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Monday, January 14, 2019

The Sun May Rise Tomorrow, But You May Not. Wake Up! As Long As You Prefer Dealing With Your Sins, You Won’t Seek Deliverance From Them! There Is No Eraser For Your Mistakes, But There Is

Revelation 2:21, “I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality” (NLT)     

“The Sun May Rise Tomorrow, But You May Not. Repent Today.” 

Remember: As Long As You Prefer Dealing With Your Sins, You Won’t Seek
Deliverance From Them!  “There Is No Eraser For Your Mistakes, But There Is Repentance.” 

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” (Augustine) 

 If there’s anything we ought to be thankful and grateful for, it’s the fact that when God tells you to repent, He gives you TIME and GRACE to do it! However, if you don’t, there is a price called ‘Consequences’ that you’ll have to pay. The word “Consequence” is defined as: “a result or effect.” Its Latin Origin “Consequentia”, from “Consequi” literally means “to follow closely.” In other words, you can make whatever choice you like, just remember that your choice is never alone, consequences are always in its company…following closely at that! 

Listen: Despite what the naysayers and mockers would have you believe, Christ’s Coming is not Speculation! In Fact, the New Testament refers to it over 300 Times! I Guess That Makes it a Pretty Big Deal Don’t You Think?! Even Peter says, “The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost. The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon. On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat. But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that! My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace.” (2 Peter 3:9-14 CEV). That’s our challenge today!

“Satan does not want you to repent at all. But if he fails in his attempt, the next best plan is to delay your repentance. He tries to tell you that it will be easier later on. That’s a lie. The longer things go on, the harder it gets to repent. Don’t wait. Do it today!” 

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” (AMP) God’s Responsibility is to Provide You With a Way of Escape; However, Your Responsibility is to Pray for the Discernment to See it and the Wisdom to Take it! 

Please keep in mind, Sin is Always a Choice, and like it or not, so are the Consequences! Because if you didn’t choose, you wouldn’t suffer the consequences of a choice you did not make! Which is why personal accountability and responsibility need to always be vital in the life and walk and decision making of every person! And even more dangerous, if you choose to continue in sin, you risk reaching a place where your ability to say “No” is so weakened, you become enslaved to what you’ve chosen, even when you’re full aware of the consequences!  
Romans 1:28-32, “Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. AND IT’S NOT AS IF THEY DON’T KNOW BETTER. THEY KNOW PERFECTLY WELL THEY’RE SPITTING IN GOD’S FACE. AND THEY DON’T CARE—WORSE, THEY HAND OUT PRIZES TO THOSE WHO DO THE WORST THINGS BEST!” (MSG) 

So, what will your CHOICE be today? Are you going to repent while you still have time? Or are you going to wait until the clock stops and so does your opportunity for redemption? 

One counselor writes, “I kept trying NOT to commit a particular sin, praying about it over and over, only to do it again. Finally, I got mad at God and cried out, ‘Why don’t you help me with this?’ He answered, ‘Because you aren’t disgusted with it yet. You’re still enjoying it.’ I protested, ‘I do not. I hate it.’ God replied, ‘If you hated it enough you’d quit it.’ In that moment I realized that I enjoyed the rewards of sin more than the rewards of obedience. I also discovered something else; I couldn’t hate sin enough by the power of my own fleshly will, to come to true repentance. I stood helpless in corruption. Repentance is a gift of love which comes from God. And until that love is allowed to work in us, touching and exposing those carefully guarded areas, we cannot change.”  

Does that sound a little like your prayers? “Lord, stop me. I don’t want to do this anymore. I hate this. I want to change. Etc…” Well, if truth be told, unlike Moses, we don’t want to stop sinning because we are, “…enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
(Hebrews 11:24-25 TLB). Now that Scripture in full declares, “It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but CHOSE to share ill-treatment with God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (TLB). Remember, Your Sin is Your Choice and Your Consequences Follow Closely Behind!  Moses had a choice to make and so do we! So, you have to stop with the, “Lord, if you want to help me You can take this away from me” prayers! And take more accountability and responsibility for the deliberate choices you’ve been making to “…enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” It’s time to stop attempting to justify sin, make excuses for it, reason about it, or label it with pretty unassuming names!

Furthermore, the Word of God declares: "The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live" (2 Peter 3:10-11 CEV) The Message Bible, says it like this: “But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief...Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life?” (MSG). And that word “Essential” is defined as “Absolutely Necessary.” Yes, it is Absolutely Necessary, for us to Repent While We Still Have Time and Live Holy Lives Because: “…the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” (Matthew 24:36 MSG).              

Believe it or not, but we need to be constantly reminded of Christ’s return. Why? Because critics have denied, rationalized and cast doubt! In fact, the Bible warns “First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, “So what’s happened to the promise of His Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.” (2 Peter 3:4 MSG). And that’s exactly how the world is living, but worse than that, that’s how the CHURCH is living! And why is that so dangerous for us? Because the Bible declares: “That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]” (Ephesians 5:27 AMP). Did you catch that? He’s coming back for us, the believer, the church. However, He’s not coming to take us back just any kind of way! We are to be “…WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE…” The New Life Versionsays it like this: “Christ did this so the church might stand before Him in shining-greatness. There is to be NO SIN OF ANY KIND IN IT. IT IS TO BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME.” (NLV). Be honest now, can the church today really say this is our testimony? And since we know the answer to that question is a resounding ‘NO’, don’t you think now is a really good time to repent and return, especially since we don’t even have the privilege of knowing God’s time-table?! 

With that said, let’s be mindful of a few Scriptures:

1 Peter 4:17-19, “IT’S JUDGMENT TIME FOR GOD’S OWN FAMILY. WE’RE FIRST IN LINE. If it starts with us, think what it’s going to be like for those who refuse God’s Message! If good people barely make it, What’s in store for the bad? So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll keep on doing it.” (MSG)

Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (AMP)

Are you now beginning to see just how vitally important it is to restore your relationship with the Lord?! People of God, no matter how bad you’ve messed up, no matter how far you’ve fallen down, repent, and be restored, today, while you still have time! Remember: Even in an hourglass, it does finally reach a point where the last grain of sand falls, and there’s no more time left. Therefore, remember 2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says, ‘At the acceptable time (the time of grace) I listened to you, and I helped you on the day of salvation.’ Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.” (AMP) Embrace this time of grace or miss the day of visitation! Luke 19:41-44, “When the city came into view, he wept over it. “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you! BUT NOW IT’S TOO LATE. In the days ahead your enemies are going to bring up their heavy artillery and surround you, pressing in from every side. They’ll smash you and your babies on the pavement. Not one stone will be left intact. ALL THIS BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T RECOGNIZE AND WELCOME GOD’S PERSONAL VISIT.” (MSG) 

Then, Paul adds, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NLT).  

So, are you “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Titus 2:13 NAS)? Are you living as though it’s near, by staying grounded in the Word? Are you diligent at home and at work, grabbing every opportunity to sprinkle salt and shed light? (Matthew 5:13-16, “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?

You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)? If you are being salt and light, don’t stop, if you aren’t, get started!  

In a Nutshell: Repent…While There’s Still Time! 

Matthew 3:8, “So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin];” (AMP) 

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 

“Repent is perhaps the most hopeful and encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary.” (Jeffrey R. Holland) 

 “True repentance hates the sin, and not merely the penalty; and it hates the sin most of all because it has discovered and felt God’s love.” (W.M. Taylor) 

“There is no repentance in the grave.” (J.C. Ryle) 

“Genuine repentance must bear the seal of a corrected life.” (Lewis F. Korns) 

“No one can begin a new life, unless he repent of the old.” (Saint Augustine) 

“Regret is not a proactive feeling. It is situated in disappointment, sorrow, even remorse. It merely wishes things were different without an act to cause a difference.

However, repentance is different. Repentance is an admission of, hatred of, and turning away from sin, before God.” (Monica Johnson) 

“Repentance is not only turning from sin but running to God for forgiveness.” (Tim Conway) 

“Sin and Hell are Married Unless Repentance Proclaims the Divorce.” (Charles H. Spurgeon) 

 “Only through repentance and faith in Christ can anyone be saved. No religious activity will be sufficient, only true faith in Jesus Christ alone.” (Ravi Zacharias) 


Blessings
J.P. Olson

Monday, January 7, 2019

You Can’t Pray Your Life’s Seasons Away! There Are Some Situations You Aren’t Meant To Change,You’re Just Meant To Endure! Even When Conditions Of The Season Restrict You,They Can Never Constrict God.

Jeremiah 1:11-12, “Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, WHAT DO YOU SEE? And I said, I SEE a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, BLOSSOMING IN LATE WINTER]. Then said the Lord to me, YOU HAVE SEEN WELL, FOR I AM ALERT AND ACTIVE, WATCHING OVER MY WORD TO PERFORM IT!” (AMP).

Far too often we quickly get upset over the Bad, not realizing that it usually leads to something Good! Most of us have lived long enough to see it happen – something Good coming out of something that’s Bad, or even difficult and unpleasant. Therefore, if you’re in a season in your life that’s pretty cold right now, and you’re feeling the chill of crisis; the breeze of bitterness; the winds of worry; the damp of depression; the ice of irritation; the blizzard of backbiters; the storms of struggle; and the rains of restlessness, know That Even When The Conditions Of The Season Restrict You, They Can Never Constrict Your God!

You see, the word “RESTRICT” means: “TO PUT A LIMIT ON, KEEP UNDER CONTROL, DEPRIVE OF FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OR ACTION” It’s Latin Origin ‘RESTRINGERE’ literally means ‘TO TIE BACK’. We’ve seen that in many winter seasons, as the blizzards hit we’re RESTRICTED in bus, cab, and train service. We’re LIMITED in various methods of transportation, and KEPT UNDER THE CONTROL of snow plows as to when we could move, and how far we could go. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND ACTION was DEPRIVED for so many who couldn’t get to where they needed to, because they’d been “RESTRICTED”. Which is where we coined the phrase: “MY HANDS ARE TIED!”

But bear in mind, that even when we’re ‘RESTRICTED’, God is NEVER ‘CONSTRICTED’! The word ‘CONSTRICTED’ means: “TO MAKE OR BECOME NARROWER, ESPECIALLY BY ENCIRCLING PRESSURE OR ATTEMPTING TO TIGHTEN AROUND”. It’s Latin Origin ‘CONSTRINGERE’ literally means to ‘BIND TIGHTLY TOGETHER’. You see, YOUR GOD IS TOO BIG TO BE MADE NARROW, AND HE’S TOO POWERFUL FOR PRESSURE TO PLACE HIM IN A TIGHT GRIP! EVEN IN SEASONS WHERE YOU’RE ‘RESTRICTED’, TAKE COMFORT IN KNOWING THAT YOUR GOD IS NEVER ‘CONSTRICTED’! EVEN WHEN YOUR HANDS ARE TIED, HIS WILL NEVER BE! REGARDLESS TO THE CONDITION, HE CAN STILL BLESS YOU IN THE MIDST OF YOUR MOST BRITTLE, BITTER AND BRUTAL BLIZZARD! YOUR GOD IS TOO POWERFUL TO BE PRESSURED! EVEN WHEN YOU GROW WEAK, NEVER FORGET THE STRENGTH OF YOUR GOD!

DAVID DIDN’T! 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, “David blessed GOD in full view of the entire congregation: Blessed are you, GOD of Israel, our father from of old and forever. To You, O GOD, belong the Greatness and the Might, the Glory, the Victory, the Majesty, the Splendor; Yes! Everything in Heaven, everything on Earth; the Kingdom all Yours! You’ve raised Yourself High Over All. Riches and Glory come from You, You’re Ruler Over All; You hold Strength and Power in the Palm of Your Hand to Build Up and Strengthen All. And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to You, praising Your Splendid Name.” (MSG)

EVEN WHEN IT DON’T FEEL LIKE IT’S IN YOUR FAVOR, BECAUSE HE’S YOUR GOD…IT IS!
DON’T LET THE WINTER SEASON WORRY YOU, EVERY SEASON HAS TO CHANGE! BUT DON’T MISS OUT ON THE BLESSING AND BENEFITS OF THE COLD SEASON WHILE IT’S HERE!
James 1:2-4, Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. SO DON’T TRY TO GET OUT OF ANYTHING PREMATURELY. LET IT DO ITS WORK SO YOU BECOME MATURE AND WELL-DEVELOPED, NOT DEFICIENT IN ANY WAY” (MSG)

One phrase you will hear repetitively during the Winter Season is “I’ll be glad when Winter is over”. But the problem of getting “Out of Season”, Prematurely, is not good. Here’s why: “To everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  So no matter how hard you pray, You Can’t Pray Your Life’s Seasons Away! There Are Some Situations You Aren’t Meant To Change—You’re Just Meant To Endure! 2 Timothy 2:3, Take [with me] YOUR SHARE of the hardships and suffering [Which You Are CALLED TO ENDURE] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus.” (AMPPaul puts it like this, “For Our Light, Momentary Affliction (This Slight Distress of the Passing Hour) is ever more and more Abundantly Preparing and Producing and Achieving For Us an Everlasting Weight of Glory [Beyond All Measure, Excessively Surpassing All Comparisons and All Calculations, a Vast and Transcendent Glory and Blessedness Never to Cease.” (2 Corinthians 4:17 AMP). In other words, what you’re Currently dealing with that’s Heavily Weighing You Down in the Natural, is considered by the Spirit “…Our Light, Momentary Affliction…” Therefore, you’re not going to deal with it always, But You Have to Deal With It Right Now! So keep in mind, When You Can’t Alter Your Circumstances, That Means They Are a Perfect Fit For Where You Are and Where You’re Going. So Stop Trying to Change Your Circumstantial Clothing! They are only for a Season, and when it’s time to Change, the One who birthed all the Seasons will change it! “Don’t try to get out of anything Prematurely.

In Winter, trees take advantage of the season to rebuild their strength and prepare to be fruitful next season. Their sap and substance goes underground. Then in the Spring it pushes its way back up again in the form of New Growth. Looking back over your life you’ll find that your achievements are Seasonal. Growth comes, then struggle, and vice versa. Each Season Has Its Purpose. God has a reason for not allowing you to be productive all the time. When He permits Winter winds to blow through your life, He’s preparing you for the coming Spring. That’s why James wrote, “Consider it a …gift…when tests and challenges come at you from all sides…under pressure, your faith…is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So Don’t Try to Get Out of Anything Prematurely. Let It Do Its Work So You Become Mature and Well-Developed, Not Deficient In  Any Way (MSG). One of the issues you’ll struggle with in a waiting period is the urge to Hurry, Because Your Flesh Always Wants to Make Permanent Decisions Based On Temporary Circumstances. Don’t Do It! Every Situation Doesn’t Call For Immediate Action! The Only Biblical Way For You to Become Mature, Well-Developed and Lacking Nothing Is To Endure Hardship! So if you try to find a short-cut to getting out of your trials, You’ll Have to Take a Longer Journey to Get to Your Destiny!

REMEMBER: THE COLD SEASON GETS RID OF BUGS (AND WHAT’S ‘BUGGING’ YOU), SO DON’T RUSH IT, LET IT COMPLETE ITS WORK!

Somebody has said that, patience is the quality you admire in the driver behind, but not the guy in front! But God Is a God of Order; He Ordains Specific Times For Bringing Specific Purposes to Pass! Habakkuk 2:3, “This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It Will Come Right On Time.” (MSG) It doesn’t pay to try and get ahead of God, so, “Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 AMP) That word “stout” is defined as, “to be rather fat or heavily built; sturdy and thick; to be brave; courageous; strong and determined.” This needs to define your heart condition (as well as your faith) as you wait on God! 

It needs to be unshaken; heavily built; sturdy; brave; courageous; strong and determined, despite what you have to endure while waiting! Remember, this isn’t about Your timing but God’s! So let nothing move you, but God! Because in the end, there are simply certain things that can’t be accomplished “by might, nor by power.” So how are they accomplished? “By MY Spirit, saith the LORD.

David understood this, that’s why he said, “My times are in YOUR hands…” (Psalm 31:15). Once you understand that, you’ll stop fretting and worrying knowing with certainty that people and problems can’t short-circuit God’s plan for your life. “This is God’s Word on the subject…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. I HAVE IT ALL PLANNED OUT – PLANS TO TAKE CARE OF YOU, NOT ABANDON YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU THE FUTURE YOU HOPE FOR.” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSGIf you can acknowledge that, you’ll find peace—and stop trying to “make things happen, out of season!” Do Your Part: WAIT! God Already Has His Part PLANNED!

When God drops a seed into your life it needs time to take root and grow. And you don’t have to be concerned with the outcome, because when it’s planted in a fertile, faith-filled heart, the results are guaranteed. The hard part is knowing that you’re on the verge of a breakthrough, then having God tell you to Wait. But it’s times like these, when you think He’s forgotten about you and the promises He made to you, that your patience really gets a workout. It’s in moments like these when your heart begins to faint and your faith begins to waver. But take some advice from David, he said: I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings. And He has put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many shall see and fear (revere and worship) and put their trust and confident reliance in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3 AMPC). When you honor God’s timing, you always land on solid ground, and end up with a fresh reason to praise Him! In other words, it’s not enough to wait, but you have to wait the right way…Patiently and In Praise! Just ask JOSEPH!

The Book of Genesis tells us about a very long winter season in the life of this Old Testament hero. In a nutshell, his brothers hated him because he was his father’s favorite. They threw him in a pit and nearly let him die there. At the last minute, they changed their minds and lightened up a little – they settled for selling him into Egyptian slavery instead. Joseph got a great job in the house of a powerful man, and then lost it when he refused the advances of the boss’s wife and she falsely accused him of assaulting her. Then, two long years in the king’s prison as a result. Ultimately, Joseph came to the attention of Pharaoh who eventually promoted him to second in command in the mighty Egyptian empire. That’s when a famine drove Joseph’s brothers to Egypt in search of food – FOOD ONLY THE BROTHER THEY HAD BETRAYED COULD GIVE THEM BY THE WAY! (SIDEBAR: NEVER HATE YOUR HATERS!)  And when they finally realize who he is and experience the forgiveness and mercy that they DON’T DESERVE, Joseph speaks these words:  “YOU PLANNED EVIL AGAINST ME; GOD PLANNED IT FOR GOOD TO BRING ABOUT THE PRESENT RESULT—THE SURVIVAL OF MANY PEOPLE.” (Genesis 50:20 HCSB). The Message Bible says it like this: “…Don’t you see, you planned evil against me BUT GOD USED THOSE SAME PLANS FOR MY GOOD…” (MSG). Even though your winter is “PLANNED”, scheduled annually to come back around, NEVER FORGET THAT YOUR GOD ALWAYS HAS PLANS OF HIS OWN FOR YOU! “…I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. I HAVE IT ALL PLANNED OUT—PLANS TO TAKE CARE OF YOU, NOT ABANDON YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU THE FUTURE YOU HOPE FOR” (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG).

WHAT THE WEATHER (AND YOUR HATERS) HAVE PLANNED FOR YOU CAN’T COMPARE TO WHAT THE WILL OF GOD HAS PLANNED FOR YOU! FROM THE PIT TO THE PRISON, JOSEPH WAS SUSTAINED BY ONE THING HE KNEW HAD NOT CHANGED—GOD WAS WORKING ON A BIGGER PLAN! If you belong to Jesus, then Joseph’s God is your God, too. And He’s a God who uses even the wickedness of man to do great things. For Joseph, vengeful brothers, false accusations, and terrible injustices BECAME TOOLS THAT GOD USED TO TAKE HIM TO PLACES AND POSITIONS HE COULD NEVER HAVE GONE OTHERWISE! WHICH IS WHY I REITERATE: DON’T LET THE WINTER BOTHER YOU, BECAUSE IT’S KILLING WHAT’S BUGGING YOU!

If it’s cold right now, if it’s dark right now, don’t let discouragement win. Don’t let bitterness or resentment or resignation ruin the greater plan God is working on. Romans 8:28, We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a PLAN] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (AMP). During this winter in your life, He wants to build in you qualities that will lead to future greatness. He wants to give you a closeness to Him that you’ve never had before and would never get any other way. And then, He wants to use this season to position you to make a greater difference with the rest of your life than you ever imagined! As Cold as it may seem right now, God is working out some pretty Cool plans for your life! Regardless to what the Meteorologist tells you, There Is A Sunny Side to a Cold Season!

In closing, listen to this: King George and his army must have been having a good laugh. You see, George Washington and his Continental Army had been whipped in battle after battle in their campaign to become independent from Britain. British troops had driven the Americans out of New York City, across the Hudson River, across New Jersey, and finally into Pennsylvania. THEN CAME THE WINTER OF 1777, at a place outside of Philadelphia called Valley Forge. Washington’s troops faced not only a Physical Winter there, but an Emotional Winter. Discouragement and defeat may have been their worst enemies. But General Washington wasn’t about to let those enemies win. He fought back by immediately deploying his soldiers to fortifying their camp. Then the drills began. A veteran European military officer began to drill those soldiers every day, teaching them a single set of maneuvers rather than the multiple approaches that had created confusion in those past battles. THAT WINTER, they were learning one way of doing things while Washington worked on getting more recruits and building his army into a real fighting force. Many historians believe that the outcome of America’s battle for independence was decided at Valley Forge more than any other battle – they were an army that came out of Valley Forge to stun the British with major victories! You see, one army WENT INTO THE WINTER at Valley Forge – divided, discouraged, demoralized. However, another army EMERGED FROM THAT WINTER – unified, fortified, and confident because of what they had done with their WINTER!
          
In many ways, the outcome of your battles may be decided, not on the battlefield alone, BUT IN HOW YOU WORK YOUR WINTER. And truth is, you may be in one of those cold, bleak Winter times right now. You could succumb to your fears and your feelings and just surrender. OR you could pull a “Spiritual Valley Forge.” You could use your Winter to get stronger and more focused on what you need to do to win!

In some ways, Jesus’ disciples expected their Winter to begin with His announced departure to heaven. The One who had called them to be with Him was now leaving them and entrusting to them the work He had started. In Luke 24, Jesus tells them to tell the world about Him and then, “…while He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven.” In a way, their Winter had begun, as it often does when you lose someone you love. But they knew what to do with their Winter! In the book of Acts chapters 1 and 2 teach us what they did to Work Their Winter Season, “they all joined together constantly in prayer.” Then they got their team of 12 back to full strength by replacing Judas with another disciple. And, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place…and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” At that point, they exploded on the city of Jerusalem with the Gospel that would, that day, start spreading around the world! But they had to use their Winter to get together, to regroup, to get stronger, and to get closer to God. You need to handle your Winter the same way. Don’t just sit there worrying or feeling sorry for yourself or wallowing in your emotions. Take action to get strong. Spend extra time with God right now. Strengthen your relationship with your family, friends, co-workers and church family. Think through what you need to stop doing and what you need to start doing to focus on what really matters. And prayerfully plan for a future, right there in the middle of your valley, even when the future looks very uncertain.               

Blessings
J.P. Olson