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Archive for August, 2013

Say so

from JO’s sermon tonight:

words have creative power.  when you speak something out, you give life to what you’re saying.  it’s one thing to believe that you’re blessed, that’s important, but when you SAY, “I am blessed,” it takes a whole new meaning;  that’s when blessings come looking for you.

Psalm 107:2 (KJV)

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so

it doesn’t say, “let the redeemed think, believe, hope so”;  that’s all good, but you have to take it one step further and say so.  if you’re going to go to the next level, accomplish a dream, overcome an obstacle, break an addiction, you’ve gotta start declaring it.  it has to come outta your mouth;  that’s how you give life to your faith.  when God created the worlds, He didn’t just think them into being;  He didn’t just believe there would be light, land, oceans, animals.  He had it in His heart, but nothing happened until He spoke.  He SAID, “let there be light,” and light came.  His thoughts didn’t set it into motion, His words set it into motion.  it’s the same principle today;  you can believe all day long and not see anything happen, you can have faith in your heart, big dreams, be standing on God’s promises, and never see anything change.  what’s the problem?  nothing happens until you speak.  instead of just believing you’re going to get out of debt, you’ve gotta say so;  declare every day, “I’m coming out of debt.  I’m the head and not the tail.  God’s favor surrounds me like a shield.”

when you speak, just like when God spoke, things begin to happen.  opportunities will find you;  good breaks, promotion, ideas will track you down.  instead of just thinking, “I hope I get over this illness, I’m praying I’ll get better,” that’s good, but you’ve gotta take it one more step and start declaring it;  “I’m strong, healthy, I will  live and not die, with long life God is going to satisfy me.”  that’s what activates your faith.  instead of just hoping  you have a good year, accomplish your dreams, hope is good, but nothing happens until you speak.  before you leave the house every day, declare it;  “2013 is my year.  things have shifted in my favor.  God is about to show me something that I’ve never seen.”  when you talk like that, the angels go to work, opening up new doors, lining up the right people, arranging things in your favor.  all of us are hoping, believing , praying about something;  are you giving life to your faith by speaking it out?

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalm 91:3-4 (ASV)

For he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover thee with his pinions, And under his wings shalt thou take refuge: His truth is a shield and a buckler.

notice the connection;  I will say and He will do.  it doesn’t say, “I believe He’s my refuge, strength,” no, the psalmist went around declaring it, speaking it out:  “the Lord is my refuge, strength.”  notice what happened;  God became his refuge, strength.  God was saying, in effect, “if you’re bold enough to speak it, then I’m bold enough to do it.”  have you ever declared that your dreams are coming to pass?  have you ever said, “I will pay off my house, start my own business, get my degree, lose this weight, see my family restored”?  whatever God’s put in your heart, it needs to get in your conversation.  talk like it’s going to happen, already on the way;  “when I get married, graduate from college, see my family restored.”  not, “if it’s going to happen,” but “when it’s going to happen”;  that’s your faith being released.  the opposite of Psalm 91;  “I will not say of the Lord and He will not do.”  that’s the principle;  nothing happens until you speak.  what are you saying of the Lord?  “my problems are really big, my dreams look impossible, my marriage is so messed up, we’ll never be restored.”  no, don’t talk about how big your problem is, talk about how big your God is.

when you say of the Lord, “You’re my healer, way-maker, dream-giver, restorer, vindicator, health, peace, victory, that’s when God will show up and do more than you could ask or think.  are you declaring victory over your life, family, career?  nothing happens until you speak.  when you get up in the morning, you need to make some declarations of faith;  whatever God’s put in your heart, declare that it will come to pass.  I say every day, “I am increasing in the anointing, wisdom, favor, influence.”  you’ve gotta speak favor into your future;  “my children will fulfill their destinies.”  when you declare favor over your life, future, God will make things happen that should have never happened.  our attitude should be, “I’m coming out of debt, and I’m saying so.  2013 is my year;  I will overcome every obstacle, and I’m saying so.”  what you keep saying you are moving toward.

you may be struggling in your finances, but when you keep declaring, “I’m blessed, prosperous, I have the favor of God”;  every time you say it, you’re moving toward increase, getting closer to seeing that come to pass.  you may be facing a sickness, it doesn’t look good;  but every time you declare, “I’m healthy, strong, getting better,” you’re moving toward health, wholeness, victory.  here’s the catch;  this works in the positive and in the negative.  if you’re always saying, “I am so unlucky, I never get any good breaks” you’re moving toward bad breaks, more disappointment.  “I’ve been through so much, I don’t think I’ll ever be happy again”;  moving toward more discouragement, sadness.  if you will change what you’re saying, you will change what you’re seeing.

Romans 4:17 (KJ21)

17 … calleth those things which are not, as though they were.

a lot of times we do just the opposite;  we call the things that are as if they will always be that way.  we just describe the situation.  “gas is so high, I don’t see how I’m going to make it”;  you’re calling in more struggle, lack.  “I can’t stand my job, my boss gets on my nerves”;  you’re calling in more frustration, defeat.  don’t use your words to describe the situation, use your words to change the situation.  if you wanna know what you’re going to be like 5 years from now, listen to what you’re saying about yourself.  you are prophesying your future;  “five years from now, I’m gonna be stronger, healthier, wiser, better-looking.”  every time you say it, you’re moving toward it.  but, if you’re always saying, “I’m so out of shape, “I’ll never lose this weight,” you’re moving toward the wrong thing.  we’re all going to get old, but don’t make plans to go downhill.  don’t start speaking defeat over your life.

Deuteronomy 34:7 (KJV)

And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

he had a clear memory, a strong, sharp mind.  in spite of how you feel, what’s been passed down in your family line, every day you need to declare, “everything about me is getting better and better:  my bones, joints, ligaments, blood, organs, memory, vision, hearing, talent, skill, looks, skin.  my youth is being renewed.  I will finish my course with my eye not dim, my natural strength not abated.”  you talk like that, you’re moving towards renewed youth, health, energy, vitality.  that’s a lot better than getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m getting so old, look at these wrinkles.  I’m so outta shape”;  you keep moving toward that, and in 5 years it’s going to be scary. you need to have a better say so.  don’t talk about the way you are, talk about the way you wanna be;  you are prophesying your future.  maybe you’re in a difficult time today;  instead of complaining, that’s just going to drag in more defeat;  your declaration should be, “I have grace for this season.  I am strong in the Lord.  those that are for me are greater than those that are against me.”  when you say that, strength, courage, confidence, endurance comes.

you go through a disappointment, bad break, loss;  “I don’t know how this has happened to me, it’s so unfair”;  no, that’s just going to draw in more self-pity.  your declaration should be, “God promised me beauty for ashes, joy for mourning.  I’m not staying here, I’m moving forward.  new beginnings are in my future.  the rest if my life will be the best of my life.”  you talk like that, and you’re moving toward double for your trouble, away from self-pity and toward God’s goodness in a new way.  one of the best things we can do is take a few minutes every morning and make these positive declarations over our lives.  write down not only your dreams, goals, vision, but make a list of any area you want to improve in, anything you want to see changed;  put that list on your bathroom mirror, and before you leave the house take a couple of minutes and declare that over your life.  if you struggle with your self-esteem, feeling  less-than, you need to declare every day, “I am confident, valuable, one of a kind.  I have royal blood flowing through my veins. I am wearing a crown of favor. I am a child of the most high God.”  you declare that, and you’ll go out with your shoulders back, head held high.  if you struggle with your weight, declare, “I am in shape, heathy, full of energy, I weigh what I should weigh.”  it may not be true now, but you keep saying it and you’re gonna move toward it.  instead of living guilty, condemned, focused on past mistakes, no, declare, “I am forgiven, redeemed, wearing a robe of righteousness;  God is pleased with me.”

Joel 3:10 (NKJV)

10 …  Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’

it doesn’t say, “let the weak talk about, discuss the weakness, call 5 friends and explain the weakness,” no, you cannot talk defeat and expect to have victory.  you can’t talk sickness and expect to have health.  you can’t talk lack and struggle and expect to have abundance.  you’ve gotta send your words out in the direction you want your life to go.  when you’re in a tough time, and somebody asks you how you’re doing,  don’t go through a sad song of everything that’s wrong in your life;  “my back’s been hurting,  traffic is so bad out today, boss isn’t treating me right, dishwasher broke,” all that’s gonna do is draw in more defeat.   turn it around, have a report of victory;  “I’m blessed, healthy, prosperous, I have the favor of God.”  what you consistently talk about, you’re moving toward.

Proverbs 6:2 (NKJV)

You are snared by the words of your mouth

could it be if you would simply change what you’re saying you would see a dream come to pass, a breakthrough, healing, restoration?  some of you have spent years saying negative things over your life;  I can’t break this addiction, my marriage is never gonna make it, I’ll never get out of debt,” no, you’ve gotta send your words out in a new direction;  you are prophesying the wrong thing.  get in a habit of making these positive declarations over your life.  every day, declare that your dreams are coming to pass.  it’s not enough to just believe it, nothing happens until you speak.  when you say of the Lord, God will do what He promised.  let me lead you in a few of these declarations:  I am blessed, prosperous, strong, healthy, talented, creative, confident, secure, disciplined, focused, attractive, well-liked, I have a good personality, the right people are in my future, the right opportunities are headed my way, I will accomplish my dreams, overcome every obstacle, 2013 is my year, things have shifted in my favor.  God is about to show me something that I’ve never seen;  it’s going to be bigger, better, greater, than I ever imagined.  I am the redeemed of the Lord, and I say so today in Jesus’ name.

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Of course, the reality is that God NEVER turns his back on anyone, but when things have gone badly for a while it can sometimes feel like He isn’t there with us even if intellectually we know better.  The Bible acknowledges that this can happen, and provides the following guidance:

Psalm 77:1-14 (NIV)

I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
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.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.

Sound advice:  focus on the many wonderful things He has done for us in the past rather than the fact that He does not seem to be doing anything to help us right now.  Have faith that He is the same loving God that He has always been, and trust Him to come through for us in the future as He has in the past.  This can be hard;  believe me, I know.  But it is our faith, trust and love that causes God to respond to us.  Our mindset is important too:  As JO is always saying, if we maintain a dependent attitude, if we are grateful for what we have, if we show that we can be happy and prosper right where we are, we can be sure that God’s blessings will come.

The important thing to remember is that God is ALWAYS working behind the scenes, arranging things the way they need to be for His blessings to come when the time is right.  If we could see what He was doing, we’d be happy and contented, because it would be clear how our flourishing finish was going to come.  The trick is to be happy and contented withOUT seeing, by believing even with no “proof” that those things are happening…  and that’s where faith comes in.

And finally:  no post about what God’s doing during our hardest times would be complete without:

Footprints

One night, a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.

This really bothered Him, and He questioned the LORD about it. “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The LORD replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

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Today (8-24) I went to the zoo for the first time in years, with one of the friends that God recently arranged for me to see (for dinner) for the first time in years;  it was important for our first outing to be fun, to help us re-bond.  Before we left, I prayed, “Father, please let this trip to the zoo be the most spectacular one ever.”  And He did exactly that!!

The downside of the ample enclosures used in modern zoos is that it makes it easy for critters to hide out;  you can easily go to the zoo a slew of times and never get a close view of ANYTHING.  But God is more powerful than the biological urges of animals to hide (even when no predators are around) or stay away from noisy humans.

He got us to the ape area just in time to see an enormous male sitting placidly a few feet a way from the glass, looking out at the excited humans.  We got a good long look at him (easily 10 minutes) before he sauntered away.  We were about to leave…  and then a little female came right up to the glass, laid down, and began rolling gleefully along the length of the enclosure!!  She’d roll a few times, sit up, look at us, grin, lay back down and roll some more.

We left the exhibit exclaiming that this wondrous display had made the whole trip;  under my breath, I said, “Thank you, Father.”  We spent a few minutes checking out a neighboring display, and when we came out, the ape enclosure had been roped off;  the TIMING!!

A few minutes later, my roommate was trying to herd us down a path to see I don’t remember what, but I saw something off to the side and simply refused to not check it out.  I went in there (my friend came right after me and so my roommate reluctantly followed), and all I saw was something like a big fish tank complete with fish.  We were turned around to walk back out…  and suddenly there was a big critter emerging from some off-exhibit hiding area and heading towards the water!!  Another moment and we’d have missed it!!  He was quickly joined by a friend, and while we watched in awe, they swam back and forth over and over right next to the glass.  One of them kept coming up for air right in front of us, pressing his nose against the glass and looking out at us… and it honestly looked like he was smiling.  After about 20 minutes, we left the exhibit raving about this 2nd once in a lifetime experience;  under my breath, I said, “Thank you, Father.”

Later, it was getting dark, and my roommate was trying to argue that we were out of luck with seeing any big cats.  I stuck to my guns, saying that many of them hunt at night and so might still be up.  I found the sign to go to their area, and they trailed after me.  A couple of minutes later, I spotted a bunch of people grouped at a big window, and lo and behold there was a magnificent cat right up against the glass!!  As the final surreal, only-with-God’s-help touch, one of the group had a gigantic realistic plush animal set right in front of the glass, and the cat kept standing up with his paws ON THE GLASS. trying to get at that stuffie!!  It was un-frigging-believable.  Normally, you’d never see more of any big cat than the tip of a tail from 100 feet away because they’re hiding in the bushes, and we were squatting down looking right into one’s face from maybe a foot away!!  When it turned away to get a drink, we finally staggered off, nearly speechless with disbelief at what we’d seen, both in general and in conjunction with the previous experiences.  Under my breath, I said, “Thank you, Father.”

There were other miraculous aspects to the day, too:  I normally, and I mean 100% of the time, get pain in my legs and especially my hips from walking any distance on concrete.  Today I walked for hours without a hint of discomfort.  As has happened in the past when God was helping me physically, I never felt hungry;  we had dinner at Denny’s at 10PM.  The friend I was with usually eats early, and NEVER wants to be without her meals;  she decided all she wanted was to get a bag of popcorn to share with me, and never said a peep about dinner…  which allowed us the time, and timing, to see all that we did, since it all occurred during the time from when we’d have expected her to want to eat and closing time.  And right before we left, she needed to use the restroom, and although my roommate pointed one out she was determined to use the one in the gift shop, and although I’d never normally consider buying any of their over-priced (and mostly touristy, with their logo) stuff, I suggested we take a look around afterwards…  and found something unexpected and fabulous that they were down to the last 2 of.

WHY did God provide me with this day that I will still remember if I live to be 500?

Because I live every moment of my life in faith, with my heart open to Him.

Because I ASKED:

James 4:2 (DRA)

… you have not, because you ask not.

Because I thanked Him for every blessing, which I make a point to ALWAYS do.

God wants you to have a life full of good things;  just have a dependent attitude and show some gratitude, and the sky’s the limit!!

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

I want you to get this down in your spirit;  God is about to do something in your life that you’ve never seen.  I’m not just sharing another message, I’m speaking prophetically;  God is about to take you where you could not go on your own.  God is about to show you favor in ways that you’ve never imagined.  it’s going to be unprecedented, out of the norm, unlike anything that you’ve seen.  maybe you’ve struggled in your finances for years, can’t seem to get ahead;  God is about to show you abundance like you’ve never seen, He is about to increase you to where you have overflow, you’ll lend and not borrow, not burdened down by debt and lack.  some of you have fought depression, discouragement your whole life;  that dark cloud follows you around and you think that’s the way it’s always gonna be.  no, take heart, God is going to show you joy like you’ve never seen.  that spirit of depression, discouragement is being broken;  God is going to release a new happiness, passion that you’ve not experienced before.  maybe you’ve struggled with an addiction, bad habit for a long time;  be encouraged, God’s going to show you freedom that you’ve never seen.  some of you have felt a little insecure, intimidated, like you don’t quite measure up;  you think that’s the way you’ll always live.  no, God is about to show you a  confidence, a boldness, where you can step into the fullness of your destiny.  God is saying, “creativity like you’ve never seen.  promotion, opportunity, healing, restoration, favor like you’ve never seen.”

Exodus 34:10  (NLT)

10 … I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord—the awesome power I will display for you.

we’ve all seen God’s goodness in the past.  every one of us can say God has blessed, promoted, protected us.  but what God is about to do is going to be unprecedented;  now all you’ve gotta do is say, “yes Lord, this is for me today, I receive this into my spirit.”  your mind will try to talk you out of it, tell you all the reasons why it’s not going to happen for you;  you’re too old, young, made too many mistakes, don’t have the education.  if you were just a different nationality, knew the right people;  no, God is not limited by your age, education, connections, resources.  in spite of what you have, or don’t have, you need to get ready;  God is about to show you something that you’ve never seen.  He’s about to take you where you could not go on your own.

John 9:1-7 (NIV)

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth…  After saying this, 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.

the man didn’t call out to Jesus;  Jesus went to him.  throughout the scripture, there are examples where people used their faith, reached out to God, and they received their miracle:  the woman with the issue of blood, the lepers, the army captain.  these people all initiated their miracle, reached out in faith and saw God’s goodness.  but God is so merciful, loving, there are times that even when we don’t have the faith, don’t reach out, God reaches out to us.  if it would have just been dependent on our faith, what we believe, what we’re asking for, Jesus would have never stopped to help this blind man;  he didn’t show any signs of faith.  he was just sitting there minding his own business, and Jesus went to him.  Jesus didn’t say anything to him, didn’t try to figure out if he had faith, what he believed.  what happened?  God showed him something he had never seen.  God wants to do the same thing for you.  some of you think that you’ve reached your limits, gone as far as you can go.  the medical report doesn’t look good, now you’ve settled there.  you’ve been single a long time, you don’t think you’ll ever meet the right person.  you took a step of faith, but the business, charity, project didn’t make it;  now you don’t see how you could accomplish your dreams.  but even when we don’t have the faith, even when we think it’s impossible, “it’s too late, I tried, failed, it’s never gonna happen,”  no, God is going to come looking for you and show you His favor like you’ve never seen.

God wants to give you some first times:  for the first time, you’re free from pain, heathy, whole, strong.  for the first time, you have more than enough;  you’re not struggling, you’re into overflow.  for the first time, your whole family is serving God, you’re living in the house of your dreams, you’re running the whole office.  you thought you’d always be working for people, now you’ve got people working for you.  you need to get ready, God has some first times in your future.  part of this shift is God is going to show you something that you’ve never seen before.  you may not have faith for it, it may seem too far-out, that’s ok, God’s gonna come looking for you;  He’s going to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  it’s going to be bigger than you imagined, it’s going to be unprecedented, something that you’ve never seen.  that means, if you’ve seen it in the past, that’s good, be grateful, always thank God for what He’s done, but what God is about to do is greater than what you’ve seen.  when God shows you something that you’ve never seen, it’s gonna boggle your mind.  the reason God doesn’t just rely on our faith is because some of what He’s gonna show you is so far-out, amazing, rewarding, you couldn’t have faith for it right now.  God is so good, even when we don’t believe, don’t have the faith, God will show up and do it anyway.

John 9:2-3 (NIV)

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

when that baby was born, God already knew exactly when He was going to heal him;  there was a time already set by the Creator of the universe, and at that appointed time, God opened his eyes and showed him something that he had never seen.  in your life right now there are set times;  God has already established the date when He’s going to do something unprecedented in your life.  you don’t have to worry, or be discouraged because it hasn’t happened yet;  you don’t have to give into doubt, “I’m never gonna get well, get married, accomplish a dream,” no, those  moments of favor are already established in your future.  if you’ll just keep honoring God, being your best, you will suddenly come into one of your set times.  God will do something out of the ordinary.  you didn’t go after it, it came to you.  you didn’t even have the faith for it;  what you were praying about was only a fraction of what God had in mind.  one scripture talks about, “the faith of God”

Mark 11:22 (YLT)

22 And Jesus answering saith to them, `Have faith of God’

normally, we think about our faith, how we need to pray big, believe big, take the limits off of God, and that’s important, we should do that, but God has things in your future, set times that He’s already established, that are so big, amazing, rewarding, God knew you couldn’t have faith for it right now.  God knows there are things in our future that we won’t have the faith for, but that doesn’t stop God;  when you run out of faith, there’s a secret weapon, the faith of God.  when God releases His faith, you can be certain doors will open that should not have opened, talent will come out of you that you didn’t know you had, the right people will search you out.  healing, promotion, increase will show up in ways like you’ve never seen before.  some of you think, “I don’t have much faith”;  that’s ok, the faith of God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.  when your faith is low, don’t worry, you have a friend that will never let you down.  when you have doubts, don’t worry, He has faith.  when you don’t think it’s gonna happen, that’s all right, He’s got you covered.  the faith of God will make up for your lack of faith. that’s what the scripture means when it talks about having faith the size of a mustard seed, one of the smallest seeds you can find:

Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

God was saying, even when your faith is low, you’re discouraged, have doubts, God doesn’t cancel His plan for your life, disqualify you and say you need to have more faith, no, that’s when the faith of God kicks in.  these moments of favor that have  already been established in your future, they’re not solely dependent on your faith;  the faith of God is going to cause them to show up.

Peter was a rough man, not somebody we would consider to be a person of faith, but:

Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Peter didn’t have any faith, but that didn’t stop God.  Jesus didn’t say, “Peter, I’m trying to help you, but you’re such a doubter,” no, even though he didn’t have faith, Jesus said, “that’s alright, the faith of God will make this happen.”  when your faith is low, when you find it hard to believe, when doubts are bombarding your mind, don’t worry, God is not only full of mercy, He’s full of faith;  His faith will hold you over until your faith can be strengthened.  Peter caught so many fish that his boat began to sink;  God showed him something that he had never seen.  you can be going to work, doing the same thing the same way, everything looks just normal, ordinary, but then you come into one of those set times, moments of favor.  you weren’t expecting it, you didn’t have the faith for, it you didn’t deserve it, but suddenly a good break, promotion, healing, restoration.  it’s more than you can imagine, it’s overwhelming, something you’ve never seen.  that wasn’t your faith, that was the faith of God.  right now, in your future, there are these moments of favor that are going to catapult you to a new level.

some of you have been facing a sickness a long time, and you don’t really know if you have the faith to get well;  that’s ok, God has you covered.  when you come into this moment of favor, sickness doesn’t have a chance;  health, healing, wholeness will flood your body.  God can do what medicine cannot do.  you may think that you could never get out of debt;  you tried, you keep having setbacks, you’ve settled there.  that’s alright, the faith of God is at work in your life.  there are moments of favor that are going to thrust you into abundance.  you may be facing situations, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out, how you could accomplish your dreams, that’s ok, God has it all figured out.  He’s already lined up the right people, right opportunities, solutions to problems;  at the right time, you’re gonna come into your moment of favor, and it’s going to cause you to overcome and step into the fullness of your destiny.  when your faith is weak, the faith of God is strong;  when your faith is low, the faith of God is high.  you have somebody standing in the gap for you.  the scripture says:

Romans 8:34 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

… The Messiah has died and he is risen, and he is at the right hand of God and he prays for us.

it’s one thing to have me pray, a friend pray, that’s all great, but don’t ever forget that the son of God, who raised from the dead, is praying for you right now.  God knows we’re human, we get discouraged, have doubts, but you don’t have to have great faith in order  for God to do something great;  you can have small faith and God will move a mountain.  you don’t have to have strong, invincible, unwavering faith;  if you’ll just keep honoring God, keep being your best, then His faith will make up for your lack of faith.  Paul said (NOT in Romans as JO said, though, I’m amazed I found the verse):

Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

20 …The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, overcame incredible odds.  he was saying, “I didn’t make it just by my own faith, strength, determination, I had a secret weapon;  I fulfilled my destiny because of the faith of God.”  you may be facing a situation today that looks impossible;  health, finances, a relationship, all the odds are against you, but be encouraged, the faith of God is at work in you life.  there are moments of favor that God has  already established in your future.  God is not only going to bring you out, He’s going to do something unprecedented, out of the ordinary, something that you’ve never seen.  even when we don’t believe, even when we’re tempted to give up, God doesn’t give up, that’s when His faith kicks in.  get ready, God has some first times for you.  for the first time you’re totally out of debt, you’re healthy, whole, strong, your whole family is serving God, you meet the right person, fall in love.  you may not see how this could happen, that’s ok, the faith of God is going to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  what God is about to do is going to be bigger, more rewarding, something that you have not seen.   I declare favor like you’ve never seen:  creativity, opportunity, healing, restoration, vindication, joy, victory like you’ve never seen!!

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From the “Today’s Topical Bible Study” email for 8-15 from BibleStudyTools.com came the following excellent essay:

How God Uses Stress for Our Good and His Glory

Randy Alcorn

Ever been to a football game at half time when the band forms words or pictures in the middle of the field? They look great from up in the stands. But have you thought about what they look like from the sidelines? Pointless, confusing, apparently meaningless. We see life from the sidelines. God sees it from the stands. As we gain perspective, we leave the sidelines and start working our way up.

G.K. Chesterton’s character, Father Brown, said “We are on the wrong side of the tapestry.” How true. We see the knots, the snarls, and the frayed underside. But God is on the right side of the tapestry—the side He is weaving into a beautiful work of art. We may not always know what the Master Artist is doing in our lives. But the important thing is, He does.

When we see the all-powerful God on the throne of the universe—God our Father committed to our good—we are relieved of much stress. And the stress we must still experience leaves us far richer.

Having a biblical perspective is seeing life through God’s eyes. It is seeing order in chaos, use in the useless, and good in the bad. If we are to develop eyes to see God’s hand in everything, we must believe (not necessarily understand) what Scripture says about the purpose of stress. Stress is an effective tool in the hands of our God, a tool that is intended both for His glory and our good. In this article we will look at some ways God uses stress.

God uses stress to get our attention. God created our bodies. He designed them to send us messages. If I stick my hand in fire, my body will send me a message, quickly and clearly. If I ignore it, I’ll pay the price.

C.S. Lewis said “pain is God’s megaphone.” Some of us are hard of hearing. We ignore physical, mental, and spiritual warning signs. God wants us to tune our ears to the messages He sends us through our minds and bodies.

God uses stress to help us redefine or rediscover our priorities. Bill and Evelyn’s marriage relationship was a distant one. They had drifted apart over many years, pouring themselves into their jobs and shortchanging their family. But when their son Jason was found in possession of heroin, the months that followed brought unprecedented crisis… and also the desire to pull their marriage back together.

Everyone has priorities. Some have never chosen or experienced the right ones and need to redefine them. Others of us have long known the right priorities and merely need to rediscover them: we’ve tasted right priorities, but we’ve allowed ourselves to drift away from them; we’ve replaced fellowship with entertainment, giving with buying, and family time with the television, the lawn, the remodeling job, the causes, and the committees.

By abandoning our God-given priorities we set ourselves up to learn a hard lesson. In essence we do what the Israelites did: lived in paneled houses while God’s house became a ruin (Haggai 1:4). In response, God sent lack of fulfillment, disillusionment, and failure as His messengers. He withheld His blessing till His people rediscovered their priorities.

Twice in Haggai 1:5-11, God’s people are admonished to “Give careful thought to your ways.” Stress should take us back to the basics. It is an opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and bring them in line with God’s.

God uses stress to draw us to Himself. Time and again it was said of the people of Israel, “But in their distress they turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them” (2 Chronicles 15:4). It was in Jonah’s darkest hour, in his most stressful circumstances that he said this: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me” (Jonah 2:2). The Psalms are full of references of turning to God, seeking Him and finding Him in times of intense stress.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (Psalms 18:6).

I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me (Psalms 120:1).

When our lives are comfortable and stress-free, too often we withdraw from the Lord into our own worlds of spiritual independence and isolation. Smug and self-satisfied, we forget what life is really all about. But as the thirsty seek for water, those under stress often seek God. Many non-believers have come to Christ and many believers have returned to Him in times of stress.”

“God uses stress to strengthen our faith. 1 Peter 1:7 tells us: “These [trials] have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

There is only one way a muscle grows—through stress. A muscle that is rarely exercised atrophies; it shrinks into uselessness. A muscle seldom stretched beyond its usual limits can only maintain itself. It cannot grow. To grow, a muscle must be taxed. Unusual demands must be placed upon it.

Stress is a demand placed upon our faith. Without it our faith will not, cannot,grow.

Ever seen grass grow through asphalt? It’s amazing if you think about it. How does grass, pressed flat and robbed of light, persevere and break through hard ground? Yet we’ve seen it. Somehow God made those tiny blades of grass to rise to the greatest challenge.

In the crucible of stress, as we draw on our resources in Christ, He gives us faith and strength to crack through and rise above the asphalt coat of life under the curse.”

I don’t really have anything to add other than agreement, and gratitude for receiving it;  I will be re-reading this many times in the coming stressful months.

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(For those who are wondering where this past Sunday’s JO sermon post is;  the sermon is a repeat, already posted here:

https://formerheathen.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/be-positive-or-be-quiet/  )

 

I got this in JO’s daily newsletter for 8-13:

 

“According to Your Faith

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE  
“…According to your faith be it done to you.” 
(Matthew 9:29, ESV)    
TODAY’S WORD from JO  
A lot of times when people have a need, they think that if God wanted to, He would just automatically meet it. But Jesus didn’t say, according to your need be it unto you; He said, according to your faith. That’s why it’s so important to have an attitude of expectancy every single day. If we want God to move in our lives, we have to approach every day filled with faith and hope.
Scripture tells us in Romans that “faith comes by hearing the Word of God.” The more you meditate on the Word of God, the more your faith will grow and the more you will see Him working in your life.
Remember, God longs to bless you, and He’s given you everything you need to be successful in life. All things are possible to those who believe! Believe in His goodness today, believe His Word, and according to your faith, be it done for you!”

 

This is a crucial point;  too often, people get lazy, and tell themselves, “God will do whatever He wants anyways, so why bother to do anything myself to try to change things?”  This makes God sound like a bully steamrolling over us rather than a loving Father!!  God IS influenced by our love, faith and trust.  He listens to our prayers, looks into our minds and hearts, and watches how we behave.  He looks at our vision, dreams, and the strength of our conviction, our expectancy, and our passion to be with Him and be who He wants us to be.

That doesn’t mean that doing everything right and being good guarantees that you will get everything you want;  just as the best-behaved little child doesn’t get to eat candy for dinner and stay up all night no matter how much they want to, our Father uses His superior wisdom to give us what is BEST, rather than what we think we should have.  BUT, when your faith is strong and unwavering, you will see God’s miracles in your life over and over again;  that’s a pretty big payoff for what we should be doing anyway!!

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God saves my $

I got signed up at the last moment for a high-paying job on an online site…  that was God’s doing, of course.

On day one, I had to stay up to do and submit the work because of the time zones and my weird sleep schedule.  They added another job segment without warning or sending an email, but I didn’t learn this until day 2 when there was a message saying there was undone work… but I couldn’t get the page to load to see what it was.  With hair-raising timing, someone called to prompt me to do today’s work, and when I asked her about this message she said I’d missed this unexpected additional work.  I pointed out that there was no way I could have known, we were never alerted, and by the time I got back online they had SEALED the work area off, which I had NEVER seen any such company do, so I had no way to do it…  and the entire payment would be forfeited if it was not ALL done.   She said she’d ask IF the company who had contracted this work was “able” to reopen the submission area.  She swore she’d call back to let me know.  She didn’t.  BUT:

Half an hour later, I was suddenly able to access the “skipped” work!!

Shortly thereafter, an email was sent out telling us that they had extended the project one measly hour to allow people to do whatever they’d missed;  since people would be at WORK, I can’t imagine who would have gotten that email and been able to access the re-opened task in time, but anyways:

God clearly intervened here, averted disaster and saved my $.

I am SO blessed.

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(Apologies to those subscribers that got a garbled version of this post from WordPress!!)

From JO’s sermon tonight:

when you honor God with your life, keep him 1st place, God puts something on you called a commanded blessing.  it’s like a magnet;  it attracts good breaks, the right people, contacts, ideas, resources, influence.  you don’t have to go after these things, trying to make it happen in your own strength, talent, hoping that life works out;  all you gotta do is keep honoring God, and the right people will find you, the right opportunities will come across your path, favor, wisdom, vindication will track you down.  why? you’ve become a magnet for God’s goodness.  when you keep God 1st place, God will send blessings that chase you down, favor that overtakes you;  out of nowhere a good break, suddenly your health improves, you’re able to pay your house off, unexpectedly a dream comes to pass.  that’s not a lucky break, coincidence, that’s the commanded blessing on your life;  like a magnet you’re attracting the goodness of God.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (NASB)

28 “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God

one translation says, “you will become “magnet for blessings.””  that means, because you’re honoring God, something is attracted to you;  not fear, sickness, depression, bad breaks, no, favor is tracking you down, promotion is headed your way, divine connections are searching you out, you’re attracting the goodness of God.  you may be facing an illness.   instead of thinking, “I’m never gonna get well, you should see the medical report,” no, your attitude should be;  “healing is looking for me, restoration is tracking me down.”  you’re struggling in your finances;  not, “I’ll never get out of debt, accomplish my dreams,” no, “abundance is looking for me, favor is in my future, good breaks are tracking me down.”  if you’re single, not, “I’ll never get married, I’m too old, it’s been too long,” no, “the right person is looking for me, divine connections are tracking me down, they’re already in my future, like a magnet I’m drawing them in.”  God’s dream for your life is so much bigger than your own;  if you will keep being your best right where you are, you will come into favor, promotion, opportunity, bigger than you ever imagined. you won’t have to go after it, it will come to you.  because you’re honoring God, like a magnet you’ll draw it in.

God has the right people in your future;  when you honor God, like a magnet the person God’s designed for you, the right one, will come across your path.  you don’t have to worry, play games, and try to convince somebody to like you;  if they don’t like you, let them go.  if they don’t celebrate you and see you as a gift, treasure, one of a kind, move forward, don’t hang onto things that are not attracted to you.  the right one will not be able to live without you.  the one God designed will think you’re the greatest thing in the world.  you keep being your best right where you are, honoring God, and God will do for you what He did for me;  He’ll cause you to be at the right place at the right time.  those divine connections will come across your path.  but what God has planned for you is much bigger than anything you’ve ever dreamed of.  if God were to show you right now where He’s taking you, the favor, promotion, increase, influence, it would boggle your mind.  you may think you’re not the most qualified, you don’t have the personality, talent, that’s ok;  it’s not going to happen just because of your talent, personality, hard work, it’s going to happen because of the commanded blessing on your life.

God’s anointing on you is more important than your talent, education, the family you come from.  you can have less talent, but with the favor of God, you will go further than people that have much more talent.  you may not see how this could happen, doesn’t seem possible, but you don’t have to figure it out;  if you’ll just keep being your best right where you are, getting to work on time, doing more than you have to, being a person of excellence and integrity, the right people will find you, the right opportunities will track you down.  don’t be frustrated if it doesn’t happen on your timetable;  you’ve gotta pass some tests, prove to God that you’ll be faithful right where you are.  if you’re not faithful in the wilderness, how can God trust you to be faithful in the Promised Land?  you’ve gotta keep a good attitude when you’re not getting your way.  you’ve gotta be your best when you’re not getting any credit.  do the right thing when it’s difficult;  that’s when your character is being developed.  if you will pass these tests, you can be certain God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.  the right people are in your future, opportunities, good breaks, wisdom, contracts, houses;  God said

Psalm 84:11 (ASV)

11 …No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

one touch of God’s favor can take you in a  split second further than you can go in your whole lifetime on your own.  quit thinking, “I’m getting behind, I’ll never accomplish my dreams,” no, God has explosive blessings in your future, blessings that will thrust you years and years ahead.  “this sounds good, but I don’t have the talent, know the right people, have the $”;  that’s ok, God does.  He’s already lined up everything you need.  there are good breaks right now that have you name on them.  there are contracts, buildings, businesses, that have your name on it.  ideas, inventions, books, movies, songs that have your name on it.  as you keep honoring God, being your best, you’re gonna draw in what already has your name on it.  when is this going to happen?  at the exact right time.  if it hasn’t happened yet, don’t get discouraged, God knows what He’s doing.  if it would have happened earlier, it wouldn’t have been the best time.  just keep being faithful right where you are, keep living with this attitude that something good is coming your way.  when you do that, like a magnet you’re going to draw in what already has your name on it.  there’s healing, a husband, wife, baby, with your name on it.  pastors, you need a larger auditorium, there’s a new sanctuary with your name on it.  there’s a business, #1 movie, an invention that will touch the world with your name on it.  you don’t have to seek the blessing;  seek God, and the blessings will seek after you. this is where we miss it.  we think, “I gotta get this promotion, meet this person, get my career going faster”;  yes, we have to use out talent, be determined, take steps of faith, but you can stay in peace, live at rest, knowing that because you’re honoring God the right people will find you, the right opportunities will track you down.

Proverbs 13:22 (AMP)

22  … the wealth of the sinner [finds its way eventually] into the hands of the righteous, for whom it was laid up.

because you’re the righteous, there’s something God has laid up for you;  eventually, it’s going to find you. that means, right now something’s looking for you;   not defeat, struggle, lack.  you are the righteous;  favor, good breaks, healing, influence are looking for you.  you may not have seen it yet, but don’t get discouraged;  keep honoring God, and He promises some of these eventualies are going to track you down.  there are some eventualies in your future;  you don’t have to go after them, just go after God, keep Him 1st place.  live a life of excellence and integrity, and God promises the eventualies will find their way into your hands.  Jesus said:

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

everything you need to fulfill your destiny has already been laid up for you.  now you just have to make pleasing God your highest priority.  before you give into temptation, “no, I’m going to please God and walk away.  I want to fulfill my destiny, come into my eventualies.”  before you tell that person off, no, “I’m gonna please God and keep my mouth closed.”  at the office, they’re not treating you right, you feel like slacking off, no, “I’m gonna please God and keeping being my best.  I know I’m not working unto people, I’m working unto God.”  you live like that, and all the forces of darkness cannot keep you from your destiny.  the eventualities God has lined up for you are going to boggle your mind;  it’s going to be more than you can ask or think.  God has not only already arranged them, He’s taken it one step further;  He’s already put your name on them, they’ve already been marked as part of your divine destiny.

what’s your part:  worry, struggle, try to make it happen, manipulate this person, maybe they’ll do me a favor?  no, you don’t have to play up to people, you don’t have to beg people, hope that they’ll throw you a crumb here or there.  you are not a beggar, you are a child of the most high God.  you have royal blood flowing through your veins.  you are wearing a crown of favor.  God has called, equipped, empowered, chosen you;  the Creator of the universe.  all you’ve gotta do is keep honoring God, and the blessings will find you, the right people will show up, the ones that want to help you.  the good breaks, businesses, contracts will track you down.  one phone call, one person God has ordained to help you, can change the course of your life.  how is this going to happen?  just your talent, ability, hard work?  that’s part of it, but the main key is by honoring God.  that’s what puts you in a position for his blessings to overtake you.  that’s what makes you a magnet for Hs favor.

some of you are very close to attracting what you’ve been praying and believing for.  you’ve honored God, been faithful, now God is about to release an eventually in your life.  it’s going to be bigger than you imagined.  when you meet that person, they’re going to be better for you than you ever dreamed of.  you waited a long time, but when they show up, you’re going to say, “you were well worth the wait.”  “you’re just getting everybody’s hopes up today”;  you’re right, you can’t have faith if you don’t first have hope.  some of you have gotten stuck in a rut.  God’s been good to you, you’ve got a good family, job, you’ve seen God’s blessings;  you haven’t seen anything yet.  you haven’t touched the surface of what God has in store.  don’t become complacent, thinking that you’ve seen your best days;  God never performs His greatest feats in our yesterdays.  you may have seen God’s goodness in the past, but it’s nothing compared to what God is about to show you.  some of you are going to write a book, movie, song that will touch the world.  the idea will come to you;  you don’t have to go after it.  some of you are going to start a business that will become a global force.  some of you are going to have a ministry that will shake nations.  some of you will raise a child that will become a history maker.

the eventualies God has in your future are going to boggle your mind, it’s like nothing you’ve seen before.  God has raised you up to take new ground for the kingdom, to go where others have not gone.  dream, believe, pray big.  make room for God to do something new in your life.  God knows what He’s put in you:  gifts, talents, potential.  you have seeds of greatness on the inside.  because you’re honoring God, He’s going to open doors that no man can shut.  He’s going to bring talent out of you that you didn’t know you had.  He’s going to connect you with the right people, present you with opportunities that will thrust you into a new level of your destiny.  when you simply honor God, He’ll cause people to be at the right place at the right time.  you won’t have to seek them out, they’ll seek you out.  don’t talk yourselves out of it;  because you honor God, you have the same commanded blessing on your life.  right now, God has favor tracking you down, good breaks are looking for you, divine connections, the right people, are in your future. you don’t have to worry about how it’s all gonna work out;  what has your name on it, real estate, good breaks, businesses, favor, will eventually find its way into your hands.

Proverbs 13:21 (NLT)

21 Trouble chases sinners, while blessings chase the righteous!

you are the righteous;  right now, favor, promotion, healing, is chasing you, victory is coming your way.  don’t ever say, “I’ll never get outta debt, get married, be well again”;  you know what that’s doing? demagnetizing your magnet;  it’s taking away the attraction power.  when we dwell on negative, can’t do it, not able to, never going to happen thoughts, that is demagnetizing our magnet.  you are taking away its power to pull in what belongs to you.  I’m helping you to turn up the power on your magnet.  when you realize God has put a commanded blessing on your life, and you go out each day with the attitude that something good is going to happen to you, that’s when God can do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond.  every one of you can look back over your life and remember a time where you unexpectedly saw God’s favor.  you didn’t go after it, it came after you.  God has done it in the past, and the good news is, He’s not only going to do it again in the future, but what He’s going to show you will make what you’ve seen in the past pale in comparison.

God has explosive blessings coming your way;  they are going to thrust you to a level greater than you’ve imagined.   you’re going to look back and say, “how in the world did I get here?  I’m not the most qualified, talented, I don’t have all the experience.”  you may not, but God does;  He knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  because you’re honoring God, keeping him first place, the power of your magnet is being turned up;  you’re about to draw in good breaks, promotion, healing, favor, ideas, contracts, creativity.   God is about to release what already has your name on it.  you’re not going to have to go after it, it’s going to come after you.   it’s going to be bigger than you imagined, it’s going to happen sooner than you thought;  you’re about to step into the fullness of your destiny and become everything God’s created you to be.

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely of the modern mindset that, contrary to what was non-coincidentally believed during the entire history of Western culture prior to the women’s-lib era, when men ran everything, God, and therefore Jesus, loves us all equally, and neither wants nor expects women to be in an inferior position in any aspect of life  It has saddened me greatly to see WOMEN on Christian forums arguing how they/we are “less” than men in a variety of ways.  Here’s one of the verses they quote:

1 Corinthians 14:34 (NIV)

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.

Corinthians is NOT quotes from, or reports of the actions of,  Jesus (who has already dead) or God, but is, like much of the New Testament, taken from Paul’s endless letters.  Here’s a crucial point in understanding the Bible:

The apostles were NOT infallible.  Their gospels disagree with each other in many places.  Jesus was always having to teach, correct, and rebuke them.  Paul, who never even MET Jesus, is NOT directly passing on his teachings.  When in doubt, look at what God and Jesus themselves said and did.

and an equally crucial point about Jesus:

Jesus never, EVER, said anything about women being inferior in any way, shape or form.  He WAS infallible, and he could not have simply “forgotten” to mention such a major concept.  What he DID do was go out of his way to forgive and be kind towards women that society had condemned via the double standard.

As always anxious to not make a false statement, I did a little research to make sure that Jesus did not in fact say some line that I have not yet studied that was “against” women.  My first idea for a title for this post was “Jesus was a feminist,” but I thought that might seem too radical and inflammatory, preventing some folks from reading my ideas and generally muddling the issue while not helping my actual point…  and I bring this up because the first search result that caught my eye was an essay with that exact name!!   It is far more detailed, extensive and scholarly than what I’m about to say.  I don’t have time to read it all today, but I’m sure I will, many times.  I want to be sure that what I post is what I came up with myself, not influenced by:

“Leonard Swidler, Professor of Catholic Thought & Interreligious Dialogue, Religion Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA  An Editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies and a member of religion department at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA at the time this article was written.  The article first appeared in Catholic World.  January, 1971.”

It’s very reassuring that someone like that shares my viewpoint, and it’s NOT a coincidence that I saw this link, or that TWO emails showed up on the day I intended to write this post with additional examples for me to use;  this is God showing me that this idea is RIGHT.  Here’s what I came up with myself:

After I wrote “Which sinners was Jesus willing to help?” on 7-28, it got me thinking about WHY he repeatedly forgave or assisted women that his culture deemed “unvirtuous.”  Not female thieves, or women who mistreated their children, but:  the woman at the well, who, lived with a man who was not her husband, the adulteress who he saved from stoning, the woman who washed his feet with her tears, the bleeding woman who was considered unclean, and who had earned the death penalty by touching his prayer shawl…  WHY were THESE women singled out repeatedly for his special attention?  The woman at the well was the 1st person to whom he revealed that he as the Messiah;  WHY?  I don’t pretend to understand it all yet, but one thing is clear; he did NOT see women as lesser creatures, or agree with the cultural rules that defined them as such.

Today’s email from JP said, in part:

“Four women are mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. (Matthew 1:1–16) Interestingly, they are not Sarah, Rebekah, Leah or Rachel, wives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament. Instead, they are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, women who had morally questionable backgrounds.

Tamar resorted to deception and prostitution to produce children through her father-in-law. Yet, it was from her line, the tribe of Judah, that the Messiah came. (Genesis 38) Rahab was a Gentile and a prostitute in Jericho, who became a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Joshua 2:1–21) She also became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth. (Ruth 4:13)

Ruth was morally upright. But as a Moabitess, she was a Gentile and therefore considered unclean. Yet, she became the grandmother of David (Ruth 4:13–17), whom the Jews regard as their greatest king. Bathsheba committed adultery with David. (2 Samuel 11:4) Later, she gave birth to King Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24), from whose royal line Jesus descended.”

Now, how likely is it that these “ladies of ill repute” were chosen, both to be in this most exalted lineage and to be specifically named in scripture, by ACCIDENT?  To me, this can only mean that the cultural ideas of how women could be unclean or otherwise “bad” were NOT how God saw it…  and thus NOT what Jesus thought.

And then I got:

From “Today’s Topical Bible Study” for 8-3 from BibleStudyTools.com:

“Studying Mark’s Gospel: The Teachings of Jesus

Thomas Klock

Lesson 14: The Teachings of Jesus

John the Baptist had been slain for preaching against Herod’s adulterous marriage (Mark 6:14-29). Further, it appears from this that God does not accept divorce as valid; any man who divorces his wife is not really divorced, and if he marries someone else, he commits adultery. No one else in antiquity spoke of divorce in such strong terms. Most Jewish teachers allowed polygamy, and would not have seen marrying a second wife as adultery, even if they had agreed that the man was still married to the first wife. But Jesus eliminates the double standard; a man consorting with two women is as adulterous as a woman consorting with two men.”

Why would Jesus have done this if he believed that women were inferior and should be submissive to the will of men?  He would NOT have.  Jesus was lifting women up from where the culture of that time had placed them, NOT holding them down.

While scanning through the essay “Jesus Was a Feminist,” there was one part that caught my eye, and it’s clear that it should be added here:

Women Disciples of Jesus

One of the first things noticed in the gospels about Jesus’ attitude toward women is that he taught them the Gospel, the meaning of the Scriptures, and religious truths in general.  When it is recalled that in Judaism it was considered improper, and even “obscene,” to teach women the Scriptures, this action of Jesus was an extraordinary deliberate decision to break with a custom invidious to women.  Moreover, women became disciples of Jesus, not only in the sense of learning from Hun, but also in the sense of following Him in His travels and ministering to Him.  A number of women, married and unmarried, were regular followers of Jesus.  In Luke 8:1 ff., several are mentioned by name in the same sentence with the Twelve: “He made his way through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  With him went the Twelve, as well as certain women . . . who provided for them out of their resources.”   (Cf: Mk.15:40f.  The Greek word translated here as “provided for” and in Mark as “ministered to” is diekonoun, the same basic word as “deacon;” indeed apparently the tasks of the deacons in early Christianity were much the same as these women undertook.) The significance of this phenomenon of women following Jesus about, learning from and ministering to Him, can be properly appreciated when it is recalled that not only were women not to read or study the Scriptures, but in the more observant settings they were not even to leave their household, whether as a daughter, a sole wife, or a member of a harem.”

http://www.godswordtowomen.org/feminist.htm

VERY eye-opening!!  And, given a choice between what Paul said and what Jesus DID, which should we look to as evidence of what Jesus and therefore God see as the proper position of women?  There’s no confusion, is there?

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