by Lawrence Powell
‘If it had not been for the Lord on our side-let Israel say-If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, When men rose up against us, Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us; Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul; Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.’
Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 124, NKJV).
Each one of us will at some time or another feel our back against the wall. We will look all around and not see a way of escape. This doesnt have to stir fear within us. If we will but think back over past experiences we will see that we have become living testimonies of how God made a way out of no way. He saved us then, and He will surely save us now. God doesnt just help once; He IS our help! Its an ongoing thing.
In Psalm 124, the psalmist declares confidence in the Lord. The people of Israel had recently had their backs against the wall, and God had showed up mightily to deliver them. The psalmist acknowledges and gives thanks that God is not only the deliverer of the past and the now, but also of the future. Paul similarly said, God has delivered us, God is delivering us, and God will deliver us. Whatever youve gone through or are going through today, God is your deliverer. If you will simply learn to be still, as the Scriptures say, you will come to know that He is God.
God will sometimes let you get into a place where you have no one else to go to, no one else to talk to, and He will show up just in the nick of time. And when He shows up, He shows out! When it’s all said and done, He gets the glory-not you, not a prayer partner, not an elder, not a pastor, not even a bishop. He gets the glory for snatching you out of your dilemma. As the psalmist said, If it had not been for the Lord on our side…
The Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, is your ally. How awesome is that?! He is on your side. He has surrounded you with favor as a shield. He has given His angels an assignment concerning you: You protect him, because he bears My name; he is My child! He loves you so much that He said, No weapon formed against you shall prosper. If someone touches the children of God, in essence, they are touching Him. Then God gets actively involved. He promises to take what’s working against you and make it work for you. Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord. My friend, He’s got you covered.
If it had not been for the Lord on our side-let Israel say… We need to speak it, not just in church, but also in our communities. People need to know about the deliverance of our God. Your family needs to know. Your co-workers need to know. You need not be silent when everybody else is coming out of the closet! You need to open up your mouth. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so (Psalm 107:2).
I love how the psalmist goes on to portray God’s deliverance from the intention of the enemy. The enemy wants very much to swallow you up, to devour you: The thief does not come but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, John 10:10 tells us; but Jesus goes on to say in that verse, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. The enemy may set traps with the intention of taking you out, but God Who is rich in mercy will not allow him to do it. Be glad about that today! Bless the Lord!
We should bless God for His deliverance. I don’t understand people who have been blessed by God, but who will not bless the Blesser for being a blessing. We have so much to be thankful for, so why is it that so many believers have to be persuaded to praise God? We’ve got to be convinced that He’s worthy to be praised. I learned a long time ago that there are two times to praise God: when you feel like it…and when you don’t! When I go to church, I come with a praise. When I think of all He’s done for me, I can’t help but bless the Lord!
The psalmist tells us that we should bless the Lord because He is our help. Take time right now to recall what He has done for you. Whatever it is that you are going through right now, let the past remind you that it is the path of His goodness. He’s got a great track record, so know that if He’s done it once, He will do it again.
I want to encourage you today that no matter what you are facing, God can do it again: He can deliver you! If He blessed you in 1980, He can bless you in 2016. If He made a way out of no way last year, He can do it again. Determine to give Him thanks today. Praise Him not only for what He’s doing right now, but for future deliverances, future breakthroughs, future healings, and future miracles.
God is good, my friend. He has saved and delivered us-and He will continue to do so. It is His promise to His children. It is His promise to YOU.
|Keys to Fulfilling Your Vision
by Lawrence Powell
Sight is a function of the eyes; vision is a function of the heart. Some people have eyes to see, but they have no vision. Faith is the ability to see farther than your natural eyes can look. Vision makes the unseen visible and the unknown possible. It is the bridge between the present and the future; without it, we perish or go unrestrained. The vision includes perimeters. When you understand your calling, you will know that every good idea is not a God idea. There are some things and some people that you will need to avoid when you are clear on vision. If you want to be wise, you’ve got to walk with the wise. And you have to walk with the visionaries if you want to have a clear vision.
Vision is seeing the ultimate purpose of God for your life. Often were so determined to do our own thing we head down the wrong path; that will always bring us to a Damascus Road experience. Remember Paul, a man who thought he was doing the work of God, but in reality was opposing Gods work? What got him on track? His encounter with God on the Damascus Road.
God has a vision for each of us. He that hath begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future. Vision gives us a clear sense of purpose and direction. What is it that you want to do with your life? As believers in Christ, we should have a vision beyond where we are right now. It doesn’t matter how old you are: you should have a vision for tomorrow.
Vision helps us to set meaningful goals and keep things in perspective. It helps us to avoid being defined by circumstances and people’s opinions. People will try to define and limit you. Don’t allow it. Stop believing the negative things people say. See yourself as God sees you as a citizen of the Kingdom, seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Stop seeing yourself as broken, busted and disgusted! If that’s all you can see in your future, then that’s all you will ever have.
There is much that we can learn from the prophet Habakkuk. He was discouraged with the nation of Israel. The people were double-minded, walking with God one day and turning their backs on Him the next. Habakkuk went to God about it, and the Lord gave him a vision. He needed that vision to bring him hope and purpose. Sometimes we need the same!
Let’s look at the principles involved in visions, as we consider Habakkuk’s experience in Habakkuk 2:1-4:
1) Pray: If you don’t know what your vision is, get in touch with God. Talk to your Creator. Proverbs 20:5 says, The purposes of a person heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Proverbs 19:20-21, says, Many is the plans and purposes of a person’s heart, but its the Lords purpose that prevails. You might think you’re headed in one direction, but God says, I’ve got a different plan for you. So get quiet before the Lord. God doesn’t want you to live aimlessly. He will teach you and show you the way to go if you let Him (Psalm 32:8).
2) Identify your passion: Habakkuk 2:1 says, I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart and watch and see what He will say to me. Vision is often birthed out of a burden God places on our hearts or from a personal experience or particular problem. Some people see a problem and discover they have a passion to resolve that problem. What are you passionate about? Godly passion is the key to discovering your vision. Standing watch has to do with being intensely attentive; it also involves separation from crowds, people, and distractions. Why is this necessary? Because your vision is uncommon. You are uncommon!
3) Write the vision: If it was important to God that Habakkuk write out the vision and make it plain (v.2), then you should do it as well. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. And if it’s out of mind, you’re not doing anything about it. At first, your vision might not make a lot of sense to you, but write down what you see and hear. A vision that is not written will be a vision that is soon forgotten. A written vision gives you something that you can look at, pray over and declare. Writing your vision is an expression of your faith.
4) Run with the vision: Habakkuk was told to run with the vision, not run from it (v.2). Some people get a vision, then get scared and back off. But if God has given you a vision, He wants you to run with it. Your vision must be your constant focus. You must wake up in the morning with it and dream about it at night. Your activities must be in line with the vision to which God has called you. But be aware: If God has called you in one direction and you’re moving in another, then you need to get on track with the vision. Live for it every day. Vision + Action = Realization.
5) Rest in Gods timing: This is the most difficult, yet most important thing to do! Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come… (v.3). God’s timing and ways are rarely the same as ours. Waiting on God can be quite challenging because we’re impatient. We want things now; however, our lives must line up with Gods desires in His timing. We must be careful not to allow impatience to lead us astray like it did with Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was in the mind of God. But Abraham and Sarah, given the impatience that is often born out of delay, said, Maybe God wants us to help Him out. So they schemed and planned, and as a result, they produced Ishmael. Whenever we allow impatience to take the lead, it will produce Ishmaels in our lives, too.
6) Don’t give up: Wait for your vision to unfold. It will manifest. Wait without murmuring or complaining. While you wait, serve faithfully in the Kingdom. Often your vision will unfold in stages. Everything doesn’t happen overnight. One door leads to other open doors. Be sensitive, and you’ll be in the right place at the right time. Don’t hang out with people who aren’t going anywhere. If you do, you’ll end up in the same place nowhere! Instead, get with people who can speak into your life, encourage you, help you set the stage, and figure out some strategy they will help you to get where you need to go!
7) Live by faith: …but the just shall live by faith (v.4). We must live our faith and live by faith. That’s the Christian edict. We find in Scripture that we live, walk and stand by faith. When God gives you a vision, it will be God-sized! If it requires finances that you don’t have, God will supply them; wherever God guides you, He will provide for you. Faith without works is dead. Remember, the blessing is in the doing, according to James 1:25. Keep this in mind, my friend, as you go ahead in life to fulfill your vision.
|Five Things You Should Know on Your Way Up
by Lawrence Powell
I want to talk to you about 5 Things You Should Know On Your Way Up. Each one of us is on a journey up FROM somewhere GOING somewhere. I’m going to share some helpful insights regarding things to consider while you’re on your trip. These things will–if you’ll pardon the pun–keep you from tripping, so that you may finish your journey victoriously. The five truths are found in Luke 19:28-40, which details Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Number 1: The way up is costly. Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, fully aware that this trip would end in his death at Calvary. You and I aren’t headed toward that kind of cross, but we each have our own cross to bear. And our experience on this journey called Life will have its own sacrifices as well. Jesus got on the cross willingly, and it cost Him everything He had. If you are to walk this road and fulfill your purpose and destiny, it’s going to be costly. It’s going to cost you some so-called friends. You’ll be lied to. And if you’re doing something worthwhile on your way up, people are going to talk about you. Some people will stab you in the back. Betrayal is on this road, my Friend! People will smile in your face and then, when your back is turned, they will criticize you or hate on you. I’m just being real here; cost comes with territory. If Jesus went through it, then you’re going to go through it. Keep your eyes on Jesus and be willing to have your own Garden of Gethsemane proclamation, Nevertheless not my will, but Your will be done. The rewards far outweigh the price of sacrifice many times over. In the Kingdom, understand that the way UP is DOWN. If you want to go up in Life, then you’re going to have to come down. He who exalts himself will be abased, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. That’s the Word of the Lord.
Number 2: God loves to use ordinary things and ordinary people. This second truth is found in the selection of the donkey. Jesus requested a donkey– a symbol of humility and servanthood–to ride during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So, what’s the point? Friend, if He could find a donkey and use that lowly animal, surely He can find you and me…and use us! You may think you’re too ordinary, that you have nothing to offerCongratulations – You’re just the one He’s been looking for! God wants somebody who’s not stuck on himself. He’s looking for somebody who’ll say, Lord, here I am: use me! Let Him use you, then give Him the glory for the job done.
Number 3: On your way up, expect revelations of Jesus Christ. You are journeying in the School of the Holy Spirit. God will take you to certain places and through certain classes. You’ve got to attend those classes, my Friend. You can’t tell God, No, thanks, I’m opting out! There are no electives! God will usher you into environments and circumstances to teach you what you need to knowabout Himself…and about yourself. If you hunger and thirst for the Lord (and I hope you do!) eventually you’re going to see something of Him that you’ve never seen before. He’s going to reveal things to youabout life, about people, about yourself. You’ll learn you’re not flawless; you’ve got imperfections. I’ve had to learn that about myself. Honestly, I’ve got a lot of flaws. Now that doesn’t mean I’m out there practicing sin. I’m just saying that if you catch me on the wrong day, tired and hungry, I may not be as pleasant as I am right now. God will allow certain experiences in your life to show you that if you’re not mindful to keep your flesh down, you can say some things that you might regret later. Or do some things that will be shameful–and you don’t want to go there! Whatever God allows in your life is not meant to bring you down, but to show you that you still have room to grow. And, along the way, Jesus will reveal Himself to you as your: Comforter, Counselor, Deliverer, Healerand so much more!
Number 4: Everybody shouting your praises is not your friend. People started spreading their cloaks on the road as Jesus drew near, and the multitudes began shouting and rejoicing, praising God. People took palm branches, threw them in the streets and waved them. But some of the people shouting Jesus’ praises that day were later that week shouting, Crucify him! So, when people are talking about you and saying how wonderful you are, don’t take it seriously! Because people can celebrate you one day and hate you the next. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t be fooled by the praise of men.
Number 5: If you’re going to make this journey and come out victoriously, then you’ve got to do so with praise. The Pharisees disapproved of the praises to Jesus. They said, You need to rebuke those people! They’re calling you ‘Messiah!’ Tell them to shut up! Jesus replied, If these were to be silent, the very rocks would cry out! Your journey must be one of praise. Along the way, you’re going to meet some people who won’t like your praising self. Keep on praising! I’m grateful I had the privilege of being taught about praising and magnifying God. There have been times in the supermarket when I’ve been so overwhelmed by the presence of God that I found myself leaning over the shopping cart; and people thought I was just trying to decide what can of Pork ‘n Beans to buy that day. But I was really just thinking about the goodness of Jesus and all that He’s done for me. And something just starts welling up on the inside of me that says, You’ve got to praise Him! Maybe for you it’s optional, but for me it’s mandatory! I’ve got to praise Him! It was praising God that got me this far. It was praising God in the good times and in the bad times. It was praising Him when I felt like it and when I didn’t. I don’t want the rocks to cry out for me! I’m going to give Him the praise! We were created to make His praise glorious. Something happens when you and I praise the Lord: When the praises go up, the glory blessings come down! And for this we should praise our God for now and forevermore!