Archive for January, 2013

from JO’s sermon tonight:

one touch of God’s favor can put you 50 years down the road.  you can be at a lower position at the office, you’re going along, being your best, honoring God, and suddenly things change;  one good break, idea, person that likes you, you look up and find yourself at the top.  you didn’t see it coming, things just fell into place;  that’s God shifting things in your favor.  God can cause opportunity to find you.  He has unexpected blessings;  suddenly you meet the right person, your health improves, you’re able to pay your house off.  what happened, you came into a shift;  God breathed in your direction.  what used to be a struggle is not anymore, what should have taken years happened in a fraction of the time. you may feel like you’re stuck today, you could never accomplish a dream, overcome a problem, it’s been too long, you’ve missed too many opportunities;  God is sayin’, “no, get ready, I’m about to shift things, doors are going to open for you that have not opened in the past, the people that were against you are going to suddenly change their mind and be for you, that problem that’s dogged you for years, looked like it’d never change, it’s going to suddenly turn around.”  this is the year of the shift;  because you’ve honored God, He’s gonna put you in a position that you could have never attained on your own.  it’s not just your education, talent, or the family you came from, it’s the hand of God, shifting you to a new level of your destiny.

I’m not just trying to make you feel good today, I’m prophesying a shift is coming;  a shift in your health, finances, a relationship. it may not look like it in the natural, but we serve a supernatural God.  He’s about to breathe in your direction in a new way, the enemies you’ve seen in the past you will see no more:  the addictions, bad habits that are holding you back, are being broken, and God’s favor is being released in a  new way.  it’s going to propel you forward;  what should have taken you 40 years to accomplish, God’s going to do in a split second.  the shift is acceleration, going beyond where you could go on your own, overcoming what a medical report says is impossible, seeing that wayward child change his mind and get back on the right course, having your best year when the circumstances say you should have a down year, seeing Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our provider, not only provide, but do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond. our attitude should be, “God I’m ready.  I’m taking the limits off of you, enlarging my vision.  I may not see a way but I know You have a way.  I declare I’m coming into a shift.”  those doors that were closed in the past, you need to go check again, things have shifted.  the dream you had, to start a new business, go back to college, it may not have happened the first time, but that’s ok, it’s prepared you for this time.  don’t give up on it, it’s a new day;  things have shifted, pursue it again.  when God breathes in your direction, people change their mind, closed doors suddenly open, the noes turn into yeses, the “not nows” into “it’s your time.”  you need to get ready, these shifts are in your future.

the Israelites had been in slavery for many years, mistreated by their captors, forced to work long hours, not given the proper rest or food;  one day through a series of events, God supernaturally brought them out.  as they were leaving, God caused them to have favor with their enemies:

Exodus 3:21-22 (NIV)

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

Exodus 12:35-36 (NIV)

35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

notice, God caused them to have favor.  the same people that had oppressed them for years, pushed them down and mistreated them, suddenly changed their mind;  they said in effect, “we’ve decided that we like you now, we want to be good to you.”  (NB:  what it actually says in the Bible is that God “struck down all the firstborn in Egypt,” and that’s why Pharaoh told them to go, for fear of their lives, not because of a change of heart…  but it was still a shift caused by God, so the principle is the same.)  on their way out, they gave the Israelites their gold, silver and jewels;  what happened?  the Israelites came into a shift;  God changed their enemies’ mind.

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV)

21 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

we may not be able to change people’s mind, but God can;  He controls the whole universe.  you may have people in your life like this, people that don’t like you;  a boss that’s hard to get along with, a family member that’s disrespectful.  it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “this is always gonna be this way, they’re always gonna be against me.”  no, stay in faith, God has a shift coming, God knows how to cause them to like you, God can cause them to see you in a new light.  they may have been against you year after year, but when God shifts things, they’ll go out of their way to be good to you.  instead of hindering you, they’ll help you.  God will not allow any person to keep you from your destiny;  they may be bigger, stronger, more powerful, but God knows how to shift things around and get you to where you’re supposed to be.  quit worrying about the people that are trying to hold you back;  God knows how to move the wrong people out of your life and bring the right people in.  and even if God doesn’t move them:

Psalm 18:29 (AMP)

29 For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.

God can cause you to go over, around or through them, but God is going to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  some of you feel like you’re too far back, the obstacles are too big, you can never really get ahead, no, all God has to do is breathe in your direction;  one simple shift can take you from the back to the front:  one good break, idea, divine connection. all God has to do is shift the direction, and you’ll go from the back up to the front;  you are one shift from seeing a dream come to pass, seeing your health improve, meeting the right person.  you can’t have faith if you don’t first have hope.  when you go out with the attitude, “God, I believe things are shifting in my favor this year,” that’s not just being positive, that’s your faith being released.  God says to the angels, “they believe I’m all-powerful, I can do the impossible;  let Me move this person out of the way, open up this new door, line up this new relationship, turn that negative situation around.”

Luke 4:17-19 (MSG)

he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written…  “This is God’s year to act!”

not next year, not in 5 years, not in the sweet by-and-by, this is the year God’s gonna shift things in your favor.  He’s getting it all lined up.  what you could not make happen on your own, God is going to cause you accomplish  it’s going to be bigger than you thought, it’s going to happen quicker than you imagined, and it’s going to be more rewarding than you ever dreamed of.

(NB:  in Genesis 32:28 Jacob is renamed Israel;  JO keeps saying Jacob in the following story, but by this point in the Bible he is Israel, as shown in the scripture included below)

Jacob was an old man, very close to death;  his son Joseph came to visit him, and say his goodbyes.  he and his father were very close;  Joseph was Jacob’s favorite child, he was the youngest son, the one Jacob gave the coat of many colors to.  Joseph was standing before him with his 2 sons:

Genesis 48:13-20 (NIV)

13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn…

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” … 20So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

the right hand in those days always gave the greatest blessing;  it belonged to the first-born son, that was the tradition.  Jacob was saying in effect, “Ephraim may have come 2nd, he may have been in the back, he doesn’t deserve it, didn’t qualify for it, he’s not next in line, but I’m shifting him to a new position, I’m taking him from the back up to the front, I’m gonna give him what he doesn’t deserve.”  (NB:  the general opinion seems to be that Israel foresaw that Ephraim would be greater and thus gave him the greater blessing, but the Bible is mum on that and JO’s guess could be as valid as anyone else’s.)  that’s the way our God is;  He has shifts in your future that will put you at a position that you didn’t earn, qualify for, you weren’t next in line, you didn’t have seniority, but God is gonna cross his hands and say, “I’m gonna move them up from the back to the front, from not being qualified to suddenly being qualified, from being looked down on, disrespected, to being honored, seen with influence and credibility.”  some people will be bothered by it, they think, “that’s not fair, I worked harder, I have more seniority,” but it’s just the goodness of God.  God said because you honor Him, He’ll give you:

Joshua 24:13 (NIV)

So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant

that’s God crossing His hands, giving us what should have taken years to earn.  God is saying to you, “I’m gonna bless you on purpose, move you up, accelerate your dreams, give you what you didn’t deserve, shift you into a position that you could have never gotten to on your own.” we can all make excuses, “I’m not qualified, I’ve made too many mistakes, I don’t have the talent, size, personality, confidence”;  God says, “I know all that, I created you, but I’m about to cross my hands and bless you in such a way that everyone will know it’s Me and not you.” don’t talk yourself out of it.  Moses said, “God, not me, I stutter, I can’t go speak to Pharaoh”

Exodus 6:12 (MSG)

12 Moses answered God, “Look – the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.”

God said, “Moses, don’t worry about it, I’m crossing my hands, I’m giving you what you need.” Gideon said, “God, I come from the poorest family, I’m the least one around here, I can’t lead this army”;  God said, “Gideon, don’t worry, I’m crossing my hands, you’re coming into a shift, I’m gonna move you from the back to the front.”

Judges 6:15-16 (NIV)

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

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

a shift is coming.  whatever level you’re at, God is about to cross His hands and put you at a position you could have never gotten to on your own (as I typed this, a car ad (Lincoln) talked about “shifting”);  He’s gonna give you what you weren’t in line to receive. start expecting unprecedented favor, believing for God to do something new in your life. many of you can say that God’s been good to you;  you’re blessed, healthy, got a good family, great job, and that’s all perfect, but you haven’t seen anything yet.  God has shifts in your future that if He showed you now you wouldn’t believe it;  it’s exceedingly abundantly above and beyond.  you think you’re hitting on all cylinders, but if you only knew what God has in store, it’s like you’re in 2nd gear;  you’re making progress, healthy, moving forward, but God is about to shift you out of 2nd, past 3rd, 4th, into overdrive.  you’re going to see the surpassing greatness of God’s favor.  because you’ve honored God, living a life of excellence and integrity, God’s going to take you beyond your training, education, income, beyond where anyone in your family has gone;  this shift is gonna put you in a place where you’ll look back and say, “wow, God, you have amazed me with your goodness.”

when the Israelites were in the desert headed toward the promised land, they had manna to eat each day, it’s something like bread.  after a while they got tired of it;  they complained to Moses that they didn’t have any meat to eat, and:

Numbers 11:13-23 (NLT)

13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep complaining and saying, ‘Give us meat!’… 18 “And tell the people to purify themselves, for tomorrow they will have meat to eat. Tell them, ‘The LORD has heard your whining and complaints: “If only we had meat to eat! Surely we were better off in Egypt!” Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. 19 And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 20 You will eat it for a whole month…  21 But Moses said, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you promise them meat for a whole month! 22 Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?” 23 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Is there any limit to my power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!”

God was saying, “just because you don’t see a way, Moses, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a way;  all I have to do is shift a few things around and I can bring it to pass.”

Numbers 11:31 (KJV)

31 And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.

notice how good God is;  they didn’t even have to go out and hunt, the quail came to them, they just went out of their tent, picked up as many as they wanted.  God knows how to shift things so that blessings come to you, the right people search you out, good breaks find you.  when you honor God, when you’re good to people, kind, compassionate, merciful, the blessings will come looking for you.  you don’t have to go after them, God will shift things to cause the right people to come across your path.  God will put you at the right place at the right time, so provision, opportunity, it comes to you.

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

…‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.

that word “spirit” in the Hebrew means “breath.”  it’s saying, it’s not gonna happen just by our talent, connections, who we know;  it’s going to happen because God breathes in our direction, God shifts the winds and blows healing, promotion, restoration our way.  how are you going to get well, the medical report says it’s impossible, no, God is breathing healing your way;  health, wholeness, restoration, it’s headed toward you.  how are you gonna accomplish your dreams, you may not know the right people or have the $ or feel like you have the talent, no, God is breathing ideas, resources, the right people. if you will stay faithful and just keep honoring God, suddenly things will change.  suddenly you come into abundance, your child straightens up, you get well.  some of you have struggled in an area, health, finances, relationship, for a long time, and you keep wondering, is it ever gonna change?  God is saying, “yes, a shift is coming, I’m gonna shift you outta sickness into health, out of lack into abundance, out of struggle into ease.  I’m about to cross My hands and give you what you did not deserve.”  get ready, this is the year of the shift.  because you have been faithful and honored God, God is going to put you at a position you could’ve never gotten to on your own.  doors are gonna open for you that have not opened before.  what should have taken you 40 years to accomplish, God’s gonna do in a split second.  you’re coming into acceleration.  suddenly a dream comes to pass, a promise is fulfilled, the negative turns around.  get ready for the surpassing greatness of God’s favor, 2013 is gonna be an exceptional year for you and your family;  you’re going to come into these shifts.

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God gets my $ back

I’ve been participating on one of those sites where you answer questions for points towards prizes since I got online at the turn of the century.  Most of the time they didn’t have anything I wanted, or if they did they kept increasing the # of points required to get it so I ended up never redeeming.  I didn’t have time to participate after my mother’s death turned my life upside-down, and when I finally logged back in I discovered that over a decade’s worth of points had been confiscated because it had been too long since I’d done it.  This sort of thing is in place in many companies so that when people mess around a little, get a few points and then wander away, they don’t have to keep their accounts and earnings on the books forever for no reason.  They will usually refund your points immediately if you ask them to.

THIS company did NOT, which was of concern because in their new rewards scheme, which now has gift cards, the points were worth over $150.  I got snippy replies about how they’re not obligated, blah blah, and saying that I could do more questions and re-earn the missing points.  I replied that it being theoretically possible to re-earn the points in another DOZEN years did NOT make up for what was lost, that this wasn’t points in a Facebook game that didn’t mean anything, it was a significant amount of $ earned in good faith, and that their hidden confiscation rules were not intended to take a lifetime of earnings away from a very long-term member.  I asked to be escalated to someone who could make a ruling for my specific case…  and to be treated like a valued member.  I don’t know where that last line came from…  or rather I DO, in other words God gave me the magic phrase.

After a couple of refusals, they finally escalated me…  and today I heard from a senior rep, informing me that because of the length of my membership they were refunding all of my points….  because they value my membership.  See how that’s not a coincidence?

I thanked God that I knew He would cause my $ to be returned….  every day of the MONTH this situation ended up taking.  And God came through again, as He always does.  And of course I have thanked Him many times today, ever since I clicked the email that informed me of the return of the points.  He gave me the right thing to say, got me to the right person, and got me the optimal result.  How do people NOT believe in Him when He does so much?

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Remembering the good

from JO’s sermon tonight:

our memory is very powerful.  you can be driving in your car, all of a sudden you remember a tender moment with your child, a hug, a kiss, could have been 5 years ago, somethin’ funny that they did, but when you remember it, it’ll bring a smile to your face, you’ll start t0 feel those same emotions, joy and warmth, just like it was happening again.  on the other hand, you can be enjoying the day, everything’s going great, but then start to remember a sad event, where you weren’t treated right, somebody did you wrong, you went through a loss, before long you’ll be down and discouraged.  what made you sad?  dwelling on wrong memories.  what made you happy?  dwelling on right memories. our mind will naturally gravitate toward the negative.  a study showed how positive and negative memories are handled by different parts of the brain.  a negative memory takes up more space, there’s more to process. because of this, we will remember the negative more than the positive.  a person will remember losing $50 more than they will remember gaining $50;   the negative carries more weight, it has a greater impact than the positive.

knowing this, we have to be proactive.  when the negative memories come back to the movie screen of your mind, many people watch them all over again:  “can’t believe they hurt me, that was so unfair, why do I have all these bad breaks?”  no, that’s not the only channel, there’s another movie playing;  it’s not your defeats, failures, disappointments, it’s a channel filled with your accomplishments, victories, the things you’ve done right, the times you were promoted, met the right person, bought the new house, your child was born healthy.  instead of staying on that negative channel, you gotta switch over to your victory channel.  you’re not going to move forward into the new things God has in store if you’re always replaying the negative things that have happened to you.  we’ve all been through disappointments, setbacks, bad breaks;  those memories will play the most often.  the good news is, you have the remote control.  just because the memory comes up doesn’t mean you have to watch it.  learn to change the channel.

some of you need to start changing the channel;  you’re reliving all your hurts, disappointments, bad breaks.  as long as you’re replaying that, you’re never going to really heal.  it’s like a scab that’s starting to get better, but if you keep picking at it it has to start all over again.   emotional wounds are the same way;  if you’re always reliving your hurts, watching them on the movie screen of your mind, talkin’ about it, tellin’ your friends, that’s just reopening the wound.  you have to change the channel.  it may be difficult, you may have had a lot of unfair things happen, but when you look back over your life, can you find at least one time where God’s done something good for you?  can you remember at least one time where it was the hand of God promoting you, protecting you, healing you?  then switch over to that channel, get your mind going in a new direction.  we all make mistakes, we all do things we wish we had done differently, but that is not supposed to be on the forefront of our minds;  you’re supposed to remember what you’ve done right, the times you’ve succeeded, your victories, the times you overcame the temptation, went out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

the reason some people are not happy is they remember every mistake they’ve made since 1927, they got a running record.  the enemy doesn’t have to accuse them, they do it for him.  do yourself a big favor;  change the channel, quit dwelling on how you don’t measure up, you should have been stronger, more disciplined, resisted that temptation.  no, you may have fallen, but dwell on the fact that you got back up again, you’re here today.  you may have made a poor choice, but dwell on the fact that you’ve made a lot of great choices.  you may have some weaknesses, but dwell on the fact that you have a whole lotta strengths.  quit focusing on what’s wrong with you, and start focusing on what’s right with you.  you’re not going to become everything God’s created you to be if you’re against yourself.

you have to retrain your mind, be disciplined about what you allow yourself to dwell on;  those negative memories take up the most space, those movies are going to play the most often.  recognize what’s happening, and learn to change that channel.  some people won the game, but they remember every mistake they made, they never feel good about themselves, they never did it good enough.  it’s all in how we’ve trained our mind, it depends on what channel we’re watching.  I cannot find one place in the scripture where it tells us to remember our defeats, failures, hurts;  no, it says again and again to remember the great things God has done. stay on your victory channel.  remember how God gave you that promotion even though you weren’t the most qualified.  remember when you went through that loss;  you should have had a nervous breakdown, but you felt a supernatural strength, and here you are today better than ever.

Psalm 77:11-12 (NLT)

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
12 They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.

Psalm 77:11-12 (NIV)

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

they’re supposed to be constantly in our mind.  the mistake we make too often is we remember what we should be forgetting, our hurts, failures, disappointments, and we forget what we should be remembering;  our victories, accomplishments, the times God’s brought us through.  in the Old Testament, God commanded them to have certain festivals;  one of the main reasons is so they would remember what God had done. several times a year, they’d all stop what they were doing, come together, and they would celebrate how God brought them out of slavery, defeated this enemy, protected them over here. they were required to remember.  another place talks about how they put out memorial stones, these were big boulders, we might call them historical markers today, that reminded them of specific victories.  every time they walked by, they’d say “that stone is for when God brought us out of slavery, healed my child, provided for our needs.”  these memorial stones helped it to stay fresh in their memory;  every one of us should have our own memorial stones.

when you look back over your life, you should remember, not the times you failed, went through a breakup, your boss did you wrong, the business went down;  that’s remembering what you should be forgetting.  switch over to the other channel;  remember when you were lonely, and God brought somebody great into your life?  remember when the medical reports said it was impossible, but God supernaturally healed you?  remember when it was dark, you didn’t think you’d have another happy day, but God not only turned it around, He gave you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning?  all of us should have our memorial stones out.  do you have any memorial stones out in your own life?  what you are remembering will determine what kind of life you’re going to live.   if you’re remembering all your defeats, your failures, hurts, it’s gonna cause you to be stuck in a rut;  if you could just change what you’re remembering, start remembering your victories, that can cause you to go to a new level.  you may be in a tough time, you’re facing an obstacle, but when you remember the right things, you won’t be saying, “aw man, this is gonna be the end of me, I’m never gonna get out,” no, you’ll be saying, “God, you did it for me once, I know you’ll do it for me again.  I’ve seen your goodness in the past, I know I’ll see it in the future.”

when David was about to face Goliath, a giant nearly twice his size, he could have focused on how big Goliath was, how he had more training, equipment, experience;  that would have just made him discouraged.  but instead he thought about:

1 Samuel 17:36-37 (NIV)

36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

what was he doing? remembering his victories.  he could have remembered how his brothers mistreated him, tried to make him feel small, or how his father had disrespected him;  there were a lot of things in David’s past, negative, like in all of our lives, but David understood that dwelling on your defeats, failures, hurts, that causes you to stay stuck in a rut.  he chose instead to dwell on his victories;  he not only overcame that obstacle, but many others.  he became everything that God created him to be.  you may be up against a giant today;  the way you’re going to overcome is just like David, not going around thinking, “this is impossible, it’s never going to work out,” no, all through the day, start remembering your victories, go over your memorial stones.  “Lord, I remember that time when all the odds were against me but You made a way, protected me, blessed, promoted, vindicated me, made my wrongs right.”   recall your victories, remembering the good things God has done;  that’s what helps you to stay strong,  it would do us all good on a regular basis to go back over 1 by 1 the major victories in life, successes.  God has done something great for every one of us.  remember the day your child was born healthy, that was the goodness of God, a miracle.  remember when God gave you that job, that was His hand of favor.  remember when God spared your life from that accident, another split second and you would have been harmed, that was His angels watchin’ over you.  remember that person God brought into your life, you fell in love and got married, that wasn’t a coincidence, that was the goodness of God.  keep your memorial stones out, go over them on a regular basis.

if you’d spend the same amount of time dwelling on your victories as you do your disappointments, you’d see your life go to a whole new level.  in the Old Testament they celebrated their victories every year;  they had a party, singing, dancing, a festival.  when you develop this habit of remembering the good, it not only affects your personality, how you carry yourself, your attitude, but it’ll affect the way you pray;  it won’t be, “God, please, I need healing, I’m sick, I need a miracle, You gotta bless me,”  no, you’ll say, “Lord, I want to thank You for how You’ve healed me in the past, taken care of me through the years, I know if You did it once, I just want to thank You in advance that You’ll do it again.” if you’re just praying for your needs, “God I need this, I need that,” you’ll probably end up discouraged;  but when you thank God for what He’s already done, when you remember your victories, how He’s promoted, protected, healed you, by the time you’re done prayin’ you’ll be all fired up, you’ll be strong, confident, you know that answer is on the way.

God supernaturally brought the Israelites out of slavery. God sent plague after plague on their enemies;  they were living next door, but none of those plagues ever affected them.  they came to a dead-end at the Red Sea, looked like it was over, Pharoah and the army changed their mind, comin’ after them;  God supernaturally parted the sea, they went through on dry ground.  God gave them water out of a rock, He brought them food out in the desert;  they had seen again and again God’s incredible miracles, yet in spite of all of this they never made it into the Promised Land

Psalm 78:11 (NASB)

11 They forgot His deeds
And His miracles that He had shown them.

when you forget what you should be remembering, it can keep you out of your promised land.  they got discouraged, started complaining, here they’d seen God’s do the impossible again and again, but because they forgot about it, got negative, worried, afraid, they missed out on God’s best.  are you forgetting what God has done in your life?  have you let something that was once a miracle become ordinary?  it doesn’t excite you anymore, you don’t thank God for it.  no, when you look back over your life, remember what it took to get you to where you are, big things and even little things.  next time you’re tempted to think, “my problem’s too big, I’ll never accomplish my dreams,” no, go back and remember all the Red Seas God has parted for you, remember all the enemies God’s defeated for you, the times God has shown you favor, mercy, restored you;  every one of us can look back and see the hand of God in our life.  you can say God has opened doors for you that should have never opened on their own, God has helped you accomplish what you could have never accomplished on your own, brought us through difficulties that at one time seemed totally impossible.  if we’re going to stay encouraged, and step into the new doors, and see God turn the negative around, one of the keys is you can’t forget what God has already done.

Joel 1:3 (NLT)

Tell your children about it in the years to come,
    and let your children tell their children.
    Pass the story down from generation to generation.

we should pass down stories of God’s goodness.  where would we be without the goodness of God?  don’t keep it to yourself, tell your children, your grandchildren. don’t forget what it took to get you to where you are;  you didn’t get here just in your own strength, education, talent, there were a lot of miracles along the way, not only in your life but in the people that came before you, raised you.  if you’ll look closely, you’ll see God’s goodness all through your family line.  you should not only remember it, but tell it to your children, your grandchildren;  pass it down to the next generation.  the more you brag on God’s goodness, the more of His goodness you will see.  in the Old Testament, we hear a lot about the staff that people would carry around with them.   it wasn’t just a walking sick, not just something to keep wild animals away, it was more significant than that;  back in those days, they were a nomadic people, that meant they were always on the move. they didn’t have computers, files, paper like we have today;  one of the main ways they kept important records, dates, was to etch it on their staff. their staff was literally their personal record of their history with God.  when Moses parted the Red Sea he held up his staff;  he was saying in effect, “Lord, we thank you for all the things you’ve done in our past, we remember how you have delivered us time and time again.”  they were remembering the great things God had done.  when David went to face Goliath, he didn’t just take his slingshot, he carried his staff:

1 Samuel 17:40 (NIV)

40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

some of you need to get your staff out;  you’re up against a big challenge, your dreams look impossible.  instead of going around thinking, “it’s never gonna work out,” no, start dwelling on your victories, thinking about the times you’ve killed the lion and the bear in your own life, so to speak.  recall all the times God has promoted you, put you at the right place, healed a family member, made a way when you didn’t see a way;  don’t forget about what God has done. on a regular basis, go back over your memorial stones;  that’s the equivalent of holding your staff up.  when those negative memories come back up, hurts, failures, disappointments, the trick of the enemy is to keep you so focused on that that you get stuck in a rut.  remember, that is not the only channel;  switch over to your victory channel.  get your mind going in the right direction, and your life will go in the right direction.  if you’ll develop this habit, of remembering the good, your accomplishments, victories, the times God’s brought you through, then you will have the faith, courage, confidence to step into the amazing future God has in store.  you will defeat every enemy, overcome every obstacle, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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I’ve had a preponderance of certain images or symbols in my life for quite a while now;  one of them is the olive.  An olive branch has a clear meaning, a Biblical meaning, and the 1st mention I recorded containing “olive” was in fact of that form, due to a hit from Olive Branch, Mississippi.  I’ve always wondered if there was further meaning, and then today my daily Bible verse email contained:

Psalm 52:8 (KJV)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

Wanting context and a better-liked Bible version, I got this:

Psalm 52:1-9 (NLT)

   1 Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever?

All day long you plot destruction.
    Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor;
    you’re an expert at telling lies.
You love evil more than good
    and lies more than truth. Interlude

You love to destroy others with your words,
    you liar!
But God will strike you down once and for all.
    He will pull you from your home
    and uproot you from the land of the living. Interlude

The righteous will see it and be amazed.
    They will laugh and say,
“Look what happens to mighty warriors
    who do not trust in God.
They trust their wealth instead
    and grow more and more bold in their wickedness.”

But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God.
    I will always trust in God’s unfailing love.
I will praise you forever, O God,
    for what you have done.
I will trust in your good name
    in the presence of your faithful people.

What happened to the “green”?  I check the Amplified version:

Psalm 52:8 (AMP)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in and confidently rely on the loving-kindness and the mercy of God forever and ever.

JP prefers Young’s because it’s direct from the Greek, and it says:

Psalm 52:8 (YLT)

And I, as a green olive in the house of God, I have trusted in the kindness of God, To the age and for ever

It’s green, but no longer a TREE…  and a tree wouldn’t be in a house per se, although “house” is a broad metaphor here.  Whatever, the olive seems like a thing you’d want to be, symbolically speaking, right?  You’d be the total opposite of the liar and destroyer, the lover of evil.  You’d have total proximity to and dependency on God, surrounded by His love and kindness;  hard to beat THAT.  I’m happy to “be an olive.”

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Not giving away your joy

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we have opportunities every day to get upset, frustrated:  can’t find the car keys, traffic is backed up, or maybe somebody was rude to us, or what should have taken an hour took 4 hours;  there will always be something that can sour our day.  if we’re going to live in victory, we have to have the right approach to life;  life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond.  some people are frustrated because they’re trying to control the 10%;  they won’t be happy unless everything goes their way, everybody treats them right, all their plans work out.  that’s the wrong approach;  you can’t control the traffic, what your neighbor does or how your boss treats you, all you can control is your own response.  that’s where the power lies, not in trying to control everyone and everything.  people say, “I’d be happy if my spouse treated me better, my boss would move to another planet, I didn’t have to sit in traffic,” no, you’re allowing what you can’t control to sour your life.  you have to change your approach.  at the 1st part of the day, before we get out of bed, we need to make a decision that no matter what comes our way we’re not going to get upset.  no matter what somebody says, we’re not going to be offended, no matter what interruption or delay, we’re not going to be sour.

the key is to decide ahead of time, then when life happens, traffic is worse than normal, your plans don’t work out, it’s no big deal;  you’ve already decided this is the day the Lord has made, you’re going to live it happy.  but you can’t wait until you’re in the heat of the battle, it’s too late, you’ve gotta decide ahead of time, then when things come against you you’re prepared, your mind is already made up.  too often, we think, “God if you’d just change these people, circumstances, then I could be happy,” but you can take someone with the right approach and put them in your same situation and they wouldn’t be upset, stressed, they’d be at peace, enjoying life.  why?  they know God is in control, that He’s directing their steps, that all things are going to work together for their good;  they’re already made this decision that no matter what comes their way, they’re going to live their life happy.  if you make this simple adjustment, then what’s upsetting you now doesn’t have to upset you any longer, you have the power to be happy right where you are.  that’s what Jesus said:

John 16:22 (AMP)

… no one can take from you your joy…

that means, other people cannot make you be unhappy, no circumstance can force you to get upset;  nothing can take your joy, you have to give it away.  you’re in complete control of your happiness.  somebody is rude to you, what they’re really saying is, “give me your joy.”  somebody ignores you, leaves you out of a meeting, they’re asking for your joy.  you have a choice:  you can give it to them, go around upset, frustrated, offended, or, you can make a much  better decision and say, “no thanks, I need my joy.  I’m not going to get upset because you were rude, I’m not gonna be offended because you didn’t speak to me, I’m not gonna be frustrated because you cut me off in traffic, I’ve already made up my mind, I’m gonna live this day happy.  I’ll give you mercy, understanding, the benefit of the doubt, but one thing I will not give you is my joy.”  when you’re tempted to be upset, somebody does you wrong, ask yourself, “is this worth giving up my joy over?  they’ve already done me wrong, am I gonna make it worse by letting them sour my whole day?” some people wonder why they’re not happy, it’s because they gave away joy when they couldn’t find their car keys, heard they had to work late, gave away more joy when they found out was somebody was talking about them;  it’s not their circumstances that are keeping them from being happy, it’s the fact that they keep giving away their joy.

life is way too short to let these interruptions and irritations keep us from being happy. we’re never going to get away from them, you can’t just pray them away, it’s a part of life.  it’s very freeing when you learn this principle;  “I don’t have to give away my joy, there’s nothing people can say, do, no circumstance can keep me from living this day happy.”  take inventory of your life;  what are you allowing to upset you, what’s causing you to be stressed?  identify what it is, and then make the decision to change your approach. a lot of times it’s a small thing that we’re making a big deal out of.  keep the right perspective;  is it really worth losing your joy because you couldn’t find the remote control, or your spouse didn’t pick up his clothes like you asked him to?  you’re going to be inconvenienced for 15 minutes;  that’s a small thing, don’t give up your joy over that.  don’t make a big deal out of something that’s not a big deal.  how many things last week we let upset us that were small things, how many times did we get stressed over something that in the big picture didn’t really matter?  you didn’t get news that you have a major illness, you just found that you had to work late one night, or your ball game was cancelled.  there are enough big issues in life to deal with, make sure you’re not giving away your joy over something small.

Proverbs 14:30 (NLT)

30 A relaxed attitude lengthens life; jealousy rots it away

but when we’re uptight, everything’s gotta be perfect, gotta go our way on our schedule, if not we’re gonna get all stressed out, that not only sours our day, but it could be shortening our life.  learn to relax, go with the flow, know that God is directing your steps.  don’t fight against everything that doesn’t go your way.  when we’re upset, stressed, frustrated, we don’t make good decisions.  be patient, don’t give away your joy.  Jesus said:

John 14:27 (AMP)

27 Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

notice, it’s a choice;  he didn’t say, “I’ll take away everything that will cause stress and frustration.”  he said, “it’ll still be there, but if you have the right approach it doesn’t have to upset you.”  we all have to deal with delays, inconveniences, and people that are hard to get along with:  rude, inconsiderate, annoying.  sometimes it’s not a stranger, it’s somebody closer to you.  one lady told how one of her husband’s relatives was very opinionated, always making sarcastic, demeaning remarks towards her.  one day, it was like a light turned on;  she realized she was giving away her joy.  she was letting this one person, who has issues of his own, to keep her from being who she was meant to be.  you may have somebody in your life like this, and if you don’t make this adjustment, you’ll go the next 20 years allowing them to upset you.  change your approach:  every time you let them irritate you, all that’s doing is empowering them. the next time they do something that would normally get on your nerves, don’t give away your joy.  when they’re rude, keep a smile on your face.  if they ignore you, leave you out, don’t go call all your friends and talk about it.  no, when you stay on the high road, keep your joy, peace, you’re not fueling it any more, you’re taking away their power. as long as they know they can push this button and you’ll get upset, this button and it’ll ruin the rest of your day, they’ll continue to do it.

Psalm 94:13 (AMP)

13 That You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity…

that’s saying, the people may not change, the circumstances may not change, but you have the power to stay calm;  you don’t have to give away your joy.

Romans 12:21 (NIV)

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

when somebody’s rude, inconsiderate, too often we sink down to their level;  we’re rude, inconsiderate back to them.  but the way to really overcome is to do just the opposite;  kill them with kindness.  don’t give away your joy.  Paul told Timothy;

2 Timothy 4:5 (AMP)

As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship…

some of you are letting things upset you way too easily;  traffic, weather, grumpy salesperson, family member that talks down to you.  draw the line in the sand and say that’s it, this is a new day, I’m not giving away my joy anymore, I’m gonna stay calm, cool and steady.  most people are like garbage trucks;  they go around full of frustration, resentment, and anger.  as their garbage piles up, they need someplace to dump it, and sometimes they’ll dump it on you.  you can’t take it personally, it doesn’t have anything to do with you;  just smile, wave and wish them well.  successful people don’t let garbage trucks ruin their day.  somebody dumps a load on you, don’t get upset;  if you make that mistake, you’ll take their garbage and most likely dump it on somebody else.  no, keep your lid on.  these days, we need to have a steel lid;  lot of people dumpin’ poison, anger, resentment, criticism.  we can’t stop them from dumping it, but if we’ll keep our lid on tight, it doesn’t have to affect us.  you have to be aware of the garbage trucks in life.  when somebody dumps a load on you, don’t take it personally, it’s not about you, it’s about all the trash they’ve accumulated, all the issues they’re not dealing with, you just happened to be the one they dump it on.  the key;  keep your lid on tight, don’t let it bother you.  Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 5:5 (NIV)

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.

we hear that word “meek,” and a lot of times we think it means “weak”;  we’re supposed to let people run all over us, insecure, timid, no, meekness is not weakness, it’s strength under control.  it’s like a wild horse that’s been tamed;  the horse is just as strong, powerful, can run just as fast, the only difference is now, you can go up and pet him, ride him, his strength is under control.  when you’re a meek person, you don’t try to argue with people, prove to them who you are;  if somebody is rude to you, sure, you could be rude back to them, but your strength is under control.  you’re not going to be happy if you’re trying to straighten everybody out, paying back an insult with another insult, thinkin’ “I’m not gonna let you get the best of me,” no, when you’re meek, you don’t let things bother you, respond to every critic, get drawn into battles that don’t matter.  you have the power, ability, you could easily show them what you’re made of, but your strength is under control.  when you live like that, God says you’ll be happy.

throughout life, there will always be something that will try to take our joy.  if it’s not a grumpy salesperson, it’s a family member aggravating you.  traffic’s backed up, your flight got delayed, your spouse is takin’ too long.  don’t go the next 20 years allowing the same people and circumstances to frustrate you.  change your approach;  what’s upsetting you now doesn’t have to upset you any more. keep your lid on, stay calm, cool and steady. a relaxed attitude is going to lengthen your life.  the next time you’re tempted to be upset, ask yourself, “is this really worth me giving up my joy over?”  if you’ll make this decision to not give away your joy, to live each day happy, God promises you’ll be strong, have better relationships, accomplish more;  you will enjoy the abundant life God has in store.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have dreams that we’re believing for, situations we want to see turn around. too often, we put God in a box and tell Him how to do it, when to do it, and who to use to do it.  the only problem is, God’s ways are not our ways:

Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

God doesn’t always do things the logical way, God uses unorthodox methods, He’s unconventional;  it may not always make sense to our mind.  if you have these preconceived ideas of how you’re going to be promoted, get well, it will limit what God can do.  you have to stay open, let God out of your box;  you may only see one way that it could happen, it’s obvious, you need to get that promotion so you’ll have the funds to accomplish your dreams.  if you get passed over, if you’re not careful you’ll get discouraged, start thinkin’, ” it’s never gonna happen, I missed my opportunity, God it’s not fair.”  no, what you don’t realize is God closed that door on purpose because He has somethin’ much better in front of you.  just because it’s the logical way doesn’t mean that it’s God’s way, just because it happened that way before doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way next time.  stay open;  if you’re narrow-minded, you can miss God’s best.

our attitude should be, “God, I’m letting you outta my box, You can do anything in my life, You can do it any time, You can use any person that You want, God I trust you to do it Your way.”  it’s easy to make narrow-minded judgements, and think, “God can’t use her, she’s a sinner.  God can’t use him, he likes to party.  God can’t use them, they don’t even believe in God.”  no, God can use whoever He wants to use, save whoever He wants to save, bring good out of whomever He wants to.  God used Rahab the prostitute to save the people of Israel, a donkey to speak to the prophet, Pharoah’s daughter to take care of baby Moses;  God used the enemy to take care of one of his children.  God is God, He can do whatever He wants to do;  don’t put Him in a box and miss your miracle.

a lot of times, God IS answering or prayer, it’s just not the way that we expected.  you have to stay open as to how God answers your prayer;  it may not be the way you had planned, God may not use the people you were expecting, it may not happen on your timetable, but this is what faith is all about;  “God I trust you, You know what’s best for me, what I need, when I need it, who I need.” some of you today are a little discouraged because things haven’t worked out the way you had planned, but you need to take another look;  maybe God has answered your prayers, just not the way you thought.  or maybe what you were asking for wasn’t God’s best, and God loves you too much to answer that prayer.  maybe God has given you something better, but because you’re so set in seein’ it happen your way you don’t recognize it right now.  God knows what He’s doing, He can see the big picture for your life;  if you’re only going to be happy if God does it your way, you’re not really trusting;  you’ve gotta come to the place where if it doesn’t work out the way you had it planned you’re still in peace, you know God is still on the throne, and He will still get you to where you’re supposed to be

John 9:1-15 (NIV)

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

9 .. he saw a man blind from birth….  he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

there were many different methods Jesus used to heal people. Jesus was unconventional;  there was no precedent for this ever happening before in the scripture, this was the first instance this method had ever been used. the blind man could have said, “get this offa my eyes, this doesn’t make sense, this isn’t going to do any good,” no, he didn’t have God in a box, he stayed open.  are you open for God to use a new method to bring your dreams to pass?  what if God answers your prayers differently than you were expecting?  what if he doesn’t use the people that you thought He would use?  are you going to stay open, and say “God I trust You, do it your way”?  or, are you going to have God in a box and miss your miracle?  Jesus did all this on the sabbath;  he not only used an unconventional method, but he broke one of their religious rules;  the Pharisees (religious leaders) were very upset, and questioned the blind man over and over.  one reason God does it His way and not our way is so that He will get all the credit.  the blind man was sayin’ in effect, “you can argue doctrine, debate whether or not he’s a sinner, try to deny it, dismiss it, discredit it, but I am living proof of a good God, a God of mercy, a God who can do the impossible.”  it all started when he was willing to let God do it His way.  he didn’t have God in a box.

God doesn’t always choose the way we choose;  man looks on the outside, God looks on the heart.  if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to stay open;  don’t get stuck in a rut, God is an out of the box God.  His plan for your life will not always be logical, or reasonable, or what you had planned, but if you will stay open, it will be much bigger, better, more rewarding, than you ever even imagined.  God wants to thrust you to new levels, He wants to not only bring you out of that difficulty, He wants to catapult you out.  God is going to open doors for you that no man can shut, you have not touched the surface of what God has in store, but it’s not going to happen by traditional means, logical ways, it’s going to be supernatural.  that way God will get all the credit;  nobody will be able to doubt God’s hand of favor and blessing on your life.

don’t limit God by thinkin’ it can only happen this way or that way, God has 1000 ways to do it;  when they show up, are you going to be open, and say, “God, this is not what I had planned, what I was expecting, who I thought you would use, but God you know what’s best for me, You’ve opened this door, I’m gonna do my part and walk through it”?  you may be criticized, people may find fault, they may not understand you, you may even break one of their “religious rules,” but you’ve gotta be more interested in pleasing God than you are in pleasing people.  there will always be people that try to squeeze you into their mold, and tell you you’re not enough of this or that, or too much of this, not talented, qualified;  let it go in one ear and out the other, you are not who people say you are, you are who God says you are.

some of you have God in a little bitty box, you don’t see how you could ever send your kids to college, get out of debt, accomplish your dreams.  our God is an all-powerful God;  your job is not your source, God is your source.  as long as you stay connected to Him, the supply line, everything is going to be alright.  He is Jehova-Jireh, the Lord your provider.  don’t get stuck in a rut, don’t be narrow-minded, and miss what God wants to do.  God is a sovereign God;  His plan for us is always good, but His plan may be different than our own plan.  He is the potter, we are the clay.  you should pray, believe, stand in faith, but in the end you have to be mature enough to accept what God has destined for your life;  not defeat, mediocrity, I’m talkin’ about stayin’ open.  my sister wasn’t going to be happy unless God did it her way;  when you do that, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.  a much better approach is to just be honest and say, “God, this is what I want, what I’m believin’ for, but God You know what’s best for me;  however it works out, God I trust you, I’m still going to be happy.”

you have to put having to have it your way on the altar: “You already know what I want;  instead of begging You, tellin’ You how to do it, and when to do it, God I just want to thank You that Your perfect plan for my life will come to pass.”  God did what He promised, but He did it in an unconventional way, not the way she had planned.  I’d love to tell you God will always do it your way, but that’s not reality.  I can promise you God’s way will always be the best way.  you may not understand it, it may not seem fair, but God knows what He’s doing,  trust Him;  quit being frustrated because it didn’t work out your way.  what if you knew if God answered your prayer the way you wanted that it wouldn’t be His best, or that it wouldn’t last or wouldn’t be healthy?  you would gladly let God do it His way.  some of you would enjoy life a whole lot more if you would put that dream on the altar, and say, “God, I’m tired of fighting it, trying to make it happen my way, livin’ frustrated, God I trust you, knowin’ that at the right time Your plan for my life will come to pass.”

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

when you’re trusting God to do it His way, there’s a rest, you’re not struggling, fighting, upset, you’re at peace;  you know God’s way is the best way, so you can relax and enjoy your life while God is in the process of bringing those promises to pass

2 Kings 5 (NIV)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy

5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”…

 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

2 words that almost kept him from his miracle; “I thought.”  he had a preconceived idea of how it was going to happen.  he washed, and after the 7th time his skin was perfectly clean.  how many of us miss God’s best because we thought it would happen another way?  stay open, and let God do it his way.  God’s ways are not our ways.  God knows what He’s doing.  trust Him.  let Him do it His way.  you may not understand it at the time, it may not make sense, but one day you will see what God was doing.  His plan will be better than your plan.  I had a lot of “I thoughts”;  the common denominator is that God’s plan was much better than my plan, what God had in mind was much bigger, much more rewarding, than anything I dreamed of.  I’m asking you to trust Him.  our attitude should be, “God, I’m wide open, do anything You want any time You want, use anyone You want, I’m not set on havin’ it my way, God I know your plan is the best plan.”  if you will stay open and let God do it His way, God will open doors for you that no man can shut, His favor is going to thrust you years ahead, you will see promises fulfilled, dreams come to pass, and overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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