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Monday, December 2, 2019

Man Does Not Have a Hell To Put You In Or A Heaven To Keep You Out Of. So Why Let Their Opinion Carry So Much Weight? Man Does Not Have The Finals Say. Man Will Bring Things Up Again; Hold It Over Your Head; Belittle You. But Not God! He Has Said:

The first recorded question God ever asked was, “[Adam]…WHERE ARE YOU?” And it’s a question you need to stop and ask yourself today: “Where Am I…Honestly?” If you don’t know the answer, or you do, but you don’t like it, then today’s devotional is for you!
When God asked Adam, “Where Are You?” he responded by saying, “I HEARD YOU in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (vs. 10 NIV). The New King James Version says it like this, “…I heard Your Voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I HID MYSELF”  
I find it amazing that USUALLY when we get into trouble, God’s Voice is the Only One We Want To Hear!  When we’re sick, in danger, need protection, feel confused, lonely, depressed, discouraged etc…the First Thing We Cry Out Is SPEAK LORD! However, that wasn’t the case with Adam…not when he messed up! And just like Adam, many of us go into HIDING when we mess up! We run away FROM instead of TO the Voice of the Lord! If we could only reach a place of understanding that God is NOT LIKE MAN, we would learn to take our mess to Him instead of trying to hide it from Him (as if that were even possible!)  For even the Psalmist declared:  “Is there ANYPLACE I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You” (Psalm 139:7-12 MSG)
Sorry, But There Is Absolutely NO Hiding From God! So Give It Up!
He Sees You…All Of You…And Yet, Loves You Still! The Bible says, “Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God Put His Love On The Line For Us By Offering His Son In Sacrificial Death While We Were Of No Use Whatever To Him.” (Romans 5:6-8 MSG)
He Loved Us BEFORE We Did What We Did, BEFORE We Said What We Said, BEFORE Weu Thought What We Thought! And He Even Loved Us AFTERWARDS! He Simply Loves You…All Of You…Mistakes, Mess and All! So Stop Trying To Hide From Him! Please understand, God is NOT LIKE MAN!
Man will bring it up again; hold it over your head; brow beat you to death with it; belittle you by it…But Not God! He Has Said: “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—He Won’t Let Us Down; He’ll Be TRUE To Himself. He’ll Forgive Our Sins And Purge Us Of All Wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” (1 John 1:8-10 MSG) Beloved, God Is Ready to Forgive You, Purge You and Clean You of All Wrongdoing! So Why Are You Still Trying To Hide From Him? Isn’t Forgiveness and Cleansing What You Want? Well, You Can’t Get It From Him While Trying to Hide From Him!
Listen To How Much He Loves You: “But, I, Yes I, Am The One Who Takes Care Of Your Sins – That’s What I Do. I Don’t Keep A List Of Your Sins” (Isaiah 43:25 MSG). Now that’s what you call Simply Amazing! If God, of All People, Doesn’t Keep a List, Why Do You Allow Others, and Yourself, to Keep You Stuck In What You Did, Where You Were, Who You Were With etc…? God Himself Said “…I Don’t Keep A List Of Your Sins” So Throw Your List Away, And Throw Away The List Others Keep Trying To Keep On You As Well!
Now, this does not in any way give you a clean slate just so you can dirty it again, for the Word of God Declares:  “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never Again Let Anyone Put A Harness Of Slavery On You” (Galatians 5:1 MSG) The Amplified Bible says it like this: “In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]” (AMP) In other words, He didn’t Redeem You for You to Return to Mess! The Bible says, “As a dog eats its own vomit, so fools recycle silliness” (Proverbs 26:11 MSG) When He Restores You…Don’t Be a Fool and Recycle Your Silly Ways! When He Redeems and Restores You…DON’T RECYCLE YOUR REFUSE! And “Refuse” is defined as “Matter Thrown Away As Worthless” It’s Old French Origin “Refusè” Literally Means “REFUSED”! So Unlike What the Sanitation Department Would Say: I’m Telling You Do Not Recycle! Or Better Yet, Refuse The Refuse!
I also find it amazing the lengths we will go to in order to “HIDE”! We’ll bury ourselves in work, or get involved in an affair, or build a wall around our hearts, or leave a marriage, leave a job, leave a ministry – anything but face the truth! And that’s not what God wants you to do! After all His Word says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32 NLT) So Why “HIDE” From What You Need To Set You FREE?! Truth and Nothing Else will set you free! And whether you are Embraced or Embarrassed by it, as long as you acknowledge it, you will be set free! Some will talk, some will speculate, some will add scenes to your story that were never part of the plot…but THEY are not the focus….You and Your Truth Are! Man Does Not Have a Hell To Put You In Or A Heaven To Keep You Out Of…So Why Let Their Opinion Carry So Much Weight?!
REMEMBER, THE BIBLE SAYS: “But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll ALL have to face God, regardless of our conditions. WE will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to US as a result of OUR actions, either good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 MSG) Did You Catch The Bonus In That Scripture?! It says “…We’ll All Have To Face God, Regardless Of Our Conditions. We Will Appear Before Christ And Take What’s Coming To Us As A Result Of Our Actions, Either Good Or Bad” Saints, No One Is Exempt From Accountability Before God! So The Next Time Someone Attempts To Bring Up Your Stuff…Remind Them That They Have A Date Of Accountability Before God Too! Don’t Worry About What I Did, What I’m Doing Or What I Will Do…Just Mind Your Own Stuff! 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “Stay Calm; Mind Your Own Business; Do Your Own Job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts…” (MSG)

IN ADDITION…THE BIBLE SAYS, “So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side In The Place Of Judgment, Facing God. Your Critical And Condescending Ways Aren’t Going To Improve Your Position There One Bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture: “As I live and breathe,” God says, “every knee will bow before Me; Every tongue will tell the honest truth that I and only I am God.” So tend to your knitting. You’ve Got Your Hands Full Just Taking Care Of Your Own Life Before God.” (Romans 14:10-12 MSG)
Look at it this way: If you were given a Billion Dollars in your bank account, and had only 5 minutes to get it out and your bank is across the street, but you only run in place…what’s going to happen? The truth is, you were given the blessing, it’s yours, got your name on it and it’s even in your bank account, and you have the bank card and access code! The only problem is you have to leave where you are and take steps (progress) across the street to attain it! If not, you can’t complain that you never received the blessing…you just didn’t progress in steps to take hold of it! Maturity is the same! You have to gain ground by taking steps towards Accountability for your deeds, words and speech! “Adams”, you have to grow up and not point fingers at Eve! Likewise, let God take care of your haters, gossipers, tale-bearers and the like! You Are Responsible For YOU and Accountable to GOD! That’s What Matters! So Come Out Of Hiding and Be Truthful You! Even If Your “Truthful” Is Painful and Not So Pretty! Until you do that, you’ll remain where you are, running in place and gaining muscle and strength that is applied to absolutely nothing!
Well Today, STOP IT! Be Truthful With You, God and Others and then MOVE ON…
Look at it this way: Neither God, Adam, Eve or Even the Serpent Stayed in the Garden After the Fall! There Was Far Too Much of a Story That Had To Continue to Be Lived and Written! Everything Didn’t Stop In the Garden When Adam and Eve Fell, And Your Whole Life Has No Reason To Be Put On Permanent Pause Because of Your Failures or Falls Either! So, Keep Moving! There’s More Story To Tell! The Good News is, Adam was naked but God clothed him; he was guilty but God cleansed him; he was anxious but God comforted him. And if you come to Him today God will cleanse you, clothe you, and comfort you too! He’s just waiting for the opportunity to do it! So when are you going to finally give it to Him?!
Yes, We Messed Up! Yes, We Got It Wrong! Yes, Were Were Disobedient, Sinned and Broke Commandment and Covenant! But Is It Fatal? NO! Our Failure Does Not Make Us Illegitimate! We Still Belong to the Body of Christ! Yes, Adam messed up, but how wonderful to know that he was only the First Adam!
Romans 5:12-21, “You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn’t sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, Who Got Us Into This, Also Points Ahead To The One Who Will Get Us Out Of It. Yet the rescuing gift is not exactly parallel to the death-dealing sin. If one man’s sin put crowds of people at the dead-end abyss of separation from God, Just Think What God’s Gift Poured Through One Man, Jesus Christ, Will Do! There’s no comparison between that death-dealing sin And This Generous, Life-Giving Gift. The verdict on that one sin was the death sentence; The Verdict On The Many Sins That Followed Was This Wonderful Life Sentence. If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, Can You Imagine The Breathtaking Recovery Life Makes, Sovereign Life, In Those Who Grasp With Both Hands This Wildly Extravagant Life-Gift, This Grand Setting-Everything-Right, That The One Man Jesus Christ Provides? Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, Another Person Did It Right And Got Us Out Of It. But More Than Just Getting Us Out Of Trouble, He Got Us Into Life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; One Man Said Yes To God and Put Many In The Right. All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call GRACE. When it’s sin versus grace, Grace Wins Hands Down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, Because God Is Putting Everything Together Again Through The Messiah, Invites Us Into Life—A Life That Goes On And On And On, World Without End.” (Msg)
In other words ‘Adam’s, the whole world does not cease to exist because you messed up! As long as you have JESUS, there is always recovering grace just waiting to grasp you! No matter how bad or how hard your fall, you don’t have to hide! You Are the Heritage of the Lord…So Stop Hiding…Come Out And Reclaim Your Proper Place In the Kingdom! Don’t Allow What Happened in YOUR Garden of Eden to Make You Forget What Happened in HIS Garden of Gethsemane! You Are Grace Covered…So Don’t Hide, Be Honest, And Be Healed!
Jeremiah 23:23-24, “I am everywhere – both near and far, in heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from Me.” (CEV)
Job 34:21, “God watches everything we do.” (CEV)
“The person who surrenders absolutely to God, with no reservations, is absolutely safe. From this safe hiding-place he can see the devil, but the devil cannot see him.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
 “Religion is one of the safest places to hide from God.” (Richard Rohr)
J.P. Olson

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving: Today's Reading. There Are Lost People Who Need A Little Of What We Have A Lot Of! Today Is A Good Day To Share Some Of Your Food/Fruits, Share A Pot Of Love, A Plate Of Joy, A Cup Of Peace. What Did The Lepers From 2 Kings Do?

2 Kings 7:9, “Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news AND WE ARE KEEPING IT TO OURSELVES…” (NIV)
So, Thanksgiving is here and it immediately makes me think about sitting at the family table. You see, somewhere in the ‘Fathers Handbook’, I’m convinced it says that the father automatically gets to carve the turkey, or the ham, or the roast. And most men don’t mind; they actually feel very fatherly when they get to do that, very manly sitting at the head of the table with their super carving knife. But I have observed something rather odd. Now, if you come from a huge family like mine, you’re accustomed to large portions of chicken, turkey, ham, ribs, rice, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, yams, and the like. In other words, you’re used to there being a lot of food! Yet, even with all of this food available, often someone ends up with an empty plate! See, sometimes at a large dinner gathering, you’ve got someone who loads up their own plate, starts chowing down and shortstops all the food where they are! Ever notice that it all seems to pile up sometimes in a corner and doesn’t get moved past there? After all, it’s not going to bother the person whose plate is piled high, and they’re satisfied stuffing their face! But while they’re enjoying a full plate of food, some of us end up with nothing in our corner, because they got there’s, but didn’t continue to pass the trays to those who didn’t! However, the way this should work is that you take what you need and you pass it on to others who don’t have any yet. Sad to say but when you’ve got plenty, it’s awfully easy to forget those who haven’t been served anything as yet!
With that in mind, I want you to travel with me to Matthew 10. Jesus is speaking to His disciples, who have in a sense been sitting at the dinner table and being very well fed. They have sat in many meetings with Jesus, they have heard, seen and received a lot, and now He calls them together in Matthew 10:8 and says, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons…” (NIV) He’s sending them out now. And He does so with these added words, “…Freely you have received; FREELY GIVE.” (NIV) In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look, I passed it to you, not just so you could be full (especially of yourselves), but you’re supposed to pass it on to others!” But the problem comes in because we, as His disciples, get so satisfied with OUR healing; OUR restoration; OUR renewal; and OUR salvation and deliverance, that we forget that we have been commissioned to ensure that others receive all of these same blessings too. It’s wonderful that we’re healed, restored, renewed, saved and delivered, but what about those who don’t have that testimony yet?
The word “selfish” is what immediately comes to mind. The word “selfish” is defined as “to be concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure at the expense and consideration of others.”
Which takes us to Deuteronomy 15:7-9, “When you happen on someone who’s in trouble or needs help among your people with whom you live in this land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t look the other way pretending you don’t see him. Don’t keep a tight grip on your purse. No. Look at him, open your purse, lend whatever and as much as he needs. Don’t count the cost. Don’t listen to that SELFISH voice saying, “It’s almost the seventh year, the year of All-Debts-Are-Canceled,” and turn aside and leave your needy neighbor in the lurch, refusing to help him. He’ll call God’s attention to you and your blatant sin.” (MSG).
For Those Who Don’t Know: Selfishness Is Sin! Which takes me back to the family table. Remember now, this is the FAMILY TABLE. Which makes this behavior all the more worse! How do you sit at a table with more than enough, and yet allow your FAMILY to go without?! Likewise, how do we, as believers who serve a self-sacrificing Savior, have all that we have, and yet we’re Selfish?!
Galatians 5:16-18, “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of SELFISHNESS. For there is a root of SINFUL SELF-INTEREST in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with SELFISHNESS. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?” (MSG)
In other words, if we imitate how our Savior lived, we can then live better. He was forgiving, loving, compassionate, gentle, kind, patient, and giving. I wonder would the people around us be able to say that they see those very same attributes in us, His disciples?
John 13:34-35, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. IN THE SAME WAY I LOVED YOU, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they SEE the love you have for each other.” (MSG).
Do we love as unconditionally as Jesus? Of course not, that’s why so many are sitting at the corner of the family table with no provision while we pig out in our little section of the family table! As believers, we are indeed held to a higher standard in society, no matter how bad the society may get.
Even Judas was provided for at the family table, how much more should we then provide for the least, the lost, the lonely, the last, the looked over, and the left out?!
Galatians 6:7-8, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants SELFISHNESS, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” (MSG)
If You Don’t Want to Reap Selfishness, Stop Sowing It!
Let’s travel back to our opening text. There’s a story in the Old Testament in the book of 2 Kings. It tells about four lepers who lived outside a city that was being starved to death by an enemy siege. Finally they decided just to surrender to the enemy thinking, “Well, you know what? We’re probably going to be killed anyway, or we’re going to die of starvation. So, maybe they’ll take us and feed us, or we’ll just die like we’re going to die here.” However, what happened was they found out that God had performed a miracle and driven the enemy out. The camp was empty. And they ended up with all of this food that had been left behind! They’re sitting there eating and chowing down all night long while people are still starving to death in the city that they just came from!
Finally, by the morning light, one of them says, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news AND WE ARE KEEPING IT TO OURSELVES.” (7:9 NIV) What a picture of us as American Christians! Think about it: We’re the spiritually wealthiest Christians in all of history: We have seminars, and workshops, and radio programs, and TV programs, and conferences, convocations, magazines, books, blogs, ipods; ipads; tablets; laptops; and websites. It’s just so easy to get caught up in a comfortable cycle of listening and just saying, “Well, you know, that was a nice sermon, wasn’t it?” Going to Bible study, and attending a fellowship we enjoy, going to concerts, and feeling real spiritual a lot of the time. And honestly with all of this at our disposal, we ought to be growing. We ought to be filling up with spiritual resources– and loading up on the Lord, loading up on His truth-HOWEVER NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS! “…Freely you have received all of this; FREELY GIVE.”
Now some may not like what I’m about to say, but I will say it anyhow, and I stand by it 100%! Everything we do as Christians CANNOT have a price tag attached to it! We say we want unbelievers saved, but they have to pay for the Gospel we received for free! Well, what happens when the book would be a tremendous blessing to them, but they can’t afford the $19.99 price tag? What happens when that conference would’ve changed her life, but she couldn’t afford the registration, hotel rate and air fare to attend? What happens when he would’ve been greatly encouraged, but couldn’t attend your men’s retreat because he’s unemployed? Jesus met people where they were! Why don’t we?
I’ve been asked for the last 12 years why I don’t turn the devotionals into a book? Or why haven’t I published my book yet? Or why do I post all of my bible studies, sermons and devotionals on my website for free? Well, this is the reason in a nutshell: Not everyone can afford a price tag! But what I’ve found personally priceless is the Pastor in Nambia who emailed his thanks for allowing him to use a bible study series that brought souls into his church. Or the missionary in Botswana that used a devotional to teach the children about having dreams. Or the Evangelist in Brooklyn that preached a devotional because it encouraged her heart personally. Or the Sister in Detroit that rediscovered Worship through the ‘Quiet Time With God Series and my music’. Or the Brother in Atlanta that’s newly married and follows faithfully every ‘Monday’s Devotionals to see how he can apply the lessons to his life and become a better father, husband and man.
Those things were possible because what they needed was within reach and free. When I hear that it encouraged, empowered or inspired someone to do and be better, that’s the gift to me!
I share all of this because my heart grieves for those who need but are not being helped! …someone is wondering where they’re going to live; what they’re going to eat; where will they get coats for a cold season; when will a job finally come through; what will I say to the kids for Christmas, when I have no gifts for them? How do we celebrate Thanksgiving when we don’t feel as if we have anything to be thankful for? How will I get the lights and gas back on? Then, you have those that are trying to pull themselves out of the bed just one more day. Those who are depressed, discouraged, wounded, desperate, in pain, and just all around frustrated with life!
You have no idea what the planting of your small seed may one day yield for someone else’s harvest.
You see, Jesus said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48). Therefore, shouldn’t we (believers; the church; the disciples of Christ; the children of Light; the children of God) then be found giving as much as we’re getting? Truth is, I can’t afford to be! Because when I needed God, my mother was there and what I learned from her is to always share the unconditional love of God and to do for others as I want done for me. I needed someone, and someone was there. Likewise, I want to be there as God’s mouthpiece for the person who is at the end of their rope. I want to teach them how to hold on even if it’s to the last string. There Are Lost People Who Need At Least A Little Of What We Have A Lot Of!
So, What Did The Lepers From 2 Kings Ultimately Do? “They went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them…” (vs. 10 NIV) We need to do the same. Those who are perishing, hurting, depressed, discouraged, need us to call out to them because we remember what it was like on the other side of the wall. We need to tell them what God did. We need to tell them what we’ve found. We need to share our discovery. We need to tell them the Good News. We need to feed those who are so desperately hungry, both naturally and spiritually. Don’t get me wrong, it’s alright to pray for your cup to run over, just make sure you amend your prayer to say and Lord give me a saucer for the overflow so I can pass the blessing on! Don’t sit at the table full, while others are empty, and you have extra!
Pass the Plate Please!
Every believer should be actively involved in reaching the lost; rescuing the dying somehow…including you, in an outreach to people that you are uniquely close to, or by starting or supporting outreach programs through your church, or by giving time or talent to a Christian ministry that is actively rescuing lost people. Maybe even by changing your life plans. But just don’t keep piling it up on your plate, because there are people all around you who are dying of starvation both naturally and spiritually.
Today Is A Good Day To Share Some Of Your Food, And Why Not Start With Some Fruit? Share A Pot Of Love, A Plate Of Joy, A Cup Of Peace, A Forkful Of Longsuffering, A Spoonful Of Gentleness, A Glass Of Goodness, A Saucer Of Faith, A Serving Of Meekness And A Good Portion Of Temperance? (Galatians 5:22-23).
Today, Let Us BE the People of God in Both Our Word and Deed!
Today, Let’s Pass the Plate to Those Starving Who Need Sustenance…Naturally AND Spiritually!
 “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” (Pablo Picasso)
J.P. Olson

Monday, November 18, 2019

We Don’t Need Faith For What Has Happened Already, We Need Faith For What Is About To Happen. Test The People, Places And Things In Your Life And See What Needs To Be Restored And What Needs To Be Replaced! No More Hesitating & Procrastinating

Isaiah 43:18-19, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)
There is this particular amusement park that I visited years ago, and they had two roller coasters side by side and two lines to get to them. Over on one line was a sign that said, "Forward." Over on the other line, a sign said - yeah, you guessed it - "Backward." Either way, it was your choice. You could ride looking forward or looking backward. But you had to pick one!
The older I get, the more I realize there are two lines in life as well and there are two cars you can ride in. One says, "Forward" and the other says, "Backward." Either one you pick, it will be your choice. Frankly, I don't want to ride looking back at where I've already been. No, I’d rather ride looking ahead to where I'm going. I hope you do, too.
And that's what God wants for you. Don’t believe it? Just listen to the Bible: Isaiah 43:18-19, here is what it says, “Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening now. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)
God wants today to be the first day of the rest of your life, not just another day of what your life has already been up until now. This can be page one of a whole new volume or just another page of the same old story. Either way, the choice will always be yours to make.
Maybe you've been riding too long looking backward. You keep rehearsing and reliving the hurt of your past, your failures, the painful losses you've experienced, and the regrets over what you've done or what you should have done or what was done to you. But that's the past, and none of it can be changed. But if you don't move beyond the pain, the anger, the bitterness, the self-pity, the grief, and the self-condemnation - if you keep dwelling on that, you'll miss the part of your life that can be changed - the future.
Every time you tell a story it’s always past tense, because instead of your past being a reference, you’ve allowed it to become a residence. My friend, this is not the purpose of your past. You are not to live in the prison of your past confined to all the people, places and things that didn’t go right. Living like that is wrong! All you see is “been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” All you see is what they said and what they did and what you didn’t accomplish. But that was then, this is Now! And what does God say about Now? "...See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW...” (NLV)
One of God's great representatives, Paul, said, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
It’s time we stop facing BACKWARD, and instead start facing FORWARD, as we press TOWARD, the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus!
No more back peddling, no more staring in the rear-view mirror as if we can go back and undo what we’ve done or what’s been done to us. No, Today Is The Day That We Stop Hesitating, Stop Procrastinating, And Stop Remaining Stuck And Stagnant. Today Is The Day We Move Forward, Toward And Upward! Today Is The Day We Change Direction And Face The Right Way!
We Don’t Need Faith For What Has Happened Already, We Need Faith For What Is About To Happen. We have to prepare for what God is going to do, not what He has already done!
Stop treating your life like a hamster on a wheel, constantly moving, but going nowhere but in circles!
This Means You Have To Do Quite A Bit Of Self-Examination. You need to test the people, places and things in your life and see what needs to be restored and what needs to be replaced! It’s time for new, not just the same old, that you keep slapping patches on in hopes it will 'this time' hold itself together.
Jesus is the Lord of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of clean slates. You need to come to Him and let Him release you from being tied to the people who've hurt you, by getting His grace to forgive them. You need to ask His help to begin to define your life, not by what has happened, but by what's going to happen; what can happen because of Jesus in your life. Yes, it is Jesus alone that still makes the difference!
Think about it: The lame walked because of Him; the deaf heard because of Him; the blind was able to see because of Him; the adulterous were forgiven because of Him; a 12 year old girl was brought back to life because of Him; the woman with the issue of blood was healed because of Him; the four friends were able to get their friend delivered off that mat because of Him! The testimonies are endless regarding the change that Jesus makes in the lives of people! And if you dare to allow Him to help you get past your past, He can do some wondrous things in your life too! But you can’t stay stuck in the same place! You can’t keep turning backwards. You have to move forward. You have to change direction. You have to do something different.
Can you imagine if the woman at the well stayed there; can you imagine if Lazarus would’ve ignored Jesus call; can you imagine if Mary said, ‘sorry God, but this is just too outrageous for me to be a part of’; can you imagine if Ruth said, ‘nope, I’m going back to what’s familiar’; can you imagine if Abraham said, ‘leave my family and go somewhere without a destination in mind, I don't think so?’; can you imagine if Esther said, ‘oh well, at least I made it to the palace, hope the rest of you survive somehow’; can you imagine if Deborah said, ‘Barack I don’t have to go with you so I’m not’; Can you imagine if Gideon didn’t listen to God but kept all the useless people he had with him? All of these people had to do something unfamiliar, uncommon, and uncomfortable to see something new and different. And my friend you will have to be put in the very same position!
Yes, that means you may have to work on an auxiliary you never have before; yes, that means you’ll have to finally go back to school and finish your education; yes, that means you may have to accept that, that particular friendship and relationship has run their course; yes, that means you may have to take a job in a field you know nothing about; yes, that means you may have to take this next journey alone; yes, that means you may have to break out the box by reshaping your inner-circle; yes, that may even mean a change in the most simple of things (a change in hairstyle or hair color; a different style of dress or suit; a different restaurant; different foods; learning about different cultures or a different language.). In other words, you can’t expect to see something new if you keep staring at something old. You can’t expect to experience something new when you keep hanging around something old.
You have to force yourself to face the challenge of doing new things, so you don’t die with the same ole, same ole.
“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past. See, I will do a new thing. It will begin happening NOW. Will you not know about it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” (NLV)
Your new thing is trying to happen NOW, but do you see it? No! Do you know it? No! Because the old has your undivided attention! And the most expensive thing in the world is paying attention to people who don’t value you! Enough is enough!
God is trying to do such remarkable things that you’ve never seen or heard before, and you’re missing out on all of it because your eyes have a distorted vision of the past only, and no insight of the future that can’t wait to be revealed!
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “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.” (MSG)
As hard as your past may have been, it is but small potatoes compared to the coming good times! There’s so much greater ahead of you if only you’d stop focusing behind you!
Listen, if that bad relationship was enough to take you out you wouldn’t be alive today. Maybe the reason you haven’t seen the right person for you is because all you can see is the person who was wrong for you! Forgive them, forgive you, and face forward! You have no idea what and who you’re missing out on! Stop reliving, stop rehearsing, and stop rehashing. Your life is a great ride, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more if you’ll face the right way! Stop complaining about your former church, you haven’t been there in years! Focus on where you are now, and where you’re on your way to, it’s a much more exciting view! Stop retelling the stories of coworkers that betrayed you in 1997, you do know its 2019 right? Yes, dad left (when you were 6) and if you’re not careful, you’ll be 60 and still telling the story of when he was supposed to come back with your bag of chips and never did. Yes, that person broke your heart, and believe it or not, but your heart is still beating! Who knew someone could break your heart and still not stop your pulse? They picked her over you for the promotion. I get it, you’re more qualified. But at the end of the day, you still have a job, a paycheck, and you can still pay your bills, you my friend are still ahead of the game!
I’ll even go so far as to tell you to stop talking down to yourself and about yourself. Very few of us are the same size we were in high school, and guess what? We are still here, so what exactly do we have to complain about? If you don’t like your weight, change your eating habits, diet, go to the gym, and see your doctor. But don’t keep taking out the family photos from 1972 to compare yourself to who you are in 2019!
The dog you loved when you were 10 is dead. You do know you can get another dog right?
Are you getting this? You don’t have to stay stuck, you don’t have to be complacent, you don’t have to live in your comfort zone or your past. You are free to change, to move and to do something different and new, so do it! Don’t let yet another year come and go and you find yourself at December 31, 2019 with the same old story of what you’re going to do different in 2018!
No! Today is your day to change position and direction! We’re not going over that old history any longer!
Listen, when you can start your story and anybody can finish it at the drop of a hat, it’s been told too often! Enough! Take a pen, get a new book, and start a new chapter! Preferably, one no one has heard of before! Let people see things in your life now and wonder when did you do that, when did you go there, when did you finish that? Instead of, ‘yeah, I remember you told me, quite a few times before.’
Get out of your Past, into your Present and preparing for your Future! You’ve been focusing behind you long enough, today, decide to Face Forward and enjoy a Better Ride with a Better View of the Better Things Coming Just for You!
“If you think your best days are behind you, they are. If you think your best days are ahead of you, they are.” (Jon Gordon)
“How you see your future is much more important than what happened in your past.” (Zig Ziglar)
 “Your life isn’t behind you; your memories are behind you. Your life is always ahead of you.
Today is a new day – seize it!” (Steve Maraboli)
 “The past is like using your rear-view mirror in the car, it’s good to glance back and see how far you’ve come, but if you stare too long, you’ll miss what’s right in front of you.” (Author Unknown)
J.P. Olson

Monday, November 11, 2019

So, What's Choking You? The Truth Is, Little By Little, Day By Day, Fear, Anxiety, Worry, Stress, Distractions And The Like Will Slowly Creep Into Your Life And Suffocate Faith Right Out Of It!

So What Is Choking You? Cares And Anxieties Of The World, Distractions Of This Day And Age; Pleasure And Delight And FALSE Glamour; The Deceit Of Riches; And The Craving Of Things!
Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and CHOKE and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless.” (Mark 4:19 AMP)
The word “Choke” is defined as “to prevent (someone) from breathing by constricting or obstructing the throat or depriving of air; to have trouble breathing; to hinder movement; to make speechless with strong emotion.
The word “Suffocate” is defined as “to die or cause to die from lack of air or inability to breathe; to feel or cause to feel trapped or oppressed.” It’s Latin Origin “suffocare” literally means “to stifle”, from “fauces” which literally means “the throat”.
Stop allowing things and stuff to choke out the Word of God you’ve received! Maintain a lively hope, and a lively faith. God has no desire for you to die, but for you to live! “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10); “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17).
So, what’s choking you? Hanging out among the thorns! Which is why today is a good day to do some spiritual gardening? Put your gardening gear on and get to uprooting and killing anything that would choke the life of the Word of God out of your life!
Listen: If our significance as a person or our sense of security is tied to anything other than our relationship with God, worrying about stuff and things will choke the life right out of you. Because true happiness lies in trusting God for what you need, knowing if it’s right He’ll provide it, and if not He’ll give you something better. “Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].” (James 1:17 AMP); “For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11 AMP); “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 AMP)
Remember You are a Believer, and as Such, You Believe the Word of the Lord: “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People Who Don’t Know God And The Way He Works Fuss Over These Things, But You Know Both God And How He Works. Steep Your Life In God-Reality, God-Initiative, And God-Provisions. Don’t Worry About Missing Out. You’ll Find All Your Everyday Human Concerns Will Be Met.” (Matthew 6:30-33 Msg). Did You Catch That Last Line? “You’ll Find All Your Everyday Human Concerns Will Be Met.” And when will ALL your concerns be met? EVERYDAY! In other words, there is not one single day of the 366 you receive (yep, He meets yours needs even in a leap year!) where your God forgets to meet your daily concerns! Unbelievers fret, worry, panic, set-up back up plans, and lose sleep and hair! But as believers our sleep is sweet! Because we have the promise of resting in the Lord, even when we’re tired, frustrated, stressed, we still have the promise of Rest! “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG). That’s Our Promise! How dare you as a Believer Let stuff and things choke that promise out of your life? The Word admonishes us: “That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8 MSG) And if you need that Scripture in a nutshell, here it is: “(FOR WE WALK BY FAITH, NOT BY SIGHT)” (KJV).
In the parable of the sower Jesus said, “Other people are like the seeds sown among the thorn bushes. These are the ones who hear the message, but the worries about this life, the love for riches, and all other kinds of desires crowd in and CHOKE the message, and they don't bear fruit.” (Mark 4:18-19 GNT).
So What’s Choking You? Cares And Anxieties Of The World, Distractions Of This Day And Age; Pleasure And Delight And FALSE Glamour; The Deceit Of Riches; And The Craving Of Things! This is what’s “Choking” you! This is what’s preventing you from opening your mouth and declaring the promises of God that you’ve heard! This is what’s hindering your movement in walking in the promises of God; this is the worries that are strangling you with such strong emotion that you’re speechless and breathless! And one of the most dangerous things you can do is to cut off someone’s breath! No breath? We have allowed the Cares and Anxieties of the World, Distractions of this day and age; Pleasure and Delight and FALSE Glamour; the Deceit of Riches; and the Craving of Things to put our breath/our air/our life in jeopardy! How? Because the Bible is clear? “But he answered and said, It is written, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDETH OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (Matthew 4:4). How do we expect to Live without digesting the Bread of Life? And how can we digest with a constricted throat?
So the very next time you let the concerns in this world cause you to feel a spiritual “Shortness of Breath”, inhale this: “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.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG).
Listen: I had the unfortunate experience of both choking on food and on a vitamin, and neither was a fun experience! Be because of the experience, I learned to be more cautious when I eat my food and when I take a vitamin. I take small bites of my food and chew it well before swallowing. In other words, I’ve experienced the feeling of losing your breath and I didn’t like it so I took precautions. Likewise, many of us have allowed the Cares and Anxieties of the World, Distractions of this day and age; Pleasure and Delight and False Glamour; the Deceit of Riches; and the Craving of Things to choke us. But as the old saying goes, “When you know better, do better.
With that said, today, take the time to examine your life. Locate the areas of care, fear, fret, worry, anxiety, distractions, deceit and even the desires of unnecessary things and uproot the thorns! Take today’s devotional as the label you find on children’s toys, “Caution, small pieces may cause choking.” Because the truth is, little by little, day by day, fear and the like will slowly creep into your life and suffocate faith right out of it!
Inhale the Word, Exhale the Worry, and Live the Promise!
J.P. Olson

Sunday, November 10, 2019

What Prayer Is and What Prayer Is Not.

Generally speaking, why is prayer so important? Prayer is how God’s people respond to him in thankfulness and praise. Prayer is how God’s people cry out to him for mercy and deliverance. Prayer is how God’s people call upon him to accomplish the work of his kingdom. 

In short, prayer is how we actively demonstrate our utter dependence on him. It honors him as the source of all blessing.

Because the enemy does not want us to pray we are often under attack.  The enemy loves to isolate believers and try to weaken their effectiveness.  This is especially true for Prayer Leaders and ministries that are set up to stand in the gap.  Thankfully, according to Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they will run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  This is not the time to give up but to press in and press on!

Throughout the Bible, believers are called to pray. But what is prayer? What does it mean to "pray without ceasing?" And does prayer really make a difference?
In order to develop a clear idea of prayer, we must first have a clear idea of God. Biblically speaking, God is a personal being. This is critical to prayer because it means that God is a person we can interact with, that He has a will and that we are able to relate to Him on a meaningful level. If He were impersonal, then prayer would not be meaningful. If He were personal, but uncaring and distant, prayer wouldn't serve a purpose.

Not only is God personal, He is also loving (1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16). This is also important in relation to prayer. If God were personal, but uncaring or unkind, then prayer might do us more harm than good! God is not only loving He is all loving (omnibenevolent). In relation to prayer, this means that God always desires the best for us because He loves us.
God is also all powerful (omnipotent), meaning that no prayer is beyond His ability to answer, "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). If God were less than all powerful, then we would have no assurance that He could answer or even hear our prayers.

The fact that God is all-knowing (omniscient) is also significant to the concept of prayer. If God were limited, then He would not know all that is happening in His creation. If this were the case, He might overlook our prayers because they might be beyond His knowledge. Fortunately, the Bible is clear that God knows everything (see, for instance, Psalm 139:2-4; 147: 4-5; Isaiah 46:10). In relation to God's omniscience, Jesus said, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:8).

God is also wise and holy. He knows what is best for us, as well as what will lead us to holiness rather than sin. He is also immanent, meaning that God is active in His creation in a personal way, not only directing greater matters of history, but also involved in the life of everyone. This means that no prayer is too great for Him, but also that no prayer is too small for Him.

What Prayer Is Not
Prayer is not magic. We cannot summon God as though He were a genie, waiting to grant our wishes without regard for our circumstances or the consequences.
Prayer does not make demands. While we can make requests of God in prayer, we dare not make demands. God is the Creator of the universe and does not take orders from us.
Prayer is for our benefit, not God's. We need a relationship with God, available to us through Jesus Christ and engaged primarily through prayer, because we were made to function best when we are in a proper relationship with our Creator.
Prayer is not a guarantee against suffering. "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33); "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Prayer is not an opportunity for us to show off. "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men" (Matthew 6:5).

What Is Prayer?
So what is prayer? Prayer is a relationship, wherein we humbly communicate, worship, and sincerely seek God's face, knowing that He hears us, loves us and will respond, though not always in a manner we may expect or desire. Prayer can encompass confession, praise, adoration, supplication, intercession and more.

In addition, our attitude in prayer is important. We must not be haughty, but humble (Ephesians 4:2; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6, etc.). Seen in this light, to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) means, in one sense, that we must always strive to have a prayerful attitude. Our prayers must come often and regularly, not from legalistic duty, but from a humble heart, realizing our dependence on God in every aspect of our lives.

Now, I haven't got this whole praying without ceasing thing mastered yet, but I'm certainly getting it more and more! I’m learning the benefit of "Praying in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests."

And truth is with all that’s going on in the world, do we really need anyone to encourage us to pray more? The loss of life, attacks, cruelty and the likes. Do we really need someone to say never stop praying? Our children are dying more frequently, younger and more violently, do we really need someone to call us and remind us to pray?

We Are Indeed Living In Some Of The Scariest Of Times, YET, We Have The Advantage Of Constant Communication With Our Creator Who Is In Control Of All Things. So, Who Wouldn’t Talk To Him More Often?!