Archive for May, 2014

I had dinner on Tuesday with my friend D, who I have been struggling to get closer to since I met her 4 years ago;  I described the day we met in the post “God has brought me a friend!!” on 7-16-10.  I was CERTAIN that God had brought us together, but could never make it work.  This turns out to be because God’s timing hadn’t come yet, but as always He came through at exactly the right time…  but first, the story:

I was only seeing D 1-2 times per year despite only living a MILE apart, and despite my best efforts at keeping in contact, finding things in common, all that stuff that the articles tell you to do that I suppose works fine for normal people. When she inexplicably bought me dinner and gave me GIFTS for my birthday last year, that seemed like a gigantic miracle. When we lost touch for over 3 months, and I asked God in mid-April for her to reply to me immediately AND ask to see me, and she DID, that seemed like the ultimate, but God can always go one better. After she drove me home from dinner Tuesday, she parked briefly in front of my house so we could finish what we’d been talking about, and out of the blue, I mean not in reference to anything that had been said all night, she suddenly announced that, come rain or shine, she and I should not go more than ONE MONTH without seeing each other!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t have created that result if I’d tried, and the feedback I’ve gotten so far is that NO ONE has any idea how you could get someone who had been satisfied with seeing you once a year to suddenly even agree to, much less to OFFER, to do so once a month; there’s only way that THAT could have happened.

At the time when I need to form a solid social life, God has brought D forward to serve the purpose that He always had for her in my life.  God is amazing!!

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Becoming a miracle

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many people right now are praying for a miracle; they’re saying, “God, please send me a friend. I need help with these children. I need training. God, I need a good break.” we have to realize; we can become the miracle they need. God uses people; He has no hands to heal except our hands, no voice to encourage except our voice, no arms to hug except our arms. God will bring people across our path so we can be the answer to their prayer; you may not realize it, but you are a miracle waiting to happen. somebody you know is lonely, they’re praying for a friend; you’re the miracle that they’re waiting for. somebody got a bad medical report; they’re worried, praying, “God, please send me a sign, let me know that You’re still in control.” you are that sign. a simple phone call, “I’m thinking about you, I want to let you know it’s all going to work out”; you just became their miracle. somebody is discouraged, saying, “God, I don’t understand this subject, I’m not going to pass this course. God, send me somebody”; you are that somebody. take time to become the miracle. be aware of who’s in your life. they’re not there by accident, God put them there on purpose; it’s because you are full of miracles. there is healing in you, there’s restoration, there’s friendship, there are new beginnings. life is so much more rewarding when you realize, “I can be the answer to someone’s prayer; I can lift the fallen, I can restore the broken, I can be kind to a stranger, I can become someone’s miracle.”

we all know that God can do great things, we know God can do miracles, but what I want us to see is that He’s put miracles in you. you can be the answer to someone’s prayer, you can be the good break they’re looking for, you can be the help they’ve been longing to have. it may not be something as dramatic saving their life; it may be just teaching your coworker the skills you know, helping that family that’s struggling with the rent, taking that young man to baseball practice with your son each week. it’s no big deal to you, but it’s a miracle to them; it’s what will push them toward their destiny. what kind of world would this be if we all had the attitude, “I am a miracle waiting to happen”? I’ve heard it said; “sometimes, we don’t need a miracle, we just need each other.” look around at who’s in your life. listen to what they’re saying. is there any way that you can help? can you put in a good word for them at the office? do they need a dress for a special occasion, and you’ve got a dozen in your closet that you’re never going to wear? do they live here alone, their family’s in another state? you could invite them to have lunch with your family from time to time, make them feel welcome. those are opportunities to become a miracle.  “I don’t want to hear about being a miracle, I need a miracle.” here’s the key;  if you will become a miracle, God will always make sure that you have the miracles you need. as long as you’re sowing these seeds, the right people will be in your future, the right opportunities, the breaks you need; God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

Proverbs 11:25 (CEB)

25 … those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

if you want your dream to come to pass, help somebody else’s dream come to pass. if you need a miracle, become a miracle. when you take time to invest in others, the seed you sow will always come back to you.  you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone. there are people God has put in your path that are connected to your destiny:  as you help them rise higher, then you will rise higher, as you meet their needs, God will meet your needs, as you become a miracle, God will give you miracles. but just the opposite is true: if we’re too busy to help someone else, we’re not going to have the help we need.  if we’re too caught up in our own dreams to invest in others, or too worried about our own problems to encourage somebody else, we’re going to get stuck. reaching your highest potential is dependent on you helping someone else reach their potential. it’s like a boomerang; when you help somebody else rise higher, it always comes back to you, and you’ll rise higher. Jesus told the parable:

Luke 10:30-35 (GNT)

30 Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. 31 It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by on the other side. 32 In the same way a Levite also came there, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. 34 He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’”

the Samaritan took it one step further, and said, “you know what? I am his miracle. I’m at the right place at the right time. God put him in my path so I can be a healer, a restorer, so I can give him a new beginning.”  my question today is; which man are you?  it’s easy to get so busy, “I don’t have time to help others, I’ve got my own problems,” no, helping others can be the key to seeing your situation turn around. those people you see that need encouragement, need a ride, need you to give blood, need help in accomplishing a dream, those are opportunities for you to go to a higher level when;  you refresh others, you will be refreshed. it’s interesting, the first example Jesus used was a priest; he couldn’t stop, he had to get to the temple, he had religious duties to fulfill, and didn’t have time to bother with this man. after all, if he helped him, he might get his white robe bloody, he might not look presentable at the temple;  he had all kinds of excuses. true religion gets dirty. true religion doesn’t hide behind stained glass or fancy clothes; it goes to where the needs are. when you get down low to lift somebody up, in God’s eyes you can’t get any higher. the closest thing to the heart of God is helping hurting people; when you take time to restore the broken, you pour the healing oil on their wounds, encouraging them, wiping away their tears, letting them know that there are new beginnings, that’s the religion Jesus talked about. true religion doesn’t judge people to see if they deserve our help; “she’s in need, but I don’t think she’s living the right kind of life, he’s hurting, but it’s his own fault, he’s got the addiction, they brought the trouble on themselves,” no, Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 (ERV)

17 When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “It is the sick people who need a doctor, not those who are healthy.

God didn’t call us to judge people, He called us to heal people, He called us to restore people, He called us to become their miracles. anybody can find fault, anybody can be critical and come up with excuses to pass on by, that’s easy, but where are the people that will take time to care? where are the people that will get down and dirty and help love them back into wholeness? this third man, the Samaritan, he immediately went to the man and started helping him, making a difference; he didn’t think twice, he became the miracle. that’s the kind of people I want us to be; not passer-byers, not too busy in our career, too busy with church work, not people like the second man, that feel sorry for them, “I wish it hadn’t happened, I feel bad, I’m going to be praying,” no, let’s become the miracle; God is counting on us. you can lift the fallen, you can heal the hurting, you can be a friend to the lonely, you can help a dream come to pass; you are full of miracles. scripture talks about:

Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

but in the meantime, God is counting on you and me to wipe away those tears. are you lifting the fallen? are you restoring the broken? are you taking time to help somebody in need?  it’s great to come to church and celebrate, this is important, we come to be encouraged and filled up and strengthened, but our real assignment begins when we leave this building; look around and find the discouraged, listen for the cries for help. you may not hear them with your ears, but you can hear them with your heart. you see when somebody’s down, all of a sudden you feel that compassion flowing out to them. you think, “I need to take them out to dinner, I need to go encourage them.” don’t put it off, don’t be a passer-byer, that’s God wanting you to bring healing; there’s a tear that needs to be wiped away.

years ago, I went into this restaurant to eat lunch, it was a little diner, and you ordered your food up at the front. as I was walking to the counter, I saw this man sitting at a table by himself; our eyes met, he nodded at me. when he did, I immediately felt a compassion toward him; I knew I was supposed to encourage him in some way. but he was dressed in a nice suit, he looked well-to-do, I was in my shorts, I had our son with me, he was about two years old at the time, and I thought, “I’m not going to go encourage him, he’s doing just fine.” I kept putting it off and putting it off, but I couldn’t get away from it. I ordered my food, and on the way out, since he had nodded at me, I decided to stop by his table, and just being friendly I said hello and asked him how it was going. he kind of laughed, and said, “not very well; things are kind of rough.” I didn’t think much about it, I just smiled and said, “well, I know this; it’s going to get better.” he thanked me, and that was the end of the conversation; 10-15 seconds, and I left. a few months later, I received a letter in the mail from him. he told how he was at the lowest point of his life at that time; he was going through a divorce, his whole world had fallen apart, for months he’d been in depression. but he said, “when you made that statement that it’s going to get better, it was like something reignited on the inside.” that day was a turning point in his life; he came out of the depression, he got his fire back. today he’s moving forward. here’s what I want you to see: I didn’t say anything profound, I didn’t feel chill bumps when I said it, I simply took time to show him that I cared.

we don’t realize what we carry; we’ve got the most powerful force in the universe on the inside. what may seem ordinary to us, no big deal, but when God breathes on it it becomes extraordinary, it can be life-giving. a simple act of kindness, a simple hug, words of encouragement, letting somebody know that you care; that can be the spark that brings them back to life. we don’t always see how powerful we really are; God has put healing in you. your hugs can cause people to get better. your kind words can put people back on their feet. the scripture says:

Proverbs 15:4 (AMP)

4 A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life

a phone call, giving them a ride, taking them out to dinner, encouraging them in their dreams; there are miracles in you waiting to happen. some people just need to know that you believe in them; when you tell them, “you’re amazing, you’re going to do great things, I’m praying for you,” that may seem simple to you, but to the other person it can be life-giving it, can help them blossom into all they were created to be. one time in the scripture:

Exodus 17:9-13 (NKJV)

9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

they could’ve prayed, “God, we need a miracle, God, keep the Amalekites from defeating us”; no, they had this attitude, “we can become the miracle.” because they became the miracle, the Israelites won the victory. there are people God puts in our path that need us to hold up their hands. they’re not going to win by themselves; they need your encouragement, they need your rescuing hug, they need to know that you care. they’re praying for a miracle; don’t miss the opportunity, do like Aaron and Hur and become the miracle.  it’s great to receive a miracle, but there’s no greater feeling than to become a miracle. who are you carrying? who are you lifting up? who are you helping to cross that finish line? your destiny is connected to helping others. Isaiah put it this way:

Isaiah 58:7-8 (NKJV)

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily

if you will make it your business to become a miracle, God will make it His business to give you miracles; you will never lack His blessings and favor. friends, you are the answer to somebody’s prayer;  you can give a rescuing hug this week, you can help a friend cross the finish line, you are the miracle that they’re believing for. when you go out each day, have this attitude; “I’m a miracle waiting to happen.” if you will live, not thinking about how you can get a miracle, but how you can become a miracle, then just like God promised, your life is going to break forth like the morning;  your healing, your promotion, your vindication, will quickly come. you will rise higher, overcome every obstacle, and become everything that God’s created you to be.

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From pastor JM comes the following great quote:

“Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness, or insecurities, remember, things could be worse; you could be that person.”

My version is a little bit blunter:

Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s jealousy, manipulations, vengefulness, or cruelty, remember, things could be worse; you could be that person.

This isn’t just a cute, clever line; this is an important spiritual principle. While it certainly sucks to be caused to suffer because of other people’s evils, that pales by comparison to how bad things would be for us if WE were the evil ones. When we suffer from evil, we are even closer to God than we usually are; in stark contrast, the evildoers are FAR from God (although, of course, God is always ready to rush back to them if they should choose Him over the thrills of evildoing). When we endure evil, our character is being strengthened, and our faith is being tested; we don’t enjoy these things, but they are ultimately to our benefit. The evildoer, in contrast, receives no self-improvement or spiritual gains; yes, they appear to have fun doing evil, but in the long run, which is where God is looking, and where we should also be looking, all they are really doing is creating an ever-longer list of apologies they will have to give, and reparations they will have to make, if they ever want to overcome their evil and receive the benefits, both from society and from God, of being decent people.

And one of the benefits of closeness to God: I had transcribed a JO sermon using my tablet, stopped the video slightly short of the end as I always do, because it’s just the exhortation to join a good church, closed the case, and was doing things on the computer… until, a few minutes later, with nothing being anywhere near the tablet, much less touching it, the video suddenly started to play again!! But it didn’t pick up where it left off; it went back to the beginning, where JO and his wife have a message for their viewers about how they believe that 2014 is going to be our best year ever…!!!! As you might imagine, as is typical of electronic devices, my tablet has NEVER done anything without controls being touched before, and neither that nor the phantom restart should have even been possible; if this wasn’t God telling me that He is going to make 2014 the year of unprecedented favor that I have been saying all along that it would be, I don’t know what else it COULD be… who ever heard of a haunted tablet?

And, a little more good news; the Request Prayers page (it’s in one of those tabs at the top of the blog) is now in full swing. If you’re in the mood to sow a seed, leave a prayer for one of the people who has asked for them, and of course you can always request prayers for yourself or a loved one.

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It’s not over

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to give up on our dreams, and think, “I’ll never get well, I’ll never meet the right person, never get out of this problem, it’s been too long, I’ve missed too many opportunities, I’ve made too many mistakes.” no, God is saying, “it’s not over.” everything He promised you, every dream He’s placed on the inside, He still has every intention of bringing it to pass. your mind will tell you all the reasons why it’s not going to happen, “just accept it, it’s too late, it’s not going to work out,” but God has the final say, and He says, “I’m still going to heal your body. I’m still going to bring the right person into your life. I’m still going to restore that marriage.” what God started, He will finish. is there something that you’ve given up on, you think it’s never going to work out?  let these words sink deep into your spirit; it’s not over. God has not brought you this far to leave you. and just because you don’t see a way, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a way.  right now, the most powerful force in the universe is at work in your life;  God is about to do a new thing. what you thought was dead, dreams you’ve given up on, promises you’ve let go of, are about to come back to life. God knows how to resurrect dead dreams. that baby you were believing for, that dream to own your own house, to get married, to start that business; you may think, “it’s too late, I missed too many opportunities.”

no, you may have given up, but God didn’t give up; He’s about to breathe new life into your dreams, into your health, into your relationships. you’re going to feel a stirring, a new passion, a new excitement;  that’s God resurrecting what He’s placed on the inside. when thoughts tell you that it’s not going to happen, just answer them back, “no, I know a secret; it’s not over.” “you’re still single”; “yes, but it’s not over; the right person is coming.” “you’re still not well”; “yes, but it’s not over; healing is headed my way.” “you’re still in a small apartment”; “yes, but it’s not over; my new house is coming.” “your child is still off course”; “yes, but it’s not over; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” you’ve got to get in agreement with God;  start dreaming again, start believing again, start expecting again. you may not be able to beat the competition, but you don’t know;  God may remove the competition. He has all kinds of ways to get you to your destiny.  the scripture talks about the death, the burial and resurrection;  if you’re going to see a resurrection, you can’t get stuck in the first two phases. this is where many people miss it; they have a setback, something doesn’t work out, they get discouraged, quit believing.  they end up stuck in the death phase, so to speak.

I’ve seen people that go through a disappointment;  instead of letting it go, knowing that God has something better, they get bitter; “my business got slow, I didn’t get the scholarship, the relationship didn’t work out, that’s why I’m discouraged.” no, you’ve been through the death, you’ve been through the burial, don’t stop there, go on to phase 3; you’ve got a resurrection coming. start expecting God’s favor. God wants to give you beauty for those ashes. that setback was never meant to defeat you, it was meant to promote you. it may be Friday in your life right now; it looks kind of dark, business is slow, the medical report hasn’t improved.  my encouragement is, don’t get stuck on Friday;  Sunday is coming. get ready for God to do something new. your story does not end in defeat, it ends in victory, with you accomplishing your dreams, fulfilling your purpose, healthy, whole, being a blessing to others. if you will stay in faith, what was meant for your harm, God will use to your advantage. God has the final say. people cannot stop God’s plan for your life. bad breaks can’t stop it, injustice can’t stop it, even mistakes you’ve made don’t have to stop it;  God has already taken that into account, and He’s saying, “it’s not over; I’m going to finish what I started.”

we see this principle way back with the first family that ever lived, Adam and Eve. they were in the garden of Eden, they were happy and healthy, everything going great, until Eve was deceived by the serpent. she convinced her husband Adam to eat fruit from the forbidden tree; when they did, they immediately knew they had done wrong. they ran and hid. God came looking for them, and said, “Adam, where are you?” they were afraid. they had blown it, it was their fault, they thought, “surely, God is done with us.” it’s interesting; God came looking for them. you hear people say, “I found God,” but the truth is, God wasn’t lost;  He came looking for you. before you could choose Him, He chose you. even when we make mistakes, even when we blow it, God says, “where are you? I want to be in a relationship with you.” don’t run away from God; run to Him.  Adam said, “God, we did wrong, we ate the fruit.” God said, “I know it.” they had to stay out of the garden. the story could’ve ended there, “too bad, you had your chance, it’s over,” but no matter what you’ve done, your life is not supposed to end in defeat, in failure, in mediocrity. it’s not over; there is mercy for every mistake.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)

15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

God was saying,”Eve, this serpent that tricked you, he deceived you, and brought all this heartache and pain, I’m going to make him pay for bringing that trouble into your life. he’s not going to have the last word. he’s laughing, he’s having a party now, but he’s not going to stay laughing. Eve, this is your chance to settle the score, this is your chance to get even; I’m going to have your seed bruise his head.” this was a prophecy, if you will, spoken over Eve;  it was a promise God put in her heart. you can imagine how excited Eve was when she learned that she was pregnant; she thought, “this is the child that will vindicate me. this child will make things right.” she gave birth to 2 sons on the same day, Cain and Abel; she didn’t know which one it would be. Cain was a farmer; Abel was a shepherd.  she did her best to raise her boys right, teach them to love God, but over time Cain became very jealous of Abel. one day:

Genesis 4:8 (NIV)

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

this was the first murder of the Bible. because of this offense, Cain had to be sent to another country; Eve didn’t just lose one son, she lost both sons on the same day. the problem is, Eve’s circumstances don’t match up with what God has spoken over her; God said:

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV)

15 … He shall bruise your head…

it didn’t look like it was going to happen; one son was dead, one was sent away. as devastated as Eve was, down deep something said to her, “this is not the way your story is supposed to end.” there are times in life where your circumstances won’t match up with what God has put in your heart; every voice will tell you, “it’s not going to happen, just accept it, just settle there, you will always be lonely, you’ll always have that addiction, struggle in your finances.” no, don’t believe those lies; that is not the end of your story. you may have gone through a loss, had a bad break, it was unfair, but know this; it’s not over. the enemy may be laughing now, but don’t worry, your time is coming, vindication is coming, restoration is coming, healing is coming. it may be Friday, but Sunday is on the way. Eve is at this turning point; is she going to believe what God has spoken over her, or is she going to get discouraged and settle? God said the promise would come through her seed; that means she would have to get pregnant again. if your children just got into an argument, and one killed the other, do you know how difficult it would be have a baby? sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to risk being hurt again, risk loving again, risk trusting again. this is what Eve did; she became pregnant. she said:

Genesis 4:25 (NKJV)

25 … “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.”

she was saying, “I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, life hasn’t turned out my way, but I’m not going to stay down, I’m not going to get bitter, I’m not going to give up on my dreams;  I know God has the final say, and it’s not over. He said He’s appointed another seed.” in your difficult times, when life doesn’t turn out your way, you have to remind yourself; that is not the end. for everything you’ve lost, for everything that is taken, God has already appointed another seed. your story is not going to end in defeat, in failure, in mediocrity; it’s going to end with you bruising the serpent’s head. it’s going to end with God paying you back for that trouble, bringing you out better off than you were before. you may be at an empty place right now, you’ve lost something, you’re tempted to settle, but you’ve got to get your fire back; God has appointed another seed, another dream, another relationship, another opportunity. you are not going to die empty, lonely, depressed. that difficulty is a sure sign that something amazing is in your future.

Genesis 4:25 (NKJV)

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth

it was through Seth’s family line that Jesus Christ the messiah came; the promise was fulfilled. this story with Cain and Abel is foreshadowing what Christ would do; it’s a picture of what was to come. Abel, an innocent man, went to Cain’s field where he was killed; in the same way, Jesus, an innocent man, left heaven, he left eternity, where he had already kicked Satan out, and he said, “Satan, I’m going to take off all my majesty, all my glory, and I’m going to come down as the son of man, and defeat you on your own turf.” when Cain killed Abel, Abel was a young man; it was a premature death, the first in the scripture. all of heaven was stunned. at 33 years of age, Jesus, a young man, was crucified on the cross. all of hell cheered; they thought Jesus had overstepped his bounds. they were thinking, “hey, he beat us on his turf, but we had the last laugh, we beat him on our turf.” scripture says:

Genesis 4:10 (NKJV)

10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.

Cain thought that he’d finished off his brother; he thought that he had the last word; he didn’t realize that the blood of his brother was crying out for justice. in other words, he may have killed his body, but his blood was still speaking. a little over 2000 years ago, the soldiers crucified Jesus; Satan thought that it was over, that he’d finally finished him off, but what he didn’t realize is that Jesus’ blood would still be speaking today. they killed his body, but the blood speaks. the blood says, we’re redeemed. the blood says, we’re forgiven. the blood is more powerful than any sickness. the blood is greater than any opposition. Satan and all the demons were having a big party, giving high fives, confetti coming down, champagne flowing, but in the midst of the celebration, they see this figure coming from a distance, they don’t know who he is;  they take a quick count, and they’re all accounted for. this person is different; his eyes are like fire, his hair is white as wool, his face radiating with such brilliance they have to turn away. he gets a little closer, and one of them says, “uh-oh, it’s him!”  their heart skips a beat. they shrink back in fear. just when they thought it couldn’t get any worse, the music kicks in {Rocky theme plays}. they thought they had killed Jesus. they thought they had finished him off once and for all. but Jesus said, “put the celebration on hold. stop the confetti, blow out the candles; I’ve got an announcement to make. it’s not over. I’m still alive.”  Jesus was the original party crasher. he went in, defeated the enemy, took away the keys of death and hell.

he drug Satan through the corridors so all the forces of darkness could see him dethroned, demoralized, powerless. Jesus rose up, and said, “I am he that lives. I was dead, but I’m alive forevermore.” because he lives, we can live. the same power that raised him up is on the inside of you and me. you are not weak, you are not lacking, you’re full of resurrection power. no obstacle’s too big for you, no dream too great, no sickness too powerful; you have the greatest force in the universe on the inside. when it doesn’t look good, thoughts start telling you that it’s over, just put your shoulders back, get a second wind, and by faith hear that music kicking in; that means God is fighting for you, that’s his blood still speaking. it’s saying, “you’ve got a right to be free. you’ve got a right to live healthy, whole, blessed, victorious.”  no matter what comes your way in life, you’ve got to have this attitude, “it’s not over.” the enemy may hit you with his best shot, but his best will never be enough. when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing strong. just as Abel’s blood cried out for justice, when somebody does you wrong, you go through a bad break, you’re dealing with a sickness, you have an advantage;  because you’re a child of the most High, his blood is crying out for you. what you’re going through does not go unnoticed; God sees every tear, every lonely night, every injustice. He’s got you in the palm of His hand. He told the Israelites when they were in slavery:

Exodus 3:7-8 (ESV)

7  Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians

that’s the blood still speaking. if you will stay in faith, the enemy won’t have the last laugh, you will. God will vindicate you. He’ll make your wrongs right, pay you back for that injustice. God has already lined up a comeback for every setback, a new beginning for every loss. it may be Friday, but get ready, Sunday is coming. maybe you’re facing a major obstacle; let me to tell you, nothing is too hard for our God. He made your body; He can correct what’s wrong. don’t believe those lies that you’ll never get healthy, just learn to live with it;  that’s one report, but there’s another report, it says God is restoring health back unto you, it says that you will live and not die. God has the final say, and He’s saying, “it’s not over.” there was a college football game, the Stanford Cardinals vs the California Bears;  when it looked like Stanford had made the final play and won, their marching band came out onto the field…  but the ball was still in play, and despite the obstacles of the band on the field, the Bears scored a touchdown and won.  sometimes, the enemy will send his band on your field before the game is over. he’ll start celebrating like he’s already defeated you; what he doesn’t realize is, you’re not down yet. you need to tell him, “get your marching band off of my field. this game is not over. you may think I’m down, but I’ve got resurrection power.” there is a force in you that cannot be defeated. it raised Christ from the dead, and it will always cause you to triumph. this is what Job had to do in the scripture. he went through a period where everything that could go wrong did;  he lost his health, his business, his family. it looked like it was over, but in the midst of that difficulty, he looked up to the heavens and said:

Job 19:25 (NIV)

25  I know that my redeemer lives

he was saying, “I know God’s in control. as long as He’s on the throne, it’s not over;  He has the final say.”  9 months later, Job not only came out, but he came out with twice what he had before:

Job 42:10 (ESV)

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

that’s the way God is;  He’ll make the enemy pay for bringing that trouble.  the scripture says:

Job 42:12 (NIV)

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part

no matter what you’ve been through, God wants the rest of your life to be more blessed, rewarding, enjoyable than anything you’ve experienced. you have not laughed your best laugh, you have not dreamed your best dream, you have not sung your best song;  it’s still out in front of you. Isaiah put it this way:

Isaiah 61:7 (MSG)

1  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.

you may feel like you got a double dose of trouble. don’t go around complaining;  that trouble qualified you for double. shake off what didn’t work out, and get ready for a double dose of favor, God’s blessing, healing. it’s not over. what God promised you, He will bring to pass. when thoughts tell you otherwise, dismiss them. tell the enemy, get his marching band off of your field. remember; the blood is still speaking for you. it’s saying you have a right to be free, to be healthy, to live victoriously. if you will have this “it’s not over” attitude, He will restore what’s been stolen, resurrect dead dreams.  you will rise higher, overcome obstacles, and become everything He’s created you to be.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

time is one of the most valuable commodities that we have. it’s more valuable than money;  you can make more money, but you can’t make more time. scripture tells us:

Ephesians 5:16 (KJV)

16 Redeeming the time…

that means; don’t waste it, don’t live this day unfocused, undisciplined, unmotivated. we have a responsibility to use our time wisely; we’re not always going to be here. this day is a gift; are you living it to the full, with purpose, passion, pursuing your dreams, or are you distracted, indifferent, just doing whatever comes along, in a job you don’t like, hanging out with people that are pulling you down? that’s not redeeming the time, that’s wasting the time. just like you spend money, you are spending your life; you’re either investing it or you’re wasting it. the first step is, you need to set goals: short-term goals and long-term goals. what do you want to accomplish this week, where do you want to be five years from now? do you have a plan? are you taking steps to get there? don’t go another three years on a job you don’t like, doing something that you’re not passionate about; life is flying by. this is your one shot; you don’t get a do-over. we can’t relive our 20’s, 30’s; once this day is over, we can never get it back. Paul said:

Ephesians 5:15-17 (AMP)

15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),
16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.

if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to be an on-purpose person; you know where you’re going, you’re not vague, distracted, waiting to see what happens. no, you’re focused, you’re making the most of each opportunity. to put it more practical: staying on social media hours a day catching up on the latest gossip is not redeeming the time, playing video games hours a day when you could be studying is not redeeming the time, talking on the phone hours a day to a friend that’s not going anywhere, has no dreams, is not redeeming the time. God has given you a present; it’s called today. what are you going to do with it? this is a call to action; get focused, get organized, set your goals, make your plans. God could’ve chosen anyone to be here, but he chose you. the scripture talks about living well-spent lives (note: I could’t find a reference to this). when we go to bed at night, we should ask ourselves, “did I live a well-spent day? did I take steps toward my goals? was I a blessing to someone else? did I invest my time, or did I waste my time?” I read that the average person spends over 80 hours a year looking for things they misplaced; save yourself 80 hours a year and get organized, redeem that time.

I know too many people that are incredibly talented, they have great potential, but they’re not disciplined when it comes to how they spend their time. they have good intentions, but they’re easily distracted, and they end up off course.  there are 1000 good things you can give your time to each day; you have to be disciplined to stay focused on what’s best for you. if not, you’ll end up chasing the latest trend, trying to keep up with your friend, distracted, entangled in things that are not a part of your destiny. stay focused. it’s easy to get sidetracked by things that pull you off course, and you look up and the day’s gone, or the year is gone, or 20 years have gone. nothing will be sadder than to come to the end of life and think, “why did I waste so many days? why didn’t I live focused?” no, make this decision with me that you’re going to redeem the time. we have a responsibility; God has entrusted you with this life, He breathed His breath into you, He’s put gifts and talents on the inside. you have seeds of greatness. you’re not just on planet Earth taking up space, you’re a person of destiny. with that gift of life comes a responsibility to develop your talents, to pursue your dreams, to become who God’s created you to be. on a regular basis, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing, refocus your life, get rid of any distractions. Paul said:

1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT)

26 So I run with purpose in every step

when we understand the value of time, and see each day as the gift that it is, it helps us to keep the right perspective; you realize every battle is not worth fighting, you don’t have time to get engaged in conflicts that are not between you and your God-given destiny, if somebody has a problem with you, as long as you’re being your best, doing what God’s put in your heart, with all due respect, that that’s their problem and not yours. you don’t have to resolve conflict with every person; some people don’t want to be at peace with you, that’s a distraction. don’t waste your valuable time fighting battles that don’t matter. when you realize your days are numbered, you don’t respond to every critic, you don’t try to convince people to like you that are never going to like you. you accept the fact that some people are never going to give you their approval, but that’s okay, you know you have Almighty God’s approval.

when you’re redeeming the time, you’re not trying to keep someone happy that’s never going to be happy. some people, no matter what you do for them, it’s not going to be enough, but their happiness is not your responsibility. always be kind, respectful but your attitude should be, “if you don’t want to be happy, that’s fine, but you’re not going to keep me from being happy. I know this day is a gift, and I’m not going to live it trying to change things that I cannot change or trying to fix people that don’t want to be fixed.” that’s redeeming the time. when you realize your time is limited, you don’t get offended, you don’t get upset because somebody’s playing politics, stressed out because somebody’s trying to make you look bad, you let it go and trust God to make your wrongs right. like is too short to live negative, bitter; let it go, and God will be your vindicator. I wonder how many days that we’ve wasted; we can’t say that we redeemed the time, we didn’t appreciate the day, we just drug through it upset, offended, discouraged. the scripture says:

Ephesians 4:26 (ESV)

26 … do not let the sun go down on your anger,

the reason many people have no joy, no enthusiasm, is because they go to bed each night with unforgiveness in their heart, reliving their hurts, thinking about their disappointments. here’s the problem; if the sun goes down with bitterness, it will come back up with bitterness. if it goes down with resentment, it comes back up with resentment. that’s blocking God’s blessings;  it’s keeping you from seeing the bright future. if you want the sun to shine brightly in your life once again, before you go to bed each night, you need to say, “God, I’m releasing every negative thing that’s happened to me today. I’m releasing every hurt, releasing every worry, releasing every disappointment. I’m forgiving the people that did me wrong. God, I’m going to bed in peace.” when you do that, the sun will go down with nothing blocking it. when it comes back up the next morning, you’ll have a new spring in your step, excited about the day, ready for your future. don’t go to bed at night with any kind of defeat still in your mind. every day is a gift from God. disappointments are inevitable, but misery is optional. no matter what kind of setbacks you face, no matter who does you wrong, you don’t have to drag through life defeated, depressed, bitter; start redeeming the time. start thanking God that He’s in control, thank Him that new doors are opening, thank Him that favor is coming your way.

we all go through the valleys, but the valleys are what lead us to higher mountains; they’re not permanent, they’re only temporary. when you’re in the valley, instead of sitting around thinking about your problems, go out and do something good for somebody else. volunteer, usher, cheer somebody up, mow somebody’s lawn while you’re in the valley. when you invest your time the right way, in helping others, those seeds that you sow will create the harvest you need, not to just get out of the valley, but to come to a higher mountain, to come up to a new level of your destiny. it’s important, not only how we spend our time, but whom we spend it with. to redeem the time may mean you have to prune off some relationships that are not adding anything to your life. don’t hang around people that are not going anywhere, that have no goals, no dreams, people that are not focused, not disciplined, they compromise, take the easy way out; if you tolerate mediocrity, mediocrity will rub off on you. if you hang out with jealous, critical, unhappy people, you will end up jealous, critical and unhappy. that’s what it says in Proverbs:

Proverbs 13:20 (HCSB)

20 The one who walks with the wise will become wise

take a look at your friends; that’s what you’re going to be like in a few years. if your friends are winners, leaders, givers, successful, if they have a spirit of excellence, integrity, positive, motivating, then those good qualities are going to rub off on you. when you’re with them, you’re investing your time; they’re making you better. but if you hang out with people that are sloppy, undisciplined, unmotivated, not going anywhere, let me give you some great advice; find some new friends. you cannot become who God created you to be hanging out with them. and they may be a good person, they may have a good heart, but your destiny is too great, your assignment too important, your time too valuable, to let them drag you down. some people, the only thing that’s keeping them from a new level of their destiny is wrong friendships. you cannot hang out with chickens and expect to soar like an eagle. you don’t have to make some big announcement, and go tell them, “hey man, I’m cutting you off,” you can just gradually spend less and less time with them. “what if I hurt their feelings?” what if they keep you from your destiny? if you don’t let go of the wrong people, you’ll never meet the right people.

sometimes, we can outgrow a friendship; it was good at one time, for a few years you were fulfilled, but now you’ve grown more than they have, you’re running at a different pace, your gifts are coming out in a greater way. that doesn’t make them a bad person, it’s just a new season. human nature likes to hold onto the old; we like to keep everything the same. but the truth is, it’s healthy for seasons to change; it doesn’t mean you can’t still be their friend, you just know you cannot spend as much time with them and become all you were created to be. there are people that come into our life that are like scaffolding; they’re designed to be there for a period of time. these people, for a period of time, they help us grow, they inspire us, they motivate us, but like that scaffolding, at some point it’s got to come off the building. if the scaffolding stayed up, the building would never be what it was meant to be. appreciate the people that have helped you, always honor them, but be big enough to recognize when their part in your story is over. on a regular basis, you need to reevaluate your friendships, the people you choose to spend time with; are they in the right position? has the position changed? perhaps could it be that it’s a new season?

when Jesus was on the Earth, he was very selective with his friendships. everyone of course wanted to be close to him, but he chose only 12 men to spend most of his time with, the disciples. out of those 12, 3 were his close friends; Peter, James and John. one could be considered his best friend;  John. he was described as the disciple whom Jesus loved. you may know a lot of people, have a bunch of acquaintances, but you have to be careful who you allow in your inner circle; you can’t have 20 best friends. the higher you go, the more successful you are, the tighter your circle needs to become. you may have 20 people you call friends, and that’s great, but the two or three you choose to be close to you, you need to make sure they are 100% for you, they believe in you, stick up for you, are there with you through thick and thin. it could be that you’re not seeing God’s best because your team is weak; you’re investing valuable time in people that were never supposed to be a part of your inner circle. you have to evaluate your friendships, get the right people in the right positions; if your team is weak, you’re going to be weak.

Mark 5:35-37 (NIV)

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.

just his inner circle; why? Jesus knew, when he got in that room where the little girl was dead, he needed people that wouldn’t question who he was, people that wouldn’t say, “hey, are you sure you’re the son of God? what if she doesn’t get healed, do you have a backup plan?” no, when you’re in the heat of the battle, when you need God’s favor, you need a breakthrough, you need a legal situation to turn around, you cannot afford to have people in your inner circle saying, “do you really think you’re gonna get well? my grandmother died of that same thing. do you really think you’re gonna get out of debt? business is so slow.” no, you need people that are joined in spirit with you, people that will say, “hey, if you’re bold enough to believe it, count on me, I’m bold enough to agree with you.  if you believe you can break that addiction, then I’m not going to tell you 10 reasons why you can’t; my report is, you are well able. if you believe you can get your degree, you can start that business, you can see your marriage restored, then count on me, I’m onboard, I’m all for you.”  you need people that will join in faith with you and not try to talk you out of it.

Jesus got to the home:

Mark 5:38-43 (AMP)

38 When they arrived at the house of the ruler of the synagogue, He looked [carefully and with understanding] at [the] tumult and the people weeping and wailing loudly.
39 And when He had gone in, He said to them, Why do you make an uproar and weep? The little girl is not dead but is sleeping.
40 And they laughed and jeered at Him.

what Jesus did next is very significant; it’s a key to living in victory:

Mark 5:40 (AMP)

40 And they laughed and jeered at Him. But He put them all out

notice, the son of God asked them to leave; he showed them the door. Jesus knew the importance of having people around him that understood his destiny. his attitude was, “I don’t need your doubt, I don’t need you telling me what I can’t do, I’m going to surround myself with believers, with people of faith, with people that understand my assignment. if you have people close to you that are constantly pulling you down, telling you what you can’t do, how you’ll never accomplish your dreams, understand, it is scriptural to show them the door. it maybe difficult, but you to have to have the attitude, “I cannot fulfill my destiny with your critical spirit in my life. I can’t become who I was created to be with you dragging me down. I love you, but I can’t allow you in my inner circle. I’m going to love you at a distance.” this is what Jesus did; he only took the girl’s parents and Peter, James and John into the little girl’s room. he spoke to that girl, and she came back to life. think of this; Jesus could’ve healed her in front of the whole crowd, laughing, mocking, ridiculing; he’s God, he can do anything. he was showing us this principle; who you have in your inner circle is extremely important.

if Jesus went to the trouble to ask the wrong people to leave, if he took the time to weed out the doubters, the naysayers, the people that didn’t believe in him, he was that concerned about his inner circle, how much more concerned should we be with who’s in our inner circle? you need to pay attention to who’s on your team, who’s speaking into your life, who are you giving your time and attention to? more practical: who are you eating lunch with everyday at the office? who are you talking to on the phone so much? are they building you up or tearing you down? are they pushing you toward your destiny, or are they telling you what you can’t do? are they modeling excellence, integrity, character, godliness? or are they lazy, sloppy, undisciplined? you have a responsibility to redeem your time; don’t waste it with people that don’t sharpen you. if you don’t politely show them the door, that can keep you from your destiny. and sometimes, we know a person’s not good for us, we know they’re dragging us down, but we think, “if I let them go, I’m going to be lonely.” yes, you may be lonely for a season, but you’ll never give up something for God without Him giving you something better back in return. God will not only give you new friends, He’ll give you better friends; people that inspire you, people that celebrate you, push you forward.

this may mean that you have to change who you eat lunch with at the office everyday. that person is always finding fault, critical, badmouthing the boss; you don’t need that poison in your life, that’s not redeeming the time. you may have to change hanging out with that neighbor that’s always depressed, defeated, has a sad song; if you stay there, you’re going to end up defeated. it’s better to make the change and be lonely for a season than to be poisoned for a lifetime. when we come to the end of our days, God is going to ask us, “what did you do with the time I entrusted you with? did you develop your gifts and talents? did you accomplish your assignment? how did you spend your life?” it’s not going to be a good excuse to say, “God, I got distracted, but my friend got me off course. God, I lived bitter, but somebody did me wrong.  God, I was negative, but my company let me go.” I’m asking you to quit making excuses and start redeeming the time; we’re not always going to be here. the scripture says:

James 4:14 (NOG)

14 … You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears

make this decision that you’re going to be an on-purpose person. set your goals and be disciplined to stick with it. don’t waste any more days. prune off those relationships that are not adding to your life. don’t go to bed at night with any kind of defeat, bitterness, negativity still in your mind. this day is a gift; make sure you’re investing your time and not wasting it. if you do this, I believe and declare, the seeds of greatness on the inside are going to take root and begin to flourish. you will rise higher, overcome every obstacle, and become everything that God’s created you to be.

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