The 490 Forgiveness Club

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Mathew 18:21-22 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? Till seven times? Jesus said to him, “I say not to thee until seven times, but, until seventy times seven” 

There’s a tremendous amount of liberty that comes with recognizing and releasing Christ in you. When you’re really angry with someone, don’t turn the other cheek and say through gritted teeth, “I love you”.  It’s better to say, “Father, in my flesh, I’d like to punch them in the nose right now.  But in my spirit, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. Please live through me, help me to release supernatural compassion for this person so I can love them!”  

Peter thought he was being generous when he asked, “How many times should I forgive my brother, up to seven times a day?” Jesus answered, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven”…490 times in one day!  In other words, there shouldn’t be a limit on your forgiveness. 

In your flesh you might be able to forgive a person for something once, twice, or maybe seven times in a day, but what Jesus asked goes far beyond your human ability.  The only way you can forgive like that is by saying, “Father, I can’t do it, but You can.  Lord please love them through me.” 

When you humble yourself, and turn away from your own natural ability and look to God and His divine ability, you’ll discover a supernatural strength flowing through you.  You have an unlimited supply of the God-kind-of-love in your spirit. In your spirit, you have an unlimited ability to forgive, endure, believe, and hope. 

If you catch yourself saying, “I can’t stand this anymore, I just can’t take it, I’m at the end of my rope”, this is good news.  What you’re really saying is, “I’ve come to the end of my flesh!”  Now let your spirit take over. Pray, God, I’ve been trying this myself, which is why I’m burned out, frustrated, and angry. Live Your life through me.  I believe you’re Word. In my spirit, I’m a brand new person, in my spirit I know I can do this!”  Join the 490 Forgiveness Club, the membership is free!

 

Fix or Facts by Natalie Fortunato

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James 1:14 - "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed" 

Some of you might remember a song from the early 70's called If Loving You is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right).  It's a song about a man that's in love with a woman, but he's married, and the woman he's in love with is not his wife!  For some reason, that title has always stuck with me.  I guess it's because I've seen it play out over and over again in people's lives.  They know that something's totally wrong for them, but they want it anyway.   

Are you holding on to or involved in something that you know is not good for you, but you want it anyway?  Are you holding on to something that's hurting you, but you think that letting go will hurt even more?  If yes, then you have a choice to make, do you want a fix or the facts?  

A fix: when you take matters into your own hands, and try to satisfy your desires your way.  When you do things, and won't allow God to do them for you, in His way and in His time. When you decide what's best.  When you answer your own prayers.     

The facts: When you surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth from God's Word, and you make yourself accountable to them.  When you know who you are in Christ and find your value and identity in Him. When you stick to what God has told you to do, no matter what.  

A fix or facts.  You choose.  (Choose facts!)

 

 

Trust Now, Understand Later

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John 13 :7 " What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand" 

Much of the Christian life is spent trusting Jesus now and understanding later. Jesus typically doesn't always explain on the front end why He is doing something the way He is doing it. Like Peter, when something looks wrong to us, we are tempted to go against the Lord's will.  God wants us to trust Him.  During those times when we don't understand, we need to remember Jesus' words to Peter, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand". 

Peter had grown used to Jesus doing and saying unpredictable things, but in the context of John 13:7, the way Peter saw it, Jesus washing the disciples feet was just plain wrong.  He believed Jesus was the last person in the room who should be washing feet, that was a house servant's job, a non-Jew.  People traveled in sandals, their feet were smelly, dirty and came in contact with things the law declared unclean.    

Here's the twist.  Under the law the unclean makes the clean, unclean.  But under grace, the clean makes the unclean, clean.  Jesus washed the disciples feet, when it should have been Peter down washing the feet of Jesus.  It looked like it was all backwards.  Peter didn't understand in the now, but he would later.

Today you may not understand what God is doing in your life, but trust Him, you'll understand later.  Follow the example in His Word, listen to that still small voice that says "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Remember this simple truth, God is good, all the time. When your down to nothing, God is up to something!  Something good.  

 

Step Into Peace

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Mark 5:34 "and He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague" 

Imagine being healed of a blood disorder after 12 years of going to every doctor you could find, spending every penny had, and things just getting worse.  Just like that, one encounter with Jesus and she was instantly healed.  What happened next?  He said to her "Go in peace", or in the original Greek, "Go into peace".  This is really important.  Jesus wasn't bidding her farewell.  He was telling her to step into the realm of peace, the way you would step into a house. 

You might be going through a prolonged season of challenges where nothing you have done seems to work. Perhaps you are dealing with a chronic condition.  Or maybe you’re a single parent struggling to make ends meet. Or possibly you have done all that you can to mend a broken relationship, but all your efforts have come up short.  

Jesus is inviting you to receive grace for your situation, step out of your place of fear, worry, and anxiety, and step into the realm of peace.  Peace is a key component to keeping what grace has given through the finished work of the cross.  Grace and peace always go together, as seen in so many of Paul's epistles.  So, go ahead, receive your victory, and step into peace, it will change the course of your life.  

 

The Lord Saves. The Lord Saves.

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1 Samuel 14:6 "Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” 

Yahweh, the Lord saves!  He saves us from our addictions.  From our bad habits.  He saved us from sin.  He saves us from getting in further trouble.  One of the greatest things about salvation is, the Lord saves us from ourselves  From our bad decisions, our mess ups, our mistakes. Grace is giving you victory in your time of trouble!  

Every day you need to know the Lord saves.  The Lord is the name of JESUS, Yeshua!   What area of your life needs saving right now?  You might say "I don't  need saving, I've got things under control".  Fine, you're on your own.  But if you say, "I need help", the Lord will save.  He loves to save, saving is what He does best. 

In 1 Samuel 14:4 it says, "there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side".  Jonathon and his armor bearer were "caught between a rock and a hard place".  There were 30,000 Philistines that came and surrounded the whole area.  

It says in verse 16 that their enemy was "uncircumcised".  That's covenant language, meaning God was not with them.  But like Jonathan, God is with us.  On your job, in your family, in your marriage, in every area of life, why should you be like the people of the world?  You must have this attitude, we are God's people!  

Maybe you feel like you're between a rock and a hard place.  Or perhaps surrounded by an impossible situation today.  The Lord saves by few or by many.  He's not moved by the odds against you.  He's not looking at your bills or your bank account.  He's not reading over the doctor's report and saying "What shall I do now?"   Our verse today says, "He will work for us".  While you're resting He's working!  The Lord not only saved you, He saves you in every situation.  

 

Breaking Through Resistance

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Philippians 3:14 "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God In Christ Jesus" 

Even a dead fish can swim downstream.  Know why? There's no resistance!  How do you respond to resistance in your life?  When you decide to live in the "high calling", you will face opposition and resistance.  "…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" 2 Tim3:12. 

So, if there's a "high calling", there must also be a "low calling". The high calling is a life lived on earth according to heaven's standards; it's seeing the kingdom of God manifestedthrough an individual's life. People who live in the high calling control their surroundings. By staying in their authority, they change the spiritual climate around them. 

Darkness cannot overpower light, light always expels darkness.  The brighter the light, the more darkness is displaced. This is how it is when we walk in the authority of God's kingdom.  We place our surroundings under its rule.  Jesus could eat with sinners because HE controlled the atmosphere. If you are stronger in God then the unbeliever is in the devil, you will control the atmosphere.  If the sinner is more dominant  in evil than the believer is in righteousness, the unbeliever will control the atmosphere. 

Again, when you decide to live the high calling, you will face opposition.  But you've already overcome because of the finished work on the cross.  Yet many settle and live for the low calling.  Why?  They don't want to face the resistance that accompanies pressing toward the high calling.  They would rather conform to their surroundings than change them with godly confrontation.  It's much easier to blend in than to stand out. 

The word "press" signifies an aggressive mentality that refuses to give up, rather than a "passive" mentality that follows the path of least resistance.  Keep pressing forward with the Grace of God and the power of the Holy Ghost.  Greater is He that is in you than what you are facing in the world. Break through the resistance!  Press toward the mark!  Start today!

 

Why is it Taking So Long for God to Answer My Prayer?

Daniel 10:12  "Then he said to me, 'Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words"' 

Day 1: Daniel prayed.  Day 10: Didn't see the answer yet.  Day 20: Still didn't see the answer.  Day 21: Angel shows up, Bam!  He sees the answer to his prayer.  Wow.  Have you ever prayed for something, and it came rather quickly, and then at other times it seems like it took a long time?  

Why does God answer some prayers in a short period of time, and some prayers in three weeks or three years?  Here's the problem with that question.  God answered your prayer the moment you prayed it.  However, we think God answered it when we see it with our own eyes.  God told Daniel, "from the first day…your words were heard, and I have come because of your words".  The variable is not God.  It says in John 4:24 that "God is Spirit", He moves instantly. 

So what happened?  In verse 13, it says, "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days".  Your faith is like a bridge from the spiritual world to the physical world.  If you quit standing in faith to see the answer to your prayer because you can't see it, you can stop the manifestation.  What if Daniel had quit on the 20th day, right before the 21st day when he got his answer?  When we pray, we must believe that the power of God is released instantly on the first day that we pray. Period.  Expect to see it, no matter how long it takes.  Don't quit.  Every day is the "20th day" until you see it!  You're "21st day" is coming.  

 

Grace Goggles

by Natalie Fortunato

"For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

The term "Beer Goggles" has been around for quite awhile, but I first heard it several years ago.  It refers to "the supposed influence of alcohol on one's visual perception, whereby one is attracted to people who would not otherwise be appealing".   All I can say is, what a sad substitute for learning good social skills, and a sure way to make some really stupid and hurtful mistakes. 

But in all fairness, heavy beer drinkers are not the only ones who wear "goggles".  We've all had at one time, or still do, see through "goggles" that impair our vision or perception about others.  Some people see others through the goggles of their past, and can't seem to get past their failures.  Some see others through the goggles of what the world deems valuable, and they judge others as invaluable. 

But then there's those who see others through the eyes of grace…like Jesus did. He sees past the outward appearance, the past mistakes, the present mess, and sees a life worth dying for.  When we put on our "grace goggles", we also see others through the lens of the Word.  We see others through the "finished work of the cross".  We see that everyone has capacity and value and a God-given purpose for their lives.  

 

My Pillow

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Mark 4:38 "And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master carest thou not that we perish?" 

Have you heard the pillow commercial on TV and Radio with a catchy jingle that says, "For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, mypillow.com".  Now, I’m not endorsing "My Pillow", but I love the concept. You probably didn’t know that My Pillow is the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation.  Founder, Mike Lindell, tells the purpose behind the pillow, "When I invented My Pillow, my dream was to help as many people get a good night's sleep as possible". 

In Mark 4:38, it says that Jesus was in the back of a ship sleeping on a pillow in the middle of a storm. I think most of us would be busy bailing water out of the ship, or screaming for help!  Not Jesus, He's asleep on a pillow in the middle of the storm.  It was the peace that was already on the inside of Him, that allowed Him to sleep through a storm.  It was that same peace that was spoken out of His mouth, "Peace, be still", that calmed the storm.  Jesus shows us a picture of restful increase.  His sleep was evidence of his trust, faith and rest that "all is well".  

We have that same peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the inside of our born again spirit, that is to be exhibited in our actions and our words. When we rest He works, but when we work He rests.  More happens when we rest, than when we don't rest.  So grab your grace pillow, lay your head down, and rest on the promises of God.  

 

Blank Slate Baby by Natalie Fortunato

Colossians 2:14 (The Message) "Think of it!  All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross".  

In 2014, Taylor Swift wrote a song called Blank Space, poking fun at all her multiple failed romances and the casualties she's left behind.  Though her relationships were at a loss, her song won a Grammy for Song of the Year..crazy! 

I'd like to put a little twist to her song title, to help you remember this very helpful principle when dealing with your close relationships.  Here it is: Blank Slate!  If God has wiped the slate clean with all our sin, how about if we wipe the slate clean at the close of every day with other's sins against us?  

Ephesians 4:26-27 says to “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."  In other words, wipe the slate clean every night and wake up the next day with a clean slate, totally empty, no records of wrongdoing against anyone.  Don't mess up today with your wife, or husband, or best friend, or boss, or neighbor's mess ups (intentional or unintentional) from yesterday.  

Paul said there is one thing that he does…forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things ahead (Phil. 3:13). If you need to confront something, do it in a godly way, then regardless of the outcome, move on!  Forgive!  Let it go!  Start each day with a blank slate baby! 

 

Recipe for a Tender Heart

Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you". 

I recently grilled some thin pieces of beef on skewers, marinated in a teriyaki sauce with sesames, delicious...uh, no.  Even though I only cooked them for five minutes on each side, they became a "burnt offering", really tough, dry and chewy.  Then next time, I definitely decreased the time on both sides and they came out perfect, really tender, and…delicious! 

The word tender means having a soft or yielded texture, to soften. Similarly, the word tenderhearted means easily moved with love and compassion.  And the word tenderize means to make tender or soft by applying a process or substance that breaks down the hardness. 

In Ephesians 4:32, Paul says for our hearts to be tender towards ourselves and other people, to "be kind" one to another. That simply means to be nice or to be easy with one to another.  But he goes on to say that a tender heart comes from one thing and one thing alone - forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you!  In other words, know that you are forgiven of past present and future sins, and forgive one another, as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.  

So, here's a recipe for a tender heart!  "Cook it" the right amount of time in God's presence, listen for His voice and follow His instructions, be nice to each other and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.  Have a kind day.  Voila!

 

It's Worth the Wait

Acts 1:4-5 - "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

Jesus didn't recommend or suggest that the disciples not depart from Jerusalem until the "Promise of the Father" had come, He commanded them. After His resurrection, they had spent many amazing days together, He taught them kingdom principles, and He knew the disciples were eager to share the good news all over the world.  But He commanded them not to get started until they had been clothed with the Spirit's power (Luke 24:49).  

In 1 Corinthians it says that He gave this command to about 500 people, yet in Acts 1:15 it says there were only 120 men and women in the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit.  What happened to the other 380?  Perhaps they didn't want to wait.  They wanted to get started doing the work of the ministry…without the power of the Holy Spirit!

When God calls us to do something, we need to make sure that we don't get so excited about the task, that we move out ahead of Him.  Moving out in our own power and timing will actually interfere with what He wants to do in our lives, and interrupt the process.  Our decisions greatly affect the lives of those around us, and the people that God has called us to reach.  Slow down!  Don't worry, you'll know when the Holy Spirit says to move, and He will empower you for the task at hand.  It's worth the wait.

 

Honk Lessons From Geese

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 "Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls , the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble" 

Last Saturday night it was kind of cloudy but warm outside, so I took my dog for a walk.  Then the strangest thing happened.  We were walking along, and I couldn’t see anythingin the sky but I could hear geese honking directly over my head.  

As a goose flaps its wings it creates an "uplift" for the birds that follow.  I learned that by flying a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range then if each bird on its own.  When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and the resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. 

If we have as much sense as a goose, we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.  Are we willing to accept their help and give our help to others?  Two are always so much better than one.  HONK if you're willing to work with others!  You'll accomplish so much more.  It's called " synergy", where two or more people work together to produce a result not obtainable by any one independently.  Two are better than one.  Stay tuned next week for Part Two of "Honk Lessons From Geese".  

 

The Weight is Over

Galatians 5:22 (The Living Bible) “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” 

As the New Year begins, so does the tradition of making New Year resolutions.  What is number one on your list?  If you're like most Americans, it's to shed the extra pounds you gained over the holidays, or last summer, or your "baby weight".  So, what's the plan? 

In Galatians 5:22-25, God shows you how to live a Spirit lead, powerful, supernatural life.  When we are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, everything we need is already on the inside of us.  Regarding eating habits, all the self control you need is already on the inside of you.  Will power and positive thinking can only take us to a certain level, but through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome in every area of life.  

There you go, “the weight is over”. 

 

So Much More

I have to say, Romans, chapter 5 has some of the most amazing truths in one portion of scripture.  Four times Paul uses the term "much more" in reference to a believer’s life after the cross…

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him - Verse 9

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many - Verse 15 

For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ) - Verse 17 

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: - Verse 20 

God has called you to so much more.  You serve a much more God.  Much more opportunity in life, much more forgiveness toward others, much more favor on your job, much more restoration in your family.  Much more than you ever had before.  Much more than you will ever need.  So much more.

 

Home "Sick"


Indeed, nearly all people miss something about home when they are away, making homesickness a nearly universal experience.  However, an intense desire to go "back" to a familiar place and time can be very debilitating.  A longing for the "good ol' days" and what "used to be" makes it impossible to look with hope to the future.
 
According to Hebrews 11:15, you follow the direction of your most dominant thought.  You don't go anywhere in the natural that you haven't first gone in your imagination. This can be good or bad, depending on where your mind is taking you.  If you spend your time meditating on God's promises in His Word, by faith you'll move forward and fulfill God's plan and purpose for your life.  If you follow thoughts that want to take you backwards, you will find "constant opportunity to return to it".  You'll be home "sick", instead of enjoying and being content with and trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness in the place He has for you today and every day to come.  

 

Check's in the Mail

Daniel 10:12  "Then said he unto me, fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, Thy words were heard, and I come for thy words".

Years ago when I was in a windows and siding business, after I would make a huge sale, I would stop by the customer's house at scheduled intervals to pick up a check for the job. When they didn't have it ready, I would get a little (okay, a lot) impatient and I would call the customer to check on the check!  Their response, these famous words, "the check's in the mail".

In Daniel chapter 10, it appears that it took three weeks for Daniel's prayer to manifest.  However, in verse 12, the angel of the Lord, said something really powerful and revealing to Daniel.  He said, "For from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words".  That tells us that every prayer that's in agreement with God's word is answered instantly. 

It was the prince of Persia that withstood Daniel's prayer (verse 13), for 21 days.  The prayer was answered but the manifestation took time to get there! That's huge, but how come?  Daniel was under the old covenant he didn't have authority to speak "TO" the delay.  Daniel had to wait because he didn't have the authority on the earth that you and I have.

Do you have any "unanswered prayers"?  Don't give up.  If your prayer is in agreement with God's Word, it's on the way, "it's in the mail".  Use your authority and command the answer that rightfully belongs to you, and expect to see it!

 

You're Not the Only One

1 Kings 19:14 " I, even I, only am left" 

Have you ever felt like you’re the “only one” going through a certain problem or challenge in your life? Have you ever looked around and said to yourself, everyone else seems to doing just fine, what’s wrong with me?  I’m the only one not married wherever I go.  I seem to be the only one living paycheck to paycheck. 

Anytime you’re tempted to start a sentence with "I'm the only one", you need to stop.  What you’re about to say is not true.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun". 

Remember Elijah, in 1 Kings 19, who allowed discouragement and fear to drive him from totally fulfilling his God given purpose.  Even after he had seen fire come down from heaven and consume his sacrifice, and after he singlehandedly killed 850 false prophets with his sword.  He still allowed fear to rule him, which resulted in a series of bad decisions.  

He declared in 1 Kings 19:14, "I, even I only am left".  Well that wasn't even close to being true.  In 1 Kings 19:18, the Lord said, “I have 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed to Baal".  Elijah wasn't the only one, and neither are you.  Others have endured and won, and so will you through Christ.  Wipe “I’m the only” from your vocabulary.  Reject the "I, only I” syndrome.  That's a ploy of the devil to get you to quit.  Be encouraged today, you’re NOT the only one!  You will fulfill your purpose!

Are You Listening to TSN? (the Ten Spies Network)

Deuteronomy 1:28 "Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there."

We need to choose how much time and attention we give the news on TV, radio, internet or any other source.  By nature, the world disproportionally reports more "bad" news than "good" news.  According to what we hear, we might think that this world is the worst it's ever been! 

In Numbers 13, God sent out twelve soldiers to spy out the promised land, and see for themselves the abundance and prosperity that awaited them.  As proof, in verse 23 it says that they cut down a cluster of grapes that was so big it took two men to carry.  Glory to God!  They returned from the promised land after forty days to "report" on what they witnessed.  They said in verse 27, "Surely it flows with milk and honey, this is the fruit".  In other words, the land was full of good things to enjoy.

But then, in verse 28, TSN (the Ten Spies Network) added to the report from their perspective, "Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there."  TSN gave every reason why they couldn't possess the promised land.  They focused on all that was wrong, on every obstacle, every challenge, and they concluded this doesn't look easy.

That's the same report we are hearing today..."The earth is falling apart", "the economy stinks", " we're all going to lose our jobs", "the world is in a terrible place".  But there were two other spies that saw the same thing as the other 10 men saw, but reported differently.  In Numbers 13:30, Caleb said four things that that contradicted the TSN report:

 "Lets go up at once".  
We can do this!  Let's go right now! Don't delay!  It's waiting for us!
 
"And possess it".  
Take it!  It's finished!  Done!  Healing, health, prosperity, just take it
 
"We are well able".  
We can handle these situations!  It's not as big as you think!
 
"To overcome it".  
Caleb didn't deny that there would be things to overcome, but in the new covenant of grace it's already overcome for us! 

You are more than a conqueror through the finished work of the cross.  Which would you rather give your time and attention to, TSN or the almost-too-good-to-be-true news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ?