Archive for June, 2016

It’s on the way

from JO’s sermon tonight:

what you’re believing for, promises you’re standing on, dreams you’ve been praying about, they’re already en route; the healing, promotion, right people are coming. you may not see any signs of it yet, everything looks the same; what you can’t see is, behind-the-scenes, God is moving the wrong people out of the way, pushing back the forces of darkness, arranging things in your favor, lining up the breaks you need. He’s called the author and finisher of our faith; He’s going to finish what He started in your life. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. you may have big challenges, but we serve a big God. your enemies may be powerful, but our God is all-powerful. that dream may look impossible; you don’t think you have the connections, resources, talent, but God can do the impossible. even when the odds are against you, God is for you and He’s saying it’s on the way.

sometimes, you need these words of faith spoken over your life. words have creative power; if you’ll let them take root, they’ll ignite the faith in your spirit. because life has a way of pushing us down; if you’re not careful, you look up, and you’re not believing like you used to, not passionate, dreaming, you don’t see how your situation could work out. here’s the key; you don’t have to figure it out. our job is to believe, go out each day with expectancy, saying, “God, I may not see a way, but I know You have a way. I believe my breakthrough is on the way.I believe my healing, promotion, freedom from this addiction, it’s just a matter of time before it shows up.” if you don’t have this anticipation that it’s on the way, then it can keep it from happening. you may have big obstacles in your path, you can’t overcome them on your own. the good news is, you’re not on your own; you have the most powerful Force in the universe breathing in your direction. when He speaks, Red Seas part, blind eyes open, dreams come back to life. we look at our circumstances in the natural, but He’s a supernatural God. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 45:2 (NKJV)

2 ‘I will go before you

And make the crooked places straight 

God is fighting your battles; no person, bad break, sickness, failure, can stop you. get your fire back; you have to stir your faith up. maybe at one time you believed, were passionate, excited about life, but things haven’t turned out the way you hoped; you’ve had some bad breaks and disappointments. God is saying, “it’s time to believe, dream again.” you haven’t seen your best days. what God promised you is still going to come to pass; it’s not too late, you haven’t missed too many opportunities. if it would have happened sooner, it wouldn’t’ve been the right time; now is the time. start believing again.

maybe somebody walked out on you, did you wrong, but that didn’t stop God’s plan for your life. don’t give up on your dreams, live hurt, wounded, thinking, “they ruined my life.” they don’t control your destiny, they don’t have that much power over you. what they did may not have been fair, but God is going to make it up to you; He’s saying new beginnings, friendships, opportunities are on the way.  they meant it for your harm; God’s going to use it for your good:

Genesis 50:20 (NABRE)

20 Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good

you may have struggled in your finances a long time, can’t seem to get ahead, now you’ve just settled there, thinking that’s the way it’s always going to be. God is saying, “I have increase on the way, favor, promotion, opportunities, that have your name on them.

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)

10 … I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! 

why don’t you get up each day, and say, “Father, thank You that abundance is coming my way, that I’ll lend and not borrow, You’re opening doors no man can shut.” when you live with this expectancy, that’s when dreams come to pass, doors open that you could never open, you’ll see explosive blessings that catapult you to the next level.

but too many people have given up on what God’s put in their heart. they tried and it didn’t work out, now they think the dream is dead: they’ll never get well, meet the right person, come into abundance. but what you think is dead is not really dead; that seed is still alive. God doesn’t abort dreams; He doesn’t give up on what He put in us.

in John 11:

John 11:1-14 (NLT)

1 A man named Lazarus was sick… 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days… 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.

but it’s interesting; Jesus said to his disciples:

John 11:11 (NIV)

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

Lazarus was clearly dead, but Jesus had a different perspective; he said he’s only asleep. could it be that what you think is dead, looks like your marriage is never going to make it, you’ll never get well, never accomplish the dream, like Lazarus, all the circumstances say that it’s over and done, but God says, “I have a different perspective. I can see things that you can’t see; it’s not dead, it’s just asleep.” it may look permanent; the truth is, it’s only temporary.

Jesus showed up at Lazarus’s house:

John 11:39 (NLT)

39 … he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

at times, we all have things in life that stink; maybe your marriage feels so dead that it stinks, that bankruptcy, that layoff stinks, that mistake you made that set you back, it stinks.

John 11:39-40 (NIV)

39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 

what’s the point? Jesus went to where the stink was. sometimes, we think that God will only help us if we’ve lived perfect, everything is nice and whole, but God goes to the stinky places in our lives. the person that hurt you, did you wrong, it stinks, God is saying, “let Me in. I’m going to wake up the healing, restoration, new beginning.” that mistake you made, you feel condemned, every voice tells you, “God’s not going to bless you. nothing good is coming your way; you blew, it you stink.”  God is saying, “no, roll that stone away; I’m not bothered by the stink.” God goes to the stinky places, where you were betrayed, lost a loved one, compromised. you feel disqualified; God says, “let Me in. the stink is only temporary; the dream is not dead, it’s just asleep.”

John 11:43-44 (NIV)

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Lazarus went on to live many more years. 

I believe today that things that you’ve given up on, that you think are dead, like Lazarus, they’re about to wake up: marriages, dreams, healing, abundance are waking up. God is saying to us what He said to the disciples; “it’s not dead, it’s just asleep.” healing, joy, victory is coming. it may have been asleep a long time, you think there’s no way it could happen now; that’s what Mary and Martha thought. but it’s not too late, too far gone; you need to get ready, God’s about to wake it up.

this is what he did for Sarah, a lady in the scripture. she and her husband Abraham had tried for many years to have a baby with no success. now, Sarah is 80 years old; everything logically speaking said, “there’s no way,” but what God has promised you, He’s still going to bring to pass.  God is not limited by the laws of nature. you’re not at the mercy of your age, education, background. God has unlimited power; one touch of His favor can turn a situation around. Sarah thought her womb was dead; what she didn’t realize was, it was only asleep. at nearly 100 years old, she gave birth to a baby; the promise came to pass.

like with Sarah, God has put dreams and promises in you. it may not have happened yet; you’ve tried again and again, and it didn’t work out. now, maybe you’ve settled there, and think, “it wasn’t meant to be,” but God is full of surprises; He’s about to wake up that dream you’ve given up on, bring back to life what you thought was dead. your latter days are going to be more rewarding, fulfilling, than your former days. you’re going to give birth to more in the future than you’ve lost in the past. your baby, promise, dream, is on the way.

as a young man, Moses made a mistake and killed a man. he was trying to deliver God’s people, he had that dream his heart, but he got in a hurry; he had to flee for his life. he ended up spending years on the backside of the desert. I’m sure he thought, “I had a big dream, I knew I was going to do something great with my life, leave my mark, but I blew it.” he gave up on his dream; he had nobody to blame except himself. but just because we give up, doesn’t mean God gives up. 40 years later, God said, “Moses, I’m here to wake up your dream. now it’s time to go deliver my people.” Moses went out and did just that; he saw the dream come to pass. 

like Moses, you may have made mistakes; we all have. like Sarah, you may have had disappointments, your plans didn’t work out, now you think it’s been too long. what you’ve given up on is not dead, it’s just asleep. that business you wanted to start, that book you wanted to write, that addiction you’ve been trying to break, every voice tells you, “it’s too late, you’re too old, it’s never going to happen.” no, get ready, God’s about to wake it up: your baby, spouse, business, freedom is coming. get in agreement with God; He’s waking it up. don’t let it go back to sleep; stir your faith up, believe that it’s on the way, go out with expectancy. when your mind tells you, “you’re never going to get well,” wake up the healing; “God is restoring health back unto me.” “you’ll never get out of debt”; wake up the abundance, “I will lend and not borrow.” “you’ll never overcome that problem”; wake up the victory, “God always causes me to triumph.”  keep your mind going in the right direction. 

in Mark 6:

Mark 6:1-5 (NIV)

6 Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? 3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph,[a] Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

verse 6 says:

Mark 6:6 (GNV)

6 And he marveled at their unbelief

in Matthew 8:

Matthew 8:5-10 (NASB)

5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, Lord, my]servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus *said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed… 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

at one place, he marveled at their doubt; at another, he marveled at their faith. when God looks at you, what will He marvel at? “I’ll never get well; I’ve had this sickness for so long. I’ll never accomplish my dreams; I tried, and it didn’t work out.” when you think like that, God marvels at your unbelief; that ties His hands. why don’t you come over into faith? “yes, I’ve had this sickness a long time, but I know my healing is on the way. I had a bad break, it wasn’t fair, but I know God has beauty for these ashes, favor is in my future.” when we think like that, then God marvels at your faith; that’s what allows Him to do more than we can ask or think.

what’s interesting is, the people that doubted, had the unbelief, were the religious people. they were in the synagogue each week; they were the faithful members. I say this respectfully; sometimes, religion will try to talk you out of God’s best. it will tell you, “in the sweet by-and-by you can live a victorious life, but down here you just have to suffer through it, just endure, don’t expect too much.” if Jesus were here, he would marvel at that unbelief. some people are taught that the day of miracles is over, God doesn’t still heal, bless and show favor, that was for Bible days. but there never was a day of miracles; there’s a God of miracles. He’s still alive and on the throne. 

this Roman officer that had great faith wasn’t a religious person; he hadn’t been indoctrinated to think that it couldn’t happen. he simply believed; “that man is the son of God. I’ve seen the miracles; he’s done it for others, he can do it for me.” he received his miracle while the religious people went without. when you take the limits off of God, dare to believe for your dreams, don’t be surprised if people try to talk you out of it, say things like, “do you really think you’ll get well, start that business, break that addiction? I don’t know, seems kind of far out to me.” God is either going to marvel at your faith, or marvel at your unbelief. don’t let another person talk you out of what God put in your heart; believe big, dream big, pray big. God is longing to be good to you; He wants to make you an example of His goodness, so everywhere you go, you don’t even have to say anything, your life is a testimony. people look at you and say, “he’s blessed, she’s highly favored.” you radiate joy, peace, favor, victory; you’re a living testimony.

Jesus didn’t say to this Roman officer, “I’m not going to do anything for you, you don’t attend my church, you’re not my nationality, you don’t look like me, who do you think you are?” none of that made any difference. all that mattered to Jesus was, “this man has great faith, he believes I can do something out of the ordinary, so I’m going to show myself strong in his life.” you may think that you’re not religious enough, that God would never help you. people tell me often, “I’m not a religious person, I wasn’t raised in church like you,” almost like they’re apologizing. can I tell you; God is not looking for religion, he’s looking for people who simply believe in Him, that know He controls the universe, that He can do the impossible.

in the Old Testament, the Israelites had wandered around in the desert for many years. God was about to take them into the promised land, but there were 7 nations in their path that were much bigger. Moses didn’t know what they were going to do; in the natural, they could never defeat them. but God said:

Deuteronomy 7:1-2 (NASB)

7 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2 and when the Lord your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them.

God is saying, “you don’t have to fight these battles in your own strength; I’m going to go before you and clear the path, make things happen that you couldn’t make happen. I’m going to defeat your enemies for you.” like the Israelites, we all face times when the odds are against us. it’s easy to think, “this sickness is much bigger, stronger than me, this addiction, these people coming against me, they’re much more powerful.” don’t worry; God is going before you right now, clearing the path. on your own, you may be outnumbered. what you’re up against may be bigger, stronger, more talented, have more resources, but you’re not on your own; the God who controls the universe says He will take care of your enemies. in other words, the cancer may be stronger than you, but it’s not stronger than our God. that debt may look insurmountable, you don’t see how you could ever get out, but it’s no match for our God; He owns it all, He made streets out of gold.

you have the God Who spoke worlds into existence on your side; instead of saying, “I can’t do it,” dwelling on the negative, all through the day, “Father, thank You that You’re defeating my enemies, clearing the path. I know You’re stronger than this addiction, more powerful than this cancer, bigger than this debt. Lord thank You that healing, wholeness, freedom, victory is on the way.” the scripture says: 

Zechariah 4:6 (NIV)

6 … Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit

you don’t have to do it on your own. Moses said:

Exodus 14:13 (ISV)

13 Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and watch how the Lord will deliver you today

you may be up against something big right now. don’t get discouraged, don’t live stressed-out, stand still; God is clearing the path, fighting your battles. He’s going to give you victory over powerful enemies. it may not happen overnight, but as long as you’re believing God is at work, at the right time He’s going to take you into your promised land. that victory is on the way.

God can make things happen that we could never make happen. right now, He’s going before you, defeating enemies that are much more powerful. that debt may look like it’s going to be with you your whole, life but get ready; He’s clearing the path. that sickness, addiction, legal problem may be bigger, stronger, more powerful, but it’s no match for our God; He is all-powerful. I’m asking you to stir your faith up. don’t hear all this and be like the people in Jesus’ hometown, where he marveled at the unbelief; let’s be like the Roman officer, where Jesus marvels at our faith. those dreams you’ve given up on, those promises that you’ve let go of, you need to go get them back; they’re not dead, they’re just asleep. like with Lazarus, God is about to wake up what you thought was over and done: healing, freedom, the fullness of your destiny, abundance is on the way.

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(No new sermon this week.)

A recent commenter brought up a familiar question in Christian circles; “Why did God take the person I love away from me?” My reply came out well enough that I decided to turn it into a post. Here goes:

Almost without exception, people that are in your life are NOT there because God brought them to you; we are not puppets, and God is not a puppetmaster arranging everything for us. We all have free will, and people are in our lives because we have used our free will to be with each other. When we really love someone, and especially if we really NEED someone, it’s natural, and greatly comforting, to believe that they are God-given, that the relationship was arranged by God or has a special blessing from God, that it’s a soul-mate relationship not like other relationships, and therefore you have God’s assurance that it will never end… but that is very rarely the case.

Of course, everyone believes that THEIR relationship is the exception, although by definition virtually none of them are; the proof of the pudding, as my mother would’ve said, is that if the relationship ENDS, it was NOT arranged by God for you to be with that person forever… PERIOD. There are certain occasions where God brings someone into our lives to teach us something, help us get through a certain difficult season, toughen us up, grow us up, or increase our faith; this sort of person leaves because God never intended for them to be with you long-term. If you’re one of the fortunate few that God DOES bring a “forever person” into your life, your proof of that will be that you will in fact be together forever.

Does God help us with our relationships? Certainly. If you pray for courage, strength, wisdom, patience, etc, to deal with your relationship, God will give you those things, and other kinds of guidance as well, which you’ll see if you’re paying attention. If the still small voice is telling you to do something in your relationship, and you ignore it because you want your relationship to be easy and feel good all the time, don’t turn around and complain later that God didn’t help you; He didn’t mess things up, YOU did.

No matter how much you want someone, or how hard you try, relationships still end more often than not. God does not, for the most part, decide whether or not relationships work out; although He will certainly sometimes remove someone from your life if they’re bad for you, for the most part we use our free will to decide whether or not we want to continue in relationships. If somebody left you, it’s because they used their free will to leave you, not because God took them away.

Yes, it hurts worse than anything when someone you love and want leaves you, but that’s no excuse to start blaming God. Even though the only thing you want in the whole universe is to have that person back, you need to get practical about it; if somebody LEAVES you, that means that they don’t WANT you… and why would you want someone who doesn’t want you? You must know that it does NOT represent God’s best plan for your life for you to be with someone who doesn’t want you. Focus on finding a high-quality person who DOES want you; ask God to help you find that person, and He will… although not necessarily as soon as you would like, and not necessarily with the spectacular good looks that you probably think you need to have in your partner in order to be happy.

Love is not a perfect thing. You can love people who do not love you back, some of whom will fake loving you because you have something they want for the time being. You can love people who, when they get to know you better, stop loving you. You can love people who will eventually grow tired of you, no matter how great they objectively agree that you are. You can love people who are simply not emotionally capable of having a long-term relationship, and so will leave even if they still love you. And on and on.

When a situation like this occurs in your life, you have to learn from it, get over it as quickly as possible, and move on; stop dwelling and agonizing over it, looking for some hidden truth. There isn’t any. They didn’t want to be with you, so they left. This is just basic human nature and free will in action; stop blaming God. Find someone who DOES want to be with you, and build a relationship with that person. Look for someone who is a good Christian and loves God as much as you do; that’s the best possible basis for a relationship. And remember; someone who wants you to give them all the benefits of marriage, but won’t commit to marrying you, is not the right person for you!!

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Just obey

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many times, we don’t realize that God is speaking to us. we have an impression on the inside, a prompting to be good to someone; that’s not random, that’s God talking to us. or, you’re in a situation and you feel an unrest, uneasiness; on the surface, it seems fine, looks like a good opportunity, but down in here an alarm is going off, something is saying, “it’s not right, stay away.” that’s not just your nerves, being overly cautious, that’s God wanting to protect you. when you feel these impressions, promptings, don’t ignore it, talk yourself out of it, just obey. if you’ll follow that still small voice, it says in Psalms:

Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life

the scripture talks about our inner ear; not our physical ear, you won’t hear an audible voice, but if you’ll be sensitive to what your inner ear is hearing, the still small voice

1 Kings 19:12 (WEB)

12 … After the fire, there was a still small voice

promptings, suggestions, alarms, then God will keep you from heartache and pain. He’ll lead you into promotion and favor, use you to be a blessing to others.

in the book of Deuteronomy, God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and different instructions to follow. then God said to the Israelites:

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NLT)

2 Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.

God was saying, “don’t debate it, reason it out, over-analyze it, just do what I’m asking you to do.” too often, we feel these impressions, we have a knowing on the inside, but we dismiss it, and think, “I’ll do that later.” we override it; “I feel an unrest, but it looks like a good opportunity.” or, we over-analyze it; “that couldn’t be for me, that doesn’t make sense.” no, don’t talk yourself out of it. don’t come up with excuses. God is saying to us what he said to the Israelites; “just obey.” God knows what He’s doing. He can see things that we can’t see. don’t talk yourself out of it. when you obey that still small voice, God will use you to brighten people’s day. here’s the key; any time you obey, a blessing will always follow. you’ll never be good to someone else without God being good back to you. 

I wonder how much higher we would go, how much more of God’s favor we would see, if we would just obey; not argue, try to reason it out, come up with excuses. God wants to lead you down the best path for your life. He knows where the favor, promotion is, where the right people are. if you’ll be sensitive to His voice, pay attention to what your inner ear is hearing, there’s no limit to where God will take you. if you’ll start being faithful in the small things you know you need to do, you hear that voice, that impression tells you, “you need to get to work on time,” that’s not just your conscience bothering you, that’s God talking to you. you feel that prompting; “you need to quit drinking so much coffee. you need to take that course to improve your skills. you need to stop being sarcastic to your spouse.” God talks to us about practical things. sometimes, we think, “He only talks to us about redemption, salvation, doctrine, righteousness.” yes, but He also talks to us about keeping the house clean, not staying up all night watching television, not leaving the grocery cart in the parking lot, putting it back where you found it. how about everyday things? 

if we will obey these promptings, God will keep us out of trouble. we’ll avoid unnecessary heartache and pain. we know that God says, “go into all the world and share the good news,” but God also says, “slow down on the freeway, quit eating so much junk, forgive your coworker, be kind to your neighbor.” pay attention to the practical things; the more you pass these tests, the more God can trust you, the more favor He’ll release in your life. but if God has to argue with you about everything, you make excuses why you shouldn’t follow those promptings, you’ll get stuck. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 1:19 (NKJV)

19  If you are willing and obedient,

You shall eat the good of the land

when you learn this principle, to just obey, you feel that impression to call a friend and encourage them; “I’m going to call them.” you hear that prompting, “be more disciplined in your spending,” you’re obedient. you have that knowing on the inside; “I know I need to eat healthier, visit my parents, take that class,” the I-knows are God talking to you.  you didn’t just come up with that; God is asking you to do it. don’t dismiss it, put it off; the I-knows will lead you down the best path for your life. 

one way we know it’s God; it doesn’t go away, it keeps coming up again and again. in the middle of the night, you’re not even thinking about it, and there it is; that’s God wanting to get your attention. the scripture says, “God leads us by promptings.” one version says, “by suggestions.”

(I was unable to find any verse with translations using these words, but these 2 verses say the same basic thing:

Romans 7:6 (AMPC)

6 … we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit 

1 John 3:22 (AMPC)

22 And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions )

God won’t force you to do something; He won’t override your will (USUALLY; on rare occasions He will). He’ll suggest it; it’s up to us to do it. I’ve learned, the more you obey, the easier it is to obey. the more sensitive you are to His voice, the more you respond, the easier it is to respond. you’ll get to the place where you’re guided by these promptings; you take the suggestions, pull back when you feel an alarm. that’s how the Holy Spirit leads us. Paul talked about:

2 Timothy 2:21 (TLB)

21 If you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold—the very best in the house—so that Christ himself can use you for his highest purposes. 

God is looking for people that He can count on, people that at the slightest impression, smallest suggestion, they move. God says, “go here,” they go, “bless this person,” they bless them, “change in this area,” they change. they don’t argue, make excuses, they’re not too busy, they just obey. 

Psalm 25:14 (KJV)

14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him

when you honor God, He will tell you secrets, whisper things in your inner ear, give you insight that you otherwise wouldn’t have known. you don’t know how you know it, you can’t explain it, you just know it. sometimes, we hear about people getting into trouble for insider trading; that means, somebody on the inside of the company is giving information to somebody on the outside that’s going to affect the price of the stock. that way, they can sell off or buy more; they have an advantage, because they have inside information. that’s what God does for us; He knows where the good breaks are, how to propel you years ahead. if you’ll be sensitive to that voice, God will give you inside information; you’ll know things that you shouldn’t have known that will propel you toward your destiny.

don’t ignore what you’re hearing on the inside; it may not seem logical, but God can see things that you cannot see. He knows where the advantages are, how to accelerate your dreams, make things happen quicker than you thought. God knows it all; we have inside information. don’t ignore those promptings; that’s God whispering secrets in your ear. if you’ll just obey, God will give you an advantage, make things happen that you could never make happen. 

in the scripture:

2 Kings 5:1-12 (NIV)

5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”… 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry… 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” 

he came up with all these excuses; that doesn’t make sense, that’s not logical. God is not going to explain everything that He asks us to do.  this is what faith is all about; you just have to trust Him. Naaman almost missed his miracle:

2 Kings 5:12-13 (NIV)

12 … So he turned and went off in a rage. 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!”

2 Kings 5:11 (NIV)

11 But Naaman… said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 

he had a preconceived idea of how God was going to do it. you can’t put God in a box; He may not bring your dream to pass the way you’re thinking, He may not turn the problem around in a traditional manner. God’s ways are not our ways; they are better than our ways. stay open, and let God do it His way.

Naaman didn’t want to do a small thing, but I’ve learned, small acts of obedience lead to big blessings. it’s not necessarily what you’re doing, it’s the obedience that activates God’s power. when you obey in small things, when it doesn’t seem like it matters, no one is watching, you don’t feel like it, but you keep doing the right thing, you’re faithful, a person of excellence, obedience in the small leads to God’s blessings in great ways. 

2 Kings 5:14 (NIV)

14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

I can imagine when Naaman got in, he thought, “this is dirty, it stinks, I don’t like it”; everything in his mind was saying, “you’re wasting your time, this is not making any difference.” if you allow it, your mind can talk you out of your miracle. negative thoughts can keep us from God’s best.

what’s interesting is, Naaman didn’t have the faith that it was going to happen; he didn’t believe he was going to get well, he wasn’t singing praises, thanking God that the answer was coming, he was complaining, negative, sour. the healing wasn’t in the water, or he would’ve been healed the first time; the healing was in the obedience. could it be that your healing will come when you obey? your promotion, breakthrough, restoration will come if you just keep doing the right thing? “I’m being my best, honoring God, I don’t see anything happening”; don’t worry, your time is coming. God rewards obedience. your healing, the right people, opportunities, freedom, are coming. keep being obedient; stay on that high road. it may be uncomfortable, it may not be fair, but God is in complete control; He’s a rewarder of those that honor Him.

I love the fact that Naaman’s obedience overrode the fact that he didn’t have the faith; this is how powerful obedience is. there are times in our life that we don’t feel like we have the faith we need; we want to believe, but we don’t see how we can get well, accomplish a dream, how our future is going to be bright. here’s the key; until your faith grows, just keep being obedient, doing what you know to do, following that still small voice. your obedience will override the fact that you don’t have enough faith. Naaman went from complaining to giving praise:

2 Kings 5:15 (VOICE)

15 … I am convinced that there is no God who exists in the entire world like the True God in Israel.

I’m not for complaining, talking defeat, being negative, there are examples where that keeps people out of their promised land, but in this case, obedience overrode all that. like Naaman, when you face situations you don’t like, you don’t understand it, the odds are against you, just keep doing the right thing; your breakthrough is on the way. when you obey, miracles happen, healing is released, new doors will open. every time you obey, you’re sowing a seed. when it’s difficult, you’re uncomfortable, you don’t feel like it, but you do it anyway, you are sowing an extraordinary seed. that means, you’re going to reap an extraordinary harvest. God will never ask you to do something and not give you the power to do it.

when He asks you to walk away from a friend that’s pulling you down, or to get rid of a habit that you know is ruining your health, He’s not trying to take something from you, He’s trying to get something better to you. if you will just obey, you’ll come up to a new level of your destiny.

is there something you’ve been putting off that you know you should do? maybe you feel like you have a great right to hold a grudge, to be angry, they did you wrong; all that’s going to do is poison your own life, affect your dreams, your health. you have to forgive so you can be free, so your healing will be released. not just physically, but when you let it go, God can make you emotionally whole. that’s when He’ll give you beauty for ashes. you’ll start loving, laughing, dreaming again. I know that faith gets God’s attention, but obedience activates God’s power; you can have great faith, but if you’re ignoring the still small voice, overriding what you know God wants you to deal with, it can keep you from your miracle. 

and sometimes, God asks us to do a hard thing. God told Abraham to take his son Isaac, this was the son Abraham and Sarah had waited 20 years to have, they’d prayed and believed, and now finally little Isaac is here:

Genesis 22:2-11 (NIV)

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—…Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham… set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance… 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Genesis 22:12-13 (CEV)

12 “Don’t hurt the boy or harm him in any way!” the angel said. “Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it in place of his son.

what’s interesting is, rams don’t normally go that high up in the mountains; that’s not natural to them. but when you do what God’s asking you to do, every step you take in obedience, the ram is taking a step towards you. you may not be able to see it, “I’m doing the right thing, it doesn’t look like anything is changing.” what you can’t see is on the other side of the mountain: your healing, provision, abundance, breakthrough is making its way towards you. like with Abraham, we’re not going to understand everything God asks us to do. it may be difficult: it’s hard to forgive someone that hurt you, keep a good attitude when the medical report is negative. but if you’ll sow this extraordinary seed, and be obedient, then get ready, you’re going to see God’s favor in extraordinary ways. 

I’m asking you today to just obey; don’t try to figure it out, over-analyze it, just do what you know God’s asking you to do. pay attention to the still small voice. start listening with your inner ear; God wants to whisper secrets, give you inside information that will propel you toward your destiny. if you’ll do this, God is going to lead you down the best path for your life; you’re going to see favor, increase, promotion, healing, vindication, the fullness of your destiny.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s great when people believe in us, cheer us on, make us feel valuable. we love when our spouse compliments us, a friend is there to give encouragement, a coworker stays late to help us on a project. God uses people to help move us toward our destiny. but here’s the key; you can’t become so dependent on people that you’re getting your worth and value out of how they treat you. it’s easy to become addicted to compliments, encouragement, them cheering you on; now, you rely on them to keep you feeling good about yourself, to always be there to validate you, to make you feel approved. like a drug, if they don’t keep you fixed, meet all your expectations, you get discouraged, feel inferior, work overtime to try to win their approval. the problem is, you’re trying to get from people what only God can give; your worth, value, doesn’t come from another person, it comes from your Creator. if you rely on people, you’ll be disappointed; people will let you down, get busy, not be there when you need them. sometimes, people will even turn on you. 

in the scripture, Peter was Jesus’ close friend; they were with each other day and night. but when Jesus needed Peter the most, when he was about to be crucified, Peter denied that he even knew Christ. Jesus could’ve been upset, “God, I don’t understand it; why wasn’t my friend there for me?” he would’ve missed his destiny. 

quit relying on people; what they do or don’t do doesn’t determine your worth. what they give you or don’t give you cannot stop your purpose; God breathed His life into you, crowned you with His favor. quit waiting for people to approve you, and start approving yourself. people may not encourage you; you can encourage yourself. people may not make you feel special; you can make yourself feel special. “I’m a child of the most high God. I know I’m crowned with favor, one-of-a-kind, a masterpiece.” you’ll have better relationships if you’ll start validating yourself. if you’re always depending on somebody else, you’ll become needy, a burden, waiting for other people to keep you fixed.

your friends, family members, they have enough problems of their own, issues that they’re dealing with, to not come home and have to work on you for 3 hours. that’s not only hurting you, it’s unfair to the people God put in your life; they’re not responsible for your happiness, to keep you cheered up. don’t put that extra pressure on them; learn to receive your value, self-worth, from your heavenly Father. if you’re basing that off of what people give you, then, if they change their mind, stop doing it, you’ll feel devalued. but when you go to God for it, nobody can take it away. it’s not dependent on how somebody treats you, how they make you feel, how many compliments they give you; it’s dependent on the fact that you’re a child of Almighty God, and you know He has already approved you. that’s where you’re getting your value. 

“my parents didn’t raise me right, I didn’t have a good childhood, my spouse never compliments me, my boss didn’t give me the credit that I deserve.” I say this respectfully; if you didn’t get it, you didn’t need it. they can’t stop your destiny. what they say or do cannot override God’s plan for your life. shake off the negativity. that person that walked away, did you wrong, made hurtful comments;  shake off the disrespect, don’t believe the lies that you’re not talented enough, attractive enough, good enough. they don’t determine your value, lessen your self-worth; the only power people have over you is the power that you give them.

Jesus had all kinds of people come against him: politicians, religious leaders, haters, critics, trying to discredit him, make him feel inferior, cause him to give up. he could’ve taken the bait, thought, “I must not be too special; listen to what they’re saying, look at how they are treating me.” but Jesus understood this principle; he knew his value didn’t come from people, it came from his heavenly Father. he said to them:

John 5:41-42 (TLB)

41-42 “Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me

he was saying, “I don’t need your approval to feel good about myself. I don’t have to have your encouragement, support, to keep me moving forward.” Paul said:

Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

13 … I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency

not in our own strength, but when we know the Creator of the universe lives in us, equipped, empowered, anointed us, we can put our shoulders back, hold our head up high, knowing that if God approves us, we don’t have to have people’s approval. 

it’s good when people encourage us, cheer us on; what I’m saying is, don’t become dependent on that. if somebody’s not giving you what you expect, not validating you, that’s ok, you can validate yourself, approve yourself; you are self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency. you can feel good about who you are, knowing that God hand-picked you, created you in His image, put seeds of greatness on the inside. what am I saying? you don’t need somebody else’s praise. you don’t have to have people’s applause; you have the applause from the One who matters most, the God Who spoke worlds into existence. I’d rather have his applause than people’s applause.

“if I could convince this person to like me, they know a lot of people; maybe some new doors would open.” the scripture says:

 Psalm 75:6 (TLB)

6 For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God 

God knows where all the opportunities are. He can make things happen for you without you having to convince somebody to like you. you don’t have to play up to people, try to win their favor; if they don’t want to be your friend, it’s their loss, not yours. do yourself a favor, and keep moving forward; they’re not a part of your destiny. God has divine connections, people He’s already lined up; they’re already in your future. 

sometimes, the reason people don’t give us what we need is because they don’t have it. nobody gave it to them; they didn’t see it modeled growing up. if they weren’t raised showing affection, with people expressing feelings, being good to each other, the problem is, they don’t have it to give. if you’re trying to get it from them, you’re going to be frustrated. why don’t you let them off the hook, and go to God for what they can’t give you. here’s the key; God has it all. if you’ll learn this principle, to not rely on people, but to go to Him for your encouragement, approval, self-worth, then you won’t live stressed out because somebody is not giving you what you expect. if nobody’s complimenting you, you can compliment yourself; get up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror, “good morning you good-looking thing.” God calls you a masterpiece. say what God says about you; ”I’m strong, healthy, one-of-a-kind, highly favored.” you have to build yourself up, encourage yourself, compliment yourself.

you cannot rely on your spouse, parents, coach, teacher, Pastor; they may mean well, they couldn’t love you any more, but no person can meet all of your needs, only God can.  if you’re just looking to people, eventually you’re going to become resentful, bitter, start holding that against them; it will sour your relationships. the truth is, it’s not their fault; maybe they have issues, they could be doing better in areas. but if you’ll not rely on people, and go to God instead, you won’t be dependent on what somebody does. if they’re not giving you what you need, and that was the only way to get it, they would control your destiny. God didn’t design the plan for your life, and say, “ok, it’s all dependent on if these other people do what’s right, if they encourage you, cheer you on, never let you down”; no, God put everything you need within your power. and instead of us living needy, “why won’t they compliment me, be my friend?” the right attitude is, “nobody owes me anything. I don’t have to have people’s credit, applause, support, compliments; I am self-sufficient. I know where to go for everything that I need.”

why don’t you let the people in your life off the hook? maybe they did the best they could. they may have made decisions that you don’t understand, feels like they put you at a disadvantage, but you didn’t have to walk in their shoes; maybe nobody gave them what they needed to give to you. bottom line; nobody owes you anything. God is keeping all the records; He has seen everything that’s happened in your life. the injustice, bad breaks, person that did you wrong; those people cannot pay you back, make you whole, only God can. He said He would give you beauty for the ashes, pay you back double for the unfair things that have happened. quit looking to people to make it up to you, trying to get somebody to apologize, admit they were wrong, give you what they don’t have. if you’ll go to God, He’ll bring you out better; He’ll make the rest of your life more rewarding, fulfilling than it would’ve been if that hadn’t have happened in the first place.

when you let people off the hook, and quit trying to make them perform perfectly and keep you fixed, not only will their life be better, but your relationships will improve. no matter how good a person is, they can’t give you everything that you need. if you look to God, you’ll never be disappointed. no person has 100% of what you need. I’ve heard it said, in a relationship, the most the other person will have is 80% of what you need; there will always be 20% that they don’t have to give you. the mistake we make is, we leave the 80% to go find the 20% in somebody else. the problem is, that next person will be missing 20% as well. the key to a good relationship is to recognize the other person’s strengths and weaknesses, then give them room to be who they are; don’t try to squeeze them into your mold. if you’re relying on another person to meet all your needs, become everything in your life, you’re going to be disappointed; you have to let them off the hook. 

sometimes, God will let us go through seasons where we’re not getting what we expect from people; on purpose, He’ll have them withhold it, to teach us to not rely on another person, but to get our encouragement, value, worth from Him. God uses approval, validation, from other people to keep us going, keep us moving, but at some point, like a mother weans a baby off a bottle, so the child can grow up, God is going to wean you off having to have people’s compliments and applause. that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen, it means you’re going to get to a place where you’re not dependent on someone else cheering you on so you can feel good about yourself; you’re not dependent on them complimenting you, keeping you encouraged. it’s nice to hear, but you’ve developed this self-sufficiency; you don’t rely on people for their approval, you go to God for your approval.

the higher God takes you, there will be more disapproval, more opposition, more critics. if you’re basing your worth and value on how people are treating you, how much they’re cheering you on, and you’re trying to keep all of them happy, you’ll never become everything God created you to be. you’re never going to keep everyone happy; quit trying to please people. when you come to the end of your life, you’re not going to stand before people and give an account, you’re going to stand before God. He’s not going to say, “did you keep everyone happy, please all your family, have the support from your coworkers?” He’s going to ask, “did you fulfill My purpose for your life, run your race, finish your assignment?”

maybe you’re not getting from people what you used to: the compliments, support, encouragement. instead of being frustrated, have a new perspective; God is growing you up, getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny. the less you depend on people, the stronger your spiritual muscles are going to become, and the higher you’re going to go.

in Judges 7, the Midianites joined forces with 2 other armies; they crossed the Jordan River, and were about to attack the Israelites. Gideon put out a call to all of his men; 32,000 Israeli warriors showed up ready to fight. Gideon was feeling good; he had a large army to protect the people of Israel. they marched out towards those enemies, but God said to him:

Judges 7:2-3 (NIV)

2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.

he lost two thirds of his army. I’m sure Gideon gulped, and said, “God, did you see what just happened?” 

Judges 7:4-7 (NIV)

4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”

his army went from 32,000 to 300. I can imagine, Gideon thought, “God, I was confident with 32,000, a little worried with 10,000, but God, 300 men? this is impossible.” God was saying, “Gideon, you don’t need everyone that you think you need. you’re depending on too many people.” God is saying that to us; you don’t need all of your coworkers to support you, all your friends and family members cheering you on. the less you depend on people, the greater the anointing in your life. when you’re not depending on someone else, hoping that they’ll help you, thinking that they’re the savior, then God will release His favor in your life in a greater way. Gideon went out with those 300 men, 1% of what he started with; God supernaturally helped them to defeat those armies that were much bigger and much more equipped. 

in the same way, God is going to give you victories where the odds were totally against you. you know you could accomplish your goal if you had the support, the connections. you could overcome that obstacle if you had the strongest players, the best people on your legal team. God is saying, “don’t worry about it.” you don’t have to have all those people; you and God are a majority. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. quit saying, “if they would just train me, if they’d just get behind me”; if you’ll quit depending on people, the anointing will increase in your own life. you’ll accomplish more with less help, with less people, because of God’s favor on your life.

are you frustrated because you don’t think you have enough support? have this new perspective; the greatest Force in the universe is breathing in your direction right now. are you discouraged because people are not giving you what they used to? it’s because God’s growing you up. quit trying to get from people what only God can give; go to Him for your value, self-worth, encouragement. if you’ll start passing these tests, not relying on people, you’ll not only live more confident and secure, but like Gideon, you’re going to overcome obstacles that look insurmountable, accomplish dreams that seemed impossible, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

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