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Archive for July, 2017

The Good Father

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many of us were raised by fathers that were loving and kind. they guided us, did their best to make sure that we had everything that we needed. but no matter how good our father was, people are not perfect; they make mistakes, there are times they can let us down, maybe not give us what we needed. some fathers, they meant well, but they weren’t affectionate. they never told you that they loved you, or were proud of you. they corrected you, made sure you stayed on the right path, but they didn’t express their love. the problem was, their father most likely did the same thing to them; they never heard “I love you,” never saw it modeled. you can’t give away what you don’t have. most fathers never planned on messing up their children, passing down dysfunction, but like throwing a pebble on a calm lake, their decisions affect those around them. you can’t help it; you’ve been impacted by the people that raised you. the good news is, the good Father, your Heavenly Father, has taken all this into account. He knew who your parents would be, what you wouldn’t get, what wouldn’t be fair. He’s already designed a plan with this in mind to get you to your destiny.

you may have been raised around dysfunction, addictions, abuse, poverty, but that does not have to stop you; that’s where you come from, not who you are. you are a child of the most high God. your earthly father may have fallen short, disappointed you, didn’t give you what you needed, but your heavenly Father, the good Father, will never let you down. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother. maybe your earthly father never gave you his approval, but the good Father is saying, “I’m proud of you. I love you. you are My son, daughter.” people may have tried to push you down, made you feel less than, but the good Father is saying, “you’re a masterpiece, prize possession, you’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” now don’t stay focused on what your earthly father did or didn’t give you. don’t live bitter because people put you at a disadvantage, weren’t there for you; start going to the good Father.

it’s painful to be rejected by anyone, but especially by your own father. when you’ve been raised in a dysfunctional environment, it’s easy to become negative, and think, “God, why was I born into this family? why wasn’t my father around? why was there so much arguing, addictions, abuse? why didn’t these people give me what I needed?” it may not have been fair, but the good Father has taken that all into account: what you wouldn’t get, who would hurt you, what wouldn’t work out. it may seem like it’s put you at a disadvantage, but that has not stopped God’s plan; when He laid out the path for your life, He took into consideration the pain, bad breaks, rejection. no matter how wrong it was, who wasn’t there for you, don’t use it as an excuse to live bitter, to give up on dreams, to settle for mediocrity. “my dad wasn’t around, he was harsh and abusive, he didn’t treat me right”; if you’ll start going to the good Father, get your approval, affirmation, love from Him, then despite what your earthly father did or didn’t do, the good Father will make it up to you, pay you back for the injustice, will help you not only overcome, but He’ll show you favor that will thrust you years ahead.

Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 (NKJV)
32 … it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

the good Father takes good pleasure in making your wrongs right, giving you what people could not give you. people may have put you at a disadvantage; God is saying, “get ready, I’m about to make it up to you. I’m going to give you more opportunity, influence, resources, fulfillment, than if it had never happened.”

Psalm 68:5 (NET Bible)
5 He is a father to the fatherless

God sees when you don’t have someone watching after, protecting you, you’ve been put in unfair situations where you didn’t have a choice, you were born into it. if you’ll keep moving forward, the good Father will open doors no man can shut, bring the right people, cause you to go where you could not go on your own.

in Joshua 5, the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. they were camped outside the city of Jericho; this was the last obstacle between them and their promised land. their parents had wandered in the desert for 40 years; they never did make it in, but God was about to fulfill His promise and take their children in. but there was one last thing the men had to do:

Joshua 5:2-3 (NIV)
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites

these men, this new generation, were in their twenties and thirties. they were supposed to be circumcised when they were 8 days old by their fathers, but because their fathers didn’t do what they were supposed to when they were supposed to, now these grown men were having to be circumcised. not by their fathers, their fathers had passed; God told Joshua to do it.

when you don’t get what you should have as a child, it can be much more painful to get as an adult. at 8 days old, you don’t remember it; you cry for a little while, and then you’re done. but these grown men were having to endure pain that could’ve been avoided if their fathers would have carried out their responsibilities.

you may be dealing with things today that your father could’ve taken care of: if your father would’ve told you that he’s proud of you, you wouldn’t be working 3 jobs trying to prove to him that you’re talented, earn his love. or if your father would’ve paid attention to you, made you feel special, you wouldn’t go from man to man, trying to get the approval that your father should have given you.

these men were all circumcised; they had to go through pain because of what their fathers didn’t do. but when they came to Jericho, the last obstacle, God didn’t tell them to go break through the walls, attack the city; God knew they were hurting, dealing with things they shouldn’t have had to deal with, that weren’t their fault. He didn’t say, “too bad, your parents should’ve obeyed Me, blame them”; God took their pain into consideration. He told them:

Joshua 6:3 (NIV)
3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.

this is the only place in the scripture where God had them take a city by simply walking around the walls.

Joshua 6:15-20 (NIV)
15 On the seventh day… 20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

they made it to the promised land.

God knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there when you needed them, who should’ve been more responsible. the good news is, God is going to make it easier on you because of the people that did you wrong. there are battles you won’t have to fight, walls you won’t have to break down, because the good Father is watching after you. He’s designed a plan for a wounded man/woman to still take the city, for someone that’s been through hurts, abuse, dysfunction, to still accomplish dreams, have great relationships, live a blessed, fulfilled life.

if we’re honest, we’ve all been wounded in some way: people do us wrong, sometimes even good people may not give us what we needed. don’t get discouraged; God has a plan. he had Joshua do what their fathers should have done; the people that should have done it for you may not be here, but God has a Joshua for you. the good Father knows what you didn’t get. He’s going to send the right people to bless you, encourage you, open up a door. it may not have been fair, they didn’t do what they should have; don’t get bitter, help, ease is coming. the good Father is watching after you. before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God not only knew you, but He knew who your parents would be, what family you would be born into. He’s already come up with a plan for you to overcome every obstacle, designed a strategy for you to break out of the mold and set a new standard, lined up your Joshuas, the right people to help give you what you didn’t get.

maybe you faced abandonment, disappointments, bad breaks, abuse; it doesn’t have to stop you. you may be wounded, the people that should’ve been empowering you, speaking life to you, did just the opposite, but God has a plan for the wounded to still do great things. people may have rejected you, but God has accepted you. they may call you a mistake; God calls you a masterpiece. they may have left you out; God has not forgotten about you. He has you in the palm of His hand. He’s going to make up for what you didn’t get. people can’t stop your destiny. how you were raised, what family you come from, who did you wrong; God has taken that all into account. don’t live with a victim mentality; people may not have given you what they should have, but the good Father, the God who knew you before you were born, He’s not only going to make it up to you, He’s going to make the enemy pay, and bring you out better than if it had never happened.

in the scripture, Ishmael was the child that Abraham had out of wedlock with his maid Hagar. God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby, but they got in a hurry, tried to help God out, and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the promised child. this caused all kinds of strife and division; Sarah was mad Abraham, she started treating Hagar badly, Abraham was trying to keep both women happy. Sarah finally had her baby; Isaac, the promised child. when she had this child, she realized she didn’t need Hagar anymore, and she didn’t want Ishmael around; every time she saw Ishmael, he reminded her of Abraham’s mistake. Ishmael had to pay the price for something he had nothing to do with.

sometimes, it’s not that people don’t like you; they don’t like who you remind them of. they’re disrespectful with you because of who your father is, because of a relative, they had a falling out, a breakup, now you’re caught between the two.

Sarah was so upset:

Genesis 21:9-12 (NIV)
9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son… 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you… 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy.

Abraham was a wealthy man; he could have sent them out with animals, with a large food supply, with help so they could make it at least to the next city. put yourself in Ishmael’s shoes; he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t choose to be born into this dysfunctional family, he couldn’t help it that he wasn’t the promised child, he couldn’t change the fact that he reminded Sarah of Abraham’s mistake. all these things that he had no control over; it looked like he had been dealt an unfair hand.

like Ishmael, you may have come into situations that put you at a disadvantage, where there was dysfunction, abuse, poverty. you couldn’t help it, you were born into it. now, you’re having to deal with consequences from other people’s poor choices. stay encouraged; the good Father sees what’s happening. God is a God of justice. it’s not how you start that matters, it’s how you finish. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you.

Ishmael went out into the desert, abandoned, confused, rejected. the man he had known as his father, that had taken care of him, provided for him, suddenly turned on him.

Genesis 21:15-16 (NIV)
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.”

if this was the end of the story, we could try to justify it by saying, “he was Abraham’s mistake, he wasn’t the promised child”; that would make sense if God wasn’t the good Father.

Genesis 21:17 (NIV)
17 God heard the boy crying

God heard the cries of this young man born into dysfunction, with all kinds of things that he had no control over.

Genesis 21:18 (NIV)
18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

even though he wasn’t the promised child, his parents made a mess of his life, God said, in effect, “Ishmael, I’ve seen all the injustice, I know you’ve had bad breaks, people put you at a disadvantage, but don’t worry; I’m going to make it up to you, do something great with your life, bring a nation out of you.”

God was showing us that even if you have parents that blew it, people that put you at a disadvantage, addictions, abuse, poverty, you had no control, don’t get discouraged; God knows how to bring greatness out of a great mess. if you’ll not complain, not give up on a dream, “this is not fair,” instead go to God, the good Father, He’ll not only hear your call, but He’ll make more out of your life than you ever imagined. don’t live with a victim mentality; don’t let what’s happened in the past limit your future. Abraham was the father of faith, but he didn’t treat his son right. a good person may have done you wrong; people are human, they make mistakes. why don’t you let them off the hook? quit trying to make people pay you back, and go to God; He’ll pay you back. God knows how to bring greatness out of dysfunction: that means great relationships, great talent, great opportunities, great success.

you may have had a rough start, the odds are against you; the good Father sees what’s happening. He knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there for you. He’s taken into consideration the hurt, loneliness, bad breaks. He has a plan, not to just bring you out, but to bring you out better. don’t live with a victim mentality, don’t give up on your dreams; there may be some dysfunction in your past, we all have some, but the good Father has amazing things in your future. God is going to bring greatness out of a great mess, bring down walls easier than you thought, be a Father to the fatherless, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

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Bless Your Enemies

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to be good to people that are being good to us; it doesn’t take much faith to be kind, show favor, to someone that’s kind to us. but what about when people do us wrong? they’re talking bad about us, they weren’t honest in a business deal, they walked out of a relationship. the last thing we think about is being good to them; they don’t deserve it. but Jesus said:

Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

one test we all have to pass is being good to people that have not been good to us. everything in you will say, “hold a grudge, talk about them, look for ways to get even.” but your job is not to pay people back; your job is to bless your enemies. you be the blesser, and God will take care of your enemies. when it says to pray for those that have done you wrong, that means to pray that God will bless them. “they don’t deserve it; they hurt me, it wasn’t fair”; you’re not blessing them for their sake, you’re blessing them for your sake. without you showing them kindness that they don’t deserve, you’ll get stuck; it will limit how high you can go.

that person at the office that left you out of the meeting, they did it on purpose; don’t be surprised if you’re in charge of inviting people to the next meeting. you’ll be tempted to think, “thank you Jesus! it’s payback time; I’m going to invite everyone except them”; that’s a test. they did you wrong, now here’s your opportunity to be good to someone that wasn’t good to you. if you leave them out, it’s not hurting them, it’s hurting you. blessing your enemies is a test of your character. they don’t need your blessing, God could have somebody else do it, but when you prove to God that you’re not bitter, vindictive, holding a grudge, you’re big enough to swallow your pride and bless them, then God knows you’re ready to be promoted.

the reason God can’t promote some people is they would use that power to get even; they would fire the 6 people that did them wrong. God is not going to promote us to pay somebody back. the sooner you learn to bless your enemies, be good to those that have done you wrong, the better off you’re going to be. sometimes, the way you bless your enemy is by not talking bad about them. they may not even be in your life; they’ve done the damage and moved on. you could bring up all the negative, tarnish their reputation, tell your friends how they have no character, they’re dishonest, played around; instead, zip it up, cover for them, protect their reputation. you just blessed your enemy, showed God that you’re ready to go higher. you can say things that are true, but if you don’t put it in the right context, tell the whole story, then technically, it might be correct, but it’s not being honest.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

when you do good to those that have done you wrong, it may feel like you’re being weak, letting them take advantage of you; the truth is, that’s putting coals on their heads. that doesn’t mean they’re going to burn up, it means that it’s more effective than trying to pay people back. love is the most powerful force that we have. will you be good to someone that’s done you harm, let go of the anger, bitterness, resentment, and give your enemy food when he’s hungry? when you’re merciful, you’re not lessening what they did; they may have hurt you, it wasn’t right, you’re not excusing their actions, but when you’re the bigger person, you’re kind even though they don’t deserve it, not only does that have a great impact on them, but that frees you to go to a higher level.

this is what Joseph did. in the scripture, his brothers were so jealous of him:

Genesis 37:24-28 (NLT)
24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern… 26 Judah said to his brothers, “… Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders… 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

Genesis 39:1 (NLT)
39 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Joseph’s whole world was turned upside down; his dreams, goals, seeing his family, having his freedom. it was all because of his brothers. he ended up spending years in prison for something that he didn’t do, going through lonely nights, times when he felt like God had forgotten about him. finally, thirteen years later, after all the heartache and pain:

Genesis 41:39-41 (NLT)
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”

Genesis 41:57 (NLT)
57 And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

Genesis 42:6-7 (NLT)
6 Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger

this was his big chance to get even. after all the years of heartache, pain, injustice, God brought the people that caused it right in front of him. most of us would be thinking about payback, but the reason God could promote Joseph, give him incredible influence and favor, was that God knew He could trust Joseph to handle the power correctly. Joseph had proved he would do the right thing, and be good to people that had done him harm. instead of getting revenge:

Genesis 45:3-15 (NIV)
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! … 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

Genesis 45:13-18 (NIV)
13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”… 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph… 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

when you can do like Joseph, and be good to someone who’s caused you pain, embrace someone who’s betrayed you, show kindness and respect even though they don’t deserve it, there’s no limit to how high God will take you.

Joseph being betrayed by his brothers was all a part of God’s plan. God knew, years down the road, that there was going to be a great famine; He needed somebody on the inside of Egypt, where the food would be stored, so the Israelites could survive. He had to find somebody that could handle being mistreated and betrayed without being vindictive. if Joseph would have tried to get even, put his brothers in prison, then the Israelites could have perished during the famine.

everything that happens is a part of God’s plan. we can’t see it at the time; having a family member betray you, that doesn’t make sense, a friend walk away. don’t be bitter, don’t hold a grudge; be a Joseph. be good to those that have done you wrong. let God take care of the people that have hurt you; you don’t have to pay them back. you’re not the judge or the jury; leave it in God’s hands. it’s better to let God fight your battles, be your vindicator. blessing your enemies not only shows God that you have the character to go higher, but it shows people who you really are. it’s easy to be good to those that have been good to you, but when you can be good to people that have done you wrong, you’re an exceptional person; you’re a Joseph. you’re the kind of man, woman, that God can entrust with greatness. He can use you for His highest purposes.

we see this same quality in David. when he defeated Goliath, King Saul loved him, so much so that he brought him into the palace; David would play the harp for Saul when he wasn’t feeling well. but David began to get so much recognition:

1 Samuel 18:6-11 (NLT)
6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns… 7 This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”
… 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. 10 …David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

Saul was wrong, he was jealous, but you will never read where David tried to pay him back. despite Saul trying to kill him, what did David do? played the harp for him, tried to make his life better. no wonder David is called a man after God’s own heart. my prayer is: “God, help us to grow to the place where we’re not looking for ways to get revenge on our enemies, but we’re looking for ways to bless our enemies.” “you’re too nice; I believe in standing up for myself, paying people back.” no, the scripture says:

Romans 12:21 (NKJV)
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

you don’t overcome evil with more evil. if you do the same thing to them that they’re doing to you, not only will you have a bigger problem, more conflict, but you’ll get stuck; it will keep you from rising higher.

2 Samuel 9:3-7 (NIV)
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”… 5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar… 7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

can you imagine, having the grandson of the man that tried to kill you eating dinner with you every night? that takes a big man, somebody of great character. you may have had people do you wrong, we all have. don’t be bitter, be a David; overcome the evil with good.

you may have a coworker that’s jealous, tries to keep you from a promotion, a friend that walks away, a relative that’s not honest. it’s easy to hold on to the hurt, look for ways to pay them back; why don’t you try a different approach, and bless your enemies, be good to those that have done you wrong? living vindictive, angry, bitter, it only poisons your life. I know the pain was real, what they did hurt, it wasn’t fair, but holding onto it doesn’t make it better. if you’ll let it go, and live out of a place of forgiveness, wholeness, you’ll not only feel better, but that’s what allows the Creator of the universe to go to work. it may have been meant for your harm, but He knows how to turn it around and use it to your advantage.

in the New Testament book of Philemon, Paul was in prison. he wrote a letter to his good friend Philemon; he owned a large estate, and he’d come to know the Lord through Paul. Paul was writing to him about his runaway slave, named Onesimus; he didn’t just run away, commentaries tell us that he stole something from Philemon, too. Onesimus met up with Paul in prison; he gave his life to Christ, and became like a son to Paul. Paul was in a predicament; Onesimus had done wrong to Philemon, but now he was changed. so Paul wrote Philemon a letter on Onesimus’ behalf:

Philemon 10-19 (NKJV)
10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus… 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him… 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother… 17 … receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay

(note: “ When Paul spoke of Onesimus being unprofitable and profitable, he made a play on a word. The name Onesimus means ‘profitable.’ ”

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/philemon-1/)

Paul was saying, in effect, “Philemon, I know that Onesimus has done you wrong, you have a good right to be angry, to be vindictive. when he returns, you could imprison him, make his life miserable, but something has changed; he’s no longer your slave, he’s your brother.” this was a test; would Philemon receive him back, forgive him, be good to him, treat him like a brother, or would he hold on to to the hurt, anger, try to get revenge? the scripture doesn’t tell us how the story ends; I believe he passed the test, showed him mercy.

sooner or later, Onesimus is going to show up at your house; somebody that hurt you, did you wrong, betrayed you. you have a right to be angry, bitter; that’s a test. are you stuck in what used to be, trying to get revenge, vindictive, or have you grown, come up higher, gotten past the hurt, where you can show them mercy, be good to those that have done you wrong, bless your enemies? Onesimus showing up is not a coincidence; that’s God seeing if you’re ready to go to a new level. what they owe you, God is saying, “put it on My account. what they took from you, I’ll pay you back.” they may have hurt you, but if you’ll do your part and receive them back, God will make it up to you. think about the mercy God has shown you: when you didn’t deserve it, He forgave you, when we got off course on purpose, He protected us, when we got in trouble, He rescued us. why don’t you take some of that same mercy, goodness. and show it to the people that have done you wrong?

you have to give people the grace to change. don’t judge their whole life on one season, one mistake. they did you wrong, but now they’ve changed; now they’re your brother. the mercy you show them is the mercy God’s going to show you; what you do with Onesimus will determine what God is going to do with you. if you are angry, bitter, vindictive, you’ll get stuck. I’m not saying you have to befriend them, allow them all access, but you should get past the offense, hurt, to where you can treat them with kindness, respect.

life is too short to live vindictive, angry, trying to get even; turn that over to God. people can’t pay you back, make it right, but if you’ll go to God, He’ll make up for what people cannot give you. Onesimus is coming; I’m asking you to pass the test, show God you can handle a new level. bless your enemies, pray for those that do you wrong, do good to the people that have hurt you. if you’ll do this, you’re going to see new levels of influence, favor. God is going to pay you back for the wrongs, heal the hurts, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

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Right On Time

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that we’re waiting on: a dream to come to pass, our health to improve, meeting the right person. we know that God put the promise in our heart, but we wonder why it’s taking so long. in the Bible, it says:

Ecclesiastes 3:11 GNT
11 He has set the right time for everything

if there’s a right time, that means that any other time is the wrong time. if you don’t understand that God will always be right on time, then the delays, detours, waiting periods, will cause you to be frustrated. it’s not enough to just trust God; you have to trust His timing. He knows when you’re ready, when it’s the right person, when to open the door, turn it around. if it’s not happening yet, you have to be mature enough to accept that it’s not the right time. instead of living upset, why don’t you say, “God, my times are in Your hands. You know when to bless, promote, deliver me. I trust Your timing”?

Hebrews 6:12 (ESV)
12 … those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

it’s easy to have faith, believe for your dreams, but faith without patience can get you into trouble.

just ask Moses. as a young man, he knew that he was supposed to deliver the Israelites; he had the promise, but he didn’t have the patience. he got in a hurry, and:

Exodus 2:11-12 (NIV)
11 Moses… saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

his heart was right, but his timing was off. he had to flee for his life; he spent 40 years in the desert because he got out of God’s timing.

Psalm 106:13 (NIV)
13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

what you’re believing for may be taking longer than you thought; you’re not making progress, not seeing a dream come to pass. but God knows what He’s doing; don’t try to force things to happen, promote yourself, manipulate people, convince them to like you. yes, we should be determined, but you don’t have to beat down a door; at the right time, things will fall into place, the right people will show up. do your part; wait for the promise to unfold. you’re not falling behind, being left out; you’re right on schedule. God is working behind the scenes; you may not be able to see it, but He’s lining up the right people, arranging the right breaks, ordering your steps. be patient, and you’ll see His plan unfold.

Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)
28-30 … Learn the unforced rhythms of grace

“unforced” means; you don’t have to struggle, fight against everything, make it happen; you can relax, and live at rest, knowing that God is unfolding His plan. it may not be happening on your timetable, but God knows when the right time is. if you don’t understand this, you’ll wonder, “why isn’t it happening faster? why am I not making more progress? what’s wrong?” nothing is wrong, it’s just not the right time. why don’t you come into the unforced rhythms of grace, quit being worried and frustrated? your times are in His hands. the God Who created the universe is going to unfold His plan for your life.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

it doesn’t say that you have to work for it, earn it, make it happen; God is going to give it to you. it’s going to happen without the struggle, frustration; it’s going to be easier than you think. you’ll know that it was the hand of God because you didn’t have to force the door to open, manipulate people; you came into your time, and God made things happen that you couldn’t make happen. I know that you trust God, but I’m asking you to trust His timing; quit being frustrated because it’s not happening as fast as you would like

every season is not a growing or harvest season; there are seasons of planting, watering, fertilizing, pulling up the weeds. those are important seasons, times of testing where we’re showing God what we’re made of. are we going to keep a good attitude when we’re not seeing growth or making progress? are we going to have faith and patience?

Psalm 1:2 (NIV)
2 … meditates on his law day and night.

that means we’re not worried, upset, wondering why it’s taking so long; we’re at peace, we know God’s in control. when you do this:

Psalm 1:3 (NIV)
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season

it doesn’t say, “it will bring forth fruit 365 days a year,” it says, “in its season”; it implies there will be waiting periods of no growth, where we don’t see anything happening.

maybe you’re not seeing any growth, you feel stuck, but there’s nothing wrong, it’s just timing; you’re in a waiting or a development period. but when you come into your season, you’re going to bear much fruit. the question is; when you’re not in a growing or harvest season, are you going to get discouraged, and think, “it’ll never change?” are you going to lose your passion and give up on what God promised you?

if you’ll keep meditating on God’s word, keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith and hope, then without even trying, you’re going to come into your season. when you come into your season, you’re not going to struggle, make things happen, you’re going to naturally bear fruit; that means, God’s going to cause the right people to find you, gifts and talents are going to come out that you didn’t know you had, good breaks are going to chase you down.

you may have been waiting for a long time, you’re tempted to get discouraged, but get ready; your season is coming. you’re about to see new growth, unexpected favor, blessings that catapult you to the next level. you couldn’t have made it happen on your own, but because you were faithful in the waiting periods, did the right thing when it was slow, God’s going to bring you into harvest season, a season of abundance.

none of us like to go through the waiting periods; it’s easy to get frustrated, and say, “God, if I’m going to come into my season in 6 months, or 2 years, why don’t You just do it now, save me the frustration? bring the right person or the promotion now.” God knows what He’s doing; if He promoted you before you were ready, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden. you wouldn’t be able to handle it. He has to get you prepared for what He has in store; He loves you too much to do it too soon. you may have a promise in your heart; you know God’s given it to you, but you don’t see anything happening. that’s a season of waiting; God’s using that to do a work in you.

if you will pass the test, have faith and patience, then you’re growing, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger, your character is being developed. “my friends are all being promoted, but not me. I don’t understand it; I come to church every Sunday, they only come on Easter.” no, don’t compare your situation to somebody else’s; you’re not running their race. God may be going to take you to a higher level; it’s going to require more character, commitment, discipline. keep doing the right thing; your season is coming.

sometimes, God shows His love for us, not by what He gives us, but by what He withholds. if He would have let you have that baby, promotion, new house, before you were ready, it would have limited your future. God knows what we can handle; sometimes, in order to protect us, He says, “not now.” don’t fight it; trust His timing. “no” doesn’t mean “never,” it means it’s not the right time. a good father may have a good gift, but he won’t give it at the wrong time. God is not a good father, He’s a great father; He has great gifts in store for you. He has more than you could ask or think. don’t be frustrated if He’s not giving it to you yet; keep growing, being good to people, passing the test.

God can see the big picture; He knows what you’re going to need. you may think you’re ready, but you can’t see how high God is going to take you, how much influence and resources He’s going to entrust you with. God not only knows what you need, He knows who you’re going to need; sometimes, God is saying “not now” because somebody else that’s going to be involved is not ready. He’s still working on them; they’re going to be instrumental in your life, open a door, be a close friend, a spouse. be patient, and go through the waiting periods with a good attitude. God knows what He’s doing; if He’s asking you to wait, that means what He has in store is going to be bigger than what you’ve imagined. is God saying to you “not now” in some area; you’re praying for something to change, believing for a dream, a breakthrough, but it’s not happening? that’s a test; you’re in a waiting period. keep doing the right thing.

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord

when your steps are ordered, you don’t have a choice; yes, we have free will, but God will put us in situations on purpose that we can’t get out of. you can be there sour, complaining, fighting it, or you can say, “God, I know You’ve ordered my steps. You have me here for a reason. I may be uncomfortable, it may be taking longer than I’d like, but God, I not only trust You, I trust Your timing. I know when I’m ready, You will bring me into my season of much fruit.”

this is what Joseph did. he kept passing the test in the waiting periods; when it was unfair, he was betrayed, falsely accused. had he not gone through those tests with the right attitude, developing his character, showing God what He was made of, he would have become the ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

you can have great faith, believe for big things, but without patience, you’ll get stuck. without going through the waiting periods with a good attitude, it will limit your destiny.

Joseph wasn’t in a hurry; he knew he had to wait for God’s plan to unfold. along the way, it didn’t always look like his steps were ordered; being thrown into a pit by his brothers, put in prison for something that he didn’t do. he could have said, “God, it’s not fair; look at what they’re doing to me.” but you’re not going to understand everything that happens. you may be in a difficult place, it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to change. stay encouraged; your steps are ordered, you’re right on schedule. the delay, the detour, the disappointment; it’s all a part of God’s plan. if you’ll be patient, and wait for that plan to unfold, you’ll see God vindicate you, promote you, and take you to a new level of your destiny.

when God did something significant in the scripture, many times it says it happened suddenly, immediately, or at once; they were in a waiting period, they didn’t see anything changing, no sign of it happening, then all of a sudden it happened. God was showing us that He can turn things around without any warning; He can increase you unexpectedly, out of the ordinary; you didn’t see it coming. you were just doing the right thing, going through the difficulty with faith and patience, and suddenly you came into your season; suddenly your business took off, your health improved. one touch of God’s favor can catapult you to the next level. when you know God has some suddenlies, even when it’s taking a long time, you’ll still have an expectancy, knowing that any moment, your suddenly could show up. one good break, one phone call, meeting one right person; you’ll come out of your waiting period into a season of blessing. just as God orders steps into times of testing, proving, He orders steps into seasons of increase, promotion.

you may have been in a waiting period a long time, doing the right thing, being patient. God is saying, “get ready”; you’re about to see some suddenlies, come into a season of much fruit, new growth, where God thrusts you to the next level. He’s going to put you at the right place at the right time.

when it says, “God orders our steps,” that doesn’t mean God does it vaguely, go over here in this general area, do it in the next week or two; God is not vague, He’s precise, detailed, specific down to the split second.

right now, God is not only ordering your steps, He’s ordering the steps of the people you need. He’s going to cause them to come across your path, where opportunity, good breaks, track you down. what you’re believing for may be taking a long time, you don’t see how it’s ever going to change, but stay encouraged; God has some suddenlies lined up for you, things you didn’t see coming, where He had you at the right place at the right time, and unexpectedly you met the right person, the business fell into your lap, the problem turned around. don’t be frustrated because it’s not happening as fast as you would like. you’re right on schedule; your steps are being ordered. any moment, you’re going to come into your season.

Mark 5:22-24 (NIV)
22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

I can imagine this father was so excited; he knew he was going to get his miracle. but:

Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years… 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” … 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

while it was a great miracle, it delayed Jesus from getting to the little girl’s house. I’m sure the father was happy that this lady got healed, but because of the delay:

Mark 5:35(NIV)
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

he had to watch somebody else get healed while his daughter didn’t get healed. will you keep a good attitude when you see other people being blessed, but you’re still waiting? your friend got engaged, but you’re still single, waiting for the right person. your coworker moved into that new house; you’re still in the apartment, waiting for increase? in the middle of the commotion, excitement, this man felt like Jesus had forgotten about him, it’s too late, but:

Mark 5:36 (NIV)
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Jesus was saying in effect, “it’s not too late. I haven’t forgotten about you. you’re right on schedule. your steps are being ordered. this delay didn’t stop my plan; I’m still going to do what I promised.”

Mark 5:40-42 (NIV)
40 … went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

here’s the principle; this man came to Jesus asking for a healing, but because of the delay, he received a greater miracle; a resurrection. when it’s taking longer than you thought, don’t get discouraged; that means God has something bigger, better, that you weren’t expecting. He’s going to do something where not only you, but the people around you, are astonished, amazed, overwhelmed at His goodness.

friends, God has not forgotten about you. He knows how long it’s been. He’s heard all your prayers, seen all the times you’ve done the right thing. circumstances may tell you, “it’s never going to happen, it’s too late”; God is saying, “you’re right on schedule. you’re about to come into your season. it’s not going to be a healing, it’s going to be something better; a resurrection.” now do your part, and pass the test in the waiting periods; keep a good attitude. if you’ll do this, because you have faith and patience, you’re going to see God’s plan unfold for your life; promises come to pass, dreams fulfilled, problems turn around, the fullness of your destiny.

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Visions

(No new sermon this week.)

God gives people visions; the Bible shows that beyond question. However, visions also come from brain tumors, other brain ailments, eye diseases, and mental illness… including of course insanity. They can also be brought on by a variety of substances, medicinal and otherwise, but I’m not using, nor have I ever used, any such substances… and it is MY visions that are the subject of this post.

Yes, amazing as it may seem, in addition to seeing angels, demons, and the Holy Spirit, I have also started having visions. The medical reasons for visions come with other symptoms, none of which I’ve had. I’m having no difficulty determining the difference between visions and reality. I only see visions with my eyes closed; they do not overlap or replace the physical world. In addition, the visions have, at least for now, a darkness and dimness that I never perceive either with the real world or in my dreams.

And much to my relief, I have received some outside verification for seeing angels, at least; at the recent meeting of my prayer group, I saw 2 angels, and asked the older lady there who frequently sees things if she had seen anything… and I did NOT tell her what I saw or where I saw it, but she was immediately able to point out the 2 places were I had seen angelic manifestations. She had not seen them this time, but she had felt them while she was praying with her eyes closed, and when she opened her eyes, those were the 2 spots that she was drawn to look at.

So, at least for the time being, we’ll assume that I’m healthy and sane. Assuming that I am, it’s pretty undeniable at this point that the supernatural is breaking out in my life at an increasing rate… to what final destination, I cannot yet discern.

What am I seeing? So far, they have all been religious in nature; all except 2 have featured the cross, and some of them feature angels, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and even “God rays,” the individual beams of light that sometimes happen when light passes through clouds or trees. The one exception had a religious meaning for ME; I saw a treasure chest, like I did in a dream I posted about a couple of years ago when the chest was said to contain the treasure of the Holy Spirit… whatever THAT’S supposed to mean. Interestingly, in that dream, the chest was CLOSED, and in the vision, the chest was OPEN, and piled with treasure… That sounds like progress, right?

In the most powerful vision so far, I saw Jesus on the cross. I saw him tilt his head back and possibly cry out… There is no sound with the visions yet, so I can’t tell for sure. I saw the cross lowered down to the ground, and then he was gone from it. I also saw a crowd of people in the garb of biblical times, and I could tell that they were speaking, not that I would have understood them even if I could have heard them, assuming that they were speaking in Greek or Hebrew, and waving their hands. I know that I did not see EXACTLY what happened at Jesus’ crucifixion, because I did not see the other 2 crosses of the criminals who were crucified on either side of him, but it was nevertheless a very powerful thing to see… But WHY did I see it? What am I supposed to do with what I saw?

Somehow, these experiences are eventually going to serve the church and bring glory to God. I don’t know HOW, yet, though; please pray for me, that I will be able to discern what I should be doing towards these goals very soon.

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(No new sermon this week.)

If you’re not familiar with the term, shekinah glory is the presence or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The term is especially used when God appears as a cloud, as He does a variety of times in the Old Testament.

I was walking and praying, as I do every day, and as I was doing when I saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, and a bunch of times when I have seen angels as well. In an upper corner of my front room, I saw something that looked like about a 3’ high area of glowing white fog… it really was like a dense fog, because the pole lamp that was in the middle of it was fully visible in some spots, partially obscured in some spots, but totally obscured for the most part, like seeing something through a dense fog. It wasn’t blindingly bright, but I saw afterimages for a long time afterwards, as if I had looked into really bright light… and of course, God could easily give me the ability to look into light that bright without being blinded. I only saw it for a few seconds… but they were the most powerful few seconds of my life. I didn’t hear anything, I didn’t feel anything at the time other than a little bit stunned… but what I saw was huge beyond my ability to describe it.

How did I know that this was the shekinah glory, and not something else, or even just a hallucination of my hyper-religious brain? When I walked into the bathroom an hour or so later, my face was tomato-red, as if it was badly sunburned. JUST my face, not my neck or any other exposed area of skin. I did not feel any heat, I was not sick or having a fever, not that even the worst fever of my life has ever done anything like THAT, no unusual physical sensations, and the room was 65°F. My skin did not hurt in the slightest when I pressed it, and interestingly, unlike with a sunburn, the area that I pressed did not turn white for a moment after I pressed it… this was more than skin deep.

In the time it took me to use the restroom, most of the redness faded away, and most of the rest faded away soon after that… as if I was meant to see it, and once I had, it was made or allowed to go away. Later in the day, my face had a little extra pink in it, as if I’d had just a hair too much sun but wasn’t really burned. This was a lingering PHYSICAL effect, the sort of proof everyone wishes to get but so rarely actually happens.

I have no idea why this occurred, much less in this way or this time… but I don’t have to tell you how incredibly powerful it was. If you’re here reading this, you’re probably someone who wishes that this would happen to you; *I* would certainly have felt that way before I personally experienced it. I wish I had a formula to give you so that you could… heck, I wish I had the formula so that *I* could experience it again… but I don’t. I can tell you, if you’re new here and don’t know, that I am deeply involved with my church, am a member of the prayer ministry, I pray all day long, and spend hours a week in intensive prayer and Bible study. I think these things make me more likely to have the sorts of experiences I have started having, but of course some people have stuff happen to them just out of the clear blue sky. It may be happening to me because in my church we have been praying for the supernatural to break out for a long time, and this is the leading edge of it… but why *I* was chosen to be the forerunner is anyone’s guess.

Somehow, these experiences are eventually going to serve the church and bring glory to God. I don’t know HOW, yet, though; please pray for me, that I will be able to discern what I should be doing towards these goals very soon.

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