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Archive for January, 2020

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today about It’s Going to Happen Quickly. We all have things that we’re believing for. We’ve been waiting patiently, praying, thanking God, but we don’t see anything improving. It’s easy to get discouraged and accept that it’s going to be this way a long time, we just have to endure it. But God said in Isaiah 60, “I am the Lord, when the time comes, I will do it quickly”. God has ordained certain moments in your life, where he’s going to do a quick work, it’s going to happen much faster than you thought. You may not see anything changing, does it look like you’re any closer to what you were believing for, then you were at this time last year? But, when you come into your time, God is going to do it quickly. It’s not going to be a long drawn-out process, you’re going to see a rapid turn around, a sudden breakthrough, a speedy recovery.

It may look like it’s going to take a long time for you to get well, to break the addiction, to meet the right person. Now get ready, it’s going to happen sooner than it looks, it’s going to be unusual, out of the ordinary – you’re going to know, it was the hand of God. Should take years to get out of debt, years to accomplish that dream. In the natural that’s true, but when you come into one of these destiny moments, it’s going to happen in a fraction of the time. Every thought may tell you, “It’s permanent, it’s never going to change”. Now, God is saying to you today, “I’m going to do it quickly, it’s going to happen suddenly”. Now, get in agreement with God. Instead of thinking of all the reasons it’s not going to work out, turn it around, “Father, thank you for a quick work. Thank you for a sudden breakthrough. Thank you for a rapid recovery”.

When God brought the Israelites out of slavery, they headed toward the Promised Land, that the Pharaoh who had just let them go changed his mind and decided he wanted them back. So he send 600 of his fastest chariots, some of his strongest warriors to try to recapture them. The Israelites, these two million people were at a dead end at the Red Sea, they had nowhere to go. It looked like they would be recaptured, until Moses held up his rod and the waters parted, the Israelites went through on dry ground. When Pharaoh’s men came chasing, the waters closed up and they all were drowned.

Psalm 1:14 gives us insight into what happened. Verse 3 says, “The Red Sea saw the Israelites coming and hurried out of their way”. When it’s your time, don’t worry, enemies are going to hurry out of your way. That addiction, that depression, the anxiety, it is not permanent, it’s about to hurry out of your way. It’s going to happen quickly, you didn’t see any sign of things changing, nothing looked any different, then suddenly the waters part, suddenly your health turns around, suddenly the door opens. God knows how to take things that look permanent and quickly change them.

When God told Moses to hold up the rod and those waters would part, I’m sure Moses was tempted to reason it out, “God, what do you mean? These waters have been like this for years”. You would think, if the Israelites were going to somehow get across, it would take months for the waters to slowly recede, become less and less, maybe God would send a big drought. But when God spoke to Moses nothing looked any different, everything in his mind said, “It’s impossible. It would take months, maybe years of a drought. God, we only have a few hours, before we’re going to be recaptured”. But God doesn’t always do things on a normal timetable, he specializes in doing a quick work, he knows how to speed things up. What could have taken years, in one moment God caused the wind to blow the waters back, they hurried out of the Israelites way.

Maybe you have obstacles in your path that look permanent, God is about to have them hurry out of your way. It’s not going to happen gradually, on a normal schedule, like you were expecting, it’s going to happen quickly, you didn’t see it coming. Things you’ve been struggling with: fear, anxiety, a challenge in your health, that child that’s off course, like Moses, those waters don’t look any different. You know, God is telling you a breakthrough is coming, but you don’t see any sign of it. You want to believe, but your mind is telling you, “There’s no way”. But just like those waters hurried out of the Israelites way, those obstacles are about to hurry out of your way. You may have had that sickness or long time, the prognosis doesn’t look good, receive this into your spirit, it’s about to hurry out of your way. That legal situation looks permanent, the trouble at work, the financial difficulty, seems like there’s no end in sight. No, get ready, God’s about to do a quick work. Lack, struggle, debt is about to hurry out of your way. It’s going to happen suddenly, it’s going to be a rapid turnaround.

That’s what happened for us here at Lakewood, when we acquired the Compaq Center. A company filed a lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. They said, that we violated the deed restrictions. Our attorneys told us, it could be tied up in the courts for many years. When we looked at the waters, like with Moses, it didn’t look any different. A year had gone by, the other side wasn’t about to budge, they had no contact with us. Looked like it could be that way for another ten years. But one day, out of the blue, the other side contacted us and said they wanted to meet. Our attorneys said, “It was probably a ploy, just to distract us”. We met with them, and in a couple of hours they agreed to drop the lawsuit and let us have the building.

When it’s your time, God knows how to have enemies hurry out of your way. And is one thing if we would have won the lawsuit after ten years, we would have been grateful, but God is not one to let the opposition delay you from your destiny, he has already scheduled these destiny moments for you. It may feel like you’re falling behind, the opposition is holding you back – stay encouraged, at the right time that adversity is going to hurry out of your way. Red Seas can’t stop your purpose, God knows how to part the waters. Legal situations, companies that are bigger and stronger cannot stop God’s plan for your life.

It may feel like you’re stuck, you don’t see anything improving – don’t worry, God knows how to do a quick work, it can happen suddenly. The scripture says (Jeremiah 1:12), “God hastens his word to perform it”. That word “Hasten” means quickly, speedily, in a hurry. I’m not saying that we don’t have to wait, there are things that take time. What I’m saying is: when you don’t see anything happening, it looks like what you’re up against it’s never going to change, when you step in to this destiny moment, God will do it speedily, quicker, than you think, you’ll accomplish a dream in a fraction of the time. The obstacle looks permanent and it suddenly turns around, that’s God hastening his word.

2nd kings chapter 7, the Israelites were surrounded by the Syrian army. They had cut off the Israelites food supply, now the people were starving, just a matter of time before they would die. Every circumstance said, “It was permanent. The enemy army was much bigger, they had more weapons”. All the odds were against the Israelites, but there were four lepers sitting outside the city gates. They thought, “We have nothing to lose, we’re going to die anyway, let’s go down to the Syrians camp and see what they’re doing”. While they were walking toward the enemy, the scripture says, “God caused the Syrians to hear the sound of speeding chariots, galloping horses and the footsteps of a vast army approaching”. The Syrian king thought that the Israelites had hired several armies to come attack them. Verse 7 says, “The Syrians panicked and fled into the night leaving their horses, tents and all of their belongings”.

What was that? God causing their enemies to hurry out of their way. It looked impossible, the Israelites didn’t have a chance, they didn’t have the food, the experience, the strength, the weapons – but God is not limited by what you don’t have, he is not intimidated by how big the opposition is, by how bad that medical report looks, by what the financial statement says. God multiplied the sound of these lepers footsteps, caused this huge army to flee for their lives. They left in such a hurry, they didn’t even get their belongings, they didn’t even stop and grab their tents.

God knows how to quickly get rid of the opposition. Now, don’t be discouraged by how permanent the obstacle looks or by how much bigger than you it seems, you have an advantage, the Most High God is on your side, he knows how to cause your enemies to hurry out of your way. Not gradually, not over some months, you’re going to see some things quickly turn around, problems suddenly resolves, enemies rapidly defeated.

What’s interesting is while the lepers were walking, they didn’t know what God was doing, they couldn’t hear what the enemy was hearing. Everything seemed normal to them, but God was doing something supernatural. You don’t know what God is up to right now, while you’re believing, while you’re doing the right thing, everything may seem the same, but God is talking to your enemies, he’s causing them to hear what he wants them to hear.

The Syrians didn’t say to the lepers, “Okay, we’ll leave, just give us a few months to pack up our belongings. Give us some time to relocate, we need to go find some more property”. They left suddenly in a panic, they were so afraid they fled for their lives. And some of the obstacles that you’re up against may seem like they have the upper hand, that sickness feels bigger, you’ve had the addiction a long time, the trouble at work feels like it has you surrounded. But when it’s your time, like with them, it’s not going to leave gradually, it’s not going to improve a little here, a little there, it’s going to leave suddenly, like it’s in a panic, like it’s fleeing for its life.

“Well, Joel this is encouraging today, but I don’t believe that it’s going to happen quickly for me. I’ve been dealing with this a long time”, then you’re right, it won’t happen for you, this is for believers, this is for people that will let the seed take root, people that will dare say, “God, I agree with what you said, that you will hasten your word to perform it. Lord, I believe for a quick word. I believe enemies are hurrying out of my way. I believe I’m gonna see a rapid turnaround”.

A friend of mine worked for this company, where his supervisor wasn’t treating him right, he was jealous of him. My friend had a great attitude, never heard him complain, he kept doing the right thing, even though this supervisor would try to discredit him and make him look bad. This went on for several years, the supervisor was in his early 40s and he’d been with the company for almost 20 years. It looked like my friend would always have to deal with this, but one Monday he went to work, the owner of the company called him in and said, that the supervisor was leaving and this owner wanted him to have the positions. My friend asked when it was going to happen, when the man was going to leave, the owner said, “He left last Friday, you’re the supervisor starting right now”.

God knows how to cause people to hurry out of your way, to do things quickly, things you didn’t see coming. That supervisor could have been there another 30 years, but he suddenly left. Quit worrying about who’s in front of you, how it’s not going to work out, God can quickly change things, quickly promote you, quickly heal you, quickly free you. And yes, there are times we have to wait, we have to outlast what’s coming against us, but you’re going to come in to these moments, where God is going to do a quick work. Instead of complaining, “Joel, is taking so long for me. I don’t think I’ll ever get well. I’ll never meet the right person”, turn it around, “Father, thank you that my health is about to suddenly improve. Thank you, that this addiction is not permanent, that it’s about to quickly turn around. Thank you, that this depression is not how my story ends, it’s about to hurry out of my way”. That’s not just being positive, that’s releasing your faith, that’s what allows God to speed things up.

This is what Joseph did in the scripture, he spent 13 years being mistreated, betrayed by his brothers, sold as a slave, put in prison for something that he didn’t do. It wasn’t easy, but he kept the right attitude, kept being his best. One morning, sitting in prison, seemed like another ordinary day, the guard came in and said, “Joseph, the Pharaoh wants to see you.” I can imagine, Joseph thought, “He wants to see me. I’ve never met him, I don’t have an appointment, I’m a slave, a foreigner. I’m in prison and the Pharaoh is calling for me”? God knows how to have the right people come looking for you. You may feel like you had a disadvantage, people tried to discredit you, it seems like you’re overlooked. No, the one who matters has his eyes on you, the one who controls the universe, the Most High God is watching after you. He’s working out his plan for your life.

Joseph walked in, he was standing in the presence of one of the most powerful people of that day. Joseph interpreted the Pharaohs dream, he was so impressed, that he made Joseph the prime minister of Egypt, second in command. It happened quickly, Joseph didn’t have to run for office, the king or the Pharaoh didn’t hold a vote, he didn’t interview people for six months – right on the spot he made Joseph prime minister. God knows how to do a quick work. The trouble, the injustice, the betrayal hurried out of Joseph’s way.

He woke up that morning a slave in prison, he went to bed that night the prime minister, promoted, vindicated. Now, don’t be discouraged by what’s not changing. Maybe like Joseph’s you’re doing the right thing, but the wrong thing is happening – your time is coming, God has these destiny moments, where he’s going to suddenly catapult you to a new level. It’s not going to be a long process, it’s going to happen quickly, out of the ordinary. The right people are going to come looking for you, the promotion, the opportunity, the vindication is going to track you down.

After the Israelites came through the Red Sea, they wandered in the desert for forty years, they thought their enemies were too big, their obstacles too great, that kept them from ever going into the Promised Land. Now, years later, their children and grandchildren were about to cross the Jordan river and go into the land, that God promised. The problem was, the land was occupied with these incredibly strong, powerful people called the anakites, they were descendants of giants.

You can imagine how intimidated the Israelites must have felt, standing at the Jordan, no doubt contemplating whether or not they should go in. God gave them a promise, that helped push them over. He said in Deuteronomy 9, “Today you are about to face people that are much stronger and more powerful. But the Lord your God will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will subdue them so you can quickly conquer”. Unlike their parents that talk themselves out of it, this new generation had the boldness to go in. Just like God promised, they’d quickly conquer the land.

Now you may be facing a situation like them, that seems impossible in your health, your finances, a relationship. God is saying to you, what he said to them, “I’m going to cross over ahead of you and take care of those enemies, so you can quickly conquer them”. You are not fighting those battles on your own, the Most High God is going before you. You’re going to come out of that difficulty quicker than you think. Now, get this down in your spirit, you’re going to quickly conquer the sickness, quickly conquer the addiction, quickly conquer the trouble at work. Behind the scenes, right now, God is changing things in your favor. He’s crossing over ahead of you to take care of the sickness, to take care of that trouble. If you’ll stay in faith it’s going to happen sooner than it looks, you didn’t see any sign of it, everything looked permanent, then suddenly it changed. God is going to hasten his word, he’s going to speed things up.

I talked to a man that had had a stroke. He was in his early fifties, he attends Lakewood and his family brought him up to prayer after a service. He was now in a wheelchair, he had lost control over the left side of his body and his face was all drawn. He was told that with therapy in three to five years he might regain some control of his left arm and leg. They specifically said, he would never be able to lift his arm above his head again. I told him what I’m telling you, that God can do things quickly. In the natural it should take years, but we serve a supernatural God, he knows how to speed things up. This man was a fighter I could tell he was not going to take that stroke lying down. I saw him six months later, this time he wasn’t in a wheelchair, he was walking through the lobby, had a big smile on his face. When our eyes met, first thing he did was lift his arm way up in the air.

I said I thought that was going to take three to five years? He said, “That’s what I was told, but it happened for me in three months”. His therapist said, that in 30 years that she had been helping people, she had never seen anyone recover as fast as him. God knows how to do a quick work. Quit believing those lies that it’s going to take you a long time to get well, you heard the experts, a long time to accomplish your dream, a long time to get free from that anxiety. No, God is crossing ahead of you right now, so you can quickly conquer. You’re going to see a rapid recovery, you’re going to defy the odds, God is going to accelerate things. Dreams come into pass in record time, things falling into place. That addiction is not permanent, that depression is not going to last, it’s about to hurry out of your way. It’s going to happen quickly, you didn’t see it coming.

Now when thoughts tell you, “It’s going to take you years to get well, years to meet the right person”. Now, keep this phrase down in your spirit, “Quickly conquer”. You have to answer the doubt back with faith. Don’t let that thought continue to play, “Is permanent, it’s never going to change”. No, all through the day, “Father, thank you that it’s going to happen quickly. Thank you, that enemies are hurrying out of my way. Thank you, that I’m gonna see a rapid turnaround”. “Well, Joel, what if I do that for a month and nothing happening”? Then keep doing it. You have to stay on inoffensive. If you live with that lie, that “I’m stuck, it’s permanent, it’s never going to change”, that will limit your life.

Luke chapter 18, Jesus told a story about a judge that wasn’t fair. He didn’t have integrity, he didn’t care for people. This widow kept coming to him day after day, asking him to do something about this person that had done her wrong. The judge kept ignoring her, didn’t pay any attention, but the widow wouldn’t quit coming. Finally, the judge said that the lady, “I’m going to give you what you’re asking for, not because I want to, but because you’re wearing me out with your constant request”. Jesus said to his disciples, if this judge who is not fair will make the right decision, because the lady kept asking, do you think God who is fair will keep putting off those that come to him? Jesus went on to say, “I can assure you, God will grant him justice quickly”.

When you’re in a difficult time, things are not turning around, if you’ll just keep thanking God that he’s working, thanking him that he’s fighting your battles, thanking him that he’s bigger than what you’re facing – not begging him, but reminding him what he promised, notice what God said, “He will give you justice quickly”. It’s going to happen faster than it looks. One translation says, “He will rush to your defense, he will come to you in haste”. It may not have happened yet, but you need to know, God is in a hurry to help you. You’re going to see some of these sudden turnarounds. Now, the key is to keep thanking God, keep talking like it’s going to happen, keep believing that it’s on the way.

When you consistently thank God, you’re going to see some quick works, God is going to quickly turn your child around, quickly bring the healing, quickly cause a dream to come to pass. Maybe like this widow, you’ve been doing this, but you don’t see anything changing, every circumstance looks just the same – stay encouraged, your time is coming, God is crossing over ahead of you right now. I believe and declare, you’re about to quickly conquer. Problems that have hindered you are about to suddenly resolve, enemies that have come against you are about to hurry out of your way, you’re going to see a rapid turnaround, a sudden breakthrough. It’s going to happen quickly, in Jesus name.

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When God Doesn’t Listen

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today about When God Doesn’t Listen. We know that God is omnipresent, he’s everywhere at the same time. He can see everything and he can hear everything, but there’s a difference between hearing and listening – hearing is unintentional. You can be asleep and hear your alarm, you aren’t listening, you are simply hearing. Listening means you’ve tuned in, you’ve given your attention, you’re interested.

A while back I asked Victoria if she had gone to the grocery store, I was looking for the short answer, but Victoria is much more expressive than I am, she likes to give the details. She told how she had gone and who she ran into, what they had been doing and how their cousins, next-door neighbors, grandfather’s best friend had just had a baby. I wasn’t looking for any of that, I just wanted to know did you get the chicken wings? The whole time she was telling the story, I was hearing it, but I wasn’t listening. I was there, but I wasn’t tuned in.

It may surprise you that even though God hears everything, he doesn’t always listen. There are certain things the scripture tells us, that God doesn’t pay attention to. Now, I wonder if we’re talking to God about something that he’s hearing, but he’s not tuned in, he’s right there, but he’s not listening?

Luke 15, there’s a story of two sons. The younger son asked his father for his inheritance early. He knew it belonged to him and he wanted it right then. His father agreed. The young man took the funds and left home. He went out and started partying, living wild, spending it on all kinds of wrong things. Well eventually the money ran out, there was a great famine in the land, nowhere to get food. He ended up working in a hog pen, haven to eat the hog food to survive. It was nobody’s fault except his own, he brought the trouble on himself.

Sitting in the hog pen: dirty, smelly, feeling depressed, he began to think about home. He said, “Even the farmhands that work for my father eat three meals a day, here I’m starving. I’m going to go back home and see if my father will hire me, as one of his staff”. He had his big speech all lined up, he had already practiced what he was going to say, “Father, I have sinned against you and against God. I am no longer worthy to be called your son, I don’t deserve to live in the house, I’m just asking you to hire me as one of your farmhands”. The son returned home, you can imagine how nervous he was, he had practiced this speech again and again.

When his father saw him a long way off, he took off running toward the son. I’m sure the son thought, “Oh, great, he’s so upset, he’s not even going to allow me back on the property, he’s going to come out here and berate me and tell me how foolish I’ve been”. But when the father got to the son, he grabbed him and hugged him. Wouldn’t let him go, gave his son a kiss. I can see the father weeping tears of joy, so excited. Now it was the son’s big moment to give his speech, he knew this would either make him or break him. He started off, “Father, I’m unworthy to be called your son. I’ve dishonored the family name, I’ve made so many mistakes”. He did it so passionately, so genuinely, but the scripture says, “The father wasn’t listening”.

Right in the middle of his big speech, when the son was pouring out his heart, telling how unworthy he was, the father was no more paying attention, he looked over at his staff and said, “Quick, go get the best robe and put it on my son. Go get a ring for his finger, shoes for his feet and kill the fatted calf. We’re gonna have a party, my son was lost, but now he’s found”. I can see the son thinking, “Dad, I’m trying to tell you how unworthy I feel, how sorry I am, but you’re not even listening”.

Are you telling God everything wrong with you, how many mistakes you’ve made, how you don’t deserve to be blessed? “God, I blew it again. I don’t see how you could even love me”. Can I tell you? God is not listening. You are wasting your breath. This can save you a lot of time and emotional energy. You are not worthy because of what you did or didn’t do, you’re worthy because of what Jesus did. You don’t have to go to God and try to convince him to forgive you, convince him that you know you’re not good enough, you’re just a weak worm of the dust – he tunes all that out. If you want God to not only hear, but to listen, then go to him with the language of faith. “Father, thank you that your mercy is bigger than my mistakes. Thank you, that you’re not holding my past against me. Thank you that I’m forgiven, that I’m redeemed”.

Don’t go through life beating yourself up, dwelling on your mistakes and failures. The moment you ask God to forgive you, he forgave you. You don’t have to keep going back to God and saying, “I’m sorry for what I did, I’m just so undisciplined. I know I don’t deserve your goodness”. I can imagine, God turning to the angel Gabriel and saying, “If someone’s saying something, I hear it, but I’m not tuned into that”. When you’re telling God all the times you fail, how you don’t deserve to be blessed, God is not saying, “Good, I’m glad you finally feel unworthy. I’m glad you’re finally down on yourself”. He’s not paying attention. All that’s doing is making you feel bad about yourself, it’s keeping you from expecting his favor.

That’s why the scripture says (Hebrews 4:16), “Come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy”. When you need mercy don’t go to God guilty, condemned, week – go boldly, go with confidence, knowing that you’re forgiven, knowing that God is for you. Yes, you may have blown it, but like this young man, God is running towards you right now. Not to condemn you, not to make it guilty, but to love you. “Well, Joel shouldn’t I tell God how bad I was and how unworthy I feel”? You can, but he’s not listening. God listens to the language of faith. He doesn’t listen when we’re beating ourselves up, telling him what we don’t deserve.

The enemy would love for you to live feeling condemned, he’ll remind you of all the times you haven’t measured up. It may not be something big, but even small things. “You didn’t spend enough time with your children last week. You should’ve work it out. You’ve got mad at your neighbor. You were late to school”. There’s always some reason that we can feel bad about who we are. If you give in to these lies, you’ll go through life feeling wrong on the inside. Now I found: most people accept condemnation easier than they accept mercy. They believe the lies from the accuser more than they believe what God says about them, that they’re forgiven, that you’ll redeem, that you’re made worthy.

When you make a mistake: go to God, ask for forgiveness, and then move on. Don’t keep asking again and again, bringing up the same failures. The first time you ask God to forgive you, he’d not only forgave you, he doesn’t remember it anymore. When you go back and ask God again and again, he says, “What are you talking about? I have no account of that”. When God forgave you, he deleted your files. He doesn’t have a big server up in heaven, where he’s keeping a backup copy, just in case he changes his mind. The scripture says, (Romans 4:8), “God has cleared our record”. He has no account of what you keep asking him for forgiveness for.

Now, you know who is keeping a record? You know who has 47 backup copies? The enemy. He’s called the accuser of the brethren, he’ll remind you of everything you’ve done wrong for the last 30 years. If someone is bringing up negative things from your past in your thoughts, you can be assured, it is not God. In this story of the prodigal, the young man didn’t even ask for forgiveness. Just the fact that he turned from his old way, the fact that he left the hog pen and came home, that was enough for his father to forgive him. You may not have done everything perfect in life, you can find plenty of reasons to live guilty, feel unworthy, but just the fact that you’re here, just the fact that you’re listening is a sign that you’ve turned toward God, it’s a sign that you’ve headed toward the father’s house. Right now the father is running towards you.

You may have your big speech all lined up, you’re ready to tell God how unworthy you are, how you don’t deserve to be blessed. Save your speech, he’s not listening, there’s no use beating yourself up, living condemned. God’s mercy has covered everything you’ve done wrong. If you want to get God’s attention, start speaking the language of faith, “Father, thank you that my files have been deleted. Thank you that you’re not counting my sins against me. Thank you that I’m covered by your mercy”.

But too often we think we have to pay God back for our mistakes. If it’s something big, we have to beat ourselves up for six months. Lost my temper, told my co-worker off – that’s a medium sized sin, I’ve got to be down on myself for a couple of weeks. Plead with God again and again, “God, I blew it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me”. The whole time God is hearing you, but he’s not listening. When we’re trying to make up for our mistakes, what we’re really saying is, “Jesus didn’t finish everything on the cross. Let me pay for this one. I need to get back up on the cross for a little while”.

Now understand, the price has already been paid in full. All your sins: past, present and future have been taken care of. And the way to honor God is not by being down on yourselves, living guilty, feeling unworthy: it’s by receiving his mercy, it’s by getting up when you fall and trying again, it’s by still believing for his favor, still expecting his goodness. Even though you’ve spent some time in the hog pen, even though you’ve made poor choices, you have that boldness to put on your robe of righteousness, you put on that crown of favor, you enjoy the party that your father threw, because you came back home.

Suppose the son said, “Dad, I don’t deserve these new clothes. Let me just wear the old ones, that I’ve worn in the hog pen. I don’t deserve this ring that represents I’m in the family, don’t throw a party for me. Just let me live out in the barn, I need to pay you back for all this trouble”. The father would have said, “What are you talking about? Are you kidding? You’re my son, I want to be good to you”. The way to please God is by receiving his mercy.

Sitting in the hog pen, this young man made a decision, that changed the course of his life. He said, (Luke 15:18) “I will arise and go to my father’s house”. He was saying, “Yes, I’ve made mistakes. Yes, I brought this trouble on myself, but I’m not going to let one bad season ruin the rest of my life, I’m not going to sit here condemned, I’m going to arise”.

Now you may have made some poor choices, you’re not where you thought you would be in life. The accuser is telling you, “It’s too late. You’ve blown it too bad, just sit on the sidelines”. No, you are one decision away from seeing God show out in your life. The plan he has for you was not canceled because you spent time in the hog pen. Those decisions didn’t disqualify you from his favor. All you have to do is arise, shake off that guilt, quit believe in the lies that you’ve seen your best days, and start heading towards your father’s house. Start making decisions that honor God, break away from things that are causing you to compromise, to be less than your best. It’s not too late, you’re not too far off course, God still has amazing things in your future, if you’re dare to arise.

Now, I believe, one reason this young man had the boldness to go back home was: deep down he knew who he was, he knew what family he belong to. When you understand your position, it will change your condition. When you understand: you are a child of the Most High God, you weren’t created to live condemned, guilty, defeated. God created you to be victorious, to reign in life, to leave your Mark. Now your condition may be way down low, because you’ve made poor choices. You don’t think you deserve to be blessed, it was your fault. The right attitude is: “I may have made mistakes, but I understand my position. The Creator of the universe breathed life into me. I may not feel worthy, but I know, he’s made me worthy, so I’m going to arise and go to my father’s house”. In the father’s house there’s mercy for every mistake. In the father’s house there’s no judgment, no condemnation, no putting you on a guilt trip.

It’s interesting, when the son came back home, his father never once brought up the sons past. He never once said, “I’ll forgive you, but you don’t deserve it. I’ll let you live here, but I’ll always remember what you did”. There was no judgment, only mercy. When the father could have been upset, he was full of kindness. When there could have been a big argument, instead there was a big party. What keeps some people away from God, is they have the wrong image of him. They think when they come back home, there’ll be all this guilt, “I told you so, look how foolish you’ve been”. That’s not the way our God is. When you come back, there’ll be a party, there’ll be a celebration.

Now, you may have made mistakes, the accuser is telling you, “Stay away, stay in the hog pen, God would never accept you”. But, I believe, deep down, like this young man, you know who you are, you know God’s calling is on your life. You can feel him speaking to you right now. Why don’t you arise? Let today be a new beginning, no more living guilty, beating yourself up, telling God everything you’ve done wrong. He’s already forgiven you, come on back to the father’s house.

When the prodigal son returned home, imagine the next week, he went to his father and said, “Dad, I’m sorry for what I’ve done, please forgive me”. The dad said, “Son, you’re forgiven, don’t worry about it”. The next day he comes, “Dad, I can’t believe I left you. Please forgive me”. The father says, “Son, I forgave you”. What if the son kept coming week after week, month after month? Even though the son had good intentions, the father would get frustrated, say “Son, you’re wasting your time. I’ve forgiven you. Now, do me a favor, receive my forgiveness”.

I know people that ask God to forgive them for the same thing over and over, it happened 20 years ago and they’re still bringing it up. They think they’re showing God that they’re sorry, but God is not listening. “Well, Joel I’m doing it, because I feel this guilt, this remorse”. The guilt is not from God, that’s the accuser. The language of faith says, “I may feel guilty, but I know, I am forgiven”. You can’t go by how you feel, because feelings don’t tell us the truth all the time. You have to go by what you know. “God, you said I’m forgiven, so I’m gonna get in agreement with you and believe that I’m forgiven”.

There was a nine-year-old boy named Sam. He was visiting his grandparents during the summer, they lived out on a big farm. He had this slingshot, and all during the day he would go through the woods, shooting at different targets. He wasn’t very accurate, but he kept practicing and practicing. One evening he heard the dinner bell ringing, on the way to the house he saw his grandmother’s pet duck over by the pond, it’s about fifty yards from the main house and he didn’t think he had a chance in the world of ever hitting it, but just for fun he pulled the slingshot back, let the rock fly. Much to his surprise, it hit the duck square in the head, knocked it over dead.

Sam began to panic, he ran over as quick as he could, grab the duck took it and buried it behind the woodpile. He felt so badly about it, but he wasn’t about to dare say anything. When he got close to the house, he realized, his twelve year old sister named Julie saw the whole thing take place. That night after dinner the grandmother said to his sister, “Julie, let’s wash the dishes together”. Julie said, “Grandmother, I would love to, but Sam said he wants to help you tonight”. She whispered in Sam’s ear, “Remember the duck”. Sam went over and cleaned the dishes.

The next morning the grandfather was going fishing, he invited both children to come. The grandmother said, “I really need Julie to stay here and help me do some chores”. Julie smiled and said, “Grandmother, Sam said he wants to stay with you today”. She whispered in his ear again, “Remember the duck”. Julie went fishing, Sam stayed and worked. After a couple of days of doing both his and his sister’s chores, Sam finally had enough. He went to his grandmother said, “Grandmother, I have to tell you something. I accidentally killed your pet duck with my slingshot, and I’m very sorry”. The grandmother gave him a big hug and said, “Sam, I know you did, I was standing at the window and I watched the whole thing happened. I know you didn’t mean to, I already forgave you. I was just waiting to see how long you were going to let Julie make a slave of you”.

Can I tell you: God is standing at the window, he’s seen every mistake, every failure, every weakness. The good news is: he’s already forgiven, you he’s not holding it against you, he’s just waiting to see, how long you’re going to let the accuser make a slave of you? How long are you going to live with that guilt, believing that you’ve blown your future? How long are you going to ask forgiveness for the same things? My declaration is, “No more. This is a new day”. We’re going to rise up like Sam and say, “Enough is enough. Yes, I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m not going to go through life condemned, trying to pay a debt, that’s already been paid, thinking that I’ve missed my destiny. I’m going to arise”.

You can still become all you were created to be. No mistake you’ve made is too much for the mercy of God. You have to get back in the game, get your fire back, get your passion back. Quit believe in those lies that, “It’s too late, you’ve made too many poor choices”, telling God everything you’ve done wrong. He’s not listening to that. If you want to get God’s attention, go to him with boldness. Despite the mistakes you’ve made, dare to ask him for favor, dare to ask him to open new doors, to take you where you couldn’t go on your own.

This is what Jacob did in the scripture. He had lived his whole life being dishonest, cheating people, he tricked his brother out of his birthright. He finally got tired of living that way. One day he went down to the brook by himself to get alone with God to make things right. An angel appeared in the form of a man. Jacob started wrestling with him, this went on all night. Jacob finally realized, it was an angel. He said to him, “I’m not going to let you leave, until you bless me”. When the angel saw how determined Jacob was, how he wasn’t going to give in, he touched Jacob and gave him the blessing. That night God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. He left there a different person.

But, think of the nerve of Jacob after all those years of cheating people, making bad choices, he should have been living guilty, feeling unworthy, but somehow he had this boldness to not only ask for forgiveness, but he said, “God, I’m asking you to bless me, despite what I’ve done wrong”. You would think God would say, “Come on Jacob. Are you kidding? You don’t even deserve forgiveness, much less to be blessed”. But, God said in effect, “Jacob, I like your boldness, I like the fact that you’re not telling me how bad you are, and how unworthy you feel, and what you don’t deserve, but you’re asking me to be good to you. Jacob, if you’re bold enough to ask, then I’m bold enough to do it”.

If God will bless Jacob after living that kind of life, why are you believing the lies, that God won’t bless you, that you don’t deserve it, that you’re not worthy? Do yourself a favor, quit telling God all about that and go to him like Jacob, “Father, I thank you that you are full of mercy. I’m asking you to bless me, not because of how good I am, but because of how good you are”. That’s what gets God’s attention, that’s what he listens to.

How much time are you spending being down on yourself, guilty from past mistakes, telling God what you don’t deserve? That’s a lot of emotional energy, that’s not doing any good. Yes, God hears you, he knows you’re sincere, but he’s not listening. God is not moved by our guilt, he’s moved by our faith. It takes faith not to just believe for your dreams, it takes faith to believe you’re forgiven, to believe that you’re worthy. Don’t let the accuser deceive you into going through life with no passion, think have you blown it too many times. Your record has been cleared, those files have been deleted. Now, do like Jacob and come boldly to the throne. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, God is about to show you favor, that you didn’t deserve. New doors are about to open, the right people, promotion, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

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From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today аbout: It’s Just a Matter of Time. We all have things that were believing will change: we’re fighting an illness, we’re struggling with an addiction, we’re dealing with fear, depression, anxiety. We know what God promised that he would restore our health, that he would free us from the fear, we prayed, we believed, but we don’t see anything improving. But what you can’t see is: the moment you prayed in the unseen realm, the source of what was coming against you was cut off – the source of the fear, the source of the addiction, the source of the sickness.

Now, you may not see any manifestation for some time, there may not be any evidence that things have changed, and this is when many people get discouraged. But there will always be a period of time, where it looks like God didn’t do what he promised: the fear still comes, the medical report hasn’t improved, the addiction looks just the same, but what’s feeding those things has been cut off. May seem like it’s still alive, but the truth is: the fear is dead, the sickness is dead, the trouble at work is dead. Don’t be discouraged because you don’t see anything happening, it’s just a matter of time.

One day Jesus was leaving Bethany, he saw a fig tree off in the distance, he was hungry, so he went over to get something to eat, but the tree didn’t have any figs. Jesus said to the tree: “May no person ever eat fruit from you again”. He cursed the tree, but when he said it nothing on the outside looked any different, the tree was still just as full and healthy as before. I can hear the disciples begin to whisper, “What happened? It didn’t work, did he lose his power”? They had seen Jesus speak to a blind man and healed his eyes, and they heard him speak to the storm and calmed the sea, but this time when Jesus spoke nothing changed, there was no evidence that what he said had happened.

But the next morning, as the disciples were passing by, they saw the tree, the scripture says, “The tree had withered from the roots”. When Jesus spoke to the tree nothing happened on the outside, but on the inside, down in the roots, the source was cut off. When the roots are dead, the tree is dead. It may still look alive, it may still have green leaves, still have wide branches, but it’s just a matter of time before the outside catches up with the inside.

It may look like that sickness you’re dealing with is still alive, that anxiety is just as bad as ever, the addiction just is strong. You prayed, wondered: why God won’t do something? God did do something: the moment you prayed, he cut off the source. That addiction may look like it’s alive, but if you could see the roots, you would realize – it’s dead, it’s just a matter of time before the outside catches up. That sickness may seem permanent, like you’ll never get well, have a new perspective: the roots have been cut off and don’t be discouraged because it still has green leaves, you don’t see anything changing.

The Psalmist said, “The strength of the wicked is being cut off, and the power of the godly is being increased”. Everything that’s trying to stop you, you need to see that power as being cut off. It may be hindering you now, but it’s not permanent, it’s not going to last. Why? It lost its source. Every day it’s withering, every day it’s getting weaker, may look the same on the outside, but on the inside it’s drying up.

When Jesus spoke to the tree, there was no evidence that anything changed. Maybe you’re believing for something and you don’t see any sign of things improving. You’re speaking faith over your health, but the medical report is not getting better. You’re praying for your child, but he’s not getting back on track. If you just had some evidence, if you just saw a little sign, then you would believe. No, this is what faith is all аbout: you can’t be moved by what you don’t see, you have to be moved by what you know. “Father, I want to thank you, that the moment I prayed, you cut off the roots. I know this sick this is not permanent – healing is coming. I know this addiction is not how my story ends – freedom is coming. I know this depression doesn’t have the final say. Father, I thank you, that it’s withering up”.

And some of the things that you’re concerned about, God has already done. You haven’t seen it yet, but in the unseen realm things have changed. That anxiety you’ve been praying about, asking God to take it away, it’s already dead. That trouble at work – God has already cut off the source. Now, do your part: stay in faith until it manifest, keep thanking God, keep talking like you’re free, keep thinking like you’re healthy, keep living like you’re victorious.

I talked to a man that had struggled with an addiction for many years. He said, “Joel, I asked God to help me, but nothing happened”. He didn’t see anything on the outside changing. Wasn’t getting any easier, so he assumed that God wasn’t doing anything. He lived with the mindset, “I’m addicted, I’ll never be free, it’s too strong”. He was waiting to see the manifestation before he believed God was working, but faith says, you have to believe that when you prayed the miracle was set into motion. You can’t wait to see the evidence and then you’re going to believe – you have to believe first. You may not see any sign of it, but deep down you have to know, the source of that addiction has been cut off. When you know the roots have been cursed, you’ll have a different mindset. Instead of thinking, “Maybe one day it will happen”, you’ll know, it’s just a matter of time. God has already spoken it, he’s already cut off the source. Now, all you have to do is walk it out.

And I told him what I’m telling you: you may not see anything happening, but the moment you prayed, God did something. Instead of thinking, “One day I’ll be free”, try a new approach, “Father, thank you, that I am free. Thank you, that this addiction is dead, that it doesn’t control me, that you’ve already put an end to it”. He started living with the attitude, that it was already cut off. He kept thanking God he was free, talking like he was free. And I saw him about six months later, he said, “After 22 years of being addicted, today I am totally free”.

Are you waiting for the evidence to believe what God said about you? Are you talking yourself out of it, because you don’t see any sign? If you’ll get in agreement with God, you’ll see what he’s done on the inside, show up on the outside. The source of what’s trying to stop you has been cut off. “Well, Joel, it seems like it’s still alive. Seems like as strong as ever”. Don’t be moved, don’t be fooled by the outside.

Victoria was in our backyard one time, we had these beautiful rose bushes. She’s got some scissors and cut off one of the roses and brought it inside. The moment she cut it off it was dead, it was separated from its source of life. What’s interesting, is it didn’t look dead it didn’t look any different from the other roses that were still on the bush: it was still beautiful, still colorful, still smelled good. She put it in a vase, for a couple of weeks it was right by our kitchen sink: still looked beautiful, healthy, but the whole time it was dead, it was just a matter of time before it withered up.

You may have things in your life like that rose: the sickness has already been cut off, the depression, the fear, the addiction. The moment you prayed it died, but it still looks just the same. You don’t feel any difference, nothing is changing: that’s okay, that doesn’t mean that it’s still alive. Like that rose, at some point it’s going to wither, you’re going to see what God promised you.

Now the scripture says, “Don’t faint in mind”. The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. Thoughts will tell you, “Nothing happened when you prayed, you’ll never get well, you’ll never break the addiction, you’ve had it too long”. Don’t believe those lies, the roots have been cut off, it’s just a matter of time before you see things change in your favor.

We have some friends, every Easter they send us a dozen rosebuds. They come in this large box, they have a long stem with the rose bud on the top. What’s interesting is even though the rose is dead, even though it’s been cut off from the bush, when you put that stem in water, the rose will bloom. It’s dead, but it will still blossom. It has no life, but it will still get bigger, increase and expand.

There are times when even though God has cut something off, it will get bigger. Even though he cut off the trouble, it will blossom, you’ll be tempted to think, “Joel, this sickness isn’t dead, it’s getting worse. This anxiety is not dead, it’s increasing instead of decreasing”. No, stay in faith, it may bloom, it may blossom, but it’s still dead. All through the day, “Father, thank you, that the source of this trouble has been cut off. Thank you, that you have cursed the roots of this fear. Thank you, that you said this sickness has to go. So, Lord, I’m gonna stay in agreement with you, I know it’s just a matter of time before it withers up”.

When we were trying to acquire this building, the former Compaq Center, we had all kinds of opposition. But after two years we finally got enough city council members to be for us and we won the vote. We were so excited, we knew that God gave us the building, but three days later a company that owned most of the property around the facility filed a federal lawsuit to try to keep us from moving in. I thought the opposition was over, but it was just beginning. We had this huge company coming against us, they were the largest taxpayer in Texas, a big real estate company.

Now we had this giant in our path, I was tempted to think, “God, what are we gonna do? They have more resources, they have more influence”. But I did what I’m asking you to do, I said, “Father, I want to thank you, that the source of those coming against us has been cut off. They may be bigger, stronger, but God, I know, you being for us is more than the world being against us”.

Like that rosebud that blooms even though it’s dead, don’t be surprised if opposition blossoms against you, adversity blooms, giants try to stop you. It looks like they have the upper hand, no, stay in peace, their source has been cut off. It is not permanent, it is just a matter of time before you see the hand of God.

All the odds were against us, it looked like this building could be tied up in the courts for many years. We were told, that the other side would never back down, but one day they called out of the blue and said they wanted to meet. We met, they agreed to not only let us have the building, but to lease us nine thousand covered parking spaces. That two-year legal battle suddenly came to an end.

You may have things that you thought were dead: the addiction, the trouble at work, the legal situation, but now it’s blooming, it’s getting bigger. You think that your prayers must not have worked, no, the roots have been cut off. It may bloom, but it lost its source. What you’re dealing with is only temporary, it cannot last without the source. That rose bloom looks so beautiful for a couple of weeks, seems so vibrant and so healthy, but then it suddenly begins to wither.

You’re about to see some of these suddenlies: things you’ve been praying about, you believe that the source has been cut off, but it seems like it’s still alive – no, get ready, that addiction is about to suddenly go. That depression is about to suddenly stop. That opposition is about to suddenly be defeated. That sickness about to suddenly change. It may be blooming now, that’s a sign that it’s on the way out, that’s a sign that you are close to your breakthrough, you are close to a new level, you are close to seeing freedom, like you’ve never seen.

When you walk into someone’s house and see a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They can smell nice, they can look nice, you never think about the fact that the flowers are dead, that in a few weeks they’re going to be thrown out. When negative things are blooming in your life, like those roses, it may seem like they’re permanent, like they’re going to be there forever. What do you have to remind yourself: it’s only temporary. That sickness may be blooming, it looks so impressive, I know a secret: it’s not going to last.

That trouble in your marriage looks permanent – no, this too shall pass. Your child’s off-course, looks like he’ll miss his destiny. No, the source of that trouble has been cut off. Maybe blooming now, that doesn’t mean that it’s not dead. God is already putting end to it. Now it may take a little time to see what God promised, but it’s on the way. Don’t talk yourself out of it, don’t get discouraged by what’s not happening.

I’ve heard it said, “The enemy makes the most noise when he’s on his way out”. You think about how, when Jesus told demons to leave people, very often they let out a loud scream, they’d make all this noise, all this commotion. When the enemies stirring up trouble in your life, making a lot of noise: your health went down, finance is not good, your child is acting worse – don’t panic, that’s a sign he’s on the way out, he makes the most no commotion when he’s about to leave.

There was a lady that had a dream. In this dream she was in her house, she saw this very evil looking person come in and start taking her possessions. She was watching from the second-floor over the banister, he was putting her things in this large bag. In this dream she began to pray, she said, “In the name of Jesus I have authority over you, leave my things alone”. The men begin to mock her, he said, “I don’t have to listen to you, I’m not stopped by you, I’m not afraid of you or your prayers”.

He continued through the house, putting her things in that bag. She said it again, “You have to go”. He laughed and said, “I don’t have to leave, your prayers don’t stop me, you have no authority over me”. But this time she noticed, while he was saying that, he started putting all of her things back. He kept mocking her, laughing, causing a commotion, at the same time he was returning everything that he took. This went on until he put everything back in its proper place. As he was running out of the house, she could hear him down the street still saying: I’m not afraid of you, you have no authority over me.

See the scripture says, “The enemy comes like a roaring lion”. He’s not a lion, but it’ll make a lot of noise, he’ll talk a lot of trash, but his bite is not near as much as his roar. Sometimes though, we’re praying and it doesn’t seem like anything is happening, it’s like the enemy is mocking us, saying, “You’ll never get well, you never break the addiction, your child will never get back on track”. If you’ll just stay in faith, keep praying, keep believing all that time he stirring up trouble, causing a commotion, what he won’t tell you – is he’s putting everything back. He may laugh, but he’s putting your children back, it’s putting your health back, putting your freedom back, putting your dreams back. Don’t get discouraged when things get worse. What you lost is only temporary, it’s all coming back.

Jesus said in Mark 11, “Whatever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive it and you will have it”. It doesn’t say believe that you receive it when you see it, when your health turns around, when the breakthrough comes. The key is: you have to believe that it happens when you pray, when nothing has changed, the medical report hasn’t improved, the fig tree looks just the same. You don’t have any evidence, but you believe, when you prayed, your healing came. You believe, when you prayed, you were free from the addiction.

You have to receive it in your spirit before you’ll ever see it in the natural. You have to be healed in your spirit, before you’ll be healed in your physical body. But too often we believe we’re going to receive it, “One day I’m going to get well. I’m going to be free” – that will limit us. The prayer of faith says, “When I pray according to God’s word, I believe it happens right when I pray. I have it in my spirit”. You have to receive it in your spirit or you won’t see it in the natural.

When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she and my father prayed on December 11th 1981. That day my mother believed she received her healing. She had just been given a few weeks to live, she looked so yellow, she only weighed 89 pounds, nothing in the natural said she was healed. For months nothing even looked any different, she didn’t feel any better, in fact it looked like the cancer was winning. But my mother just kept saying, “Father, thank you, that on December 11th, when we prayed, I received my healing. Thank you, that that day the tide of the battle turned in my help”.

She kept thanking God, she kept calling herself healthy, she kept declaring scriptures over her life: I will live and not die, with long life God will satisfy me. Eventually the healing she received in her spirit, when she wasn’t well, begin to show up in her physical body. She started getting better and better today 38 years later my mom is still healthy and whole.

But when you believe, that you receive when you pray, you don’t keep asking God to do it, you start thanking him. If I’ve already received my healing, I don’t have to keep asking God to heal me, keep begging him, “God please heal me”. No, instead you start saying, “Father, thank you that I am healed. Thank you, that I am free. Thank you, that I am blessed”. Maybe you’re believing for a scholarship, “Father, I’m asking you for this scholarship, so I can continue my education. Lord, I believe, I’ll receive it right now in my spirit” – you receive it by faith. From then on, “Father, thank you for that scholarship”.

You keep thanking God, you keep talking like it’s coming. Every circumstance may say, “It’s never going to work out”, you may not see anything changing – that’s when you have to dig down deep and say, “I am not going to give up on what God promised me. I am not going to let negative thoughts talk me out of it. I’m not going to let what I don’t see, talk me out of what God put in my heart. I know, what I’ve received in my spirit is already on the way”.

Hebrew 10:23 says, “Hold fast the confession of your faith”. You have to hold fast what God put in your heart. There are forces constantly trying to convince us, that what God said is never going to happen: it’s been too long, there’s no sign, it would have happened by now. No, in the unseen realm things have already changed, the miracle has already been set into motion. The roots of what’s been trying to stop you have already been cut off. Now, stay in faith until you see the manifestations. Don’t talk yourself out of it. You may be tempted to let it go, you’re about to give up on your dream, your health, your children. No, get a new grip: it’s closer than you think, you wouldn’t be hearing this if it wasn’t about to happen.

When I was growing up, my father would always have a big conference at Lakewood every thanksgiving – it’s one of the highlights of the year. He would fly in missionaries that we support from all over the world. One year he decided, he wanted to feed everyone at Lakewood. So, months before the conference, he prayed and asked God to give him two cows, that way we would have enough food to feed all the people. He believed, he received it when he prayed, but week after week went by and there were no sign of any cows. He kept believing, telling the church that the cows were coming, but every voice said, “You’re wasting your time, nobody has ever given you a cow. You better go down to chick-fil-a and eat more chicken”.

As it got closer, thoughts whispered. “Just buy the cows. You have the money, it’s never going to happen”. He finally got so worn down, he quit talking about the cows and went out and bought the meat for the conference. A couple of weeks later he had a dream one night. In this dream he saw this huge snake out in a field. Inside this snake he could see the distinct outline of two cows. He woke up and it was like God said to him, “I just want you to know, you let the enemy have your cows”.

Those cows already belong to my father, in the unseen realm they were on the way, but when we get discouraged, when we quit believing, “Well, it’s never going to happen, I’ll never get well, never meet the right person. Joel, look at the fig tree, it hasn’t changed”. Now my challenge to you is: don’t lose your cows. What you’ve received in your spirit is already in route, it’s just a matter of time, before it shows up.

Hold fast your profession, keep believing, keep thanking God that it’s on the way. God is faithful. Don’t let the lack of evidence convince you, that nothing is happening. In the unseen realm things are changing, forces that have stopped you in the past have been broken, the roots have been cut off of that depression, that addiction, that sickness. May look like it’s still alive, but it’s just a matter of time, you’re going to see what God promised. And the reason it’s more difficult, the reason it seems like it’s getting worse, is because the enemy is on his way out. I believe and declare: what you’ve received in your spirit is about to show up in the natural. Get ready for healing, promotion, breakthrough, the right people, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

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You Are Enough

From JO’s sermon tonight:

I want to talk to you today about You Are Enough. It’s easy to go through life thinking that we’re lacking in some area: if we had more talent then we could do something great. If we had a better personality, if we were more confident, more attractive, then we could reach our dreams. But as long as you’re discounting yourself, thinking you’re at a disadvantage, it’s going to keep you from rising higher. When God laid out the plan for your life, he carefully studied it, he thought about what you would need and what it would take to get you there, then he matched you with your world. He gave you the talent you need, the creativity, the strength, you’re the right size, you have the right personality, you come from the right family. You didn’t get shortchanged, you’re not at a deficit, you are good enough, you are talented enough, you are attractive enough, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

But sometimes life will try to push us down, thoughts will whisper for everything that we’re not: you’re not as talented as your friend, you’re not as attractive as your co-worker, you’re not as smart as your cousin. That’s okay, you’re not running their race, you don’t need what they have. If you needed it God, would have given it to you. If you needed to be taller, you would be taller. If you needed a different personality, you would have one. If you needed to come from another family, that would have happened. God doesn’t make mistakes. When he created you he wasn’t having a bad day, he didn’t accidentally leave something out and now you’re at a disadvantage. He calls you a masterpiece, he’s crowned you with this favor, you have royal blood flowing through your veins. You’re not lacking, you didn’t get shortchanged, you have everything you need to fulfill your destiny.

Now quit comparing your looks, your gifts, your success with someone else and be you. You are powerful, you are anointed, you are gifted, you are amazing. Nobody can do you, like you can do you. “Well, I wish I had her looks, I wish I had his talent, I wish I came from their family”. Well, if you had what they have, it wouldn’t help you, it would hinder you. It wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden. Why? It was designed for them. The reason it works for them is because it fits. You don’t want what doesn’t fit you. What fits you is what you have. Now, quit wishing you were them and recognize: you are enough.

And yes, it’s good to admire people, it’s good to celebrate their gifts, but don’t get so caught up in who they are, that you forget who you are. You are gifted, you are talented, you are one-of-a-kind. If you don’t realize you are enough, then you’ll always be dependent on other people to make you feel good about yourself. When you live thinking that you’re at a deficit, you’ll undersell yourself, you’ll play up to people, you’ll let them control you, that’s where you’re getting your validation. But when you know you are enough by yourself, you don’t rely on people to approve you, you get your approval from your Heavenly Father.

The problem with relying on people is people can change. One minute people were saying to Jesus hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord, they were laying down palm branches, celebrating his arrival. Three days later, those same people were saying “Crucify him”. If you only feel good about yourself when people are telling you you’re great, then if they leave, you’ll forget who you are. If you’re relying on them to make you feel valuable, attractive, talented, you’re letting them control your self-worth. But when you realize, you’re enough all by yourself, when you’re not living from a deficit mentality, doesn’t matter what people do or don’t do, you know you’re a masterpiece, you know you are one-of-a-kind.

David said in Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need”. It’s very powerful when you can say, “I have the talent I need, I have the personality, I need I have the looks I need, I have the family that I need”. But David had plenty of opportunities to live from a deficit mentality. We know him as the greatest king that ever lived, but before that he was discounted by his father, left out in the shepherd’s fields when the prophet Samuel came to choose the next king of Israel. David’s father made him feel like he was not good enough, unqualified, too small. When David took lunch to his brothers, when they were in the army, one of his brothers made fun of him said, “What did you do with those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of”? He’s saying, “David, you’re not talented, you didn’t get what we got”. If David would have relied on people to get his approval, he would have never stepped into his destiny.

Now, maybe someone is trying to discount you, make you feel like you’re not talented enough, not attractive enough, not up to par. Do yourself a favor, let that go in one ear and out the other. They didn’t breathe the life into you, they didn’t know you before you were formed in your mother’s womb, they don’t control your destiny. Do like David, “Father, thank you that I have everything that I need. Thank you, that I am enough all by myself”. You don’t need people’s approval, you don’t need their validation, the Most High God has approved you, he’s the one that matters. Now, get rid of a deficit mindset and step up to who you were created to be.

While back one afternoon I was at home, riding my stationary bike, exercising. I had my earphones in, hooked up to my cell phone, I was listening to a podcast. I put my phone at the front of the bike by the handlebars. At one point I started riding really fast, the bike began to shake and my cell phone fell off. When it did, it jerked my earphones out. I stopped and went down to picked him up, but the little white rubber tip came off of one of the earphones. I looked around for it everywhere and couldn’t find it, was the strangest thing. I looked under the treadmill, I moved other equipment, I checked up on the windowsill, thought maybe it popped up there, I looked all over the bike on and on, it was nowhere to be found. Later that evening I was watching television, went to scratch my ear, felt something funny, it was the white rubber tip. I had it the whole time, but didn’t realize it.

I wonder, if you’re looking for something, that you already have. You’re looking around you, but God is saying: look in you, you have the talent, you have the creativity, you have the confidence. Psalm 34:10 says, “Those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing”. You need to see yourself as a no-lack person: you’re not lacking the strength you need, you’re not lacking the favor. “Well, Joel, I never get any good breaks. I don’t see how it could accomplish my dreams. I don’t think I’ll ever meet the right person”. That’s a deficit mindset, that thinking will keep you from your destiny. You have to turn it around, “Father, thank you, that your favor surrounds me like a shield. Thank you, that goodness and mercy are chasing me down. Thank you, that divine connections, the right people are headed my way”. What you need is in you, but you have to stir it up. As long as you think you’re at a disadvantage, you were shortchanged, that will limit your life.

2 kings chapter 4, there was a widow, her husband was friends with the prophet Elisha. She came up to Elisha very discouraged and told him, how her husband had died and how now she was in such debt, that the creditors were coming to take her two sons as payment. Elisha asked her: what do you have in your house? She didn’t have to think twice, she said, “Elijah, I have nothing at all, except a small jar of oil”. She was saying, “I’m at a deficit, I don’t have enough, I’m limited”. And sometimes like this lady, we’re discounting what God has given us. We have some talent, but “Joel, it’s not enough. I have my degree, but it’s not enough education”.

This lady was about to miss her miracle, because she didn’t recognize what she had. She was looking outside the house, but Elijah said, “What’s in your house”? God will always have what you need, within reach. It’s not something far off, it’s close to you. One time Sampson was surrounded by the Philistine army. He didn’t have any weapons, looked like he would be captured. He looked down and saw the jawbone of a donkey, just so happened to be at his feet. He picked it up and used that to defeat a thousand men. That wasn’t a coincidence, that was the hand of God. What you need will be close to you.

Elijah told this woman to go out and borrow as many large empty containers that she could find. She went from neighbor to neighbor asking for them. She came back to the house, Elisha said, “Now, I want you to pour that little bit of oil that you have into another container”. That didn’t make sense. What good was it going to do to transfer the oil from one container to the other? The lady poured the oil and the oil kept flowing out, it kept coming. She filled up one container, then another and another, the oil never stopped flowing, until all the containers were full. She took that oil and sold it and had plenty to pay her debts.

When God asks you to do something that doesn’t make sense, many times the act of obedience is what brings the miracle. God could have filled those containers without her pour in the oil, he could have had somebody show up with a bunch of full containers, but the miracle was dependent on the lady doing her part. Is God asking you to do something, that you don’t want to do? To forgive that person that did you wrong. You’re thinking: God that’s not fair, they don’t deserve it, they hurt me. Is he asking you to take care of that elderly neighbor or to give that friend a ride to work each day? And you’re thinking, “Man, that’s out of my way. God, I’m busy”. The blessing is in the obedience.

There was a man in the scripture named Naaman. He was a captain in the Syrian army, but he had leprosy. God told him to go wash in the Jordan river and he would be healed. God could have healed him like Jesus healed people by speaking to them or by having someone lay hands on him, but God asked Naaman to do something unusual, something that he didn’t understand. At first he wouldn’t do it, he came up with all these excuses, he said, “I’m not gonna go wash in the Jordan, that river is dirty. We have much cleaner rivers where I live back home”. He almost talked himself out of it, but he finally decided to do it. When he came up the seventh time, his skin was perfectly healed. The healing wasn’t in the water or everyone that touched the water wouldn’t been healed. The healing was in the obedience. Don’t miss your miracle because you won’t do what God’s asking you to do.

What’s interesting is Elijah didn’t take anything to the widow’s house. He didn’t bring her a check, he didn’t have a friend come plant her a garden, he simply showed her what was in the house. The principle is: you already have what you need, you’re not waiting for it, maybe one day it will show up, there are miracles in your house. Sometimes we’re looking on the outside, but you have to start looking on the inside. God is saying, “I’ve equipped you, I’ve empowered you, I’ve anointed you, you have seeds of greatness”. Are you discounting what God has given you? Are you overlooking what you have? It may seem small, that gift may look like not enough, but when you use what you have, God will multiply it. When you pour the little bit of oil, that act of obedience is what will cause the oil to keep flowing.

This lady said, “I have nothing except a small jar of oil”. God is going to use what comes after the except. “I have nothing except a little training, I have nothing except a few connections”, he’s going to take what you think is insignificant and turn it into something extraordinary. When we come to the end of our ability, that’s when God steps in. If you can accomplish your dreams all on your own, you don’t really need God’s help. If you can overcome that obstacle by yourself, doesn’t really take faith. Don’t be discouraged when what you’re up against looks too big, you don’t have the resources, the opposition is stronger. You’re in perfect position for God to show out in your lives. It looks like a setback, really it’s a setup. God is about to make things happen that you couldn’t make happen.

When my father went to be with the Lord back in 1999, I knew I was supposed to step up to pastor the church, but I didn’t think I was enough, I didn’t have the training, I had never been to seminary, I’m more quiet and reserved, I didn’t want to get up in front of people. I told God all the things I didn’t have and all the reasons why I couldn’t do it. It was like God said, “Joel, what else do you have in your house”? I said, “God, I have nothing except a little training, a little confidence, a little faith, just this small jar of oil”. God said, “That’s all I need, use what you have and watch what I’ll do”. God took that little bit of oil and turned it into more than I ever imagined.

What am I saying quit discounting yourself, quit talking yourself out of your greatness. God is not limited by what family you come from, by your education, by what you think that you don’t have. All he’s asking you to do is use what comes after the accept. “I have nothing, Joel, except this high school diploma. How can I do something great? I don’t have a extensive education”. Neither did Bill Gates, neither did Steve Jobs, they did okay. Use what you have and God will multiply, he’ll turn it into something extraordinary.

Jesus had been out teaching all day and he told the disciples that he wanted them to feed the 5,000 people that had gathered. They said, “Jesus, that’s impossible, we’re out in the desert, we have no food except five loaves of bread and two fish”. God will never ask you for something, that you don’t have. If he ask and you don’t think you can do it, it’s because you have it and don’t know it. Go back and see what else is in your house, what can you use after the accept. Jesus prayed over the fish, over the loaves, they multiplied, they were able to feed all 5,000 plus they have 12 baskets full of food leftover.

But when you look at what you have – your resources, your training, your experience it may not be enough: it’s just five loaves, it’s just a small jar of oil, what good would that do? Now, get ready, God’s about to multiply what you have, he’s going to do something unusual, something that you didn’t see coming. Doors open that you couldn’t open, opportunity where you weren’t qualified, the right people tracking you down. He’s going to take what looks insignificant and turn it into something extraordinary. He’s going to multiply what comes after the except.

This is what happened to my father. He was raised very poor, his parents were farmers, they lost everything during the great depression. As a little boy he barely had enough food, went to school with holes in his clothes, she was so worn out that he had to keep putting cardboard in the bottom. Didn’t look like he had much of a future. Nobody in his family knew anything about God. They were good people, but they didn’t have any kind of faith. But at 17 my father went to church with the friend of his, that was very persistent. That day daddy gave his life to Christ, the first one in the family.

He begin to feel God telling him to become a pastor. He told his parents that he was going to leave and go out and start ministering. His parents said, “John, you better stay here with us, all you know how to do is work on the farm”. He had no training, no experience, no funding, but somehow he recognized, he had a little cup of oil, he had five loaves. It wasn’t much, but he could feel those seeds of greatness. Every circumstance said he was unqualified, he was at a disadvantage, he was shortchanged, but God doesn’t create anyone without putting something significant on the inside.

That’s why the enemy works overtime, trying to convince you, that you’re not enough: “You’re not good enough, you’ve made too many mistakes. You’re not attractive enough, you’re not important enough”. Don’t let those lies keep you from your destiny. He wouldn’t be trying to discourage you, if he didn’t know, there was something amazing in you. It may be a little now, but if you’ll keep pouring that oil, taking those steps of faith, God is going to take you where you’ve never dreamed.

My father left the farm at 17 years of age, didn’t have a car he had to hitchhike. He started ministering in the prisons and in the senior citizens homes. God began to open door after door and he went on to start Lakewood and impact the world. And I think about where I would be today, if my father would have believed he was not enough. You can be the one like my father to affect generations to come, you can be the one to set your family on a different course. You wouldn’t be hearing this, if there wasn’t something greater in front of you. Quit looking at what you don’t have, what you can’t do, what you didn’t get: you have everything that you need.

All David had was a slingshot and five smooth stones. It looked like it was not enough. Goliath was almost twice his size, he was a skilled warrior, had been trained in the military, were in a full set of armor, extremely powerful. Here David was a shepherd boy, he was a teenager, he had no formal training, no experience. He could have said, “God, I have nothing, except this slingshot”. God is going to use what comes after the except. When Goliath saw how small David was, he began to laugh, he said, “Am I a dog, that you had come at me with a stick”?

I’m sure, David was tempted to think, “Am I crazy? I’m gonna fight this giant with only a slingshot”? But the scripture says, David ran toward Goliath. You would think he would try to sneak up on him, try to surprise him, to gain the maximum advantage, but when you know who you are, when you know you’ve been equipped and empower, when you know God being four here is more than the world being against you, you won’t run from your giants, you’ll run to your giants. David swung that rock, hit Goliath in the forehead, knocked him unconscious. He went over and took Goliath own sword and finished him off. What you have may look like not enough, it may seem ordinary, but when God breathes on it, it will become more than enough.

A friend of mine’s father pastored a large church. As a young man he always looked forward to working there. During college he got a job at this business, where he would go into the different offices and clean and repair the equipment. So they gave him keys to all the offices in the building. He carried it around this big key ring, made him feel very important, this was years ago. After he graduated from college he came back home to work at his father’s church, so excited, but his father only gave him one key, the key to his office. He said, “Dad, I want all the keys. I want to be able to get in anywhere”. His father said, “No, this is the key I want you to have”.

He was disappointed, felt like my dad doesn’t even trust me. Few years later his dad became ill and wasn’t expected to make it. This friend would go to the church at night and pray for his father. He liked to pray in the main sanctuary. Since it was after hours he would always have to get somebody to let him in. He’d called the security guard or you’d see somebody through the glass doors and have to knock, but it bothered him, that he didn’t have a key. One night he went up to pray for his father and couldn’t get in, called the security guard. The guard said he was out and wouldn’t be back for a couple of hours. My friend went around the building, trying to see if any doors were unlocked, jiggling on them, but nothing was open. He was so frustrated.

Just when he was about to leave, he decided to put his key in and see if he could jiggle it around and somehow get the door open. He put that the key win in so smoothly, he turned it and the door opened. He was surprised, he walked through the lobby to the main sanctuary door, put the key in, turned it and it opened. Went to the choir room, put the key and turned it and it opened. He didn’t realize his father had given him the master key. All that time he had what he needed, it wasn’t that the father didn’t trust him, it was that the son didn’t know what he had.

Do you know what your Father has given you? Do you know you have the key to unlock every door to your destiny? You didn’t get shortchanged, your Father didn’t say, “I can’t trust you”. God has great confidence in you, he believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Why don’t you start using that key, believing that you have what you need? Don’t go through life thinking that you’re locked out, you can’t reach your dreams, you can’t overcome that obstacle, you’ll never meet the right person. No, you have the key. Your Heavenly Father has given you everything you need to fulfill your purpose.

Now do your part, get rid of a deficit mentality. Every morning get up and say, “Father, thank you, that I am enough. I am strong enough, I am talented enough, I am attractive enough”. If you’ll do this, I believe and declare, like that widow abundance is about to flow, God is about to multiply what you have. Your gifts are going to come out in greater ways, new doors are about to open, breakthroughs, promotion, favor, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.

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God will often give us a word to show us what our expectations should be, or what our focus should be, for the year. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, and sometimes in response to prayer. It’s really useful to have, so if you don’t have one yet for this year, or even have never had one before, try making a point of praying about it and really listening to what comes into your mind, and see what you come up with!

As long-time readers will recall, starting in January 2011, my life was a series of devastating losses, that continued through the end of 2014. And then:

2015: Joy
This was the best year of my entire life! The joy was in ways I could never even have imagined!

2016: Comfort
The comfort only came partially the way I thought it would, but it DID happen. This was probably the second best year of my life; not as exciting as the previous year, but the word wasn’t excitement, it was comfort.

2017: Kintsugi
This is a Japanese art form in which pottery is deliberately broken and then mended with a gold lacquer; the repaired vessel is considered much more beautiful and valuable than the original. I thought it meant that my life would be reassembled that year, but what actually happened was the final breaking of what I had from my former life… and THEN the rebuilding did start in earnest, although it’s been a long and slow process; knowing what my final result was promised to be has given me endless hope and encouragement.

2018: Silent/Silence
I had to make the conscious decision to stop thinking that I could use my gift of gab, the power of logic and intellect, to make the most important person in my life analyze the situation and restore our relationship; although I make decisions based on rational thought, very few other people do in the relationship arena, especially when strong negative emotions have been released. I had to embrace Christian graciousness, and stop trying to win this battle by being the best debater.

2019: Rest
This was incredibly welcome; a year where I had God’s permission to kind of put my feet up, catch my breath, and decide where to put my time and effort and energy in the future.

2020: Push
I should’ve seen this coming; after you rest, you can go back to working twice as hard and well as before! Now that there’s some concrete progress toward restoration at long, long, LONG last, this will be the year that I make that final sprint across the finish line!

Has God given you a word, for this year or previous years? Feel free to share! 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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