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Archive for March, 2015

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we don’t always understand why things happen to us. maybe a friend you thought would be with you for years, somebody you counted on, had to move away suddenly; now you have to find new friends. or at work, things were going great, you had all this favor, but now there’s conflict; everything is a struggle, you don’t enjoy it. sometimes, God will let us be uncomfortable now so He can bless us later on. He’ll close a door; we don’t like it, we don’t understand it, but later on He’ll open up a bigger door; He’ll take us to a new level of our destiny. God is not as concerned about our comfort as He is our purpose. there are times God will stir things up: a friend will do you wrong, you lose a loved one, a business goes down. God uses loss, betrayal, persecution, to force us to change. He’s not trying to make your life miserable, He’s pushing you into your purpose.  every closed door is not a bad thing. every person that walks away is not a mistake; God knows we wouldn’t go without a push.  when everything is good, we’re comfortable; we don’t want to have to stretch, we don’t want to have to find new friends, develop new skills, step out into the unknown. what if it doesn’t work out?

we may not like it, but if God had not closed those doors, we would be satisfied to stay where we were. God loves you too much to let you miss your destiny. you have too much potential, too much talent, too much in you, to get stuck where you are. God will put us in these situations that force us to stretch, that help us to grow. every difficulty you’ve been through, every bad break, every person that did you wrong, that wasn’t meant to stop you, it was meant to push you, to mature you, to make you stronger. it’s deposited something on the inside, it’s made you into who you are.  you wouldn’t be prepared for the new levels if you had not gone through those things. don’t complain about what didn’t work out, the job you lost, the loved one that went to be with the Lord; it was all a part of God’s plan.  when you face a difficulty, especially things you don’t understand, instead of being critical, complaining, negative, have this new perspective; this is not meant to stop me, it’s meant to promote me. I may be uncomfortable, I may not like it, but I know God is using it to push me to a new level, to push me to greater influence, to push me into my purpose.

when I look back over my life, I can see the pivotal moments where I really grew, the times where I really stepped up to a new level; the common denominator was, I was pushed. I didn’t like it, I was uncomfortable, I wanted to stay; it took God closing the door, forcing me to take a step of faith, I was pushed into my purpose. sometimes we’re praying against the very thing God has ordained; we’re praying against what God has set into motion. the enemy doesn’t close every door; sometimes, God closes the door. God moves people out of our life because He knows they would become a crutch; they would keep us from our destiny, so God causes things to dry up to force us to change. quit being depressed over somebody that walked away; if they left your life, their time was up. step into the new season. if the door closed, you went through a disappointment, don’t complain; you’re about to be pushed into your purpose. you’re about to see new growth, new opportunities, new friendships.

in the scripture, the prophet Samuel spent years pouring into King Saul; he had mentored him as a young man, loved him like his own son. but unfortunately, Saul wouldn’t do what was right:

1 Samuel 15:2-9 (MEV)
2 Thus says the Lord of Hosts… 3 Now go and strike Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not have compassion on them but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’ ”… 9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, and lambs.

1 Samuel 15:10-11(MEV)
10 Then came the word of the Lord to Samuel, saying, 11 “I regret that I have set up Saul to be king because he has turned back from following Me, and he has not carried out My words.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried to the Lord all night.

Samuel was so heartbroken; he felt like he’d wasted all that time. God said to Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way

God is saying, “quit being depressed over who walked away. quit being sour over what didn’t work out. if they were supposed to stay, they would’ve stayed.” God went on to tell Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
16 … I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

notice the principle; if you’ll stop being discouraged over who left, God will send the right people. but as long as you’re complaining about the Sauls, what didn’t work out, “if they wouldn’t have left me,” you’re going to get stuck. when you accept it and move forward, you’ll not only step into a new level, but the Davids will show up; the right people will be there for every season of your life. Job said:

Job 29:18 (MEV)
18 “Then I said, ‘I will die in my nest

he was saying, he got his nest all fixed up, got his house like he wanted it, had a successful business, everything was going great, he was finally comfortable; what happened? God came along and stirred up the nest. God doesn’t send the trouble, but He will use difficulty to push us into our destiny. Job had a lot of things go wrong: he lost his business, lost his health, lost his family. if the story stopped there, it would be a sad ending. but Job understood this principle; right in the midst of the difficulties, he looked up and said:

Job 19:25 (NIV)
25 I know that my redeemer lives

he was saying, “I know God is still on the throne. He has the final say. this trouble is not going to defeat me, it’s going to promote me.” in the end:

Job 42:10 (NIV)
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.

God used that adversity to give him double. don’t be surprised if, like with Job, when you get comfortable, when you get everything figured out, if God doesn’t stir up the nest. it’s not to harm you, it’s to push you; you have a bigger destiny. God has new levels, more favor, more influence, more resources. His dream for your life is bigger than you can imagine. every time I’ve seen major growth, every time I’ve stepped up to a new level, it’s because I was pushed; there was adversity, challenges, loss. maybe you’re in a situation now, you could easily be discouraged; you lost a loved one, went through a breakup, business didn’t work out. the enemy may have meant that for your harm, but God is going to use that for your good. God didn’t allow it to stop you, He allowed it to push you; like Job, you’re going to come out stronger, healthier, wiser, increased, better off than you were before. that sickness is going to push you into your purpose. that bad break is going to push you into greater fulfillment. or perhaps that betrayal, it’s going to push you into better relationships, into new happiness.

the pain is a sign you’re about to see a birth; the greater difficulty, the closer you are to that birth. you think, “this is as good as it gets”; no, you’re going to see God push you into a new level of your destiny. the betrayal, disappointment, bad break, it was painful, we don’t like it, but if you’ll stay in faith, it’s going to promote you. it’s difficult, but God doesn’t waste the pain; the pain is a sign of new birth. the betrayal wasn’t sent to stop you, it was sent to push you. don’t complain about who hurt you, who did you wrong; if that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. shake off the self-pity; get ready for the new doors that are about to open, the new opportunities, the skills, the new talents. when things are stirring in your life, when you’re uncomfortable, a door closed, a friend betrayed you, don’t think, “just my luck, always have these bad breaks,” no, turn it around; “God, I know You’re stirring things because You’re about to open up a new door, You’re about to take me to a higher level, You’re about to push me into my purpose.”

when you’re being pushed, it means that the door is open; something new is coming, new growth, new influence. God wouldn’t be pushing you if the door was closed and nothing new was on the way. when you’re being pushed, don’t be discouraged, be encouraged; it is the right time. get ready; something good is coming your way. a little baby, when he’s in the womb for nine months, everything is great; he’s comfortable, he doesn’t have to do anything, he gets his food from his mother, gets carried around all day, he can sleep whenever he wants to, it’s peaceful, calm, life is good. for a season, that’s healthy; he’s growing, he’s maturing, that’s where he’s supposed to be. but if he stays in that womb too long, instead of being a blessing, the womb will become a curse. it’s too small; it will keep him from his destiny, it will limit his potential. he has to get out. when he comes through the birth canal, it’s tight, uncomfortable, traumatic. up to this point, all he’s known is peace, calm, lying around doing nothing; now, it’s like all hell breaks loose. he thinks, “what in the world is wrong with mama? has she lost her mind? is she trying to kill me?” he’s being pushed, squeezed, pressured. he gets pushed again, pushed again, pushed again; finally he comes out, he’s born, breathes new life, steps into that new level.

it’s the same principle; when things are tight, when you’re being pressured, when you’re uncomfortable, it’s easy to think, “what in the world is happening? I liked it when it was peaceful; I want to go back to how it was.” but if you stay in that womb too long, in that protected place, it won’t be a blessing; it will keep you from becoming all God created you to be. God controls the universe; He knows what’s best for you. if you’re being pushed, it’s because the door is open; there’s something greater in your destiny. it may be uncomfortable; don’t complain. God is stretching you, enlarging you. you’re about to see new growth, talents, opportunities. the same God that opens doors, closes doors. don’t complain about people that betray you, do you wrong, leave you out; God uses people to get you to where you’re supposed to be. they may think they’re pushing you down; what they don’t realize is, they’re pushing you up, into your destiny. Judas thought that when he betrayed Jesus, he was stopping him; the truth is, he was promoting him. God ordained the betrayal. the scripture says:

Acts 8:1-5 (NIV)
8 … persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem… . 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria

it doesn’t say that Philip prayed and decided to go to Samaria. he didn’t have a choice; the persecution forced him out of his hometown. he was pushed out of his comfort zone. it’s interesting; God could’ve stopped the opposition. He’s God; He closed the mouths of hungry lions for Daniel, it would’ve been no big deal. but the persecution was for a purpose; He allowed that opposition to get them into their destiny. it was in Samaria that Phillip saw all his greatest days of ministry. if he had stayed in Jerusalem, he wouldn’t have reached his highest potential. maybe Jerusalem has closed up for you, so to speak; a bad break, a disappointment, a betrayal. don’t be discouraged; Jerusalem may have closed, but Samaria is about to open up. God wouldn’t be pushing you if He didn’t already have another open door. God loves you too much to let you stay in mediocrity; He knows how to get you out of your comfort zone. He opens doors, and He can close doors. it we don’t take the hint, He’ll push us. don’t be discouraged by your closed doors; that’s God pushing you. don’t get upset because of a bad break; if it was going to keep you from your destiny, God would’ve never permitted it. in the scripture:

Acts 27:23-24 (NIV)
23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar

Paul was on a boat headed toward Rome. they encountered a huge storm; the winds were so strong that it blew the boat aground. the whole boat fell apart. they all had to swim to this little island called Malta. (NB: Malta is a country in the Mediterranean Sea.) it looked like a bad break, a disappointment, but that storm didn’t stop God’s plan; it was a part of God’s plan. on that island, the chief’s father was very sick. Paul prayed for him; God healed him. they started bringing other sick people, same thing, God healed them. Paul ended up sharing his faith with the whole island. the winds that were meant to stop you, God will use to push you into your destiny. you may not like it, you may not understand it, but if you’ll stay in faith, it won’t defeat you, it will promote you. you’re being pushed for a reason. there’s something bigger, something better, something more rewarding in front of you. now you’ve got to be willing to go through the process; when it’s tight, you’re uncomfortable, you’re being squeezed, that’s a sign you’re about to see new birth. where you are is too small; that womb was fine for a time, it served its purpose, but now it’s a new day. there’s about to be new growth, opportunities.

keep the right perspective: “this sickness is not going to stop me, it’s pushing me. I’m coming out better.” “this trouble at work, it can’t hold me back; it’s pushing me, I’m getting stronger.” “these people that did me wrong, they can’t stop my destiny; they meant it for harm, but God’s using it for my good. He’s pushing me.” every difficulty you went through, every storm, every person that did you wrong, it was pushing you to mature, pushing you to know God in a greater way, pushing you to become stronger, more resilient. don’t be discouraged by the process. perhaps you feel like you’re being pushed right now; it’s tight, it’s uncomfortable. you need to get ready; God is about to push you into a new level. He’s going to push you into greater strength, greater influence, greater resources. you’re coming into a new season; health, favor, victory, breakthroughs. the winds that were meant to stop you are going to push you into your purpose.

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Because I went to church on Sunday with ZERO sleep, as soon as I got home and wound down a little bit I went to bed. A couple of hours later, I woke up to take a bathroom break, and could remember a piece of a dream: I and some people from my church, including the pastor that had given that day’s sermon, were standing in front of what looked like the standard treasure chest that we’ve all seen in pirate movies, except it was significantly bigger and in particular significantly longer, at least double the normal length to width ratio. It didn’t have any fancy carvings or decorations or shiny metal like so many treasure chests have; I couldn’t find anything that looked quite right on Google, but this at least gives you a general idea of what it looked like, except it was easily twice this long, and was closed with no hint as to what, if anything, was inside of it.

Treasure-Chest

I don’t remember anything else about the dream other than the treasure chest, the church folks standing around, and 4 words that were spoken, although I don’t know by who: “Treasure of the Holy Spirit.” I’m pretty sure that I’ve never heard that phrase or anything similar before. It does not appear in the Bible; the closest I could find was this verse:

2 Timothy 1:14 (ERV)
14 This teaching is a treasure that you have been trusted with. Protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us.

Because there is endless scriptural evidence for God providing information in dreams, I take any dream with any hint of religious content VERY seriously, doubly so because, despite my all-day-every-day focus on God, I rarely have one. When I woke up from this one, I intended to write it down, but mostly dismissed it because the pastor had spent a significant among of time talking about the Holy Spirit, and I figured that was the reason behind the dream, the same way that anything else that happens during the day can turn up in a dream. And then I went back to bed, and back to sleep. And then I had THE SAME DREAM again!! That has NEVER occurred before in my entire life. There is no confusion about how THAT happened.

I think there’s only one place in the Bible where someone has a dream twice:

Genesis 41:1-7 (NIV)
41 … Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads.

And here’s what Joseph told Pharaoh about the dreams:

Genesis 41:32 (NABRE)
32 That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been confirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.

Of course, in that case it wasn’t the identical dream twice, but the same concept showed with 2 different casts of characters, so to speak, so my situation is not quite the same, and in any case just because it happened to Pharaoh that way doesn’t mean that my dreams are about future events, but it was worth a mention. I’m guessing that I just had the dream twice because I was ready to discount it and God saw it as important enough to make an issue out of… which then leads to me being a little bit concerned that there could be an important meaning to the dream that I’m not getting.

So, what DID it mean? Is EVERY aspect of it God-given, or did my subconscious embroider upon what God put there? In all of the Biblical examples, every detail of each dream from God was from God, but some of the dream elements were symbolic, which is why Joseph and Daniel were doing dream interpretation. The primary element in my dream is mention of the Holy Spirit; if the Holy Spirit didn’t exist, God would never have made it the subject of the dreams, so that settles that issue for me. Even more crucially, the Holy Spirit must be IMPORTANT, or, again, why would God make an issue about it? God’s wisdom in bringing me to this specific church is becoming clearer all the time; the vast majority of Christians, regardless of their denomination or lack thereof, have little or no focus on the Holy Spirit, because nothing is taught about it in their churches, sermons don’t include anything about it, and it just plain doesn’t come up, but THIS church has a consistent focus on it, and clearly that’s what God wants. I suspect that this dream came because, even after my experience with speaking in tongues, I still wasn’t really accepting the importance of the Holy Spirit, so God had to tell me more directly.

I can’t imagine that God would’ve permitted anything in the dream that is contrary to His will and/or my best interests, since the only logical thing for me to assume of anything in such a positive dream is that it is good in some way, and He knows that, so the presence of members of my church just gives me further confirmation that I am doing God’s will by being with them. The presence right next to the chest of the pastor who gave the sermon, only about the third sermon he has given since I joined, tells me that the things that he said about the importance of giving equal time to the Holy Spirit are true. It’s interesting that, although the other pastors have said similar things, the dream came after THIS pastor spoke, the one who I would’ve said was by far the least impressive speaker… clearly, I need to pay more attention to him and see if he is going to have something important to say, just in case this is a hint from God and not just a function of who spoke most recently.

And, what is the treasure? Why show a CLOSED chest and talk about a treasure unless the treasure is something I have not yet seen? Or is the treasure chest only there because that’s what my subconscious came up with in response to the word “treasure”? Does the presence of my fellow church members by the treasure chest indicate that THEY, and my experiences with them, are the treasure that the Holy Spirit provided by guiding me to join the church? I just don’t know. Clearly, in my nonexistent free time I need to do some studying about the Holy Spirit and try to figure out which of the things it supposedly does might qualify as treasure in my life. Or, the treasure might be something that it’s ABOUT to do, or it might be a combination of things, or… well, there’s no point in speculating right now, all I can do is be aware that something significant is going on… and be grateful for God taking the time to bring these things to my attention.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

you are where you are today in part because of what you’ve been saying about yourself. words are like seeds; when you speak something out, you give life to what you’re saying. if you continue to say it, eventually that can become a reality; whether you realize it or not, you are prophesying your future. this is great when we’re saying things like, “I’m blessed, I’m strong, I will accomplish my dreams, I’m coming out of debt”; that’s not just being positive, you are prophesying victory, success, new levels. your life will move in the direction of your words. but too many people go around prophesying just the opposite: “I never get any good breaks, I’ll never get back in shape, business is slow, I’ll probably get laid off, flu season is here, I always get it.” they don’t realize, they’re prophesying defeat; it’s just like they’re calling in bad breaks, mediocrity, lack. the scripture says:

Proverbs 18:21 (NIRV)
21 Your tongue has the power of life and death.  Those who love to talk will eat the fruit of their words.

you are planting seeds when you talk; at some point, you’re going to eat that fruit. my challenge is, make sure you’re planting the right kind of seeds. if you want apples, you have to sow apple seeds. if you want oranges, you can’t plant cactus seeds, poison ivy seeds, mushroom seeds (NB: mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds); you’re going to reap fruit from the exact seeds that you’ve been sowing. in other words, you can’t talk negative and expect to live a positive life. you can’t talk defeat and expect to have victory. you can’t talk lack, not enough, can’t afford it, never get ahead, and expect to have abundance. if you have a poor mouth, you’re going to have a poor life. if you don’t like what you’re seeing, start sowing some different seeds.

instead of saying, “I’ll never get well, this sickness has been in my family for 3 generations,” no, let me give you the right seeds; “God is restoring health back unto me. this sickness didn’t come to stay, it came to pass. I’m getting better and better every day.” you keep sowing those seeds, and eventually you’ll eat that fruit: health, wholeness, victory. instead of saying, “I’ll never get out of debt, I’ll never rise any higher”; no, I will lend and not borrow, whatever I touch prospers and succeeds, I’m coming into overflow, into more than enough.” start sowing seeds of increase, seeds of abundance. no more, “I’ll never accomplish my dreams”; no, “I have the favor of God. blessings are chasing me down. the right people are searching me out. new opportunities, new levels are in my future.” if you keep talking like that, you’ll reap a harvest of good things.

many people don’t realize, with their words they’re cursing their future. every time you say, “I never get any good breaks,” you just cursed your life. “I’ll never be able to afford that nice house, I’ll never break this addiction, I’ll never meet the right person”; no, stop cursing your future. sometimes the enemy doesn’t have to defeat us, we defeat ourselves. pay attention to what you’re saying; are you blessing your life, or are you cursing it? don’t speak that defeat over your life; our attitude should be, “I’m getting younger, God is renewing my youth like the eagles, I’m getting stronger, healthier, better looking, I’m going to keep my hair, stay in my right mind, live a long, productive, faith-filled life.” don’t go around cursing your future, start blessing your life; prophesy good things.

why don’t you stop criticizing yourself, talking about all the things you don’t like: how you’re getting too old, too wrinkled, too this, too that. stop cursing your life and start blessing your life. start calling yourself healthy, strong, talented, beautiful, young. every morning before you leave the house, look in the mirror and say, “good morning, you good-looking thing.” it’s good to use common sense, to be wise, but if you go around talking about when you’re going to have illness, making plans for it, most likely you won’t be disappointed; you’re calling it in, just like you’re sending it an invitation. stop doing that, and start declaring, “no weapon formed against me will ever prosper. I will live out my days in good health, with a clear mind, good memory, clarity of thought. my mind is alert, my senses are sharp, my youth is being renewed.” you’ve got to prophesy health, a long productive life; your words will become your reality. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 6:2 (NKJV)
2 You are snared by the words of your mouth

“snared” means to be trapped. your words can trip you; what you say you can cause you to stumble, it can keep you from your potential. you’re not snared by what you think; negative thoughts come to us all. when you speak them out, you give them life; that’s when they become a reality. when you say, “I’ll never get back in shape,” it becomes more difficult; you just made it harder. when you say, “I never get any good breaks,” that stops the favor that was ordained for you. if you say, “I’m not that talented, I don’t have a good personality,” that is setting the limits for your life, calling in mediocrity. you may have been snared in the past, trapped but your words, but I believe this is a new day; I declare, you’re coming out of that trap, every chain is being loosed, every stronghold is coming down. no weapon formed against you is going to prosper. you’ve got to do your part; start speaking victory over your life. speak increase, dare to declare God’s favor, be bold to call in those things you’re dreaming about, those things you’re believing for. don’t use your words to describe the situation; use your words to change the situation.

Matthew 6:31 (KJ21)
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’

notice that phrase, “take no thought, saying”; the negative thoughts will come, the key is to not say them. a thought will die stillborn if you don’t speak it. Jesus was saying, “you may feel worried, it may seem like it’s never going to happen, but take no thought, saying;  don’t verbalize it, don’t get trapped by your words.” it’s one thing to think that it’s impossible, but when you start telling people it’s impossible, it takes on a whole new meaning. you may think, “I’ll never break this addiction, I’ll never get well, I’ll never meet the right person”; those thoughts come to all of us, you can’t stop that. my challenge is; don’t give them life by speaking them out. don’t go call your friends and tell them how it’s not going to happen. in the tough times, you have to especially be on guard; it’s very tempting to vent your frustration, tell people how the loan didn’t go through, how bad the medical report was, how these people just didn’t treat you right, but continually talking about the problem, that’s not only going to make you more discouraged, but you’re giving that problem more life, you’re making it bigger.

turn it around; don’t talk about the problem, talk about the promise. instead of, “I’ve got this big challenge,” no, “I serve a big God. He spoke worlds into existence, nothing is too difficult for Him.” instead of, “I didn’t get the promotion, I got passed over again, another disappointment,” no, “I know that when one door closes, that means God has something better. He’s directing my steps. I’m excited about my future.” instead of, “I’ll never meet the right person, I’m too old, it’s been too long,” no, “something good is going to happen to me. divine connections are coming my way.” “I heard you got a bad medical report,” “yes, that’s true, but I have another report; it says God is restoring health back unto me.” or, “I hear those people did you wrong,” “yes, but I’m not worried, God is my vindicator, He’s fighting my battles, He’s promised to give me beauty for ashes.”

in life, there are always two voices vying for your attention; the voice of faith, and the voice of defeat. you’ll hear a voice saying, “the problems’s too big, it’s not going to work out, just accept it”; you’ll be tempted to worry, to be negative, to complain, but if you listen carefully, you’ll hear another voice, the voice of faith, saying, “God has a way. favor is coming, healing is coming, breakthroughs are coming.” one voice will tell you, “you’ve reached your limits. you’ve gone as far as you can, you don’t have what it takes.” the other voice, “you are well able, you can do all things through Christ, your best days are still in front of you.” you get to choose which voice comes to life. the way you do it is by what you speak; when you verbalize that thought, you’re giving it the right to come to pass. if you go around saying, “the problem’s too big, I’ll never get well,” you are agreeing with the wrong voice. you’ve got to get in agreement with God.

the other voice may seem louder, but you can override it; you can take away all of its power by choosing the voice of faith. maybe you’re going to a job interview: one voice will tell you, “you’re not going to get it, you’re wasting your time, these people are not going to like you.” another voice will say, “you have the favor of God, you’re blessed, you’re confident, you have what it takes.” but if you get up that morning, tell your spouse, “I don’t think I’ll get this job, they’re not going to like me, I’m not qualified,” there’s no use even going; you’re being trapped by your words. you have to dig your heels in, and say, “I am not giving life to any more defeat. I am not speaking lack, sickness, mediocrity, not enough, I’m going to choose the voice of faith;  it says I’m strong, I’m healthy, I’m blessed, I’m favored, I am a victor not a victim.”

this is what David did. when he faced Goliath, it looked impossible; all the odds were against him. if he would’ve verbalized his negative thoughts, that would’ve kept him from his destiny. even though he was anointed to be king, those negative words would have kept him trapped in the shepherds’ fields. he could’ve easily gone around saying, “I know I’m supposed to face Goliath, but he’s twice my size, he’s got more experience, more equipment, more talent. I don’t see how this is ever going to work out.” you can talk yourself out of your destiny; negative words can keep you from becoming who you were created to be.

don’t fall into that trap; quit calling in defeat, quit talking about how it’s not going to happen. you can pray in faith, ask God to turn it around, to do the impossible, but then walk away and start talking about how you’re not going to get well, how your child’s never going to straighten up; those negative words just canceled out that prayer. “I’m having this financial crisis, I prayed and asked God to help me, but I don’t see how it’s going to happen”; no, zip that up. “Father, You said You’re Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord my provider. Lord, You’ve done it for me in the past; I know You’ll do it for me again in the future.” don’t let your words trip you. negative talk brings negative results, but when you speak faith, favor, victory, that’s what allows God to do the impossible.

David went out, stood before Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-46 (NIV)
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals

notice, he was prophesying victory. he may have felt fear, but he spoke faith. I can hear David, as he’s going out to face Goliath, under his breath, “I am well able, I am anointed, I am equipped. if God be for me, who dare be against me?” he picked up that rock, put it in the slingshot, slung it:

1 Samuel 17:48-49 (NIV)
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

when you face giants in life, when you face challenges, you have to do like David; prophesy your future. say to that cancer, “Cancer, you are no match for me; I will defeat you.” “this addiction may have been in my family for years, but this is a new day; the buck stops with me. I am the difference-maker. I am free.” “my child may have been off-course for a long time, but I know it’s only temporary; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” prophesy victory over your life.

there was a man in the scripture named Zerubbabel;  he faced a huge mountain, a big obstacle. but like David, he didn’t talk about how impossible it was, how it was never going to work out. he said:

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

he was prophesying his future. the mountain looked big, but he declared it would be flattened out, it would become a molehill. there’s the principle; don’t talk about the mountain, talk to the mountain. look at that mountain of debt, and tell it, “you can’t defeat me, you’re coming down; I will lend and not borrow. my cup will run over.” whatever mountains you face in life, no matter how big they look, don’t shrink back in fear, don’t be intimidated; rise up in faith, tell that mountain, “you’re coming down.” tell that sickness, “you’re temporary.” say to that loneliness, addiction, legal problem, “who are you, oh great mountain, to stand before me?” in other words, “don’t you know who I am? a child of the most high God. haven’t you read my birth certificate? my Father created the universe. He breathed life into me, crowned me with His favor. called me more than a conqueror. that means, you can’t defeat me, you can’t hold me back. Mountain, you’ve got to come down. I will overcome this illness, I will break this addiction, I will pay my house off, I will see my family restored, I will accomplish my dreams.” what am I saying? prophesy victory, breakthroughs, what you’re believing for.

in the Old Testament, Ezekiel saw a vision:

Ezekiel 37:1-2 (NIV)
37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.

bones represent things in our life that look dead, situations that seem impossible, like they’ll never change. God told him to do something interesting:

Ezekiel 37:4 (NIV)
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

Ezekiel 37:7-10 (NIV)
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

you may have things in your life that seem dead: your health, a business, a relationship. all you can see, so to speak, is that valley of dry bones. God is saying to you what He said to Ezekiel; “it’s not enough to just pray about it, you need to speak to it; prophesy to those dead bones. call in health, call in abundance, call in restoration.” that child that’s been off course, don’t just pray about it, prophesy to it; “Son/Daughter, come back in. you will fulfill your destiny.” you’re struggling with an addiction; don’t just pray about it, prophesy: “I am free. chains are broken off of me. this is a new day of victory.” get your checkbook out, prophesy to it; “all it looks like are dead bones, debt, lack, struggle.  I prophesy to these dead bones;  I will lend and not borrow, I am the head and not the tail, I am coming into overflow. just like with Ezekiel, if you’ll prophesy to the bones, God will resurrect what looked dead. He’ll make things happen that you could never make happen.

Psalm 2:7 (NKJV)
7 I will declare the decree

a decree was something that was written down, like an official document. the Psalmist was saying, “there’s something that’s been written that I’m going to start speaking.” you and I can do the same thing; declare a decree. you should write down your goals, what you want to see happen in your life, any areas that you’re struggling in, where you need to improve;  write it down like it’s already done, and then every day declare that decree. read over it a couple of times out loud. it’s not enough to just think it; something happens when we speak.  you have to prophesy your future. you can personalize yours, but let me give you some generic things that should be on your decree:

“I’m strong, I’m healthy, I am in shape, I weigh what I’m supposed to weigh, I am full of energy, I’m passionate, I am talented, I am secure, I am valuable, I am confident, I have a good personality, people like me, I’m fun to be around, I am happy, I enjoy my life, I am a person of excellence, I am full of integrity, I’m successful, I am prosperous, my future is bright. my children are mighty in the land, my legacy will live on to inspire future generations. I run with purpose in every step, I am blessed, I am victorious, I am a child of the most high God.”

if you keep speaking things like that over your life, those words will get down on the inside of you; they’ll not only change your outlook, but they will change who you are. your words will become your reality; you are prophesying your future. over time, those words will become a part of your everyday vocabulary. it’ll be no big deal for you to go around saying, “I’m blessed, I’m healthy, I have the favor of God.” instead of being trapped by your words, you’ll be propelled by your words. James said:

James 3:4-5 (PHILLIPS)
4-5 Ships too, for all their size and the momentum they have with a strong wind behind them, are controlled by a very small rudder according to the course chosen by the helmsman. The human tongue is physically small, but what tremendous effects it can boast of!

are you going in the right direction? are you seeing increase, favor, new growth? if not, check up on what you’re saying; when you get your words going in the right direction, your life will go in the right direction. make this decision with me; no more words of lack, defeat, can’t do it, mediocrity, doubt. don’t curse your future; bless your future. if you’ll start prophesying victory, favor, you’re going to rise higher, overcome every obstacle, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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Reader Docotb posted an interesting comment on “Church-related blessings” in which she revealed that she had experienced a serious loss, of the man that is the love of her life, just like yours truly did, in response to which God had given her “HUGE blessings” and an enhanced relationship with Him, just as He has done for ME. I was thinking about that, about our losses and the rewards He has brought us for staying in faith. I was also thinking about the surreal nature of some of the blessings I had received, how they would make some people think that I was just plain out of my mind. I had the notification email from WordPress containing her comment up on one computer, and on the other I was bringing up my Feedjit page. I typed in the address bar: F-E-E, and then I SAW the autofill of the complete url, and SAW the favicon (that tiny image in the address bar) for Feedjit. But instead of my Feedjit page, a BibleGateway.com page loaded instead…!!

This is IMPOSSIBLE. Even if I had not SEEN the autofill and the favicon, even if I had accidentally typed a B instead of an F, as soon as that first E got entered there would be no way that a url starting with Bi could autofill. As you might imagine, God did not use this miraculous occurrence, and I don’t know what else to call it, to bring up a random or meaningless page on that site, oh no… the verse that loaded was:

Matthew 5:4 (MSG)
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even imagine a universe in which THAT could be a coincidence, can you? This is the one verse in the entire Bible that is most specifically about this kind of loss/rewards scenario, and also the translation that puts it the most clearly. Since I’m on the computer pretty much every waking moment, God consistently uses the computer to give me messages and miracles; this on top of everything else that has happened recently is really quite overwhelming.

And there’s another one: The new friend who brought her kids to my church on Sunday to have that incredible experience revealed to me today that she does NOT live in my little community; she has no idea whatsoever why her entry in the membership directory of our meetup.com group shows her as living in my community, because that is not what she submitted. If her entry had not shown her as living in my community, I would NEVER have contacted her, and none of what I have described would have ever occurred… so, in some way that I cannot see and don’t need to see, God made sure that her directory entry said what it needed to say to make sure that I would contact her, leading to the miraculous events of this past Sunday.

My life is becoming more amazing every day; when that pastor told me that I would have restoration x7, he wasn’t kidding. God is AMAZING!!

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The right people

from JO’s sermon tonight:

who you spend your time with will have a great impact on what kind of life you live. there are people that God has already ordained to come across our path to help us fulfill our destiny; people that will inspire us, challenge us and make us better. the right people have already been lined up. here’s the key; if you’re spending time with the wrong people, you will never meet the right ones. if you’re hanging around people that are not going anyplace, people that are dragging you down, causing you to compromise, draining your energy, you’re going to get stuck; you can’t hang out with chickens and expect to soar with eagles. you’re going to become like the people you continually associate with. if you want to know what you’re going to be like in five years, look at your friends; if your friends are going places, people of excellence, kind, considerate, generous, those qualities are going to rub off on you. but if your friends are negative, critical, unmotivated, compromisers, mediocre, indifferent, this is your wake-up call; you’re not hearing this by accident, it’s time to make changes. you need some new friends; you’re not going to become who you were created to be hanging around them. you don’t have to be rude, you don’t have to make some big announcement, just little by little start distancing yourself, spending less and less time with them. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 13:20 (NOG)
20 Whoever walks with wise people will be wise

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV)
24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways

Proverbs 20:19 (CEB)
19 Gossips reveal secrets;
    don’t associate with those who talk too much.

notice the principle; whatever qualities your friends have, either good or bad, eventually will rub off on you. spirits are transferable; if you hang out with a gossip, before long you’ll be a gossip. you hang around people that compromise, run around on their spouse, before long you’ll be a compromiser. here’s the good news; if you hang around excellent people, excellence will rub off on you. if you hang around generous people, you will become more generous. if you associate with successful people, people that are determined, motivated, going places, those same good qualities will become a part of your life. this is why it’s so important that you are selective with whom you spend your time; you can’t just take it by default and think, “well, these are the people I work with, they’re my friends,” or, “they’re in my class at school, this is who I hang out with all the time,” or, “they moved next door, so now they come over every night.” no, make sure they have the qualities you want. you need eagles in your life, people that inspire you, motivate you to go further, make you better.

we shouldn’t hang around people that are disrespectful to their spouse, people that put down their families. we have to set these boundaries. if you hear somebody that’s always negative, critical, finding fault, that’s a red flag; they’re not for you. somebody that’s hot tempered, always getting upset, that’s a red flag; you don’t want those qualities. you can still be kind and friendly to them, but don’t spend a lot of time with them; be selective. and I realize, sometimes at home or work we don’t have a choice of who we’re around, God will give us the grace for those situations, I’m talking about when you do have a choice; life is too short to waste your valuable time with the wrong people. this is the number one thing that I see that gets people off course, running with the wrong crowd. the longer I live, the more determined I am to not spend time with people that are never happy, people that don’t have integrity, people that are small-minded, people who compromise. no, if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to surround yourself with eagles, with people who bring out your wings, the people that cause you to soar. God has some eagles in store for you, but if you’re holding onto the chickens, you’re never going to meet them.

the scripture says:

Proverbs 28:7 (NLT)
7 … those who seek out worthless companions bring shame to their parents.

are you hanging out with any worthless companions? that doesn’t mean of course that the people are worthless, but that they’re not adding any value to your life, not inspiring you to reach your dreams; they’re dragging you down. for instance, you shouldn’t go to lunch everyday and sit with coworkers who gossip, complain, talk bad about people; no disrespect, but those are worthless companions. you are better than that. “if I don’t go to lunch with them, I’ll be lonely, I won’t have anybody to eat with.” yes, you may be lonely for a season, but God will bring somebody better; He’ll send an eagle into your life.

David said:

Psalm 1:1 (AMP)
1 Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk

that means, don’t sit there and let that gossip poison you for the next 20 years. “what if I hurt their feelings?” what if you miss your destiny? you have a responsibility to protect what God has entrusted you with; your gifts, your assignment, your temple. don’t keep going to the gym with those same people that are causing you to compromise year after year; find new friends. don’t sit inactive. if you’re exposed to mediocrity long enough, that mediocre spirit will get off on you. if you’ll let go of the wrong people, God will bring the right people. don’t settle for a chicken; God has an eagle. He wants you to soar. what you’re unwilling to walk away from is where you’ll stop growing. if you won’t separate yourself from negative relationships, you won’t rise any higher. God will never ask you to let go of something without giving you something better in return.

when you do what you know you’re supposed to do, even when it’s difficult, a blessing will always follow; a blessing is always attached to obedience. but too many people are stuck, not growing, because they’re still hanging around somebody that they knew years ago they were supposed to get away from. they felt the uneasiness, they saw the the red flags, but they kept putting it off again and again. the sooner you make these changes, the better off you’re going to be. don’t spend your valuable time with people that bring out the worst in you. if your friends are causing you to compromise, be negative, complain, lose your temper, that’s a sign that they’re the wrong people; if you will let them go, God has already lined up people that will bring out the best in you, people that will stir up your seeds of greatness, people that will inspire you to rise to new heights. scripture talks about:

Daniel 5:12 (AMP)
12 … an excellent spirit… found in this same Daniel

Daniel 6:3 (AMP)
3 … Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps because an excellent spirit was in him

if you study his life, you’ll find that he had excellent friends. you know who Daniel hung out with? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the 3 Hebrew teenagers that wouldn’t bow down to the King’s golden idol:

Daniel 3:12 (NIV)
12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

no wonder Daniel was a person of excellence; his friends were people of integrity, people of great courage, people that wouldn’t compromise, people that had a big dream for their life.  psychologists tell us there’s something called “the law of the group”; that is, that we associate with people the way we see ourselves. have you noticed how people that like to gossip find other people that like to gossip? negative people gravitate toward other negative people, complainers find other complainers, thus the saying, “birds of a feather flock together.” my encouragement; make sure you’re flocking to the right group. victorious people associate with other victorious people. successful people find other people that are successful. happy people hang around other happy people. eagles soar with other eagles.

young people, this is so important; choosing the wrong friends can keep you from your destiny. don’t hang around people at school that have a bad attitude, that are always bucking the system, always getting into trouble; that may seem cool, but that’s not cool at all, that’s dumb. that’s going to cause them to be a chicken when they were created to be an eagle. find friends that are going to make something out of their lives. hang around students that are disciplined, focused, people that are going somewhere. don’t worry about being in the right group, having the most friends, being the most popular; 20 years from now, no one cares who the most popular one was. the quantity of your friends is not important; it’s the quality that really matters. I would rather have one friend that has their head on straight, that’s going someplace, than 20 friends that are only mediocre. in school, the science fair is not that popular, the debate team, the math club, that never gets a lot of attention, but when you study, you learn, you make good grades. people may make fun of you, calling you geek, bookworm, nerd;  don’t worry, in a few years they’ll call you boss, supervise, Senator, Doctor, Pastor, Your Honor. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
17 As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

your friends should be sharpening you, making you better. sometimes, you can outgrow a friend; God had them in your life for a season. you blessed them, they blessed you, but now that season is over, maybe you’re growing at a different rate; you have to recognize when their part in your story is over. that doesn’t mean you can’t ever see them again, but you know you can’t spend the same amount of time with them and become who you were created to be. true friends will understand this; true friends won’t try to make you feel guilty, keep it the same, they’ll be happy for you, they’ll celebrate where you’re going. just as God opens doors, God closes doors; you can’t get stuck trying to hold onto something that’s over and done. we don’t like change, we want it to be just like it was when we were hanging out, growing up together, but now it’s a new day.  sometimes the people that knew you back then will try to keep you in that box, keep it all the same, but God works in seasons; I’ve seen in my own life how God moves people out of the way and brings new people in. the bottom line is, everybody cannot go where God is taking you. the higher you go, the tighter your circle has to become, the more selective you have to be. In Genesis:

Genesis 12:1-4 (NIV)
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him

God just told him to leave his relatives; it wasn’t long after that that he and Lot had a disagreement:

Genesis 13:5-7 (NIV)
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s.

it could’ve all been avoided if Abraham would’ve left who he was supposed to leave. how much conflict do we encounter, how much heartache do we have to deal with, because we’re still hanging around somebody that we knew years ago we were supposed to walk away from? like with Abraham, God promised to bless us, but because we didn’t leave who we were supposed to leave, now we’re having to deal with things that we should’ve never had to deal with in the first place. Abraham and Lot, there was so much conflict, they had to separate:

Genesis 13:11 (NIV)
11 … The two men parted company

it’s funny how God will always eventually get His way. but Abraham, he meant well taking Lot, that was his nephew, but just because somebody is related to you doesn’t mean they’re connected to you; they may have your blood, but they don’t have your spirit. they may not have heard the call that God put on your life. this doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means God has a different assignment for them, or perhaps they’re at a different level in their growth, but for some reason they’re not right for you. this is one of the hardest things we have to deal with; letting go of people that are not supposed to be in our life. there are family members and relatives that cannot go where you’re going; you should always treat your family with respect, but you don’t have to spend 24 hours a day with them. some of your relatives, you have to love them from a distance; that family reunion once a year is all God’s asking of you.

for Abraham, it kept getting worse; he and Lot separated, and then:

Genesis 14:11-12 (NIV)
11 The four kings… 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

it looked like he was done. when Abraham heard it, he thought, “it’s my fault, I let him come, I’ve got to do something about it.”

Genesis 14:14-16 (NIV)
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan… 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions

once again, he wouldn’t have been rescuing people, going to all this time, energy, trouble, if he would’ve just left who he was supposed to leave. Abraham was a lot like us; he wanted to be good to Lot, he thought, “God, I know you said don’t take my relatives, but Lot wants to come, and I don’t want to disappoint him”; he did it out of the kindness of his heart. how many times are we hanging around somebody that we know is not good for us, but we don’t want to hurt their feelings, we don’t want to let them down, so we keep putting it off, holding on to what we know we should let go of? here’s the problem; like with Abraham, later on, down the road, there’ll be trouble, conflict, unnecessary heartache. we could avoid it if we would make the right choices today. what am I saying? make sure you let go of what God’s asking you to walk away from.

you shouldn’t spend a lot of time with people that are always negative, people that are always discouraged, you have to keep them cheered up, fixed; I’m all for helping people, all for being a blessing, sometimes we have to love people back into wholeness, but if you’re always giving and never receiving, that is an unhealthy relationship. you need to gradually make some changes; don’t let them continue to control you, make you feel guilty because you’re not there at their beck and call. until you put your foot down, they’ll continue to use you, put their demands on you, drain all your energy trying to keep them happy. and this is the reason many people are worn out, stressed out, don’t have any energy; they’ve got this false sense of responsibility, this heavy load of trying to please everybody. you are not responsible for other people’s happiness; you are responsible for your own happiness. everybody doesn’t really want to be happy; they like the attention that it brings from always needing something. as long as you feel guilty and keep giving in, the one person that’s going to be unhappy is you.

in the scripture:

Mark 2:3-5 (NIV)
3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

there are times in life when we need to be like these friends and carry somebody, help them move forward. but if you’re going to be who you were created to be, you can’t always do the carrying; if this man had not had friends that could carry him, he would’ve never made his destiny. if you only have people around you that need to be carried, people that need encouragement, need help, advice, a ride, that’s out of balance. you have to have people that can carry you, help lighten the load. it’s easy to think you can do it all, “raise these children by myself, run my business,” always giving, serving, sacrificing, but that’s cheating yourself; God has already lined up people to come into your life to help lighten that load, the people that will make your life easier, to encourage you, to give you advice, people that will open doors that you could’ve never opened. but if you are worn out from trying to please everybody, then because you’re so consumed trying to carry the weight, you’re not taking the time to cultivate relationships that can carry you.  sometimes it’s pride, we think, “I don’t need any help, I can do this on my own”; the truth is, you cannot reach your highest potential on your own.

what God has planned for you is going to take more than just your faith; the faith of one is not going to be enough. like this man, you’re going to need the faith of five, you’re going to need four friends that can lift you, carry you, help push you into your destiny. you can’t be so busy sowing into other people’s lives, giving, serving, that you’re not cultivating relationships that can carry you. God has friends lined up for you that don’t need anything: they’re stronger, they’re smarter, they have more influence, more experience. you won’t have to cheer them up, they’ll cheer you up. you don’t have to inspire them, they’ll inspire you, buy your dinner, introduce you to their connections. make sure you have people in your life that can carry you. God knows how to connect you with exactly who you need. He’s already lined up the right people to get you to where you’re supposed to be. remember this principle; if you don’t get rid of the wrong people, you’ll never meet the right ones. what you’re unwilling to walk away from is where you’ll get stuck, so on a regular basis, evaluate your friendships; make sure you’re hanging around eagles, people that inspire you and make you better. if you’ll do this, God is going to connect you to the right people for every season. He’s going to bring eagles across your path. you’re not going to get stuck, you’re going to spread out your wings and soar into the fullness of your destiny.

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Church-related MIRACLE

The church-related blessings that I reported on in my last post were just the warm-up for what happened on Sunday.

First came what I suppose might be attempts by the enemy to prevent the nice lady I wrote about from coming to my church. She did not want to go there never having seen me, logically enough, so she was supposed to drop by on Saturday long enough for us to at least meet briefly. Something that I still haven’t even heard about prevented her from doing that. Hoping to encourage her to still go, I sent her a description of myself, what I was going to wear, and exactly where I sit during the service. Sadly, I got through the entire service without any contact from her. An hour or so later, I was commenting to one of my friends… yes, I have FRIENDS in this church now, it’s amazing how intertwined I am with people I hadn’t even met 2 months ago… that I was bummed that this lady had not showed up. A nearby man who I do not remember ever seeing before interjected that she HAD been there, that she was his NEIGHBOR, and… that she had been sitting in the row directly behind me!!!!!!!!!! You see how God has a sense of humor? Anyways, I’m not quite sure why she was brave enough to show up but not brave enough to ASK anybody to point me out, but it was really cool that she had come. And now for the miraculous part:

Shortly after I got home, I received an email from her:

… (detailed list of the many horrible medical problems that her 13 year old daughter had suffered)… “[she] stopped talking to anyone other than me. Less than a year ago, she would not leave her room, and stayed in her bed curled into a fetal position… was diagnosed with selective mutism and severe anxiety. Today, she stood up on her own for healing. I assumed, like many others I’m sure, that the prayer would heal her left arm. And then I witnessed another miracle, when they called for those who wanted more prayer to stand up front- the girl who less than a year ago wouldn’t leave the house, make eye contact, speak- was healed of her anxiety and fear and bravely walked to the front with me following dumbstruck behind her. Today was such a profound experience and I’m extremely grateful… God has resurrected my sweet girl from a tomb of depression, hurt, anxiety, and shame.”

You can just imagine how I felt when I read all this!! God’s plans are always so much bigger and better than our own plans!! All I have ever hoped for with this lady was to have a new local friend. Having her join my church was a huge bonus. What has actually happened, on just her FIRST day there, is beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I am grateful and humbled beyond words that God used ME to bring healing and hope to this suffering child, not to mention her mom who has probably suffered even worse from all these years of witnessing the misery of her daughter. And this is such a clear example of how we can only see a little piece of God’s plan at any given time; my friendship with this lady, although a marvelous gift, was NOT the main event here, it was just a blessed side effect of God’s primary plan, which was to provide for the needs of her child. Believe me, I have never been happier to NOT be the main focus, and that God would use ME as part of His plan is a gigantic blessing.

All of this happened because I reached out to ONE person. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to hear about all the people in the world who are hurt, sick, frightened, lonely, sad, we want to do something about it but we don’t see what we can do… but every single one of you has the ability to reach out to ONE person, especially since, if you’re reading this, you obviously have Internet access, and you can find someone online the same way I did with this lady. I’m not saying that God will involve you in a miraculous event like the one I have described, although it could definitely happen, but if you improve just ONE person’s life, that will make God happy… and what could be better than that?

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God has continued to bless me in many ways as I gradually integrate into my church.  I’m still feeling very confident that He intends for me to accomplish some significant things in this church, up to and including eventually getting to preach. I’m pretty sure that, false modesty aside, I am making great strides in obtaining pastoral approval.  I’m participating in just about everything, including those things where only a small group is involved, and, despite my only 2 months of membership, *I* was the one asked to take over for 2 of the ladies who do part of the “tearing down” after every service who will be on vacation starting next week; I’m actually astonished that in the whole congregation they couldn’t come up with a couple of other people to handle this responsibility without having to rely on a newbie… see how quickly I’m being seen as someone who can be counted on?  That’s clear evidence of God helping me along.

And I apparently gained a lot of points with the pastor last week when I brought a printout of a cool prayer meme to prayer group;  something made me leave it behind, and he surprised me by telling me this week that he had been showing it to other people, so clearly I did more than just share a cute image, I made a connection.

AND, one of the other ladies that I met via the same meetup.com group where I met the woman who brought me to this church, who I have never met in person, and had only exchanged a few one-line emails with, is going to be coming to church with me today!!  I don’t have to tell you how huge it is if you can bring a new member to a small church with no national support like mine.

The really interesting thing is that she and I had exchanged a couple of emails half a year ago, and then the holiday season hit and I never heard from her again, and the lady that I have been going to the church of, while previously agreeing that eventually we should contact the other ladies and try to get together with them, had switched to saying that we shouldn’t bother, but something made me send an email anyways, and this other lady responded, and then, although I had no reason to think that she was a Christian, much less a practicing Christian, and even knowing how badly put off some people are by mentions of religion, and keep in mind I was hoping that she would become a much-needed local friend, something made me tell her that I had been attending this other lady’s church… and she responded that she had been looking for a church to go to, but didn’t want to go where she didn’t know anybody, and suddenly this virtual stranger wants to go to MY church!! It’s hard to miss the hand of God in these events.

2015 continues to be a year, not just of restoration, but of restoration x7, of a new life with more than I ever had before. Stay tuned, because it’s just getting started!!

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