits, not talented enough, not smart enough.”  no, when your next destiny gene opens up, you’re going to see new ability, talent, strength, friendships, a new level of your destiny. you may wonder why, when you hear this, something comes alive on the inside; your head may tell you, “it’s never going to happen,” but in your heart, something is saying, “yes, this is for me. I know something amazing is in my future.” you can feel an excitement, an expectancy; that’s your spirit coming into agreement with what God put in you. that’s your destiny genes beginning to activate.  if you will live with this expectancy, your faith can cause those genes open up.  God has already put in your DNA these destiny genes;  He has amazing things waiting to open up.

but, if you go around with the wrong attitude, in the wrong environment, thinking that it’s never going to happen, even though those genes are in you, you are deactivating them, you’re turning them off.  the way you turn on your destiny genes is to get in a good environment, surround yourself with people of faith, joy, victory.   when you hear me tell you each week that you’re strong, talented, prosperous, blessed, anointed, that you can do all things through Christ, that you’re more than a conqueror, that you are history maker, a world changer, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece, I’m not just saying that to make you feel good, I’m calling out your seeds of greatness, speaking to those destiny genes put in you by your Creator, activating what’s already in your DNA.

I’m helping us to turn off the defeat genes;  we’re turning on the victory genes.  we’re turning off the lack, poverty, not-enough genes; we’re turning on the abundance, overflow, more than enough genes. we’re turning off the self-pity, “I’ve been hurt too badly” genes;  we’re turning on the beauty for ashes genes, the favor genes, the “something good is going to happen to us” genes. the external environment will impact the internal genes; that’s why you can’t hang out your whole life with people who are negative and critical, and expect your destiny genes to activate. if you have people always pushing you down, telling you what you can’t become, “you’ll never get out of debt, you’ll never break that addiction, you’ll never get well,” you won’t reach your highest potential; you’re turning the gene off. you have to get in an environment of faith, so those destiny genes can activate. 

when Mary the mother of Christ was pregnant with Jesus, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist. when Elizabeth answered the door and saw Mary:

Luke 1:41 (NIV)

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

something came alive on the inside. when you get around people who are pregnant with destiny, people who are filled with vision, excellence, integrity, the destiny genes in them will help activate the destiny genes in you. get around people who make your baby leap, not people who put your baby to sleep. sometimes, we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, “I know they’re not good for me, they pull me down, they’re negative, but we’ve been eating lunch together every day for the last 30 years at the office, I don’t want to rock the boat”; that boat’s already sinking. you need to see it in a new light; that is deactivating your destiny genes, turning off the amazing future God has in store. life is too short, your destiny too great, your assignment too important, to spend it with people that always pull you down. 

it’s not only affecting you, it’s affecting the next generation. God is counting on you to set a new standard, raise the bar; make sure you surround yourself with people of faith, hope, and victory. we all have to be around people that are negative and critical, God will give us the grace for that, I’m talking about when you do have a choice. all through the day, feed your spirit, your mind with good things: put on uplifting music, not something that’s going to drag you down, something that’s going to inspire you and build you up. at your house, at the office, put up scripture verses, inspirational sayings, things that motivate you. the environment you’re creating around you is either activating or deactivating your destiny genes. 

maybe because of a limited environment, people pushing you down, wrong thinking, your destiny genes are still locked up in your DNA. the good news is, those genes are still alive; it’s not too late to be activated. you can still become who you were created to be. one good break can make up for all the bad breaks. one moment of favor can thrust you to a new level. do your part; get in the right environment, not only physically, but in your mind. put on a new attitude, start dwelling on thoughts of faith, favor, hope, victory, vision. there are destiny genes in you that have not yet opened up; they’re still waiting to be activated.  

there are destiny genes locked up in you right now; my challenge today is, don’t die with the music still in you. don’t let people talk you out of it, don’t let circumstances convince you that it’s never going to happen. God has already preprogrammed it; He has the final say. get in agreement with God; all through the day, “Lord, I to want to thank you that the destiny genes You placed in me will come to pass, that I will become everything You’ve created me to be.” if you’ll keep activating the right genes, staying in the right environment, both physically and mentally, destiny genes are about to open up for you. God is going to take you further than you imagined. you’re going to discover talent that you didn’t know you had. something awesome is coming your way.

The healings have begun

(No new sermon again this week, but there WILL be one for next week.)

As one might reasonably expect, part of taking a healing class within the church requires the student to do some healings, and that is the latest thing that I have been doing. I should make clear that it is the Holy Spirit who does the healing, not me or any other human being, and that ANY believer can ask the Holy Spirit to come and heal someone, whether or not you have taken a class; Jesus says multiple times in the New Testament that we would be able to do everything he had done, and the center of his ministry was healing.  

The difference between what we do in my class and what most people do, which is just praying for people to get better, may seem small, but it clearly makes all the difference in the world; instead of praying in general that God will heal someone, what we do is pray for the Holy Spirit to come RIGHT NOW and heal the person we are currently laying hands on.  This may sound far-out to some of you, but we serve a far-out God; it WORKS. 

Before I started doing this myself, I saw some impressive healings take place, and I don’t just mean situations where people had pain and might have psyched themselves out of the pain, but the medically-verified restoration of sight and hearing as well.  And now, I myself have been able to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and see people that I was praying for receive healing.

Here’s the really freaky part; remember how I reported a spiritual attack a few weeks ago, and God showed me how to eject an afflicting spirit in the name of Jesus?  There was an even better reason for that than I realized at the time;  each of the people I have prayed for so far has also had an afflicting spirit (this can be identified by the pain moving within the body and/or getting WORSE when it is prayed for, and is often the problem when the Holy Spirit is clearly present but the pain is not getting better as well). No one was more surprised than me, believe me.  What I’ve personally witnessed, both with myself and with them, is that the afflicting spirits DO leave when they are ordered to in Jesus’ name, and whatever suffering they were causing goes with them.

To many of you, especially those who attend conservative churches, I’m well aware that this will sound vaguely insane; if I had not personally experienced these things, and had read about them on a blog, I would’ve rolled my eyes and shaken my head, I freely admit it.  These sorts of miracles can seem like something from Biblical times only, but nowhere in the scripture does it say that the miracles were ever going to end, and in fact the miracles have NOT ended, it’s just that we have ceased to expect them, and God meets us at the level of our expectation. 

I know that discussing this sort of thing might drive some people off, but when God asked me to start this blog over half a decade ago, it was with the intention that I would give readers a clear and accurate picture of my spiritual experiences, so that people who were looking for information about God would know what was out there, so that people who have experienced similar things would know that they were not alone, and so that people who were yearning for more would see that the more was there waiting for them.  I’m not just preaching to the converted here; I’m pushing out of my comfort zone, and doing my best to push YOU out of YOUR comfort zone, so that we can all see that there is more to believing in God than sitting in church for an hour every Sunday, saying a few prayers, reading a few scriptures, and feeling like we’ve got all the bases covered. Jesus did not sit around just doing those things, he was a man of ACTION, and as Christians we need to be people of action as well.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that you give up church, although if your total church experience is actually just that one hour per week, I respectfully suggest that you find a more impassioned church with prayer meetings and such, a church that will keep you involved with God throughout the week, not just on Sundays.  If there is a church in your area that is healing people, check it out. If not, there is nothing stopping you from pursuing it on your own. I’m not trying to put money in anyone’s pocket, so I won’t recommend any specific resources, but if you do a search on Google, you can easily discover the names of the people who are best known in the Christian world for healing, and if you go on YouTube there are many videos of these people talking about healing and even performing healings so you can see how it works.  These people have also written books, which you can find on Amazon, and possibly in your local bookstore as well.  If anyone is seriously interested in this, and seriously stuck for how to get started, leave me a comment saying so and I’ll give you some more concrete information; I’m not trying to make it hard for you, I’m just trying to avoid the appearance of promoting any specific people, products, or methods. 

It is utterly astounding how much my life has improved in the past half-year; the most astounding part is, my life continues to increase and expand, rather than plateauing like you’d expect it to have done by now.  This healing thing, and my official entrance into ministry that it represents, will be the biggest thing EVER… but I guarantee you, God is not done yet. It was prophesied over me that I would have restoration × 7 this year, and as mind-blowing as my current life is, by the end of the year what I have right now will look like a foundation, not the high point that it currently is. Stay tuned!!

Spiritual attack

(No new sermon this week)

In the very early AM of 6-25, as you might’ve guessed from the title of this post, I experienced a spiritual attack. It sounds so bizarre to say that; I’d certainly heard people talking about it, both in my church and on a Christian forum, but any descriptions I had ever heard always sounded like someone just having the sort of bad time that everybody has periodically in their lives, and dramatizing it by calling a spiritual attack, not like something that could actually happen because there were actually spirits or demons of some sort that exist and act on humans.

Yes, the Bible talks about Jesus casting spirits and demons out of people, which is excellent evidence for them being real, but it’s one of those things that modern churches pretty much ignore, which I think leads to most people, myself certainly included, believing that this was something that was real in Biblical times but no longer exists. The thing is, most people and churches believe exactly that about speaking in tongues, and I discovered that that was a real thing when I suddenly started doing it myself at a prayer meeting, so I SHOULD have at least started giving some credence to the idea of spiritual attacks, on the grounds that if one thing clearly described in the Bible but denied by modern churches was real, so might another such thing… but I didn’t.

You know that saying about how the best trick the devil ever pulled was to convince us that he doesn’t exist? You can’t fight against something, or more to the point you DON’T fight against something, if you don’t believe it exists. I think the same thing may go for these spirits. Certainly, if I had believed that they existed, they couldn’t have gotten to me as badly as they did… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what happened:

I was slogging through some homework, and negative thoughts started creeping in. They started out small, stuff like who in my church might not like me, or might not have faith in my ability to do things, and then how this might lead to my not being ALLOWED to do things, realizations that there are things going on in the church that I’m not privy to or included in, which is 100% appropriate since there are people that have been there for many years and I’ve only been there for 6 months, certainly, but it was tying into my previous understanding that, unlike in some churches where they’re begging for volunteers to do things, my church has an embarrassment of riches in that area, meaning that there were no openings for a new person to step into, and if anything new did come up the pastors would naturally default to the people they had already worked with for years… you see, how it started with what one might call unfortunate facts, in other words facts that were not to my benefit, that would tend to work against my accomplishing anything within this church, and then started connecting the dots and building from there? And boy howdy, did it BUILD; 3 hours later, 3 hours of nonstop, relentless expansion, my mind was full of thoughts about how one of the pastors hated me, and would prevent me from ever doing anything, and so I needed to leave the church and find one where I could participate n ministry!! I kid you not. It sounds crazy, but I think everyone has experienced times when your mind focuses on some trivial things for long enough that they build up into catastrophes. I would have assumed, once my head cleared, that that was all this was, BUT:

Something somehow in the back of my mind understood that there was more to it than just that. I found myself saying, for the first time ever when thoughts or circumstances had upset me, “Father, whatever this is, please take it from me!!” I paused, to see what was going to happen, and something totally unexpected did; from out of my mouth, with no premeditation whatsoever on my part, came the following:

“Spirit of oppression, in Jesus’ name, I CAST YOU OUT!!”

INSTANTLY, I felt that heavy mass of misery drop off of me; not just vanish, but it felt like it dropped DOWN and off of me.

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

I know it sounds crazy, believe me I do, but those are the simple facts. It wasn’t until AFTER this happened that I belatedly realized that I must have been undergoing a spiritual attack, literally not until AFTER I drove the spirit out. Where did I get that line from, how did I know what to say? All I can conclude is that when I asked God for help, He gave it to me; He put the “magic line” into my mind and prompted me to use it. He could have removed the spirit Himself, obviously, but if He had, I would not have understood what had happened to me, and more to the point, I would not have understood that I could handle it myself, much less HOW to handle it. As always, God did the best possible thing; He taught me how to take care of myself.

Later that day, I described what I had experienced to the most spiritually mature person in my church; she immediately identified it as a spiritual attack.

The pastor that the spirit had been trying to convince me hated me, who I saw that evening, was unusually friendly, and even threw out, apropos of nothing, an extravagant group compliment to me and 2 other women, and we were just standing around talking, and hadn’t done anything praiseworthy that day. I’m guessing that God prompted this odd display in order to demonstrate that what the spirit had said to me was a lie… which agrees with what the spiritually mature person I had spoken to said, that everything that any such spirit would say to me would always be a lie, that revelations of the truth would only come from God.

And a final interesting tidbit: All of this happened BEFORE I reached the point in my reading where, it turns out, afflicting spirits are discussed. It’s as if the spirits realized that I was just about to learn about them, and wanted to be sure they got at me while I was still at my most vulnerable. Well, they got me alright, but as I always say, evil is at its base stupid; their best strategy would’ve been to NOT push me to the point where I turned to God for help, which would have allowed them to potentially plague me a bunch more times, because it could’ve taken a while for me to make the connection between what I had read and what I was experiencing. Instead, they overplayed their hand, and now, although they will very likely TRY to do this to me again, they will not succeed a second time.

If various people in my church are to be believed, there are many other kinds of spiritual attacks that could occur; time will tell. Whatever it might be, this time I’ll be ready for them.

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.

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