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Archive for December, 2014

Farewell to 2014

2014 was a year of wonderful miracles and major progress for me…  until the end of August, when the last bit of solid ground that I was building my recovery on didn’t so much crumble as explode.  I didn’t go into it then, and I won’t go into it now;  the series of devastating losses that I’ve endured over the past 4 years has exhausted me, and I’m sure that long-time readers long since got tired of hearing about it all.  I’d be grateful for any prayers you’d like to say for me towards getting my life rebuilt;  it doesn’t matter that you don’t know the specifics, God will know what you’re referring to.

Throughout the nightmare days of the last 4 months, my faith has never wavered, and God has provided miracles to keep me encouraged;  I know that His hand is on the wheel and He will bring me out of this with double what I had before:

Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)
12 Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
    today I declare that I will restore to you double.  

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)
7 Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

I had really hoped that my biggest issue, my continued separation from people I care about, would be resolved in 2014;  sadly, it was not.  Whenever God intends for them to return to me will be the right time, by definition…  I’m standing in faith for 2015 to be the year they come back.

There WERE good things this year, too, and it is those I want to finish up with.

No matter what has been going on, I have not missed a single day of Bible study;  I have been through the entire Bible THREE times this year.  Next year, I’ll read it FOUR times.  I hope that by this time next year I’ll know scripture well enough to apply to seminary.

I had big gains in both making new friends and the return of some that had faded away.

This blog took a big jump in the # of hits it gets again this year:

2010:  76

2011:  525

2012:  7083

2013:  61,189

2014:  108,274

I still haven’t done anything to promote the blog, so only God could have caused it.  At the end of 2012, I had a single-digit # of followers, at the end of 2013, I had 75, and asked God for something extravagant, *100* new followers for 2014…  and as you can see He came through, because I’m up to 177 followers!!  (Thanks to all of you for joining me!!)  For 2015, I’m asking for 200 new followers and 200,000 hits.

And God gave me many miracles to show that He is with me even in the dark times…  carrying me, as in the Footprints in the Sand “poem.”

2015 is the year that my radical faith will be rewarded with radical blessings.  God tore down my old life, and a new and better life starts…  NOW!!

Isaiah 43:18 (CJB)
18 “Stop dwelling on past events
and brooding over times gone by

Philippians 3:13 (NLT)
13 … I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead

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Have you ever wondered why they always list Joseph’s genealogy when they talk about Jesus’ lineage, when they are NOT biological relatives?  I have.  Of course everything surrounding Jesus is important, but why make an issue that this is part of HIS background when it’s NOT, since Joseph is not his father?  This is where an aspect of Jewish law at that time comes into play:

“the line of Mary (the blood lineage of Jesus – Luke 3:27) and Joseph (the legal lineage of Jesus through Joseph – Matthew 1:12).

i. God used these two lines of ancestry for Jesus because He placed a curse on the seed of Jechoniah (also known as Coniah or Jehoiachin) as recorded in Jeremiah 22:30. That line was royal line of David, so if the Messiah was to qualify for the throne of David (Luke 1:31-33), he had to be of the legal line of David, yet not of his seed.”

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/3702.htm

Isn’t that brilliant?!!  People in those days might have wondered how the messiah could ever come, since only David’s descendants could qualify, but they were all under the curse and so none of them could qualify.  But God always has a way, even when we don’t see a way!!  Because Joseph was married to Mary, Jesus was his son under Jewish law, and thus qualified to inherit the throne of David.  God is amazing!!

Merry Christmas to all of you!!  🙂

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(NB:  I’m not talking about resting the body after laboring, although this also appears in the Bible.)

Huh? REST? Why would God want to give us that? Why should we even care?

Rest means things like peace of mind, the ability to really relax, sleeping well at night, and feeling free of cares, stress, worries and anxieties. Those benefits aren’t flashy, but they are crucial to getting the most out of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a mansion, or on vacation in an island paradise, or covered in jewels, or surrounded by fabulous people, or experiencing amazing success, if you can’t REST, if you’re plagued by worries, drained by stress, etc, you will find far less pleasure in these things… maybe none at all. We have certainly had endless examples of wealthy and privileged people who are miserable, right? Rest, like health, is one of those things that is the foundation for everything else in life… and health is strongly affected by whether or not we have rest, so rest is perhaps the most basic need of all. There are people with terrible illnesses and disabilities that still have a good quality of life because they have inner peace; if you lack rest, you can be in perfect health and you won’t be happy.

Given the enormous importance of rest, we can be sure that this is something that God wants to give us. But how many of us ever ask for it? Many of our requests to Him involve glamorous careers, finding the perfect mate, or having lots of great friends… even though none of these things is mentioned in the Bible anywhere. Money is another top request, and although there are a few mentions of God wanting to make us prosperous, it’s a minor thing, scripturally speaking. Rest, however, is mentioned, and promised, many times in the Bible. One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is an image of rest:

Psalm 23:2 (KJV)
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace:

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
6 … And he will be called… Prince of Peace.

and peace is closely connected to rest. And although of course it also often refers to the absence of war, peace appears many times in the Bible as one of God’s gifts where it’s clear that it means inner peace. But rest is also specifically referred to over and over. I don’t pretend to have a complete list, but look at how this theme repeats:

Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation

Isaiah 32:18 (NLT)
18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.

Exodus 33:14 (NIV)
14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Job 34:29 (YLT)
29 And He giveth rest

2 Samuel 7:11 (NLT)
11 … I will give you rest from all your enemies

Joshua 1:13 (HCSB)
13 “Remember what Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you when he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest

1 Kings 5:4 (ESV)
4 But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side. There is neither adversary nor misfortune.

1 Kings 8:56 (NIV)
56 “Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised.

Jeremiah 6:16 (NIRV)
16 … Ask for the good path, and walk on it. Then your hearts will find rest in me

Zephaniah 3:17 (NCV)
3 … You will REST in his love…

Psalm 37:7 (NKJV)
7  REST in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him

Psalm 62:1 (NIV 1984)
My soul finds REST in God alone; my salvation comes from him

Psalm 62:5 (NIV 1984)
Find REST, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 116:7 (NKJV)
7 Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you

Psalm 127:2 (NLT)
2 … God gives rest to his loved ones

Hebrews 4:3 (NKJV)
3 For we who have believed do enter that REST

And while I was working on this post, this verse was used in the movie I was watching (so I guess God approves this post!!):

Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

And, if you’re wicked, look what you miss out on:

Isaiah 57:20 (NIV)
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
    which cannot rest

It’s all about REST.  God wants to give it to you;  ask Him, and trust in Him, and He’ll bless you with it.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

there are times in life when the facts are not our friends. the facts will say, “you can’t get well, you saw the medical report, “ or, “you can’t accomplish your dreams, you don’t have the training, the education, you don’t know the right people,” “you’ll never break that addiction, you’ve had it too long.” if you just focus on the facts, they’ll keep you from your destiny. the facts can talk you out of your dreams. the facts can convince you to settle for mediocrity.  but God is bigger than the facts. you may not see a way in the natural, but He’s a supernatural God; He can do what medicine cannot do. He can promote you without the training, He can make rivers in a desert; He’s not limited by the laws of nature, science, finance.

don’t let the facts fool you; when you believe, all things are possible. when you’re believing for a problem to turn around, believing for a child to get on the right path, believing to get out of debt, in your heart you’ll hear a voice saying, “it’s going to happen; God can make a way.  favor, healing is coming.” you’ll feel faith rising up. but in your mind, you’ll hear another voice saying, “just give me the facts. I don’t want to hear all that faith stuff. I don’t want to know what you’re believing for, what you’re hoping will happen; all I want are the facts.” in other words, what does the medical report say? how much do you have in the account? where is your child right now? the real battle is taking place in our minds.  the scripture says:

Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding

there are times, take this in the right sense, when you have to turn your mind off.  your mind will tell you all the reasons why it’s not going to happen. if you stay focused on the facts, the details, what the experts have said, before long you’ll talk yourself out of it. I’m all for having common sense, being wise, but sometimes there is no logical solution, no way in the natural; this is when faith kicks in. “God, I believe You’re bigger than these facts. I don’t see a way, but I know You can still make a way.” but too often, we only look at things from a natural, logical point of view; “this is my financial statement, these are the numbers, there’s nothing to debate about this. this is what the medical report says, these are the grades my child is making in school right now.” that’s all true in the natural, but we serve a supernatural God. He is not limited by the facts; He controls the whole universe. He spoke worlds into existence, flung stars into space.

the facts may tell you that you’ll never get out of debt, but one touch of God’s favor can put you into overflow. the facts will say, “you can’t accomplish your dreams, it’s been too long, you’re too far behind”; one touch of God’s favor can put you 50 years down the road. the facts may tell you that you’ll never get well, you’ll always have that addiction, always have that depression; one touch of God’s favor can set you instantly free. one touch of God’s favor can override the facts. God can override what the medical report says, what people are telling you you can’t do. He can override what you think you’re lacking. don’t let the facts keep you from your destiny; choose faith, dare to believe. God did not put you here on planet Earth to be average, to be addicted, to be overcome, to barely get by; He put you here to be victorious, free, to leave your mark on this generation.

the facts may say otherwise, but don’t let that fool you; God is not limited by the facts. when you believe, you tap into the most powerful force in the universe. God’s not limited by our income, position, background, circumstances; He has all power. He can get us to where He wants us to be. when you take the limits off of God, He’ll amaze you with His goodness; don’t let the facts talk you out of God’s best. you’ve thought long enough about all the reasons why you can’t live in a nice house, why your children will never honor God, why you won’t break that addiction, no, the facts may be against you, but God is for you.

His power is greater than any force that’s trying to hold you back. His favor can thrust you to a new level. His goodness can turn your children around. His mercy can set you free from every addiction. His love can restore, rebuild, set you on a new path, give you a new beginning. shake off the doubt, negative voices; if God be for you, who dare be against you? He wouldn’t have put that dream in your heart if He wasn’t already planning on bringing it to pass.  you don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen. it may not work on paper. the odds may be against you. that’s ok; that’s not your job.  your job is to believe: “God, the medical report says I’m not going to get well, but You said with long life You would satisfy me. God, my children aren’t doing right, but You said:

Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)
15 … But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

the facts say that I’ll never get out of debt, but God, You said that I will lend and not borrow. I am the head and not the tail.” if you’re going to see God’s best, you’ve got to choose faith in spite of the facts. when God laid out the plan for your life, He didn’t go check to make sure all the facts would line up so it would happen; the facts don’t limit Him. God is not moved by the facts. He has ways to get you to your destiny that you’ve never thought of. one good break, phone call, idea, divine connection can catapult you into a new level of your destiny. when you believe, it activates God’s power. you have to take the limits off of God; dare to believe. sometimes, the facts will say, “it’s been too long, the dream is never going to come to pass, the problem’s not going to turn around, it’s too late.” this is what happened with Jesus:

Mark 5:22-24 (CEV)
22 The person in charge of the Jewish meeting place was also there. His name was Jairus, and when he saw Jesus, he went over to him. He knelt at Jesus’ feet 23 and started begging him for help. He said, “My daughter is about to die! Please come and touch her, so she will get well and live.” 24 Jesus went with Jairus

but he kept getting delayed along the way, again and again. finally:

Mark 5:35-46 (AMP)
35 While He was still speaking, there came some from the ruler’s house, who said [to Jairus], Your daughter has died. Why bother and distress the Teacher any further?
36 Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.

he heard the facts, got the official report; she’s dead. Jesus could’ve gotten discouraged, and thought, “oh man, I blew it, I should’ve gotten there sooner.” no, he simply ignored the negative report. if you’re going to stay in faith, you can’t go through the day thinking about all the odds that are against you, how you’ll never get well, how big your obstacles are; no, the facts may not look good, but you’ve got to do like Jesus and choose to ignore them. choose to not dwell on them. choose to stay in faith. Jesus went to the house:

Mark 5:40-42 (NIV)
40 … he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around

his attitude was; “the facts don’t stop me; I’m bigger than the facts. when I speak, waves obey me. when I speak, blind eyes open, the dead come back to life.” I wonder how many situations we’d see turn around, how many dreams we’d see come to pass, if we would simply start ignoring the negative reports. the facts may be against you; that’s one report, but God always has another report. the medical situation may say you’ll never get well, but God says, “I’m restoring health back unto you. I will heal you of your wounds.” here’s the big question: whose report are you going to believe, faith or fact? sometimes, fact is easier because you can see it, it makes sense, it’s right before you, but the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

the facts may say, “you’re hurt, lonely, you’ve been through a breakup; nothing good is in your future.” you’ve heard that long enough, but there’s another report that says: God has beauty for your ashes, joy for your mourning. what was meant for your harm, He’s going to use to your advantage.  why don’t you choose to believe that report? the facts can tell you, “you’re not going to get out of debt until you’re 167 years old.” you calculated it, you’ve run all the numbers. you’ve got the facts, but faith says: God’s blessings are chasing down, your cup will run over, whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of these negative reports. it may not have been from other people, but your own thinking, saying things like, “you’ve reached your limits. you’re not that talented, you’re not attractive, you’re not smart enough.” start ignoring those lies. don’t give them the time of day. you wouldn’t be alive unless God had something amazing in your future. He has equipped you, empowered you, and anointed you.  you have everything you need to fulfill your destiny. now sometimes the facts say otherwise. but Paul said:

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
18 … what is seen is temporary

one translation says, “they are subject to change.” your finances may be low today; the good news is, they are subject to change. you may be lonely, but that’s subject to change; God has a divine connection, the right person is coming your way. or you may have had that addiction for 20 years, but don’t believe that lie that that’s the way it’s always going to be. that may be the way that it’s been, but that’s not the end of your story; it’s subject to change. in a split second, God can set you free. the key is, don’t let it become permanent in your thinking; don’t let the facts convince you that that’s the way it’s always going to be. no, today is a new day. God is saying; “the things you’ve been praying about, the things you’ve been believing for, are about to come to pass. you’re about to see the breakthroughs: healing, favor, promotion, victory is headed your way. in the scripture, the prophet Elijah:

1 Kings 17:10-12 (NIV)
10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

the facts said that she was done: in a great famine, no food, no income, all the odds were against her.

1 Kings 17:13 (NIV)
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.

I’m sure she thought, “I’m not about to give you my last meal.” it seemed like he was being selfish, but Elijah knew what he was doing; it’s the principle, when you put God first, He’ll take care of you. all of her logic, reasoning, said, “ don’t make him something when you’re starving to death.” but in spite of what her mind told her, she chose to do it. she cooked the last bit of flour, the last little bit of oil, and made him some bread; she and her son ate what was left over. the next day, she went to those containers, expecting them to be empty, but:

1 Kings 17:14-16 (NIV)
14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

God supernaturally multiplied it. what’s interesting is, God didn’t stop the famine; the conditions around her were just the same. God simply blessed her in the midst of the famine. sometimes we think that the economy has to improve for us to do better, “my job has to increase, and my company, and then I can rise higher”; no, God can bless you right in the middle of the famine. He can bless you in spite of what’s going on around you. you can be in a dysfunctional situation: at work, people that don’t like you, trying to hold you down, the facts say, “too bad, just learn to live it.” no, that doesn’t stop God. when it’s His time to promote you, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you down.  how about at home, a situation; parents that don’t support you, a child that’s not doing right, you’re in a bad neighborhood. the facts say that you’re stuck, good luck, just endure it; no, God can reach down in the middle of that dysfunction, in the middle of the chaos, and say, “I’m going to promote you, increase you, take you where you’ve never dreamed.”

when God blesses you in the midst of the famine, then everyone around you will know that His favor is on your life. the conditions don’t have to be just right; you just have to be right. if you’ll honor God, take the limits off of Him, He’ll prosper you even in a desert. He’ll make you an example of His goodness. the facts may say that you’ll never get out of that environment, you’ll never rise out of that rut, that struggle, that lack is all around you, you’re surrounded by mediocrity; no, the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. He doesn’t have to change the whole environment; you need to get ready, God’s going to bless you in spite of your circumstances. He’s going to promote you right in the middle of the famine. God controls the environment. He’s not limited by what somebody has told you, He’s not limited by what the experts have said, with all due respect; God has the final say. the facts don’t have to line up for Him to bless you.  you don’t have to be the smartest, the most talented, the strongest; what’s more important than all of that is God’s blessing on your life.  why don’t you take the limits off of Him? don’t let the facts talk you out of what God put in your heart.

one time in the Old Testament, the Israelites were surrounded by a major army. this army had cut off their food supply; they were waiting for them to starve to death, then they were going to go take the land. the prophet Elijah showed up:

2 Kings 7:1-2 (NLT)
7 Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver,[a] and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.[b]”
2 The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”

the problem with the king’s assistant is that he was only looking at it in the natural. he started checking all the facts: we’re surrounded, we’re outnumbered, we have no food, we’re starving, we’re weak. in other words, he checked the stock report, looked at his financial statement, watched the nightly news, came to the conclusion, “there’s no way. it’s never going to happen.” when he told Elisha that he thought it was impossible:

2 Kings 7:2 (NLT)
2 … But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!”

later that day:

2 Kings 7:3-7 (NLT)
3 Now there were four men with leprosy sitting at the entrance of the city gates… 5 So at twilight they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! 6 For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching. “The king of Israel has hired the Hittites and Egyptians to attack us!” they cried to one another. 7 So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives… 10 So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened… 17 The king appointed his officer to control the traffic at the gate, but he was knocked down and trampled to death as the people rushed out.

everyone else could buy bread for one penny a loaf, but not him; it happened just like Elisha said.  when God puts a promise in your heart, you may not see how it can happen; all the facts may say it’s impossible. but do yourself a favor; don’t tell God all the reasons why you don’t believe, why you can’t get well, that will keep it from happening for you. you have to turn your mind off. He’s a supernatural God. He’s not limited by your circumstances; He’s limited by what you believe. the odds may be against you today, but don’t ever forget, the most high God is for you. the facts don’t stop Him, the economy doesn’t stop Him, a medical report doesn’t stop Him. He has all power. if you’ll start choosing faith in spite of the facts, new doors are going to open, dreams are going to come to pass, problems are going to turn around.  favor, healing, breakthroughs, abundance, victory is coming your way.

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Releasing control

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to get so focused on our goals, dreams, that we’re not going to be happy until it happens. we put God in a box; we tell Him what we want, when we want it, how to do it, who to use. we’ve got it all figured out. but the scripture says:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

if you’re only going to be happy if it happens your way, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. God can see the big picture for our lives; He knows what’s around every curve, He can see the detours, dead ends, shortcuts, things that we cannot see. the better approach is to say, “God, this is what I want, this is what I’m believing for, but God, You know what’s best for me; I don’t have to have it my way, God I trust You.” when you release control, it takes the pressure off; life gets so much more free. you’re not always fighting, trying to make your plans work out. sometimes, we’re so focused on what we want that it’s out of balance; anything you have to have in order to be happy, the enemy can use against you. if you think, “I have to have this promotion. my spouse has to change. I’ve got to get married to be happy. I’ve got to have good weather, I’ve got a big outdoor event planned.” no, a mature attitude says, “even if it doesn’t work out my way, even if my plans don’t happen, God I’m still going to enjoy my life, knowing that You’re on the throne.”

here’s the key: when our dreams and goals start to frustrate us, when we’re not at peace, not enjoying where we are because we’re so focused on what we want, that’s a sign that we’re holding on too tightly. when you hold on to what you want so tightly, it can almost become like an idol.  you’re so focused on it, that’s all you think about, all you pray about, it consumes your time and energy;  that’s out of balance. one of the best prayers that we can ever pray is, “God, not my will, but let Your will be done.” when you release control, you’re showing God by your actions that you trust Him. there are times in life when God will ask you to release the thing that you want the most; it’s a test. if you will pass that test, at some point God will either give you back what you wanted or bring something better into your life. this is what happened with Abraham. his son Isaac, the child he had dreamed about year after year, finally showed up. Abraham loved him more than anything in the world. one day:

Genesis 22:1-2 (NIV)
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

it wasn’t easy, but Abraham made this decision to release control. he said, “God, You know this is what I dreamed about, this is what I’ve wanted more than anything else, but God, I trust You; I can be happy even if it doesn’t work out my way.” when God saw his willingness to put on the altar the thing that meant the most to him:

Genesis 22:11-13 (NIV)
11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

the question is, can you be happy if it doesn’t work out you way? will you keep a good attitude if the business slows down, the medical report isn’t good? maybe you’re believing, standing on a promise for your health to get better.  when you have the attitude, “even if I don’t get better, I’m still gonna have a smile, I’m still going to be good to people, I’m still going to give God praise,” you’re doing what Abraham did; you’re putting that dream on the altar. when you can pass the test, that you don’t have to have the problem turn around to be happy, you don’t have to have the dream come to pass to enjoy your life, you’re proving to God that you trust Him. that’s when God will give you the desires of your heart. when you release control, you are passing a very important test; the trust test. you’re saying, “God, I believe You know what’s best for me.” many times, like with Abraham, that’s when God will release back to you the very thing that you’re believing for.

the best thing you can do is release control, turn it over to God. you prayed, you believed, you’re standing in faith, now put it on the altar. have the attitude, “if it never happens, God, I’m still going to trust You. if it never changes, I’m still going to be happy.” when you show God that you don’t have to have it in order to be happy, that’s when God goes to work. there may be things that are frustrating you right now because they’re not changing. you know God put the dream in your heart, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. you have to say, “God, I’ve done everything I can. I’m not going to live my life upset, not going to go around worrying, wondering, frustrated; God, I’m putting this on the altar. I’m giving it to You.” when you release control, God will make things happen that you could never make happen on your own. I’m not saying to release the promise, to give up on a dream, no, release the worries, release the frustration, release having to have it your way.

Psalm 138:8 (NLT)
8  The Lord will work out his plans for my life

God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be; you don’t have to live worried, frustrated. if you’ll trust Him, God will bring the right people, open the right doors, turn problems around. He promises that He will work out His plan for your life. we all have goals and dreams, and it’s easy to be frustrated when they’re not happening as fast as we would like. we think, “God I’m working hard, being my best, honoring You; when am I going to get that good break, meet the right person? why is it taking so long?” no, you can’t control the timetable. you can plant the seed, you can water it, but only God can bring the sunshine, only God can cause it to grow. don’t be frustrated because it’s not happening on your timetable; as long as you’re being your best, honoring God, you can rest assured that God will get you to where you’re supposed to be. it’s the same principle in our health; you can’t make yourself get well. you can pray and believe, you can eat right, exercise, take medicine, but only God can bring the healing, restore health. the scripture says:

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
22 Cast your cares on the Lord

the care is the worry, those thoughts that bring anxiety and fear: what if you don’t get well, what if the treatment doesn’t work, the medical report isn’t good? worry ties the hands of Almighty God. living stressed out, trying to change things that you can’t change, will keep you from God’s best. you have to release control. it’s not your job to heal yourself; you don’t control the sunshine. the right attitude is, “God, my life is in Your hands. I know You’re the healer. You said the number of my days You would fulfill, so I’m not going to live worried, stressed out; God, I want to thank You for the sunshine, thank You for doing what only You can do.” then all through the day, instead of trying to make yourself get well, just relax, stay in peace, keep a smile on your face. God is not asking you to control everything. take the pressure off yourself. He’s saying, “cast your cares, release the control.” you can’t make yourself get well, you can’t make people like you, you can’t make a dream come to pass; God has to give you the sunshine. He has to breathe in your direction.

maybe you’re believing for a promotion; “you said all I have to do is just trust, I can’t make it happen.” no, the scripture says cast your cares, not your responsibilities. I’m not saying to just sit back and don’t do anything; no, do your part, and then take your hands off of it and trust God to do what you can’t do. in other words: get to work on time, produce more than you have to, have a spirit of excellence. then, if for some reason you don’t get the promotion, maybe they give it to somebody less deserving, you can’t control that, but you can control your response; “God, I trust You. I’m not going to be offended, start complaining; God, I know you have something better in store. in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy my life right where I am.” quit being frustrated by things that you cannot change. God has you in the palm of His hand. nothing is happening that He is not completely aware of. when you start releasing control, trusting Him to get you to where you’re supposed to be, that’s when you’ll see new doors open: new opportunities, new friendships.

but much of our frustration in life is because we’re trying to control things we were never meant to control: we try to control what people think about us, control what our spouse does, control when a dream comes to pass. if it’s not happening on our timetable, the way we want, we go to work and try to change it; “I’ve got to change my spouse, I’ve got to change these people’s opinion of me, this problem’s not turning around fast enough, I’ve got to get in there and change that.” many people are working overtime trying to change things that they cannot change. you have to accept the fact that you can’t control everything; the only thing you can control 100% of the time is your attitude. life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond. if somebody hurts you, you can’t control that, it’s over and done, but you can control whether or not you get offended.  or if you were to get a negative medical report, you can’t control that, life happens, but you can control whether or not you live upset and discouraged.

focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t. you can either dread it, and let that sour the rest of your life, or you can say, “this is where God has me; I believe I have the grace to handle it.” you should say, “thank God I have a job, thank God I have friends and family.” you can’t control everything, but you can control your attitude. why be unhappy about something that you cannot change? if you have to sit in traffic everyday on the way to work, why let that steal your joy? being upset about it is not going to make it go any faster. you can’t control the traffic; why don’t you change what you can control? use that time to thank God for what He’s done in your life. look out at the beauty of His creation. put on some good praise music. the traffic may not ever change, but you can change.

and some of the things that are frustrating you right now, if you don’t make these simple adjustments, 20 years from now, 30 years, 40 years, those same things will still be frustrating you. life happens to all of us. we have delays, interruptions, unfair situations; we can’t control that. don’t use it as an excuse to get upset. one of the most important things I’ve learned is that life is too short to be frustrated by things you cannot control. you can’t control what other people do, the traffic, the weather. if you’re only going to be happy if everything goes your way, and everybody is nice and kind to you, you’re probably going to live a very unhappy life. the 90% is what really matters; how do we respond. Jesus said:

John 14:27 (AMP)
27 … [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

it’s choice that we have to make. at the start of the day, you should make a decision that no matter what comes against you that day, you are not going to get upset. you have to decide ahead of time; that way, if you get to work and your boss is in a grouchy mood, you think, “that’s ok. I can’t control him, I can’t make him be in a good mood, that’s his choice; my choice is to be happy. I’ve already decided to enjoy this day.” traffic is worse than normal, your child forgets his homework at school, you’ve got to go back down there; “that’s alright. I’ve already decided; I’m not going to be frustrated, I’m not going to get upset today.” we waste a lot of time and energy trying to change things that we cannot change. the scripture says:

John 16:33 (AMP)
33 … In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration…

(NB: but don’t forget, it ALSO says:

John 16:33 (AMP)
33 … but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.])

we’re all going to have our 10%: things we don’t like, things that are not fair, things we don’t understand. we can’t control that; you have to focus on what you can control. next time you’re tempted to be frustrated, offended, stressed out, remind yourself; that’s a part of the 10%. you can’t control that, but you can control how you respond. start passing the test. don’t keep letting the same things upset you year after year, the same people get on your nerves. every day is a gift from God; we’re not always going to be here. once this day is over, we can never get it back.

your time is too valuable to waste it upset in traffic, offended at a neighbor, frustrated at a child, worried about your health, discouraged because a dream is taking too long; you can’t control those things. if that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. start passing the test; don’t allow yourself to be upset. our motto should be: no worries. traffic is backed up: no worries. God is directing my steps; I’m at the right place at the right time. somebody’s rude to us: no worries. they’re having a bad day; I’ve already decided to have a good day. business is a little slow: no worries. God is my provider: He’s supplying all of my needs. if we would develop this no-worries mentality, I wonder, not only how much more we’d enjoy life, but how much longer we would live. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 14:30 (TLB)
30 A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life

the opposite is also true; if you’re living upset, offended, worried, you’re taking time off of your life. we need you here; don’t leave before your time is up. if you’ll start trusting, relaxing, going with the flow, you can add time to your life. we’re always looking for that fountain of youth, ways to look younger, to live longer; one way is to develop this no-worries mentality. quit being upset over things that you have no control over. quit trying to change things that you cannot change. worry less, trust more. stress less; laugh, love, enjoy more. there’s no use getting upset over what you can’t change. think of it this way;  if you learned that you only had three months to live, how many of the things that upset you last week would you let upset you this week? would you be stressed because your computer died? would you be upset because somebody got your parking spot, somebody was rude to you at the grocery store? no, let it go. life is too short to live that way.

some of you are carrying around way too much; you need to start releasing the worries, offense, struggles. you don’t have to make your dreams come to pass; take the pressure off of yourself. only God can bring the sunshine; trust Him, and He’ll get you to where you’re supposed to be. if you’ll start releasing control, you’ll not only enjoy life more, but you’ll live longer. God promises that He will work out His plan for your life. He will open the right doors, bring the right people, turn negative situations around, and you’ll step into the fullness of your destiny.

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Sorry, this week’s sermon was a repeat, so here are a few odds and ends:

Have you ever been to meetup.com? It’s a site for groups where like-minded people can get together and do various things. The point of these groups is that the organizer of each group schedules events that people participate in. I joined a bunch of these groups recently, but have not yet participated. Inexplicably, the organizer of one of them decided that he wanted to put together a directory of members to make it easier for people to get to know each other; that’s not what these folks normally do, and it’s a thankless ton of work as well. Instead of ignoring it as you might expect me to do with a directory of people I’ve never met, I found myself writing the organizer and pointing out that he should include what part of town people live in, as we mostly want to socialize with people who are not too terribly far away. Although I am a complete stranger, and he knows perfectly well that I have not participated in the group yet, he took my advice and solicited this information from everyone. 23 ladies in addition to me submitted their information. This group is open to people in my ENTIRE large county, and I live in a small community, so statistically I didn’t have much chance of finding anybody near me… but there are THREE other ladies right here near me, and one of them is practically a neighbor!! I emailed them, and they are all interested in getting together, so… I might end up with my own little group here.  There’s no confusion as to how THAT happened.

Oh, and did I mention that the woman who lives closest to me has the SAME NAME as an ex-friend?  God makes it clear where our blessings come from.

And:  I had been sleeping badly, but God has given me some nights of greatly improved sleep.

And finally:  I’ve been struggling intensely with a very specific problem, and a couple of days ago I got some hits from a site dedicated to providing help and support with that EXACT issue, so now I can get some support!!  Isn’t God AMAZING?!!

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