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Archive for April, 2015

I wasn’t really expecting to have another experience of speaking in tongues at the first prayer meeting after I had the astonishing experience described in my post “A new level of speaking in tongues” from 4-15; God gives us an endless stream of miracles, but the bigger ones are usually spaced a little bit further apart.  Just for the sake of completeness, I did ask him to allow me to speak in tongues at the beginning of the prayer meeting, but didn’t have any real expectation that it would happen… and frankly, I don’t think that that brief request actually led to what occurred:

Just like the previous week, the pastor asked us to walk around and pray; this may be part of why this worked the way it did, but there’s no way to be sure of that yet.  I started walking, praying out loud quietly under my breath, just like before, and after a few sentences the words transitioned into being what you’d have to call nonsense syllables, I guess… I’m sorry I can’t give you a clear idea of how this transition happens, but I’m not in control of this and it just comes out of nowhere. I was happy and excited that it was happening again, and that would’ve been plenty for me, but God is rarely satisfied with the status quo;  the syllables were coming out of my mouth faster than before, and then MUCH faster.  I was touching my lips and chin to verify that they were moving as fast as it seemed like the sounds were coming out of me; they were.  I pushed myself to try to be a little louder with it so I would hear more clearly what I was “saying”; it was difficult, it took a real effort to get just a little bit more volume.  What was coming out of my mouth wasn’t even syllables anymore, really, it was just a rapid stream of sounds; it was mostly consonants, and I was able to make out a lot of D and V sounds, but that’s all I can tell you about it.  As I had before, I tried several times to say something like, “Thank you Holy Spirit,” and I’d be able to get out the first 2-3 syllables and then the control would just fade away from me again.

Just as previously, there was no discomfort of any kind, it was not stressful or upsetting in any way, the rest of my body was functioning normally, and my mind was clear and sharp; there was no hint of an altered state. Actually, I guess that’s not 100% true; at one point, I sort of gasped and sucked in a great big breath, because apparently I had stopped breathing without realizing it. It only happened once, and I certainly didn’t alter anything about what I was doing to keep it from happening again, so maybe it was a tiny miscalculation on the part of the Holy Spirit, or maybe it was just a random thing, I don’t know.  I wasn’t harmed in any way by this, I wasn’t frightened or concerned, and I think I breathed totally normally after that, which when you think about it is not usually the case when you go without air for so long that you have to make a big gasp like that… I don’t know if this was because of the Holy Spirit’s control of my body, or perhaps I did have some other breaths that were heavier than usual but was just not aware of it.

Just like the last time, I’d say it was over 10 minutes that I walked around speaking in tongues; I asked a friend if she had heard me when we passed right by each other on several occasions, and she said she had.  When the pastor finally interrupted us, it wasn’t like last time when it tapered quickly off and stopped;  when I stopped walking and turned to face him, the speaking in tongues dropped to a very low volume, but continued happening, full speed, for the several minutes that he spoke. Then, he wanted us to take our seats, which we all did, and it STILL DIDN’T STOP;  it became nearly soundless, but it continued full speed until he made clear that we were about to be dismissed, at which point it slowed down and then stopped.

Could I have stopped it if I had focused my whole will on clenching my jaw and pressing my lips together? I honestly don’t know. I don’t intend to try; I would never treat a gift from the Holy Spirit that way.  

Why is this happening? Why is it escalating?  What is it leading to? What am I supposed to do with it?  I have no idea.  What I AM sure about is that this astonishing development, and whatever it’s leading to, are the reason that the people that I’m hoping will eventually return to my life have not yet been brought back to me; God obviously wants me focused on my church life and spiritual development right now, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Once I have reached whatever level God wants me to attain at this time, or at least a plateau at a high enough level, God will bring back the people that He had to take away in order for me to make this gargantuan leap forward in my life.

Just 4 months ago, I was counting down to New Year’s Eve, wondering if I was going to be starting the new year by myself for the first time in my life, but still having total faith that God could pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last minute… which He DID, and my life, which had been sinking steadily downward for 4 years, was suddenly jet-propelled upwards.  Just when I think that I’m fully settled into my new life, God brings a new level of development.  If your life has been going downhill for a long time, and you feel like God might have forgotten about you, take heart; not only has He NOT forgotten you, He is waiting for exactly the right moment to lift you up from the pit to the pinnacle.  He did it for Joseph, He did it for me, and He will do it for YOU.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

a few months ago, it had been cloudy here for a long time; gray, gloomy, overcast. every morning when I woke up, I thought, “surely it’s going to be sunny today.” I looked outside eagerly, but nothing had changed. I watched the weather reports on the news, but as far out as they predicted, it was all cloudy. I checked the 10 day weather report on my phone; nothing had changed, no end in sight. it had been that way so long, people started asking the question, “when are we ever going to see the sun again?” sometimes, it can be that way life; it’s cloudy in our health, finances, in a relationship. day after day goes by, it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to change. when it’s been dark for a long time, it’s easy to get discouraged, think that it’s never going to change. one morning, I was in my office, looking out the window; it was another gray, gloomy day, like it’d been again and again. yet all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the clouds broke open, and this bright ray of sunlight came shining down; it looked like a postcard. it was so beautiful, the sun shining through the trees, the ground was glistening.

I sat there and took it all in. it was such a welcome sight; I could feel my spirits lifting. in a few minutes, as I watched, all the clouds dissipated; they didn’t blow away, they just went away, like fog burning off. I heard these two the words in my spirit; unexpected sunshine. maybe it’s been cloudy in your life for a long time; those clouds of loneliness don’t look like they’ll ever leave, you don’t think you’d ever meet the right person. but can I tell you; God has unexpected sunshine. He’s already lined up the person of your dreams. it’s just a matter of time before those clouds open up. the medical report may say, ”you’ll never get well, just learn to live with it”; it’s cloudy in your health. stay encouraged; unexpected sunshine is coming your way. or those clouds of struggle, lack, can’t get ahead; they may have followed you around for years. you could easily accept mediocrity, think you’ve reached your limits; no, get ready for unexpected sunshine. one touch of God’s favor can thrust you to a next level.

it may be overcast right now, gloomy in some area of your life. the good news is, those clouds don’t stop our God; He controls the clouds. in a split second, He can cause them to open up: suddenly you get well, suddenly you meet the right person, suddenly you’re out of debt. don’t be discouraged by the clouds; they’re only temporary. people don’t have the final say, God does. He says, “I have unexpected sunshine. I’m going to cause those clouds to open up, shine down healing and restoration.” when it’s cloudy, every voice will tell you, “it’s never going to change, you’ll always be addicted, always be discouraged, always struggle in your career.” don’t believe those lies. God is saying, “I have unexpected sunshine coming your way. it’s going to be unusual, out of the ordinary, and it’s going to happen suddenly. those clouds are going to break open; you’re going to see rays of healing, favor, promotion.”

now do your part, and get in agreement with God. start acting like it’s going to happen, thinking like it’s going to happen, talking like it’s going to happen. no more, “I’ll never get well, I’ve had this too long,” no, “God is restoring health back unto me. the number of my days He will fulfill.” no more, “I never get any good breaks, I’ll never accomplish my dreams,” no, “I have the favor of God. blessings are chasing me down. I’m the head and not the tail.” no more, “this problem’s too big, I don’t see a way out,” no, it may be big, but I know my God is bigger. it may be a little cloudy right now, but I know a secret; unexpected sunshine is coming my way.” Jesus said:

Matthew 6:22 (NLT)
22 …A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul.

when you have this attitude of faith, positive, hopeful, expecting good things, that pure eye is letting sunshine into your life. but when we go around stressed out, worried, thinking it’s never going to change, that’s stopping the sun. it’s causing more clouds to roll in, more defeat, more mediocrity. you have to start letting some sun shine into your life. it doesn’t start with God, it starts with us; instead of being discouraged by the dark clouds, our attitude should be, “any moment, this can change; healing is coming, promotion is coming, the right person is coming, breakthroughs are coming.” if you want to see the clouds open up, you have to have this expectancy. shake off the negativity, quit talking about what’s not working out. turn it around; “God, I know You’re in control of these clouds; they didn’t come to stay, they came to pass. I believe at any moment I’m going to see that unexpected sunshine.” all the reports may say, “this problem is permanent,” but God controls the universe; He knows how to suddenly change things. He can suddenly move the wrong people out. He can suddenly open doors you never dreamed would open.

that’s why you can’t just go by what you see; what you see is temporary. like those weather forecasts, it may tell you, “it’s going to be the same month after month, year after year, gloomy, depressing, it’s never going to change.” in the natural, that may be true, but the good news is, we serve a supernatural God. on your own, you may be stuck, but you’re not on your own; the Creator of the universe, the God who spoke worlds into existence, has you in the palm of His hand. He’s directing your steps. He controls the clouds, the wind; He doesn’t have to wait for the weather to get better, He doesn’t have to wait for the medical report to improve, He doesn’t have to wait for the situation to turn around. when it’s your time for promotion, for healing, for abundance, all the forces of darkness cannot stop our God. don’t get discouraged and give up on what you’re believing for. you need to get ready; those clouds are about to open up. the sun is about to break through. just like I saw in my office that day; in 15 minutes all the clouds went out of the sky, it totally cleared up. God knows how to make what should’ve taken years happen in a fraction of the time. you’re going to look up and say, “I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t see my health improving this fast. I didn’t see that new house on the radar, I didn’t see that favor coming.” the scripture puts it this way:

Psalm 112:4 (NLT)
When darkness overtakes the righteous, the light will come bursting in.

it doesn’t say it’ll trickle in, barely get there, hopefully make it one day; no, suddenly, unexpectedly it will come bursting in. that means it wasn’t on the radar, you didn’t see it coming, but God in His goodness turned it all around. it may be dark in your life right now, cloudy in some area; you don’t see how you’ll ever get well, ever get out of debt, ever get the legal situation resolved. here’s the key; you are the righteous. you are a child of the most high God. you have royal blood flowing through your veins; that means you have a promise from your Creator. when it gets dark, when you could easily be discouraged, when you feel like giving up, God says, “you need to get ready; light, healing, favor are about to burst in. vindication, restoration is going to suddenly show up.” God is so merciful, even if you’re making poor choices, even if you turn away from God, God won’t turn away from you. God will still see you as the righteous. in the midst of trouble, He’ll say, “that’s My son/daughter. s/he belongs to Me. s/he’s overcome by darkness, so My light is about to come bursting in.”

maybe you have a son, a daughter, a family member, that’s off course, running with the wrong crowd, they’ve been overcome by darkness. you could easily be discouraged, but stay in faith; your child belongs to God, there’s nothing that can snatch them out of His hand. they may be in darkness, but light is coming, deliverance is coming, freedom is coming. God is not judging them by where they are right now. God is not abandoning them because they turned their back. God still sees them as the righteous; light is still about to burst in. or maybe you’ve made poor choices. you don’t think you can expect anything good; “God would never help me, you don’t know the life that I’ve lived.” it doesn’t say, “God will help the righteous as long as you don’t make any mistakes.” have a new perspective; you belong to God, you are His child. now you have to have this attitude; “God, I made this mess, I brought this trouble on myself, but I know You’re a God of mercy; I believe You still have unexpected sunshine coming my way.” in other words, “I’m struggling with this addiction, but I believe deliverance is on the way. restoration, vindication is going to suddenly show up.”

in Numbers 17, there had been a power struggle over who would become the next priest. the people were questioning Moses’ authority. God told Moses:

Numbers 17:1-8 (NIV)
17 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.

(the Ark of the covenant was where God “lived” back then, and the staffs were just old, dried up, dead pieces of wood, just basically a stick that they had used for years.) they knew then that Aaron was supposed to be the priest. one lesson we can learn from this story is that God can change things overnight; He can take a situation that should take years to resolve and accelerate it. you may think it’s going to take years to get well, get out of debt, accomplish your dreams; God knows how to speed it up. one good break, one phone call, one idea, suddenly, unexpectedly, overnight, God can change it. don’t believe the lies that it’s never going to get better; “my marriage situation, it looks dead. my dreams, my financial situation, it all looks dead.” that’s ok; God took a stick that had been dead for years and caused it to produce new fruit. what you think is dead, God is saying, “I can still cause it to bloom, to blossom. I can breathe new life into it. you can still become who you were created to be. you can still overcome that obstacle, accomplish your dreams.”

God knows how to change things overnight. even situations that look impossible, you think it’s way too far gone, God knows how to break through those dark clouds. suddenly the relationship is restored. suddenly you get healthy again. suddenly you get that break you need. God is going to accelerate what you think should take years. God has the right people lined up for you; He knows how to put you in the right place at the right time. you might think, “my situation, I don’t see how it could ever work out.” you don’t have to figure it out; all you have to do is believe. just because you don’t see a way, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a way; He already has the solution. our attitude should be, “God, my life is in Your hands. it’s a little cloudy right now, I don’t see how I could accomplish my dreams, but God, I believe You have unexpected sunshine coming my way. I believe You’ll get me to where I’m supposed to be.” the Psalmist put it this way:

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)
5 … Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

think about this; morning starts at midnight. at midnight, it’s still dark, but it’s a new day. in a few hours, light is coming, the sun is going to break forth. but too often, when it’s dark in our life, we think, “nothing’s changing, it’s never going to get any better.” no, you have to believe that you’re past midnight; you have to believe that you’ve entered into a new day. don’t wait to thank God until you see the sunshine; dare to thank Him while it’s still dark. dare to have a good attitude while it’s still cloudy. this is what faith is all about. we think, “when I see it, I’ll believe it,” but faith says, “you have to believe it, and then you’ll see it.” but when things aren’t going our way, it’s easy to do just the opposite, get negative, complain, ”why can’t I get any good breaks? when is this ever going to change?” no, turn it around, “it may be dark right now, but Lord I believe I’ve entered into a new day. I believe I’ve passed midnight, so I want to thank You that joy is coming, healing is coming, the right person is coming, the breakthrough is coming. Lord, thank You for Your unexpected sunshine.”

you live like that, you’re going to see some suddenlies. those clouds are going to break open; God will amaze you with His goodness. God controls the clouds; He can bring your dreams to pass. He can help you overcome that problem. He has it all figured out. “I don’t have the connections”; that’s ok, He does. “I don’t have the resources”; that’s alright, He owns it all. “the medical report says no way”; God has the final say, He says “yes way.” it may be cloudy in your life, but those clouds are about to open up. you need to get ready; you are close to a breakthrough. it’s going to happen sooner than you think. you’re about to see some suddenlies. now do your part; let the sun shine into your life. have this attitude of faith; go out each day with expectancy. if you do this, light is about to come bursting in. healing, favor, promotion, breakthroughs, unexpected sunshine is coming your way.

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My first experience of speaking in tongues can be found in my post of that name from March 4.  That first time it happened spontaneously, with no warning; I had asked God to allow me to do it if it was a real thing several weeks before, and had pretty much forgotten about it until it started coming out of my mouth.  I’ve asked a few times since then to let it happen again, and possibly as a result of that, or possibly “just because,” I’ve been doing it a little bit at other prayer meetings, or I guess I should say a little bit that I’m aware of, because I can’t really hear myself praying under my breath because of all the people speaking around me, so I honestly can’t be positive much of the time whether whatever is coming out of my mouth is coherent or not.  It never seemed to last for long, just a line or two, but it was a nice addition to the prayer meetings.

I had an extraordinary experience at prayer meeting today. As we started praying at the beginning, I asked I God to allow me to speak in tongues, but I didn’t think much about it or dwell on it in any way.  When the pastor asked us to walk around and pray, I started doing just that.  As I did, I realized that I had started speaking in tongues. It wasn’t just a line or two this time; it kept going. I pushed myself to speak a little louder, because as always there were a lot of loud people kind of drowning me out (that’s not a complaint, at least not about those who are doing it from genuine fullness of the Spirit rather than from a desire for extra attention), and there was a little bit of strain involved in exerting even that much control, but when I did I could hear more clearly that what was coming out of my mouth was what would’ve sounded to an objective listener like gibberish.  It went on and on, as I walked back and forth and up and down with my eyes wide in amazement.  This lasted TEN MINUTES or more!!  At least a half-dozen times, I tried to get some coherent words out, thanking God, thanking the Holy Spirit, that sort of thing, and each time with a little bit of effort I was able to say a few words, but I was never able to finish a sentence; again, not a complaint, just saying.  

Folks, this is POWERFUL stuff.  I should make clear that there was nothing scary about it, there was no pain or discomfort involved, no confusion, no fogging of my brain, no negative effects at all.  I wasn’t hysterical, having fits on the floor, or anything like that; I was calmly walking around this big meeting room, praying under my breath, and you would have had to have been close enough to me to step on my feet to realize that I was speaking in tongues.  The feeling, though, the feeling of my mouth and jaw moving without my control, the realization that I was filled with the Holy Spirit… it’s indescribable.

I wish I could explain to you how to do this, so you could try it and see for yourself.  All I can suggest is that you ask God to enable you to do it, and get in the habit of praying quietly out loud under circumstances where you will not alarm anyone or feel self-conscious if you start speaking in tongues.  If you know any people who do it, or churches where people do it, I’m sure they will help you if you ask them. I think the most important thing is to actually WANT to have that connection, to be open to it rather than hesitant or afraid. I know some people have a hard time giving up control; I myself do not, which is probably part of why it worked so well for me.  Just keep in mind that God already has complete control over you, should He wish to exercise it, so you’re not actually changing anything by consciously surrendering control, it’s just making sure that you have the right attitude for it to happen naturally.

This is another big step forward for my religious life. I’m so grateful to God for continuing to increase and expand and enrich my existence after my 4 years in the desert, so to speak.

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The valley of blessing

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through difficult times in life, and things that we don’t understand.  when we’re in the valley, it’s easy to get discouraged, think that it will never get better.  too often we lose our passion.  but the scripture talks about the Valley of Blessing:

2 Chronicles 20:26 (NLT)

26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. 

(NB:  Technically, the people were blessed BEFORE they went into the valley, not while they were IN the valley.  Being blessed in a valley, in other words at a low point in your life, is a valid idea, but the Bible doesn’t mean it that way.  This is why it’s so important to look things up.)

that seems like a contradiction; we think, “I can’t be in the valley and be blessed; in the valley I’m discouraged.  I’m dealing with a health issue, these people at work won’t treat me right.” we see the valley as being negative; “as soon as I get out of this situation, I’ll have a better attitude.” but God doesn’t always remove the valley; He’ll bless you in the valley. David said:

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV)

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies

it doesn’t say, “God will remove all my enemies, eliminate everything that’s bothering me, then prepare the table”;  no, in the midst of the trouble, in the midst of the adversity, He prepares the table. He doesn’t have to deliver you from it, He can deliver you IN it. 

one time, in the scripture, Isaac was in a great famine; nobody’s crops could grow.  the land was dry and hard, no water, but:

Genesis 26:12 (NIV)

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him.

God didn’t have to deliver him from the famine; He blessed him in the midst of the famine.  you may be in a valley right now, fighting a battle in your health, your finances, in a legal situation; God knows how to turn that battlefield into your blessing field.  don’t complain about the valley; there’s a blessing in that valley. it wasn’t sent to harm you, it was sent to increase you.  you need to get ready; it’s not going to stay a valley of defeat, it’s about to turn into a valley of victory. what you think is a valley of disappointment, loss, heartache, God is going to turn into a valley of new beginnings, a valley of greater fulfillment. or perhaps you’re in a valley of sickness. you could easily be discouraged, and settle where you are; take heart, it’s only temporary.  it’s going to turn into a valley of health, greater strength.  God has you in the palm of his hand;  He promised, the number of your days He will fulfill. don’t be fooled by the valley; like for Isaac, it’s about to turn into a valley of breakthroughs, abundance, victory. it’s a valley of blessing. 

this is what happened in the scripture to the people of Judah; they were surrounded by 3 major armies who were quickly closing in on them. 

2 Chronicles 20:1 (NIV)

20 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat.

in the natural, they didn’t have a chance; they were outnumbered 10 to 1. Jehoshaphat the king called everyone together to pray:

2 Chronicles 20:13 (NLT)

13 As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children

you can imagine how worried, how concerned they were;  their lives were on the line. Jehoshaphat looked up to the heavens:

2 Chronicles 20:12 (AMP)

12 O our God…  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

when you’re in the valley, it’s ok to be honest;  “God, I don’t see how I could ever get out. I don’t see how I could get well, how my family could be restored.” that’s fine, but don’t stop there, do like he did; “God, I don’t see a way, but my eyes are upon You. I know You still have a way. I know nothing is too difficult for You.”  after he finished praying:

2 Chronicles 20:14-15 (NIV)

14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah…  15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 

you may be facing big enemies today.  God is saying the same thing;  “quit letting it upset you, quit losing your peace; it’s not your battle, it’s the Lord’s battle.” God went on to instruct them:

2 Chronicles 20:16-17 (NLT)

16 Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.

King Jehoshaphat did something interesting:

2 Chronicles 20:21 (GW)

21 After he had advised the people, he appointed people to sing to the Lord and praise him for the beauty of his holiness. As they went in front of the troops, they sang, “Thank the Lord because his mercy endures forever!”

notice, in the valley, they weren’t complaining, they weren’t saying, “we’ll never get out, this problem’s too big, why does this happen to us?”  no, they were singing praises, talking about the greatness of their God. they were speaking faith into their future. what you’re saying in the valley is extremely important.  if you go around saying, “I’m never going to get out, I’ve got all these problems, I always get these bad breaks,” then you’re going to get stuck.  but when you start talking about how great your God is, how no weapon formed against you will prosper, how this problem didn’t come stay, it came to pass, “I can do all things through Christ, I am more than a conqueror,” when you start talking like that, that’s when God will show up and make things happen that you could never make happen. when these enemy armies heard all the singing, shouting, commotion:

2 Chronicles 20:23-24 (NKJV)

23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

just like God promised; stand still, and He will fight your battles. 

2 Chronicles 20:25-26 (NLT)

25 King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder. They found vast amounts of equipment, clothing, and other valuables—more than they could carry. There was so much plunder that it took them three days just to collect it all! 26 On the fourth day they gathered in the Valley of Blessing, which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there. 

isn’t it interesting; in the place where they had their greatest battles, their most powerful enemies, God didn’t call that, The Valley of Opposition, The Valley of Struggle, The Valley of Heartache; He called it The Valley of Blessing. when you face tough times, have this new perspective; that is not The Valley of Defeat, that’s The Valley of Victory.  that’s not a valley to hold you back, it’s a valley of promotion. it’s not a valid sickness, it’s a valley of restoration.  maybe like the people of Judah, what you’re facing looks insurmountable: the medical report doesn’t look good, you lost your biggest client, your child won’t do what’s right.  those enemies may look big, but one touch of God’s favor can turn it all around.  don’t get discouraged; God has not brought you this far to leave you. every voice may tell you, “that’s a valley of defeat;  you’re never going to get out, never accomplish your dreams”; the good news is, you don’t have to get out of the valley, God can bless you in the valley. 

the enemy may have meant it for your harm, but he doesn’t have the final say, God does;  He says, “stand still, and I’m going to show you my goodness. stay in faith, and I’m going to turn that battlefield into your blessing field.” what should have defeated you is going to increase you; you’re going to come out better. I love the fact that it took them three days to gather up all the spoils. it would’ve been a great victory if God had just defeated their enemies, spared their lives, but God never brings you out the same; He makes the enemy pay for bringing that trouble into your life. sometimes, we’re just hoping to make it through the valley; “God, help me make it through this dry season at work.”  but God says, “no, I’m going to turn that valley into a valley of abundance.”  there’s a blessing in every valley. David said:

Psalm 23:1-2 (NKJV)

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

we like that part of the passage, but a little later it says:

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

he was saying;  the same God that leads you to the green pastures and the still waters, sometimes will lead you to the valley.  you may not understand it, but if it wasn’t going to work for your good, God would have never allowed it.  when you face tough times, you have to remind yourself;  God would not be leading you to that valley if that’s all there was.  loss, defeat, too bad, you’re done; no, there’s a purpose for that valley, not to hinder you, but to help you.  not to hold you back, but to push you forward. not to weaken you, but to make you stronger. the key is our attitude in the valley. if Jehoshaphat would’ve thought, “God, I’ve served you all these years, I’ve done my best, and now look, these enemies are going to wipe us out, that’s just not right,”  if he’d have been negative, bitter, discouraged, he would’ve never seen this valley of blessing. most likely, he would’ve been captured, or even killed.  Psalms says:

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord

when you encounter a valley, sometimes it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong, it’s because you’re doing something right. God is ready to promote you, but the way He’s going to do it is by taking you through the valley of blessing.  we think, “God, if You’re going to bless me, don’t take me down, take me up. if You want to promote me, don’t let me lose my job.” but God’s ways are not our ways; they are much bigger.  His plan is better than our plan. don’t fight your valleys;  stay encouraged. every closed door, every bad break, everything that didn’t work out, that valley was not a surprise to God.  it’s an opportunity for you to go to a higher level. God is directing your steps when you’re on the mountaintops, and He’s directing your steps even when you’re in the valley.  and I’m not saying to accept defeat, settle for mediocrity, that isn’t God’s plan;  I’m saying, when you go through a valley, and we all do, when a door closes, you get a bad medical report, don’t get bitter, don’t live with a chip on your shoulder; start expecting new doors to open, new opportunities, new friendships. God wouldn’t have led you there if it wasn’t going to work for your good.  there’s a blessing that valley. 

don’t fight your valleys; they’re leading to your greatest victories.  in the valleys, we always gain something; we may not like it, but we gain experience, endurance, our character is being developed.  with every victory comes a new level of confidence, something that you’ll need later on to go to a higher level. the valleys are getting us prepared. God knows what’s in your future. He knows what you’re going to need, when you’re going to need it.  everything happens for a reason. a challenge you face today may not make sense, you may not understand it, but 15 years from now, because it deposited something in you, you’ll be prepared for what you face.  God doesn’t do anything randomly;  He’s specific, detailed.  if the valley wasn’t necessary, you wouldn’t be there.  if that setback, that disappointment, wasn’t going to add anything to your life, God would’ve never allowed it. don’t try to figure out why it happened; that will only confuse you.  just stay in faith, trust God that He knows what’s best, and you can be certain;  everything that comes your way in life, somehow, someway, God is eventually going to work that to your advantage. 

when David was a teenager, he went out to face Goliath in the valley of Elah (NB:  “Elah” is the Aramaic word for “God”).  it wasn’t a coincidence that he was in the valley. we see this principle;  Goliath, of course, was much bigger, stronger, had more experience.  it looked impossible, like David didn’t have a chance, but again we see God turn of valley of defeat into a valley of blessing. 

1 Samuel 17:48-49 (NLT)

48 As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

David didn’t have a sword, so:

1 Samuel 17:51 (NLT)

51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.

David came out of that valley, not only with more experience, more confidence, more respect, but he came out with the sword of Goliath. fast-forward years later;  David was on the run from King Saul. Saul was jealous of David, and trying to kill him.  David had to leave in such a hurry that he didn’t have time to get his sword;  he had no way to protect himself.  he ran to the next city, went to the temple, saw some people that he knew;  he told them he was on assignment for the king:

1 Samuel 21:8-9 (NLT)

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

notice, something that had happened in the valley was now instrumental to David reaching the next level of his destiny. had he not gained the sword in the valley, he would’ve gotten stuck. friends, God has it all figured out; the valley you face today may not be for today, it may be for years down the road. but if you didn’t learn what you needed to learn, gain what you needed to gain, you wouldn’t be prepared for the new levels. don’t complain about the valley; there’s a blessing in that valley.  later on you’re going to use the experience, the confidence.  that sword, so to speak, will be waiting for you. in every valley, you’re gaining something; you may not realize it, but there’s a purpose.  nothing happens by accident; there’s no use getting upset and letting it sour your life. stand still, and you will see the victory.  one day, you will look back and see what God was up to.  you’ll say, “Lord, thank You for that valley; if I hadn’t have learned what I needed to learn, I wouldn’t be prepared.” or, “Lord, thank You for closing that door, or I would never have accomplished my dreams.”

God knows what He’s doing. every valley has a blessing; there’s something to push you forward, something that will be instrumental in you reaching the next level of your destiny. I don’t complain about my valleys anymore. I understand this new perspective; this valley wouldn’t be here unless it was preparing me for something greater, unless I was gaining something that I’m going to need later on. I’ve heard the saying: “trouble is inevitable, but misery is optional.” we’re all going to go through valleys, have things we don’t understand;  trouble is inevitable, but it’s up to us whether or not we get stressed out and let it sour the rest of our life.  when you go through a valley, when you go through things you don’t understand, don’t go around confronting people, don’t let it sour the rest of your life.  remind yourself; that is not going to work against you, it’s going to work for you. one day, you’re going to look back, and say, “what I thought was a valley of defeat, I realize now it was a valley of blessing.”

in 1 Kings 20, the Israelites had just defeated the army of Ben-Hadad on the top of this mountain:

1 Kings 20:23-28 (NLT)

23 After their defeat, Ben-hadad’s officers said to him, “The Israelite gods are gods of the hills; that is why they won. But we can beat them easily on the plains… So King Ben-hadad did as they suggested.

26 The following spring he called up the Aramean army and marched out against Israel, this time at Aphek… 28 Then the man of God went to the king of Israel and said, “This is what the Lord says: The Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a god of the hills and not of the plains.’ So I will defeat this vast army for you. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

when we’re on the mountain, getting good breaks, seeing favor, we know God is with us;  life is good.  sometimes, when we’re in the valley, we think, “God, where are You? why did this happen to me? will I ever get out of this trouble? will I ever get well?”  be encouraged;  He’s not just the God of the mountains, He’s the God of the valleys.  David said:

Psalm 46:1 (GW)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in times of trouble.

when you’re in the valley, God is not far away; He’s right there with you, a very present help.

Psalm 84:6 (TLB)

6 When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!

on the way to your destiny, there will be some valleys.  you’ll probably shed some tears, have things you don’t understand.  but God doesn’t waste anything; this is saying, God collects every tear that you’ve shed.  He’ll use those same tears to refresh you; they will become pools of blessing.

when David was 37 years old, he was about to step into the fullness of his destiny. he’d just received his third and final anointing.  he found himself at the valley of Rephaim; “Rephaim” means “giants.” some 20 years earlier, he had killed Goliath in that valley, but now, he not only faced one Goliath, he faced a valley of Goliaths.  the principle; the closer you are to your destiny, the greater the opposition.  you may overcome one challenge, that’s good, but don’t be surprised if you face a bigger challenge;  that means you’re getting closer to your destiny. David and his men went out, full of faith, full of courage, and defeated the Philistines. the scripture says:

2 Samuel 5:20 (AMP)

20 And David came to Baal-perazim, and he smote them there, and said, The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters. So he called the name of that place Baal-perazim [Lord of breaking through].

when you face situations that seem impossible, you need to do like David; rename that valley. this is not the valley of debt, struggle, lack;  I’m renaming it The Valley of Abundance, The Valley of Promotion, The Valley of Increase. this is not the valley of cancer, heart disease, kidney failure; I’m renaming it The Valley of Health, The Valley of Wholeness, The Valley of Victory. this may look like the valley of loneliness, loss, disappointment, but I’m renaming it The Valley of Breakthroughs, The Valley of Victory, it’s The Valley of Blessing. friends, if you’ll start renaming your valleys, what was meant to stop you will instead promote you. the reason you’re facing the opposition is because, just like David, you’re about to step into a new level of your destiny. don’t complain about the valley, have this new perspective; there’s a blessing in that valley.  get your passion back. get your fire back. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. if you’ll do this, God is going to turn every valley you face in life into a valley of victory, health, abundance and blessing.

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There’s no new sermon this week.  I’ve gotten so behind and so exhausted that having those extra hours to catch up on work and sleep has been a relief.

I was hoping that I’d have some brilliant insight to share with you, but after the Easter frenzy this has been a pretty quiet week. What I’ll share instead are quotes from an old, as in more than a century old, sermon from the legendary Charles Spurgeon:

“Is it not a curious thing that whenever God means to make a man great, He always first breaks him in pieces?”

“David was to be king over all Israel. What was the way to Jerusalem for David? What was the way to the throne? Well, it was round by the cave of Adullam. He must go there and be an outlaw and an outcast, for that was the way by which he would be made king. Have none of you ever noticed, in your own lives, that whenever God is going to give you an enlargement and bring you out to a larger sphere of service, or a higher platform of spiritual life, you always get thrown down? That is His usual way of working! He makes you hungry before He feeds you! He strips you before He robes you! He makes nothing of you before He makes something of you! This was the way with David. He is to be king in Jerusalem, but He must go to the throne by the way of the cave.”

” Why is that?  

 It is, first, because if God would make you greatly useful, He must teach you how to pray! … If God means to bless you greatly, He will make you pray greatly, as He does David who says in this part of his preparation for coming to his throne, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice: with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.” 

 Next, the man whom God would greatly honor must always believe in God when he is at his wits’ end. “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.” … Oh, it is easy to trust when you can trust yourself, but when you cannot trust yourself—when you are dead beat, when your spirit sinks below zero in the chill of utter despair—then is the time to trust in God. If that is your case, you have the marks of a man who can lead God’s people and be a comforter of others.”

“until you make much of God, He never will make much of you!”

He whom God would use must be taught sympathy with God’s poor people. Hence we get these words of David, in the sixth verse, “I am brought very low.” If the Lord means to bless you, my Brother, and to make you very useful in His Church, depend upon it, He will try you. “

“Half, perhaps nine-tenths of the trials of God’s ministers are not sent to them on their own account. They are sent for the good of other people… But another of the Lord’s children who has all the ins and outs and changes of an experienced Believer’s life, has them only that he may be better fitted to help others! That he may be able to sit down and weep with them that weep, or to stand up and rejoice with them that rejoice.  

 So then, dear Brothers who have got into the cave, and you, my Sisters, who have deep spiritual exercises, I want to comfort you by showing you that this is God’s way of making something of you. He is digging you out! You are like an old ditch—you cannot hold any more—and God is digging you out to make more room for more Grace. That spade will cut sharply and dig up sod after sod, and throw it to one side. The very thing you would like to keep shall be cast away and you shall be hollowed out, and dug out, that the word of Elisha may be fulfilled, “Make this valley full of ditches. For thus says the Lord, You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water.” You are to be tried, my Friend, that God may be glorified in you!  

Lastly, if God means to use you, you must get to be full of praise. Listen to what David says, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for You shall deal bountifully with me.” 

May God give to my Brothers and Sisters here, who are being tried for their good and afflicted for their promotion, Grace to begin to praise Him!”

If you are of a cheerful spirit, glad in the Lord and joyous after all your trials and afflictions, and if you can rejoice more because you have been brought so low, then God is making something of you and He will yet use you to lead His people to greater works of Grace!”

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I have posted several times about how messages periodically appear while I’m using my dictation program that seem to be from my mother, who passed away a few years ago.  My name has appeared in many of these, and my nickname, and Mom/Mother, and “miss you,” and over and over, “love.”  My mother was a very determined person, just the type to find a way to do something like this, but…  there’s always the thought that my mic might be picking up cell phone signals…  but how does that explain my NAME…  or maybe the system “knows” that my name gets used a lot…  see the problem?  It has happened so many times, but still MIGHT be explainable by science;  it’s hard to be sure.

Yesterday, my pastor’s wife surprised my doctrine class with a special cake for our final day of class.  When, in the wee small hours, I started using dictation, “cake” popped up in the message…  TWICE.  There was no TV, radio or anything else on, and what is the likelihood that someone nearby was talking about CAKE on their cell at 4AM?

Why is God letting this happen?  I don’t know. It’s comforting, though.

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Communion

Does your church ever do communion?  I hadn’t realized that anyone outside of Catholics did it, but apparently it’s reasonably common, although not necessarily being done every week.  I experienced communion for the first time yesterday, because my church does it just every so often so that it will be serious rather than a ritual…  yeah, I’m dubious about that too, it seems to me that we’re all too on fire for God to not take it seriously, but I’m new to this so I can’t say for sure.  I didn’t know if there was anything to it, but God brought me to this church for a reason, so I was ready to dive in:

I asked God to let me have the full experience, and:  I definitely felt something when I ate the bread, a kind of pressure all around my head. When I drank the grape juice, I was focusing on the taste in my mouth, wondering if I’d get any hint of salt, which I DD, but even more importantly, I got something I wasn’t thinking about, that metallic coppery aspect of blood. I don’t think the grape juice actually turned to blood in my mouth, but that this was how God responded to my asking Him to let me have the full experience.  Amazing!!

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