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Archive for July, 2016

Since there’s no new sermon this week, I thought I’d update you on some interesting events in my life:

A couple of weeks ago, within the space of a few minutes, I saw 2 angels… and 2 other visitors that were NOT angels.

Yes, in case your church doesn’t discuss these matters, both angels and demons are real. Jesus had interactions with both sorts of beings; they can’t be dismissed like some of the fanciful-sounding creatures in the Old Testament that are described in such a poetic fashion that we can’t be sure what they refer to.

When I have seen angels in humanoid form, they have been basic human shapes, with no details, no features to their faces, no visible hair, etc. I’ve seen them 2 different ways; as insubstantial white beings, and as if they were made of shadow but in human form. In my recent experience, I saw one of each of these varieties… OR, I might have seen the same angel twice… but I’m getting ahead of myself:

I was pacing up and down my long hallway, thinking out loud about things, as I often do. The original angel, or my first sighting of it if it was the same one both times, was just standing in the doorway of my family room, almost up against the door frame, looking like it was watching me walk down the hall; almost as quickly as I saw it, it vanished. I continued with my pacing, and started praying.

A few laps of the hallway later, I saw what looked like the shadowy form of a man, walking, I could clearly see the legs striding, from just beyond the doorway of the family room into the kitchen; because the sightings were only a few feet apart, and the second time it was walking away, I might have been seeing the original angel leaving, or changing position… or maybe he was pacing too, who knows.

And that’s pretty much the whole story; I just saw each of them for a split-second, very clearly, and then they were gone.

It seems pretty certain to me that they were here because of the OTHER visitors I had that early morning. I’ve done a lot of thinking as to what to say about these others. Part of my goal with this blog is to give a complete story of the notable spiritual aspects of my life, for the benefit of those that are interested in that sort of thing. And part of my goal is to educate newer believers as to what might happen and what they should do about it. BUT, there are people coming here who are what we might call spiritually fragile, and some who are, how should I put this, highly stressed and suggestible… and I have a responsibility to not start a situation like has happened at other times on the internet when someone has described something scary and then all these other people started seeing it. I’m not going to be the cause of people jumping at shadows because they think that demons are attacking them.

Here’s what you need to know: Nothing that happens to us is hidden from God, or a surprise to Him. His angels, and the Holy Spirit, are always standing by to assist us; all we have to do is ASK. At no time is it possible for us to be helpless victims attacked by demons, because even if we didn’t always have help available to us, God has given us power over Satan and all of his minions:

James 4:7 (NIV)
7 Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And how do you resist? PRAY. That’s all it takes. This isn’t like a horror movie, which you shouldn’t be watching anyways, where there are evil beings that have all these powers against humans; demons will try to frighten and confuse you, but that’s pretty much it. It is very unlikely that you will have any problems with demons, but if you do, just remember to pray, and that will be the end of them. If this is a frightening topic for you, this is as far as you need to read of this post, ok?

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I’m still not going to give any details, but if you’re still with me I’ll give you a basic outline. With only one exception, when I have seen demons in my home, they have been very small, about the size of large rabbits, and they have, and this is important, RUN from me when I approached them; not only did they not do anything threatening, but they were AFRAID of me… and well they SHOULD be, because I am a woman of God, and I have the ability to call down the Holy Spirit upon them, against which they have no defense. What were they doing there, if they weren’t going to try to DO anything? Spying on me, probably. Possibly looking for an opening in my faith that they could enter through to pester me, which they will never find. Why me? The intensity of my religious life, the intensity of my spirit-filled church, and the fact that I’m part of the prayer ministry, makes me a tempting target; pretty much everyone in the prayer ministry endures spiritual attacks. These can always be overcome, but yes, they can certainly be aggravating for a while.

The exception to the demons being the rabbit-sized ones… alarmed me a little bit. It looked like it was trying to come in through the bottom part of a closed window, but as if… as if it was stopped cold by the boundary of the inner wall and could go no further. We can see from the Bible that there are different levels and/or types of demons and other afflicting spirits, and I feel certain, just from my spiritual perceptions, that this was something more serious than the others I have seen. I also feel certain that it WAS blocked from entering my home, whether from the presence of the angels, or because I was praying, or because I had called down the Holy Spirit, I don’t know,

There is no cause to be concerned about my safety or welfare. If the enemy is taking a greater interest in me, that is proof that my faith, my worship, and my prayers are powerful and effective. God permitted me to see that these creatures are taking an interest in me, but He also make sure that I saw that there was a barrier to entry into my home; it’s even possible that the rabbit-sized demons that I saw were also banished outside of my walls by my prayers by that point. I continue to pray intensely every day; I’m in no actual danger.

I’ll end with a bit of good news: Several times in the last few days, when I’ve been praying at length in my prayer closet, an amazing and powerful feeling has come over me. It took me a moment to realize what it was at first, because it’s something foreign to me; PEACE. Not peace in the way we normally think of it, where we mean we don’t have any particular strong stresses at the current time, or that we don’t feel tense, or that we’re not agitated or angry or upset about something, in other words, this was not the ABSENCE of bad things, bad thoughts, or bad feelings, this was an almost physical perception of a positive force… God’s peace, the peace that is promised us in so many places in the Bible. It differed from what we would normally think of as a calm or peaceful frame of mind the way joy differs from contentment… as if peace were an emotion, in a way. It’s a wonderful feeling. An amazing gift. If you need any more encouragement to do serious, hard-core, daily prayer, trust me when I say, this is an incredible reward for that faithfulness.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

sometimes, we’re doing the right thing, but it doesn’t seem like it’s making a difference. we’re being our best, honoring God, but we’re not making much progress, not getting good breaks, our dreams aren’t coming to pass; it seems like we’re being overlooked. it’s easy to get discouraged, think God must’ve forgotten about us, especially when we see other people are being blessed, promoted, meeting the right person. thoughts tell us, “it’s because they’re more talented, attractive, come from an influential family. just accept where you are.” these thoughts try to make us feel insignificant, push us down, so we’ll settle for mediocrity.

this is what happened to David in the scripture. he was the youngest son of a man named Jesse; he had 7 older brothers. as a teenager, he got stuck out in the shepherd’s fields, taking care of his father’s sheep. he spent his days feeding the animals, cleaning up their mess, protecting them from harm; it was boring, lonely. his brothers were in the military, where it was exciting, prestigious. they wore a uniform each day, had respect and honor; when they passed by, people admired them. nobody thought of David; nobody celebrated him. in their eyes, what he was doing was insignificant; they discounted him, thought, “oh, that’s just David. he’s the youngest, he’s small, he’s not talented, he’ll never do anything great.”

they looked on the outside; what they couldn’t see was what was on the inside. David had a heart after God; he didn’t complain, slack off because nobody was watching, he didn’t get bitter, go around with a chip on his shoulder, he was his best right where he was. in the natural, it didn’t look like he would ever get out of the shepherd’s fields and do something significant. every circumstance said that he was stuck: his brothers looked down on him, his father didn’t believe in him, all the odds were against him. but one day, God told the prophet Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1-11 (NIV)

16 … Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” … 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”… 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

he discounted David, saw him as insignificant, didn’t even bother inviting him in. but just because people leave you out, that doesn’t mean that God leaves you out. people may overlook you, judge you by the outside, your height, weight, skin color; God looks on the inside. the good news is, God has the final say; promotion doesn’t come from people, it comes from the Lord. people may bypass you, they may not give you the time of day, but they cannot stop what God has ordained for you. if you’ll keep being faithful, honoring God, He’ll take you from the background to the foreground. people may try to push you down; God will lift you up. they may try to hold you back; God will thrust you forward. people don’t determine your destiny; God does.

when Samuel heard that Jesse had another son:

1 Samuel 16:11 (NIV)

11 … Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him…

I can imagine, David sees this man way off in the distance, coming toward him full-speed; David thinks, “is something wrong, is there an emergency?” the messenger shows up and says, “David, your father needs you immediately; come with me.” they take off running together back to the house. when David arrived:

1 Samuel 16:12 (NIV)

12 … had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

all those years David spent out in the shepherd’s fields, he felt ignored, insignificant, looked down on. his family discounted him, didn’t give him any credit. it looked like that would be his destiny, but in one moment everything changed. what happened? he got called into the house. people ignored him; God said, “I have My eye on David.” people discounted him; God saw his potential. they looked on the outside; God looked at his heart. He saw David doing the right thing when the wrong thing was happening. He saw him being faithful even when it looked like he wasn’t going anywhere.

you too may feel like you’re being overlooked, left out; the people that should be for you, cheering you on, are doing just the opposite, discounting you, trying to push you down. don’t worry; your time is coming.  God is watching you; He sees your faithfulness, dedication, integrity. like David, you’re about to be called into the house, see doors open that you could never open, see vindication, where God honors you in front of people that are trying to make you look bad. you’re going to see new levels of influence, where people that once disrespected you, didn’t give you the time of day, now they look up to you, admire you, ask you for advice. 

David was just minding his own business this day; as far as he was concerned, it was just another day at work, nothing special, taking care of sheep, keeping them from wild animals. suddenly, his whole life changed; it happened unexpectedly. you may think it’s just another ordinary day, going to work, coming home; you don’t know what God is up to. you never know when that messenger is going to show up saying that you’re needed in the house. you didn’t see it coming, you weren’t expecting it, but suddenly, you meet the right person, the medical report says cancer-free, you get that break that thrusts you to the next level; you were called into the house. 

what’s interesting is, David wasn’t dreaming about becoming a king, praying that one day he would lead a nation. he never thought he would defeat that giant, and become an overnight national hero. he was a shepherd boy, from a low-income family;  that influence, that kind of favor, never entered his mind. what God has in store for you is much bigger than you’ve imagined. we pray for things that seem reasonable to us. we ask for healing, protection, to meet the right people; that’s all good, but God has blessings that you’ve never asked for. if He showed you all that was in your future, it would boggle your mind. if you’ll do like David, and be your best where you are, you won’t have to chase promotion, promotion will chase you. you won’t have to go after blessings, blessings will come after you. when you keep God first place, the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 28:2 (NRSV)

2 all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God

one of the keys is to stay faithful where you are. Don’t wait until you get out of the shepherd’s fields, and then you’re going to be your best, when you get a more significant position, then you’re going to give it your all; you have to be excellent at the level you’re on right now.  pass the test in the small areas. if David would’ve slacked off, done a half-hearted job, he wouldn’t have been called into the house.  if you’re not excellent on your level, then you won’t see promotion and increase. if you’ll be faithful where you are, then when it’s your time to be called, promoted, healed, vindicated, all the forces of darkness will not be able to hold you back.

many of you have been faithful, done the right thing when it was hard. you haven’t listened to the negative voices trying to discourage you, but nothing has happened; you’re still in the shepherd’s fields, doesn’t look like you’ll ever get the break you need, get well, meet the right person. you may feel overlooked, but God is saying, “I haven’t forgotten about you. Samuel is on the way; you’re about to be called into the house. I’m about to do what medicine can’t do, restore with the enemy’s trying to steal, take you where you could not go on your own.”  

now do your part; keep being excellent where you are.  if God can’t trust you to be faithful in the wilderness, how can He trust you to be faithful in the promised land? those things that are not changing: people dismissing you, those times where you feel like you’re doing something insignificant, those are times of testing, proving, where you have to show God what you’re made of. that’s when your character is developed. 

it’s easy to slack off, “this doesn’t matter, it’s insignificant, nobody is watching,” but you have to pass small tests before God will release big things. if you’re not excellent on the level you’re on, you won’t get to the next level. you may not like where you are, you know you have more in you, it’s taking longer than you thought, but God knows what he’s doing. He’s closely watching you; if you’ll keep passing the test, staying faithful where you are, it’s just a matter of time before you see that messenger show up suddenly, unexpectedly.  it seems like another ordinary day, but the right person sees you, and your whole world changes. like with David, somebody that he didn’t even know, the prophet Samuel, came looking for him.

God knows how to get you to where you’re supposed to be. He’s already lined up your Samuels, who will search you out to be good to you. you say, “I’d love to believe this, it sounds good, but you don’t know my situation; I don’t come from a prominent family”; neither did David. “I don’t know anyone influential that can give me a good break, open a door”; neither did David. “I don’t have a good position. I’m doing something that seems insignificant”; so was David. if you see what you’re doing as not important, not significant, most likely you won’t do it with excellence. what makes it incredibly important is the fact that that’s where God has you now. you’re not there by accident; it holds the key to you rising higher. Samuel won’t come looking if there’s not excellence where you are. you don’t have to do it better than somebody else, just do it to the best of your ability, knowing that you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God. 

God knows how to vindicate you. if somebody’s trying to hold you down, don’t worry, God can go over them, go around them, move them out of the way.  bottom line;  God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

David’s own family didn’t believe in him. his father thought he was not tall enough, talented enough, smart enough. the good news is, when God is ready to call you, He doesn’t go check with your family; He doesn’t go ask your cousin, “do you think they have what it takes?” He doesn’t consult with your boss if it’s time to promote you. God doesn’t need people’s approval to do what He wants to do in your life. if people don’t believe in you, that’s ok; the God Who created the universe, the One who matters, He does. your family may not encourage you, but you can encourage yourself. people may not celebrate you; learn to celebrate yourself.

when you get called into the house, you don’t know where God is going to take you. but sometimes, when we see a person on the inside, in other words they’re blessed, prosperous, influential, we think, “that will never be me; I don’t have the talent like him, the connections, the good looks”; none of that matters to God. when you have a heart to know Him, when you’re your best right where you are, one touch of God’s favor can take you from the outside to the inside. you may not realize it, but you already have royal blood flowing through your veins. you’re wearing a crown of favor. God breathed his life into you; He didn’t create you to stay on the outside, to live in the shepherd’s fields. sure, there are seasons that we go through, tests we must pass, but don’t let that become permanent in your thinking; God has already lined up the Samuels to come push you into your destiny. you may be on the outside, but get ready; God’s going to bring you to the inside. 

God doesn’t want us to go through life just celebrating others; He wants you to be celebrated. sometimes, thoughts will tell you, “you belong on the outside; that blessed life, that prosperous, abundant life, that’s not for you, that’s for those people that are more talented, that have more beauty.” don’t believe those lies. you didn’t get left out. you weren’t shortchanged. God put greatness in you. there are gifts and talents that you’ve not yet tapped into. there are new levels in your future.

keep being faithful. like with David, your time is coming; you’re going to be called into the house. The good news is, God has your number; He has the healing that belongs to you, He has the baby with your name on it. you may be on the outside, but God’s about to bring you to the inside. you’re going to look up and say, “I feel better now than I’ve felt in years.” you’re not going to just be celebrating and admiring others, you’re going to be celebrated. there are blessings in your future that you never asked for or thought about. you may not see how it can happen, you feel like you’re stuck, you’re in the shepherd’s fields, but God has not forgotten about you. if you’ll keep being your best where you are, you’re about to be called into the house; new doors are going to open, the right people will show up, problems turn around, the fullness of your destiny.

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Anchored to hope

from JO’s sermon tonight:

an anchor is something that holds a boat in place. once the captain arrives at his destination, he puts the anchor down; that way, he won’t drift, and end up in places that he doesn’t want to be. when the boat is anchored, it may move a little bit, with the waves and the wind, but the captain isn’t worried, he can relax; he knows the anchor is down. scripture tells us:

Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul

what’s going to keep your soul in the right place, cause you to overcome obstacles, reach your dreams, is when you are anchored to hope.  that means, no matter what you face, how big the difficulty, how long it’s taking, you know God is still on the throne, His plans for you are for good, that He’s bigger than any challenge. 

when you’re anchored to this hope, nothing moves you. the wind, waves, storms may come; you’re not worried, you have your anchor down. you receive a bad medical report, a lot of people would be upset, negative, not you, you’re anchored to hope; “I know God is restoring health back unto me.” you go through a loss, a disappointment, your emotions are pulling you towards discouragement, bitterness, but something’s holding you back; you can’t explain it, but down in here, you hear a voice saying, “everything’s going to be alright; God has beauty for these ashes.” that’s the anchor of hope. 

or maybe your dream looks impossible. every voice tells you, “it’s not going to work out, forget it, you’re wasting your time.” most people would throw in the towel, but your attitude is, “I may not see a way, but I know God has a way, He’s opening doors no man can shut.” when you’re anchored to hope, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. 

I’ve learned, there’s always something trying to convince us to pull up our anchor: delays, disappointments, bad breaks. in the tough times, when life doesn’t seem fair, your prayers weren’t answered, it’s taking longer than you thought, you have to make sure to keep your anchor down; if you pull it up, you’ll drift into bitterness, discouragement, self-pity. when you’re anchored to hope, it’s like you’re tied to it; you can’t go very far. you may have some negative thoughts, thoughts of doubt that say, “it’s never going to work out,” but your faith will kick in; “no, I know the answer’s on the way.” on paper,  it looks like it’ll take 30 years to get out of debt; you could accept it, but because you’re anchored to hope, something in you says, “no, I know God can accelerate it, He has explosive blessings coming my way.” or perhaps your children are off course, it doesn’t look like they’ll ever change; you should be discouraged, but you’re tied to hope. every time those negative thoughts come, trying to pull you away, your anchor kicks in; “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 

my question today is, do you have your anchor down? do you have this hope, expectancy, that you’re going to accomplish your dreams, break the addiction, see your family restored?  or, have you pulled up your anchor, and drifted into doubt, mediocrity, not expecting anything good? I’m asking you to put your anchor back down. the scripture says:

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for

you can’t have faith if you don’t first have hope. one time, David had a lot coming against him; he was down and discouraged, he felt overwhelmed by life, he’d given up on his dreams, everything kept getting worse and worse. he finally said to himself:

Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul… Hope in God

he recognized that he’d let his circumstances convince him to pull up his anchor. he said, in effect, “I’m going to put my anchor back down; I’m going to hope in the Lord.” 

you may not have any reason, in the natural, to be hopeful; it doesn’t look like you’ll get well, meet the right person, start your business. you have to do like David, and hope in the Lord. don’t put your hope in your circumstances; they may not turn out the way you thought. don’t put your hope in people; they may let you down. don’t put your hope in your career;  things may change. put your hope in the Lord, in the God Who spoke worlds into existence, flung stars into space. when you have your hope in Him, the scripture says:

Isaiah 49:23 (ISV)

23 … I am the Lord; those who hope in me will not be disappointed

and sure, you may go through some temporary setbacks, life will happen, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll come out better than you were before. 

this is what Joseph did. he had plenty of opportunities to pull up his anchor; he was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit. he could’ve become negative, angry, “that’s not right, my whole family did me wrong,” but he kept his anchor down. they sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused, put in prison.  it was unfair;  he had a good reason to be sour, nobody would have faulted him. but through all the trouble, all the things that didn’t make sense, he didn’t pull up his anchor. his attitude was, “God, You have the final say. people don’t determine my destiny, a bad break can’t keep me from my purpose, all the forces of darkness cannot stop Your plan for my life.”  because he was anchored to hope, he didn’t stay disappointed; he was vindicated, promoted, put in charge of the whole nation. Zechariah puts it this way:

Zechariah 9:12 (NIV)

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

“prisoner of hope” means that you can’t get away from it; you’re anchored to it.  you should be discouraged, but you can’t help it; despite all that’s come against you, like Joseph, you still believe that you’re going to accomplish your dreams. you should be overwhelmed; the obstacle looks bigger, Goliath looked stronger, more powerful, but like David, you have your hope in the Lord; you know if God be for you, who dare be against you. 

that sickness may seem like it’s going to be the end of you; you could live worried, stressed out, but you know that nothing can snatch you out of God’s hand. your hope is not in the medicine, the treatment, or the doctors, even though all of those things are good, we’re grateful for them; your hope is in the Lord, in the God who breathed life into you, makes blind eyes see, took Joseph from the pit to the palace, caused David, a teenaged shepherd boy, to defeat a huge giant.  I’m asking you to keep your anchor down; keep your hope in the Lord.

when your find yourself negative, worried, not thinking it’s going to work out, recognize what’s happened; you’ve pulled your anchor up. the good news is, you can put it back down. instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts, “you’ll never get well, break the addiction, meet the right person,” turn it around; “Father, thank You that the answer’s already on the way, healing, promotion, the right people are coming, favor’s in my future.”  that’s how you stay anchored to hope.

this is what Abraham did. God gave him the promise that he and his wife Sarah were going to have a baby, but they were 80 years old; it was impossible, it’d never happened before. Abraham could’ve dismissed it, thought, “I must’ve heard God wrong.” I’m sure his friends said, “Abraham, you really think you’re going to have a baby? you’re I’m an old man.” he could’ve talked himself out of it, but:

Romans 4:18 (AMPC)

18 [For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith

sometimes, there’s no logical reason to have hope. you may have plenty of reasons why your situation is not going to work out, but you have to do like Abraham; against all hope, hope on in faith. keep your anchor down, don’t talk yourself out of it. God is not limited by the natural; He’s a supernatural God.

at nearly 100 years of age, Sarah gave birth to a baby; the promise came to pass.  it didn’t happen overnight; they waited some 20 years. they had plenty of times where they were tempted to think, “it’s never going to happen; we’re too old, it’s been too long”; if they would’ve believed those lies, pulled up their anchor of hope, they would’ve drifted into doubt, discouragement, and never saw the promise come to pass. (technically, they did have a LITTLE bit of doubt, which is why Abraham produced Ishmael with Hagar, but they eventually got back on track, and God’s promise come to pass.)

are you drifting today? worried, negative, in self-pity? why don’t you put your anchor back down, get your hopes back up? just because the promise hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. you may have had some bad breaks like Joseph; that doesn’t mean you’re not going to fulfill your purpose. God wouldn’t have allowed it if He wasn’t going to use it for your good. shake off the discouragement, the self-pity. what God started in your life, He’s still going to bring to pass. 

don’t let other people talk you out of what God put in your heart. don’t let someone convince you, even if it’s your Pastor, to pull up your anchor; God didn’t put the promise in them, He put the promise in you. that’s why you can have faith when they think it’s far-out, why you can believe for it when to them it seems totally impossible.  if you’ll stay anchored to hope, God will restore back to you double what you lost. what you’ve been believing for may be taking a long time, but what God started, He’s going to finish. God doesn’t abort dreams; keep your anchor down.

The scripture describes hope as the anchor of our soul; it wouldn’t use the word “anchor” unless there was a possibility of drifting. this is what happens in life; if you don’t keep your anchor down, if you don’t stay filled with hope, little by little, you’ll start drifting, getting a little negative, worried, discouraged, “I’m never going to have this baby, break this addiction, overcome this challenge, it’s been too long.” the problem is, you don’t have your anchor down. 

when you’re anchored to hope, you may have negative circumstances, but you’re not worried; you know that God is fighting your battles. you may not see how your dream can come to pass, but you don’t give up; you know that God is behind the scenes, arranging things in your favor.  you may go through a bad break, a loss, but you don’t get bitter; you know that weeping endures for a night, but joy is coming in the morning. here’s what I’m saying; when you’re anchored to hope, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have difficulties, it means when those difficulties come, you won’t drift.  nothing will move you. the storms, waves, tides may change, but you’re consistent; your hope is in the Lord. 

if you don’t keep your anchor down, the normal currents of life will pull you off course. not a major sickness, divorce, layoff, just everyday life. perhaps you don’t realize that you’ve drifted into doubt, you’re not believing for your dreams anymore. you used to be excited about it, now it’s been a long time, you’ve lost your passion. Have you drifted into self-pity? you had a bad break, somebody did you wrong, you used to be loving, kind, fun, now you’re sour, hard to get along with. maybe you’ve drifted into worry; you used to believe that God was in control, that He was taking care of you, but you pulled up your anchor, you’re living stressed out. you can get back to where you’re supposed to be; you can put your anchor of hope down today. start believing, expecting again. life is too short to go through it drifting, negative, worried, no passion. if you don’t have this hope that something good is coming, it will limit what God can do. 

you have to stir up your hope. otherwise, you’ll drift toward the negative. “if God is so good, why haven’t my dreams come to pass? why did I have these bad breaks?” it’s because there is an enemy of your soul that’s trying to keep you from your destiny. the good news is, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. don’t let what happens in life, big or small, convince you to pull up your anchor. if you’ll keep your hope in the Lord, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you back.

and this is not about just about being positive, hopeful, this is about keeping your soul anchored to the right thing. I’ve learned, if you don’t stay anchored to hope, over time you’ll become anchored to something else. you can become anchored to discouragement, where that’s your default setting; you wake up in the morning discouraged, you see everything from a tainted perspective, everything is sour. it’s because you’re anchored to the wrong thing. I know people who are anchored to bitterness; they’re so focused on the bad breaks, who Hurt them, now that bitterness is poisoning their life. 

you may have a good reason to feel that way; I’m simply saying that staying anchored to those things will keep you from your destiny. it will cause you to miss your purpose. it’s time to cut those anchors, and come over into hope. God did not breathe His life into you, crown you with favor, give you a royal robe, so you could go around anchored to bitterness, doubt, worry. He created you to be anchored to hope, to go out each day expecting His goodness, knowing that the days ahead are greater than the days behind. 

and when you face difficulties, and we all do, keep the right perspective; if David would’ve looked at Goliath, and thought, “oh man, I’ll never defeat him. he’s twice my size; I don’t have a chance,” if he would’ve pulled up his anchor of hope, we wouldn’t be talking about him today. Goliath wasn’t sent to defeat David; he was sent to promote David. what you’re facing is not meant to stop you; it’s meant to move you toward your divine destiny.  instead of being negative, “why is this happening to me? how is it ever going to work out?” no, turn it around; “Lord, I don’t see a way, but my hope is in You; I know You have it figured out, You’ll get me to where I’m supposed to be.” Proverbs says:

Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick

if you don’t have the hope that the problem’s going to turn around, that the baby is on the way, that the new house is in the future, then your heart, that means your spirit, will be sick. when we’re not hopeful, something is wrong on the inside. even physically; when we’re stressed, rundown, worried, that weakens our immune system, it doesn’t fight off disease like it should. for your health’s sake, keep your anchor of hope down.

we all go through seasons in life where it’s not really exciting; it’s easy to have the blahs, lose our enthusiasm. those are the normal currents of life; nobody lives on cloud 9, where it’s exciting all the time.  part of the good fight of faith is to stay hopeful in the dry seasons. when you don’t see anything happening, when it’s taking a long time, keep a smile on your face. all through the day, “Lord, thank You that something good is coming my way.” “what if I do that and nothing happens?” what if you do it and something does happen? I’d rather go through life anchored to hope than anchored to fear, worry, bitterness.

sometimes, we’re a anchored to things that don’t come off easily. if you’ve been anchored to doubt, fear, discouragement for a long time, you’re going to have to cut those lines. the enemy doesn’t want you to be free. he doesn’t want you to go through life anchored to hope; he wants you to go around depressed, bitter, angry. it’s time to cut some lines. it’s time to say, “this is a new day. I’ve been anchored to that junk long enough. I’m done living bitter, depressed, no passion. I’m cutting those lines; I’m anchoring myself to hope.”

keep the right perspective: that sickness can’t defeat you. that addiction is temporary. the right breaks are already in your future. you may have had some disappointments, life threw you a curve; that cannot stop your destiny. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. when you stay anchored to hope, He’ll show out in your life in ways you’ve never imagined. a bad break, a disappointment, a divorce, a sickness can’t stop you. when life throws you a curve, don’t you dare pull up your anchor;  keep hoping on in faith. God has you in the palm of His hand. it may have been meant for your harm, but God’s going to turn it for your good. have you drifted into doubt, discouragement, worry, self-pity? I’m asking you to put your anchor of hope back down today. if you’ll do this, what is now your test will soon become your testimony, you will rise above every challenge, accomplish every dream, and become everything you were created to be. 

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(No new sermon this week.)

One of my closest friends in church, I’ll call her Jane, is very ill, so much so that we fear that the end might be near for her; as you might imagine, we have all been praying for her. While I was in my prayer closet early in the morning a few days ago, during the time when I was praying for Jane, I inexplicably, and with no forethought, got the idea that I wanted a rose from my rosebush to bring to her when a group from our church would be visiting her in her home on the next day. 

Let me say at this point that this is probably the worst-looking rosebush in the Western Hemisphere. It has lots of bare branches, it always has yellow and brown leaves, bugs or snails or I don’t know what are constantly chewing up the leaves… it’s a WRECK. In addition, not only does this thing have a ton of big thorns, but the entire stem is covered with some kind of other sharp bristly stuff; this bush is like a medieval torture device. I don’t EVER bring anybody roses from this bush, because it’d be like giving them a bunch of barbed wire; that’s hardly an appropriate thing to bring to ANYONE, much less someone who is too sick to get out of bed without assistance. It was a moot point, though; there had not been any roses on that bush for a couple of months (I think that all the previous roses were dead or dying by Mother’s Day, which was May 8).

Obviously, then, the thought of taking a rose from that bush to Jane should never have entered my head. Having had the thought, it was beyond ridiculous to actually SAY it; nevertheless, I equally inexplicably ASKED God to give me a rose for her on that bush.  Before I could figure out how THAT had come out of my mouth… I then, again with no premeditation, said that He could put a rose for her on there right now that would be ready to go on Thursday if He wanted to!!  Seriously, would YOU tell God, TWICE, that you wanted a rose from a bush that had been barren for 2 months, and that mostly produced THORNS? Have you ever heard of anyone praying for God to actually physically create something for them to give as a gift, or to physically create ANYTHING other than babies or maybe rainclouds? I was so stunned that I had asked for this crazy thing TWICE, that I immediately started babbling that of course she was not expecting a rose, and would be happy to see me no matter what, and I would give her all the love and encouragement that I could. I finally gathered up my wits and went back to praying.

When I got back to the family room about 10 minutes later, I went to the window and looked out… and there it was!! ONE tiny rose that had just opened enough to be completely out of the bud stage. That bush has NEVER, in the many years I’ve been here, put out just ONE rose; if it wants to bloom, it sends out a bunch of buds all at the same time, and they bloom pretty close to the same time too, filling every receptacle in the house. That’s the way EVERY rosebush blooms, according to everyone I’ve asked; one bloom on an otherwise barren bush just does not exist.

I examined the bush EXTREMELY carefully; there were no other roses, not the slightest hint of any other buds, no new leaves or new growth, no reddish tips indicating points where new growth was about to occur… Just that ONE rose. It’s not the parting of the Red Sea… but it WAS a miracle.

I pretty much needed another miracle, or at least divine assistance, to cut the rose down, because it was WAY over my head, and all the way in the back of the bush, with about 10 billion thorns between me and it. The Holy Spirit guided me, while I was looking up at the rose in puzzlement, to absentmindedly trim off some dead stuff; when I was done, it turned out that I had trimmed myself an open space through which I could stretch my arm to grab the branch that had the rose at the end of it, so I could pull the branch down and reach a spot that was thin enough that I could cut through it, a couple of feet below the rose, and thus get the rose detached from the bush. Possibly the trickiest part was maneuvering that long piece of rose branch down through the maze of other branches, leaves and THORNS, all without damaging the rose… but I did that, too, and without getting a single puncture or scratch on my skin. 

After that, it was comparatively easy to trim the stem down to a reasonable length, cut off all of the numerous thorns, and pick off all the… I guess the little green dots were aphids, and the little black ones were maybe ants… anyways, this bush is FULL of bugs, too, did I forget to mention? When I took it out of the glass of water I’d been keeping it in, I wrapped the bottom half of the stem in wet paper towels to keep it moist and fresh on a summer’s day, followed by a bunch of layers of plastic grocery bags to seal the moisture in and provide a dry handle to hold it by. There has probably never been so much effort involved in getting ONE rose ready to be given to someone… but it was worth it:

When I put the carefully-wrapped rose stem into her tiny, frail hands, I told her about the miracle in a few short sentences (she’s very weak, and we knew that we could not be there with her long); in the faint whisper that is the only voice she has right now, she said, “Praise the Lord,” and lifted the rose up to touch it against her lips. She is an amazing woman of faith, and she knew that the only way for that rose to have been there was that God put it there… for HER. 

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Looking back, I’m reasonably certain that my bizarre thought, and the way it came out of my mouth TWICE without intention or premeditation, must’ve come from the Holy Spirit, because it is so TOTALLY foreign to what I might actually expect myself to think. The Holy Spirit is frequently responsible for putting guidance, ideas and thoughts in our minds, so this is entirely possible. The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit helping us pray in tongues, and if he can do that, he can certainly help us to pray in regular words as well. I’ve seen many times in my church where God will ask one person to pray for another, and then God gives the prayed-for person a miracle; this could certainly be an example of that. Why does God not just give the miracle? He seems to want to keep us involved and praying for each other; it’s more work for Him, but then again, it’s not like He has limited time or energy or anything. More to the point, if He’s doing miracles, who cares which way He uses to do them? We just need to be grateful and give praise.

If you ever get something crazy in your mind when you’re praying… let it out!! You might end up with a miracle that will lift you up for the rest of your life.

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