Summer Concert Series Pt.3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 

Bono sings about searching for meaning in life, and not finding it in nature, city life, relationships or religious experiences. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Nature: I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields

City Life: I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls

Relationships: I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips

Religious Experience: I have spoke with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil

I believe in the kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one

You broke the bonds and you, Loosed the chains; Carried the cross, Of my shame, Of my shame, You know I believed it But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

THE BIG IDEA: What are you Looking for? Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Text: John 4:4-35 NIV Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Background of the Story – 

  • Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
  • He knew that there was a woman there who still hadn’t found what she was looking for.
  • This woman had tried to find satisfaction in relationships with men – she has been married five times, and was living with a sixth guy – but she was still empty inside.• Was Jesus talking about well water? No! He was talking about something much deeper!
  • He said: There is water you can drink that will never quench your thirst.

• In other words, there are things in life you can go to for fulfillment, but they will never satisfy: drugs, alcohol, relationships, sexuality, money, power, fame.

  • But the water Jesus offers will quench your thirst: it is a fountain of living water!

ILLUSTRATION:

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later he calls out, “Da-ad!”

“What?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?”

“No. You had your chance. It’s lights out.”

Five minutes later the boy calls out again: “Da-aaaad!”

“WHAT?”

“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later he calls out again, “Daaaa-aaaad!”

“WHAT!”

“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

1.There is More To God and More To Life than what you’ve already Experienced

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,

QUOTE: “The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He (doesn’t taste good), but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things… If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper, Hunger for God). 

Spain – during the days of Christopher Columbus was very proud of the fact that they were the last point of solid land for sailors going westward. When travelers arrived  was a large sign that said their motto in latin, “Ne Plus Ultra”  which means “ No more beyond”. It was on their flag and coins as well.

There outlook on life was “No more beyond”. It was the world as they knew it. Result – They settled. People settled there because they were told there is nothing beyond Spain.

After Columbus discovered the New World – the national motto for Spain changed to “Plus Ultra”  which means “MORE BEYOND” they dropped “Ne”

Sadly, Many people people have settled for their own version of Spain. Have you stopped dreaming, hoping, believing, and praying. Some people accept something far less than God’s bigger, greater plans for their lives.

•There is more to God than what we’ve already experienced

3 Reasons People Settle and Stop Searching

  1. People settle when they get sentimentally attached to a past season of their life. 

People may have to stay where they have been, but nothing is supposed to stay like it has been  – When people don’t emerge and embrace change, they settle for a lifetime in what was meant to be a season.

Don’t let temporary conditions of your life dictate a permanent perspective.

      2. People settle in a place of relational wounds

Genesis 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, was on his way with his family to Canaan, which is where God planned for him to go and live. Terah had another son named Haran who had died a premature death. Rather than passing through, Terah settled in a city with the same name as the son he had lost.  That wasn’t God’s plan. Grief caused him to stay.

Don’t let yourself linger in the place of relational wounds and miss out on the future God has for you.

3. People settle because where they are is “good enough” and they want to stay comfortable

Good enough is the enemy of “better than ever” – Good enough is not your destiny

Ignore the signs that say No More Beyond!

Refuse to just Drift!

Hebrews 2:1 NIV – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Phil. 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2. Whatever you need more of – God is the source of an endless and generous supply

Phil.4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

God has an endless supply of whatever you need! He never runs out!

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The Message version – God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

GOD never gives up on us! Quit being down on yourself and look up to God!

3. Before we will hunger and thirst after God, we must come to a place where we realize that the other things in our lives haven’t really satisfied!

Jeremiah. 2:13 NIV “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

John 7:37-39 NIV – “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

How To Radically Improve Your Life

How to Radically Improve Your Life

Ephesians 2:10 AMP –  For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

•To make profound changes in you life, you need either inspiration or desperation

•Sad thing is 95% of our society settles for far less than they want in this life, wishing they had more, living with regret, and never understanding that they could be, do, and have MORE our of life

Jesus intended for you and I to have an Amazing Life

John 10:10 ESV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Abundant – existing or available in large quantities; plentiful. profuse, rich, lavish, abounding, liberal, generous, bountiful, large, huge, great, paramount, overflowing, prolific

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

III John 2 NKJV – “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

Personal growth and improvement is our responsibility.

“For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.” Jim Rohn

The greatest value in life is not what you get but what you become! When you improve yourself you improve your life!

You only need to take a series of tiny steps, consistently over time, to radically improve your life. Darren Hardy

1. If you want to Improve the life you have, You have to change the thoughts you think

Thoughts are like trains they take you somewhere. Therefore, Life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

When you change how you think, you will change what you do, which th n will change the results in you life. 

Where you are today is a collection of the thoughts you had yesterday; where you go tomorrow is based on your thoughts today. 

You’re not what you think you are, but what you think…you are.

Proverbs 4:23 NCV “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Why? Because you mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.”

Our thoughts determine our Outcomes.

(Romans 8:5-6 NLT) “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.”

2 Functions of our mind

  1. Memory – Replay the Past
  2. Imagination – PrePlay the Future

•You can use (Jesus) or misuse (Tower of Babel) your imagination

Images, Impressions, Visions, and thoughts are connected

In your mind, you can go to your past or to your future. You decide. Your mind is not restricted by location. God gave you a MIND so He can give you a picture of where He wants to take you.

(Cast down Negative Imaginations and Replace them) •Quote (2 Cor.10:5)

Negative thoughts never lead to a positive life.

Romans 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

•Renewing your mind, getting new images will Transform your life!

•“How you think determines what you become” Zig Ziglar

Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

What to Think:                                                                                                  

Philippians 4:8-9 NIV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.

When your Mind is filled with Thoughts, Images, and Meditations on the promises of God, the by product is An Extraordinary Prosperous Life.

Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

Remember: God paints your future success on the canvas of you mind

Amos 4:13 NIV- He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name. 

Isn’t that awesome? The God who set the mountains in place puts the thoughts in your mind. How you think matters to God!

II. If you want to improve the life you have, you have to change the words you speak

Small changes in the words we speak—big difference in the life we live.

Proverbs 18:21 NIV “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Moffatt translation – “Determined” by the tongue)

Words were an important element in God’s work of creation. The plan of creation had been set in place, but God had to speak the words before it could become a visible reality. (Genesis 1) – Words carry creative power! 

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug – mark twain 

My Words Direct where I go

James 3:3-5 NLT We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.

Your future does not respond to anyone’s voice but your own

My Words Produce What I can Have

Mark 11:23 ESV – Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

We are not missing it in our believing, we are missing it with our words

By getting God’s Word deep into your spirit and speaking it boldly out your mouth, you release spiritual power to change things in the natural circumstances.

Start saying things you want to happen in your life, not what you don’t want to happen! Jesus said to speak to the mountain, not about the mountain.  Jesus said you can have what you say, but you have been saying what you have

The Words we speak indicate what we believe in our hearts and ultimately determine what we will receive in life

Remember, Every time you open your mouth, your mind walks out and parades up and down the words.

Luke 6:45 NIV  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

My Words can destroy what I have.

James 3:5-6 NIV “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…it sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Proverbs 21:23 NLT – Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.

You never saw a fish on the wall with its mouth shut

Anyone who controls their words is literally protecting their own life

Proverbs 13:2-3 NLT – Wise words will win you a good meal, but treacherous people have an appetite for violence. 3 Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.

If you think of something hurtful – swallow it

Words are Spiritual – They Carry Power

Matthew 12:34-37 The Message – “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Our Words must please God

Psalm 19:14 NIV May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

God’s Word and Strong positive affirmations are powerful means of self-transformation, and they are a key element in the creation of the life you desire. They work by purposely replacing limiting ideas, negative beliefs, and self-talk you have taken on and internalized

over the years with positive statements that assert who you want to be, and how to experience life.

The thoughts and words that are put into your heart will create the world you live in.

Salvation

Romans 10:9-12 NLT – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”[a] 12 Jew and Gentile[b] are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4 – Habits

We are designed by God to be creatures of habit, and many of us are stuck in a pattern of negative ones.

Most people are plagued with the “Someday Syndrome” Your SOMEDAY must be TODAY.

Someday, things will get better in my life.

Someday, I will start to tithe and serve

Someday, I will start to pray and read my Bible

Someday, I will earn more money

Someday, I will get healthier

Someday, I will spend more time with my family

Unfortunately, “SOMEDAY” never comes – Today is the day we have.

Example – The Domino Effect

•One habit triggers other habits causing an accumulative effect on your life – good or bad.

•Habits and human behavior are tied to one another – Habits are seeds that produce a harvest.

(Hebrews 12:11 NIV) “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being.

You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I AM HABIT.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

H-A-B-I-T…When 95% of people hear this word, a negative thought pops up in their minds. Typically, most people think of a habit being negative. If there are negative habits that can destroy people’s lives then there are also positive habits that can build our lives.

The secret to your future lies in your daily habits so ask yourself right now, “Are my habits today going to help me achieve my success and shift in life?”

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits”

Habits – a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way; a pattern of behavior. Habit comes from a Latin word which means to “hold” or “live in”.

The Roman poet Ovid said, “Nothing is stronger than habit.” Dr. Samuel Johnson, said, “Habits are chains that are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Habits can become stronger than life itself. An old Spanish proverb says, “Habits begin like threads in a spider’s web, but end like the chains in a prison.”

Some people are always late, while others are never late

Some people always see the problems, while others always see the possibilities

Some people are predictable frowners, while others are predictable smilers

•the habit of making yourself look good

•the habit of not giving and serving

•the habit of giving up too early

•the habit of not telling the whole truth

•the habit of taking the easy way

•the habit of getting angry all the time

•the habit of blaming others for everything

•the habit of feeling sorry for yourself

•the habit of ducking your responsibilities

Do I need to go on? Have I named your bad habit yet?

In 1989 Steven Covey wrote a bestselling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which outlined 7 habits which he promises guarantee success in life.

Success often depends on the habits you develop. The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, We are what we repeatedly do. 

A doctor was counseling his patient about a problem with his weight. “I don’t know what the problem is doctor. I just can’t seem to get rid of this flab. Maybe I have an overactive thyroid.” To which the doctor replied, “Listen, I’ve run tests and your thyroid is fine. If anything’s overactive it’s your fork.” LOL

•Ouch! That’s not what we like to hear! It’s not always easy to get rid of unhealthy habits, is it? It’s not always easy to develop new healthy habits you’ve never practiced before. But the truth is your habits really can make you or break you. One of the keys to living life to the fullest is to develop healthy habits not only of body, but of mind and spirit.

I want to look to a better book than Covey’s—I want us to look at God’s book, the Bible, where we can discover habits which can guarantee success in your life-not success in the stock market, or success as the world measures success, or lasting success in the eyes of God.

Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV – Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

1. Bad Habits Are Difficult to Break 

Destructive, bad habits form unseen chains that make a slave out of you – and finally destroy you.

Repeat anything long enough and it will start to become you

Bad habits are easy to develop, and often hard to deal with and remove. The best time to deal with a bad habit is NOW! To delay only allows the habit to get entrenched deeper in our lives.

JC Penney said, The best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it

A bad habit is something you find yourself doing even though it is destructive either physical, mentally, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. Or you consistently do something you wish you wouldn’t do, but you find yourself doing it any way.

(Romans 7:15, 18-19, 20-21, 25 NLT) “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 18 I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

•Confused. •Conflicted. •Discouraged.

ILL. I heard the story of how elephants are brought into captivity. Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant with a small rope around its ankle? Did you ever stop to think, hey, wait a minute? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! And did you ever wonder how it happened that a giant elephant could be held in place by something that does not have the power to contain him.

Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they place a heavy chain around its ankle and stake the chain into the ground. Day after day, hour after hour, the baby elephant struggles to escape. But his efforts are in vain. He simply cannot break free from the grips of that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free.

Then when he has given up trying, his masters replace that giant chain with the small little rope. If the elephant ever opened his eyes to the truth, he could break free at any moment. All it would take is one try, but since the elephant doesn’t know that, he doesn’t take a step in the right direction of freedom.

And so it happens that ten, twenty, thirty years later, the giant elephant remains held in bondage by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

The Promise is: 

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

True freedom is not the right to do what I want but the power to do what I ought!

Romans 12:2 NLT – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Harness the Power of a Good Habit – Bad habits must be replaced by good ones

It’s not so much that we break bad habits; we must replace them.

example– Worry needs replaced with trust in God, negative thoughts with faith filled positive thoughts

Ex: An old Cherokee tale tells of a grandfather teaching life principles to his grandson. The wise old Cherokee said Son on the inside of every person a battle is raging between 2 wolves. One wolf is evil… It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud and lazy. The other wolf is good. It’s filled with love, kindness, generosity and self control… the 2 wolves are constantly fighting. The little boy thought about it and said Grandfather, which wolf is going to win? The grandfather smiled and said whichever one you feed.

Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

2. To Have a Great Year You Must Have Great Habits

•Luke 4:16 – Jesus had a habit of going to church every Sabbath

•Daniel 6:10 – Daniel had a habit of giving thanks to God in prayer three times a day

•Psalms 34:1 – David had a habit of praising God continually

When you change habits, by improving them, you literally change and improve your life. 

•A change of habit can change your financial position… you can be in a completely different position 3 months from now…

•A change of habit can put you in better relationships… (attend life group)

•A change of habit can change the atmosphere of your Home

•A change of habit can add incredible insight to your life… (reading books)

•A change of habit can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life…

OUR LIFE GETS BETTER WHEN WE GET BETTER. 

When you practice good habits you produce good fruit. (results) Good habits will make your life easier, more successful, and more productive.

Matt. 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

“For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.” Jim Rohn

Habits are like gravity; they will always pull you towards them.

First We make a Habit, then a Habit makes us

Nobody is going to compete in the Olympics without first embracing a lifestyle of Habit. Champions have champion habits.

If you want to rise above mediocrity…If you want to create a positive force that will move you towards massive success….then you must develop good habits.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT) “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”

(Hebrews 12:1 NLT) “…Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

“We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions. We sow our actions and we reap our habits. We sow our habits, and we reap our character, and we reap our destiny.”

When You Change your Habits, by replacing them, You literally change and improve your Life 

Bad habits are not one time experiences. When what you do repeatedly changes, your life changes

Life Style habits that change our lives when we change (Shift) them:

Spending habits, driving habits, social habits, talking habits, dressing habits, eating and drinking habits, giving habits, reading habits, sexual habits, church attendance habits, and exercise habits.

Those Change of Habit: 

Can qualify you for a promotion,

Can open the door for new and better relationships to enter your life

Can increase and position you in a place of prosperity

Can change the atmosphere in your home

Can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life

If We are not making positive habits in our lives, then negative habits (changes) are making us.

When it comes to God’s plan for your life and year, your habits will hold you back or move you forward.

•If you could change one habit, what would you change? Whatever the answer is, make every effort to add to who you already are as a person

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV – For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never Stop Changing Never stop replacing Habit for Habit. Whenever negative habits are allowed to linger in our lives, they steal the possibilities of a new and better life!

It’s not what you HEAR that makes you Change, It’s what you DO

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by CHANGE. Don’t be a victim of your habits.

James 1:22-25 ESV – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become words

Be careful of your words, for your words become actions

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become habits

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny

3. The Next step towards having the best year of your life is to DECIDE you’re not going to stay where you are.

Your Future is 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.

Your Best year of your life starts by the Habits your make TODAY.  NOW is the TIME to fix the Next 10 years!

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.

•You are one good habit away from a domino effect of having a great year!

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

“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/year! Don’t settle for second best! Don’t go through life just existing, coping, or getting by!

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.3 – A Focused Future

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt.3 – A Focused Future

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?

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.

I. Get a Vision for your 2017

Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose.

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you see and believe.”

Think about this. How many times have you seen people in your family….people at church…whose attention is constantly pulled into the past?

•Maybe they are living with regrets of what they did or did not do…I could have said this….Why did I do that?….What was he thinking? What was I thinking?

• Maybe they are constantly re-living a season in their life that is over…it could be a past relationship that ended or it could be an offense that they still carry with them towards someone. It could just be that they have imagined the past as being the best days of their life….so they keep re-living it.

*Whether the past is good or bad…there’s no future in it!!

Take your eyes off your past, because your past is not your potential! Choose to liberate your future!

Isaiah 43:18 NIV – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 

“Don’t freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you”

You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.

What is vision?

A Vision is born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is frustrated, or brokenhearted about the way things are, in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for vision.

Helen Keller said, The only thing worse than being blind is the one who has sight but no vision.

(Ephesians 3:20 Message)  “God can do anything—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”

A vision is a compelling image of an achievable future – Vision brings your world into focus. Vision brings order to chaos. A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.

Webster’s definition – The ability to force or perceive something not actually visible, as though mental or spiritual acuteness.

Get a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning! Why?  Because you will never go beyond where you see yourself going. 

Proverbs 29:18 KJV – Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, your likely to end up someplace else.”

It is vision that moves us forward in God. Without it we have a tendency to get caught up in drifting aimlessly in God not really knowing what we are doing, where we are going nor even what we are all about.

The World is just waiting for you to….

Get a VISION of your life that is so big the hair on the back of your neck will stand up!

Get a VISION so awesome that your toes curl!

Get a VISION so big that 100 years from now, future generations birthed from you  will look at your picture and say, “Thank you!”

Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.

Oh the Places You Will Go – Dr. Suess

How to Make the Vision Happen

  1. God Must Be First

Psalm 27:4 NIV – Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Give focus and energy to the things that really matter

Exodus 20:1-3 NIV – And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

We put God first by giving Him the First of Everything

The problem with the American Church – we make everything about “getting” from God. Church has become about entertaining people instead of worship and devotion to God.

Leviticus 27:30 NIV – A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 14:23 LB – Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.

The First always has the power to bless the rest

Proverbs 3:6-10 NIV – 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a]7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

How you you handle your finances reveals what is first in your life

First of Your Finances – The Tithe 10% of your Income

•God says money is the number one test of our priorities

Billy Graham said, “Give me 5 minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where there heart is.”

Martin Luther said, “There are 3 conversions necessary for every man: the conversion of the heart, the mind, and the wallet.”
Malachi 3:10 NIV –  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

•Tithing unleashes God’s Favor and Provision for your life

•Tithing is a witness that you have conquered greed and mastered the love of money.

•Tithing creates a memory in the mind of God that you are Honoring Him first in your life.

•Tithing breaks the back of lack and lifts the financial curse off your life.

•Tithing creates a financial flow in your life. God always prospers and promotes tithers and givers.

How you spend your time reveals what is first in your life

First of Your Week – Sunday Worship and Life Groups

Hebrews 10:25 NLT – And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church. – Joel Osteen

First of Your Day – Prayer, Meditation, and Bible Reading

Put God first in your life and day and you will have more time! Don’t allow anything to rob you of your time with God.

God wants to remove the noise of your life and create a space in which He can speak to you

Psalm 5:3 NIV – “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

When we spend time in silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, meditation it helps us remain focused on the things that are really important in this life.

“A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” (Creates direction and inner peace)

C.S. Lewis once said, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

Mark 1:35 NIV  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

First of Your Month – Fasting

“The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian.” Jentezen Franklin

Matthew 6:16-18 NIV “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 

“When the Holy Spirit calls your to fast, He is preparing you for what is ahead.”

Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food. Dallas Willard

The RESULT

Romans 12:2 MSG – Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.2 Today Matters

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 2 – Today Matters

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?

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.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

The story is told of a young boy who asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was; and, his father told him he was going to do everything possible to make his mother happy in the coming year. The boy, then, asked his mother what her New Year’s resolution was; and, she replied: “To do everything possible to ensure that his father kept his resolution!”

Jesus intended for you to have the best year of your life

John 10:10 ESV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Abundant – existing or available in large quantities; plentiful. profuse, rich, lavish, abounding, liberal, generous, bountiful, large, huge, great, paramount, overflowing, prolific

The Truth About LIFE

Dearly beloved…We are gathered here today…To get through this thing called “life” – Prince

Isaiah 22:13 NLT – But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

1. Life is Fleeting

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT) “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 5  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

2. Life is Valuable

Psalm 90:12 NIV “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

“Life is a dash between two numbers on a tombstone, and everybody should enjoy that dash” Dr Neil Shulman (Movie Doc Hollywood)

Dash – Separating a beginning and an ending. What do you see? That 1 or 2 inch mark stands for a whole life.

18 times a minute you breathe, 25,920 times a day FREE of Charge

When you think about it, we don’t have much control over many things in life:

  1. Born, Parents, Time period/culture
  2. Death – Only God knows – Our lives are in His hands

One thing we do have control over – We get to decide how we are going to use our dash – How we will spend that time?

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.

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.

Most people don’t lead their own lives—they accept their lives

Today Matters!

Choose to make today a ridiculously amazing day!

Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV  “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

We have a tendency to over exaggerate yesterday

We have a tendency to over estimate tomorrow

We always under estimate today

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

Matthew 6:34 (LB) “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow — God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Most people are focused on the wrong day. It’s too late for yesterday – stop reliving yesterday. And you can’t depend on tomorrow – won’t magically get better. The best time to start is now

*Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 

Psalm 118:24 NIV “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

This year I’m going to…

Proverbs 27:1 NIV – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

3. Live Today with Passion

Mark 12:30 (Message) – “So love the Lord your God with all your Passion and prayer and intelligence and energy”

Passion is the spark of life. Without it life has no meaning. It means object of desire, deep interest, zeal, fervor, enthusiasm.

Luke 7:31,32 (NIV) “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’”

Jesus is saying we played the music of life for you, but you didn’t dance. you didn’t enjoy life. You were always waiting to live. you were stuck!

•Then when the pain and problems came your way, you didn’t cry, you didn’t experience life. you tried to avoid risks at all costs.

Go ahead DANCE as though no one is watching you, LOVE as though you have never been hurt before, SING as though no one can hear you, LIVE as though heaven is on earth!

•You may be extroverted or introverted, it doesn’t matter – God made you to feel things deeply.

•Jack London eloquently described this kind of life: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy permanent plant. The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not wast my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”

Remember: Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm and passion wrinkles the soul!

James 4:14 (NCV) “You do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time. But then it goes away.”

The greatest enemy is not death, but a life unlived!

William Wallace said, “Every man dies; but not every man lives”

Neglect enough Today’s, and you’ll experience the “someday” you’ve wanted to avoid! 

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius

Quotes:

The future starts Today, not Tomorrow – Pope John Paul II

The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today. Les Brown

I believe in living today. Not in yesterday, nor in tomorrow. Loretta Young

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.1 – The One Thing

 

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 1 – The One Thing

Every year in January, people make new choices which they call New Year’s resolutions. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is we usually make them about trivial issues, not the most important things in life

According to USA.gov the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions 

1. Lose Weight

2. Manage Debt/Save Money

3. Get Physically Fit

4. Eat Healthy

5. Learn Something New

6. Drink Less Alcohol

7. Quit Smoking

8. Reduce Stress

9. Take A Trip Somewhere

10. Volunteer To Help Others

As you can see One is the top New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. Anyone one here have that as a resolution?

A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, ”He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, ”That’s not going to help.” Her husband said, ”Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

Those are all very good resolutions. The problem is 4-out-of-5 people who make them will break them. One-third of people who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. That is why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

For many people The date changes, but the destination hasn’t. We are still stuck in the same place. A psychology professor at Florida State University did a study of this. He came up basically two reasons why people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Resolutions are too general  (2) There are too many resolutions          •This professor said, ”Studies suggest that will-power is a limited resource. If you make too many resolutions you won’t have enough willpower reserves to stick to all of them.” This is his conclusion. ”It is better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.’’

Fact – 93% of New Years Goals go unfulfilled. In fact, 30% are broken within the first week.

Text: Philippians 3:12-14 NIV – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What Paul is admitting is he has not arrived. He doesn’t have it all together. Though he has done a lot there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. Though he has reached a lot of his potential he has not reached all of his potential. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. There are always more principles to apply. There is always more room to grow. Paul gives us three simple steps that you can use at the beginning of every season, at the beginning of every month, at the beginning of every week and at the beginning of every day to make that year, that month, that week and that day the most productive day for you and the most pleasing day to God you possibly can.

•Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

I. Forget What Is Behind You

Like my friend Mark Edge said, I have decided to leave my past behind me…so if I owe you money, I’m sorry, I’ve moved on.

I want you to know that memory is precious to me.

‒ Old pictures are a thrill to look at.

‒ Childhood memories – home movies

‒ I do not want you to think I am encouraging us to lose our good memory.

“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday.  They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in doing so pollute a potentially wonderful day.”

Philippians 3:13 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

•The first thing you need to do as you enter into a new season is put the old one behind you.

•You can’t focus on where you are going until you forget where you’ve been.

•Paul is usually using sports language. Specifically, he is talking about a race. He talks about straining forward, pressing on, going toward a goal, and reaching for a prize. Those are all racing terms.

•You cannot sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future with joy and peace if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can’t run forward if you are always looking backward.

•Don’t misunderstand what that word ”forget” means. It doesn’t mean ”to fail to remember.’’ There is no way you can ever totally erase the past from your memory. The word ‘’forget” literally means ”to not be influenced or affected by.’’

•••“From Peanuts – Linus said, ‘Maybe we should think only about today.’ Charlie Brown disagreed. ‘No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping yesterday will get better.”

“Your past is always going to be the way it was. Stop trying to change it.”

Often you can see the residue – All kinds of disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, failures, successes, pain, etc..

Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” 

•Past problems.

•Past mistakes. 

•Past relationships.

You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!

To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow!  Your future is not determined by your past!

Two little boys got into a fight. But the next morning Johnny  took his cap and headed for Bobby’s house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, “What! Going to  play with him again? I thought you had a fight last night and was never going to have anything more to do with him. Funny memory you have.” Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. “Oh! Bobby and me’s good forgetters!”

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game.

Isaiah 43:18 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” 

•DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT….

“You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.” – Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

In spite of your past, God doesn’t give up on you and neither should you.

Psalm 103:10-12 NIV “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” 

Micah 7:18 NIV “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” 

Romans 3:22 LB “God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us “not guilty‟ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in the same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.” 

For every person who has ever failed in their past, there is a forgiveness that forgets!

Don’t Judge yourself by your past, You no longer live there!

Turn when into now

Remember: “Yesterday Ended Last Night”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 

Psalm 118:24 NIV “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

We love to announce our plans, to make our goals and declare them. Next year I’m going to….

Proverbs 27:1 NIV – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Spencer Johnson, the man who wrote the book The One Minute Manager wrote another book called The Perfect Present. In this book he said the perfect present is literally the perfect present. The present time. That’s all I have. That’s all I have to give to this world. Not next hour or next month but right now. That’s the gift that God has given to me so I ought to use it. That’s all I have — the present.

“The future is just a collection of bunch of successive nows”

Today is the Good Old Days you’re going to talk about in 15 years. Enjoy now. Make the most of now.

Matthew 6:34 (LB) “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow — God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Live one day at a time, that’s how God says to face the future. The future could be overwhelming but fortunately it comes in bite-size pieces, a 24-hour segment at a time. Plan for the future but you can only live now. I can’t live the future, I can only live today. Plan for the future but take advantage of the present. “Life is what happens to us while we’re planning something else.”

“Your success tomorrow begins today”

It was Abraham Lincoln who first said, “The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

IF you can Forget the Past – You can FOCUS and FULFILL what’s in Front of You

Philippians 3:13-14 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word for ”goal” is ”skopos” which means ”to look at.” We get our word ‘’telescope” from that word. It means a small mark on which your eye is fixed.

•In other words, Paul said the key to living a productive life is to focus. Paul had a one-track mind, but his mind was on the right track.

CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”

Do You want to embrace your destiny, or do you want to flutter on the ground in your history? This is a decision only YOU can make!

Today, You can have a new year, but it won’t mean jack diddly if you don’t have a new life.

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.”

Make a FRESH Start Today

Winning at Work

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“Winning at Work”

Ecclesiastes 5:9-20 NIVThe increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.This too is meaningless.11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep. 13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners,14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. 15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? 17 All their days they eat in darkness,with great frustration, affliction and anger.18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

Random House Dictionary defines “WORK” as – “Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something.” It can be Physical, mental, or both. The purpose of work is to produce an item or accomplish a goal.

All through the Bible, God commends the value of work. The fourth commandment was about taking a day of rest, but we sometimes miss the point of what we should be doing the other six days. God said, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.”

Introduction: For most, Labor Day is the official end of summer. The pools have closed. School has started. Soon the leaves will fall and not long after that the snow. But Labor Day started out with a much different meaning.

The Central Labor Union of New York City observed the first Labor Day holiday on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. It was a celebration of working people. Laboring men and women took the day off to march through the city streets in parades and then gather in parks for picnics. Two years later the holiday moved to the first Monday in September. The idea spread quickly to most other industrial cities in the nation. At first, city ordinances announced the holiday. New York and other states soon followed. In 1894, Congress made the day a legal holiday.

In 1956, the Post Office issued the first Labor Day commemorative-stamp. The image on the stamp symbolized the day. It pictured a large muscular man carrying a sledgehammer, a pick, a hoe, and an ax over his shoulder. His wife sat nearby showing a small child how to read. The words of the poet Carlyle in the lower left announced, ”Labor Is Life.’’

Most of us may never have heard that motto ”Labor Is Life.” Instead we heard our parents tell us when we complained about a chore we didn’t like, ”You’re not supposed to like it. That’s why they call it work!” ”Labor is drudgery” sounds more like it to many of us.

1. Work is NOT a Curse

Genesis 2:15 NIV – The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Work began in the Garden of Eden – Paradise. This work was an activity blessed of God to Provide Adam with a sense of achievement and self worth. The greatest purpose of work is to bring out the full potential of God’s creation. The world was good (Genesis 1:31), but it was not complete. God called humans to help it become everything it could become. He commissioned us to act in his image – as his managers – to rule and subdue the raw materials of creation. For example, we tame livestock, purify raw ore into metal, grow plants to feed people, and much more. This is why God put Adam to work in the Garden of Eden

Some of you graybeards can remember the old television series from the late fifties and early 60’s, ”The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” Some of you have seen reruns on cable. Remember the teenager Dobie’s good buddy Maynard G. Krebs. Actor Bob Denver played the part of Maynard. Most know Denver better for his later role as ”Gilligan.” In Dobie Gillis, Gilligan played the part of a beatnik, a scruffy teenager, who didn’t want to do anything but loaf. Anytime someone suggested that he find a job, Maynard would react. He would jump back as if frightened by the idea and exclaim with a shiver, ”WORK!”

Some Perspectives – ”I owe, I owe, so it’s off to work I go.” Or as

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s old song put it, ”You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.’’

When Adam sinned, his disobedience turned the perspective of work into a curse

Genesis 3:19 NIV – By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

•That’s why Working can be hard, painful, and anything but fun at times. Many jobs involve long hours, little recognition, and so-so pay

Vince Lombardi said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” 

Thomas Edison said, “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

•God made man to work. That was a part of his very nature. God didn’t give work as punishment. Working was part of being made in the image of God. The Lord God himself created the heaven and the earth and then ”rested from his work” on the seventh day.

Genesis 2:2-3 NIV – By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Cleanliness isn’t next to godliness. Working is. Our work, done in the right way and for the right reason, mirrors the character of God!

Recognition and Obedience to the Principles of God reinstate the blessings of Work

Deuteronomy 28:8 NIV The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

2. Accept Work as God’s Gift, not Punishment

Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.

That’s a good reminder for Labor Day. Our work, especially satisfying work, is nothing less than a gift of God! The Marketplace (your place of employment), your company) is more than a job, it is a place to serve and glorify God.

•Releases your God-given talents

•Provides for your family

•Provides a sense of accomplishment that is essential for self-esteem

Ecclesiastes 3:13 NIV – That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Work is a gift of God because whatever we do, we do it with the life and breath and resources that God provides. Whether we labor by the sweat of our brow and the strength of our back, the ingenuity of our minds or some exceptional skill, we are stewards of God’s gifts in us. We are not self-made people.

Acts 17:28 NIV – ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.

Puritan Work Ethic – The Protestant Reformation gave birth to many new ideas including a fresh view about the place of work. This happened because the Reformation first rediscovered the Bible. From that, they learned a biblical understanding of work.

This Puritan Work Ethic taught that: 1) all honest work is good regardless of its prestige or compensation; 2) hard work is a blessing because it builds character and inner strength; 3) honest, hard work provides the path to prosperity; and 4) the believer glorifies God in an honest job well done.

Scriptures Affirm these Truths

Proverbs 10:4 NIV – Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.

“Lazy people do not do anything extra, they only do what they need to do to just get by.”

“Diligent” – to make effort, be prompt. Also to endeavor, labor, and study. The diligent worker makes effort to succeed, is prompt to work, endeavors and labors hard and studies to improve his production & efficiency at work

Proverbs 14:23 NIV – All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 21:25-26 NIV – The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.26  All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.

Jeremiah told the Jewish exiles in Babylon to work hard not just for their own sake but for the sake of their community,

Jeremiah 29:5-7 NIV – “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

Paul Admonishes the Early Church Concerning Work

2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NIV – We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good

Ephesians. 4:28 NIV – Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

God’s Standard for Work Success

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Colossians 3:17 NIV17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Work is God’s Power for you to Create Wealth

Deuteronomy 8:18-19 (ESV) 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.

•Minus the Financial Miracles, inheritances, etc… Most of your finances you will receive in your lifetime will come from your WORK, or your career.

Colossians 3:23-25 NIV 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

•Reggie McNeal, a church consultant specializing in leadership development, talks about sitting on a bench on a beach boardwalk late one afternoon, resting after an hour long walk. He had passed a woman in a green uniform pushing a broom several times. She came toward his bench doing her meticulous sweeping of the sidewalk. Suddenly she stopped, wiped her forehead, and rested on her broom. Reggie called out to her: “You do a great job.”

“Thank you,” she replied. Then she added something that explained why the sidewalk behind her was spotless. “I just believe people want to walk on a clean sidewalk.”

Reggie says, “I was humbled to be in the presence of a worker who viewed her task with such significance. Whatever the park service was paying her, there’s no way they could have demanded the excellence she brought to her work. That kind of motivation comes from within.”

Ephesians 6:7-8 THE MSG  Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.

John Stott was a beloved British pastor and author. He wrote: “The way to serve the Lord in your job is to always imagine that you are working for Jesus instead of your boss. It is possible for the housewife to cook a meal as if Jesus Christ were going to eat it or to clean the house as if Jesus Christ were going to be the honored guest. It is possible for teachers to educate children; for doctors to treat patients; for nurses to care for patients; for lawyers to have clients; for shop assistants to have customers; for accountants to audit books; and secretaries to type letters as if in every case they were serving Jesus Christ.”

Conclusion: It is good and proper for those who worship to give thanks to God for their work. We worship and we work because we know all we have, even the jobs with which we earn our living, are gifts from God.

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.