Tag Archives: self help

The Shortcut To God

  
If you haven’t noticed, there are tons of self help books out there. They offer a few steps to make your life better. They promise if you’ll do these three things, your life will improve. Just like there’s no get rich quick formula, there’s no be a better you today formula. Both require hard work, dedication, and discipline. All the steps in the world won’t help you achieve what you want without those three things. You have to be willing and able to sacrifice the things you want now for a later payoff.

Living a Christian life is no different. There’s no three step program to being a better Christian. There’s no new formula that makes living like Jesus easier. People are looking for that, so publishers fill the void with those type of books. The steps seem so easy to follow until you try them out. When you fail, you wonder why you can’t be successful at living this life when you’ve read “Christianity for Dummies” over and over.

There’s no easy formula for living like Jesus taught us. There’s not an easy path to follow. If it were easy, the road wouldn’t be narrow with few who find it. Jesus warned us about these easy, self help Christianity books in Matthew 7:13-14. He said, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention” (MSG).

There are no shortcuts to God or to living a godly life. You can’t do it while focusing on other things. You’re going to have to give it your full attention. You’re going to have to put in effort, dedication, and discipline. Those things aren’t what saves you. They’re what helps you live the life lined out for us to live. There’s no easy way to do. You’re going to have to want it more than the temporary pleasures of this life. When you live like that, you’ll find you’re walking on an uncrowned road that is straight and narrow. 

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Improving How You Live

One of the things I have to do often at work is self evaluation. After my boss observes me either working in the field or in presenting information, I know that afterwards they’re going to come to me with three questions. What did you do well? What was your biggest opportunity? What will you do differently next time? After answering these three questions, my boss then answers them  from their perspective. The goal is two fold: to get me to calibrate my perception with theirs and to keep me constantly questioning how I can be more effective at what I do.

They know that if they can instill in me a mental process that asks those three questions constantly, I will improve whether they are there over my shoulder or not. Paul understood this principle too. He was mentoring Timothy from a distance. He offered him advice and encouragement in leading a church. Clearly, Timothy was a younger man than those he was preaching to and had doubts. Paul gave him pointers in the books of I and II Timothy that are good for each of us as believers. 

In i Timothy 412-16, Paul offered encouragement first. He said, “Don’t let anyone think less of you…but be an example.” He encouraged him to do the right thing knowing that he was under more scrutiny because of his age in a leadership role. He simply encouraged him to do the right thing and show others how to live. In essence, Paul was saying, “Practice what you preach.” We should live the life that we are asking others to live. Each of us should be examples of Christ’s love to those who see us. When we do that, it’s hard for anyone to look down on us.

Next, he encouraged Timothy to focus on reading the scriptures and using the gifts God gave him. The more we read the Bible, the more we put it into our hearts. We know that what’s in the heart comes out the mouth. If we spend time reading God’s word (publicly and privately), we and those who hear it will know what God says and will know how to live. We won’t just rely on someone else telling us what God says. We will know because we have heard it ourselves. Psalm 1:2 and Joshua 1:8 encourage us to not just read God’s Word, but to meditate on it as well. Meditating on it pushes it deeper into our hearts and minds.

Finally in these verses, Paul tells Timothy what my boss tells me. He said, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. (NLT)” He wants Timothy to not just do things, but to pay attention to what he’s doing and how he’s doing them. He wants him to question those things so he can improve as a minister. Paul then gave the payoff of such improvement: “Because if you do, you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (GNT)” How we live affects how others receive the Gospel. We should constantly be questioning what we are doing well, what our opportunities are and what we can do differently in the future to improve. How you live matters whether you are a minister or not. Live in such a way that it points others to salvation. 

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What do you see in the mirror

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone who is worthless, ugly, boring, fat or a failure? Do you see yourself through the eyes of what other people or society has told you? How you see yourself matters. It reflects in who you are and in your relationships with other people.

If you do not see anything positive when you look in the mirror, you are not alone. I’ve looked in the mirror before and have seen many of the things listed above. I had to reevaluate how I saw myself to change who I am. Once I was able to do that, things in my life changed.

Here are a few things you can do to help change how you see yourself.

1. God created you

Not only did God create you, but He created you in His likeness. Genesis 1:27 says that God created mankind in His image and likeness. Just as a child has the same characteristic traits of his parents, God created you with His characteristic traits. Who you are is a reflection of Him.

Scripture also tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpiece and handiwork. You are a masterpiece that God created. He knew what He was doing when He made you. Psalm 139:14 acknowledges that you were wonderfully made. God doesn’t make failures or things that are worthless. You are His masterpiece!

2. God knows you

In a world of 7 billion people, it’s important to know that God knows who you are. You are not just a spec of sand on a beach. You are known by God intimately. In Jeremiah 1:5, God says, “Before I formed YOU in the womb, I knew and approved of you as my chosen instrument (AMP).” God not only knows you, but He has created you for a reason.

With that reason comes a plan. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God knows the plans He has for YOU. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give YOU a future and a hope. God has your life laid out for you. He knows your future and what you will accomplish. God knows who you are, where you are and why you are here. Only you can fulfill what He made you to do. You have a purpose!

3. God values you

Not only did God create you and make a purpose for you, He sacrificed His only son for you. Think about that. You are worth so much to God that He was willing to send His son to this world to be sacrificed for your wrong doing. His desire is to have a relationship with you and the only way He could do that was to pay the highest price possible for you.

Jesus said that if he had 100 sheep and one got lost, He would leave the 99 to find that one. That one is YOU! If you were the only one on the planet that was lost, God values you so much that He still would have sacrificed His son just for you. God places a high value on you. You are priceless!

However you see yourself now, begin to look in the mirror with different eyes and thoughts. Know that you are a one of a kind original masterpiece that was designed by God and for His purpose. You are valued above all else in creation. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about you. What matters is how God sees you. Look at yourself in the mirror through His eyes and watch your life change.

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