This word is for those who are saying “Not again!”. If your circumstances are fitting a grid of defeat from your past, do not assume that the same thing is happening again. Just because pieces of what you’re seeing and hearing look like what you experienced before, do not assume that it IS what you’ve experienced before. God’s been showing me “New Beginnings”. This is a new season. It’s something we hear a lot, but rarely truly HEAR. New means NOT a rendition of what you’ve already experienced. When you place your grid of past hurts and disappointments on the future of what God will do with this situation, you’re retreating before the victory. Hear this story from Judges 20 as a word over your situation right now. The Israelites had gone out to fight the Benjamites and took up battle positions on the first day of battle after the Lord told them to go out against them. That day saw a gut-wrenching defeat. The Israelites encouraged one another, though, and sought the Lord again. The Lord answered, “Go up against them.” Then the Israelites went again to battle the second day. This time, another defeat. They sat weeping and fasting before God. They got up their courage and asked God AGAIN, “Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites, or not?” The Lord responded, “Go, for tomorrow I will give them into your hands.” The third day, the went up again AS THEY HAD DONE BEFORE. The Benjamites came out and began to inflict casualties on the Israelites JUST AS BEFORE. The Benjamites were saying, “We are defeating them as before,” and the Israelites were saying, “Let’s retreat and draw them away from the city to the roads.” But this was was not going to be a defeat again. An ambush was launched, and it even says, the fighting was intense enough that it was hard to tell who was winning. The enemy thought they were winning! It gets even more interesting as it goes on in verse 39-42: “The Benjamites had begun to inflict casualties on the Israelites (about thirty), and they said, ‘We are defeating them as in the first battle.’ BUT when the column of smoke began to rise from the city, the Benjamites turned and saw the whole city going up in smoke. Then the Israelites counterattacked, and the Benjamites were terrified, because they realized that disaster had come on them. So they fled before the Israelites in the direction of the wilderness, but they could not escape the battle. And the Israelites who came out of the towns cut them down there.” Then THE LORD won the battle and the enemy saw that they were defeated. If anxiety has been welling up in you saying “Not again!”, hear this- The only one saying “not again!” will be the enemy as his plans become worked again for your good. God is doing something truly new. Open your mind and expectations. How we partner with the new: Our victory is brought by the Lord- not ourselves- but there are ways we can avoiding surrendering before the victory even comes. God’s been showing me owls and hot air balloons. Both of these come back to SPEAKING. Hot air balloons are full of, well, hot air. When something is “full of hot air”, it’s correlated often with talking a lot but not having purpose to what is being said. Coincidentally, hot air balloons aren’t able to be purposefully propelled through the air in the same way a jet would be. The thoughts or speech that is “full of hot air” or devoid of the power of purpose that comes from God is simply going to float away over time. As time goes on and more of God’s promises come to pass, more of the meaningless chatter and lies within ourselves or planted by the enemy will be proven void and will float away. God’s words, however, will be like unmoving stone. Groups of owls are called “parliaments” which comes from the French word meaning “to speak”. Owls are notoriously correlated with the sound “who”, which is a question. In a sense, they are always asking questions. As I was walking to the car the other day and spotted a wood pecker, I was reminded of Matthew 7:7, that we are to first ASK. Those going into battle in Judges 20 first ASKED God. Even when it was tough. Even when they were afraid of the answer. Even when their confidence was shaken by defeats. God is saying to ASK AGAIN and wait for Him to speak.