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Monday, September 16, 2019

Your Wounds Are Your Credentials That Qualify You To Help Others Heal. God Uses Rescued People To Rescue People. Can You Identify With Any Of This? Here's What Happens.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “What a wonderful God we have—He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us.” (TLB)
Our Wounds Will Become Our Credentials, which brought to mind for me 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. It's about finding meaning in your pain; maybe even the pain you're going through right now.
So you go through a hurting time. You know how the pain feels. You reach out to God for whatever resources He can give you to get through it and you start to experience God's greatness, God's grace, God's kindness. And now you're qualified by those experiences to help other hurting people. You can tell them in a very personal way the difference Jesus makes in a hurting time. You know why? Because you've been there.
It's almost ironic. The worst things that happen to you in your life teach you the most about your God, and they give you the best chance you'll ever have to tell people about Jesus Christ. Day after day you're with people who, just under the surface, are carrying so much pain, a lot of scars, and unimaginable wounds. And they won't listen to just anyone. But they will listen to someone who's been through a deep valley too; maybe someone like you.
Truth is no one wants to share their pain with someone who they don’t believe can relate. It’s like leaving your 3 bedroom house, and going to the shelter and telling a woman with 2 kids on a cot that “you understand”. When in fact, at home, you’re 2 girls are tucked away nice, cozy, comfortable and safe in their own separate bedrooms. It’s hard to share with someone the pain of a marriage heading for divorce, when every time you see them with their spouse, they are as happy as ever. Who wants to tell someone they don’t have enough change to get on the bus, while that person hops in a brand new car saying, “It will get better”. You want to talk to someone who can understand, who can relate, some who can personally identify, someone who gets where you’re coming from, because they just left there themselves. This is why we have to be so careful about trying to avoid every pain, ache, moment of suffering and affliction. Because at the end of the day, someone, somewhere, needs something you have to offer, and they will more readily receive it through your pain than through your joy.
Can You Identify or Relate With Any of This? For some they love ministering in shelters (they can relate); some love ministering to those suffering through domestic, mental and verbal violence (they can relate); others eating dinner at the soup kitchen with their children (they can relate); those from broken homes, single parents, (they can relate), those trying to heal from the scars of sex abuse/rape, abortion, and addiction (they can relate); those feeling abandoned, failure, rejected, left out, overlooked, under-estimated (they can relate); those suicidal and depressed, (they can relate),
If You Ever Want To Find Out Where Your Strengths Are In Ministering To Others, Just Locate The Places Of Pain Where You Can Relate.
Your pain can become your credentials to answer hurting lives with the love of Jesus Christ that you've experienced in your darkest hour. And they'll listen to you, someone whose bus has rolled over and who carries some of the scars and the damage from the crash. Those are pretty hard earned credentials, ones you'd have never chosen to have. But they are credentials God can use mightily in a hurting world. He uses wounded messengers to become agents of His healing. This is why you should stop trying to get out of every painful event. Believe it or not, but God can bless you and use you to bless others, even while you’re still in the midst of personal pain yourself!
Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Did you catch that? We’re not more than conquerors because we conquered our pain and now we’re out of it. But we’re more than conquerors “…IN ALL THESE THINGS…” We can help someone OUT, even while we’re still IN! That’s what I call a powerful testimony! I love the way The Living Bible states it, “BUT DESPITE ALL THIS, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.” (TLB). In other words, it doesn’t even matter what I’m dealing with, because despite it all, I have overwhelming victory, even in the midst of it! And someone around you today needs you to know that, so when it’s rooted and engrained in you, you can share the same mustard seed faith with them!
Even the greatest pain, serves an even greater purpose! Genesis 50:19-21 reads, “Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid. Do I act for God? Don’t you see, YOU PLANNED EVIL AGAINST ME BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD, as you see all around you right now—LIFE FOR MANY PEOPLE...” (MSG) God can use the same thing that hurt you, to help someone else! I love the way the translation puts it, God used the same plans! The evil his brothers meant for him, turned out for his good, and life for many! Never doubt that your pain has a purpose! Our Father is a loving parent to us His children. He does not cause us pain that serves no purpose. Which is why Psalm 119:71 is one of my absolute favorite Scriptures, because those things that helped me most, hurt me most first! But I’ve learned from God’s Word, that the bad, worked for my good.
“MY SUFFERING was GOOD FOR ME, because through it I learned Your statutes.” (CEB);
“It was GOOD THAT I HAD TO SUFFER in order to learn Your laws.” (GWT);
“It is GOOD FOR ME THAT I WAS TROUBLED, so that I might learn Your Law.” (NLV);
“The punishment You gave me WAS THE BEST THING THAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED TO ME, for it taught me to pay attention to Your laws. They are more valuable to me than millions in silver and gold!” (TLB);
“It is GOOD FOR ME that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” (KJV)
How amazing to know that my suffering was good for me; it was good that I had to suffer; my punishment was the best thing that could have happened to me; and it was good that I was afflicted. Sounds ironic, but my bad was for my good! Why? Because it was only then that I learned to pay attention to His statutes and laws. My affliction was my best teacher. After all, I didn’t learn until it began to teach. And it is likewise for someone near you today. They need you to share your mess ups, screw ups, missteps, mistakes, flaws, imperfections, bad decisions. They need you to share and show the vulnerability of unmasking your wounds and scars. They need someone just like you who can identify, so they can finally stop allowing their pain to keep them in hiding.
Some people will only get free when you share the blessing from your bondage! This is why you need to be like Lazarus. When Jesus called him, he came out of the grave, still wrapped in his dead man garments. And as bad as he must have looked and smelt, when Jesus called him to come out, he came out! Jesus could have had him to come right out of the garments, but no, He then spoke to those around Lazarus to loose him. There are people around you that will watch as your dead man clothes are being unraveled, and they will be encouraged to know that it’s more important for them to be a part of the miracle, than for you to come out looking like you never needed a miracle to begin with. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’. It’s okay for people to know you don’t always feel strong, powerful, anointed, and gifted. It’s okay for people to know that you don’t always smile and laugh and feel upbeat. It will let them know you’re real. It will let them know you're human. You hurt; you experience disappointment, let downs and pain…just like them. After all, it’s what Christ did.
John 1:14, “The Word became FLESH AND BLOOD, AND MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD. We saw the glory with our own eyes…” (MSG);
“And the Word (CHRIST) BECAME FLESH, AND LIVED AMONG US; and we [actually] saw His glory…” (AMP);
“The Word BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS HOME AMONG US. We have seen His glory…” (CEB);
Christ lived among us, made His home among us, became flesh and blood, and moved right into the neighborhood, so why are we avoiding people and their pain?! He didn’t. He spoke to hurting people, touched them, encouraged them, healed them, defended them, ate with them, and if all of that wasn’t enough, He let them touch Him in return! He loved us enough to be just as human as divine. He wasn’t so concerned with being Royal, as He was with being Relatable!
He understands, He sympathizes, He knows, He can relate. Now it’s our turn to do the same! Understand, sympathize, know and relate. Truth is if we are to finally be effective witnesses, we need to touch more than we talk! Stop saying what you think they need or want to hear; stop throwing clichés at them; stop drowning them in Scripture showers. Sometimes a simple hug, shoulder or smile, can say more than any word in the dictionary. Today, determine to touch, and be touchable!
Remember, Doubting Thomas didn't believe until he saw the wounds. You know some people are like that. The pain you've been through may never make much sense to you until you see Jesus and He shows you the grand design of which that pain is a part. But until then, offer that pain to Him as credentials to make a difference for Him to other wounded people. To actually, maybe, even help them change their eternity by finding your Jesus. His wounded rescuer - that's you! Thomas needed to put his hands in His side, and there are some people out there that need to put their hand in yours! They need to know your pain, they need to know you understand and can relate. They need to know you’re real. They need to know that as bad as it is right now, you are their living proof that it doesn’t get perfect, but it does get better.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.
They need to know it won’t be like this always. They need to know this trouble will pass; they need to know it’s just a momentary, light distress; they need to know that this is really just small potatoes! And you my friend are the one to tell them that! Let them know, that you personally know, God can do some awesome things in the midst of pain!
Psalm 30:5, 11, “…The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter…You did it: You changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about You. God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.” (MSG)
You are the one to inform them that they will not cry always, and that their mourning clothes are not permanent. God has a time limit on all things, and therefore, their pain is not indefinite. They will laugh again, they will dance again, they will sing again. You are their proof. Remember, Your Wounds Are Your Credentials That Qualify You To Help Others Heal.
Allow the proclamation of Isaiah 61:1-5 to be on your lips today, as you minister healing through your wounds to those who are hurting, and need you!
“The Spirit of the Lord God is on me, because the Lord has chosen me to bring good news to poor people. He has sent me to heal those with a sad heart. He has sent me to tell those who are being held and those in prison that they can go free.  He has sent me to tell about the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day our God will bring punishment. He has sent me to comfort all who are filled with sorrow.  To those who have sorrow in Zion I will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes. I will give them the oil of joy instead of sorrow, and a spirit of praise instead of a spirit of no hope. Then they will be called oaks that are right with God, planted by the Lord, that He may be honored.” (NLV)
Today, Allow Your Hurt to Help Someone Else Heal!
"Sometimes God will use our deepest pain to launch our greatest calling." (Author Unknown)
J.P. Olson

Monday, September 9, 2019

Notice Two Important Things About Vision: 1) YOUR VISION MUST COME FROM GOD: There's A Difference Between Setting Your OWN GOALS And Having A GOD-GIVEN VISION! #2 When Your Vision Is Of God; This Will Happen.

“Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the Vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV)  
Habakkuk describes his vision as, The Oracle (a BURDENSOME MESSAGE – a pronouncement from God) which Habakkuk the prophet saw' (Habakkuk 1:1 NKJV). He 'SAW' it wherever he went. It drove him to his knees. He even cried out, 'O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You; “Violence!” And you will not save. Why do You SHOW me iniquity and cause me to SEE trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds' (Habakkuk 1:2-4 NKJV).  
Before God blesses you with a plan of action He will first BURDEN you with the problem you've been called to help solve! A ‘burden’ is defined as, ‘a heavy load; a cause of hardship, worry, or grief; something that is carried; something oppressive or worrisome; a thing to bear; a duty; responsibility; something that weighs down.’ You see, so many are running to God asking Him for a vision, but they don’t want the burden that comes attached to the vision. Receiving a vision from God will cost you. And the price is heavy. Oftentimes a vision from God will keep you up late at night; pacing the floor; spending countless hours in prayer; fasting for weeks on end; separating yourself from familiar people, places and things. Often a vision from God comes with the weight of burden. It doesn’t come cheap or easy.
When it comes to God’s vision and purpose, it comes with glory, and His glory always carry’s weight! Accepting an assignment from God, receiving vision from God, fulfilling purpose in God, will come with burden and glory, and both are heavy! Don’t ask God to hand you what you’re not ready to carry! 
Yes, the prophet received a vision, but it came at the expense of him crying out to God; with him facing trouble and violence; unanswered questions; powerlessness and even being surrounded by wickedness. Are you really sure you’re ready to pay the price of carrying vision and burden? 
Lewis Braille wanted to read and write. But at three years of age he was blinded in a tragic accident while playing in his father's harness shop. Refusing to settle for a world of darkness he said, 'I will make a system so that the blind can read and write.As a result, millions of sight-impaired people have been blessed by the Braille system.  
People of God Prepare Yourself Because He's going to Bless You, but FIRST HE'S GOING TO BURDEN YOU!
The Psalmist cried: 'The ZEAL for Your house has CONSUMED me...' (Psalm 69:9 NASB). Today, ask yourself the following questions, ‘What's my all-consuming desire? What am I passionate about? What has God called and gifted me to do?’ You see, the word ‘zeal’ is defined as, ‘eagerness in pursuit of an interest; a fervor; passion; enthusiasm; an intense, compelling emotion that requires action; it’s a deep stirring; a determination to do something.’ And where was the psalmist zeal? In God’s House! What are you doing in God’s House?! Are your gifts, talents, skill-set, ability, anointing, calling all being passionately utilized in the Lord’s House? Or are you simply warming pulpit/pew chairs until the Lord returns? What are you doing with what God gave you to do?
Paul's burning desire was to reach the world for Christ. And he succeeded! When his enemies imprisoned him, instead of giving in to defeat he turned his cell into a writer's retreat and penned thirteen epistles that would change more lives after he left the world than he could ever hope to touch while he was in it! If your vision is truly of God, you will 'FEEL' a BURDEN for it! And that BURDEN will be COSTLY! And you need to be honest with yourself and find out if you're really willing to pay the price?
Notice Two Important Things About Vision: 
1)   YOUR VISION MUST COME FROM GOD: There's A Difference Between Setting Your OWN GOALS And Having A GOD-GIVEN VISION! When Your Vision Is Of God, '... it will surely come...' (Habakkuk 2:3). In other words, you won't have to orchestrate events behind the scenes; God will provide the resources and open the right doors at the right time and you’ll enter them with all the right people! Your steps will be directed by Him! Here's an interesting Scripture: '...TIME AND CHANCE happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time...' (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12 NKJV). God will reveal to you your destiny and give you an opportunity to fulfill it. But, you can resist it, or postpone it, or give your life to other things and end up missing your 'TIME' and 'CHANCE', according to the Scripture. Which is why I admonish you, DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THAT NET OR TRAPPED IN THAT SNARE AND FORFEIT WHAT GOD HAS FOR YOU! Your ‘TIME’ and ‘CHANCE’ have a limit. You don’t accomplish them after death; you accomplish them in the time God has given you to live! Don’t die having let everybody use you but God! When God gives you the vision; sets the due time for it to come to pass; and grants you the right perfect chance to go for it, don’t be caught like the foolish virgins missing out on what you could’ve got in on, if only you were prepared and ready when the opportunity presented itself!
2)   YOUR VISION WILL BE CONNECTED TO A CERTAIN FIELD: Joseph's dream started with a field of wheat (Genesis 37:6-7, “Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the FIELD gathering bundles of wheat...” MSG). So, what's your field? Because, whether God calls you to the field of medicine, education, finance, ministry, real estate, or some other field, it's to be a blessing to others! It’s not for you to boast, it’s for you to be a blessing! God told Abraham, '...I will make your name great, and you will BE A BLESSING' (Genesis 12:2 NIV). Don't seek fortune, fame, popularity, stardom, or the like, but seek to serve others! If you do, your impact will be greater than your image and your eternal reward greater than anything you can drive, wear, live in, or hang on a wall! THEREFORE, FIND YOUR FIELD!
Jesus said, '...In fact, THE REASON I WAS BORN...' (John 18:37 NIV). When you know why you're here and what your God-given purpose is, you become virtually UNSTOPPABLE! You won't be flawless, but you'll have the innate power to overcome each obstacle as you proceed! If you get turned around, God loves you enough to get your attention, correct and redirect you, and get you back on track! But to find the right answers you must first ask the right questions, such as:  1) What desires have been living in me most of my life? 2) What motivates me to be productive? 3) What keeps me going forward when I'm worn out? 4) What makes me refuse to quit when I meet with resistance or opposition? 5) What do I do that doesn't seem like work? 6) What do I do that brings positive response and support from others? 7) What am I doing, or what's happening in my life when doors seem to open automatically and effortlessly? 8) What do discerning leaders and godly counselors think about my work? 9) What makes me feel good about being who I am? 10) What makes my creative juices flow? 11) What am I willing to sacrifice to accomplish it? 12) What am I doing that I'd be proud to offer for God's approval? 13) What would I do without being paid for, if I could afford to? 14) What would I be willing to withstand Satan over, in order to accomplish it?  
You Need To Know: What is the reason you were born’? And when you do find out your reason, know that's it's not too late; so 'find' your vision and follow it!
Paul was on a mission! He traveled light, practiced personal discipline, avoided distractions and kept his eye on the ball. The Bible says, ' thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize...' (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV). Successful companies live by a mission statement every team member can understand; they keep it before them at all times. God told Habakkuk, '..."Write the vision and make it plain... that he may run who reads it.' (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV). YOU MUST WRITE YOUR VISION DOWN, READ IT REGULARLY, REMEMBER IT AT ALL TIMES AND RUN WITH IT! YOUR GREATEST ENEMY ISN'T THE OPPOSITION, IT'S THE DISTRACTIONS! SO LET NOTHING AND NO ONE MESS WITH ACCOMPLISHING YOUR MISSION! Proverbs 4:23-27, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; IGNORE ALL SIDESHOW DISTRACTIONS. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.” (MSG)
Ever heard of 'a white elephant?When the King of Siam wanted to destroy an enemy, he supposedly gave them a white elephant. In those days white elephants were considered sacred, and nobody dared refuse a king's gift. The trouble was, white elephants couldn't be put to work...but they had to be fed - A LOT! So the king's 'gift' ended up causing his enemy's downfall. Listen Carefully! Guard yourself, your vision and purpose against 'white elephants' that drain your time, energy and resources, and do nothing towards anything that works for you!
DON'T LET DISTRACTIONS DIVERT YOUR VISION! ‘Divert’ means to, ‘turn aside; deviate; to turn from one course or use to another; to distract; to entertain.’ You cannot afford to lose sight of your vision; or to distort your vision because you’ve become so busy entertaining distractions. People of God, Stay Focused!
Five times in Genesis chapter thirty-nine we read: 'But the Lord was with Joseph.Be encouraged: God is at work with you and in what you're going through right now! Where did Joseph get the wisdom to lead a nation? By dealing with his own family problems, by handling Potiphar's household staff, and by running a prison system! Like rungs on a ladder, each one took him closer to the top! Notice how it worked: his brothers sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders, who sold him to Potiphar, who put him in prison where he met the butler, who introduced him to Pharaoh, who made him Prime Minister of Egypt; fulfilling his dream! Was it easy? No, “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him” (Psalm 105:19). Prepare Yourself: Your vision will be 'tried' by situations that either make or break you! And the word ‘tried’ is defined as, ‘to be found good and faithful; to be found trustworthy through experience, trials or testing.’ And indeed that same text in psalm read in the Message Bible proves Joseph was tried by testing and he passed with flying colors! “Then he called down a famine on the country, he broke every last blade of wheat. But he sent a man on ahead: Joseph was sold as a slave. They put cruel chains on his ankles, an iron collar around his neck, Until God’s Word came to Pharaoh, and God confirmed His promise. God sent the king to release him. The Pharaoh set Joseph free; he appointed him master of his palace, put him in charge of all his business to personally instruct his princes and train his advisors in wisdom.” (Psalm 105:16-22 MSG) 
Now, some of you may ask, ‘but what do you do when you already received a vision, but it died?’ 
Well, Bill Gothard describes this process as: the birth of the vision, the death of the vision, and the resurrection of the visionWhen you've no funds, no friends, and no fight left in you (the death stage), remember the words of Jesus: 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain' (John 12:24 NKJV). When your vision dies and God resurrects it, you begin to talk and act differently! With ego subtracted and grace added, you start saying with the Psalmist, 'I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living' (Psalm 27:13). At that point God smiles and says, 'You're finally getting it right! You’re finally ready to receive the resurrection of your dreams, purpose and vision.Once you get it right with God, you get to begin again. Remember, Joseph didn’t just have one dream, but the second was bigger than the first, and yours can be also!
When a vision comes from God and you commit yourself to it, it will 'SURELY' be fulfilled! Yes, you'll stumble, be stretched to new limits and maybe even stagger across the finish line, but you'll make it! You'll get to the Promised Land, even if failure is the road you have to travel in order to get there! Look at Moses: he had a history-changing message to deliver to Pharaoh, yet he was a poor speaker. He had marriage problems. He had to reach his breaking point before he learned to delegate responsibility to others. He even had a problem with his temper, as a result God said, '..."This is the land I promised... I have let you see it... but you will not cross over into it." (Deuteronomy 34:4 NIV). But Moses finally got there, maybe not in life, but most certainly in death! For, 1,400 years later he stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration: right in the middle of it! Matthew 17:1-3, “Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.” (MSG) 
You say, 'I've failed so badly.WellDavid committed adultery, yet his psalms bring strength to multitudes and he's quoted in pulpits around the world still today! God didn't excuse David, but he forgave him and used him still! '...David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God...was buried... (Acts 13:36 NKJV). The Bible describes God as, '... ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness...  (Nehemiah 9:17 NKJV). Notice the words 'ready to pardon.God is ready when you are; all you have to do is turn back to Him! Just because you mess up doesn’t mean you miss out on God’s vision and purpose for your life! He’s always right there ready to pardon (which means ‘the excusing of an offense without exacting a penalty; to release from the legal penalties of an offence; to forgive a fault; to absolve from the consequences of a crime.)!
Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t judge our failures like man does? 
Lastly, there's an interesting picture in Amos '... "A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion's mouth will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear. So it will be...' (Amos 3:12 NLT). Picture Satan as that lion, you as that lamb, Jesus as that shepherd coming to pick up what's left of you, and see how God brings victory out of defeat! Has life torn your vision to pieces like the image in Amos? If so, keep in mind, with God, you only need two things for a comeback according to what’s recovered in Amos:
1)   An Ear to Hear. Stop listening to voices that discourage you; it's not over until God says it's over! God told Ezekiel to prophesy to a valley full of dead, dry bones (Ezekiel 37:4): 'So I prophesied... and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceeding great army.' (Ezekiel 37:10 NKJV). Your hopes may be dead and your soul dry, but if you listen to what God is saying your vision will live again! Keep your ear to God’s mouth, receive His instructions, obey them, revive your vision, and this time let it live!
2)   A Leg to Stand OnThe God Who gave Job twice as much at the end of his trouble as he started with before it, isn't finished with you yet! Read what He's promised and stand on His Word! Look at it this way: Achan was stoned to death in the Valley of Achor for stealing the spoils after the battle of Jericho. End of the story? Not a chance, later, God in His mercy said, 'I will give... the Valley of Achor as a door of Hope...' (Hosea 2:15 NKJV). You may be living with your consequences, but by God's grace you can still live to see your vision fulfilled! There is Hope in the Valley for Your VisionYour Valley of Achor may have started out with a Stoning, but it will end with You and Your Vision Surviving and Walking Through New Open Doors of Opportunity! Don’t throw in the towel, don’t give up and don’t quit! 
People of God, as you can see from cover-to-cover in the Bible there are tons of stories of those who Found Their Vision, Followed Their Vision and Fulfilled Their Vision…Even AFTER Fumbling Their Vision! And even those who suffered and recovered from the death of their vision. So, Keep Your Eyes of Faith Focused! A Rich Future Is Ahead of You, But Only If You’ll Finally Invest In the Value of Your Vision! 
It can and it will come to pass, hold on to it, and let nothing and no one distort it!

J.P. Olson

Monday, September 2, 2019

Maybe There’s A Strained Relationship In Your Life Right Now: Maybe It's Family, Children, Sibling, Friend, Marriage or Partners Could That Be Why God Wanted Us Talking About This Today? It's Okay To Get Angry But Watch This:

Ephesians 4:26-27, “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil” (TLB)
Don’t Ruin What Simply Needs Repairing! I always find it amusing and sad that people will quicker redeem cans and coupons, than they will redeem people, relationships, friendships, and even marriages…It’s sad that we possess the Fruit of the Spirit, yet our Flesh has caused it to Rot.
Ephesians 4, starting with verse 26, reads, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.” Well, there’s a biblical clock here on strained relationships/friendships, just like there is on letting dirty dishes sit untouched. The longer you wait to clean it up, the harder it is to clean it up. Our conflict in relationships/friendships are like that too. That’s why it’s wise not to allow things to sit, settle and fester. Remember, according to the Bible, we have a clock on our discord, and that clock runs out at sundown every day! In other words, we really shouldn’t be hanging on to our anger after the end of the day.
That reminds me a lot of those old Western movies I use to love to watch. If you’ve ever seen them, you will know the famous line all the marshal’s use, “You better be out of here by sundown!” Well, that’s what we’re supposed to be saying to any anger, or resentment, bitterness or conflict that comes up in our relationships/friendships. “Get out of here by sundown!” There’s a good reason for this. You know those food remnants on dirty dishes which I was talking about? If you deal with them right away they’re soft and easy to remove; just kind of scrape them a little bit and they fall right off. But you know what happens if you wait with a dirty plate? The longer it sits dirty, the harder it is to get clean!
Makes me wonder if that’s where we coined the term, “hard feelings“? Because our unresolved hurt is just as hard as the non-rinsed dishes! And sadly enough, that’s when the Devil gets an opportunity to enter a marriage, or a parent-child relationship, or a friendship, or a church, business, school or workplace.
In conducting various marriage counseling sessions, I’ve discovered that at the core of most every marriage breakup there was an issue that once was small, but it wasn’t dealt with when it was smallThat’s why it’s so hard to mend marriages, because problems are never dealt with when they occur. They’re not dealt with until what was delayed has now become a damage beyond repair. Which is also why it’s so hard to keep to the current issue, because couples have left so many “small” issues ignored, that now that there’s a problem that happened in January of this year, it can’t be resolved because so much time and energy is still focused on the arguments from January 2015!
In addition, at the core of broken parent-child relationships or a hurting friendship, or a divided church, there are also people who didn’t clean up their anger when it first appeared; when it was still small, when it was still manageable, when it was relatively soft. And now it’s led to a terrible hardening outcome. And the truth is, we can’t blame the devil. The Scripture tells us not to give him a “foothold”, but a foothold is just enough space for a person to put their foot in the door. But, who opened the door? The devil couldn’t get his foot in if you didn’t open the door and grant him access. And how do you grant him foothold access? By sending your anger to answer the door!
“Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP).
“…DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY…” And what’s an “opportunity”? It’s defined as “a favorable time or set of circumstances for doing something; a career opening offered; a chance for promotion; a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal; a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.” And all of that is the Opportunity you allow your grudge, anger, resentment and bitterness to grant to the devil. So when he gets a “foothold” in your relationships, friendships, marriage, children, church, business, workplace, remember who opened the door and invited him in as their special guest…yep, you guessed it…YOU! We made the circumstances favorable for him, we hired him and gave him a career and promotion to destroy our life and loved ones, we helped him attain his goal of disruption, discord and destruction, we placed him in a good position, we helped advance his attack and gain success. Yes, YOU and the emotions you sent to answer the door of your relationships/friendships! This my friend is not one of those times when you can say, “the devil made me do it.” No, WE did it, all on our own! As parents, those are things we like to call Responsibility and Accountability. And if the devil has gotten a foothold into our relationships/friendships, we set out the welcome mat for him to step on. We are held accountable because it was our responsibility to make sure it didn’t happen!
Listen to the Scripture again, “Be angry [at sin—at immorality, at injustice, at ungodly behavior], yet do not sin; do not let your anger [cause you shame, nor allow it to] last until the sun goes down. AND DO NOT GIVE THE DEVIL AN OPPORTUNITY [TO LEAD YOU INTO SIN BY HOLDING A GRUDGE, OR NURTURING ANGER, OR HARBORING RESENTMENT, OR CULTIVATING BITTERNESS].” (AMP). One, small 3-letter word is key, “…LET…” defined as “to allow someone to have the use of” You were not supposed to give the devil a foothold but you did, even though the Scripture commanded you, “…DO NOT LET YOUR ANGER…” Did you catch that? “…YOUR…” All of this is YOUR Responsibility! You are not to give the devil room to be allowed to use your anger against you and your relationships/friendships. WE are held accountable for allowing the devil to have opportunity! And how did we do that? Pay attention to the Scripture:
“…HOLDING A GRUDGE…”; “…NURTURING ANGER…”; “…HARBORING RESENTMENT…”; “…CULTIVATING BITTERNESS…” You know, for this to be “the devil’s” fault, as many will use as their excuse, We sure are doing quite a bit in this text to help him don’t you think?
You Can Get Angry But Watch This: How About We Take A Look At The Part We Play…
“Holding” – is defined as “to grasp, carry, support, keep, have in one’s possession, contain, cause to stay, remain tightly secured
“Nurturing” – is defined as “to rear and encourage the development of; to feed and cherish
“Harbor” – is defined as “to keep (a thought or feeling) secretly in one’s mind; to give refuge, shelter or protection to
“Cultivate” – is defined as “to prepare and use; raise and grow; to maintain; to acquire and develop
This is how well you take care of your Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness! Do you know this is better care and treatment than some spouses and children receive! All of the emotions that are opening the door for the devil’s foothold into our relationships/friendships are being Held, Nurtured, Harbored and Cultivated…BY US! Do You Know What We’ve Deliberately Decided to Do With our Grudge, Anger, Resentment and Bitterness, according to the above definitions? We’ve purposely grasped it, carry, support and keep it, we have possession of it, we keep it contained and we cause it to stay by allowing it to be held onto tightly and secure. We’re rearing it up like a child and encouraging its development by feeding and cherishing it. We’re dwelling on it secretly in our thoughts and feelings and it means so much to us that we’ve even provided it with refuge, shelter and protection. We are even preparing it for use as we raise and grow it, maintain, acquire and develop it, because we have absolutely no intentions on letting any of it go! And that’s why the devil has been able to repeatedly enjoy a sweatless-victory over your relationships/friendships. With the loving way we hold our grudges, nurture our anger, harbor our resentment and cultivate our bitterness, what exactly is there left for him to do?
Maybe There’s A Strained Relationship In Your Life Right Now. Could That Be Why God Wanted Us Talking About This Today? Well, if that should be the case, there have been far too many sunsets, too many bad feelings you let hang on! Please understand, it will never be smaller than it is today. I know that it’s bigger than it used to be, but this is the smallest it’s ever going to be. It will never be easier to address that conflict, that resentment, that anger than it is right now, no matter how hard that might seem. It’s only going to get harder the longer you let it sit there untouched and unaddressed. It will only get more costly because you’re going to lose relationships, friendships, trust, support, and even love.
Now, I know we live in a day and age of the “church”, where everybody will tell you, “just let them go, drop ‘em, leave ‘em, forget about ‘em”, however, I do not believe that this is the Conduct of Christians.
Listen, I by no means am saying that those of you with “justifiable hurt and legitimate pain” should not be angry. Even the Scripture doesn’t say that, “GO AHEAD AND BE ANGRY. YOU DO WELL TO BE ANGRY…” (MSG) The Bible does not tell us to hide, mask, camouflage, or pretend with our feelings and emotions. We’re never asked to lie about the level of hurt we’ve experienced. However, we cannot take Part of the Scripture, we must embrace it Whole, and the rest reads, “…BUT DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL FOR REVENGE. AND DON’T STAY ANGRY. DON’T GO TO BED ANGRY. DON’T GIVE THE DEVIL THAT KIND OF FOOTHOLD IN YOUR LIFE.” (MSG)
Get Angry, Deal With it in a Healthy Manner, Then Let It Go Before Sundown!
Listen to the Bible, “…DON’T USE YOUR ANGER AS FUEL…” And for a lot of us, that’s exactly what we’re doing, using our anger as fuel. And one of the definitions of “fuel” is “to supply or give power to.” That’s why it keeps going, that’s why that issue never stops, because you keep refueling it, day-by-day, never dealing with it, never addressing it, never resolving it, and never letting it go. Well, today, I was sent to you for the sole purpose of taking your discord out of delay mode, and shifting it to deal with it mode instead!
The word “delay” is defined as “to put off to a later time; defer; postpone; to impede the process or progress of; to put off action; to retard or hinder.” The key word however, is “impede”. It means “to delay or block the progress or action of.” But its Latin Origin “impedire” means ‘shackle the feet of’. How dangerous to have the devil’s foot free, but yours shackled! While you’re doing nothing, he’s able to move around freely all through your house, marriage, family, relationships, friendships and churches and cause havoc everywhere!
Think about it, do you really want to lose that family member; that relationship, that friendship? As much as its meant? As long as it’s been. With all the good times and memories, are you really willing to sit shackled on the sidelines while the devil steps all over everything and everyone you love? Have you forgotten their value, their worth, their importance?
Let no one tell you that anyone is beyond restoration. Not even Jesus felt that way. And He had good reason to kick quite a few folks to the curb, but He didn’t…Judas betrayed Him (but He didn’t discard him); Peter denied Him (but He didn’t discard him); Thomas doubted Him (but He didn’t discard him); and in the end, they all left but John, and still He didn’t discard them, in fact, He gave up His life still. Can you imagine hanging on a cross, dying yourself, between 2 thieves, knowing full well that they are guilty as sin, and yet one calls out to Him, and He still answers. Don’t discard your loved ones. One day they will be on the other side of dirt, and by then it will be too late to wish you would have dealt with what you delayed.
We are still called to the Ministry of Reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, “Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that ANYONE UNITED WITH THE MESSIAH GET’S A FRESH START, IS CREATED NEW. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE BURGEONS! Look at it! All this comes from the God WHO SETTLED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN US AND HIM, AND THEN CALLED US TO SETTLE OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH EACH OTHER. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world A FRESH START by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what He is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to DROP THEIR DIFFERENCES and enter into God’s work of MAKING THINGS RIGHT BETWEEN THEM. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; He’s already a friend with you.” (MSG)
All of this God did for us, so we could do the very same for others. Don’t Ruin What Simply Needs Repairing! They Can Be Redeemed, They Can Be Restored, They Can Be Renewed, and You Both Can Be Reconciled! Don’t give up and give in so quickly. Just think where we’d all be if Jesus threw in the towel every time we messed up our relationship/friendship with Him!
Today is always your best opportunity to go to that person and do whatever it takes to repair things. Apologize if you need to, confront if you need to, pray together, talk it through. You just can’t afford the hard spot in your heart that develops from anger that you stuff inside and let sit and settle. Anger never stays the same size. Bitterness never stays the same size. It always grows, just like sin! James 1:13-15,) You can’t afford for the sin of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness to grow! Neither can you allow anger, even when it’s justified, to grow! Because all you will be doing is helping the devil accomplish his goal, letting those things grow until they become a “…Real Killer” to you, your relationships, friendships, marriages, families, jobs and churches.
Remember the ‘dish-rinse’ philosophy, there’s nothing to gain in waiting! The longer you wait, the harder it gets! Today is a great day for a new start. So, call them, email them, text them, write them, visit them. Whatever it takes for however long it takes, put the work in and rebuild your relationship ruins! It can be done, it will be done. No More Delays…Today…DEAL WITH IT…before the sun goes down!
Luke 17:3-4, “Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” (MSG)
Matthew 18:21-22, "At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?” Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven." (MSG)
J.P. Olson