Take What God Has Given

on 8/30/2010

One time I was on one of those hater websites that was talking trash about several preachers. They had a clip, that I must admit even surprised me a bit; where Kenneth Copeland basically said you don't have to earn your money. His said something like, "Did you earn Jesus? Did you earn salvation? Did you earn the Holy Spirit? Then why do you have to earn your money?" I'm sure I'm not quoting it perfectly, but it was very similar.

I admit that I thought, "Whoa, that's not right." But now I think he was right. Let me explain. (By the way I hate websites devoted to preacher bashing.)

Let us begin by agreeing that salvation is the greatest gift that man could ever receive. Remember that it is a "free gift" as Romans tells us. We don't receive this by works, lest any man should boast. But it is by grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.

While we were yet sinners Christ died for us, and in this way God shows His amazing love for us. Who would die for a bad person? God did. So you never earned Christ, none of us did. In fact we could never come close, so Christ was freely given to us all, sacrificed to God for us. So we have two questions to answer? Just how do we make Jesus' Sacrifice personally applicable, and what all did Jesus' death provide for us.

I hope you know the answer to the first, you make Christ' sacrifice applicable to your life, and you receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, when you confess with your mouth that He is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10). You don't earn this; you simply believe and confess what God's Word already says. Then you receive Christ for yourself. Now what about the second question? What all did the death of Christ gain for us?

Did it provide for our physical health? Well by His stripes we were healed. Did it provide for our righteousness? He who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Did it provide for our financial situation? He was made poor so that we might be made rich. Did it remove us from every area of our lives that sin has touched? Absolutely! We are delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We are redeemed from the curse of the law, because Christ became a curse for us.

Now you didn't earn your salvation? Why do you think you could earn anything else that Jesus did for you? Consider also the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus sent Him to the world. You can't earn Him either. You must now realize that everything you will ever receive from God you receive like you did salvation, "by grace, through faith." You can't earn anything from God, so don't even try.

What are you trying to earn? It's true, when you work for men there is nothing wrong with earning money from them. But why would you try to earn from God? What could you earn? God wants to give you everything as a gift. If He spared not His own Son on the tree, will He not with Him also freely give us all things?

You can't earn the Holy Spirit. You can't earn salvation. You can't earn healing or health or provision or any other promised good from God. They are promises, and they are all yes and amen in Christ. They are gifts that God wants to give; you must stop trying to earn them. In fact, I believe that God is lately telling me that my attempts to earn things are blocking my actually receiving them.

Remember, we are interested in fundamental mindset changes here at EFG, and I believe we've found another. I MUST STOP TRYING TO EARN FROM GOD! Will I earn a ministry? Will I earn more money? Will I earn my health? NO, NO NO! I can only TAKE what His outstretched hand holds open to me. I can’t earn anything.

So there you have it. Does not God's Word promise so many wonderful things? You know it does. Now stop working to impress God, as if you will do so well God is going to make His promise manifest in your life. How many of you can say, “I worked and worked and worked and then it happened?” I know I can't. I can say that on some issues I built and built and built my faith, and then something happened, but I never earned it in that sense. I only increased my faith, so that I was able to take what God has already given.

And let's think about increasing our faith. Do you increase your faith by asking over and over and over? I know I don't. I increase my faith when I study God's Word and become more secure in His promise. When I got a hold of "Great shall be the peace of my children," I knew that everything would be o.k. with my wife's pregnancy. It's not that I've earned that reality, but now my faith in God's promises is sure, and I've taken what God has already provided, great peace for my children. And not to repeat, but why is that promise true for me? Because all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ.

So I know I've said this before, but God reminded me again - I must stop trying to earn what He has already given. I can't, and I'm wasting my time. Rather, by increasing my faith that it's already available, and claiming that I have it now (read again Mark 11:23-24), I actually take what God has given. Now it's mine. Now it will manifest.

How do you know that you have something, like healing when your body still hurts? Because God's Word says you do. That's the place of faith - the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. And without faith you won’t receive anything from God (James 1:6-7). Without trusting that you have the promise while it is still unseen, without believing you have the substance of a promise still hoped for – you will never receive anything from God.

Now let me make one last point. As I was considering this today I kept saying to God - "Are you saying that even sinful Christians can enjoy what you've already provided?" As I've heard Paula White say, "You can't claim promises and violate principles." Here is what I believe God showed me. It's true that God's promises are yes and amen to all Christians. So it's true God's good gifts are available to every Christian, even those living in sin. They didn't earn the gifts; their bad behavior won't withdraw God's hand. Remember, your works have nothing to do with it. But you must not forget the operation of seedtime and harvest.

While God's hand is outstretched towards you, it is still true that while the earth remains seedtime and harvest will never cease. You are going to reap what you sow, and you are going to reap harvests on ungodly seeds. Are you in sexual sin or continual pride or strife? Are you greedy? What sinful seeds do you sow? (I hope none.) You must know that those seeds will bring forth harvests, and those harvests will block your enjoying the manifestation of God's promises.

For an easy example, if you are defiling the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6) by eating poorly, smoking, drinking and engaging in sexual immorality, don't be surprised if you harvest poor health. And also don't be surprised if that harvest blocks the manifestation of God's promises. I wouldn't begin considering which will trump, God's good promises or the harvests of sin. Are you seriously going to look in the mirror and say, "I sow all these bad seeds but should be experiencing this particular blessing?" The idea is to get the two principles working together to benefit you and the world.

So remember, you can't earn anything from God. So stop trying. Concentrate instead on building your faith and taking what God has already given. You do that by trusting His Word and boldly declaring you already have what God has promised. That’s faith. "God supplies all my needs, By Jesus' stripes I WAS healed." Sow the right seeds while doing this, and you will begin to see all of God's promises manifest in your life.

Read more...

Move Forward In Your Calling

on 8/25/2010

Do you want to do great things for God, but don’t know where to start? I know I feel like that regularly. We see countless preachers with huge churches and worldwide ministries. We love God and feel His calling. But we don’t find anything to do, no outlet for our gifts.

I just want to encourage you that God sees your faith and desire. God knows how you want to serve Him, in fact, God gave you that want. Jeremiah says God knows the plans He has for us. Ephesians says that God created us and planned specific good works for us to do.

Don’t give up hope. Just continually be faithful in what you have to do today. I know it can be hard, especially when it doesn’t look like much. This blog doesn’t have many subscribers, but I know God wants me to write here. If I’m not faithful in this little thing, how can I expect God to put me in charge of big things? If I’m not faithful to work on my own spiritual life, why would God put me in position to help the spiritual lives of others?

I know waiting on God can be hard? I know it’s hard to watch others minister when you know God has placed a powerful gifting inside you. But you can’t give up now. You can’t get discouraged, jealous or offended. It’s o.k. if no one else recognizes your gift or gives you an opportunity. You don’t want to serve them anyway. You want to serve God.

Here’s a great thought – God knows every single person on the planet, the gifts He’s given them, and whether they want to serve Him. God is thinking about you and considering your desire right now. God loves you and wants you to fulfill your calling more than you could ever imagine. Just be faithful, loving and patient.

Whatever you know God wants you to do, keep doing it passionately and faithfully. That is the secret to getting more opportunities from God, the seed you must sow for the harvest of greater works. Does God want you to witness to that friend? Do it and God will show you another. Does God want you to wake up and pray? Do it and see your life completely improved. What is God asking you to do? Obedience is always the required action to take the next step with God.

Go ahead and make a list of everything God has told you to do. Let’s commit to doing them together. Let’s agree that we are going to do everything we can to work out our salvation and fulfill our callings.

Here’s a list of some things God wants me to do:
•Wake up early each morning and spend time with Him.
•Be an increasingly loving husband.
•Don’t drink coffee or tea.
•Eat less red meat.
•Exercise.
•Blog, Facebook, and Twitter for Exploits for God.

Those are the first ones that come to mind. Your list may be very different. God may not care if you drink coffee all day long, that’s just what God told me. But I’m going to commit right now to working harder than ever on those issues, and any others God brings to mind.

What would happen if we all got super diligent about doing exactly those things God has told us to do? Forget every other issue for a moment. What if you made those the central goals of your life? I believe our lives would open up to God’s will like never before.

I’d love for you to join this with me. It’s time we all rise and shine. It’s time we all start doing exploits for God. Tell us what God has instructed you to do. Commit to working on it with all your might. Let’s get going. Our faithfulness in the little we have before us is the key to moving ahead in our full callings in Christ.

Read more...

A Supernatural Short Sale Story

on 8/16/2010

Last Friday, after four months and 24 days, we closed on the short sale of our previous home. Now to you that might not sound so amazing, but for us it was an extremely difficult battle that revealed God’s love and power multiple times. I know that from the beginning the battle was the Lord’s, but we had to take some steps along the way to work with God to see His will come to pass. I wanted to share with you a step by step roadmap of this victory, and I pray that it blesses, encourages and exhorts you for your own personal situations.

I suppose the story really begins in September of 2009. While alone on a long drive I began seriously worrying about our home’s value, and the fact that we were probably seriously under water. On that drive the Holy Spirit had me confess, “The power of these mortgages is broken over our lives, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.” I received that Word into my heart, and felt better about the situation. I worried little about it for the next six months. Then on March 8, 2010 my father said he would soon have to let my wife and I go. He had employed us for the previous 3.5 years. This was no surprise frankly, as God had recently given me three dreams about the end of that season. But of course we began to seek God for direction.

God immediately told me to sell the house. Knowing that this would be difficult, and hating that I would essentially lose the thousands I spent on home improvement, I checked with God repeatedly. But three times a clear Word came, two dreams, and one vision of a plane. I knew God wanted us to go.

On March 21 we put the house on the market. On April 13 we received our first offer. I felt this was the miracle speedy offer from God, but that night I had a dream that my wife hated that offer, but another was coming. So we waited, and the next day we received a second offer for $30,000.00 more. Glory to God. We immediately accepted that offer and prepared the short-sale package to the bank.

By April 28 we had everything to the bank, and then we waited. I can’t tell you how many nights I lay there considering all the bad possibilities. What if we couldn’t make the payments? What if the bank said no? What if the bank wanted a promissory note for the difference (over $120,000)? The whole situation really, really disrupted my mental and spiritual life. But then God gave me a dream that the house would sell for $308,500.00. As that was more than the offer He told us to accept, I went to God’s Word. I found the third book, the eighth chapter, and the fifth verse.

Leviticus 8:5 – “And Moses said unto the congregation, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done.”

Praise God, it honestly gets me emotional just thinking about it. God told me to sell the house. God had commanded the house to be sold. God was telling me that He would supernaturally line everything up so that His will would be accomplished. While I was fine with selling it, it wasn’t my commandment or my word, it was His. It would surely come to pass.

But we kept waiting. You know how it is, that refreshing Word from God grows cold, and the worries return. I began to get very anxious. Then I had another dream. This time I saw a sheet of paper that said if we paid $1,312.20 they would mark it paid in full. As that wouldn’t even cover one payment, I again went to the Word. I went to the first book, the thirty first chapter, verses 2-20. For brevity’s sake I will only put part of verses 17-20.

Genesis 31:17-20, abbreviated – “Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives upon camels; And he carried away all his cattle, and all his goods which he had gotten . . . And Jacob stole away unawares to Laban the Syrian, in that he told him not that he fled.”

I believed God was telling me to just move out. Now that’s a hard word. Some friends said that I could live there free for two years and let the bank try to foreclose. Being a lawyer and knowing some tactics, this was actually tempting. But I didn’t go that route. God said sell, not sit there without paying. I was going to sell. So I believed God was saying move out, but I waited two months before doing so. I was scared, and I didn’t receive what God had clearly said. Also, about the same time, I had a dream that the bank would let us off completely, requiring no further payments.

The bank said they would give us a first response 45 days after receiving the packet, but 45 days came and went. Then the bank said they needed more documents, which I immediately provided. Then a negotiator was assigned and she said another 8-10 days. That came and went. She said she needed more time. Then she stopped responding.

One night in early July my body headed for bed, but inside I was freaking out. What was going on? Were they denying the sale? What was up? The woman at the title company, who was really supposed to speak with the bank for me, is very nice and qualified, but I had felt maybe she wasn’t giving our file all the attention she could. I’m not mad, she had hundreds of files. I only had one. So I sort of considered getting involved. Now several people had told me not to, but as I was praying and thinking I had a vision of this woman at her desk with files all around her. I knew God was saying that she was over worked and not paying our file enough attention.

Now I didn’t take that as a Word to call her up and let her have it. I took that as a Word to get personally involved. I began calling and calling. I spoke to several people. I also went back and reconsidered the Word to move out. I came to believe that this was the necessary seed for the harvest of the bank letting us go. So we set to finding a new home. Eventually I spoke to someone at the bank who gave me a supervisor’s email address. Two more days, no response.

Then, like a flood, came the breakthrough. On July 8th we received a lease agreement on the place we believed God had for us. We were moving out at the Word of the Lord. We would trust Him for the sale to go through. THE SAME DAY, the bank called me. They essentially said, “Mr. Howell, we are so sorry that took so long. Your short sale was completely approved. You don’t have to give us another dollar. You can close anytime.”

You simply can’t imagine my joy. We had moved ahead on a difficult Word from God, and we were immediately seeing the rewards of obedience. Considering everything involved, God has freed us from around $400,000 in debt. Now that’s supernatural debt forgiveness!

That night I had another dream. God said to move immediately. I had planned on moving in a few weeks. But I called the realtor, we set it up, and God sent two angels that worked like absolute champions to help me move. We were completely moved two days later, Saturday July 10. But it wasn’t over. That night, while sitting in my new place relaxing and thanking God, I got an email. The buyer couldn’t close for over a month, they had to sell their home first. (As they didn’t have that contingency in the contract, they were now technically in breach.)

Well of course I was immediately offended and extremely irritated. This could mean more money from me to the bank. We asked them to hurry, so as to avoid that. But they didn’t hurry. More issues, more irritations. Everyone asking, when will you close, when will you close. Then I had another dream that I mentioned in another post. I was circling a fenced property with my father, who was asking if we would close. I said, “Praise God, it’s going to close and be alright.” The next thing I knew I was going right through that fence, and I was high up in the car, almost like riding in a tank, right onto the land.”

I knew God wanted me to confess my trust in Him, and that this would get me where I needed to go. Well that’s what I did. I cast all my cares on to Him as the Word instructs, and I trusted Him that it would close. And Glory to God, on August 13 it finally closed.

The power of those mortgages was broken over our lives. We were supernaturally delivered from those who had power over us. We were supernaturally released from a huge debt. With a mighty hand and strong arm God brought us out of that place and into our new home, which we are really enjoying. I don’t know what God has next, but I know that the sale of our home was something that the Most High God commanded to be done, and it was done.

Now maybe all this sounds a bit goofy or insignificant to you. But it sure wasn’t to us. I know lots of people are getting through short sales right now, and I’m glad for them. But that’s not our story. This is our short sale story, a victory for which God alone deserves all the credit.

And when I look at it, and consider the past months, with the dreams and visions, the verses and Words – when I consider everything, there is only one possibility – the All-Seeing, All-Knowing, All-Capable God desired that I sell my house. He wanted it done, He told me what to do, and He guided me through the process from start to finish.

Jehovah, the only living God, whom we have access to by our faith in Jesus Christ, also has plans for your life. He wants you to have that relationship with Him, where you can see His will and walk it out. Your life will never be as before. Working in connection with the One True God, there’s nothing like it. I pray that you draw closer to God, for I know He will draw closer to you. You will see Him work in your life, and you’ll never again want to experience life without Him. Praise the Lord.

Read more...

Keep Going

on 8/10/2010

I used to play a video game called “Big Buck Hunter,” or something like that. There were several variations revolving around which type of animal you hunted. It had an orange shotgun and you would move from one wilderness scene to the next. After each scene, if you did well enough to continue, the narrator would say very distinctly, “Keep Going.” More than ever I hear those words ringing in my head. My stepmother sometimes discusses how certain things stay with you for a reason. I believe my spiritually renewed mind remembers this especially when the going gets tough.

As you know my wife and I are going through some trying times. I just can’t describe in full detail how the Lord told me not to worry, then I worried, and now I see there was never any reason to worry. We have to develop a mental framework for going through trials. We all know that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Do you feel like you’ve been delivered from every affliction? You actually probably do. Think how the Lord has protected you and blessed you. Think of all the times you were stressed to the max, only to see the situation work out. Maybe you didn’t see it as a miraculous solution at the time, but now looking back you can say that the Lord delivered you and it was all no big deal.

Remember when you didn’t see enough money to cover all your bills. I’m sure you can remember having that feeling many times. Can’t you think of a time years ago when you felt that? I know I can. But sure enough, here I am today. The collector never came calling, I never had to file for bankruptcy, somehow I just supernaturally had enough. You can’t always see how you are going to make it through a situation. You can’t see all the steps in the flesh, call this guy, do this side work, get that extra check in the mail. You can’t see those things if God doesn’t give you a revelation by the Holy Ghost. But what you can see is God’s Word, which promises that God will never leave you or forsake you, and that God will always make all grace abound to you so that you will always have all sufficiency.

So think about that. What if your AC breaks today and you are looking at $1,000.00+ in additional bills. What are you going to do? You can’t see (in the flesh) extra money coming. You can’t see your current money actually being enough? You simply can’t see God’s provision. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact, you have the more sure Word, which should be just as good to you as seeing the actual provision. (But man we know that is tough .)

So let’s say I get that AC bill, what am I going to do? In the past I would fret and worry and stress all the way to the day of the credit card payment. But now I’m learning I don’t need to act that way. If by worry I can’t add one cubit to my stature, I sure can’t by worry add one dollar to my bank account. So from this day forward, in the name of Jesus Christ, I’m done with worry. (Wow, another statement easier said than done!) But here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to recall to mind God’s promises, which I HAVE NEVER SEEN FAIL ME.

I’m going to recite those promises before myself, before my family, before my house. My little dog is so filled with the Word that when she starts talking satan better look out. I’m going to remember that God is true. I’m going to trust Him, and I’m going to rest in His love. If I need to do anything, God will tell me. I trust God that if I need to do anything to ensure a more physical manifestation of His promises, He will tell me.

I have come correct on my worrying, and yes I have cast the cares upon God. In fact, let’s talk about that briefly. I can’t tell you how often people have asked when my house sale will close. In fact, in the Name of Jesus Christ it’s going to close this Friday. I had a dream that my father and I were going around a fenced property. He asked me if the house was going to close. I said, “Praise God, it’s going to close and be alright.” The next thing I knew I was going right through that fence, and I was high up in the car, almost like riding in a tank right onto the land.

I know God was telling me that when I vocally demonstrate trust in Him, and when I cast my cares and confidence onto Him, that doing so will supernaturally propel me victoriously into where I’m trying to go. By doing so I went right through the barrier and into the place. Praise God. I’ll never forget that.

So here we are, closer, but not quite there in the flesh. Here is the time to “Keep Going.” Have you been waiting a long time for something? Have you been going through a rough season for a while? I know you’ve been using your faith and praying and trusting God. But now it’s time to keep going. Now it’s time to shout God’s promises whenever you feel the temptation to worry. Now it’s time, to yourself, in the car, in the shower, whenever you think of it, just to say, “Thank you God. I trust you God. I know that your promises are true and it’s going to be alright.”

You know the saying, “When the going gets tough the tough get going.” Well I’m sure that’s true, but the reality is that as the going stays tough then the really tough keep going. We not only have to start strong when a problem arises, but we have to continue strong and finish strong.

God never called us to fret or worry. God never tells us to constantly strategize how to solve all of our problems. God tells us to listen and obey. God promises us sufficiency, God promises us food, clothing, housing, and everything we need. Think how much more He has promised. He will never fail or forsake you. Keep going, praise God, it’s going to be alright.

Read more...