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Forgiveness

The day before I arrived in the USA, I spoke at a conference devoted to peace building and reconciliation in contested societies. Representatives from all over the world were present including education secretaries, politicians, and community activists. I was one of the keynote speakers talking about my work in the inner city in Belfast, engaging young people to be better citizens even if they felt society had let them down. The other keynote speaker was the Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness. We both spoke from our current roles in what was becoming the post conflict era. There was a secret that was not publicized but was well known to the attendees, both keynote speakers were former combatants in the conflict.

Martin McGuinness had his history and I had mine, both on opposite sides of the conflict. I found him to be warm, generous and incredibly sincere, a man now dedicated to peace and reconciliation. I hope he would have said the same about me.

This week, Mr. McGuinness passed away. It is kind of strange what this kind of thing stirs up. I have seen some of the very worst that bitterness, rage and hatred can do. I have also seen the best of what forgiveness and reconciliation can do. Jesus told us to forgive each other and love our enemies. Mr. McGuinness was my enemy and I was his yet he became a man focused on reconciliation, believing in a brighter future and used all his energy is the pursuit of moving forward, not looking back. He became a man I respected.

There simply is no alternative to forgiveness. For the wife whose husband has betrayed her, forgiveness is the end goal no matter what decision is made about the marriage. For the person who has been victimized at the hands of someone else, forgiveness is non-negotiable. Of course, reconciliation is another thing and not all forgiveness will result in reconciliation and that is OK. Forgiveness is what I do, reconciliation requires both parties and sometimes that is simply not a safe option or even desired by both parties. After all, Jesus forgives us all, some just don’t want to be reconciled to Him.

I listened to Dr. Rodney Hogue speak on forgiveness this last weekend and it was powerful. You can buy his book by clicking here. It was the most hopeful, practical sermon on forgiveness I have heard. I left feeling that forgives is a strategic weapon of great significance for the church in these days. It certainly sounds better than the alternative of bitterness, anger and rage.

Ian


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Arise, Shine!

I recently watched a news broadcast covering shootings of young children caught in the crossfire of some gang related conflict. A group of four pastors from the city gathered in prayer for the violence erupting on the streets. I was furious.

The TV crew covered the prayer which was basically all about how sinful people are and how they need judgement. Repentance was called for but the not the turning of beliefs, it was the old-fashioned kind of repentance that, based on the prayers I heard, was based on the worthlessness of everybody. The ‘good news’ was at least the Jesus is returning to take care of the bad guys. I was getting more irate.

What hope have people when the very body of Christ, the ones commissioned to see heaven come to earth, don’t believe in the value of people and hold out for a world getting worse as it waits for Jesus to return to make things right, once and for all. It is almost like the coming of Jesus, His life, His death, His resurrection and ascension and sending the Holy Spirit at Pentecost just wasn’t good enough to defeat the devil and usher in the Kingdom.

I have heard the Lord (yes, i know that is strong) and it is time for a new movement of churches that will destroy the works of the devil and overthrow the grip that control and witchcraft has on the body of Christ; control that manifests as sound doctrine. If this city and region has a hope, it is that the body of Christ will rise up and be the body of Christ.

It is time for God’s Israel, His covenant people—the church to shake of the dust and shake herself free from the chains around her neck. May God give us strategies and partners.

Ian


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Matthew 17

Every individual that has ever existed has been created by and for the glory of God. It has always been the desire of Jesus to restore the fullness of His glory back to humanity as it once was. This only happens within a context of relationship and alignment.

In the transfiguration experience in Matthew 17, Jesus gives us a view of the essence of this glory, the type of glory that sparks and sustains revival and leads into the permanent reformation of all things.

Jesus takes three of his favorite disciples, John, James and Peter to the mountain top. Once there, He begins to reveal his glory in a way never before witnessed. His face and garments changed in substance before their very eyes. Within this personal transformation, Moses (1200 B.C.) and Elijah (800 B.C.) suddenly appeared! What!? Yes, time lost its grip over the here and now. These two individuals– Moses, the architect and the legislator of the Jewish nation, and Elijah, the champion of theocracy in the midst of nationwide idolatry- were summoned by the eternal glory. The temporal was subdued by the eternal. Jesus not only displayed the power to bring about self-transfiguration but chronological and spatial transformation.

And so they began to talk with each other. Conversation is a divine virtue required to sustain relationship and connection between the earthly and heavenly realms through Jesus. Peter, James and John were invited to witness the glory of God that would provide them with a power encounter and the grace to engage in conversation with Moses and Elijah. By virtue of hindsight, Moses and Elijah could testify that everything that the Lord had told and showed the disciples was true.

As the new generation of builders of God’s Kingdom, these three would have had an amazing opportunity to get insight from the best. However, Peter’s interruption in desiring to build an altar, did not allow them. Peter’s remarks were sincere, however, they pointed to an old covenant way of doing things. He desired to commemorate God while God desired to commemorate himself in and through them. Peter desired to build three tabernacles; God desired that they become the tabernacle that would sustain His glory! God desired to release His glory to this community dwelling in unity perfectly aligned under Jesus –the Master builder.

A voice came forth, not as before from above but amongst them stating, “Behold, my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

The Father could have used any title to address Jesus but He chose Sonship to emphasize that everything that he builds is built on relationship and community under perfect alignment. It is within this context that the glory of God remains and ignites revival and reformation. Jesus, the Son of Man, desires to take us there. Let us listen to him!

Alex Medina

For the full podcast, click here.


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Unicorns and Talking Snakes

And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. Isaiah 34:7 KJV

One word? Unicorns. Let’s be honest. Christianity can seem weird. We believe in all sorts of weird things. Possible giants/angels having children on earth (Genesis 6.1-4), paying your taxes because there was money in a fish you caught (Matthew 17:27), a serpent talking (Genesis 3), a donkey talking and actually winning an argument (Numbers 22:28-29); the list could go on.

Rational empiricism is not the pinnacle of truth for us, our minds are vitally important, we can problem solve, seek truth but our worldview is supernatural, not natural. 

Embracing the unseen starts with acknowledging that there is a realm where real things exist as a substance in that realm and not compartmentalizing them as separate, dealing with the spiritual and physical as divided. There is one realm and we must learn to live in it with the seen and unseen. Faith for example is a substantive thing. It is real, has substance and yet cannot be seen. The same can be said of love, hope, peace etc. All unseen but deeply experienced by their presence or even their absence. There is no veil between one world and the other, no matter how hard we try to put one up.

In Ephesians 4 we are informed that an unseen response (anger) can and will give the Devil a foothold in your life. Fantasizing about revenge, mulling over the wrongs and injustices, staying as angry as I can WILL allow the Devil to have a hold on some part of my life and footholds soon become strongholds. I suspect we all see that this is true - an unseen thing becoming manifest in dark ways. Unseen things can also become manifest in amazing ways. Focusing on what is good, what is loving, what is pure, your dreams and destiny will manifest something in your life that is magnificent.

We are told in Hebrews 11 that Moses did not fear the wrath of the King because he acted like someone who had seen the unseen Jesus. Moses focused on a King of Kings that he had never laid eyes on but knew existed as unseen and as a result, Moses was unshakeable and endured to the end.

The unseen realm is not just about angels and demons, it has in it your promises, your destiny, all those hopes you have in your life. Oh, and it does have angels!

Let’s see the unseen today. Let’s believe that just because we can’t see those things that they do not exist. They do.

 

For the full podcast, listen here.


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Faith Unshakable: A fight song {Tell me your battle plan}

Part of the legacy of Greater Chicago Church will undoubtedly be our relentless pursuit of a prophetic culture. It has become difficult to be around our people for any amount of time and not receive an encouraging word or a prophetic declaration. If you’re like us, you have folders full of audio files and many pages of transcribed words. Even so, a vast number of individuals we encounter in ministry are desperately waiting on that next powerful prophetic word. It has become increasingly important to ask the question, “what do we do with the words we already have?” Furthermore, how are we supposed to walk in the fullness of our words if we don’t actually start the faith-engine required to push them forward? We are activated believers yet we often operate in complacency, waiting for Jesus to show up banging on our door with the answers to all of our prophecies.

Carrie and I believe that we’re called to lead our church in a way that enables all of us to carry the lasting favor of God. For too long we have seen the cycle of feast and then famine, heavy rains and barren droughts… let’s change that model to something far more biblical. We are people that embody John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Don’t confuse the life of abundance as a “someday word” or a word about when we get to heaven, completely neglecting the now aspect.  

The reality is that we are going for an abundant life now. God has given us dreams and prophetic declarations to guide us into that abundance and to sustain us when we have a setback along the way. A good coach would not send his team into a game without a plan nor would a general send his troops into a war with a strategy. A battle plan is necessary if we’re going for victory. Increase and favor can happen accidentally, but to be a people that carry the lasting favor, a plan must be crafted.

This week, dig up all of the dreams, prophecies, declarations and words that have been spoken of you in the last few chapters of your life. Get them on paper and begin to sift through them finding the major themes and commonalities. We are convinced that God has highlighted things to you for the next 11 months of 2017, things that He has put into your path that need your faith and energy to activate. Your responsibility is not to force them to happen, it is to partner with God and put some legs to those highlights as you step into your #Harvest17.

You can hear our story of activated faith here

JD & Carrie Leman


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The One

Tolkien tells a tale about 'The One'. 'The One' is called Iluvatar who existed before everything else and independently of everything else. It was said that The One could take thoughts, ideas etc and add a secret fire to it.

At one point, The One gathered these thoughts, ideas etc and they become his children, the Ainur; essentially his thoughts embodied. Even though they were part of The One, they had freedom, freedom that was to be used for the grand theme of The One.

The Ainur gathered and began singing and harmonizing a chorus. From this chorus, the future earth and universe would be created and could be seen by the Ainur. There was one Ainu, Melkor, who sang his own song and brought disharmony to the chorus but The One was always able to bring the disharmony back into harmony. After 3 attempts of spoiling the chorus with other Ainu joining in the discord, The One chastises Melkor and eventually brings into being the chorus that was sung including the disharmony created by Melkor and those who followed him. This was the creation of what would become Middle Earth, the good and the bad parts.

It is a great story.

We at GCC have a culture of destiny, dreaming and quite simply calling each other into our amazing God given identities. Harmony is essential in doing this. The culture of this world is not harmony, it is division. When we are commanded (imagine being commanded in a culture of grace!) to not conform to the patterns of this world, it is way more than keeping our morals intact. In fact, I suspect that the main point of not conforming to the chorus of Melkor has less to do with morals and ethics than it has to do with staying in tune with the harmonies of Heaven.

There has been, if you will forgive the largeness of the claim, a spirit released on the earth that is a spirit of division. Wars and conflicts are being fought, people are being killed and the net result is a world divided even more. This spirit has attacked the church for centuries and continues to this day.

I am smart enough to think, though others may say I am naive enough to think, that most of the issues of this world would be solved if we simply learned to live in harmony; harmony first with heaven and then with earth. That would involve becoming sons and daughters. 

Jesus sat at the right hand of the Father and gave governmental gifts to the church. Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Teacher and Evangelist. I will be bold enough to say that this 5 Fold is the true government on earth, not Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers or despots. I suspect that the spirit of division has an assignment against Jesus' government on earth and it has less to do with moral failure, pompous leaders and mistakes than it has to do with our desire to dance to our own tune. Individuals are abandoning Jesus as their role model in the pursuit of destiny often at the expense of community. Individualism is rampant and it is not Heavens model.

We have learned over the years that our role in supporting and being aligned with Jesus' government is to not uncover leaders flaws in public. We Have learned that being unoffendable is a key weapon in Heavens armory. We have learned to focus on what is rather than what isn't. We have learned that Jesus' mission was so important, so vital for the whole earth that He had to be a son on earth as He was in Heaven and that meant He left His Heavenly Fathers house to be subject to His earthly father and mother.

What would it really look like if the church were actually one as they are one? My guess is that we would be carriers of Good News, bringers of peace, love and joy and transformation.

The next time a spirit of division rears its head in your midst, harmonize with Heaven.

School of Influence and Favor, Jan 27 & 28, 2017. Register here


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Growing in Influence and Favor

One of my favorite quotes from Jack Frosts book ‘Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship is this:

“Have you wondered why you have not seen more lasting fruit in your life? Do you wonder why you don’t have more influence in your workplace? Do you wonder why you haven’t come into the place that God has called you to in your local church and that you know He wants you to move into? Are you sowing into your inheritance? Or do you cop an attitude when it’s time to take up an offering or to bless your pastor or boss at Christmastime? He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much… And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10,12 NAS). Your inheritance, the word God has given you, is delayed until you learn obedience from the things that you suffer by becoming a son or a daughter. Then you begin to become a representative of God’s transforming love to your family and others. It is all wrapped up in the principles of honor and submission, of humbling yourself to become faithful with that which is another’s, of getting underneath and pushing up, of serving unselfishly and wholeheartedly to build up another with no personal agenda or ulterior motives.”

Frost, Jack (2006-11-28). Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship (pages 203–204). Destiny Image.

In 2017, many of us are going after all God has put on our hearts. We are changing how we think, creating with our words and consistently sowing into the desires He has given us. I know I can sound like a broken record at time but the whole notion of being a son or a daughter, the manifestation of our Sonship, is absolutely central to any change of mindset.

This is not about being ‘less’, it is about positioning ourselves for increase and the fullness of God’s favor in our lives.

A lot of us still have unresolved wounds with our earthly fathers and mothers that affect how we show up as sons and daughters or we think sonship is about hierarchy and order. These things will stop us from truly understanding and walking in our inheritance and doing all we are called to do.

It is time to go after our orphan mindsets that prevent us from receiving from our heavenly Father.

We are running a school on January 27 and 28, 2017 that will help address these. We are going to go after the healing and understanding that will help us grow in influence and favor with God and man, just like Jesus did. Join us and get that breakthrough you have been craving.

Register here.


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A Little Lower Than God?

What God Says About Us

     Throughout all translations of the Bible, Hebrews 2:9 states that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, a quote likely taken from the Greek version of the Old Testament rather than directly from the Hebrew text. Hebrews 2:9 is a quote from Psalm 8:5, where it is translated in all but one major translation as “being made a little lower than God.” Man has been made a little lower than God. The Hebrew word is Elohim, which is never translated as angels anywhere else. It is one of the first words used in the Bible: “In the beginning God [Elohim] created …” (Genesis 1:1). This word is translated as God 2,239 times. Could it be that some translators of Scripture saw what this actually meant and decided it was too scandalous to be true? That would surely place angels and demons beneath us on the created beings hierarchy of authority and power. Yet God made us in His image and crowned us with glory and power.

     When the Godhead, the Elohim, gathered in Genesis and made a decision that the earth was good, that everything He had created was good, He decided to make man in “our image.” That is the same word that is used when Adam had a son in Genesis 5 and called him Seth. The son was the image of the father. In the same way, we are the image of our Father. The family resemblance is remarkable! You have to believe that Cain, Abel, and Seth looked just like their mother and father. There were no grandparents and no diluted DNA, but simply the DNA of their mother and father. They were copies of their parents. We too are copies of our Father. 

 

An excerpt from As It Is In Heaven


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What Are We Waiting For?

I feel it is time to break the passivity off the church, at least the church I have some responsibilities towards. Many of us have been given desires by God, confirmed by witnesses, affirmed by words of prophecy and yet we never seem to see them manifest. We are waiting. Let me ask us, what are we waiting for?

Our excuses, er I mean very spiritual reasons, make a compelling list but really I suspect it is just passivity. We have believed that God has every minute of our lives ordained and we are on a track that will take us to our destination. Some, it seems are actually high speed trains on this track, others are on a self-powered cart that will quite obviously never get anywhere.

I confess I don’t fully understand the paradox between God’s will and our wills but I do know we are co-creators with Him. We co-create our destinies and futures. Our thoughts will pull us into our future for as a man thinks, so he is. Our words will create realities around us, let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to Him. We will reap what we sow if we do not stop sowing. Our repeated sowing into our future will reap a reward. That means if we want to pay off our debts, there are repeated actions that will make this not only possible, but very likely. Spending less that we earn, paying off more than the minimum are a start but don’t forget to prayerfully imagine what it is going to be like once you make it! And don’t be surprised if along the way you start receiving checks in the mail, unexpected bonuses etc. Our thoughts, words, imaginations and acts of repeated sowing will attract the supernatural provision of heaven. Doors will open and things will start happening faster that you have seen.

God wants us to be rewarded. It is the heart of a Father that desires to see His children prosper and be in good health but just like we can’t do school and work for our kids, God isn’t doing our lives for us. We get to engage with our lives and show up, every single day! Lets imagine 2017 being the year of everything we have dreamt of so far. Let’s align our thoughts and our words behind our God given desires, imagine the answers coming and sow repeatedly into our destinies.


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Yes!

A few weeks ago, I decided to say yes. I always thought I had been saying yes, but it seems there are different levels of my yes. This new ‘yes’ means I will make an effort to make my 'yes' work, even if it takes me across the world.

A few years ago, I was invited to do a conference or two with one of my heroes. I said no because I was called to Chicago and this was to be in a totally different country. It looked like my ‘yes’ was to my call for this great city. Later I was asked to travel with another one of my heroes and again, I said no to him and ‘yes’ to Chicago. Sounds great, sounds noble, honorable and focused. The problem was, I never asked God what He thought. Neither did I look at my heart to see if there was a hidden reason or reasons for saying no to the invitations. Turns out, there were other reasons and they weren’t totally great!

Fear can look like many things. For me, it looked like doing the right thing, giving up something that would have been downright amazing, for the sake of a harder, more self-sacrificial path. Yet it was pure fear. Fear of not being enough, fear of being disappointed, fear of plain good old failure.

I know that God has me in a season of saying yes, even if it costs me. Saying no, under the disguise of honor and self-sacrifice, costs me way more but more importantly, it costs the Kingdom way more. God is not in the business of asking me to die to the very thing He has died for me to be. The same with each of you.

This coming year, Greater Chicago Church will focus on getting our thoughts aligned with our purpose, our words aligned with our destiny and we will repeatedly sow into our future. That starts with a ‘yes’. What are you going to say yes to this year?

Join us this Sunday at 10am and we will make some lists, check them twice and see what we are going for in 2017.


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Getting Ready For 2017

This is a little excerpt from my book, (now available in Kindle) talking about money.

Money won’t make you happy.
     Do you know what else won't make you happy? Being poor! For every Christian that glorifies poverty, I would like to show them what poverty looks like and take them on a tour of the West Side or South Side of Chicago. For most of my life, I worked in the inner city. Do you know what poverty brings? Death and destruction. In Chicago it brings single parenting, poor housing, racism, drugs, gangs, murders, bad education, violence, early death, homelessness, and hopelessness, just to name a few. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, good about being poor or seeing a city or region ravished by poverty. Slums are not the creation of wealth. The burden of violence in Northern Ireland was on the shoulders of the poor while the wealthy were barely affected. Don’t get me wrong. I am smart enough to know the cure is not simply giving people money, but let’s not romanticize being poor. Working three jobs while trying to raise three kids was so hard on my mom that it's probably what ended up almost killing her until Jesus healed her.
Ian Carroll As It Is In Heaven p83

This next year, we are going to go after the 'things' we want. Of course I am not simply talking about material or financial things but it will include those for most of us. Jesus told us to 'Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added...' The Greek word for 'things' means actual stuff as well as the loftier goals we make, the impact we want to have etc. So in 2017, we will align our thoughts, create some words and repeatedly sow seeds in the direction of our things'. Make sure you come to church January 1. We will launch 2017 with a bang!


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The Sufferings of Jesus

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

And the government will rest on His shoulders;

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,

On the throne of David and over his kingdom,

To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness

From then on and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:2–7).

 

     This prophetic eschatological passage speaks of the coming of a King who will rule and reign on heaven and on earth. A child is born and a son given, and I suggest that the government of heaven on earth rests on sons and daughters. There is a connection between the rule or dominion of God on earth and us showing up as sons or daughters. When I think of some of my heroes of modern times (Bill Johnson and John and Carol Arnott to name three), I am struck that they show up in their lives and leadership as sons and daughters, not as fathers and mothers. Many, including me, have given them the place of fathers and mothers, but they manifest this quality of sonship which makes them easy to follow.

     When I start talking about becoming a son, many people think immediately of the abuses, the serious abuses, of previous movements in the church, particularly the discipleship movement in the 70s and 80s. They hear me say that I want a subservient people waiting to mow my lawn and roof my house when I speak of sonship. Let me ask you a question: Is Jesus less than the Father? No. That would be nonsense and heretical. Sonship is not about hierarchy or authority; it’s about how we as individuals manifest or show up in our own lives. The culture of heaven is not authority or even power: it is family. Not the “2.2 kids, a minivan, and a dog” family, but family relationships done well. Sonship is not a loss; it’s not a taking away of your freedom, destiny, and will. It is not a theft of your greatness. In this Kingdom, those who want to be first must be last. Those who want to be greatest must be the least. I would suggest that the real suffering of Jesus we are to embrace and be baptized into is not the 40 hours of the Passion, rather it is the 33 years of being a son on earth as He was in heaven.

For more info on the topic of sonship, check out my book As It Is In Heaven available for a few more days at the introductory price of $10.00.


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Sometimes God is not rational

God is not a white middle aged college professor as some would have us think. He is not always rational.

Sometimes He will ask us to do something that seems totally irrational, simply so He can defeat our enemies and leave us with a testimony of His goodness. It would be great if He simply sent a bolt of lightning down on our enemies but there are times when He needs us to be in a place where all we have is Him.

Take Moses and the people of Israel. Having spent 400 years in slavery, Moses finally secured their exodus from Egypt. The people of Israel were presumably nervous. They had left the faux security of slavery behind, the security of being mistreated and abused but still, they knew what to expect and had a history of coping. Here they were, in uncharted land when the instruction came from Moses to set up camp in the most vulnerable of places, a place with no escape should their enemy change his mind and come get them. And that is what happened. They camped in a spot where they were cut off from moving forward, Pharaoh changed his mind and came after them. Have a look at the photo that goes with this post, it shows you the apparent folly of moving to a beach with no way out and no way forward.

Exodus 14:1-4 The Message

God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon. “Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.” And that’s what happened.

God will ask us to do things that look like we are in a pickle just so He can defeat our enemies and create a way through where there is no way through.

Sometimes it may look like the dumbest thing to do, there is no way forward and we are trapped; it just doesn’t make any sense to be in the place we have been asked to be and then, the sea opens as you move forward towards your promise and you will never see your enemy again. But here is the thing, it isn’t obedience if you can work everything out. It is only obedience when you simply cant make sense of it and it seems dumb or dangerous.

Don’t be discouraged by what you see the enemy threatening. Know that God is positioning you so you can walk into your promise and your enemy can be defeated.

(The image that I have attached is the route they may have taken, the Red Sea is visible between the slopes of Migdol. There looks to be no way out.)


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