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A son mentality

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we’ve all been through disappointments, had unfair situations. because of negative things in the past, or mistakes that we’ve made, it can be easy to forget who we really are. too often, we’ve developed a slave mentality; we think that we’re at a disadvantage, so we don’t pursue dreams, believe for good breaks, pray bold prayers. we live like we’re a slave to the addiction, depression, mediocrity. but as long as we have a slave mentality, it will limit our life.

1 John 3:2 (NKJV)
2 Beloved, now we are children of God

you may have a lot coming against you, but you are not a slave, you are a son. sons think differently than slaves. you may struggle with an addiction, but a son says, “I have a right to be free.” there may be obstacles in your path, but a son knows, “the forces that are for me a greater than the forces that are against me.”

the Israelites had been in slavery for 400 years; they were mistreated, taken advantage of. God saw the injustice, and sent plagues on the Pharaoh and his people. Pharaoh finally decided to let them go; the Israelites headed out toward the promised land. I’m sure they were excited, this was a dream come true, until:

Exodus 14:5-9 (AMPC)
5 … the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, What is this we have done? We have let Israel go from serving us!… 7 And took 600 chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them… 9 The Egyptians pursued them… and overtook them encamped at the [Red] Sea

Pharaoh was saying, in effect, “you’re my slaves; I’m taking you back.” God was saying, “you’re My sons, I have redeemed you; I’m taking you forward.” I can imagine this debate was going back and forth; the Israelites were trying to choose who they were going to believe.

that same debate is taking place about you; one voice is saying, “you’re a slave, you’ll never get well, you’ll always struggle in your finances, be addicted.” God says, “you’re a son. I have equipped, empowered, anointed you.” you get to choose which way you go. if you believe the lie that you’re a slave, that you’ve reached your limits, then it will keep you from your purpose. but when you rise up and say, “I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son. I’m not a slave to my past, who hurt me, addictions, poverty, lack, depression, I’m a child of the Most High God,” when you know you’re a son, you not only think differently, but you talk differently. instead of, “I’ll never break this addiction”; “I am free, whole.” instead of, “I never get good breaks”; “blessings are chasing me down, favor surrounds me, goodness and mercy are following me.” stop thinking like a slave, and start thinking like a son. not thinking about what you were, what you’ve been through, the mistakes you’ve made, but start thinking about who you are you are: free, blessed, a masterpiece, victorious.

Pharaoh came chasing after the Israelites, in other words the past came chasing them; what they’d been through, what didn’t work out. the past will always come chasing you; the mistakes you’ve made, disappointments, failures, hurts. the enemy would love for you to become a slave to your past, live guilty, discouraged, with a chip on your shoulder. don’t fall into that trap; the past doesn’t have to hold you back.

we’ve all had negative things happen that we don’t understand, but God has beauty for those ashes, mercy for mistakes, new beginnings. nothing that’s happened in your past, nothing that you’ve done, has to keep you from the good things God has in store. don’t become a slave to your past. quit thinking about it, reliving the hurts, dwelling on the failures; this is a new day. if you’ll let go of the old, you’ll see the new things God has in store. you need to tell the enemy, the past, the addiction, “you don’t own me. I was bought with a precious price. I belong to the God who spoke worlds into existence. I’m not your slave, I’m His son.” you have to know who you are, and who you belong to. fear doesn’t have any right to you; it doesn’t own you. poverty doesn’t own you. you might have an addiction, but it doesn’t own you. don’t see it as your master, as bigger, more powerful, you’ll never be free; it’s temporary, it cannot stay.

your body is a temple of the most high God. you’re not a sick person trying to get well; you’re a well person fighting off sickness. you are not an addict trying to get free; you’re a free person fighting an addiction. you’re not a poor person trying to get ahead; you’re a prosperous person fighting off poverty. you are not a slave to any negative thing; God created you to be free, healthy, whole, victorious. sure, we all have things come against us, but they’re not permanent; it’s just a matter of time before it changes in your favor.

the Israelites, even if they escaped and got away from the Pharaoh, in one sense they would always be runaway slaves; as long as Pharaoh was chasing them, even though they were free, thoughts would tell them, “you’re still a slave.” they would have to live with that threat that Pharaoh might catch back up with them. but:

Exodus 14:21-28 (NIV)
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea… The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground… 23 The Egyptians pursued them… 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea… 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

God not only freed them from slavery, He eliminated their oppressor, so they wouldn’t have to live with the threat that they might be recaptured and taken back to slavery. God didn’t want them to see themselves as just runaway slaves. by taking care of the Pharaoh, He removed that label; they were no longer runaway slaves, now they were simply sons/daughters of the most high God.

in the same way, God not only freed us from sin, guilt, depression, sickness, but He took care of our enemy. you don’t have to live with the threat that you might be recaptured; your oppressor has been defeated, the enemy has no power over you, you’re a son. but here’s the whole key; after all God has done for us, freed us from slavery, defeated our enemy, if you don’t see yourself the right way, it will keep you from your destiny.

this is what happened to the Israelites. after seeing God free them from slavery, deliver them from the Pharaoh, bring water out of a rock, when they came to the promised land, you’d think they’d be full of faith, ready to take the land, but:

Numbers 13:32-33 (NIV)
32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 14:4 (NIV)
4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

they had been in slavery so long, seen so much injustice, their problem was, they never quit seeing themselves as slaves. they didn’t think they could live at a higher level. their attitude was, “we’re just slaves, we never get any good breaks.” God brought them out of slavery, but slavery never got out of them.

you may have struggled in an area for a long time, but don’t have a limited mindset; you have to give God permission to increase you. it starts in your thinking; you can’t see yourself as a slave and enjoy the blessings of a son. if you grew up in lack, not having enough, mediocrity, don’t let that poverty spirit get in you; that is not who you are. you’re the one to break the curse, set a new standard. God is about to loose resources, promotion, ideas, opportunities. have a vision for increase; see yourself as a son, rising higher. you have seeds of greatness. you are not limited by how you were raised, your family, what you didn’t get. you not a slave to lack, depression, fear. the oppressor has been taken care of. your days of struggle, sickness, loneliness, are coming to an end; God is about to do a new thing, break bondages that have held you back. things that have been in your family line for generations are about to turn in your favor.

like the Israelites after 400 years of slavery, oppression, injustice, that was ten generations; nothing changed, they were born into it, year after year, didn’t expect anything different. but one day, God said, “enough is enough”; He supernaturally brought them out. but that first group that God freed from slavery, that was good, but that wasn’t God’s best; they never made it into the promised land, because they saw themselves as slaves. but God didn’t give up on them; God took their children in. it was because they had a different mindset.

in your family, you’re going to be the generation that goes into the promised land. what your relatives did or didn’t do does not have to stop you. you’re going to see opportunities chasing you down, promotion that you didn’t deserve, blessings you can’t explain, favor that thrusts you further than you can imagine. don’t talk yourself out of it; “I’ve reached my limits, my family always struggles.” get rid of that slave mentality, and start having an abundance mentality.

even though the oppressor has been taken care of, the enemy is defeated, he’ll still whisper lies; “you’re not supposed to be blessed, you’ll always be addicted.” what he’s really saying is, “you’re a slave, just accept it.” tell him, “no thanks, I’m not a slave, I’m a son; blessed, prosperous, a difference maker. I’m going to set a new standard for my family. we’re going into our promised land.”

the scripture tells us:

Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace

not as a servant, not saying, “God, I know I don’t deserve it,” no, if you want to make God happy, go to Him with boldness, like He’s proud of you, you deserve to be there, He wants to be good to you. ask Him for your dreams. pray bold prayers. you’re not inconveniencing Him, you don’t have to earn God’s love, work for His approval, pay God back for your mistakes.

are you trying to earn God’s goodness, be good enough, work hard enough, then maybe you’ll deserve God’s blessings? that’s a slave mentality. why don’t you start believing that you’re a son? Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 (KJV)
32 … it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom

God is longing to be good to you. are you living like a son, knowing that you have rights, that God’s pleased with you, or are you living like a slave, feeling unworthy, like you don’t deserve God’s goodness?

in the story of the prodigal son:

Luke 15:12-19 (NIV)
12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ … 13 … got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living… 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, but no one gave him anything. 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 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.’

because of his mistakes, he stopped seeing himself as a son, and started seeing himself as a servant. he thought he didn’t deserve his father’s goodness, have a right to be in the family anymore. how many of us have disqualified ourselves from God’s goodness? we knew at one time we were a son, at one time God was going to help us, favor us, bless us, but we made poor choices, got off course, now we believe that lie, that somehow we’ve gone from a son to a slave, that God wouldn’t have anything to do with us.

Luke 15:20-24 (NIV)
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. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 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.’ So they began to celebrate.

there’s nothing you can do to change the fact that you’re a son. when you gave your life to Christ, you were born into the family of God; you can’t get unborn, make a mistake too big, get too far of course. you may disqualify yourself, but God never disqualifies you.

are you living like a slave, when in fact you’re a son? you’re trying to convince God to hire you back as a servant, when God is saying, “go kill the fatted calf, my son is home”? God has already received you back into His family. how many of us are not receiving God’s goodness? we’re beating ourselves up for our failures, letting the accuser convince us that we’ve somehow gone from a son to a slave. I love the fact that when this son returned home, the father never brought up his past; God is not interested in your past. the enemy will work overtime trying to remind you of all your mistakes, make you feel guilty, unworthy. don’t believe those lies. you’re not going to be a son when you perform good enough; you’re a son/daughter right now. start believing, dreaming again.

I wonder how many of us are missing out on God’s best because we don’t realize that everything has been paid for. God is saying, “you’re a son. step up to the table; I’ve paid the price.” you may have made mistakes; forgiveness, mercy have been paid for. you had bad breaks, people did you wrong; new beginnings, beauty for ashes, belong to you. why don’t you come on up to the table? you’re struggling in your finances, nobody in your family has gotten ahead; don’t get satisfied with less. abundance, new levels are in your future.

sometimes, what’s holding us back is we don’t really know who we are. we think we’re average, ordinary, when in fact we are sons/daughters of the most high God. when God breathed His life into you, He crowned you with this favor, put a robe of righteousness on you, said, “you’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” don’t go through life with a mediocrity mentality; have a son mentality, an abundant mentality.

in the scripture:

Judges 6:14-15 (NIV)
14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

he had a slave mentality, “I’m at a disadvantage”; he didn’t realize he was royalty. a few chapters later:

Judges 8:18 (NLT)
18 Then Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “The men you killed at Tabor—what were they like?” “Like you,” they replied. “They all had the look of a king’s son.”

Gideon felt inadequate, like he didn’t measure up, but even his enemies could see he was a king’s son. you may feel like you’re at a disadvantage, it’s causing you to shrink back, not pursue dreams. you may not be able to see it, but even the enemy knows that you’re royalty, destined to do great things. why don’t you step up to who you were created to be? you’re no longer a slave; you’re a son. you used to be maybe a slave to fear, addictions, poverty, depression, but you’ve been born into a new family. do your part; shake off the slave mentality, start having a son mentality. if you’ll do this, every chain that’s holding you back is being broken. God is going to release healing, favor, breakthroughs, abundance. you’re going to rise higher, and become everything He created you to be.

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The Twenty-First Day

from JO’s sermon this week:

we all have things we’re believing for: a dream to come to pass, our health to turn around, to meet the right person. we’ve been praying for a long time, standing on the promises, but we don’t see anything happening. what you can’t see is that behind the scenes, God is at work. He not only heard you when you prayed, He put the miracle into motion.

Psalm 56:9 (TLB)
9 The very day I call for help, the tide of battle turns

just because you don’t see anything happening, that doesn’t mean that the answer is not on the way. the people who see promises fulfilled, breakthroughs, are the people that keep praying, believing, standing in faith.

1 John 5:14 (NIV)
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

thoughts will tell you, “it’s not making a difference to pray. you’re wasting your time getting your hopes up, believing that you’ll get well, break the addiction”; don’t believe those thoughts. the moment you pray, the Creator of the universe goes to work. it may not happen on your timetable, or the way you thought, but He is a faithful God; what He promised you, He will bring to pass. you may have been waiting for a long time, but down in your spirit, there has to be a resolve, a confidence, that says, “I know that the answer is on the way, the miracle is in motion. I’ve asked according to His will, and I know that it’s just a matter of time before it shows up.” don’t talk yourself out of it, don’t let delays, detours, disappointments, cause you to give up on what God’s put in your heart. healing, promotion, breakthrough, the right person, is on the way.

Daniel 10:2-3 (NIV)
2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

it didn’t seem like it was doing any good, nothing was changing, until one day:

Daniel 10:4-13 (NLT)
4 … I was standing on the bank of the great Tigris River, 5 I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. 6 His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people. 7 Only I, Daniel, saw this vision…. 12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me

the first time Daniel prayed, God heard him, and sent the angel with the answer. the first time you prayed, God began to change things in your favor, move out the wrong people, move in the right people, arrange healing, good breaks, favor. it’s right up in front of you. what’s the delay, why’s it taking so long? there are forces that are trying to keep you from your healing, abundance, freedom. the good news is, the forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you.

it took the angel 21 days get to Daniel, and what you’re praying about may be taking a long time, you don’t see anything improving, you think it’s never going to happen, no, get ready, your 21st day is coming. the angel has already been dispatched. God has already sent the healing, vindication, promotion; right now, the angel is fighting through the forces of darkness. every time you thank God that it’s on the way, “I believe that my healing, the right person, a new level, are coming,” when you stay in faith, the angel is getting closer; it’s just a matter of time before he shows up. from the time you pray to when your answer comes, that’s called the trial of your faith; that’s when it’s easy to get discouraged and give up, talk yourself out of it. no, keep praying, believing; it might not have happened yet, but what God promised you, He’s still going to bring to pass. that 21st day is on the way. you may have struggled with an addiction for a long time, but it has

from the time you pray to when your answer comes, that’s called the trial of your faith; that’s when it’s easy to get discouraged and give up, talk yourself out of it. no, keep praying, believing; it might not have happened yet, but what God promised you, He’s still going to bring to pass. that 21st day is on the way. you may have struggled with an addiction for a long time, but it has a 21st day; your healing, abundance, has a 21st day. God has already set the time to turn it around. when you come into your 21st day, every force that’s held you back will be broken.

but when we’ve struggled in an area for a long time, it’s easy to accept it, to think, “maybe I’m not supposed to accomplish this dream, I tried but it didn’t work out”; no, that may have been your past, but that is not your future. God is about to break stubborn things, strongholds that look permanent, that you’ve dealt with for years, those forces that have held you back. God is going to send reinforcements to loose what belongs to you. suddenly, it’s going to turn around; the depression is going to break, your business is going to take off. it’s closer than you think; you’re close to your healing, meeting the right person, a new level. don’t give up on what you’re believing for; it may be taking a long time, but what you can’t see is, the angel is on the way. if you knew when your 21st day was coming, you would stop worrying and start worshiping.

David said:

Psalm 5:3 (NLT)
3 … Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

he didn’t just pray, and say, “ok, I did my part,” he prayed, and then waited with expectation; he went through the day looking for God’s goodness, believing for God’s favor, talking like it was going to happen. David had a report of victory:

1 Samuel 17:46 (NIV)
46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals

he expected God’s favor:

Psalm 23:6 (NKJV)
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life

it’s not enough to just pray; you have to follow it up with expectancy, knowing that God not only heard you, because you prayed according to His will, but that He dispatched an angel with the answer.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen in 3 weeks, God has His own timetable; the 21 days is symbolic, it means that there is a set time for God to break through with the answer to your prayer. no person, addiction, sickness, all the forces of darkness, cannot stop what God has ordained for your life. God is going to make things happen that you couldn’t make happen.

“I don’t believe that this is going to happen for me,” then this is not for you; this is for believers, people who know that God is in control.

when God puts a promise in your heart, you don’t know how it’s going to happen, or the exact time, but what you do know is, you have confirmation; when you let the promise take root, you don’t need to worry how it’s going to be delivered, God knows how to get it to you. God’s delivery service is 100% accurate, and it will be 100% on time.

it’s not too late. you haven’t made too many mistakes, missed too many opportunities. God doesn’t change his mind. He’s not moved by negative circumstances, how long it’s been, who doesn’t like you.

Psalm 31:19 (TLB)
19 Oh, how great is your goodness to those who publicly declare that you will rescue them. For you have stored up great blessings for those who trust and reverence you.

we didn’t have to pay for it; God sent His son to pay the price, so that we could live an abundant, faith-filled, victorious life. why don’t you start believing for what already belongs to you? when you’re tempted to get discouraged, give up on what you’re believing for; “God, you said I can do all things through Christ, so thank You that strength, breakthroughs are in transit.” God is not obligated to bring to pass what we say, but He is obligated to bring to pass what He says. when you can say, “God, you said: as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, You will make me the happy mother of children,” you’re going to see some 21st days. God is faithful to His word.

God kept a promise to David hundreds of years after David had died. one of his relatives was on the throne, not making good decisions; God said, in effect, “I would’ve taken away the throne, but for David’s sake, I will not do it.” that’s how committed God is to what He promised. imagine what happens when God hears you praying, declaring, thanking Him for, the promises. you don’t have to figure out how God’s going to do it:

Proverbs 3:5 (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding

if you try to figure it out, you’re going to get confused. what God brings you may not be exactly what you thought, the way you thought; it will be bigger, better, more rewarding, than you ever imagined. don’t put God in a box. you may not see how it can happen; God has ways to do it that you’ve never thought of. David used a slingshot to defeat Goliath; He didn’t have the training, experience, equipment, but a slingshot with the favor of God is more powerful than a whole army without it. if you knew all the things that are in transit for you right now, you wouldn’t live worried, wondering if it’s going to happen, frustrated because you didn’t get the promotion; when it’s your time, the things you need will come to you. quit worrying; while you’re waiting for the promises, keep praying, believing, expecting.

Luke 18:1 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

it may be taking a long time; keep praying. if you’re going to see everything that God has in store for you, you have to pray, believe, expect, until it happens. not begging God; turn your prayer into praise, “Lord, thank You for making a way where I don’t see a way, bringing the right person, increasing me, so I can be a bigger blessing.” praise in the scripture brought down the walls of Jericho, opened prison doors of their own accord. prayer is not a one-time payment; if you’re serious about what you’re believing for, you have to show God that you’re not going to give up because it’s not happening on your timetable, get discouraged because you don’t see anything changing. every time you thank God, you’re getting closer.

this is what Abraham did; he waited 20 years to have the child that God promised him.

Romans 4:20 (AMPC)
20 … he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God

how did he wait 20 years, complaining? no, he kept thanking God.

if you’ll do this, you’ll come into your healing, promotion, breakthrough, victory. God is going to open doors that no man can shut, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

Stay committed

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have opportunities to give up on what we’re believing for, walk away from an uncomfortable situation, slack off, not be our best. but if you’re going to reach your highest potential, you have to stay committed; you can’t be moved by what’s not working out, give up on a child because he’s not doing what he should, slack off at work because you’re not being treated right; you have to have a made-up mind that you are in it for the long haul. it may be difficult, you have a good reason to walk away; don’t take the easy way out. stay committed to your marriage, raising those children, your friends. they may make mistakes; give them some grace. don’t be a fair-weather friend; be committed in the good times and the tough times. stay committed to your dreams; don’t give up on the promises God put in your heart.

it may be taking longer than you thought, but God is still on the throne. He’s a faithful God; He’s already set the time to bring it to pass. stay committed to your church, your job; be a loyal person, somebody they can count on day in and day out. you’re not always going to feel like it; there will be good days and tough days, times when it’s exciting, times when you feel like giving up. that’s when you have to dig your heels in, and say, “I’m going to do the right thing when it’s hard. I’m committed to this marriage; I’m going to love you even though you don’t deserve it. I’m committed to this job; I’m going to be my best even though my supervisor isn’t treating me right. I’m committed to my dreams; I’m not going to give up because I don’t see anything happening. I’m going to keep believing, expecting, thanking God. I know it’s on the way.”

God rewards consistent, faithful, committed people. too many people are wishy-washy. they’ll love you as long as you perform perfectly; if not, they’re out of there. they’ll be their best if you keep them encouraged, propped up. they’ll pursue a dream as long as they’re getting good breaks. their commitment is based on things going their way. but when it’s difficult, taking longer than they thought, they get discouraged, start to slack off. “I don’t like my job, they don’t treat me right, that’s why I show up late, play on the computer half the day.” you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God; He’s keeping the records. the scripture says:

Psalm 75:6-7 (AMPC)
6 For not from the east nor from the west nor from the south come promotion and lifting up. 7 But God is the Judge! He puts down one and lifts up another.

“if they would pay me more, I would do more”; but if you don’t pass the test of being your best where you are, showing up on time with a good attitude, doing more than you have to, then you’ll get stuck. they may not be paying you what you’re worth, but your job is not your source, God is. God uses people, supervisors, companies, but don’t get them mixed up with your source. if you see your company as your provider, your boss as your source, then in a sense you’re making them your god, letting them control your destiny; they determine how high you’re going to go, and if for some reason they don’t like you, they’re not for you, too bad, you’re limited.

no, stop looking to people, and start looking to God. He not only controls your destiny, He controls the whole universe. He determines how high you’re going to go. no person, no supervisor, no company, can stand against God. He knows what’s happening, sees what’s unfair. when you stay committed to your job, keep being your best day in and day out despite who doesn’t like you, God will make it up to you. God is your source; He has the final say.

“it’s difficult to stay committed to my job, my marriage, this dream; nothing’s going my way.” if it was easy, everyone would do it. God chose you because He knew you can handle it; you have the courage, strength, talent, anointing. you’re not weak, lacking, you are full of can-do power. you didn’t come this far to stop. the people that see dreams come to pass are the people that stay committed. committed people outlast the difficulty, stick with the relationship even though they have a right to walk away, go the extra mile and do more than they have to. is there an area you’ve been tempted to give up in, or just slack off, not be your best? God is saying, “stay committed, faithful, loyal.” committed people reach the fullness of their destinies.

the dreams God’s placed in your heart, the promises you’re standing on, may be taking longer than you thought; you don’t see any sign of it happening. that’s a test. are you going to get discouraged, and give up on what you’re believing for? stay committed. keep doing the right thing. God is in control; He sees your faithfulness. you’re going to come into your season of favor. your dream is right up in front of you.

the prophet Elijah had an assistant named Elisha, who was like a son to him; he took care of Elijah, went with him everywhere, made sure that he had what he wanted:

2 Kings 2:1-2 (NIV)
1 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

Elisha knew that the Prophet was going to be taken away; he could have thought, “all right, I’ll stay; after all, his life’s almost over.” instead:

2 Kings 2:2-6 (NIV)
2 … But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel… 4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho… 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.

three times, Elijah tried to get rid of him, said in effect, “you’ve done enough, served me well all these years, been faithful, loyal”; Elisha wouldn’t hear of it. his attitude was, “I’m committed to you; I’m going to stick with you through thick and thin. I was with you in the good times when you were performing miracles; I’m going to be with you in the tough times as you come to an end.”

nobody would have faulted Elisha if he had walked away; his boss told him to, he had a good reason, but he wouldn’t slack off, take the easy way out. he was committed, loyal, someone you can count on.

2 Kings 2:9-14 (NIV)
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. 10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” 11 … a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind… 13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it… it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

Elisha ended up performing twice as many miracles as Elijah; he would have never seen the double portion if he had not stayed committed. if he had left when Elijah told him to go, he wouldn’t have seen the fullness of his destiny.

there will be plenty of times where you’re tempted to walk away: walk away from a dream, it’s been too long, it’s never going to happen, walk away from a marriage, church, job, they don’t appreciate you, they never tell you thank you. you could slack off, take the easy way out, but what you can’t see is, there’s a double portion up in front of you. stay committed when it’s hard, do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening, keep loving that man/woman even though they don’t deserve it. when you stay loyal, consistent, faithful, a double portion is coming: double favor, honor, resources. God will pay you back for staying committed.

but this double portion isn’t for everyone; it’s for people that do more than they have to, go the extra mile, don’t give up when it’s not exciting, people like you that stayed committed. to see God’s best, there has to be a stubbornness; “I’m committed to this marriage; leaving is not an option. I’m committed to my children; no matter what they do or don’t do, I’m going to be there for them. I’m committed to being my best at this job.” you don’t let people talk you out of it, slack off because it’s not fair, you’re lonely, not making progress; you have a made-up mind. when you stay committed, God will make things happen that you couldn’t make happen; suddenly, things will turn around, your marriage will improve, your business will take off. many of you have passed this test. you’ve been committed, doing the right thing; be encouraged, you are close to your double portion, breakthrough, meeting the right person, your new level.

when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he was so distressed that he sweated great drops of blood. on the way to Calvary, he was so beaten and bruised that he fell down under the weight of the cross. he could have said, “God, it’s too much. I did the right thing, but these people treated me badly: mocked me, ridiculed me, sent me to the cross, I’m done, I’ve had enough.” no, Jesus stayed committed when it wasn’t fair, he had every right to give up. nobody would have faulted him if he had walked away, but he was in it for the long haul. he was stubborn when it came to fulfilling his purpose.

where are the people that would do like Jesus, and stay committed, that don’t give up because it’s not fair, don’t slack off because it’s taking longer they thought, that have a made up mind?

when you stay committed, God will open doors that you could never open, bring you into your double portion. you may have plenty of reasons to give up on your dream, disappointments, setbacks; that’s all a part of the process. when you get knocked down, you have to get back up again. God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. don’t settle for mediocrity; God created you for greatness. there is something in you that will cause you to stand out, that nobody else nobody has or can do. God put a seed in you so you can leave your mark. don’t let people talk you out of it, failures convince you to give up, delays and detours cause you to get discouraged. when God puts a dream in your heart, it won’t go away, you can try to push it down, dismiss it, but that seed is still alive. people may have told you no, but when God says yes, His yes cancels out their no, overrules what people are telling you.

stay committed to your dreams. do the right thing when it’s hard. when you have permission to give up on it, to walk out of a relationship, stay committed, loyal, faithful.

in the scripture, Joseph and Mary were planning their wedding. it was an exciting time, life was good, until God interrupted their plans:

Luke 1:27-35 (NIV)
27 …The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”… 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus… 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

while she was excited, she wasn’t looking forward to having this conversation with her fiancé. Joseph was an honorable, well-respected man. back in those days, having a baby out of wedlock was a big disgrace. this was going to make him look bad, so:

Matthew 1:19-20 (NIV)
19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[a] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Joseph could have said, “that’s all fine and good, but I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want all this controversy, people tarnishing my reputation.” he had plenty of reasons to back out, but Joseph did the right thing when it was hard; he was committed, loyal.

in relationships, with your spouse, children, friends, there may be times you have a good reason to get out: they did things to hurt you, didn’t perform perfectly, let you down. you could justify walking away, nobody would fault you, but when you’re committed, you show mercy, give second chances, make allowances for mistakes. they may not deserve it, they were guilty, but only the guilty need mercy. stay committed to your family, friends, be someone they can count on.

a true friend walks in when everybody else walks out, will be there for you, not just when you succeed, but when you fail. there are times that a relationship comes to an end, you have to move on, but don’t let that be a pattern, where you bail out if they’re not meeting all of your demands, living up to your expectations. people make mistakes. good people can blow it. people that love you can let you down. God rewards people who are consistent when life is complicated, stick with someone when they don’t deserve it, be their best when someone else is at their worst.

you can tell who your true friends are, not when everything’s going great, not when you succeed, but when you fail, get off course. I’m asking you to be a loyal person. stay committed to the people God’s put in your life. they’re going to make mistakes, do things you don’t understand; they don’t need another judge condemning them, more guilt and shame, they’ve got enough of that. you can help love them back into wholeness, be the friend that walks in when everybody else walks out. when you’re committed, loyal, it doesn’t mean you’re approving their actions; you’re simply showing them the mercy that you would want God to show you. you’re being a healer, restorer. they have enough things pushing them down; let’s be people that lift them up.

too many people are fair-weather friends; they’ll love you in the good times, walk away in the tough times. our attitude should be, “you can count on me; I’m committed to loving you, being good to you, defending you. there are relationships that would go to a new level if you would quit basing your commitment on somebody’s performance, and let them know you’re in it for the long haul, through good times and tough times. that takes the pressure off; there’s a freedom, security, when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are for them. I want our friends, family, to say about us, “I knew you’d come back. you are committed, loyal, somebody I could count on.”

is there some area you’re tempted to give up in, slack off, not be your best? God is saying, “stay committed. keep doing the right thing.” you can’t see it, but up in front of you is a double portion, something more rewarding than you could imagine. yes, it may be difficult, but you are well able. make up your mind that you are in it for the long haul. be stubborn when it comes to not giving up. if you’ll do this, you’re going to see double favor, honor, resources. God’s going to open doors no man can shut, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

The Good Father

from JO’s sermon tonight:

many of us were raised by fathers that were loving and kind. they guided us, did their best to make sure that we had everything that we needed. but no matter how good our father was, people are not perfect; they make mistakes, there are times they can let us down, maybe not give us what we needed. some fathers, they meant well, but they weren’t affectionate. they never told you that they loved you, or were proud of you. they corrected you, made sure you stayed on the right path, but they didn’t express their love. the problem was, their father most likely did the same thing to them; they never heard “I love you,” never saw it modeled. you can’t give away what you don’t have. most fathers never planned on messing up their children, passing down dysfunction, but like throwing a pebble on a calm lake, their decisions affect those around them. you can’t help it; you’ve been impacted by the people that raised you. the good news is, the good Father, your Heavenly Father, has taken all this into account. He knew who your parents would be, what you wouldn’t get, what wouldn’t be fair. He’s already designed a plan with this in mind to get you to your destiny.

you may have been raised around dysfunction, addictions, abuse, poverty, but that does not have to stop you; that’s where you come from, not who you are. you are a child of the most high God. your earthly father may have fallen short, disappointed you, didn’t give you what you needed, but your heavenly Father, the good Father, will never let you down. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother. maybe your earthly father never gave you his approval, but the good Father is saying, “I’m proud of you. I love you. you are My son, daughter.” people may have tried to push you down, made you feel less than, but the good Father is saying, “you’re a masterpiece, prize possession, you’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made.” now don’t stay focused on what your earthly father did or didn’t give you. don’t live bitter because people put you at a disadvantage, weren’t there for you; start going to the good Father.

it’s painful to be rejected by anyone, but especially by your own father. when you’ve been raised in a dysfunctional environment, it’s easy to become negative, and think, “God, why was I born into this family? why wasn’t my father around? why was there so much arguing, addictions, abuse? why didn’t these people give me what I needed?” it may not have been fair, but the good Father has taken that all into account: what you wouldn’t get, who would hurt you, what wouldn’t work out. it may seem like it’s put you at a disadvantage, but that has not stopped God’s plan; when He laid out the path for your life, He took into consideration the pain, bad breaks, rejection. no matter how wrong it was, who wasn’t there for you, don’t use it as an excuse to live bitter, to give up on dreams, to settle for mediocrity. “my dad wasn’t around, he was harsh and abusive, he didn’t treat me right”; if you’ll start going to the good Father, get your approval, affirmation, love from Him, then despite what your earthly father did or didn’t do, the good Father will make it up to you, pay you back for the injustice, will help you not only overcome, but He’ll show you favor that will thrust you years ahead.

Jesus said:

Luke 12:32 (NKJV)
32 … it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

the good Father takes good pleasure in making your wrongs right, giving you what people could not give you. people may have put you at a disadvantage; God is saying, “get ready, I’m about to make it up to you. I’m going to give you more opportunity, influence, resources, fulfillment, than if it had never happened.”

Psalm 68:5 (NET Bible)
5 He is a father to the fatherless

God sees when you don’t have someone watching after, protecting you, you’ve been put in unfair situations where you didn’t have a choice, you were born into it. if you’ll keep moving forward, the good Father will open doors no man can shut, bring the right people, cause you to go where you could not go on your own.

in Joshua 5, the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. they were camped outside the city of Jericho; this was the last obstacle between them and their promised land. their parents had wandered in the desert for 40 years; they never did make it in, but God was about to fulfill His promise and take their children in. but there was one last thing the men had to do:

Joshua 5:2-3 (NIV)
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites

these men, this new generation, were in their twenties and thirties. they were supposed to be circumcised when they were 8 days old by their fathers, but because their fathers didn’t do what they were supposed to when they were supposed to, now these grown men were having to be circumcised. not by their fathers, their fathers had passed; God told Joshua to do it.

when you don’t get what you should have as a child, it can be much more painful to get as an adult. at 8 days old, you don’t remember it; you cry for a little while, and then you’re done. but these grown men were having to endure pain that could’ve been avoided if their fathers would have carried out their responsibilities.

you may be dealing with things today that your father could’ve taken care of: if your father would’ve told you that he’s proud of you, you wouldn’t be working 3 jobs trying to prove to him that you’re talented, earn his love. or if your father would’ve paid attention to you, made you feel special, you wouldn’t go from man to man, trying to get the approval that your father should have given you.

these men were all circumcised; they had to go through pain because of what their fathers didn’t do. but when they came to Jericho, the last obstacle, God didn’t tell them to go break through the walls, attack the city; God knew they were hurting, dealing with things they shouldn’t have had to deal with, that weren’t their fault. He didn’t say, “too bad, your parents should’ve obeyed Me, blame them”; God took their pain into consideration. He told them:

Joshua 6:3 (NIV)
3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days.

this is the only place in the scripture where God had them take a city by simply walking around the walls.

Joshua 6:15-20 (NIV)
15 On the seventh day… 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.

they made it to the promised land.

God knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there when you needed them, who should’ve been more responsible. the good news is, God is going to make it easier on you because of the people that did you wrong. there are battles you won’t have to fight, walls you won’t have to break down, because the good Father is watching after you. He’s designed a plan for a wounded man/woman to still take the city, for someone that’s been through hurts, abuse, dysfunction, to still accomplish dreams, have great relationships, live a blessed, fulfilled life.

if we’re honest, we’ve all been wounded in some way: people do us wrong, sometimes even good people may not give us what we needed. don’t get discouraged; God has a plan. he had Joshua do what their fathers should have done; the people that should have done it for you may not be here, but God has a Joshua for you. the good Father knows what you didn’t get. He’s going to send the right people to bless you, encourage you, open up a door. it may not have been fair, they didn’t do what they should have; don’t get bitter, help, ease is coming. the good Father is watching after you. before you were formed in your mother’s womb, God not only knew you, but He knew who your parents would be, what family you would be born into. He’s already come up with a plan for you to overcome every obstacle, designed a strategy for you to break out of the mold and set a new standard, lined up your Joshuas, the right people to help give you what you didn’t get.

maybe you faced abandonment, disappointments, bad breaks, abuse; it doesn’t have to stop you. you may be wounded, the people that should’ve been empowering you, speaking life to you, did just the opposite, but God has a plan for the wounded to still do great things. people may have rejected you, but God has accepted you. they may call you a mistake; God calls you a masterpiece. they may have left you out; God has not forgotten about you. He has you in the palm of His hand. He’s going to make up for what you didn’t get. people can’t stop your destiny. how you were raised, what family you come from, who did you wrong; God has taken that all into account. don’t live with a victim mentality; people may not have given you what they should have, but the good Father, the God who knew you before you were born, He’s not only going to make it up to you, He’s going to make the enemy pay, and bring you out better than if it had never happened.

in the scripture, Ishmael was the child that Abraham had out of wedlock with his maid Hagar. God promised Abraham and Sarah a baby, but they got in a hurry, tried to help God out, and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the promised child. this caused all kinds of strife and division; Sarah was mad Abraham, she started treating Hagar badly, Abraham was trying to keep both women happy. Sarah finally had her baby; Isaac, the promised child. when she had this child, she realized she didn’t need Hagar anymore, and she didn’t want Ishmael around; every time she saw Ishmael, he reminded her of Abraham’s mistake. Ishmael had to pay the price for something he had nothing to do with.

sometimes, it’s not that people don’t like you; they don’t like who you remind them of. they’re disrespectful with you because of who your father is, because of a relative, they had a falling out, a breakup, now you’re caught between the two.

Sarah was so upset:

Genesis 21:9-12 (NIV)
9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son… 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you… 14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy.

Abraham was a wealthy man; he could have sent them out with animals, with a large food supply, with help so they could make it at least to the next city. put yourself in Ishmael’s shoes; he didn’t do anything wrong, he didn’t choose to be born into this dysfunctional family, he couldn’t help it that he wasn’t the promised child, he couldn’t change the fact that he reminded Sarah of Abraham’s mistake. all these things that he had no control over; it looked like he had been dealt an unfair hand.

like Ishmael, you may have come into situations that put you at a disadvantage, where there was dysfunction, abuse, poverty. you couldn’t help it, you were born into it. now, you’re having to deal with consequences from other people’s poor choices. stay encouraged; the good Father sees what’s happening. God is a God of justice. it’s not how you start that matters, it’s how you finish. the odds may be against you, but the most high God is for you.

Ishmael went out into the desert, abandoned, confused, rejected. the man he had known as his father, that had taken care of him, provided for him, suddenly turned on him.

Genesis 21:15-16 (NIV)
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.”

if this was the end of the story, we could try to justify it by saying, “he was Abraham’s mistake, he wasn’t the promised child”; that would make sense if God wasn’t the good Father.

Genesis 21:17 (NIV)
17 God heard the boy crying

God heard the cries of this young man born into dysfunction, with all kinds of things that he had no control over.

Genesis 21:18 (NIV)
18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

even though he wasn’t the promised child, his parents made a mess of his life, God said, in effect, “Ishmael, I’ve seen all the injustice, I know you’ve had bad breaks, people put you at a disadvantage, but don’t worry; I’m going to make it up to you, do something great with your life, bring a nation out of you.”

God was showing us that even if you have parents that blew it, people that put you at a disadvantage, addictions, abuse, poverty, you had no control, don’t get discouraged; God knows how to bring greatness out of a great mess. if you’ll not complain, not give up on a dream, “this is not fair,” instead go to God, the good Father, He’ll not only hear your call, but He’ll make more out of your life than you ever imagined. don’t live with a victim mentality; don’t let what’s happened in the past limit your future. Abraham was the father of faith, but he didn’t treat his son right. a good person may have done you wrong; people are human, they make mistakes. why don’t you let them off the hook? quit trying to make people pay you back, and go to God; He’ll pay you back. God knows how to bring greatness out of dysfunction: that means great relationships, great talent, great opportunities, great success.

you may have had a rough start, the odds are against you; the good Father sees what’s happening. He knows what you didn’t get, who wasn’t there for you. He’s taken into consideration the hurt, loneliness, bad breaks. He has a plan, not to just bring you out, but to bring you out better. don’t live with a victim mentality, don’t give up on your dreams; there may be some dysfunction in your past, we all have some, but the good Father has amazing things in your future. God is going to bring greatness out of a great mess, bring down walls easier than you thought, be a Father to the fatherless, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

Bless Your Enemies

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to be good to people that are being good to us; it doesn’t take much faith to be kind, show favor, to someone that’s kind to us. but what about when people do us wrong? they’re talking bad about us, they weren’t honest in a business deal, they walked out of a relationship. the last thing we think about is being good to them; they don’t deserve it. but Jesus said:

Luke 6:27-28 (NIV)
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

one test we all have to pass is being good to people that have not been good to us. everything in you will say, “hold a grudge, talk about them, look for ways to get even.” but your job is not to pay people back; your job is to bless your enemies. you be the blesser, and God will take care of your enemies. when it says to pray for those that have done you wrong, that means to pray that God will bless them. “they don’t deserve it; they hurt me, it wasn’t fair”; you’re not blessing them for their sake, you’re blessing them for your sake. without you showing them kindness that they don’t deserve, you’ll get stuck; it will limit how high you can go.

that person at the office that left you out of the meeting, they did it on purpose; don’t be surprised if you’re in charge of inviting people to the next meeting. you’ll be tempted to think, “thank you Jesus! it’s payback time; I’m going to invite everyone except them”; that’s a test. they did you wrong, now here’s your opportunity to be good to someone that wasn’t good to you. if you leave them out, it’s not hurting them, it’s hurting you. blessing your enemies is a test of your character. they don’t need your blessing, God could have somebody else do it, but when you prove to God that you’re not bitter, vindictive, holding a grudge, you’re big enough to swallow your pride and bless them, then God knows you’re ready to be promoted.

the reason God can’t promote some people is they would use that power to get even; they would fire the 6 people that did them wrong. God is not going to promote us to pay somebody back. the sooner you learn to bless your enemies, be good to those that have done you wrong, the better off you’re going to be. sometimes, the way you bless your enemy is by not talking bad about them. they may not even be in your life; they’ve done the damage and moved on. you could bring up all the negative, tarnish their reputation, tell your friends how they have no character, they’re dishonest, played around; instead, zip it up, cover for them, protect their reputation. you just blessed your enemy, showed God that you’re ready to go higher. you can say things that are true, but if you don’t put it in the right context, tell the whole story, then technically, it might be correct, but it’s not being honest.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.

when you do good to those that have done you wrong, it may feel like you’re being weak, letting them take advantage of you; the truth is, that’s putting coals on their heads. that doesn’t mean they’re going to burn up, it means that it’s more effective than trying to pay people back. love is the most powerful force that we have. will you be good to someone that’s done you harm, let go of the anger, bitterness, resentment, and give your enemy food when he’s hungry? when you’re merciful, you’re not lessening what they did; they may have hurt you, it wasn’t right, you’re not excusing their actions, but when you’re the bigger person, you’re kind even though they don’t deserve it, not only does that have a great impact on them, but that frees you to go to a higher level.

this is what Joseph did. in the scripture, his brothers were so jealous of him:

Genesis 37:24-28 (NLT)
24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern… 26 Judah said to his brothers, “… Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders… 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

Genesis 39:1 (NLT)
39 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Joseph’s whole world was turned upside down; his dreams, goals, seeing his family, having his freedom. it was all because of his brothers. he ended up spending years in prison for something that he didn’t do, going through lonely nights, times when he felt like God had forgotten about him. finally, thirteen years later, after all the heartache and pain:

Genesis 41:39-41 (NLT)
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”

Genesis 41:57 (NLT)
57 And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

Genesis 42:6-7 (NLT)
6 Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger

this was his big chance to get even. after all the years of heartache, pain, injustice, God brought the people that caused it right in front of him. most of us would be thinking about payback, but the reason God could promote Joseph, give him incredible influence and favor, was that God knew He could trust Joseph to handle the power correctly. Joseph had proved he would do the right thing, and be good to people that had done him harm. instead of getting revenge:

Genesis 45:3-15 (NIV)
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! … 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

Genesis 45:13-18 (NIV)
13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”… 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph… 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

when you can do like Joseph, and be good to someone who’s caused you pain, embrace someone who’s betrayed you, show kindness and respect even though they don’t deserve it, there’s no limit to how high God will take you.

Joseph being betrayed by his brothers was all a part of God’s plan. God knew, years down the road, that there was going to be a great famine; He needed somebody on the inside of Egypt, where the food would be stored, so the Israelites could survive. He had to find somebody that could handle being mistreated and betrayed without being vindictive. if Joseph would have tried to get even, put his brothers in prison, then the Israelites could have perished during the famine.

everything that happens is a part of God’s plan. we can’t see it at the time; having a family member betray you, that doesn’t make sense, a friend walk away. don’t be bitter, don’t hold a grudge; be a Joseph. be good to those that have done you wrong. let God take care of the people that have hurt you; you don’t have to pay them back. you’re not the judge or the jury; leave it in God’s hands. it’s better to let God fight your battles, be your vindicator. blessing your enemies not only shows God that you have the character to go higher, but it shows people who you really are. it’s easy to be good to those that have been good to you, but when you can be good to people that have done you wrong, you’re an exceptional person; you’re a Joseph. you’re the kind of man, woman, that God can entrust with greatness. He can use you for His highest purposes.

we see this same quality in David. when he defeated Goliath, King Saul loved him, so much so that he brought him into the palace; David would play the harp for Saul when he wasn’t feeling well. but David began to get so much recognition:

1 Samuel 18:6-11 (NLT)
6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns… 7 This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”
… 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. 10 …David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

Saul was wrong, he was jealous, but you will never read where David tried to pay him back. despite Saul trying to kill him, what did David do? played the harp for him, tried to make his life better. no wonder David is called a man after God’s own heart. my prayer is: “God, help us to grow to the place where we’re not looking for ways to get revenge on our enemies, but we’re looking for ways to bless our enemies.” “you’re too nice; I believe in standing up for myself, paying people back.” no, the scripture says:

Romans 12:21 (NKJV)
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

you don’t overcome evil with more evil. if you do the same thing to them that they’re doing to you, not only will you have a bigger problem, more conflict, but you’ll get stuck; it will keep you from rising higher.

2 Samuel 9:3-7 (NIV)
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”… 5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar… 7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

can you imagine, having the grandson of the man that tried to kill you eating dinner with you every night? that takes a big man, somebody of great character. you may have had people do you wrong, we all have. don’t be bitter, be a David; overcome the evil with good.

you may have a coworker that’s jealous, tries to keep you from a promotion, a friend that walks away, a relative that’s not honest. it’s easy to hold on to the hurt, look for ways to pay them back; why don’t you try a different approach, and bless your enemies, be good to those that have done you wrong? living vindictive, angry, bitter, it only poisons your life. I know the pain was real, what they did hurt, it wasn’t fair, but holding onto it doesn’t make it better. if you’ll let it go, and live out of a place of forgiveness, wholeness, you’ll not only feel better, but that’s what allows the Creator of the universe to go to work. it may have been meant for your harm, but He knows how to turn it around and use it to your advantage.

in the New Testament book of Philemon, Paul was in prison. he wrote a letter to his good friend Philemon; he owned a large estate, and he’d come to know the Lord through Paul. Paul was writing to him about his runaway slave, named Onesimus; he didn’t just run away, commentaries tell us that he stole something from Philemon, too. Onesimus met up with Paul in prison; he gave his life to Christ, and became like a son to Paul. Paul was in a predicament; Onesimus had done wrong to Philemon, but now he was changed. so Paul wrote Philemon a letter on Onesimus’ behalf:

Philemon 10-19 (NKJV)
10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus… 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him… 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother… 17 … receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay

(note: “ When Paul spoke of Onesimus being unprofitable and profitable, he made a play on a word. The name Onesimus means ‘profitable.’ ”

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/philemon-1/)

Paul was saying, in effect, “Philemon, I know that Onesimus has done you wrong, you have a good right to be angry, to be vindictive. when he returns, you could imprison him, make his life miserable, but something has changed; he’s no longer your slave, he’s your brother.” this was a test; would Philemon receive him back, forgive him, be good to him, treat him like a brother, or would he hold on to to the hurt, anger, try to get revenge? the scripture doesn’t tell us how the story ends; I believe he passed the test, showed him mercy.

sooner or later, Onesimus is going to show up at your house; somebody that hurt you, did you wrong, betrayed you. you have a right to be angry, bitter; that’s a test. are you stuck in what used to be, trying to get revenge, vindictive, or have you grown, come up higher, gotten past the hurt, where you can show them mercy, be good to those that have done you wrong, bless your enemies? Onesimus showing up is not a coincidence; that’s God seeing if you’re ready to go to a new level. what they owe you, God is saying, “put it on My account. what they took from you, I’ll pay you back.” they may have hurt you, but if you’ll do your part and receive them back, God will make it up to you. think about the mercy God has shown you: when you didn’t deserve it, He forgave you, when we got off course on purpose, He protected us, when we got in trouble, He rescued us. why don’t you take some of that same mercy, goodness. and show it to the people that have done you wrong?

you have to give people the grace to change. don’t judge their whole life on one season, one mistake. they did you wrong, but now they’ve changed; now they’re your brother. the mercy you show them is the mercy God’s going to show you; what you do with Onesimus will determine what God is going to do with you. if you are angry, bitter, vindictive, you’ll get stuck. I’m not saying you have to befriend them, allow them all access, but you should get past the offense, hurt, to where you can treat them with kindness, respect.

life is too short to live vindictive, angry, trying to get even; turn that over to God. people can’t pay you back, make it right, but if you’ll go to God, He’ll make up for what people cannot give you. Onesimus is coming; I’m asking you to pass the test, show God you can handle a new level. bless your enemies, pray for those that do you wrong, do good to the people that have hurt you. if you’ll do this, you’re going to see new levels of influence, favor. God is going to pay you back for the wrongs, heal the hurts, and take you to the fullness of your destiny.

Right On Time

from JO’s sermon tonight:

we all have things that we’re waiting on: a dream to come to pass, our health to improve, meeting the right person. we know that God put the promise in our heart, but we wonder why it’s taking so long. in the Bible, it says:

Ecclesiastes 3:11 GNT
11 He has set the right time for everything

if there’s a right time, that means that any other time is the wrong time. if you don’t understand that God will always be right on time, then the delays, detours, waiting periods, will cause you to be frustrated. it’s not enough to just trust God; you have to trust His timing. He knows when you’re ready, when it’s the right person, when to open the door, turn it around. if it’s not happening yet, you have to be mature enough to accept that it’s not the right time. instead of living upset, why don’t you say, “God, my times are in Your hands. You know when to bless, promote, deliver me. I trust Your timing”?

Hebrews 6:12 (ESV)
12 … those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

it’s easy to have faith, believe for your dreams, but faith without patience can get you into trouble.

just ask Moses. as a young man, he knew that he was supposed to deliver the Israelites; he had the promise, but he didn’t have the patience. he got in a hurry, and:

Exodus 2:11-12 (NIV)
11 Moses… saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

his heart was right, but his timing was off. he had to flee for his life; he spent 40 years in the desert because he got out of God’s timing.

Psalm 106:13 (NIV)
13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

what you’re believing for may be taking longer than you thought; you’re not making progress, not seeing a dream come to pass. but God knows what He’s doing; don’t try to force things to happen, promote yourself, manipulate people, convince them to like you. yes, we should be determined, but you don’t have to beat down a door; at the right time, things will fall into place, the right people will show up. do your part; wait for the promise to unfold. you’re not falling behind, being left out; you’re right on schedule. God is working behind the scenes; you may not be able to see it, but He’s lining up the right people, arranging the right breaks, ordering your steps. be patient, and you’ll see His plan unfold.

Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)
28-30 … Learn the unforced rhythms of grace

“unforced” means; you don’t have to struggle, fight against everything, make it happen; you can relax, and live at rest, knowing that God is unfolding His plan. it may not be happening on your timetable, but God knows when the right time is. if you don’t understand this, you’ll wonder, “why isn’t it happening faster? why am I not making more progress? what’s wrong?” nothing is wrong, it’s just not the right time. why don’t you come into the unforced rhythms of grace, quit being worried and frustrated? your times are in His hands. the God Who created the universe is going to unfold His plan for your life.

Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

it doesn’t say that you have to work for it, earn it, make it happen; God is going to give it to you. it’s going to happen without the struggle, frustration; it’s going to be easier than you think. you’ll know that it was the hand of God because you didn’t have to force the door to open, manipulate people; you came into your time, and God made things happen that you couldn’t make happen. I know that you trust God, but I’m asking you to trust His timing; quit being frustrated because it’s not happening as fast as you would like

every season is not a growing or harvest season; there are seasons of planting, watering, fertilizing, pulling up the weeds. those are important seasons, times of testing where we’re showing God what we’re made of. are we going to keep a good attitude when we’re not seeing growth or making progress? are we going to have faith and patience?

Psalm 1:2 (NIV)
2 … meditates on his law day and night.

that means we’re not worried, upset, wondering why it’s taking so long; we’re at peace, we know God’s in control. when you do this:

Psalm 1:3 (NIV)
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season

it doesn’t say, “it will bring forth fruit 365 days a year,” it says, “in its season”; it implies there will be waiting periods of no growth, where we don’t see anything happening.

maybe you’re not seeing any growth, you feel stuck, but there’s nothing wrong, it’s just timing; you’re in a waiting or a development period. but when you come into your season, you’re going to bear much fruit. the question is; when you’re not in a growing or harvest season, are you going to get discouraged, and think, “it’ll never change?” are you going to lose your passion and give up on what God promised you?

if you’ll keep meditating on God’s word, keep your mind filled with thoughts of faith and hope, then without even trying, you’re going to come into your season. when you come into your season, you’re not going to struggle, make things happen, you’re going to naturally bear fruit; that means, God’s going to cause the right people to find you, gifts and talents are going to come out that you didn’t know you had, good breaks are going to chase you down.

you may have been waiting for a long time, you’re tempted to get discouraged, but get ready; your season is coming. you’re about to see new growth, unexpected favor, blessings that catapult you to the next level. you couldn’t have made it happen on your own, but because you were faithful in the waiting periods, did the right thing when it was slow, God’s going to bring you into harvest season, a season of abundance.

none of us like to go through the waiting periods; it’s easy to get frustrated, and say, “God, if I’m going to come into my season in 6 months, or 2 years, why don’t You just do it now, save me the frustration? bring the right person or the promotion now.” God knows what He’s doing; if He promoted you before you were ready, it wouldn’t be a blessing, it would be a burden. you wouldn’t be able to handle it. He has to get you prepared for what He has in store; He loves you too much to do it too soon. you may have a promise in your heart; you know God’s given it to you, but you don’t see anything happening. that’s a season of waiting; God’s using that to do a work in you.

if you will pass the test, have faith and patience, then you’re growing, your spiritual muscles are getting stronger, your character is being developed. “my friends are all being promoted, but not me. I don’t understand it; I come to church every Sunday, they only come on Easter.” no, don’t compare your situation to somebody else’s; you’re not running their race. God may be going to take you to a higher level; it’s going to require more character, commitment, discipline. keep doing the right thing; your season is coming.

sometimes, God shows His love for us, not by what He gives us, but by what He withholds. if He would have let you have that baby, promotion, new house, before you were ready, it would have limited your future. God knows what we can handle; sometimes, in order to protect us, He says, “not now.” don’t fight it; trust His timing. “no” doesn’t mean “never,” it means it’s not the right time. a good father may have a good gift, but he won’t give it at the wrong time. God is not a good father, He’s a great father; He has great gifts in store for you. He has more than you could ask or think. don’t be frustrated if He’s not giving it to you yet; keep growing, being good to people, passing the test.

God can see the big picture; He knows what you’re going to need. you may think you’re ready, but you can’t see how high God is going to take you, how much influence and resources He’s going to entrust you with. God not only knows what you need, He knows who you’re going to need; sometimes, God is saying “not now” because somebody else that’s going to be involved is not ready. He’s still working on them; they’re going to be instrumental in your life, open a door, be a close friend, a spouse. be patient, and go through the waiting periods with a good attitude. God knows what He’s doing; if He’s asking you to wait, that means what He has in store is going to be bigger than what you’ve imagined. is God saying to you “not now” in some area; you’re praying for something to change, believing for a dream, a breakthrough, but it’s not happening? that’s a test; you’re in a waiting period. keep doing the right thing.

Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord

when your steps are ordered, you don’t have a choice; yes, we have free will, but God will put us in situations on purpose that we can’t get out of. you can be there sour, complaining, fighting it, or you can say, “God, I know You’ve ordered my steps. You have me here for a reason. I may be uncomfortable, it may be taking longer than I’d like, but God, I not only trust You, I trust Your timing. I know when I’m ready, You will bring me into my season of much fruit.”

this is what Joseph did. he kept passing the test in the waiting periods; when it was unfair, he was betrayed, falsely accused. had he not gone through those tests with the right attitude, developing his character, showing God what He was made of, he would have become the ruler of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh.

you can have great faith, believe for big things, but without patience, you’ll get stuck. without going through the waiting periods with a good attitude, it will limit your destiny.

Joseph wasn’t in a hurry; he knew he had to wait for God’s plan to unfold. along the way, it didn’t always look like his steps were ordered; being thrown into a pit by his brothers, put in prison for something that he didn’t do. he could have said, “God, it’s not fair; look at what they’re doing to me.” but you’re not going to understand everything that happens. you may be in a difficult place, it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to change. stay encouraged; your steps are ordered, you’re right on schedule. the delay, the detour, the disappointment; it’s all a part of God’s plan. if you’ll be patient, and wait for that plan to unfold, you’ll see God vindicate you, promote you, and take you to a new level of your destiny.

when God did something significant in the scripture, many times it says it happened suddenly, immediately, or at once; they were in a waiting period, they didn’t see anything changing, no sign of it happening, then all of a sudden it happened. God was showing us that He can turn things around without any warning; He can increase you unexpectedly, out of the ordinary; you didn’t see it coming. you were just doing the right thing, going through the difficulty with faith and patience, and suddenly you came into your season; suddenly your business took off, your health improved. one touch of God’s favor can catapult you to the next level. when you know God has some suddenlies, even when it’s taking a long time, you’ll still have an expectancy, knowing that any moment, your suddenly could show up. one good break, one phone call, meeting one right person; you’ll come out of your waiting period into a season of blessing. just as God orders steps into times of testing, proving, He orders steps into seasons of increase, promotion.

you may have been in a waiting period a long time, doing the right thing, being patient. God is saying, “get ready”; you’re about to see some suddenlies, come into a season of much fruit, new growth, where God thrusts you to the next level. He’s going to put you at the right place at the right time.

when it says, “God orders our steps,” that doesn’t mean God does it vaguely, go over here in this general area, do it in the next week or two; God is not vague, He’s precise, detailed, specific down to the split second.

right now, God is not only ordering your steps, He’s ordering the steps of the people you need. He’s going to cause them to come across your path, where opportunity, good breaks, track you down. what you’re believing for may be taking a long time, you don’t see how it’s ever going to change, but stay encouraged; God has some suddenlies lined up for you, things you didn’t see coming, where He had you at the right place at the right time, and unexpectedly you met the right person, the business fell into your lap, the problem turned around. don’t be frustrated because it’s not happening as fast as you would like. you’re right on schedule; your steps are being ordered. any moment, you’re going to come into your season.

Mark 5:22-24 (NIV)
22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him.

I can imagine this father was so excited; he knew he was going to get his miracle. but:

Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years… 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” … 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

while it was a great miracle, it delayed Jesus from getting to the little girl’s house. I’m sure the father was happy that this lady got healed, but because of the delay:

Mark 5:35(NIV)
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

he had to watch somebody else get healed while his daughter didn’t get healed. will you keep a good attitude when you see other people being blessed, but you’re still waiting? your friend got engaged, but you’re still single, waiting for the right person. your coworker moved into that new house; you’re still in the apartment, waiting for increase? in the middle of the commotion, excitement, this man felt like Jesus had forgotten about him, it’s too late, but:

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

Jesus was saying in effect, “it’s not too late. I haven’t forgotten about you. you’re right on schedule. your steps are being ordered. this delay didn’t stop my plan; I’m still going to do what I promised.”

Mark 5:40-42 (NIV)
40 … went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished.

here’s the principle; this man came to Jesus asking for a healing, but because of the delay, he received a greater miracle; a resurrection. when it’s taking longer than you thought, don’t get discouraged; that means God has something bigger, better, that you weren’t expecting. He’s going to do something where not only you, but the people around you, are astonished, amazed, overwhelmed at His goodness.

friends, God has not forgotten about you. He knows how long it’s been. He’s heard all your prayers, seen all the times you’ve done the right thing. circumstances may tell you, “it’s never going to happen, it’s too late”; God is saying, “you’re right on schedule. you’re about to come into your season. it’s not going to be a healing, it’s going to be something better; a resurrection.” now do your part, and pass the test in the waiting periods; keep a good attitude. if you’ll do this, because you have faith and patience, you’re going to see God’s plan unfold for your life; promises come to pass, dreams fulfilled, problems turn around, the fullness of your destiny.

Visions

(No new sermon this week.)

God gives people visions; the Bible shows that beyond question. However, visions also come from brain tumors, other brain ailments, eye diseases, and mental illness… including of course insanity. They can also be brought on by a variety of substances, medicinal and otherwise, but I’m not using, nor have I ever used, any such substances… and it is MY visions that are the subject of this post.

Yes, amazing as it may seem, in addition to seeing angels, demons, and the Holy Spirit, I have also started having visions. The medical reasons for visions come with other symptoms, none of which I’ve had. I’m having no difficulty determining the difference between visions and reality. I only see visions with my eyes closed; they do not overlap or replace the physical world. In addition, the visions have, at least for now, a darkness and dimness that I never perceive either with the real world or in my dreams.

And much to my relief, I have received some outside verification for seeing angels, at least; at the recent meeting of my prayer group, I saw 2 angels, and asked the older lady there who frequently sees things if she had seen anything… and I did NOT tell her what I saw or where I saw it, but she was immediately able to point out the 2 places were I had seen angelic manifestations. She had not seen them this time, but she had felt them while she was praying with her eyes closed, and when she opened her eyes, those were the 2 spots that she was drawn to look at.

So, at least for the time being, we’ll assume that I’m healthy and sane. Assuming that I am, it’s pretty undeniable at this point that the supernatural is breaking out in my life at an increasing rate… to what final destination, I cannot yet discern.

What am I seeing? So far, they have all been religious in nature; all except 2 have featured the cross, and some of them feature angels, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and even “God rays,” the individual beams of light that sometimes happen when light passes through clouds or trees. The one exception had a religious meaning for ME; I saw a treasure chest, like I did in a dream I posted about a couple of years ago when the chest was said to contain the treasure of the Holy Spirit… whatever THAT’S supposed to mean. Interestingly, in that dream, the chest was CLOSED, and in the vision, the chest was OPEN, and piled with treasure… That sounds like progress, right?

In the most powerful vision so far, I saw Jesus on the cross. I saw him tilt his head back and possibly cry out… There is no sound with the visions yet, so I can’t tell for sure. I saw the cross lowered down to the ground, and then he was gone from it. I also saw a crowd of people in the garb of biblical times, and I could tell that they were speaking, not that I would have understood them even if I could have heard them, assuming that they were speaking in Greek or Hebrew, and waving their hands. I know that I did not see EXACTLY what happened at Jesus’ crucifixion, because I did not see the other 2 crosses of the criminals who were crucified on either side of him, but it was nevertheless a very powerful thing to see… But WHY did I see it? What am I supposed to do with what I saw?

Somehow, these experiences are eventually going to serve the church and bring glory to God. I don’t know HOW, yet, though; please pray for me, that I will be able to discern what I should be doing towards these goals very soon.