Archive for June 29th, 2015

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through disappointments, setbacks, loss;  pain is a part of life. it’s easy to get discouraged, bitter, and think, “why is this happening to me?” one of the best principles I’ve learned is; don’t put a question mark where God has put a period. all of us have things we don’t understand; one reason is, we can’t see the big picture for our lives. if you have a puzzle, on the front of the box there’s the picture; you see what it’s supposed to look like. maybe it’s a sunset overlooking the ocean; as a whole it’s fantastic, so beautiful, but if you were to take one piece and isolate it, you would think, “look at this funny-looking piece; it’s a mistake, it’s not going to fit anywhere. it’s an odd shape, there’s nothing beautiful about it.” but the fact is, that piece has a perfect place; it’s already been fitted, planned, designed. when the other pieces come together, it will fit in. the reason you can’t see it now is because they all are not in place yet. 

in the same way, sometimes we look at pieces in our lives that don’t make sense: “I went through a divorce, I lost a loved one, I’m going through cancer, my business went down; this piece couldn’t be a part of God’s plan.” but you have to trust that even in the painful times, the times you’re hurting, lonely, taking the treatment, on the surface that piece doesn’t make sense, but God doesn’t make any mistakes; He’s already designed your life, laid out all the pieces down to the smallest details. God never said that we would understand everything that happens along the way. He didn’t promise that we’d never have any heartache, pain, disappointment, loss, setbacks, but He did promise that it would all work out for our good. that piece that’s painful, doesn’t look like it makes any sense, when everything comes together, it will fit perfectly into place.

the key is what we do in our times of pain. pain will change us: heartache, loss, disappointments, they don’t leave us the same.  if you go through a divorce, legal battle, a friend betrays you, eventually that will pass, you’ll get through it, but you will be different. how the pain changes you is up to you; you can come out bitter, or you can come out better.  you can come out with a chip on your shoulder, blaming God, or you can come out stronger, with a greater confidence in God.  you can come out defeated, giving up on your dreams, or you can come out with a new passion, a new fire, excited about the new opportunities in front of you.  all of us experience pain; my challenge is, don’t just go through it, grow through it.  that difficulty is an opportunity to get stronger, to develop character, to gain new confidence.

anybody can give up, anybody can let it overwhelm you, but you know what that’s doing? wasting your pain. that pain is not there to stop you, it’s there to prepare you, to increase you, to develop you. the scripture talks about how God is in control, not just of our lives, but He’s in control of our enemies. Satan had to ask God for permission to test Job. the enemy may turn on the fire, but the good news is, God has his hand on the thermostat. God controls how much heat, how much pain, how much adversity;  He knows what we can handle. if it was going to harm us rather than help us, God would have turned back the intensity. in those tough times, when you’re uncomfortable, going through a loss, dealing with an illness, you could easily let it overwhelm you; it’s helpful to remind yourself, “I may be in this fire, but I know Who controls the temperature.  the God who breathed life into me, the God Who is for me and not against me, the God Who crowned me with favor, the God Who takes pleasure in prospering me, He’s in complete control. He’s not going to let it get too hot, He’s not going to let it defeat me. I may not like it, but I’m not a whiner, I’m a warrior. I know I can handle this.” you have that attitude, and you’ll come out stronger, increased, promoted, better than you were before.

we’ve all heard the saying, “no pain, no gain”;  if everything was always easy, we wouldn’t be prepared for our destiny. some of the things I face today, if I would’ve faced them 10 years ago, they would’ve overwhelmed me; I couldn’t handle it back then. God knows what you need, when you need it. every struggle is making you stronger, every difficulty is growing you up, every painful time, even though you don’t like it, it’s developing something in you that can only be developed in the tough times.  don’t complain about the pain; without the pain, we couldn’t reach the fullness of our destinies. we were not created to float through life on flowery beds of ease. we’re going to the sweet by-and-by, but we’re living in the nasty now-and-now.  we love to not have any pain, loss, disappointments, heartache, betrayal; that’s not reality. difficulties are a part of life. have the right perspective; in those tough times, God is getting you prepared. if it was too much, He would’ve turned back the temperature;  He’s got his hand on the thermostat. now quit telling yourself you can’t take it;  you’re not weak, you are well able.  you are armed with strength for this battle. you are full of can-do power.

the reason the fire is so hot is because God has something amazing in your future;  He’s getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny. God doesn’t just randomly say, “let Me give them some pain to make their life miserable,” “let Me hit her with a sickness,” “let Me hit him with some marriage problems”; there is a purpose for the pain. we may not always understand it, “why did I get sick, lose my loved one, why did my marriage not make it?”  I can’t answer that, but I can tell you, if God allowed it, He knows how to bring good out of it.  this is what faith is all about;  “God, I don’t like the pain, but I trust You. I believe You’re in control. I’m not going to just go through it, I’m going to grow through it. I’m going to keep a good attitude, I’m going to count it all joy, knowing that this pain is leading to my gain.”

sometimes, we bring pain on ourselves, make poor choices, get in a relationship we know is not good, get over our head in our spending; now it’s painful, we’re having to deal with the consequences. God is full of mercy; He’ll always give us the grace to get out of it, but the way to not waste your pain is you have to learn the lesson.  be big enough to look back and say, “here’s where I missed it; I ignored the warnings, I got involved in something that I shouldn’t have, I got out of God’s timing, got in a hurry. I’m not going to do that anymore.” there’s a lesson in the pain;  don’t be hardheaded and have to keep going through the same pain again and again.  we talk a lot about letting go of the past, letting go of the mistakes, failures, divorce, and yes, that’s true, but another way to say it is, “remember the lesson, remember what you learned in the experience, and then let go of the negative event.”

but if you go through a painful time and you don’t come out with what you were supposed to learn, you’re doing yourself a disservice. don’t keep repeating the same mistakes again and again. are you bringing pain on yourself? are you struggling in a relationship, not fulfilled, because you keep saying everything you feel like saying? here’s a newsflash; the pain will stop if you zip it up. don’t just go through it, grow through it. other times, we experience pain that has nothing to do with our choices; it wasn’t our fault, we were doing the right thing and the wrong thing happened. the scripture says:

Matthew 5:45 (GW)

45 … He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust.

you can be the just, honoring God, being your best, helping others, and it rains in your life.  there are forces of darkness trying to keep you from your destiny. God could’ve stopped it, but He didn’t. even though it’s painful now, if you’ll stay in faith, that will lead you toward your destiny.  God knows how to take your mess and turn it into your message, take what was meant for harm and use it to your advantage. there are times God will allow us to go through a season of difficulty so He can birth something new on the inside. Paul said in Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 1:4 (ERV)

4 He comforts us every time we have trouble so that when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us.

when you go through something you don’t understand, it doesn’t make sense, instead of getting negative, bitter, “God, why did this happen?” have a new perspective; the reason God allowed it is because He can trust you.  He knows He can count on you to take the same the same love, healing, encouragement, and share it with others. maybe you’ve been through something you don’t understand: a sickness, abuse, infertility, raising a difficult child, life hasn’t turned out the way you’d hoped, it’s painful. it’s easy to take on a victim mentality; “if God is good, why did this happen to me? why did these people mistreat me growing up? why’d I have this bad break?” it’s because God knows he can trust you. the forces of darkness tried to take you out, but God had His hand on the thermostat. He said, “not so fast, that’s my son, that’s my daughter; I’ve got an assignment for them to fulfill.” just like God said to Satan about Job:

Job 1:12 (NLT)

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“he’s not going to quit serving me, I know what Job is made of.”  God is saying the same thing about you;  “it may be painful, but I know what they’re made of.  it may be difficult, it may not be fair, but I’m not only going to bring them out, I’m going to bring them out better, and I’m going to use them to help other people who are struggling in the same areas.” God can trust you;  there’s a purpose for that pain.  do you know how many businesses, charities, ministries, have been birthed out of pain?  you and I can find the purpose in our pain.  don’t get caught up in “where this piece to my puzzle fits, it doesn’t make sense, this is an ugly piece”; keep moving forward, go out and encourage somebody else. healing comes when you get your mind off of your own pain, what you lost, what didn’t work out, and you go help others. but as long as you stay focused on yourself, you’re going to get stuck; there’s a blessing in that pain. you have something to give others; you can encourage people who are going through what you’ve been through.

we’ve all been through things that are uncomfortable, we didn’t like it, but God made a way when we didn’t see a way. if it wasn’t for His healing, favor, goodness, mercy, we wouldn’t be here. God’s counting on us to let our light shine. what you’ve been through can help somebody else get through it.  be on the lookout for somebody you can encourage;  don’t waste your pain. when you’ve been through something, in one sense you’ve been given a gift; you are uniquely qualified to help others struggling in that same situation. don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself; go out and lift somebody else up.  everything happens to us for a reason;  nothing is a coincidence. some things are to help us grow, mature, come up higher.  then there are times God will allow us to go through a difficult season, so later on we can be instrumental in helping somebody else overcome.  can God trust you with the pain? can God trust you to be uncomfortable? will you get negative, bitter, “God, why is this happening to me?”

I say this respectfully; it’s not all about you. what if God allowed it so three years from now you could help somebody else move forward? can God trust you?  we all have something to give. we’ve all been through a hurt, a loss, a disappointment; don’t see it as, “this is so bad,” no, you may not have liked it, but there’s a purpose for that pain. many times, all we can feel is the pain, “God, I’m uncomfortable”; the pain is a sign that you’re about to give birth to something new.  if you’ll stay in faith, eventually the pain will pass; you’ll give birth to new strengths, new talents, new ministry, new charity, new friendships, a new level.  the pain is for a purpose; a change is taking place. when you’re in a difficult time, don’t focus on the pain, focus on the fact that a new level is coming.  the scripture says:

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

2 … For the joy set before him he endured the cross

if you only focus on where you are, on the pain, you’ll get negative. have a new perspective, the right perspective;  “God, I don’t like this situation, but I know this pain is not here to stop me, it’s here to promote me. it’s a sign I’m about to give birth to something new.” when it’s painful, don’t get discouraged, get ready;  you’re about to give birth. that discomfort you’re feeling, it’s not just a random pain, those are birth pains. there’s a blessing in that pain, there’s a gift in that pain, there’s a ministry in the pain, there’s a new level in that pain.  don’t waste it; look for opportunities where you can encourage somebody else. can God trust you with that pain? will you get negative, bitter, or will you say, “God, I don’t understand it, but I know there’s a purpose for this pain”?  remember, God has His hand on the thermostat; if it was too much, He would have cut back the heat.  don’t just go through it, grow through it. if you’ll do this, your pain is about to be turned into your gain: you’re going to come out stronger, increased, promoted, new levels. that pain is going to birth you into the fullness of your destiny.

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