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Prepared in the Process

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have dreams that God’s placed in our hearts, goals that we want to accomplish. too often, we get discouraged by the process: it’s taking longer than we thought, we had some bad breaks, we went through a loss, somebody did us wrong. we think, “this couldn’t be right; I’m uncomfortable.” but like with a pregnancy, it’s a part of the process. everything you go through, every struggle, disappointment, delay, if you’ll keep the right attitude, that’s depositing something in you, making you stronger, developing your character, growing you up.

here’s the key; you’re anointed before you’re appointed. there’s going to be a preparation period between the time God puts the dream in your heart, and the time that it comes to pass. just because you’re anointed doesn’t mean that the appointing is going to come; it’s up to us to pass these tests, to be willing to go through the difficulties, uncomfortable seasons, lonely times, when we don’t understand it, we’re doing the right thing, but we’re not making progress. this is when many people give up on their dreams; they were anointed, but because they wouldn’t go through the preparation process, they never saw the appointing come.

in the scripture, David was anointed to become the next king of Israel at the age of 17; the prophet Samuel traveled to his house, chose David out of all the other brothers, poured the oil on his head. David was excited; it was a destiny moment. but what’s interesting is that after David was anointed, given this incredible promise, where did he go, to the palace to get his royal robe? no, he went back to the shepherds’ fields; he was anointed, but not appointed. he had to go through the preparation process, pass the test of doing a menial task, taking care of his father’s sheep; feeding them day in and day out, shoveling their waste. it smelled bad, it was lonely, it seemed unfair; his brothers, who weren’t anointed by Samuel, they were in the military, they had prestigious positions, everyone looked up to them.

David could have thought, “I’m not going back to the shepherds’ fields; I’m the next king.” but David understood this principle; he had to show God that he would be faithful when it wasn’t exciting. he had to pass the test of being good to King Saul, even though Saul was jealous and trying to kill David. David could’ve said, “God, this isn’t right, you’ve got to get rid of Saul, I’m uncomfortable”; instead, David kept doing the right thing, year after year. he was anointed at 17, but he didn’t take the throne until he was 30; it took 13 years for his appointing to catch up with his anointing. but without those 13 years of keeping a good attitude, doing the right thing, overlooking insults, he wouldn’t have been prepared for where God was taking him.

God knows what is in your future, and what it’s going to take to get you there. you may not understand why it’s taking so long, why it hasn’t turned out the way you thought, why you’re in a lonely, discouraged, stagnant season, but everything you’ve been through was to strengthen, develop, prepare you. God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t a part of the process; without it, you couldn’t give birth to what’s in you. if you’ll do like David, and not try to figure it all out, not live bitter, negative, but instead, keep passing the test, doing the right thing, giving, serving, loving, then your time is coming; what God promised, He will bring to pass.

one day, when David was in those lonely shepherds’ fields:

1 Samuel 17:17 (NIV)

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp.

David could’ve said, “Dad, you saw Samuel anoint me, choose me over all my brothers, and you want me to be an errand boy, a delivery service? I don’t think so.” if David would’ve been too proud, not willing to serve others, do something that seemed insignificant, he would’ve never made it to the throne; these are tests that we must pass. it took humility to bring his brothers lunch.

1 Samuel 17:28 (NIV)

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

David overlooked it, and kept doing the right thing.

1 Samuel 17:23-32 (NIV)

23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it…32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

but had David not been faithful where he was, doing what his father asked him to do, even though it was small, he would’ve missed his destiny; he would’ve never seen Goliath.

it’s easy to think, “I’m not going to do this insignificant thing; when something big, impressive comes my way, then I’ll step up, give it my best.” but how do you know that your destiny is not tied to the small thing that God is asking you to do? once you do that insignificant thing, or maybe you have to swallow your pride, and serve somebody that’s under you, then the door to the big thing that God has in store will open up. it can be uncomfortable to have to humble ourselves. we think, “God, that’s not right, I have more training, education, skill than them”; pass the test. it’s a part of the process that’s getting you prepared. when you’re faithful in the small, you’re passing the test; that’s getting you prepared for the big things God has in store.

you may be doing something that seems insignificant, you know you have much more in you, but don’t despise the day of small beginnings; keep being faithful. here’s the key; do it with a good attitude. it’s one thing to do it negative, complaining, “I can’t stand this job, I’m smarter than my boss, he doesn’t have half the talent that I have”; that may be true, but the reason that God has you there is that He’s doing a work in you. if you complain, you’ll get stuck; it was never supposed to be permanent, it’s just a step along the way.

all those years that David was in the lonely shepherds’ fields, it didn’t look like anything was happening, that he was making progress, but when you’re pregnant, the baby is developing on the inside where nobody can see. in those tough times, when you’re uncomfortable, doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening, something is developing in you that you can’t see. it’s getting you prepared; you’re getting closer to the birth. if you’ll keep passing the test, at the right time, your anointing will meet up with your appointing.

this is the reason many people never give birth to what’s in them; they don’t understand the process. God will put a dream in your heart, give you the anointing, and then send you back to the shepherds’ fields; the appointing will come later. you know that you’re going to start that business, you’ve been anointed for it, but He’ll send you back to that part-time job with a grouchy boss and coworkers that you don’t like. you know that you’re going to move into that new house, the promise is in you, but He’ll send you back to that small apartment with loud neighbors and no Wi-Fi. you know that you’re going to meet the right person, you’re anointed to have a blessed family, but He’ll send you back to that lonely place where you don’t see any sign of it.

how we respond in the wilderness will determine whether or not we make it into our promised land. right now, there are promises that God has put in you; you are pregnant with potential, opportunity, health, abundance. you’ve been anointed; my question is, will you go through the process so you see your appointing come? will you pass these tests when it’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out, you can’t see anything changing?

just because you don’t see anything happening, doesn’t mean that God is not working; you don’t see it on the outside, but on the inside, where it’s more important, you’re growing, developing. it’s just a matter of time before your appointing shows up. too often, we have the anointing, but we get discouraged by the process. we don’t like it when we’re not making progress, not getting breaks, not being treated right. but in those tough times, when you’re tempted to give up, you have to remind yourself; it’s all a part of the process. it may be uncomfortable, but it’s not unusual. if God took it away, you wouldn’t develop. don’t run away from the process; it’s not working against you, it’s working for you, getting you prepared.

imagine a lady that’s pregnant saying, “I don’t want to gain any weight”; it doesn’t work that way. if we’re not willing to go through the process, we won’t see the baby. there’s something that God wants you to give birth to; something big, special, out of the ordinary. He’s anointed you for it, the appointing is already in your future; I’m asking you to do your part and be willing to go through the process. don’t let disappointments talk you out of it, or delays convince you that it’s not going to happen. don’t let the fact that you don’t think you’re making progress, you’re frustrated, keep you from doing the right thing. you’ve come too far to stop now; you’re too close to the birth to give up. it’s always the most uncomfortable right before that baby comes.

the scripture says:

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

2 … Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross

the way he endured the pain is that he knew it was a part of the process, and it wasn’t permanent; he wasn’t going to stay on the cross. he kept looking forward to the joy that was coming. keep your joy in tough times. when life throws you a curve, you don’t understand it, it’s taking longer than you thought, remind yourself; it’s only temporary, it’s all a part of the process. Jesus kept looking forward to the joy that was coming. don’t look back, fall into self-pity; keep looking forward. the joy, right person, dream, breakthrough is coming. and here’s the key; once you’re prepared, then God can propel you into your destiny, make things happen faster than you thought. don’t get discouraged, thinking that you’re falling behind; “I’ve been doing the right thing for a long time, I should be much further ahead; my friends, colleagues, they’ve all passed me up.” don’t worry, your time is coming. when your appointing catches up with your anointing, supernatural things will happen: supernatural increase, growth, favor. God knows how to make up for lost time. He can propel you where you could not go on your own. 

your anointing will supersede your environment. God will put things in you that are bigger than you are right now. God anointed David to be king. he wasn’t in a palace, he was in the shepherds’ fields; all he could see were rocks, sand, sheep. your environment doesn’t determine your destiny; where you are doesn’t limit what God can do. when it’s your time, when you’ve gone through the preparation process, get ready to be propelled, for doors to open that you could not open. don’t get discouraged by the preparation time. don’t quit being your best because you’re not where you thought you would be, friends have passed you up: they got married; you’re still single. they’re in the new place; you’re still in the old one. keep doing the right thing; your appointing is coming.

during that preparation time, you may not see a lot of progress, but at some point, you’re going to come to the place where God says, “all right, you’re prepared, you passed the test, you’ve done your part; now let Me do My part, and propel you into your purpose.” that’s when you’ll see these explosive blessings, acceleration; it should’ve taken years, but God propelled you, and it happened in a fraction of the time. I believe that many of you right now are on the verge of being propelled; you’ve passed the test, done the right thing when it was hard. get ready for new levels, acceleration, favor that you haven’t seen.

there’s a plant called Chinese bamboo; for the first 4 years, it barely grows above the ground, you can hardly see anything happening, but underground, where you can’t see, it’s developing a massive root system. in the fifth year, once the roots are firmly established, the plant will shoot up to as high as 80 feet; from zero to 80 all in one year. but what makes the fifth year possible is the four years of preparation; without the years of underground growth, there wouldn’t be any above-ground growth. like with this plant, you may not see anything happening; you wonder why God isn’t doing something. you’re being your best, but you’re not seeing breaks.  you don’t think you’re making progress, but what you can’t see is, on the inside, your roots are going down deep; at the right time, when God knows that you’re prepared, you’re going to come into your fifth year, when you suddenly shoot up, come out of debt, your health turns around, you meet the right person.

but here’s the key; you have to be willing to go through the process. we want fifth year results without the 4 years of preparation. without those years of developing our character, proving to God that we’ll be faithful, doing the right thing when we’re uncomfortable, we won’t see the increase and promotion like we should. sometimes, we think, “God, I’m ready, I’m prepared, I’ve been doing the right thing,” but only God knows where He’s taking you; you may be ready for what you have in mind, but you’re not ready for what God has in mind. what He has planned for you is going to be much bigger, much more exciting. He not only knows where He’s taking you, He knows what it’s going to take to keep you there; if He took you before you were ready, you wouldn’t be able to handle it. as much as we would like it to happen sooner, it wouldn’t be a blessing; it would become a curse.

when we give birth prematurely, even though it may be easier, it’s not God’s best. if it’s taking a long time, that simply means that what you’re going to give birth to is going to be much bigger than you’ve ever imagined. people around you may be giving birth, seeing their dreams come to pass; be happy for them, but the reason it’s taking longer for you is because what you’re carrying is not ordinary, average. what you’re going to give birth to is going to be bigger, more rewarding, more fulfilling, than you’ve ever dreamed. don’t get discouraged by the process. it may be taking a long time; that’s a sign that God’s up to something big, amazing. keep passing the test, doing the right thing when it’s hard. don’t run when it’s uncomfortable; that’s getting you prepared, it’s a part of the process. if you’ll do this, your appointing is about to catch up to your anointing. you’re about to go into your fifth year, where God supernaturally thrusts you forward. because you’re prepared, He’s going to propel you into the fullness of your destiny.

Stepping Into the Unknown

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when I type an address into my navigation system, there’s an option that comes up that says, “route overview”; if you click that, it will give you all the details of your trip. there may be 15 different instructions; travel 6 miles on this freeway, get off at exit 43, go 400 feet, turn left at the intersection. your whole route is clearly laid out; you know where you’re going, how long it’s going to take, what to expect. knowing these details makes us comfortable, where we can relax.

in the same way, God has a route overview for your life. before you were formed in your mother’s womb, He laid out your plan. He not only knows your final destination, but He knows the best way to get you there. but one difference between God and a navigation system is, God doesn’t show you the route overview. He doesn’t tell you how it’s going to happen, how long it’s going to take, where the funds are going to come from, who you’re going to meet; He leads you one step at a time. if you’ll trust Him, and take that step into the unknown, not knowing how it’s going to work out, then He’ll show you the next step; step-by-step, He’ll lead you into your destiny.

the challenge is, we like details; we wouldn’t have any problem taking that step of faith, starting that new business, going back to school, moving to that new location, if we knew where the money was coming from, how long it was going to take, that the right people would be there. if we had all the details, it would be easy to step out. but here’s the key; God doesn’t give us details. He’s not going to show you a blueprint for your whole life; if you had all the facts, you wouldn’t need any faith. He’s going to send you out not knowing everything; if you’ll have the boldness to step into the unknown, do what He’s asking you to do, doors will open that you could’ve never opened, the right people will show up, you’ll have the funds, the resources, that you need. the scripture puts it this way:

Psalm 119:105 (KJV)

105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

a lamp implies that you have just enough light to see in front of you. God is not giving you the light for the next 50 years. it’s like the headlights on your car; when you’re driving at night, you can only see 100 feet in front of you, but you don’t pull over because you can’t see your destination 50 miles away. you keep driving; if you go further, then you will see more. will you take that step with the light that you have? if you’re waiting for all the details, you’re going to be waiting your whole life. we all want to be comfortable, but being in God’s perfect will will make you a little uncomfortable. there’s a healthy tension, to where you have to stretch, pray, believe; you’re not sure how it’s going to work out. that’s when you’re growing, learning to trust God in a greater way.

God is not just interested in the destination; He’s teaching you along the way, getting you prepared, growing you up. on purpose, God will put us in situations where we’re over our heads, our friends can’t help us, we don’t have the experience. too often, we shrink back, and think, “I’m not going there. I’m not qualified, I’m too nervous. what if it doesn’t work out?” God knew that you would be nervous, wouldn’t feel qualified; that’s a test. are you going to talk yourself out of it, let the fear of what you can’t see hold you back, or are you going to be bold and step into the unknown? in the unknown is where miracles happen, you discover abilities that you didn’t know you had, you accomplish more than you ever dreamed. just because you don’t have the details doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have them; He has the route overview for your life. He wouldn’t be leading you there if He didn’t have the favor, provision, everything that you need to go to the next level.

God will tell you, “go down this road.” the first thing we do is ask for details: “how far do You want me to go?”; no answer. “what do You want me to take?”; no answer. “who’s going to be there to meet me?”; no answer. can you endure the silence of not knowing anything? will you trust God even though you don’t have all the details, take that step of faith even when you’re uncomfortable, nervous, not sure how it’s going to work out?

this is what Abraham did:

Genesis 12:1-7 (NIV)

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you… 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

the only problem was, God did’t give him any details:

Hebrews 11:8 (NASB)

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

if you’re going to step into the unknown, it’s going to take boldness; it’s not always going to make sense. people may not understand it, your own thoughts will tell you, “you better play it safe, this is too big of a risk, what if it doesn’t work out?” Abraham understood this principle; just because he didn’t have all the answers, was nervous, didn’t mean that he wasn’t supposed to do it. the scripture says:

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

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

if you’ll take the first step, not knowing all the details, trusting that God knows what He’s doing, then every step of the way there will be provision, favor, wisdom. and yes, it’s uncomfortable not knowing, you have to stretch, pray, believe, but each step, you not only have God’s blessing, but you’re growing, getting stronger.

in the scripture, Peter was the only one that walked on the water, and he was the only one willing to get out of the boat. when Jesus asked him to come, he had the courage to step into the unknown, and he walked on the water. what’s familiar, staying in the boat, although that’s comfortable, instead of being a blessing, it can become a curse. familiarity can keep you from your destiny. what you’re used to, how you were raised, the job you’ve been at for years; don’t let your comfort keep you from becoming all that God created you to be. if Abraham would’ve put comfort ahead of fulfilling his purpose, we wouldn’t be talking about him. you cannot play it safe your whole life and reach the fullness of your destiny; don’t let the what-ifs talk you out of it: “what if I fail, what if they say no, what if I don’t have the funds ?” you’ll never know unless you try.

when you come to the end of life, will you have more regrets from the risks that you took, or the risks that you didn’t take? “what if I get in this new relationship and I get hurt again? that’s what happened last time”; what if you get in it and you’re happier than you’ve ever been? what if it’s a divine connection? “what if I take this position and I’m not good at it, I’m not successful?”; what if you take it and you excel, discover talent that you didn’t know you had? what if it opens doors to more opportunities? when we are weak, God’s power shows up the greatest.

sometimes, the reason that God doesn’t tell us what’s in our future is because He knows that we would talk ourselves out of it. what God has in store for you is going to boggle your mind: the places He’s going to take you, the people you’re going to influence, the dreams you’re going to accomplish. it’s going to be bigger than you’ve imagined. you know where it is? it’s in the unknown, it’s in what you can’t see right now, it’s in what you don’t feel qualified for. when you find yourself in a situation where you’re over your head, you don’t think you have what it takes, that’s God stretching you. He can see things in you that you can’t see in yourself. it may be uncomfortable, but don’t shrink back; keep stretching, believing, dreaming. step-by-step, God is leading you.

some of you are about to step into the next level; you’ve been on that step long enough, you passed the test, now the next step is coming. it’s going to be a new level of influence, talent, creativity, a new level of your destiny. sometimes, God is silent, you don’t hear Him saying anything. it’s easy to think, “I must be off course, something must be wrong, He’s not talking,” that means you’re on the right course. keep doing the right thing, keep praying, believing, stretching. the next step is coming, but you have to pass the test of being faithful where you are, being your best with what you have;  then, the next step will be a favor, promotion, healing, breakthrough step.

when Joshua and the Israelites came to the Jordan River:

Joshua 3:7-8 (NIV)

7 And the Lord said to Joshua… 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”

I’m sure the priests thought, “Joshua, that doesn’t make sense. you want us to walk into the water? we could drown.” thoughts started telling them, “what if it doesn’t part? what if Joshua made a mistake? what if we get out there and we can’t come back?” they could’ve talk themselves out of it; instead, they dared to step into the unknown.

Joshua 3:15-17 (NIV)

15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away… 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

notice, the miracle happened along the way. we think, “God, part the river, and then I’ll go”; God says, “go, and then I’ll part the river.” if you will step into the unknown, along the way, you’ll see miracles: the right people will show up, doors will open that you could’ve never opened. God could’ve just as easily parted the waters before they stepped in; He was showing us this principle. when you don’t see how it can work out, every voice says, “you’d better play it safe,” but you take that step of faith, and do what God’s asking you to do, you too will see Jordan Rivers part. God on purpose puts us in situations where we can’t do it on our own, it looks impossible; that’s a test of our faith. if we stay in the boat, we’ll never walk on water, never see the fullness of our destiny.

if God would’ve parted the water first, that would’ve been a lot less stressful for them, they wouldn’t have had to stretch and pray and believe, but here’s the key; God uses the journey to get us prepared for where we’re going. when you have to stretch your faith, believe that He’s making a way, thank Him that things are changing in your favor, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger; you’re developing a greater trust, a greater confidence in God. God will give you the first step, but He won’t tell you everything. when you go out not knowing, you’ll see Jordan Rivers part; God will make things happen that you could never make happen. don’t get stuck in the boat. don’t let the fear that you can’t see all the details hold you back; you’re not supposed to see everything. God’s leading you step-by-step.

when you’re in the unknown, you’re having to stretch, pray, and believe, that’s when you’re really growing. God knows what’s in you. He uses these steps to stretch you, develop you, get you prepared for the next level. the journey is more important than the destination, because if you don’t get prepared on the journey, if you don’t learn what you’re supposed to learn along the way, you won’t be able to handle where God is taking you. even if you miss it, it doesn’t turn out the way you thought, God knows how to use it for your good. God would rather you take a step of faith and miss it every once in a while, then to play it safe your whole life and never make a mistake. the times we make mistakes, miss it, get off course, the closed doors, that’s all a part of God’s plan; that’s getting us prepared for the open doors.

but if you’re so concerned that you’re going to miss it, you’ll never get off of dead center. sometimes, we let the fear of the unknown hold us back. being in God’s will, there will be a not knowing factor; you’re not going to know all the details, how it’s going to work out. you have to have this boldness to step into the unknown. when you have this boldness to go out not knowing, your life will be more rewarding, more fulfilling, then you could ever imagine.

there was a young Jewish girl in the scripture named Esther. she was an orphan, didn’t come from an influential family, but God raised her up; now she was the queen, living in the palace. a man named Haman tried to pass a law:

Esther 3:12-13 (NIV)

12 … They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders… to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children

Esther’s uncle Mordecai:

Esther 4:8-11 (NIV)

8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people… 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives.

God was asking her to step into the unknown, but the what-ifs started coming: what if he doesn’t hold it up, what if he’s in a bad mood, what if he gets upset? just as she was about to talk herself out of it, her uncle said:

Esther 4:13-14 (NIV)

13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

God was saying, “Esther, if you don’t want to do it, that’s fine, I’ll get somebody else, but the problem is, you will miss your destiny; this opportunity will not come your way again.” this was her chance to leave her mark; it was a now or never a moment. Esther said:

Esther 4:16 (NIV)

16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther stepped into the unknown. she not only had favor with the king, but was able to deliver her people; she became one of the heroes of faith.

like Esther, we all have opportunities that won’t pass our way again. when now or never moments come your way, don’t shrink back, or let fear talk you out of it, or the what-ifs keep you in the boat; be bold, courageous, and step into the unknown. you may not have all the details, you’re not sure how it’s going to work out, but like with Joshua, along the way, miracles will happen; God will open doors that no man can shut. if you’ll do this, you’re about to step into a new level of favor, influence; like Esther, you’re going to leave your mark, accomplish your dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

Rest from Your Enemies

From JO’s sermon this week:

we all have things that come against us, and try to keep us from our destiny. most of what we struggle with didn’t start with us; it was passed down. things like depression, addictions, anger, divorce; studies show how these things can get passed from generation to generation. if your mother was depressed, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with depression. if your father was an alcoholic, had anger issues, wasn’t faithful to his wife, those are traits that can affect you. just like a lady who’s on drugs and gives birth to a baby, that baby can have the same addiction as the mother; it’s no fault of the baby’s, it’s just life.

the good news is, there is a way to put a stop to it; what you’re dealing with might not have started with you, but it can stop with you. God wants to give you rest from those enemies. He wants to put an end to what’s limiting you. but there’s something that we have to do; as long as we accept dysfunction as the norm, it will never change. if you see that addiction, depression, lack, struggle, as your lot in life, you’ll not only get stuck, but you’ll pass it on to the next generation.

this is what the Israelites did:

Judges 13:1-5 (NIV)

1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.

2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son… He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”

Judges 13:24 (NIV)

24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson.

the Philistines could tell that there was something different about Samson; every time they tried to bind him, he would break those cords. he was a huge threat to them. one time, the Philistines circled the Israelites’ camp, and were about to attack:

Judges 15:9-10 (NIV)

9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?” “We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered

instead of recognizing that Samson had been raised up to deliver them from the Philistines, saying, “this is a new day, we’re not living in mediocrity anymore, we’re done being ruled by this enemy,” the Israelites were so comfortable in dysfunction:

Judges 15:11-13 (NIV)

11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”…“We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”… they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.

he wasn’t tied up by the enemy, he was tied up by his friends. they were saying, “this is our lot in life. it’s been this way for 40 years; do you really think something’s going to change? just accept it.” how many times is God sending us a Samson, but we think, like the Israelites, “I’ll always be lonely, I’ve been this way for years. I’ll never break this addiction, I’ve had it a long time. I’ll never get out of debt; my family always struggles.” as long as you accept the dysfunction, then even when God sends you a way out, even when a Samson shows up, you’ll talk yourself out of it. because they were stuck in their thinking, they tied up the one that was sent to deliver them.

are you tying up your breakthrough, healing, promotion, abundance, so to speak, because the dysfunction is so familiar, it’s been that way so long, you think it’s normal to live depressed, addicted, angry, lonely? this is a new day. you may have been ruled by those things for years, they may have been passed down by previous generations, but that is not your destiny. God sent me as a Samson; He’s using my voice to tell you, “it’s time to break free, rise higher; what’s limited you in the past doesn’t have to limit you in the future.” you can break that addiction; you have the most powerful Force in the universe breathing in your direction. you can rise out of lack, struggle, not having enough; you have seeds of greatness. you were created to lend and not borrow. you can be free from depression, low self-esteem, insecurity. God crowned you with favor, put a robe of honor on you. you have royal blood flowing through your veins. don’t let limited thinking keep you from your destiny. you can’t think that this is the way this is always going to be and rise to the next level. 

this is where the Israelites missed it; they were so afraid of the Philistines, and so convinced they were going to rule them their whole life, they went to Samson, their friend, their deliverer, and tied him up. when the Philistines saw that he was bound, they went over to get him:

Judges 15:14-15 (NIV)

14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

what’s interesting is that he broke the ropes, not of his enemies, but of his friends. God was showing us that sometimes the people closest to you, the ones that raised you, your family and friends, they may tell you, “just settle where you are; don’t you know, these things rule over us? you’ll never get your degree, meet the right person, break that addiction”; like with Samson, they cannot keep you tied up. God has put a supernatural strength on you to fulfill your destiny. your family, friends, neighbors, they don’t know what’s in you; they can’t keep you from rising higher. they may be good people, they’re sincere, but their vision is limited. don’t fall into that trap; God has called you to be a Samson, to deliver your people, set a new standard for your family, break chains that have held you back.

sometimes, it’s not our enemies that are limiting us, our friends have tied us up; everyone close to you may not be for you. they can say discouraging things; “just settle there, depression runs in this family, your dad and granddad were broke, you’ll be broke too.” no offense, but they’re trying to tie you up. are you going to accept the dysfunction, settle for mediocrity, or are you going to say, “I don’t think so. I’m better than this. I know that the power that’s in me is greater than any force that’s trying to stop me”? when God breathed His life into you, He destined you to leave your mark. He gave you the power to break chains that have held your family back for generations. He anointed you as a Samson, to take new ground.

don’t let mediocrity become the norm; it may have been that way as far back as you can see, but you have to draw a line in the sand, and say, “the buck stops with me; I’m not going to live tied up. my relatives may have been bound, my friends may be fine with dysfunction, my coworkers may be OK with living depressed, angry, addicted, but not me; I’m going to be a Samson, break chains. I know that I was born to make a difference.” somebody has to be the first one in the family to not be addicted, not get a divorce, not live paycheck to paycheck, not go around angry and offended; why can’t it be you, why can’t you set a new standard, raise great children, have an exceptional career? you’re a Samson; you’ve been equipped, empowered, God has called you to deliver your people.

in 2 Chronicles 14, a young man named Asa became the king of Israel:

2 Chronicles 14:1 (NIV)

1 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. Asa his son succeeded him as king

he inherited a land that was filled with idols, pagan shrines, monuments to different kinds of gods. his father passed down compromise, dysfunction, mediocrity; that’s what he had seen growing up, that was normal to him. he could’ve continued it on, and thought, “this is the way it’s always been. Dad was fine with these idols, everybody likes worshiping these different gods, I’m not going to rock the boat.” but Asa understood this principle, that just because something gets passed down, doesn’t mean that you have to continue it. just because somebody close to you has chained you, so to speak, to compromise, dysfunction, doesn’t mean that you have to stay bound. he knew that he was anointed to be a Samson, that he could break chains, take new ground:

2 Chronicles 14:2-3 (NIV)

2 Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. 3 He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.

Asa didn’t accept the dysfunction, or let what was passed down limit his life. he took responsibility, and said in effect, “this compromise didn’t start with me, but it is going to stop with me.” he didn’t make excuses, think that he had a reason to live that way; he was a difference maker. he wasn’t passive, he didn’t do it quietly, he was serious about fulfilling his destiny. and because he did this:

2 Chronicles 14:6 (NLT)

6 … No one tried to make war against him at this time, for the Lord was giving him rest from his enemies.

if you want rest from your enemies, you have to do like he did, and get rid of negative things that have been passed down. as long as you’re accepting it, you’re going to struggle. the bad attitude, anger, addiction; most likely, it didn’t start with you. will you be the Asa, and remove it, rise up and say, “I am not going to let this anger rule my life anymore. I’m not going to accept lack, defeat, struggle as my destiny. I’m not going to learn to live with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem; I’m going to be an Asa, smash those strongholds, pull down those wrong mindsets”? if you will become an Asa, and not take what was passed down as your destiny, God will give you rest from those enemies.

alcoholism and drug addiction are the things that keep getting passed down until somebody rises up and decides to be an Asa and do something about it. studies show that if your father was an alcoholic, you are 10 times more likely to become an alcoholic; that’s a spirit going from generation to generation. 90% of the people in prison, one of their parents was incarcerated. somebody has to rise up and break the negative cycle. the reason people tell you that if your father struggled, you will struggle, is because they’re looking at the wrong father. when you gave your life to Christ, you became a new creation; there may be a lot of negative baggage in your bloodline, but now you have a heavenly Father. you’re not limited by the natural; you have a supernatural force to help you overcome. just because something was passed down, doesn’t mean that you have to continue it. when you make that decision that enough is enough, you’re not going to live addicted, angry, letting things rule you, then God will help you overcome what you could not overcome on your own. Joshua said it this way:

Joshua 7:13 (NLT)

13 … You will never defeat your enemies until you remove these things from among you.

are there some things that you need to remove? Asa had to remove the idols that weren’t pleasing to God. you may need to remove the anger, jealousy, regrets. when you say, “God, I can’t do this on my own, help me break this addiction, resist this temptation, get rid of this bitterness,” when you humble yourself, and ask God to help you, and then take bold steps like Asa to remove what’s holding you back, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. He will give you rest from those enemies. here’s the key; what you don’t put a stop to will eventually put a stop to you. if you don’t put a stop to that bad attitude, it’s going to stop you. if you don’t put a stop to the anger, addiction, regrets, they will keep you from your destiny. if Asa had not put a stop to the dysfunction that was passed down, his life would’ve been a constant struggle, always uphill. the message translation says:

2 Chronicles 14:2 (MSG)

2 Asa was a good king. He did things right in God’s eyes. He cleaned house

do you need to do some housecleaning? are you allowing some things to stay that you know are not good? my challenge is; put a stop to it before it stops you. don’t let a critical attitude keep you from your purpose. everybody in your family may be that way; recognize, that’s not normal. don’t learn to function in the dysfunction; remove it, and God will take you to a new level. don’t let a lack mentality, poverty mindset, keep you in mediocrity. “I’ll never have enough; nobody in my family is successful”; God wants to give you rest from that enemy of lack, not having enough. if you will get rid of the limited thinking, and start having a prosperous, more than enough mindset, knowing that favor is surrounding you like a shield, then God will open the windows of heaven, cause opportunity, blessing, increase, to chase you down.

but too often, we think that what’s on the outside is stopping us; I believe, if we’ll look inside, and get rid of what we know is not good, then we’ll see God’s favor in new ways. when we hold onto things that we should get rid of, the world seems to stink; if you remove the bad attitude, the stink will go away. if you’ll remove the compromise, giving into temptation, the stink will leave. as long as you’re allowing it to stay, it’s going to follow you everywhere you go. if you live guilty, in regrets, beating yourself up for past mistakes, that’s going to stink up your office, attitude, relationships. why don’t you remove the regrets, get rid of the guilt? you can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about right now.

maybe you need to remove the self-pity; you’ve had some tough breaks, went through a loss, somebody did you wrong. if you stay focused on that, your life is going to stink. you may not realize it, but when you stink, other people can smell it. when you’re offended, bitter, angry, nobody wants to be around you. that stink is going to push away new relationships, opportunities; why don’t you remove it? it may have been passed down, you have a good reason to feel the way you do. it’s soured your life long enough; don’t let it continue to sour you. the truth is, we all have some stinky stuff, dysfunction, regrets. I’ve learned, the people who keep moving forward, enjoying their lives, are the people that are good at removing the stink. complaining about the stink only makes it stink even more. if you stay focused on the stink, you’re angry at the people who hurt you, always thinking about how they did you wrong, the problem is, that seed can get in you; you can become the very thing that you don’t like. when the scripture tells us to not take offense:

Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

11 … it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

it’s not just so we won’t be offended, get sour. if we take offense, the seed will get in us; we can become what they are. that’s why it’s so important to remove it, let it go; God will be your vindicator, make up for what you didn’t get. how you were raised, what was passed down; that does not have to keep you from becoming who you were created to be. when we hold onto things that we should let go of, the seed can get in us. you have to do like Asa, and say, “I am removing it. I am not living angry, offended, letting this dysfunction affect me and my children. I’m going to be a difference-maker; the buck is going to stop with me.”

there was a young man in the scripture named Levi. he had a lot of issues: he was angry, dishonest, deceived people. one time, someone took advantage of his sister; it was a big deal, he was very angry:

Genesis 34:13-25 (NIV)

13 Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor. 14 They said to them, “We can’t do such a thing; we can’t give our sister to a man who is not circumcised. That would be a disgrace to us. 15 We will enter into an agreement with you on one condition only: that you become like us by circumcising all your males… every male in the city was circumcised. 25 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.

what’s interesting is that Levi’s father was Jacob, who was a deceiver; he cheated his brother out of his birthright, tricked him into trading his whole inheritance for a bowl of stew.  now, Jacob’s son Levi was just like him. if you go back one generation, Jacob’s mother Rebecca was the same way:

Genesis 27:6-27 (NIV)

6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9 Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me?… 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins…. 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him

the deception, dishonesty, started with Rebekah. it got passed on to her son Jacob, he was dishonest, now Jacob’s son Levi was the same way. it looked like that was going to continue to get passed down, but one day, Moses was up on a mountain; he’d just received the 10 Commandments, and when he came down: 

Exodus 32:4-6 (NIV)

4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf… 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

when Moses saw this, he was furious; here God had just delivered them out of slavery, parted the Red Sea, now these 2 million people were worshiping an idol.

Exodus 32:26 (NASB)

26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him.

they were saying, in effect, “this is a new day. we are not going to be defined by our past. we’re not going to let how our father lived, how our grandfather lived, what our great-grandmother did, we’re not going to pass that dysfunction down on our family line; we’re going to take a stand and do what’s right.” that day, they broke a generational curse, and started a generational blessing. because of that decision, God said, “from now on, all of the priests will come from the tribe of Levi.” in the book of Genesis, they were cursed by their grandfather;  in the book of Leviticus, they were the most blessed, honored people.

this is what happens when you get rid of negative things that have been passed down; you’ll not only have rest from your enemies, but you’ll set a new standard for your family. it all starts when you remove what’s holding you back. do you need to remove anger, dishonesty, a wrong mindset? it may not have started with you, but it can stop with you. there might be a lot of negative baggage in your bloodline; God is staying today, “who is on the Lord’s side?” if you’ll rise up and say, “that’s me, I’m a difference-maker,” then like the sons of Levi, God is going to promote and honor you. like Samson, you’re going to break chains that have held your family back for generations. and like king Asa, God’s going to give you rest from your enemies.

(No new sermon this week.)

The holiday season is about to begin, and it’s a good time of the year for most of us, maybe even a wonderful time. But, for people who are alone and lonely, this is the WORST time of the year, an agonizing reminder of what they don’t have and what they’re missing out on. God has a solution for that; that solution is you and I. All throughout the year, but most especially during the holidays, God wants us to reach out to people who are alone and lonely and help them take the first step into a happier social existence. 

What does that mean? You know that coworker who doesn’t have anyone to go to lunch with, the neighbor who lives alone and never has anyone come over to hang out with them, the acquaintance who has been divorced, widowed or separated and has no other family to fill in the gap, the person in your church who always sits by themselves, … these are the people that God wants you to focus on right now. Get out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations with them. Talk to them about… well, pretty much anything, the point is that you should TALK to them, not shake your head sadly at them from a safe distance.

But talking isn’t enough. People like these are almost certain to be ALONE on the actual holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve. If the first person you speak to is going to be leaving town to go be with family on those special days, well and good, but if not, why not invite them to spend one or more of the holidays with you and YOUR family? Don’t embarrass them by making an issue of how you know that they don’t have any other options, just say something caring and gracious, like how you need one more person to fill up your table, and you’ve been wanting to get to know them better for a long time, and you figured this was the perfect time to do that. What’s the worst that can happen? If they say no, you accept that warmly and graciously, and suggest that maybe you can get together for lunch or something after the New Year. You will still get credit with God for having asked.

If they say yes, then you need to do whatever it takes to be sure that they are relaxed and comfortable and happy at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s eve celebration. Find out if they have any special food needs, so that you don’t have a vegetarian showing up on Thanksgiving with nothing to eat but carrot sticks. If you are inviting them for Christmas, be sure and have a couple of little gifts for them so that they are not the only one with nothing to open. If you’re having them over on New Year’s eve, be sure and be near them at midnight so that you can give them a hug and wish them a happy new year.

What do you do if, like me, you’re doing all of your holiday stuff in someone’s home other than your own? Talk to your hosts/hostesses, explain the situation, and find out if you can bring a +1. Most people will agree to this, but if nobody wants to, you still get credit for trying… And then, your backup plan should be to invite your target person to do something else with you, such as attend a Christmas concert, a school Christmas pageant, whatever is available in your area. If nothing else, you can invite them to go drive around and look at all the beautifully decorated yards, and then come back home with you to have hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, or rent a Christmas movie and invite them over for cider and popcorn.

This is the Christmas season, and Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. Isn’t he more deserving of a Christmas gift than anybody else in the world? After all he has done for you and given to you, don’t you want to give something back to him? This is the time of year when it is easiest for you to do so. What he wants is for you to take care of his sheep, just as he says in the Bible many times. If you give a lonely, sad person a wonderful holiday, that is the best gift that you could ever give to Jesus. And yes, you will get blessings in return for that… but does it really matter if you do or not? Isn’t it enough that you’re being given the opportunity to give Jesus a gift that he will really love?

Deep Roots

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that come against us: a health issue, finances go down, a child gets off course. the winds and rain come to every person; what’s going to determine whether or not you stand strong and outlast that storm is how deep your roots are. the reason some people are always worried, upset, offended, is that they have shallow roots; they’re moved by the traffic, the weather, a grouchy boss, what somebody said, always being tossed to and fro. but when you have deep roots, know God is in control, has you in the palm of His hand, you know that no weapon formed against you will prosper, He’s equipped, empowered and anointed you, you’re not moved by everything on the surface.

you don’t get upset when you get caught in traffic; you know that God is directing your steps. you don’t get offended when somebody did you wrong; you know that God is your vindicator. you don’t live discouraged because you didn’t get the promotion; you know that God has something better in store. you don’t go around guilty because you made a mistake, give up on your dreams; you know that God’s mercy is bigger than that mistake. when your roots go down deep, you’re not moved by what doesn’t go your way; you live from a place of peace. the winds may blow, the storms may come, but you know that when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing, praising, smiling, victorious.

the scripture tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord

this is a choice that we have to make: “I’m not going to be moved by the circumstances. I’m not going to let what they’re saying about me steal my joy. I have a destiny to fulfill. I’m not going to live worried about my finances; I’m going to do my part, and trust God to do what I can’t do. I’m not going to base my value on how this person treats me, if they make me feel special. I know who I am, I’m a masterpiece; I’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made. My self-worth doesn’t come from people, it comes from my Creator.”

are you steadfast, immovable, do your roots go down deep? if not, life is going to be like a roller coaster; your joy and peace will depend on your circumstances, how people treat you, what goes your way. that’s surface living, shallow roots. God is saying, “be steadfast, immovable.” you have to dig down deep. as long as you’re allowing circumstances to determine whether or not you’re happy, you’ll never have real victory. and sometimes, we’re using our faith to try to control our circumstances; I’ve learned that it’s better to use my faith to control myself in the midst of those circumstances. when you’re in peace, that’s a place of power. here’s the key; if you don’t have peace on the inside, you’re not going to have peace on the outside.

some people wonder why they can’t have good relationships, be successful, get ahead; it’s because they have shallow roots. if you’ll stay in peace on the inside, not fight everything that doesn’t go your way, then you’ll see things on the outside begin to improve. every morning, before we leave the house, we should make the decision, “nothing that happens to me today is going to upset me. I have the grace to handle anything that comes my way.” you have to decide ahead of time; if the traffic is bad, you’re not going to get upset, if somebody’s rude, you’re not going to be offended, if you don’t get the contract, if your plans don’t work out, you’re not going to go around sour, in self-pity. that’s having deep roots.

one way you can tell how deep your roots are is, how easily do you get upset? if the pebbles that are getting thrown into your lake are causing you to lose your joy, be frustrated, you need to go down deeper. “somebody’s talking about me at work, trying to make me look bad, that’s why I’m sour.” that’s a pebble; the reason it’s bothering you is because you’re on the surface. “traffic was backed up last week; it took me an extra hour to get home”; another pebble. when you have deep roots, you’re grateful to be alive, have a job, be healthy; you’re not focused on what’s wrong, you’re too busy thanking God for what’s right. “I didn’t get the promotion, the medical report wasn’t good, a friend betrayed me, that’s why I’m discouraged”; I’m not making light of those things, but in the big picture, those are pebbles. when you know that God has beauty for those ashes, that He’ll pay you back for the unfair things, then even though the surface is disturbed, deep down, where you choose to live, you’ll feel at peace, rest; you’ll know this too shall pass.

Paul tells us in Colossians:

Colossians 2:7 (VOICE)

7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him

what are your roots going deep down in? if you put your trust in people, sometimes people will let you down.  if you put your trust in your job, career, money, unfortunately, things can change, and you don’t have what you had. but when you let your roots grow down deep in Him, you say, “God, I know that You’re my provider, healer, vindicator.  I recognize, You are the source of everything good.” then, when difficulties come, somebody does you wrong, you have an unexpected challenge, you won’t fall apart, live in self-pity; you’ll be strong, stable, immovable. why? because your roots go down deep in Him.

this is what a lady did in the scripture:

2 Kings 4:18-20 (NLT)

18 One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. 19 Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!” His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.” 20 So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap. But around noontime he died. 

this wasn’t a pebble; this was a boulder; everything on the surface was disturbed, it looked like it was all out of control. but this lady had deep roots; she knew that that unexpected challenge was not a surprise to God. she didn’t fall apart, get bitter; she was steadfast, immovable:

2 Kings 4:24-26 (ESV)

24 Then she saddled the donkey… When the man of God [Elisha] saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.”

how could she make that statement when she was in the middle of a crisis? she wasn’t living on the surface, responding to how she felt; she went by what she knew, and she knew that God was still on the throne, and that He could make a way even though she didn’t see a way.

2 Kings 4:32-35 (ESV)

32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed… 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

a great miracle. but like with this lady, sometimes it’s not a pebble thrown into your water, so to speak, it’s a boulder. we all face unexpected challenges, things that we didn’t see coming: a loss, lay-off, divorce, sickness. it’s easy to get overwhelmed, go around in self-pity, wondering why it happened, but if you’ll go down deeper, not talk about the problem, complain about how bad life’s treating you, but instead, like this lady, have a report of victory, “all is well, God is still on the throne, this too shall pass,” because you have deep roots, then even when life throws you a boulder, even when you should panic, you will feel a peace that passes understanding, and will have the strength to endure what should have taken you out.

the enemy did his best, he thought for sure that you’d be toppled over, depressed, given up, but he miscalculated; he can only see the outside. what he couldn’t see was what was underneath the surface; he didn’t realize that you have deep roots, you are steadfast, immovable. yes, he changed your circumstances, but you weren’t rooted in your circumstances, you were rooted in the most high God. He never changes; He has all power.

when you face unexpected challenges, something big, don’t let that become the focus of your life, consume you to where all you think about is: my sickness, my mistake, my breakup, my loss. keep living life; keep to your same routine the best that you can. some people let the problem become their identity; they become known as the crisis, so to speak. “I’m the man that went through a divorce, the lady that has cancer, the young person that lost a loved one”; that’s what happened to you, that’s not who you are. don’t let a temporary event become a permanent label.

in the scripture, Thomas doubted that Jesus rose from the dead:

John 20:24-25 (ESV)

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas, and changed his mind:

John 20:26-28 (ESV)

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas’ doubting was a very short period of time, a little over a week, but he became known as Doubting Thomas. sometimes, people will try to label you; if you don’t stay on the offensive, and keep moving forward, you can become what happened to you, instead of becoming who you were created to be. when you have deep roots, not moved by circumstances, you’re saying by your actions, “God, I trust You. I know You’re bigger than this sickness, greater than this opposition, stronger than this difficulty.” that’s when God will make things happen that you could never make happen.

the apostle Paul, in the scripture, he had a lot of challenges, unfair situations: he was falsely accused, beaten with rods, lied about, put in prison, shipwrecked, went without food and water, it was one challenge after another. but Paul gives us the secret of living a victorious life:

Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

24 But none of these things move me

he was saying, “yes, I was falsely accused, but I didn’t let it steal my joy, spend my life trying to pay people back; I let God be my vindicator. yes, I was shipwrecked, my plans didn’t work out, but I didn’t go around complaining; I knew that God was still on the throne. yes, I was put in prison, it wasn’t fair, but I didn’t sit around in self-pity, I started writing letters. they had me chained up and wouldn’t let me leave, but they couldn’t keep my words from going out.” Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, much of it from a prison cell. how could he do this? he had deep roots. he said, “none of these things move me.”

we all have “these things”: grouchy boss, negative medical report, business that slowed down. there’s always something trying to move us, pull us out of peace, rest. somebody cut you off in traffic; that’s a “these things.” are you going to let it move you, get upset, ruin your day? or, are you going to live from a deeper place, and stay in peace? that coworker that’s rude, left you out of a meeting; that’s a “these things.” or somebody sat in your favorite seat in church, you’ve been sitting there for 30 years, they knew it and came on purpose to beat you; “these things” can happen even in church. are you allowing “these things” to move you? you can’t pray them away. that coworker that gets on your nerves; if he does leave, 3 more people are going to show up just like him. “these things” are tests that we must pass. Jesus said:

John 14:27 (AMPC)

27 … Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed

John 14:27 (CJB)

27 … Don’t let yourselves be upset

he didn’t say, “if you’ll stay in faith, pray hard enough, I’ll take away all the traffic, opposition, criticism, disappointments.” he said, “they’ll come, but you don’t have to get upset, or be moved by them.” look at that negative medical report and say, “you don’t move me. I’m not going to live worried; God is restoring health back unto me.” look at that child that’s off course, and say, “you don’t move me. as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” it’s just a matter of time before you get into your destiny. look at that bank statement, and say, “you don’t move me. you may be low right now, but I know increase is on the way, I will lend and not borrow.” that coworker that’s always getting on your nerves, trying to aggravate you, when you see them Monday, just say, “hello, ‘these things’; I know who you are. I know the secret; I have deep roots. I’m staying in peace.”

Jesus told Peter:

Luke 5:4-6 (NKJV)

4 … “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Jesus was saying, in effect, “Peter, get out of the shallow waters, quit living on the surface. as long as you’re letting your circumstances determine your joy, that’s going to limit you.”

Luke 5:6 (NKJV)

6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

when you do it God’s way, you’re not moved by people, circumstances, disappointments. because you’re in the deep, you’re going to have an abundance of joy, of peace, of what you need. I wonder how much more we would enjoy life if we’d quit living on the surface and go down deeper. we let too many things upset us. somebody talking about you on social media; that’s one “these things.” your job is not to respond to every person, try to straighten them out, prove your point; your job is to be steadfast, immovable. that means let it go, don’t pay it any attention. the scripture tells us:

Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV)

28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit

Is like a city broken down, without walls.

it doesn’t say to rule somebody else’s spirit; you can’t control what other people think, say, about you. if you’re trying to rule them, that’s manipulation; you’re going to be frustrated. I’ve learned; it’s a full-time job to try to rule my own spirit. I don’t have the time, energy, wisdom, responsibility to try to rule somebody else’s. we spend too much time worried about what they’re saying, trying to change their mind. quit letting that move you.

part of ruling your spirit is to not let that poison in you. ships don’t sink because there’s water all around them; they sink when the water gets in them. there may be negative circumstances all around you, somebody’s spreading rumors, you’re dealing with an illness, finances have gone down, you’ve got good reasons to be upset, offended, worried. here’s the key; don’t let it get in you. rule your spirit. you can’t rule your boss, neighbor, the internet, stock market, but you can rule your own spirit. it’s powerful when we can say, with Paul, “none of these things move me. I’m not upset by what they’re saying; God’s fighting my battles. I’m not worried about the medical report; nothing can snatch me out of God’s hands. I’m not discouraged by this disappointment; I know that God didn’t bring me this far to leave me. He’s made a way in the past; I know He’ll make a way this time.” that’s ruling your own spirit. that’s a sign that you have deep roots.

“this sounds good, but I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I got off course, it was my own fault”; if you just stay on the surface, you’ll live guilty, condemned, down on yourself. the accuser will constantly whisper, “you blew it, you’re done, God’s never going to bless you.” but when you have deep roots, you know that God’s mercy is bigger than those mistakes, His calling on your life is irrevocable:

Romans 11:29 (MSG)

29 God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.

that means, God doesn’t change His mind because we make mistakes, or give up on us because we’re not where we’re supposed to be. when God hand-picked you, before you were formed in your mother’s womb, when He breathed life into you, He put you under a full lifetime warranty, saying, “they’re Mine, no matter where they go, what they do, I have a destiny for them to fulfill.” your mistakes did not cancel God’s plan for your life. quit believing those lies, “you’re washed up, settle for second-best”; get back in the game. God is not finished with you. He knew every mistake that you would make, and He has already lined up a new plan. you may have fallen down, but the right attitude is, “I’m not staying down; I know that I am under full warranty, and God will still get me to where I’m supposed to be.”

it’s interesting; when the winds blow a tree back-and-forth, put pressure and strain on the root system, you would think that was damaging the tree and making it weaker, but researchers have found that it’s actually strengthening the root system. it seems like the pulling and the stretching would be tearing the roots apart, but the movement is making it easier for the roots to grow. it’s the same way with us. that difficulty should’ve toppled you, damaged your roots so to speak, brought you out weaker, but just the opposite happened; you came through that challenge stronger, with greater confidence, your character was developed. the storm was sent to stop you, but God turned it around, and used it to strengthen you. that mistake, divorce, sickness, should have left you defeated, lonely, discouraged, but when you come out, you’ll not only still be standing, you’ll be better than you were before. your roots are getting strengthened.

I’m asking you today to quit living on the surface, being bothered by everything that doesn’t go your way. go down deeper; quit being moved by “these things.” life is way too short to let circumstances determine your joy; start ruling over your spirit. the next time you’re tempted to get upset, worried, offended, discouraged, try a new approach; be steadfast, immovable. if you’ll do this, because you have deep roots, God is going to fight your battles vindicate, promote, heal you, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

Daily direction

from JO’s sermon this week:

God said in Psalms:

Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.

He has the wisdom, guidance, direction, that we need, but it’s not going to happen automatically; every morning, we have to go to Him and say, “God, show me my assignment, what to do, where to go. give me the words to speak.” asking for wisdom, guidance, that’s an act of surrender; it takes humility to say, “God, You know what’s best for me. I can’t do this on my own; I need Your help. open the right doors, close the wrong doors. make the path clear.” the scripture says:

Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

but too often, we make our plans without consulting God, then we ask Him to bless those plans, and wonder why it’s a struggle, feels like it’s always uphill. we have it backwards; we’re making a move and then asking God for help. the right way is to ask God first; “God, what do You want me to do? should I date this person, start this new project, make this purchase?” if you feel peace about it, then move forward; if not, hold off, knowing that God knows what’s best for you.

in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus prayed:

Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)

11 Give us this day our daily bread

he didn’t say “our weekly bread,” “our monthly bread.” “I come to church every Sunday”; no, every morning, you need to go to God for your daily bread, wisdom, direction. 

too many times, we’re trying to do things only in our own strength, intellect, ability; that’s going to limit us. God can see things that you can’t see. He knows the right people who should be in your life, where the danger is, where the dead ends are, how to catapult you into your destiny. you have an advantage; are you taking time for your daily bread? sometimes we rush out of the house, “I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time today, I’ve got to get to work.” I live by this principle; never meet with other people before you meet with God. if you’ll take time to acknowledge God, say, “God, I need You today: lead me, guide me, keep me on the right path,” not only will your day go better, but God will keep you from making mistakes. when you get your daily bread, when every morning you ask God for wisdom, you’re showing your dependency on Him; when you humble yourself like that, the scripture says:

1 Peter 5:6 (NRSV)

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

a lot of people these days, they’re too prideful, they I think, “I don’t need any help, I can do this on my own, look how successful I am already.” think about where you could be if you’d start acknowledging God: the mistakes He could’ve saved you from, the opportunity, favor, the doors you couldn’t open, but God can open. don’t do it on your own; that will limit you. start getting your daily bread, direction.

when the Israelites were in the desert, headed toward the promised land:

Exodus 16:13-31 (NIV)

13 …  in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor… Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat… 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”… 21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away… 31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.

I’m sure that some people thought, “I don’t feel like going out tomorrow. I’m going to save some time and energy; I’m going to gather up enough for the whole week.”

Exodus 16:20 (NIV)

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.

the principal was, they had to go out and get fresh manna each day. “manna” sounds like the Hebrew word for “what is it?” when we go to God for our fresh manna each day, the right attitude is, “God, what is it that You want me to do? what is my assignment?” not giving God orders, telling Him what to do, how to do it; rather, “God, show me the best path, how to overcome this problem, accomplish my dreams.” are you getting your daily bread, checking in with headquarters to get your assignment each morning, asking God, “what is it?” or are you on autopilot, just doing what you’ve always done? the problem with that approach is that what worked in the past may not work today; sometimes, God will do things a different way. 

when the Israelites needed water out there in the desert, they were thirsty:

Exodus 17:6 (NIV)

6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

another time, when they needed water, same situation:

Numbers 20:7-11 (NIV)

7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water… 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out

the problem was, Moses was on autopilot; he didn’t listen, he thought, “I’ve got this, no problem, I’ve overcome this problem before, I can do it again” and he struck the rock. same problem, same desert, similar rock, but God had a different plan. God was saying, “Moses, just because I had you do it that way last time, doesn’t mean I want you to do it that way this time.” what am I saying? you can’t live off of yesterday’s manna and expect to have victory today. yesterday’s information may not work today. God is a God of freshness; He likes to do new things.

it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, thinking, “I don’t need daily direction. I’ve overcome this problem before; I’m going to use the same tactics to overcome it this time.” like with Moses, sometimes the old way doesn’t work. you need to get some fresh manna; if not, you’ll keep striking the rock when you should be speaking to the rock. it’s a small tweak, but you’ll only hear it if you’re getting your daily bread. stay open to change. be willing to try something new. what made you successful 5 years ago may not make you successful today. what worked in your marriage in the past may not work today. why don’t you get some fresh manna? have the attitude, “God, I’m ready for new things.”

I’ve heard it said; if you don’t innovate, you will evaporate. you can’t rely on what got you to where you are to keep you where you are. the world is changing; somebody wants your job, spouse, dreams. you can’t afford to sit back on autopilot and just coast, do things the same way; you’ll get left behind. the good news is, God has daily favor, ideas, wisdom, abundance. if you’ll stay open, He’ll lead you into the fullness of your destiny.

why couldn’t Moses strike the rock again? it worked the first time. it’s because God wants us to rely on Him, not some formula, thinking, “well, if I do this, that, and the other, then God will bless me.” if that’s all it took, we wouldn’t really need God; just follow these steps for success, keep striking the rock. on purpose, God changes the method, so we’ll have to go to Him for our daily bread. He’s looking for people who recognize that He’s the source of our strength, success, health, freedom, ideas, abundance. when you rely on Him, He’ll take you from victory to victory.

but here’s the whole key; He may not do it the same way. could it be that you’re stuck, not seeing the progress that you should, because you’re still striking the rock when you should be speaking to it? you’re stuck in tradition, the way it happened in the past, trying to duplicate the same way, when God is wanting to do a new thing, new way, with new ideas and people, bringing new talents out of you? if you’ll start getting your daily bread, listening to what God is saying now, then you’ll see that water begin to flow out of the rock in greater ways.

David understood this principle:

2 Samuel 5:17 (NIV)

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him

David was a warrior. he had conquered a lot of armies; his nature was to attack. but here’s why David was considered a man after God’s own heart:

2 Samuel 5:19 (NIV)

19 so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

notice his humility; he didn’t say, “I’ve got this. I’ve been there, done that, no problem”; he took time to inquire of the Lord. before he went to battle, he got quiet, and said, “God, what do You want me to do?” he was getting his daily direction. he didn’t assume that because something worked in the past, that it was going to work right there. he asked a very significant question; “God, will You hand this enemy over to me?” it seems like that would be a given. he was just put in charge of the Israelites, God’s chosen people; surely God wouldn’t let them be defeated. but the fact is, we’re not supposed to fight every battle. David was smart enough to ask, “am I supposed to attack?” he was saying, “God, if I go in there, are You going to going to with me?” he was showing his dependency on God; he recognized where his strength, favor, ability came from.

sometimes we assume, if there’s an obstacle, something trying to stop us, there is no question; “get in there and go to battle, God is on our side.” but a wiser approach is to say, “God, what is Your plan? how do You want me to respond opposition? shall I attack, or be still and let You fight for me? if I go in, God, are You going to go with me?” we’ve all fought battles where we didn’t come out the way we thought; maybe it was because we didn’t inquire of the Lord.

2 Samuel 5:19 (NIV)

19 … The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

once he got clear direction, knew that he had God’s blessing:

2 Samuel 5:20 (NIV)

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them.

if we would do like David and inquire of the Lord before we get into conflict, make big decisions, go to God for daily direction, daily manna, it would save us a lot of heartache and pain. I’ve learned; what God orders, He will pay for. but God is not obligated to bring victory to battles that we’re not supposed to be in. And yes, God is merciful, He’ll help us, but it’s much better to inquire of the Lord before you make important decisions.

2 Samuel 5:22 (NIV)

22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim

David could’ve thought, “this is a no-brainer. I don’t even have to pray about it this time, I know what to do; go down there and attack.” but David realized that he couldn’t live off of yesterday’s manna. he knew that yesterday’s information may not be appropriate for today’s challenge.

2 Samuel 5:23 (NABRE)

23 and again David inquired of the Lord, who replied: Do not attack the front

same valley, same enemy, but God said, “this time, I’m going to do it a different way. I don’t want you to go down and attack, but instead:

2 Samuel 5:23 (NIV)

23 … circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.

but if David had not inquired of the Lord, he would have done it the first way. that’s common sense; “hey, it worked last time, I’m sure it’s going to work this time.” but God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t want you to get hooked on a formula; He wants you to be hooked on Him. when you develop this habit of going to God for your daily bread, daily direction, saying, “God, how do You want me to respond? how should I deal with this situation in my health, finances? God, give me Your wisdom, insight, favor,” that’s how God will lead you down the best path for your life

are you fighting battles that you’re not supposed to fight? if God hasn’t given you permission, then you’re going to do it in your own strength, ability. it will be a constant struggle; there’s no grace for it. just because it was right last time, doesn’t mean that it’s right this time. like David, you may be skilled in battle; you’re tough, you can take on the best of them. but you have to check in with headquarters, get your assignment; “God, am I supposed to fight this battle? show me the right steps to take.” then listen to what you’re feeling down in here; not in your head, but in your heart. the scripture calls it:

1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)

12 … a still small voice

it’s an impression; you can’t explain it, you just know, “this is what I’m supposed to do.” that’s God giving you daily direction.

this is where Joshua and the Israelites got off course. they had just seen the walls of Jericho come down, a great miracle, they’d defeated other armies along the way; God’s favor was on them. but there was a group of people called the Gibeonites; they lived about two cities over from where Joshua and the Israelites were camped. when they heard how powerful and successful the Israelites were, they knew that they couldn’t compete with them, and that they too were going to be driven out of their land.

Joshua 9:3-14 (NIV)

3 However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”

7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”

8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.

But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”

9 They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God… 12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”

14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.

it looked like they were telling the truth. everything on the surface seemed like they were straight-up people. so:

Joshua 9:15-18 (NIV)

15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them… 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.

it was a big headache, but it all could’ve been avoided; the whole problem was, they did not consult with the Lord, they just looked at it on the surface. everything seemed fine, but God can see things that we can’t see; that’s why you need to go to Him before you get involved with people, sign the contract, put the money down. do yourself a favor, and consult with the Lord. because people are not always who they say they are; they can show you one side, the side they want you to see, but God can see the whole package. you can’t get so caught up in how beautiful she looks, or, “he’s tall, dark, handsome and rich; I don’t have to consult with the Lord, the Lord just answered my prayer”; you better step back, Joshua, you may end up with somebody who’s not who you think they are. everything is not what it seems; you better consult with the Lord.

I’m asking you today to go to God for daily direction. you’re not going to make the best decisions if you’re not consulting with the Lord. don’t do like Joshua, and try to figure it out in your own strength; do like David, and inquire the Lord. remember, yesterday’s manna is not going to be good for today. if you’ll develop this habit of going to God for fresh manna, God is going to lead you down the best path for your life, protect you from mistakes, bring the right people, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

Trouble is transportation

From JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through difficulties in life, things we don’t understand. it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “why is this happening to me?” but God uses difficulties to move us toward our destiny. nothing happens by accident; you may not understand it, but God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to work to your advantage. looking back over my life, the times I was uncomfortable, had a disappointment, somebody did me wrong, it didn’t make sense to me then, but years later I realized, if that hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have met that person, if that door wouldn’t have closed, this bigger door wouldn’t have opened, if those people wouldn’t have done me wrong, I wouldn’t have the experience I needed for this challenge that I’m facing. now I can see, the whole time God was directing my steps; I thought I was going backwards, but He was setting me up to move me forward. I didn’t like it, I felt like I was stuck, but the truth is, that trouble was transportation; it was moving me into my destiny.

you won’t become all that you were created to be without difficulties. you don’t grow in the good times; you grow in the tough times. trouble prepares you for the next level, develops something in you that you can’t gain when it’s easy and everything is going your way. in the difficult times, your spiritual muscles are developed; you gain strength, endurance, wisdom. every obstacle that you’ve been through has deposited something on the inside. every relationship that didn’t work out, you gained experience, something that will help you in the future. the times you failed, you blew it, they weren’t wasted; you gained insight. it’s all a part of God’s plan.

don’t complain about the trouble. don’t get upset because life dealt you a tough hand. the reason you have big challenges is because you have a big destiny; average people have average problems. ordinary people have ordinary challenges. here’s the key; you’re not average, ordinary, you’re a child of the most high God. the Creator of the universe breathed His life into you. He crowned you with favor, put seeds of greatness on the inside. you’re not ordinary, you’re extraordinary. don’t be surprised if you face extraordinary challenges; it’s because you have an extraordinary destiny. God is getting you prepared for something greater than you ever imagined.

think about Moses; he was born into trouble. it was no fault of his own. as a little baby, when he was the most vulnerable, life dealt him an unfair hand; the king ordered:

Exodus 1:15-16 (NIV)

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

it looked like Moses was done, too bad, he was born at the wrong time. but Moses had a mother who understood this principle; she didn’t believe that that trouble could keep her son from his destiny.

Exodus 2:3 (NIV)

3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.

Moses could’ve dumped over and drowned, starved to death, been eaten by wild animals; there were 1000 things that could’ve gone wrong. but that trouble wasn’t a surprise to God; the king issuing that death order did not cancel Moses’ purpose. God has the final say; people don’t determine your destiny, God does.

Exodus 2:5-10 (NIV)

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe… She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him… 10 … he became her son.

God could’ve stopped the trouble, caused the king to change his mind and not issue that death decree; that would’ve spared Moses’ life. instead, God used the trouble to move Moses to where He wanted him to be. Moses would have never learned what he needed for his destiny being raised in the environment that he was born into. in the palace, Pharaoh’s house, he learned about leadership, business, how to speak to people, how to conduct a meeting; the Egyptians were known for their superior education and ingenuity. 

you may not like the trouble, you’re uncomfortable, it’s not fair, but God knows what He’s doing; that trouble is transportation. just like with Moses, it’s taking you to the next level, getting you prepared. you wouldn’t be who you are today without all the things you’ve been through. don’t complain about the trouble; it’s not hindering you, it’s preparing you. it’s not going to defeat you, it’s going to promote you. you may not see how your situation could work out, but God has a way. He’s already lined up the right people. He has the breaks you need. like with Moses, there will be a Pharaoh’s daughter there to be good to you. you trust God when everything is good; why don’t you trust Him in the trouble, believe that even though you don’t understand it, He’s directing your steps?

you don’t have to live frustrated because you had a bad break; that trouble means that you’re headed somewhere, you’re on the way to your destiny. if you’ll stay in faith, you’ll begin to see God connect the dots; you’ll see that there was a reason that that door closed, that person walked away, it didn’t work out the way you had planned. it’s because God had something better in store; He was using that trouble to move you into your divine destiny. “something like that would never happen for me.” how do you know? your story is not over; God is not finished with you. that bad break, divorce, betrayal, loss, is not your final chapter; if you’ll keep being your best, dreaming, honoring God, that trouble won’t stop you, it will become transportation, and move you to the new things that God has in store.

what you’re dreaming about may be too small. that door may be closed because God has something bigger for you. you’re working for a company; one day, you’re going to own a company. you’re believing to manage that addiction; God is going to free you from the addiction. you’re content to be single for the rest of your life; God’s going to bring somebody better than you ever imagined.

don’t get discouraged by the trouble; it’s not the end. you trust God in the good times; I’m asking you to trust Him in the trouble. when you don’t understand it, you feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, dare to believe that He’s in control, knows what’s best, that your steps and stops are ordered by the Lord. it’s a powerful attitude when you can say, “God, it feels like I’m going backwards, but I trust You.” a lot of times, we try to pray away the difficulties, trouble, bad breaks. here’s the key; you’re not anointed from trouble, you’re anointed for trouble. the scripture says:

Psalm 46:1 (NASB)

1 God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

He’s not going to stop every disappointment, bad break, but He will give you the strength, grace, power to go through it with a good attitude.

Psalm 89:20-24 (NLT)

20 I have found my servant David.

    I have anointed him with my holy oil.

21 I will steady him with my hand;

    with my powerful arm I will make him strong.

22 His enemies will not defeat him,

    nor will the wicked overpower him.

23 I will beat down his adversaries before him

    and destroy those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and unfailing love will be with him,

    and by my authority he will grow in power.

it doesn’t say, “I will anoint him so that he doesn’t have problems, opposition,” it says, “I’m anointing him for the trouble, sickness, legal battle.” quit telling yourself, “I can’t take this, it’s too much for me”; you’re anointed for that difficulty. just like with David, right now, God is steadying you, making you strong. you don’t have to fight those battles, live stressed out; God said HE would push down your enemies. that sickness, legal problem, trouble at work, is not going to get the best of you. why? you’re anointed for trouble. I’m looking at powerful, anointed, determined, favored people. the most high God says, “you will rise to power”; that means, you will see increase, promotion, healings, breakthroughs.

you may be in trouble; don’t worry, it’s not permanent, it’s transportation. you’re about to see God begin to connect the dots in your life; it hadn’t made sense in the past, but you’re going to see what God has been up to. instead of fighting everything that doesn’t go your way, why don’t you believe that God knows what He’s doing? instead of saying, “God, why is this happening to me?” no, “God, I know, You’ve got me in the palm of Your hand. You’re directing my steps. Lord, I may not understand it, but I trust You.” 

this is what Joseph had to do in the scripture. as a teenager, God gave him a dream that he would lead a nation, but along the way, one bad thing after another happened to him: he was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, put in prison. he spent years doing the right thing with the wrong thing happening. it didn’t look like it would ever work out, but Joseph understood this principle; that as long as he kept being his best, that trouble could not keep him from his destiny, it was moving him forward. if you study his life, you’ll see how God connected all of the dots. every step was strategically orchestrated; if you left one out, the next one wouldn’t work. if Joseph’s brothers hadn’t have thrown him into a pit, he never would’ve been sold into slavery to a man named Potiphar. if he had never been sold to Potiphar, he would never have met Potiphar’s wife, and been falsely accused and put in prison. if he hadn’t been in prison, he would’ve never met the butler and the baker and told them that he knew how to interpret dreams. if he hadn’t told them that, the Pharaoh would have never called him up to interpret his dreams, and eventually put Joseph in charge of the whole nation.

any of those steps along the way, if you isolate them, it doesn’t make sense, it looks like a bad break. but you have to believe, like Joseph, that that disappointment, what looks like a betrayal, a setback, is all a part of God’s plan. it’s transportation; it’s moving you little by little into your destiny. God knows what He’s doing. God knew that He would need someone in control of Egypt that would show favor to the Israelites, so years earlier, He started this process of getting Joseph in place. it looked like trouble, but the truth is, it was the hand of God. Joseph’s brothers took his coat of many colors, his coat of favor, but they could not take the calling on his life. what people take from you cannot stop your purpose. what’s on the inside is more powerful than anything that’s on the outside. you keep doing the right thing despite the trouble, bad break, betrayal, one day you’ll see, like Joseph, God begin to connect the dots. God will take you to your throne, so to speak. you’ll say like Joseph did:

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good

the scripture talks about:

Psalm 34:19 (NIV)

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all

that means that God will stop the trouble. but another way to see it is like the post office delivers a package; it may start in New York, but it gets delivered to California. “deliver” means that they transport it, move it from one location to another. that package might have to go through 5 different stops along the way. in the same way, right now, God is delivering you from trouble; you’re en route, the process has started. there may be a few stops along the way; don’t worry, you’re not delivered yet. like Joseph, you may be in the pit, in the prison, but the palace is coming. you’re in debt? God is delivering you into abundance. you’re dealing with depression? He’s delivering you into joy. you’re fighting that illness? He’s delivering you into health, wholeness and victory.

when thoughts tell you, “this trouble is permanent, it’s never going to change,” just answer back, “no, I’m being delivered. I’m already en route. I know that this sickness, trouble, is only temporary; it’s just a stop along the way.” your trouble is transportation. you may feel like you’re trapped in negative circumstances: depression, addiction, mediocrity. it doesn’t seem like anybody can hear you; you don’t think you could ever get out. that is not how your story ends. the same God that brought Joseph out is the God that’s going to bring you out.

I believe tonight that dreams, hope, health, abundance are waking up. that trouble is not going to stop you, it’s going to move you to a level of your destiny that you could’ve never experienced without it. you may not have chosen what you’ve been through, but when you see how God pays you back, the new doors He opens, how He uses it to your advantage, you’re going to say, “I wouldn’t change it.” friends, you are anointed for that trouble. it may look like a setback, but really it is a setup for God to do something greater in your life. if you’ll trust God in the trouble, your trouble will become transportation; God is going to open new doors, turn impossible situations around, and take you into the fullness of your destiny.