God bless you. It’s a joy to come into your homes. And if you’re ever in our area, please stop by. Be a part of one of our services. I promise you, we’ll make you feel right at home. I like to start with something funny, and I heard about this elderly lady that was close to death. She had never been married. She called her pastor over to talk about her funeral. She said that she only wanted female pallbearers. Pastor looked at her kind of strange and asked why. She said, “The men wouldn’t take me out when I was alive. They’re not going to take me out when I’m dead.”
Say it like you mean it. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same, in Jesus’ name. God bless you.
I want to talk to you today about rest from your enemies. We all have things that come against us and try to keep us from our destiny. Most of what we struggle with didn’t start with us. It was passed down. Things like depression, addictions, anger, divorce. Studies show how that can get passed from generation to generation. If your mother was depressed, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with depression. If your father was an alcoholic, had anger issues, wasn’t faithful to his wife, those are traits that can affect you. Just like a lady that’s on drugs and gives birth to a baby, that baby can have the same addiction as the mother. It was no fault of the baby’s. It’s just life.
The good news is there is a way to put a stop to it. What you’re dealing with may not have started with you, but it can stop with you. God wants to give you rest from those enemies. He wants to put an end to what’s limiting you, but there’s something we have to do. As long as we accept dysfunction as the norm, it will never change. If you see that addiction, that depression, that lack and struggle as your lot in life, you’ll not only get stuck, but you’ll pass it on to the next generation.
And this is what the Israelites did. In Judges 15, the Philistines had been ruling over them for 40 years. An angel appeared to a young lady and said, “You’re going to have a son. You are to name him Samson. He’s going to have supernatural strength. He will deliver the Israelites from the Philistines.” And as he grew up, the Philistines could tell there was something different about Samson. Every time they tried to bind him, he would break those cords. He was a huge threat to them. So the Philistines circled the Israelites’ camp and were about to attack. The men of Judah went out and said, “Hey, why are you coming against us? We’re not bothering you. We’re your slaves.” They said, “We’ve come to get Samson. He’s causing us trouble.”
Instead of recognizing that Samson had been raised up to deliver them from the Philistines, instead of saying, “Yes, this is a new day. We’re not living in mediocrity anymore. We’re done being ruled by this enemy,” the Israelites were so comfortable in dysfunction they went to Samson and tied him up. He wasn’t tied up by the enemy. He was tied up by his friends. They said in Verse 11, “Samson, don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us? Why are you making it even worse?” They were saying, “This is our lot in life. Samson, it’s been this way for 40 years. You really think something is going to change? Just accept it.”
How many times is God sending us a Samson, but we think like the Israelites? “I’ll always be lonely. Joel, I’ve been this way for years.” “I’ll never break this addiction. I’ve had it a long time.” “I’ll never get out of debt. My family always struggles.” As long as you accept the dysfunction, and even when God sends you a way out, even when a Samson shows up, you’ll talk yourself out of it. Because they were stuck in their thinking, they tied up the one that was sent to deliver them. Are you tying up your breakthrough, so to speak? Tying up your healing, your promotion, your abundance because the dysfunction is so familiar? It’s been that way so long you think it’s normal to live depressed, addicted, angry, lonely. This is a new day. You may have been ruled by those things for years. They may have been passed down by previous generations, but that is not your destiny.
God sent me as a Samson. He’s using my voice to tell you it’s time to break free. It’s time to rise higher. What’s limited you in the past doesn’t have to limit you in the future. You can break that addiction. You have the most powerful force in the universe breathing in your direction. You can rise out of lack, struggle, not having enough. You have seeds of greatness. You were created to lend and not borrow. You can be free from depression, low self-esteem, insecurity. God crowned you with favor. He put a robe of honor on you. You have royal blood flowing through your veins. Don’t let limited thinking keep you from your destiny. You can’t think this is the way it’s always going to be and expect to rise to the next level.
And this is where the Israelites missed it. They were so afraid of the Philistines and so convinced they were going to rule them their whole life they went to Samson, their friend, their deliverer, and tied him up. When the Philistines saw that he was bound, they went over to get him, thought, “Finally, we can relax.” But the spirit of the Lord came on Samson. He broke those cords like they were threads. He picked up the jawbone of a donkey and wiped out over a thousand Philistines.
What’s interesting is he broke the chains not of his enemies, but of his friends. God was showing us, sometimes, the people closest to you, the ones that raised you, your family and friends, they may tell you, “Just settle where you are. Don’t you know these things rule over us? You’ll never get your degree. You’ll never meet the right person. You’ll never break that addiction. Like Samson, they cannot keep you chained up. God has put a supernatural strength on you to fulfill your destiny. Your family, your friends, your neighbors, they don’t know what’s in you. They can’t keep you from rising higher. They may be good people, they’re sincere, but their vision is limited. Don’t fall into that trap. God has called you to be a Samson, to deliver your people, to set a new standard for your family, to break chains that have held you back.
Sometimes, it’s not our enemies that are limiting us. Our friends have tied us up. Everyone close to you may not be for you. They can say discouraging things. “Just settle there. Depression runs in this family. Your dad was broke. Your granddad was broke. You’re going to be broke, too.” No offense, but they’re trying to tie you up. Are you going to accept the dysfunction, settle for mediocrity, or are you going to say, “I don’t think so. I’m better than this. I know the power that’s in me is greater than any force that’s trying to stop me.”?
When God breathed his life into you, he destined you to leave your mark. He gave you the power to break chains that have held your family back for generations. He anointed you as a Samson, to take new ground. Don’t let mediocrity become the norm. It may have been that way as far back as you can see. You have to draw the line in the sand and say, “The buck stops with me. I’m not going to live tied up. My relatives may have been bound. My friends may be fine with dysfunction. My coworkers may be okay with living depressed, angry, addicted, but not me. I’m going to be a Samson. I’m going to break chains. I know I was born to make a difference.”
Somebody has to be the first one in the family to not be addicted, to not get a divorce, to not live paycheck to paycheck, to not go around angry and offended. Why can’t it be you? Why can’t you set a new standard? Why can’t you raise great children? Why can’t you have an exceptional career? You’re a Samson. You’ve been equipped. You’ve been empowered. God has called you to deliver your people.
2 Chronicles 14. A young man named Asa became the new king of Israel. His father had died, and now he took the throne. He inherited a land that was filled with idols, pagan shrines, monuments to different kinds of gods. His father passed down compromise, dysfunction, mediocrity. That’s what he had seen growing up. That was normal to him. He could have continued it on and thought, “This is the way it’s always been. Dad was fine with these idols. Everybody likes worshipping these different gods. I’m not going to rock the boat.” But Asa understood this principle that just because something gets passed down doesn’t mean you have to continue it.
Just because somebody close to you has chained you, so to speak, to compromise, dysfunction, doesn’t mean you have to stay bound. He knew he was anointed to be a Samson, that he could break chains, that he could take new ground. The scripture says Asa removed the pagan shrines. He smashed the sacred pillars. He’s chopped down the Asherah poles where the people worshipped. Asa didn’t accept the dysfunction. He didn’t let what was passed down limit his life. He took responsibility, said in effect, “This compromise didn’t start with me, but it is going to stop with me.” He didn’t make excuses, think that he had a reason to live that way. He was a difference maker. He wasn’t passive. He didn’t do it quietly. He smashed the pagan shrines. He pulled up those altars. He was serious about fulfilling his destiny.
And because he did this, Verse 6 says, “The Lord gave him rest from his enemies.” If you want rest from your enemies, you have to do like he did and get rid of negative things that have been passed down. As long as you’re accepting it, you’re going to struggle. The bad attitude, the anger, the addiction. Most likely, it didn’t start with you. Will you be the Asa and remove it? Will you be the one to rise up and say, “I am not going to let this anger rule my life anymore. I’m not going to accept lack and defeat and struggle as my destiny. I’m not going to learn to live with depression, anxiety, low self-esteem. I’m going to be an Asa. I’m going to smash those strongholds. I’m going to pull down those wrong mindsets.”? If you will become an Asa and not take what was passed down as your destiny, God will give you rest from those enemies.
I talked to a man that had been an alcoholic for nearly thirty years. Twenty-two years he had had a drug addiction. These are the things that keep getting passed down until someone rises up and decides to be an Asa and do something about it. Studies show that if your father was an alcoholic, you are 10 times more likely to become an alcoholic. That’s a spirit going from generation to generation. Ninety percent of the people in prison, one of their parents was incarcerated. Somebody has to rise up and break the negative cycle.
The reason people tell you that if your father struggled, you will struggle, is because they’re looking at the wrong father. When you gave your life to Christ, you became a new creation. There may be a lot of negative baggage in your bloodline, but now you have a Heavenly Father. You’re not limited by the natural. You have a supernatural force to help you overcome.
And this gentleman wasn’t a religious person. He wasn’t raised in church. But one day, he got so low. He was so desperate. He said, “God, please help me.” He went to a bookstore to try to find a book on overcoming addictions, and he pulled one off the shelf. This other book fell on his foot. It was very strange. He didn’t know what caused it to fall. He picked it up and it was my book. He had never seen me. He didn’t know who I am, but he started flipping through it, reading some passages, and something began to come alive on the inside. He took it home and learned what I’m telling you that just because something was passed down doesn’t mean you have to continue it. He read that book in three days and said from that forward, he never touched another drug, never touched the alcohol. He was set completely free.
What happened? He became an Asa. He didn’t accept the dysfunction as the norm. When you make that decision that enough is enough, you’re not going to live addicted, angry, letting things rule you, then God will help you overcome what you could not overcome on your own. Joshua said it this way: “You will not defeat your enemies until you remove these things.” Are there some things you need to remove? Asa had to remove the idols that weren’t pleasing to God. This man had to remove the alcohol, the drugs that were destroying his life. My father had to remove a poverty mindset that he was raised with. If he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be standing here.
You may need to remove the anger, the jealousy, the regrets. When you say like this man, “God, I can’t do this on my own. Help me break this addiction. Help me resist this temptation. God, help me get rid of this bitterness,” when you humble yourself and ask God to help you, and then take bold steps like Asa, to remove what’s holding you back, God will make things happen that you could never make happen. He will give you rest from those enemies.
And here’s the key. What you don’t put a stop to will eventually put a stop to you. If you don’t put a stop to that bad attitude, it’s going to stop you. If you don’t put a stop to the anger, the addiction, the regrets, they will keep you from your destiny. If Asa had not put a stop to the dysfunction that was passed down, his life would have been a constant struggle, always uphill.
The message translation says, “Asa cleaned house.” Do you need to do some housecleaning? Are you allowing some things to stay that you know are not good? My challenge is put a stop to it before it stops you. Don’t let a critical attitude keep you from your purpose. Everybody in your family may be that way. Recognize that’s not normal. Don’t learn to function in the dysfunction. Remove it, and God will take you to a new level. Don’t let a lack mentality, a poverty mindset keep you in mediocrity.
“Joel, I’ll never have enough. Nobody in my family is successful.” God wants to give you rest from that enemy of lack, that enemy of not having enough. If you will get rid of the limited thinking and start having a prosperous, more than enough mindset, knowing that favor is surrounding you like a shield, then God will open the windows of heaven. He’ll cause opportunity, blessing, increase to chase you down. But too often, we think what’s on the outside is stopping us. I believe if we look inside and get rid of what we know is not good, then we’ll see God’s favor in new ways.
There was a grandfather that fell asleep one afternoon in the family room. His grandchildren decided to play a trick on him. They took some real strong-smelling cheese. It was very potent, smelled very bad. And while he was sleeping, they snuck over and they carefully rubbed it on his mustache, right under his nose. In a few minutes, he woke up and thought, “Something really stinks in here.” He left that room and went into the kitchen and thought, “Boy, it stinks in here, too.” Went to his bedroom, same thing. “Why does it smell so badly?” Finally, he went outside, hoping to get some relief from the stink, and he took a deep breath, shook his head, and said, “Man, the whole world stinks.”
This is what happens when we hold on to things that we should get rid of. If you’ll remove the bad attitude, the stink will go away. If you’ll remove the compromise, giving in to temptation, the stink will leave. As long as you’re allowing it to stay, it’s going to follow you everywhere you go. If you live guilty, in regrets, beating yourself up for past mistakes, that’s going to stink up your office, stink up your attitude, stink up your relationships.
Why don’t you remove the regrets? Why don’t you get rid of the guilt? You can’t do anything about the past, but you can do something about right now. Maybe you need to remove the self-pity. You’ve had some tough breaks. You went through a loss. Somebody did you wrong. If you stay focused on that, your life is going to stink. You may not realize it, but when you stink, other people can smell it. When you’re offended, bitter, angry, nobody wants to be around you. That stink is going to push away new relationships, new opportunities. Why don’t you remove it? It may have been passed down. You have a good reason to feel the way you do. It’s soured your life long enough. Don’t let it continue to sour you.
The truth is we all have some stinky stuff, some dysfunction, some regrets. I’ve learned that people that keep moving forward, the people that keep enjoying their lives, are the people that are good at removing the stink. Complaining about the stink only makes it stink even more. If you stay focused on the stink, you’re angry at the people that hurt you, always thinking about how they did you wrong, the problem is that seed can get in you. You can become the very thing that you don’t like. When the scripture tells us to not take in offense, it’s not just so we won’t be offended, so we won’t get sour. If we take the offense, the seed will get in us. We can become what they are. That’s why it’s so important to remove it. Let it go. God will be your vindicator. God will make up for what you didn’t get. How you were raised, what was passed down, that does not have to keep you from becoming who you were created to be.
A friend of mine grew up in a home where his father wasn’t faithful to his mother. He saw his dad run around on his mom, and this young man became very hurt and confused by it. And over time, he got to the point where he hated his father. He wouldn’t be around him, wouldn’t speak to him. He couldn’t wait until he got old enough to leave the house. He went away to college and eventually got married and had several children of his own. A few years later, he started running around on his wife, doing the same thing to his kids that he hated so much about his father. That’s what happens when we hold on to things that we should let go of. The seed can get in us. You have to do like Asa and say, “I am removing it. I am not leaving angry, offended, letting this dysfunction affect me and my children. I’m going to be a difference maker. The buck is going to stop with me.”
There was a young man in the scripture named Levi. He had a lot of issues. He was angry. He was dishonest. He deceived people. One time, somebody took advantage of his sister. It was a big deal. He was very angry. He went to the city where it took place. He said to the leaders, “Everything will be fine. We’ll forgive you if all of the men will be circumcised. Once you do that, then we’ll make peace, act like it never happened.” They agreed. The men were circumcised. While they were healing, when they couldn’t defend themselves, Levi and his men came in and wiped out the whole town. He had deceived them.
What’s interesting is Levi’s father was Jacob. You remember Jacob was a deceiver. He cheated his brother out of his birthright, tricked him into trading his whole inheritance, all for a bowl of soup. Now, Jacob’s son, Levi, was just like him. But if you go back one generation, Jacob’s mother, Rebecca, was the same way. When her husband Isaac was near death and about to give the blessing that belonged to their firstborn son, Esau, Rebecca loved Jacob more than Esau, she came up with a plan to trick Isaac. He couldn’t see. He was almost blind, and she told Jacob to dress up like Esau. They made sure he smelled like his brother. Then she said, “Now, Jacob, go in and tell your father that you are Esau.” He did this and received the blessing that belonged to his brother.
But the deception, the dishonesty, started back with Rebecca, got passed down to her son Jacob. He was dishonest. Now, Jacob’s son, Levi, was the same way. It looked like that was going to continue to get passed down. But one day, Moses was up on a mountain. He just received the Ten Commandments, and when he came down, the Israelites were having a wild party. They had made a calf out of gold that they were worshipping. When Moses saw it, he was furious. “God, I just delivered them out of slavery, parted the Red Sea.” Now these two million people were worshipping an idol.
Moses pulled out his sword and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” Of all the people there that day, the leaders of the different tribes of Israel didn’t say anything. Joshua didn’t say anything, Aaron didn’t say anything. The scripture says the sons of Levi spoke up and said, “Moses, we are on the Lord’s side.” They were saying, in effect, “This is a new day. We are not going to be defined by our past. We’re not going to let how our father lived, how our grandfather lived, what our great-grandmother did, we are not going to pass that dysfunction down in our family line. We’re going to take a stand and do what’s right.”
That day, they broke a generational curse and started a generational blessing. Because of that decision, God said, “From now on, all of the priests will come through the tribe of Levi.” In the Book of Genesis, they were cursed by their grandfather. In the Book of Leviticus, they were the most blessed, honored people. This is what happens when you get rid of negative things that have been passed down. You’ll not only have rest from your enemies, but you’ll set a new standard for your family. It all starts when you remove what’s holding you back.
Do you need to remove anger, remove dishonesty, remove a wrong mindset? It may not have started with you, but it can stop with you. There may be a lot of negative baggage in your bloodline. God is saying today, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” If you will rise up and say, “That’s me. I’m a difference maker,” then I believe and declare, like the sons of Levi, God is going to promote you and honor you. Like Samson, you’re going to break chains that have held your family back for generations. And like King Asa, God is going to give you rest from your enemies, in Jesus’ name. And if you receive it, can you say “Amen” today?
We never like to close our broadcast without giving you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, “Lord Jesus, I repented my sins. Come into my heart. I’ll make you my lord and savior.” Friends, if you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church. Keep God in first place.