Pit Praisers

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to give God praise when things are going good, that doesn’t take much faith, but what about when business slows down, somebody does us wrong, the medical report says we’re not going to get better? we all have times where we feel like we’re in the pits, life has thrown us a curve. it’s easy to get discouraged, go around negative. we think, “when it turns around, then I’ll have a good attitude. when my health improves, then I’ll be grateful. when I get out of this mess, break this addiction, then I’ll get my joy back.” but that’s backwards; you have to give God praise first. praise is what causes things to turn around, breaks bondages that are holding us back, activates God’s favor. don’t wait until you get out of the pit; be a pit praiser. praise Him in spite of what hasn’t worked out, what you lost. any of us can give God praise when we’re on the mountaintop; the real test is, will you praise Him in the valley, worship Him in the wilderness, shout when the walls aren’t falling, be a pit praiser?

this is what Joseph had to do. when he was a young man, God gave him a dream:

Genesis 37:6-8 (NIV)
6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?”

he was excited; he knew God’s favor was on his life. he should’ve been more discreet, and kept it to himself; his brothers didn’t like the idea that they were going to bow down. they were already jealous:

Genesis 37:3-4 (NIV)
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

one day:

Genesis 37:12-24 (NKJV)
12 Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.”… 18 Now when they saw him afar off… 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’…22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness… 23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit.

they were going to leave him there to die. but when God puts a promise in your heart, people, bad breaks, betrayal, rejection, can’t stop you. people don’t have the final say, God does. but the dream God put in you is not going to come to pass without opposition; there will be times that it’s not fair, doesn’t make sense. don’t get bitter; it’s all a part of God’s plan. it looks like a setback; the truth is, it’s a setup to move you into your destiny. the key is what you do when you’re in the pit, when life has taken an unexpected turn: a relationship didn’t work out, you lost a loved one, got a bad medical report. it’s tempting to get sour, go around complaining, talking about how it’s not going to work out; all that’s going to do is keep you in the pit.

Genesis 37:25-28 (NKJV)
25 And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead… 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites… so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites

what’s interesting is, the name Judah, the brother that saved Joseph’s life, means “praise”; God was showing us that praise protects the dream. (NB: even more interesting; Judah, although he was the 4th son, is the one from whom Jesus is descended.) the other brothers were saying, “let’s kill him, leave him here to die,” but praise rose up and said, “no, we’re going to let him live.” praise changed the opposition’s mind, pushed back the forces of darkness. when you’re in the pit, don’t complain; turn up your praise. you have to protect your dream; the way you do it is by having Judah show up. “Father, thank You that You are fighting my battles. yes, this is a big problem, but I know You’re a big God; You flung stars into space, nothing’s too difficult for You.” the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 4:13 (NIV)
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak

what kind of words are coming out of your mouth? are you talking about how big your problem is, or are you talking about how big your God is? are you complaining about the pit, focused on what wasn’t fair, who did you wrong? you have to wake up Judah; Judah is in you. you’re waiting for someone else to deliver you, pray for you, cheer you up; you can deliver yourself if you’ll get Judah up and start thanking God that He’s turning it around. not complaining about the medical report, but thanking Him that He is restoring health back unto you. not discouraged over finances, but thanking Him that you will lend and not borrow. when God sees you praising Him in the pit, loss, storm, that’s what He calls “the sacrifice of praise.” He knows it’s not easy, it wasn’t fair, they did you wrong, you felt like quitting, but when you praise Him in the pit, that moves God in a greater way. the sacrifice of praise carries more weight.

it’s one thing to be grateful when things are going our way; that’s important, we should do that, but when you have a song in your heart when every circumstance says you should be discouraged, when you can say, “God, I bless You in spite of what hasn’t worked out,” get ready for God to show out in your life.

David said:

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock

you may be in the pit, but you’re not going to stay there. you’ve heard that saying, “you can’t keep a good man down”? let me tell you, you can’t keep a praiser down. anyone can complain, be discouraged, but God is looking for some pit praisers, people that will praise Him no matter what happens, in the good times and in the tough times, when business is up or down. David said:

Psalm 34:1 (KJV)
34 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

this is what Paul and Silas did in the scripture. they were falsely accused and put in prison. they could’ve been bitter, complained, “God, why did You let this happen? we were doing the right thing.” instead, they were pit praisers:

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God… 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

when you give God praise in the difficult times, sing in the midnight hour, the all-powerful Creator of the universe will not only take delight in you, but He will start singing over you. when God sings, addictions are broken, depression, poverty and lack have to go. God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

but when we’re in the pits, it’s easy to have a pity party, think, “why did this happen, I prayed, but my loved one didn’t make it, my relationship didn’t work out.” you’re right where Joseph was; doing the right thing, and the wrong thing happened. you’re right where Paul and Silas were; honoring God and were thrown into a pit. you could either get negative, bitter, or you can become a pit praiser. you can thank God, not for the pit, but that He’s bringing you out, not for the problem, but that He’s turning it around.

we’re not going to understand everything God is doing. there are times, like with Joseph, that the pit has been ordained by God. we don’t like it, but the pit is on the road to our destiny. God’s plan for Joseph’s life was to rule Egypt. his brothers were ordained to betray him. he was ordained to be sold as a slave; that was all a part of the plan to get him to Egypt. sometimes, life is not going to make sense; you’re doing the right thing, but it’s not working out. you have to trust that God is still in control, knows what He’s doing, will not mismanage your life. God has already planned the end from the beginning, but He never promised that we would understand everything that happens along the way, in fact, He said:

Isaiah 55:8 (NLV)
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord.

He let us know right up front, it’s not always going to make sense; this is what faith is all about.

when God gave Joseph that dream, it showed him up and his brothers down. but when the brothers threw him into the pit, he was down, and his brothers were up. he could have thought, “God, I must have heard you wrong; this is backwards.” he could’ve complained, been bitter. instead, his attitude was, “God, I trust You. You said that my steps are ordered by You, so wherever You have me, I’m going to be the best that I can be.” you never read where Joseph complained, was bitter, slacked off.

the pit was simply a test. God was seeing, “will you trust Me when you don’t understand, praise Me in the pit when it doesn’t make sense?” praise is not just words, it’s our attitude; we’re grateful, have a smile, we’re being good to people, passionate about our dreams.

when you’re a pit praiser, you can be in the pit and nobody around you knows it; you’re not sour, don’t have a chip on your shoulder. you’ve learned the secret; to bless the Lord at all times. when you’re giving God praise, He’s fighting your battles, giving people ideas, putting thoughts in their minds, causing them to want to be good to you. when you’re in the pit, it’s a test; are you going to get discouraged, bitter, or are you going to protect your dream through praise?

sometimes, like with Joseph, what God promised us looks just the opposite: God said He’s restoring health back to you, but the medical report says you’re not going to get better. God says your whole family is going to serve Him; maybe you have children that are far off course. don’t get discouraged by what’s not lining up; it’s not over. God is still working; behind the scenes, things are happening that you cannot see. keep thanking God that it’s on the way.

the pit stops in our lives are not the end. when we’re in the pits, a difficult time, we had a bad break, God uses that pit stop to refuel us and get us prepared for the next season of our lives. the way to get refueled is through your praise. finding something to be grateful for; not dwelling on what’s wrong, but thanking God for what’s right. not focused on what you lost, but thanking God for what you have. you may feel like you’re in the pits, you have a good reason to be discouraged. have a new perspective; you’re in a time of refreshing, reenergizing, refueling. without a few pit stops, we wouldn’t be prepared for the rest of our journey.

the problem is, some people make the pit stop their home. they lose their passion, get discouraged, “why did this happen to me? I was doing so well.” it’s just a pit stop. I don’t know anyone that’s fulfilled their destiny without a few pit stops. the heroes of faith: David, Moses, Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Sarah, they all had pit stops. my challenge is; don’t get stuck in the pit. it’s a pit stop, not a pit finish, not a pit it’s over and done. your life is not supposed to end in defeat, a bad break, disappointment; God has victory in front of you.

“I’m in a big pit”; then you need to have big praise, faith, dreams. don’t believe that lie that where you are is permanent. God did not breathe life into you, crown you with favor, put royal blood in your veins, for you to live in the pits. the pits are temporary, but you have to do your part, and praise your way out of the pit. the right attitude is, “Father, thank You that this pit is just a stop, it’s not my final destination, that You’re making a way where I don’t see a way, that what was meant to stop me is going to promote me.” if you’ll stay full of praise, keep thanking God, encouraging yourself, you’ll not only come out of the pit, you’ll come out stronger, into new levels, relationships, opportunities.

after the pit is promotion, favor, the palace. Joseph went on to see his dream come to pass; there were a lot of twists and turns, it was a winding road, but he kept moving forward and fulfilled his destiny. but had he not been willing to praise in the pit, he would have never made it to the palace. could it be that a lack of praise is keeping you out of your palace? you’re waiting for things to turn around, then you’ll have a good attitude, be grateful? you have to give God praise in the pit; that’s what allows Him to take you into the palace, a new level of your destiny.

in Matthew 15:

Matthew 15:21-22 (NIV)
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him

Canaanites were idol worshippers, gentiles, didn’t believe in Jehovah. for a lady to approach him like that in that day was unusual, because the women were taught to stay in the background.

Matthew 15:22-23 (NIV)
22 … crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word.

this was unusual, because Jesus was normally so compassionate.
(NB: “Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities, located some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Jesus went all this way to meet this one Gentile woman’s need. This shows remarkable and unexpected love from Jesus to this woman of Canaan.”

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/matthew-15/ )

Matthew 15:23-24 (NIV)
23 … So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

he was saying, “I’m sorry, but you’re not a part of our family. I feel badly, but I can’t take what belongs to the Israelites and gave it to you.” this lady had everything going against her: she was a gentile, idol worshipper, a woman. but when she said, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” she was saying, “I’m asking you to make an exception.” when Jesus told her no, that could’ve been the end of the story, but this lady did something interesting; instead of continuing to beg:

Matthew 15:25 (NIV)
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said… 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

a few minutes earlier, he was ignoring her; what changed? when she went from begging to worshipping.

the scripture says:

Psalm 22:3 (MEV)
3 … You who inhabits the praises of Israel.

that means, praise brings God on the scene. begging, complaining doesn’t sway Him, but praise causes the Creator of the universe to show up.

you may think you’re outside the family, you don’t deserve God’s goodness, you’ve made mistakes, brought trouble on yourself. there may be a dozen reasons why God shouldn’t do it, but if you’ll do like this lady, and go to God, not begging Him, but giving Him praise, worshiping, thanking Him, bragging on His goodness, God will do things that you don’t deserve. what begging won’t do, praise will do. no more, “God, I’m begging you to heal me, turn my child around.” switch over into praise; “Father, thank You that You’re restoring health back to me, that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” God won’t disappoint a praiser. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 33:11 (KJV)
11 … and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 33:11 (MEV)
11 … and of those who bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at the first, says the Lord.

there may be some things you need reversed and restored. you don’t see how it could happen, but you go through the day saying, “Father, thank You that the answer’s on the way, You’re working behind the scenes.” because you’re offering up that sacrifice of praise, God is going to reverse finances that are down, negative medical reports, legal situations. not only that, He’s going to restore what should’ve been yours: years that you lost because somebody did you wrong, a relationship that’s going down, health back to your body. it’s going to happen because of your praise.

in the scripture, the Israelites had traveled through the desert for forty years trying to make it to the promised land. the parents never did make it in, because they complained and were negative; they eventually died. now, their children were at Jericho; this was the last city that stood between them and their promised land. you can imagine how excited they were; if they could just get through Jericho, they could see this dream come to pass. there will always be a Jericho that stands between you and your promised land, one last obstacle that looks insurmountable. you’ve come this far, done so well, but you don’t see how you could get past it. this is how the Israelites felt; they could taste the victory, after years they were finally within reach, but Jericho had a huge wall around the city, so thick that a chariot could ride on top of the wall. it looked impossible to penetrate, but God told Joshua:

Joshua 6:2-5 (NIV)
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua… 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 … On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout

I can imagine the people told Joshua, “we’ll shout after the wall falls. after we take the city, then we’ll give God praise; there’s no reason to do it before, that doesn’t make sense.” like them, we want to shout after the victory. but God is saying, “if you’ll give Me praise while the wall is still standing, then you’ll see things begin to change.” do you trust Him enough to praise Him in front of a wall that’s not moving, to worship Him with a bad medical report, to thank Him for freedom when you still have the addiction?

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

this huge wall not only came tumbling down, but researchers have found that it fell in such a way that it created a perfect ramp, so the Israelites could go in and take the city. when you give God praise, He doesn’t just bring down walls, He’ll make a path so you can go in and take your promised land. He’ll make your rough places smooth.

maybe you have a big obstacle in front of you; you don’t see how you could ever get past it. don’t complain; turn up your praise. praise is what’s going to bring the wall down. perhaps you feel like you’re in a pit; you’ve had some bad breaks. being bitter is not going to make it better; you have to bring Judah on the scene. be a pit praiser. all through the day; “Father, thank You that You’re fighting my battles; You hold victory in store for the upright.” if you’ll do this, like Joseph, you’re coming out of that pit, into your palace. like with Joshua, walls that are holding you back are being broken right now. like Jeremiah said, God’s going to reverse and restore. you’re going to see healing, breakthroughs, vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny.


(No new sermon this week.)

If there was a verse in the Bible describing men with WINGS who flew away carrying something, would you have any doubt whatsoever as to what they were? Of course not!! So there should be no reason for confusion HERE:

Zechariah 5:9 (AMP)
9 Then I looked up, and there were two women coming out with the wind in their wings; and they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heavens.

How can ANYONE read this and NOT see beyond a doubt that they were female angels? Because throughout history, the translators of scripture, and the analyzers of the Bible, have all been MEN, and all the authorities in all the churches were MEN, and they all had the powerful desire, need, and incentive for every supernatural being connected to God in the Bible be MALE, to justify the powerlessness of women that never appears in anything that Jesus said, but that they naturally wanted to be preserved in their homes and churches.

Even in the modern day, the commentaries either ignore this issue, or try to explain away away the obvious by saying:

“There are no female angels anywhere else in the Bible, so that means that these can’t be female angels either”… But everything in the Bible is true, even if it is only mentioned ONCE. Do we say that the still small voice does not exist, because it only appears in the Bible one time? That seraphim, whether they are a separate category of angel or just a different category of cherubim, don’t exist because they’re only mentioned in one place? Of course not!

“Storks were unclean animals, therefore these women must somehow be unclean or evil creatures”… Which is just plain silly, because it doesn’t say that the women had wings taken from actual storks, but more to the point, even if these women were actually demons, remember, all the demons were originally angels, and the only way for there to be female demons would be for there to be female angels.

“The giant scroll in verse 1 didn’t exist in real life, so these winged women didn’t either”… Come on now, the giant scroll is the LEAST surreal item in the numerous visions in the Bible, the least of things that don’t actually exist in the real world, so unless we disbelieve in all of those other things, we can’t disbelieve in this one either. Now, if there is a church or people who don’t believe that ANY of the things in the numerous visions in the Bible are real, such as seraphim, and therefore don’t believe in female angels for that reason, that would make sense, but you can’t pick and choose what does and does not exist from visions based on whether or not you like it, or if it’s convenient for your worldview.

“It doesn’t specifically SAY that these women with wings were angels, and therefore they can’t be”… Which is forgetting the countless places in the Bible where MALE angels, appearing withOUT wings, are referred to as “men,” and are just identified as angels based on their behavior. Either NOBODY is an angel unless specifically named as such, and taking supernatural actions and/or having wings and flying away is an indication of something totally unknown, or else any human-looking being that has supernatural abilities, including flying away with wings, is an angel. There is absolutely no basis for making different rules for males and females.

So there it is. The Bible as originally written is divinely inspired; translations, interpretations, and irrational male bias are not. The Bible describes female angels, therefore there ARE female angels. We don’t know how many or what %, but they exist… Although I still doubt that they have any resemblance to Roma Downey.

Blessed New Year 2018!

Are seraphim actually cherubim?

Merry Christmas! Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! Today’s the perfect day to talk about something RED:

(No new sermon this week.)

Cherubim are mentioned many times in the Bible, and they have a specific name in Hebrew: “kerub,” which became “cheroubin” in Greek.

Seraphim only appear in one place in the Bible, here in Isaiah’s vision, where the term is used twice:

Isaiah 6:2-6 (NIV)
2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

The Hebrew word being translated as “seraphim” is “saraph,” which in this context is translated as “burning ones”; this is a description, not an actual name, as if instead of “dogs” you said “barking ones.” What did Isaiah actually see, and why did he described them as “burning”? We’ll never know. But the point is, he didn’t give the name of a specific kind of being, he gave a description… So why do we act as if they are something different than cherubim, of which the Bible says:

Ezekiel 1:3-13 (NIV)
3 the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians… 13 The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.

That sure sounds like “burning ones,” doesn’t it? Here is how we know that Ezekiel is talking about cherubim in that verse:

Ezekiel 10:15 (NIV)
15 Then the cherubim rose upward. These were the living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River.

Why then, the insistence on believing that they are a different kind of angel? As with most other misinterpretations of the Bible, it’s because of tradition, mostly; people were taught this in the churches they grew up in, pastors were taught it in seminary or in the churches that THEY grew up in, and it never occurs to them to question it, and if someone else questions it, they dig their heels in and give knee-jerk denials.


The exact same word is also used several other places in the Bible, to mean “venomous” or “venomous snake/serpent,” such as here in Numbers:

Numbers 21:6 (NIV)
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

Is it possible that Isaiah was telling us that there was something snakelike in the appearance of these “living creatures,” and that translators long ago decided to discount that possibility because Satan appeared in the form of a serpent, and they didn’t want people being confused… or that they just plain didn’t like it, and so they decided to choose a translation that suited their preferences better? It sure wouldn’t be the only time in the Bible that THAT took place. The reality is, we have no way to know for sure this side of heaven.

Does it seem crazy to even THINK that there could be anything snakelike about angels? Consider this; Satan chose to appear to Eve in the form of a serpent… And remember, Satan used to be an angel, and more than that, Satan used to be a CHERUB; Ezekiel 28 is generally accepted to actually be about Satan, and it says:

Ezekiel 28:13-14 (NIV)
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;… 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones

The only supernatural being that was in Eden, other than God himself of course, was Satan, right? So, Satan must be the cherub that is referred to here.

I’ve seen red angels, and when they appear as little spots of light, they really do look like embers from a fire, which would seem to qualify them as “burning ones,” but they are not different than angels of other colors that appear at that same size, as far as I can tell… so, although I don’t have a definite opinion, I tend to think that seraphim are probably cherubim described in a poetic manner… but it would be pretty interesting if there were actually a snakelike kind of angel, wouldn’t it?

Healed Through Humility

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have times where we know we’re supposed to do something, but it doesn’t seem fair: to forgive that person that did you wrong, be kind to a neighbor that’s not treating you right, volunteer at the hospital even though nobody is saying thank-you. everything on the inside will say, “I’m not forgiving them; it was their fault, they need to ask me for forgiveness. I’m not working on that small project, serving in the nursery, I’m more qualified than that.” but if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to humble yourself, and do things you may not understand. we see this in the scripture with Peter:

Luke 5:4-5 (AMPC)
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon (Peter), Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul.
5 And Simon (Peter) answered, Master, we toiled all night [exhaustingly] and caught nothing [in our nets].

Peter could’ve said, “Jesus, I love you, but you’re a teacher; you need to stick with your profession. I’m a fisherman; I have years of training.” he could’ve let pride talk him out of it. instead, he humbled himself:

Luke 5:5-6 (AMPC)
5 … But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again]. 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish; and as their nets were [at the point of] breaking

his promotion was in his humility. when you swallow your pride, and say, “this may not make sense, but I’m going to do what God’s asking me to do: humble myself and be good to this person that did me wrong, be my best at work even though nobody’s giving me credit,” when you walk in humility, you will see a great haul of fish. like Peter, your promotion, healing, breakthrough, is in your humility. the scripture says:

Philippians 2:8 (NKJV)
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

it doesn’t say he was obedient because he was so strong-willed, righteous, always did the right thing. even Jesus had to humble himself. it takes humility to walk in obedience. without humility, Jesus could have thought, “I’m the Son of God; I don’t have to put up with these insults. I’m not going to the cross.” it was his humility that kept him from retaliating against the people that did him wrong. his humility is why he could hang on a cross, and say:

Luke 23:34 (KJV)
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

there are times God asks us to do things that seem hard; your flesh will rise up, and tell you all the reasons why you should put the boat away and not go back out, tell them off and not bite your tongue. this is when you have to do like Jesus; humble yourself so you can become obedient, put your pride down, and say, “no, I’m not going to be offended because they left me out, be too proud to ask for forgiveness, say I’m sorry, admit that I was wrong.” when we don’t have humility, we think we’re always right; we’ll be stubborn, hard to get along with. our relationships will be much better if we’ll humble ourselves and let somebody else be right; honor them by letting them have their way.

pride causes us to make lame excuses, be stubborn, only see things our way. there may be things that you don’t feel like are right, you don’t think you should have to do them; one way you can honor God is by honoring the people in your life. “I shouldn’t have to clean up the mess they made, sit in this section where the ushers asked me to sit”; God is saying, “will you do it for Me? clean the mess up for Me? overlook the offense for Me?” do it unto God. when you honor God, He will always honor you.

I wonder how much better our relationships would be if we’d start walking in humility, honoring the other person, letting them have their way, not always having to be right. relationships would be saved if we would start walking in humility, honoring God by honoring the other person. the healing for your relationship is in your humility; it’s when you humble yourself and do your part to get along. “when he starts treating me better, then I’ll treat him better”; you have to make the first move. your humility can start the healing. when they see you taking the high road, not being stubborn, offended, having to have your way, that’s when things will begin to change. the scripture says:

Song of Solomon 2:15(ESV)
15 Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards

before long, these little things are tearing families apart. I’m asking you to swallow your pride and start walking in humility. what can you do to get along better with people, strengthen your relationships? not what can somebody else do, you can’t make them change, but if you’ll change, start treating them with respect, doing what you can to honor them, being kind, serving them, those seeds you’re sowing, they’ll come back to you. just as little foxes can spoil the vine, little acts of kindness can make a big difference, help hold things together. how much better would our relationships be if we put down our pride, not have to be right all the time, not keeping score, “if you do this, I’m going to do that,“ trying to one-up each other? instead, what if we spent that same energy honoring each other, believing the best, overlooking offenses? the healing is in your humility, not in having your way, getting even, holding a grudge.

promotion is in your humility. when you make the decision to humble yourself, forgive, let go of the wrongs, that’s when the favor comes on your life. pride keeps us from rising higher. when you walk in humility, you can be the bigger person, forgive people, show them mercy, start the healing. when you humble yourself, that’s what gives you the power to become obedient. but as long as we allow pride in, we make excuses: “it’s not right, they hurt me, it was their fault.” that all may be true, but holding onto it is not going to make it better. if you’ll let it go and move forward, God will make it up to you; you’ll see His favor in new ways.

in 2 Kings 5:

2 Kings 5:1-2 (NIV)
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife.

I can imagine everyone didn’t know that he had leprosy; he would keep his armor on, try to hide it from people. but this young lady lived in his house:

2 Kings 5:3 (NIV)
3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman could’ve thought, “who are you to tell me what to do? I’m a captain, I answer to the king, and now you, a slave, are telling me to go back to the nation I just defeated and ask them for help? I don’t think so.” Naaman could have been offended, dismissed it, but:

2 Kings 5:4-5 (NIV)
4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left

think of the humility this took. he had to take the advice from a maid, and be willing to go to another country, and it meant he needed help. if he’d have been too proud, he would have stayed at home.

sometimes, your answer won’t come from people that look like you, come from your same culture, that you’re used to. you’re going to have to do like Naaman, get out of your comfort zone, be willing to listen to somebody that’s under you, doesn’t have the training, experience. the key is to treat everyone with respect, value every person’s opinion. if Naaman would’ve dismissed his maid, he would have missed his miracle. don’t judge the people God put in your life by the outside, titles, position, wealth, deciding who’s important, who you’re going to listen to; God uses everyone.

2 Kings 5:7-11 (NIV)
7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy?… 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message:… Have the man come to me… 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy

Naaman was used to dealing with heads of nations; he gave advice to the king of Syria. I’m sure he thought, “does Elisha know who I am, how far I’ve traveled?” look at all these times Naaman had to put down his pride; a young maid told him what to do, the king couldn’t help him, Elisha was too busy, now he has to wash in a dirty river. (NB: Jesus, the perfect example of Christian humility, went of his own volition to be baptized in that same river, which is dirty even in the current day.) these were tests.

on the way to your miracle, there will be plenty of opportunities to let pride talk you out of it. it may not happen the way you think, through the people you think. stay open; don’t put God in a box, writing people off because they don’t look like you, live in your neighborhood, attend your church. God likes to do unusual things.

Naaman almost talked himself out of it. he’d done well up to this point, but:

2 Kings 5:12-13 (NIV)
12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
13 Naaman’s servants went to him…

not a peer, prophet, king, but another underling, somebody he normally wouldn’t pay attention to:

2 Kings 5:13-14 (NIV)
13 … and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

imagine the humility, washing in your enemy’s dirty river again and again. God was showing us, the healing was in the humility.

when you humble yourself, and do what God’s asking you to do, even when it doesn’t make sense: forgive the person that did you wrong, be kind to the coworker that betrayed you, take advice from someone that’s not in your normal circles. as you pass these tests, things will begin to change; the blessing is in the obedience.

the way to be obedient is to walk in humility, because without humility, we’ll make excuses; “I’m not going to listen to the maid, what does she know? I’m not going to do this simple thing: wash in a river, serve in the children’s ministry.” no, do what God is asking you to do. don’t overanalyze it, reason it out, just do it. “I’ve been doing it for a long time, but nothing is changing”; you’re right where Naaman was. the first six times, nothing happened, but that didn’t mean something was wrong. you’re right on schedule. the good news is, you’re about to come up from your seventh dip, where suddenly healing comes, you’re promoted, you see that breakthrough. keep doing the right thing; you’re close to your seventh time.

1 Peter 5:6 (KJV)
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time

when you walk in humility, there is a due time God has already established where He will catapult you ahead, thrust you to the next level. when you come up out of your seventh dip, when it’s your due time, all the forces of darkness cannot stop you; when God is ready to exalt you, you will be exalted. God knows what He’s doing, how to get you to the next level, but it may not be the way, with the people, or on the timetable you thought. but if you’ll keep walking in humility, being obedient, you will come into your due time, where God does more than you can ask or think.

in the story of the prodigal son:

Luke 15:13-24 (NIV)
13 … the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country… 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating… 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father

then he thought, “what am I talking about? I can’t go back and let people see me like this; I’ll look like a fool. I can’t admit that I made a mistake.” pride rose up, and tried to keep him from going back home, but he humbled himself; he was willing to admit, “I’ve made a mistake, I’ve done wrong.” he put his pride down:

Luke 15:18-24 (NIV)
18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him… 22 “But the father said to his servants… 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

are you letting pride keep you out of the Father’s house, worried about what people will think, your image? we’ve all blown it, made mistakes, gotten off course; don’t let pride hold you back. the new beginning is in your humility. when you say, “God, I admit I’ve done wrong, I’m not where I should be, but I’m ready to come back home,” God will receive you with open arms. that is the first step to getting out of the hog pen. you don’t have to be perfect. God is not looking at your performance; He’s looking at your heart. “I don’t have it all together”; none of us do. it’s in our weaknesses that God’s power shows up the greatest:

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
9 … my power is made perfect in weakness.”

when you come to God with humility and ask for help, He’ll not only receive you, but He’ll put a ring on your finger, signifying your authority, give you a royal robe, signifying His favor, celebrate you, and take you further than you’ve ever imagined.

the new beginning, promotion, healing, is in your humility. I’m asking us to put our pride down, and start doing what God is asking you to do: maybe He’s asking you to forgive, treat people better, take a step of faith. don’t talk yourself out of it. it may not seem fair, you may not understand it, but if you’ll put your pride down and do it anyway, you are setting yourself up for a due time. because you’re humbling yourself, God is about to exalt you; you’re going to come up out of your 7th dip, where suddenly healing comes, promotion, vindication, freedom, abundance, the fullness of your destiny.

The two yous

from JO’s sermon tonight:

there are two people living on the inside of each one of us; the strong, disciplined, confident you, and the weak, insecure, compromising you. the positive, faith-filled, big-dreams you, and the negative, discouraged, not going to happen you. we all have these contradictions, inconsistencies; you’re a good person, you love the Lord, most of the time you’re friendly, easygoing, “good morning, great to see you today,” but if someone pushes the wrong buttons, if they’re rude, harsh, the other you can come out. s/he may have been hidden for two months, you thought s/he was finally gone, but s/he was still in there. there’s a battle constantly taking place between the two yous:

Galatians 5:17 (NIV)
17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other

between our old carnal nature, giving in to our feelings, compromising, telling somebody off, and the new, redeemed nature. when you gave your life to Christ, Paul said:

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

we celebrate that, that’s good news,  the old man may be dead, but sometimes he gets resurrected. he may have died, but don’t kid yourself, he can get back up again.

we see this in the scripture with Peter. Peter was a faithful disciple, a close friend of Jesus, strong, committed. his name means rock:

Matthew 16:18 (NIV)
18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church

there was nobody that God had more confidence in than Peter. when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter was so loyal, so determined to stand up for him:

John 18:10 (NIV)
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

he was ready to die defending Christ; that was the strong, faithful Peter, the rock. that would be great if that was the only Peter, but there was another Peter that came out from time to time; when they arrested Jesus, and took him to the high priest:

Matthew 26:58-74 (NIV)
58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome… 69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

just a little earlier, he was defending Jesus. what happened? the other Peter came out. there were two Peters; the kind Peter, and the curse you out Peter. the defend you Peter, and the deny you Peter.

the rude, compromising, curse you out you is in all of us. we are a new creation, but the flesh, even though it has passed away, it can get back up.

Romans 8:6 (NTE)
6 Focus the mind on the flesh, and you’ll die

it’s not talking about physically, it means your dreams, potential will die, relationships won’t be what they should; you’re always saying what you feel, holding grudges, compromising. it feels good to feed the flesh, but you won’t like the results; you won’t get to where you’re supposed to be. it goes on to say:

Romans 8:13 (DRA)
13 … if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.

2. subdue (the body or its needs and desires) by self-denial or discipline.

“mortified” means you have to keep it dead; when it tries to get back up, when you’re tempted to do whatever you feel, you have to say, “no, I am not going to let the flesh rule me.” when you do the right thing when it’s uncomfortable, you’re keeping the old man down. the scripture says:

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace

it doesn’t feel good at the time to walk away when somebody insults you; it feels good to insult them back. it doesn’t feel good to stay home and study for the test, when your friends are out having fun. the flesh likes to be comfortable, but if you’re comfortable all the time, you won’t grow. the reason some people are stuck is not because they’re not talented, don’t have favor, it’s because they keep letting the old man get back up. they’re not disciplined to do the right thing when it’s hard. you have to be consistent; the flesh is not going to go away. you’ll never get so spiritual that you don’t have to deal with carnal desires. Paul said:

1 Corinthians 15:31 (AMPC)
31 … I die daily [I face death every day and die to self].

he wrote over the half of the New Testament, yet he admitted he had to deal with his flesh on a daily basis. every day, we have to say no to things: “no, I’m not going to make that comment, watch that, hang out with that friend that causes me to compromise.” you have to tell the flesh, “you are not going to rule me. I’m not going to eat everything you tell me to eat.” your old man may be dead, but he’ll get up and walk around, try to run your life.

quit telling yourself, “I can’t control my temper, break this addiction, keep my eyes on the right things”; your old man is not that strong. the reason he’s controlling you is, you keep feeding him. whatever you feed is going to grow. every time you give in to the temptation, you’re feeding it, it’s getting stronger. every time you’re impatient, offended, lose your temper, you’re feeding the negative. start starving the temptation, offense, negative, and it will become weaker. “I tried, I just don’t have the discipline”; quit telling yourself that.

Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

the Most High God, right now, is working in you. He’s bigger than any temptation, stronghold. He created you to be free. instead of going through the day thinking, “I can’t do this, I always give in,” turn it around; “Father, thank You that I have the power to do what’s right, that You’ve given me the desire to obey, that the forces that are for me are greater than the forces that are against me.” get your mind going in the right direction; that’s the first step to victory.

in the scripture:

1 Samuel 25:2-8 (NLT)
2 There was a wealthy man… He had 3,000 sheep… 3 This man’s name was Nabal, and his wife, Abigail, was a sensible and beautiful woman. But Nabal, a descendant of Caleb, was crude and mean in all his dealings. 4 When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, 5 he sent ten of his young men to Carmel with this message for Nabal:… While your shepherds stayed among us near Carmel, we never harmed them, and nothing was ever stolen from them… So would you be kind to us, since we have come at a time of celebration? Please share any provisions you might have on hand with us

you would think Nabal would be happy to give him something, but:

1 Samuel 25:10-13 (NIV)
10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?”
12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David

when Abigail heard what her husband did:

1 Samuel 25:18-27 (NIV)
18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys… 20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them… 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David… 25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool… 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.

she calmed David down, and kept him from wiping out her whole town:

1 Samuel 25:33-42 (NIV)
33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands… 35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.”… 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died… Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife… 42 Abigail quickly got on a donkey and, attended by her five female servants, went with David’s messengers and became his wife.

Nabal is symbolic of our old nature: hot tempered, rude, addictions. as long as the old man is alive, you’ll never meet the new man. the old man lives in you: bitterness, bad attitude, compromise. don’t let the same issues keep you from seeing the new man. don’t let unforgiveness, hot temper, addictions hold you back for the next twenty years; you have the grace to overcome. the temptation may be strong, but the scripture says:

Romans 5:20 (NKJV)
20 … where sin abounded, grace abounded much more

that means, God’s grace, enabling power, is greater than anything that’s trying to stop you.

it’s interesting that Nabal died ten days after Abigail did the right thing. when you dig your heels in, and do the right thing when it’s hard, there will be times you will come into your tenth day, where something suddenly breaks: that addiction doesn’t have the power over you like it did, that bad attitude, temper, it may not totally go away, but it doesn’t control you anymore. I wonder how much higher we would go, how much more of God’s favor we would see, if we would get rid of the old man, start saying no to things that we know are holding us back.

sometimes, a little thing can keep you from a big blessing: a little bitterness, compromise, “just this one friend I hang out with, I’ve always been hot-tempered.” no, it’s time to get rid of Nabal; nobody likes him, wants to be around him. put the old man back in the grave; we don’t want the walking dead you, we want the new, free, redeemed, blessed, confident, victorious you.

David had to defeat his personal enemies before God could trust him with Goliath. Goliath in one sense wasn’t David’s enemy, that was God’s enemy; Goliath was sent to establish the Israelites, show the Philistines that God was on the Israelites’ side. when David was out in the shepherds’ fields alone, nobody was watching, he killed the lion and the bear; those were his personal enemies. he could have slacked off, “nobody can see me out here; if I lose a sheep or two, it’s no big deal,” but David was a person of excellence; he did the right thing when nobody was watching. because he was faithful to defeat his personal enemies, God was able to promote him, and trust him with more.

start defeating the things that nobody knows about, may not be a sin, it’s just a small thing that’s keeping you from being your best: sour attitude, being jealous of a friend, showing up late to work. are there personal enemies that you’re not dealing with? if you’ll start defeating those small things that are holding you back, God will release the big things that belong to you.

but sometimes, we’re waiting for the temptation to go away, thinking that we’re not going to have the desire anymore. there are times that happens, but most of the time the temptation will still be there; your old man will want to come back again and again, but God has given you the grace to overcome.

God doesn’t take away every temptation, remove every negative desire, where you’re never tempted to be impatient, rude, compromise; that’s why Paul said, “I die daily.” you’re still tempted to get off course? join the crowd. this is where discipline steps in, the grace of God shows up. yes, I know people that God delivered from an addiction, they don’t have the desire anymore, that’s the mercy of God, but if it doesn’t happen that way for you, don’t use it as an excuse to let the old man get back up. keep Nabal in the grave. keep the old man buried, so the new man can shine.

what you defeat quickly is not your real enemy. what you conquer in a short time is not what you have to be concerned about. be grateful for that, but your real enemy doesn’t go away easily.

David defeated Goliath in a few minutes, a victory that changed the course of his life, but Goliath wasn’t David’s real enemy; he was gone in a moment. his real enemy was Saul. Saul pestered David for years, threw spears at him when David was being nice, chased David through the desert, he had to live on the run. God could have delivered David from Saul like He did Goliath, He could have taken care of him in one afternoon, no big deal, but there are some enemies God doesn’t deliver us from, some temptations He doesn’t totally remove. if God is not taking it away, that means He’s given you the grace to stand strong; you have the power to keep the old man down.

you may be tempted to hold on to bitterness, somebody did you wrong, they hurt you, it’s been years, and that temptation is still there; that your real enemy.

keep the old man down. do the right thing when it’s hard. maybe you have an ongoing temptation with alcohol, to compromise in a relationship, to be negative or critical. every person has a Saul; there’s a temptation, an attitude, some area of compromise, that doesn’t go away. you need to know what your real enemy is. don’t let the Sauls wear you down, to where you think, “this is just who I am”; no, announce to that Saul, “you will not keep me from my destiny. if you never go away, I’m not giving in, letting the old man get back up. I’m going to keep resisting, standing, doing the right thing.”

but too often, we want a quick fix; “God, deliver me instantly. take away this hot temper, make me patient and kind, and do it overnight.” you will conquer some Goliaths quickly, but most of the time, God will deliver you little by little. when He sees you doing your part, being patient when you could be stressed, forgiving the person that did you wrong, resisting the temptation, as you keep passing these tests, one step at a time, God will begin to change things.

this is what happened to Jacob in the scripture. he was dishonest, went around tricking people, deceived his brother out of his birthright. being dishonest was his Saul. he struggled with it for years. he wasn’t disciplined, didn’t try to overcome; he accepted it for who he was. but in Genesis 32, when he wrestled with the angel:

Genesis 32:28 (NIV)
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel

this was to symbolize his new beginning. God was saying, “Jacob, I’m giving you the grace to conquer this dishonesty.” and Jacob did his best to change, live with integrity, started making better decisions, but just because God touched him, didn’t mean he suddenly turned into a different person, and he didn’t have these temptations anymore. when he came to the end of life:

Genesis 48:2 (NIV)
2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

he was near death, and look who was there; Israel and Jacob. you would think the scripture would just refer to him as Israel, Jacob was over and done, but this was put there to show us that he never totally got rid of Jacob. he lived as Israel, his new name, but Jacob didn’t go away easily; Jacob kept trying to get back up and come again and again.

it’s the same way with us. God made us a new creation, but even though you’re Israel, Jacob is going to get up out of the grave and try to work his way back. there will be a conflict between these two men; who you are called to be, and who use to be. somebody cut you off in traffic; Israel says, “no big deal, it’s not going to ruin my day, bless them Lord.” it would be easy if Jacob were totally gone; the problem is, the old man, Jacob, he’s still in there. when Israel says, “I’m going to bless them,” Jacob gets up and says, “no, I’m going to curse them.” Israel wants to overlook the offense; Jacob wants to tell them off. Israel wants to resist the temptation, set a new standard; Jacob wants to take the easy way out, not be uncomfortable.

when you find yourself wanting to compromise, be impatient, give in to the temptation, just say to yourself, “no, Jacob, you’re not getting up. you’re the old man. stay in that grave, Israel is in charge; the redeemed, free, blessed me.” “it’s hard to take the high road, walk away when somebody insults me”; yes it’s difficult, but you won’t come up higher if you’re not willing to be uncomfortable. these are tests that God allows so we can grow. God uses difficulties to separate the chaff from the wheat. the chaff is the unusable part of the plant; if you don’t get rid of that part, then the valuable part will go to waste. in Bible days, they didn’t have machinery, so they would take the wheat to the threshing floor, put it on the ground, and have the oxen walk over it again and again, grinding up the husk and straw. the valuable part of the plant, the grain, would come loose from the chaff.

when you’re in a situation you don’t like, you’re uncomfortable, instead of being sour, recognize that you’re on the threshing floor. that’s God working on you, to try to get rid of the unusable parts: pride, jealousy, impatience. do your part, and be willing to change; stay pliable, moldable. you may not like it, but if you’ll keep the right attitude, it’s refining you; you’re going to come out better.

this is what happened with Peter. even though he had all these inconsistencies, one moment he was defending Christ, another moment he was denying him, because he was pliable, kept growing, his old man didn’t keep him from his destiny. on the Day of Pentecost, a very important day in the church, out of all the disciples, Peter was chosen to give the inaugural address; he had the honor of leading the church.

you may have let your old man get up way more than you should have; be encouraged, it is not going to keep you from your destiny. draw that line in the sand, and say, “this is a new day. I’m not letting the flesh rule me anymore. I’m done taking the easy way out. I’m going to be disciplined, and keep my old man down. if you’ll do this, bondages that have held you back are being broken right now. you’re going to step into a new level of freedom, favor, growth. like Peter, you’re going to rise higher, overcome obstacles, and become everything you were created to be.

You are fully loaded

from JO’s sermon tonight:

when God created you, He put in you everything you need to fulfill your destiny. God is a strategic God; He’s not random, didn’t just create you and say, “let’s see what they can do, let’s see what happens.” God is precise, intentional down to the smallest detail. when He laid out the plan for your life, He thought about what you would need, what it would take to get you there, then matched you with your world. He gave you the talent you need, the creativity, strength, you have the right size, looks, personality, family. you didn’t get shortchanged; you are fully loaded and completely equipped for the race that’s been designed for you.

quit wishing you were something different; “if I had a better personality, then I could do something great. if I came from a different family, wasn’t so small.” have a new perspective: if you needed to be taller, God would have made you taller. if you needed a different personality, He would have given you one. if you needed to be another nationality, you would be another nationality. God doesn’t make mistakes. you’re not faulty; you have been fearfully and wonderfully made.

when God created the universe, flung stars into space, created mountains, oceans, sunsets, lions, eagles, butterflies, He said, “that was good.” but when God created you, saw how magnificent, strong, attractive, talented, you are, He looked at you and said, “that was very good.”

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
10 For we are God’s masterpiece

don’t go around feeling shortchanged, like somehow you’re lacking, didn’t get enough, can’t do what they can do. if you didn’t get what somebody else has, that means you don’t need it. quit comparing yourself, and run your race; be who God created you to be. you are an original; you have something to offer the world that nobody else has. let your gifts shine. show your talent, personality, style. we don’t need an imitation, we need the original you.

but when we want what somebody else has, wish we had their looks, talent, personality, the truth is, if you had it, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden; it wasn’t designed for you. the reason it works for them is because it fits them; they’re walking in their anointing. you are not anointed to be somebody else. as long as you’re trying to be like them, you’ll be frustrated; the anointing on your life is to be who God called you to be. be confident in what you have. you have the right looks, talent, personality. it may not be what somebody else has, but you’re not running their race; there’s no grace on your life to be somebody else.

Acts 13:36 (NIV)
36 … David had served God’s purpose in his own generation

it’s easy to be me; I don’t have to pretend, perform. it takes all the pressure off; I can relax and just be myself. when you’re comfortable with who you are, not trying to impress people, be something that you’re not, your own uniqueness will come out. you’ll be more creative, your talent will come out in greater ways, the right people will show up, because you’ve stepped into the anointing on your life. be you; you are powerful when you’re you. nobody can beat you at being you; you can be a better you than anybody in the world. you have an advantage; you’ve been anointed to be you.

when you are who you are, you can be quiet, or small, or behind the scenes, and be powerful. the whole key is to be you, because when you’re you, you activate your annointing; there’s a favor, blessing, grace, that is unique to your life. but too often, when we see someone more talented, successful, blessed, there’s a tendency to be envious, and think, “why can’t I do that? I want what they have.” if we’re not careful, before long we’ll be competing, trying to outperform, outdress, outdrive, outwork them. the problem is, you’re competing with someone that’s not in your race; your race is specifically for you. you are not in competition with your friends, neighbors, coworkers, siblings. the only competition you have is with yourself, to be the best you can be.

I can encourage someone, inspire a few people, smile. don’t get distracted trying to keep up with someone you were never supposed to keep up with. when you understand that you are fully loaded for the race that’s been designed for you, instead of competing with people, you’ll celebrate them. the right attitude is, “they may have something that I don’t, but that’s ok, I’m not running their race; I’m equipped for my destiny.”

this is why King Saul lost the throne. when he saw David rising higher than him, gaining more influence, instead of celebrating David, he became jealous:

1 Samuel 18:7-8 (NIV)
7 As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly.

Saul couldn’t handle anybody being in front of him. he didn’t realize, they weren’t in the same race; he wasn’t competing with David. if he would’ve been happy for him, he wouldn’t have missed his destiny.

when we start competing with people, we get distracted, lose focus; before long, we’re wasting time on things that are not moving us toward our purpose. successful people are so focused on their own goals, they don’t have time to look around to see what everybody else is doing. run your race, and when somebody passes you by, don’t be intimidated, be inspired; if God did it for them, He can do it for you. but if you can’t celebrate people that are further along than you, you’ll never get to where they are. you have to pass the test of being happy for people that have passed you up. there will be the tendency to be jealous, start finding fault, being critical; “they don’t deserve it, they’re not that talented, let me tell you some bad things I heard about them.” don’t fall into that trap. God’s showing them favor doesn’t mean He’s not going to show you favor. be happy for them.

when you see someone that’s blessed, they’re rising higher, it’s easy to think, “they just had a lot of good breaks.” what you may not realize is, the favor on their life didn’t come without pain; the promotion didn’t come without struggles, without them fighting off discouragement, pressing forward when they felt like giving up. you don’t know what it took for them to get where they are. sometimes, we come in at the end of the movie; we see everything working out, they’re happy, blessed, successful. what we didn’t see was the middle: the tears, lonely nights, struggles.

be big enough to celebrate what God’s doing in their lives. don’t miss your destiny because you’re angry that somebody passed you up. their success is not stopping what God wants to do in your life. God didn’t use up all of His favor on them. it’s a test; are you going to compete with them, spend all your energy trying to keep up, or are you going to celebrate what God has done?

you can tell who your true friends are, not by who comes when you fall, make a mistake, people will feel sorry, they’ll show up to help you; your true friends are the ones that show up when you succeed, celebrate when you’re promoted, are happy when God blesses you, when you move into that new house. have you heard the saying, “it’s lonely at the top?” it’s because not everybody can handle your success; too often, people get envious, jealous, critical. let’s pass this test. when somebody passes you by, give them a high 5 and keep running your race. don’t look to the left nor to the right; keep being who God made you to be. when we start competing with people, it’s a distraction; we’re running in a race we’re not supposed to be in, competing with people that many times don’t even know it. don’t get distracted; run your race.

in the scripture, John the Baptist was baptizing people, gaining a lot of attention. at one point:

John 1:19-20 (NIV)
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

it’s important to know, not only who you are, but who you’re not. if you don’t know this, you can spend your life trying to be something that you’re not. John had no problem saying, “I am not the Messiah.” if you’re trying to be something you’re not, you’ll be frustrated; there’s no grace for it, it will be a constant struggle, always like it’s uphill. if Saul would have understood this, he could have kept the throne. if he would have accepted, “I am not David. he’s defeated tens of thousands, done great things. I’ve defeated thousands; God, You’ve blessed me,” it would’ve been a different story. most of the time, we’re happy until we start comparing. Saul’s whole perspective changed; he was no longer content with his success, now he was envious, jealous. he basically spent the rest of his life trying to be David. all he had to do was realize, “I am not David. God has blessed him in a different way.”

we have to understand the sovereignty of God. it may not seem fair to us, doesn’t always make sense, but God’s ways are not our ways. the scripture talks about:

Romans 12:6 (NIV)
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

everyone doesn’t get the same, but what He gave you is what you need to fulfill your destiny. the right attitude is, “I’m going to take what God’s given me, and make the most of it.” don’t compete, compare, just run your race.

in the parable Jesus told of the talents:

Matthew 25:14-15 (ESV)
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.

it seems like, if God was fair, he would have given them all the same number, but God is sovereign; He may give you 5 talents, and give me 2 talents, He’s God. I can complain about the 2, try to compete, outperform you, but that doesn’t change the fact that you still have 5 and I still have 2. a better approach is to say, “God, I recognize that You are sovereign, and before you gave me these 2 talents, I didn’t have any, so instead of complaining about the 2, competing with the 5, I’m going to take these 2 talents and be the best that I can be.”

it takes a mature person to recognize what you’re not. knowing what you’re not will help you stay focused on becoming who you are. there will always be pressures to be this, that, the other. everyone will have opinions about you, but down in your heart, you know who you are; you can’t let outside pressures, and other people, squeeze you into becoming something that you’re not. people didn’t breathe life into you, lay out your plan and purpose, put gifts and talents on the inside. you have to be strong; it’s your destiny. when you come to the end of life, you’re not going to answer to people, you’re going to answer to God. people may mean well, love you, but if it doesn’t bear witness in your spirit, you have to be bold, and say, “that is not who I am.”

you don’t have to have a great gift for God to use you in a great way. what took David to the throne was his gift of slinging a rock; he was good with a slingshot. out in the shepherds’ fields, he had spent hours practicing as a teenager, while he was taking care of his father’s sheep. he could have thought, “God, why didn’t You give me an impressive gift? why did You just give me one talent? I’m an expert with a slingshot, big deal, that’s never going to take me anyplace.” but if you’ll be faithful with the gift you have, develop it, grow, learn, get better, that gift will open doors to places you’ve never dreamed. don’t discount your gift; it may seem small to you, compared to others it feels insignificant, but there is nothing ordinary about you; you have the fingerprints of God all over you. God made you in His own image, crowned you with favor; you have royal blood flowing through your veins.

don’t believe those lies: “there’s nothing special about you, you’re not as talented as your brother, you don’t have a big personality like your friend, you don’t have  design skills like your coworker.” maybe not, but there’s something God has given you. that slingshot may seem ordinary, but when God breathes on it, you’ll defeat a giant twice your size, be promoted beyond your talent, go places where you didn’t have the experience, you weren’t next in line, but suddenly the door opened, people are celebrating you.

too often, we look at others, think about how great they are, put them on a pedestal, but God has put greatness in you, given you gifts, creativity, dreams. you’re not supposed to live and die and nobody knew you were here; there is something significant about you, that will cause you to stand out, where years from now people will look back and say you made the world a better place. stir up those gifts, that faith, don’t get so caught up in celebrating others that you don’t recognize there’s something in you to be celebrated. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV)
9 … his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.

there is something shut up in you, something big that’s about to be released: dreams, books, movies, inventions, businesses, ministries, potential that you haven’t tapped into, gifts and talents that you didn’t know were there. you haven’t seen them yet because it hasn’t been the right time, but your season is coming. the good break, promotion, opportunity, it’s on the way.

don’t be surprised if there’s opposition. that promotion may be disguised as Goliath; that giant looks like it’s there to stop you, but it’s a setup, it’s going to thrust you to a new level. you’re going to discover what the slingshot was all about; it was a test. you proved your faithfulness, did the right thing when nobody was watching, kept a good attitude when it wasn’t fair, celebrated others when you could have been jealous; now your time is coming. what’s been shut up in your spirit is about to be released. it’s going to be bigger, more rewarding, more fulfilling, than you ever imagined. it’s not going to come through your neighbor, cousin, boss, pastor, it’s going to come through you. it’s your time to be celebrated.

this is what happened in the scripture with Sarah. she and her husband Abraham were very old. Sarah had been barren her whole life, not able to have children, but:

Genesis 17:16 (NIV)
16 I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

every circumstance said it was impossible; she was out in the desert, no fertility treatments, no medical procedures, eighty years old, yet God said, “you have kings, nations in you.” He was saying, “Sarah, what I’ve put in you is more than you can imagine.” God is saying the same thing to you; there are kings, greatness in you. it’s much bigger than what you think. don’t let circumstances talk you out of it. you may not see how it could work out; God has ways to do it that you’ve never thought of. one touch of God’s favor will catapult you to the next level.

when Sarah heard this, it was so unbelievable:

Genesis 18:12 (NIV)
12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

she loved the idea, but since she was so old, she thought the baby would have to come through somebody else, so she tried to help God out:

Genesis 16:3-15 (NIV)
3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived… 15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.

God said, “Sarah, that is not the promised child. I didn’t put the promise in somebody else, I put the promise in you.”

at 90, against all odds, she became pregnant:

Genesis 21:2-3 (NIV)
2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.

what God put in you, He’s still going to bring to pass. you are pregnant with destiny, greatness. it’s not going to come through others; you’re going to shine, excel, be promoted, celebrated. you are fully loaded. you’re not at a deficit, lacking, you’re full of potential, favor. like Sarah, you may have been barren for a long time, you don’t see how it can happen; get ready, this is a new day, things are changing in your favor. what’s been shut up in your spirit is being released: dreams, potential, promotion, healing, abundance, vindication, breakthroughs, the fullness of your destiny.