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Archive for March 16th, 2015

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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