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Archive for June 8th, 2015

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all make hundreds of decisions each day. most of them are routine, we don’t think much about them, but there are certain decisions that carry much more weight; they not only affect us, they affect our children and future generations. sometimes, what we think is an ordinary decision, no big deal, it’s really a defining moment. when you’re in a situation where you’re tempted to compromise, to get upset, to be bitter, you know, to make the right choice, you have to dig your heels in, be disciplined, not go by what you feel; that’s not just another routine choice, that’s a defining moment. the decisions you make in these tough times, when you feel like doing the easy thing, you feel like telling somebody off, you feel like being offended, you have to remind yourself; this is a defining moment, it’s going to impact my destiny, so I’m going to dig my heels in and do the right thing even though it’s difficult. the pain of discipline is much less than the pain of regret; it’s better to be uncomfortable for a little while than to make a poor choice and be uncomfortable for a long time. giving in to what we feel, what we want, taking the easy way out, that pleasure is only temporary; the pain lasts much longer. in the heat of the moment, every voice will tell you, “it doesn’t matter, it’s no big deal, just do it, it’s not going to hurt anything.” don’t believe those lies; it’s going to impact your destiny. Jesus said:

Matthew 26:41 (ESV)
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.

whatever area that you struggle in, before you leave the house, you need to pray: “God, help me to keep my cool today,” or, “God help me to keep my eyes on the right things,” “God help me to resist this addiction and not compromise.” then all through the day, you have to guard your mind; every temptation starts with a thought. this is where the real battle is taking place. when those tempting thoughts come, don’t dwell on it, don’t give it the time of day. if you allow it to stay, it’ll draw you in, and can lead you to compromise.  this is what Joseph had to do:

Genesis 39:1 (NIV)
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites

he continued to excel, and eventually Potiphar put him in charge of his whole household. Joseph was a good-looking young man, tall, dark and handsome. one day, he was walking through the house, minding his own business:

Genesis 39:7 (NIV)
7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

here Joseph was a slave, he been betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit; he could’ve thought, “God’s forgotten about me; what’s it going to matter if I compromise? besides, it’s her idea anyway. I’m tired of being stuck as a slave; I’m ready to have some fun.” he could’ve let his guard down, taken the easy way out, but he didn’t do it; he realized that it was a defining moment. he wouldn’t compromise:

Genesis 39:12 (NIV)
12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

notice how determined he was. sometimes, to stay on the high road, you have to take drastic measures. she lied about him, she falsely accused him; Joseph went to prison, but when it was all said and done:

Genesis 41:41 (NIV)
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”

what you do in your to defining moments will make you or break you. if Joseph would’ve taken the easy way out, given in to the temptation, I’m not so sure he would’ve made it to the throne. God would’ve forgiven him, of course, God always gives us another chance, but to reach your highest potential you have to pass these certain tests. the scripture says:

2 Timothy 2:22 (CEV)
22 Run from temptations

it doesn’t say to just casually get away, be careful, watch out, God specifically says “run”’; there’s a sense of urgency. this means, “don’t play games, your destiny is at stake.” that person at the office that’s overly friendly towards you, they’re making advances, God has a word from the Lord for you today: run. “I’m not going to do anything, I just like the attention they give me”; no, if you mess with fire, you’re going to get burned. that temporary pleasure is not worth the long-term pain. he may be tall, dark, handsome and rich, she may be hot, fine, good-looking, beautiful; it’s not worth missing your destiny over. maybe you’re trying to lose weight, you’re up at the mall, and you walk by the Cinnabon booth; run. don’t go over there thinking you’re just going to look and see; the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. when you turn the computer on, and that ad pops up that you know is not healthy; run. don’t go check it out. you may need to turn the computer off and go take a good run. when your spouse says something that irritates you, you’re ready to give him a piece of your mind, tell him off; right then, just like Joseph, you need to turn, and run away. you can explain it later. get out of compromising situations as quickly as you can. God will give you the grace to overcome what you can’t get away from, but He won’t give you the grace to overcome what you can get away from. sometimes, we keep falling into the same temptation, the same compromise, again and again; it could all change if we would do our part and get out of those situations.

one time, David was at home:

2 Samuel 11:2 (NIV)
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful

instead of running from the temptation, he said, “thank you Jesus.” the scripture says:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 … God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape

there will always be a moment of grace; there will be a time where you have the strength, the ability, to resist and walk away. the moment of grace doesn’t last hour after hour; right at the start, you’ve got to dig your heels in, be disciplined, to do the right thing.  David let his guard down, had an affair with the woman, then he had her husband killed; one compromise led to another. it could’ve all been avoided if he’d have done like Joseph and simply ran from the temptation.

Joseph’s father was Jacob. Jacob had a twin brother named Esau. one time Esau was very hungry:

Genesis 25:29-30 (ESV)
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!”

you would think Jacob would say, “sure, Esau, you’re my brother, you can have as much as you want,” but Jacob never missed an opportunity to take advantage of someone:

Genesis 25:31 (NIV)
31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

the birthright was extremely valuable. it belonged to the firstborn sons; it gave them a double portion. Esau was the oldest son; he had the birthright. but he was so hungry:

Genesis 25:32 (NIV)
32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

when we let our feelings rule us, we never make good decisions. Esau wasn’t going to starve, he was a skillful hunter; it was just a matter of time before he found something to eat. but he was so moved by his feelings, he said, “ok Jacob, you got a deal; I’ll trade you my birthright for your pot of stew.” Esau chose to satisfy a short-term appetite, but it cost him a lifetime blessing; he gave away something extremely valuable because he was uncomfortable, he wanted to be happy right then. he didn’t think about the long term; he didn’t realize that was a defining moment. you can’t get on board with your feelings; your feelings will lead you down the wrong path. Hebrews says:

Hebrews 12:17 (AMP)
17 … he could find no opportunity… to recall the choice he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.

I wonder how many times we’re missing God’s best because we’re making decisions based on the short-term, what we want, what we feel; the flesh likes to be comfortable. . “I know I should bite my tongue, but it feels good to tell him off.” “I know I should be faithful in this relationship, but I like hanging with this other person.” “I know I should have integrity in my business dealings, but this is an easy way to get ahead.” the decisions you make in the defining moments will determine how high you will rise. will you be a Joseph, and do the right thing when it’s hard, or will you be an Esau, and compromise to accommodate how you feel? Esau was so furious with Jacob for tricking him out of his birthright, he was planning on killing him. Jacob got word that his life was in danger, and took off running.

many years later, Jacob had become so prosperous that the land couldn’t sustain all of his animals. he wanted to go back home; the problem was, the only route was through the land that Esau owned. Jacob decided to take a chance; he sent messengers to give gifts to Esau. the messengers came back, and said, “Jacob, Esau is coming to see you, and he’s bringing 400 men with him.” Jacob thought, “that means one thing; revenge. he’s going to pay me back.” Jacob was so full of fear, so uptight; this time, he sent hundreds of animals ahead of him, hoping that when Esau saw all the sheep, camels, goats, his heart would be would be softened. finally, the big moment arrived; he’s about to see the man he cheated, deceived, stole his double portion. Jacob told someone to take his family, including his young son Joseph, over to the side, hopefully so they wouldn’t get hurt; this little boy Joseph is watching all the drama take place. he knows his father cheated his uncle Esau. he knows that his dad has done wrong; he’s heard the stories.

Genesis 33:1-7 (NIV)
33 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. 5 Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
6 Then the female servants and their children approached and bowed down. 7 Next, Leah and her children came and bowed down. Last of all came Joseph and Rachel, and they too bowed down.

I can imagine Esau going over and hugging Joseph; it was a defining moment, not only in Esau’s life, this time he passed the test, but it was a defining moment in Joseph’s life. he saw his uncle show mercy to his father; he saw him forgive a wrong, take the high road. this incredible act of kindness left an indelible mark on on Joseph’s heart. fast-forward many many years later; this little boy Joseph is a grown man. he’s been sold into slavery, thrown into a pit, he’s been through prison; now, he’s the leader of a great nation, second in command only to the Pharaoh. there’s a terrible famine throughout the land; Joseph is in charge of the food supply, one of the most powerful people of that time. one day, his brothers, the same ones that threw him into a pit, the same ones that sold him into slavery, made his life so miserable, were standing right before him. they were trying to get food for their family. it’d been so many years, they didn’t recognize that it was their brother Joseph. they all bow down before Joseph in humility.

Joseph suddenly flashes back to that time when he was a little boy, and he saw Jacob, his father, bow down to Esau. all these emotions come flooding up in his heart. it’s like the same scene is playing out, but this time he’s in Esau’s position. he remembers how Esau showed his father mercy. he remembers how Esau forgave the wrong, treated him with kindness, even though his father didn’t deserve it. Joseph looked at his brothers; he could’ve gotten revenge, paid them back, but because of a defining moment that happened when he was a little boy, he too was full of mercy. he treated his brothers like Esau treated his father.

Genesis 45:14-15 (NIV)
14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

Joseph moved all of his brothers, 70 family members including his father, back to Egypt. he gave them the best part of the land. the decisions you make in your defining moments not only affect you, they affect your children. how you respond to a wrong that’s been done to you, how you handle a disappointment, your attitude in the tough times, that’s leaving a mark on those around you. sometimes, you have to do the right thing, not because you feel like it, but because you’re setting an example for your children. that defining moment will live on.

maybe you get a negative medical report; you feel like falling apart. but in that defining moment, stay in peace; you know God’s in control, the number of your days He will fulfill. when your children hit a tough time, you know what they’ll do? stay in peace. they’ll follow your example. your response in the defining moments speaks volumes. this is what’s creating your legacy; what you did in the difficult times, how you treated people that didn’t treat you right. any of us can do the right thing in the good times, that’s easy. but to reach the fullness of your destiny, you have to pass the test of these defining moments. the defining moments carry much more weight. make sure you’re passing the test. no person lives or dies unto himself. people are watching you, not just your children: your coworkers, neighbors, that person at the gym. what makes the biggest impression is not what we do in the good times, but it’s how we respond in the difficult times.

the next time you have an unfair situation, somebody does you wrong, your plans don’t work out, instead of making a quick decision that you may regret later on, why don’t you take a step back, and say, “I recognize that this is one of my defining moments. I’m not going to take the easy way out. I’m not going to be rude because they were rude to me. I’m not going to be discouraged because I went through a loss. I know God is still on the throne; this is not a surprise to Him, so I’m going to stay on the high road, in peace, and keep doing the right thing.” when you do that, you’re passing the test; that’s what’s creating your legacy. more than your accomplishments, your character, your integrity, how you treat people, that’s what’s being passed down to your children, future generations.

we may not always get it right, I’m not saying we should never make a mistake, but we should be improving; we should be better this year than we were five years ago. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but what we do after we make a mistake speaks volumes. are you secure enough to call and apologize? do you have the humility to say, “I was wrong, I blew it, forgive me, I’m sorry”? your children, relatives, coworkers, will never forget that; that defining moment will live on. when they make a mistake, because of your example, they’ll be inspired to do the right thing. we all have unfair situations, setbacks. the flesh likes to get discouraged, fall into self-pity, blame others. don’t get stuck there; move on to the next chapter of your life. that loss is to make room for a new beginning. all of us face these temptations, not to just compromise, but a temptation to get discouraged, give up on your dreams. God has made a way of escape; there is a moment of grace for every difficulty, I’m asking you to step into it, pass that test. remember, the decisions you make in the defining moments not only affect you, they affect your family line. choose wisely. stay on the high road. if you do this, your defining moments won’t defeat you, they’ll promote to you. you and your children will rise higher, accomplish dreams, and become everything God created you to be.

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