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Archive for November 23rd, 2015

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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