How would your life be different if you stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Don’t anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Worrying about tomorrow is like moving into tomorrow ahead of time. It is difficult to live in and enjoy the moment when you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future. You cannot change your past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about your future. Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years. That means that they have not accepted what they could not change nor have they changed what was in their power to change. We must learn from the past but look towards the future. The more you live in and enjoy the present moment, the happier you will be.
If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present. You can’t fully appreciate today if you worry too much about tomorrow. Realize that tomorrow is going to happen whether you worry about it or not; and since worry has never accomplished anything for anybody, redirect your energy on your life today. Fully appreciate the moments of today. Soak in as much of today as you possibly can – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions, the good things and even the sorrow. If you can only live one moment at a time, you might as well make it the present.
Dream about the future, but work hard today. Set goals and plans for the future but working hard today is always the first step towards realizing your dreams tomorrow. Don’t allow dreaming about tomorrow to replace living in today. Today is full of all sorts of possibilities and promises. The dream that didn’t happen yesterday for you could happen for you today. Avoid dwelling on your past accomplishments. If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.
Jesus Christ gives us peace. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast our cares on Him because He cares for you.” Understanding and accepting that God cares for you and that He can take away your anxiety is life-changing. God does not want you to carry your burdens alone. In fact, He doesn’t want you to carry them at all and that is why He sent His Son to take away everything you are worrying about today. Leave the past in the past. Live in the present with a peace that passes all understanding. It’s what God wants for you.
Whether you realize it or not we all have the power to affect the behavior of others and that is why we must be careful about our words and our actions. Your words and actions will have a lasting influence on the people who are watching you and, yes, someone is always watching. You are setting an example for someone even if you are not aware of it and the example you set can change someone else’s life for the better or for the worse and that kind of power should not be taken lightly.
The power that can change another person for the better is shown when you show respect to a homeless person on the street by acknowledging that you see them by saying a simple hello. It is shown when you encourage someone to keep moving forward when they are going through a difficult time because you believed in them and you took the time to tell them that. Your influence has the power to comfort someone who has lost a loved one because you shared in their grief by just being there in their time of need. Enough cannot be said for the person who sets an example of kindness by ‘paying it forward’ when the opportunity presents itself.
The power that can change someone’s life in a negative way is when you show disrespect for someone who might be of a different race, gender or religion than you are, and just as you can put a smile on the face of someone you have helped, you can also break the spirit of someone you have hurt just as easily. Therefore, it is extremely important to be an example of a righteous and honorable person in our world today.
Albert Einstein said that “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” As you go about your daily life remember your words and actions do matter and may influence more people than you may realize. Power is something we all have so use it wisely. You may never know which lives you influence and influence can last a lifetime. Be mindful of the fact that someone is always watching you. Be careful what image and legacy you leave behind. Life is too short to promote negativity and bad habits. Take pride in having some integrity at all times because even when you’re the only person in the room, someone is watching you from above. Be the example that you want others to follow. Your influence cannot be over-emphasized. Inspire people and maybe one day someone will look at you and say “because of you I didn’t give up.”
What does it take to make you happy? Is it money, your job, vacations? It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy our life that matters. Slow down and enjoy your journey. Don’t miss the little pleasures in life because it is those things that will mean the most to you later in life. When you wake up in the morning, thank God that you are alive to see God’s latest creation – a new day. God wants you to enjoy life not just to endure life. Don’t just exist but live a full and happy life. So few people enjoy life because they are trying to be happy without God but the truth of the matter is you will never be happy without God. Without God life is miserable but with God life is marvelous!
Not only are people living unhappy lives but we take a lot of things for granted. We take our blessings for granted. We are so accustomed to them that they fail to excite us as they once did. It’s evident that we have grown accustomed to our blessings when we start to criticize and complain. Instead of thanking God for what we have, we complain about it and tell God we wish we had something else or that we want even more. You can be sure that even if God did give us what we asked for, we would eventually complain about that too. The person who has gotten accustomed to his blessing will never be satisfied. It’s easy for us to take things for granted, and take people for granted when they are there for us all the time. We fail to appreciate them when they are with us. Sadly most people realize the value of these things or these people only after we lose them.
Unfortunately, people also take God for granted. People fail to realize that it is only by the grace of God that we wake up every morning and enjoy the blessings that have been given to us. Some things we just live with day in and day out and after a while we just assume that they will always be there. We take them for granted. We stop seeing the beauty in them and miss the joy of them. James 4:14 says “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” Don’t take your blessings for granted because in the twinkling of the eye your life can change. Appreciate the gifts God has given you. Thank God for all that He has already done for you. Make an effort to live a full and purposeful life. Be grateful for every blessing you have; taking nothing for granted and watch God bless you with the desires of your heart!
It is human nature that we all want to be liked. In fact, society measures the popularity of a person by the number of Facebook friends they have or how many people follow them on Twitter. You might have 1000 Facebook friends or none because it really isn’t that important to God. God isn’t counting how popular you are or how well you fit in. The truth of the matter is God doesn’t want you to fit in at all. God wants you to stand out. God wants you to stand out in fulfilling your purpose in life. God wants you to stand out by being the man or woman He created you to be and because there is not another person who can fill your shoes, the only number that counts is one! Romans 12:2 says “ Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
God has called us to be different, to stand against the grain and to be a city on a hilltop (Matthew 5:14). Be the change for a world that lacks hope. Realizing you don’t fit in is a good thing. You weren’t made to fit in. You were made to fulfill your calling in Christ. Everybody is standing, but you must stand out. People stand out from the crowd when they do something above and beyond the call of duty. Remember Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus but he was small in stature and could not see above the crowd but he did something that made him stand out. He climbed a tree and this caught the attention of Jesus. Despite his limitations he was able to stand out from the crowd. To stand out will require effort on your part but you will find it is well worth it. Conformity is easy but it will take courage to stand out from the crowd.
You, too, must have a passion to fulfill your purpose that you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal. Yearn to be outstanding, outstanding to the point that you inspire other people to become like you and want to stand out from the crowd. It’s your difference that will cause you to stand out not your similarity. Einstein is quoting as saying that “if you follow the crowd you will go no further than the crowd.” You are uniquely unique. Don’t try to fit in. You were born to stand out.
It’s been said that if you don’t build your own dream, someone will hire you to build theirs. We all have dreams – some are big and some are small but too few of us are able to see our dreams become reality. Why? Because the road to making our dreams come to pass is long and challenging and filled with the unexpected. Getting past your fear is only the beginning for success. Furthermore, our dreams are often at odds with our present circumstances and we tend to get hung up on all that we don’t currently have and thus we believe that our dreams are impossible to achieve. Some people do make an attempt to make their dreams happen but give up when the fight gets too rough but persistence is what separates the successful from the wishful thinkers. Others get discouraged after being told that their dream is either too big or that it will never happen for them. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to do it or that you can’t do it.
If you are a dreamer you can easily relate to Joseph. He was misunderstood. He was mistreated. He faced unfortunate circumstances. He did right only to suffer wrong. Study Joseph’s life and you will learn that there are certain fundamental truths that you need to know before your dreams will come to pass. You see, dreams take time to come true. For example, Joseph waited 13 years for his dream to become a reality. He was only 17 years old when he was sold into slavery and he was 30 years old when he became second in command to the Pharaoh of Egypt. David waited 15 years to become the King of Judah. Most of this time was spent hiding from King Saul who wanted him dead because he was a rival to his throne. Abraham had to wait 25 years before the birth of his promised son, Isaac.
Not only do dreams take time to come true, but also your dreams will be tested over and over again. Joseph’s character and integrity had to be proven first. Joseph’s story also shows us that it will take teamwork to make your dreams come true. Yes, other people will play a significant role in making your dreams happen and you must have the wisdom to discern who God has placed in your life to become part of your team and you must be willing to work with them in unity.
Last but not least, if you want your dreams to become true you must put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is said repeatedly in the Bible that ‘the Lord was with Joseph.’ This is the secret to success for every child of God. That’s the real reason why Joseph fared so well. Joseph knew in his heart that God was with him even when his circumstances looked otherwise. Joseph was able to look at his brothers who had sold him into slavery and tell that that while they had meant to harm him, God intended it for good. (Genesis 50).
Encourage yourself in the Lord with that same statement when it looks like nothing is going right for you. Know that God will never leave or forsake you and that He will always take care of you. Remember, refusing to dream will take you nowhere. Don’t allow your dream to remain just a dream. Work towards making your dream come true. Start by asking yourself “what if?”
It is in the face of adversity that you find out if you are a fighter or a quitter. Getting knocked down in life is unavoidable but staying down or getting back up is up to you. If you choose to get back up, the message you send to the enemy of your soul is that when your life is not going well the same convictions that caused you to get in the ring and fight in the first place are, the same convictions that won’t allow you to stay down. Determination is the fuel that will cause you to rise again and be stronger and wiser than before. The late great Mohammed Ali said that “my strength did not come from lifting weights. My strength came from lifting myself when I was knocked down.” Failure only comes when you choose not to get back up. Get back up and be the best you can be. Victory begins the moment you decide to rise again. Everything in life happens for a reason; let it change you for the better. Don’t be afraid of getting back up. Be afraid of giving up.
God wants us to succeed in life. Proverbs 24:16 says “ For a just man falleth seven times, and rises up again.” We are not to be people who fail to get up when we are knocked down. With God’s help, we get back up and get back in the race. When something has brought us to our lowest point, we need to get back up; we keep trying until we succeed. What matters to God is not how fast you ran your race, but how well you finished. We need to know that when we do get back up, we may not be at full strength, but just the mere effort of us trying to get up, grabs God attention. Our efforts in trying to get up presents God with an opportunity to show up. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Remember Peter? Peter’s greatest strength was his courage, yet we criticize Peter for taking his eyes off the Lord on the sea of Galilee and he began to sink …but at least he got out of the boat! God will always show up in our moments of weakness but we must be in the fight if we want to be a winner.
It’s not that we are never beaten, but we are never ultimately defeated. We may lose a battle, but we are going to win the war. We may be knocked down, but we’re not knocked out. Psalm 37:23 says that “the steps of a good man is ordered by the Lord, though he falls, he is not utterly destroyed.” Sometimes things fall apart so something better can be created. Make a life commitment that when you get knocked down quitting will never be an option.
It is unfortunate but true that often one of the easiest times to let our guards down is on the heels of a great victory. There are many reasons for this but only a few people are willing to persevere through the hard times in order to achieve success. You don’t need any man’s permission to succeed in life. You don’t need the approval of any one to make it in life. Your boss cannot stop you from reaching your ultimate destiny. The economy of our country is not even enough to limit you. Past failures are not enough to stop your miracle. Your background is not a valid excuse. Every set back you have experienced in your life is a set up for a comeback tomorrow. It is your decision to succeed without permission or excuses. Oprah Winfrey said that “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. The ability to triumph always begins with you.”
You have the power to attract whatever you want into your life. The Bible tells us that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7). Who you see is who you become. What you expect is what you experience. You have the power to create because you were made in the image of God. You can change your thinking in order to change your life. You can faith it until you make it. You can live the life of a champion if you so desire. It takes more energy to live a life full of fear than to live one full of faith. To fear is to be forced to live in the walls you have built for yourself. To have faith is to embrace the unknown and move forward. You can either live in faith or live in fear; however, faith and fear cannot coexist. The same applies to prayer and worry. You must choose to either worry or pray but you shouldn’t do both. When your desire to overcome becomes greater than your fear, you’ll overcome adversity. Fear will always immobilize you while faith will energize you.
Life can get us down, but we can pick ourselves back up. We must learn and not be limited by the experiences of our lives. We are strong, and we all have a dreamer inside of us. Anything is possible if we are willing to do the work it takes to succeed. Every successful person will tell you that you have to go through a process to achieve success. What’s just as important is that sometimes success is not a place where everything is perfect. Sometimes success is a place where your problem doesn’t cause you stress anymore. At this point your faith has taken over and you believe God’s word when He said “my grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God will take you through what you think you will never get through. Live your life without becoming immobilized by fear. That is the meaning of real success and this is how God will get glory out of your life.
Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and for me, as well as for you, this is a turning point. I encourage you to turn your life, your marriage, your family, your job, your business, your health and your dreams over to God. There is one thing that I have learned in life and that is everything begins with God, is controlled by God, and will one day end in God. And, if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you cannot and will not be successful without turning everything you love in this life over to Him and submit to His will. Someone once said that ‘if you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans.’ Well, it’s time to put our plans under the will of God. Don’t plan your day and leave God out of it. The Apostle Paul never took a day in his life for granted. He knew that his life was totally in the hands of God. In 1 Corinthians 4:19 he said “But I will come to you soon if the Lord wills.” Put your plans under the will of God, not above them! Question: Are you going to follow Jesus or are you going to ask Jesus to follow you in 2017?
Everyday will not be sunny nor perfect. Just as in 2016, trouble will also come in 2017. But troubles have a purpose. God uses many tools to mold us to make us more Christ-like even though we hate the process. It’s important that we leave 2016 behind us. Whether good or bad, it is in the past. Close the door on 2016 and embrace the possibilities that lie ahead in 2017. Don’t be afraid to pray for a miracle. God is a God of miracles and it is one of His tools to manifest Himself to us. Why can’t it happen for you? God has no respecter or persons and He loves us all the same but there is a difference in our level of faith. We are different in what we believe. I have the faith to believe for a miracle in 2017 because I have had them in the past. You might be struggling with believing for a miracle. You might be telling yourself that it won’t happen for me. If that is true, you are right. It won’t happen. God has given each of us a measure of faith but has your faith grown any? Do you trust God more today than you did yesterday, last year or five years ago? If you don’t, something is wrong. You are not focusing on the right things. Maybe you are stuck – stuck in unforgiveness, stuck in bitterness, stuck in the pain that someone caused you 20 years ago. Let it go! Let go of those disappointments, unrealized dreams, failures, hurts. In 2017 you must move forward.
We are done with 2016! It is in the past! The good news is that today is another day; today is in a New Year and all of us can enjoy a new beginning. Grab a hold of the future. We need to go into the New Year with our eyes wide open so we can grab hold of everything God is waiting to give us. There are so many new opportunities for us to have a good life. We should not be afraid to stretch our faith and reach for the desires of our heart. We need to be wise about what paths to take, what to do and what not to do. You might have tried very hard to make something happen in 2016 but it has not materialized yet. You might be a little discouraged but it’s important to remember that the only time we fail is when we refuse to try. You can never be a failure because Jesus Christ lives in you. If you still believe; if you still have faith, you are not a failure! God has already proven to you that He is faithful. In 2017, focus on being faithful to Him. Live your life growing in the gifts planted within you. It is my prayer that 2017 will be the year in which God does exceedingly above what you ask of Him.
All of us at one time or another have experienced the disappointment of an unmet expectation. It’s natural that we expect things from our spouse, our children, our friends and from life in general, but when our expectations are not met, we feel saddened or let down. This is part of our everyday life. Expectations are good as long as they are in line with the will of God. Unfortunately, there are people whose expectations are based on Murphy’s law that “if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong!” These people find that their prediction becomes real far too often. It’s as though they expect Satan to make their lives miserable in one way or another. Instead, they should expect God to do the unexpected in their lives to deliver them from evil and to show them that He is always in control.
We know that with God all things are possible, but do we really believe they are probable? We pray with a sincere heart, but we have little expectation. Our faith is so rooted in earthly circumstances that we are unable to look up and to see the handiwork of God. Even Peter had difficulty believing the unexpected. Initially he thought he was having a bad dream. He was in prison when an angel appeared and woke him up. His chains fell off and the angel led him out of the prison passed the guards and through the gate. The gate suddenly opens and they went right through. When the angel left him Peter came to himself and realized that God had delivered him. Even the disciples who were praying for him found it hard to believe what God had obviously done. When God answers prayer in an unexpected way, we often have difficulty recognizing His answer.
We would be amazed if we could see all that God does for us behind the scenes. I compare it to flying in an aircraft. The pilot is in constant contact with the air traffic controller who gives him the correct altitude and heading needed to ensure that the flight takes off, flies and lands safely. The passengers are sitting comfortably in their seats unaware of all that has to be done on their behalf behind the scenes. Likewise, heaven and earth is being moved in unexpected ways to accomplish God’s will in our lives. Ephesians 1:11 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Learn to expect the unexpected from God. We want Him to but we really don’t expect Him to. Expectation is the characteristic of true faith. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope is an absolute expectation that something good is coming. Hope is something that you can count on. When God does the unexpected we have difficulty believing what God is doing. If your hope is in God, you will find that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above what you ask of Him.(Ephesians 3:20).
Christmas brings many pleasures; from putting up the Christmas tree to sharing the day with family and friends, to special music, exchanging gifts and good food to name only a few. Is that what you are experiencing this season? For some of you, personal problems are keeping you from experiencing the joy of the season. For others, you feel like one crisis after another has run you over making it difficult to enjoy the merry in the holidays. Some of you are so busy and working so hard that there is no time for sitting around a fire roasting chestnuts. Or, maybe there is not anything really wrong, but for some reason you are just not enjoying Christmas. It is not providing the emotional lift that you expected. Could it be that you are seeking the wrong thing?
What is it that you want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Is it getting the family together? Is it finding the right present to give? Is it getting the present you have been hoping for? The problem with all of that is there is the opportunity that you will be disappointed. The problem is not Christmas. It is in your expectations. You are looking for the wrong thing. What is the right thing you should be looking for? The Christmas story tells us that the wise men went to Jerusalem looking for the new born babe who was born King of the Jews. They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus. That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas – an opportunity to worship our Lord and Savior. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then I doubt very seriously if we will be dissatisfied with our experience. You may not be able to afford the right gift for a loved one or family members may be missing from your Christmas dinner table but Christmas is a time to remember the real reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ.
This season, keep your eyes and heart open for unexpected ways that God will reveal to you the hope of Christmas. Christmas can’t be bought from a store. Christmas is a time to remember the greatest gift God has ever given to man. The gift of Jesus satisfies every need that you will ever have. The gift of Jesus is not limited to just one day nor is it given to just one person. The gift of Jesus can be celebrated every day of the year by every person on this earth. Don’t be tempted to look for Christmas joy in a person, place or thing. Seek the only good and perfect gift that came from above – the gift of Jesus Christ. I promise you, if you do, you will have joy this Christmas.