Archive for September, 2013

Moving forward

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to go through life looking in the rearview mirror, focused on what didn’t work out, who hurt us, the mistakes we’ve made;  “if only I’d have finished college, spent more time with my children.”  but as long as you’re living in regrets, focused on the negative things of the past, it’s going to keep you from the bright future God has in store.  you’ve gotta let go of what didn’t work out:  hurts, pains, disappointments, failures.  you can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about right now.  whether it happened 20 years or 20 minutes ago, let it go and move forward.  if you keep bringing negative baggage from yesterday into today, it will poison your future.  you may have had an unfair past;  you don’t have to have an unfair future.  you may have gotten off to a rough start in life, but it’s not how you start that matters, it’s how you finish.  don’t let what somebody did or didn’t do for you be an excuse to live sour.  don’t let a bad break, divorce, betrayal, bad childhood, cause you to settle where you are;  move forward, and God will pay you back, vindicate you.  you’ll come into a new beginning.

nothing that’s happened to you is a surprise to God.  the loss of that loved one didn’t catch God off-guard.  the business that didn’t make it, the relationship that didn’t work out, did not stop God’s plan for your life.  are you going to get stuck, fall into self-pity, become bitter, let the past poison your future?  or, are you going to shake it off and move forward, knowing that your best days are still up ahead?  your car has a big windshield and a small rearview mirror;  the reason is that what happened in your past is not nearly as important as what’s in your future.  if you stay focused on the past, you’ll get stuck where you are.  this is the reason a lot of people don’t have joy, no enthusiasm for life;  they’re dragging around all this negative baggage from the past.  somebody offended them last week;  they’ve got that stuffed in their resentment bag.  last month they lost their temper, said some things they shouldn’t have;  they’ve got that in their guilt and condemnation bag.  they carry around their bag of regrets, all the things they wish they would’ve done differently.  if they went to take an airline flight, they couldn’t afford it;  they’ve got 27 bags they drag around with them everywhere they go.

life is too short to live that way;  learn to travel light.  every morning when you first get up, forgive the people that did you wrong the day before. forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made.  at the start of the day, let go of the disappointments, setbacks, from yesterday.  start every morning afresh and anew.  God did not create you to carry around all that baggage.  some of you have been holding onto it for years.  it’s not going to change unless you do something about it.  you’ve gotta put your foot down, and say,  “I’m not living in regrets, focusing on my disappointments, dwelling on who hurt me, what didn’t work out. I’m letting it go and moving forward with my life.”  we should focus on what we can change, not on what we cannot change.  what’s done is done;  if somebody offended, mistreated, disappointed you, you can’t undo that.  you can either get bitter, pack it in a bag and let it weigh you down, or you can forgive them and go on.  if you lost your temper yesterday, you can either beat yourself up, carry around the guilt and condemnation, or you can ask for forgiveness, receive God’s mercy, and do better today.  if you didn’t get that promotion, you can get sour, go around with a chip on your shoulder, or you can shake it off, knowing that God has something better in store.  no matter what happens in life, big or small, if you will learn to let it go and move forward, then your past doesn’t have to poison your future.

when you hold onto the hurts, pains of the past, it will poison you everywhere you go.  you cannot drag around the baggage from yesterday and expect to have good relationships today.  you’ve gotta let it go.  quit living life looking in that rearview mirror;  start looking out the great big windshield.  you may have had some bad breaks, but that did not stop God’s plan for your life.  He still has something amazing in front of you.  when one door closes, if you’ll stay in faith, God will always open up another door.  when one dream dies, don’t sit around in self-pity, talking about what you’ve lost;  dream another dream.  your life is not over because you lost a loved one, went through a divorce, got laid off.  you wouldn’t be alive unless God had another victory in front of you.  quit mourning over what you’ve lost.  let go of what didn’t work out.  how do you let it go?  quit thinking, talking about it, reliving the negative things that have happened to you.  when those pictures come up on the movie screen of your mind, change the channel;  you have the remote control.  you don’t have to watch everything that comes up.  if you keep reliving negative memories, thinking about how unfair it was, “how could they do that to me?”, that wound will never heal.  every time you think about it, you’re re-opening it.  the mind is very powerful;  when you replay negative experiences, you will feel the same emotion as when it first happened.  before long, you’ll be sad, angry, depressed, bitter.

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

if you’re going to keep moving forward, you’ve gotta be disciplined in your thought life.  the negative memories will try to replay again and again;  you’ve gotta guard your mind.  some of you would go to a new level if you would quit replaying the disappointments, reliving the bad breaks.  every time you watch or think about that, you’re re-opening the wound;  it’s making it more difficult.  if you’re sitting around nursing your wounds, feeling sorry for yourself, you’re not going to see anything new;  you’ve gotta let those doors totally close.  let go of the disappointments, failures.  you cannot change the past, but you can change the future;  if you’ll move forward, you’ll see the new things God wants to do.

Isaiah 61:3 (KJV)

… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…

you have to let go of the ashes before you can receive the beauty.  ashes represent our broken dreams, failures, disappointments, hurts.  we all have our share of ashes, but as long as  you’re holding onto the ashes, thinking about the disappointment, mad at somebody, bitter at the past, you won’t receive the beauty;  an exchange has to take place.  it’s an act of faith to say, “God, I’m forgiving this person that hurt me.  I lost my biggest client, but I’m not going to have a chip on my shoulder.  my friend betrayed me, but I’m gonna keep a good attitude”;  that’s when God can give you the beauty. “they hurt me too badly, I can’t forgive them”;  that’s a heavy price to pay.  if you won’t let go of the old, you can’t receive the new. “we prayed for our mother, but she wasn’t healed, we don’t understand it”;  I don’t claim to understand it all, I’m simply asking you to let go of the ashes, disappointment, blame.

take those ashes, broken dreams, hurts, failures, questions, put them into God’s hands, and say, “God it wasn’t fair.  they hurt me.  my dream didn’t work out.  but I refuse to live life looking in the rearview mirror;  you promised me beauty for ashes, so right now I’m releasing the bitterness, forgiving the person that hurt me, letting go of the disappointments.”  the enemy would love for you spend your whole life sitting in the ashes;  bitter over a relationship that didn’t work out, angry over a job you didn’t get, feeling sorry for yourself because of a loved one that died.  no, turn loose of those ashes.  you went through a divorce, let it go, God has somebody better in your future.  if you weren’t treated right growing up, let it go, and God will make it up to you.  move forward;  quit mourning over something that’s over and done, that you cannot change.  if God wanted them to still be here, they would still be here.  if God wanted you to have that position that you didn’t get, you would have it.  shake off the self-pity, disappointment.  Paul put it this way:

Philippians 3:13 (ESV)

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead

that word “strain” indicates that it’s going to take effort.  you go through a bad break, a loss, the easy thing to do is sit around and talk about how bad life is treating you.  but if you’re going to keep moving forward, you’ve gotta have a strong will, rise up like Paul and say, “that’s it, I am not holding onto these ashes.  I know what’s in my future is greater than what’s in my past, so I am pressing forward in life.”  this is what the prophet Samuel had to do.  Samuel had invested a lot of time and energy into his relationship with  Saul;  Samuel chose him at the Lord’s command to be the next king of Israel.  Saul wouldn’t walk in obedience, and God rejected him as king.  you can imagine how Samuel must have felt;  it looked like all the energy he’d put into Saul was a waste of time.

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?”

God is asking us the same thing;  “how long are you going to mourn over what you’ve lost, a relationship that didn’t work out, a job you didn’t get, somebody that hurt you?” there is a problem with excessive mourning;  it stops God from releasing the new things he has for you.  God told Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)

16 … Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

God was saying, “Samuel, if you’ll quit mourning, and instead get up and start moving forward, I’ll give you another king.”  Saul was His 1st choice, but God didn’t say, “Saul blew it, that ruins everything,” no, God always has another plan.  if you’ll quit dwelling on the disappointment, quit feeling sorry for yourself, and put on a new attitude, put the smile back on your face, get your hopes up, start expecting God’s goodness, that’s when  you’ll see the new things God has in store.  Samuel could have said, “God, I can’t do it, I’m too heartbroken”;  if he would have done that, he would have missed out on choosing David, one of the greatest kings that’s ever lived.  just like with Samuel, what you may think right now is a big disappointment, stumbling block, God is going to turn it into a stepping stone to take you into the greatest days of your life. if you’ll let go of the ashes and not get bitter, God will do something greater than you’ve ever imagined.  when you go through a loss, disappointment, it’s easy to think, “it’ll never be like it used to be.”  if you’ll stay in faith and keep moving forward, you’re right;  it won’t be what it used to be, it will be better.  that’s the way our God is;  that’s beauty for ashes.

are you still mourning over something that you should be over?  if you’ll put on the new attitude, start moving forward, you will see the better things that God has in store.  in life, we all have to deal with some kind of loss;  loved one, job, dream, relationship.  it’s tempting to feel like something was taken away from us.  you can have 1 of 2 attitudes:  you can say, “God, it’s not fair.  I don’t understand it.  how could You let that happen to me?” you can get angry, bitter, pass blame.  but a much better approach is to take that loss and sow it as a seed.  say, “God, I don’t know why this was taken away, but I’m not going to let anyone steal from me;  I’m sowing this as a seed and trusting You to bring me a harvest.”  you didn’t get a promotion that you deserved;  don’t get bitter, have the attitude, “nobody stole this promotion from me.  God, I’m sowing it as a seed, believing that you will bring me an even better position.”  a relationship didn’t work out;  “God, I’m not going to live my life sour, thinking that I’ve wasted months or years of my life, I’m sowing this as a seed, knowing that You will bring the right person into my life.”

you can’t have a victim mentality;  “oh man,  I’ve been robbed, my loved one was taken away,” no, turn it around, give it to God.  sow it as a seed, and you’ll be amazed at what kind of harvest God will bring you.  we all come to places where something is over and done;  there’s nothing more we can do about it.  we may not understand it, it may not have been fair, but none of that changes the fact that it’s no longer alive.  we could either hold onto it and let it drag us down and defeat us with it,  or, as difficult as it may be, we can choose to break free, move forward, so we can experience a new beginning.  if something is dead your life, don’t die with it.  if something is over and done, don’t hold onto it, let it go.  say, “God, they hurt me, it wasn’t right, but I’m not gonna dwell on it, relive that memory;  I’m gonna cut it off and move forward.”  sometimes you have to take bold measure to keep making progress.  if a dream died, don’t die with it;  cut off the broken dream, relationship that didn’t work out, self-pity, unforgiveness, negative attitude.  where you’re unwilling to walk away is where you’re going to become stuck.  in the scripture, Job went through a 9 month period where everything that could go wrong did:  he lost his health, business, family.  at one point:

Job 2:8 (NIV)

Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

when you go through a loss, disappointment, there’s nothing the enemy would love to see you do more than to sit down among the ashes, get bitter, hold on to something that is dead, lose your enthusiasm for life.  that’s what Job did for a period of time;  he sat down.  but he didn’t stay down. he got his fire, passion back, and rose up out of those ashes:

Job 19:25 (NIV)

25 I know that my redeemer lives

Job 42:10 (KJ21)

10 … Also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.

some of you today, life hasn’t turned out the way you had hoped;  you’ve gone through some unfair situations, now you’re sitting in the ashes, holding on to something that didn’t work out, bitter, discouraged.  God is saying, “if you will let go of the ashes, put on a new attitude, I will do for you what I did for Job;  I’ll not only bring you out, but I’ll bring you out with twice what you had before.”

Isaiah 61:7 (MSG)

Because you got a double dose of trouble
    and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled
    and your joy go on forever.

your future starts today.  don’t go through life looking in that rearview mirror;  look out the great big windshield in front of you.  your life is filled with possibilities.  there are incredible opportunities in front of you.  you may have had some bad breaks, but always remember, God has promised beauty for those ashes.  do your part:  let go of the ashes.  quit reliving negative memories.  don’t let season of mourning turn into a lifetime of mourning.  be bold to cut off whatever didn’t work out. whether it was 30 minutes or 30 years ago, let it go and move forward.  if you’ll do this, you will feel a heaviness lift off of you.  the rest of your life will be the best of your life.  God will take what’s meant for harm and use it to your advantage.  you will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy, and become everything God has created you to be.

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A reader posted a powerful question:

“Its J again…
Question for you: Evil People vs. Good People
Why does it seem like evil people are successful in life? They get everything they want, they keep getting blessed and they live longer.

Why does it seem like people who try to live a good (GODLY) life they can’t catch a break. . paycheck-to-paycheck, stress etc.”

My answer came out pretty well, so I thought I’d make it a post:

This is a painful question pondered by many, J. The answer is rooted in free will. Many of the behaviors of evil people lead directly to success; the biggest liar and manipulator on the sales team will usually be the top salesperson, for example. The evil person develops skill in seeing how to get the optimal outcome in every situation, and is willing to take whatever the actions are to get that most desirable outcome… which is why they so often get there.

These people are NOT being blessed, they are reaping the “rewards” of their evil in the same way that a child cheating on a test gets a higher score… this is NOT the work of God, as He NEVER rewards evil.

But why does He even permit it? Free will. We all believe in free will, we want to have it, we believe everyone should have it… but we’re naturally unhappy when evil people use it to achieve “surface success.”  If God were to block all evil behavior, we would not have free will anymore; more to the point, if being good is all we can do, rather than it being a matter of choice, then we are not demonstrating any actual virtue… and God wants us to CHOOSE right behavior in the same way that He wants us to CHOOSE faith rather than being “programmed” to have it.

And what is our reward for making those choices rather than the evil ones that lead so consistently to “surface success”? We have “true success,” the only kind that matters; our deep connection to God. Those evil people that have monetary and business success do NOT have that sort of connection to God. It is literally impossible for them to have it, because God does NOT reward evil in any way, including that most precious reward; His closeness.

Which would you rather have; “surface success” gained by evil acts, or to be close to God? It’s not a hard choice, looked at that way, is it?

Don’t envy the evil people who have achieved “surface success”; PITY them, because they have given up the only thing that matters, that thing that you and I are blessed with in abundance… closeness to the Lord.

Mark 8:36 (ESV)

36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

PS:  Most evil people have to struggle to pay their bills just like the rest of us do, we just don’t notice it because we focus on successful people. Imagine being broke AND not being close to God!!


Edit 12-12:  I ran across a verse that belongs here:

Psalm 37:7 (NLT)

Be still in the presence of the Lord,
    and wait patiently for him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes.


Edit 4-9-14:  Here’s another good verse:

Job 8:20 (GNT)

20 But God will never abandon the faithful
    or ever give help to evil people.


Edit 3-5-15:  And another couple of good ones:

Proverbs 23:17 (NIRV)

17 Do not long for what sinners have.
    But always show great respect for the Lord. 

Proverbs 24:19 (VOICE)

19 Do not worry when evildoers go unpunished
    or be jealous when the wicked seem to prosper.

Edit 7-18-17: and another one:

Psalm 10:13-14 (NLT)

13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God?
They think, “God will never call us to account.”
14 But you see the trouble and grief they cause.
You take note of it and punish them.


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This just came in one of JP’s newsletters:

Romans 8:31
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?   

Whenever the devil throws something at us, we need not lose hope. In fact, we can be sure that God will turn it around for our greater blessing because He is for us.

When God first made man, He gave man dominion over everything on earth. (Genesis 1:26) But when Adam fell, sin and death entered the world, and man lost his authority to the devil.

So did the devil win? No, God executed His redemption plan by sending His son Jesus to die for us. And He wants us to know that Jesus’ death did more than just restore us to the same position that Adam had—it placed us in a much higher position!

When the Father raised Jesus from the dead, we who are in Christ were raised with Him. In other words, we are now seated with Him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come”! (Ephesians 1:21) Adam never had this position. So through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have received so much more.

In the Old Testament, we read of how God brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt into a land flowing with milk and honey. The devil thought that he could foil God’s plan by putting giants in the promised land to stop the Israelites from inheriting it. But God outsmarted the devil. He allowed the giants to build their homes and cities, dig wells and cultivate crops until the right time came. Then, He brought the Israelites into the land and evicted the giants!

So the Israelites ended up inheriting large beautiful cities which they did not build, houses full of all good things which they did not fill, hewn-out wells which they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees which they did not plant! (Deuteronomy 6:10–11) Although the devil tried to prevent God’s plan for His people from coming to pass, they ended up receiving so much more!

Beloved, the devil may throw obstacles and evil circumstances at you, but God will turn those evil schemes around for your greater blessing because He is for you!”

No matter what has gone wrong in your life, no matter what you have lost, no matter what is blocking your path, no matter what situation you’re stuck in, God has a way to bring you out of it better than you were before.  Stay in faith;  your flourishing finish is getting closer every day!!

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

if you’re going to do anything great in life, there will be opposition, setbacks, delays, critics.  a lot of people get discouraged, and think, “why is this happening to me?”  it’s because you’re taking new ground, making progress.

Psalm 107:23-24 (NASB)

23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;
24 They have seen the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.

(to tie in with the title, I’ll quote the version that he uses, although I can’t find it anywhere:

Psalm 107:23 They that go down to the sea to do business in deep waters will see the wonders of God)

when you’re in these deep waters, you’re not praying, “God, please don’t let me face anything big.”  no, you realize when you have big dreams, you’re going to have big challenges.  if you were an average person, then you would have average problems, but you’re not average, you’re not in the shallow waters;  God put seeds of greatness in you.   He has destined you to leave your mark on this generation.  you cannot expect ordinary problems;  you’re a history-maker, world-changer.  “why are these people talking about me at work, trying to make me look bad?”  listen, they don’t talk about average people, they talk about extraordinary people;  take it as a compliment, it goes with the territory.  “every time I try to move forward, I face major challenges”;  it’s because you’re a major person, and you have a major destiny.  the enemy would leave you alone if you weren’t a major threat.  he wouldn’t bother you if you didn’t have something amazing in your future.  because you’re extraordinary person, you will face extraordinary challenges.  the good news is, we serve an extraordinary God;  He can get you to where you’re supposed to be.

when you’re in the deep waters, you’re not wasting your time trying to convince everyone to like you, win over all your critics, prove to your family members that you really are ok.  everybody is not going to like, understand you.  your friends may not celebrate your success.  your relatives may find fault.  your coworkers may get jealous.  shake it off and run your race.  you’re doing business in deep waters.  you don’t have time to go over in the shallow waters for all that pettiness; you’re a history-maker.  you cannot please every person and please God at the same time.  you’ll either have a few people upset with you, or you’ll have God upset with you.  if you’ll please God, He’ll take care of your critics.  “they said something about me. I’m gonna go straighten them out.”  no, if that battle is not between you and your God-given destiny, it is simply a distraction.  you’re not supposed to engage in every battle;  you only have so much emotional energy each day.  if you’re spending that energy thinking about how you can pay somebody back, calling a friend, “can you believe what they said ?”, you’re not going to have the energy you need for your own dreams.

don’t fight battles that don’t matter;  you’ve gotta be selective in how you spend your time.  we all love our family, but some family members, you have to love them from a distance.  some relatives, once a year at the family reunion is good enough.  go give them big hug, tell them how much you love them;  ask God for forgiveness for lying later.  you can’t spend all week with Uncle Charlie, or he’ll pull you into the shallow waters and get you off course.  you love Aunt Myrtle, but if you spend too much time with her you’re gonna be negative, critical, fighting battles that don’t matter.  you have to accept the fact that some people are never going to be for you.  treat them with respect, but you don’t need their approval to fulfill your destiny.  don’t get lured over into the shallow waters trying to prove to them who you are.  the apostle Paul didn’t try to win over all his critics:

Romans 3:3 (KJV)

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

he was saying in effect, “so what if they don’t believe?  God didn’t put the promise in them, He put it in me.”  that’s the attitude we should have.  always respectfully, “so what if they don’t accept me, they’re talking about me, trying to discredit me?  I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, waste my time trying to prove to them who I am, no, I’m going to stay in the deep waters and do what God has called me to do.”  that’s when you’re going to see the wonders of God.  stay in the deep waters;  there will always be people trying to pull you into the shallow waters, criticize, find fault, discredit.  don’t waste your time with that.  set your face like a flint and run your own race.

Saul was chosen to be the next king of Israel:

1 Samuel 10:24-27 (NIV)

24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

they were jealous of Saul, they were so insecure, intimidated, they tried to push him down so that they would look bigger.  when someone belittles you, they are being little.  small-minded people won’t celebrate you;  they will be jealous, criticize, find fault, gossip, try to make you look bad.  don’t ever fight battles with small-minded people;  your destiny is too great to be distracted by someone that’s small.  they’re not going where God is taking you.

1 Samuel 10:27 (NLT)

27 But there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them.

one translation says:

1 Samuel 10:27 (MSG)

27 … Saul paid them no mind.

pay no mind to jealous people, people that don’t celebrate you, try to make you feel small;  they don’t control your destiny, God does.  they are distractions to try to lure you into the shallow waters to keep you from God’s best.  your assignment is too important, your time too valuable, to be distracted by negative, critical, jealous, small-minded people.   if you listen to what they’re saying about you, that poison will get on the inside, and you’ll start fighting a battle that you were never supposed to fight.

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)

17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.

when you’re in the deep waters, there will be some challenges, attacks, people talking.  there may be some tongues raised against you right now;  but don’t worry, it’s  not going to hold you back.  because you’re honoring God, trusting Him in the deep waters, God says you’ll see His wonders;  that means His protection, vindication, favor.  God has a hedge of protection around us that the enemy cannot cross.  instead of complaining about how big the obstacle is, how somebody is talking about you, we’ll come back to that place of peace;  if God be for you, who dare be against you?

Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

you may be up against a big challenge today;  that means you have a big destiny.  the size of your problem is an indication of the size of your future.  David had a big destiny. what did God do?  send him a big problem.  but without Goliath, David would still be known as  a shepherd boy.  that difficulty was not sent to defeat you, it was sent to promote you. the Israelites were being mistreated by their captors:

Exodus 1:12 (NIV)

12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites

the more they tried to push them down, the higher God took them.  that’s the way God is;  if you will stay in faith, God will make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble into your life.  you’ll not only come out, you’ll come out stronger, increased promoted, multiplied. the more people try to make you look bad, the better God will make you look.

Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies

that means the ones that tried to push you down, played politics, left you out, cheated you;  God will make sure they see you promoted, elevated, increased, in a position of honor.

Esther 5:9-14 (NIV)

9 Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai…  14 His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.

Esther 6:6-11 (NKJV)

So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?”

Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?”And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”

10 Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry, take the robe and the horse, as you have suggested, and do so for Mordecai the Jew who sits within the king’s gate! Leave nothing undone of all that you have spoken.”

11 So Haman took the robe and the horse, arrayed Mordecai and led him on horseback through the city square, and proclaimed before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!”

the more someone or something tries to push you down, don’t worry, God’s in control;  the more you will be multiplied.  instead of being discouraged by opposition, you can be encouraged by it, knowing that on the other side of that difficulty is a new level of your destiny.  the enemy always fights us the hardest when we are close to our victory.  when you’re tempted to get discouraged, sour, go back to the shallow waters, “it’s never gonna work out, it’s been too long,” no, that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “I’ve come too far to stop now.  my God is still on the throne, fighting my battles.  I’m not only coming out, I’m coming out better off than I was before.”  when you are close to giving birth to your dreams, you will face your greatest attacks.  the enemy waits ’til you’re close to the breakthrough, healing, promotion;  when you’re about to step into a new level of your destiny, don’t be surprised if you hit a setback.  that’s a sure sign you’re about to give birth to what God has placed in your heart.   the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.  your destiny cannot be stopped by bad breaks, opposition, people, nor by all the forces of darkness.  God has the final say;   when you stay in agreement with Him, He will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

you may be up against that big challenge;  that tells me you need to get ready, you’re about to give birth.  you’re about to see a promise come to pass, that child turn around, meet the person of your dreams.  this is not the time to get discouraged and think, “oh, it’s taking so long,” no, now more than ever you need to have the attitude, “I am in it to win it.  I am not gonna let this bad bad break, unfair situation, disappointment steal my dreams;  I’m going to give birth to everything God’s placed in my heart.”  some of you have had more than your share of unfair situations:  maybe you lost a loved one, a relationship didn’t work out, perhaps a child has caused you a lot of heartache and pain.  nothing that you’ve been through has been wasted;  every struggle, wrong, sleepless night, has deposited something on the inside.  it’s made you stronger, helped develop your character.  you are not defined by your past, you are prepared by your past;  it has put you in position for the new thing God is about to do.

Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)

12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.

God wants to give you beauty for the ashes, but you’ve gotta do your part and get your hopes up, your fire back, start believing , dreaming.  that’s not just being positive, that’s releasing your faith

1 Samuel 4:19-21 (NKJV)

19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’s wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. 21 Then she named the child Ichabod,[a] saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.


  1. 1 Samuel 4:21 Literally Inglorious 

she named her future based on what had happened in the past;  she could have just as easily named him “the glory will return.”   but she was so caught up in what she’d been through, the disappointment, heartache, that it tainted her whole future.  so often, we do the same thing;  we’re focused on what we lost, how unfair it was, we don’t think it’s gonna change;  no, don’t ever name your future based on a negative past.  don’t go around thinking, “I didn’t get any good breaks last year, I’m sure it’s gonna be the same, struggle, loneliness, depression, sickness, people not treating me right.”  no, get that Ichabod spirit off of you, this is a new day;  God is doing a new thing.  the enemies you’ve seen in the past you will see no more.  God has shifted things in your favor.  what’s meant for your harm God is turning to your advantage.  here’s what you should name your future;  blessed, prosperous, victorious, healthy, strong, talented, well-able.  you may be in a difficult season;  your attitude should be, “this is only temporary.  I know it’s just a matter of time before it turns around.”  it may seem like you’re stuck, you’d never rise any higher, but don’t go around speaking defeat, “I’ve reached my limits, I don’t have the connections, funds,” no, name your future by saying, “God’s face is shining down on me, He’s opening new doors of opportunity, putting me at the right place at the right time. my greatest victories are not behind me, they’re still out in front of me.”  that’s calling in favor, increase, blessing.  when you think about your future, there should be an excitement, expectancy;  you’re looking for God’s goodness.  not dragging around thinking, “it’s so hard, why’s it taking so long?”  no, all through the day, “something good is going to happen to me.  blessings are chasing me down.  favor is in my future.”  this is what David did;  he went through plenty of bad breaks, disappointment, heartache, but he didn’t name his future based on his past.  he said:

Psalm 27:13 (NIV)

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

be confident that your best days are still up ahead, God has shifted things in your favor, your dreams will come to pass.

Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)

60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

it doesn’t say, “the glory is gonna come on you one day, maybe next year if business picks up, if you get that good break,” no, it says, “the glory of the Lord is already on you.”  that word “glory” in the original language implies God’s favor, splendor, honor is heavy on you;  there’s an emphasis on “heavy.”  because you’re honoring God, you are heavy with favor, dripping with God’s goodness.  we’re not supposed to be heavy with trials, difficulties, weighted down with worry, no, the only thing that’s supposed to be heavy on you is God’s favor.  when you get up in the morning, have the right perspective;  you have an advantage, God has put something on you that causes you to stand out in the crowd.  it cases opportunity, good breaks, healing, the right people, to track you down.  you are not a lightweight;  you are heavy with God’s favor.  this is your time, your moment;  you are heavy with favor.

Joel 3:9 (KJV)

… wake up the mighty men…

God has equipped, empowered, anointed you.  no weapon formed against you can prosper.  pay no mind to the people that are trying to discourage you;  God didn’t put the promise in them, He put the promise in you.  what God started in your life He will finish.  you may be in a difficult season;  just keep on shining.  the more difficult it is, the more God is gonna multiply you.  you’re not gonna come out the same, you’re gonna come out increased, promoted, better than you were before.  one thing I’m good at is staying in the deep waters, not letting things bother me, not fighting battles that don’t matter, not naming my future based on my past, believing that I’m heavy with favor.  when you honor God like that, He will make more out of your life than you ever imagined.  stay in the deep waters.  shake off the discouragement, offense, little dreams;  believe that you’re heavy with favor, your best days are still out in front of you.  if you will stay in the deep waters, you will see the wonders of God.  God will open doors that no man can shut.  God will take you where you could not go on your own.  He’ll fight your battles, make your wrongs right.  you will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy, and become everything that God’s created you to be.

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I had asked God to bring me new social opportunities, and he brought me FOUR within 8 days, as reported in “God is giving me a social life” on 7-14.

When I had the chance to have the first full day in YEARS with one of these people, I asked God to give us a once-in-a-lifetime day at the zoo, which He did in spades, as reported in “God answers a prayer in spectacular fashion” on 8-25.

There was another local friend that I hadn’t seen in over 3 YEARS, who did a sudden turnaround from the depths of depression and was eager to see me on his b-day, and has since expressed almost comical eagerness to see me again soon.  And no, this was NOT a date, my roommate was with me and this guy is a confirmed bachelor.

And then…  a long-time online friend passed away.  If this had happened when my social calendar was full, I would have felt sad, sent her husband a condolence, and that would have been it.  But instead, given the current circumstances, I felt the urge to track down the “group” we used to have in a long-gone forum and tell them that she had died…  and they’ve all responded wanting to be friends again!!  Online friends are not a replacement for people you can get together with, of course, but they are still people who know me, have some shared history with me, and enough affection despite the intervening years that they want us to have a relationship again;  4 of them so far, all within ONE day.

AND, in searching for contact info for a 5th one (I may have found her online business, and will hopefully find out tomorrow if it’s her), I brought up the AOL IM for the first time since…  2003?…  and a friend that had vanished several years ago was logged in with her old ID!!  We got all caught up, and renewed our friendship…  which would never had happened without these exact circumstances.

When I was looking for the posts referenced above, I ran across “More friends?” from 4-17-10 for the 1st time since I wrote it, and was blown away to read that request for friends, because a month later, literally ONE month later, God created a miraculous event that led to my prayer being answered!!  Since that request worked so well, and the miracles are abounding anyways, I’m going to use it again:

“What I ultimately want, and I think even NEED, is several local friends, people that it’s reasonable to visit with in terms of distance, who I have enough in common with to be fully engaged with, now and for the long-term, and with good enough lives, and healthy enough minds, that we can have real friendships, not neurotic interlocks based on their emotional issues or love/hate frenemy things because they envy my having a better life than they do. If they’re intelligent and/or have relationships with You, ideally both, that’d be perfect, but anyone that You think would be a good friend for me I’ll accept joyfully. {Thank you}”

I wonder what I’ll have within a month this time?

Edit 9-26:  I DID locate the 5th friend!!  She rarely answers the phone at her work, but she did when I called;  we both found that significant.  We talked on the phone for HOURS.  We’ve all gotten hooked up on the instant messenger and are chatting like mad.  Amazing!!

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God brings me movies

On 9-5, my roommate and I had a conversation about music that led to him mentioning the soundtrack to the ’80’s remake of the 1st full-length scifi film ever made, “Metropolis.”  This led to me looking it up, and thus to discovering that a nearly complete print had been found, and almost all of the gaps that had been in the movie for decades had been fixed;  this restored version had been premiered in February 2010.  I was eager to see it, but I hadn’t seen Metropolis in the  TV listings for ages, and had only ever seen it offered a couple of times;  silent movies don’t get much airplay.  As I always do with anything I want, large or small, I asked God to be able to see it.

And then yesterday, 9-16, a mere 11 days later, I was looking at the TV listings, and guess what was coming up on Turner Classic Movies?

Even better, coming on directly before it was another German Expressionist masterpiece that I had only seen once, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari!!  God not only brought what I’d asked for with impressive speed, He brought me double.  Furthermore, had I invested the time to look, I could have very likely found a place to watch the new version of Metropolis online, but God STILL did it for me, saving me the search time and allowing me to see it on the TV screen rather than the computer screen, which, aside from being much smaller,  would have prevented me from working for 2.5 hours, which I just couldn’t do right now.  In other words, I could have handled this myself, but He handed it for me simply because He could do it so much better.  All I had to do was ASK.

If there’s anything of any size that you want, even something that doesn’t need supernatural influence to do, ask God for it today:

James 4:2 (DARBY)

…ye have not because ye ask not.

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You have what you need

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to think, “if I had more $, a bigger house, more talent, a better personality, knew the right people, I could accomplish my dreams, do something great, be happy. ”  but as long as you feel like you’re lacking, you don’t have enough, you were short-changed, then you’ll make excuses to be less than your best.  you’ve gotta have a new perspective;  God has given you exactly what you need for the season that you’re in.  you have the talent, friends, connections, resources, experience you need for right now.  it doesn’t mean that’s all you’re ever going to have.  you may need more next month, next year;  when that time comes, God will make sure that you have more then.

Psalm 34:10 (NLT)

10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

because your trust is in the Lord, you don’t have to worry;  whatever you need, God will make sure you have it when you need it.  you wont lack any good thing.  this means, if you don’t have it right now, don’t fight it, don’t be discouraged, you don’t need it right now. our attitude should be, “I’m equipped, empowered and anointed for this moment.  I am not lacking, short-changed, inadequate, missing out, less than;  I have what I need for today.”  this approach is so much better than thinking, “if I just had the finances, if the loan would have gone through, if they would have been my friend, if I had a better personality.”  listen;  if you needed a better personality, God would have given you one. God wasn’t having a bad day when He created you.  if you needed more talent, God would have give you more talent.  if you needed more friends, you would have more friends.  take what you have and make the most of it;  it’s what you need for right now.  I have the strength that I need for today.  it may not be enough strength for tomorrow, but that’s ok;  when that day comes, God will give me strength for tomorrow.  I have the talent, qualifications, experience I need for right now.  it may not be as much as somebody else has, but that’s ok;  I’m not competing with them, I’m competing with myself to become the best me that I can possibly be.

Galatians 1:1 (NLT)

1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

people may not approve you;  don’t worry about it, God approves you.  people didn’t call you, don’t determine your destiny, can’t stop God’s plan for your life.  God called you, equipped you, anointed you.  when you come to the end of your life, you don’t have to answer to people, you’ll answer to Almighty God.  don’t let what some person says or does make you feel less than, unqualified;  you’ve been hand-picked by the Creator of the universe.  you are lacking nothing for the season that you’re in right now.  quit thinking about all the things that you don’t have, that you wish were different;  “all I have is this old car;  I’m depressed.”  no, have a new attitude;  “this old car is all I need right now.  God is on the throne, directing my steps.  when I need more He will give me more.”  “all I have is this one friend.”  no, turn it around;  “this one friend is all I need for this season.  I’m not going to sit around in self-pity;  when I need more friends, God will give me more friends.”

“all I have is this low-level job.”  no;  “that’s all I need right now.  when it’s my time to be promoted, nothing can stand against my God, I will be promoted.  but in the meantime, I’m going to keep being my best right where I am.”  this is an empowering way to live;  not making excuses, feeling short-changed.  “if I just had more $.”  listen, if you needed more $ to fulfill your destiny right now and God withholds it, He wouldn’t be a just God.  the truth is, God has already lined up the right people, opportunities, finances, wisdom, good breaks, protection you need;  it’s in your future.  as long as you keep honoring God, He will give you what you need when you need it.  that means, if you don’t have it right now, you don’t need it right now.  will you trust Him?  will you keep  a good attitude and be your best even though it’s taking longer than you thought, the problem hasn’t turned around, a dream hasn’t come to pass?  if you will be faithful right where you are, knowing that you have exactly what you need for the season that you’re in, God will get you  to where you’re supposed to be.

2 Samuel 12:7-9 (NLT)

Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife.

in other words, “David, looking back over your life, if you were ever lacking, if you ever needed more wisdom, favor, protection, finances, God would have given it to you.”  that tells me what I have right now is what I need to fulfill my destiny.  the moment it becomes not enough is the moment God will give you more.  the moment something starts to keep you from your destiny, stop God’s plan for your life, is the moment God will show up, intervene.  so if it hasn’t happened yet, don’t be discouraged, thinking that it’s never going to work out;  if it hasn’t happened, you haven’t needed it.  when you need it, it won’t be one second late.  the moment you need a new friend, good break, idea, it will show up.  God is closely watching your life.  you are His most prized possession.  He’s saying to you, “if it’s ever not enough, you can count on Me;  I will always be there to give you more.”

when you realize the Creator of the universe is directing your steps, giving you what you need, and the moment it becomes not enough God promises to show up and give you more, then you won’t go around discouraged, thinking, “it’s not fair, why don’t I get any good breaks, when is this ever going to change?”  no, you’ll just keep being your best, honoring God.  some of you are maybe a little discouraged because of what has not happened;  you’re wondering when the problem is going to turn around, when you’re going to get that good break.  no, quit being stressed over it;  God has you in the palm of His hand.  He has written every day of your life in His book.  God knows what you need, when you need it, and He knows how to  get it to you.  if you don’t have something right now, you didn’t miss it, get short-changed, God didn’t forget about you.  as long as you’re honoring Him, at the right time, when you need it, the right people will show up, the finances, healing, restoration, vindication will find you.  if it hasn’t happened yet, don’t sit around sour;  have the attitude, “I don’t need it.  when I need it, God promises it won’t be one second late.”

John 4:10-12 (NLT)

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

I wonder how many times we do the same thing.  God tells us He’s going to do something great in our lives, down deep He puts a dream on the inside that we’re going to rise higher, see our marriage restored, get healthy again;  we feel it so strongly, but like her we start looking at what we don’t have, the way we were raised, the obstacles in our path.  before long, we talk ourselves out of it.  “I can’t do anything great, I don’t have the talent, my marriage is too far gone, the medical report is too bad.”  no, you’re just looking in the natural, but we serve a  supernatural God;  He can take something that is ordinary, breathe on it, and turn it into something that’s extraordinary.  you can have average talent, but when God breathes on your life you will go further than people that have great talent.  don’t talk yourself out of it.  all David had was a slingshot and 5 smooth stones;  it looked insignificant,ordinary, nothing special, but God breathed on it and he defeated Goliath, became the king of Israel.

Samson was surrounded by a huge army.  all he had was the jawbone of a donkey;  no weapon, no armor, nobody backing him up.  but he picked up that jawbone, God breathed on it, and he defeated 1000 men, the whole army.  all Moses had was an ordinary stick, yet when he picked it up, held that rod in the air, the Red Sea supernaturally parted.  don’t underestimate what you have;  it may look small, insignificant, compared to what you’re facing it seems impossible.  all the odds are against you, but when God breathes on your life, the odds dramatically change.  you and God are a majority.  God can open doors that should have never opened.  God can take you beyond where your talent, education says you should go.  God can make a way even when you don’t see a way.  it’s not enough to just have faith in God, that’s important, but you’ve got to have faith in what God has given you.  you are not lacking, short-changed, at a disadvantage;  the Creator of the universe is breathing on your life, health, finances, marriage.  if you will be confident in what God has given you, He can take what looks like little and turn it into much.

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin

in other words, don’t look at what you have and say, “I can’t do anything great, I don’t have a lot of talent.  a low-level job?  God, I wanted to be in management.”  no, what God has given you right now may seem small, but don’t let that fool you;  when you use what you have, God will multiply it.  you’ll see an explosion of His goodness.

Mark 8:1-4 (NIV)

8 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

on the surface, it seemed like what Jesus asked was impossible.  but God will never ask you to do  something and then not give you the ability to do it.  “I can’t raise this child, he’s too difficult”;  no, God wouldn’t have given you the child if you weren’t able to raise him.  “these people at work, they’re driving me crazy”;  no, when God gave you that job, He gave you the ability to be there with a good attitude.  “I couldn’t accomplish my dreams, I don’t know the right people”;  no, the moment God put the dream in your heart, He lined up everything you need to bring it to pass.

(Note: there are 2 stories about Jesus multiplying loaves and fishes, this one and Mark 6:30-44;  that one has the # of loaves JO mentions, 5, but this one has them in the wilderness with no food available like he also says…  take your pick.)

Mark 8:4-9 (NIV)

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present

“I believe I could do something great if I had more going for me,  if I had more talent, friends, $.”  no, you’re just looking at the natural;  get rid of that “I don’t have enough” mentality.  God controls the whole universe.  He is saying to you today what Jesus said to the disciples, “give me what you have.  don’t make excuses. don’t sit on the sidelines of life feeling intimidated, short-changed.  put your life, goals, dreams, into My hands.”  when you give God what you have, He’ll multiply it.  are you talking yourself out of something God has put in your heart?  what you have may seem small, but don’t dismiss it;  if you’ll use what God has given you, He will multiply it.  He’ll not only bring your dreams to pass, but He will do more than you can ask or think.

2 Kings 7:3-7 (NLT)

Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates. “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway.”

So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.

they could have been sitting around depressed, focused on what they didn’t have.  no, these men were using what God had given them.  “I don’t have a lot of talent, $”;  if you’ll use what God has given you, He’ll multiply it.  He’ll multiply your talent, resources, influence.  God is not into addition, He’s into multiplication.  what you have today may seem small, but if you’ll keep honoring God it’s not going to stay small.  you’re going to come into supernatural increase, good breaks, divine connections, opportunities that you’ve never seen before.  you have exactly what you need to fulfill your destiny.  it may not be as much as a family member, coworker, friend, but that’s ok, you’re not running their race, you’re running your race.  if God gave you what they have, it wouldn’t help you,  it would hinder you.  you’re not anointed to be them, you’re anointed to be you.

1 Samuel 17:38-40 (NIV)

38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.

“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.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.

what God has given other people is not going to work for you.  don’t try to be like somebody else.  “I wish I had their talent, looks, personality”;  no, if you put that armor on, you would be uncomfortable, it would slow you down.  why?  it wasn’t designed for you.  you are unique, one of a kind;  God custom-made your armor.  nobody has what you have.  if you’ll walk in your own anointing, use what God has given you, you can have less talent, resources, friends, but because God’s breathing on your life, you will go further than people that have more talent, resources.  that’s what happened with David;  he defeated Goliath with less equipment.  Goliath was wearing a full set of armor;  all David had was the slingshot.  the difference was that slingshot was a part of David’s divine destiny.  if he would have looked at it and thought, “it’s nothing, it’s small, insignificant”;  if he would have dismissed it, he would have missed his destiny.  don’t dismiss what God has given you.  it may not be as impressive as somebody else has.  you may not have the talent, looks, personality, income, influence, as they do.

but then you realize what God has given you has been custom-made;  He specifically gave you your gifts, talents, looks, personality.  it wasn’t a random happening;  no, God matched you for your world, put in you exactly what you need to fulfill His plan for your life.  you’ve gotta be confident in who God made you to be.  you’re the right size.  you have the right personality.  you’re the right nationality,  you’ve been custom-made by the Creator of the universe.  put your shoulders back,hold your head up high;  you are not lacking, you haven’t been short-changed, you’re not at a disadvantage, you have exactly what you need for where you are.  get up every morning and remind yourself, “I have the strength, talent, friends, resources, qualifications I need for today.  if you’ll do that, because your trust is in the Lord, you will never lack any good thing.  God is going to take small, turn it into much.   He’s going to multiply what you have.  you will become everything He created you to be, and have everything He intended for you to have.

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I made a purchase last night that I was using gift cards for;  TWO freaky issues arose.  One card had a redemption problem, and with the other one either I’d copied the # into my records twice because I wasn’t keeping track of what I’d done, or I’d failed to record one of the cards received at that time because I’d copied the 1st one twice instead…  I naturally feared it was the 2nd option.   The website that had sent it to me no longer had records of past cards so I had no way to figure out which it was.

The company that had given me the first card is one of those types that is usually a short-term thing;  I had very little hope that they were still around, much less that the one person I had an email addy for was still there, much less that they’d be in any hurry to assist someone who was no longer a member with a 2.5 year old card they’d given me.  With the 2nd card, the company has a long history of taking weeks to reply even to current issues, often requiring multiple emails to get them to respond, and I didn’t know if they even had the info I wanted available anymore, much less were willing to take the time digging it up, much less to do so any time soon.

So what happened?  First thing in the morning, they BOTH emailed me to handle their issues, and the 2nd company included the records I’d asked for!!!!!!!!!!!!  There’s no way THAT happened without God’s intervention.

And here’s more proof that He sends signs in dreams:  I had a dream that I was trying to sign a card for a friend that had not responded to the email I sent 5 weeks ago.  When I got up and went to my inbox I discovered, you guessed it, an email from him. AND;  the email had just come, meaning that it showed up within less than 10 minutes of when I was dreaming his name…  the TIMING!!  God is truly extraordinary.

PS:  This is my 500th post!!  🙂

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Staying in peace

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have opportunities to get worried, go around upset, frustrated, offended;  somebody’s not treating us right, we’re dealing with a health issue, the project’s taking a lot longer than we thought.  life happens.  God never promised that we wouldn’t have challenges, and everything will always go smoothly;  no, the storms of life come to every person.  but God did promise that we can have peace in the midst of  the storm.  just because we’re in a stressful situation doesn’t mean that we have to get stressed out.  just because the medical report wasn’t good, or your plans didn’t work out, it doesn’t mean that you have to be frustrated.  you may be in the storm, but don’t let the storm get in you.  a boat can be surrounded by water;  it’s not any problem unless the boat starts taking on the water.  if the boat starts allowing the ocean on the inside, before long it will sink.  it’s the same principle in life;  you can have trouble all around you:  at the office, people gossiping, playing politics, at school, somebody trying to make you look bad, at home, raising a difficult child.  stress, frustration, worry, it’s all around you.  but the good news is, just like the boat, you don’t have to allow what’s on the outside to get on the inside.

just because you’re surrounded by a situation that should be frustrating, “they’re talking about me, I should be offended.  traffic’s taking twice as long as normal, I should be upset,” no, don’t let the storm get in you;  don’t start taking on the water.  if you’re controlled by your circumstances, up when things are up, down when things don’t go your way, life is going to be a rollercoaster.  God wants you be stable, consistent, not moved by any of these things.  and when you face an adversity, hit a tough time, one of the best things you can do is simply stay calm, keep your peace.  when you’re in peace, that’s a position of power.  you’re saying with your actions, “God, I trust You.  I know You’re still on the throne.  this may be difficult, but I know You are fighting my battles.”  when you’re in peace, you’re showing God by your actions that you’re trusting Him.

Hebrews 4:3 (NKJV)

For we who have believed do enter that rest

notice, when you’re really believing, there’s a rest. “you didn’t get the promotion, aren’t you upset, you were the most qualified?”  “no, I’m at peace.  I know God has something better.  promotion doesn’t come from people, it comes from the Lord.  when it’s my time to be promoted I will be promoted.”  that’s what it means to stay at rest.  some of you have been on that rollercoaster for a long time, allowing your circumstances to determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.  you need to put your foot down and say, “that’s it.  from now on I’m keeping my peace.  I’m not going to allow what’s on the outside to get on the inside.   I’m not going to keep letting the same people frustrate me, the same circumstances upset me.  I’m going to enter into that place of rest.”  that not only allows God to work in your life, but it’s better for your health;  we were never created to live uptight, worried, stressed out.  that weakens our immune system;  it won’t fight off diseases like it should.  the reason some people can’t overcome an illness, they’re always tired, run down, they don’t have any energy, is because they worry all the time.  on the inside they’re constantly wrought up, even when they go to bed at night their mind is still going 90 to nothing, thinking about that problem;  “what if I can’t make that payment?”  all that time you spend worrying, you are draining your energy.  it’s making you weaker, taking your creativity;  you don’t do your best work when you’re worried.  you don’t make good decisions when you’re stressed out.

Luke 12:25 (HCSB)

25 Can any of you add a cubit to his height by worrying?

if we could, some of us would be 20 feet tall, we’ve worried so long.  worry is like a rocking chair;  you’re always moving but you’re never going anywhere.  when God created Adam, He put him in the garden of Eden, a very quiet, peaceful, tranquil place;  that’s where God met him and spoke with him, at a place of peace.  in life, it can be very noisy.  if we allow it, all of us can live stressed, uptight, in a hurry, on edge.  but in all the busyness, bills to pay, deadlines at the office, the problems we’re concerned about, in the midst of the hectic society, we’ve got to learn to not let the busyness, frustration, stress get on the inside.  it may be very hectic on the outside, but deep down in your spirit person there needs to be a calmness, a rest, to where you know God has you in the palm of His hand.  you know no weapon formed against you will ever prosper.

Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…

some of you have been worried for a long time;  stressed because a dream hasn’t come to pass, upset over a challenge you’re dealing with.  you can’t sleep at night, it’s taken your joy.  but just like God met Adam at a place of peace, God is saying, “there may be trouble, turmoil, all around on the outside, but if you’ll come back to that place of peace on the inside, I will meet you there. I will give you wisdom, strength.  I will turn that situation around.”  God meets us when we’re in peace.  in the center of a hurricane there’s something called the eye of the storm, where it’s very calm and peaceful.  all around, there’s chaos;  winds blowing 100 miles an hour, debris flying left and right, danger everywhere.  but as long as you’re in the eye, it’s as calm and peaceful as can be.   in life, there will be times where it seems like everything is out of control;  “my child is acting up, my company is talking about laying people off, my loved one is about to pass.”  challenges, adversities, stress will come. but just like with the eye of the storm, in the midst of that difficulty there’s a place of peace that you can go to:

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV)

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

that means you’ll have peace when you should be upset, stressed out.  when you stay calm in the midst of the storm, you will feel a peace that passes all understanding, that doesn’t even make sense.

Mark 4:37-39 (NIV)

37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

the reason Jesus could bring peace to that situation was because he had peace on the inside;  he was in the storm, but he didn’t let the storm get in him.  if you get upset, bent out of shape, every time things don’t go your way, you can’t bring peace to that situation.  peace is not the absence of trouble, getting rid of all your enemies, overcoming all your challenges, paying off all your bills;  no, there can be trouble, conflict, challenges all around you on the outside, but real peace is not allowing it on the inside.  peace is not the absence of trouble, it’s knowing God is right there with you in the midst of the trouble.

Psalm 91:4 (NIV)

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge

don’t wait for all your problems to resolve, and then you’ll decide to quit worrying;  “as soon as the traffic gets better, my boss retires, husband straightens up.”  if you have that attitude, there will always be something to keep you upset, frustrated, offended, discouraged.  no, make up your mind you’re going to have peace right in the midst of the storm.  in the ocean, on the surface, the water is always changing, depending on the wind, tide, what time of year or day.  if you go down about 30 feet deep, the water never changes;  it’s as calm and still as can be.  that’s the way we need to be.  in life, on the surface, things will always be going  on.  you can’t get away from all the traffic, or a person that irritates you, a challenge in your relationship, in your health, that’s just life.  that will create waves up on the surface, but deep down in that spirit person you’ve gotta have a calmness, a peace in your spirit.

Isaiah 30:15 (AMP)

15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength…

but when you’re worried, moved by every circumstance, upset because you’re not getting your way, offended at what a neighbor said, then you’re living a very shallow life;  you’re focused on the surface.  the problem is, you don’t control the wind, tide, what other people do, what your neighbor says, or even what battles you fight.  the only thing we can control is our own attitude.  life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond.  if you worry all the time, get upset every time the traffic is bad, frustrated because you have an unexpected bill, go deeper.  the surface is always going to be changing.  you’ll never get away from the tests, challenges, adversities;  as long as you’re alive, there will be something to deal with.  but when you learn to go down to the deep waters, you have this calmness, rest;  you know what’s on the surface is only temporary.  a big wave hits you, in your marriage, finances;  in the natural, you should be upset.  on the surface, it looks big, insurmountable;  but deep down you’ve got a peace, a calmness, you know this too shall pass.

Daniel 3:14-15 (NIV)

14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

you’d think they’d be upset, discouraged, all devastated.  no, they were in the storm, but they didn’t let the storm get in them.  they knew God had them in the palm of His hand.  the enemy cannot stop God’s destiny for your life;  he’s not in control, God is in control.  Satan had to ask permission to even test Job.  God has a hedge of protection around you, nothing can happen without God’s permission, and God will not allow a difficulty unless He has a divine purpose for it.  if you will keep your peace, you’ll pass the test, and God will bring you out better than you were before.  the Israelites were facing an impossible situation:

Exodus 14:14 (AMP)

14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.

notice, there was a condition, something we have to do;  hold your peace.  that indicates something is trying to take it away;  thoughts of worry,  fear, anxiety.  “what if it doesn’t happen?  what am I going to do?”  if you can just stay in peace, the Creator of the universe, the most high God, will go to work in your behalf.  nothing can stand against our God;  He has all power.  He stopped the sun for Joshua.  He closed the mouths of hungry lions for Daniel.  whatever you face in life, if you will just hold your peace, remain at rest, God promises He will fight your battles.  He will make a way even when you don’t see a way.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego should have been afraid, distraught, but they understood this principle:

Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV)

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

they were saying, “if it happens our way, great, but if it doesn’t work out the way we wanted we’re still going to stay in peace.” “I’m believing to get healed, but even if I don’t I’m still in peace.  I know when I die I’m going to go to heaven and be with the Lord;  that’s no too bad.”  “that person at the office that gets on my nerves, if God removes them, fine, if God chooses to leave them, fine.  I’m still going to stay in peace.”  when you have a made-up mind that no matter what life deals your way you’re going to stay calm and in peace, all the forces of darkness cannot keep you from your destiny.

this is what the apostle Paul did.  he was shipwrecked, went days without food or water, he was beaten with rods, falsely accused, put into prison, yet he said:

Acts 20:24 (KJV)

24 But none of these things move me

Paul wasn’t living on the surface, he was stable, consistent, living in the deep waters.  that’s the attitude we need to have;  “none of these things move me.”  “business is a little slow, I’m not moved by it.  I’m not losing any sleep.  I know Jehova-Jireh, the Lord my provider, He is supplying all of my needs.”  “somebody’s talking about me?  not moved by it.  that’s a small wave.  that’s on the surface;  I’m in the deep waters.”  some of you today would go to a new level if you would quit letting so many things move you.  life is too short to live it offended, upset, stressed out, discouraged.  every day is a gift from God.  before you leave the house, you need to make up your mind;  “nothing is going to move me today.  nothing is going to upset me:  traffic, weather, what somebody says, delay, disappointment.  my plans may not work out, but my God is still on throne and if He be for me who dare be against me?”

Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT)

13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

when you get up in the morning, you need to make sure to put your shoes of peace on.  you’ve gotta prepare ahead of time that nothing is going to frustrate you.  your child forgets his lunch, you’ve gotta run back to the school, and it stresses you out;  what’s the problem?  you’re barefoot;  you forgot to put your shoes on.  at the grocery store, somebody is rude to you, you’re about to be rude back to them;  no, quit leaving the house barefoot.  make sure you put your shoes of peace on every morning.  when you live right, God will protect you.

2 Timothy 4:5 (AMP)

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

I like that word “unflinchingly”;  somebody says something derogatory about you, don’t even flinch, blink, don’t let it phase you.  “I’ve got my shoes of peace on.”  you didn’t get a good report about your health;  don’t fall apart, “I’ve been praying, eating right, I don’t understand, I’m so upset.”  don’t flinch.  tap into the deep waters. be calm, cool and steady;  that’s not just being tough, that’s showing God that you’re trusting Him.  you had big plans, they got canceled;  don’t flinch, it’s only a test.  you thought that person you were dating was the right one;  it didn’t work out.  don’t flinch;  God has somebody better in store.  it’s one thing to go through a difficulty and everybody knows about it;  your family’s praying, friends are cheering you on, your coworkers are standing with you, there’s nothing wrong with that, we certainly need each other.  but when you go through a difficulty and nobody knows anything about it, you’ve still got a smile on your face, you’re still being good to people, giving it your all at the office;  the enemy did his best, but you didn’t flinch, have a nervous breakdown, get bitter, give up on your marriage, drop out of church, quit dreaming, you kept being your best.  God is saying, “because you have endured unflinchingly, I’m about to turn that situation around, restore what’s been stolen, show you healing, favor, promotion, breakthroughs, like you’ve never seen.  when you endure unflinchingly, the Creator of the universe goes to work.  some of you have been in a difficulty for a long time.  you’re wondering if it’s ever gonna change, is it ever going to get better? God made a promise:

Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

14 …  I will give you rest

“everything will be fine for you.”  let those words sink down into your spirit.  everything will be fine.  your marriage may be a little rocky right now, don’t worry about it;  everything will turn out fine.  your child may be off course;  keep your peace, God is working behind the scenes.  everything will be fine.  maybe you went through a loss, disappointment;  the future doesn’t look very bright.  stay at rest;  a new beginning is coming.  everything will be fine.  we don’t really know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future.  God has you in the palm of His hand;  nothing can snatch you away.  the storms of life come to every person;  don’t let the storm get in you.  hold your peace.  remain at rest.  that’s your position of power.  when you’re at peace, the Creator of the universe goes to work.  before you leave the house each day, make up your mind, “nothing is going to move me today.  nothing is going to upset me.”  if you do this, you’ll not only live healthier, but God promises He will show up, fight your battles, turn situations around;  you will live the life of victory He has in store.

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From JP’s latest newsletter:

“God Wants His Children Well And Joyful

John 14:9
9 Jesus said to him, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…

… there are many Christians who believe that our heavenly Father…  gives people sicknesses, accidents, earthquakes and death to teach them lessons.

But Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus is the nature of God in action. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus or God going about healing the sick. If God wants some people sick, then there should be at least one incident in the Gospels where you see Jesus saying, “Behold, your complexion is too lovely, receive leprosy,” or “Blindness is good for you. Remain blind.” But no, never once! In fact, Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil”. (Acts 10:38) That’s the heart of God.

As a father, if your child is sick and in pain, your heart just wants him well. How much more your heavenly Father! My friend, God does not give your child a sickness to teach both of you some lesson or to glorify Himself. To think so is to talk out of a warped mind bound by religion! And Christianity is not a religion. It is a loving relationship with your Father in heaven.

Beloved, hear God speaking this to your heart today: “I will never punish you for your sins because they have been punished in My Son’s body. I do not wish you ill. I will not take away your child or give you a car wreck to teach you some lesson. My heart always wants My children well and joyful!””

Seems obvious once you read it, doesn’t it? That’s a sign of a brilliant truth, in my book.

Why does this need to be said?  Because to some people the idea that bad things can happen without rhyme or reason is so terrifying that they prefer to believe that God is a cruel creature causing a tiny % of wrongdoers enormous harm for trivial offenses rather than accept that some things are RANDOM.

YES, of course He sees all, knows all.  YES, He can unleash His power at any time and in any situation of His choosing…  but for many kinds of situations He does not usually intervene.  These situations typically involve the “flaws” that He built into the “system”:

He created the Earth such that it has dangerous events like earthquakes and tsunami.

He created creatures, from bees to bears, that can harm us.

He gave us bodies that are not indestructible or immune to sickness.

He gave us minds that are capable of stupidity, carelessness, cruelty and mental illness.

He gave us the intelligence to create things meant to do harm, such as bombs and guns, and things that can “go wrong” and cause harm, such as cars and planes.

He gave us varying levels and kinds of abilities, so that people would have different levels of capability to create benefits (such as wealth) for themselves and/or others.

We can speculate endlessly as to WHY He did these things rather than make everything equal and safe and perfect for everyone. My own analysis is that He wants us to value what we have, make an effort on our own behalf, help others, grow and improve, and have faith, none of which would happen if we were happy little robots rolling along in a perfect world.  But the why doesn’t matter for the purpose of JP’s topic.  The point is that since our “system” was created with these “flaws,” bad things are guaranteed to happen in every area that they CAN happen, and this is why they DO happen, not because God is angry at you.  Bad things by definition happen even to good people, and no one is immune:

Matthew 5:45 (AMP)

45 …  He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

If something bad happens in your life, don’t start asking why God has done this to you, or what He is punishing you for;  not only is no such thing happening, but you are essentially accusing the author of all your blessings of mistreating you!!  Not really the level of gratitude and trust that He deserves.

God isn’t hovering over you waiting to unleash disaster as a penalty for lying on your taxes;  He is waiting to open up the windows of heaven to pour blessings down on you:

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)

10 … I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!

Don’t live in fear that He will hurt you;  live in joyous expectation that He will bless you.

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