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Archive for January 15th, 2018

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have times where we feel like we’re surrounded by difficulties, sickness, debt; everywhere we turn, its facing us. it’s easy to get discouraged, and think, “I’ll never get out of this, it has me surrounded.” that’s the way a young man felt in 2 Kings 6:

2 Kings 6:8-17 (NIV)
8 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel… 12 … said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak… 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

the servant thought they were surrounded by the enemy; the truth is, the enemy was surrounded by our God.

like him, you may be surrounded by trouble, sickness, addiction, but what you can’t see is, the most high God is surrounding what’s surrounding you. sickness may be surrounding you, you’re dealing with an illness; the good news is, sickness doesn’t have the final say, sickness is surrounded. the right attitude is, “cancer, you think you have me surrounded, you better look again; my God has you surrounded.” “debt, you think you’re surrounding me; I have bad news for you, the Lord my provider is surrounding you.” “trouble at work, you think you’re going to keep me from my purpose? depression, you think you’re going to stop my destiny? you may have me surrounded, but I know a secret; the Most High God is surrounding you.”

when you understand that God is surrounding what’s surrounding you, you won’t go around discouraged because of problems, worried about finances, upset because somebody is against you. you’ll be like Elisha; you’ll stay in peace, knowing that there are more for you than there are against you.

Elisha prayed that God would open the young man’s eyes so he could see; there’s another world that we cannot see with our physical eyes. if God were to pull back the curtain, like He did for this young man, and you could see into the unseen realm, you would see all these powerful warring angels at work on your behalf: standing guard, protecting you, pushing back the forces of darkness. you would see God moving the wrong people out of the way, lining up things in your favor: good breaks, healing, deliverance.

don’t get discouraged by what you see with your physical eyes; if you stay focused on the opposition, addiction, sickness, you’ll live stressed out, give up on dreams. through your eyes of faith, you need to see every obstacle holding you back surrounded by the Most High. that addiction may be strong, but it’s surrounded by something stronger; God controls the universe, He flung stars into space.

2 Kings 19:35 (NIV)
35 That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp.

you may have big obstacles in your path, you feel stuck; today, God is opening our eyes. we’re getting a new perspective, recognizing that He’s surrounding what’s surrounding us. that child that’s off course, doesn’t look like he’ll fulfill his destiny; imagine him surrounded by mercy, favor, the most high.

Psalm 3:6 (NLT)
6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
who surround me on every side.

you would think with so many enemies he’d be worried, upset, afraid. David went on to say:

Psalm 3:8 (NLT)
8 Victory comes from you, O Lord.

he was saying, “yes, I’m surrounded by all these enemies, I could be overwhelmed, but the reason I’m not falling apart is, I know a secret; God is surrounding what’s surrounding me.” he had his spiritual eyes open. he didn’t just see his enemies; through his eyes of faith, he saw the most High fighting his battles, making his crooked places straight.

like David, you may feel surrounded by enemies, addictions, sickness. maybe forces are trying to keep you from your dreams. you could easily think, “it’s just not meant to be.” here’s the key; what you see with your physical eyes is not the only thing surrounding you. if you’ll open your eyes of faith, you’ll recognize that the trouble, addiction, dysfunction, is surrounded by our God. you’re not just surrounded by the negative, that’s one layer, but God supersedes that; you’re surrounded by favor, healing, victory.

when you’re in difficult times, the enemy will do a lot of talking; he’ll tell you, “I have you surrounded. this sickness will be the end. you’ll never get out, break the addiction, get out of debt. look how long you’ve been there.” don’t believe those lies. he thinks he has you surrounded; what he doesn’t realize is, the Most High God has him surrounded. God knows everything that’s going to happen: every attack, disappointment, unfair situation. when you feel like you’re surrounded, you have to come back to that place of peace, and say, “I know my God is still on the throne. He’s bigger than this sickness, addiction, these enemies.

this is what the three Hebrew teenagers did in the scripture:

Daniel 3:14-18 (NKJV)
14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not… worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 … if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace… 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace… 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

They were saying, “you can’t stop God’s plan for our lives. you can throw us in the fire, we may be surrounded by that fire, but we know our God is surrounding the fire. if it’s not our time to go, we’re not going to go.”

Daniel 3:19-20 (NKJV)
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury… commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.

they weren’t bitter, complaining, “God, why’d you let this happen?” they stayed in peace.

Daniel 3:24-20 (NKJV)
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished… “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

you may feel like you’re in the fire today; you’ve had a disappointment, don’t see how it could work out. the good news is, you’re not in there by yourself; the God who controls the fire, that fourth man, is right there with you. this is the beauty of our God; He doesn’t leave us in tough times, He comes into the fire with us.

the king thought that throwing them into the furnace, surrounding them by fire, surely that would be the end. what he didn’t realize is, the God who created the fire, controls the universe, has the final say. what’s surrounding you may seem big, strong, insurmountable, but our God is all-powerful. that sickness may look like it’s the end, but when God says live, you’re going to live. that addiction may look permanent, thoughts tell you you’ll never break it; God is saying, “you’re not going to stay in that fire. that addiction is not how your story ends; the fourth man is about to show up.” things are about to change in your favor; what you thought was going to stop you, instead is going to promote you.

when Nebuchadnezzar saw that the teenagers were still alive:

Daniel 3:26 (NIV)
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

a few minutes earlier, he was telling them them to bow to his golden idol; now, he’s calling them servants of the Most High God. sometimes, God will allow the fire just so other people will see He is God; He’ll use you as an example. they may not believe before, but when they see God shows out in your life, you beat the cancer, break the addiction, set a new standard, go where you’ve never dreamed, they won’t be able to deny the blessing of God on your life.

when these teenagers came out of the furnace, people never looked at them the same way again; they had a new influence, respect, level.

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

we may not like the fiery furnaces, but if we’ll do like them and keep the right attitude, God will use that difficulty to establish you, give you more credibility, take you to a new level.

interestingly, it doesn’t say that the teenagers saw the fourth man, it says Nebuchadnezzar saw him, the one that had them thrown into the fire; in other words, the people that tried to push you down, hold you back, don’t worry, they’re going to see the hand of God on you, things that you may not be able to see.

this is why you don’t have to prove to people who you are, convince them that you’re right; God is your vindicator. He knows how to get their attention, change their mind. “If I’m surrounded by the most High, why did I have the problem in the first place? why didn’t God keep me out of the furnace?” God never said we wouldn’t have difficulties; being people of faith doesn’t exempt us from challenges, unfair situations:

Psalm 34:19 (NKJV)
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

the promise is not that you won’t have challenges; the promise is God will bring you out. not out of some or most of them, but all of them. when you’re in the fire, the right report is, “I’m coming out. this sickness is not the end. this trouble is not permanent. this slowdown at work is just a season.” you may not realize it, but God is in the process of bringing you out right now. you may not see him, but the fourth man’s in your fire right now. without him there, you wouldn’t still be here; he’s the one keeping the fire from harming you, pushing back the forces of darkness.

don’t complain in the fire; give God praise. be your best right where you are. that difficulty cannot keep you from your purpose. but we pray, “God, keep me out of the fire, out of this problem,” and sometimes God will do that, but most of the time God will make you fireproof, and take you through the fire. coming out of the furnace is a greater testimony. that’s what gave the teenagers a new respect from the king. if God kept us out of every furnace, we wouldn’t reach the fullness of our destinies. here’s why; when the teenagers were in the fire, the only thing that burned were the cords that they were tied up with; their clothes, shoes didn’t burn. when you’re in the fire, God knows how to protect what you need, and at the same time burn off anything that’s holding you back. you’re not going to come out of the fire the same, you’re going to come out free from things that are holding you back, with a greater influence. people are going to look at you in a new light. people that look down on you are going to look up to you. people that wouldn’t pay you any attention are going to want your friendship.

Psalm 34:7 (NIRV)
7 The angel of the Lord stands guard around those who have respect for him.

Psalm 34:7 (MSG)
7 God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

that’s what happened with the teenagers; that circle of protection didn’t keep them out of the fire, but it kept the fire from harming them. if you’re not supposed to go in the fire, you’re not going to go; God will keep you out. but if you do go, that doesn’t mean God let you down, “I prayed, I was doing my best, but I got thrown into the furnace, came down with this illness, my company had to let me go.” the enemy cannot break the circle of protection God has around you. if you go in the fire, that means God allowed it. the good news is, the same God that let you go in is the God that’s going to bring you out. the enemy is not in control of your life; God is. God said to Satan:

Job 1:8 (NCV)
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? No one else on earth is like him. He is an honest and innocent man, honoring God and staying away from evil.”

Satan answered something interesting:

Job 1:9-10 (NIV)
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?

he couldn’t test Job without first asking God for permission. Job went through the test, unfair situations, but he didn’t get bitter:

Job 13:15 (NKJV)
15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

he was saying what the teenagers said; “God, my life is in Your hands. I’m surrounded by trouble, but I know You have the final say. You’re surrounding what’s surrounding me.” like with Job and these teenagers, God has a hedge of protection around you and your family. in the unseen realm, you have powerful warring angels protecting you. you may be surrounded by trouble; the good news is, the most High is surrounding that trouble.

Psalm 91:11 (NCV)
11 He has put his angels in charge of you
to watch over you wherever you go.

instead of going around worried, afraid, turn it around; “Father, thank You that Your angels are watching over me, I’m surrounded by protection, Your goodness.” when you go through life in faith, knowing that God is surrounding what’s surrounding you, you’re showing God that you trust Him; that’s what allows God to show Himself strong in your life. “I had a bad break, got thrown into the furnace, don’t see how it’s going to work out”; that’s going to keep you where you are. the right attitude is, “yes, this sickness has come against me, but I know I’m surrounded by healing. yes, I had a bad break, but this is not my final chapter; I’m surrounded by favor, restoration.”

God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. it’s a test. every person gets thrown into the furnace. it’s not to defeat you, it’s to establish you, let other people see God’s favor is on your life, and to let you know that God is still in control. every furnace God brings you out of, you come out with greater trust in God, confidence, faith. that’s getting you prepared for the next level of your destiny. with every experience, something is deposited that you will use down the road. if you didn’t need the furnace, if it wasn’t going to work for your good, God would have kept you out. you may not understand it, it may not seem fair, but God knows what He’s doing; He’s not going to let it defeat you. thoughts will tell you, “you’ll never get out, never get well, it’ll never turn around”; don’t believe that. God is bringing you out right now. you’re not only going to come out, you’re going to come out stronger, promoted to a new level of your destiny.

in 2 Kings 6, Elisha prayed for the young man, that the Lord would open his eyes; he saw all those powerful angels. but when the enemy army came closer:

2 Kings 6:18-19 (NIV)
18 As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.19 Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. 20 After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria… after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.

God knows how to turn your situation around. there are enemies that are not going to bother you anymore. that sickness you’ve struggled with for years, God is going to put an end to it. that financial difficulty, you can’t seem to get ahead; you keep honoring God, being your best, you’re going to see those forces that have hindered you broken once and for all.

we’ll never live trouble-free, but there are some enemies God will free you from permanently. God told the Israelites:

Exodus 14:13 (DRA)
13 … Fear not: stand and see the great wonders of the Lord, which he will do this day: for the Egyptians, whom you see now, you shall see no more for ever.

those things that are holding you back, sickness, depression, addictions, dare to believe like what God told the Israelites: the sickness you see today, that addiction that’s dogged you for years, trouble at work, people trying to push you down, you will see no more.

God is a God of justice. you keep doing the right thing, and you will come into that day where the enemies you see today, you will see no more. they think they have you surrounded; the good news is, the most high God has them surrounded. there are more for us than against us. that trouble that’s keeping you awake at night; come back to a place of peace, God has the trouble surrounded. sure, we all get thrown into the furnace, but the fire is not the end; the only thing it’s going to do is burn off what’s holding you back. all through the day, especially when you’re tempted to worry, remind yourself, “I am surrounded by the most High.” if you’ll do this, God is going to protect, deliver, promote you. things that have held you back are being broken right now. you’re coming out of the furnace into freedom, favor, healing, the fullness of your destiny.

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