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Archive for August, 2015

The second touch

from JO’s sermon tonight:

in the scripture, some people brought a blind man to Jesus:

Mark 8:23 (NIV)

23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him

instantly his eyes were opened. you can imagine how thrilled he was; for the first time he could see light, color, trees, the sky. he was overcome with excitement; his life had just totally changed. then Jesus asked him an interesting question:

Mark 8:23 (VOICE)

23 … Jesus: What do you see?

Jesus already knew something wasn’t quite perfect.  the man answered:

Mark 8:24 (ESV)

24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

he was saying, “I’m grateful that I can see, but it’s blurry. I’m not complaining, I’m thankful that I have any sight, but everything is out of focus.” Jesus could’ve walked away, said, “well, I made it much better, be on your way, have a great life”; that could’ve been the end of the story. but God didn’t come to just make you better, to make you ok, to make you get by;  He came to make you totally whole, to live an abundant, healthy, happy, free, victorious life. the scripture says:

Mark 8:25 (ESV)

25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

many of us are like this blind man:  we’ve seen God’s goodness, He’s helped us to get to where we are, we’re grateful even though we haven’t broken the addiction, accomplished a dream, a child is still off course.  we’re thankful for what God has done; we can say, like the blind man, “He’s made it a whole lot better.” while we should be content where we are, we shouldn’t be satisfied with mediocrity. too often, we settle for less than God’s best, thinking, “I’ll never break this addiction, but at least I’ve learned to live with it. I’ll never get married, but at least I have a few friends. I’ll never get out debt, but at least I can pay my bills.” you’re right where the blind man was, saying, “everything’s blurry, but at least I can see something. I’m not complaining; I’m satisfied to be better.”

here’s the key; you may be satisfied, but God is not satisfied. He has a second touch coming your way. the second touch is when you come totally out of debt, free from the addiction, the medical report says no more sickness, your whole family comes to know the Lord.  the second touch is when God opens doors you never dreamed would open, when He amazes you with His goodness. be grateful for what God has done, but don’t be satisfied with better.  God didn’t create us to reach half of our destiny, 3/4 or 90%; what God started in your life, He’s going to bring to completion. I’m not just trying to encourage you, make you feel better, I’m prophesying that a second touch is coming your way. when this second touch kicks in, you’re going to see favor that you’ve never seen, the right people are going to show up, freedom from strongholds, a new level of your destiny.

now you have to let this seed take root. you have to get in agreement with God. you can’t go around thinking that you’ve reached your limits, you’ll never get well, never be promoted, “I’ll never see clearly, it’s been blurry for so long in my life”; thinking like that will stop God’s best.  quit declaring defeat over your life, quit prophesying mediocrity. it may be blurry, but it’s not a surprise to God. He’s not scratching his head, thinking, “why didn’t they get clear vision?” God controls the whole universe. He has all power. what He’s destined for your life will come to pass.  it may not happen all at once; while we’re waiting, that’s a test of our faith. don’t get discouraged. when things happen that you don’t understand, don’t give up; you always face your greatest opposition when you’re closest to your victory. 

the enemy wouldn’t be fighting you so hard if he didn’t know that God has something amazing in front of you. you have to dig your heels in, and say, “it may be blurry, taking a long time, I don’t understand it, but I know a secret; the second touch is coming. God is still on the throne.  His plans for me are for good, and any moment things could change in my favor.” when you live with this expectancy, that’s what allows God to do great things. you don’t know, the second touch could happen today; you could meet the person of your dreams tomorrow, that health issue could turn around, the loan could go through this week. there are second touches already ordained to come across your path. God doesn’t do things halfheartedly; He’s the author and the finisher. it may look impossible, but God can do the impossible.

people may try to talk you out of it, but people don’t have the final say, God does. get up every morning and thank Him for your second touch;  “Lord, I’m grateful that I have a job, that I can pay my bills, but I’m still in debt; God, I’m asking for your second touch.” the second touch is when you come into overflow, more than enough. “Lord, I’m feeling better, I’m making progress, but I’m still struggling with this illness; Lord, I’m asking for the completion of Your healing.” God, I went through a bad break, I lost a loved one, it’s kind of blurry in my life right now, and God I’m asking, just like You did for that blind man, touch me again:  restore my joy, passion, vision. God, give me a new beginning.”

I wonder what would happen if we would go out with this expectancy, believing that the second touch is coming, not just hearing a message, but letting a seed take root, expecting a dream to come to pass, expecting to get healthy and whole, expecting God to finish what He started. “this sounds good, but I’ve had some setbacks, I’ve been taking this treatment for cancer on and off for the last 10 years, that’s why I’m discouraged, I don’t think I’ll ever get well.” just because you gave up doesn’t mean God gave up. God is not satisfied with better; He’s going to take you to the fullness of your destiny. 

David said:

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock

sometimes, even though we’re content to stay in the pit, God is not content.  He’s not going to give you a choice, He’s going to lift you out of that pit and set your feet toward your destiny. you didn’t think it was going to happen, you thought you were stuck where you are, but then, one touch of God’s favor, suddenly your health improved, you met the right person, a new door of opportunity opened. it wasn’t anything you did;  it was simply the goodness of God, His second touch. 

in 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah had just seen one of the greatest victories of his life; 450 false prophets who worshiped the god Baal had come against him:

1 Kings 18:21-24 (NIV)

21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Elijah let them go first;  they prayed, sang, danced, chanted, hour after hour, still no fire. when it was Elijah’s time, he prayed, and God sent lightning and started the wood on fire. later all 450 of those prophets were killed;  it was a great victory for Elijah.

there was a lady there by the name of Jezebel. when she heard what happened to those prophets, she was furious. she sent word to Elijah:

1 Kings 19:2-3 (ESV)

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” 3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life 

it’s funny, he wasn’t afraid of 450 men, but he was scared to death of one angry woman.  Elijah ran far away from that place. He was sitting under a tree, so depressed that he didn’t want to live:

1 Kings 19:4 (NLT)

4 … He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life

here he had just seen this great miracle, and the problem now is, he’s tired;  tired of believing, standing strong, staying in faith. maybe like Elijah, you’ve been doing the right thing for a long time;  believing, praying, standing in faith. you’ve seen God’s goodness in the past, but now you’re tired, you’ve lost your drive, passion, you don’t think you’ll ever really get well, you’ve had the sickness so long, you’re not believing to start that business anymore, you’ve had too many setbacks. the good news is, God doesn’t give up on us when we get tired, discouraged.  when Jesus was on his way to the cross, about to be crucified, he got so tired, so weak.  God didn’t say, “Jesus, you’re making me look bad”; He sent a man by the name of Simon to carry the cross for him:

Matthew 27:32 (NIV)

32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

God knew there would be times that we would get tired, fall down, be discouraged, give up on a dream. He doesn’t say, “too bad, you should have had more faith”; no, He’ll send somebody to help lift you back up, breathe new life into your dreams.  maybe I’m that somebody for you today; you’re not here by accident.  God is saying, “the best part of your life is still out in front of you.” He has new friendships, opportunities, victories, mountains for you to climb. but sometimes, we think, because we’re people of faith, we’re supposed to be superman/woman, never have an ounce of doubt, a moment of discouragement. take the pressure off yourself;  you don’t have to be strong all the time.  even Jesus had a moment of weakness:

Matthew 26:39 (NIV)

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. 

you may be down right now, not pursuing your dreams, not passionate about life, tired;  God has you here to lift you, to help you get back up, to remind you that He’s not finished with you.  He’s going to bring you out of that pit.  He’s going to set your feet on a rock, move you towards your destiny. this season will pass; the second touch is coming. 

Elijah was so depressed, he didn’t want to live, he’s sitting under that tree.  you would think God would say, “come on Elijah, I just rained down fire from heaven, showed you My favor, protection, and you mean you’re going to let this one woman, bad break, disappointment, cause you to get discouraged and give up? what’s wrong with you?” no, God doesn’t disqualify us when we don’t stand strong enough. the scripture says:

1 Kings 19:5-8 (NIV)

5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank.

God not only gave him the bread and water, He took it one step further; He cooked the food for him.  God could’ve given him the strength to go out and hunt, find food, water, come back, get the firewood, cook it himself, that would’ve been nice. here’s how good God is; on this second touch, God’s going to bring things to you. He’s going to cause blessings to chase you down:

Deuteronomy 28:2 (VOICE)

2 All of the following blessings will be yours—in fact, they’ll chase after you

He’s going to make things happen that you could’ve never made happen.  you may have been through some disappointments, people, circumstances, have come against you, and now you’ve settled where you are, not expecting anything good. every voice tells you, “it’s never going to happen”; don’t believe those lies. just like with Elijah, the angel of the Lord is coming a second time. this second touch is not only going to give you new fire, passion, but it’s going to push you into your destiny. the second touch is when you’ll see clearly. you’ll have wisdom, the right doors open, things fall into place. you’ll step into your purpose.

why don’t you shake off the disappointments, what didn’t work out, and say, “God, I know You’re still in control of my life. I’ve had these bad breaks, things come against me, but God, I’m not going to settle here, give up on my dream. I know Your second touch is coming.” If you’ll do that, God will not only bring you the provision, give you the food and water so to speak, but He’ll cook the food for you, do more than you can ask or think.  but too often, we stay focused on the negative, what didn’t work out, how long it’s taken, who hurt us, how unfair it was; that causes us to get stuck. you can talk yourself out of your destiny.

this is what Abraham’s father did.  his name was Terah. he had three sons. one of his sons, a young man name Haran, died at an early age:

Genesis 11:27-28 (NIV)

27 This is the account of Terah’s family line.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.

Terah went through this great disappointment, the loss of a son. years later:

Genesis 11:31 (NLT)

31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan [the Promised Land], but they stopped at Haran and settled there.

he started off good, but when he came to the place that reminded him of the son he had lost, the place of his greatest disappointment, he got discouraged, gave up on his dream, told everybody, “I’m sure I should go forward, the promised land is probably in front of us, but I’ve been through too much, been hurt too many times, let’s just settle here.” Terah could have become the father of many nations, instead of Abraham;  it could have started one generation sooner, but Terah chose to settle. he didn’t realize that God had a second touch, that God can give beauty for ashes, that: 

Psalm 30:11 (NRSV)

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;

    you have taken off my sackcloth

    and clothed me with joy

that God can take what’s meant for harm, and use it to our advantage. instead, he chose to stay focused on the pain. I don’t know, maybe he had a good excuse, he lost a loved one, but if he could’ve just dug his heels in, and said, “no, I’m not going to settle in Haran, I’m not going to stay in the place of my greatest pain, I’m going to keep moving forward, knowing that a second touch is coming, knowing that God will pay me back for this trouble.” if he would’ve done that, he would’ve been listed as one of the heroes of faith. friends, don’t let one loss, one disappointment, one bad break, cause you to settle. we all face things we don’t understand, life is not always fair; the key is, you have to pass through the place of your greatest pain, pass through the hurt, the rejection, the failure, the mistake. if you’ll keep moving forward, you’ll come into your promised land. God will give you beauty for ashes. the scripture says:

Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)

12 … today I declare that I will restore to you double.

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion

Job 42:10 (CEB)

10 … the Lord doubled all Job’s earlier possessions.

you remember Job; he went through a great disappointment, lost his health, business, family, but in the end, God restored twice back to him.  Job had 10 children that were killed in a terrible storm, great tragedy, he was devastated, but later on, God gave Job 10 more children;  he had 10 in heaven, 10 on earth, double. what’s interesting is, the scripture never says that Job married a younger wife; the same wife that had given him 10 children before gave him 10 more children. God opened that womb once again. in the natural, she was too old, she was done, couldn’t have anymore children; looked like her womb was dead. but when God saw the trouble the enemy had caused her, God said to her in effect, “don’t worry, I’m going to bring back to life your dead womb; that womb that’s been closed ,I’m going to open it once again, you’re going to have 10 more children. 

the enemy cannot stop God’s plan for your life; he may try, but he can’t do it, God has the final say. you may have something that looks dead; you tried, it didn’t work out, it’s been a long time. you need to get ready for the second touch. on the second touch, God’s going to reopen what was closed, bring back to life what was dead, pay you back for that trouble. don’t settle in the place of your greatest pain; the second touch is coming.

your situation may look dead, in your health, relationship, a business; you don’t see how it could ever work out. but God didn’t bring you this far to leave you; there’s a second touch coming.  the first touch got you to this point; the second touch is when you see it turn around, when you see your health restored, when your business takes off. the second touch is when you say, “I can see clearly now. the dream came to pass. the problem resolved.  God finished what He started.”  anybody can give up, say, “it’s never going to happen,” that’s easy; doubters are a dime a dozen. but it takes a wo/man of great faith, somebody like you, to say, “I may not see a way, but I know God still has a way. I’m not going to give up, settle, be talked out of it; I know my second touch is coming. God did it for others, He can do it for me.” 

Moses said in Psalm 90:

Psalm 90:15-16 (TLB)

15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. 16 Let us see your miracles again

he was saying, “God, I’m in a tough time, things haven’t been going my way, but God, I’m asking for your second touch; show us miracles again.” when you face difficulties, do like Moses:  “Lord, touch, heal, strengthen, amaze me again.”  dare to ask for the second touch. 

in the scripture, there was a lady named Elizabeth; she and her husband Zechariah were well up there in years, and they’d never had any children, but:

Luke 1:13 (NIV)

13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 

(he later became known as John the Baptist.)  even though Elizabeth was too old in the natural, she conceived; she was pregnant with John. for the first 6 months, she hardly felt any movement in her womb, and she was very concerned that something was wrong with the baby. one day, her young cousin Mary came to visit her; she was pregnant with Jesus.  when Elizabeth saw Mary, the scripture says:

Luke 1:44 (NIV)

44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 

she knew John was alive and well. that was the first time John the Baptist ever met Jesus, technically, still in the womb. fast-forward 30 years later:

John 1:35-36 (ESV)

35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”

Matthew 3:13-16 (NIV)

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 

the first time John met Jesus, he moved in his mother’s womb, a natural occurrence.  the second time they met, the heavens opened up, a supernatural occurrence.  this second touch is not going to be ordinary, natural, or what you were thinking; it’s going to launch you into a new dimension, a new level. God’s going to take you where you could not go on your own.  you may have seen God’s goodness in the past, but you haven’t seen anything yet. you need to get ready; the second touch is coming. it’s not too late to accomplish your dreams. you can still live healthy and whole. you can still overcome that obstacle. don’t get discouraged and settle where you are. don’t get stuck in the place of pain and disappointment; keep moving forward, there’s a promised land in front of you. 

the best part of your life is still in your future. I’m asking you to stir your faith up, get your passion back. get up every morning and say with Moses, “Lord, thank You for Your second touch.” if you’ll do this, just like the blind man, you’re going to see the completion of what God started. like with Elijah, God’s not only going to strengthen you, but He’s going to bring you the provision, do more than you can ask or think. like with John the Baptist, God’s going to launch you into a new dimension, into the fullness of your destiny.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

all of us have areas that we struggle in. we make mistakes, and do things that we know we shouldn’t. we told ourselves that we weren’t going to give into that temptation anymore, but we did it again: we lost our temper, didn’t keep our word, maybe compromised with some friends. it’s easy to go around feeling guilty, condemned, wrong on the inside, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m still struggling in this same area.” voices will whisper, “God’s never going to bless you. you can’t get it right, you don’t deserve it, just sit on the sidelines.” we think we have to have a perfect performance for God to bless us. once we get rid of all these weaknesses, “once I overcome in these areas that I’m struggling in, then I’ll have God’s favor, feel good about myself.” but the scripture says:

2 Chronicles 16:9 (ASV)

9 For the eyes of Jehovah run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

God is not looking for people who have a perfect performance, perfect behavior, people who never make a mistake;  He’s looking for people who have a perfect heart turned toward Him.  that means, you may make mistakes, but you have a desire to please Him;  deep down, you want to honor Him with your life. it’s your heart that matters. God looks on the inside; He is more pleased with someone with the right heart that makes mistakes every once in a while than with someone with a wrong heart and performs perfectly all the time. 

we see this in the scripture. the Pharisees kept all the religious rules: they prayed at the right time, gave the exact amount required, went to great lengths to perform the religious ceremonies exactly like they were supposed to.  they had the performance part down; the problem was, their heart wasn’t right. they were self-righteous, proud, critical, and even though they performed perfectly, Jesus said to them:

Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

27 …You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

when Jesus chose his 12 disciples, it was just the opposite. he didn’t choose people who had it all together: he chose a tax collector; they were known for being dishonest:

Matthew 9:9 (NIV)

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

he chose fisherman; they used bad language, lived a rough lifestyle:

Matthew 4:18-22 (NKJV)

18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

he chose Thomas, a doubter. it looked like he’d made a mistake; these weren’t the most qualified, disciplined, upstanding people, these were people who had flaws and weaknesses, people who came out of dysfunction, people who were not raised in a religious background.  but what God can see that others cannot see is the heart. people look on the outside, at the performance, behavior, background.  God looks beyond all that;  He knows, it’s the heart that matters. he said to these disciples, “I chose you, not because you have it all together, not because you perform perfectly, no, I hand-picked you because I can see your heart is turned toward me.”

God is saying the same thing to you; you wouldn’t be here, listening, if you didn’t have a heart turned toward God. your performance may not be perfect: your behavior, your attitude, your character may need some improvement, we all do, but just like with the disciples, God is saying, “I hand-picked you because your heart is sincere, your heart is to do the right thing, you’re pliable and moldable, so I’m going to show Myself strong in your life.” the key is, you have to learn to accept yourself while you’re in the process of changing.  it doesn’t do any good to go around beating yourself up because of flaws and weaknesses, living guilty and condemned, because you’re not where you think you should be in life.  the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV)

18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

you may not realize it, but you’re in a phase of glory right now; learn to enjoy the glory that you’re in while God is changing you, and taking you to the next level of glory. too often, we’re not going to feel good about who we are until our behavior gets better, we break the bad habit, control our temper, then we’ll start accepting ourselves. the problem with this approach is there will always be something that’s not right; there will always be some reason to feel wrong about who we are. you have to accept yourself right where you are, faults and all. you are not a finished product; God is the potter, you are the clay, He’s still working on you. He goes at His own pace; nothing you can do to make it happen any faster.  He knows what’s best.

you should say, “God, my life is in Your hands, not just my goals and dreams, but my flaws and weaknesses, these areas that I struggle in. God, I know only You can give me the grace to overcome. I’m going to do my best, work with You, but in the meantime, I’m going to accept myself and enjoy the glory that I’m in.”  I’ve learned, if you’ll keep your heart turned toward God, your performance will catch up. the disciples started off rough, they had a lot to overcome, but they ended up men of great character who touched the world. Peter had a problem with cursing, using bad language.  he didn’t change overnight; I’m sure there were plenty of times that he got upset, fell back into that bad habit. remember, it happened the night before Jesus was crucified:

Mark 14:69-71 (NASB)

69 The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.” 71 But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!”

he went right back into his old ways. he had been a disciple for a long time, but he still wasn’t perfect. you would think God would say, “Peter, you’re a headache, you made Me work overtime, I’m going to find somebody else.” no, as long as your heart is turned toward God, He’s going to keep working with you. God does not expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to keep trying, growing. you have to stay pliable, willing to change.  when you make mistakes, don’t stay down on yourself; get back up and go again. Peter blew it big time, but he repented, asked for forgiveness, and kept moving forward. he had to fight off the guilt, condemnation, the voices telling him he was a failure, that he was never going to change; he didn’t believe those lies. he knew he was on the potter’s wheel; God was making him and molding him, he was in the process of changing.  here’s the key;  Peter accepted himself, even though he had some issues. his performance wasn’t perfect, but he kept his heart perfect, turned towards God. 

why don’t you stop beating yourself up because you don’t perform perfectly all the time, and start accepting yourself because your heart is right? when you live guilty and condemned, feeling wrong on the inside, it only makes you do worse. it takes a mature attitude to say, “I am happy with who I am, even though I’m not where I want to be. I’ve still got these issues, I still struggle in some areas, but I know I’m growing, improving. my heart is turned toward God, so I’m not going to beat myself up, I’m going to enjoy where I am while I’m in the process of being changed.”

but too many people, they go around feeling wrong on the inside; they’re so focused on their flaws and weaknesses, what they’re not, that they don’t like who they are. if you don’t like yourself, nobody else is going to like you. you project on others the way you feel about yourself. if you feel guilty, lousy, condemned, mad at yourself because you’re not far enough along, that’s not only going to hold you back, you’re not going to have good relationships. quit taking inventory of everything that’s wrong with you; you may have a lot wrong, but you have a lot more right with you. when God made you, He wasn’t having a bad day; you are not a mistake, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. in fact, when God created you, He stepped back and said, “that was good.” He calls you a masterpiece. quit living like you’re ordinary, mediocre, average, when in fact you are one of a kind, a prized possession, wearing a crown of favor. Paul said in Ephesians:

Ephesians 6:14 (NASB)

14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness

Ephesians 6:14 (GW)

14 … Put on God’s approval as your breastplate.

every day, you need to say, “Father, thank You that You approve me, that you are proud of me.” when you put on this approval, chains of inferiority, of low self-esteem, guilt, and condemnation, those chains are broken. there’s a freedom when you know you’ve been approved by God. You’re His prized possession; He created you in His own image. don’t go through life being against yourself.  “God doesn’t approve me. I make a lot of mistakes, I don’t do everything right, I’m still struggling with my temper”; you’re not a finished product, God is still working on you.  He doesn’t say, “I’ll approve you when you perform perfectly, when you get it all together,” no, He approves you right where you are. He may not approve all of your behavior, but He approves you. God said you were good before you did one good thing. you don’t have to keep working trying to gain God’s approval, you already have it. 

you may make mistakes, we all do, you may fail from time to time, but here’s the key; that’s what you do, that’s not who you are. we get our performance mixed up with our identity. if you ask someone, “who are you?” often they’ll say, “I’m a businessperson, firefighter, pastor, coach, architect.” the truth is, that’s what you do, not who you are; who you are is a child of the most high God. that’s where your value, worth comes from, from your who, not your do, because you may do things that are not who you are.  “I’m an alcoholic, I’ve got this problem with drinking”; that’s what you do, that’s not who you are. “I failed in business; I guess I’m a failure”; failure is an event, it is not a person. nothing you can do changes your value; your who has been set by the Creator. 

but the enemy would love for us to go around like we don’t deserve God’s blessings; he’s called the accuser.  he’ll constantly whisper in your ear, “you’re still struggling with that bad habit; God’s never going to bless you, you can’t get anything right”; don’t believe those lies, your who never changed. every morning when you get up, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, how many weaknesses you have, you have to put on the breastplate of God’s approval, “God, I want to thank You that You approve, accept, are proud of me.  the breastplate covers your heart;  it has to do with how you think about yourself.

if you think you’ve made too many mistakes, you don’t deserve God’s goodness, “I’m so disappointed in where I am now,” that’s going keep you from your destiny. you have to shake off the disapproval, and remind yourself, “I’ve been approved by the One Who matters most.”  not approved when you perform perfectly, overcome the bad habit, no, you are approved right where you are.  when you gave your life to Christ, you were born into a new family. you were given a new name;  child of the most high God. you may make some mistakes, you may fall down, have weaknesses; the good news is, none of that changes your name. nothing you do can change your who; it has been set by the Creator of the universe. God said in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:5 (AMP)

5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you

something powerful happens when you have the boldness to say, “God, I know You approve me, so I’m going to approve myself. I am happy with who I am.” voices will scream out on the inside; “you’re a hypocrite, you’ve got issues, you made a mistake last Tuesday, you didn’t keep your word.” just answer back, “I’m not approved because I’m perfect; I’m approved because of the family I belong to. my heavenly Father created the whole universe, and you know what, He’s crazy about me. I’m the apple of His eye. I’m His most prized possession. and yes, I may still have some issues, but I’m on the potter’s wheel; I’m growing, improving.  God is still working on me.”  you can enjoy the glory that you’re in while God is preparing you for the next level of glory.  I want you to feel good about who you are. when you are positive towards yourself, you’re in agreement with God. “what about the mistake I made last week, that failure I made last year?”  the moment you repented, and asked God to forgive you, He not only forgave you, but He doesn’t remember it anymore:

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

quit remembering what God has forgotten. quit letting the accuser tell you everything that you’re not. your performance may not have been perfect, but your heart is perfect;  that’s what matters to God. I’m not saying to use this as an excuse to live sloppy, mediocre, do whatever you want, I’m talking about not letting guilt and condemnation keep you from your destiny. bottom line; God is not keeping a record of all of our mistakes. sometimes, we think God must be up in the heavens, sitting at His computer, closely watching, waiting for us to fail;  “uh-oh, I saw that mistake, let Me write it down. I heard that comment; Gabriel, put a star by it, that was a bad one. they missed church last Sunday, let Me withhold My blessings this week.” no, God is not waiting for you to perform perfectly before He can show you His goodness; He is looking for hearts that are turned perfect toward Him. 

when you say, “God, I love You, I need You, I can’t do this on my own, help me to make good decisions,” when you show your dependency on Him like that, you go through the day talking to Him, under your breath, thanking Him for life, health, family, opportunity, you go to bed with a grateful attitude, saying, “Lord, thank you for another beautiful day,” when your heart is turned towards God, He’ll not only give you the grace to overcome things that are holding you back, He’ll give you the favor to reach your highest potential. our heavenly Father is not looking at the times you got knocked down, failed, didn’t measure up; He’s looking at your good moves. He’s focused on the fact that you’re still in the game, that you got back up again, you’re here today, you have a desire to please Him. that’s what God is looking at.  it’s your heart that matters. 

when you have the right image of God, you realize that He is for you, that He is not basing His goodness on your perfect performance, then all the guilt, condemnation, the feeling that something is wrong on the inside, they don’t stand a chance. you’ll put your shoulders back, hold your head up high, knowing that just like the disciples, God hand-picked you, not because you were perfect, but because He could see your heart. God is pleased with you. He is not disappointed in where you are, not shaking His head thinking, “when are they ever going to grow up?” you are right on schedule.  He has you on His potter’s wheel; He’s making you and molding you. now do your part: stay positive toward yourself, keep your heart turned toward God. He’s going to show Himself strong in your life.  I wonder how many times God does this with us; we make the mess, but because our heart is right, God causes it to all work out, never says anything about it. we made a wrong turn, got involved in something we had no business being involved in, but God looked at our heart, and didn’t hold it against us. He cleaned up the mess. the scripture says in James:

James 1:5 (NIV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

God is not a fault-finder. He doesn’t go around accusing, saying, “I told you so. you should’ve known that was going to happen. you’re on your own now.” no, God is full of mercy. we deserve judgment. we deserve having to deal with our own problems. but because your heart is right, God will show you favor that you didn’t deserve. He’ll help you clean up a mess that you made, and on top of that, not even condemn you for it.  we see this principle in the scripture. Jesus was at a Pharisee’s house, about to have dinner:

Luke 7:37-39 (ISV)

37 There was a woman who was a notorious sinner in that city. When she learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s home, she took an alabaster jar of perfume 38 and knelt at his feet behind him. She was crying and began to wash his feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. Then she kissed his feet over and over again, anointing them constantly with the perfume.

39 Now the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and told himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who is touching him and what kind of woman she is. She’s a sinner!”

they looked on the outside, judged her performance.  her performance said, “she’s not valuable, she’ll never amount to anything.” her performance was poor, but deep down, this lady had a heart turned toward God. she’d made lots of mistakes, but she took this unusual step, to pour this oil on Jesus’ feet. the religious leaders were watching closely; “what’s he going to do? condemn her throw, her out? is he a real prophet?” Jesus began to tell a parable:

Luke 7:41-43 (NIV)

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

then he said:

Luke 7:47-48 (NIV)

47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown… 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 

notice, the lady made the mess, she spent years making wrong decisions, but when she took one step toward God, He didn’t condemn her, He didn’t chew her out, He showed her mercy, cleaned up the mess, and never said anything about it, never talked about her past.  that’s the God we serve;  it’s not your performance, it’s your heart that matters.  maybe you too have made a mess of things; you’re not where you thought you would be in life.  you brought the trouble on yourself, you’re thinking, “God’s never going to help me, it’s my own fault”; but God is not judging you based on what you’ve done. He is not looking at past mistakes, past failures; He’s looking at your heart. the real question today is, is your heart turned toward God? if you’ll do like this lady, instead of running away from God, run to God, and say, “God, I need you in my life. I want to do what’s right. God, help me to become who You created me to be.” when you take one step toward God, He’ll come running toward you. the scripture says:

James 4:8 (TLB)

8 And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you 

he won’t disappoint you.  He’ll turn situations around. He’ll help you get back on the right path.  He’ll even clean up a mess that you made.  Jesus admonished the religious leaders; they did everything right, but their heart was wrong. this lady he forgave, showed her mercy even though her actions were wrong.  it’s your heart that matters.  if God’s goodness was only based on our perfect behavior, none of us would have a chance, because we all fall short, we all have flaws and weaknesses. but when your heart is turned perfect toward God, you may make mistakes, you may get off course, but when you make one move to come back, God won’t say, “I don’t think so.  I’ve seen how you’ve been living; you don’t deserve My goodness.” no, because your heart is right, God will show Himself strong in your life. that means, He’ll forgive you when you don’t deserve it, show your favor even though you didn’t earn it, clean up a mess that you made.

don’t go through life feeling wrong on the inside. you may have made mistakes; good news, none of that changed your name, you are still a child of the most high God.  He has already approved you.  now get up every morning, and start approving yourself; put on that approval, shake off the guilt, condemnation. keep your heart turned toward God.  if you’ll do this, God is going to show out strong in your life. you’re going to see favor, healing, restoration, mercy. like with this lady, He’s going to turn the mess around, and set you on a new path toward the fullness of your destiny.

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Remember your dream

from JO’s sermon tonight:

all of us have things that we’re believing for, something that we want to accomplish. deep down, we know it’s a part of our destiny; we can feel it so strongly.  but then, we hit some setbacks: we didn’t get the promotion, the medical report wasn’t good, a relationship didn’t work out. life has a way of pushing our dreams down; they can become buried under discouragement, past mistakes. there are dreams buried under divorce, low self-esteem. it’s easy to settle for mediocrity, even though we have all this potential buried on the inside. but just because you gave up, doesn’t mean God gave up. your dream may be buried; the good news is, it’s still alive. it’s not too late to see it come to pass. we’ve all been through disappointments, setbacks, life happens, but instead of remembering the hurt, the pain, what didn’t work out, the key to reaching your destiny is, you have to remember your dream, what God promised you, what He whispered to you in the middle of the night. the scripture calls it:

 Psalm 37:4 (AMP)

4 … secret petitions of your heart

things you haven’t told anybody about. it may seem impossible, every voice tells you it’s not going to happen, you’ve been pushing it down, but God is saying, “what I promised you, I’m still going to do. I spoke it to you;  it may not have happened yet, but I am true to My word.  it is on the way.”  if you’ll do your part and start believing again, get your passion back, God is going to resurrect what you thought was dead.  dreams that you’d given up on, you tried, it didn’t work out, it’s been so long, they’re going to suddenly come back to life. problems that looked permanent are going to suddenly turn around.  what should’ve taken years, God’s going to do in a fraction of the time.  He hasn’t changed His mind;  He has the final say. don’t let circumstances talk you out of it.  you may not understand why a business didn’t make it, why a person walked away, why you came down with an illness; you were doing the right thing, but the wrong thing happened. it’s all a part of the process.

every disappointment, delay, closed door, it’s not just a setback, it’s a setup for God to get you to where you’re supposed to be.  it may be taking a long time, it may look impossible; all it takes is one touch of God’s favor.  what are you remembering? the hurt, the pain, what didn’t work out? turn it around and remember your dream. what has God put in your heart? what did you used to be excited about? now you think, “it’s been too long, it’s too big, it’s not possible.” you don’t think you could write the book, finish school, see your marriage restored, start the business. no, get your passion back. you have not missed your opportunity, had too many bad breaks. you’re not lacking. you didn’t get shortchanged. when God breathed life into you, He put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. 

people can’t stop you, bad breaks, disappointments, loss; the most high God is on your side. you have royal blood flowing through your veins.  there are seeds of greatness in you right now, dreams so big that you can’t accomplish them on your own;  it’s going to take you connecting with your Creator, believing that you’re a person of destiny, that He’s directing your steps, that if He be for you, who dare be against you. when we go through opposition, these challenging times, we don’t have to fall apart; God controls the whole universe. He won’t allow anything to happen unless He knows how to bring good out of it.  but you have to do your part, and keep your faith stirred up.  the enemy would love to deceive you into burying your dream, thinking that it’s never going to work out. don’t believe those lies; it’s not too late to become all that you were created to be.

every time you remember your dream, say, “Lord, thank You for bringing it to pass,” you’re removing some dirt, digging it back out.  maybe you’ve struggled with an illness for a long time. early on, you believed you could get well, but now it’s been years, you’re just learning to live with it.  what’s happened is, your healing, breakthrough, freedom has gotten buried. it’s still in you, still alive; if you’ll start believing again, God can bring it to pass.  instead of thinking, “it’s never going to work out, I’ve had so many bad medical reports,” no, that’s putting more dirt on it, burying it deeper.  why don’t you get your shovel out and start removing some of that dirt?  how do you do that? “Lord, thank You that You’re restoring health back unto me, that the number of my days You will fulfill.  thank You that I’m getting stronger, healthier.” if you’ll keep talking, thinking like that, that dream that’s been buried is going to come back to life.

this is what allows God to do great things; God is moved by our faith. He’s not moved by our discouragement, complaining, self-pity. “I’m never going to meet the right person, I’ve been hurt too many times”; you are remembering the wrong thing. as long as you remember the hurt, you’re going to get stuck. turn it around; start remembering your dream. “Father, thank You that You have a divine connection coming my way, somebody perfect for me, better than I ever imagined.” instead of, “I’ll never be in management, get the promotion, this company, they don’t even like me”; you’re putting more dirt on your dream, burying it deeper. get your shovel and start digging that dream out.  some of you have done this so long, you need a backhoe, some heavy equipment. that dream is way deep, but you can dig it out, bring it back to life. 

it starts in our thinking, in what you’re believing, saying. no more, “it’s never going to happen, I’ll never break this addiction, live in a nice house, finish college.”  no, “I’m surrounded by God’s favor. blessings are chasing me down.  because I delight myself in the Lord, God, You promised You would give me the desires of my heart.” whatever God’s put on the inside, no matter how long it’s been, how impossible it looks, I’m asking you to stir it up. you have to get in agreement with God; He’s the giver of all dreams, the One that put the desires in you. you may need to get alone, in your quiet time, search your heart, say, “God, anything I’ve pushed down, anything I’ve given up on, show me what it is. God, don’t let me die with any dreams still buried on the inside.” 

this is what Caleb did. he and his friend Joshua went and spied out the promised land. they came back and told Moses:

Numbers 13:30 (TLB)

30 …“Let us go up at once and possess it,” he said, “for we are well able to conquer it!”

but the other 10 spies came back and said just the opposite;  they talked Moses out of it. the Israelites became afraid; some 2,000,000 people, even though they were camped right next door, they turned around, and that group never did make it into the promised land. I can imagine that Caleb was disappointed, discouraged. he knew they were supposed to go in; God put the dream in his heart. it looked like somebody else caused his dreams to get buried, caused him to miss his destiny. a lot of people could have settled there, and thought, “too bad, it didn’t work out,” but not Caleb;  the true mark of a champion is, even though some dirt gets thrown on your dream, instead of letting it get buried, you keep shaking it off, moving forward, looking for new opportunities.  45 years later, at the age of 85, Caleb could still feel that dream stirring on the inside. he wasn’t sitting around feeling sorry for himself, saying, “God, if only those people would’ve done right back then.”  no, he went back to that same mountain, that same place the others refused to go in, and:

Joshua 14:10-12 (NKJV)

10 … here I am this day, eighty-five years old… 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day

what’s significant is that mountain had five giants living on it; there were other mountains with less opposition, that would’ve been much easier. I can hear friends say, “come on, Caleb, you’re 85, let’s go take this easy mountain”;  he said, “no thanks, I’m not going to settle for mediocrity when I know God has placed greatness in me.  I want that same mountain;  that’s the dream that’s been stirring in my spirit all these years.” at 85, he went out and conquered the mountain; he saw the dream come to pass.

have you allowed any dreams to get buried in you? at one time, you believed you could do something great, you believed you could lead the company in sales, break that addiction, but it’s been a long time, you had some bad breaks, it wasn’t all your fault, you could easily settle where you are, nobody would fault you. God sent me to light a new fire on the inside; that dream is still alive. you may have tried a year ago, 5 years ago, or 40 years ago;  it didn’t work out, no one was there to help you. God is saying to you what He said to Caleb;  “go back and try again. this is your time, your moment. your destiny is calling out to you.”  you have to be like Caleb, you can’t have a weak, defeated, give-up spirit; “I’ll take the easy way out, I’ll settle for second best, I don’t want to put forth the effort.” if you don’t stir it up, you can miss who you were created to be. you may have been knocked down, but you’ve got to get back up again, and say, “God, give me the same mountain. I don’t want a substitute. I don’t want second best. I’m going after what you placed in my heart.” if you will remember your dream like that, God will help you to accomplish what you didn’t accomplish early on.  what you gave up on, God didn’t give up on. what you wanted to do earlier in life, just because it didn’t work out, doesn’t mean that it went away. it’s still in you. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV)

9 … his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones

I believe there are some dreams shut up in you. like fire, you’re going to feel your destiny calling out.  it may not have happened the first time: the loan didn’t go through, you didn’t get chosen for the part, the medical report wasn’t good. that’s ok; this is a new day. what God started, He’s going to finish. you may have missed some opportunities, but God knows how to make up for lost time;  He’s going to give you another chance. He said:

Joel 2:25 (ESV)

25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten

you may have lost years because somebody else put you at a disadvantage, or because of your own choices; God knows how to make up for it. He’s still going to get you to where you’re supposed to be.

this is what happened to Joseph in the scripture. God gave him a dream that one day he would rule a nation:

Genesis 37:5-8 (NIV)

5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Joseph should’ve used more wisdom and not told his brothers the dream; certain things you should keep to yourself. some people can’t handle what God’s put in you;  they won’t celebrate you, they’ll be jealous, find fault, be critical.  one day, Joseph went to see his 10 brothers:

Genesis 37:19 (NIV)

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other.

they weren’t upset because he was their father’s favorite child, or because he was wearing a coat of many colors, that represents favor, they were upset because he had a dream, they were offended because he was determined to break out of the mold, to do something great, to leave his mark. they would’ve been fine if he was content to be average, to accept the status quo.  but when you stir up what God’s put on the inside, believe that you have seeds of greatness, that you can overcome that illness, break the addiction, pay your house off, be blessed in spite of past mistakes, everybody will not celebrate you. when you have a dream, you’re going to have some detractors, people will get jealous, try to make you look bad, try to talk to you out of it, say things like, “you really think you can get that promotion? you don’t have the experience, the talent, I don’t think so. you really think you’re still going to get married? you’ve tried 3 times, it hasn’t happened yet, and you’re getting kind of old.” let that go in one ear and out the other; people don’t determine your destiny, God does.

the critics, naysayers and detractors, they cannot stop your dream. they may do something that puts you at a disadvantage, but God knows how to take what’s meant for harm and use it for your good. Joseph’s own brothers tried to push his dream down. sometimes, your relatives won’t celebrate you.  sometimes, the people closest to you will be the least supportive.  don’t get distracted fighting battles that don’t matter, trying to prove to them who you are, trying to convince them how they should be for you; you don’t need their approval, you have Almighty God’s approval. let it go and run your race.  what stirs them up is the fact that you’re moving forward, pursuing your destiny. they would love to convince you to keep your dream buried, so you don’t rise higher, and make them look bad.  they don’t realize, God has put dreams in them; if they would stir it up, they could fulfill their purpose.

successful people, people that have a dream, don’t waste valuable their time looking at what everybody else is doing; they’re too busy, focused on what God has put in their own hearts.  the enemy targets people who have a dream;  he’ll use opposition, discouragement, delays, jealousy, everything he can to try to convince you to bury that dream. if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to make up your mind that you are in it for the long haul. you’re not going to let people talk you out of it, circumstances discourage you, delays cause you to give up, critical people cause you to get distracted; you’re going to stay focused on your goal. you wouldn’t be having that opposition if you didn’t have something great in you.  if your dream wasn’t alive and on track, right on schedule to come to pass, you wouldn’t have so many things coming against you.

but when the enemy looks at you, he says, “oh no, here comes another dreamer, here comes another person full of faith, believing that they have seeds of greatness, not moved by their circumstances, not upset because they have a delay; they’re a dreamer. they know they have the favor of God, that because they believe, all things are possible, that God can make a way when they don’t see a way.”  when you’re a dreamer, you’re dangerous to the enemy;  you give him a nervous breakdown.  he knows you’re headed to a new level, you’re coming into overflow, you’re going to set a new standard for your family. here’s the most important thing: he knows that there’s nothing he can do to stop you.  the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.  but he will work overtime trying to convince us to settle, to give up, to stay where we are.  you have to remember this principle: when negative things happen, that’s not stopping your destiny, that’s a sign that you’re on your way to your destiny. every delay, the setbacks, the disappointment, that didn’t stop your dream, it’s all a part of the process.  

Joseph’s brothers, they were jealous of him:

Genesis 37:24-28 (NASB)

24 and they took him and threw him into the pit… 28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Genesis 37:36 (NASB)

36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh’s officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

year after year, Joseph worked for Potiphar, kept a good attitude, kept being his best, but one bad thing after another happened to Joseph: Potiphar’s wife lied about him, falsely accused him.  he was put in prison for something he didn’t do; he spent years there. one night:

Genesis 41:1-41 (NASB)

1 … at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream… 8 Now in the morning his spirit was troubled… there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh… 14 Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph… 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”… 25 Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do… 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall [ah]do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.” 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

years later, there was a great famine in the land;  people were desperate, trying to survive, trying to find food.  Joseph was in charge of the food supply, one of the most important positions of that day. his brothers, the same ones that threw him into a pit, traveled a long distance and showed up at the palace looking for food.  they were right before him, bowing down, but they didn’t recognize who Joseph was:

Genesis 42:8 (NASB)

8 But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him.

you can imagine, this is a very dramatic moment for Joseph; these are the brothers that betrayed him, caused all the heartache and pain. you would think Joseph would be angry, bitter, vindictive; this was his chance to pay them back.  but the scripture says:

Genesis 42:9 (EXB)

9 And Joseph remembered his dreams ·about his brothers bowing to him

he didn’t remember the hurt, betrayal, the lonely nights, the times he was confused; he remembered the promise, what God had spoken to him. all those bad breaks, it looked like Joseph missed his destiny. the whole time, God was directing his steps, leading, guiding him; that was all a part of the process to get him to where he was supposed to be. 

(Joseph’s inspirational response to his brothers was:

Genesis 45:5 (NLT)
5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.

Genesis 50:20 (CEB)
20 You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today.)

when God puts a dream in your heart, when He gives you a promise, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to come to pass with no opposition, no delays, no adversity. there will be things that you don’t understand. you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get negative, and think, “I must not have heard God right.”  in those tough times, you have to do like Joseph, and remember your dream. God has not brought you this far to leave you; He has you in the palm of His hand. He’s directing your steps. now do your part; dare to trust Him, to believe. let Him fight your battles, be your vindicator. He has it all figured out.  “I’m upset, I don’t understand it, I got thrown into a pit”; don’t worry, another caravan is coming to move you on to your next location.  “a friend lied about me, I lost a loved one, I went through a divorce”; don’t get bitter, it’s just a detour on the way to your destiny.  the palace is coming, the promise is on track, the dream will be fulfilled.  the scripture says: 

2 Corinthians 4:17 (KJV)

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment

you face opposition, things don’t go your way; recognize that it’s not permanent.  that’s not your final destination. quit worrying about things that are only temporary. like with Joseph, the pit is temporary, the injustice is temporary, the betrayal is not your permanent home; it’s a temporary stop. the Psalmist put it this way:

Psalm 84:6 (AMP)

6 Passing through the Valley of Weeping

it doesn’t say settling in the valley, getting stuck in the valley, building your house in the valley; the valley is temporary, you’re passing through it.  my challenge:  quit losing sleep over a temporary stop. quit being discouraged over something that’s only for a season; it’s not permanent. are you worried about things that are only temporary? letting something steal your joy because you think that’s the way it’s always going to be? your dream is not dead, it’s just not in season.  your time is coming, the right people, breaks, favor, restoration, vindication, that’s what’s headed your way.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (WEB)

17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, works for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory

in other words, the adversity is temporary; the glory is eternal. stir up what God’s put on the inside. you may have a dream that you’ve buried; you need to get your shovel out and start thanking God that it’s still coming to pass.  perhaps you’re on a detour right now, something you don’t understand; don’t get discouraged, it’s just temporary. you’re just passing through. it’s easy to remember the hurt, disappointment, failure; I’m asking you to remember your dream, what God’s promised you.  if you’ll do this, dreams that you buried are about to come back to life, promises that you’ve given up on are being resurrected. like with Joseph, God is going to turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone. you’re going to rise higher, accomplish your goals, and become everything you were created to be.

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(No new sermon this week.)

The past month has been pretty interesting. I wrote these entries as a sort of diary, so there are earlier entries that have verbs in the present tense, etc; I decided to leave them as written, and not try to clean them up:

7-19:

The powers that be at my church decided that there were some sort of demonic influences in the rooms that we meet in, so we went in at the crack of dawn to walk the rooms praying to eradicate this influence. I wasn’t expecting anything other than making the pastor’s wife happy, but as I was walking I got sudden excruciating pains in my hips, something that has NEVER happened before, and the idea coming strongly into my head that I should stop walking and sit down, and also call over one of the other walkers to pray for me. I recognized this as an attempt to get TWO of us to stop walking and praying against the darkness, and I responded by praying the blood of Jesus over myself and casting out spirits of pain and affliction. The hip pains went away with suspicious rapidity, let’s just say; I’m still a little freaked out by the whole spirits of affliction thing, but all of the recent evidence does point to it being real.

A couple of minutes later, I had a pressure in my chest and difficulty breathing, and I do not suffer from asthma, or allergies, and did not have a cold; I prayed the blood of Jesus again, cast out the spirits of affliction again, and once again that seemed to work.

There was a third attack, and I might as well call it that, even though I know what it sounds like, but because I didn’t write this down immediately I’m no longer 100% sure what it was; whatever it was, I think it was a headache but I’m not positive, following the same procedure got rid of it.

7-23:

I was thinking about sending some verses, about the sweet sleep that God provides, to a member of my church who has been having bad dreams and difficulty sleeping, but hadn’t gotten around to looking them up. As I was putting together an email to her on another topic, my other computer, which had my bookmarks menu up, suddenly loaded a page with a verse on BibleGateway… NOT the page that had been highlighted, either!!  I back-arrowed to the bookmarks menu, and it happened again. And AGAIN.  I am a believer and not a doubter, but I’m also a skeptic, so I tried to see if some odd interaction of my equipment had somehow combined to make this happen… and now, I can’t even MAKE it go to that page!! Every time I click on it, it loads a different page, or jumps to a different bookmark, or enables editing for that entry, but will not load the page that is now highlighted!!  All of these things are of course impossible, and since the verse it kept sending me to was the first verse in my section of saved sleep verses, I figured it was God’s subtle way of telling me that I was in fact supposed to send her the verses about sleeping, so I sent her the following: 

Psalm 3:5 (TLB)

5 Then I lay down and slept in peace and woke up safely, for the Lord was watching over me.

Psalm 4:8 (AMP)

8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust.

Proverbs 3:24 (NIV)
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Nine minutes later, I got the following response:  “Thank you very much. Those verses brought peace. I appreciate it.”  In order for someone to be brought peace, they had to have been LACKING peace, and since this was late enough that she should have already been in bed, clearly she was still up and feeling stressed… no surprise there.

8-7:

I had the video of the current JO sermon up on one of my computers, with the video paused; it had been paused for 2-3 days, I think.  I was working on my main computer, not doing or touching anything on the computer with the video paused on it, when suddenly, with no visible cause, it began to play, and the following line was spoken:

“At the right time, you’ll come into a stored up blessing.”

8-9:

The visiting Pastor who had prophesied restoration ×7 over me in January came to my church again.  I have learned since I first saw him that he is widely accepted to have the gift of prophecy.  What comes out of his mouth is taken very seriously; when he ministers to our young people, the pastors write down all the prophecies and submit them to the parents.  He recently ministered to my church’s summer camp, which included kids from other churches as well, and when the latter children, who didn’t know him, tried to test him by demanding that he tell them their middle name or some other thing that he could not possibly have known, he got it right every time.  

When it was my turn to be prayed over and given a word to, he said something like, “there’s a tradition of worship,” said I was blessed, that I could/should jump up and down on my bed saying that I was blessed…  and then said that he had seen the flag of Israel come down and wrap itself around my shoulders.  He was puzzled that the latter meant nothing to me; he even repeated what he had seen a second time, prompting me again as to whether it meant something to me, and was even more puzzled that it didn’t.  It puzzled the other members of my church, too; him saying something to someone who had no idea what it meant appears to be something new.  I just can’t connect the flag of Israel to anything in my life:  I don’t know anyone from Israel. I don’t know anyone who has ever BEEN to Israel. I don’t even know any Jews.

I have given this a great deal of thought. This was a Christian pastor speaking to a Christian woman at a Christian church service;  he knew perfectly well that there were no Jews present, myself included.  There are no converts who used to be Jewish.  There is no one who speaks with an accent that would suggest that their family of origin is Jewish, or that they were from Israel or anywhere in that part of the world.  There isn’t any kind of trip planned by the church or anyone within it to visit Israel.  If there was any hint of faking to anything this pastor does, EVER, the LAST thing he would want to do is come out with something so ridiculous, because it would damage his credibility.  

He was SURE of what he had seen. This wasn’t a vague sensation that he could’ve misinterpreted, or random words going through his head, this was something he SAW.  This is a man whose prophetic gifts have a spotless track record going back years within my church. There has GOT to be something to this.

Even without the oddly-phrased comment about how blessed I am, which for the record is true, this certainly seems like a positive message; anything coming down, in other words coming from above, is presumed to be coming from God, and something wrapping around my shoulders looks like protection, or something being given to me. Although Israel is the Jewish state, it is also the Holy Land, where Jerusalem is located, so it has enormous significance to Christians and to God…  but what is its connection to ME beyond that?  The woman who is widely considered to be the most spiritually mature in my church said that I shouldn’t take Israel literally, which would pretty much have to be the case, and that the first meaning that came to HER mind was shalom = peace.  There are certainly several unresolved social situations where peace would be appropriate and welcome.  Still, I’m sure the Holy Spirit is aware of the peace sign, which could easily be emblazoned on a banner, and Israel itself is hardly emblematic of peace, so…  

The one thing that came to my mind after I got home that day was the thought that I’m a descendent of the Israelites.  Considering that the Israelites, who we call Jews in the modern day, existed in the Western world thousands of years ago, pretty much EVERYONE with any Western descent, or descent from the sadly-many parts of the world that were occupied by Western nations, as well as anyone with Middle Eastern descent, probably has a tiny piece of Israelite in them.  Be that as it may, what would be the point of making an issue of my being a descendent of the Israelites? They were God’s chosen people; does that mean that *I* am chosen in some way?  Chosen for WHAT?

The other thing that came to my mind was this verse:

1 Kings 19:19 (VOICE)

19 … Elijah wrapped his cloak, his token of spiritual power, around Elisha

“The mantle was the symbol of Elijah’s prophetic authority. This was a dramatic symbol that said, “I call upon you to join in my work as a prophet.””

http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/1119.htm

Interesting, given that a prophetic man is the one who saw this image, but it doesn’t explain why it was specifically the flag of Israel that he saw, and in any case he was not involved in the flag settling onto my shoulders. 

Other than that… I’ve got nothing.

I had really been looking forward to this pastor coming back; everyone in my church looks forward to his appearances.  There has never been a single peep about him being wrong, or coming out with something that didn’t make any sense; if you knew me in real life, you would totally understand that everyone who knows me would absolutely expect ME to be the one exception to that.  Anyways, if you have any thoughts about what the flag of Israel coming down around my shoulders might mean, however crazy, please let me know; when God sends me a message, there’s nothing more important than finding out what it means.

8-16:

This one will sound crazy, but it is nevertheless true:  I’m one of a handful of diehards within my church who are still going in at the crack of dawn to walk the rooms and pray.  I felt drawn to go and walk the secondary room when nobody else was there yet.  Two or 3 times, I heard some strange noises from the far end of the room; it was sort of a repeated crackling sound, that I had never heard any of the other times I had been in that room protractedly by myself. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal… until I saw a shadow where no shadow existed, a shape like a person but bigger, for a split second by the back door.  I am impossible to intimidate, however;  I finished walking the room and praying. When I was done, and was coming from the back of the room, I had to go down a few stairs. They are carpeted AND have no-slip rubber strips at the edges. There is also a little chunk of railing, that I had my hand on. I was moving slowly, because after all it was early in the morning, and wearing flat shoes with heavy rubber treads.  I have gone up and down the stairs a zillion times with no difficulties.  This time, my foot slipped; if I hadn’t already been touching the railing so I could grab it, I might have fallen.  SLIPPED.  I didn’t stumble or trip. I’m not saying for sure that whatever I heard or saw was responsible for that, but it’s at the very least suspicious.

I went back to the main room, and one of the most spiritually powerful ladies in the church showed up; I told her what I had seen, and asked her to go back and pray with me. She said that we needed to ask the pastor first, which actually we DIDN’T, but I went along with it, mostly so that I could tell him what had happened.  He gave us the ok, and we went to the other room and started walking and praying. In what I have since realized is a touching display of confidence in my perceptions, the pastor showed up a few minutes later to join us.  When he left, my friend and I continued to pray. And then, a couple of minutes later… I saw a GIGANTIC shadow, one that sort of… FLAPPED a couple of times, like a giant wing, in the aisle leading to the main door out, which was NOT the door where I had seen the previous, MUCH smaller shadow.  There was a clear sense, even though I only saw it briefly, that it was LEAVING. 

And then, a couple of minutes after that… what I can only describe as a big light appeared at the far end of the room for a split second, and I don’t mean an increase from the overhead lighting, I mean an opaque area of light that looked like it might have reached all the way down to the ground or close to it, extending 3-4 feet over the tops of the chairs, centered along the horizontal axis, and in width probably about one third of the size of a pretty big room. 

What was the light? What was the shadow? Clearly, I’m starting to step into some deep waters here.  If I’d been watching these events on a movie screen, the obvious plot line would be that the shadows are something bad, that they were trying to scare me or drive me away, but the combination of 3 people invoking the name of Jesus was too much for them, and they withdrew. The light, of course, would be some force of good (an angel?), showing itself to let me know that it was there, and that I was safe.

How close is that to what I actually witnessed? I have no way to know at this time.  What I DO know is that there has to be a great deal of spiritual power in my church for these manifestations to be occurring. Things might be about to get more interesting… 

On an unrelated note:  my restoration is poised to take an enormous step forward this coming week. I don’t want to go into any details at this time, but if you’d like to pray for me, I would truly appreciate it. Thanks!! 

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Stored up blessings

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when God laid out the plan for your life, He put in it everything you need to fulfill your destiny. He’s already lined up the right people, breaks, favor, increase. Psalm 31 says:

Psalm 31:19 (TLB)

19 … you have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence you.

promotion is stored up for you. single people, there’s a husband, a wife, stored up for you. that baby you’ve been dreaming about is stored up. a contract, a business, healing; it already has your name on it, it belongs to you. if you’ll keep honoring God, at the right time you’ll come into a stored up blessing. you won’t have to go after it, it will find you. what God has destined for you can’t go to anyone else. that’s why you don’t have to be frustrated when you see other people being blessed. a friend moves into a new house; you’ve been believing for 10 years for a better place to live, you come every Sunday, give, serve, they’re just the opposite. “I don’t understand it, I wish I had that house.” no, if you had it, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden; it wasn’t destined for you. what God has stored up for you cannot go to anyone else.  there’s a house with your name on it, a spouse with your name on them, healing with your name on it. 

don’t be jealous because a friend got a promotion. don’t be frustrated because your business partner saw a dream come to pass; they’re not getting your blessings. if you got what they have, it wouldn’t help you, it would hinder you. what God has stored up for you will be a perfect fit for your life. when you understand this, you’ll celebrate the success of others. you’ll be happy for their promotion, new house, beautiful baby, knowing that what God did for them is not going to stop what God’s going to do for you. sometimes, we act like God has a limited supply of favor; “if my coworker gets promoted, that may keep God from promoting me.” that’s the wrong perspective.  God never runs out of favor; He has unlimited resources. somebody else being blessed is not going to stop God from blessing you.  when you celebrate others, you’re passing the test. when you’re happy for their success, God can release what He has stored up for you.

maybe you’re single, you’ve been believing for a long, long time to meet the right person. your best friend just met the man of her dreams; he’s tall, dark, handsome, romantic. they’re madly in love, planning their wedding. she asked you to be the maid of honor. you say, “yes, I’d be thrilled to do it”; deep down, you’re thinking, “I am so depressed. God, why didn’t I meet him first? I’m more attractive than she is.” no, be happy for her; she’s not taking your blessing. what has your name on it cannot go to anyone else. your time is coming. there is a husband stored up for you that will be a perfect fit, better than you can imagine; they’re headed your way, could happen today, this week. you could see a stored up blessing released in your life.

this takes all the pressure off. you don’t have to live frustrated, wondering if a dream’s going to come to pass, worried that a problem won’t work out, jealous because a friend got a promotion; you can stay in peace, knowing that what has your name on it is not going to go to any other person, that God’s going to get you to where your supposed to be.  sometimes, it’s taking a long time, people are passing us up, we’ve missed opportunities, made some mistakes. those voices start whispering, “it’s never going to happen, you’re never going to get well, break the addiction, meet the right person.” it’s easy to get discouraged, give up on what we’re believing for. 

this is the way Peter felt after Jesus had been crucified.  when Jesus needed him the most, Peter denied that he knew him. Peter not only felt guilty about it, he was confused; this man he believed to be the Messiah was no longer with them.  he’d said he would rise from the dead, but they didn’t see any sign of it, so Peter went back to his previous profession; he was an experienced fisherman, he’d done it for many years. he’d been out on his boat all night fishing, and caught nothing. he’d worked hard, used his best efforts, put on the right bait, threw the nets where he thought the fish would be, again and again, hour after hour,g with no success. the next morning:

John 21:4-6 (NIV)

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

I’m sure they thought, “who does this guy think he is, telling us how to fish? we’re professionals. we’re tired, hot, aggravated, frustrated. there are no fish out here.”  they threw their nets on the right side of the boat:

John 21:6-7 (NIV)

6 … When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.  7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

God knows where your fish are. just because you haven’t seen them yet, doesn’t mean that you’ve missed them.  like Peter, you may have worked hard, given it your best effort, used your expertise, your skills, exhausted your resources, your connections, but you came up empty; now, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen. “I’ll never get well, meet the right person, accomplish this dream. I’ve tried everything: I’ve worked 2 jobs, gone through rehab, I put my profile on 47 dating websites.”  you’re tired, frustrated, you could easily give up. here’s the good news;  God knows where your fish are. He knows where your husband is, where your healing is, your victory, that new house. it may not have happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. you always face the greatest opposition, adversity, discouragement, right before the breakthrough, healing, meeting the person of your dreams.

God is saying to you, “throw out your nets one more time.” that disappointment, loss, lack, was only a test. your fish are still out there. what has your name on it, if you’ll throw out your nets again, God will cause those stored up blessings to find you. the fish may not have been there last night, it may not have worked last time, that’s ok; God controls the fish. He knows how to get them into your net.  start believing again. get your fire back.  stir your faith up.  what God started in your life, He’s going to finish. what He promised you, He will bring to pass.  you may have been struggling trying to find the fish, working hard, giving it your best efforts, no success; this is a new day. the fish are going to find you. the scripture talks about:

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NKJV)

2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God

when you believe that your best days are still in front of you, that God will take you where you could not go on your own, you will come to a point where the fish will start tracking you down.  God will command His blessings to overtake you. there are some big fish that have your name on them. it’s just a matter of time before they show up in your net.  you need to get ready; I’m not talking about minnows, little goldfish, something you can fit in a small aquarium, I’m talking about some big fish, big breaks, big opportunities. Peter caught so many fish that he could not haul them all in;  notice, God is an overflow God.  what He has stored up for you is going to be bigger than you can imagine. sometimes, the reason your net is empty is because God has something better. like Peter, you fished all night, you didn’t catch anything; don’t get discouraged, God controls the fish. if you’ll keep honoring Him, stay in faith, He’ll bring the right fish to you.

when you face a disappointment, a door closes, have a new perspective; maybe that door closed because God has something better coming your way. maybe you were hoping to catch a normal, average-sized fish, but God has a whale coming, someone better, a bigger house. or maybe He’s going to launch you into a new field, with opportunity that you’ve never dreamed of.  there are some big fish that have your name on them.  nothing may have been biting lately; you’re throwing out your nets, using the right bait, but you keep coming up empty. every voice will tell you, “it’s never going to happen.  you’re wasting your time, forget about it”; no, don’t believe those lies, the fish are coming. the promotion is coming, the spouse, the healing, is headed your way. it may seem unlikely, you tried it before, gave it your best, it didn’t work out; that delay doesn’t mean that you missed your fish.  that disappointment doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

at the right time, God’s going to bring the fish into your net. now do your part; keep throwing out your nets.  keep believing. it’s not going to happen by your might, power, talent, strength; it’s going to happen by the hand of God. you may have come to the end of your ability, you’ve done everything you can; don’t worry, you’re not alone, you have the most powerful Force in the universe on your side. the God who controls the fish, spoke worlds into existence, He knows how to get the fish into your net. every morning, “Lord, I want to thank You that You’re causing the right fish to find me. thank You that those stored up blessings are going to be released in my life.”  if you’ll stay in faith, and keep throwing out your nets, like with Peter, God will do more than you could ever ask or think. God knows how to connect you to the right people. you keep throwing out your nets, and God will keep bringing the right fish.  He has blessings stored up for you.  

it’s interesting; when Peter was in his boat that day, he had just made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. he had just denied that he knew Jesus.  you would think God would say, “too bad, Peter, fish all you want, you’re not going to catch anything. you’re not going to have My blessing.  you had your chance, but you blew it.”  just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean that God cancels your destiny. Peter blew it big time, but just a few days later, he had this big-time catch, so much that he couldn’t haul it all in. that’s the mercy of God. when you make mistakes, God doesn’t get rid of your fish, He doesn’t take them away, He holds your fish; they become a stored up blessing. when you get back on the right path, God will release what should’ve been yours.

you may think, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’m sure God had some good things stored up for me, but it’s too late now.”   no, you’re just like Peter; God is holding your fish, they belong to you.  why don’t you start believing again? God knew every mistake you’d ever make. He knew the times we’d blow it, the times that we would fail;  if that disqualified us, all of us would come up empty, none of us would catch anything. when you make mistakes, the accuser will whisper in your ear, “no use you throwing out your nets. God’s not going to bring you any fish. you’re not going to catch anything.” God is saying, “I dare you to believe. I dare you to throw your nets on the right side of the boat”; that means, start making good decisions, honoring God, living with excellence and integrity. when you do this, the mistakes of the past won’t keep you from your future.  your fish are still out there. your dreams, healing, spouse, that breakthrough; it has your name on it.  throw your nets on the right side of the boat, and God is still going to bless you, heal you. you’re still going to accomplish your dreams, and become who you were created to be.  

we see this principle throughout the scripture.  as a young man, Moses knew that he was supposed to deliver the people of Israel out of slavery, but he got in a hurry, and tried to do it in his own strength:

Exodus 2:11-15 (NIV)

11 … He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian… Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh

he spent years on the backside of the desert in hiding. it looked like he missed his destiny.  but 40 years later:

Exodus 3:2 (NIV)

2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.

that mistake didn’t stop God’s plan for his life:  

Exodus 3:10 (NIV)

10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

I’m sure Moses thought of excuses;  “God, I’m too old, I made too many mistakes, I don’t deserve this.”  he was saying, “I fished all night, I didn’t catch anything.” but God knew where Moses’ fish were; He had them stored up.  at 80, Moses delivered the people of Israel, saw favor again and again. you may have make mistakes, but God still has your fish. you can still become who He created you to be. even with Abraham, God promised him and his wife Sarah that they would have a baby; they were much too old, way past the childbearing years.  year after year went by; no baby. they got worried, and tried to help God out:

Genesis 16:3-6 (NIV)

3 … Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

all kinds of dysfunction in this house.  you would think God would say, “too bad Abraham, you blew it. having a baby with another woman, what were you thinking? you’ve got one messed up family.”   but in spite of the dysfunction, in spite of the mistakes, God said:

Genesis 17:15-16 (NIV)

15 God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her

Genesis 21:2-5 (NIV)

2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son…  5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

you may have blown it, made mistakes, your nets are empty, you don’t think the promise will ever come to pass; God is still holding your fish.  He didn’t get rid of them; they belong to you. if you’ll start throwing your nets on the right side of the boat, you’ll still see God’s favor. He’ll still do what He promised you.

Jesus told a parable:

Matthew 20:1-15 (NIV)

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

(the owner represents God.)  here’s the point; even though you may have started late, you made mistakes, missed some opportunities, God doesn’t say, “I’m cutting your pay; I’m only going to give you half of what should’ve been yours.” if you’ll get back in the field, start making decisions that honor God, all those past wages, what God has stored up, the blessings, favor, increase, He still wants to release in your life.  you can still reach the fullness of your destiny. 

don’t let the accusing voices cause you to live guilty, condemned, thinking you’ve seen your best days. like Peter, you may have made mistakes, but God still has your fish. there’s still a great haul up in front of you. like with Abraham, God still has your Isaac. He’s still planning to bring to pass what He promised you. like this last group of workers, you may have started late, but God’s not docking your pay;  He wants to give you the full amount, if you’ll just get back in the game.  your voices, the thoughts may tell you, “you don’t deserve it,” other people might complain, but here’s the key: favor is not fair. it’s just the goodness, the mercy of God. why don’t you receive it today?  if you’ll do this, stored up blessings are about to be released in your life.  the fish are going to find you; not little minnows, but some big fish. big breaks, promotion, healing, restoration, the fullness of your destiny.

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