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Monday, January 28, 2019

DO YOU KNOW WHO HE REALLY IS? Because If You Did, You Wouldn’t Worry About WHAT Is Going To Happen In The Government, Will I Be Healed? WHERE Will I Find The Money To Pay My Bills. Hear What God Says.

Who Is He To You? A Message I Would Love To Share With The World

“AND HOW ABOUT YOU WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

“The earth belongs to God! Everything in the world is His!” (Psalm 24:1 TLB)

“Do you have any idea how powerful God is? Have you ever heard of a teacher like Him? Has anyone ever had to tell Him what to do, or correct Him, saying, ‘You did that all wrong!’? Remember, then, to praise His workmanship, which is so often celebrated in song. Everybody sees it; nobody is too far away to see it.” (Job 36:22-25 MSG)

Maybe you’ve been looking at your situation and focusing on the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and even WHY? But falling short in focusing on WHO?

Know this: Trusting GOD, NOT Your Circumstances, is What Matters Most!
So, are you going through a difficult situation in your life right now? Are there circumstances that you cannot understand? Well, instead of trying to fix it or control it, rather than trying to figure out the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of your struggle, why not simply focus instead on WHO:

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS ELOHIM: The Creator, Who Made You With a Plan and For a Purpose!  “…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 29:10-11 MSG). People of God, you have no need to worry, fret or fear about your past, present or future, for God has a plan, a purpose and a promise, and neither of them will fail due to your problems!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ELYON: God Most High Whose Ways are Higher Than your Ways! “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do; they’ll complete the assignment I gave them” (Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG). So stop trying to figure this out on your own! God’s Got It And You! Trust Him, Follow Him, Lean On Him, Obey Him! He Cannot Lie And Won’t Fail You! He Can Handle What’s Got a Hold of You! “This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own” (Jeremiah 33:2-3 MSG). Imagine That! God Himself is sitting by waiting for you to call on Him! He’s waiting for you to bring to Him all of your WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW questions! Because He alone will “…tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own” So, why are you still struggling with this? When you can simply talk to God, the One WHO is the answer to all of your questions?!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL ROI: The God Who Sees and Knows Where you are and How you Feel! “So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]? Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13 AMP). Much like Hagar, you can be at your lowest point in life right now, wandering through the wilderness ready to give up and throw in the towel. Not knowing what to do for yourself or your child. With no provision or protection, and worse yet, having those who should be there to support you, be nowhere to be found. And yet, it is at this very same place where God manifests Himself to you and like Hagar all you can say is “I looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]…”. In other words, yes you’ll survive this, yes you’ll make it through this! There will be an “After This” testimony for you too! But like Hagar, you have to focus on WHO, not WHAT! “Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG). Did you catch that? “…Take the mercy, accept the help”. God is waiting to extend mercy and help to you, so, what are you waiting for? If you can simply take your eyes off everything and everyone else and focus them where they need to be on (WHO) you will come out of this a lot better than you went into it!

FOCUS ON GOD WHO IS EL SHADDAI: The Lord God Almighty, the One Who Can Change You or Walk With You Through Your Circumstances as Surely as He Can Send Rain From Heaven! “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health your very bones will vibrate with life!” (Proverbs 3:5-12 MSG). If you want to live and have a good life than simply follow God! You want restored health than simply follow God! The WHO is all you need to get through all the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW and WHY! The greatest exercise to maintain good health and a good life is walking with God! “But look!” he said. “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25 NKJV). There is absolutely nothing you can walk in, where God is absent! Remember: “God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 AMP).

The Message Bible says it like this: “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in sea storm and earthquake, before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains.” (MSG). You are never alone! Your God loves you too much to ever leave your side! “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG). Now that’s what you call comfort! Need a little more reassurance? Here you go: “for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews 13:5 AMP). You my friend are tucked away safely under the wings of God and in the hands of God, whereby nothing and no one can touch you or take you away!

“Count on it: Everyone who had it in for you will end up out in the cold – real losers. Those who worked against you will end up empty-handed – nothing to show for their lives. When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won’t find them – Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That’s right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.’ (Isaiah 41:11-13 MSG). Now that’s what you call safe!

And just in case you think something or someone in the world can harm you, God loves you enough to even give you a protection plan that’s better than ADT:

“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—He rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you—under them you’re perfectly safe; His arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance; watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path. “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust Me. Call Me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you and then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life and give you a long drink of salvation!” (Psalm 91 MSG).

Furthermore, the first words in the Bible are, “In the beginning GOD…” So, while we might not understand all the intricate details and secrets of life, we can hold on to this: God set the universe in motion and still sustains it! Paul put it like this: “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created.
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence AND HOLDS IT ALL TOGETHER RIGHT UP TO THIS MOMENT. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and HOLDS IT TOGETHER, like a head does a body.” (Colossians 1:15-18 MSG). Now, if God can create and hold all of this together, surely you have no doubt about His ability to hold you and all that concerns you, together?

Job’s friend Elihu didn’t subscribe to the weather channel or own a farmer’s almanac. He understood, however, that God controls it all: “It is GOD WHO takes water from the earth and turns it into drops of rain. He lets the rain pour from the clouds in showers for all human beings” (Job 36:27-28 GNT). He may as well said, “I don’t understand the process of condensation and precipitation, but I do understand that God is in control of it all!”

So, what’s keeping you from reaching that same place? A place of complete confidence that even when you don’t understand all that’s going on in your life, you yet trust HIM? You trust GOD! You may not understand the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, or WHY, but what’s keeping you from trusting the WHO that is Always Faithful? “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, His merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left” (Lamentations 3:22-24 MSG);

“For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and His faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation” (Psalm 100:5 TLB); “God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9 AMP) Sounds to me as though we gravely underestimate our God’s Faithfulness towards us. In fact, hearing those Scriptures alone ought to lead us to repentance and a new found attitude of gratitude for the Lord's Consistent Faithfulness.

Jeremiah states: “Alas, Lord God! Behold; You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You” (Jeremiah 32:17 AMP). Did you read that? “…There is NOTHING too hard…for You” The word ‘nothing’ is defined as, ‘not anything.’ People of God, where is your level of confidence in your God? Do you believe that there is absolutely NOTHING taking place in your life that is too hard for your God to handle? There’s absolutely nothing that you’re experiencing, enduring, suffering or struggling through or with that is too hard for your God to handle. There’s NOT ANYTHING that you can name that will EVER be listed under the TOO HARD FOR GOD TO HANDLE category!

Which is why you should be encouraged to finally reach a place where you can confidently say: “…With men this is impossible, BUT ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD” (Matthew 19:26 AMP). In other words, don’t let the government shut-down scare you; you don’t allow the doctor’s diagnosis to cause you to panic; don’t let the marital discord make you believe that what’s out of your hands is also out of God’s; don’t focus on your children doing the very opposite of what you’ve taught and trained them to do under the admonition of the Lord (God has His hands on them too); stop pacing the floor over the funds that are no longer piling high in your bank account (God is neither limited by money or intimidated by numbers). Learn how to trust God even in the moments when you can’t trace Him. Believe that He is still a very present help in times of trouble and that no matter how dark your circumstances get, your God is not afraid of the dark, therefore, neither should you be!

When will you reach a place where you trust what He SAID and not what you SEE? After all, “…we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our convictions…” (2 Corinthians 5:7 AMP). So, when will you therefore, begin to conduct yourself by your convictions? A ‘conviction’ is ‘a firmly held belief; the quality of showing that one is utterly convinced of what one believes or says.’And ‘convinced’ is ‘to cause to believe firmly in the truth of something; to be fully persuaded.’ Its Latin origin ‘convincere’ literally means, ‘to overcome and demonstrate’, from ‘vincere’ which means,‘to conquer.’ You see, when you reach a growth level where you trust God without question, you began to stretch and strengthen your faith to the point where your convictions are firmly held in their belief because they are utterly convinced of what they believe and what they declare and decreed. Your faith reaches a point where you’re convinced and believe firmly in the truth of what God has already said concerning you, knowing that His Word can’t fail and can’t lie, therefore, you are fully persuaded to overcome your fear by the demonstration of your faith and conquer all that life’s struggles tell you can’t be conquered! You began to walk, talk, think, act and live in the full knowledge that there is Absolutely Nothing Too Hard for Your God, and Nothing With Him Will Ever Be Deemed Impossible!

And just in case your faith fuel hasn’t reached all the way on full yet, here’s a little more:
 “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith. By faith – by believing God – we know that the world and the stars – in fact, all things – were made at God’s command; and that they were all made from things that can’t be seen” (Hebrews 11:1-3 TLB).

“Don’t you yet understand? Don’t you know by now that the everlasting God, the Creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows faint or weary? No one can fathom the depths of his understanding.  He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak.  Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31 TLB).

“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).
Don’t Allow Focusing On WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW, Distort Your Vision That You Can’t See WHO! And YES, It’s Vital That You Know WHO He Is!

“When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “AND HOW ABOUT YOU?

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. “And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is a no in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 MSG).

SO, DO YOU KNOW WHO HE IS? WHO HE REALLY IS? Because If You Did, You Wouldn’t Worry About WHAT Is Going To Happen In The Government, WHEN Will I Be Healed, WHERE Will I Find The Money To Pay The Bills, WHY did the promotion pass over me, and HOW am I going to get out of this? NOPE! You stand confident in your faith knowing that the God WHO is responsible as the source of your faith has never failed before and He most certainly won’t fail you now!

So in spite of WHAT you're going through, WHO will you allow God to be to you?!

J.P. Olson

Monday, January 21, 2019

When You’re Down, That’s The Wrong Time To Isolate Yourself! No Matter How Many Steps You Take Away From God, It Only Takes One To Get Back. There Are Times When We ALL Feel Down. How To Get Back Up.

“Elijah was…just like us…” (James 5:17 NIV)

There are times in life when we ALL feel down. Today, we’ll take notice of how Elijah got Down, but more importantly, HOW HE GOT BACK UP:

1...IT HAPPENED ON THE HEELS OF A GREAT VICTORY: He didn’t start out in Doldrums(which is defined as a state of stagnation or depression), and he didn’t fall into sin (as most saints like to analyze and assume that’s the cause to every downcast spirit). NO, ON THE CONTRARY, he’d just called down fire from heaven and slain 450 false prophets (1 Kings 18:22-39)! So he went from Exhilaration to Exhaustion IN AN INSTANT! Ever been there? I know I have. Elijah was weary, with his defenses down and vulnerability up, so he fell into a natural depression, because fatigue always strips us of focus and fight! And to tell the truth, we could really be a blessing to others if we’d all simply learned to be honest enough to share with folks that “I’ve been there.” When everything was going right, and then out of nowhere, in the midst of the battle you had to cry out, “I’ve been hit!” Situations come at us that we are not prepared for, a death of a loved one or child, a job loss, a broken marriage, health problems, that C word we so hate to hear Cancer and many other challenges. Sometimes our body, soul and spirit all shut completely down! But I thank God for a nucleus of honestfolks that simply said, ‘the preacher in you may not want to cry, but the daughter in you has too. Be real, be free, and do what you got to do to get through.‘ Will that be an easy task to accomplish? Absolutely not! Your body, soul, spirit, heart and mind, is to pretend like you’re unaffected, especially when you have a title, and therefore, don’t feel entitled to breakdown.

What I’m saying folks is it’s okay to be hit with unexpected challenges, and to hurt and even to cry and bleed. But don’t stop there. Keep moving towards healing. Even if you were just promoted, got the house, got the car, got the clean bill of health, had the baby, got married, passed the test, graduated school…know that for every high, lows come on their heels. It's not sinful to want to throw in the towel after being so high, only to be hit so low. Which is why you have to learn to guard yourself when you’re walking through your bed of roses…thorns are still ever present! Elijah went from high to low in an instant, and so have many of us. So don’t feel guilty! Leader and laity alike, we all get dealt some very harsh life blows. And yet I encourage you to keep going (even if you have to make some pit stops along the way to catch your second wind), still keep going. Never stop moving towards healing! Just Remember: The Best Way To Get Up…Is To Get Honest…Especially With Yourself, Than Others!

2...FEAR CAUSED HIM TO LOSE PERSPECTIVE: The man of God who’d just faced down an evilMULTITUDE, ended up running from ONE WOMAN (1 Kings 19)! Fear made him forget God’s power; it skewed (distorted) his perspective and left him feeling suicidal! Exhaustion coupled with Fear is Dangerous! It invites feelings of hopelessness, wrongful thinking, and creates the illusion that your options are all gone! I share this with you because sometimes we can feel like we lose a portion of our calling, anointing, gifts and ministry because we’re honest that life dealt us a blow that we weren’t prepared to receive. However, that is not the case at all. Let no one and nothing make you feel as if you are ever doing life alone. Your God is an ever present God. There’s nowhere you can go and He not already be there. You can cry, pace, and even get on the verge of throwing in the towel, and still God will be right there saying, ‘as soon as you’re done, I’ll be right here for you to talk to.’ Being saved does not in any way exempt us from trials, struggles, pain, hurt, loss, and the like. It doesn’t even exempt us from moments of human feelings of being nervous, panicked, fearful, scared or worried. The great thing for us however, is that we have a loving Father that we can take all of that too. He’s ready and willing to catch anything we cast on Him! Therefore, no matter what’s going on, what’s going wrong or what’s going nowhere…REFOCUS! GOD WILL ALWAYS USE HIS PERFECT LOVE TO SHIFT YOUR FOCUS FROM FEAR BACK TO FAITH!

3...HE BECAME ISOLATED: Elijah left his servant at Beersheba and journeyed into the wilderness ALONE (1 Kings 19:3-4). When you most need support, anxiety, a sense of inadequacy and fear of failure, will push you into isolation every time! At that point, you’re in the worst possible company –YOUR OWN! Elijah thought, “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me” (vs 10, 14). Translated: “It’s bad and I can’t see it getting any better!” Note that WHEN YOU’RE DOWN, THAT’S THE WRONG TIME TO ISOLATE YOURSELF! That’s when you need to reach for God, and the people who love you and can help you back up!

I thought to myself how can I let anyone see my vessel has cracks? People come to me for wisdom, counsel, advice and direction, what do I look like going to them for the same things? I travel and teach and preach the Power of God, His Word, His Will and His Way, I can’t let anyone see that I’m now struggling to pray, avoiding His Word, not sure if I’m all the way in His Will and feel as lost as if I were never found.’ Please hear my heart when I tell you, do not isolate yourself with only yourself, when you’re down and out! As a matter of fact, today is a good day to re-exam your circle and the company you keep. Do you have people who know how to wipe your tears, who can hear your silence, who are a genuine shoulders to lean on and trusted ears?

Do you have people that know when to let you cry, and then when to tell you that’s the last tear I better see fall! Do you have people that will call you out of your isolation? Do you have faith infusers when your fears are draining your faith of substance? You need people in your circle that refuse to allow you to ball up in the corner and die! Pay Attention to the Admonishment of Scripture: “How can two walk together accept they agree?” “Jesus sent them out two-by-two.” “One will chase a thousand, and two will put ten thousand to flight.” So never isolate yourself when going through! Galatians 6 says, “…Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens…” If you’ll take a brief moment to lift your bowed down head, you may be surprised at how many are, “Stooped down and reaching out willing to help you bear your burdens…”You my friend are not in this life journey alone! There are people all around you who will be there with you during the u-turns; wrong turns; dead-ends; cliffs ahead; slippery roads; caution paths; steep valley’s and seemingly immovable mountains. You are not alone! We are one church with many members, but most importantly we are ONE CHURCH! Don’t separate yourself in times of struggle!

SO, after all of that, what was God’s prescription for getting Elijah back on his feet? A lecture on the Prophet’s faltering faith? NO! JUST REST AND NOURISHMENT! I know you thought it would be something really deep right (as church folks, we always do)?! But God recognizes our limitations, even when we don’t. His Word declares, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3). The Message Bible says it like this, “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and He won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but He’ll steadily and firmly set things right.”  


When we neglect our own LEGITIMATE NEEDS, it shows up in our Attitude!

And God understands that being down is a “Perspective” problem, and getting back up simply requires an Adjustment in four crucial areas:

(a) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S GOD-PERSPECTIVE: “Get in the presence of God and he’ll meet with you“ (1 Kings 19:11). The One who gave Elijah victory on Mount Carmel, could also sustain him in the desert of Jezreel! But first Elijah had to spend time with Him, otherwise he was stalled on an empty tank! People of God, Before You Can Deal With Your Problem, You’ve Got to Dwell In His Presence!

(b) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S WORLD-PERSPECTIVE: Elijah said, “God’s covenant is broken, His altar destroyed, His prophet’s murdered, and I’m the only one left.” (vs. 14) But God showed Elijah that He still had the necessary resources and strategies to accomplish His purposes, even in a hostile environment! So, People of God, stop allowing your limitations to limit God! You Are Not All God Has Left! So when you need to sit out a few games, don’t feel as though you’ve lost your position, you’re just being repositioned to regain new strength in order to win!

(c ) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S SELF-PERSPECTIVE: The Prophet saw himself as helpless and inadequate: “Lord, let me die…I am no better than those who preceded me.” (vs. 4). But God showed him there were still kings to anoint, battles to win, and He “…knew the plans He had…” for Elijah, and the important role he was to play in all of it (vs. 16). You May Want to Throw in the Towel, But There’s Far Too Much More God Has For You To Do! So, People of God, Take That Same Towel, Wipe Your Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Weep From the Pain, Wrap Your Wounds, and Keep On Fighting!

(d) HE ADJUSTED ELIJAH’S FRIENDSHIP-PERSPECTIVE: He sent Elisha to minister to him (vs. 21). You’re not supposed to carry it alone! No matter how big and bad you think you are! Allow yourself to need help, and watch who God sends! Check Your Friendship Circle and Make Sure Your Elisha Is Present! If He Is, Lean On Him, If He’s Not Locate Him!

Today, ask God to Adjust Your Perspectives and Help You to Refocus! Truth is, You’ve Been Down Long Enough…It’s Time You Finally Get Back Up!

 “In life, many things don’t go according to plan. If you fall, get back up. If you stumble, regain your balance. Never give up.” (Author Unknown)

 “Never let a stumble be the end of your journey.” (Author Unknown)

“No matter how many steps you take away from God, it still only takes one to get back.” (Author Unknown)

“There is no setback you can face in life that God doesn’t already have a comeback plan for.” (Author Unknown)

J.P. Olson

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) 

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!”


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)

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!


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).


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.               

J.P. Olson