Losses Don’t Count Against You!

Winners“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
    don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
    God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
    while the wicked end up flat on their faces.”  Proverbs 24:15-16 MSG

Ever notice how, when you fall down, the first thing you do is look around to see if anyone saw you…even if no one’s around?  That’s how we are.  Oh, how we hate to fall, to lose, to mess up.  It just erodes at our self-confidence so.  Losing is so tabu to us, that many of us go through our whole lives playing it safe.  We are the spiritual hermits.  We are the servant who hides the ten talents so that, even if he gains nothing, he won’t lose anything.

This is NOT the way God created us, though!  He hardwired us for relationship with Him; to trust Him in all our endeavors.  He already knew as he pressed that clay together and puffed the first breath of life into Adam that He was creating a fallible creature, yet He loved him!  He looked forward to hanging out in the garden with Adam and Eve in those days before disobedience drove a wedge between them and Him.  Back in those days, they trusted Him implicitly, and whatever He said, they were ok with.  They named all the animals, walked among all the creepy crawlers and critters with not an inkling of fear.  Why, they’d never even experienced the emotion of dread until they opened themselves up to sin.  Once they knew they’d messed up, they did their level best to hide from God and “pretend” that He wouldn’t notice the missed appointment in the cool of the day.  Maybe He would think those sewn-together leaves were just an expression of Eve’s creativity?

So, maybe you have done your share of fruit-sampling lately, or listening to the serpent’s reasoning, and find yourself alienated from God.  Or you’ve had a life event to throw you so out of kilter that you wonder if you ever heard from Him in the first place.  Let me draw you in a little closer so that I can help you back to your feet!

As I said earlier, God knew when He created us that the free-will factor would make us free to love Him by choice…but that it also gave us the option of wrong choices as well.  So you’ve messed up.  May I also point to Adam and Eve with a suggestion that you examine their behavior in the “what NOT to do when you fall flat on your face” category?  In Genesis, I don’t see a repentant spirit in either of them.  What I see is a blame game.  No accountability whatsoever, and not a hint of remorse.  Did they think that presenting a good enough argument to justify their actions would impress their Creator?  Who knows…but Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed Eve (and he even blamed God for “that woman you gave me”).  I wonder how differently things might have gone if they’d thrown themselves at His mercy and simply repented?  Consequences would still come from their decisions, but I can’t help but think of what might have gone better had they just faced their failures and sought His forgiveness.  Maybe a question He’ll answer for us in eternity…

When I was a teenager, my nephew and cousins were the same age, and like all boys entering the big gaming age, they had fallen in love with “intendo” (what they called Nintendo).  I loved the little kids in our family, and I thought I might try playing, too, so that we could enjoy some together time.  After all, little kids make that stuff look so easy!  So, I set out by myself to master this Mario thing.  Now, I’m very much a progress person; and it took me very little time to decide that I hated this game.  Anything which took away all my progress and made me start all over again with nothing at the very beginning…not my cup of tea at all.  So, my video game days ended abruptly.

If you have a relationship with God, built on the rock, life doesn’t have to be like Eden’s fall and Mario’s failure.  If you maintain a meek heart, quick to forgive and quick to repent when you’re wrong, mistakes and losses don’t pile up on your shelf of shame.  God doesn’t take away every accomplishment you’ve achieved when you mess up.  You don’t have to learn from scratch all over again every truth He’s imparted into you in those times of prayer, reading, seeking.  He will dust you off and help you to miss as little time as possible.  He WANTS you to succeed.  He WANTS you to be the servant who invests those talents, even if the market bottoms out and you lose everything!  In fact, He’d rather you were willing to risk failure than to never put His gifts in your life to the test.

That said, STOP being so people-conscious!  So what if they judge you?  In the big picture, so WHAT?  I can tell you right now, at some point in time, you’re going to think you heard God’s voice on a matter, only to discover later that maybe you were really following your own heart.  Does that mean you have no ability to hear from Him?  Of course not!  Learn from your miscalculation, get back up, and keep going.  Look at the scoreboard…God didn’t deduct your loss!  You’re going to make an embarrassing gaffe at some juncture, or even be falsely accused when you had pure intentions.  You will probably even have at least one of those major life blunders which “seemed like a good idea at the time.”  Yes, you, saved person.  You, Holy Ghost-filled believer, are still capable of some real loo-loos if you lean toward your own understanding.  The good Lord could show you plenty of mine over the years; but with every loss, He always responded to my cry for help.  He never once said, “I think I’ll just let you wallow in it for a little while to see how you like it.”  His Word remains ever-true:  if we confess, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse.  If you make a foolish mistake, or even if you give in to temptation and commit a sin, stop where you are and throw yourself on His mercy!  You may have a few lasting regrets for your foolishness, but God will forgive you and make you stronger in that area of your life IF YOU’LL LET HIM.  If you believe for something and it doesn’t happen, or if you get ahead of God’s timing and alter the outcome of an important life occurrence, go to Him.  Talk to Him about it.  Ask forgiveness if you were disobedient.  Ask for wisdom, which HE HAS ALREADY PROMISED TO GIVE TO THOSE WHO ASK!

If you knew that your losses wouldn’t count against you in some earthly game, you would go up against the very best opponents with full confidence–just as though you were the reigning champion!  It wouldn’t make winning mean any less…but it WOULD cause you to stop holding back and worrying what other people are thinking about you!  Word:  You can go up against the adversary and come out a winner.  Even if you lose a few matches, you will STILL win if you won’t quit.  So please, step out in faith and begin taking some “risks!”  Risk not getting it right, so that eventually, you’ll be able to be spot-on!  Be willing to take a chance for Christ’s sake, so that if not now, some day you will have grown enough in your faith to achieve the impossible!  Pray for someone.  “What if he/she doesn’t get well,” you might ask?  Pray again anyway.  Pray for bunches more people, even.  Muster up enough courage to sing your first special, even if the microphone is shaking in your hand!  Apply for that job which seems to require more credentials than you have…your character alone may be the selling point that lands you the career of your dreams.   Pay that tithe, even if it means your checkbook appears to be down 10%…and watch God bless the 90%!  Be the one to apologize first, even if you’re sure the disagreement was completely the other person’s fault!  Remember, it takes no faith to just what God’s given you in a jar and bury it in the ground.  But…what if you put Him to the test?  What if you fail a few times and He picks you up without fail and says, “Keep trying…you’ll get it!”

He is on your side.  He has made everything available to you to help you complete this race of life.  And so long as you keep trying, over and over again, your losses will not rob you of your victory!






match“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”       –Jesus (Matthew 5:16)

There was a time when the humble little match could be ignited by striking against any surface. You see it all the time in the old westerns; macho cowboy strikes a match from his boot, lights his cigarette, and strolls away with that slow, Joe Cool gait.

Eventually, the original strike-anywhere match was replaced, however, when it was discovered that the highly volatile white phosphorus on the tip could ignite itself just when matches rubbed together in the box. The phosphorus was also poisonous when ingested; when men working in the match plants handled it or breathed it in, it slowly ate away their bones and left them physically ill or eventually dead. Others, learning of its deadly properties, misused the power of the white phosphorus match tips to commit suicide or to kill others. The United States actually forbade the import of the original formula white phosphorus matches early in the 20th Century.

The new match tips were made of a different combustible substance coated in wax, and the ignition key now became red phosphorus, a less powerful chemical than its white cousin.  The final difference lay in the fact that the special red phosphorus was the only surface whose friction could ignite the matches. To this day, the little strip of reddish-brown that you see on the edge of the matchbox or match pack is the only friction that can “set it off.” Safety matches. Although you can now buy a different version of a strike-anywhere match, which too is coated to prevent accidental combustion, it only looks like the original. Its properties are very different.

Spiritually-speaking, what kind of match are YOU? Do you catch fire only when you’re in church? Do you only allow yourself to be ignited in a special setting? Do you require the right music, the dim lights, the fog machine to “feel” the Holy Spirit? Outside those conditions, are you coated with a layer of carnality so that you have no potential to erupt into the flame of God without the backing of the Church to set you off?

I challenge you to go back to the original formula! Of COURSE it’s deadly when misused. The Holy Spirit is not to be toyed with. When the flesh tries to “handle” Him, the outcome is never good. His power is to be reverenced, never treated as a common thing. However, when you allow Him to become rich and full and operational in your life, you won’t find yourself restricting His flow when you are outside the box of the church walls. When He fills you, baptizes you, He doesn’t require the music, the stained-glass windows, or the goosebumps to erupt! He IS the fire which can show up anywhere!  The Holy Spirit gives us power for service.  The Holy Spirit is the “Go Ye” enabler in Matthew 28:19.

Our greatest danger of extinction lies in a watered-down experience with God. We’ve become so politically-correct, so reserved, so afraid of being thought of as obnoxious or weird by others, that we operate in only a very limited capacity. Healings and miracles are down exponentially because faith and the power of the Holy Ghost have had a “cap” put on them by the desire to blend in. If the devil can succeed in corralling that power into a church building and nowhere else, then he succeeds in having dominion everywhere else!

However…there is an awakening happening. A generation of people living in these last days are so hungry for the Holy Spirit to be operational that they are returning to the original formula. As they do, they are discovering that new wine can’t be contained with our “old wineskins” of religious etiquette and tradition. No, the power of the Holy Spirit has to be housed in a place capable of expansion, because He is “working” and needs some room!  Not even the restrictions of our nation’s new creed of universalism and tolerance can harness the Real Thing!  If others try to operate under a counterfeit, or if they should desire to remain boxed-in and proper, YOU BE AN ANYWHERE CHRISTIAN!  Operate in power!  We have work to do!

I challenge you today to ask God to fill you with the original, unwaxed, unlimited formula:

“Heavenly Father, I am tired of operating in limited power. There are sick people who need to be healed, evil spirits to be cast out, strongholds to be broken, and lives set free by Your salvation. Most of these people are not inside the church building, so I need to be able to shine Your light other places as well. I’m realizing more and more that a ‘less-volatile’ formula of You isn’t going to do it. I don’t want to have a form of godliness but no power. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit today. Make me dangerous to the works of darkness. Make me so combustible that I’m liable to erupt in the grocery store, the city square, even in front of the drug dealers and dignitaries and others who are kept ‘safe’ from witnessing You at work! I receive You, Holy Spirit, and I will not quench You when You are trying to operate outside the walls of the church. I will not misuse You or treat You as common, because You are holy. I will keep a clean temple and sanctify my mind so that You feel welcome. I will open my ears, eyes, and mouth to Your control. Allow me to hear Your voice, and to hear the silent cries of those who are ripe for the harvest. Allow me to see others as You see, and to discern what isn’t detectable by the naked eye. I will speak Your Word with boldness and not hide Your dominion in my life. I surrender all of me to Your use. Use me to light a huge fire everywhere You want to operate! In Jesus’ name I freely receive, Amen.”

Note: Scientific Facts obtained from Wikipedia.