Monthly Archives: April 2015

Character Development

I’m always intrigued by the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37-45. No matter how many times I read it, I come away with a new respect for him. God gave him a dream as a young man that one day his family would bow down to him, including his own parents. His brothers were so outraged that they wanted to kill him. His own father was so disrespected that he rebuked him. Even through that, he still believed in the dream that God had given him. That wouldn’t be the end of it though. For the next several years, he would face one trial after the other without wavering in his belief of that dream. Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. (NLT)”

When God gives you a dream, hard times are sure to come. There will be people who will openly resist you in your efforts to bring about your calling. It will not be an easy road. In fact, fulfilling your calling will be one of the hardest things you do. God does not choose the weak to carry out his plans. He calls the faithful ones who will endure anything to see it come to pass. He gives His assignments to those who will survive the pits of despair that they will be thrown in. He gives them to those who are willing to leave family and friends to travel to distant lands that are engulfed in spiritual famines so that others may find the spiritual food that God gives.

Joseph wasn’t the only one this happened to. Think of Peter and the early Church. Jesus told Peter that He would build His Church through him. When Peter was emboldened by the Holy Spirit, he was beaten repeatedly and thrown in jail. He was opposed by people he knew. He didn’t quit because there were hard times. He let that fuel the fire that God had placed in him. He used those hard times to grow his faith and endurance. Because he didn’t quit, the early Church grew and Christianity spread like wildfire in that region. He trusted the calling he was given over his external circumstances. 

Paul was another person who faced opposition. He went from being someone who killed Christians to one who was martyred for his faith. He was stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and carried off to Rome because he would not keep quiet about the dream God gave him. Because he was willing to endure the hard times, God used him to write most of the New Testament. The Gospel didn’t just stay in one region, it began to cover the known world. His character was tested over and over and he proved to be the person God saw in him.

God tests those He trust His message to because He knows it develops character. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (NLT)” When God calls you, He tests you in order to develop in you the characteristics necessary to fulfill that calling. He allows you to be moved around in order to create the relationships you need in your life and to put you into position. Don’t quit because hard times come. Let them do the work God intends them to do and continue to walk in your calling. 

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Thinking Problem

  

The Bible talks a lot about what we think because God understands the power of our thoughts. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our thoughts determine who we are and how we act. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. (GNB)” Another version wrote that same verse, “More than anything you guard, protect your mind. (CEB)” Solomon understood the importance of our thoughts and wanted those who read his writings to understand it as well.

Brian Tracy’s Law of Concentration states that whatever you dwell upon grows. If you worry a lot, then those thoughts will snowball and continue to grow. The things you think the most about take the center stage in your life. They control your schedule, your mood, your attitude, your actions and so much more. We often let our minds dwell on something for so long that it grows into an obsession. There was a time when I couldn’t get enough of the news. At home, I had my 24 hour news channel on and in my car, I had new radio. When I realized it was controlling my actions and mood, I had to break free.

Brian Tracy also teaches the Law of Substitution that says, “The conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time.” It can be a positive thought or a negative thought. I am the one who chooses what I think about. I am the gatekeeper. As Solomon said, I have to be careful of how I think. I cannot allow thoughts of worry overrun my mind. I cannot permit thoughts that are detrimental to my faith and family to stay in my mind. I cannot entertain thoughts and ideas that are contrary to God’s Word. I must consciously substitute those thoughts for the thoughts that lead me down God’s paths.

Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Fill your mind with things that are good and deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and honorable. (GNB)” The way I fill my mind with those things is to force myself to think about them when the other thoughts come in. I must protect my mind if I’m going to protect my actions. I have to constantly watch each and every thought that enters my mind and learn how to push out the thoughts that are detrimental to who I am in Christ and to replace them with the thoughts that feed who I am in Him. According to that first scripture I shared, I become what I think about. 

Food for thought: Who do you want to be? What thoughts are detrimental to being that person? What thoughts can you replace them with? You can change who you are by changing what you think.

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, we could arrive miles from our destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and gave walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in your life who can give you guidance and the information you need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back. 

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The Balcony Of Boldness (Video)

That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved.”

Acts 2:14-12 (MSG)

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10 Scriptures On Flowers

 
 1.   “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30 NLT)

2.   Attention, all! See the marvels of GOD! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.” (Psalm 46:8-10 MSG)

3.   The LORD says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. (Hosea 14:4-5 NLT)

4.   My lover is mine, and I am his. Nightly he strolls in our garden, Delighting in the flowers until dawn breathes its light and night slips away. Turn to me, dear lover. Come like a gazelle. Leap like a wild stag on delectable mountains! (Song of Solomon 2:16-17 MSG)

5.   Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the LORD will display his glory, the splendor of our God. (Isaiah 35:1-2 NLT)

6.   I will sing for joy in GOD, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, So the Master, GOD, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations. (Isaiah 61:10-11 MSG)

7.   [SHE SAID] I am only a little rose or autumn crocus of the plain of Sharon, or a [humble] lily of the valleys [that grows in deep and difficult places]. (Song of Solomon 2:1 AMP)

8.   Look how the wild flowers grow: they don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. (Luke 12:27 GNT)

9.   Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance! Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water. Paint the wheat fields golden. Creation was made for this! Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods With rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit. Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, scatter rose petals down your paths, All through the wild meadows, rose petals. Set the hills to dancing, Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, a drape of flax across the valleys. Let them shout, and shout, and shout! Oh, oh, let them sing! (Psalm 65:9-13 MSG)

10.   It is your father’s God who helps you, The Almighty God who blesses you With blessings of rain from above And of deep waters from beneath the ground, Blessings of many cattle and children, Blessings of grain and flowers, Blessings of ancient mountains, Delightful things from everlasting hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, On the brow of the one set apart from his brothers. (Genesis 49:25-26 GNT)

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True Satisfaction

Business guru Brian Tracy says that a person only feels good about themselves to the extent that they are in control of their life. When outside forces are disrupting their life, they aren’t in control and stress comes in. When they can afford to do the things they always wanted to, they feel good about themselves. While I believe it’s true for the most part with our physical lives, I think it’s opposite for our spiritual ones.

You will only feel satisfied with your spiritual life to the extent that you surrender to God. When you put aside your wants for God’s needs, you find a fulfillment like you’ve never known. You find satisfaction in your spiritual life. Conversely, when you know what God needs you to do, but you struggle with the decision, you find turmoil. When you ultimately pass on His request to satisfy your desires, it results in conviction and regret. 

There is a constant struggle in each one of us who are believers. Just because we have accepted Christ, it doesn’t mean that our sinful nature leaves. Instead, we have to battle it daily and crucify it. We will never be fully satisfied as believers until we surrender to the Spirit who lives in us.  Romans 8:7 says, “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. (NLT)” It wants to do things that satisfy the flesh, so it fights against what God wants to do which is to deny the flesh. It creates a constant battle as long as we let it live.

Jesus told us to deny ourselves if we wanted to follow Him. In Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself. (MSG)” The only way to find out who we were truly created to be is through self sacrifice. We have to put our wants, our desires, our dreams and nail them to the cross. When we do that, we surrender to God’s will for our life, our spirit finds true satisfaction, our purpose is fulfilled and our lives come into harmony. Surrendering our mind and life to the Spirit is how it’s done.

Romans 8:6 says, “Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (NLT)” If you find that you’re not living in peaceful satisfaction, look to see who is in the driver’s seat of your life. Are you in control? If you, you’ll find that you’re constantly struggling between doing what God wants and what you want. Or is God in control? If you have let Him have free reign with your life, you will find an inner peace and satisfaction like you’ve never known. The key to being controlled by the Spirit is surrendering to His will. 

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Qualified Through Disqualification

My son loves to watch “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on my iPad. I think he loves Daniel Tiger so much because he sings songs that are easy for him to learn. My son started singing one of those songs recently when I was hanging a shelf in my room. He wanted to help, but the shelf was too heavy and too high for him so I asked him to sit on the bed and watch. He sang, “Everyone is big enough, big enough to do something.” I couldn’t help but laugh and said, “You’re right.” I handed him the screws to hold and had him pass me my level. He was big enough to help with that.

So many times in our lives we feel inadequate and under qualified. We take ourselves out of situations God has placed us in because we think we aren’t the right person for the job. We underestimate the value that we bring and we use that as an excuse to not do what God has called us to. Esther felt the same way. She was just a girl who won a beauty contest and became the king’s wife. She had no authority, no royal blood in her and was an orphan. She was the least qualified to stand before the king and get justice for her people.

Like anyone else in that situation, she made excuses as to why she couldn’t do God’s will. Her uncle, Mordecai, was unwilling to accept her excuses and sent her word that said, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” He understood that when God calls us to do something, He qualifies us to do it. He puts us right where He needs us in order to do what needs to be done. It’s not up to us to use how we got into that position as a disqualifier.  It’s up to us to recognize why God has us where He does.

Each of us are qualified to do something for God. There are none of us who are perfect. None who are sinless. None who haven’t made huge mistakes we regret. God, in His mercy, doesn’t allow our past to keep us from doing His will. Instead, He embraces it and uses it to qualify us to carry out His will. What we think disqualifies us, God uses to qualify. What we think should keep us from helping Him is the very thing He wants to use. He uses the broken and scarred to help heal those with fresh wounds.

Don’t ever fall for the lie that you cannot be used by God because of something you’ve done. If you have been forgiven by God, then you are just the person God is looking for. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines and watch like I tried to do with my son. You can hold out your hands and let God use them to accomplish what He can only do through you. Who knows, perhaps you went through what you went through for such a time as this? He can use your scars to prove He heals open wounds. He can use your brokenness to show how He mends the broken-hearted. He can use you, no matter what. 

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