How to Radically Improve Your Life Pt.3 – Making Decisions

How to Radically Improve Your Life Pt.3 – Making Decisions 

The personal manager had advertised a job opening, and a large group of applicants was waiting in her waiting room. The first young man was ushered into her office, and she began explaining the job to him. “We need someone in this job who can make fast decisions,” she said, “someone who can really think on his feet. Can you show me that you’re capable of doing that?” Without a word, the young man got to his feet, stuck his head out the door, and announced to the waiting applicants, “Okay, you guys. You can all go home- the job’s just been filled.”

You cannot make Progress or Improvements without making Decisions.

Introduction: The life you experience in many ways is the sum total of the decisions you make. Our study today speaks to us of the importance of decisions. Our life is shaped largely by the decisions we make. I am what I am—for both good and for bad—as a Christian, as a husband, as a father, as a worker, and as a person mostly because of past decisions I have made in my life.

The average person makes 70 conscious decisions every day. That 25,550 decisions a year. Over 70 years that’s 1,788,500 decisions. You put all that together and that’s basically your life.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt

You are where you are today mainly because of the decisions you have made. 20 years from now you will arrive at the destination your decisions carry you to.

Interestingly, the number one influencer of the decisions is not the info you are given, it is your state of mind when you make the decision.

The sad fact is – most of the biggest decisions a person makes are made from a BAD state of mind. Never make a major decision when you are angry, tired, or frustrated. Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.

The greatest power that has been given into the hands of man is the power to make decisions for himself.

Most people share a common curiosity about the future. People want to know:

•What’s going to happen in my life tomorrow, next week, & next year?

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

• What we are going to wear

• When we are going to get up in the morning

• Where we are going and how we are going to get there

People often view themselves as victims of fate. Waiting for a “good break” or “to get lucky” in the events of life. (cross your fingers philosophy)

It is God’s plan and His will that you have a great future!

“How you see your future is much more important than what has happened in the past.”- Zig Ziglar

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ (good) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a (good) future.

God never intended us to operate on a hit or miss basis. Things do not happen because of fate.There are 5 Causes of incidents in our lives:

1. God influences, leads, and directs us

2. Satan comes to steal, kill, or destroy

3. Other people make decisions and those actions affect me

4. Natural physical incidents in the world impact us

5. I make decisions & carry them out

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV – Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Don’t go through life allowing things to happen, instead make thing things happen! Your Life now is a reflection of your past decisions.

Unsuccessful people make decisions based on their current situations. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.

1. Your Successes and Failures are Determined by Your Decisions

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV – This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Choose – pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

We have the power to: come and go, make friends or enemies, choose good and evil, obey or disobey, change our ways ore remain the same, handle our finances or ignore them, build or terminate our relationships, live or die, etc!

Decision are not usually made in a vacuum. They are created by the influences that are around you. Your culture-Your training-Your beliefs-your family-your friends

Your future is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice! Today’s decisions will have a big impact on your life and future.

What makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives?  Any study of history shows that the difference in human beings comes down to one thing: an ability to harness the power of decision, often in spite of adverse conditions. The history of our world is the result of decisions.

Hebrews 11:23-27 NIVBy faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

•What happens TO you in life, not as imp as decisions u make

•Choices matter more than circumstances

•You make your choices, then they make you

-Never allow yourself to be defined by someone else’s opinion. Refused to be defined by others.

• Moses had an Identity Crisis – Born of Hebrew slaves but raised as Egyptian royalty palace; Had to decide: Who am I?   It would affect rest of life!

God didn’t create you to be what someone else wants you to be!

It’s the power of decision that caused:

•Rosa Parks to remain in her seat and state, “No, I will not go to the back of the bus.”  It would change the structure of society, racism, social justice, and the world.

George Jones was a country music icon from the old school. A lot of his songs are the stereotypical country “cheat’n & drink’n” songs. And the fact that George Jones had a drinking problem was no secret. But on March 6, 1999 country music fans were horrified to hear that Jones was critically injured when he crashed his Lexus into a bridge in Nashville. The investigation showed that George had been drunk at the wheel. Thankfully he recovered, and two months later his new album called “Cold Hard Truth” came out and on it was a hit song titled “Choices”, and ironically the hook line says, “I’m Living And Dying With The Choices I Made”.

  1. Results of Bad Decisions 

Someone once said Bad decisions make good stories LOL 

How many people do you know who have ruined their lives or ended them because they made a bad decision? How many people do you know who when they reach a crossroads in their life, they take the wrong turn and end up regretting it.

A young man asked the old man, “What’s the secret of your success?” Good decisions, he replied. How do you learn to make good decisions? You get that by experience. How do you get experience? By making bad decisions.

1. Tom Selleck turned down the Lead role of Indiana Jones

2. A thief stole 2 live lobsters and decided to stick them down his pants

3. Bank robber in Germany pulls out a gun & demands $. Teller said she needed his ID. So he gets it out, takes the cash and leaves the ID.

4. The girl who told Bill Gates, It’s the computer or me

5. Pausing for a moment, when your wife asks you, “Do I look fat in this?”

6. Illus. – At seven o’clock on the morning of December 7, 1941 two US soldiers were on duty at a small radar station in the Pacific ocean. Suddenly, their radar screen filled up with hundreds of dots, until entirely filled. These soldiers quickly notified their young supervisor, a lieutenant. No other officer was around, it being a Sunday, so the lieutenant thought these must be planes from California, and without another thought, said these critical words: “Don’t worry about it.”

Twenty minutes later, at 7:50, the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began. 353 Japanese airplanes swarmed over the harbor, and within a couple of hours, America lost 8 battleships, 6 major airfields, almost all its planes, and 2,400 men.

There would have been time to scramble the planes at Pearl Harbor, prepare the battleships, and shelter the men, but this lieutenant, in the most important moment of his career, made a very simple, seemingly insignificant decision that had momentous consequences.

The Prodigal Son’s Decision:

Luke 15:11-20 NIV –  Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

This young man comes to his senses after a bad decision and starts thinking about what his life SHOULD be like instead of what his life IS LIKE. Making a right decision is the key! He decides to leave the pig pen!

•The floodgates can be open with ONE DECISION. Bringing us joy or sorrow, prosperity or poverty, companionship or solitude, long life or early death.

Our pig pens (Bad decisions) come in many forms but all have a common denominator: “A place where people end up, but never planned on going to.”

You make decisions and decisions will make you.” – Lester Sumrall

Decision is the ultimate power—and there are three core decisions each of us makes every moment we’re alive. These decisions have the capacity to empower, advance, frustrate or derail us, depending on what we choose:

“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose” J Martin Kohe

Questions to ask before making major decisions

•How does this decision line up with my mission and purpose for life? How does this help me achieve my mission in life or fulfill my purpose in life?

•What does the Bible tell me about this decision?

•Is this decision based on myself or is it focused on others?

•Have I sought the will of God in this decision?

•Have I spent time in prayer to seek God’s guidance in this decision?

2. Decision Guidelines To Improve Your Life

Recognizing that you may be facing a difficult decision right now, or soon will be, I want to give you some “guidance guidelines” from Proverbs that will help you make wise choices.

  1. Lordship. Is Jesus occupying first place in your life? Are you willing to do His will, whatever it will be?                                                                                                                                   Proverbs 3:7 NIV – Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil 
  1. Scripture. What principles, commands, or prohibitions from the Bible apply to the decision you need to make? Has God given any promises or motivating verses on the subject? Most of the situations we’re faced with are already dealt with in the Word of God. Proverbs 13:13: “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.”
  1. Prayer. Have I prayed about the decision? Am I seeking the Lord daily and allowing Him time to give me His direction? Most of the bad decisions I make are the result of not taking the necessary time to lay things out before the Lord. Here’s a principle: When possible, choose to pray and ponder for at least 24 hours before making a decision. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:5 NIV: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
  1. Wise counsel. We’ve already mentioned this one but don’t underestimate its importance. Proverbs 19:20: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” When faced with a decision, find a faithful friend or two and ask for their input.

It’s not what we do ONCE in a while that counts, but our consistant actions and decisions we do.  What you do daily determines your future

“Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It’s the small decisions along the way that cause people to fail or succeed.” –Anthony Robbins

Is there anything you are not happy about in your life, career, health and money? Make a decision Right Now about how you are going to change it.

Don’t waste your life! Don’t settle for second best! Don’t go through life just existing, coping, or getting by!

The more Decisions you make, the better you become at making them. (Muscles get stronger with use)

Choose to Serve God Today 

Joshua 24:15 NIV  “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

“God takes full responsibility for the life that is totally yielded to Him.”

Daring Faith Pt.6 What Happens When You Have Faith

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Daring Faith Pt.6 – What Happens When You Have Faith

Romans 1:17 NIV “The Gospel shows us how God makes people right with himself – that it begins and ends with FAITH. The Scripture says those who are right with God will live by trusting in Him.”

Hebrews 11:6 NIVWithout faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes  to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

BIG Q:  WHAT IS FAITH?

NOT DESIRE – you can wish, and hope, and pray, and sincerely want something with all of your heart, but…..Desire may lead you to faith, but it is not faith.

NOT PRETENDING  TO BELIEVE A LIEFaith is always based upon the truth.  It is based on facts. How do you know the truth?  GOD’S WORD . Not  conning yourself into believing something that isn’t true.

NOT A FEELING – in fact, feelings OFTEN get in the way of faith.  Faith moves ahead even when my feelings  say “don’t!”

NOT BARGAINING WITH GOD “Lord, if you’ll do this, I’ll do that”  God never bends to pressure tactics.

Hebrews 11:1 NLT – “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for IS going to happen and to be certain of things we do not yet see.”

•Agree? More than 1 way to look at things!

Ephesians 1:18 NLT I pray that the eyes of your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see the wonderful future God has promised to those he called.”

Song – “Open the eyes of My Heart” “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” Meaning?   There is an unseen dimension

•Bible – many examples where God opened people’s eyes

•In life-always looking  at you future… in faith or fear – family… problems…career…health

 

2nd Question: What happens when we see with eyes of fear/faith?

Example: Numbers 13+14 – Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt

– 2 years wandering – wilderness.

– Came to Kadesh -edge of Promise Land

– 12 spies selected to go see… A VISION TRIP for fact finding & due diligence

– Returned with 2 reports:  10-neg. /  2-pos.  The people Accepted the majority report

Because they failed to see with eyes of faith:

– lost opportunity to possess the Prom. Land!

– spent next 38 yrs wandering!  Entire generation died in the desert!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SEE WITH EYES OF FEAR?

1. We EXAGGERATE OUR DIFFICULTIES.

Amazing-God had just delivered them from Egypt-most powerful…Now worried about some local tribe!   How quickly we forget!

Fact: When you look at your problems w/eyes of fear — BIGGER!

Numbers. 13:27-32 NLT – 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.

-DEVOUR – eat up  “Eat our lunch!”  Cannibals!

-Giants –Nepheelim – bullies, tyrants.. NFL linebackers

Only 2 of the spies had faith. Joshua & Caleb: God is with us!

-People who trust God are always in the minority.

– Always more worriers… naysayers… fretful…fearful.. negative

Problem: negative attitudes are contagious!

How Ironic: 38 yrs later-finally…Enemy said: “ We’ve lived panic of  you for 40 yrs!  Heard about Egypt-10 plagues.  Ready to surrender!

2. We underestimate OUR ABILILTIES.

Numbers 13:33 NLT –We even saw giants[a] there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Talk about low self-esteem! We’re insects! “They will eat us for lunch!” “cant do it!” (Quit talking about what you can’t do)

That’s what they thought too” –we project our fears on others

Problem: been slaves-400 yrs.  Tho free – still mentally enslaved conditioned: Still saw selves as helpless!   Enslaved by an idea!

– Yrs ago-people said hurtful things about you Maybe labeled:  “You’re stupid… a failure …ugly …uncoordinated

Those people aren’t around anymore-yet you’re still believing it!

ILL: Spies saw some tall people: “giants!” Later: the tall people weren’t even warriors! PERSPECTIVE is what defeats us! (I Jn 4:4)

3. We EVENTUALLY GRIPE, GIVE UP & BLAME GOD!

Numbers 14:1-3 NLT – Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Held a giant pity party!  Poor us!

•Some people all they talk about is where they’ve been

•Second guessing… Good ol days in Egypt. Had so much fun there! Slavery but safety! You can deny responsibility if a slave!

•Some of you are confusing slavery with safety!

“I know it’s a bad situation but at least it’s predictable”

“I know  this habit is self-defeating- but comfortable”

There is no real freedom without taking risks!  Takes faith! If you feel you’ve been wandering in circles- Don’t die in the desert!  Move ahead in faith!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SEE WITH EYES OF FAITH?

1. FAITH SHRINKS MY PROBLEMS

Faith gives you a new perspective – When you see problems from God’s point of view, they seem more manageable

ILL: When you give your problem to the Lord and then trust Him to work it out, you stop worrying.

•How will it be solved?  THAT’S GOD’S PROBLEM!

Genesis 18:14 NLT “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

•Ignoring the Giants (Problems) is not what made their reports good or evil.

•You are not admitting doubt when you recognize a problem – Faith is never ignoring the obvious.

•Faith says We are well able to overcome the Giants! Faith says you ought to see the size of these Grapes!

 Luke 1:37 ESV “For nothing will be impossible with God!” 

With Faith, the 2 Spies were Giant Killers and Grape Tasters and the 10 other spies were Grasshoppers. Which will you be? 

•Grasshoppers major on problems and obstacles. Giant Killers & Grapetasters focus on the possibilities and opportunities.

2. FAITH OPENS THE DOOR FOR A MIRACLE

It can move mountains. Throughout history, everytime God did a miracle…

Mark 11:22-24 NIV – Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

God has set up the universe so that the law of faith Is the only law that supersedes the laws if nature.  That’s miracle!

Faith is a spiritual force based on the eternal laws of God that can change things in the natural.

*Does God still perform miracles today? Of course he does!  (Financial, family, personal, etc.)

*What is your mountain that needs to be moved today?God is in the mountain-moving business,

BUT   – MUST NOT DOUBT!

Matthew 13:58 NIV “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

3. FAITH MOVES GOD TO ACT ON MY BEHALF

Now don’t get me wrong, God is neither a servant nor a slot machine.  He is not there to cater to your every whim

Matthew 9:29 NLT –  Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”

God does not bow to pressure or bargaining but he loves to answer requests made in genuine faith.

I John 5:14-15 ESV 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

•Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible

•Faith is not believing that God can but that God will!

2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV – For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

•Faith is the KEY that releases the resources of God into our situation

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE HAVE DARING FAITH

John 14:12-14 ESV 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:7 ESV – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 3:16-18 MSG – “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

“Just because you don’t get everything you want when you want it, Should NEVER stop you from having Daring Faith and Trust in God”

Daring Faith Pt.4 Waiting on God

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Daring Faith Pt.4 – Waiting on God

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth; He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

  • Few things make us more irritable than having to wait. in traffic …a  waiting room .. a line at Disneyland…restaurants… =long lines

Waiting is perhaps the hardest discipline of the Christian life. Most of us hate to wait. I know I do. Probably all of us are waiting for something at this very moment.

Waiting for your grades.

Waiting to graduate.

Waiting to be accepted to college.

Waiting for your first job offer.

Waiting to see if the bank will give you a loan.

Waiting for the right time to start a family.

Waiting for your loved ones to come to Christ.

Waiting to meet the right guy or the right girl.

Waiting to be married.

Waiting to find out what God wants you to do.

Waiting for someone to buy your house.

Waiting for your prayers to be answered.

Waiting for your husband to come home from a business trip.

Waiting for your prayers to be answered

We all have to wait whether we like it or not. Truth be told, most of life is waiting.

For instance, when you watch a football game on TV, most of the time nothing happens. By rule the actual game takes 60 minutes to play, but the average NFL telecast lasts three hours. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, in the average NFL telecast the actual playing of football takes up eleven minutes. If that’s true, then what happens the rest of the time?  In that three-hour block of time, you have . . .

60 minutes for commercials.

75 minutes when the players are standing around.

17 minutes for replays.

After a few other miscellaneous things are thrown in (such as crowd shots and talking heads in the booth and shots of the cheerleaders), what you are left with is . . .11 minutes of actual football.

– Technology has made us more impatient- expect it FAST!

And yet waiting is an important part of life & character development. We learn things while WAITING- – learn no other way.

Every child must learn difference between; “No”  & “Not Yet”

Our inability to wait is the source of so many problems = Debt…  broken hearts   

– Ever been in a hurry when God wasn’t?   Frustrating. You can rush your kids, but you cant rush God!

Some of you are  waiting for God ….to open a door….answer a prayer  ….give direction…  meet a need…give direction…   heal a relationship… remove a pain

Obvious that God has his own timetable.

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting – Andy Warhol

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

WHAT TO REMEMBER WHILE WAITING ON GO

1. REMEMBER THERE’S A NATURAL DELAY BETWEEN PLANTING and HARVESTING!  “season”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 NIV – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 

ILL: Many have planted seeds of faith – you wont harvest immediately (Gen 8:22)WRITE “ I reap in a different season than I sow”

Waiting quietly, patiently & expectantly is faith!

2.  REMEMBER THERE’S AN UNSEEN BATTLE GOING ON.

A Spirit war between good & evil.   God & Satan    angels & demons and We’re caught in the middle

Ephesians 6:12 NIV – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

• Satan throws darts of doubt & discouragement WHILE you wait

We don’t know much about this “unseen battle” but amazing glimpse in Daniel that show why some of our prayers are delayed:

DANIEL 10:11-13 NLT “ And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince[a] of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,[b] came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia

Write: A delay is not a denial!

3.  REMEMBER GOD IS PREPARING ME FOR HIS BLESSING

God usually has a bigger, better idea in mind. He needs to get you ready for this bigger blessing;  First, he wants to strengthen your faith:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These troubles test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure, just as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.” 

•Some of you are going thru the fire right now, Keep going!

Write:  Waiting is always a test!

Paul compares waiting on God to pregnancy:

Rom.8:24-28   (Mes) “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what is enlarging us, but the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, when we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He prays in us and for us… He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and knows our pregnant condition… That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Waiting never rejection Every timeI thought I was being rejected from something good, God was actually re directing me to something better. 

4.  REMEMBER I’M IN GOOD COMPANY WHEN WAITING ON GOD 

Millions of saints before you have sat in God’s Waiting Room

Hebrews 11:2 NLT – Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

 “People who lived in the past became famous because of their faith.” ((ICB) 

Hannah waited years to have a baby

Joseph – 14 yrs-in prison- a crime he didnt commit

Moses – 40 yrs in desert for his life purpose

Abraham – 100 yrs for a son thru Sarah

Noah – 120 yrs before rain

Jacob  – 20 Years

David – 12 years

Jesus waited 30 years

God waited 1000s of yrs to send Jesus!

Hebrews 6:15 NLT “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.”  Leads to 5th remember

5.  REMEMBER GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Unlike others, you can count on God to come through.

So don’t focus on what U CAN’T do, Focus on what God CAN do!

Promises help you do that “Anything is possible if you have faith!”

Habakkuk 2:3 NLT – This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

•“At the time I have decided, my words WILL come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting— it will happen!”

– About 7000 promises

– God’s waiting room is a great time to memorize scripture

•We have to trust God even when His answer is “Wait”

SONG: ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

4 THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING ON GOD: W.A.I.T. 

1. WRITE DOWN THE LESSONS I’M LEARNING   

Waiting is always the season to LISTEN & LEARN from God!

– God has some things he want to teach you first!

More interested in your character…

– But you’ll forget the lessons unless you write them down!

ILL: Like Moses- some of you are wandering in the wilderness!

Not an accident!    Waiting in wilderness for a purpose!

Write: The way to the Promised Land is thru the wilderness!

Numbers 33:2 (NLT) “At the Lord’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress.”

Keep a journal in while waiting! Write down every little thing God says to you!

Little lessons lead to Big successes”

Deuteronomy 11:2 NLT – Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm.

•“Remember what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.”  

If you don’’t remember God has to take you there again!  Painful!

A good prayer to pray…Psalm 119:33 MSG “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.”

2. ACT AS THOUGH I ALREADY HAVE IT

We typically waste time 3 ways  when waiting :

We wonder- Why, Lord why?

      worry– How, Lord, how?

      whine = When, Lord, when?  Complaining never moves God

Instead ACT in FAITH

Mark 11:24 ESV Jesus said “I Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.”

ILL: Every pregnant woman does this

– She carries inside her the promise of a baby.

Even tho she can’t see it, she knows that baby is there!

– So she starts preparing its arrival… eats…nursery, clothes

ALL IN ADVANCE!

They don’t call it “Expecting” for nothing! She KNOWS that the baby is coming- it’s just a matter of time! & She’ll wait as long as it takes!

Write: Waiting is not passivity!  Do all you can to get ready!

Difference: waiting passively & waiting expectantly in faith

Get prepared & Act as Though

Romans 4:17 NIV “As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not”

ILL – Changed Abram’s name long before it happened! “I have made you a father of many nations.” 

3. IMITATE THE HABITS THAT GROW STRONG FAITH

Use the time while you are waiting to develop personal maturity!

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) We do not want you to become lazy, but to IMITATE those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” 

Philippians 4:9 (NLT) Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

WRITE: DON’T put my life on hold!

Waiting is NOT inactivity.. idleness… laziness ..passivity.. apathy

 WAITING IS THE TIME TO DEVELOP HABITS & SKILLS!

4 FAITH-BUILDING HABITS

o KEEP ON PRAYING 

Mt. 7:7 (NLT)“Keep on asking, and you WILL be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you WILL find. Keep on knocking, and the door WILL be opened!”

o KEEP ON SERVING

Rom. 12:11   (NLT) “Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.”    This sharpens your skills

“Wait” = also means “SERVE!”  waiter/ lady in waiting

Don’t wait for s significant ministry. Make it one!

o KEEP ON SOWING

Ecclesiastes 11:6 NLT –  Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

•“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which ones will grow–perhaps they all will!”  (LB) 

o KEEP ON BELIEVING

2 Timothy 3:14 NIV – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

          •“You must keep on believing the things you have been taught. You know they are true.” (LB) 

       POINT; Stay active!  God can’t direct a parked car!

4. TRUST GOD instead of PANICKING 

Two facts you can trust:

1. God is never in a hurry.  2. God is never late. •His timing is perfect.

Anytime He seems late – He’s preparing you for a miracle!

ILL: Mary and Martha in the Bible had a brother named Lazarus. Lazarus was one of Jesus’ best friends. Lazarus got deathly sick and he lived in a city called Bethany. Bethany was just a few miles from where Jesus was. Maybe three or four miles. It’s just out of town, out of Jerusalem. They sent word to Jesus, Jesus can you come over to our house in Bethany. Your best friend Lazarus is sick. He’s deathly ill. 

And it takes Jesus three days to go about five miles. What’s going on here? When Jesus finally gets there he could have easily got there in an hour or two. It takes him three days to go a few miles to see his best friend who’s dying. And when he gets there they say, Too late Jesus. He’s already dead. We’ve wrapped him up and we’ve buried him in a tomb. You’re too late. Sorry. 

Jesus wasn’t late. Because Jesus already had in his mind what he was going to do. His goal was not to heal Lazarus. His goal was to raise him from the dead. His goal was not to just make him well. His goal was to do a miracle of astronomical proportions.

Sometimes God lets a situation get so bad only a miracle will do. Don’t give up your faith. Hold on. Hang on. Do the things I’ve just taught you how to do. Because you’re getting ready for a miracle. 

Jesus walks up to the tomb and says roll the stone away. They roll the stone away and he says Lazarus come forth. Now, I’m glad he said Lazarus because if he just said, Come forth, every dead person in the cemetery is going to come out at that point. But he calls him by name: Lazarus come forth. He comes out. 

 

Psalm 56:3 NIV When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

LISTEN: Some of you are waiting for the fear to go away. IT won’t!You must move against it in FAITH!

STORY: BAMBOO!- Don’t get discouraged at year 6!

•Some bamboos grow very, very slow. And some grow very fast. And some grow slow, slow, slow and then fast. Here’s how you grow a typical piece of bamboo. You cut a piece of bamboo off and you cut it in half and you stick it in the ground. And you water it for a year and nothing happens. Nothing. And you water it for the second year, the bamboo, and nothing happens. And you water it for the third year and nothing happens. And you water it for the fourth and then the fifth year and nothing happens. And you fertilize it. And on the sixth year you water it and nothing happens. And on the seventh year it sprouts. But once it sprouts it takes off. Some bamboo can grow one meter or three feet in twenty four hours. Some bamboo can grow to nine feet in about four days. It just when it takes off it takes off.

Galatians 6:9 NIV –  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

      •“So let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while, at the RIGHT TIME we WILL reap a harvest of blessing IF we don’t get discouraged and give up!”

It’s Always too soon to Quit!

II Timothy 4:7 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Don’t Give up! Don’t Back Down! Tenacious Unsinkable people don’t quit bc of circumstances, rejections, or problems! They WAIT!

Finding a Way to Win

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Finding a Way to Win

Introduction: Winning in life is not a matter of chance; it is the result of tirelessly and creatively looking for answers to problems

Proverbs 25:2 LB says, “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and the king’s privilege to discover and invent.

In other words, God has given us the power and responsibility of searching for ways to win. There is always solutions to your challenges – Never settle for where you are.

1. There is Always a Way to Win with God 

Psalm 107:4-7 NIV – Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

God does not want you to live a defeated life, but to be a winner in this life. He gives us a way if we will just open up our eyes and look for it.

I Corinthians 10:13 NIV – No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Many times we tend to become blind to solutions when we are under pressure. We should never accept that we are hemmed in and that there is no way out. God is not a God who hems us in, but one who makes a way into wide open spaces. (Moses)

Isaiah 43:16 ESV – Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,

Every great feat and engineering accomplishment took place because engineers, scientists, or researchers did not give up.

•The French tried for 19 yrs to build the Panama Canal. They concluded that, after losing millions of dollars and some 22,000 lives in the process, it could not be done. The two seas that were to be linked by the canal lay on different levels, there the task was impossible. Then along came The Americans. We succeeded in what is now considered a miracle of engineering. We invented locks that filled with watering allowed ships to travel up to the next level. We found a way to win.

Remember, “When you are face to face with difficulty, you are up against a discovery.” Lord Kelvin

•Have An Attitude of Action

Proverbs 23:7 – For as a man thinks in his heart so is he…

“Men are not moved by things, but by the views which they take of them”  Epictetus

We can adopt a fearful, fatalistic attitude about struggles disappointments, defeats, and difficulties OR we can find a way to win with an attitude of action!

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Once you think of possibilities and see things breakthrough in your life, you can never go back to the small confines of a mediocre, limited, average life.

Leonardo da Vinci once said; “Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigours of the mind.”

If we settle down to accept whatever comes along without even trying to win over negative circumstances, then we will shrivel up and become stagnant and stale.

•A Time to Pray and a Time to Play

In The Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile, the story of the soccer match between Brazilian teams Rio Preto and Corinthians  highlights the need to be practical. While the Brazilian goalkeeper, Isadore Irandir was still kneeling with his eyes shut finishing his prematch prayers, the ref blew the whistle for the start of the game. The Corinthian striker, Roberto Rivaling, seized this spiritual moment to shoot from the halfway line and scored the first goal of the match,, just 3 seconds after kick off.

We need to know when to Pray and when To Act

Ecclesiastes 8:5-6 NIV – Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a person may be weighed down by misery.

When confronted with challenges some believers resort to prayer; not as reliance on God, but as a way of abdicating their personal responsibility. They want God to do everything for them. (God is not going to tie your shoe laces, do it yourself)

I believe in Prayer. Prayer certainly changes things, but action coupled by prayer is even better.

James 2:14 ESV – What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?

Most things in life require effort and responsibility on our part, then God acts.

•The feeding of the five thousand would not have taken place if Jesus had just given thanks. Someone provided the five loaves and 2 fish to set the miracle in motion

•The wine at the wedding of Cana came fro the water with which  the men had first filled the pots.

Often when God is silent, we wrongly conclude that it is not His will to give us a solution – He is waiting for us to get moving first so that HE can act in our action!

Jesus was encouraging His followers not to settle for what is, but to press on and find a way to win.

Luke 11:9-10 AMP – “So I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who [a]keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened.

This is about a persistent man who went to a friends home in the middle of the night unexpectedly to ask for food. The friend was reluctant to help. The man eventually received what he was asking for because he would not give up and refused to take no for answer.

God does not want us to give up and take NO for an answer. When you and I face difficulties we should always expect God to back us up as we try to find a way to win.

We should not just give up because we are faced with closed doors – our answer could be on the other side.

Walt Disney in his quest to build Disney World, approached over 300 banks before he was granted a loan. IF a man with a passion to make people happy could have such determination, then surely the church, who can truly make people happy, should persist and find ways to win.

Lester Sumrall said, “Champions are a rare breed. They see beyond the dangers, the risks, the obstacles, the hardships.”

God did not create us to be the misery of creation – We are created to reflect God’s Glory and creativity. He wants us to use all the abilities and faith he has put in you to live about the ordinary and mundane. NEVER accept things as they are until you have explored every avenue for success.

2. When we Win God Wins

I John 5:4 ESV – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Overcomes (Nikos) – To conquer, Champion of the games

John Maxwell said, the significant difference between champions and losers is how they view their circumstances. 

Romans 8:37 NIV – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

(hypernikos)- more than, over above and beyond, greater, top notch, paramount, ovwhelming enormous

•This is the kind of FAITH God puts on the inside of YOU!

If we allow defeat and failure to cripple us, then God is not honored and we are to living in His best that He provided for us.

Never Settle into a Defeated Situation

When King Saul was faced with battles he thought he couldn’t win, he settled into inactivity. He said nothing and he did nothing.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” Edmund Burke

There are two things you should never do in a crisis

•Run away from challenges  •Let problems paralyze us

“The stairs of opportunity are sometimes hard to climb, and that can only be well done, by climbing one step at a time, but he would go to the top, never sits down and despairs; Instead of staring up the steps, he just steps up the stairs.”

I Samuel 17:32-36 NLT32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” 34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!

Saul was sitting with his army waiting for something to happen. Goliath had threatened him and his army and nobody could find a way to win. Saul had settled into a defeated deadlock with the giant, and even though he had an army of experienced men, he allowed his lack of weapons to stop him from waging war.

•Saul had no Faith in God

Israel did NOTHING and God DIDN’T do anything…..Until a 17 yr old named David took Action. A creative young man with courage and confidence in God.

David’s weapons of choice – five smooth stones, the most unlikely way to win. But was the winning way.

I Samuel 17:50 NLT – So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword.

I Samuel 19:5 NIV – He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”

3. God is on Our Side and Helps Us Find a Way to Win

Psalm 60:12 NIV – With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (“We can win with God’s help.” 

Some people feel that they do not deserve success. They feel that God is in heaven deciding on a daily basis whether they deserve to be blessed or not. This results in a lifestyle of uncertainty and hesitancy and a life without faith.

Romans 8:31 NIV – What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

God wants nothing more than to see us succeed. He loves you and made you in His image.

Fact is, you cannot avoid or ignore problems in hope that they will just go away. Stop being a victim and rise up and face the challenges of life .

Remember: There are never problems that can’t be solved. The best way to escape a problem is to solve it!

-The US Peace Corps’ has abilities to deal with any and every tricky conditions when abroad. Example given to men who find themselves in the jungles of South America and who might be faced with the largest snake in the world, the anaconda .

•A full grown anaconda is not just a snake, it’s a telephone pole with a temper. It takes 10 men to carry one, if its in a good mood.

Here are the instructions from the Peace Corps’ Manuel

  1. If an anaconda attacks you, do not run. The snake is faster than you are so don’t even try to outrun it.
  2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against each other.
  3. Tuck in your chin
  4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb about your body.
  5. Do not panic
  6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet. Always from the feet. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.
  7. The snake will begin too suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
  8. When the snake has reached your knees, slowly and with as little movement possible reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the slide it into the snakes mouth, between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake through the top of its head.
  9. Be sure to have your knife with you.
  10. Be sure your knife is sharp
  11. Of course, if you get to number nine, or even ten, and find that you’ve forgotten your knife or that it is blunt, the rest doesn’t really matter.

No Situation is ever hopeless. 

Claire Booth said, “There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”

Don’t allow your troubles and challenges to swallow you alive. God always provides us with a strategy and a way to win! 

Running the Race

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Running the Race of Life

It’s that time that rolls around every four years, when Olympians remind us all of just how out of shape we all are!

•Someone posted on instagram the other day: There are 16 year olds competing at the Olympics and I still push on pull doors and struggle getting through the whole day without a nap LOL

Paul taught these lessons in his time, drawn from the experience of the Corinthian Games.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul talks about the Corinthian games which in ancient Greece was second in importance only to the Olympics.  They were held every three years.  I did a little research this week to study what those games were all about.  I thought I’d share a little of this with you.  I discovered that the games including running, leaping, spear throwing, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and racing in armor (my favorite).  Everyone that competed were required to take an oath that “I trained for at least ten months and I will not resort to unfair tricks.”

There were many benefits to being a winner in the Olympic games first, your name and hometown were shouted out as you were awarded a wreath.  Then you would be given a triumphal parade in your town.  You would be given five hundred drachmas of money.  You would be given the right to sit at a place of honor for all succeeding games for the rest of your life.  Then if you won in the Corinthian games your children would receive a free education for life, you would be exempt from military duty for the rest of your life, and you were released from paying taxes the rest of your life.  Is there any wonder that everybody competed in the Corinthian games?

Paul uses these games as an illustration for life.  He pulls out of them four principles for successful living.  Four things you have to do if you’re going to win at what matters most.  We’re going to look at them today.  But the number one analogy for the Christian in the Bible is that of an athlete.

The Bible says in these verses in 1 Corinthians 9 that there are four things it takes to win in life.

1.  It takes desire.  I must want to win.

2.  It takes direction.  I must focus on a goal.

3.  It takes discipline.  I must be willing to work.

4.  It takes determination.  I must never give up.

What It Takes To Win In Life

1. IT TAKES DESIRE.      “I must want to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

“Go for the gold! Aim for victory!  Run to win in life! Have a passion to make your life count!

Reality: Most- live mediocre lives.

Goal: make enough money to retire!  God didnt put you on this earth just to retire! Don’t take your gifts, abilities, passions to heaven with you. Heaven doesn’t need it. The world needs it. When you die, die empty! .  He put you here for a purpose, for a reason.  He wants you to make your life count.

Why would anyone NOT want to win?

o Maybe guilt – “I dont deserve..”

o Background- “You’ll never amt to anything!”

o Fatalistic attitude: “Whatever happens…

o Think its unspiritual

4 years ago Eight badminton players were swatted from the Olympics this week for not trying to win. They were trying to fix the bracket where they would not face tough opponents until the finals. The crowds booed at the embarrassment and finally the officials put an end to it.

Truth: God wants you to Succeed in Life (and your kids)

Then there’s some people who think that they don’t want to win in life because they think success is being selfish.  It’s being unspiritual.  If I try to make my life a success I’m being unspiritual.  Did you know that God wants you to succeed in life?

Psalm 35:27 NIV – May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” “(The Lord is pleased with the success of his servants.”)

Tragedy: We settle for less than God has planned. The tragedy of life is that most people settle for second best.

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Ask yourself this question – What do I want most in life?

Don’t be flippant about that.  Maybe take a few days, a week or so to think about it.  What do I really want most in life?  Everything starts with desire.  Nothing happens until you start getting God’s dream for your life.

Desire is the starting point but it’s not enough.  I know a lot of people who’d like to be successful.  They had the desire.  But it takes far more than desire.

2. IT TAKES DIRECTION.         “I must focus on a goal!”

I Corinthians 9:26 NIV – Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

(Living Bible)“I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.  I fight to win.  I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around.”

I read a sign one time: If most people drove their cars the way they plan their lives they’d never get out of the driveway.  Most people have never really clarified where they’re headed in life.  People say, Where you going?  To lunch.  What do you want to do with your life?  I don’t know.  They’re just kind of drifting aimlessly all around.  They just try to coast through life.

When you’re coasting, you’ve heard me say this before, you’re always going down hill.  You never coast up a mountain.  Your life is going downhill if you’re coasting

Proverbs 17:24 NIV A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth 

•Good news Bible- “An intelligent man aims at wise action but a fool starts off in many directions.”

If -want your life to count- must settle your direction:

Must know exactly what you want…If you don’t decide what’s really important in your life other people will be glad to do it for you.

Philippians 3:12-14 The Message I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

God says forget the past and press on

Ask: What is the FOCUS OF MY LIFE?

3. IT TAKES DISCIPLINE!          I must be willing to work!

I Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

•Living Bible – To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup,[a] but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.

These two words – discipline and self-denial – are not exactly popular words in the American culture.  

Discipline is what we need most and want the least in our lives.  Yet it is the thing that turns ability into achievement.  The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is simply this: successful people are willing to do things and develop habits that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.  They’re not willing to pay the price.  That’s the difference.  It’s your choice.

•We want beautiful bodies without exercise. We want wealth without work. We want success without sacrifice.  We want spiritual maturity without service and study.  It is absolutely impossible.

Proverbs 13:4 LB – Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.

•The mark of a great achiever is personal discipline. The habits you establish today – determine tomorrow

The third question you have to ask yourself if you really want to succeed in life is Am I willing to pay the price?

4. IT TAKES DETERMINATION.      I must never give up! 

I Corinthians 9:27 NIV – No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul: “I do whatever it takes to keep on going!! Nothing could keep him down. Whatever it takes I do that to keep going.  I am not going to stop in the middle of the race.  I’m not going halfway through and quit.  I’m going to make it to the finish line.  That’s determination.

I believe Success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination

Philippians 3:14 NIV – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

Persistence is the fourth key to winning.  Determination, diligence, endurance.  Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination.  They don’t know how to quit.  Most people give up too soon.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Notice he says that in order to finish the race in life there are some things you have to let go of and there are some things you have to hold on to.  You’ve got to do them both and don’t get them confused.

ASK What is holding me back?  What is it that’s keeping me from becoming all that God wants me to be? past? addiction? relationship? habit? hurt?

The key: Keep your eyes on Jesus! Reason we give up too soon: We get distracted.

Remember the movie Chariots of Fire.  One of the dramatic scenes in that movie about the Olympics was where the coach of Abraham was scolding Abraham because in the race he was running and he was winning and then he could not stop the urge to look sideways to see if Little was coming up to catch him.  When he looked sideways Little passed him up and he lost the race.  The coach said, “Never take your eye off the goal!”  Don’t do it!  The moment you start looking at the competition you start looking sideways you’re dead in the water.  Don’t do it.

Paul refused to be sidetracked.

2 Tim 4:7 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

What matters in life is not all the awards and the acclaims and the salaries and the perks and the onuses and getting your picture on the cover of some newspaper.  What matters is the eternal rewards which you will celebrate for eternity.

1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Focus on running the race that God intends for you

One of the most dramatic ex. of determination: Derrick Redmon- 1992 Barcelona Olympics 400 m runner from Eng.- pulled hamstring  WATCH THIS: VIDEO

Catch what he said?

Derrick: “I felt an arm around me & I shrugged it off. But then my Father said my name!”

Father: “We started this together. We’ll finish it together.”

Derrick:”I’m glad he was there. Because he was the only 

person who could understand what I’ve been through.”

Sometimes the race of life is tough. You get hurt.

You feel like you cant go another step.  Worn out & discouraged.

o But your Heavenly Father is waiting to help.

o He calls your name & puts his arm around you.

o You lean on him… & he helps you finish the race!

Psalm 60:12 NIV – With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (“We can win with God’s help.” )

– We have no guarantee of tomorrow. – Whatever you’re going to do with your life- get on with it! Get on track with God today. The race starts with knowing Jesus.

“Dear God. I realize you made me for a purpose. You have a race for me to run. It is my desire to be what you meant me to be. Today, I’m asking you for direction. Jesus Christ, be my guide & lead me where you want me to go.  Please help me to be more disciplined.  Help me to let go of the things that hold me back. And help me to not get discouraged and give up when things get tough. Help me to keep my eyes on you Jesus. Father, I thank you that we  dont have to run the race of life alone.