Archive for October, 2016

(No new sermon this week.)

The holiday season is about to begin, and it’s a good time of the year for most of us, maybe even a wonderful time. But, for people who are alone and lonely, this is the WORST time of the year, an agonizing reminder of what they don’t have and what they’re missing out on. God has a solution for that; that solution is you and I. All throughout the year, but most especially during the holidays, God wants us to reach out to people who are alone and lonely and help them take the first step into a happier social existence. 

What does that mean? You know that coworker who doesn’t have anyone to go to lunch with, the neighbor who lives alone and never has anyone come over to hang out with them, the acquaintance who has been divorced, widowed or separated and has no other family to fill in the gap, the person in your church who always sits by themselves, … these are the people that God wants you to focus on right now. Get out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations with them. Talk to them about… well, pretty much anything, the point is that you should TALK to them, not shake your head sadly at them from a safe distance.

But talking isn’t enough. People like these are almost certain to be ALONE on the actual holidays; Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve. If the first person you speak to is going to be leaving town to go be with family on those special days, well and good, but if not, why not invite them to spend one or more of the holidays with you and YOUR family? Don’t embarrass them by making an issue of how you know that they don’t have any other options, just say something caring and gracious, like how you need one more person to fill up your table, and you’ve been wanting to get to know them better for a long time, and you figured this was the perfect time to do that. What’s the worst that can happen? If they say no, you accept that warmly and graciously, and suggest that maybe you can get together for lunch or something after the New Year. You will still get credit with God for having asked.

If they say yes, then you need to do whatever it takes to be sure that they are relaxed and comfortable and happy at your Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s eve celebration. Find out if they have any special food needs, so that you don’t have a vegetarian showing up on Thanksgiving with nothing to eat but carrot sticks. If you are inviting them for Christmas, be sure and have a couple of little gifts for them so that they are not the only one with nothing to open. If you’re having them over on New Year’s eve, be sure and be near them at midnight so that you can give them a hug and wish them a happy new year.

What do you do if, like me, you’re doing all of your holiday stuff in someone’s home other than your own? Talk to your hosts/hostesses, explain the situation, and find out if you can bring a +1. Most people will agree to this, but if nobody wants to, you still get credit for trying… And then, your backup plan should be to invite your target person to do something else with you, such as attend a Christmas concert, a school Christmas pageant, whatever is available in your area. If nothing else, you can invite them to go drive around and look at all the beautifully decorated yards, and then come back home with you to have hot chocolate and Christmas cookies, or rent a Christmas movie and invite them over for cider and popcorn.

This is the Christmas season, and Christmas is Jesus’s birthday. Isn’t he more deserving of a Christmas gift than anybody else in the world? After all he has done for you and given to you, don’t you want to give something back to him? This is the time of year when it is easiest for you to do so. What he wants is for you to take care of his sheep, just as he says in the Bible many times. If you give a lonely, sad person a wonderful holiday, that is the best gift that you could ever give to Jesus. And yes, you will get blessings in return for that… but does it really matter if you do or not? Isn’t it enough that you’re being given the opportunity to give Jesus a gift that he will really love?

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Deep Roots

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that come against us: a health issue, finances go down, a child gets off course. the winds and rain come to every person; what’s going to determine whether or not you stand strong and outlast that storm is how deep your roots are. the reason some people are always worried, upset, offended, is that they have shallow roots; they’re moved by the traffic, the weather, a grouchy boss, what somebody said, always being tossed to and fro. but when you have deep roots, know God is in control, has you in the palm of His hand, you know that no weapon formed against you will prosper, He’s equipped, empowered and anointed you, you’re not moved by everything on the surface.

you don’t get upset when you get caught in traffic; you know that God is directing your steps. you don’t get offended when somebody did you wrong; you know that God is your vindicator. you don’t live discouraged because you didn’t get the promotion; you know that God has something better in store. you don’t go around guilty because you made a mistake, give up on your dreams; you know that God’s mercy is bigger than that mistake. when your roots go down deep, you’re not moved by what doesn’t go your way; you live from a place of peace. the winds may blow, the storms may come, but you know that when it’s all said and done, you’ll still be standing, praising, smiling, victorious.

the scripture tells us:

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB)

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord

this is a choice that we have to make: “I’m not going to be moved by the circumstances. I’m not going to let what they’re saying about me steal my joy. I have a destiny to fulfill. I’m not going to live worried about my finances; I’m going to do my part, and trust God to do what I can’t do. I’m not going to base my value on how this person treats me, if they make me feel special. I know who I am, I’m a masterpiece; I’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made. My self-worth doesn’t come from people, it comes from my Creator.”

are you steadfast, immovable, do your roots go down deep? if not, life is going to be like a roller coaster; your joy and peace will depend on your circumstances, how people treat you, what goes your way. that’s surface living, shallow roots. God is saying, “be steadfast, immovable.” you have to dig down deep. as long as you’re allowing circumstances to determine whether or not you’re happy, you’ll never have real victory. and sometimes, we’re using our faith to try to control our circumstances; I’ve learned that it’s better to use my faith to control myself in the midst of those circumstances. when you’re in peace, that’s a place of power. here’s the key; if you don’t have peace on the inside, you’re not going to have peace on the outside.

some people wonder why they can’t have good relationships, be successful, get ahead; it’s because they have shallow roots. if you’ll stay in peace on the inside, not fight everything that doesn’t go your way, then you’ll see things on the outside begin to improve. every morning, before we leave the house, we should make the decision, “nothing that happens to me today is going to upset me. I have the grace to handle anything that comes my way.” you have to decide ahead of time; if the traffic is bad, you’re not going to get upset, if somebody’s rude, you’re not going to be offended, if you don’t get the contract, if your plans don’t work out, you’re not going to go around sour, in self-pity. that’s having deep roots.

one way you can tell how deep your roots are is, how easily do you get upset? if the pebbles that are getting thrown into your lake are causing you to lose your joy, be frustrated, you need to go down deeper. “somebody’s talking about me at work, trying to make me look bad, that’s why I’m sour.” that’s a pebble; the reason it’s bothering you is because you’re on the surface. “traffic was backed up last week; it took me an extra hour to get home”; another pebble. when you have deep roots, you’re grateful to be alive, have a job, be healthy; you’re not focused on what’s wrong, you’re too busy thanking God for what’s right. “I didn’t get the promotion, the medical report wasn’t good, a friend betrayed me, that’s why I’m discouraged”; I’m not making light of those things, but in the big picture, those are pebbles. when you know that God has beauty for those ashes, that He’ll pay you back for the unfair things, then even though the surface is disturbed, deep down, where you choose to live, you’ll feel at peace, rest; you’ll know this too shall pass.

Paul tells us in Colossians:

Colossians 2:7 (VOICE)

7 Let your roots grow down deeply in Him

what are your roots going deep down in? if you put your trust in people, sometimes people will let you down.  if you put your trust in your job, career, money, unfortunately, things can change, and you don’t have what you had. but when you let your roots grow down deep in Him, you say, “God, I know that You’re my provider, healer, vindicator.  I recognize, You are the source of everything good.” then, when difficulties come, somebody does you wrong, you have an unexpected challenge, you won’t fall apart, live in self-pity; you’ll be strong, stable, immovable. why? because your roots go down deep in Him.

this is what a lady did in the scripture:

2 Kings 4:18-20 (NLT)

18 One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. 19 Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!” His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.” 20 So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap. But around noontime he died. 

this wasn’t a pebble; this was a boulder; everything on the surface was disturbed, it looked like it was all out of control. but this lady had deep roots; she knew that that unexpected challenge was not a surprise to God. she didn’t fall apart, get bitter; she was steadfast, immovable:

2 Kings 4:24-26 (ESV)

24 Then she saddled the donkey… When the man of God [Elisha] saw her coming, he said to Gehazi his servant, “Look, there is the Shunammite. 26 Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’” And she answered, “All is well.”

how could she make that statement when she was in the middle of a crisis? she wasn’t living on the surface, responding to how she felt; she went by what she knew, and she knew that God was still on the throne, and that He could make a way even though she didn’t see a way.

2 Kings 4:32-35 (ESV)

32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed… 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

a great miracle. but like with this lady, sometimes it’s not a pebble thrown into your water, so to speak, it’s a boulder. we all face unexpected challenges, things that we didn’t see coming: a loss, lay-off, divorce, sickness. it’s easy to get overwhelmed, go around in self-pity, wondering why it happened, but if you’ll go down deeper, not talk about the problem, complain about how bad life’s treating you, but instead, like this lady, have a report of victory, “all is well, God is still on the throne, this too shall pass,” because you have deep roots, then even when life throws you a boulder, even when you should panic, you will feel a peace that passes understanding, and will have the strength to endure what should have taken you out.

the enemy did his best, he thought for sure that you’d be toppled over, depressed, given up, but he miscalculated; he can only see the outside. what he couldn’t see was what was underneath the surface; he didn’t realize that you have deep roots, you are steadfast, immovable. yes, he changed your circumstances, but you weren’t rooted in your circumstances, you were rooted in the most high God. He never changes; He has all power.

when you face unexpected challenges, something big, don’t let that become the focus of your life, consume you to where all you think about is: my sickness, my mistake, my breakup, my loss. keep living life; keep to your same routine the best that you can. some people let the problem become their identity; they become known as the crisis, so to speak. “I’m the man that went through a divorce, the lady that has cancer, the young person that lost a loved one”; that’s what happened to you, that’s not who you are. don’t let a temporary event become a permanent label.

in the scripture, Thomas doubted that Jesus rose from the dead:

John 20:24-25 (ESV)

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas, and changed his mind:

John 20:26-28 (ESV)

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas’ doubting was a very short period of time, a little over a week, but he became known as Doubting Thomas. sometimes, people will try to label you; if you don’t stay on the offensive, and keep moving forward, you can become what happened to you, instead of becoming who you were created to be. when you have deep roots, not moved by circumstances, you’re saying by your actions, “God, I trust You. I know You’re bigger than this sickness, greater than this opposition, stronger than this difficulty.” that’s when God will make things happen that you could never make happen.

the apostle Paul, in the scripture, he had a lot of challenges, unfair situations: he was falsely accused, beaten with rods, lied about, put in prison, shipwrecked, went without food and water, it was one challenge after another. but Paul gives us the secret of living a victorious life:

Acts 20:24 (NKJV)

24 But none of these things move me

he was saying, “yes, I was falsely accused, but I didn’t let it steal my joy, spend my life trying to pay people back; I let God be my vindicator. yes, I was shipwrecked, my plans didn’t work out, but I didn’t go around complaining; I knew that God was still on the throne. yes, I was put in prison, it wasn’t fair, but I didn’t sit around in self-pity, I started writing letters. they had me chained up and wouldn’t let me leave, but they couldn’t keep my words from going out.” Paul wrote over half of the New Testament, much of it from a prison cell. how could he do this? he had deep roots. he said, “none of these things move me.”

we all have “these things”: grouchy boss, negative medical report, business that slowed down. there’s always something trying to move us, pull us out of peace, rest. somebody cut you off in traffic; that’s a “these things.” are you going to let it move you, get upset, ruin your day? or, are you going to live from a deeper place, and stay in peace? that coworker that’s rude, left you out of a meeting; that’s a “these things.” or somebody sat in your favorite seat in church, you’ve been sitting there for 30 years, they knew it and came on purpose to beat you; “these things” can happen even in church. are you allowing “these things” to move you? you can’t pray them away. that coworker that gets on your nerves; if he does leave, 3 more people are going to show up just like him. “these things” are tests that we must pass. Jesus said:

John 14:27 (AMPC)

27 … Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed

John 14:27 (CJB)

27 … Don’t let yourselves be upset

he didn’t say, “if you’ll stay in faith, pray hard enough, I’ll take away all the traffic, opposition, criticism, disappointments.” he said, “they’ll come, but you don’t have to get upset, or be moved by them.” look at that negative medical report and say, “you don’t move me. I’m not going to live worried; God is restoring health back unto me.” look at that child that’s off course, and say, “you don’t move me. as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” it’s just a matter of time before you get into your destiny. look at that bank statement, and say, “you don’t move me. you may be low right now, but I know increase is on the way, I will lend and not borrow.” that coworker that’s always getting on your nerves, trying to aggravate you, when you see them Monday, just say, “hello, ‘these things’; I know who you are. I know the secret; I have deep roots. I’m staying in peace.”

Jesus told Peter:

Luke 5:4-6 (NKJV)

4 … “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Jesus was saying, in effect, “Peter, get out of the shallow waters, quit living on the surface. as long as you’re letting your circumstances determine your joy, that’s going to limit you.”

Luke 5:6 (NKJV)

6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

when you do it God’s way, you’re not moved by people, circumstances, disappointments. because you’re in the deep, you’re going to have an abundance of joy, of peace, of what you need. I wonder how much more we would enjoy life if we’d quit living on the surface and go down deeper. we let too many things upset us. somebody talking about you on social media; that’s one “these things.” your job is not to respond to every person, try to straighten them out, prove your point; your job is to be steadfast, immovable. that means let it go, don’t pay it any attention. the scripture tells us:

Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV)

28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit

Is like a city broken down, without walls.

it doesn’t say to rule somebody else’s spirit; you can’t control what other people think, say, about you. if you’re trying to rule them, that’s manipulation; you’re going to be frustrated. I’ve learned; it’s a full-time job to try to rule my own spirit. I don’t have the time, energy, wisdom, responsibility to try to rule somebody else’s. we spend too much time worried about what they’re saying, trying to change their mind. quit letting that move you.

part of ruling your spirit is to not let that poison in you. ships don’t sink because there’s water all around them; they sink when the water gets in them. there may be negative circumstances all around you, somebody’s spreading rumors, you’re dealing with an illness, finances have gone down, you’ve got good reasons to be upset, offended, worried. here’s the key; don’t let it get in you. rule your spirit. you can’t rule your boss, neighbor, the internet, stock market, but you can rule your own spirit. it’s powerful when we can say, with Paul, “none of these things move me. I’m not upset by what they’re saying; God’s fighting my battles. I’m not worried about the medical report; nothing can snatch me out of God’s hands. I’m not discouraged by this disappointment; I know that God didn’t bring me this far to leave me. He’s made a way in the past; I know He’ll make a way this time.” that’s ruling your own spirit. that’s a sign that you have deep roots.

“this sounds good, but I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I got off course, it was my own fault”; if you just stay on the surface, you’ll live guilty, condemned, down on yourself. the accuser will constantly whisper, “you blew it, you’re done, God’s never going to bless you.” but when you have deep roots, you know that God’s mercy is bigger than those mistakes, His calling on your life is irrevocable:

Romans 11:29 (MSG)

29 God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.

that means, God doesn’t change His mind because we make mistakes, or give up on us because we’re not where we’re supposed to be. when God hand-picked you, before you were formed in your mother’s womb, when He breathed life into you, He put you under a full lifetime warranty, saying, “they’re Mine, no matter where they go, what they do, I have a destiny for them to fulfill.” your mistakes did not cancel God’s plan for your life. quit believing those lies, “you’re washed up, settle for second-best”; get back in the game. God is not finished with you. He knew every mistake that you would make, and He has already lined up a new plan. you may have fallen down, but the right attitude is, “I’m not staying down; I know that I am under full warranty, and God will still get me to where I’m supposed to be.”

it’s interesting; when the winds blow a tree back-and-forth, put pressure and strain on the root system, you would think that was damaging the tree and making it weaker, but researchers have found that it’s actually strengthening the root system. it seems like the pulling and the stretching would be tearing the roots apart, but the movement is making it easier for the roots to grow. it’s the same way with us. that difficulty should’ve toppled you, damaged your roots so to speak, brought you out weaker, but just the opposite happened; you came through that challenge stronger, with greater confidence, your character was developed. the storm was sent to stop you, but God turned it around, and used it to strengthen you. that mistake, divorce, sickness, should have left you defeated, lonely, discouraged, but when you come out, you’ll not only still be standing, you’ll be better than you were before. your roots are getting strengthened.

I’m asking you today to quit living on the surface, being bothered by everything that doesn’t go your way. go down deeper; quit being moved by “these things.” life is way too short to let circumstances determine your joy; start ruling over your spirit. the next time you’re tempted to get upset, worried, offended, discouraged, try a new approach; be steadfast, immovable. if you’ll do this, because you have deep roots, God is going to fight your battles vindicate, promote, heal you, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

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Daily direction

from JO’s sermon this week:

God said in Psalms:

Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

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

He has the wisdom, guidance, direction, that we need, but it’s not going to happen automatically; every morning, we have to go to Him and say, “God, show me my assignment, what to do, where to go. give me the words to speak.” asking for wisdom, guidance, that’s an act of surrender; it takes humility to say, “God, You know what’s best for me. I can’t do this on my own; I need Your help. open the right doors, close the wrong doors. make the path clear.” the scripture says:

Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

but too often, we make our plans without consulting God, then we ask Him to bless those plans, and wonder why it’s a struggle, feels like it’s always uphill. we have it backwards; we’re making a move and then asking God for help. the right way is to ask God first; “God, what do You want me to do? should I date this person, start this new project, make this purchase?” if you feel peace about it, then move forward; if not, hold off, knowing that God knows what’s best for you.

in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus prayed:

Matthew 6:11 (NKJV)

11 Give us this day our daily bread

he didn’t say “our weekly bread,” “our monthly bread.” “I come to church every Sunday”; no, every morning, you need to go to God for your daily bread, wisdom, direction. 

too many times, we’re trying to do things only in our own strength, intellect, ability; that’s going to limit us. God can see things that you can’t see. He knows the right people who should be in your life, where the danger is, where the dead ends are, how to catapult you into your destiny. you have an advantage; are you taking time for your daily bread? sometimes we rush out of the house, “I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time today, I’ve got to get to work.” I live by this principle; never meet with other people before you meet with God. if you’ll take time to acknowledge God, say, “God, I need You today: lead me, guide me, keep me on the right path,” not only will your day go better, but God will keep you from making mistakes. when you get your daily bread, when every morning you ask God for wisdom, you’re showing your dependency on Him; when you humble yourself like that, the scripture says:

1 Peter 5:6 (NRSV)

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

a lot of people these days, they’re too prideful, they I think, “I don’t need any help, I can do this on my own, look how successful I am already.” think about where you could be if you’d start acknowledging God: the mistakes He could’ve saved you from, the opportunity, favor, the doors you couldn’t open, but God can open. don’t do it on your own; that will limit you. start getting your daily bread, direction.

when the Israelites were in the desert, headed toward the promised land:

Exodus 16:13-31 (NIV)

13 …  in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor… Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat… 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”… 21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away… 31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.

I’m sure that some people thought, “I don’t feel like going out tomorrow. I’m going to save some time and energy; I’m going to gather up enough for the whole week.”

Exodus 16:20 (NIV)

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.

the principal was, they had to go out and get fresh manna each day. “manna” sounds like the Hebrew word for “what is it?” when we go to God for our fresh manna each day, the right attitude is, “God, what is it that You want me to do? what is my assignment?” not giving God orders, telling Him what to do, how to do it; rather, “God, show me the best path, how to overcome this problem, accomplish my dreams.” are you getting your daily bread, checking in with headquarters to get your assignment each morning, asking God, “what is it?” or are you on autopilot, just doing what you’ve always done? the problem with that approach is that what worked in the past may not work today; sometimes, God will do things a different way. 

when the Israelites needed water out there in the desert, they were thirsty:

Exodus 17:6 (NIV)

6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

another time, when they needed water, same situation:

Numbers 20:7-11 (NIV)

7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water… 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out

the problem was, Moses was on autopilot; he didn’t listen, he thought, “I’ve got this, no problem, I’ve overcome this problem before, I can do it again” and he struck the rock. same problem, same desert, similar rock, but God had a different plan. God was saying, “Moses, just because I had you do it that way last time, doesn’t mean I want you to do it that way this time.” what am I saying? you can’t live off of yesterday’s manna and expect to have victory today. yesterday’s information may not work today. God is a God of freshness; He likes to do new things.

it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, thinking, “I don’t need daily direction. I’ve overcome this problem before; I’m going to use the same tactics to overcome it this time.” like with Moses, sometimes the old way doesn’t work. you need to get some fresh manna; if not, you’ll keep striking the rock when you should be speaking to the rock. it’s a small tweak, but you’ll only hear it if you’re getting your daily bread. stay open to change. be willing to try something new. what made you successful 5 years ago may not make you successful today. what worked in your marriage in the past may not work today. why don’t you get some fresh manna? have the attitude, “God, I’m ready for new things.”

I’ve heard it said; if you don’t innovate, you will evaporate. you can’t rely on what got you to where you are to keep you where you are. the world is changing; somebody wants your job, spouse, dreams. you can’t afford to sit back on autopilot and just coast, do things the same way; you’ll get left behind. the good news is, God has daily favor, ideas, wisdom, abundance. if you’ll stay open, He’ll lead you into the fullness of your destiny.

why couldn’t Moses strike the rock again? it worked the first time. it’s because God wants us to rely on Him, not some formula, thinking, “well, if I do this, that, and the other, then God will bless me.” if that’s all it took, we wouldn’t really need God; just follow these steps for success, keep striking the rock. on purpose, God changes the method, so we’ll have to go to Him for our daily bread. He’s looking for people who recognize that He’s the source of our strength, success, health, freedom, ideas, abundance. when you rely on Him, He’ll take you from victory to victory.

but here’s the whole key; He may not do it the same way. could it be that you’re stuck, not seeing the progress that you should, because you’re still striking the rock when you should be speaking to it? you’re stuck in tradition, the way it happened in the past, trying to duplicate the same way, when God is wanting to do a new thing, new way, with new ideas and people, bringing new talents out of you? if you’ll start getting your daily bread, listening to what God is saying now, then you’ll see that water begin to flow out of the rock in greater ways.

David understood this principle:

2 Samuel 5:17 (NIV)

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him

David was a warrior. he had conquered a lot of armies; his nature was to attack. but here’s why David was considered a man after God’s own heart:

2 Samuel 5:19 (NIV)

19 so David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?”

notice his humility; he didn’t say, “I’ve got this. I’ve been there, done that, no problem”; he took time to inquire of the Lord. before he went to battle, he got quiet, and said, “God, what do You want me to do?” he was getting his daily direction. he didn’t assume that because something worked in the past, that it was going to work right there. he asked a very significant question; “God, will You hand this enemy over to me?” it seems like that would be a given. he was just put in charge of the Israelites, God’s chosen people; surely God wouldn’t let them be defeated. but the fact is, we’re not supposed to fight every battle. David was smart enough to ask, “am I supposed to attack?” he was saying, “God, if I go in there, are You going to going to with me?” he was showing his dependency on God; he recognized where his strength, favor, ability came from.

sometimes we assume, if there’s an obstacle, something trying to stop us, there is no question; “get in there and go to battle, God is on our side.” but a wiser approach is to say, “God, what is Your plan? how do You want me to respond opposition? shall I attack, or be still and let You fight for me? if I go in, God, are You going to go with me?” we’ve all fought battles where we didn’t come out the way we thought; maybe it was because we didn’t inquire of the Lord.

2 Samuel 5:19 (NIV)

19 … The Lord answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.”

once he got clear direction, knew that he had God’s blessing:

2 Samuel 5:20 (NIV)

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them.

if we would do like David and inquire of the Lord before we get into conflict, make big decisions, go to God for daily direction, daily manna, it would save us a lot of heartache and pain. I’ve learned; what God orders, He will pay for. but God is not obligated to bring victory to battles that we’re not supposed to be in. And yes, God is merciful, He’ll help us, but it’s much better to inquire of the Lord before you make important decisions.

2 Samuel 5:22 (NIV)

22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim

David could’ve thought, “this is a no-brainer. I don’t even have to pray about it this time, I know what to do; go down there and attack.” but David realized that he couldn’t live off of yesterday’s manna. he knew that yesterday’s information may not be appropriate for today’s challenge.

2 Samuel 5:23 (NABRE)

23 and again David inquired of the Lord, who replied: Do not attack the front

same valley, same enemy, but God said, “this time, I’m going to do it a different way. I don’t want you to go down and attack, but instead:

2 Samuel 5:23 (NIV)

23 … circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.

but if David had not inquired of the Lord, he would have done it the first way. that’s common sense; “hey, it worked last time, I’m sure it’s going to work this time.” but God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t want you to get hooked on a formula; He wants you to be hooked on Him. when you develop this habit of going to God for your daily bread, daily direction, saying, “God, how do You want me to respond? how should I deal with this situation in my health, finances? God, give me Your wisdom, insight, favor,” that’s how God will lead you down the best path for your life

are you fighting battles that you’re not supposed to fight? if God hasn’t given you permission, then you’re going to do it in your own strength, ability. it will be a constant struggle; there’s no grace for it. just because it was right last time, doesn’t mean that it’s right this time. like David, you may be skilled in battle; you’re tough, you can take on the best of them. but you have to check in with headquarters, get your assignment; “God, am I supposed to fight this battle? show me the right steps to take.” then listen to what you’re feeling down in here; not in your head, but in your heart. the scripture calls it:

1 Kings 19:12 (KJV)

12 … a still small voice

it’s an impression; you can’t explain it, you just know, “this is what I’m supposed to do.” that’s God giving you daily direction.

this is where Joshua and the Israelites got off course. they had just seen the walls of Jericho come down, a great miracle, they’d defeated other armies along the way; God’s favor was on them. but there was a group of people called the Gibeonites; they lived about two cities over from where Joshua and the Israelites were camped. when they heard how powerful and successful the Israelites were, they knew that they couldn’t compete with them, and that they too were going to be driven out of their land.

Joshua 9:3-14 (NIV)

3 However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”

7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”

8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.

But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”

9 They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God… 12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”

14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.

it looked like they were telling the truth. everything on the surface seemed like they were straight-up people. so:

Joshua 9:15-18 (NIV)

15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them… 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.

it was a big headache, but it all could’ve been avoided; the whole problem was, they did not consult with the Lord, they just looked at it on the surface. everything seemed fine, but God can see things that we can’t see; that’s why you need to go to Him before you get involved with people, sign the contract, put the money down. do yourself a favor, and consult with the Lord. because people are not always who they say they are; they can show you one side, the side they want you to see, but God can see the whole package. you can’t get so caught up in how beautiful she looks, or, “he’s tall, dark, handsome and rich; I don’t have to consult with the Lord, the Lord just answered my prayer”; you better step back, Joshua, you may end up with somebody who’s not who you think they are. everything is not what it seems; you better consult with the Lord.

I’m asking you today to go to God for daily direction. you’re not going to make the best decisions if you’re not consulting with the Lord. don’t do like Joshua, and try to figure it out in your own strength; do like David, and inquire the Lord. remember, yesterday’s manna is not going to be good for today. if you’ll develop this habit of going to God for fresh manna, God is going to lead you down the best path for your life, protect you from mistakes, bring the right people, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

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Trouble is transportation

From JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through difficulties in life, things we don’t understand. it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “why is this happening to me?” but God uses difficulties to move us toward our destiny. nothing happens by accident; you may not understand it, but God wouldn’t have allowed it if it wasn’t going to work to your advantage. looking back over my life, the times I was uncomfortable, had a disappointment, somebody did me wrong, it didn’t make sense to me then, but years later I realized, if that hadn’t have happened, I wouldn’t have met that person, if that door wouldn’t have closed, this bigger door wouldn’t have opened, if those people wouldn’t have done me wrong, I wouldn’t have the experience I needed for this challenge that I’m facing. now I can see, the whole time God was directing my steps; I thought I was going backwards, but He was setting me up to move me forward. I didn’t like it, I felt like I was stuck, but the truth is, that trouble was transportation; it was moving me into my destiny.

you won’t become all that you were created to be without difficulties. you don’t grow in the good times; you grow in the tough times. trouble prepares you for the next level, develops something in you that you can’t gain when it’s easy and everything is going your way. in the difficult times, your spiritual muscles are developed; you gain strength, endurance, wisdom. every obstacle that you’ve been through has deposited something on the inside. every relationship that didn’t work out, you gained experience, something that will help you in the future. the times you failed, you blew it, they weren’t wasted; you gained insight. it’s all a part of God’s plan.

don’t complain about the trouble. don’t get upset because life dealt you a tough hand. the reason you have big challenges is because you have a big destiny; average people have average problems. ordinary people have ordinary challenges. here’s the key; you’re not average, ordinary, you’re a child of the most high God. the Creator of the universe breathed His life into you. He crowned you with favor, put seeds of greatness on the inside. you’re not ordinary, you’re extraordinary. don’t be surprised if you face extraordinary challenges; it’s because you have an extraordinary destiny. God is getting you prepared for something greater than you ever imagined.

think about Moses; he was born into trouble. it was no fault of his own. as a little baby, when he was the most vulnerable, life dealt him an unfair hand; the king ordered:

Exodus 1:15-16 (NIV)

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”

it looked like Moses was done, too bad, he was born at the wrong time. but Moses had a mother who understood this principle; she didn’t believe that that trouble could keep her son from his destiny.

Exodus 2:3 (NIV)

3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.

Moses could’ve dumped over and drowned, starved to death, been eaten by wild animals; there were 1000 things that could’ve gone wrong. but that trouble wasn’t a surprise to God; the king issuing that death order did not cancel Moses’ purpose. God has the final say; people don’t determine your destiny, God does.

Exodus 2:5-10 (NIV)

5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe… She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him… 10 … he became her son.

God could’ve stopped the trouble, caused the king to change his mind and not issue that death decree; that would’ve spared Moses’ life. instead, God used the trouble to move Moses to where He wanted him to be. Moses would have never learned what he needed for his destiny being raised in the environment that he was born into. in the palace, Pharaoh’s house, he learned about leadership, business, how to speak to people, how to conduct a meeting; the Egyptians were known for their superior education and ingenuity. 

you may not like the trouble, you’re uncomfortable, it’s not fair, but God knows what He’s doing; that trouble is transportation. just like with Moses, it’s taking you to the next level, getting you prepared. you wouldn’t be who you are today without all the things you’ve been through. don’t complain about the trouble; it’s not hindering you, it’s preparing you. it’s not going to defeat you, it’s going to promote you. you may not see how your situation could work out, but God has a way. He’s already lined up the right people. He has the breaks you need. like with Moses, there will be a Pharaoh’s daughter there to be good to you. you trust God when everything is good; why don’t you trust Him in the trouble, believe that even though you don’t understand it, He’s directing your steps?

you don’t have to live frustrated because you had a bad break; that trouble means that you’re headed somewhere, you’re on the way to your destiny. if you’ll stay in faith, you’ll begin to see God connect the dots; you’ll see that there was a reason that that door closed, that person walked away, it didn’t work out the way you had planned. it’s because God had something better in store; He was using that trouble to move you into your divine destiny. “something like that would never happen for me.” how do you know? your story is not over; God is not finished with you. that bad break, divorce, betrayal, loss, is not your final chapter; if you’ll keep being your best, dreaming, honoring God, that trouble won’t stop you, it will become transportation, and move you to the new things that God has in store.

what you’re dreaming about may be too small. that door may be closed because God has something bigger for you. you’re working for a company; one day, you’re going to own a company. you’re believing to manage that addiction; God is going to free you from the addiction. you’re content to be single for the rest of your life; God’s going to bring somebody better than you ever imagined.

don’t get discouraged by the trouble; it’s not the end. you trust God in the good times; I’m asking you to trust Him in the trouble. when you don’t understand it, you feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, dare to believe that He’s in control, knows what’s best, that your steps and stops are ordered by the Lord. it’s a powerful attitude when you can say, “God, it feels like I’m going backwards, but I trust You.” a lot of times, we try to pray away the difficulties, trouble, bad breaks. here’s the key; you’re not anointed from trouble, you’re anointed for trouble. the scripture says:

Psalm 46:1 (NASB)

1 God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

He’s not going to stop every disappointment, bad break, but He will give you the strength, grace, power to go through it with a good attitude.

Psalm 89:20-24 (NLT)

20 I have found my servant David.

    I have anointed him with my holy oil.

21 I will steady him with my hand;

    with my powerful arm I will make him strong.

22 His enemies will not defeat him,

    nor will the wicked overpower him.

23 I will beat down his adversaries before him

    and destroy those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and unfailing love will be with him,

    and by my authority he will grow in power.

it doesn’t say, “I will anoint him so that he doesn’t have problems, opposition,” it says, “I’m anointing him for the trouble, sickness, legal battle.” quit telling yourself, “I can’t take this, it’s too much for me”; you’re anointed for that difficulty. just like with David, right now, God is steadying you, making you strong. you don’t have to fight those battles, live stressed out; God said HE would push down your enemies. that sickness, legal problem, trouble at work, is not going to get the best of you. why? you’re anointed for trouble. I’m looking at powerful, anointed, determined, favored people. the most high God says, “you will rise to power”; that means, you will see increase, promotion, healings, breakthroughs.

you may be in trouble; don’t worry, it’s not permanent, it’s transportation. you’re about to see God begin to connect the dots in your life; it hadn’t made sense in the past, but you’re going to see what God has been up to. instead of fighting everything that doesn’t go your way, why don’t you believe that God knows what He’s doing? instead of saying, “God, why is this happening to me?” no, “God, I know, You’ve got me in the palm of Your hand. You’re directing my steps. Lord, I may not understand it, but I trust You.” 

this is what Joseph had to do in the scripture. as a teenager, God gave him a dream that he would lead a nation, but along the way, one bad thing after another happened to him: he was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, put in prison. he spent years doing the right thing with the wrong thing happening. it didn’t look like it would ever work out, but Joseph understood this principle; that as long as he kept being his best, that trouble could not keep him from his destiny, it was moving him forward. if you study his life, you’ll see how God connected all of the dots. every step was strategically orchestrated; if you left one out, the next one wouldn’t work. if Joseph’s brothers hadn’t have thrown him into a pit, he never would’ve been sold into slavery to a man named Potiphar. if he had never been sold to Potiphar, he would never have met Potiphar’s wife, and been falsely accused and put in prison. if he hadn’t been in prison, he would’ve never met the butler and the baker and told them that he knew how to interpret dreams. if he hadn’t told them that, the Pharaoh would have never called him up to interpret his dreams, and eventually put Joseph in charge of the whole nation.

any of those steps along the way, if you isolate them, it doesn’t make sense, it looks like a bad break. but you have to believe, like Joseph, that that disappointment, what looks like a betrayal, a setback, is all a part of God’s plan. it’s transportation; it’s moving you little by little into your destiny. God knows what He’s doing. God knew that He would need someone in control of Egypt that would show favor to the Israelites, so years earlier, He started this process of getting Joseph in place. it looked like trouble, but the truth is, it was the hand of God. Joseph’s brothers took his coat of many colors, his coat of favor, but they could not take the calling on his life. what people take from you cannot stop your purpose. what’s on the inside is more powerful than anything that’s on the outside. you keep doing the right thing despite the trouble, bad break, betrayal, one day you’ll see, like Joseph, God begin to connect the dots. God will take you to your throne, so to speak. you’ll say like Joseph did:

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good

the scripture talks about:

Psalm 34:19 (NIV)

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all

that means that God will stop the trouble. but another way to see it is like the post office delivers a package; it may start in New York, but it gets delivered to California. “deliver” means that they transport it, move it from one location to another. that package might have to go through 5 different stops along the way. in the same way, right now, God is delivering you from trouble; you’re en route, the process has started. there may be a few stops along the way; don’t worry, you’re not delivered yet. like Joseph, you may be in the pit, in the prison, but the palace is coming. you’re in debt? God is delivering you into abundance. you’re dealing with depression? He’s delivering you into joy. you’re fighting that illness? He’s delivering you into health, wholeness and victory.

when thoughts tell you, “this trouble is permanent, it’s never going to change,” just answer back, “no, I’m being delivered. I’m already en route. I know that this sickness, trouble, is only temporary; it’s just a stop along the way.” your trouble is transportation. you may feel like you’re trapped in negative circumstances: depression, addiction, mediocrity. it doesn’t seem like anybody can hear you; you don’t think you could ever get out. that is not how your story ends. the same God that brought Joseph out is the God that’s going to bring you out.

I believe tonight that dreams, hope, health, abundance are waking up. that trouble is not going to stop you, it’s going to move you to a level of your destiny that you could’ve never experienced without it. you may not have chosen what you’ve been through, but when you see how God pays you back, the new doors He opens, how He uses it to your advantage, you’re going to say, “I wouldn’t change it.” friends, you are anointed for that trouble. it may look like a setback, but really it is a setup for God to do something greater in your life. if you’ll trust God in the trouble, your trouble will become transportation; God is going to open new doors, turn impossible situations around, and take you into the fullness of your destiny.

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You have a defender

From JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have people that come against us, make negative comments, trying to discredit us, belittle us. human nature is to get in there, try to straighten them out, prove to them how they’re wrong. we think we have to defend ourselves; after all, that’s our reputation. but the problem with this approach is that as soon as you get one person straightened out, 3 more will pop up. there will always be somebody that’s against you, trying to make you look bad. if you’re constantly trying to defend yourself, you’ll get distracted fighting battles that you were never supposed to fight. it’s easy to get baited into conflict, thinking, “did you see what they said about me on social media? I’m going to show them who they’re messing with.” do you know how much energy it takes to try to pay somebody back, prove to them that you really are  a nice person? you are spending emotional energy that you need for your dreams, goals. here’s the key; you don’t have to defend yourself, God said that He will defend you:

Psalm 55:22 (GNT)

22 Leave your troubles with the Lord, and he will defend you

He will protect your reputation. quit worrying about the chatter, the negative comments; those are all distractions. that’s the enemy trying to bait you off course, so you’ll waste your time and energy involved in battles that don’t matter.

“I’m upset because I’m a good person; what they’re saying about me is not true.” it doesn’t matter how good you are, how loving, kind, upstanding; somebody’s not going to like you, is going to try to discredit you. it happened with Jesus. when he was on the earth, he went around healing the sick, lifting the fallen, encouraging those that were down. he did nothing but good, but he was falsely accused, misunderstood. how did he defend himself, protect his reputation? 

1 Peter 2:22-23 (NLT)

22 He never sinned,

    nor ever deceived anyone.

23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,

    nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God,

    who always judges fairly.

I wonder how much more peace you would have, how much more you would enjoy your life, if you would start leaving your cases in the hands of God. we spend too much time trying to defend ourselves, trying to prove to people who we are, worried about what they think. why don’t you put your reputation in God’s hands? I assure you, God can vindicate you better than you can vindicate yourself. you don’t have to retaliate, try to pay people back, convince them to change their minds. some people are never going to be for you; no matter what you do, they’re not going to like you. they’re intent on misunderstanding you. they don’t want to see your point of view, give you the benefit of the doubt. now don’t go the next 5 years frustrated because they’re negative towards you, engaged in a battle that you’re not supposed to be engaged in. it’s time to leave that case in the hands of God.

quit worrying about what they think, reading what they say about you on social media, getting all riled up thinking about how you can retaliate, pay them back. as long as you’re defending yourself, then the true Defender, the most high God, will step back. He’ll let you do it your way. But when we make this decision, “God, I’m turning this over to You, I’m not gonna spend my life worried about what somebody is saying, wasting my energy trying to change their mind, upset because they don’t like me. God, I know You’re my defender. I know you’re fighting my battles.” that’s when the Creator of the universe will go to work. when people try to push you down, God will lift you up. when they try to make you look bad, He’ll turn it around and cause you to look good, to shine. 

this is what happened in the scripture to Mordecai:

Esther 2:5 (NLT)

5 At that time there was a Jewish man in the fortress of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair.

he was a good man, doing the right thing, honoring God, but a man named Haman didn’t like him:

Esther 3:2 (NLT)

2 All the king’s officials would bow down before Haman to show him respect whenever he passed by, for so the king had commanded. But Mordecai refused to bow down or show him respect.

Esther 3:6-10 (NLT)

6 He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes… 8 Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said… 9 If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed… 10 The king agreed

Esther 6 (NLT)

1 That night the king had trouble sleeping, so he ordered an attendant to bring the book of the history of his reign so it could be read to him. 2 In those records he discovered an account of how Mordecai had exposed the plot of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the eunuchs who guarded the door to the king’s private quarters. They had plotted to assassinate King Xerxes… 6 So Haman came in, and the king said, “What should I do to honor a man who truly pleases me?” Haman thought to himself, “Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?” 7 So he replied, “If the king wishes to honor someone, 8 he should bring out one of the king’s own royal robes, as well as a horse that the king himself has ridden—one with a royal emblem on its head. 9 Let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. And let him see that the man whom the king wishes to honor is dressed in the king’s robes and led through the city square on the king’s horse. Have the official shout as they go, ‘This is what the king does for someone he wishes to honor!’” 10 “Excellent!” the king said to Haman. “Quick! Take the robes and my horse, and do just as you have said for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the gate of the palace. Leave out nothing you have suggested!”

God knows how to protect your reputation. why don’t you put that case in His hands? quit spending all your time trying to defend yourself; you have a Defender. God can do it better than you. He knows how to bring justice, vindicate you. 

this is what Jesus did. he was disrespected, they called him a fraud, a cheat, an impostor. but the scripture says:

Philippians 2:5-7 (KJV)

5 … Christ Jesus… 7 But made himself of no reputation

that means, he didn’t worry about his reputation. he knew that he would be misunderstood, that people would be negative, critical, find fault. he didn’t waste his time trying to prove to his critics that he was the son of God. he didn’t go around upset because religious leaders didn’t believe in him, he just kept running his race, being his best, trusting his Father to settle his cases. if you’re consumed with what other people think, “why won’t they respect me? I’ve got to convince them to believe in me,” then you’ll get distracted and miss your destiny. why don’t you let your Defender go to work? God said that He will fight your battles, take care of your critics. God will deal with those coworkers that are spreading rumors about you, take care of that friend that’s trying to make you look bad. God knows how to settle your case. David put it this way:

Psalm 69:4-12 (ESV)

4 More in number than the hairs of my head

    are those who hate me without cause;

mighty are those who would destroy me,

    those who attack me with lies… 12 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate

it’s the same way today; people can dislike you without a cause. they don’t even know you; they just pass you by at the office, they’ve never been to lunch with you, heard your story. it would be one thing if they knew you and didn’t like you, but they judge you from a distance. they don’t like you because you’re happy, successful, talented, a different nationality. like with David, they will attack you behind your back, try to belittle, discredit you. these are tests that we all must pass. are you going to get offended and try to straighten them out? are you going to take that bait, and get involved in a battle that you’re not supposed to fight? stay on the high road. they don’t control your destiny; they’re a distraction trying to lure you off course to get involved in something that’s not between you and your destiny. one of the best things we can learn to do is ignore it; don’t pay it any attention. that’s how how you leave it in the hands of God. and this is what David did; he went on to say:

Psalm 69:13 (ESV)

13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord

he was saying, “I don’t give it the time of day; I just keep on praising.” “but what they’re saying is not true; what if they tarnish my reputation?” I’m asking you to put your reputation in God’s hands. He said that He would protect it. the more successful you are, the higher you go, the more people will come against you. like with David, they’ll talk about you without a cause. everybody loved you until you got that promotion, moved into that new house, married that beautiful girl; now, the critics have come out of the woodwork. you have to let your Defender go to work; be still and know that He is God. it’s easy to get all stirred up thinking about how you can pay them back, what the best strategy is to get even. can I tell you what it is? be still. leave that case in God’s hands. God said in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 51:36 (TLB)

36 And the Lord replies: I will be your lawyer; I will plead your case; I will avenge you.

you have a Defender. not somebody that’s average, mediocre; the most high God is representing you. He said, “I will be your lawyer; I will take on those battles.” can you imagine the Creator of the universe defending you? you don’t have to try to prove to people who you are, worry night and day about your reputation. you can stay in peace, relax, knowing that it’s not your battle; it’s your case, but the battle is the Lord’s. the battle belongs to your Defender. can I tell you; He’s never lost a case. instead of living worried, stressed out, why don’t you sit back and let your Defender do His job? 

in Numbers 12, Moses’ brother and sister began talking against him:

Numbers 12:1 (NIV)

12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife

he married somebody of a different nationality. I can hear them telling people, “why did he marry her? that wasn’t right, he should’ve known better,” on and on, stirring up trouble, trying to make Moses look bad.

Numbers 12:2 (NIV)

2 … And the Lord heard this.

when people are talking about you, don’t worry, God hears it. you may not even know it’s happening, but God knows it’s happening. He’s your defender. 

Numbers 12:9 (CEB)

9 The Lord’s anger blazed against them

why was God so mad? had they killed someone, lied, cheated, committed adultery? no, it was because they had spoken against the reputation of one of His children. 

Numbers 12:10 (NIV)

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow

God takes it seriously when somebody tries to discredit, belittle you. you don’t have to get upset; God sees what’s happening. He doesn’t sit idly by and think, “too bad, they’re just ruining their reputation.” no, God goes to work. He knows how to get people’s attention. sometimes, He’ll cause them to be quiet, change their mind. other times, He’ll let them keep talking, and just keep promoting you; the more they talk, the higher you’ll go. they think they’re hurting you; the truth is, they’re helping you. God is paying you back for what they’re saying by taking you to new levels. it’s what the scripture says:

Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

5 You prepare a table before me

    in the presence of my enemies

the very ones who try to disrespect you, hold you down, they will see you in a position of honor, promoted, respected, with greater influence; that’s your Defender at work. people can’t keep you from your destiny. don’t live frustrated, trying to straighten your boss out; just keeping being your best. you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God; leave that case in His hands. God knows how to settle your case, protect your reputation. it says in Psalms:

Psalm 105:15 (NIV)

15 Do not touch my anointed ones

you are His anointed ones. you may be in a situation where there’s disrespect, people pushing you down, trying to hold you back, it’s been that way a long time you don’t think it’s ever going to change; get ready, your time is coming. God has heard every negative word spoken against you. He’s seen every person that’s tried to hold you back. vindication is on the way; promotion, new levels are coming. God is going to make things happen that you could never make happen. He’s preparing the table right now in the presence of your enemies. He’s going to settle that case.

quit living frustrated, trying to win somebody over that’s never going to be for you. your goal shouldn’t be to try to change somebody’s mind, convince them to like you. take this in the right sense; some people are sent to dislike you. Judas was sent to betray Jesus. if Saul hadn’t disliked David, David would have never taken the throne. everybody’s not supposed to be for you. you may be trying to win somebody over that’s never going to be won over; let God be your defender. you don’t have to try to pay them back, get even; like with Moses, God will take care of your critics. you’re not the judge, you don’t have to straighten people out; just run your race with purpose, integrity, joy, and let the negative bounce off of you.

sometimes, we think, “if I could just get this person to stop talking about me, then I could be happy again, enjoy my life again.” I don’t mean to be negative, but somebody’s always going to be talking about you, jealous, trying to discredit you; the good news is, that’s not your battle. you don’t have to defend yourself; you have a Defender. how much freer could you live if you would start leaving those cases in the hands of God, not fighting battles that you’re not supposed to fight, worried about your reputation all the time, instead of trusting God to protect your reputation? as long as you’re honoring God, being your best, no person, group or organization can stop you.  promotion doesn’t come from people, it comes from the Lord.

it’s interesting, when Jesus was here, the people who were the most against him were the religious people. but Jesus didn’t try to convince them to change their minds, spend hours arguing doctrine; he ignored his critics and just ran his race. one time, they criticized Jesus for healing a man on the sabbath; he did the right thing, but they said that he did it on the wrong day. some people, no matter what you do, are not going to be for you. you have to accept the fact that not everyone is going to accept, like, or understand you. if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to be comfortable being controversial. if you want everybody to like you, you’ll get stuck. Jesus was the most controversial person that’s ever lived. 2000 years later, people are still arguing about him. he had more critics than anyone, but the scripture says:

Matthew 27:12-14 (NIV)

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer…14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge

he didn’t waste his time trying to convince people of who he was. how much time are you spending worried about what they’re saying, upset about what they wrote about you on social media, trying to pay that friend back for making you look bad? you don’t have time for all that pettiness; it’s a distraction. it’s not between you and your destiny; let it go in one ear and out the other, and use that energy to move toward your God-given dreams. you don’t have enough energy to answer your critics and fulfill your purpose at the same time; whatever you’re spending trying to pay people back, prove to them you really are a nice person, that’s emotional energy that you’re not going to have for the fullness of your destiny. 

Nehemiah understood this principle in the scripture. he was up on a hill, rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem:

Nehemiah 2:10-19 (NIV)

10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites…

19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.

Nehemiah 4:1-3 (NIV)

1 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews…

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

I’m sure that Nehemiah was tempted to go down there and give them a piece of his mind, but he was smart enough to realize that they were a distraction; what they said didn’t affect his destiny. their critical words didn’t make the wall any weaker; they were trying to deceive him into losing focus, so he would get involved in something that wasn’t important. 

the truth is, we all have Sanballats and Tobiahs. most of the people that come against us are simply distractions: the negative comments, disrespect, insults, those are bait trying to lure us off-course. the good fight of faith is not to try to straighten them out; the real fight is to keep your focus, to not get distracted and entangled by things that don’t matter. if Nehemiah would’ve come down off the wall with all of his men, spent a few days dealing with Sanballat and Tobiah, all their people, he may have won the battle, but the wall wouldn’t have been any further along. you have to ask yourself, “if I engage in this conflict, prove my point, win them over, am I going to be any further toward my destiny, or have I just fed my ego, made my flesh feel good?” stay on the high road; your time is too valuable, your destiny too important, your assignment too great, to get involved in battles that don’t matter. there will always be Sanballats yelling insults, Tobiahs trying to get under your skin, agitate you. don’t worry, you have a Defender; be still and know that He is God. let Him fight those battles; God will take care of your critics.

it’s interesting, when Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall, he was up on the mountain; the critics were down at the bottom. the principle is, any time you start answering your critics, you have to go down. when you start defending yourself, trying to prove to people who you are, you’re leaving the high place and going down to their level. but when you realize you have a Defender, when you know that God will fight your battles, then you’ll do like Jesus, and not answer your critics. you’ll do like Nehemiah, and stay on the mountains so that you can focus on what’s really important.

maybe today, you need to go back up on that mountain. the critics will always be there, people that don’t understand you, that are never going to be for you; I’m asking you to let God be your defender. put your reputation in His hands. God has already lined up the right people who will be for you, celebrate you, and help push you into your purpose. here’s the whole key; don’t waste your time trying to convince the wrong people, just run your race, keep honoring God, being your best. if you’ll do this, God is about to settle your cases. right now, He’s preparing that table in the presence of your enemies. He’s going to vindicate, promote you, and take you into the fullness of your destiny.

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