Archive for January, 2017

Feed Your Destiny

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we may not realize it, but we’re always feeding ourselves; what we watch, listen to, the people we’re around, the thoughts we’re dwelling on, feed our inner person. if you go to lunch with people that talk bad about the boss, make fun of a coworker, put down a friend, they’re feeding you gossip, jealousy, disrespect. here’s the key; whatever you feed is going to grow. you may not like what they’re feeding you, you’re a nice person, but if you continue to hang around with them, before long you’ll be gossiping, critical, disrespectful, because you kept feeding the wrong things. if you’re always feeding negative thoughts, “I’ll never get well, meet the right person,” you’re feeding doubt, mediocrity, fear. if you feed guilt, fear, it’s going to get bigger; what if you spent that same energy feeding your faith, hopes, dreams? “Father, thank You that Your mercy is bigger than any mistake, and I am forgiven.” quit feeding the negative, and start feeding your faith.

what are you allowing in your spirit? the people and thoughts that you focus on, are they inspiring you, building your faith, pushing you towards your dreams, or are they feeding you guilt, negativity, mediocrity, causing you to compromise? stop dwelling on worry, fear, “I don’t have what it takes,“ guilt, condemnation, insecurity, hanging around people who are feeding you negativity, causing you to compromise, “I’m all washed up.” your prescription is for faith food: feed your hopes, dreams, confidence, destiny. focus on what God says about you: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, one of a kind, a masterpiece, made in the image of God.”

if you’re dealing with an illness, “the medical report doesn’t look good, I don’t think I’ll get well”; you’re feeding the wrong things, that’s allowing the sickness to grow. turn it around; “Father, thank You that You’re restoring health back unto me, the number of my days You will fulfill.” when you feed your faith like that, the doubt gets weaker and weaker. what you don’t feed will eventually die. don’t give those things any space in your mind. are you feeding what you don’t want? the enemy’s main tool is deception; he would love for you to go through life watering the weeds instead of the flowers, so to speak, spending your energy on fear, doubt, insecurity, mistakes of the past. don’t fall into that trap. when thoughts tell you, “nothing good is in your future, it’s all downhill from here,” instead of feeding the discouragement; “Father, thank you that the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter, You’ve surrounded me with Your favor,” when you’re in a tough time, instead of feeding the doubt, “I’m stuck here, nothing’s ever going to change,” feed your faith; “I’m coming out; God always causes me to triumph, this too shall pass.“ whatever you’re feeding is getting stronger; don’t feed what you don’t want.

maybe you’ve had bad breaks in life, things haven’t turned out the way you hoped, you could easily be discouraged; don’t feed the self-pity, hurts, what didn’t work out. you can’t feed your history and your destiny at the same time; if you’re using all your energy to feed your past, you’re not going to have the energy you need to feed your future. what’s happened to you is over and done; how you were raised, what you didn’t get it, who hurt you, who you lost, is history. you cannot go into a new season if you’re always looking back at the old. those doors are closed; they may not have been fair, but God is fair. He knows how to make it up to you, but you have to let go of what didn’t work out. quit putting energy into negative things of the past; if you’re feeding the hurts, offense, betrayal, it’s like you’re feeding bitterness, resentment, discouragement. the way to get past it is to starve it; quit dwelling on it, thinking about what you didn’t get, who hurt you, how you can prove to them that they shouldn’t have left you. if you’ll put that same energy into your destiny, believing for new beginnings, expecting God’s favor, God will give you beauty for those ashes, make up for the wrongs. you don’t have to pay anybody back; God will be your vindicator.

but we all go through things in life that aren’t fair:

Matthew 18:7 (NKJV)
7 … offenses must come

betrayals, loss, bad breaks, things we don’t understand; it’s painful enough when they happen, but if you make the mistake of feeding the fear, offense, hurt, then it’s going to continue to be painful. you cannot get well if you’re always re-opening the wounds, reliving the negative; that’s making it worse. it can feel good to our flesh to hold onto the hurt, self-pity. you may have a valid reason to feel that way: somebody did you wrong, you came down with an illness, the company laid you off. but when you’re feeding the past, you’re putting energy into something that’s taking you backwards. it’s tempting to hold on, sometimes you wake up and it’s on the forefront of your mind; you have to ask yourself, “am I going to keep putting energy into something that’s taking me in the wrong direction?”

in the scripture, the prophet Samuel went through a great disappointment; he had chosen a young man named Saul to be the next king of Israel. he took Saul under his wing, like Saul was his own son, trained, mentored him. Saul did well as a king for a few years, but then he got off course, made mistakes, wouldn’t obey; finally, God rejected him as king. he lost the throne. Samuel was so discouraged; he had invested years of his life trying to help Saul, now it looked like it was a waste of time. as Samuel was sitting around heartbroken, feeding the self-pity, discouragement, God said:

1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV)
16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul

He was saying, “how long are you going to feed your history, put energy into something that’s taking you in the wrong direction?” yes, there’s a season of mourning, when you go through a loss, a disappointment, you don’t have to be superhuman where you never feel anything or have a down moment, but you can’t let a season of mourning turn into a lifetime of mourning. at some point, you have to say, “yes, I’m disappointed, hurt, my prayer didn’t get answered the way I had hoped, but this is a new day; I’m not feeding my history anymore, I’m letting go of what didn’t work out, not dwelling on my disappointments, reliving my hurts. I’m putting my energy into my destiny, getting ready for the new things that God has in store.”

God went on to tell Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:1 (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.”

if you’ll quit looking backwards, mourning over what didn’t work out, God is going to send you to the house of Jesse: He has a new beginning, relationship, dream. just because Saul didn’t work out doesn’t mean that it’s over; God has another plan, a David. not something secondary, “this is all that I have, too bad, just take this”; David was the greatest king that ever lived. you may have gone through an unfair situation; it wasn’t a surprise to God. He knew every setback, disappointment; He already has a David lined up for you. your greatest joys, victories, accomplishments are still in your future.

but suppose Samuel would’ve continued mourning, putting energy into his past, feeding that disappointment; maybe he wouldn’t have anointed David, and God would’ve chosen someone else to go to the house of Jesse, while Samuel faded off into the sunset, defeated, discouraged.

are you putting energy into your past, feeding your history? God is saying, “fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.” that means: get your passion back, put a smile on your face, start moving forward, you’re about to come to the house of Jesse. you thought it was over and done; God still has a David, something more rewarding than you’ve ever imagined.

if somebody left you, you have to recognize, their part in your story is over; if they walked away, you don’t need them to fulfill your purpose. if you needed them, God wouldn’t have let them leave. but if you live thinking that you can’t be happy now because they moved on, you’re going to miss the new things that God has in store. why don’t you accept it as God closing the door? sometimes, God puts an end to things that we don’t understand. don’t put a question mark where God has put a period. don’t keep mourning over something that you cannot change, always thinking about it, wondering why it didn’t work out; “why did this door close, why did I lose my loved one?”

if you will fill your horn with oil and be on your way, there is a house of Jesse that God has ordained for you; you’re going to come into a new season of joy and fulfillment like you’ve never seen. when you quit putting energy into your history, and start putting it into your destiny, God will give you beauty for those ashes, pay you back for the unfair situation.

that person that left you is a weed; quit watering, thinking about, the weed. this is a new season; God has divine connections lined up for you. instead of feeding the hurt, feed your faith; “Father, thank You that my latter days will be better than my former days, that what was meant for my harm You’re using to my advantage.” if you’ll feed your destiny, God will make up for the wrongs:

Isaiah 61:7 (NIV)
7 Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

in Acts 1, the apostles came together to choose a replacement for Judas, who had betrayed Jesus.

Acts 1:23-26 (NIV)
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

imagine how Barsabbas must’ve felt. this was an incredible opportunity; the 12 apostles would have their names written on the foundation of the new Jerusalem, forever esteemed and respected. Barsabbas got so close; he almost became one of the apostles. he could’ve gotten discouraged, bitter, dropped out, but instead of feeding his history, dwelling on what didn’t work out, he let it go and kept feeding his destiny:

Acts 2:1-2 (NKJV)
2 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place

he wasn’t there with a bad attitude, a chip on his shoulder; he kept moving forward.

when you go through a disappointment, something doesn’t work out, do like him; don’t feed the negative, sit around thinking, “I missed my big opportunity.” God knows what He’s doing; sometimes He will close doors that we think should be open. maybe you didn’t get the promotion that you worked so hard for, didn’t qualify for the loan for the new house, the relationship didn’t work out; that’s in the past. God put a period; keep moving forward, feeding your faith, dreams. at the right time, God will open up a better door for you.

if you’re going to feed your destiny, you have to be careful who you spend time with; if you associate with the wrong people, they can feed you doubt, negativity, gossip. you’re going to become like the people you hang around; make sure that they have what you want. if they’re negative, critical, compromise, don’t have integrity, they’re feeding you the wrong things. life is too short to hang around people who are causing you to compromise. your time is too valuable to waste it with people who don’t have a dream, aren’t going anywhere. you don’t have to make a big announcement, just little by little spend less time with them. “what if I hurt their feelings, they get upset?”; what if you miss your destiny, they’re keeping you from going to the next level?

when you come to the end of life, you won’t stand before people; you will stand before God. He has entrusted you with a gift; you have an assignment, there’s something for you to accomplish. you have a responsibility to become who God’s created you to be. you have to take bold steps to protect what you’re feeding. those coworkers that are negative and critical; instead of going to lunch with them every day, the right attitude is, “I love you, but I’m not going to hang around you, because you’re feeding me doubt, negativity, gossip.” sometimes, we don’t want to rock the boat; we think that if we make changes, we won’t have any friends. the truth is, you may be lonely for a season, but God will give you new, better friends, who will push you up and not pull you down. but if you don’t get rid of the wrong people, you will never meet the right people; you should surround yourself with people who inspire you, challenge you, make you better.

in the book of Deuteronomy, before the Israelites went to battle, God said to the leaders:

Deuteronomy 20:8 (NLT)
8 “Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’

God knew that the fear would spread, and keep them from the victory.

the people around you are contagious; what they have, over time, you’re going to catch. that’s why the scripture says:

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT)
24 Don’t befriend angry people
or associate with hot-tempered people,
25 or you will learn to be like them
and endanger your soul.

spirits are transferable:

Proverbs 13:20 (NET Bible)
20 The one who associates with the wise grows wise

notice; it works in the positive and the negative. you have to be selective about who you spend time with; you’re going to catch what they have.

when the 10 men came back from spying out the promised land, they said to Moses:

Numbers 13:28-31 (NLT)
28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there… 31 … “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

God had already promised them the victory, but this negative report from 10 people began to spread throughout the camp; before long, all 2 million people were afraid.

Numbers 14:3-4 (NLT)
3 … Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”

they were right next door to the promised land, but they turned around and wandered in the desert for 40 years, and never did make it in.

the wrong people can talk you out of your dreams; don’t surround yourself with naysayers, people that tell you what you can’t become. they don’t know what’s in you, or control your destiny. some of you have dreams that are lying dormant because the people around you are negative; they’ve accepted mediocrity, and it rubbed off on you. the good news is, those dreams are still alive; if you will change who you’re spending time with, and get around people who are full of faith, see your potential, and call out your seeds of greatness, you’re going to step up to a new level and see those dreams come to pass. you have to be firm about who you’re letting feed you; if somebody compromises, doesn’t have integrity, runs around on their spouse, be friendly, but don’t hang around with them. seek out people who feed you excellence, integrity, faith, hope, and inspiration.

in Mark 8:

Mark 8:22-23 (NLT)
22 … some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village

why did he take him out of town? he’s God, he could’ve healed him anywhere. maybe it’s because this blind man was in a negative environment, surrounded by people that had accepted mediocrity; Jesus had to take him out so he wouldn’t be talked out of his miracle.

sometimes, you have to get out of a negative environment to see God’s favor in a new way. the people who knew you back then will try to keep you in the same box they’ve had you in since you were growing up; the problem is, you’re not the same person. they’re trying to feed your history; God is ready to feed your destiny. it’s time to break out of that box; don’t let the limitations of those around you hold you down. you were made for more; you have new levels, seeds of greatness, waiting to spring forth.

you may have had some disappointments in the past, but this is a new day; God is about to release His favor in a new way. chains that have held you back are being broken, doors are going to open that you never dreamed would open. now do your part; keep feeding your faith, hopes, dreams. no more feeding doubt, negativity, compromise, mourning over what didn’t work out. don’t use your energy to feed your history; use it to feed your destiny. if you’ll do this, you’re about to come in to Jesse’s house, see new levels, opportunities, relationships, the fullness of your destiny.

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Ease is Coming

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through seasons of struggle, when it feels like it’s uphill: there’s pressure raising children, maybe you’re believing for your health to improve but it’s not getting better. too often, we get discouraged, and think, “that’s just the way life is.”

Matthew 11:12 (NKJV)
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

he was telling us that there will be seasons were you’ll have to stand strong and really fight the good fight of faith

Matthew 11:30 (NKJV)
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

he was saying that there would be times of struggle, pressure, difficulties, “but don’t get discouraged, that’s not permanent. what I’m putting on you, my yoke, it’s easy, light.”

you may be struggling now, you feel pressured, and you think that’s the way it’s always going to be: you’ll always struggle with your health, relationships, finances. no, you’re going to come into an anointing of ease; when you come into this ease, what once was a struggle won’t be anymore, you’re going to have a supernatural grace, favor, that will lighten the load and take the pressure off. God is going to make your life easier. He said that He would go before you and make your crooked places straight; that means that He’s going to smooth things out. you’re coming into a season where things are going to fall into place, you’re going to get breaks that you didn’t see coming, problems that you thought were permanent are suddenly going to turn around. you are not going to go through life, constantly struggling, pressured, weighted down by problems. this is a new day; ease is coming.

David said:

Psalm 23:5 (NKJV)
5 … You anoint my head with oil

oil makes things flow; when there’s friction, things that are stuck, oil is used to lubricate it, make it more fluid. God is going to oil your life. this anointing is going to cause things to be easier; you’re going to accomplish more with less effort. what stopped you in the past, caused friction, is not going to stop you anymore; you’re going to flow right past that. you’re going to accomplish goals and think, “that was easier than I thought; I never dreamed that it’d happen that quickly.” that’s this anointing of ease.

it’s easy to go through life looking at our problems, focused on our obstacles, thinking, “this is going to be so hard, I dread dealing with this, it’s never going to work out; that mindset is not only stealing our joy, it’s keeping us from seeing God’s favor. quit telling yourself, “this is so hard, I’ll never get out of debt, accomplish my dreams”; this is a new day. you are going to have a strength that you did not have before. God did not create you to struggle your whole life; His yoke is easy. you may have had that addiction for a long time; it’s going to be easier than you think to break it. you’re going to have a supernatural power. maybe you’re struggling in your finances, pressured to pay the bills, get ahead; that pressure is coming to an end. God is going to cause good breaks to find you, new doors are going to open, your gifts and talents are going to come out in a new way. it’s going to be easier than you think.

God has the right people, breaks, opportunities, lined up for you. you may not have seen it yet; you keep honoring God, being your best, He’s going to take you into overflow. you are not going to go through life pressured by bills, to make ends meet, send your children to college; God is going to do something unusual, unexpected, that you couldn’t make happen. when you keep doing the right thing, passing these tests, you’re going to come into this anointing of ease. God is going to make things happen that will lighten the load, take the pressure off. God is going to put you at the right place at the right time, open doors that no man can shut, cause people to want to be good to you.

you may be struggling in some areas, but don’t get discouraged; that is not permanent, ease is coming. quit thinking, “I’ll never pass, I’ll never get out of debt, this is too hard”; sometimes, we’re expecting to fail, struggle, for it to be difficult. turn it around; “Father, thank you for your anointing of ease, that You’re causing me to excel, breathing in my direction.” some of the things that you’re worrying about, you don’t see how it could ever work out, it’s not going to be what you think; God is going before you right now, making those crooked places straight. you’re going to look back and say, “it was easier than I thought.”

1 Samuel 4:10-11 (ICB)
10 So the Philistines fought hard and defeated the Israelites. Every Israelite soldier ran away to his own home. It was a great defeat for Israel, because 30,000 Israelite soldiers were killed. 11 The Ark of the Covenant of God was taken by the Philistines.

that’s where the presence of God was back then. all of Israel was in mourning; they had not only lost the Ark of the Covenant, their most important possession, but 30,000 men had been killed in that battle. it looked like the Ark was gone forever.

1 Samuel 5:2-4 (ESV)
2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him.

Dagon was a stone statue that they worshipped; their God couldn’t stand in the presence of Israel’s God.

1 Samuel 5:6-11 (ESV)
6 The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors… they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” 8 … “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. 9 But after they had brought it around, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 11 … “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.”

7 months after they captured it:

1 Samuel 6:7-13 (NIV)
7 … get a new cart ready, with two cows… Hitch the cows to the cart… 8 Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and… Send it on its way… 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh… 13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh… looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight.

they not only got it back, they didn’t even have to fight for it; the Ark came looking for them. during those 7 months, I’m sure that the Israelites came up with plans and strategies for how to get the Ark back. they had lost thousands of men, they knew they were going to lose more… then, they saw the cows come walking up. suddenly, their lives got much easier; they were so relieved.

some of the things that you’re worrying about, trying to figure out how it’s going to work out: how are you going to get well, get out of debt, how is your family going to be restored? God is going to do for you what He did for them; cause those things to find you. you’re not going to have to fight those battles; good breaks, the right people, what you’re believing for, are going to come after you. God is saying, “get ready; the cows are coming. what belongs to you is headed your way: health, freedom, abundance, contracts, spouse.“ God is going to make things happen that you could’ve never made happen.

those cows could’ve stayed there grazing, wandered aimlessly, but God controls the universe; that means that God controls the cows, and knows how to get what’s yours into your hands. people, bad breaks, enemies can’t stop it.

the Philistines took the Ark, but they couldn’t keep it; nobody can keep what belongs to you. the enemy may take your health for a little while, but he can’t keep it; it doesn’t belong to him. you are God’s property; God will send it back. the enemy may distract your child, get them off course for a season, but he can’t keep them there. quit worrying, losing sleep; they’re coming back. he may have taken your dream temporarily, you’ve had bad breaks, disappointments; stay encouraged, what has your name on it is going to find you. some of you, your cows are going to show up sooner than you think; what you thought was over and done, it would never work out, suddenly, things are going to fall into place. you don’t have to fight, struggle, just get up every morning, “Father, thank You that my cows are coming.”

Isaiah said to the Israelites

Isaiah 2:4 (NIV)
4 He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.

God was saying, “you’re coming into a season where you’re not going to need your swords and spears; you’re not going to have to fight, struggle, try to make things happen. instead of a sword, you’re going to need a plow to gather up the harvest. you can put down your spears; you’re not going to have to go attack, try to get back what belongs to you.” God is fighting your battles. He’s putting pressure on those that have what’s yours. you need to get ready, not for a fight, battle; you need to get ready for a harvest, breakthrough, healing. you’re coming into the season of ease. freedom, wholeness, getting what belongs to you; quit believing those lies that you’re stuck, you’ll never get well, it’s been too long, it’s too hard; this is a new day. that yoke of bondage is being broken you’re getting a new yoke of ease, freedom, victory. you’re going to break habits that looked permanent; it’s not going to happen just by your might, power, it’s going to happen because the most high God is breathing in your direction.

it may have been difficult in the past, you tried and it didn’t work out; try again, you’re in a new season, you’ve come into harvest. you can put those swords down; you don’t have to do it in your own strength, God is fighting your battles. dare to declare, “I am free, whole, victorious.” God is going to surprise you; what you thought would never turn around, suddenly, you’re going to see it happen. when you have lucky breaks, that’s the hand of God, the yoke of ease. when you recognize God’s favor, take time to say, “thank You, Lord, for making my life easier, for Your goodness,” then you will see more of God’s favor.

God is in control of your life. He knows what you need and how to get it to you. yes, we all go through seasons of struggle, pressure, and difficulty, but that is not your permanent home; you are coming into this anointing of ease. you’re going to see things fall into place and know that it’s the goodness of God. He is working behind the scenes, lining up what you need; you’re coming into a season where you’re not going to have to struggle, fight. you can put those swords down; you’re coming into a harvest season. you’re going to see the goodness of God making your life easier.

you may be in a difficult time, but God is about to take the pressure off. you’re going to have a strength that you didn’t have before. people are going to go out of their way to be good to you. that yoke of bondage is coming off; the yoke of ease is coming on. what’s hindered you in the past is not going to hinder you in the future; you’re going to overcome obstacles, accomplish dreams, easier than you think. like with the Israelites, those cows are going to find you; ease is coming your way.

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The Odds Are For You

from JO’s sermon this week:

it’s easy to go through life thinking of all the reasons why we can’t be successful, won’t get well, will never meet the right person; we look at situations in the natural, and think that the odds are against us. as long as you think the odds are against you, you’ll get stuck where you are. you have the most powerful force in the universe breathing in your direction; God has crowned you with favor, armed you with strength for every battle. He wouldn’t have allowed that difficulty if He wasn’t going to turn it around and use it to your advantage. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. He is a supernatural God. He parts Red Seas, turns water into wine, opens the eyes of the blind. your circumstances may look impossible, but the God Who can do the impossible is working behind the scenes, arranging things in your favor, turning negative situations around. since God is for you, that means the odds are for you. 

don’t go through life thinking, “not me, I come from the wrong family, the odds are against me.” no, turn it around; “I’ve been born into a new family. my heavenly Father controls the universe. I have royal blood flowing through my veins.” when you know that the odds are for you, you’ll put your shoulders back, carry yourself with confidence, expect to do great things. all through the day, this should be playing in our minds; “the odds are for me; I’m destined to accomplish my dreams, overcome this challenge. I’m a child of the most high God.” but don’t be surprised when you find yourself in situations where it feels like the odds are against you; you don’t see a way out, there aren’t any logical solutions. God puts us there on purpose, so that when He turns it around, nobody will get the credit except for Him; everyone will know that it is the hand of the Lord. when your circumstances seem impossible, instead of being discouraged, “God, why me?” no, get ready, you’re in perfect position for God to show out in your life. He is setting you up to show His favor in amazing ways.

that’s what happened to a man in the scripture named Gideon. the Midianites and 2 other armies came against him; they were about to attack the Israelites. Gideon sent word to his men to come and fight; 32,000 warriors showed up. Gideon was feeling good; that was several times more men than his opposition, he liked those odds. but just as he was about to attack, God said:

Judges 7:2-7 (NIV)
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there… 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.”… 7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”

Gideon only had 300 men to fight this army of thousands and thousands. these odds seemed impossible; it looked like he would be wiped out. what Gideon didn’t realize is that God wasn’t setting him back, He was setting him up. He was about to show out in his life:

Judges 7:16-22 (NIV)
16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do… 19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets… 20 The three companies blew the trumpets… 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

the Israelites defeated them, and they didn’t even have to go to battle. it looked like a setback, but the truth was, God was setting Gideon up, putting him in position to show Himself strong.

when the odds seem like they’re against you, the obstacles look bigger, stronger, more powerful, don’t worry; like with Gideon, it is a set up. God is about to make things happen that you could never make happen, turn that situation around without you having to go to battle. He’s going to heal you without the extensive treatment, promote you without all of the qualifications. keep the right perspective; the odds are for you. you may feel like the underdog, but you and God are a majority. you don’t need everyone to be for you, you don’t have to have all the support, encouragement, you have the One that matters; the most high God is breathing in your direction.

later, when the Israelites went to different cities, normally, those armies would attack, but the leaders said, in effect, “Gideon, we saw what your God did to the Midianites”; they weren’t afraid of Gideon, they were afraid of Gideon’s God. they knew that the Lord was on his side. God wants to give you victory to where people know that the Lord is on your side.

maybe you didn’t have the support, encouragement, stability, growing up; you should’ve been a statistic, but here you are, defying the odds, leaving your mark, going further than you ever dreamed. what happened? the Lord was on your side.

the medical report said that you wouldn’t make it, but here you are, strong, healthy and whole; the Lord was on your side. perhaps the odds said that you’d be addicted like your father, you would struggle like your grandfather; but here you are, free and clean, you broke the curse, set a new standard. how could this be? the Lord was on your side.

when you don’t see a way, you feel out-numbered, the giants look bigger, they have more resources, experience, that means that God is up to something. like with Gideon, He’s getting you in position to launch you to the next level.

Exodus 14:4 (TLB)
4 And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will chase after you. I have planned this to gain great honor and glory over Pharaoh

Exodus 14:4 (CJB)
4 I will make Pharaoh so hardhearted that he will pursue them; thus I will win glory for myself at the expense of Pharaoh

God had told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to “let My people go,” but God knew that Pharaoh wasn’t going to let them go; He caused him to harden his heart. God was setting up the odds to be against the Israelites so that He could show His favor.

some of the people and circumstances that have come against you, you may not like it, it wasn’t fair, but it was ordained by God, not to stop or defeat you, but so that God can show out in your life. quit complaining about what didn’t work out, “why am I facing these huge giants?”; those obstacles that look like they’re stopping you, if you’ll stay in faith, it’s just a matter of time before God turns them around, and uses them to push you forward. the odds are against you for one reason; so that God can bring great glory out of your life. He wants to make you an example of his goodness.

when the 3 Hebrew teenagers wouldn’t bow down to the King’s golden idol, the king got so furious:

Daniel 3:19 (NIV)
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego… He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual

what was God doing? He was making the odds even greater. God knew that the fire wasn’t going to burn them, that they wouldn’t be harmed. He had them turn it up even hotter so that it would become a greater miracle.

Daniel 3:20-27 (NIV)
20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace…. 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire… the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

there wasn’t any doubt that the Lord was on their side; even the King said:

Daniel 3:28 (NIV)
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

when it feels like the odds are against you, the fire’s been turned up 7 times hotter, Pharaoh won’t let you go, God took your army from 32,000 to 300 men, don’t panic or fall apart, it’s a setup; God is about to show out, make you a testimony, do something that people cannot deny. they’re going to know that the Lord is on your side. sometimes, God will let the odds grow greater, to where you don’t see a way out, then suddenly God will step in and make things happen that you could never make happen. don’t let the odds fool you, don’t let the fact that you don’t see a way, the financial situation looks too far gone, you’ve tried to break that addiction for years, now you think it wasn’t meant to be, no, get ready, this is a setup; this is not the time to give up, this is the time to stir your faith up. all through the day, “Lord, thank You that You’re more powerful than this sickness, addiction, opponent.” if you’ll stay in faith, you’re going to become a testimony; people are going to look at you and see that God’s favor is on your life.

in the scripture:

John 11:1-3 (NIV)
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Jesus was in a different city; they thought that he would come right away and pray for Lazarus. they’d seen Jesus heal people before; they knew that he could heal their brother. one day passed, and Jesus didn’t show up; I’m sure they thought, “Jesus, where are you, what’s taking you so long?” another day went by; still no sign of Jesus. finally, Lazarus died.

John 11:17-21 (NIV)
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days… 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

the odds weren’t that good when he was sick; now that he was dead, they looked impossible, he was already wrapped in grave clothes:

John 11:43-44 (NIV)
43 … Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

it was a great miracle.

sometimes, God will wait on purpose until the odds are way against us; you’re ready to bury the dream, promise, relationship. you don’t see a way, but God’s ways are not our ways. Mary and Martha were praying for healing, but God had something better in store; a resurrection. what you’re tempted to give up on, you don’t see how it could happen, maybe God is not going to do it the way you’re thinking; maybe He has something better for you. the odds may be totally against you today, but God is totally for you. He has not brought you this far to leave you. your circumstances may look dead; God didn’t show up on time, you’ve been asking and asking. dare to trust Him. He has you in the palm of His hand; you may not see anything happening, but He’s working behind the scenes. when He speaks, dead things come back to life. He’s not moved by the odds.

when Jesus found out that Lazarus was dead, he didn’t say, “oh man, I waited too long, what am I going to do now?” God controls the universe; the odds do not determine what He can and cannot do. Back in those days, the Sadducees, the ones who were very against Jesus, believed that the spirit left the body 3 days after the person died. it wasn’t a coincidence that Jesus waited until the fourth day to show up; he did this on purpose, so when he raised Lazarus, there would be no doubt about it. sometimes, God will let the odds become greater, not just so that you, but so that your critics, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, won’t be able to deny what God has done.

from that moment forward, Lazarus became a testimony; everywhere he went, he didn’t have to say a word, people pointed at him, whispering, “there’s that guy, he was dead, he’s not supposed to be here.” he defied the odds; he was a living testimony. that’s what God wants to do for you; show you His favor in such a way that people notice. you’re going to stand out, become a living testimony.

it doesn’t always happen the way we think, God knows what’s best, but if you’re letting the odds talk you out of stretching, dreaming, believing, then you’re going to miss the fullness of your destiny. if you can accomplish everything in your own strength, you don’t need God’s help, but when the odds are against you, you don’t see a way, you don’t have the connections, finances, you’re too young, too old, that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “God, I know that these odds are no problem for You; this is a setup for You to show out.” are you letting the odds talk you out of your dreams, health, freedom?

in the book of Genesis, it talks about how God created the heavens and the earth; the word it uses for “creation” means that He made it out of nothing. every expert would’ve said, “that’s impossible, you don’t have anything to work with; if you had skies, ocean, grass, air, then maybe you could make something, but You can’t do that with nothing.”

it’s one thing to have low odds, but what about when the odds are zero, it’s impossible, there’s no chance? here’s how amazing God is; He started the universe with odds of zero. He had nothing to work with, no way in the natural, but God is not moved by the odds. He didn’t check with accounting, and say, “I’m about to create stars, galaxies, planets; I have nothing to work with, what are the odds of this happening?” accounting would’ve said, “zero; You have no materials, no resources.” God would’ve said, “thank you for the information… now let there be light!” He spoke worlds into existence. He didn’t Google it to see if it was possible, try to figure out a way; He is the way. He doesn’t check with the odds to see if you can reach your destiny; He speaks, and it becomes your destiny. He’s not limited by your background, how you were raised, your education; He is all-powerful. He can take nothing, and make something magnificent; imagine what He can do with you. you are his prized possession; He breathed life into you, you have the DNA of Almighty God.

there may be odds against you in certain areas, but they cannot stop you; God has destined you to leave your mark. don’t let the odds discourage you. don’t let what you think is not going to happen talk you out of believing. even if the odds are zero, all God has to do is speak, and the odds change in your favor. the odds may be against you, you don’t see any way that your situation could work out, but God has the right people already lined up. the gifts and dreams He’s put in you didn’t get canceled because you had bad breaks, somebody did you wrong. they are still alive; you can still become who God created you to be.

it may feel like the fire’s been turned up 7 times hotter, but don’t worry, your time is coming. God is saying, “the odds are for you.” things are about to change in your favor. that problem that looks permanent; it’s only temporary. now all through the day, “Father, thank You that the odds are for me.” if you’ll do this, you’re going to go further than you’ve ever dreamed. like the Hebrew teenagers, you’re going to come out of the fire without the smell of smoke. and like Lazarus, God is going to make you into a living testimony.

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from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have pictures that we see in our minds. God created us as visual beings; like on a movie screen, different images will come up. sometimes, we’re not even thinking about it, and a negative image will come: we’ll see our business going down, our child getting off course, us losing our health. there’s no truth to it, it’s not going to come to pass, but if you let that play, you’ll go through the day worried, and it will keep you awake at night. dwelling on these negative images will cause you to live in fear, keep you from expecting God’s best.

it’s all an imagination; it’s not a reality, it’s just something that you’re seeing in your mind. it’s one thing to have something to deal with that’s actually happening, we all face challenges, but too often we’re letting these wrong imaginations of what might happen, might not work out, might fall apart, to steal our joy and cause us to live stressed. the good news is; you control your imagination, what pictures play in your mind. just because that negative image comes, doesn’t mean you have to tune in; you can change the channel.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
5 Casting down imaginations

quit letting these negative images play. these negative imaginations will come, especially when we’re in difficult times; they’ll show us all the worst-case scenarios. have you ever noticed, when you’re in the heat of the battle, you never see pictures of you overcoming the sickness, of your business taking off, you meeting the person of your dreams; those pictures don’t automatically come, it’s just the opposite. when you see these negative pictures, don’t take the bait; they are not a reality, that is not predicting your future, that is a wrong imagination that you need to cast down.

quit worrying about something that’s not going to happen, losing sleep over something that’s just in your mind; that’s the enemy trying to torment you, convince you to live stressed out, worried. he knows that he can’t bring it to pass; he doesn’t have that authority, so the next best thing that he’ll try to do it deceive you into believing that it’s a reality, so that you don’t enjoy your life. don’t fall into that trap; guard your mind.

are you worrying about a wrong imagination, something that’s not going to come to pass? are you going to look back years from now and have to say, “if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t spend all that time discouraged, afraid, over what I thought was going to happen”? why don’t you start changing the channel? those negative pictures are not a reality. some of the things that the enemy is showing you, he should win an Academy award; it looks very real, impressive, but it’s all made up. it’s not going to happen; quit believing those lies.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God

God’s not going to do it for you; you have to bring it down. God says, you will lend and not borrow; whatever you touch will prosper and succeed. instead of watching that picture of you struggling, not having enough, business going down, cast down that imagination that’s exalting itself above what God promised you; start seeing yourself prosperous, coming out of debt, paying your house off, having an abundance, so you can be a blessing to others. that image is not going to automatically come, but you can create it; use your imagination for the right purposes, to see what God says about you.

God says that with long life he will satisfy you; instead of watching that channel of you going downhill, bring down that imagination and start seeing yourself strong, healthy, living a full, blessed life. or maybe you’ve gone through a disappointment, loss, unfair situation, life hasn’t turned out the way you had planned; those images will come up of you living depressed, lonely, never being fulfilled, but God says that He will give you beauty for those ashes, pay you back double for what was unfair, take what was meant for your harm, and use it to your advantage. those pictures that are showing you defeated, rejected, lonely, they are exalting themselves above what God has said about you. don’t let them stay up; bring them down. they are not a reality.

the enemy will show you the ashes; what he won’t show you is the beauty that’s coming. he’ll show you the loss; what he won’t show you is the new beginning that’s on the way. he’ll show you that it’s all downhill from here, what he won’t show you is the double that’s coming: double the joy, peace, fulfillment. do your part; protect your imagination, what you’re seeing. when those images come, showing you going downhill, they are not from God, not a reality. don’t waste 30 years living worried, stressed out; switch over into faith.

the mistake many people make is that they only watch one channel; whatever comes up in their imagination, they think that’s all there is, so they watch it. you need to get cable in your mind; you can have a lot of different channels. stay on the victory, favor, more than enough, overcoming channels. in your mind, when these negative imaginations come up, it’s real simple; change the channel. quit watching things that are depressing you, making you worried, causing you to live in fear, not pursue your dreams; cast down those imaginations. you control what plays in your mind; you can’t stop all the negative images from coming, but you can stop them from staying. you have the remote control; don’t get stuck in that one channel.

what you constantly dwell on is creating a picture in your imagination. many times, the enemy doesn’t have to put negative images in our minds; we’re creating them with our own thoughts. you have to change the channel; quit seeing yourself as barren, not able to have a child, disappointed, cast down that imagination. God says that the fruit of your womb is blessed, your seed will be mighty in the land, you will be the happy mother of children; that means that that infertility is exalting itself above what God says about you. you have to bring that down. God has the final say. God controls the whole universe.

are negative pictures keeping you from your dreams? do you see yourself overcoming that addiction, happily married, accomplishing what God put in your heart, or are you watching the wrong channel? you can’t watch every imagination that comes up; your mind will naturally gravitate towards the negative. if your business starts to slow down, don’t be surprised if in your imagination you start seeing the creditors coming, having to lay people off, the doors closing; if you’re not disciplined, and you let that play, you’ll go around worried, stressed out. what’s the answer? change the channel. you can create new pictures in your mind; start seeing your business taking off, new customers finding you, opportunities chasing you down.

if you’re struggling with an illness, those negative imaginations will come; you’ll see yourself going downhill, not able to go back to work. be disciplined in your thought life; when you’re facing a physical battle, you need all of your energy to go towards you getting well. when you’re watching negative imaginations, that’s taking your strength, draining your energy, making you weaker. put up some new pictures; start seeing yourself strong, healthy, exercising, full of energy, living a long, blessed life. if you’ll use your imagination the right way, it will help you to remain hopeful, and to believe that God will turn it around.

when God promised Abraham:

Genesis 17:5 (NIV)
5 … I have made you a father of many nations.

he was in his 80s, too old to have a baby. God told him:

Genesis 15:5 (NIV)
5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

it wasn’t a coincidence that God wanted him to have a picture of it, something that he could see it. God knew that these negative images would come; Abraham would start seeing himself as too old, how impossible it was, so God gave him this picture. every time Abraham was tempted to get worried, talk himself out of it, he would go out and look up at the sky, and imagine how those stars represented what God had promised him.

what’s playing on the picture screen of your mind? what God has spoken over you, how you’ll accomplish your dreams, break the addiction, see your health restored, or, are you letting discouraging pictures play? if the only images you’re seeing are negative, it’s going to limit you. God wants to use your imagination to create fresh vision, make you hopeful, help you stay filled with faith.

you may be struggling with an illness, the medical report doesn’t look good, but instead of dwelling on these negative images, why don’t you start imagining, right now, these healing cells flowing through you? picture these cells that are full of the life of the most high God attacking and devouring every sick and diseased cell in you. see yourself getting healthier, getting out of that sickbed. cancer is no match for our God; what’s trying to stop you is no match for the Creator of the universe. keep the right pictures playing in your mind; don’t let your imagination be used to worry, defeat you; turn it around and use it to encourage, strengthen, inspire you.

God said in Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 1:10 (MEV)
10 See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

notice the order; before you can build and plant, before the situation will turn around, before you see increase, you have to pull down and root out. like with Jeremiah, God has a place of victory for you where you will rule over everything that’s holding you back, but you have to first pull down these wrong imaginations, root out any negative pictures. if you’re going to a job interview, don’t imagine that you’re not going to get it, they’re not going to like you; you’re defeating yourself before you get there. pull down that imagination, and imagine them choosing you; imagine you standing out, working there, excelling at that position. if you let these negative imaginations play, they’ll cause you to be weak, timid, feel unqualified; change the channel. “what if I do that and it doesn’t work?; what if you do that and it does work? if you do it, and you don’t get the position, that’s just means that God has something better in store. but if you’re always letting these negative images play, you will never know what you could’ve become.

if you feel a pain in your side, thoughts will tell you, “oh no, that’s serious, that’s the same thing that took your uncle’s life; he didn’t make it that long, neither will you”; if you’re not disciplined in your mind, you’ll get all panicked, start thinking of all the worst-case scenarios. by the time you get home, you’ll be writing out your will, making your final arrangements. even if it is something serious, what’s going to help you to stay in peace is to keep the right images in your mind.

most of the things that come against us are not what we think they are; we let our imaginations run wild, and show us all the worst-case possibilities. if you hear a siren at night, and your children are not home, thoughts will tell you, “that’s your child; your son’s been in an accident, he’s headed to the hospital right now, you better get up and do something about it.” if you let that play, before long you’ll see the ambulance, the accident taking place; those are wrong imaginations that you have to cast down. instead of believing those lies, worrying, imagining the worst, turn it around; “Father, thank you that my children are in the palm of Your hand, no weapon formed against them will prosper, angels are watching over them, keeping them from accidents and harm.”

be disciplined in your mind; don’t let your imagination run wild, and show you all the negative possibilities. maybe what you’re imagining is not what you think it is. maybe you’re not stuck, the addiction is not permanent, your health isn’t going downhill, your dream is achievable, all those pictures that have been playing in your imagination are not your true reality; maybe they’re just trying to keep you from moving forward. cast down these wrong imaginations. they are not a reality; they are trying to deceive you into living worried, afraid, so that you’ll give up on your dreams.

why is it that we let our imaginations run wild only in the negative direction? we imagine the worst, what’s not going to work out. why don’t you start letting your imagination run wild in the right direction? imagine living a supersized life, accomplishing your dreams, your children doing amazing things. let’s keep the right pictures in our minds. when those negative images come up, be quick to change the channel; remember, they are not a reality. if you will protect your imagination, like with Abraham, God is going to bring promises to pass, you’re going to overcome obstacles, accomplish your dreams, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

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