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Archive for October, 2014

I’ve been going through an all-new level of disaster in my life for the past couple of months;  I’ve decide not to tarnish the positive tone of this blog by discussing it here, and I won’t go into it now.  (If anyone wants to pray for me, just ask for God to bring me full restoration before the holidays start; He’ll know what it means.)  A friend in another city, who I had gotten through the worst period of HER life years ago, suddenly announced that she has a friend who is religious, of my same ethnicity, and who lives right by me, and she was going to call her and tell her my troubles, and she knew that this friend was going to want to drop by and see me every day to help me out…!!!  That seemed crazy, but I had ASKED God to bring me a friend that I could have daily contact with, preferably that lived close by, and of course ideally religious…  I never even thought of the ethnicity thing (I did not previously know a single person outside of my family whose background was from the same country we originally came from), or that a STRANGER would decide sight unseen to provide the every-day support that I have given so many times but never gotten back.  Crazy, but my faith told me that it would happen.

Earlier today, the doorbell rang and…  you guessed it, there was the friend’s friend, announcing her intention to start helping me out every day!!  Is there any confusion as to the only way that THAT could have happened?  Made even more amazing by my having ASKED for a nearby daily-contact friend.  As always, God brought me what I asked for with the perfect timing, and better than I could have ever imagined!!

And more proof that God orchestrated it, should any be necessary:  I have no idea how this woman got my address;  my friend didn’t give it to her, and I’m unlisted!!   But wait, there’s more;  my standard reply to well-meaning folks who suggest that I meet new people is that, since I work every waking minute and barely leave the house, any prospective new friends would have to come and knock on my door and offer their friendship.  That was meant to be a ridiculous exaggeration, obviously, but that IS essentially what happened;  God has a sly sense of humor, and knows how to use it.

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Being a rainmaker

from JO’s sermon tonight:

rain in the scripture is symbolic of blessings, favor, increase. one place talks about how we should be:

Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)
11 … like a well-watered garden…

always in blossom.  that’s the way God designed us, to flourish even in tough times. but too many people are in a dry season; they haven’t had a good breaking in years, they’re stagnant in their marriage, they’re not moving toward their dream. it’s easy to settle there, and think, “this is as good as it gets, I’ll just learn to live with it.” but there is a way you can put an end to that drought. there’s something you can do to cause it to rain. the way that we can create rain in our own life, put an end to a drought, is through our praise. when we go around thanking God for His goodness, talking about what He’s done, our praise is the invisible vapor that goes up into the heavens and forms a cloud. when your cloud gets so full of praise, thanksgiving, you bragging on the greatness of God, that it can’t hold it anymore, that’s when it will rain down right back on you; blessings, favor, increase, healing. you can become a rainmaker.

you’ve heard the saying, “when the praises go up, the blessings come back down.” if you’re not seeing any good breaks, if you’re in a drought, my encouragement is, check up on what you’re sending up. here’s the principle; no praise, no rain. limited praise, limited rain. you might get a sprinkle, a little drizzle every once in a while, a good break here and there, but if you want to see a downpour, the exceeding greatness of God’s favor, you’ve got to stay full of praise. everywhere you go, under your breath, you’re always thanking God for his goodness. when you wake up in the morning, “Lord, thank You for another beautiful day.” what’s happening? your cloud is getting a little bit fuller. when you see your children, “Lord, thank You for these gifts that You’ve blessed me with.” driving to work, not complaining about the traffic, “I can’t stand my job, gasoline is so high,” no, “Lord, thank You that I have a job, thank You that I have a car to sit in traffic, money for gasoline, I’m healthy enough to go to work, thank you for my gifts and talents, God I’m just grateful to be alive.”

when you live like that, you better get your umbrella out, it’s just a matter of time before your cloud will open up and unload a downpour of God’s favor. abundant praise will produce abundant rain. the amount you send up is the amount that’s going to come back down. some people only give God praise on Sunday, “I went to church, I sang three songs, I stood the whole time, sat through the whole message, missed the first half of the football game, it was a big sacrifice.” that’s great, God sees your efforts, but here’s the problem with only having Sunday praise; on Monday, when you need a good break, on Tuesday when you need wisdom, God says to the angel, “he needs some rain; help him out, give him some favor, increase, promotion,” the angel says, “we tried, but there’s nothing in his cloud. he got a little drizzle on Sunday, a little sprinkle, now it’s completely empty.” friends, you’ve got to do your part and keep your cloud filled up; all through the day, instead of thinking about what’s wrong, thank God for what’s right.

when you’re in a tough time, instead of being discouraged, complaining, no, “Lord, thank You that You’re turning it around, You’re bigger than this problem, You’ve given me grace for every season.” even in small things, you get a good parking spot, “Lord, thank you for Your favor”; vapors went up. at the mall, you find what you were looking for, “Lord, thank you for directing my steps”; more vapors are rising. you see a friend that’s not feeling well; after you pray for them, under your breath, “Lord, thank You that I’m healthy, I can breathe without pain.” you walk outside in the morning, “Lord, thank You for the sunrise, thank You for the beauty of Your creation.” eating dinner with friends, “Lord, thank You for the people You put in my life, thank You for my friends.” if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you’ve got to become a rainmaker, develop this habit of constantly sending up these vapors of praise. don’t let what once was a miracle become ordinary. don’t get so used to it that you’re not excited about it anymore. what has God done in your life that you could be sending up vapors of praise for?

you thanked Him for a week when He gave you that job; why don’t you continue to thank Him? you were thrilled when you moved into that house five years ago; have you thanked Him lately? when your baby was born, you were on cloud 9; you thanked God every day for a month. why don’t you thank Him again, and again? when God turned that problem around, when He made a way when you didn’t see a way, you were so overwhelmed, relieved; don’t lose the awe, amazement, those are opportunities to fill your cloud back up. scripture talks about how, “if you will sow to the heavens, the heavens will sow back to you.” (NB: I was unable to find this verse.) could it be that you’re not seeing God’s best, you’re stuck in a drought, because you’re not sowing to the heavens? if you would begin to thank God more often, remember what He’s done, look for these opportunities to send up vapors of praise, then your dreams would come to pass, those problems would turn around. “I’m living in this small house, I don’t really like my job, my kids won’t do what’s right, my car is a piece of trash; when things change, then I’ll have a better attitude, then I’ll give God praise.” no, that’s backwards; praise is what causes the rain, allows God to turn it around.

Matthew 14:13-18 (NIV)
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said.

what Jesus did next was extremely significant:

Matthew 14:19 (NIV)
19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

notice, he gave thanks for what was not enough; he blessed what seemed to be too little. here’s the principle; until you’re grateful for what’s not enough, you won’t see the multiplication. “I can’t thank God for my job, I don’t like it. the people don’t like me, they don’t treat me right, they don’t pay me enough”; you’re right where Jesus was. what are you going to do, complain; “God, I’ve been begging you for three years to get me out of this place”? the problem with that approach is that in 3 more years you’re still not going to have enough. but if you will try a different approach and learn to be grateful for what’s not enough, then one day God will multiply it, and you’ll have more than enough. if you will thank God for what you do have, He will give you what you don’t have.

“I don’t like my house, it’s too small, my neighbors get on my nerves”; no, why don’t you try sending up some different vapors? “Lord, I want to thank You for this place that You’ve given me, God I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head, I’m grateful that I’m not out on the streets. it may not be enough, it may be small, but I know You’re the God of more than enough, so God I continue to give You praise.” that’s what brings the multiplication. not complaining, not thinking about what’s wrong, but thanking God for what’s right, being grateful even when it’s not enough. this is what Elijah did in the scripture. there had been a drought in the land for 3 and a half years. the people were barely making it. there wasn’t any sign of it changing. Elijah could have become sour, thought, “God, I don’t understand, You said we’d always be in blossom, but it’s just the opposite, we’re drying up, struggling to survive.” no, Elijah understood this principle. in the middle of the drought:

1 Kings 18:42-43 (NIV)
42 … Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

if you’re going to see a drought come to an end, you have to pass the test of not getting discouraged when circumstances tell you nothing is happening. the medical report says you’re not getting better, you prayed but your child’s not improving, the financial situation isn’t changing, every voice will tell you it’s not going to work out. Elijah heard the same negative report 6 times, but he didn’t get discouraged; he knew that as long as he kept sending up those vapors of praise, eventually the cloud would form, and things would change. the seventh time the assistant came back:

1 Kings 18:44-45 (NIV)
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”…
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling

1 Kings 18:41 (WEB)
41 … there is the sound of abundance of rain.”

the 3 and a half year drought came to an end. if you’ll learn to be thankful for what’s not enough, there will be a day when you have more than enough, the abundance of rain. too often, when we’re in difficult times, it’s easy to complain, talk about what’s not working out, but I’ve learned that God does not answer complaints; don’t go to God and just tell Him all of your problems. “God, I don’t like my job, my car, my children aren’t doing right, I need to lose 20 pounds, I’ve had it up to here.” that’s not prayer, that’s complaining; complaining doesn’t get God’s attention.

Psalm 22:3 (WEB)
3 But you are holy,  you who inhabit the praises of Israel.

when you start praising, God shows up. when you have a thankful heart, you start talking about God’s goodness, thanking Him for His promises, that’s what gets God’s attention. when Paul and Silas were in prison:

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

why did that happen? God inhabits the praises. those same chains had held the roughest prisoners for years, the strongest, most powerful criminals, yet when 2 ordinary men showed up and started praising, those chains could not hold them. praise is powerful. praise will break addictions, stop a sickness, turn a problem around, in Psalm 31, David starts off talking about how bad his life is:

Psalm 31:10 (NLT)
10 I am dying from grief

Psalm 31:9 (NLT)
9 … Tears blur my eyes.

Psalm 31:10-11 (NLT)
10 … Sin has drained my strength…
11  I am scorned by all my enemies
    and despised by my neighbors

Psalm 31:13 (NLT)
13 I have heard the many rumors about me,
    and I am surrounded by terror.
My enemies conspire against me,
    plotting to take my life.

he went on and on, telling in great detail all of his woes. I can imagine God up in the heavens just sitting back, not paying any attention, going in one ear and out the other, not even phasing Him. at one point, David realizes, “I’m sending up the wrong vapors; God doesn’t answer complaints.” if you’re just sending up discouragement, defeat, self-pity, that’s what’s going to come back to you. I like this phrase; “complain and you’ll remain, but praise and you’ll be raised.“ in a few verses, David changed his whole tune; he realized that wasn’t getting him anywhere. he said, “yes, I’ve got a lot of things coming against me, but God, I know that Your goodness is great. You have blessings stored up for me, You protect me, vindicate me, answer me when I call, so I will take courage, I will be strong, knowing that You will give me the victory.” as David began to brag on God’s goodness, send up these vapors of praise, I can see God come to attention. He says to the angels, “I’ve got to go someplace, I hear somebody talking about My goodness, I hear somebody bragging on what I can do; I’ve got to inhabit those praises.”

when you praise, God shows up. some battles, the only way you’ll get out is to praise your way out. “God, I want to thank You that You’re turning this around. You said You hold victory in store for the upright. I don’t see a way, but God, I know You have a way.” as you brag on God’s goodness, your cloud is filling up, and at the right time, it’s going to rain down breakthroughs, healing, vindication. pay attention to what you’re sending up. it may look like you could never get out of debt; it would be easy to get discouraged, complain, talk about how big the obstacles are. no, don’t send that up, turn it around, “Lord, I want to thank You that I’m blessed, I will lend and not borrow, whatever I touch will prosper and succeed”; when you do that, your cloud is filling up with the right things.  if you’re struggling in your health, “Lord, I want to thank You that you’re Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord my healer, that the number of my days You will fulfill, that You’re restoring health back unto me.”

maybe you’re believing for a spouse; “Lord, You said if I would delight myself in You, You would give me the desires of my heart. so Lord, I want to thank You that You’re directing my steps, bringing the right person into my life.” if you’ll keep sending up the right vapors, thanking God for His promises, then just like with Elijah, your praise will cause the downpour. it was God’s goodness, but you were the rainmaker; it was your praise that filled up the cloud. some of you have been thanking God for a long time, you’ve been faithful, when you felt like complaining, you praised anyway, like Paul and Silas, you praised in pain, praised when it was unfair, praised when you were lonely; you need to get ready, your cloud is about to open up. you’re about to see God amaze you with His goodness. it’s going to happen suddenly; the favor of God is going to overtake you and amaze you with His goodness. this is not the time to get discouraged, this is the time to turn up your praise.

I read about this American Indian tribe that was known for their rain dances. they had a reputation that any time they did a rain dance, it would always rain. when the neighboring communities needed water, they always called on this particular tribe, and without fail it would rain. the leader of the community asked their chief, “how is it that, every time you guys do a rain dance, it always rains?” he said, “it’s very simple; we dance until it rains.” that’s the way it is with praise; you have to keep praising until you see the victory. praise until you get out of debt, praise until your health turns around, praise until you meet the right person. you don’t ever stop praising, then when the answer comes, when you get the breakthrough, healing, promotion, you start thanking God for what He’s done. you spend your whole life thanking God for taking you where you’ve never dreamed. you develop this lifestyle, habit, where you’re always sending up these vapors of praise. God will not disappoint a praiser. just ask Jonah; sitting in the belly of the whale, it looked impossible, but he offered up a sacrifice of praise, and that whale spit him out on dry ground:

Jonah 2:9-10 (NLT)
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
    and I will fulfill all my vows.
    For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”
10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

just ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; they were thrown into the fiery furnace, full of praise, and God showed up, the fourth man in the fire:

Daniel 3:25 (NLT)
25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”

Daniel 3:27 (NLT)
27 Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!

just ask Job.  when he lost everything; when the bottom fell out, he said:

Job 19:25 (NLT)
25 “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives

Job came out with twice what he had before:

Job 42:10 (NLT)
10 When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!

you may have gone through some bad breaks, some disappointments;  our attitude should be, “I may have lost a few things, but one thing I’ll never lose is my praise. I’m going to keep thanking God for his goodness, sending up the right vapors, I’m going to live my life as a rainmaker.” the scripture says:

John 7:38 (LEB)
38 … ‘Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.’

notice the water, rain, favor is on the inside of each of us. how do we get it out? through our praise. some people get a little sprinkle every once in a while, a little mist here and there, but God has some downpours, some gully washers, in store for you, an abundance of rain. if you will turn up your praise, lose the complaining, zip up the negative, defeated talk, our attitude should be, “the only thing I’m going to let come out of my mouth are words of faith, victory, health, abundance. I’m not going to magnify my problems, I’m going to magnify my God.” if you’re always sending up praise, then it’s always going to be raining back on you. driving to work, minding your own business, out of nowhere, you’ll have a good idea. what happened? you got rained on. that’s God raining down creativity, wisdom. at the mall, you find what you wanted to purchase, and it just went on sale; you got rained on. out to lunch with some friends, they introduced you to one of their contacts, you pick up a new client and your sales take off; more rain. when you have this attitude of praise, you won’t be able to outrun the good things of God.

Psalm 81:10 (AMP)
10 … Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

the reason some people never see God’s best is that their mouth is barely open. “this sounds good, but you don’t know my story; I’ve had a lot of bad breaks, I’m dealing with this illness, my mother’s depressed, I don’t see how I could ever get out of debt”; no, if you have a poor mouth, you’re going to have a poor life. why don’t you open your mouth a little bit wider? you may have had that sickness for many years; dare to say, “Lord, I believe that today’s a new day, the tide of the battle is turning, I thank You Lord that I will live out my days in good health.” maybe that addiction has been with you since high school; dare to say, “Lord, I want to thank You that no weapon formed against me will prosper, this is a new day of victory, I am free.”

maybe somebody did you wrong, walked out of a relationship;  don’t sit around in self-pity, don’t send those vapors up, dare to say, “God, You said You’d give me beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, I want to thank You that my best days are still out in front of me.” you have to open your mouth wide; that’s what allows God to do great things. don’t limit Him with little praise, little prayer, little dreams; thank Him for the greatness of His power, the fullness of your destiny, new levels. when you brag on the goodness of God, He’ll do amazing things in your life. the way we need to be with our heavenly Father is; look at that obstacle, addiction, sickness, and announce to it, “my Father can squash you.” what are you doing? sending up the right vapors, bragging on greatness of God. this is what David did:

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

when your mouth is open wide, not talking about how big the problem is, but talking about how big your God is, you better get your umbrella, that’s when God will unload a downpour of His favor. you will defeat giants that are much bigger. you will overcome obstacles that look insurmountable. what kind of vapors are you sending up? what kind of clouds are you allowing to form? “I don’t think I’ll ever get well, I’ll never break this addiction,” no, start sending up these vapors of praise. start thanking God for His goodness. don’t wait for everything to change, learn to thank Him for what’s not enough. all through the day, under your breath, this attitude of praise; if you’ll do this, you will become a rainmaker. like with Elijah, every drought is coming to an end in your life. God is about to rain down favor, promotion, healing, restoration. as you thank Him for what’s not enough, you’re about to come into more than enough, the abundance of rain.

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Finishing Grace

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it doesn’t take a lot of effort to start things: a diet, school, a family. starting is easy; finishing is what can be difficult. any young lady can have a baby, but it takes a mother to really raise that child. any two people can get married, but it takes commitment to stick with it for the long haul. anyone can have a dream, but it takes determination, perseverance, a made-up mind, to see it come to pass. the question is not will you start, but will you finish? will you finish the diet, school, raising your children? too many people start off good, they have big dreams, they’re excited about their future, but along the way they have some setbacks, it’s taking longer than they thought, somebody didn’t do what they said; over time, they get discouraged, they think, “what’s the use? it’s never going to work out,” but God is called the author and finisher of our faith. He’s not only giving you the grace to start, He’s giving you the grace to finish.

when you’re tempted to get discouraged, give up on a dream, relationship, project, you have to remind yourself, “I was not created to give up, quit, I was created to finish. you’ve got to shake off the discouragement, self-pity, what somebody said. if you will keep moving forward in faith, honoring God, you will come into a strength that you didn’t have before, a force pushing you forward; that’s finishing grace, that’s God breathing in your direction, helping you to become who He created you to be. this grace is available, but you have to tap into it; it’s not going to do us any good if we sit around in self-pity thinking about how difficult it is, what didn’t work out, “my college professor, he’s so hard, I’ll never pass his course”: no, you have the grace to finish. quit talking defeat, start talking victory; “I can do all things through Christ. I’m full of wisdom, talent, creativity. I will pass this course.”

when you do that, finishing grace will help you do what you could not do on your own. even in simple things: you start cleaning your house, 5 minutes later, “I don’t feel like doing this, I am so tired, this is so boring.” no, turn it around; “I am strong in the Lord, full of energy, healthy, this is no match for me.” if you’ll tap into this finishing grace, you’ll vacuum your house like you’re on a mission from God. maybe you’re tempted to give up on a dream, things haven’t turned out the way you planned; it was going fine at first, but then you had some obstacles, and you think, “it just wasn’t meant to be.” here’s what I’ve learned; the enemy doesn’t try to stop you from starting, he’s seen a lot of people start, that doesn’t bother him, but when you have a made-up mind, and you keep pushing forward, doing the right thing, taking new ground, when he sees you getting closer, he’ll work overtime to try to keep you from finishing.

when you have setbacks, disappointments, people coming against you, a negative medical report, don’t get discouraged; that’s a sign that you’re moving toward your finish line. he was fine when you got started, he was fine when you were way back, no big deal, but when you began to make progress, you got his attention; that’s when he threw out some obstacles and challenges. where you confused him is he thought you would give up after the first few difficulties. he thought you’d get discouraged when that friend turned on you, when you lost that client, when your child got in trouble, but instead, you kept moving forward, thanking God that He’s in control, fighting your battles, that no weapon formed against you will prosper. what were you doing? tapping into finishing grace. when you should’ve gotten weaker, you got stronger.

when you should’ve been depressed, you had a smile on your face. when you should’ve been complaining, you had a song of praise.  instead of talking about how big the problem was, you were always talking about how big your God is. when you should’ve gone under, God caused you to go over. when you didn’t see a way, He made a way. when people came against you, he fought your battles, and you came out better than you were before. you may be up against challenges right now; it’s because you’re moving forward, making progress. keep reminding yourself; He’s the author and finisher of your faith. God helped you to get started, that’s great, but there’s something more important; He’s going to help you to finish. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you.

Philippians 1:6 (WYC)
6 trusting this same thing, that he that began in you a good work, shall perform it till into the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 (CEV)
6 God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns.

one translation says:

Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
3 the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

not a defeated finish, where you barely make it, beat up, broke, no, you are coming to a flourishing finish, a finish more rewarding than you ever imagined. this is what happened to a man is the scripture, Joseph. as a teenager, God gave him a dream that one day he would rule a nation. his father, Jacob, loved him very much. everything started off great for Joseph: he had a big dream, supportive family, life was good. but along the way, things started to go wrong. his brothers, who loved him very much at one time, this was their little brother Joseph, they were always taking up for him, making sure nobody harmed him, but these same brothers turned on him; they were jealous, and they threw Joseph into a pit, and left him there to die. they eventually changed their minds, and sold him into slavery, to a man named Potiphar.

Genesis 37:27 (NIV)
27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

it looked like his dream was done: betrayed by his family, a slave in a foreign country. if that wasn’t bad enough, they put him in prison for 13 years for something that he didn’t do. surely Joseph was depressed, angry, bitter, upset; nothing had turned out right. no, Joseph understood this principle; he knew he had the grace, not only to start, but to finish what God put in his heart. he knew that the enemy wouldn’t be fighting him if he wasn’t heading toward his destiny, so he stayed in faith; he kept doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening, not working unto people, but working onto God. one day the Pharaoh, the leader of the nation, had a dream that he didn’t understand; Joseph was able to interpret the dream. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he brought him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation. Joseph’s dream came to pass. God has put something on you that will override people being against you; it will override bad breaks, injustice. you have the grace, not to just start, you have something even more powerful, the grace to finish.

when you have an attitude like Joseph, you cannot stay defeated; life may push you down, but God will push you back up. people may do you wrong, but God will be your vindicator. situations may look impossible, but God can do the impossible. when you have finishing grace, all of the forces of darkness cannot stop you. sure, you may have some setbacks, bad breaks, injustice, but don’t worry, it’s only temporary. it’s just a detour on the way to your destiny. that’s a sign that you are moving towards your finish line. the enemy doesn’t fight people that are going the wrong way; people that are off course, discouraged, distracted, bitter, angry, that’s where he wants you. he comes against people that are headed toward the fullness of their destiny, taking new ground, people like you that are coming into a flourishing finish. our attitude should be, “I have a made-up mind. I’m going to keep moving forward in spite of the bad break, loss, negative report, critics. my destiny is too great, my assignment too important, to get discouraged, distracted, bitter, I’m not going to become half, 3/4, 90%, I’m going to become all that God’s created me to be.”

when you’re tempted to get discouraged and settle, it’s because you’re close to your breakthrough, seeing the problem turn around, meeting the right person. pharaoh is about to call you, so to speak. the good break, healing, contract is on the way. you’ve got to tap into this finishing grace. you’ve come too far to stop now, you’ve believed too long, worked too hard, invested too much. it may be difficult, negative voices may be telling you, “it’s never going to work out, forget it, just settle where you are”; no, don’t believe those lies, you are close to your destiny. when the going gets tough, you have to dig your heels in and say, “I am in it to win it. I am not moved by this opposition, by what I see, by what I feel, I’m moved by what I know, and I know this;  I have the grace to finish. God began a good work in me, and He’s going to complete it. so I’m going to keep honoring God, being good to people, being my best.” every day you do that, you are passing the test; you are one day closer to coming into your finish line. the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 33:25 (ESV)
25 … as your days, so shall your strength be.

this means that your strength will always be equivalent to what you need. if you were to get a negative medical report, you’re going to have the strength to deal with it. you’re not going to fall apart, “I can’t believe this is happening,” no, your strength will always match what you’re up against.

Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

in the difficulties of life, if you will get quiet, turn off the negative voices, you will feel a peace that passes understanding. you should be falling apart, but there’s grace for every season. sometimes in life, we think, “how am I going to make it up that steep hill? I’ve gotten this far, but how am I going to deal with this illness, raise this difficult child, I went through a loss, I don’t think I can go on.” no, God has some strength in reserve for you. when you hit a tough time, don’t worry, there are two more cylinders about to kick in, a strength you haven’t tapped into; you’re going to feel a force pushing you forward, taking you where you could not go on your own. that’s finishing grace. the closer you get to your destiny, the tougher the battles become. the higher you go up the mountain, the more God promotes you, the steeper the hill is: the critics will come out of the woodwork, people may not celebrate you, unexpected challenges, a health issue, a business slows down, you lose a loved one. it’s easy to think, “I was doing so good, if I just wouldn’t have had this bad break, now I’ve got this steep hill to go up.”

no, that challenge is a sign that you are close to your destiny. the same God that gave you a place to start is the same God that’s going to help you finish. He knows exactly where your path is leading. nothing you’re facing is a surprise to Him. He knows every hill, disappointment, setback. He said that His grace is sufficient. you will never come to a hill where you don’t have the strength to climb it. you may face some challenges, where you think, “I don’t know how I’m going to make it up this”; the reason you think that way is that you haven’t needed that extra strength yet. you have not felt the full force of finishing grace. when it kicks in, it’s going to propel you forward; you’re going to climb mountains that you thought were way too steep. you’re going to overcome obstacles that look insurmountable, accomplish dreams that you thought were impossible. how could you do this? finishing grace. you tapped into strength in reserve.

this is what the apostle Paul did in the scripture. he faced some huge hills; it didn’t look like he could fulfill his destiny. he was doing the right thing, sharing the good news, helping other people, when he was arrested and put in prison. the closer he got to his destiny, the more obstacles he faced. he was alone, in a dungeon, on death row. it looked like God had forgotten about him, but Paul wasn’t defeated, depressed, feeling sorry for himself; even though he was in chains, they couldn’t stop what God wanted him to do. since Paul couldn’t go out and speak publicly, he thought, “no problem, I’ll start writing.” he wrote book after book: here’s a letter to the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Romans, the Corinthians. he wrote over half of the New Testament, much of it from a prison cell. they thought they were stopping him, but they were doing just the opposite, causing his voice to become amplified. here we are, some 2000 years later, still feeling Paul’s influence. what they meant for harm, God used for good. people may try to stop you, but finishing grace will get you to where you’re supposed to be. they may push you down, but finishing grace will lift you right back up.

they may try to discredit, belittle, leave you out; don’t get upset, they are a part of the plan to get you to your destiny. God will use them to propel you forward. as long as you stay in faith, and keep honoring God, you will accomplish your assignment. He is the author and finisher of your faith. quit focusing on who’s against you, how steep the hill is, how impossible it looks; God has the final say. He brought Joseph out of prison, Paul stayed in prison, but they both fulfilled their destinies. if God doesn’t turn it around the way you thought, He may do like he did with Paul, and cause you to have great influence right in the midst of your enemies. in the midst of those difficulties, you can shine, be a bright light, have God’s favor. no person can stand against our God. no bad break can keep you from your destiny. God has given you finishing grace; He’s going to get you to where you’re supposed to be. when Paul came to the end of his life, he said:

2 Timothy 4:7 (KJV)
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course

one place says:

Acts 20:24 (AMP)
24 But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy

notice, he didn’t finish defeated, depressed, sour, he finished with a smile on his face, a spring in his step, a song in his heart. that’s what it means to have a flourishing finish. we all have things come against us. it’s easy to lose our passion and drag through life, discouraged, negative, bitter, but there is no victory if you finish your course that way. you have to make up your mind; “I’m not only going to finish my course, I’m going to finish it with joy, a good attitude, not complaining, but with a song of praise, not thinking about what I don’t have, but thanking God for what I do have, not looking at what’s wrong in my life, but thanking God for what’s right in my life.” when you tap into finishing grace, you won’t drag through the day, you’ll enjoy the day. in the race of life, if you’re going to finish your course with joy, you’ve got to guard your fire, you can’t let your flame go out. too many people have lost their passion. at one time, they were passionate about their dreams, but they had some setbacks, and now they’ve lost their zeal. if that’s you, remember, God is not done with you; you have not seen your best days. you’ve got to shake off the blahs, the discouragement; there is a flame that is still alive on the inside of you. the scripture talks about:

2 Timothy 1:6 (NIV)
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God

it’s not enough to just finish; you’ve got to finish your course with your fire still burning. the scripture talks about how the saints of old died in faith:

Hebrews 11:4-28 (NIV)
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death…
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country…
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died…
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice…
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter… 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

we’re all going to die one day. you have to make a decision; are you going to die in faith, or are you going to die negative, bitter, complaining, “I can’t believe this happened.” make up your mind that you’re going to die full of joy, with your fire still burning. God didn’t breathe his life into you, crown you with favor, put seeds of greatness on the inside, to start the race; He sent you to finish it. The scripture talks about:

Ecclesiastes 9:11 (NIV)
11 … The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
 or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.

you don’t have to finish first, you’re not competing with anybody else, just finish your course. you weren’t created to give up, to quit; we can all find a reason to drop out of the race, some kind of excuse, but you have to dig your heels in and say, “I am determined to finish my course.”  if you will tap into this finishing grace, you’ll have a strength that you didn’t have, you will finish your course with joy, complete your assignment, and become everything God created you to be.

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We’ve all seen some evildoers get what they deserve, and we understand that because we’re not seeing every detail of their lives that others are getting what they deserve and we don’t see it, and of course all evildoers suffer the ultimate penalty, disconnection from God…  but why would God choose to NOT directly punish an evildoer?  Here’s one reason:

Romans 2:4 TLB 

4 … Can’t you see that He has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance

God wants to redeem us rather than punish us, which is probably lucky for most people.

It’s natural for us to want evildoers to suffer for what they’ve done, but we should pray for them instead;  forgiveness and redemption are what pleases God, not revenge.  Yes, sometimes this is hard…  but it is RIGHT.

 

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Prepared blessings

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when God laid out the plan for your life, He lined up the right people, the right breaks, the right opportunities. He has blessings that have your name on them: there is promotion, contracts, a business, a spouse. He’s already destined them to be yours. if you will stay in faith, and keep honoring God, one day you will come into what already belongs to you; it’s a prepared blessing. this is what happened way back with Adam and Eve. in the book of Genesis, it talks about how in the first five days God created the heavens, the Earth, the sky, the land, the water. when He finished the big things, He didn’t stop there; He started on the small things, the details. God planted a garden; He put beautiful flowers in it, luscious fruits.  He designed these rivers to flow through it, put precious treasures in the ground, onyx, gold, silver; He went to great lengths to make sure it was exactly like He wanted it, down to the smallest details. when He got finished with it, He put the last touches on this magnificent garden, the scripture says He took Adam, who He had just breathed life into, and put him in the garden.

Genesis 2:8 (NIV)
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.

notice, Adam came into a prepared blessing, something that God had already finished for him. he didn’t get there and have to work night and day, constantly struggle, think, “how am I going to survive?” there were fruit trees all around, crystal-clear streams flowing right before him, provision everywhere he looked. he didn’t have to live worried, thinking, “well, I’ve got food and water, but how am I going to provide for my family, make a living?” there were resources at his disposal; onyx, gold, silver, everything he needed to live a victorious, abundant life was right there in the garden. God had put it there specifically prepared for him. in the same way, God has some prepared blessings in store for you. He’s working behind-the-scenes, arranging things in your favor, getting it all perfectly in place, and at the right time He’s going to bring you into your garden, into what He’s already finished. you couldn’t make it happen on your own. you didn’t deserve it, you didn’t earn it, it’s just the goodness of God bringing you into a prepared blessing. God controls the universe; He knows how to bring you into your garden.

“I’ve been single so long, I don’t think I’ll ever meet the right person”; no, God has a husband, a wife, that has your name on them. God’s getting it all prepared, and at the right time, God will say, “okay, I’m done; here’s what I’ve been working on.” you’ll meet the person of your dreams. you’ll say, “God, this was worth waiting for. You outdid Yourself.” don’t get discouraged. you may not see anything happening, but God is working, getting your garden prepared; when it’s finished, He’s going to bring you into it. what God has in store for you will boggle your mind. right now, God is getting your garden prepared, putting in the right provision, lining up the right people, and when it’s fully in bloom, when God gets it exactly like He wants it, He’s going to bring you into it. suddenly, you’ll be promoted, suddenly you get the contract, suddenly your health improves, suddenly the problem turns around. when you come into your garden, it’s going to be bigger, better, more rewarding than you ever imagined. this is what God said:

Deuteronomy 8:7-9 (NASB)
7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything

notice, in the garden God has prepared for you, there is no shortage: no shortage of resources, no shortage of opportunities, no shortage of creativity, friendships, joy and peace. in your garden, you will not lack any good thing. when you’re tempted to get down, to look at what you don’t have, no, turn it around; “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re bringing me into my garden, a land of no shortage, a land where my gifts and talents will come out to the full, a good land where I will fulfill my destiny, a good land where I’ll live healthy, happy and whole, a good land where my whole house will honor You.” God’s dream for your life is to bring you into a garden of abundance, filled with favor, with opportunity, with good health, with great relationships. you may not be there yet, but don’t worry; your garden is on the way. David said:

Psalm 31:19 (TLB)
19 … you have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence you.

there are businesses stored up for you that God’s about to release. there is promotion stored up that has your name on it, good health stored up, a new the house stored up, a spouse stored up. because you love the Lord, God is going to bring you into what He’s already prepared. you’ve honored God, you’ve been faithful, now you’re not going to have to go find the blessings; the blessings are going to find you. something is looking for you right now. not defeat, lack, bad breaks; favor is looking for you, contracts are looking for you, good health is looking for you. you’re going to come into your garden, a prepared blessing, something like you’ve never seen. if you could see what God has stored up for you, the people you’re going to meet, the places you’re going to go, the good breaks that are going to find you, you would be amazed; it’s going to be the surpassing greatness of God’s favor. too often, we make excuses, we come up with reasons why this is not going to happen for us; “that sounds good, but I don’t have the training, talent, connections, I come from the wrong family, the wrong nationality, I’m too short, I’ll never come into my garden.”

no, God is not limited by your circumstances, by your family, by who’s against you; when God breathed His life into you, He put a blessing on you that overrides anything that comes against you. the blessings God has stored up for you cannot be stopped by people, bad breaks, injustice; God has the final say. the garden He has prepared for you, He has every intention of bringing you into. we see David in the scripture as a powerful king, a great leader, one of the heroes of faith, but David wasn’t raised in a wealthy family, an influential family, he wasn’t trained to take the throne, just the opposite; he came from a very poor family. he was the eighth son of a man named Jesse. his brothers were involved in the military, they had somewhat significant positions; David’s job was to take care of his father’s sheep.

he was looked down on, seen as secondary; his family thought, “that’s just David, let’s stick him out in the shepherd’s fields, he’s never going to amount to much.” in the natural, it didn’t look like David had much of a future; he came from a low-income family, no education, his own father didn’t believe in him. but just because people write you off doesn’t mean God writes you off. circumstances may look like you’re stuck, too bad, you’ll never rise higher, but that doesn’t change what God has prepared for you. the blessing God put on you will override any curse. the blessing will make up for what you didn’t get, who was against you, for any disadvantage. what God has prepared is not affected by people or circumstances; His blessing will cause you to step into the fullness of your destiny. one day the prophet Samuel came to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel:

1 Samuel 16:3-13 (NIV)
3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
4 Samuel did what the Lord said. … Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”
13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.

(here is some of the classic commentary about this story:

“b. There remains the youngest: This shows the low regard David had among his own family. First, his father didn’t even mention him by name. Second, he wasn’t even invited to the sacrificial feast. Third, he was only called to come because Samuel insisted on it.

i. “So small was David in his father’s esteem that it wasn’t considered necessary to include him in the family when the prophet of God called them to sacrifice.” (Redpath)

ii. When we consider that David was the youngest of eight sons, we aren’t surprised at the low regard he had in his own family. It wasn’t because David’s character or conduct was unworthy, it was simply because he was the youngest of eight sons.

iii. God often chooses unlikely people to do His work, so that all know the work is God’s work, not man’s work. He wants to work in a way so that people regard His servants as they regarded Samson: they wondered at the secret of his strength (Judges 16:5).

iv. “You may not be intellectual or well thought of in your family circle; you may be despised by others for your faith in Christ. Perhaps you had only a little share in the love of your parents, as David did. But remember that those who are rejected of men often become beloved of the Lord.” (Redpath)”

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0916.htm)

you don’t have to worry about somebody else getting your blessing; the oil that’s been prepared for you will not flow to anyone else. when it’s your time to be blessed, don’t worry, nobody can take your blessing. “my coworker got the promotion I deserved; I worked harder, but my supervisor overlooked me”; no, if you didn’t get it, it wasn’t supposed to be yours. your oil will not flow for anyone else. the blessing that belongs to you will be your blessing; nobody can take it. what’s destined to be yours, nobody else can have. that house that has your name on it, you’re supposed to have it, the oil is not going to flow for someone else. that promotion, that contract, that husband, they have your name on them exclusively. that’s why you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to get all upset, God’s got you covered; nobody is going to get what belongs to you. when you see somebody being blessed, they get a big contract, a baby, move into a new house, don’t get jealous, “I wish that happened for me, I go to church more than they did,” no, that doesn’t have your name on it; if it was supposed to be yours, the oil would not have flowed. you can be happy for them, knowing that what God has for you will be better because it’s prepared specifically for you.

if God were to give you what shouldn’t have been yours, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden; you’re not anointed for it, it’s not right for you. God has the right people lined up for you, the right promotion, husband, gifts, breaks. nobody can take what’s yours; your oil is not going to flow to someone else. sometimes, when we see a person blessed, they get a big promotion, we think for some reason that them being blessed is going to stop God from doing something good to us, like they’re using up all of the God’s favor, though He has an unlimited supply. no, He did it for them, He can do it for you. maybe you’re single, you’ve been believing to meet the right person for a long time, and one of your good friends just got married; it’d be easy to be jealous, envious, think, “that’s not fair.” no, turn it around; “God, You did it for them, I know You can do it for me. that person that has my name on it, they’re coming in.” you don’t have to covet what somebody else has. don’t covet their spouse, covet their gifts, covet their promotion, or anything they have; God has blessings specifically prepared for you. our prayer should be, “God, give me the blessings You have prepared, not for my neighbor, my cousin, my coworker, but God, bring me what you have prepared for me. in the scripture:

1 Kings 17:2-4 (NIRV)
2 Then a message from the Lord came to Elijah. It said, 3 “Leave this place. Go east and hide in the Kerith Valley. It is east of the Jordan River. 4 You will drink water from the brook. I have ordered some ravens to feed you there.” 5 So Elijah did what the Lord had told him to do. He went to the Kerith Valley. It was east of the Jordan River. He stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning. They also brought him bread and meat in the evening. He drank water from the brook.

he had his provision, a prepared a blessing. here’s the key; Elijah didn’t have to try to find the ravens, he just had to get to where God wanted him to be, and the ravens found him. in the same way, there is a place where God has commanded you to be blessed; the ravens are already there, your provision, favor, abundance. the real question today is, will you do what’s required to get to your place of blessing? Elijah could have said, ” God, I don’t want to leave, I’m comfortable, I like it here, my friends are here,” but if he would’ve stayed, he would’ve missed where he was commanded to be blessed. and sure, he could’ve survived, he could’ve endured, but if you want to see God’s best, you’ve got to be willing to do what God’s asking you to do. maybe down deep you know you’re supposed to get away from some friends that are dragging you down, a bad influence causing you to compromise; as long as you stay there, you’re going to miss your prepared blessing.

“if I make these changes, I won’t have any friends, I’ll be lonely”; you may be lonely for a season, but God will always bring you new friends, plus He will bring you better friends. it may be difficult for a period of time, but before long you will come into that commanded blessing, where the ravens are, greater opportunities, greater fulfillment, greater relationships. it may not be leaving a friend or moving physically, it may just be in your mind; you need to leave the negative thoughts, leave the worry, leave the fear, leave the doubt, anger and resentment. God has a place of abundance, but you’ve got to be willing to leave what He’s asking you to leave. or perhaps it could be for you; you need to leave your comfort zone and take a step of faith. you can’t reach your highest potential if you play it safe all of the time. is there something God’s asking you to leave? God likes to do new things:

1 Kings 17:7-10 (NIV)
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath.

his place of blessing changed. he could’ve thought, “I know God sent me to this brook, these ravens have fed me for years, I am not leaving”; he would’ve missed the new thing God wanted to do. your place of blessing can change. don’t hold onto the old when you know God is leading you somewhere new. be willing to take a step of faith; get out of that comfort zone. don’t stay stuck at a position where you haven’t grown in years and years; God has some greater things in front of you, prepared blessings, but you’ve got to be willing to step into it. this is what a lady did in the scripture:

Ruth 1:3-16 (NIV)
3 Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth… 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband… 8 Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home.. they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters… Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her… 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Ruth knew deep down that she was supposed to go with Naomi and help take care of her; Naomi was an older woman. so Ruth moved to Naomi’s home town; they lived together.

Ruth 2:2-16 (NIV)
2 And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So she went out, entered a field and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she was working in a field belonging to Boaz, who was from the clan of Elimelek… 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

now when she went out, the wheat was already there waiting for her; a prepared blessing. later, that owner ended up marrying Ruth:

Ruth 4:13 (NIV)
13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife

now, Ruth didn’t have to work in the field anymore; she owned the field. when you do what God asks you to do, you move when He asks you to move, you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, when you get to your place of blessing, God will speak to people to be good to you that have never even met you. He will command his ravens to feed you. in other words, good breaks will find you, provision, divine connections, supply; when you’re in that place where you’re commanded to be blessed, you won’t be able to outrun the good things of God. there is a garden that God has prepared specifically for you. just like with Adam, He’s put resources in it, provision, opportunity, the right friends. you need to get ready; God’s about to bring you into what He’s already finished for you. it has your name on it, it’s going to be bigger, better, more rewarding than you ever imagined. stay in faith. keep doing what God’s asking you to do. be willing to leave when He asks you to leave. if you’ll do this, you’re coming into your garden; favor that you didn’t deserve, good breaks that you didn’t earn, provision, abundance, healing and restoration; the fullness of your destiny.

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Mercy vs grace

I saw an essay about the difference between the 2, and thought it might be a good idea to touch on it here:

Mercy is when we don’t get what we do deserve…  in other words when God withholds punishment when we have behaved badly.

Grace is when we do get what we don’t deserve…  in other words unmerited favor and blessings.

We are fortunate that God is so generous with both of these things…  especially to those of us who love Him best.

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At a time when I was undergoing a great deal of stress, God brought me some wonderful people to comfort me and lift me up;  3 young Moslem men…  not American Moslems, either, but men in Arab countries.  I’m American, Christian, female, and twice their age, yet they have invested an astonishing amount of time and effort into supporting me, just from the depth of their caring and compassionate natures.  We have also spent hours talking about God;  it has been one of the most powerful experiences of my life.  Their love, their passion, for God is inspirational and deeply moving.  We have shared many things with each other, and they have educated me and shown me just how much we have in common.  The most powerful thing they shared is something that, with a few word changes, could be something that I would say about God:

“Allah says, ‘I am as my servant expects Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he thinks of Me, I think of him. If he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. When he comes closer to Me by a handspan, I come closer to him an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer by a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him. If my servant comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”

I wept the first time I read it.  My first experience with interfaith has been an unimaginable success, in addition to the extensive emotional benefits.  I am so blessed!!

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