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Secret frustrations

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we can be blessed in many areas, good health, good family, a good job, but then just have one thing that’s not right, one temptation we can’t seem to overcome, one thing in a relationship that’s not fulfilling, or maybe one nagging health issue; nobody can see it, on the outside we seem fine, but on the inside we’re frustrated. life is full of contradictions: you’re helping other people get well, but you don’t feel that well. your coworkers are all being promoted, you’re working just as hard, producing just as much, but nobody notices you. if we’re honest, we all have these secret frustrations, things that we know God could change; we know He could open the door, He could remove the temptation, He could give us the baby we’ve been dreaming about, but it’s not happening. we have to realize; God is a sovereign God. we’re not going to understand why everything happens. there are some things that God doesn’t remove, some situations that He waits a long time to change. you have to trust that He knows what’s best for you; everything that’s not changing, what He’s not removing, if you’ll keep the right attitude, it won’t work against you, it will work for you. don’t let the contradictions of life cause you to be sour, give up on your dreams.

the apostle Paul wrote over half of the New Testament. he came from an influential family, was highly educated; God used him in incredible ways. but as effective as Paul was, he had this secret frustration; he called it a thorn in his flesh:

2 Corinthians 12:7 (NIV)
7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

scholars have debated for years whether that was a physical condition, some kind of illness, or whether it was emotional, the people coming against him, the persecution. whatever this thorn was, whatever was bothering Paul, he asked God 3 times to remove it:

“Still Paul believes that God sent this unwelcome messenger, so he pleads with God three times to remove it. Why just three times? Why doesn’t he bombard heaven daily with his pleas? Well, it may be because he knows Jesus prayed three times in the garden for the cup of suffering to be removed. Ultimately Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father, and Paul does too: “Grace is enough, Paul. Grace is enough.””

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+12&version=VOICE

one version says:

2 Corinthians 12:8 (NASB)
8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.

that means he gave it his best argument; “God, You know I’m being my best, serving You, writing all these books; the least You could do is heal me.” if anybody had pull with God, it would’ve been Paul, but what’s interesting is, God didn’t remove the thorn. He said:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

is there something you’ve been imploring God to change: a situation in your health, finances, a relationship? you’ve asked again and again, and nothing’s improving? I’m not saying to give up and settle there; what I’m saying is, until God removes it, don’t let it steal your joy. don’t let it sour your life. you have the grace to be there; the right attitude is, “I’m not going to let this secret frustration, this thorn in my flesh, so to speak, frustrate me anymore. God, I believe Your grace is sufficient. I know that at the right time You’ll change it, but even if You don’t change it, I’m still going to be my best and honor You.” you have to make up your mind that if your spouse never changes, if your health never improves, if you have to put up with that grouchy boss the rest of your life, you are not going to complain, you’re not going to use it as an excuse to slack off, you’re going to tap into this grace; it is sufficient for you.

don’t stay focused on the frustration. if Paul would’ve gone around thinking, “God, why won’t You remove this thorn? why won’t You change my child, help my business grow?” if he would’ve stay focused on the why’s of life, he would’ve never fulfilled his destiny. faith is trusting God when life doesn’t make sense. if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you can’t be a weakling, you have to be a warrior. there will be things you don’t understand, things that don’t make sense, but God knows what He’s doing; His ways are better than our ways. He is the potter, we are the clay. when it’s time for it to be removed, He will remove it; until then, did your heels in and fight the good fight of faith. you have the grace you need for every situation.

when Jesus healed the man that had been crippled for 38 years there by the pool of Bethesda:

John 5:6-9 (NKJV)
6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”
7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”
8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

I believe it was significant that he asked him to take his bed with him; he didn’t need it anymore, but God was saying, “this thing that’s held you back, this thing that’s kept you from being your best for so many years, I want you to take it with you as a reminder of what I’ve done in your life.” even though he could walk, even though he didn’t need the bed, it remained a part of his life. it was a contradiction; “I’m healed, I’m healthy, I can walk, but I’ve still got my bed.” I can imagine him going to help someone else that was struggling, they look at him and say, “how can you help me, you’ve still got the bed? you’re still carrying around that thing that held you back.” he said, “no, it’s not what you think, it’s not a limitation to slow me down, it’s a testimony of what God has done in my life. this bed may look like a liability, but really it’s an asset; every time I see it, it reminds me to give God praise. it reminds me where He brought me from. it reminds me that if He did it for me once, He can do it for me again.”

even though God frees you from certain things, you may still have your bed. you may still be tempted in that same area; the weakness, limitation may not totally go away. one reason God doesn’t remove the bed is not to slow you down, give you an excuse to go back, but rather to remind you of where you came from. that bed is not there to discourage you, but to inspire you. my weaknesses don’t intimidate me; they remind me of my dependency on God. another reason God doesn’t totally remove the bed is because, if you think you can do it all on your own, you’ve got it all figured out, you don’t need His help, before long you’ll be right back to where you were, but if you’ll see the weakness, the temptation, as a reminder to ask God for His help, to show your dependency on Him, then you will continue to rise higher, in spite of what comes against you.

in the Old Testament, God told Moses:

Exodus 3:10 (NIV)
10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Exodus 4:1-7 (NIV)
4 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
6 Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.
7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

God was showing him these signs so he would go in with confidence, knowing that Pharaoh would listen to him. but Moses had another concern:

Exodus 4:10 (VOICE)
Moses: 10 Please, Lord, I am not a talented speaker. I have never been good with words. I wasn’t when I was younger and I haven’t gotten any better since You revealed Yourself to me. I stutter and stammer. My words get all twisted.

you would think that since God just showed him these great, miraculous signs, God would simply touch his tongue, make it normal, take away the stuttering. but God didn’t do that; He didn’t remove the problem. He was saying to Moses what He said to Paul; “My power shows up best in weakness. and Moses, if I needed to remove that stuttering so that you could fulfill your destiny, I would’ve removed it.” are you waiting for God to remove something before you can be happy, before you can pursue a dream, before you can finish school? no, if God hasn’t removed it, it’s not an accident. you don’t have to put your life on hold because you have a secret frustration; you have everything you need to fulfill your destiny. scripture talks about:

2 Corinthians 4:7 (KJV)
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

all of us have imperfections in our clay vessels. in other words, there’s probably at least one thing that God is not removing that we could easily be irritated by, live frustrated; “if I didn’t have this back pain, have to struggle with his weight issue, didn’t have this coworker that gets on my nerves, this legal problem.” or how about, “if I hadn’t gone through a bad childhood, the divorce, the hurt, the pain.” whatever your thorn is, God is saying us what He said to Paul; “My grace is sufficient.” quit fighting it, quit letting it steal your joy; when it’s time to be removed, God will remove it. until then, tap into this grace; “God my life is in Your hands. You know what I want, You know my dreams, You know what’s bothering me. I may not understand it, it may not make sense, but God, I trust You.”

if God is not removing it, it’s not an accident; there is a reason. Paul thought that the thorn in his flesh was to keep him from being puffed up, too proud, maybe that was true, only God knows, but that secret frustration may just be a time of testing, where you have to prove to God that you’re going to be content and do your best even though it’s not going your way, you’re going to keep giving even though you’re not receiving, you’re going to keep honoring Him even though you’re not seeing things change. God could be using that to grow you up and develop your character. some things we can only learn through experience; we can’t learn through reading a book, listening to a message. the scripture says:

1 Peter 1:7 (TLB)
7 These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests gold and purifies it—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold; so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of his return.

that’s where our spiritual muscles are developed. you can’t get stronger if you’re not put under any pressure; you have to work out, exercise your faith. it may not be comfortable, you may not like it, but if you’ll stick with it, it’s not working against you, it’s working for you; you’re growing, you’re coming up higher, you’re getting prepared for new levels. see, you can’t be promoted without preparation. God won’t give you a 100 pound blessing if He knows you can only lift 50 pounds; if He gave you the 100 pounds, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden. it wouldn’t help you, it would hurt you. He’s got to get you prepared. your gifts can take you to a certain level, but if you don’t have the character to match, you won’t stay there very long. character is developed in the tough times, when we’re not getting our way, but we keep doing the right thing.

like Paul, we’ve asked God a lot more than three times to remove it; “God, get this person out of my life that gets on my nerves. God, give me that child. God, change my spouse.” no, while God is changing it, until He removes it, if you will stay in faith, not get bitter, not give up on your dreams, here’s the beauty; even if the situation doesn’t change, you will change. God is growing you up, getting you prepared for new levels of your destiny. your character is more important than your talent; you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have strong character you’re not going to go very far. we can all trust God in the good times, that’s easy; I’m asking you, can you trust Him with the secret frustrations, the things that are not changing? you prayed and believed, but He’s not removing it; the question is not only, “can you trust God?” but more importantly, can God trust you?

will you pass the test, stay in faith even when you don’t understand it? if you’re not faithful in the wilderness, how can God trust you to be faithful in the promised land? maybe you’re doing the right thing, but not seeing any growth, not being promoted; it’s frustrating. it may not look like anything is happening on the outside, but if you’ll keep being your best, something is happening on the inside; God is changing you, growing you up, getting you prepared. keep doing the right thing. keep being good to other people. keep having that spirit of excellence. too many people let these secret frustrations cause them to get bitter, give up on their dreams, lose their passion; recognize that it’s a test. if you will stay in faith, God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

in Genesis 29, there’s the story of two sisters, Rachel and Leah. when a young man named Jacob saw Rachel, he fell head over heels for her; it was love at first sight:

Genesis 29:17 (NIV)
1 … Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful

Genesis 29:18-20 (ERV)
18 Jacob loved Rachel, so he said to Laban, “I will work seven years for you if you will allow me to marry your daughter Rachel.”
19 Laban said, “It would be better for her to marry you than someone else. So stay with me.”
20 So Jacob stayed and worked for Laban for seven years. But it seemed like a very short time because he loved Rachel very much.

but Laban tricked Jacob. at the wedding, in those days, they wore very thick veils; you couldn’t tell who was in there. of course he thought it was Rachel, but:

Genesis 29:23 (NIV)
23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her.
Genesis 29:17 (AMP)
17 Leah’s eyes were weak and dull looking

“Leah, whose name signifies languor, weariness, had dull bleared eyes. Probably she suffered, as so many do in that hot sandy region, from some form of ophthalmia… Leah’s bleared eyes would be regarded in the East as a great defect, just as bright eyes were much admired… Yet it was not Rachel, with her fair face and well-proportioned figure, and her husband’s lasting love, that was the mother of the progenitor [Judah] of the Messiah, but the weary-eyed Leah.“

http://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/29-17.htm

when Jacob woke up the next morning:

Genesis 29:25-28 (NIV)
25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”
28 And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife.

I’m sure that when people saw Rachel around town, so beautiful, so friendly, they thought, “that’s one blessed woman; she’s so stunning, she has a husband that adores her, she comes from a good family.” but what they couldn’t see was, Rachel had a secret frustration; her dream was to have a baby, but she was barren, she couldn’t conceive, year after year, no baby. I can hear her every night, “God, please give me a child, please remove this barrenness. God, I want a baby.” on the other hand, her sister Leah gave Jacob one son after another, four boys; life was good for Leah, she was seeing a dream come to pass, a healthy family, but Leah too had a secret frustration. the scripture says:

Genesis 29:30 (ESV)
30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah

I can hear Leah every night, “God, why won’t my husband love me more?” the point is, everyone is dealing with something. whether you’re a Rachel, blessed in this area, or a Leah, blessed in this area, there will be things that can frustrate you, things that you don’t understand, things that God is not removing. you have to make up your mind that you are not going to let it sour your life. do what you can; trust God to do what you can’t. the right attitude; “if this never changes, if I never have a child, I’m still going to be happy. if my marriage never improves, I’m still not going to be sour. if I see somebody that’s more talented, more beautiful, has more, I’m not going to be envious, jealous. I’m at peace with who I am.” when you stay in peace, not trying to figure out why they could have the baby, why she’s more beautiful, why her husband loves her more, no, let that go. you’re never going to understand it. if you’ll live in peace, God will remove what needs to be removed; He will change what needs to be changed.

this is what happened with Rachel; years later, God removed the barrenness, and she had a son named Joseph. that secret frustration was taken away. whatever secret frustration you’re facing, you have to make this decision that even if it never changes, you’re going to keep believing; we are going to die in faith.

this is what three teenagers did in the scripture:

Daniel 3:4-18 (NIV)
4 …you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up… 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—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.” 13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego… if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

that’s the key. believe for your dreams, for God to turn the situation around, then take it one step further; “even if it doesn’t happen my way, even if I don’t get delivered, God, I’m still going to be happy. God, if you turn it around, I’m going to give You praise, and if you don’t turn it around I’m still going to give You praise.” you live like that, and all the forces of darkness cannot stop you. don’t let these secret frustrations keep you from your destiny. have a new perspective; you have the grace you need for every situation. if God is not removing it, there’s a reason. don’t try to figure it out; trust Him. if you do this, God is going to change what needs to be changed, remove what needs to be removed. you’re going to rise higher, overcome obstacles, and become everything God to created you to be.

A joyful meme

This has always been one of my favorite verses:

Psalm 30:11-12 (NRSV)
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
    you have taken off my sackcloth
    and clothed me with joy

And also this similar, if less poetic, verse:

Jeremiah 31:13 (NLT)
13 b I will turn their mourning into joy.
    I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

I’ve been inspired by the explosive blessings that God has given me starting New Year’s Eve, after 4 years of catastrophic losses, to create the following meme:

 

Dancing meme

 

I printed it out and taped it up inside my bedroom door, so I’ll see it before I get started with every day, both to remind me to express my gratitude for the extraordinary church life God has given me to replace the emptiness the losses had left me with, and to prepare me for the restoration x7 that was prophesied over me the 1st time I went to church, for which the church activities are just the 1st installment.

You can feel free to use the image;  if you post it anywhere online, please include a link back to my blog.  Enjoy!!  :)

Edit (2 hours later):  I finally listened to JO’s sermon for this week, and for what I’d swear is the first time EVER, he tossed out the phrase that God would “turn your mourning into dancing”!!!!!!!!  I almost didn’t listen right now, because the timing was inconvenient, but something made me do it.  I’d intended to post the meme several previous times since I created it 12 days ago, but something stopped me.  The TIMING!!!!  I don’t suppose it means that God likes memes;  it’s another sign that my restoration x7 is upon me!!

No more excuses

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to come up with a reason why we can’t accomplish a dream, why we can’t be happy, why we can’t overcome a problem; excuses are a dime a dozen. we think, “I’ve got an excuse to be sour: traffic was bad, my boss was rude, a coworker left me out. I’ve got an excuse to be offended, these people hurt me: they didn’t keep their word, they betrayed me.” or, “I’ve got an excuse to settle where I am: I had a bad childhood, lost a loved one, went through a breakup.” as long as you’re making excuses, you will justify staying where you are. excuses give us permission to settle for less than God’s best. you can find an excuse about anything. it’s easy to find an excuse: “I can’t lose this weight, my metabolism is too slow.” “I can’t break this addiction, everybody in my family has it, it’s in my genes, it’s been passed down to me.” yes, it may be in your genes, you can turn off those genes; you have the power to overcome it.

but the only way it’s going to happen is if you get rid of the excuses. as long as you’re blaming the past, blaming a neighbor, blaming the traffic, the weather, then you’re going to get stuck. I’m asking you to throw out the excuses. it may be a valid excuse: it wasn’t fair, you went through a disappointment, a sickness, a betrayal, but you have to draw the line in the sand, and say, “I refuse to live my life with a chip on my shoulder, angry, upset, with no passion.” if you’ll get rid of the excuses, God will be your vindicator; God will pay you back for the unfair things. this is your year to step up to a new level, to see God’s favor in a new way. now have this attitude; “no more excuses. no excuses to be unhappy. this day is a gift from God; I’m going to enjoy it in spite of what’s going on. no excuses to settle for mediocrity, give up on my dreams; I’m pursuing my goals, overcoming obstacles, breaking these bad habits.” or how about, “no excuses to go around feeling inferior; I know who I am, a child of the most high God.”

“I don’t think I could accomplish my goals; I’m not that talented, I don’t really have the connections. I didn’t get with my friends got; they have the looks, personality, good breaks.”  if you didn’t get it, then you don’t need it. you have exactly what you need. if you needed what they have, God would’ve given it to you. quit comparing yourself and start running your own race. you are anointed to be you; nobody can beat you at being you. you are fully loaded, totally equipped, uniquely designed for the race that’s been laid out for you. get rid of those excuses: “I’m too tall, too short, too old, wrong nationality.” you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. step up to who you were created to be. any time God is about to take you to a new level, there will be excuses you have to first get rid of. before you see promotion, have to get rid of that excuse; “I’m not qualified, I’m not that talented, I can’t do that.” before you break the addiction, get rid of the excuse, “I’ve had it too long, I’m not disciplined enough.” before you meet the person of your dreams, you have to get rid of the excuse, “I’m not that attractive, I don’t have a good personality.”

God wants to do something new in your life. He wants to take you to a new level of your destiny; are you allowing excuses to hold you back? when I said, “I’m limited, I’m not up to par, I can’t learn anything new,” my wife said, “you can do anything you put your mind to.” sometimes, you need someone to speak the truth in love to you. maybe you’re coasting like I was, thinking that you can’t step up, you’ve reached your limits; no, you have gifts and talents on the inside that you’ve not tapped into. I’m telling you, no ifs, ands or buts, it’s time to lose the excuse bag, step up to a new level, start learning something new. start training for that next program, start taking on more responsibility, or how about start writing that book, those songs, start developing that business plan. you have potential lying dormant on the inside right now; it’s seeds of greatness. the enemy would love to use excuses to keep it from ever coming out; you’ve got to stir up what God put on the inside.

quit telling yourself what you can’t do, how you don’t have the discipline, the training, the education; you have everything you need. you are well able; God has already put it in you. you’ve heard that saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but I’ve learned, it depends on what kind of dog you have. if your dog thinks, “I’m limited, I’m lacking, I can’t learn anything new,” then that dog will get stuck. but if you have a dog that says, “I am well able, equipped, empowered, nothing’s too hard for me,” that dog will learn new tricks. make sure you’re the right kind of dog. are you stuck doing something the old-fashioned way, because you think you don’t have the talent, the know-how, the ability to step into the new? quit discounting yourself; you have what you need to live in this generation. quit shrinking back; don’t let those excuses convince you that you’re lacking, too old, too young, not up to speed, not up to par. God put in you what you need for this day; this is your time to shine.

get rid of those limiting excuses, and stay open for new ideas, new ways to do things. when we keep making excuses, they become a crutch; that way, we can justify why we’re not where we’re supposed to be. “they hurt me, they did me wrong, now I have to use this self-pity crutch to hobble along. I’ve got a reason to be this way.” or, “my friend’s more talented, they got the looks, the personality, so I’ve got to use this inferiority crutch, this not up to par crutch.” or, “I made some mistakes in life, didn’t raise my kids right, blew my relationship, that’s why I’m using this regret crutch, this not up to par crutch.” every time you make an excuse, it’s slowing you down, causing you to hobble.

the tragedy is, some people spend their whole life on crutches;  don’t let that be you. if you’ll get rid of the excuses, believe that you have what it takes, trust God to make your wrongs right, then instead of hobbling, barely getting by, you’ll keep stepping into new levels of your destiny. when you don’t let self-pity become a crutch, you don’t sit around thinking about what you didn’t get, how you don’t measure up, you’ll beat the odds. God will get you to where you’re supposed to be. we’ve all had bad breaks, things we don’t understand; if that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. don’t let it become a crutch. don’t use it as an excuse to settle where you are; stir up what God’s put the inside. you will go places that you never dreamed.

in the scripture:

John 9:1-3 (NIV)
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

they wanted somebody to blame, an excuse, a reason. Jesus said:

John 9:3-7 (NIV)
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him… 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

when you have a bad break, a disadvantage, don’t get stuck looking for someone or something to blame. you’re not always going to understand why things happen in life, but if you’ll stay in faith, it won’t work against you, it will work for you; God will use it to show out in your life. like these people, it’s easy to want to blame the parents; “it’s their fault, that’s why he’s blind.” blame the man, blame the neighbor, blame a friend; all that’s going to do is give you a reason to feel sorry for yourself. before long, you’ll have that crutch. but nothing that’s happened to you is a surprise to God; you have to take the hand you’ve been dealt and make the most of it. it may not have been fair, but God is fair. He is a God of justice. He sees every wrong that’s been done to you, every hurt, every disadvantage. if you won’t let it become an excuse to get bitter, to have a chip on your shoulder, then God said He’ll take that wrong, turn it around and use it to your advantage. He will pay you back for the unfair things.

people can’t stop your destiny; what they said about you, what they did to you, how they tried to make you feel, doesn’t have to affect you. the only power that has over you is the power that you give it. if you sit around nursing your wounds, thinking about the wrong, about how bad it was, that’s going to become a crutch that will hold you back. but if you’ll let it go, God will fight your battles. God will be your vindicator. we see this principle in the life of Joseph. he went through one unfair situation after another. his brothers betrayed him, sold him into slavery. he could’ve become bitter, thought, “I’ve got a good excuse to live my life angry.” he was lied about, falsely accused, and put in prison; another excuse to have a chip on his shoulder. he spent years in prison for something that he didn’t do. he could’ve come up with excuse after excuse to settle where he was. but Joseph knew that those excuses would become crutches that would keep him from his destiny. he had this no-excuse mentality. he kept shaking off the disappointments, overlooking the offenses, doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. in the end, he came out vindicated, promoted, in a place of honor, prestige, influence.

you may have had some bad breaks, things you don’t understand, but don’t get stuck looking back, reliving the negative; that is a distraction. if you’ll do like Joseph, and keep moving forward, taking the high road, doing the right thing, God will get you to where you supposed to be. no bad break can stop you, no disadvantage, no injustice; God has the final say. “they hurt me, they did me wrong”; I say this respectfully, everybody’s been hurt, you have to get over it. “they left me out”; everybody’s been left out. “they lied about me”; everybody’s been lied about. it’s not worth missing your destiny over. I’m not saying that what they did was ok; what I’m saying is, it doesn’t have to control the rest of your life.

it would be easy to live with a chip on your shoulder, thinking about how wrong it is; before long, you’ll have that crutch that will cause you to hobble when God created you to run. you’ve got to draw the line in the sand, and say, “that’s it, no more excuses. I can’t do anything about the past, but I can do something about right now; I am going to live my life in faith, trusting God to make it up to me.” this day is a gift; once we live it, we can never get it back. life is too short to waste another day angry, offended, in self-pity. like Joseph, you may have had a rough start, but you don’t have to have a rough finish. God wants to pay you back. He wants to give you beauty for the ashes:

Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)
3 … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair

double for the injustice:

Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)
12 … today I declare that I will restore to you double.

I realize it’s not always easy to get over it, it’s not necessarily easy to move forward, but here’s the key; the pain of letting it go is less than the pain of holding on and missing your destiny. in the scripture, it tells us:

Ephesians 5:1 (VOICE)
(We come to God as sinners; but He wants to transform our habits, attitudes, and practices into the ways of Jesus: to live, forgive, and love as He did.)
5 So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

his life should be our example. if we’re going to be like Jesus, that means we’re going to have people come against us, trying to make us look bad. it means we’re going to be misunderstood and criticized, and we’re going to have a garden of Gethsemane, times we feel alone and abandoned. and yes, we may even have a Judas, people that betray us, turn their back and walk away. it’s interesting, when Judas came to betray Jesus:

Matthew 26:47-50 (CEV)
47 Jesus was still speaking, when Judas the betrayer came up. He was one of the twelve disciples, and a large mob armed with swords and clubs was with him. They had been sent by the chief priests and the nation’s leaders. 48 Judas had told them ahead of time, “Arrest the man I greet with a kiss.”
49 Judas walked right up to Jesus and said, “Hello, teacher.” Then Judas kissed him.
50 Jesus replied, “My friend, why are you here?”

Jesus knew he was going to betray him, but he still called him “friend.” his attitude was, “I’ve already gotten over what you’re about to do. your poor choice is not going to steal my joy nor stop my destiny; my Father has the final say. it may get a little rough, but I know in the end I’m going to come out wearing that victor’s crown.” if we will do like Jesus, not get bitter when unfair things happen, and trust our Father to make it up to us, at some point we too will be wearing the victor’s crown. like Joseph, you’ll come out vindicated, promoted, in a place of honor and influence.

John 5:2-5 (AMP)
2 Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways).
3 In these lay a great number of sick folk—some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)—waiting for the bubbling up of the water.
4 For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted.
5 There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years.

what is a lingering disorder? it’s not just physical. but when we stay focused on negative things in the past, we keep making excuses and not moving forward, those lingering disorders can keep us from our destiny.

John 5:6 (AMP)
6 When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?]

by the way this man responded, it shows us why he had been that way so long:

John 5:7 (ERV)
7 The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the water when it starts moving. I try to be the first one into the water. But when I try, someone else always goes in before I can.”

“I’m at a disadvantage, I’m all alone. you see my legs; when the angel comes, everybody gets in front of me.” he had used that excuse for so long, it had become a crutch. Jesus didn’t reply to the man’s sad story, he took action:

John 5:8 (NIV)
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

he spoke faith over the man, and for the first time, when that man heard that, something came alive on the inside; he thought, “you mean, I don’t have to keep making excuses, I don’t have to just sit here and wait for something to change, I can make something happen?”

John 5:9 (NIV)
9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

I wonder how many things we would get out of, defeat, depression, bad habits, if we would just quit feeling sorry for ourselves, quit making excuses, and start moving forward. God is asking us today what he asked this man; “are you serious about getting well? are you serious about overcoming that addiction, about finishing school, about moving past that disappointment? then there’s something you have to do; get up on the inside, in your attitude, in your thoughts, in your countenance (face), in how you talk.” in other words, shake off the self-pity, quit reliving the negative. you’re waiting on God, but God is waiting on you; if you will get up, take up your bed, so to speak, and start moving forward, that’s when you’ll see things begin to change in your favor. God said:

Isaiah 42:9-10 (AMP)
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare… 10 Sing to the Lord a new song

God is saying, “the things you’ve been struggling with are coming to an end: the discouragement, the loneliness, the bad breaks, the depression.” God is about to put a stop to it; He’s going to do a new thing. but there is one requirement; the last part of this verse is the whole key. if you want to see the negative end, and God do a new thing, then you have to sing a new song. you can’t keep singing that old song of, “who hurt me, I’ve been by this pool for 38 years, I’m never going to get well,” no, throw out that song of self-pity, get rid of that song of defeat, erase that song of “it’s never going to work out,” and start singing a song of victory; “I may have had some bad breaks, but I know this is my due season year; things are changing in my favor. I am armed with strength for this battle. I will overcome this illness, break this bad habit, finish school, live healthy, whole, victorious.” if you want to see the new, you’ve got to start singing the new song. in other words, no more sad songs, no more talking about who hurt you, what didn’t work out; God knows everything you’ve been through, you don’t have to constantly remind Him. if you’ll lose the sad song, and start singing a new song, God will turn your mourning into dancing:

Psalm 30:11 (NRSV)
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;  you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy

He’ll take the setback and use it as a setUP to take you somewhere greater. but I wonder how many of us today, like this man, have these lingering disorders; we went through a hurt, a disappointment, and instead of letting it go, moving forward, trusting God, we started making excuses; now, it’s gone on year after year. the good news is, if you’ll get rid of the excuses, it’s just a matter of time before those lingering disorders will leave; that’s when God will show up and begin to turn things around. is there something you need to get over today? a childhood that wasn’t so great, a friend that betrayed you, a business that didn’t make it, now you’re using it as a crutch to stay where you are? why don’t you make this decision with me; no more excuses. you can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about your future. because you have this new song, the things that have held you back are coming to an end. God is doing a new thing. you’re going to see beauty for those ashes. you’re going to overcome the illness, see new relationships, new opportunities, a new level of your destiny.

An important point about Jesus is made here:

Matthew 14:12-13 (NIV)
12 John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.

The Bible moves past this so fast that it’s easy to miss it.  John is someone who meant a great deal to Jesus. He respected and admired John:

Luke 7:28 (NIV)
28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John

John was the prophet who announced his arrival:

Matthew 3:11 (NIV)
11 … after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John is the one who baptized him:

Matthew 3:13-15 (NIV)
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

and let’s not forget, John was a relative, although we don’t know precisely what kind, because scripture is unclear as to what the exact relationship was between John’s mother Elizabeth and Jesus’ mother Mary:

Luke 1:35-36 (NIV)
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.

When Jesus hears about John’s death, he immediately withdraws to be alone; in other words, he is GRIEVING over the death of a man who he respected and loved, and wanted to be alone with his feelings rather than experiencing them in a group of strangers. He was HUMAN, after all, and reacted in a perfectly natural human way. But look at what happens next:

Matthew 14:13 (NIV)
13 … Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.

You really have to feel some sympathy for Jesus here. He’s in pain, but he can’t get away from these people who want things from him. Imagine if it was YOU in this situation, what would you probably do? I think most people would say something like, “What is the matter with you people?!! I just found out that one of my relatives is DEAD; do you think you could give me ONE MINUTE by myself to process this loss?!!” Jesus, as you might expect, handled things very differently:

Matthew 14:14 (NIV)
14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

No matter what his personal circumstances were, Jesus felt COMPASSION… and since God wants us to be as much like Jesus as possible, this is clearly what He wants us to do, how He wants us to treat people when we are in pain. No matter what we’re going through, He wants us to still be good to other people, to still put their needs ahead of our own. This often will not be easy, but it is undeniably right.

As food for thought, consider the next verse:

Matthew 14:15-17 (NIV)
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late…

We don’t know what Jesus was doing at that point; it doesn’t seem like he would need HOURS to heal people, so probably he was teaching… but remember, he has not had one moment to himself since learning of John’s death. Why did he spend so much time with the people that day? Was he comforted by their presence, or was he perhaps distracting himself from his grief by keeping busy? And then he makes another interesting choice:

Matthew 14:15-17 (NIV)
15 … Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

That’s right; while in the midst of his grief over John’s death, he does the loaves and fishes miracle. The Bible only records TWO times when he did this; if we assume that these were in fact the only times he did it, why did he pick THAT DAY to be one of those 2 times? He did not bring John back from the dead, although he had the power to do so; this is presumably because John’s death served a purpose, such as making sure that there was not still a great prophet available after Jesus’ crucifixion for people to latch onto. Maybe doing a different miracle helped Jesus to feel better about not saving John?

That’s all pure speculation. What we CAN be sure of is that, after all the things he did that day, Jesus did still need, at the end, to spend some time alone:

Matthew 14:23 (NIV)
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

So, he DID do what he needed to do to cope with John’s death, just AFTER he had taken care of everybody else. And THEN:

Matthew 14:25 (NIV)
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake

That’s right, ANOTHER miracle!! Maybe it’s a coincidence that Jesus did TWO big miracles that day… but I don’t think so. You know how some women, if hit with a big upset, will spend 8 hours cleaning their house from top to bottom? Maybe I’m crazy, but this kind of feels like that to me.

Whether that’s the real explanation or not, the big lesson is that, while Jesus was in real pain, he did a great deal of good for people who were being, let’s face it, insensitive and rude. If you’re like me, you often wish that the good and kind people of the world were given more benefits, and that those who are bad, or at least selfish and inconsiderate, would maybe occasionally get their butts kicked as incentive to behave a little bit better… but that’s not God’s way, it wasn’t Jesus’ way, and it shouldn’t be ours either. Why? Jesus put it far better than I ever could:

Luke 6:32-35 (NIV)
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

The next time someone who knows perfectly well that you’re dealing with something difficult makes demands of you, see it as a test of your ability to act like Jesus did. Pass the test. Radical obedience is rewarded with radical blessings!!

Heavy favor

from JO’s sermon tonight:

there’s something God has put on you that will help you accomplish what you couldn’t accomplish on your own. it will cause you to stand out in the crowd, get breaks that you didn’t deserve; it’s called favor. the Psalmist said:

Psalm 5:12 (NIV)
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

that means that everywhere you go, you have an advantage, a divine empowerment, opening up the right doors, causing things to fall into place. but Isaiah took it a step further; he said:

Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

that word “glory” in the original language implies that God’s favor is heavy upon you; there’s an emphasis on the weight. Isaiah was saying, “you didn’t just get a little favor, enough to get by, scrape through life. no, when it comes to favor, you’re not a lightweight, you are heavy with favor, weighted down with God’s goodness.” and it’s one thing to know you have favor, that’s important, but when you realize you are heavy with favor, it takes on a whole new meaning.  you won’t go around intimidated, insecure; you’ll put your shoulders back, hold your head up high. when you know you have heavy favor, you’ll pray bold prayers, believe for the extraordinary, expect doors to open for you that may not open for somebody else. when you know you’re heavy with favor, you’ll arise, and that’s when God will cause you to shine; you’ll step into a new level of your destiny.

maybe today you’re heavy with worry, heavy with discouragement, weighted down with problems, disappointment, sickness, lack; you need to get ready, this is your due season. instead of being heavy with burdens, you’re going to be heavy with good breaks, heavy with divine help, heavy with opportunities, heavy with joy. back in the 60’s, when something good happened, the hippies would say, “heavy man, heavy.” that’s what you’re going to be saying: out of nowhere, a good break; “heavy man, heavy.” the medical report didn’t look good, but your health suddenly turned around; “heavy man, heavy.” in your finances, an explosive blessing, a raise, an inheritance, and you pay your house off, you come out of debt into overflow; “heavy man, heavy.” now shake off the doubt, the discouragement. have a new perspective. you didn’t get average favor, ordinary favor, just-enough favor; you are heavy with favor. when you understand this, it’ll change your outlook; you’ll have a boldness, a confidence, to ask BIG, believe big, to expect God’s favor in a new way.

one time, Joshua and his men were out fighting a battle in the scripture. it was getting late in the day, and he knew he wasn’t going to be able to finish the enemy off because he was running out of daylight. he could’ve thought, “too bad for me, I’ve run out of time.” no, Joshua understood this principle; he knew he was heavy with favor. he looked up, and said:

Joshua 10:12 (NIV)
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

the scripture says:

Joshua 10:13 (NIV)
13 … The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

when you know you’re heavy with favor, instead of thinking, “this problem’s never going to resolve,” no, you’ll do like Joshua, and say, “God, I may not see a way, but I know You have a way. the medical report doesn’t look good, but God, I know You have the final say. healing is coming my way.” or maybe, “I’ve had this addiction so long, but I know this is my due season year; freedom is coming my way.” I wonder how much further we would go, how many dreams we’d see come to pass, if we really believed that we are heavy with favor. are you praying these bold prayers, expecting God to show out in your life? would you dare do like Joshua, and ask God to do something out of the ordinary, to bring your dreams to pass? it looks so far out, like it’s not practical; it may not be for an average person, but the good news is, you’re not average, you have heavy favor. this is your time to arise and shine. God is about to make you stand out, to take you somewhere that you’ve never been.

now all through the day, let’s get in agreement with God; “Lord, I thank You that I’m heavy with favor, You’re shining down on me, showing me something that I’ve never seen.” when you know that you have heavy favor, you’ll have this boldness, this confidence, to ask big, to believe big; that’s when God will show out in your life. but too often, we think, “this isn’t going to happen for me, I never get any good breaks, I’ll never live in a nice place, break this addiction, get healthy”; no, get rid of that defeated mentality. have this new perspective; you are heavy with favor, this is your year to rise higher, to come into overflow, to see those dreams come to pass. now be bold; dare to take some steps of faith, to believe. God has already given you everything that you need. thoughts will try to talk you out of it, tell you why it’s not going to happen, but you have to talk back to yourself the right way; “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re shining down on me. this is my due season year; dreams are coming to pass, these problems are turning around. Lord, I believe I’m heavy with favor.” when you live with this expectancy, you’ll see God do things out of the ordinary. the scripture says:

James 4:2 (DRA)
2 … you have not, because you ask not

how many things are we not seeing God do, not because He wouldn’t do them, but because we’re not asking? when you know you’re heavy with favor, you don’t give up because you got told “no” one time, you go back and ask again. if you’re going to see the fullness of your destiny, you’ve got to have this boldness to ask big, to believe big, to expect thing to happen for you that may not happen for somebody else. not arrogantly, but in humility, dare to believe. there’s something on you that causes people to want to be good to you, something that causes you to get breaks that you didn’t deserve, something that causes problems that look permanent to suddenly turn around. what is it? it’s heavy favor. when you believe you are heavy with favor, you will see things happen that look impossible.

you may be in a situation right now where all the odds are against you.  the experts say, “it’s not going to happen, you won’t get well, won’t qualify for the house, won’t see the dream come to pass,” but what they’re not taking into account is the favor on your life. if it was average favor, you may be stuck, it may not happen, but the difference is, you don’t have average favor, you have heavy favor. God is about to show out in your life. He’s about to turn some things around. you’re going to look up and say, “that was heavy favor. that was the goodness of God.” dare to believe big, pray big. God wants to do something that you’ve never seen, something out of the ordinary. that’s the way God is; when you dream big, believe big, expect big, God will supersize what you’re dreaming about. some of you, what you’re praying for is way too small, what you’re hoping you can accomplish is not near what God has in mind. you need to get ready; God is about to supersize it. you’re going to see this heavy favor. the scripture says that:

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
9 …“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.”

I’ve seen this happen in my own life again and again; what I thought would be so great, what I was hoping to accomplish, was nothing compared to what God had in mind. Paul said:

Ephesians 1:19-21 (DLNT)
19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, the ones believing… 21 … not only in this age, but also in the one coming.

we are living in the day Paul talked about, where we will see far and beyond favor. if you’ll get your hopes up, start expecting it, praying bold prayers, believing for the extraordinary, when you arise, God will cause you to shine. He’ll show up and supersize what you’re dreaming about.

2 Kings 6:8-14 (NLT)
8 When the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he would confer with his officers and say, “We will mobilize our forces at such and such a place.”
9 But immediately Elisha, the man of God, would warn the king of Israel, “Do not go near that place, for the Arameans are planning to mobilize their troops there.” 10 So the king of Israel would send word to the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he would be on the alert there.
11 The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?”
12 “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”
13 “Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.”
And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” 14 So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.

notice what happens when you’re heavy with favor; this king was trying to capture one man, you would think he would maybe send a dozen people to get him, but he sent thousands of troops, horses and chariots, all to capture one man that was heavy with favor.

2 Kings 6:15 (NLT)
15 When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

Elisha said, “don’t worry, we may be outnumbered, but I know a secret; I’m heavy with favor. they may have more weapons, more equipment, more talent, but I have something more powerful than all of that; the favor of God.”

(he had more than just FAVOR:

2 Kings 6:16-17 (NLT)
16 “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.)

Elisha knew how to pray these bold prayers. he had seen God open blind eyes; he prayed for just the opposite:

2 Kings 6:18-20 (NLT)
18 As the Aramean army advanced toward him, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, please make them blind.” So the Lord struck them with blindness as Elisha had asked.
19 Then Elisha went out and told them, “You have come the wrong way! This isn’t the right city! Follow me, and I will take you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to the city of Samaria.
20 As soon as they had entered Samaria, Elisha prayed, “O Lord, now open their eyes and let them see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they discovered that they were in the middle of Samaria.

when you know you’re heavy with favor, you’ll see God do amazing things: He’ll protect you from your enemies, He’ll guide you, He’ll even make you invisible to your enemies. don’t you dare go around weak, afraid, intimidated; you are so powerful, you are full of the anointing, you are heavy with favor. when the enemy looks at you, just like with Elisha, he thinks, “I have to send a whole army to try stop them.” he may do his best, but his best will never be enough; when you’re heavy with favor, you cannot be defeated. maybe the doctors have told you that it doesn’t look good; why don’t you arise and say, “God, I believe I’m heavy with favor, that You can do what medicine cannot do”?  or a child is off course, or you’re struggling in your finances, your dream looks impossible; have you ever asked God to turn it around? have you ever said, “God, I know nothing is too hard for You; You have the final say, You can get me to where I’m supposed to be”? when you have this heavy favor, you’ll have a boldness to believe for the fullness of your destiny.

Luke 1 talks about a young lady named Mary. Mary was an ordinary teenaged girl. she didn’t come from an influential family. her parents weren’t wealthy, they didn’t have notoriety, they were poor. in the natural, there was nothing special about Mary, nothing that made her stand out. but one day:

Luke 1:26-28 (NIV)
26 … God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

I’m sure that at first she looked around, and thought, “you’ve got the wrong girl; I’m not highly favored, I’m just average.” it’s easy to talk yourself out of what God said about you. but if an angel were to appear to you today, he would say the same thing; “hello James, you highly favored man. hello Marie, you highly favored woman.” the angel told Mary:

Luke 1:31-35 (NIV)
31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

sometimes, God will put things in your heart that seem very unlikely; that’s why the angel started off the conversation by reminding her that she was heavy with favor. when you face impossible situations, you have to remind yourself what the angel first said; that you too are heavy with God’s favor.

Luke 1:45 (NLT)
45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

notice, believing is the key. in other words, even though the angel said she was heavy with favor, if she had not believed it, she would’ve never seen this favor. God is saying to you today, “this is your due season year; dreams are coming to pass, problems are turning around, you’re about to rise to a new level.” now you can either let circumstances talk you out of it, or you can do like Mary, and say, “God, I agree; I believe I’m heavy with favor.” when you arise, God will cause you to shine. what I’m saying is; you’re not a lightweight. you didn’t get average favor, ordinary favor; you’re heavy with favor. dare to believe big; pray these bold prayers. expect God to do the extraordinary. if you’ll do this, you haven’t seen, heard, or imagined what’s coming your way. God is about to show out in your life. get ready for breakthroughs, for promotion, for healing, for a new level of your destiny.

In general, God wants us to use our intelligence, logic, and other skills, work hard in all our areas of responsibility, and act in a virtuous, caring manner. Beyond that, He’s usually fine with us doing what we want to do; you can freely choose whatever job, school, city of residence or romantic partner appeals to you. If He doesn’t speak to you, that means that He has no instructions for you at the current time; just do whatever you think is best.

Of course, sometimes He DOES have a particular choice that he would like you to make that you would not automatically do by just doing the right thing or using your usual preferences. In that case, He will let you know… or at least try to. You might hear what is generally referred to as “the still small voice,” a voice in your head that appears to come out of nowhere and tells you to do, or not do, a specific thing. Or, He might send you a sign, or even a series of signs, pointing in the right direction. There’s no way to guarantee that you will perceive the significance of these things when they occur; all you can do is make a conscious habit of looking around, and listening to your inner dialogue, to see if God is communicating to you. When you are in the habit of paying attention, and doing what the signs and messages indicate, it is easier for you to notice these things in the future.

Don’t worry that you won’t always succeed;  God doesn’t require you to succeed, only to try your best.  Even if you hang back from doing what He’s trying to tell you to do, because it seems scary or hard, He understands and forgives you…  which is of course not an excuse to disregard His messages in favor of the easier or less virtuous path!!  If you need more strength and courage to do His will, just ask for it;  He’ll give it to you.  Disregard any lapses you might have, and stay focused on doing what He wants.  Don’t worry that failure on your part will keep you from your destiny;  you don’t have that power.  God knows where you need to be, and however many times He has to work on you, He’ll get you there.

Trust Him.  Stay in faith.  Isn’t that always the answer?

Here’s the way to stop questioning God’s timing:

We know that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and planning for our best benefit because of His love for us; because of these things, He MUST have the perfect timing. If His timing were to be wrong, that would mean that either He does not know what He’s doing, in other words is not omniscient, or can’t make what He wants happen, in other words is not omnipotent, or is choosing not to do what is best for us, in other words is not a loving God with our best interests at heart. But none of those things could ever be true… so, He MUST be, He IS, managing everything with perfect timing.

This can be hard to remember sometimes when you’re spending your years in the desert, being worked on and/or waiting for other people whose destinies intertwine with yours to be lined up, but stay in faith;  if you trust in God, your promised land will always come, just not in the way or at the time that you might have chosen.  His way will ALWAYS be the best way.

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