Scripture tells us to forgive, but so many people have a hard time with it. So many people have misconceptions about forgiveness. Some people think they can't forgive because it's just "too difficult." The hurt is too deep or the offense is too painful. But in reality, it's more difficult for us when we choose not to forgive. The bitterness is not hurting the person who offended you; it is only embedding itself into your own heart and keeping you from God's best. Bitterness and unforgiveness separate you from God. They block the flow of His blessing and hinder your prayers. But, choosing forgiveness opens the door of your heart and makes way for God to do a miracle in your life.
Many people know that in 1981 my mother-in-law, Dodie Osteen, was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the liver and was told she only had a few weeks to live. No medical treatments for the disease were available at that time, and the doctors told her there was nothing they could do. She and her husband, John, went home after they heard the report, got on their knees, and asked God for a miracle. Dodie did everything she knew in order to be in the position to receive her miracle. Anytime she shares her story, she talks about how one of the main keys for her to receive God's healing was her willingness to let go of offenses and keep her heart clean through the power of forgiveness. She tells how she wrote letters of forgiveness to people—her husband, children, parents, or anyone she could think of that she might have offended or that might have offended her. She went the extra mile to make sure her heart was free of any offense that would have blocked God's healing in her life. It took about a year of standing and fighting through all the symptoms, but she did receive her miracle healing and is still 100 percent cancer free today. FULL POST
If you ask most people what love is, they will tell you that it's a feeling or emotion. We certainly do describe what we feel for people as love, but true, biblical love is isn't about the way we feel. The Bible says to choose love. That means love is a choice. It's the choice to treat others according to God's Word rather than according to what we feel because let's face it, we don't always feel like being loving.
It's easy to love the people who love you back. It's easy to be patient and kind to people who are patient and kind to you. But, what about the people who are frustrating and irritating? What about the people who constantly rub you the wrong way or don't ever seem to do things the way you want them to? I call these people "sandpaper" people. This is when you need to make the choice to love. God isn't going to give you a "pass" and say, "Oh, don't worry about loving them; they irritate me, too." No, God is love. Love is God. When we choose love, we are choosing God and His ways. FULL POST
In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gives a model of how to pray. Most people know this passage of scripture as the Lord's Prayer. He starts out saying:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name."
This tells us to come into God's presence with worship and declare that His name is holy. We should revere and honor Him above all else. Then it goes on to say:
"Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
There's so much wrapped up in this particular verse. But in short, it's saying, "Let Your plans be done. I surrender my plans to You." This is a reminder that after we open with worship, we are to surrender all to Him. The next verse says:
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Your daily bread is your provision. But, it's provision for today. We are to live one day at a time with Him. In other words, don't get ahead of God! Throughout scripture we are told to ask God for what we need, and that's what Jesus is telling us here. Then it says: FULL POST
Prayer is a spiritual weapon in the life of the believer. So many times, we think our trouble is coming from natural circumstances—the light bill, our spouse, a coworker. We think, "If that would change, things would get better." But the Bible says that our struggles are not against flesh and blood. The real enemy isn't what we can see. Our battle is in the heavenly realms against the principalities of the air. (See Ephesians 6:12.)
Think of it this way: Let's say you walk into a dark living room and stub your toe on an ottoman, step on a toy, and walk into a coffee table. You might think the problem is that the ottoman was in the wrong place, the toy wasn't picked up, etc. But truthfully, you could navigate the room if you first turned on the light switch. Light chases away darkness. The same is true in the spiritual realm. When we focus on the things of God through prayer and reading the Word of God, you are turning on the light switch so you can navigate your life! FULL POST
At Lakewood, one of the most precious parts of the service is prayer time. It's a time for the congregation to come and receive personal, specific prayer from our prayer partners. All over the building, people are praying together, and it's an amazing experience. People comment all the time about how they feel the love and power of God in such a special way when we are praying for the people.
Sometimes when I'm praying for someone during prayer time, I get overwhelmed to the point of tears. It says in the gospel that when Jesus saw the people, He was moved with compassion. He felt so much love for the people that He did whatever it took to bring life to them.
Today when Jesus sees you, He's still moved with compassion. Scripture says that Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. Think about that—Jesus is always praying for you! FULL POST
Did you know that there is supernatural power when you partake of communion?
In my own life, I have made it through many challenges by submitting myself to the power of Jesus Christ through communion, right in the privacy of my own home.
When we partake of communion, we are recognizing the power of what Jesus did when He died on the cross. We are acknowledging that supernatural work and honoring who He is in our lives.
God gave His only Son so that we could have a relationship with the Father. Not only does He want us to live an abundant life on this Earth, but an abundant life with Him in eternity. John chapter three tells us, "Whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved." When you partake of communion, you are saying with your actions, "I believe."
The best part is, you don't have to wait until church on Sunday to partake of communion. You don't need a minister to serve you. Scripture says that Jesus Himself is your high priest. (Heb 4:14) You can simply use crackers and grape juice, bread and water, or whatever you have that can symbolize the body and blood of Jesus. See, it's not the elements that hold the power; it's your faith in Him. It's your obedience to His Word that says, "Do this in remembrance of Me." FULL POST
The other day, Joel and I were walking in the park and just talking about the goodness of God. I was saying that I just feel so overwhelmed by all of His blessings. When I see our family and the opportunities before us, when I think about what a great privilege it is to share the message of hope with so many people, I am just so grateful. As I was sharing my heart with Joel, I heard myself say, "What can I possibly do to repay Him?"
As I thought about it, I knew that, of course, I cannot do anything that equals what He has done for me. But, I thought I would look in the Bible for someone who expressed feeling this way. I was sure someone in scripture felt this way. I just wanted to read what they said and see what they did.
I found what David said in Psalm 116:12, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?" That's exactly what I was saying, "How can I repay God for His blessings?" Then David said, "I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord." FULL POST
In Matthew 22, Jesus talked about two of the greatest commandments. The first is to love God; the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.
Notice that there are three connections in those two commands: the connection between you and God, the connection between you and others, and the connection you have internally, or the way you see yourself. See, you can't love others if you don't love yourself first. And, you can't love yourself without receiving God's love for you.
That's the love connection. God's love works in us and empowers us to love others as we love ourselves. Loving yourself isn't about being selfish; it's about honoring God's creation … you.
I encourage you today to receive God's love in a new way. Ask Him to show you His unconditional love. Love sets you free from fear and insecurity. His love grounds you and helps you to make the love connection. FULL POST
One day as I was sitting in traffic, waiting, I started thinking about all the time we spend waiting in life. We wait in traffic, we wait in line at the grocery store, and we may wait for a promotion or a relationship to turn around. We also might wait for a prayer to be answered. It seems we spend a lot of time in the waiting room of life.
God sees us waiting, and I believe He is saying to us today, "I want you to wait the right way." What is the right way to wait? If you look up the word "wait" in the original Hebrew, it's translated to mean "hope and expectancy."
Isaiah 40:31 says, "Those who wait on 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." (NKJV)
God has promised that if we wait the right way, then we'll have the strength to wait. We won't feel overwhelmed, frustrated and "zapped" of all of our energy. If you wait on Him, you'll run and not be weary, walk and be lifted up, and soar like the eagle.
This verse tells me there are seasons of waiting. Sometimes we have to walk through some things while we wait. Sometimes we run, and the season goes by quickly. And sometimes, we just rise above the circumstances and soar through the season of waiting. No matter what, God promises to strengthen and empower us when we wait on Him. FULL POST
Sometimes life has a way of making us feel tired. Things come against us, circumstances come against us, or maybe we don't make all the right choices. Sometimes we feel like we can't do it any longer.
In Galatians chapter six, it says, "Don't get weary." It says that our due season of blessing will come if we don't faint. But, what does that mean?
Think about what happens when you faint. You go from a state of consciousness to a state of unconsciousness. Spiritually speaking, we faint when we lose consciousness of God's Word. His Word is what sustains us. His Word feeds us, fills us and strengthens us. It's easy to become weary when you become unconscious to his Word.
Today, I just encourage you, don't let go of God's Word! Jesus gave us such a profound example. One time in scripture, He fasted and prayed for 40 days. I can imagine that He might have been weary and tired. The Bible says that Satan came and tempted Him with doubt. Do you know how Jesus responded? He spoke the Word of God. He said, "It is WRITTEN!" Jesus didn't give into temptation; He didn't lose consciousness because He stood on the Word of God. FULL POST