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When the water breaks

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when the water breaks in your life, you face an unexpected difficulty, you didn’t see it coming, you were going along, being your best: you came down with an illness, a relationship didn’t work out, the company had to lay you off. it’s easy to get discouraged, think, “it’s never going to get better.” have a new perspective; when the water breaks, that’s a sign that you’re about to give birth; God’s about to do something new, that you haven’t seen. without the water breaking, you would get stuck, wouldn’t reach the fullness of what God has in store. the trauma indicates that transition is on the way. God never brings you out the same; He’s birthing you into something greater. God is transitioning you into another level. He has new things He wants to birth, not just through you, but in you.

in the difficult times, if you keep the right attitude, you’ll develop a greater strength, confidence, trust in God. don’t complain because the water broke, get ready: favor, increase, new levels are coming. what you give birth to will be greater than anything that you’ve lost. you may have lost a relationship, somebody walked away; you’re going to give birth to a better relationship. the company had to downsize, said they don’t need you, you were loyal, didn’t see it coming; don’t get bitter, God has a better job, in a higher position, with more influence, income. benefits, where your gifts can come out in a greater way. you’re going to give birth to something greater than you imagined. God is going to open doors that you never dreamed would open, give you resources, opportunities, influence.

without the water breaking, you can’t give birth. when we give birth, there will be labor pains; you’re going to have to push, stretch, be willing to be uncomfortable. but when you understand that it’s a part of the process, you can’t go to the next level without it, then you’ll go through it with a good attitude. you could be negative, complaining; instead, you’ll have a smile on your face, a song of praise in your heart, expectancy in your spirit. you’ll know that it’s just a matter of time before you give birth to the new things God has in store. the process may be uncomfortable, but the purpose is worth it; if you could see where God is taking you, the new things on the horizon, the favor, influence, opportunities, friendships, you wouldn’t be bothered by what you’re going through.

Paul said:

2 Corinthians 4:17 (NABRE)
17 For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory

what you’re going through is temporary; the birthing process doesn’t last forever. the discomfort is for a moment, but what you give birth to, the blessings, will last for a lifetime.

you can’t choose where your water breaks, when the disappointment, loss comes; that’s in God’s hands. we may not understand it, but God knows what He’s doing; there is a purpose for every challenge. most of the time, we can see the challenge, but we can’t see the purpose. this is when we have to say, “God, I trust You. I don’t see what You’re doing, it doesn’t make sense to me; my child got off course, my finances went down. I don’t understand it, but I know Your ways are better than mine; my life is in Your hands.”

God will not mismanage your life, allow things to happen that don’t somehow move you toward your destiny. He can see things that we can’t see, knows the end from the beginning. there are times it feels like God’s taken us in the wrong direction; somebody spread rumors and you didn’t get the promotion. we think, “God, where were You? You could have kept me from this rejection.” what we can’t see is that the disappointments, betrayals, bad breaks, are all a part of God’s plan. we don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable, but without it we wouldn’t reach the fullness of our destinies.

we see this in the scripture with Joseph. he was doing the right thing, but he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused by a lady, put in prison; for thirteen years, it was one bad break after another. but one day, Joseph interpreted a dream for the Pharaoh:

Genesis 41:39-41 (NIV)
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph was second in command of the nation, one of the most powerful people of that day. but why did God allow Joseph to go through all these difficulties? it didn’t seem fair. but God wasn’t just making his life miserable, He had a plan; God knew, years later, there would be a famine in the land; Egypt would be the only place that would have food. God had to put someone on the inside of Egypt that would be favorable to the Israelites, so they could survive. so God ordained Joseph to be betrayed, falsely accused, put in prison; that whole time, God was ordering his steps. yet if we looked at the steps individually, we would think, “wow, Joseph, you got a raw deal”; the truth is, God trusted Joseph so much, He knew He could count on Joseph to go through the things he didn’t understand with a good attitude. if Joseph would’ve become bitter, angry, held a grudge, he would have gotten stuck; he wouldn’t have made it to the throne.

when you face things you don’t understand, that are not fair, be a Joseph; dare to believe that God is in complete control, directing your steps. it’s all part of the plan to get you to where you’re supposed to be. you can trust God, but can God trust you? can He trust you with difficulties, to be a Joseph, keep a good attitude even when life doesn’t seem fair?

sometimes, we’re trying to pray away what God has ordained. Joseph could have prayed, “God, please keep my brothers from betraying me”; his prayer wouldn’t have been answered, not because God didn’t love him, but because God can see the big picture. God knew that betrayal was an important step that was leading Joseph somewhere amazing. had God kept Joseph from the betrayal, He would have kept him from his destiny.

God loves you too much to answer a prayer that’s going to keep you from your purpose. when it doesn’t happen our way, it’s tempting to get discouraged; “God, why didn’t You turn it around or answer me?” your way may be more comfortable, but it will limit how high you can go; that’s why God won’t let us be comfortable all the time. there will be seasons of stretching, growing, we’re not getting our way, the wrong thing is happening. the good news is, God has given us strength for every battle, grace for every season. there’s nothing you’re facing that’s too much for you. you can handle it; you’ve been equipped, empowered, anointed. just because you have difficulties, doesn’t mean you don’t have favor. while Joseph was a slave, he had favor with Potiphar, who put him in charge of his whole house. in prison, Joseph had favor with the guards; they put him in charge of the prison. he should’ve been at a disadvantage, but because of the favor on his life, it caused him to keep rising to the top. the scripture says:

Genesis 39:3 (NCV)
3 Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord made Joseph successful in everything he did.

you may be in a storm, forces are coming against you that seem bigger, stronger, more powerful; stay encouraged, you have the favor of God. you can shine even in the storm, excel even when people are trying to push you down. God’s favor will cause you to overcome what you could not overcome on your own. you will defeat giants, accomplish dreams where you didn’t have the experience; the favor on your life gives you an advantage.

David said:

Psalm 30:5 (NIV)
5 … his favor lasts a lifetime

the adversity is temporary; the favor is permanent. favor doesn’t come and go; the right attitude is, “I’m favored in the flood, hospital, financial difficulty.” favor doesn’t leave you; you have favor right now. favor is what’s going to help you overcome the challenge. instead of thinking, “look what I’ve been through, it’s not fair,” turn it around; “Father, thank You for Your favor, that good breaks are chasing me down, blessings are headed my way.”

Isaiah 43:2 (TLB)
2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up

Psalm 37:19 (NLT)
19 … even in famine they will have more than enough

when you’re in the flood, don’t complain; get ready for favor.

Psalm 44:3 (TLB)
3 They did not conquer by their own strength and skill, but by your mighty power and because you smiled upon them and favored them.

in difficult times, remind yourself that there is something God has put on you that no person can stop. no bad break, no sickness, all the forces of darkness cannot hold you down; you have the favor of God. God wouldn’t have allowed the difficulty if it was going to keep you from your destiny; that difficulty is going to launch you into your destiny. quit losing sleep over what God ordained. He may not have sent it, but He controls the universe; nothing happens without His permission. if it happened, don’t get bitter, try to figure it out; stay in faith. the favor on your life is going to cause you to rise above every obstacle. that opposition is going to be what God uses to birth you into a new level: in your career, relationships, finances, anointing.

sometimes, God will use the storm to push you out of the womb. the womb was designed for a limited time; when the water breaks, ready or not, here you come. the key is to come with a good attitude, knowing that it’s ordained by God, a part of His plan, the favor on your life is going to cause you to succeed.

after all Joseph went through, you never read where he complained, got sour, blamed people. deep down, Joseph knew that God was in control, and would not mismanage his life.

God will not allow negative things just so you can go through them. He’s not up there in heaven thinking, “let Me make their lives miserable, take their loved one away, cause this person to cheat them.” God is our Heavenly Father. if you’re a parent, you know how much you love your children, go out of your way to watch after, protect, be good to them. God is that way, but billions of times more. you are His most prized possession; there’s nothing He cares more about than you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He’s closely watching over you; He sees every bad break, difficulty, unfair situation. when you go through things you don’t understand, you need to remind yourself that your Heavenly Father is in control, has your best interest at heart. what you’re going through may not feel good, may not be fair, but God knows what He’s doing. when He brings you out, you’re not going to come out the same, you’re going to come out better off than you were before.

1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

it doesn’t say, “after you’ve suffered your whole life,” it says, “a little while.” one translation says:

1 Peter 5:10 (MSG)
10 The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

you may feel like you’ve been knocked down; be encouraged, this generous God is about to put you back on your feet for good. God has the final say; the sickness, disappointment, betrayal, it may not make sense to you, but without it, God couldn’t launch you to a new level. it’s setting you up to give birth to something greater than you can imagine. the process may be painful, but the purpose will be well worth it. one day, you’re going to look back and see how God used everything that you went through; you wouldn’t have met this person, moved into this new house, taken this different job, it’s all working for your good. stay in faith; it’s a setup.

Acts 2:1-2 (NIV)
2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

it was a great sign of God’s blessing and favor. they were excited, they knew God was on their side, they were going to do great things, but:

Acts 8:1-3 (CEB)
1 … At that time, the church in Jerusalem began to be subjected to vicious harassment… 3 Saul began to wreak havoc against the church. Entering one house after another, he would drag off both men and women and throw them into prison.

havoc is a strong word; that means things were thrown into disarray, confusion. in the midst of this calamity:

Acts 7:58-59 (NIV)
58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Acts 8:1
8 And Saul approved of their killing him.

it’s interesting that Saul came to Jerusalem and caused so much turmoil; Jerusalem means “the city of peace.” this was home to many of the disciples, where they felt secure, could relax and be at ease. but now, their city of peace was turned into a city of chaos. where was God? it’s not like God couldn’t stop Saul from wreaking havoc. but God doesn’t stop every difficulty; they’re a part of His plan. because of the persecution in Jerusalem, Philip had to go to Samaria:

Acts 8:5-7 (NIV)
5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.

Saul was a setup; wreaking havoc was to push Philip into this new level of ministry. sometimes, God will allow your place of peace, your home where you’re comfortable, to be disrupted. this is where you have to know Who God is, and what He’s up to: God is a good God, He is for you, He’s going to use that discomfort to launch you to a new level. you’re going to see things you’ve never seen, accomplish what you’ve never accomplished. when things disrupt your place of peace, be still and know that He is God. He has you in the palm of His hand. the enemy sent that storm to harm, disrupt you; what he didn’t realize is, God saw it coming, and He has a plan to use it to promote, increase, launch you to a new level.

but none of us like to be uncomfortable, under pressure, in situations that are unfair. the birthing process can be painful; we don’t like it, we have to endure. when you give birth to what God has put in you, when you see the new things He has in store, you’re not going to remember all the trauma, what didn’t work out, how unfair it was. when you see your new house, your child back on course, your health restored, you’re going to be so grateful to God, so amazed at His goodness, you won’t have time to think about the process; you’ll be too caught up enjoying the blessings.

keep looking ahead. your baby is coming. it may be painful now, you feel flooded by challenges. have the right perspective; your water broke, that means you’re about to give birth. that difficulty is a setup for God to do something new, that you haven’t seen, so you can take new ground for the kingdom, set a new standard for your family. favor is coming. what you give birth to is going to be greater than anything that you lost. this is not the time to be discouraged; this is the time to stir your faith up. God has not brought you this far to leave you. the flood may have interrupted your life, but it did not interrupt your destiny; God is still on the throne. it’s all a part of His plan. you may not understand it, but God will not mismanage your life. for everything that you’ve lost, God is going to give you back more. for everything that was unfair, you’re going to come out better, stronger, healthier, promoted to a new level of your destiny.

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(No new sermon this week.)

As you’ve probably realized, part of their job is to try to help you to function at a higher spiritual level; part of how they do that is to use their awareness that the congregation will always lag behind them a little bit spiritually, so they aim for a level ABOVE where they want you to be, knowing that you will collectively rise to where they actually want you to be. So, for example, if your pastors want the congregation to pray before Sunday service, they might pray for half an hour before service, not because they think that many people will want to pray for half an hour, but in the hopes that people will pray for a few minutes.

One of the things that seemed pretty wack-a-doodle when I first joined the church, almost 3 years ago, if you can believe THAT, was that we’re not supposed to have any Halloween imagery, not even cute stuff like a smiling pumpkin. I didn’t think that there was anything to it… Right up until the Holy Spirit asked me to remove some skeleton toys from my bedroom in March. Clearly, there ARE some sorts of images or forms that are problematic, especially when you are enduring attacks from the enemy and the periodic appearances of demons like I and others from the prayer ministry have been. Does that mean that I now think that putting a face on a big fruit, in other words a jack-o-lantern or image of one, is somehow dangerous? No… but I’m where I think my pastors actually wanted me to be, understanding that DEMONIC imagery can be a problem.

A very recent example of how the pastors can be out on the fringe was one of the pastors telling us that there are witches in covens here in my city that are trying to attack the church in the spiritual realm. It seemed a little bit nuts… until I saw a demon in the form of a shadow cat running towards where we were grouped together praying at the meeting of the prayer ministry this week… a form so realistic that my first thought was to wonder when our hosts had gotten a cat. Even then, I didn’t make the connection until the pastor made the point about cats and witches and Halloween. This demon did not do us any harm, I immediately prayed and commanded it to leave, which the Bible tells us that God has given us the authority to do, and asked Him to send angels to surround us, which He did… But what might it have done if it could have actually come into contact with us? Or was it there to spy on us? (Remember, God is omniscient, but neither the enemy nor any of his demons are.) In any case, I don’t think that this very clear and specific form was an accident or a coincidence. Does that mean that I now think that there is some elaborate conspiracy of witches in my city trying to attack my little church? No… but I’m where I think my pastors actually wanted me to be, understanding that there are at least SOME witches in our city that are embracing demonic forces, and trying to attack Christians in whatever way they can… and whether the witches are using the demons, or the other way around, is anybody’s guess, by the way, although I’m sure that the witches believe that they are the ones in control.

Some pastors, ministers, priests, etc, are pretty much just phoning it in, and some are well-intentioned, but not really plugged into the supernatural, with the beings and forces that the Bible very clearly tells us exist; you might not get anything more difficult or dramatic from them than entreaties to pray and read the Bible more frequently, which of course you SHOULD be doing. If, however, you are fortunate enough to have a pastor or pastors who are passionate about the Lord, and very aware of the actions of the angels that the Bible tells us are encamped around the righteous, and the demons that are always present trying to contend against the righteous, LISTEN to them. They might be a little bit far out in left field, yes, but the chances are that the truth of the situation is probably much closer to what they are telling you than to what you might’ve been aware of on your own, so don’t be too quick to dismiss something they tell you that seems a little bit out there. Believe me, there is nothing that the enemy would love more than for you to go through life totally unaware of, or even in denial of, what he and his demons are doing in your life and your church!!

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(No new sermon this week.)

I just endured a substantial loss; the woman I was by far the closest to in my church, one of the people that I have been the closest to, who has done the most for me, and has meant the most to me, in my entire life, and was by far the closest person to me within my part of the country, has just moved away. She even moved back several months earlier than she had originally planned. Given my catastrophic loss several years ago, by either death or desertion, of all of the most important people in my life, you can imagine what the loss of my new most important person, and most important relationship of the past 3 years, feels like.

She didn’t want to go. She was caught in the middle, because her family does not live in this area, and she naturally wanted to be with her children and grandchildren, but her heart is in this city with our church. She has repeatedly proclaimed the years that she spent here to have been the best of her entire life, even though she was so far from her family. If God had given her the slightest indication that she should not move away, she would have stayed. We were certainly all praying that this would happen, because she was a pillar of the church, and we didn’t want to lose her. She has an ability to help people, love, support, encourage, comfort people, in a way that few can match, and she works tirelessly to do all of these things for everyone within her orbit. I’m not the only person in our church who has really needed and benefited from that, and no words can describe the service that she gave to the church in general.

Why would God take from me, and from my church, a person who we loved and valued so greatly, and certainly still needed, someone who was pretty much ASKING for Him to give her the ok to stay? Usually, we don’t get to see why God does the things that He does, but sometimes He DOES let us see, so that we have a fresh example of His infinite wisdom:

Even if you don’t live in the United States, you probably know from endless news reports where the most devastated part of the nation is right now; Houston, Texas. The destruction that hurricane Harvey left behind has wrecked countless lives; people lost their homes, lost their businesses, lost everything, and there were 83 deaths as well, leaving grieving loved ones behind. The economic damage is estimated to be as high as $200 BILLION, with a lot of that from uninsured homeowners who have no way to recover what they lost. Imagine the grief, the pain, the suffering, of so many thousands of people in Houston.

Have you guessed where my friend has moved to? HOUSTON!

After Harvey hit, once we overcame the original shock and horror of it, and had a moment for something other than desperate prayers on behalf of the people of Houston, we understood that THIS was why God had pointed her unwaveringly back there; He needs people there who can reach out with their whole hearts to help people rebuild their shattered emotions and lives, and there is no better person for that job than my beloved friend.

I’m still brokenhearted that she is gone, but it brings me great peace to know that she has gone where she is so desperately needed. She will be able to serve God and His children in far greater ways there than she would ever have been able to do here, and this service is the central focus of her life, after her worship of God Himself. I’m so incredibly grateful that God caused her to change her original departure timing, even though that meant my losing precious months with her, so that she can be in Houston sooner rather than later. And equally grateful that in doing this he let us see WHY she had to go, so that we could be comforted in our grief knowing with total certainty what His plan for her is… that’s a rare and precious gift from the Lord.

Most of the time, of course, we will not understand why we have losses. Sometimes, years later, we might be able to look back and see how that loss was ultimately to our benefit… And sometimes we will not know this side of heaven. I wanted to share this difficult story to help you be encouraged the next time someone moves out of YOUR life; whether or not you can see it at the time, God has something waiting for them at their new location… and something new waiting for YOU to fill that gap where the other person used to be.

That’s my challenge now; I need to keep my eyes, mind, and heart open for the new things that God is about to do and bring me. I will continue moving forward with a positive attitude, ready to embrace the new, rather than looking back and dwelling on the old. This is a pretty deep valley, but that means that the next mountain peak will be a high one!

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Be Vulnerable

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to go through life trying to impress people, show them that we’re strong, have it all together. it’s good to carry ourselves with confidence, but sometimes we have a need to keep up our image so much that instead of being real, we put on a mask, and start pretending. we can’t let people see that we have weaknesses, struggle; we’re people of faith, we’re supposed to have all the answers. but the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (GNT)
9 … my power is greatest when you are weak

if we go around pretending, acting like we don’t have any weaknesses, then God’s power is not going to show up. God won’t bless who you pretend to be; He looks beyond the superficial. when you’re big enough to admit, “God, I don’t have it all together, I’m struggling in these areas, I need your help”; being vulnerable is not a weakness, it’s a strength. but when we pretend, try to impress people, live for our image, that puts pressure on us; we have to perform, “make sure they think I’m good, strong, talented.” take off the mask; you can be real. “what if they think less of me?” what they think of you doesn’t really matter; they don’t control your destiny. if your friends judge you for being real, they’re not true friends; a true friend will accept you for who you are, faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, and all.

people that judge you are not being honest with themselves; they have their own issues. they’re just wearing their masks, hoping that you don’t notice. everybody is dealing with something; there are no perfect people. but we live in a society that stresses image; it tells us, if you don’t have it all together, wear the latest, drive the latest, hang out with the most popular, you’re less-than. this creates all kinds of pretending, wearing masks, trying to impress. that may feel strong, but in fact it’s weak. if you can’t be honest with yourself, if you have to hide your struggles, act a certain way to keep up your image, that’s going to keep you from your full potential. God is not looking for the ideal you, pretend you, future you, He’s looking for the real you.

this is what the Apostle Paul did. he said:

Philippians 3:13 (KJV)
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended

one version says:

Philippians 3:13 (TLB)
13 No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be

Paul was one of the greatest apostles that ever lived; he wrote half of the books in the New Testament, he was a scholar, a theologian, he spoke five languages. no one was more effective than Paul, but he had the humility to admit, “I’m doing my best, but I’m not there yet.” he could’ve let pride hide his weaknesses, shortcomings, but he was vulnerable. nobody would’ve argued if he’d said, “I wrote half of the scripture; I’ve attained the highest level.” Paul was a great man, but as he neared his death, when he could’ve impressed people, bolstered his image, instead, he was real.

that’s the kind of people God promotes. there’s power in vulnerability. it’s ok to say, “I’m not there yet. I’m still struggling with these issues, but I’m not going to go around pretending; I’m at peace with not being perfect.” if you’re not vulnerable, you’ll stop growing. be honest with yourself, and say, “God, I need Your help. I’m acting strong, but I’m afraid, I don’t know which way to go.” when you empty yourself out, then God will fill you. but God cannot fill a vessel that’s already full. if you’re full of yourself, acting, pretending, there’s no room for God. but when we humble ourselves, empty out our pride, doubts, fears, then God will fill us with favor, strength, help us get to the next level.

in Mark 9, a man had a son that was sick with something like epilepsy:

Mark 9:17-24 (NIV)
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid… 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

he was honest; he was being vulnerable. Jesus could have said, “what do you mean you have doubts, you don’t believe? I’m going to go find somebody else.” no, when we’re honest with God, when we’re real, He doesn’t judge us, turn the other way, He comes to us:

Mark 9:25-26 (NIV)
25 … he rebuked the impure spirit… 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out… 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

when you take off the mask, and get down to the real you, maybe the doubting, lonely, insecure you, when you are vulnerable, God will begin to change things.

sometimes, we think we have to always be strong in faith, strong in courage, we can’t admit that we have doubts, fears. the scripture says:

Joel 3:10 (ICB)
10 Let the weak say, “I am strong.”

it doesn’t say you should never feel weak, have doubts, feel discouraged. no, “God, I feel weak today, but I know in You I’m strong. God, I’m concerned about my finances, I don’t see how it could work out; help me to believe.” that’s being honest, vulnerable before God.

the first time John the Baptist saw Jesus:

John 1:29 (ESV)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

he knew he was the Messiah.

in Matthew 3, John was baptizing Jesus:

Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV)
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

if anyone should have been a man of faith, it would have been John; he baptized Jesus. but a few chapters later, when he was in prison, John started having doubts:

Matthew 11:2-3 (NIV)
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

now you would think if you saw the heavens opened up, heard the voice boom out, you would believe, you wouldn’t change your mind, but even John had doubts, didn’t have it all figured out. he was vulnerable. he could’ve said, “I can’t let anyone know that I’m not sure now, I have to keep up my image.” John’s attitude was, “I’m not a pretender, trying to impress people; go ask him if he’s the son of God.” what’s interesting is, Jesus didn’t get upset, say, “tell John he needs to have more faith; I’m disappointed in him.” Jesus understood:

Matthew 11:4-5 (NIV)
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

when you have doubts, things you don’t understand, don’t be down on yourself. you didn’t see the heavens open up, hear the voice boom out; John had all these signs, but it didn’t disqualify him. God was not disappointed in John, and He’s not disappointed in you.

you may not be where you think you should be, you have these questions; it’s ok to say, like Paul, “I haven’t apprehended it all just yet; I’m on a journey, still growing. God’s still working on me.” but so often, we think we have to hide our struggles, we can’t let God know our fears; that wouldn’t be a person of faith. but you can’t overcome a weakness if you don’t get it out in the open. when you’re honest with yourself and God, and say, “God, help me to break this addiction, not be jealous of my coworker, be more disciplined in what I watch, I can’t do it on my own,” that’s the first step to getting better.

but sometimes, religion has taught us that God will condemn us, make us feel guilty; that’s not the way God is. He understands our doubts, weaknesses, failures. when we humble ourselves, and ask Him for His help, when we’re vulnerable, say, ”I don’t have it all together, I have these doubts, help me to believe,” that’s when the Creator of the universe will help you overcome what you could not overcome.

are you wearing a mask, pretending, trying to protect your image in front of people and God? let’s be real. sometimes, we think when we get it all together, we’ll be honest. when we break the addiction, overcome the temptation, then God will accept us, be pleased. but God is not waiting for the perfect, cleaned-up, no-doubts you; He’s waiting for the real, vulnerable, honest you. God already knows everything about us. there is a freedom when you can come to God open and honest, knowing that He doesn’t condemn you, find fault, He has mercy for every mistake, weakness, fear. our attitude should be, “God, my life is an open book; I have nothing to hide. you know everything I am and am not. make me, mold me, help me to become who You created me to be.”

in John 4:

John 4:5-18 (NIV)
5 So he came to a town in Samaria… sat down by the well… 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”… 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”… 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water… 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.

life had been rough for this lady; no doubt she’d been mistreated, taken advantage of. she knew she had made mistakes. she felt bad enough about herself; she didn’t need any more guilt. in town, everyone knew her; she was looked down on, made fun of. but out here at the well, alone just her and Jesus, she could’ve thought, “I’m not telling this man my past; I’m going to pretend everything is fine.” she could have said, “ok, I’ll go get my husband.” everything in her said, “hide your failures, leave, take the easy way out.” she could’ve walked away, and it would be the end of this story. but she said, “no, this is a new day. I’m not making excuses, covering it up; I’m going to be honest.”

John 4:19-26 (NIV)
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet… 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming…26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

the first person Jesus ever revealed himself to as the Messiah was this woman who was vulnerable, willing to take off the mask and not pretend everything was ok.

you may have made mistakes, you’re not where you think you should be. God is not displeased with where you are; He’s only displeased if you get stuck there. when Jesus asked this woman to go get her husband, he already knew she didn’t have one; he was waiting to see what she would do. would she be vulnerable? God already knows our struggles, failures, weaknesses. when we live open and honest before God, not guilty because of past mistakes, beating ourselves up for weaknesses, pretending that everything’s ok, but saying, “God, I need You. help me to overcome, strengthen me in my weaknesses, give me faith to do the right thing,” that’s when God will break bondages that have held you back, make more out of your life than you ever even dreamed. you’re a work in progress; God is not finished with you.

it’s ok to be vulnerable to your children. you don’t have to hide your weaknesses, struggles. take off your Superman outfit; sometimes, you just need to be Clark Kent, just be real. your children will learn more from how you handle your struggles than they will from your successes. you don’t have to be strong all the time; let them see your humanity.

when you can be honest with yourself, when you’re big enough, secure enough, to take off the mask, not live for your image, but you do the right thing when it’s hard, apologize when it’s not your fault, show your children you’re big enough to admit that you’re wrong, when you live transparent before God, not the fake, pretend, want to be you, but the real you, when you’re vulnerable, you’re pliable; God will make you and mold you into the vessel of honor that He created you to be.

that’s what the heroes of faith did: Abraham, John the Baptist, Paul, they were real, they had doubts, questions, made mistakes.  they didn’t pretend to be superhuman; they knew the power of vulnerability. they knew in their weaknesses that God’s power shows up the greatest.

are you down on yourself because you have doubts, fears, things you don’t understand? are you trying to perform perfectly to protect your image, impress your friends, show your children how strong you are? why don’t you to take the pressure off? there is a freedom when you can be at peace with not being perfect, say, “I’m doing my best, improving but I’m not there”; that’s ok, you’re making progress.

Jesus said about John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:11 (NIV)
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist

this was about a man that doubted he was the Messiah, that had questions. why are you beating yourself up over your weaknesses, trying to hide your struggles, thinking that they are disqualifying you? the accuser whispers, “you still have an addiction, you should be ashamed of yourself. you lost your temper again, go sit on the sidelines”; don’t believe those lies. you may not have attained it all, you’re not there yet; the good news is, you’re on the way. God’s still working on you; what He started in your life, He’s going to finish.

in Genesis 25, Esau and Jacob were twins; Esau came out first, but Jacob was grabbing at his heels. Jacob grew up doing everything he could to get ahead; he was dishonest, went around deceiving people:

Genesis 25:29-34 (NIV)
29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew!… 31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”… 33 …So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew

this was significant; the firstborn son received a double portion of the family inheritance. when Jacob’s father Isaac was near death and couldn’t see, Jacob dressed up like his brother; he pretended to be Esau, and tricked his father into giving him the blessing that belonged to the firstborn son. but when we don’t do things God’s way, what should be a blessing is not a blessing. when we deceive and manipulate, we may get to where we want to be, but it won’t be what we thought. Jacob got the blessing, but for the next twenty one years his life was a struggle; he had to live in exile. he worked for his uncle Laban to get one of his daughters for his wife, but Laban was a bigger trickster than Jacob; he kept making excuses why he had to work longer. Jacob was reaping from all those seeds that he had sown. after years, he decided to go back home and make peace with Esau. the night before they were going to meet:

Genesis 32:24-27 (NIV)
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak… 26 … Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

Jacob had spent his whole life deceiving, pretending. years earlier, when he was trying to steal his brother’s blessing. his father asked him:

Genesis 27:18-19 (NASB)
18 Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn

this moment, Jacob had to decide; “am I going to keep pretending, or am I going to be real?” the name Jacob literally means “deceiver.” for the first time, he didn’t try to hide his weaknesses; he was honest with himself. when Jacob got real:

Genesis 32:27-30 (NIV)
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”… 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Israel means “prince with God.” when Jacob got honest, God showed him his true identity; he wasn’t a deceiver, he was a prince.

at times, we’ve all worn a mask, gone around pretending, trying to hide our faults. but when we get honest with ourselves, vulnerable enough to admit, “I have weaknesses. I’m struggling in these areas,” God doesn’t condemn you; that’s when He’ll give you your new name. the accuser will tell you, “you’ll never change; keep pretending, living guilty”; that is not your true identity. God knows who you really are; your new name is waiting for you. you are royalty, forgiven, redeemed. when the accuser whispers, “hey Jacob,” say, “no thanks, you have the wrong person; I am Israel. I’m not who I used to be. I am a new creation.” this is a new day; I’m asking us to take off the masks, quit pretending, and get our new names. if you’ll do this, every force that’s trying to stop you is being broken right now. God is going to mold you into a vessel of honor.

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It is finished

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that are trying to hold us back: guilt from past mistakes, temptations we can’t seem to overcome, dysfunction that’s been passed down. it’s easy to learn to accept it, and think that that’s who we are. but God didn’t create you to go through life weighed down by addictions, dysfunction, guilt, the past; He created you to be free. when Jesus hung on the cross:

John 19:30 (NIV)
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

he wasn’t just talking about his life, and how he’d finished his purpose; he was putting an end to all the negative things that could keep us from our destiny. he was saying, in effect, “the guilt, depression, low self-esteem, mediocrity, is finished. instead of accepting the addiction, thinking, “it’s the way it’s always going to be, everybody in my family has it,” you need to announce to that addiction, “it is finished. you don’t control me; you can’t keep me from my destiny. the price has been paid. I am free, clean, whole.”

as long as you accept it, you are allowing it to stay, but when you tell the addiction, the past, the poverty, “it is finished. this is not who I am. I am blessed, prosperous, victorious,” in the unseen realm, strongholds are broken, chains are loosed, favor is released. are there things you’re living with that you need to say, “it is finished”? are you going around guilty, down on yourself, because of past mistakes, not expecting anything good? you need to announce to that guilt, “it is finished. I’m done beating myself up, living condemned; God’s mercy is bigger than my mistakes. I am redeemed, restored, forgiven, and I’m excited about my future.”

are you living with a sense of shame, feeling inferior because of how somebody treated you? they did you wrong, walked away, now the accuser whispers, “it’s because you’re not good enough, not attractive enough, you don’t deserve to be loved.” announce to that shame, “it is finished. I’m not living inferior, unworthy. I know who I am; I am a Child of the Most High God. I’m wearing a crown of favor. I have royal blood flowing through my veins.”

no matter what someone did or didn’t do to you, it does not change who you are. you may have had bad breaks, gone through unfair situations; don’t have a victim mentality, have a victor mentality. God said:

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

that person that did you wrong, they thought that they were hurting you; the truth is, they were helping you, they qualified you for double. they thought they were setting you back; in reality, they were setting you up. now do your part; say to the self-pity, “it is finished. I’m not living discouraged, dwelling on my disappointments, reliving my hurts. I’m letting go of the old, and I’m getting ready for the new things God has in store. Father, thank you that double is coming my way.”

we can all find a reason to live negative, thinking that we’re at a disadvantage: “my boss overlooked me, somebody walked out of a relationship.” I’m asking us to get rid of the excuses. it’s time to say, “it is finished. I’m done thinking about what I didn’t get, what didn’t work out.” you have to tell the past, the self-pity, the discouragement, “it is finished.” as long as you justify your condition, you’re giving it permission to stay.

in John 5:

John 5:2-6 (NKJV)
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

it seemed like there was an obvious answer, everyone was at the pool to get well, but there was nothing in this man’s actions that said he wanted to get well, was expecting things to change. in 38 years, he had gotten comfortable in dysfunction. he was surrounded by other people that were sick like him; everybody was needy, complaining, discouraged.

you need to be careful who you surround yourself with, especially in difficult times. you may have an illness, but don’t go find a bunch of other sick people to hang around; misery loves company. if you struggle with an addiction, don’t hang out with people that are addicted; that’s going to cause you to get stuck. if you’re depressed, don’t go find 5 depressed friends so you can all be depressed together.

find people that have what you want. if you’re struggling in your finances, get around blessed, generous people that are well off. if you tend to be negative and critical, don’t stay around people like that; find people that are happy, positive, grateful. there should be something about you that says, “I want to get well, be blessed, go to the next level.

when Jesus asked this man if he wanted to get well, instead of saying, “yes, that’s what I’m believing for,” he said:

John 5:7 (NIV)
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

he was justifying his condition; “I’m this way because I’m at a disadvantage; nobody will help me.” as long as you’re making excuses for where you are, you’re going to get stuck. “I’m this way because I had a bad childhood, a business partner cheated me, I have this illness”; I’m asking us to get rid of the excuses. nothing that’s happened to you has to keep you from your destiny. if it was going to stop your purpose, God wouldn’t have allowed it. you may not understand it, it may not be fair, but if you will take the hand you’ve been dealt and make the most of it, God will get you to where you’re supposed to be. no person, bad break, addiction, sickness, can stop Him; God has the final say. tell the self-pity, excuses, “it is finished. this is a new day; God’s about to do a new thing.”

Jesus said to the crippled man:

John 5:8-9 (NIV)
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

what you think is permanent, looks like it’s never going to change: that addiction you’ve had for years, the illness, the situation in your finances, you don’t see a way, but God has a way. right now, He’s fighting your battles; things are changing in your favor, breakthroughs are headed your way, new beginnings, healing, freedom. it may look permanent; God is saying, “it’s only temporary. I’m about to turn it around.”

what’s interesting is, this crippled man didn’t have a lot of faith; he didn’t say, “yes, I believe I can get well,” he made excuses, yet God in His mercy healed him. imagine how God feels when He sees you shaking off the self-pity, the excuses, saying, “Lord, I believe you can turn my child around, take me to the next level, free me from this addiction.” when you believe, God will make things happen that you couldn’t make happen. tell the excuses, doubt, negative thoughts, “it is finished,” it’s time to put a stop to some things.

sometimes, well-meaning people try to talk you out of your destiny. you have to get away from people that only see you for who you used to be, and not for who you are about to be. some people that knew you back then will try to keep you in the same box that you grew up in, put limitations on you; “you can’t accomplish that dream, you’re not that talented, you’d better play it safe.”

this is what happened in the scripture with David. his family didn’t see him as a giant-killer, a king; they discounted him. David’s father didn’t bring him in from the shepherds’ fields when the prophet Samuel was choosing one of his sons as the next king. he thought, “David is so small, so young, he doesn’t have the experience.” but people don’t determine your destiny. what they say about you, how they try to make you feel, cannot stop what God has ordained for your life. you need to distance yourself from people that are always trying to put limitations on you, and talk you out of what God put in your heart.

sometimes, it’s the people that have known you the longest, because they can only see you one way. Jesus’ brothers never accepted him; he was performing all these miracles, but they didn’t see him as the Messiah, they only saw him one way, as their brother Jesus, “nothing special about him, we grew up with him.” even when Jesus began to gain popularity:

John 7:5 (NIV)
5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Mark 3:21 (NIV)
21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

they tried to discount him, talk him out of his destiny. Jesus let it go in one ear and out the other.

you can put an end to negative things that have been passed down. what you’re dealing with may not have started with you, but it can stop with you. you need to say the poverty, lack, “it is finished. I will lend and not borrow.” say to the addiction, depression, dysfunction, “it is finished.” God wants you to set a new standard. you have seeds of greatness. you are full of talent, ideas, potential. you’re not limited by where you came from. just because negative things have been passed down, doesn’t mean they’re supposed to continue; you’re the one to break the curse, poverty, depression, dysfunction. you can take your family to a new level.

don’t talk yourself out of it. don’t let circumstances discourage you. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you. He is breathing in your direction right now. He’s going to open doors that no man can shut, bring talent out of you that you didn’t know you had, cause the right people to be good to you. opportunity, good breaks, freedom, increase is going to track you down. you’re stepping into a new level. bondages that have held you and your family back are being broken. now do your part; have a new mindset, an abundant, free, healthy, victorious mentality. we can all come up with an excuse to settle where we are; I’m asking us to get rid of the excuses. anything that’s holding you back, it’s time to announce to it, “it is finished. this is a new day. I’m drawing the line in the sand. as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. we will live free from addictions, lend and not borrow, be generous and help others, accomplish our dreams, and become everything we were created to be.”

you may have been raised in a limited environment; they were good people, but they didn’t have any vision, settled for mediocrity. you can set a new standard. where you start is not important; where you finish is what matters. God is going to use you to not just break a generational curse, but to start a generational blessing. where you come from is not who you are: you are blessed, free, talented, a child of the most high God.

Abraham was in a limited environment. God told him:

Genesis 12:1 (NIV)
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

God was saying, “Abraham, you have to leave what’s familiar, what you grew up with.” I’m not suggesting to abandon your family, but I am saying to leave negative mindsets you were were raised with, a scarcity mentality, limitations that people have put on you. you have to make room for God to increase you.

sometimes, our environment is too small. if you take an oak tree seed, and plant it in a five gallon pot, that oak tree will never become what it was created to be; not because there’s something wrong with the tree, but because of the environment that it’s in. in the same way, there’s nothing wrong with you; you have seeds of greatness. the most high God breathed His life into you. now make sure your pot is not too small, your environment is not holding you back. you need to be around people that inspire you, that have gone further, making a difference, not just people that are settling for the status quo.

Isaiah said:

Isaiah 54:2 (NKJV)
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare;
Lengthen your cords,
And strengthen your stakes.

make room for God to do a new thing. tell that limited mindset, “it is finished. I’m dreaming big dreams, praying bold prayers, expecting to go further than how I was raised.” God is a progressive God; He wants every generation to increase. have a big vision. don’t settle for what your parents had, what your relatives accomplished; you were made for more. you can go further, be the one to set the new standard.

but it’s easy to talk ourselves out of our dreams, live discouraged, because of disappointments, things we don’t understand. we worked hard, but didn’t get the promotion. we prayed, but our loved one didn’t make it. we did our best, but the relationship didn’t work out. life is not always fair, but God said He would take what was meant for your harm, and use it to your advantage, give you beauty for ashes. but I’ve learned, you have to let go of the ashes before you receive the beauty. you can’t hold on to the old and expect to receive the new. the past is over and done; quit dwelling on it, reliving it. you’re not going to understand everything that happens, but God has a purpose . He knows how to bring good out of it; keep moving forward.

this is what David did. he had a newborn baby that became very sick:

2 Samuel 12:16-23 (NIV)
16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground…18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him…19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” 20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house… and he ate. 21 His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” 22 He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

David did everything he could; prayed, fasted, believed, but it didn’t work out his way. he could’ve lived bitter, with a chip on his shoulder, but David understood this principle; he said to the past, “it is finished. I don’t understand it, but I’m moving forward.”

we all have things in life that we don’t understand. it’s easy to live negative, but if we’re going to see the double, the beauty for ashes, we have to do like David, and say to the past, the things you don’t understand, “it is finished. I’m not going to dwell on what didn’t work out, try to figure out why; I’m going to let it go, and keep moving forward.”

the past doesn’t have to stop you; a bad break, loss, disappointment. God is in control of your life. you wouldn’t be alive unless He had something amazing up in front of you. you haven’t had too many bad breaks, made too many mistakes; you’re on the verge of seeing double, beauty for ashes. now do your part; put on a new attitude, and get ready for the new things God is about to do. the past, the hurts, the regrets; it is finished. the poverty, lack, limited mindsets; it is finished. the addictions, depression, dysfunction, guilt, shame, self-pity; it is finished. this is a new day. things that have held you back are being broken right now. you’re going to step into a new level of freedom, break generational curses, and start generational blessings. you’re about to see the beauty for ashes; healing, promotion, breakthroughs, are headed your way.

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(No new sermon this week.)

I have seen the Holy Spirit manifest several more times, which of course is by far the best thing that I have experienced, or ever COULD experience.… The actual VISIBLE presence of the Spirit of God!! All those endless hours of prayer and Bible study, all those years of unwavering faith, no matter what agonies, disasters, or betrayals befell me, have really paid off!!

I have also seen more angels than I can keep track of; it has literally grown beyond my ability to make a detailed record of every angelic appearance, within the confines of a 24 hour day. I have seen them in all sizes, from tiny to gigantic: and in a variety of colors: white, gold, blue, and red… I think that the latter are seraphim, which means “burning ones,” although I’m not yet sure if they are really a separate category of angels, or just cherubim that happen to be red… and no, I don’t know what the different colors mean. Different people have different claims about that, but the Bible doesn’t say, so unless or until I receive divine revelation in this area, I simply didn’t know. Sometimes, angels appear in a simplified human form, with no details like facial features so far, and a couple recently have appeared to have robes… and WINGS. (In case you were wondering, there will NEVER be halos; those are not in the Bible anywhere, they are the creation of medieval artists.)

Most of the angels I see appear while I’m praying, perhaps not surprisingly; I rarely see fewer than half a dozen during a prayer session, and it can easily be twice that many. I have an angel who appears to have a guard post at my front door, and angels that are on guard by my bed while I sleep. Some of the biggest and best ones appear in my prayer closet area. An angel surrounded me with a fragrance that was so intense that it woke me up when I was deeply asleep, despite the fact that I had a fan blowing on me, and so it shouldn’t have been POSSIBLE for

An angel surrounded me with a fragrance that was so intense that it woke me up when I was deeply asleep, despite the fact that I had a fan blowing on me, and so it shouldn’t have been POSSIBLE for fragrance to overwhelm me like that. I have seen wind appear where there was no physical way for there to be wind. An angel got my attention one time by ringing a bell. Even more incredibly, during a recent intense prayer session, when my prayer had tapered off into silence because my mind drifted off on a tangent, an angel tapped me on the temple!! Even more incredibly, this happened FOUR more times during that same prayer session, although the later times felt more like brushing against my temple than actually tapping. Although I’m positive that that first time was to get my attention and get me back to praying, the other times seemed… playful, which might sound as crazy to you as it would have to ME a few years ago, but is right in line with other accounts I have read from people who have numerous encounters with angels. Angels, like all intelligent creatures, appear to have a sense of play.

I have seen angels in other people’s homes that were clearly associated with them; I have seen a specific one near my Pastor 3 times, and one in a specific area of my friend’s home at least that many times, for example.

I saw an anointing come down onto a member of my prayer group, a bright gold light that came from above and behind her head, and when it had settled into her, the power that came out of her hands where they were grasping mine was so intense that it gave me wild pins and needles, until my hands finally went NUMB. I’ve also seen light come from my Pastor’s hand, and he actually FELT that this was going on, even though he’s famous for NEVER feeling anything, even when everyone else around him is.

Of course, when the supernatural breaks out, the enemy doesn’t like it, and he tries to get his own players into the game. There have been several sightings of demons as well, but they are very weak right now. I don’t fool myself into thinking that it will always be that way, but what I DO know is, the Bible tells us that we have authority over them, and the Holy Spirit is always with me, so if they try to take me on again, they will be defeated, as they were before.

Why is this happening? My church has been praying for the supernatural to break out for a long time, so this is an answer to our prayers. Why is it primarily focusing on ME? I can make guesses, but that’s all they would be… all I can say is that God is on the move, and bigger miracles are going to be showing up any time now.

Have you been experiencing the supernatural, either yourself or within your church? Leave a comment and let me know!!

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God’s Got This

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that come against us. it’s easy to live uptight, wondering how it’s going to work out. what if the medical report isn’t good, finances don’t get better, my child doesn’t get accepted into that school? we tried to figure it out, we’ve done our best, but we don’t see anything changing; if we’re not careful, we’ll live worried, discouraged, not expecting it to get better. but there’s a simple phrase you have to keep down in your spirit; God’s got this. He’s on the throne, sees what’s happening, already has the solution. you don’t have to figure it out. there may not be a logical answer. in the natural, you don’t see a way; that’s ok, we serve a supernatural God. He has ways to do it that we’ve never thought of. instead of trying to force it to happen, living uptight, you have to let go and let God. when you turn it over to Him. and say, “God, I know that You’ve got this, You’re in control,” not only will you feel the heaviness lift off of you, but God will make things happen that you couldn’t make happen. some of the things that are frustrating you now, causing you to lose sleep, that would all change if you would have this new perspective, that God’s got this.

sometimes, we’re trying to play God, make our boss promote us, make ourselves get well, make the contract go through, but as long as we’re trying to force it, living frustrated, worried, then God steps back. but when you take your hands off, and say, “God, I know You’ve got this. I’m not going to worry about my finances, live uptight because of the medical report, frustrated because I haven’t met the right person. God, I trust Your timing, and I trust Your ways; my life is in Your hands.”

God never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulties, but He did promise He would give us strength for every battle, take what was meant for harm and use it to our advantage. you may have a good reason to worry about your health, finances, a dream, you’ve done everything you can, it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out. stay in faith; God is saying, “I’ve got this. I’m working behind the scenes. I’m in the process of turning it around; it’s just a matter of time before you see things change in your favor.” live out of a place of peace, trust. it may not happen the way you thought, but God’s ways are better than our ways. God knows what’s best for you; He’s got this.

in the scripture, a young man named Daniel worked for King Darius:

Daniel 6:3-4 (NIV)
3 Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. 4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so.

when you excel, when your gifts come out in great ways, don’t be surprised if people get jealous; everyone is not going to celebrate you. some people will try to find fault, hold you back; the good news is, people don’t determine your destiny, God does. keep being your best, and let God fight your battles. don’t get distracted trying to prove to them who you are; God will be your vindicator, take care of your enemies.

these people that were against Daniel tried to manipulate the king:

Daniel 6:5-16 (NIV)
5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”… 7 … advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den… 9 So King Darius put the decree in writing. 10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published… three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed… 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying… 13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel… still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed… 16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

when you’re in difficult situations, God has people praying for you that you don’t know anything about. this king was supposed to be his enemy, but he was actually believing for Daniel’s safety.

the apostle Paul said:

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV)
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

he was saying, in effect, “if I live, or if I don’t live, I’m going to give God praise. either way, God’s got this.” what you’re facing may be bigger, stronger, more powerful, but when you refuse to worry, live stressed out, instead you stay in peace, thanking God that He’s fighting your battles, knowing that He’s in control, you’re showing God by your actions that you’re trusting Him.

Daniel 6:20-22 (NIV)
20 … “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight.

God made Daniel unappetizing to those lions; God knows how to make you unappetizing to the enemy. what should normally defeat you, for some reason it can’t harm you, stop your business, take your health. there is a bloodline that God has put around you and your family. God controls the universe, the enemies; you’re not at the mercy of random events, people wanting to do you wrong, bad breaks. God has a hedge of protection around you, nothing can happen without His permission. that’s why we don’t have to live worried, uptight; we’re in a controlled environment.

when the Hebrew teenagers were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to the King’s golden idol:

Daniel 3:17-18 (NIV)
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

they weren’t panicked, upset, bitter; they knew they were in a controlled environment. they were saying, like Paul, “if we live, we’re going to give God praise; if we don’t live, we’re going to go to heaven and still give God praise.” they stayed in faith, knowing that God had the final say. and yes, at some point we’re all going to die; I’m going to die in faith, believing, expecting, trusting, praising, smiling, with a good attitude, knowing that God is in complete control. nothing can snatch you out of His hands; the number of your days He will fulfill.

when you face enemies in life: sickness, addiction, debt, they can sense when you’re afraid of them, they’ll take more ground. that’s why the scripture says:

Ephesians 4:27 (MEV)
27 Do not give place to the devil.

but when they see you standing strong, thanking God when you could be complaining, being good to people when you could be bitter, at peace when you could be panicked, you are sending a message to those enemies that says loud and clear, “you have no power over me. you cannot stop me. my God is in control, and if He be for me, who dare be against me?”

the scripture says:

Daniel 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. 20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

notice how he addressed Daniel. Daniel was in there because he was worshipping a different God, yet the king called him “Daniel, servant of the living God.” even the king knew something was different about Daniel.

Daniel 6:23 (NIV)
23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

amazing things happen when you stay in faith and trust God.

Daniel 6:24-27 (NIV)
24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the nations… 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God… 27 He rescues and he saves

but here’s the key; God doesn’t deliver us from every difficulty, most of the time He takes us through the difficulty. Daniel’s faith didn’t keep him out of the lions’ den, but his faith did bring him out of the lions’ den. but if Daniel, or those teenagers, had been worried, panicked, negative, maybe there would’ve been a different outcome; maybe we wouldn’t be talking about them today.

I’m asking you to quit worrying about what you’re facing, losing sleep over that child that’s not doing right, being upset because somebody did you wrong, your dream hasn’t come to pass yet. God’s got this. He’s going to make a way where you don’t see a way. God’s going to protect you, favor you, get you to where you’re supposed to be.

David said:

Psalm 23:4 (ESV)
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil

God is not just with you on the mountain tops; He’s with you in the valleys, when you’re going through things. He knows what you’re up against.

Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

how much more is God concerned about what’s happening in your life? trust Him. live from a place of peace. this is a decision we have to make on a daily basis, because every day there’s something to worry about, some reason to get upset. all through the day, keep this phrase close to your heart; “God’s got this. He’s concerned about me, working in my life, He’s bigger than my enemies, lining up the right people, arranging things in my favor.” that attitude of faith is what allows God to do amazing things.

are you worried about your children, stressed out over your job, discouraged because of a disappointment, thinking it’s not going to work out? come back to that place of peace; God’s got this. He’s directing your steps, bringing the right people across your path, and your children’s path. He has beauty for the ashes. right now, He’s working behind the scenes in your lives. dare to trust Him, to believe. when we worry, we tie the hands of Almighty God.

we all face situations that are bigger than us: a bad medical report, you lost a major client, trouble in a relationship. it’s easy to think of all the reasons why it’s not going to work out. that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and switch over into faith; “God, I know You’ve got this. thank You for protecting my children, fighting my battles, healing my body,” when you’re tempted to worry, turn it around and thank God that He’s working. sometimes, God will allow difficult situations, just to prove to you that He’s God. He could have kept Daniel out of the lions’ den, stopped the Hebrew teenagers from going into the fiery furnace, but God allows these things, to not only show you, but to show others, that He is God. when David defeated Goliath, a giant twice his size, it wasn’t just so David could be promoted, honored; that victory was a sign to the Philistines, all of their enemies, and the Israelites, that God was in control, His hand of favor and blessing was on them.

some of the battles God allows in your lives are not just about you; it’s to make a statement to the people around you. nothing speaks louder than when people see the favor on your life, your overcoming obstacles that should have held you back, defeating giants that were bigger, accomplishing dreams where you didn’t have the expertise. they will know that you serve the true and the living God. not only that; those victories are like fuel to feed your faith when you face other challenges. you’ll know, “if God did it for me back then, He’ll do it for me again.” don’t get discouraged when you face things you don’t understand, obstacles that are bigger than you; that’s simply an opportunity for God to show you Who He is. it’s one thing to believe that God has power, can do the impossible, that’s good, but God wants you to do more than just believe; He wants you to experience His power. He’s going to show His greatness, favor.

David had all kinds of things come against him, but he said:

Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

David lived with this attitude; “God’s got this. I’m not going to be worried, live upset; I know that He’s bigger than any obstacle that I’m facing.” he said a little later:

Psalm 27:5 (NIV)
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

you may have enemies coming against you, but you have an advantage; God has placed you out of reach. they can’t defeat you, keep you from your destiny. remain confident. keep your peace. it may feel like you’re surrounded by an army; the truth is, you are surrounded by God’s favor. the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. David said:

Psalm 27:3 (NIRV)
3 Even if an army attacks me,
my heart will not be afraid.

sickness, addictions, debt may have attacked you; that’s a test. are you going to get worried, live in fear, “what if it doesn’t work out?” stay in peace. remain confident. God’s done it for you in the past; He’s going to do it for you again in the future.

David said:

Psalm 27:13 (NIV)
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord

after all he’d been through, you’d think he’d be negative, worried, “God, where were you?” he was just the opposite; “I know God’s got this.”

is something weighing you down today? are you worried about a situation, frustrated by what didn’t work out, down on yourself because you’re not where you thought you would be? God is saying, “I’ve got this. it’s not a surprise to Me. I have new beginnings, healing, breakthroughs.” I’m asking you to change your perspective; switch over into faith. that situation at work that you’re worried about, that medical report that’s keeping you up at night, living stressed is not making it any better; be still and know that He’s God, He has you in the palm of His hand, He’s got this. and yes, you may have enemies coming against you, but God has placed you out of reach. now all through the day, when you’re tempted to worry, keep this phrase playing in your mind; “God’s got this.” if you’ll do this, you’re going to see God’s goodness in new ways, rise higher, accomplish dreams, and become everything God’s created you to be.

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