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Archive for November, 2017

(No new sermon this week.)

Many churches will deny, or at the very least brush aside, the possible existence of ghosts, because they want to prevent people from focusing on ghosts, or making idols out of manifestations of the supernatural. However, it’s important for us to know exactly what the Bible says, because that will tell us what the actual situation is.

The Bible doesn’t have much to say about ghosts, but if you read between the lines a little…:

Matthew 14:26-27 (NIV)
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Jesus corrected the disciples many times, but he did not correct them about the existence of ghosts… Why? Do you think Jesus would have failed to correct them for having a false belief, in other words if there were no ghosts?

And then we have this explicit appearance of a ghost:

1 Samuel 28:8-15 (NIV)
8 So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
11 Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
“Bring up Samuel,” he said.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”
13 The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.”
14 “What does he look like?” he asked.
“An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”

Some people try to say that this was a demon that deceived Saul and the medium by LOOKING like Samuel… but the Bible doesn’t say that, it says that it WAS Samuel.

The most powerful piece of evidence is this one:

Matthew 17:1-3 (NIV)
17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James… 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Moses and Elijah had been dead for centuries, human beings do not become angels (the Bible is very clear that angels are a different type of created being), and Jesus could not have been fooled by demons masquerading as these heroes of faith… So what else could we call Moses and Elijah except ghosts?

We have to tread gently with this topic, because some people are more emotionally connected to what they have heard all their lives than to what is in the Bible, but we need to know this for our own purposes, if only so that the enemy cannot deceive us in this area.

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Look again

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have dreams that we’ve given up on, problems we don’t think will turn around; it’s been too long, we’ve made too many mistakes. too often, we accept it as the way it’s always going to be. but just because you’ve given up, doesn’t mean that God has given up; He hasn’t brought you this far to leave you where you are. what He started in your life, He’s going to finish. you may have had some disappointments: the medical report wasn’t good, the business didn’t make it, you still haven’t met the right person. it may feel like it’s over to you, but God is saying, “look again. that dream you’ve given up on; I’m still going to bring it to pass.” that child you think will never get back on course; look again, he’s going to fulfill his destiny. you think you’re going to be single the rest to your life, look again; God’s already lined up somebody better than you can imagine.

now do your part, and start looking again. as long as you think it’s never going to work out, it’s been this way too long, that will keep you from the new things God has in store. who told you you’re not going to love again, be healthy again, you can’t accomplish your dream? that didn’t come from God. don’t believe those lies; start looking again. maybe the loan for the house didn’t go through; people don’t have the final say, God does. look again. you weren’t able to have the baby; don’t let that convince you that you’re never going to have it. look again; there’s a baby with your name on them. you haven’t been able to break the addiction, now you’re learning to live with it. look again; freedom, wholeness is in your future. get your passion back. stir up your faith. what God promised you, He’s still going to bring to pass.

Mark 8:22-25 (NIV)
22 … some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

it’s significant that Jesus prayed for him the first time, and he didn’t get completely healed. it’s not like Jesus didn’t have enough power that day, or made a mistake; Jesus healed people all the time. this was a test; when Jesus asked the man if he could see, he already knew that his vision wasn’t clear, he wanted to see how the man would respond. the man could have said, “yes, I can see; it’s not perfect, but I’m satisfied, thanks for doing this.” he could have settled for blurred vision, walked away, and thought, “this is not exactly what I was believing for, but it’s better than it was, at least I can see something.” if he would have accepted it, he would have missed God’s best. he had to be willing to look again.

when he wasn’t completely healed, he was honest with Jesus. he could have been intimidated, thought, “this is the Son of God, a respected healer, I can’t tell him it didn’t work out; I have to pretend that it’s all ok.” instead, he was vulnerable; it took alot of nerve to say, “I can’t see clearly, it’s not what it should be.” Jesus didn’t get upset, say, “you need to have more faith, what’s wrong with you?” Jesus didn’t condemn him, make him feel less-than, he touched him, and said in effect, “look again.” he was saying, “it’s OK that you’re not where you thought you would be, can’t see clearly yet. I’m not through with you; I have a second touch.”

God already knew what wouldn’t work out the first time: the medical report wouldn’t be good, you wouldn’t get the promotion, the relationship wouldn’t work out. He’s waiting to see what you’re going to do. are you going to settle there, and think, “I’m lonely, but it’s ok, I’m barely making it, but I’ve got a roof over my head, my dreams haven’t worked out. but I’m doing good enough.” don’t settle for blurred vision. don’t give up on what God has put in your heart. He has a second touch; He’s waiting for you to look again. the first touch brought you to where you are; the second touch is going to thrust you into abundance, great relationships, divine health, the fullness of your destiny.

sometimes, the most difficult prayer is the prayer for what hasn’t worked out, what we failed at, to believe again for the dream. this is when many people get talked out of God’s best. God controls the universe. you may have had a disappointment; don’t settle where you are. weeping may endure for a night, but joy is come in the morning. if it didn’t work out the first time, the second time, look again; keep looking, dreaming, praying. you’re going to see what God promised you.

this is what Elijah had to do. there had been a drought in Samaria for three and half years; it was so severe, people barely had enough food. and then:

1 Kings 18:42-43 (NIV)
42 … Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.

Elijah could have become discouraged, but he understood this principle; what God promised, He will bring to pass. he didn’t let the negative reports talk him out of it. this expectancy, looking for it, believing that it’s going to happen, that’s your faith being released; that’s what allows God to do amazing things.

1 Kings 18:43-45 (NIV)
43 … Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling

the three and half year drought came to an end. I wonder if Elijah would have seen the rain if he’d given up after the first time, third time, or fifth time. if he would have accepted it, we wouldn’t be talking about it. you have to do like Elijah, and have a made-up mind that you are going to keep looking until you see the promise come to pass. the medical report may not be good; look again, healing is on the way. you don’t see how you could get out of debt; look again, abundance is in your future. you haven’t been able to break the addiction, you went to rehab, counseling, prayed, and it hasn’t happened; look again. what you can’t see is, while you’re looking, God is behind the scenes, lining up the right people, arranging good breaks, healing, promotion, deliverance. that cloud is starting to form.

you may be in a drought today. you’ve been looking a long time, faithful, doing the right thing, doesn’t look like it’s doing any good; God is saying, “you’re about to come into your seventh time.” you’re about to see a sign of what God is doing. don’t let the little cloud fool you; it may be small, but it’s going to turn into a big downpour. suddenly, an abundance of favor, healing, good breaks.

don’t get talked out of it, let negative circumstances, what you don’t see changing, convince you to accept what hasn’t worked out; look again and again and again. when you keep looking, you’re saying, “God, I know You’re bigger than this sickness, addiction, opposition. I believe You’re restoring health back unto me, I will lend and not borrow, as for me and my whole house we will serve the Lord.” I’m asking you to stir your faith up. what you’ve given up on, promises you’ve let go of, dreams you think are too far gone, start believing again. God is still going to bring them to pass. that house you tried to buy, and it didn’t work out, it wasn’t the right one; look again. you were turned down for that promotion, it wasn’t fair, God has something better; look again. somebody walked out of a relationship, did you wrong, that is not how your story ends; look again, there’s a new beginning, with somebody better than you’ve ever dreamed. you wouldn’t be alive unless God had something amazing up in front of you.

there was a lady in the scripture named Elizabeth. she was married to Zechariah:

Luke 1:7-24 (NIV)
7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old… 8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty… 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him… 3 But the angel said to him: … Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John… 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant

6 months later:

Luke 1:30-31 (NIV)
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus…34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Luke 1:41-44 (NIV)
41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

why did that baby leap when Mary greeted her? Mary was carrying in her spirit what the angel had just told her; with God, nothing is impossible, what He promised, He will bring to pass. the faith in her voice brought to life the promise in Elizabeth’s womb.

you may be carrying something today that you feel like it’s dead: a dream, relationship, promise. you know God gave it to you, you used to be excited, but you don’t see any sign of it happening. it’s been a long time, and you don’t see how you’ll get well, how your marriage will make it, how you’ll start that business. sometimes, all you need is for someone like Mary to show up and speak life into your spirit. with God, nothing is impossible. what He started, He’s going to finish. it’s not too late, you’re not too old, you haven’t missed too many opportunities; you are right on schedule. healing, breakthrough, abundance is coming.

you didn’t think it could happen, you’ve had setbacks, delays, people came against you, nobody supported you; get ready, this is a new day. God is breathing in your direction in a new way. He’s going to give you favor that you haven’t had. you’re coming into an anointing of ease, where things are going to fall into place. God is going to vindicate you for what wasn’t fair. right now, He’s preparing a table before you in the presence of your enemies. you may not see how this could happen, but God has all kinds of ways that we’ve never thought of.

the favor of God is going to cause you to go where you could not go on your own. you’re going to accomplish dreams where you didn’t have the talent, connections, experience. doors are going to open that you couldn’t open. opportunity is going to track you down. what you thought was dead is about to come back to life. that stirring in your spirit is a sign that what God promised you is still alive. keep your faith stirred up. live with this expectancy. it may not have happened yet; that doesn’t mean it’s still not going to happen. that setback didn’t cancel God’s plan; it was a setup for God to take you further. that delay is not going to stop you; God is still going to do what He promised. just because you gave up doesn’t mean God has given up. what God started in your life, He’s going to finish.

is there something you’ve given up on, doesn’t look like it could ever happen now, it’s been too long, you missed too many opportunities? look again; God wouldn’t have given you the dream if He wasn’t still planning on bringing it to pass. don’t talk yourself out of it; you’ve experienced the first touch, but the second touch is coming. dare to say, like the blind man, “God, I can’t see clearly, my dreams haven’t come to pass yet. You’ve blessed me, I’m grateful, but I’m asking for the fullness of my destiny, for the dreams you put in me as a child, to become all You created me to be.” when you’re honest with God, bold enough to ask, get ready for the second touch, for God to make things happen that you couldn’t make happen.

the things you think are impossible, every voice says, “no way it can happen: your child will never get well, your business will never make it,” God is saying, “look again. I’m working behind the scenes. this is not the time to get discouraged, let circumstances talk out of it; you are close to your breakthrough.” right now, that little cloud is starting to form; you’re about to see a sign that God is at work. it may be small, nobody else celebrates, but your faith, expectancy, praise, will cause that little cloud to turn out to be a big blessing.

in Mark 5:

Mark 5:22-36 (NIV)
22 … 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… 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?” 36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

sometimes, it feels like what God has promised us has died; it’s been too long, all the circumstances say there’s no way it could happen. God is saying to us what He said to him; “just trust Me. I still have a way.”

Mark 5:38-42 (NIV)
38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”… 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

you may have dreams that you’ve given up on, promises you think that no way that could happen now; the good news is, they’re not dead, they’re just asleep. God is about to wake up what you thought was dead, bring to life dreams you’ve given up on, promises He put in you. do your part, and look again, start believing again, get your hopes back up. if you’ll do this, dreams are waking up right now. that cloud is starting to form; you’re going to see a downpour of God’s goodness, an abundance of favor, healing, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny.

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Healing words

from JO’s sermon tonight:

our words have the power to lift people up, help them get through a challenge, push them into their destinies. when you tell someone, “I love you, I’m proud of you, you did great on that project,” you’re not just being kind; those are healing words. we don’t know what people are going through; they may smile on the outside, but on the inside they’re hurting, lonely, discouraged. many people have wounds from the past; a relationship that didn’t work out, people trying to push them down. just a simple word of encouragement, “I believe in you, I’m praying for you,” a simple compliment, “you look beautiful today,” it’s no big deal to you, but to them, it’s helping heal the wounds, lifting their spirits, causing them to believe in themselves. your words can be what keeps them moving forward.

God puts people in our lives on purpose so we can bring healing. the security guard at the office, don’t just pass by him every day for the next twenty years, take a moment to bless him with your words. you don’t have to spend ten minutes, just a simple, “great to see you today, I appreciate you taking care of us.” you just spoke a blessing over his life.

letting people know that you care does more than you imagine. we live in a society that’s filled with alot of negative chatter. on the internet, social media, it’s becoming normal to be disrespectful. people think nothing of being condescending, saying hurtful, critical things. more than ever, people need your healing words. you have the power to put someone on their feet, keep them from falling into depression, cause them to pursue their dreams. but without your blessing, encouragement, compliments, they won’t become what they should become. don’t miss these opportunities. don’t be too caught up in your career, challenges; take time to be a healer, a lifter.

God needs you; He has no voice to encourage on this earth except your voice. He’s counting on you to help heal the people in your life. when you go out of your way to bless one of His children, make it your business to encourage the coworker that’s down, stop by to see the friend that’s not feeling well, call your relatives just to say that you love them, because you’re taken care of His children, God will make sure somebody is always there to take care of you, to bring healing, encouragement, to show you favor. those are seeds that you’re sowing.

take a look around at who’s in your life: the clerk at the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, the friend at the gym. they’re not there by accident. they need what you have: encouragement, affirmation, they need to know that you believe in them. don’t keep the healing to yourself. be free me with your compliments. a blessing is not a blessing until it’s spoken. your thoughts don’t bless anybody. you can think well of your friend all day long, but if you never tell them, they’ll never know.

no matter how many times you’ve complimented a person, when that thought comes up, tell them again. that’s God bringing it up. you don’t know what they’re going through, the battles they’re fighting, the people trying to push them down. God wouldn’t have brought it up if He didn’t want you to tell them. these days, it’s easier than ever; if they’re not there in person, you can send them a text. the scripture says:

Proverbs 15:4 (AMPC)
4 A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life

when we think of healing, many times we think of praying for people for healing, and yes that’s one way; what I want us to see is your words have healing. when you’re kind, encouraging, when you don’t just think something good, but you verbalize it, you’re being a healer. it’s amazing what one kind word can do. we don’t think anything about it, but to the other person, it breathes life into their spirit. God wouldn’t have given you that compliment, put that thought in you, if the other person didn’t need it. you may not know them, it may not make sense to you, but God knows what He’s doing. there’s a reason; they need your healing.

if you saw someone that was sick, and you had the cure, the medicine that would cause them to get well, you would be quick to get it to them. that’s the way you need to see your compliments, kind words, encouragement; it’s the healing that people need. don’t withhold it, try to reason it out; you’re looking on the outside, you don’t know what’s happening on the inside. everyone is going through something. even the people that look like they have it all together, that are so happy, blessed, strong, they don’t have it all together; there’s always something that they’re dealing with.

we don’t understand the power of a simple compliment, of, “I believe in you, you’re going to make it, great things are in store.” your words may seem ordinary to you, but when God breathes on them, they become extraordinary to the other person. somebody today needs your healing words, won’t get past the depression without you speaking blessings over them, will give up on a dream, get talked out of God’s best, unless you step up and encourage them. will you be a healer, use your words to lift people? Proverbs 18 says:

Proverbs 18:4 (NLT)
A person’s words can be life-giving water

people are thirsty; they’ve gone through heartaches, been beaten down. we have something to offer them; our words can help heal the hurts. be aware of who’s in your life. be sensitive to what you’re feeling down in here. take time to let people know that you care. nobody is in your life by accident. don’t ignore what you feel on the inside; that compassion to encourage them, desire to be their friend. they’re thirsty; you have the water. take time to make them feel loved; it doesn’t have to be something big, just, “good to see you. I believe in you. I’m praying for you.” just let them know that you care.

we’re so busy these days, we’ve got our own challenges; if we’re not careful, we’ll pass right by the thirsty people. there’s no greater feeling than to give them water. nothing is more rewarding than to help someone else rise higher.

when we come to the end of life, we can be known for a lot of things: we were successful in our career, she was talented, they lived in a nice place. it’s all good, but I’d rather people say about me, “s/he was a healer, lifted me when I was down, encouraged me when I felt stuck, told me I could accomplish dreams that I never thought I could accomplish.” where are the healers, lifters? there are enough people saying negative, critical, judgment words; our attitude should be, “who can I bless today, help heal, make feel better about themselves?”

why don’t you start with you own family? how long has it been since you’ve told the people in your life, “I love you, I’m glad you’re mine”? don’t let a stranger compliment your spouse more than you do. don’t let a coach, teacher, friend, make your children feel more special than you do. every day, bless your children with your words; tell them how proud you are of them, what they can become, call out their seeds of greatness, remind them that they’re made in the image of Almighty God, full of potential, supposed to go farther than you, the anointing is increasing with each generation. they have so much to deal with these days: social chatter, bullying, hurtful words. but when you tell your child, “I love you. I’m blessed to have you,” that’s not only helping to heal the wounds, but that’s protecting them; that’s what causes those hurtful words to bounce off of them. the more people speak negative over you, your family, friends, the more you need to speak these positive, faith-filled, healing words.

when you compliment someone in front of people, it carries more weight, it’s magnified. yes, there are times you need to do it in private, but when you can, speak a blessing in public. some people don’t have any problem saying negative things in front of people; why don’t you spread some good things about the people you love? use your words to help push them into their destinies, encourage them to pursue their dreams, let them know that you believe in them. many times, you can see things in people that they can’t see in themselves; your blessing, encouragement, can be what causes them to step up to who they were created to be.

your destiny is connected to the people God’s put in your life. if you’re going to reach your full potential, this is not an option; look around, who can you bless, help heal, show favor to? “as soon as my husband starts doing what I want him to do, then I’ll start encouraging, complimenting him.” here’s the key; if you’ll quit nagging him for what he’s doing wrong, and start praising him for what he’s doing right, then he’ll begin to change. people respond to praise, not criticism, being nagged, berated. the scripture even says:

Proverbs 21:19 (NIV)
19 Better to live in a desert
than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife

or a nagging husband, friend, neighbor. don’t be a nagger; nobody wants to be around somebody that’s always harping on them, pointing out what’s wrong, finding fault. we should be so full of encouragement, compliments, that people want to be around us. ladies, instead of nagging your husband, try a different approach; when you see him out there mowing the grass, tell him how strong he is, how muscular he looks. you brag on him like that, he’ll mow the lawn every day. praise, encouragement, honor; that’s what people respond to.

everyone needs encouragement, somebody that is cheering them on, sees the best. you can be that person for the people in your life, the one they count on, doesn’t find fault, has healing words that uplift, encourage. if there are no compliments in your home, no praise, encouragement, if it’s all nagging, “why don’t you do better?” that other person is not going to want to come home. you can change the atmosphere, bring healing to a relationship; it starts with your words. by blessing your spouse, children, complimenting them, “I love you, I’m proud of you, glad you’re in my life.” compliments are the glue that hold a relationship together. they have enough people already pushing them down. the accuser’s already telling them everything they’re not. why don’t you use your words to build them up, tell them what they can become, make him feel better about themselves? one compliment can have an impact for a lifetime. don’t withhold your blessing, encouragement, compliments; that can be what causes them to step up to who they were created to be,

there are people in your life right now that need your healing, blessing, encouragement. they’re thirsty; you have life-giving water. you can be the one that reminds them that they’re beautiful, and the chains of depression will be broken. look around this week; live with the attitude, “who can I bless, help heal, push into their destiny?” if you’ll develop this habit of speaking healing words, you’re not only going to help others rise higher, but those seeds are going to come back to you; God is going to cause you to rise higher, so you can accomplish dreams, overcome obstacles, and become everything God created you to be.

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Beating bitterness

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all go through things that are not fair: people do us wrong, we didn’t get the promotion, came down with an illness. you can’t stop life from happening to you, but you can choose how you respond. if you hold on to the hurt, dwelling on the offense, thinking, “why did they say that about me, why did I lose my loved one, why did that friend walk away?” then you’re opening the door to bitterness. when you’re bitter, it affects every area of your life; bitterness poisons your attitude, to where you see things in a negative light. bitter people don’t have good relationships, they’re easily offended, jump down your throat for the smallest thing; it’s not you, it’s the bitterness coming out.

you may have a good reason to be bitter, something was unfair, but holding onto it is only going to make it worse, steal your dreams, rob you of joy. bitterness can keep you from your destiny. you have to let it go. God sees what’s happening, knows what wasn’t fair, who walked away, and how to make it up to you, bring you out better. let it go, and trust Him to be you vindicator. the longer you hold on, the harder it is to get rid of. the more you dwell on it, relive it, let it bother you, the deeper it gets planted. the key is, forgive, let go of things you don’t understand, quickly. when the questions come up, “why did this happen, this isn’t fair?” when you feel the bitterness trying to take root, right then, “God, I’m turning this over to You, You’re my vindicator, You’ll make my wrongs right. You said You’d give me beauty for these ashes.”

bitterness is always knocking at the door. you didn’t get the contract, bitterness will come; you’ll have a chip on your shoulder, “it’s not fair.” the medical report wasn’t what you wanted, bitterness will show up; you prayed, believed, why didn’t God answer your prayer? that’s bitterness trying to come in. at the office, a coworker says something to try to make you look bad in front of people, just a little offense, if you ignore it, no big deal, but if you start dwelling on it, thinking how you can pay them back, next time you see them, give them the cold shoulder, then that little seed will begin to take root; before long, it will grow, and pollute other areas of your life. it says in Hebrews:

Hebrews 12:15 (CJB)
15 See to it that no one misses out on God’s grace, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble and thus contaminates many

notice, it refers to bitterness as a root. you can’t see a root, it’s hidden underground, but here’s the problem; a bitter root produces bitter fruit. if you have a root of bitterness, it will contaminate your life. Proverbs says:

Proverbs 4:23 (AMP)
Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.

one of our most important responsibilities is to keep our heart pure. life is too short to live offended, not forgiving, bitter over what didn’t work out. you have to guard your heart. it’s easy to let what’s on the outside get on the inside. it takes discipline to say, “I’m not going to dwell on that offense, go around feeling sorry for myself because something didn’t work out.” you only have so much emotional energy each day; it’s not an unlimited supply. do you know how much energy it takes to hold a grudge, go around offended? that’s wasting valuable energy that you need for your dreams, children, destiny. quit letting what’s on the outside get on the inside; start guarding your heart.

the apostle Paul had plenty of opportunities to live offended. he said in one place:

2 Timothy 4:14 (AMP)
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; [but that is no concern of mine, for] the Lord will repay him according to his actions.

that’s a mature attitude; “somebody did me a great wrong, but I’m not upset, bitter, I know God is fighting my battles and will be my vindicator.” when your roots are healthy, positive, hopeful, that’s feeding you encouragement, strength, hope. the problem is, if you have bitter roots, you’re not being fed the right things. you wonder why you don’t have energy, laugh, dream like to used to; it’s because those bitter roots are feeding you bitterness, self-pity, anger, that’s draining all the strength, passion, joy.

you don’t have to live with bitter roots; ask God to show you what’s causing you to be bitter. maybe there’s somebody you need to forgive, a dream that didn’t work out, you’re still sour about it, a mistake you made, you’re still beating yourself up. if you’ll be honest with yourself, and say, “God, help me to get rid of this root of bitterness; I’m still angry over what happened when I was 10, sour over the person that left, grieving over my loved one. God, I don’t want to be bitter, I want my passion back, to love, dream again; help me to let it go and move forward.” that’s the first step to getting rid of a bitter root; find out what it is, and ask God to help you. you can’t do it on your own; ask Him to help you forgive the person that hurt you, release the bitterness, resentment. when you get those contaminants out, you’ll not only feel the weight lift off of you, but you’ll get your joy back, start dreaming again, see the new things God has in store.

we all have unfair things that happen, things we don’t understand. too often, instead of forgiving the people that hurt us, letting go of the wrong, we’ve held onto it. it’s contaminated us. we wonder why we’re negative, can’t get along in relationships, keep losing our temper; we think, “this is just who I am.” no, that is not who you are; you were created in the image of God. He made you to be happy, healthy, whole, secure, not bitter, angry, resentful. you need to get rid of what’s contaminating you. you need to forgive the people that did you wrong. they hurt you once; don’t let them continue to hurt you. they can’t stop your destiny unless you allow them to. you’re not forgiving for their sake, you’re forgiving for your sake.

quit reliving that dream that didn’t work out, that business that failed, the contract that didn’t go through; let it go. that was a test. you had to endure those closed doors before you could come to your open doors. it may not have been fair, but God saw what happened. if you’ll turn it over to Him, start dreaming, believing, hoping again, God will pay you back for what didn’t work out. He’s going to open doors you never dreamed would open, bring people better than you ever imagined. what’s in your future is much greater than anything you’ve lost.

don’t let a bitter root contaminate your life. it’s time to move forward. it’s very freeing when you can let things go; “God, they did me wrong, but You’re my vindicator. I had a disappointment, but I know You’ll turn what was meant for my harm and use it to my advantage. I lost a loved one, I still miss them, but I’m not going to live bitter the rest of my life; I know they’re with You, and You have a new beginning for me.” that’s how you beat bitterness; you guard your heart, don’t let what’s on the outside get on the inside.

in the scripture, a lady called Naomi had some tough times. she was living in a city called Moab, and she was a widow. years later, both of her sons were killed. sometimes, life doesn’t seem fair, you have more than your share of bad breaks. it’s easy to get bitter, give up on your dreams, but God wouldn’t have allowed it if it was going to keep you from your destiny. yes, it’s difficult, but God promises He will give you grace for every season. He won’t let you go through more than you can handle. when that bitterness comes, you have to put your foot down, and say, “no, I’m not going there. I know God is still in control, His plans for me are for good.” what you’re going through may not be good, but God knows how to bring good out of it. every thought will tell you, “it’s never going to get better; you might as well be bitter.” don’t believe those lies. you wouldn’t be alive unless God had something amazing in front of you; He has a purpose for you to fulfill.

Naomi had gone through so much, she thought she was done. she even changed her name. “Naomi” means “my joy”; she changed it to “Mara,” which means bitter:

Ruth 1:20 (NIV)
20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.

she let the bitterness get on the inside. maybe she had a reason, she’d been through a lot of losses, but just because you’ve been through loss doesn’t mean you’re not going to win again, that you’ve seen your best days. you may have had bad breaks, but don’t change your name; God is not finished with you. the enemy doesn’t have the final say, God does. have you ever had big dreams, big goals, but things didn’t work out the way you had planned? marriage didn’t make it, pregnancy didn’t last, contract didn’t go through? like Naomi, you could easily be bitter.

Naomi moved back home to Bethlehem; her daughter-in-law Ruth went with her. here’s how merciful God is; even though Naomi thought she was done, gave up on her dreams, God said, in effect, “Naomi, you started in joy, and you’re going to finish in joy. you may have changed your name, but I didn’t. you had trouble in Moab; don’t worry, I have a blessing waiting for you in Bethlehem.” what’s interesting is, even though she changed her name, the scripture never refers to her as Mara; it keeps calling her Naomi.

have you changed your name, so to speak, to Mara? are you living bitter, negative, thinking about everything that didn’t work out? do yourself a favor; get rid of those names you put on yourself, and go back to being who God created you to be. God didn’t change your name; He still calls you blessed, prosperous, favored, healthy, strong, victorious. go back to your original name. you may have had trouble, but get ready; God has a blessing waiting for you.

instead of sitting around bitter, Naomi started helping her daughter-in-law Ruth. there was a man Ruth was interested in; Naomi started giving her advice:

Ruth 3:3 (NIV)
3 Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor

Naomi turned her focus away from her own problems and started helping somebody else; her joy began to come back. when you’re tempted to be bitter, one of the best things you can do is get your mind off yourself and go be a blessing to others. Ruth ended up marrying Boaz; they had a baby, Obed. when Naomi saw that little baby she was so excited; it was like something breathed new life, purpose, back into her spirit. the scripture says:

Ruth 4:17 (NIV)
17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!”

it wasn’t even her baby. this once bitter woman was now more fulfilled than ever; she never dreamed she would be that happy again.

God is saying, “My blessing is going to override your bitterness. My favor is going to make up for your pain.” what God has planned for you cannot be stopped by people, bad breaks, loss. He’s still going to do something amazing, get you to where you’re supposed to be.

in Mark 16, Jesus had just been crucified:

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV)
1 … Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body…3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”4 But… the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe… they were alarmed. 6 … he said. “You are looking for Jesus… He has risen! He is not here… 7 … ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him

the angel was saying, in effect, “I know you’re disappointed, but don’t stay here; something better is waiting for you there.” in other words, here is the disappointment, bad medical report, dream that didn’t work out; if you stay here, you’ll be discouraged. you have to go there.

sometimes, the reason God doesn’t comfort us in the here, in the disappointment, is because He doesn’t want us to stay where we are. yes, the loss is painful, setback wasn’t fair, but God is not here; He’s gone ahead, He’s waiting for you there. God is not in your past, in what you lost, didn’t work out, He’s in your future. don’t get stuck in here; move forward into there. there is where vindication, new beginnings, healing are.

if the two Mary’s would have stayed at the tomb, in self-pity, “I can’t believe this happened,” they would have never seen the there, the Lord.

are you living in the here, while God is waiting for you there? are you stuck in a disappointment, bitter over a bad break, angry over what didn’t work out? it’s time to leave here, and go there. there is where God is waiting for you, where the blessing is. the disappointment is simply a season, not the rest of your life. God has already gone ahead; He has restoration already lined up.

the here is not the end. the disappointment, loss, betrayal, that’s temporary. God has already gone ahead. don’t let bitterness hold you back, sit around in self-pity; move forward into there. there is where God will pay you back, do more than you can ask or think.

Luke 15 is the story of the prodigal son:

Luke 15:11-30 (NIV)
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living… 17 “When he came to his senses… 20 So he got up and went to his father… his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him… 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate… 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

you can hear the bitterness in his spirit, “it’s not fair, you haven’t treated me right, I’m not coming in to your party.” the party went on without him; his bitterness didn’t stop the party, it just kept him from going in to the party.

sometimes, we’re holding on to unforgiveness, anger, resentment, thinking that it’s hurting the other person; the truth is, the party’s still going on, it’s just hurting us. are you letting bitterness, disappointment, keep you from enjoying today? why don’t you let it go, and come on into the party? life is happening. there’s a celebration going on. today is a gift. don’t let a bad childhood, divorce, breakup, cause you to be sour and sit on the sidelines; come in to the party. start dreaming, loving, believing again. we have no guarantee that we’re going to be here tomorrow; time is too short to live offended, bitter, in self-pity. God knows what you didn’t get; quit trying to get people to pay you back, and go to God, and He’ll make it up to you. if you’ll come in to the party, get rid of what’s contaminating you, you’re going to experience a new sense of freedom; better relationships, greater joy, clearer vision. every root of bitterness is coming out right now. you’re going to rise higher, live happier, and reach the fullness of your destiny.

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