Archive for May, 2015

An expected end

from JO’s sermon tonight:

this is what God has done for each one of us:

Isaiah 46:10 (WEB)
10 I declare the end from the beginning

when God planned out your life, He started with your final scene, He started with where He wants you to end up, then He worked backwards. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 29:11 (TLB)
11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

your end has already been established; your final scene has already been shot. the good news is, you don’t end in defeat, failure, disappointment, you end in victory, more than a conqueror, fulfilling your purpose. when you understand that your end has been established, you won’t go through life discouraged because of a disappointment, bitter because of a loss, frustrated because a dream hasn’t come to pass; you’ll stay in peace, knowing that in the end, it’s all going to work out to your advantage. here’s the key; like any good movie, there will be twists and turns. you think, “I know I’m supposed to be going this way, why am I going the opposite direction? my goal is over here, why am I headed the wrong way?” there will be scenes that on their own don’t make sense. if you stopped right there, the divorce, sickness, loss, would look like it didn’t work for your good, looks like it got the best of you.

what you don’t realize is, that is not your final scene; as long as you’re breathing, your movie is still going. you may be in a difficult scene right now, something you don’t understand: a negative medical report, a setback in your finances. you have to remind yourself; that is not how your story ends, you have an expected end. the Creator of the universe, the most high God, has planned your days for good and not harm. if you’ll keep moving forward, at some point you’ll come into another twist, but this time: a good break, a promotion, a healing. God knows how to weave it all together. your end has already been established.

we see this principle in the life of Joseph. God destined him to become a great leader, to rule a nation, to help the Israelites during a time of famine. that was his end; it had already been established. Joseph started off well; as a young man, he was his father’s favorite child, went around wearing that coat of many colors, the coat that represented favor. but at 17 years of age, Joseph’s life had an unusual twist; his brothers were jealous, and:

Genesis 37:28 (VOICE)
28 As the Midianite traders were passing by, they brought Joseph up out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelites for about eight ounces of silver, the usual price of young male slaves. The traders set off with Joseph in the direction of Egypt.

he could have become discouraged, and thought, “I must not have heard God right. He showed me a dream that I’d rule a nation, but it sure didn’t happen.” no, Joseph understood this principle; he knew that was just one scene. he knew that his end had already been established, so he kept being his best. he was lied about, falsely accused; they put him in prison, another unusual twist. it looked like he was moving away from his destiny.

and this is the real test of life; will you stay in faith when you’re doing the right thing but the wrong thing is happening? will you continue being your best even when you’re not getting the credit? will you stay passionate even though the door closed, you didn’t get the promotion, you think you’re moving the wrong way?

this is where Joseph excelled. in prison, he didn’t fall apart; he kept doing the right thing. 13 years after he was sold into slavery, he interpreted a dream for the Pharaoh; Pharaoh was so impressed that he brought him out of prison and put him in charge of the whole nation. he saw his dream come to pass; he saw the expected end. if Joseph were standing here today, he would tell you, “don’t get discouraged by the detours, the twists of life, the things you don’t understand. they are all necessary scenes in your movie. by themselves, they may not make sense, but when God brings it all together, you too will come out fulfilling your purpose, seeing what God has promised.”

but this is where many people get frustrated, lose their passion, “if God is good, why did I have the bad break? why did I go through the loss? why didn’t my relationship make it?” we may never understand why, but I can tell you this; God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to somehow work for your good. nothing that’s happened to you can keep you from your destiny. the only thing that can stop you is you; if you get negative, bitter, lose your passion, that can keep you from God’s best. you may have had unfair things happen, but I’ve learned; the depth of your pain is an indication of the height of your future. when construction workers are going to build a tall building, they have to dig down many stories first for the foundation; the taller the building, the deeper the foundation.

when you go through things that you don’t understand, difficult situations, you may not like it, it may be uncomfortable, but God is getting you prepared to take you higher than you’ve ever imagined. you may think it’s there to defeat you, but God’s going to use it to promote you. no bad break can stop you. all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back. God has an expected end for you; He’s already established it. but along the way, everything is not going to make sense. this is what faith is all about. you have to trust that even in the twists of life, in the things you don’t understand, God still knows what He’s doing, that even when, like Joseph, you know God promised you one thing, but you’re seeing just the opposite, defeat, betrayal, that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “God, I don’t understand it, but I trust You. I believe Your plans for me are for good, that You’ve already shot my final scene. You’ve already established my end. so Lord, I want to thank You that I will fulfill my purpose, that I will become everything You’ve created me to be.”

I’ve heard it said, God always ends in “all is well,” so if all is not well, that simply means it’s not the end. “it’s not well in my finances, I lost a big client last week, I’m discouraged”; no, stay in peace, it’s not the end, that’s just one scene. favor, promotion, good breaks, are headed your way. if it’s not well in your health, don’t settle there, “this is the way it’s always going to be,” no, another scene is coming; God promises, the number of your days He will fulfill. if it’s not your time to go, you’re not going to go. maybe it’s not well in a relationship; you went through a breakup, you’re lonely, you don’t think you’ll ever meet the right person. that’s not the end. that one disappointment, that one person that left, they can’t change your ending, they can’t re-write your movie. God has already established it; they don’t have that much power. God has already lined up the person of your dreams, somebody better than you can imagine; they’re just a couple of scenes away, it’s just a matter of time before they show up. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 14:27 (AMP)
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who can annul it?

this means that God has a purpose for your life. He’s planned out your days, lined up your scenes, and established your ending. then it asks:

Isaiah 14:27 (CEB)
27 … who can stop it?

God is saying, “I flung stars into space, I spoke worlds into existence, I’m the all-powerful Creator of the universe; now who can stop My plan for your life, who can change your ending?” people can’t, unfair situations can’t, tragedy can’t; God has the final say. when you’re on one of those detours, something that doesn’t make sense, you don’t understand it, don’t get upset, it’s just one scene; when it all comes together, like with Joseph, it’s going to work for your good. if Joseph hadn’t been betrayed by his brothers, if he hadn’t been sold into slavery, if he hadn’t been put into prison, he would’ve never made it to his throne; those were all necessary scenes on the way to his established end. what you may think is a setback is really a setup for God to get you to the fullness of your destiny. we can either go through life fighting everything we don’t like, upset, bitter, offended, or we can stay in peace, knowing that God is directing our steps, and even the twists, the things we don’t understand, in the end, they will work to our advantage.

there are times in life when it looks like our opponents, the depression, sickness, legal situation, is getting the best of us, we’re falling behind. it’s easy to get discouraged; “I can’t accomplish my dreams, the odds are against me, I’ll never get well, the medical report’s too bad.” you have to remind yourself that the end has already been set. when you feel like you’re falling behind, you’re outclassed, outsized, outnumbered, instead of being discouraged, have this new perspective; that means you’re about to see a major comeback. any moment, things are going to shift in your favor; a good break, a promotion, a healing.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (JUB)
14 Now thanks be unto God, who always causes us to triumph

not part of the time, not most of the time; God’s already lined up your victory parade. He’s already established your ending. when God breathed His life into you, He established your end first; He gave you a purpose, set your assignment, then He put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. He’s given you the gifts and talents, the confidence; how you start is not important. don’t let what you think is a limitation, a disadvantage, “if I was a different nationality, I come from the wrong side of the neighborhood, there’s dysfunction in my family”; that’s how you started, that’s not how you’re going to finish. the beginning does not determine your destiny; that’s just one scene. what matters is the expected end; the Creator of the universe has already destined you to leave your mark on this generation. He’s already put seeds of greatness in you.

God loves to take people who start off with all the odds against them, and shine down His favor, promote them, give them good breaks, to where they rise up and do extraordinary things. don’t let how you were raised, what you didn’t get, what you think is a disadvantage, cause you to settle where you are. the established end is not dependent on the beginning. it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. if you will keep honoring God, being your best, you are moving toward the destiny He has designed for you. it’s bigger than you can imagine. it’s more rewarding than you’ve ever dreamed. get rid of the excuses. you may have had a rough start, but you’re not going to have a rough finish. somebody may have put you at a disadvantage, but they did not change your expected end. Paul said in Philippians:

Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
3 … the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish

not a defeated finish, a mediocre finish, a lonely finish, a bankrupt finish; you’re coming to a victorious finish, a flourishing finish. when thoughts tell you otherwise, you’ll hear things like, “you have too many disadvantages, you’re too far behind, you’ve made too many mistakes”; let those lies go in one ear and out the other. God is saying, “I’m going to take you further than you can imagine. I have explosive blessings that can catapult you ahead. I have favor that can thrust you into your destiny. I’m going to bring out those seeds of greatness that I put on the inside.” God has established your end; you can be certain He knows how to get you there. now our part, all through the day; “Lord, thank You that Your plans for me are for good. You’re not limited by what I am right now. You’ve already shot my final scene. I may not understand everything along the way, but God, I trust You; I believe I’m coming to a flourishing finish.”

this is what Job had to do. he had some unusual twists and turns in life; some scenes didn’t make sense. everything started off great, life was good, but then the bottom fell out; Job lost his health, lost his business, lost his family. he could’ve gotten discouraged and given up. his wife told him:

Job 2:9 (NIV)
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

but in the middle of that discouragement, when everything had come against him, when a lot of people would’ve been bitter, angry, complaining, Job looked up to the heavens and said:

Job 19:25 (VOICE)
25 … I know my Redeemer lives

he was saying, in effect, “I know God’s still on the throne. I know He’s already shot my final scene. if this is my time to go, I’m not going to go bitter, I’m not going to go upset.”

Job 13:15 (NKJV)
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him

when you can keep a good attitude when the bottom falls out, when you can give God praise in the twists of life, in the things that don’t make sense, that’s when God will take you to a new level of your destiny. we hear a lot about Job’s loss, trials, suffering, and yes, he went through a difficult season, but here’s the key; he didn’t stay there. that was one scene; in the end, he came out with twice what he had before:

Job 42:10 (CEB)
10 …the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions.

he had twice the cattle, twice the sheep, got his health back, his joy back, his peace back. the scripture puts it this way:

Job 42:16 (LEB)
16 And Job lived after this one hundred and forty years, and he saw his sons and his grandsons for four generations.

notice: after the loss, after the disappointment, after the after the bottom fell out, he didn’t end on a sour, defeated note, his life was not over. Job went on to live a full, happy, blessed 140 more years, enjoying his grandchildren, accomplishing his dreams, fulfilling his purpose.

just because you have some twists, turns, things you don’t understand, that doesn’t mean your life is over. God has an after-this coming. when thoughts whisper, “you’ve seen your best days, you’ve been through too much, this is as good as it gets,” God is saying to you what He said to Job; “after the cancer, the divorce, the betrayal, there’s still a full life ahead of you. you haven’t dreamed your best dream, danced your best dance, laughed your best laugh.” shake off the disappointment, get your passion back; God has an after-this coming your way. He’s not only going to bring you out, but He’s going to pay you back for that trouble. you’re going to come out stronger, increased, promoted, better than you were before.

when it was all over, Job said:

Job 42:1-2 (MSG)
1-2 Job answered God:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything.
    Nothing and no one can upset your plans.

he was saying, “nothing can change the expected end. God already established it.” the enemy cannot keep you from your destiny. Satan had to ask God’s permission to even test Job; that tells me that God is not only in control of your life, He’s in control of your enemies. you have nothing to worry about; there is a hedge of protection around you that cannot be penetrated.

when Jesus was about to be crucified, he told people:

John 2:19 (NKJV)
19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

they thought he was talking about the building; he was talking about himself. Jesus, of course, understood this principle, that his end had already been established. he knew that his final scene had already been shot; it wasn’t him hanging on the cross in great pain, it wasn’t him in a tomb, buried in grave-clothes. he knew his final scene was him seated at the right hand of the Father, with all power, with the keys of death and hell. that’s why it says:

Hebrews 12:2 (VOICE)
2 … He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him

the way you stay encouraged in the tough times is you keep looking ahead, knowing that your end has been set, that you’re coming to a flourishing finish, that God always causes you to triumph.

the scripture talks about how Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb:

Matthew 27:59-60 (CEB)
59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had carved out of the rock. After he rolled a large stone at the door of the tomb, he went away.

he had no place to be buried of his own. I can imagine Jesus, before he was crucified, asking that disciple, “can I borrow your tomb?” he was saying, “I don’t need to buy it, this is not how my story ends. this is only temporary; I’ll just be here a few days. I have an established end set by my Father, and no enemy can change it. they can put me in the grave, but they can’t keep me in the grave.” our attitude, like Jesus, in difficult times; “this is temporary. this addiction is not how my story ends. this defeat, this sickness, this betrayal, is just one scene; I know another scene is coming, a scene of victory, favor, and new beginnings.” your final scene has already been shot; don’t let the twists, turns, things you don’t understand, cause you to get discouraged. keep moving forward; in the end, it’s all going to work to your advantage. we know the final outcome; we don’t have to live worried and upset, God has established our end. if you’ll stay in faith, and keep honoring God, like Job, God’s going to pay you back for the trouble. like Joseph, God’s going to get you to your throne. no matter how you start, you’re going to come out with a flourishing finish, accomplishing your dreams, becoming all God created you to be.

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I guess that seems a little redundant, as whatever a person thinks of the topic you couldn’t call it BORING, but here goes:

I spoke in tongues again last night. it took significantly longer to get started than it had previous times, long enough that I was feeling a little bit dubious, but once it got going it had the same strength as the last time. It’s still coming out very fast, and I had to consciously make myself breathe a couple of times, because I was apparently forgetting to breathe again.  I wasn’t aware of my normal speech being speeded up at all afterwards this time; whether this was because of not speaking in tongues for as long of a time, or for some other reason, will I assume become clear over the next few weeks. 

There were 2 really big changes this time. The first is that, unlike all the previous times when I was always able to at least get out the first few syllables when I wanted to thank God or the Holy Spirit for what was happening, this time I was totally unable to get a single syllable to come out of my mouth voluntarily, with I think just one exception; I have no idea what this could mean, other than that the Holy Spirit is intensifying his control during these times, and has been gradually transitioning me to him having full control.  The other change should objectively have really freaked me out, and certainly would have under any other circumstances; there were chunks of time where not only was I not able to form a single syllable of my own volition, but I could not even form the words in my HEAD. I have never before in my entire life experienced this inability to form thoughts in my head, and when it was happening I was still walking around, still speaking in tongues without a pause, feeling puzzled and amazed at this sort of blankness in my mind. I’ll be VERY interested to see if this happens again; I’m betting that it will, that this will be part of whatever evolution this process is going through. I just can’t imagine that something this bizarre is a one-time thing, especially not at this point in the process where what I’m doing is no longer brand-new.

In my post of 5-7, “Speaking in tongues: the home version,” I reported what I have to call an at least somewhat negative aftereffect:

“I felt very exhausted and kind of… I want to say headachy, but that wasn’t exactly the feeling… I felt so tired, with so much heavy, uncomfortable, almost painful feelings in my head, that I ended up going to bed and sleeping for well over 3 hours.”

I was pretty much dismissing it, because of having just been sick… but it happened again last night. Same feeling, same timeframe, shortly after midnight, and with the same result, going to bed and sleeping for 3 hours, which is longer than I would normally nap for, especially when I have not just been sick.

Something happening twice is certainly not definitive, but I think it’s highly significant.  As I did last time, I did a search to see if other people are experiencing this, and couldn’t find anything, so this is at the very least quite unusual. I have no idea what it means. It might just be that I’m overly sensitive in some way, and that’s why I’m getting knocked out like this. Maybe this is happening to prevent me from going overboard with speaking in tongues, since I certainly can’t have this mental crash every day.  The most plausible explanation still seems to me that some sort of alteration is going on in my brain to accommodate the Holy Spirit, something that normal people either don’t require or are not so heavily affected by. I don’t know whether this will eventually taper off and stop once my brain has been reprogrammed to handle it, or whether this is just the first step of a bigger plan; I can only speculate.  Considering that what is currently occurring is well outside the realm of anything I could previously have predicted or imagined, I suspect that what this is leading up to will be another quantum leap in my religious life. Stay tuned.

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Shame off you

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we’ve all heard the phrase, “shame on you.”  when we were a child: “you didn’t clean your room, shame on you.” “you were mean to your little sister, shame on you.”  even as adults, we may not hear it out loud, but it plays in our thoughts:  “you fell back into that bad habit, shame on you.”  “you went through a divorce, shame on you.” we don’t realize how destructive shame is.  we use it to try to convince people to do better, but shame does just the opposite; causes us to feel guilty, unworthy, like we don’t deserve to be blessed.  shame is one of the enemy’s favorite tools; he’s called, “the accuser.”  he’ll remind you of every mistake, every failure, even things that weren’t your fault, he’ll try to deceive you into thinking that you were to blame. people that were abused as a child had no choice in it; he’ll whisper, “you’re not good enough, you deserved it, that’s why they mistreated you.” he’ll try to twist it, and convince you to carry around all this heaviness:  

Psalm 69:20 (NKJV)

20 Reproach has broken my heart,

And I am full of heaviness

but the scripture talks about how God has removed our shame. (NB: I couldn’t find a verse that specifically says that, but I’ve included a few that at least illustrate the concept):

Joshua 5:9 (NLT)

9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt.”

Luke 1:25 (NIRV)

25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days, he has been kind to me. He has taken away my shame among the people.

Genesis 30:23 (CEB)

23 She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my shame.”

whether it was your fault or somebody else’s, you don’t have to carry the heavy load of guilt, beating yourself up, feeling wrong on the inside. when the enemy says, “shame on you,” God says, “shame off you.  I’ve forgiven you, I’ve redeemed you, I’ve made you valuable.” what people did or didn’t do to you, they don’t determine your worth;  your worth comes from your Creator.  the most high God breathed His life into you.  He crowned you with His favor. He calls you a masterpiece. don’t go around ashamed, guilty, condemned; shake off the shame. every time you hear that voice whispering, “shame on you,” by faith you need to hear God answering back, “shame off you.” don’t accept the shame. 

and I’m not saying of course to be flippant, and think, “well, I made a big mistake, I hurt somebody, no big deal.”  no, we should be remorseful, ask for forgiveness, do better next time, but the problem is, if you don’t put your foot down, and say, “shame off me,” then even though God has removed it, that shame will follow you around. it’s more difficult to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive other people. the enemy knows that if we feel wrong on the inside, we’ll never become who we were created to be.  that’s why he works overtime to try to bring guilt, shame, make you feel like you don’t deserve to be blessed. you have to turn off the accusing voices.  you may have made mistakes, but the moment you asked God to forgive you, He not only forgave you, He took it one step further:

Hebrews 10:17 (NIV)

17 … “Their sins and lawless acts

    I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 (NKJV)

12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)

34 … declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Isaiah 43:25 (ISV)

25 “I, I am the one

    who blots out your transgression for my own sake,

        and I’ll remember your sins no more

when those thoughts try to remind you of mistakes in the past, saying things like:  “shame on you, you were unfaithful in that relationship,” “shame on you, you were dishonest in the business deal,” “shame on you, you were rude to that family member last month.” you’ve already asked for forgiveness; that means God doesn’t remember it, that’s a sure sign the accuser is at work. you can either accept the shame, feel wrong on the inside, or you can rise up and say, “no, shame off me. I know I’ve been forgiven. I know God’s mercy is bigger than this mistake. if God doesn’t remember it, I’m not going to remember it either.”

when the Israelites had been in slavery in Egypt for many years, they were very beaten-down; not only physically, but emotionally. they were constantly told they were no good, they couldn’t do anything right, they would never measure up. over time, they let that steal their sense of value. they felt inferior, insecure, like they had no self-worth. when a person is being mistreated, abused, especially for a long time, instead of recognizing that the other person is doing them wrong, it’s easy for them to accept the blame and start thinking they deserve what’s happening. before long, they’re not only ashamed of what’s happening, but they start to become ashamed of who they are. that’s the way the Israelites felt; that’s how the enemy twists things. but after 430 years, God brought them out of the slavery, out of the abuse. just as they were about to enter the promised land, God said to them:

Joshua 5:9 (KJV)

9 And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.

“reproach” means shame, blame, disgrace. notice, they couldn’t go into the promised land with the shame, feeling unworthy, not valuable; God had to roll away the reproach. in the same way, before you can reach your highest potential, you have to get rid of any shame. you may have made mistakes, people may have done you wrong, but you can’t sit around guilty, condemned, blaming yourself, blaming others. whatever your Egypt is, a divorce, an addiction, somebody that did you wrong, God is saying, “this day”; not tomorrow, not next week, not 6 months from now, today, God is rolling away the reproach. He’s rolling away the guilt, rolling away the shame.  it’s up to you to accept it.  you have to quit dwelling on your failures, quit believing those lies, that you’ve made too many mistakes, you’ve been hurt too badly, no, the reproach has been rolled away. 

when you get up in the morning, and you hear those voices, and they come to all of us, “shame on you,” you have to answer right back, “no, shame off of me. I know my reproach has been taken away.”  maybe you know God has forgiven you, but you still have this sense of unworthiness, like you don’t deserve it, you could never reach your highest potential. that shame has held you back long enough. today, God has removed the reproach, the chains have been broken, burdens have been lifted. God is saying, “shame off of you.” you have to get in agreement; quit listening to the accusing voices, quit believing the lie that you have to settle for second best. nothing you’ve done is a surprise to God. He’s not up in the heavens scratching His head, saying, “man, I didn’t see that last mistake coming, they threw Me off.”  no, God had the mercy before you made the mistake. He had the solution before you had the problem. why don’t you shake off the shame, the guilt? this is a new day; the reproach has been rolled away.

don’t let one negative event become your identity. don’t let one failure, divorce, bankruptcy, addiction, become who you are. it’s easy to take all the blame, let it consume you; before long, you become known as the man who blew his marriage, the woman that was abused, the young person that has the addiction. no, that’s what you did, that’s not who you are. that’s what happened to you, that is not your identity. the enemy would love to stick these labels on us: addicted, unfaithful, divorced, bad parent. don’t believe those lies. you may struggle with an addiction, but you are not an addict. what you do does not change your identity; you are still a child of the most high God. you may have failed in some area of your life, we all have, but you’re not a failure. you may have had some bad breaks, but you are not a victim. when those thoughts of guilt and shame try to relabel you, you have to remind yourself: “I am not who people say I am. I am not who circumstances say I am. I am who God says I am. God says I am approved, I am accepted, I am valuable, I am a masterpiece.”

in the scripture, names had a lot more meaning and significance than they have today. Isaac had a son, and he named him Jacob; “Jacob” means trickster, swindler, deceiver. every time someone said, “hello, Jacob,” they were saying, “hello trickster.”  “good morning, Jacob”;  “good morning, con man.”  “it’s time to go to school, Jacob”;  “it’s time to go to school, cheater.”  he had heard this so long, he didn’t know any better; he became exactly what people called him.  for years he was told, “you’re a con man”; he conned his brother Esau out of his inheritance. “you’re a cheater”; he cheated his uncle, went around tricking people.  later in life, Jacob got tired of living like that. one night, he went down to the brook to get alone with God. an angel appeared unto him in the form of a man:

Genesis 32:27 (ISV)

27 Then the man asked him, “What’s your name?”

“Jacob,” he responded

he was saying, “I am a cheater, I am a deceiver, I am dishonest.” the angel didn’t say, “you’re right, Jacob, you’ve lived a really terrible life, you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” the angel said:

Genesis 32:28 (NIV)

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel

he was saying, “you are not a deceiver. you may have let people talk you into that, but that is not your true identity.” Israel means; Prince with God. God took this man that had lived a life of dishonesty, gone around cheating people, and instead of giving him what he deserved, instead of shaking his finger and saying, “shame on you, Jacob,” God said, “shame off you, Jacob. you’re My son. I have destined you to leave your mark on your generation.  not in disgrace, not as a failure; I’ve called you to be a prince, to reign in life.”  first thing God had to do was remove the reproach. God had to get the shame off of him.

are you wearing any negative labels today? have you let circumstances, failures, or even people put a label on you that says, “not valuable, not worthy, addicted, bad parent, blew his marriage, didn’t raise his children right, doesn’t deserve to be blessed?” this is what grace is all about; none of us deserve it, but God says, “I’m going to bless you anyway. I know your true identity, I breathed My life into you.”  you may feel like Jacob; you made some poor choices, you could easily live with that sense of shame. but God in effect is changing our names today to prince, to princess, to redeemed, to forgiven, to highly favored people. Jacob could’ve easily told the angel, “I don’t see how God could ever make me a prince, I’ve made so many bad choices.” no, he accepted it into his spirit.  he agreed with what God said. in fact, he told the angel:

Genesis 32:26 (NIV)

26 … But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

he was saying, “I may not deserve it, but since the shame has been rolled away, I’m asking for favor, new levels, the fullness of my destiny.” God didn’t say, “Jacob, who do you think you are?  I’m not going to bless you, you know the life you’ve lived.” God said, “Jacob, I like your boldness. I like the fact that you shook off the shame, got rid of the guilt.  now, you’re ready to step up to who I’ve created you to be.”  you live like that, God will bless you in amazing ways. even if you’re still struggling in area, there is no shame to ask for help.  sometimes, we think we’re supposed to be perfect, we can’t let anybody know we have a bad habit, an addiction, this struggle, we’d be embarrassed.  no, don’t let shame keep you isolated. real healing begins when we get honest. the scripture says:

James 5:16 (MEV)

16 Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

some things you can’t overcome on your own; you need somebody to stand in faith with you. I’m not saying that you have to announce it, but you can find a person that you can trust to walk with you through it.  there’s something about getting it out in the open; don’t let the fear of what other people think keep you from your miracle. I’ve learned, everybody is dealing with something; the people that you think have it all together, look fine on the outside, they’re good at pretending. everyone has issues. it’s easy to hide things, and only let people see what we want them to see. the same person that comes to church on Sunday, waves to you so friendly, on Monday if you cut them off in traffic, they may wave to you with one finger in the air; the other person comes out.

even in the scripture, some of the heroes of faith, they all had their weaknesses. one day, Peter was preaching to thousands, telling a crippled man to rise and walk; another day, he was cursing people out, denying that he knew Jesus. one day, David was defeating a giant, leading God’s people; another day, he was committing adultery, having the lady’s husband killed.  he was so ashamed of himself, he tried to hide it for a year. he finally got it out in the open, confessed his faults, and God restored him. one day, Noah was building an ark, saving his family; another day, he was getting drunk, running around naked.

you think you have issues? you have nothing to be ashamed of. here’s another thought; most likely, the things you’re struggling with, didn’t start with you, they were passed down. now this is your opportunity to put an end to it; you can be the one to break the negative cycle in your family. the first step;  shake off the shame. don’t be embarrassed. don’t try to hide it;  you don’t have to go through life pretending.  if you’ll get honest, go to God and ask Him for help, find a friend to stick with you in the faith, you can overcome anything that’s holding you back. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. the enemy loves to heap on the guilt, the shame; he knows it will keep us from our destiny.  when you shake off the shame, God will take your scars and turn them into stars.  He will use you to help others. maybe you’re struggling in an area right now; the next time you hear that voice whispering, “shame on you,” instead of believing that lie, beating yourself up, getting depressed, why don’t you rise up and say, “no, shame off me”?

if you’ll start shaking off the guilt, the shame, then you can enter into your promised land. that’s when you’ll see the healing, the breakthroughs, the new levels. some people are living with a sense of shame because of something that happened that wasn’t even their fault;  they were mistreated growing up, somebody took advantage of them.  the way the enemy twists things, he’ll to try to convince you it was your fault, you deserved it, if you would’ve been better that wouldn’t have happened. don’t believe those lies; you can’t help how someone treated you when you were younger. if they did you wrong, the problem wasn’t with you, it was with them. God said that He will be your vindicator. God saw what happened, He saw the injustice. you may think, “nobody knows what I’ve endured, the hurt, the shame, the pain,” but God knows. He saw every person that lifted a finger against you.  He saw every lonely night, every tear, every hurt.  God said:

Isaiah 54:4 (AMP)

4 … For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not [seriously] remember the reproach

God is going to pay you back for that injustice in such a way that you don’t even remember what happened. it’s not going to be on the forefront of your mind. He’s going to make your life so blessed, so rewarding, so fulfilling, you won’t even think about those people that hurt you.  now do your part; forgive the people that did you wrong. as long as you continue to dwell on it, you are allowing them to continue to hurt you. let it go. what they did did not change your identity.  you’re still a masterpiece, you’re still wearing a crown a favor, you’re still destined to do great things. why don’t you take off the old labels that say damaged, mistreated, abused? put on some new labels: accepted, approved, valuable, masterpiece. when you do that, God promises, you will not only forget the shame of your past, but He takes it a step further; in Isaiah 61, He said:

Isaiah 61:7 (AMP) 

7 Instead of your [former] shame you shall have a twofold recompense; instead of dishonor and reproach [your people] shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double [what they had forfeited]

you may have had some unfair things happen, but stay in faith; because of that injustice, God is going to pay you back double.  because of what happened, the person that walked out and broke your heart, the people that mistreated you, made you feel ashamed, that did not go unnoticed; God saw it, and He’s going to pay you back with double the joy, double the peace, double the honor, double the fulfillment. your life is going to be richer because of, or in spite of, that injustice. 

now this promise won’t do us any good if we sit back ashamed, guilty, beating ourselves up. put your shoulders back, hold your head up high; nothing that was done to you, nothing that you’ve done, has changed your identity. you’re still a child of the most high God.  His plans for you are still for good and not evil. you may have had some bad breaks, but really, those setbacks were a set up for God to bring you out with double.

are you carrying around any guilt, shame, heaviness? friends, this is your day to be free. the reproach has been rolled away. the door is open, but you have to walk out of it. take off the negative labels. when the enemy whispers, “shame on you,” answer right back, “no, shame off me. I’ve been forgiven, redeemed, I am valuable.” if you will do this, every chain is being broken. God is going to pay you back double for that injustice.  you’re going to enter into your promised land, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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I spoke in tongues at prayer meeting again. It looks like this is going to be pretty much an every-time thing… pretty amazing for something that I didn’t even know if it was real or not 4 months ago. It is continuing to increase in power; this time, there were SEVERAL points where I was left breathless because it was coming out nonstop and was I guess making me forget to breathe. Interestingly, although I was doing the same casually-paced walking around that I had the previous times, this time I felt a sort of weariness or soreness in my muscles, as if I had been doing some kind of a physical workout. I also noticed something that I’d sort of noticed last time but had discounted; that for half an hour or more after speaking in tongues, my normal speech was significantly speeded up, as if I was speaking with great excitement although I was just speaking casually.

Later on at home, I did something that I have never attempted before; as you’ve guessed from the title of this post, for the first time I spoke in tongues at home, by myself. I wasn’t positive that it would work, but it did, and I even recorded myself for about 30 seconds so I could listen to it at a time when it wasn’t going on to see if I could make anything out of it; it pretty much just sounds like fast gibberish, but it was worth a shot. The amazing thing was how FAST it was coming out; I mean, I knew it was fast, but this is SO fast that when I listen to it sounds like something that is being fast-forwarded through, not like something that human speech would be capable of producing.

Afterwords, I felt very exhausted and kind of… I want to say headachy, but that wasn’t exactly the feeling. I should add that I had been pretty sick Sunday night, had not fully recovered from that, and was short on sleep, so I can’t be sure which thing or combination of things was to blame, but what is clear is that this isn’t just my vocal apparatus that’s being involved when I’m speaking in tongues, but that it is more of a full-body experience. I don’t know if it is that way for anybody else; I’m weird in a lot of ways, and if this was something unique to me, or at least very unusual, that would not surprise me much. I certainly haven’t heard anybody talking about anything like this. I felt so tired, with so much heavy, uncomfortable, almost painful feelings in my head, that I ended up going to bed and sleeping for well over 3 hours.

I should say at this point that I am NOT complaining about any of this. If some version of this ‘aftereffect” is going to happen on a regular basis, so be it. I said to God what I have said in the past when I have felt, I guess you could call it overwhelmed, by interaction with Him; push it ’til it breaks. Whatever needs to happen for my mind to expand, or become more flexible, or whatever it is He needs to happen for me to have that connection with Him, and accomplish whatever He wants me to accomplish, that’s what I am willing, and eager, to do, always.

In case some part of this was illness and exhaustion, I’m not going to try it again right away; Sunday at the next prayer meeting will be soon enough. If that goes smoothly, I’ll think about it then. There is a wide range of possibilities for how often and under what circumstances God wants me to speak in tongues; He will let me know in His own time. As to why I appear to be getting a more intense experience than other people are, what it means, what it’s leading to, what He wants me to do with it… time will tell. I’ll keep posting these updates so that other people who are going through a similar experience will know that they’re not alone, and so that my regular readers might be encouraged to give it a try.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all know that God can bless us, show us favor, promote us, heal us, but we don’t always realize, God can use our enemies to bless us. what you may think is a disappointment, a person that walked away, a friend that betrayed you, a coworker that’s trying to make you look bad, you may not like that, but you couldn’t reach your destiny without them.  it’s all a part of God’s plan to get you to where you’re supposed to be. David would only be known as a shepherd boy if it wasn’t for Goliath. Goliath was strategically placed in David’s path, not to defeat him, but to promote him. without Goliath, David would’ve never taken the throne.  don’t complain about your enemies; it may look like a setback. but really it’s a set up for God to get you to your throne. 

after all, God could’ve used King Saul to promote David; Saul had the authority. He could’ve moved on Saul’s heart, told him to promote that young man, but God chose to bless David, not through his friends, but through his enemies.  that’s why we don’t have to play up to people, try to convince them to like us, “hopefully they’ll give me a good break.” no, God doesn’t have to use your friends, He can use your enemies, your critics, the ones that are trying to push you down;  He can use them to push you up. it’s interesting; when David defeated Goliath, you never hear anymore about Goliath. Goliath was created for David’s purpose; part of his destiny was to establish who David was. just as God has divine connections lined up for you, people to encourage you, push you forward, He’s also lined up people that will try to stop you, discourage you, try to make you look bad; there are Goliaths ordained to come across your path.

if you don’t understand this principle, you’ll get discouraged, “God, why is this happening to me?” that opposition wasn’t meant to stop you, it was meant to establish you. when you overcome it, you will not only step into a new level your destiny, but everyone around you will see that the favor of God is on your life.  sometimes, God will put an enemy in your life to keep you stirred up. He’ll allow critics, doubters, discouragers, even some haters, so when you feel tired, and think you want to give up, you’ll keep pressing forward, shaking it off, not because you feel like it, but because you don’t want to give your enemies the joy of seeing you defeated.  not out of spite, not out of pride, it’s a holy determination. God uses the negative to keep us stirred up. many times, God will use your enemies to catapult you to success more than your friends. David said:

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV)

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

notice, when God brings you through the opposition, He’s not going to do it in private, He’s going to do it where all of those enemies can see it.  maybe today, you’re facing some kind of enemy;  not just a person, an enemy in your health, your finances, in a relationship, doesn’t look like it’s ever going to work out.  have this new perspective; right now, God is preparing the table.  the angels are taking the food out of the oven, Gabriel is putting his finishing touches on that meal.  any moment, you’re going to hear the dinner bell ringing. God’s going to say, “it’s your time. Here’s the table, here is the meal I prepared for you.”  it’s not going to be a little fast food meal, hidden over in the corner, nobody notices; no, God is preparing a table like He did for David, to where not just all of your friends see it, but even those enemies, the doubters, the discouragers, the ones that said you couldn’t do it; they’re going to see you blessed, promoted, vindicated, living your dreams, in a place of honor and influence.  

in one sense, God used Judas more than He used the other disciples; Judas was ordained to betray Jesus, that was his purpose, to try to stop him.  and it wasn’t just his idea, it was the plan of God. at the time, it seemed like a bad break, but if he had not betrayed Jesus, there wouldn’t have been a crucifixion. without the cross, there wouldn’t have been a resurrection. without the resurrection, we wouldn’t have redemption, no salvation. we celebrate Mary, the mother of Jesus, giving birth in the manger. we celebrate John baptizing Jesus, the dove coming down from heaven. but the man who betrayed Jesus, the one who sold him for 30 pieces of silver, was just as critical a part of his destiny, if not more so, than the others. what am I saying? don’t complain about the person that betrayed you; if they walked away, they didn’t set you back, they set you up for the fullness of your destiny. if they lied about you, tried to push you down, overlooked you, it may not have been fair, but if God allowed it, He knows how to use it for your good. 

what if Jesus would’ve gotten upset, said, “God, I’m your son, how could You let this man betray me, he’s one of my disciples?” no, Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him, but he didn’t try to stop him, he didn’t try to to talk him out of it.  he knew that that betrayal was a part of his divine destiny. too often, we fight against everything that doesn’t go our way, get upset, bitter, “why is this happening?” the longer I live, the more I realize, nothing happens by accident.  even the opposition, if you’ll keep the right attitude, God will use it to your advantage.  some of the things that we don’t like, that we’re asking God to get rid of, if He removed them right now, we wouldn’t reach our highest potential. that opposition is making you stronger. those people trying to stop you, the betrayal, the disappointment, that cannot keep from your destiny. God has the final say. if He hasn’t removed it yet, that means He’s going to use it for your good;  He strategically places the Goliaths, the Judases, the opposition. without Goliath, you can’t take your throne. without Judas, you won’t reach your highest potential. without the naysayers, you wouldn’t become all you were created to be.

Mark 2:3-9 (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.”

6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.

I’m sure those naysayers, when they saw him standing there, they nearly passed out. here’s my point; if they had not been murmuring, complaining, criticizing, this man may not have been healed. Jesus could’ve just forgiven his sins and moved on, but because of their murmuring, Jesus healed the man. so, when people are talking about you, trying to make you look bad, push you down, don’t worry, God hears them; they are putting you in position for God to bless you in a greater way. you don’t have to straighten them out, don’t fight battles that don’t matter, stay in peace, and like with this man, God will use your enemies to bless you.  some of the favor that you’re seeing, some of the good breaks you’ve had, it didn’t happen because of you, it happened because of those people that tried to stop you. they put you in position for promotion.  I always thank God for my friends, but I’ve learned to thank God for my enemies as well. 

without the murmuring, that man might not have been healed;  without Goliath, David would’ve never taken his throne.  without Judas, Jesus would never have resurrected from the grave. you need to see every enemy, so to speak, every disappointment, every betrayal, in this new light. it’s not sent to defeat you, it’s sent to increase you. God can use your critics to promote you.  God has all kinds of ways to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  He knows how to take what was meant for your harm and turn it around and use it to your advantage.  God works in mysterious ways; stay in faith, what you think is a setback is really God setting you up to do something new. don’t complain about the coworker that did you wrong, what didn’t work out;  it looks like it was meant to destroy you, but in fact God’s going to use it to take you to the next level. that person at work that’s always trying to push you down, always trying to make you look bad, when you see them this week, have a new attitude; you’re trying to stop me, but I know a secret, God is going to use you to push me forward.  scripture says:

Matthew 22:44 (NKJV)

44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’

that means anything that comes against you: the persecution, the betrayal, the disappointment, if you’ll stay in faith, instead of being a stumbling block to take you down, God will use it as a steppingstone to take you higher. the enemy will come against you in your thoughts; he’ll tell you things like, “you’ll never get well, break that addiction, accomplish your dreams. you’re too small, you don’t have what it takes.” you can either believe those lies, and let him talk you into mediocrity, or you can say, “no, I don’t think so, you don’t set the limits for my life, you don’t determine my destiny, you didn’t give me breath. I may look small, but I know I’m full of resurrection power.”  the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives on the inside of us. when you rise up in faith like that, those enemies won’t defeat you, those enemies will promote you. you do that a few times, he’ll tell his forces, “back up, back up, they’re more powerful than they look, don’t mess with them, they know they’re highly favored, they know they’re victors, not victims.”  the scripture says:

 Philippians 1:28 (NLT)

28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies

don’t be intimidated by what somebody said, by a negative medical report;  you and God are a majority, and when Jesus came out of the grave, he took the keys of death and hell. he said, “all power has been given unto me in heaven and in Earth, now I’m giving you that power.” you are not weak, you are not lacking, you are full of can-do power. the greatest force in the universe is on your side.

in the scripture:

Exodus 1:9-11 (NLT)

9 He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. 10 We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.”

11 So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. 

then something interesting happened:

Exodus 1:12

12 But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread

Pharaoh thought that he was stopping them, but in fact he was increasing them.  sometimes, when God wants to promote you, He doesn’t send you a good break, He sends you an enemy. He’ll cause someone to turn up to heat, make things more difficult. but don’t worry; the more the opposition, the more you’re going to increase. the truth is, we grow in the difficult times;  that’s when our character is developed. that’s when we discover talent, confidence, courage that we didn’t even know we had.  when Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites, he was trying to restrict the people, squeeze them, put them under pressure.

have you ever been washing your car at home, you have your water hose, turn the valve on, the water comes out maybe 3 to 4 feet?  when you really want to spray your car off, you need it to go further. if you’re like me, and you don’t have a nozzle on the end, you put your thumb on the end of the hose, and you restrict the water. you would think when you restrict it, it would come out less, but it’s just the opposite; when you restrict that water, because it’s under more pressure, it shoots out 15 or 20 feet. it goes many times further than when it had no pressure. in the same way, when the enemy puts you under pressure, he thinks that’s going to stop you;  what he doesn’t realize is all that’s going to do is cause you to shoot out further. when you feel restricted, when you face opposition, don’t be discouraged, get ready to shoot out.  get ready for new levels, promotion. that pressure is not going to stop you, it’s going to increase you. 

when Jesus was about to be crucified, he stopped by the garden of Gethsemane; literally translated, that means, “the place of pressing.” it was an olive garden; the only way you can get the oil out of the olive is to press it. without the pressing, you’ll never get the valuable oil.  if you’re never under pressure, you never have to stretch your faith, endure, persevere;  you’ll never discover the valuable treasures that God put on the inside. on Friday, they nailed Jesus to the cross; incredible pressure.  on Saturday, he went down to the grave and fought the forces of darkness, restricted. but on Sunday morning, he came shooting up out of that grave; death couldn’t hold him down. one message of the resurrection; God will use your enemies to bless you. 

maybe today you feel restricted, under pressure, like you’re being squeezed. it’s Friday; don’t worry, Sunday is coming.  you’re about to shoot out. when you see where God takes you, the favor, promotion, blessing, you’re going to look back and say, like the Psalmist:

Psalm 119:71 (ESV)

71 It is good for me that I was afflicted

if David were here, he would tell you that it was good that Goliath showed up.  Jesus would say, “it was good that Judas betrayed me.” it may have been uncomfortable at the time, but one day you’ll say, “this enemy didn’t defeat me, this enemy promoted me.”  now stay in faith; God has your back. He wouldn’t have allowed the pressure unless it was going to work for your good. it may feel like Friday right now, but Sunday is coming; you’re about to shoot out stronger, healthier, promoted, vindicated, into the fullness of your destiny.

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Update on me

There was no new sermon this past week. This week’s sermon is well worth the wait, however, so stay tuned.

This has been a great week for me.  Not only am I speaking in tongues at every prayer meeting, but today for the first time I did it in the mini-meeting we have before the service every Sunday.  I still have no idea why this is happening or what it will lead to, but by definition everything from God is for my benefit, and I’m happy to be making this progress.

I got another friend of mine from online to come to a service; she had promised me a bunch of times, but this week she actually did it!!  She is in a great deal of emotional pain, and the large church that she’s been going to is pretty impersonal and is not giving her support; I hope that she will keep coming to my church, because we have what she needs.

The woman who is the most central figure in my church outside of the pastor’s family, and is the most beloved by everyone including them, has decided that she needs to move. She currently lives in the part of town that is close to where she works, and now she wants to move AWAY from that convenient area, for reasons that she has not made clear, and she wants to move to… MY community. Even better than that; she wants to move into my exact NEIGHBORHOOD.  This lady has been an enormous asset to my life, and has shown me endless love and caring; that she is intending to move right nearby me, where she could come and help me if something went wrong, is a gargantuan blessing… and an answer to my prayers about having more people nearby me that I could count on. 

If you’ve been reading here for at least a few months, you’re aware that I had a stunning prophecy spoken over me at my first-ever church service in January; restoration x 7.  Given the absolute horror show that my life had been for the previous 4 years, that’s HUGE. In the nearly 4 months since that day, I have entered the absolute best period of my entire life, a change so radical that my loved ones can only shake their heads in amazement.  But the idea of restoration does not just mean taking you from a bad life to a good life, or even a better or best life;  restoration also means that what you have lost is returned to you. In my case, that would mean the people here locally that I had loved and trusted and counted on, that God had allowed to leave me in order to essentially force me to go where he needed me to be to get me to where I am now.  Because these people are intimately connected to each other, they are sort of a package deal, and I suspect that they will all be coming back in a sudden rush at some point. In a way that would be hard to explain, I have started feeling them moving back closer to me. Things will be very different between us when that happens, though; they were the center of my social and emotional life back then, but they won’t be now, or ever again. I have faith that because I now have the luxury of keeping them a little bit distant from me that they will be able to provide benefits to my life without the risk of them destroying that life as they were previously able to do. 

We’ve got 2/3 of the year left to go;  it gives me goosebumps to imagine what miracles await me.


Edit 5-12-15:  Hits on consecutive days to the rarely-visited “Did God send me a dream?” led me to read it for the 1st time since I wrote it on 7-10-14.  In stark contrast to my typical dreams about things being taken from me, this dream is of a man throwing big wads of $ into my purse;  I said at the time:

“When I woke up, my first thought was that this was a message from God, showing me that He was going to repay me for everything I’ve lost…  and not just double, although there were 2 “wads,” because each wad was far more bills than I’d ever carry.”

Double is what the Bible promises will be restored in several places, and perhaps that’s why there were TWO wads, but the total amount was so much more that it didn’t make sense… until restoration x7 came on the radar.  The dream might be a total coincidence, but I figured it was worth a mention.

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