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Archive for August, 2014

Shining brightly

2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

from God’s sermon tonight:

how you live your life is sending a message to those around you; more than your words, what you say, people are watching how you live, respond to adversity, treat others, how consistent you are. when you go out each day with a smile on your face, you’re kind, in a good mood, always doing things for others, that’s one of the best witnesses you can have; our actions speak much louder than our words. I’ve heard it said, “preach at all times; use words only when necessary.” your life is your message. scripture tells us that we have the power to be a witness (NB: I was unable to find this verse); it doesn’t say TO witness, preach a sermon, straighten people out, tell them what they’re doing wrong, no, the real power is to BE a witness. when people see you living a life of excellence and integrity, day in and day out you’re happy, friendly, good-natured, that has a greater impact than anything we could ever say. we can quote scriptures all day long, come to church every time the doors are open, keep the praise music on, but if you complain about the boss, get upset because of the traffic, play politics to get ahead, your example will override anything that you say.

parents, we can tell our children to be kind, respectful, but if they see us being disrespectful, not treating people right, it will go in one ear and out the other. the power is in what you do. most people are not reading their Bibles, they’re reading your life. they may never listen to a minister, come to church, but they’re watching how you live. we should have so much joy, peace, be so kind, generous, good-natured, that people want what we have; that’s what it means to be the light of the world. we come to church each week to get our batteries charged, to get filled back up, to be encouraged, to grow, to learn, but our real assignment begins when we leave. there’s already plenty of light in here; most of us are believers, we have faith, we’re expecting good things. our light is not very effective around another light, but too often, we complain about the darkness; “I don’t like this job, these people are so negative, nobody has a good attitude.” why do you think God put you there? they don’t need more light in the bright places, that’s an opportunity for you to shine.

I’ve heard it said; you can either be a thermometer, and just measure the temperature, become like everyone else, or you can be a thermostat, and change the temperature. when you hear people complaining about the company, don’t join in, “yeah, it’s really bad around here,” no, be a thermostat, turn it around;  “things may not be perfect, but I’m grateful that I have a job, I’m thankful that I can come to work each day.” you are the light of the world. don’t add to the darkness; turn your light on, it works best in the dark places. when you’re around negative influences, gossiping, complaining, people playing politics, don’t turn it off, don’t hide it. realize that’s what your light was designed for; let it shine brightly. scripture talks about wives who have husbands that are not believers; it says, don’t try to win them over with your speech, your godly light will speak to them better than any words. (NB: I couldn’t find this one, either.) they will be won over by watching how you live. you don’t have to preach to people, try to straighten them out, “you need to have a better attitude, a new perspective”;  just be happy, friendly, a person of excellence. that’s how you let your light shine, with your actions, not just with your words.

everybody’s discouraged, but you’ve got a spring in your step, you’re in a good mood. everybody’s slacking off, but you’re giving it your best. everybody’s upset with the company because they have to work late, but you’re just the same; happy in the good times, happy in the bad times. that’s letting your light shine brightly. they don’t need more light where it’s already bright; God sent you to be a thermostat. God will send us into dark places so we can make a difference, so our light will shine brightly. quit complaining about the family that you married into, “these in-laws, God they get on my nerves”; you’re not there by accident, God has you there on purpose, He’s counting on you to brighten it up. don’t add to the darkness, don’t make it worse; be a light. do the right thing even when the wrong thing is happening. be respectful even when they’re disrespectful. keep a good attitude even when you feel like being sour. stay on the high road; they need your light. shine bright.

“I’m dreading going to my family reunion this year, my relatives are so sarcastic, they make fun of me because I won’t party with them, they give me a hard time because I go to church, I don’t feel like dealing with them.” no, have a new perspective; it’s an opportunity for you to shine. it’s easy to shine around everybody that loves you, celebrates you and thinks like you; the problem is, your light is not really effective around those people because it’s already so bright. the darker the situation, the brighter your light will shine. you don’t have to try to change their minds, tell them everything they’re doing wrong; all you’ve got to do is be happy. when they make fun of you, just laugh and let it bounce off. when they’re sarcastic, just smile and move forward, no big deal. don’t let it affect you. people push buttons expecting to get a certain response; “I’ll say this, and they’ll get upset. I’ll leave them out, and they’ll get their feelings hurt. I’ll be disrespectful, and they’ll argue, they’ll be rude.” don’t fall into the trap; turn your buttons off.

let them push all they want; just keep being kind, respectful, stay on the high road. love never fails. light will always overcome darkness. it may not happen this year, or even next year, but at some point they will get to the place where they get tired of living negative, defeated, sarcastic, and think, “I want what they have; I want that joy, peace, spirit of excellence.” your example, more than your words, will be what causes them to change. don’t complain about that neighborhood you’re in, “God, these neighbors, they’re involved in things they shouldn’t be involved in, they curse, they’re disrespectful, they don’t take care of their property”; that’s why God has you there. it’s dark; He’s counting on you to turn on the light. instead of complaining, while God has you there, why don’t you pray, “God, help my light to shine with greater intensity, help me to be a greater influence, let Your love, kindness and mercy be seen in everything that I do.” in the scripture, David worked for King Saul; Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him.

1 Samuel 18:10-12 (TLB)
10 The very next day, in fact, a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave like a madman. David began to soothe him by playing the harp, as he did whenever this happened. But Saul, who was fiddling with his spear, 11-12 suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David jumped aside and escaped. This happened another time, too, for Saul was afraid of him and jealous because the Lord had left him and was now with David.

Saul ended up chasing David through the wilderness, making his life miserable. what’s interesting is that David never complained about Saul. he never said, “God, why is this man trying to kill me? this is not right, I haven’t done anything wrong.” no, David just kept doing the right thing, letting his light shine brightly. one night, while David was on the run:

1 Samuel 26:7-11 (NIV)
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

1 Samuel 26:21-25 (NIV)
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.”
22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

this didn’t happen because of David’s words, because of something that he said, “come on Saul, I’m a good person, I’m not going to harm you, leave me alone”;  David let his actions do the talking. he became a witness. people believe a sermon that they see more than they believe the sermon that they hear. quit trying to pray away the darkness and just start being a brighter light. do it consistently; people don’t change overnight. Saul chased David for a long time; David stayed on the high road, and God eventually vindicated him. he became the king. there may be people in your life that you have to let your light shine on year after year; you have to be willing to invest in them. keep doing the right thing even when it seems like it’s not making a difference. keep being respectful even though they’re giving you the cold shoulder. with your consistency, being a witness day in and day out, then just like with Saul, that’s going to cause the light one day to overtake the darkness.

think about when Jesus was on the Earth. he didn’t spend all of his time in the temples, synagogues, churches, the safe places.  he didn’t only associate with people that believed in him, celebrated who he was; he went to the people who were not on the right track. tax collectors, who were known for being dishonest. fishermen, who were rough and used bad language. he went to the people who had failed morally; he showed them mercy, was kind to them. he was called a friend of sinners. the religious people didn’t like it; they criticized Jesus because he was associating with what they considered to be the wrong kind of people. they didn’t understand this principle, that light is the most effective in dark places. because Jesus let his light shine, many of those sinners became believers. sometimes we think, “God, keep me away from anyone that’s struggling with a bad habit, addiction, anger issue, don’t make me have to deal with that person that’s dishonest, not faithful in a relationship, keep me away from the darkness.” but Jesus showed just the opposite; he said, “it’s the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy.”

God will bring people across your path that need your light. don’t have a holier-than-thou attitude, thinking, “I can’t be contaminated, he uses bad language, she’s kind of loose, he doesn’t have integrity, I’ve got to keep my distance.” no, you’ve got the light; God’s counting on you to make a difference. you don’t have to become best friends with them, I’m not saying to spend all your time with them, but you can be kind, show them that you care; you can be a positive influence in their life. most people already know what they’re doing wrong; you don’t have to tell them, “you need to break this addiction, get out of that toxic relationship, start being more honest.” you don’t have to convict people of their sin; that’s not your job, that’s what the Holy Spirit does. our job is to love people, let our light shine, to be kind, friendly, good to them. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

it doesn’t say, “let your light shine before people that deserve it, have it all together, don’t have any issues,” no, let it shine before all people. how do you do it? by letting them see your good works. can the people God’s put in your life, not the ones that have it all together, but the ones that are struggling, the ones that you could easily judge and write off and think, “you need to get together, straighten up,” can they see your good works? maybe the reason they don’t have it together just yet is because they’re waiting for your light, love, kindness, mercy. when they see your good works, they’ll begin to change. I’ve heard it said; people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. when you take time to shine light in their life, you give them a smile, a cup of coffee, a gift, you’re kind, helpful, they feel your love; that’s what opens the door to their heart.

look around at who’s in your life; where is there some light that you can shine? will you be a friend to sinners? will you take off judgmental glasses and help love people back onto the right track? will you be willing to overlook some flaws, not focus on what they’re doing wrong, and instead, show a little mercy, be a light in their life, a positive influence, a difference-maker? after all, if it had not been for the grace of God, that could be you and me. somebody shined some light in your life, helped you get to where you are, overlooked some flaws, showed mercy. why don’t you pass on that same light that’s been given to you? say, “God, this is where you have me right now, I know my steps are ordered by the Lord, You brought these people into my life, so God, my prayer is that my light will shine with greater intensity. God, let me be a greater influence, let them see something in me that they want.” when you become a friend of sinners, take time to shine light into the darkness, that’s what has the greatest impact. we all have a ministry, a pulpit; it may not look like this one, but your light is sending out a message. talk is cheap; people are watching how you live. what kind of example are you setting?

2 Corinthians 5:20 (GW)
20 Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives

people can’t see God; they see us. my question is; are we making God look good? are we representing Him the right way? do people want what we have, or are we pushing them away? you never know who’s watching. “I don’t have to worry about that”; don’t kid yourself, your children, neighbors, coworkers are watching. every time you interact with someone, you’re preaching a sermon. they may not remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. do they feel loved, respected? be careful what kind of example you’re setting; you’re representing almighty God. to represent God, you don’t have to be mean, jump down people’s throats. let your light shine; be kind, friendly, keep a smile on your face, let people see your good works. remember, your actions speak louder than your words. your life is your message. when you’re in those dark places, don’t complain, have a new perspective; that’s an opportunity for your light to shine brightly. when you go out each day, represent God in a great way; be a witness, a positive influence in people’s lives. if you’ll put this simple principle into action, shining brightly, you’ll not only make a difference in other people’s lives, but it’ll make a difference in your own life. you’ll have more favor, people will be drawn to you, you’ll fulfill your destiny, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

what we focus on, we magnify; we’re not changing its actual size, we’re simply making it bigger in our own mind. if you stay focused on your problems, on a negative medical report, what somebody said about you, how you’ll never get out of debt, all that’s going to do is make it bigger than it really is; it’s changing your perception of it. you can take a small coin, and if you hold it up close enough to your eye, eventually it will block the sun. that coin, even though it’s billions and trillions of times smaller, because you’ve got it so close, it’s distorting your perspective; it looks bigger than this huge object. in the same way, if you stay focused on something that you don’t like about yourself, “I’m too short, I don’t like my nose, I wish I had more hair, I wish my voice wasn’t so high,” if you stay focused on those things, it will block the amazing future God has in store for you. you may have some things you don’t like, some things you consider are wrong with you; we all do. but can I tell you; a lot is right with you! quit magnifying what’s wrong. quit focusing on what you don’t like, and start focusing on what God said about you. God said, “you are a masterpiece, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, you are one-of-a-kind, you have the right looks, the right personality, the gifts that you need for the race that’s designed for you.”

magnify what’s right about you and not what’s wrong. if you were to get a negative medical report, you could go home and spend 6 hours researching it on the internet, find 43 side effects to add to your worries, 27 different ways you can die from it, then call a friend and have them tell you how their cousin had it, he only made it four months, the next door neighbor, he got chills in 24 hours, all that time it’s becoming bigger and bigger in your mind. the actual size hasn’t changed, but because you keep dwelling on it, giving it your attention, letting it take all your energy, it’s become distorted. now it’s like that little coin that’s blocking the sun. stop focusing on the problems and start focusing on the promises. all through the day, instead of complaining, say, “God, You said with long life you would satisfy me, the number of my days You would fulfill, that I would live and not die, that You are restoring health back unto me.” it takes the same amount of energy to believe as it does to worry. you can go through the day thinking, “prices are so high, I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to send my kids to college, what if I don’t get the promotion, what if I don’t get the scholarship? what if I lose this client, I don’t know how I’m going to make it.”

you can use your energy to worry like that, or you can spend that same energy saying, “Father, thank You that You’re supplying all my needs. You said You take pleasure in prospering me, that You would open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings that I could not contain.”  when you magnify the promises instead of the problems, that’s your faith being released; that’s what allows God to go to work. maybe you’re concerned about your children; you could go around thinking, “I don’t know if they’re ever going to get back on the right path, I raised them in church, I taught them to do what’s right, I just don’t understand it,” or, you can say, “Father, thank you that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord. God, You promised that the seed of the righteous would be mighty in the land. God, You said that if I raised my children in the fear of the Lord, they would not depart from it. they may be off course temporarily, but Lord, I want to thank You that they’re coming back, that they will fulfill their destinies.” if you’ll change your focus from the problem to the promise, worry, doubt, fear, negativity will go. faith will rise up. you’ll know that God is still on the throne. He is bigger than anything you’re facing; what He promised He will bring to pass.  if you’re single and you want to get married, don’t go around thinking, “I’ll never meet the right person, I’m too old, I missed too many opportunities; it’s never going to happen.”

no, turn it around; “God, You said because I delight myself in You, You would give me the desires of my heart. Lord, You said no good thing will You withhold because I walk uprightly. Lord, I want to thank You that my good thing is coming; that man, that woman, that You’ve already picked out for me, it’s just a matter of time before they show up.” whatever you’re believing for, instead of magnifying the negative, instead of worrying, find a promise that you can stand on. all through the day, let that play in your mind. “God, You said You hold victory in store for the upright, Your favor surrounds me like a shield, the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter.” the reason it’s so important to have a promise that you can focus on is because God is not obligated to bring to pass when we say, but He is obligated to bring to pass what He says. when you can say, “God, You said I would prosper and live in good health, that You always cause me to triumph, that my latter days will be better than my former days,” when God hears His promises coming out of your mouth, He says to the angels, “go to work, get busy, make it happen.” God is faithful to His word. Abraham focused on the promise instead of the problem. when God gave him the promise that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby, they were both way too old; in the natural, it was impossible. but:

Romans 4:19 (ASV)
19 And without being weakened in faith he considered his own body now as good as dead (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb

in other words, he didn’t focus on the problem. he didn’t go around thinking, “God gave me this promise, but I must not have heard Him right, because Sarah is nearly 80 years old, I’m nearly 100 years old, it’s not going to happen.” he didn’t get on the internet and Google “chances of having a baby at 100.” he didn’t call his friends and get their input to see what they thought. if he would’ve stayed focused on his circumstances, that impossibility would have become so magnified, gotten so big in his mind, that the doubt, fear, negativity would have kept it from happening. God works when there’s faith. Abraham did the same thing that I’m asking you to do. it goes on to say that he considered not his circumstances:

Romans 4:20-21 (NIV)
20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Abraham made this decision; “I’m not going to use my energy to worry. I’m not going to go around thinking about how it’s not going to work out. I’ve got a promise from God.” I can hear him all through the day saying, “God, You promised that I’m going to have a child, that I will be the father of many nations, that my descendents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God, it looks impossible to me, but I know You can do the impossible.” he kept focusing on the promise, reminding God what He said. that promise became bigger and bigger in his mind. he became fully persuaded, where doubt, fear, negativity, didn’t have a chance. faith rose up. and sure enough, against all odds, when they were nearly 100 years old, they had that baby. if you’re going to see your dreams come to pass, those promises fulfilled, there will be times, like with Abraham, you have to consider not your negative circumstances.

you may have to consider not a medical report; doctors do the best they can with the knowledge that they have, but there comes a point, sometimes, when I’m doctors run out of options, there’s nothing more they can do, medically speaking. the good news is, God can do what medical science cannot do. God never runs out of options; He has the final say. He made your body. you may have to consider not a financial situation. on paper, it may look like you’re not going to get out of debt until you’re 147 years old. if you stay focused on that, and just continually run the numbers, analyze it and reanalyze it, all that’s going to do is make you frustrated, stressed out, worried. instead of considering your circumstances, why don’t you start considering your God? He spoke worlds into existence, flung stars into space. He’s got you in the palm of his hand. one touch of His favor can catapult you to a new level. one good break, one explosive blessing, can put you into overflow, more than enough.

Psalm 68:1 (ASV)
68 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered

when you make God bigger in your life, when you let Him arise, focusing on His greatness, knowing that He’s in control, fighting your battles, making your crooked places straight, and you go out with this attitude of faith, expecting breakthroughs and dreams to come to pass, when you let God arise like that, your enemies will be scattered. enemies of debt, lack, depression, sickness, injustice;  nothing can stand against our God. He is the all-powerful Creator of the universe. what are you letting arise? what are you lifting up? “I’m in a slow season at work, somebody hurt me in a relationship. my health has gone downhill, that’s why I’m so discouraged.” No, that’s letting the wrong things rise: that’s doubt, defeat, self-pity. that’s not going to do anything productive. you’ve got to turn it around, change your focus from the problem to the promise, from considering your circumstances to considering your God. here’s how; all through the day, “God, You said I’m armed with strength for this battle, no weapon formed against me will ever prosper, the trap the enemy set for me they will fall in themselves, I haven’t seen, heard or imagined the amazing things You have in store. so God, I believe today that things are changing in my favor. You’ve done it in the past, I know You’ll do it again in the future.” when you let God arise, you can’t stay defeated; healing, promotion, favor, victory comes. your enemies will be scattered. in the scripture:

2 Chronicles 20:1-2 (NIV)
20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.
2 Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom

in the natural, they didn’t have a chance; they were outnumbered 10 to 1. if anyone had a right to get down and discouraged, it would have been Jehosaphat. but he didn’t do it; he understood this principle. instead of complaining:

2 Chronicles 20:3-6 (CEV)
3 Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he asked the Lord what to do. He then told the people of Judah to go without eating to show their sorrow. 4 They immediately left for Jerusalem to ask for the Lord’s help.
5 After everyone from Judah and Jerusalem had come together at the Lord’s temple, Jehoshaphat stood in front of the new courtyard 6 and prayed

he didn’t say, “God, I’m begging you to help us, it’s not fair, I don’t know why this has happened to us.” no, he started talking about the greatness of God:

2 Chronicles 20:6 (CEV)
6 …. You, Lord, are the God our ancestors worshiped, and from heaven you rule every nation in the world. You are so powerful that no one can defeat you.

then he started remembering what God had done:

2 Chronicles 20:7 (CEV)
7 Our God, you forced out the nations who lived in this land before your people Israel came here, and you gave it to the descendants of your friend Abraham forever.

what was he doing? magnifying God, not his trouble. in our difficult times, instead of complaining, “I don’t know if my child is ever going to straighten up, business is so slow, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome this illness,” no, if you talk defeat, you’re going to have defeat. no, you’ve gotta do like Jehosaphat;  “God, I know you’re an awesome God, nothing is too difficult for You. I know You are bigger than this financial difficulty; You make streets out of gold. You are greater than this sickness; You breathed life into my body. You are more powerful than people coming against me in this legal trouble; no one can stand against You.”  the bigger you make God, the smaller your problems become, the more faith will rise in your heart. but too often, we do just the opposite. it’s easy to magnify the problem instead of magnifying God. this is what the Israelites did. Moses sent 12 men in to spy out the promised land:

Numbers 13:1-2 (NIV)
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”

Numbers 13:25 (NIV)
25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.

Numbers 13:25-33 (NIV)
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size

Numbers 14:6-9 (NIV)
6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

both groups saw the same people, the same situation; the difference was their perspective. one group focused on the size of their obstacles, the other on the size of their God. out of the 2 million people that were camped next door to the promised land that day, the only two that ever eventually made it into the promised land were Joshua and Caleb. could it be that our own wrong perspective is keeping us out of our promised land? if we think our obstacles are too big, “I’ll never accomplish my dreams, I’ll never overcome this illness, I’ll never get out of debt.” then just like them, our own perspective will keep us from God’s best. that’s why David said:

Psalm 34:3 (KJV)
3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together

he was saying, if you’re going to make anything bigger, don’t make the problems, opposition, negative medical report bigger, make God bigger. it’s interesting; when David faced Goliath, he never called him a giant. everyone else did; they talked about his size, strength, skill. not David; he called him an uncircumcised Philistine. he didn’t even give him credit for being big. he didn’t deny it, but he didn’t dwell on it. his attitude was, “if I’m going to magnify anything, I’m going to magnify the source of my strength. I’m going to talk about the greatness of my God. I’m not going to focus on how big my problems are; I’m going to focus on how big my God is.” David’s brothers, and the other Israelites, they were afraid, intimidated, didn’t know what to do. then:

1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NIV)
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

but David had a different perspective. he knew if God be for him, who dare be against him. he knew he was strong in the Lord. he knew he wasn’t going out there alone, that all the forces of heaven were backing him up.

1 Samuel 17:45 (NIV)
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

notice what he was doing? magnifying his God, talking about His greatness. he didn’t have a chance in the natural, but:

1 Samuel 17:49-50 (NIV)
49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

that’s what happens when you magnify the promises and not the problems. Paul said:

Philippians 1:28 (NLT)
28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies

like David, you may be up against a big giant right now, a giant called addiction, debt, sickness. you could easily be overwhelmed, and think, “I don’t have a chance.” no, don’t be intimidated, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. have the right perspective; the most high God is on your side.

you’ve magnified that problem long enough. you’ve talked about how impossible it is, how it’s never going to work out, but if you’ll see it from the right perspective, you’ll realize that it’s nothing for our God. all He’s got to do is breathe your direction. your dream coming to pass may seem impossible to you, but it just takes one touch of God’s favor, one good break, meeting one right person. or that financial difficulty, that relationship issue, that addiction may seem insurmountable, but if you’ll see it from the right perspective you’ll realize that for our God, it’s a small thing. He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites; He can make a way in your life. you can’t go through life focused on the negative, and how it’s never going to work out; that will keep you from God’s best. if you’ll learn to focus on the promise and not the problem, you will overcome obstacles that looked insurmountable. you’ll accomplish dreams even though you didn’t have the qualifications, the resources, the connections. God will get you to where you’re supposed to be. this is what happened in the scripture to a man by the name of Zerubbabel.

Haggai 1:1-8 (NLT)
1 On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the Lord gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah… 8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house

everything came against him. the city leaders tried to stop him; they hired lawyers and wouldn’t give him the permits. other people started stirring up strife and trouble. he couldn’t hire the workers that he needed, he couldn’t find the materials, everywhere he turned there was trouble. it looked impossible. he could have stayed focused on the opposition, how much more powerful they were, given up and gone home. “God, I wanted to do it, I had good intentions, they were just too big.” no, he said:

Zechariah 4:7 (AMP)
7 For who are you, O great mountain [of human obstacles]? Before Zerubbabel [who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon and was undertaking the rebuilding of the temple, before him] you shall become a plain [a mere molehill]!

notice his attitude. not, “it’s too big, I can’t do this.” no, he said, “you may be a mountain right now, but I know a secret; I can already see through my eyes of faith, and it’s just a matter of time before you flatten out and become a molehill. I will complete this project.” if you don’t talk to your mountains, your mountains will talk to you. don’t complain about how big the problem is; tell that mountain, “you’re about to become a molehill.” like David, tell that giant, “this day I will defeat you.” you can’t talk defeat and expect to have victory. what you’re facing today may look big. I’m not asking you to deny it, I am asking you to see it from God’s point of view. have the right perspective. it’s no match for you; you’re a child of the most high God. you have the most powerful force in the universe breathing in your direction right now. don’t stay focused on the opposition, how impossible it looks. do what Abraham did; consider not the negative circumstances, and start considering your God. remind Him what He said. all through the day, let His promises keep playing in your mind; “God, You said I’m blessed, strong, healthy, highly favored. You said my best days are still out in front of me.” remember, it takes the same amount of energy to believe as it does to worry. if you’ll learn to focus on the promises and not the problems, you will defeat your giants, accomplish your dreams, and what God promised you He will bring to pass. you will become everything He’s created you to be, and you will have everything He intends for you to have.

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A company I did some work for was supposed to be sending me 2 coupons for free products as part of my  compensation.  I got an empty envelope instead, and weeks of foot-dragging ensued before the right person got the memo, after which I got FIVE coupons.  I won’t be able to use them up before they expire, so now I can be a blessing to someone else with the extras.

A friend sent me a link to one of those spin-and-win contests.  The prizes were, predictably, mainly stickers and those little rubbery bracelets, but they did have ONE cool prize that would be the least-won one.  I asked God for it, spun the wheel…  and wasn’t even surprised when I won the good prize.  (For the benefit of new readers:  in the “pre-God era,” there could’ve been 1000 good prizes and one bad one and that’s the one I would’ve gotten.)

In the post “God answers a prayer in spectacular fashion” on 8-25-13, I described a zoo visit that I had asked God to make “the most spectacular one ever,” and He did, and then some.  On 8-16, I went to the zoo with the same people, and made the same request to God, although it didn’t seem possible to have a better visit than last time…  because nothing is impossible for God.  As you’ve already figured out, it WAS better!!  We were at the display for a critter that is legendary for NEVER moving but we REALLY wanted to see some action from, and, having looked at all of them and found them all asleep, we were moments from bailing, so under my breath I said, “Please Father, let one of them move so that my friend doesn’t leave disappointed.”  INSTANTLY, one of them started moving!!  We went rushing back, and this animal kept moving around for so long that finally we’d seen all we wanted and left.  But wait, there’s more:  When we came back by the display later, I followed the urge to check again, although the very thought that another one would be moving was ridiculous…  and one of them WAS moving!!  We ran around to where we could see him, and…  we ended up seeing ***SIX*** more of them doing a variety of things, including a male that was making what we learned was a mating call, when we never knew they made ANY sounds, and a sweet baby, the first time we’d ever seen one put on the exhibit.  God gave far more than I asked for or expected, or could have ever imagined happening, so much so that if we didn’t have pics no one would believe it.

But wait, there’s MORE:  Although the big cats are notorious for hiding, I asked God for us to have another great experience with one.  And yes, we had an even more incredible big cat experience than we did last year, which ended when the keepers brought him back into the building;  10 minutes later and we’d have missed him…  if I hadn’t insisted that I saw a path that wasn’t on the map, and been RIGHT, we’d have never made it.  God came through beyond belief, as He so often does.

And most amazing by far:  I’ve reported several times that my dictation software produces words and phrases when I’m not speaking, with “hey” and “hello” being the most common.  On 4-20, I got a gibberish line when I was trying to dictate, and the word “love” was part of it.  The word had the underlining that means that alternate wordings were offered for, in this case, a word that I had not said.  The alternates were, “love, love you, love bye, love you bye, love mom, love you mom.”  More astonishing, the popup banner with these phrases stayed overlaying the page after I left that email and went back to the main inbox with the dictation OFF, which I’d never seen before.  It looked like…  what else could I see it as?  A message from my mother (who passed away several years ago), with God’s help of course.  That seemed pretty impressive until, on 8-5, I was composing an email, and although I was not speaking, words started appearing.

“You just get A message (gibberish) miss you much”

Luckily, I screen-capped them fast, because the last couple of words then changed:

“You just get A message (gibberish) miss you see you”

There is no doubt in my mind what that was; my mother again.  I am very blessed.

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My roommate had somehow tweaked his back, you know the way you do when you bend or twist just a little bit wrong and suddenly you’re in agony.  He was resisting any attempts to get him to use anything to try to improve it, because he was so sure, based on nothing, that only time would fix it.  When *I* get the same back problem, having someone push hard and crack it will fix it;  I kept trying to get him to try it, but he kept insisting that his only option was days of pain so bad that he couldn’t sleep.

God will often let people suffer the consequences of what my mother always called “stubborn stupidity” in the hopes that they’ll learn something, but sometimes He’ll take action to fix the situation.  All my roommate needed was to have his back cracked, and he refused to do it, so God caused him to:  have sweat run into his eyes, stand up and start walking while rubbing his eyes, trip over a chair he hadn’t noticed, fall, twist midair to protect the package he had in his hand, land on his back…  which then cracked and was FINE.

God ALWAYS has a way, even when we can’t see a way.

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I’m Still Standing

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through difficulties, things we don’t understand. it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “why am I having these problems?” but being a person of faith doesn’t exempt us from difficulties:

Matthew 5:45 (NKJV)

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

no matter how good of a person you are, no matter how much you honor God, you’re going to have some rain. Jesus told a parable about this:

Matthew 7:24-27 (MSG)

24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

what’s interesting is, the same storm came to both people, the just and the unjust. if the story ended right there, you would think, “it doesn’t make a difference to honor God; the same thing happens to me that happens to everybody else. I built my house on the rock, yet I’m in this storm.  I got a bad medical report, my child got off course, I lost my biggest client.” no, that’s not the end of the story. if you judge it too soon, it may seem like it doesn’t make a difference. here’s the difference; when you honor God, the storms may come, but you have a promise that others don’t have. when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing. in difficult times, you have to remind yourself, “this is not the end. my house is built upon the rock. the enemy doesn’t have the final say, God does, and He says when it’s all over, I’ll still be standing.” you may get knocked down, but you won’t get knocked out. you may suffer a setback, you may have to go through a few things, but don’t get discouraged, don’t get bitter, it’s just life. it rains on all of us. the promise God gives us is that if you’ll stay in faith, when the smoke clears and the dust settles, you will not be the victim, you will be the victor. you will still be standing.

all of us can look back at things that should have defeated us. that divorce, bad break, should have given you a nervous breakdown, but look at you, you’re still standing; happy, whole, restored. that addiction, that partying lifestyle, should’ve killed you, but because of your praying mother, you’re still standing, clean, sober, free. that sickness should have been the end, the medical report said you were done, but God said, “I’ve got another report; it’s not over, you’re still standing.” or maybe you lost a loved one, didn’t think you could go on, thought you’d seen your best days, but God breathed new life into you, lifted you up out of the pit, put a new song in your heart, and here you are today, still standing. when you go through some things, you see the goodness of God, you see Him lift, restore, promote, heal you. when you have this history with God, remembering what He has done, you don’t get discouraged by every difficulty, fall apart because of a disappointment, get upset because people are talking about you. you know God brought you through in the past, and He’s going to bring you through in the future. you may be in a difficult time right now; you need to look back and remember what God has done for you. remember how He has made a way where you didn’t see a way, opened doors that never should have opened, put you at the right place at the right time, promoted, healed, restored you, if He did it for you once, He can do it for you again.

your house is built upon the rock. you have this promise that no matter what comes your way, when the storm is over, when the trouble has passed, opposition has ceased, one thing you can count on; you’ll still be standing. you have the DNA of Almighty God. the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of you. you may get knocked down, but you’re not going to stay down. there is something in your DNA that says,” get back up again. that’s not where you belong. you are a child of the most high God.” God designed the palm tree to withstand the storm. unlike most other trees, the palm is able to bend so it doesn’t break. there’s a certain kind of palm that can bend to where it’s almost touching the ground. during a hurricane, it may stay that way for five or six hours. it looks like it’s over, done. I can imagine the hurricane huffing, puffing, saying, “I may not be able to break you like the oaks, or the pines, but at least I can keep you all bent over, keep you from ever standing up again.” the hurricane thinks it’s winning the battle, but in a few hours, when it runs out of strength, when the winds die back down, you know what happens, the palm tree stands right back up to where it was again. why is that? because God put bounce-back in the palm tree. it may get pushed over, but it’s only temporary; it’s just a matter of time before it stands right back up.

Psalm 92:12 (NIV)

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree

it could have said we’d flourish like an oak tree, be big and strong and have wide branches. it could have said we’d flourish like a pine tree, be tall and impressive and be able to see for miles. but the reason God said that we would flourish like a palm is because God knew we would face difficulties, that there would be things in life to try to push us down and keep us from our destinies. so God said, “I’m going to make you like a palm; I’m going to put bounce-back on the inside.” you may go through a season where the winds are blowing, a season of loss, disappointment, dealing with an illness. but don’t get discouraged, it’s only temporary. at some point, those winds will stop blowing, and the bounce-back put in you by your Creator will cause you to straighten right back up to where you were before. don’t believe the lies that it’s permanent: “you’ll never get well. you’ll never overcome that addiction, get out of that legal problem.” no, your house is built upon the rock. you may be a little bit bent over now, you may have some difficulties, but when that storm passes, be encouraged, you’re going to stand right back up to where you were before.

what’s interesting is that when the palm tree is bent over because of the hurricane, you would think that that’s damaging the tree and making it weaker, but research shows that it’s just the opposite. when the tree is being pushed and stretched by the strong winds, it’s strengthening its root system, and giving it opportunities for new growth. after the storm, when the palm tree stands right back up, it’s actually stronger than it was before. when you get through that storm, when you straighten back up, you’re not going to be the same, you’re going to be stronger, healthier, wiser, better off, ready for new growth. God never brings you out the same; He makes the enemy pay for bringing the trouble. what’s meant for your harm, God will use to your advantage. that difficulty is not going to do defeat you, it’s going to promote you. it’s not going to break you, it’s going to strengthen you. you’re not only going to still be standing, you’re going to be standing stronger than ever. no matter how hard those winds blow, they cannot uproot, topple, or break you. sickness doesn’t determine your destiny; God does. He is the one that breathed life into you, made your body. if it’s not your time to go, you’re not going to go. God has the final say, and He said no weapon formed against you will prosper.

Psalm 34:19 (NKJV)

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Proverbs 24:16 (NLV)

16 For a man who is right with God falls seven times, and rises again

there’s the bounce-back. now you have to get in agreement with God. don’t have a weak, defeated mentality; “why did this happen to me? I don’t understand it.” I can tell you why it happened; because you’re alive. it rains on everyone. the good news is, because you’re the righteous, you have something in you that the unrighteous don’t have. like that palm tree, there’s bounce-back in your spirit. no matter how hard those winds blow, they cannot defeat you. if you’ll stay in faith, you’ll be able to say, “I’m still standing. sickness had me down for a little while, but I came right back up; still standing. went through a slow season at work, had a bad break, but it didn’t defeat me, it promoted me. I came out stronger; I’m still standing.” or maybe, “I had a breakup in a relationship, someone walked out on me, broke my heart. didn’t think I’d ever be happy again, but look what the Lord has done; brought somebody better into my life. I’m still standing, stronger than ever.” you may be down, but it’s temporary; there’s bounce-back in your spirit. when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing strong. when your house is built upon the rock, it doesn’t prevent difficulties, you may have some storms, you may go through some bad breaks, but because of the bounce-back in your spirit, when it’s all over, you’ll still be standing, not the same, but increased, promoted, better off than you were before. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV)

19 … When the enemy comes in like a flood

that means, when you feel overwhelmed, you lost your house in a hurricane, you got a bad medical report, a friend did you wrong in a business deal. what does God do? sit back and think, “too bad, told you it’s going to rain, told you life was going to be difficult”?  no, when the enemy comes in like a flood, God raises up a barrier. in other words, that injustice, that bad break, that sickness, it gets God’s attention. He doesn’t sit back, He goes to work. it’s like as a parent; if you see anything bothering your child, if someone or something is giving them a hard time, you don’t think twice, you stop what you’re doing and immediately go to help. I’m the nicest guy in the world, I’ll do anything for you, but if you mess with my children, you’ve got a fight on your hands. that’s the way it is with our heavenly Father. when the enemy comes in like a flood, God steps up and says, “wait a minute, you’re messing with the wrong person, that’s my son/daughter; if you’re going to mess with them, you’re going to have to first mess with Me. Who am I? I am the all-powerful Creator of the universe.” when God said, “let there be light,” light came at 186,000 miles/second. God says to your enemies, “you want some of this? go ahead, make my day.” you’ve got to realize; in the tough times, you’re not alone. you’ve got somebody fighting for you. the most high God has got your back. now you’ve got to get your fire back. you can’t go through life focused on who hurt you, what didn’t work out, how unfair it is; that’s going to keep you down. shake off that weak, defeated mentality, and have a warrior mentality. a warrior doesn’t complain about opposition. on the contrary, a warrior likes a good fight, it fires him up. this is what David did. he suffered a major setback. while he and his men were out protecting the borders of Israel, doing the right thing, fulfilling their purpose, it began to rain:

1 Samuel 30:1-2 (NIV)

30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.
3 When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

it was the worst day of their lives. it looked like it was over. it looked like they were done. it would have stayed that way if it had not been for David. he did something that we all must do if we’re going to see the bounce-back. instead of staying in the ashes, focusing on how bad life had treated him, that warrior spirit began to rise up. he thought, “I may be down, this may be my worst defeat so far, but this is not the end of my story. I am the righteous. I’ve got bounce-back in my spirit. my house is built upon the rock. I have the promise; when it’s all over, I’ll still be standing.” he started encouraging himself, reminding himself of who he was and whose he was. then:

1 Samuel 30:8 (NIV)

8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”
“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

1 Samuel 30:17-19 (NIV)

17 David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. 18 David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back.

David’s greatest defeat turned into one of his greatest victories. we all face unfair situations, things that seem like they’re going to bury us, but if you will have this warrior mentality, and go after what belongs to you, the enemy won’t have the last laugh; you will. he may hit you with his best shot, but his best will never be enough; the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. you may be down right now, it may be raining in your life, but because your house is built upon the rock, because you are the righteous, there is bounce-back in your spirit. when it’s all said and done, you’re still going to be standing. when you’re in a tough time, you can’t sit around thinking about the bad break, how unfair it was, “I can’t believe I got this sickness, I can’t believe they left me, I can’t believe this weight is on me”; you can either let that sickness crush you, you can let that defeat, bad break, disappointment finish you off, die under the weight of it, or you can have this warrior mentality, and do what you’ve got to do. push. scoot. stretch. squirm. wiggle. refocus. get your second wind and beat it.

Psalm 18:39 (NIV)

39 You armed me with strength for battle

I’ve found, the more difficult the battle, the more strength you’ll have. your strength will always match what you’re up against. are you letting something defeat you because you don’t think you have the strength to overcome it, the strength to deal with that financial problem, sickness, that child that’s off course? if you’ll have this warrior mentality, and do what you can do, God will help you do what you can’t do. when you do what you’ve got to do, you’ll discover a strength that you didn’t know you had. you are not weak, defeated;  you’re a warrior. you’ve got resurrection power on the inside. you may be down right now. those winds may be blowing. but like that palm tree, you’re about to come back up again. you’re not going to stay down, you’re not going to be the same; you’re going to be stronger, healthier, better off. this is a new day. things are changing in your favor. God’s done it in the past, He’s going to do it again in the future. you need to get ready; a bounce-back is coming. you’re going to bounce back from sickness, loss, bad breaks, debt. those winds cannot uproot you. they don’t have the final say; God does. because your house is built upon the rock, no matter what comes against you, when it’s all said and done, you will not be the victim, you will be the victor. you will still be standing.

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