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

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

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

You cannot make Progress or Improvements without making Decisions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

• What we are going to wear

• When we are going to get up in the morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. God influences, leads, and directs us

2. Satan comes to steal, kill, or destroy

3. Other people make decisions and those actions affect me

4. Natural physical incidents in the world impact us

5. I make decisions & carry them out

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

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

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

1. Your Successes and Failures are Determined by Your Decisions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Choices matter more than circumstances

•You make your choices, then they make you

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

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

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

It’s the power of decision that caused:

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

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

  1. Results of Bad Decisions 

Someone once said Bad decisions make good stories LOL 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prodigal Son’s Decision:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions to ask before making major decisions

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

•What does the Bible tell me about this decision?

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

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

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

2. Decision Guidelines To Improve Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choose to Serve God Today 

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

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

Uncommon Conflict

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Uncommon Conflict

Give you some ground rules for this Message

1. Listen for yourself – No elbows – Listen for yourself – This is for YOU

2. Your going to hear God’s standard and feel like this is too tough

Look how far I am from God’s standard – Don’t be discouraged

Let me be clear, Jesus came to make ALL things new

You get a DO OVER everybody – Don’t get discouraged

Average marriage in America lasting only 3 years

I believe God will help heal marriages that are broken, strengthen marriages that are struggling, and launch marriages that are just beginning

How we handle conflict has the potential to destroy our marriage or set it up for success

Opening:

  1. Lyndon B Johnson said, “I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. First, let her think she is having her way, And second, Let her have it.”
  2. A man who gives in when he’s wrong is wise. A man who gives in when he’s right is married.
  3. Red Skeleton said, I married miss right, I just didn’t know her first name was Always.
  4. After winning an argument with his wife, the wisest thing a man can do is apologize
  5. Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. he didn’t have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn’t have to hear about how well his mother cooked.

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. 

A good marriage is built by two people’s capacity to adjust to bad things – Everyone Has Conflict. While we are on our way to heaven many times our marriage feels like hell.

Everyone knows marriage is no picnic. Even if it is, it sometimes rains. Sometimes good marriages bump into bad things

Having conflict in your marriage does not mean that you don’t love each other, but how you deal with the conflict shows whether or not you love each other. (I want to say this again, so important you get this)

If you’re sitting here today and you’re concerned about your marriage…

And you’ve been fighting, take a deep breath and know that conflict is completely normal

Four Causes of Conflict 

1. Poor communication.

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

Psalm 141:3 NIV Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Attack the problem (conflict) not each other – Because all of us are wired to “win”  So in the middle of dealing with conflict we always try to find the knockout punch

Proverbs 6:2 NIV – you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that

it has taken place. ~George Bernard Shaw

Matthew 12:36-37 MSG “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.” 

Conflicts arise when there is disconnection between what we say to each other and how we say it.

Example: Woman is looking into the mirror and says to her husband, “Honey I feel bad about myself. I look fat and ugly. I really need you to give me a compliment. The husband replied, “You have perfect eyesight!”

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.”

2. Unfulfilled expectations/needs. 

The ups and downs of life can actually strengthen your marriage if you adjust your expectations accordingly.

James 4:1-2 NIV What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Example: Each others expectations of each other

3. Despising differences. 

Mark 3:25 NIV If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 

Ephesians 2:14 NIV For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.

Differences concerning…Sex….Money…Music….Movies, etc….

4. Sin nature.

Romans 3:23 NLT For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 

(Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT) There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins.

Romans 8:5-6 NIV Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Four Ways to Deal with Conflict 

1. My way.

2. Your way.

3. Half way.

4. God’s way – He is the answer to conflict

Resolve the Conflict 

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

Ephesians 2:12-14 NIV12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

Conflict cannot continue without my participation. 

  1. Ask God For Help

James 4:2 NIV – 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

If you are not clear, Faith cannot bring you what you want, need, or desire. a mixed frequency with your asking may produce no results. Get SPECIFIC with God and ASK Him.

I John 5:14-15 NIV  This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

2. Act Do Not React. 

“A person who overreacts in a situation with another person values the situation more than the relationship.”

Ephesians 4:26-27 NIV “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. 

Refrain from having reruns of old arguments

How many times have you gotten into a small fight or conflict

But it blew up into something huge because past mistakes got brought up?

Romans 12:19-21 NIV Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

3. Speak Words of Life

Communication in our relationships is not a luxury its a necessity.

If you want to change your marriage, change the words you speak.

Proverbs 15:4 NIV – The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

(Honeymooners example)

Ephesians 4:29 NIV – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Proverbs 12:18 NIV – The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

4. Be Quick To Forgive

Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. It is an act of our will. It cannot be earned, it can only be given.

When you forgive you open up an invitation for the Holy Spirit to give you His peace and Joy in your relationship

Colossians 3:13 NIV Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”  ~Anne Lamont

Unforgiveness is the breeding ground for destruction in a marriage

Ephesians 4:32 NIV – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Make love and Forgiveness your default mode. It should always be an automatic setting in your heart when you are mistreated.

A life time is a long time to live with bitterness and resentment towards your spouse or someone

If I have to say to you that I forgive you, it’s harder for me to hold on to it
A maturity in Marriage is  – 1. Giving and 2. Forgiving

1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG  (Love) doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.

Don’t Stop Loving

In the Movie Stepmom – There is a husband and his wife who get a divorce. He is out with his children for his weekend. He is trying to explain the divorce to his kids because they keep asking why he doesn’t live with them, etc…They ask him “Don’t you love mommy anymore? He said, No I guess I don’t love your Mommy anymore. They said, “Didn’t you used to love her? He said, Yes, but I guess I fell out of love.” Then the little boy looks up at his dad and says, “Dad, can a parent fall out of love with their children?”

1 John 4:8-11 MSG The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 

Never stop holding hands, Never stop Dancing, Never stop saying I love you!

Matthew 22:34-40 NIV Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

God Can Heal YOU and your Relationship

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card

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. 

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!