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Archive for November, 2015

(No new JO sermon this week.)

I gave a link to this sermon as part of my answer to a commentor, and I think it’s so powerful that EVERYONE should read it:

FORGIVENESS – “Joseph and His Brothers”
Barry Seagren

The issue of forgiveness, far from being a narrow religious or academic topic, is instead a desperately practical one. It is common knowledge that many emotional and physical problems can be traced back to a burden of unforgiven guilt. The head of a large mental hospital once said, “I could dismiss half of my patients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness.” Violent ethnic clashes on every continent are usually long-standing resentments breaking out in fresh attempts to settle old scores. Such harsh realities caused one secular philosopher to remark, “The only remedy for the inevitability of our history is forgiveness.” But the necessity to find and give forgiveness is not a matter only for those who appear on the glossy pages of news magazines: all of us suffer our own personal grudges and animosities in life. Each individual, therefore, must decide how to respond to such a challenge. Will I become bitter, or will I instead choose the difficult Christian route of forgiveness? The Biblical option is expressed in

Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you

The command in Colossians seems clear, but what does it mean? The New Testament passage is well illustrated by the Old Testament narrative of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:15-21. Ten practical points about forgiveness may be drawn from this.

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of his gifts and of his special relationship with their father. When he was seventeen his brothers took action, throwing him into a well, then selling him to passing slave-traders and reporting his ‘death’ to their father. It was not until Joseph was thirty and after much further suffering that he interpreted a dream for Pharaoh by which he found favour and power in Egypt. Robbed of those precious years by the betrayal of his own brothers, if anyone had just cause to bear a grudge Joseph did.

The story continues with a severe famine in the Middle East which drives Joseph’s brothers to Egypt in search of grain to purchase. Joseph has compassion on them, giving them grain and finally revealing himself to them and bringing the whole family to live in Egypt.

Joseph, then fifty years old, appears to have put aside any grievance against his brothers. But with the death of old Jacob, their father, the brothers feared that Joseph’s anger and revenge might at last break out against them. And perhaps their fears were not groundless. Joseph certainly did love his father, but it may be that he struggled with his feelings towards his brothers despite his compassion on them in their position of weakness.

This is the first point. There are many times when forgiveness is not a quick, easy, one-time action but is instead something that must be consciously done again and again. Forgiveness can be a long process. For any serious matter, forgiveness is seldom complete even after the first time we choose it. In the story, perhaps Joseph’s tears when his brothers come to him after their father’s death are a symptom that here finally is the end of something that had taken him a long time to do completely. Forgiving someone can be a painful, difficult thing to do. And so it may well be that in certain situations the answer “I cannot forgive you yet – I’m trying, but I’m just not there” is more honest and to be preferred than the glib words “Never mind, it’s okay. Just forget about it.”

The brothers approached Joseph saying that, before his death, Jacob had expressed the wish that Joseph would forgive his brothers for all the harm they had done him. The brothers showed more anxiety for their future than genuine sorrow for their past actions. They seemed to show little personal contrition and no admission of responsibility; certainly no attitude of -”Lord be merciful to me a sinner.” Instead, their message was, “Just before he went, Dad said that you were to forgive us no matter what we may have done to you.” It was a poor confession, and the Bible itself mentions no such wish on Jacob’s part. Perhaps it was a fabrication on the part of the nervous brothers. Had Jacob intended this, it is more likely that he would have expressed it direct to Joseph rather than to the guilty brothers.

This is the second point. Forgiveness is not dependent upon confession. This is a frequent mistake. Joseph forgave his brothers despite their shabby performance. We sometimes treat forgiveness as the reward for sufficient grovelling and the words “I’m sorry.” But confession, like the original wrong done to us, is an action of the other person and as such we cannot control it. Forgiveness is something which God commands us to do, an action that I may choose and which is not dependent upon the behaviour of the other person. He commands it for our own good and for the good of the other person. The truth of this point becomes obvious when one considers being wronged by someone who has since died. No confession is possible, but forgiveness is still required. Joseph’s brothers were not really coming clean with him. Joseph probably suspected this, but he forgave them anyway.

Joseph’s actions towards his brothers illustrate a third, related point. Forgiveness does not require an agreed version of the past. This is crucial because arguing over who said what and who replied in which fashion frequently postpones or scuttles entirely the process of forgiveness. Joseph did not say to the others “Now before I forgive you I want everything perfectly clear. Let’s establish the facts about that afternoon on the road to Dothan thirty years ago”. He did not try to rub his brothers’ faces in their wrong actions. He did not insist that everyone agree about the history of the matter before reconciliation was possible. That would have been hopeless, perhaps; it certainly was unnecessary. Joseph decided to draw a curtain over the past.

Joseph responded to his brothers and their approach: “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Here begins the practical action of forgiveness. The fourth point is that forgiveness means letting go of my natural right to revenge. Joseph is not going to retaliate. They have nothing to fear from him. He had been robbed of much of his youth by them, leaving a score to be settled; but he refused to settle it. He was not going to hold it against them. As human beings we are not responsible for the moral balance of the universe. That is God’s prerogative alone. As mere creatures we forgo vengeance and leave it to God to judge.

But forgiveness is more than foreswearing revenge isn’t it? Is not the goal of forgiveness found in the old adage of ‘forgive and forget’?

Perhaps this is the ideal, but the ideal often gets in the way of our progress in the process of forgiveness as we actually experience it. Therefore, the fifth point is that forgiving does not mean forgetting. God promises that He will remember our sins no more, but this is an ability which He has not given to us. Computers can erase their memories, but humans have very little control over what they will remember or what they will forget. The more painful an incident the more unlikely it is we can forget it. A better goal is to strive for a memory of the wrong that no longer harbors malice.

Take the model found in:

Proverbs 17:9

He who forgives an offence promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends

Here the opposite of forgiving is not remembering but rather repeating. I cannot decide to forget, but it is within my power to decide not to speak of the incident. Here’s the sixth point: forgiveness means not bringing it up again. I forfeit my right to repeat it all over again but choose instead to let it be finished. I do this in three areas. First, to the person who wronged me: I choose not to indulge myself in the luxury of dredging it up once more in cutting reminders. Repeating it shows that full forgiveness has not occurred. Secondly, I choose not to talk about it to a third party in the form of gossip, regardless of how cleverly I cloak it as useful information. I will not spread the word. I will let it stop with me. It was pointless for Joseph to discuss the matter of his brothers’ sin with some uninvolved Egyptian. That is an attempt to make ourselves appear righteous at the expense of someone else. Thirdly, I choose not to repeat it even to myself. If I cannot forget it, I can at least try not to remind myself of it. I will do my best not to dwell on it, secretly relishing my scars and bruises. I will not keep a list of grievances ready to be retrieved the next time I am hurt. The word ‘forget’ itself means to let go, to release or send away. Forgiving is not primarily a statement of what we feel about the other person. It is first of all a choice to set aside the wrong that was done and not to bring it up again.

Joseph continued with his brothers by saying, “You intended harm to me”:

 Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

20 You intended to harm me

He is quite blunt about the issue and is not sweeping anything unsavoury under the carpet. The seventh point is that forgiveness does not mean excusing the behaviour of the other person. In fact, if his or her behaviour can be excused then there is no real need for forgiveness. Forgiveness is necessary when the behaviour is inexcusable, when the person involved really should not have acted in such a fashion. We too often make the mistake of saying, “It’s okay; I know you didn’t mean to,” or,“It doesn’t matter; I realize you were under strain, and I probably provoked you.” Forgiveness begins where excuses leave off.

“God intended it for good,” continues Joseph:

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

20 … God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives

This is the eighth point; forgiveness is easier when we rest in God’s providence. This does not mean that God is the author of evil, nor does it mean the brothers are not responsible for their actions. The ability to see God’s hand overruling the malice of people is one of the things that makes forgiveness possible. God frequently works good out of tragedy. As Christians, we recognize that we do not live in an empty universe, that despite our mistakes or those of others, life is redeemable. Things cannot be undone, but they can be made right. We leave this confidently to the hand of God.

An important issue to mention at this point of the narrative is the ninth point: forgiveness does not always mean re-trusting. If Joseph’s brothers in their relief were now to propose, “Hey, let’s all go off to Dothan like we used to and graze sheep. You know, just the twelve of us …” it might perhaps be foolhardy of Joseph, once he has forgiven them, to go along and chance a recurrence of betrayal. A wiser response might be to wait.

Forgiving someone and re-trusting them are separate concepts and need to be kept separate in our thinking. Too frequently people are hesitant to forgive because they are afraid of being mistreated once more. Sometimes one is justified in forgiving past behavior while yet being reticent about getting in the same situation a second time. Forgiveness is a choice which I make about my attitude towards you and is within my power to control. Re-trusting is a judgement I make about the state of your trustworthiness and therefore depends partly upon your choice.  It is right for me to need grounds for believing that you have changed and will not do it again.

If forgiveness meant precisely the same thing as re-trusting, then I would have to wait to forgive you until you had changed. But there is nothing virtuous about trusting someone who is untrustworthy. God does not command that of us. Where confession and repentance are deep and sincere, forgiving and re-trusting often come together linked hand in hand. But since I cannot change your trustworthiness as I can my attitude, the two do not always walk side by side or at the same pace. Trustworthiness is one of those things that, due to its very nature, takes time to prove itself.

A trivial example is lending your car a second time to a person who crashed it the first time. A far more serious example is re-trusting a parent or spouse who has physically abused you. Forgiveness is one thing; re-trusting is another.

Joseph then moves on to the heart of the matter in telling his brothers, “I will provide for you and your children.” He acts in blessing rather than in bitterness.

In the final analysis, forgiveness is not only a list of negative things – not avenging myseIf when the opportunity finally presents itself, not mentioning the offence again. Forgiveness has a positive, active side to it. Joseph reassured his brothers. He promised to provide for them, and we are told he “spoke kindly” to them. He did not respond by saying “I am not going to retaliate, but leave me and never come back again.” His forgiveness, in other words, was not halfway. Joseph’s tears show that the anger has finally drained away. Instead, he wishes them well, and does what he can to see they prosper. The tenth point is that forgiveness is incomplete until love replaces anger. For Joseph, the anger and resentment are gone. He has let go of these so that he may go on to grasp reconciliation.

Each of these ten points is important, but the very heart of forgiveness can be summarized by the three things we chose to forgo when we decide to obey God’s command to forgive. We let go of revenge; we commit ourselves not to bring the matter up again; we do our best not to encourage and cultivate our anger. However, the fact that these are choices available to us does not mean of course that they are easy, but they are God’s way and the only way forward.

A sermon preached by Barry Seagren at the International Presbyterian Church (14 March 1993).

http://www.labri.org/england/resources/05052008/BS01_Forgiveness.pdf

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Just remember

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when you look back over your life, some of the things you faced at the time, you didn’t think you could make it through: the obstacle was so large, the breakup hurt you so badly, the medical report was so negative, you didn’t see a way, but God turned it around.  He gave you strength when you didn’t think you could go on, He brought the right person when you thought you’d always be lonely. He promoted you, gave that good break, things fell into place; now, you’re further along than you ever imagined. it wasn’t a lucky break, a coincidence, it was the hand of God. you should’ve been stuck, addicted, broke, depressed, lonely, but God made a way when you didn’t see a way.  you can say like me, “I didn’t get here by myself.  it wasn’t just my good luck, hard work, talent; it was the favor of God.  He made things happen that I could never make happen on my own.”

none of us like difficulties; if we had a choice, we wouldn’t go through them. but those challenges not only prepared you for your future, but now you have a history with God; when you’re in a tough time, and you don’t see a way out, instead of being discouraged, negative, you can go back and remember how God turned your health around, gave you that baby when the specialist said you couldn’t have a child, brought you out of that trouble that you got yourself in. when you remember how God has protected, promoted, healed, restored you, faith will rise in your heart. instead of thinking, “I’ll never get out of this problem,” you’ll know, “God did it for me once, He’ll do it for me again. He made a way in the past; I know He’s going to make a way in the future.” don’t complain about the problem; you’re going to need that victory in the future. God is taking you from glory to glory; when you come through this challenge, that victory will be the fuel you use to get you to the next level of glory.

this is what happened with Israelites. they were up against huge armies, people that were stronger, had more equipment, more skill.  the Israelites had just come out of slavery; they had no military training, no weapons, they were just trying to survive out in the desert.  they were headed toward the promised land, but they had all these enemies to overcome; they were very discouraged, didn’t know how they could do it. God said to them:

Deuteronomy 7:17-18 (TLB)

17 Perhaps you will think to yourself, ‘How can we ever conquer these nations that are so much more powerful than we are?’ 18 But don’t be afraid of them! Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh

Deuteronomy 7:19 (GW)

19 You saw with your own eyes the terrible plagues, the miraculous signs, and the amazing things the Lord did. He used his mighty hand and powerful arm to bring you out. 

God was saying, “when it looks impossible, you don’t see a way out, the way to stay encouraged, keep your hopes up, is just remember what God has done.” like the Israelites, every one of you has seen with your own eyes times where God made a way. you thought you were stuck, but God opened a door, caused somebody to be good to you.  or you lost a loved one, you didn’t think you’d ever be happy again; but God lifted you out of that pit:

Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair

Psalm 30:11 (NRSV)

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing

when you face tough times, your dream looks impossible, every voice says, “it’s never going to happen,” just remember, go back and replay your victories, relive the times God made a way: remember how He put you at the right place, and you met that person and fell in love. remember how He spared your life from that accident. remember how the medical report said you shouldn’t be here, but here you are, alive, strong and healthy. if you’re going to overcome those obstacles, reach your highest potential, you have to learn to just remember. when you’re constantly thinking about God’s goodness, how He’s protected, vindicated, promoted you, not only will faith rise in your heart, but it’s that attitude of expectancy that allows God to do great things. on a regular basis, we should go back over the major victories in our lives: remember the day your children were born; that was a great miracle. remember how God gave you that job, protected you, you met the right person. develop this habit of remembering what God has done.

the apostle Paul talks about in the scripture:

Romans 12:1 (ESV)

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God

not singular, but plural. every one of us has experienced some of these mercies.  when you’re in trouble, you don’t have to pray long. many of you, you can say you wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for God’s mercy. some of the things you’ve done, the crowd you used to run with, the drugs, alcohol, that should’ve taken you out, but God showed you some of his mercies, not once, but again and again. maybe you shouldn’t have that position that you’re in, you weren’t the most qualified, but the mercies of God gave it to you. perhaps that sickness, it was going to be the end of you, but the mercies of God said, “this is not your time.”  when you recognize what God has done, you don’t take for granted that all through your life, it’s been His hand getting you to where you are, then it’s easy to honor God, be grateful, serve, give, help others.

you realize where you are in life is because of the mercies of God. you know you’re driving a mercy car, living in a mercy house, working at a mercy job. you didn’t just marry over your head, you married mercy. maybe you should have had a nervous breakdown, but mercy showed up. you should be depressed, but mercy turned you around.  you could be in prison, but mercy kept you out. you tried to take your life;  mercy kept you alive. mercy gave you that baby, that idea.  mercy opened that door. don’t take it for granted; keep it on the forefront of your mind. you’re not just lucky, you don’t just keep beating the odds; it’s the mercies of God.

in fact, the reason you’re still here, that those drugs couldn’t kill you, the sickness couldn’t take you out, is because God has a destiny for you to fulfill, an assignment for you to accomplish. His mercies are never going to give up on you.  His calling is irrevocable. He chose you before you could you could choose Him. you might as well recognize; you’re a marked wo/man. the Creator of the universe has His hand on your life. the sooner you surrender your will to His, the better off you’re going to be. you’re not giving up anything; you’re gaining purpose, destiny, a life that He’s designed, a life more rewarding than you ever imagined. David said:

Psalm 27:13 (NET Bible)

13 Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the Lord’s favor in the land of the living?

he was saying in effect, “if God had not shown me some of these mercies, I wouldn’t have been able to defeat Goliath, outlast King Saul trying to kill me in the desert, or be restored after my mistake with Bathsheba.” it’s a lot more than luck; it’s the mercies of God. Psalm 129 says:

Psalm 129:2 (GNT)

2 “Ever since I was young,

    my enemies have persecuted me cruelly,

    but they have not overcome me.

sometimes, you need to just thank God that you’re still here; cancer, depression, divorce, the legal problem, the bankruptcy, couldn’t finish you off.  the person talking about you, haters, critics, naysayers, they tried to push you down, make you look bad, they did their best, but their best was not enough; you’re still standing, strong, you’ve still got a smile. they couldn’t finish you off. you got knocked down, but you got back up again. you had a setback, a breakup, but you’re still in the game. you went through a loss, but you didn’t get bitter, you kept moving forward; that setback could not finish you off.  God has the final say. people can’t finish you off. a bad break, betrayal, rejection, sickness can’t finish you off.  the scripture says:

Isaiah 59:19 (NLV)

19 … When the one who hates us comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a wall against him

Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV)

19 … When the enemy comes in like a flood,

The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

God will put a stop to it. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. you may be in a difficult time; don’t get discouraged, just remember the Red Seas God’s parted in your life, how God’s delivered you from the pharaohs so to speak, how He snatched you out of that harmful situation, closed that door that would’ve been a big mistake, blessed you with that position. you have a history with God; you’ve seen his mercies, not once, but again and again, showing out in your life.  you need to announce to that cancer, “you can’t finish me off; the God who spoke worlds into existence, breathed His life into me, He controls the number of my days.” announce to that depression, fear, anxiety, “you’re not going to finish me off; God promised I will finish my course with joy.” 

Acts 20:24 (KJV)

24 … I might finish my course with joy

that person at the office who’s trying to push you down, make you look bad, don’t get discouraged; they don’t control your destiny, they can’t stop God’s plan for your life. when those negative thoughts come, telling you, “this sickness is going to sink you, this legal problem, depression, it’s going to be the end,” just answer back, “you don’t realize who you’re dealing with; I am a child of the most high God. you cannot finish me off.” God is called the author and the finisher of our faith;  what He started in your life, He will finish. not a bad break, disappointment, sickness; God is the finisher.

in the scripture, Saul was one of the greatest enemies of the church. he was headed toward Damascus:

Acts 9:1-8 (NIV)

9 Meanwhile, Saul… went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”… 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing

the believers in Damascus had this powerful enemy coming toward them; he was going to cause them heartache and pain, it looked inevitable, but in a split second God stopped it.  there are times you knew nothing about, but something was coming your way: a bad break, an accident, a sickness.  it was already en route, it should’ve finished you off, but God said, “no, I don’t think so, that’s my son/daughter”; He put a stop to it. some of these things you knew nothing about, but God stopped the cancer, betrayal, rejection. it was all behind the scenes; that’s the mercies of God. sometimes, you need to thank God for what didn’t happen, for the enemies He stopped that you knew nothing about. “this sounds good, it’s encouraging, but I’ve had a lot of bad breaks, gone through a lot of disappointments: I didn’t get the promotion I worked hard for, this person walked out of my life.” here’s the problem; you’re remembering the wrong things. I can’t find one place in the scripture where we’re supposed to remember our defeats, failures, bad breaks.

“this company laid me off 27 years ago, it wasn’t right.” can I tell you respectfully; it’s time to get over it. quit thinking about it, talking about it, reliving it; all that’s doing is depressing yourself. you’re making yourself defeated.  has God done anything good for you in the last 27 years? have you seen one promotion, healing, sign of His favor? if you will start remembering your victories, the times God healed you, promoted you, stopped the accident, turned the problem around, when you’re remembering the right things, you’re going to move forward in faith; you’ll see more of God’s favor. David said:

Psalm 34:2 (TLB)

2 … Let all who are discouraged take heart.

he goes on to tell how to do it; the next verse says: 

Psalm 34:3-4 (NLT)

3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;

    let us exalt his name together.

4 I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.

    He freed me from all my fears.

he was saying, “when you’re discouraged, don’t see a way out, come and let’s talk”; not about your problems, what didn’t work out, no, let’s talk about God’s greatness, your answered prayers, the Red Seas that have been parted. what you’re saying in your tough times will make you or break you. if you go around saying, “I’ll never get out of this problem, it’s just too big,” you’ll get stuck. but if you’ll turn it around, and say, “God, I want to thank You for Your greatness in my life, for giving me this job, freeing me from this addiction.” when you’re always talking about God’s goodness, you won’t be down and discouraged; you’ll have a spring in your step, a smile on your face, you’ll know God’s done it for you in the past, and He’ll do it again for you in the future.

God has done many great things for us: He provides our daily needs, gives us strength, gives us wisdom, protects us. we’re all thankful, grateful for His goodness. but God wants to do some things in your life that are so big, so impressive, you can hang them on your wall, so to speak. when people come over, when they see you, you have something to point at; “this is what God did in my life.” all of you can look back and see times where God did something unusual.  maybe you shouldn’t be living in that house that you’re in, you didn’t have the funds, but things fell into place; you know it was the hand of God. that’s mountable. perhaps you struggled with an addiction, you were off-course, but today you’re healthy, clean, free, being a blessing to others; you are a living testimony. you don’t have to go look for a miracle;  you are a miracle. when you need to be encouraged, just go look at yourself in the mirror. you shouldn’t be where you are; perhaps you should still be struggling, addicted, angry, depressed, lonely, but God in His mercy showed up and said, “I don’t think so.” when it looked impossible, He stopped it.  He’s given you something to talk about. you’re a trophy of God’s goodness. 

here’s the key; don’t let what once was a miracle become ordinary. don’t lose the awe of what God has done. everywhere you go, talk about God’s goodness; not bragging on yourself, but bragging on what God has done. when you constantly think about what God has done, you relive your miracles, you’re always in awe of His goodness, then you are putting yourself in position for God to do something more amazing. God wants to give you some new things to mount. get ready for favor that you haven’t seen: opportunity, influence, promotion.  He has something out of the ordinary, something impressive, a new level coming your way.

one time, the disciples were on a boat. they had just seen Jesus take 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish;  when he prayed over it, that multiplied and fed over 5000 people.  at the end of that day, he told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, get in the boat:

Mark 6:45-51 (NIV)

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him… 47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. 

the scripture gives us insight into why they were so were so worried. it says:

Mark 6:51-52 (KJV)

51 … they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.

52 For they considered not the miracle of the loaves

they were so stressed out, wondering if they were going to make it to the other side, when earlier that day they had seen with their own eyes one of the greatest miracles ever recorded. if they would’ve just remember what God did earlier that day, if they would’ve just considered the miracle, then they would’ve stayed in faith, they would’ve been fine, knowing that everything was going to be ok. what’s interesting is, they were obedient, they did what Jesus asked, they were faithful; where they missed it is, they forgot what God had done.  are you doing what they did, letting your circumstances, a medical report, a financial situation, cause you to live worried, stressed-out? why don’t you start considering your miracles?  look back over your life; remember that time God showed up and suddenly turned it around. look up on your wall and relive some of those mountable things God has done.

how are you going to defeat the pharaohs in your life? how are you going to overcome those large obstacles? God is saying to you what he said to the Israelites; “just remember.” you have a history with God; every victory He’s given you wasn’t just for that time, it was so you could go back and use it as fuel to build your faith. you may be low on faith; you need to go back and get some fuel, it’s in your past victories. don’t talk about your problems; talk about the greatness of God. remember, the enemy cannot finish you off; God has the final say. if you will just remember, God is about to show out in your life. He’s going to give you something new to mount. you’re going to rise higher, accomplish your dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

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(No new sermon this week.)

I’ve been holding onto this for 2 months, waiting for a week when I’m insanely busy like this one but need a post:

Have you ever wondered just how TINY of a problem God will pay attention to your prayers about and handle for you?  Here’s the answer:

I don’t like bugs;  most of them want to bite you, sting you, spread disease, destroy crops, etc.  Even butterflies, which pretty much everybody loves, start out as destructive caterpillars.  The big exception in my mind is the ladybug; not only is it utterly incapable of harm, but it eats aphids and other little bugs that destroy plants. Best of all, it is very small and very cute; for the benefit of foreign visitors, here is a picture:

ladybug

Unlike ants and cockroaches, that are always trying to get into human homes to eat our food, and in the case of the latter, to terrorize us and gross us out, ladybugs always stay outside… so imagine my surprise when, a couple of nights ago, I found one sitting on a lighting fixture by my work area. I carefully brushed him off onto my hand, took him outside, and tried to release him onto a bush; he resisted being detached from my fingers, and eventually fell through the leaves. I heard him land on something, but wasn’t concerned because bugs basically don’t weigh anything, and it doesn’t hurt them to fall a couple of feet. I took a giant step away to be sure that I wasn’t stepping on him, came back into the house, went back to work, and then a few minutes later brushed absently at my arm… only to discover that the ladybug was there, apparently just hanging out with me. He must have jumped up and flown after me as I was walking away, and ridden back into the house on my clothing.

Not that I wasn’t flattered that such a minuscule creature wanted to be my friend, but I had nothing to feed him and no way to care for him, so I tried to take him outside again… but this time, just as I got to the door, he flew away and vanished somewhere in my family room. I searched and searched in vain. I realized that if I didn’t find him pretty soon, he would starve to death, dehydrate, or get crushed accidentally; I felt really bad for not having prevented him from escaping before I got him outside, because I was too charmed by how he was walking along my arm.  I did what I always do in times of trouble, from the biggest trouble all the way down to the smallest; I started praying.

I saw no sign of him for over 24 hours. I kept praying. Finally, towards the end of my evening, I saw him standing on a table!!  I wasn’t taking any chances this time;  thanking God under my breath, I took scooped the ladybug up, covered him with my hand, and got him outside the fastest way possible… I opened the screen door with my foot, and went right outside with bare feet into the darkness. I went to the nearest plant, and after several efforts got him on a leaf, or so I thought… I couldn’t see where he had gone, but it looked like he had vanished between a couple of leaves.

Do you think that this was just a lucky accident, because God can’t be bothered with the fate of a tiny bug?  Check this out:  I was still concerned about the ladybug, that maybe he had gotten back into the house with me again, or maybe I had accidentally stepped on him on the way back in the darkness, or that one of the critters that roam my yard at night had eaten him.  Just as I was about to close the curtains a couple of hours later, I glanced out the window, and in the dim early light saw the ladybug crawl across an exposed bit of leaf for just ONE MOMENT!!  What are the chances that the exact moment I glanced out the window as I was closing the curtains also happened to be the exact moment that he came into view for split second?  God made sure that I was not only able to save the ladybug, but that I would feel certain about his well-being before I went to bed.

If you ever think that you have something that matters to you but is too trivial to bother God with, remember this story.

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Pregnant with possibility

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when a woman is pregnant, for the first few months she doesn’t look any different; she’s the same size, wears the same clothes, has the same amount of energy. from the outside, there’s no sign that she’s going to have a baby. if you just looked at it in the natural, you could think, “you’re not pregnant, there’s nothing different about you.” but what you can’t see is, on the inside a seed has taken root, conception has occurred.  in a few months, she’ll start showing, gaining more weight. in a few more months, she’ll feel something kicking on the inside; out of nowhere, a kick here, a kick there. she’s still never seen the baby in person, she’s never held that baby, but she’s not worried; she knows the baby is on the way. 9 months after she conceives, she’ll give birth to that little child.

in the same way, you may not realize it, but you are pregnant. God has placed all kinds of potential in you: there are gifts, talents, ideas, dreams, businesses, books, songs, healing, freedom. you are pregnant with possibility, increase, healing. and just because you don’t see anything happening, doesn’t mean it’s not going to come to pass; that seed God put in you has already taken root, conception has occurred.  like this woman, you may not see any sign of it for some time, but don’t worry, your time is coming; you are pregnant with your miracle, abundance, maybe pregnant with a new business. instead of being discouraged, down, “it’s never going to happen, it’s been so long, I’ve been through too much,” no, our attitude should be, “I can feel something kicking on the inside. I know this baby is still alive. I’m going to give birth to what God put in me.” maybe you’ve struggled with an addiction for a long time; instead of believing the lie that you could never break it, ”no, I’m pregnant with freedom, wholeness. you may not see any changes, but I can feel something kicking. I can feel something stirring down in my spirit.” when you live with this kind of expectancy, you’re going to give birth to what God put in you. Psalm 7 says:

Psalm 7:14 (NLT)

14 The wicked conceive evil… are pregnant with trouble

the good news is, that’s not you; you are the righteous. you’re not pregnant with trouble, bad breaks, sickness, lack, depression, you are pregnant with favor, talent, victory. all through the day, “Lord, I want to thank You that I’m pregnant with Your promises, that I will give birth to everything You put in me.” you may not see any changes, it may not look in the natural like it’s ever going to work out, but deep down in your spirit, you have to believe that conception has occurred.  you are pregnant with that new house you’ve been dreaming about; in God’s perfect timing, when everything is ready, you’re going to give birth.

your family may be struggling, dysfunction in your home; don’t live worried, you are pregnant with restoration, a breakthrough. maybe business is slow, you lost your main client; you could easily be discouraged, but you can feel something kicking on the inside, something saying, “you are the head and not the tail. whatever you touch will prosper and succeed.” perhaps your dream looks impossible; it’s been a long time, you tried and it didn’t work out. but deep down, you can’t help it, something keeps kicking, telling you that it’s on the way. what God started, He will finish. you may be struggling with an illness, fighting a battle in your health; instead of accepting it, thinking that’s the way it’s always going to be, keep reminding yourself that you are pregnant, you already have conceived, the healing is already in you, it’s just a matter of time before you give birth.

nothing can snatch you out of God’s hands.  don’t go around negative, complaining, turn it around; “the medical report doesn’t look good, but I can feel healing kicking down on the inside of me.  no weapon formed against me will prosper. it doesn’t look like I could ever get out of debt, but I can feel abundance kicking on the inside; I will lend and not borrow. all my circumstances say that I’ll be barren my whole life, never meet the right person, never break the addiction, but deep down I can feel something stirring in my spirit.” I am looking at pregnant people today. you are pregnant with possibility. quit telling yourself that you could never get ahead, you don’t have enough of this, enough of that, no, you are pregnant with success, ideas, destiny. you’re going to give birth to what God put in you. it’s not too late, you haven’t missed your chance.

in the scripture, Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac; way too old in the natural, but we serve a supernatural God. He can make a way when you don’t see a way. don’t abort your baby. don’t talk yourself out of your dreams. don’t give up on what God promised you.  you can still give birth: you can still meet the right person, start your business, go to college, break the addiction. that seed is still alive in you.  you can’t judge what’s in you by what’s around you;  all of Sarah’s circumstances said, “you’ll be barren your whole life.  you’re too old. no one your age has babies, that’s impossible.”  if she would’ve believed that lie, let that seed take root, it would’ve never happened.

you can draw in the negative with your doubt, or you can draw in God’s blessings with your faith.  don’t let what you see around you cause you to give up on your dreams. you may be in some kind of limited environment today, nothing inspiring around you; in the natural, there’s no way you could get out, get an education, be successful. but what’s around you does not determine what God put in you; you have seeds of greatness.  you are pregnant with success, ability, talent. God did not create anyone without putting something significant on the inside. don’t let what’s on the outside, how you were raised, lack, dysfunction, convince you to abort your dream.

when you get quiet, alone at night, when it’s just you and God, if you listen carefully, you’ll hear something whispering, “this is not your destiny. you were made for more.” what is that? that’s your baby kicking, because you’re about to give birth. you’re going to see supernatural opportunities, explosive blessings, divine connections. God’s going to help you go where you could not go on your own. statistics don’t determine your destiny, God does. don’t become a victim of your environment; you are a victor. where you are is not who you are.

maybe the odds are against you in some area: the medical report doesn’t look good, or your environment isn’t healthy, no one’s supporting you, you don’t have the connections, the resources. don’t talk yourself out of it; keep reminding yourself that you are pregnant, the seed put in you by your Creator has already taken root. it doesn’t have anything to do with what you have or don’t have, what family you come from, how talented you are; it is a destiny seed. when you give birth, you’re going to go further than you ever imagined.

Sarah was 90 years old, never had a baby. everywhere she looked, it said that she would be barren her whole life;  “too bad, you’re too old, it’s just impossible.” she couldn’t find another 90 year old woman that had ever had a baby. if she could have at least found one, she could have said, “God, You did it for her, You can do it for me.” she couldn’t find anyone. you may look around and think, “I don’t know anyone that’s gotten out of my neighborhood and done something significant. I don’t know anyone that’s overcome the illness I’m dealing with. nobody in my family has been able to break these addictions.” the good news is, you can be the first; you can set the new standard. you can be the barrier-breaker.  God said:

Genesis 17:16 (NASB)

16 I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

here’s a 90 year old woman that’s barren, she’s living in the desert, no medical procedures, infertility treatments, yet God says, “you have kings, nations in you.” He was saying, “Sarah, don’t let the circumstances fool you. don’t let your environment talk you out of it.  don’t let your own thoughts discourage you; you’re pregnant with greatness.” God is saying the same thing to you;  “you have kings, greatness in you. you are pregnant with success, talent, your destiny.” the prophet Joel said:

Joel 3:9 (NKJV)

9 … Wake up the mighty (wo)men

I’m here to wake up your dreams, talents, potential, what God put in you. you may have let some circumstances convince you that it’s never going to happen, but I believe you’re going to start feeling some kicking on the inside; that baby, dream, promise, it’s still alive in you. you better get ready; you’re going to give birth to something that’s going to take you further than you could ever imagine. it’s going to thrust you to a new level of your destiny.  the scripture talks about:

1 Timothy 6:12 (KJV)

12 Fight the good fight of faith

you can’t be passive and just accept whatever comes along, and think that that’s your lot in life. we all have bad breaks, disappointments; those challenges are not there to defeat you, they’re there to promote you. on the other side is a new level of God’s goodness. but you have to do your part, and get your fire back. maybe you’ve let something steal your passion. you don’t think you could ever get well, meet the right person, accomplish a dream; no, everything you need is already in you.  if you’ll stir your faith up and get in agreement with God, you will give birth to your healing, dreams, promises.  Genesis 3:15 says:

Genesis 3:15 (NASB)

15 And I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your seed and her seed;

He shall bruise you on the head

in the garden of Eden, you remember how the serpent deceived Eve, and brought about all kinds of trouble;  God was saying, in effect, “Eve, it’s payback time. you’re going to give birth to something that’s going to defeat the thing that’s tried to defeat you.  your seed will bruise his head.” too often, we’re looking for something from the outside to help us overcome, but God has put it on the inside.  if you’ll give birth to what God put in you, you won’t have to rely on other people. if you’ll give birth to that dream, that gift, that talent, your gift will make room for you, open some new doors. or maybe, if you’ll give birth to that idea, that book, that talent, then you can deliver yourself from lack and struggling. Jesus said:

 John 7:38 (LEB)

38 the one who believes in me. Just as the scripture said, ‘Out of his belly will flow rivers of living water.’ 

your deliverance is not going to come from other people. your promotion, your healing, your breakthrough is going to come from within you; out of your belly shall flow rivers. this is where Sarah almost missed it;  she thought the promise would come through somebody else. she reasoned it out, thinking she was too old, how could she have kings and nations in her? she was 90, she couldn’t have a baby.  she tried to help God out; she had her husband Abraham sleep with her maid. they had a baby, but it wasn’t the promised child. God said, “Sarah, I didn’t put the promise in somebody else; you don’t need other people to deliver you, Sarah, I put the promise in you.”

God is saying the same thing to us;  “you are pregnant with your miracle, victory. you don’t need other people. you don’t have to hope they help you, like you, give you a good break. like with Sarah, it’s not going to come from the outside, it’s going to come from the inside.  God has already put it in you. if you’ll dare believe that you have what it takes, go out each day with expectancy, knowing that you’re pregnant, then you can deliver yourself; you will give birth to what God put on the inside of you. Paul said it this way in Ephesians:

Ephesians 3:20 (JUB)

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us

it’s not according to the power that works in your neighbor, your cousin, your pastor, your friend; the power is working in you.  you say, “I believe I’m pregnant, I have big dreams, I’m standing on God’s promises, but everything is coming against me. it seems like the more I pray, the worse it gets. I’m doing the right thing, but the wrong thing is happening.” here’s the beauty; pain is a sign that you’re about to give birth. trouble, difficulties, being uncomfortable; that’s a sign that you’re getting closer. when everything comes against you: your child’s acting up, trouble at work, setback in your finances, don’t get discouraged, you’re about to give birth. you’re about to see a promise come to pass. in these tough times is when many people abort their dreams, thinking, “I knew it wouldn’t work out, the bank turned me down, the medical report wasn’t good, I didn’t get the promotion.”  no, recognize that those are labor pains; you’re getting closer. stay in faith, keep doing the right thing; the birth is on the way.

sometimes, what we think is a setback is really just labor pains. that difficulty you’re facing, it’s not the end, it’s a part of the birthing process. you’re about to step into a new level of your destiny. don’t be discouraged by the disappointment, closed door, bad break; that’s a sign that you’re about to give birth.  some of you are pregnant with a book, a movie, a business, a charity. you’ve had disappointments, you tried, and it didn’t work out, but you can still feel the kicking on the inside; you can’t get away from it.  don’t talk yourself out of it; it’s all a part of the process. keep trying, believing, doing everything you can, and at the right time you will give birth. the right people, opportunities, breaks, will show up. you couldn’t make it happen on your own; it was the hand of God. what He’s put in you is going to be bigger than you can imagine, better than you’ve ever dreamed, more rewarding than you thought possible.

now do your part; get your hopes up. every morning, remind yourself; you are pregnant. not with rejection, failure, disappointments, defeat; you are pregnant with victory, success, the favor of God. you may have had some bad breaks, but like Sarah, you are not going to live your life barren. you’re not going to die with that baby still in you. God has the final say, and He says, “a birth is coming.” what He’s promised is on the way. keep honoring Him, keep being your best, and you will give birth to everything God put in you, and become everything God created you to be.

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Keep your crown

from JO’s sermon last night:

when God breathed His life into you, He put a crown on your head; the Psalmist called it:

Psalm 8:5 (TLB)

5 … a crown of glory and honor

this crown represents your authority, God’s blessing and favor on your life. it’s a reminder that you’re not average, mediocre;  you are royalty. when you’re wearing your crown, you’ll feel a sense of entitlement, thinking, “I have a right to be blessed, live in victory, overcome these challenges, not because I’m so great, strong, talented, but because I’m wearing a crown of honor, put there by my Creator.”  your perception of yourself will determine what kind of life you live; if you see yourself as being average, you feel less-than because of what somebody said, you live guilty because of past mistakes, that’s going to limit your potential. what’s happening? you’re not wearing your crown.  Jesus said:

Revelation 3:11 (NASB)

11 … hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown

throughout life, there will always be someone or something trying to take your crown; people talking about you, trying to make you look bad, push you down.  what they’re really doing is trying to get your crown. do yourself a favor; don’t let them have it. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” nobody can take your crown; you have to let go of it. somebody may say to you, “you’re not that talented, you’ll never be successful, you can’t start your own business”; too often, we think, “you’re right, I don’t have what it takes. look how long it’s been. I’m not as smart as my cousin.” what’s happening? you’re letting go of your crown. when those thoughts tell you, “you’re not attractive enough,” just say, “no thanks; you’re not taking my crown. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made, one-of-a-kind.” “you’ll never get out of debt, never send your children to college”; “no thanks, I will lend and not borrow. whatever I touch will prosper and succeed.” you’re not just being positive, you’re holding onto your crown.

thoughts say, “look at where you are in life. you should be ashamed of yourself: the mistakes you’ve made, the times you failed”;  “no, you’re not having my crown. I may have fallen, but look at me now; I didn’t stay down, I got back up again. I made mistakes; that didn’t change my name, I’m still a child of the most high God.” if you’re going to keep your crown, you have to dig your heels in, and say, “I’m not going to let what somebody said, or who walked away, or what didn’t work, steal my sense of value. I know I have been crowned with honor.” when somebody tries to make you feel small, they say something derogatory, instead of being upset and believing it, just reach up and straighten your crown. they can’t change who you are unless you allow them to. they don’t control your destiny. they don’t determine your value. they didn’t breathe life into you, God did, and He calls you a masterpiece, a king/queen. you’re supposed to reign in life; that’s why He put the crown of honor on your head, to remind you who you are.

but the mistake we make too many times is, we believe the lies. somebody says, “you’re not that talented”; instead of saying, “no thanks,” we say, “you’re right. let me take off my crown.”  “you’re not royalty. you come from the wrong family. you’ll never do anything great”; instead of ignoring it, not giving it the time of day, we think, “what was I thinking? let me take off my crown.”

the enemy’s main tool is deception; there’s nothing he would love any more than for you to go through life not wearing your crown, letting people and circumstances convince you that you don’t deserve to be blessed, you don’t have what it takes, you’ve been through too much, you can’t feel good about yourself. don’t you dare give away your crown; it belongs to you. it was put there by your Creator. it has nothing to do with how you feel, how you look, what other people said; it’s based solely on the fact that you are a child of Almighty God.  He has crowned you with glory and honor.  just because somebody doesn’t believe in you, that doesn’t mean that has to stop your dream. the reason people don’t always encourage you and cheer you on is because they can’t feel what you feel; God didn’t put the dream in them, He put the dream in you.

don’t let their discouragement steal your enthusiasm. they may be experts, but the experts can be wrong. keep your crown on. keep believing, hoping, pursuing. you don’t need everyone to be for you; you and God are a majority. when you’re wearing your crown, God will open doors that no man can shut. He’ll help you accomplish what you could not accomplish on your own. He wouldn’t have put the dream in you if He didn’t already have a way to bring it to pass. people don’t determine your destiny.  they don’t know what’s in you.  don’t take off your crown because somebody judged you by the outside, told you you’re not talented, attractive, tall, or smart enough. you don’t have to have them cheering you on. keep you crown on, keep being your best, honoring God, and He will get you to where you’re supposed to be. Jesus said:

John 5:41 (TLB)

41 “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me 

that’s a powerful way to live. he was saying, “I know who I am, and nothing you do or don’t do is going to change it. you can celebrate me, or crucify me, but I’m keeping my crown.” people can be funny; one moment, they can be cheering for you, and another moment, they can be putting you down, trying to make you look bad. one moment, Jesus was riding a donkey into town; people were waving palm branches, celebrating his arrival like a king. in a few days, those same people were hollering, “crucify him, he doesn’t deserve to live.”  if you base wearing your crown on whether people like you or don’t, believe in you or don’t, you’re going to be taking your crown on and off your whole life. you don’t need other people’s approval; you have Almighty God’s approval. our attitude should be:  “you can be for or against me, celebrate me, criticize me, but one thing for certain; I’m not giving you my crown. I know who I am. I am royalty, accepted, approved, valuable.

in the scripture, Isaac said to his son Esau:

Genesis 27:35 (TLB)

35 Isaac: “Your brother was here and tricked me and has carried away your blessing.”

sometimes, we let other people carry away our blessing. we let what they say about us, their disapproval, discouraging words, keep us from who we were meant to be. you have to put your foot down, and say, “I am not going to let people talk me out of my dreams. I’m not going to let a coworker make me feel inferior, like I’m not good enough. I’m not going to let a coach, teacher or counselor talk me into living an average, mediocre, get-by life.” you have seeds of greatness. you are destined to leave your mark on this generation. don’t let anyone carry away your blessing.

when we look back, the enemy’s been trying to get our crown from the beginning of time. in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were living confident, secure; they were at peace with God and with themselves, wearing their crowns. they knew they had God’s blessing and favor. but one day, the enemy deceived them into eating the forbidden fruit, when they did, immediately they were afraid; they ran and hid.  in effect, they gave the enemy their crown.  that’s what happens when we’re not wearing our crown; it opens the door to fear, insecurity, shame. we focus on what we’re not, the mistakes we’ve made, what other people said about us. where there’s no crown, there’s no covering, no reminder of who we are. we believe those lies that can push us down.

Genesis 3:8-11 (NASB)

8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the [a]cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? 

God knew he had taken off his crown.  God is asking us today, “who told you there’s something wrong with you? who told you you’re just average, that you can’t accomplish your dreams, that you’re too small, you come from the wrong family, you’re not good enough?” I can assure you, that didn’t come from our God. you need to put your crown back on. you may have let some person or event take it; the good news is, you can get it back.  it’s not too late; you have control over your crown.

it starts in your thinking. no more, “I’m just a C student, I’m just average.”  no, “I’m an A student. I am full of wisdom. I will excel in school.” no more, “I’ve been through too much, I lost a loved one, I’ll never be happy again.” no, “God is giving me beauty for these ashes. what He started in my life, He will finish.” don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself; put your crown back on. no more, “I come from the wrong family, nothing special about me.” no, I’ve been made in the image of Almighty God. I’m a masterpiece, one-of-a-kind, a prized possession.” “I could never do anything great in life, all the odds are against me”; no, “I have the favor of God. I am equipped, empowered, and anointed.” if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to keep your crown on. it doesn’t happen automatically. that’s why the scripture says:

Revelation 3:11 (NASB)

11 … hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown

have you allowed something to get your crown? a disappointment, a bad break, a divorce; you’re not passionate about life anymore? your crown is waiting for you. have you let a mistake, failure, bankruptcy, convince you to settle for second best? you need to go get your crown. you wouldn’t be alive unless God had another victory in front of you. start dreaming, believing, hoping again.  when somebody leaves your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with you; it could be that the other person is the problem.  have you ever thought about maybe they have some issues? if they left you, they’ll leave the next person. but the accuser will work overtime trying to convince you how you don’t measure up, you’re not valuable, there’s nothing good in your future; he’s trying to take your crown. the scripture says:

 Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

6 …the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you

if they left you, and you needed them, that would mean God was forsaking you, so you can conclude, if they left, you didn’t need them. if they walked away, they weren’t a part of your destiny. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)

7 Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

you may not realize it, but when they left, in a sense, they did you a favor; they set you up for what God really wants to do. He has somebody amazing in your future, a divine connection, somebody better than you imagined, somebody that will treat you like the king/queen you were meant to be. but you have to do your part, and put your crown back on. it’s not going to happen if you go around negative, discouraged, feeling unattractive; if you’re unattractive on the inside, you’ll be unattractive on the outside. you carry yourself the way you feel about yourself. I’ve seen ladies that were not necessarily that attractive, they didn’t have a lot of outer beauty, but on the inside, they have it going on.

when you’re wearing your crown, you’re confident, secure; you know you’re a masterpiece, one-of-a-kind, a prized possession. you’re not dwelling on all the negative chatter, what you’re not, what you don’t have, what other people are saying. you go through the day with a smile on your face, a spring in your step; you know you’re royalty, that you’ve been crowned with glory and honor. when you live this way, you’re going to come into some divine connections; you won’t have to go after them, God will cause the right people to track you down.

maybe you’ve been through a disappointment, a loss, something didn’t work out; it would be easy for you to feel not attractive, not valuable, not excited about life. get your crown back; that crown is what gives you the favor, causes you to stand out.  nothing that’s happened has lessened your value; you are still the prized possession, the apple of God’s eye. don’t let a disappointment, a loss, carry away your blessing; it’s not the end, it’s a new beginning.

this is what a lady in the scripture had to do, named Naomi. she lost her husband, and then later lost 2 sons in a battle. she was so discouraged, she didn’t think she could go on;  she took off her crown. she used to be happy, now she was bitter. she thought, “I’m done. I’ll never be happy again.” she even changed her name:

Ruth 1:20 (NIV)

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[a]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[b] because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

Footnotes:

a. Ruth 1:20 Naomi means pleasant.

b. Ruth 1:20 Mara means bitter.

she was saying, “call me bitter.” the problem is, when you take off your crown, you take off the favor, honor, glory; that’s what you need for God to pay you back. in those tough times, more than ever, you have to keep reminding yourself, “I am a child of the most high God. I’m extremely valuable. God has beauty for these ashes. double is coming my way.” you need people around you that will remind you who you are; not people that will get bitter with you, people who agree with the defeat, mediocrity, but people who will call you blessed, victorious, royalty.  people that will remind you that your best days are still yet to come, that what’s meant for harm, God’s going to use to your advantage. people that will help you keep your crown on.

that’s why every week I tell you: “you’re blessed, prosperous, redeemed, forgiven, talented, confident, strong, valuable, a masterpiece. what am I doing? making sure that you’re wearing your crown. life will try to take it off: my goal is to help you keep it on.

Naomi thought she was finished. when she went back to her hometown, her daughter-in-law Ruth came with her; Ruth had lost her husband. she met a man named Boaz, and they got married.  one day, they had this little baby boy. at this time, Naomi was way up there in years;  it didn’t look like she had any reason to live. but when she saw that little baby, something came alive on the inside. the scripture says:

Ruth 4:14-16 (NLT)

14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth… 16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.

she didn’t think she’d ever be happy again, but now she’s more fulfilled than ever; that was God paying her back for the unfair things that had happened.

are you wearing your crown today, or have you let a disappointment, a loss, a bad break convince you to take it off?  nothing that’s happened to you has stopped God’s plan; He knows how to give beauty for ashes, and:

Psalm 30:11 (NRSV)

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing

Dancing meme

like Naomi, you may have taken your crown off, thinking that you’ve seen your best days, but you to need to get ready; the latter part of your life is going to be better than the former part. God still has a purpose for you to fulfill. He still has something amazing in your future. put your crown back on.

too many people today are suffering from amnesia; they were born into royalty, created to reign in life, God crowned them with honor and glory, but they’ve forgotten who they are. because of bad breaks, disappointments, mistakes they made, they’re living far below their privileges, thinking that they’re average, beaten down by life.  I’m here to remind you who you are; you are a child of the most high God.  you have royal blood flowing through your veins. there is a crown of honor that belongs to you. your mind may be in a fog, but I believe in your spirit, something is coming alive; strongholds that have held you back are being broken. defeated thinking, negative mentality, those chains are being loosed. you’re going to rediscover who you really are; not average, not mediocre, but royalty, a king/queen. now do your part, and put your crown back on.

when the enemy tries to reprogram your thinking, telling you that you’re average, ordinary, just say, “no thanks; I’m a king/queen, I will not think that way.” when he tries to convince you to live a mediocre, defeated life, say, “no thanks; I know I am royalty; I will not live beneath my privileges. I know who I am; a child of the most high God.” I’m asking you to keep your crown on. you may have been through disappointments, loss; life will always try to take it.  you have to hold fast to what God has given you. don’t let anyone or anything carry away your blessing. if you’ll make this decision with me that you’re going to keep your crown, you will reign in life. you will rise higher, accomplish your dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

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