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.
Have you ever spent time searching for your glasses only to find them on top of your head? In the same way, we often miss the opportunities and blessings that are right in front of us. Sometimes we miss a ministry opportunity because we are looking for something in the spotlight rather than recognizing that sometimes the most significant and lasting ministry takes place out of the lime light or behind the scenes. Sometimes we miss a chance to show kindness to our next door neighbor. Or, in our rush to get a promotion, we miss the impact that a life of character will have on an impressionable youth who is watching how we do life. In our desire to be like one of our heroes, we may neglect to operate in the gift that God has given us to make our personal imprint on the world. Ultimately, if we are truly going to see the blessings and opportunities of God, we must always be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we don’t want to see something that is right in front of us because if we see it we will have to do something. So often people refuse to see Jesus because then they will have to either stand with Him or stand against Him. It is easier to simply pretend that we don’t see what is there right before us. Sometimes we miss what is in right in front of us because we are looking past it. Have you ever been out shopping and while you were thinking about what you were going to do next you walked right by someone you knew? You missed them because you were looking past them. It happens in life all the time. We become so focused on making a big impact in one place that we miss the significant impact we can make right where we presently are.
Pay Attention. Open your eyes to what is in front of you. God may be working and providing an opportunity, or extending a blessing to a hurting soul. At this time of year, many people feel overlooked and depression is widespread. You might be the person God has chosen to show someone that they are valuable. How amazing it would be if we let people know that we notice them. The key is not to have them see you but to see the love of God in you that loves them just the same. Don’t become too busy to see what is right in front of you. Don’t shut God out of your life and go through your days as if Jesus will not show up. Jesus is the One who has time for us even when we don’t have time for Him. Jesus is the One who is looking for us even if we are not looking for Him. He is the One who will replace our sadness with joy. If you have eyes, see the hand of God working in and through your life. The evidence is right in front of you.
Life is unpredictable. We never know what we will face from one day to the next. It is beyond our control. What we do control is our response to the trials before us. Are circumstances going to increase your faith or dampen your spirits? Will your attitude glorify God or be defined as full of doubt and fear? We must recognize that our trials are not about us, but about other people. Through our trails, God may be creating a situation to allow our response to be a testimony to someone else. God only gets the glory if we go through difficult situation with a heart that trusts God and with a mouth that never ceases to praise Him. We have to go through our trials and tribulations giving God the glory so that others will know that He is able. You have got to come to the ‘yet’ in your life, which means God hasn’t delivered you yet. Habakkuk 3:18 says “ Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”
A joyful attitude is a choice and is available to everyone and it comes through an intimate and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. When you trust in God to be your strength, He will give you something that you cannot give yourself. When everyone else is looking at their obstacles, God makes our feet like hinds feet. We have the ability to go higher. We are able to see what others can’t see. Our trust and faith in God enables us to see beyond what is directly in front of us. We see ourselves overcoming every obstacle and it takes hinds feet to push us to that higher level, a level above the normal, a supernatural level. One moment we are facing destruction but suddenly things begin to turn around for our good. Joy is the evidence that we know our ‘yet’ surely will come because God is faithful and He is a promise keeper.
Faith’s answer to disappointment must always be: “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation”. Being certain of the ‘yet’ will enable us to live above the circumstances instead of under them. ‘Yet’ holds onto faith even when nothing makes sense and when troubles seem more than you can bear. Fix your eyes upon the Lord when in discouraging circumstances and you will find a source of everlasting joy that will glorify God. No matter what others do, it is about what you choose to do when God hasn’t delivered you yet. It’s your choice….it’s all up to you!
Have you ever come to the conclusion that there was something in your life that you very much wanted but that it seemed impossible to happen? You thought about it, you dreamed about it yet you accepted the fact that it will never happen. The dictionary defines the word ‘impossible’ as ‘incapable of being or incapable of occurring.” I’m sure that many of you feel that way or have felt that way in the past. You have asked God for the impossible because there is no way you could bring it to pass on your own. And, it doesn’t have to be something materialistic; it could be your not being able to forgive a certain person for something they did in the past to you. Or, it could be you need a healing miracle for yourself or a loved one. But the good news is that because of Jesus Christ we always have hope; Why? Because with God ‘all things are possible.’ That dream, that forgiveness, that healing, they are all possible.
So the question is – How do we get there from here? How do we move from impossible to possible? The answer is not difficult at all – the answer is PRAYER! Prayer is the key that opens the spiritual doors to the ‘all things are possible’ in the kingdom of God. When life overwhelms us, the best thing we can do is keep our eyes upon Jesus. Jesus wants to encourage us; He wants to lift us up and He wants to give us strength when we need it. You will be encouraged; your burdens seem lighter and you find strength after you have spent time in prayer. This is what being in the presence of the Lord will do for you. Do you realize that no matter what you have prayed about – no matter how impossible it appears to be – God is able to do more than that? With God you always get more!
We serve the God of the impossible, and we should pray impossible prayers with confidence. Prayer brings us peace and when we pray and know it’s God’s will, we are given a peace that passes all understanding. God created the universe and continues to hold it together. How much more can He do with your life if you believe that He is able! God is able but you won’t experience this if you do not make prayer a part of your everyday life. I encourage you to pray impossible prayers – to launch out into the deep and pray God-sized prayers. God loves it when we pray for the impossible, when we believe Him for things that are beyond our abilities. He is looking for those with faith who will still press through in prayer when the going seems absolutely impossible. Faith is always praying. Prayer is always believing. Give God everything that seems impossible to you and believe that He is the God of the impossible.
Have you ever done something that you thought was special for another person and they in turn just took it for granted – they never thanked you for doing it? As we approach Thanksgiving this week, let’s all remind ourselves of what we should be thankful for. Psychologists tell us that sincere gratitude or thanksgiving is the healthiest of all human emotions. They say that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude in life. You see the act of giving thanks is not only good for the giver but also good for the person on the receiving end. When people are not grateful they tend to complain more and that is not good because not only does God hear your words of gratitude, He also hears your words when you complain and He doesn’t like it. Numbers 11:1 says “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it.”
The Masai Tribe in Africa have a unique way of expressing their gratitude. When they want to say thank you to someone who has helped them, they quietly sit on the ground in front of the hut of the person who did them the favor for hours at a time. They are not only telling the person how thankful they are, but they are also showing the whole tribe how grateful they are. Ungratefulness is one of the worst of all sins especially when we enjoy the blessings of life, food, home, friends, health, and live in a land of freedom and never even say “thank you” to God. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I don’t think we can ever give too much praise and glory to God. Our hearts should be over-flowing with thanksgiving for who He is, what He has already done and what He has planned for our future. I pray that our hearts will turn back to God and we will once again give God pre-eminence in our lives. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” Now is a good time for the people of God to humble ourselves, pray and seek His face to bring unity, love and peace to this divided nation. If we don’t, then who will?
Words are incredibly powerful. They can build up, encourage, and motivate or they can also tear down and deeply hurt others. Our words will either create something good and positive, or they will create something negative – something we really don’t want. Proverbs 18:21 says “death and life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” The success or failure of a Christian is based on the positive or negative confessions they make on a daily basis. A true confession of faith will always agree with the Word of God so we must learn to speak words that are positive and encouraging. Your faith will never rise above the level of your positive confessions.
An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them to make it through the day. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill their spirit to the point that they give up and stop trying. When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the desert, He used words only from scripture to fight and resist the devil. He knew the power and force behind the words that are God-breathed. With our words we can agree with God or agree with the devil; the choice is ours to make. It is easy and uncaring to speak ungodly words, but it takes real effort and desire to speak words of love and faith.
God does not want us to use our words as a weapon to tear another person down. He wants us to use our words to bless others. Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We should not under-estimate the value of an encouraging word for it just may provide great comfort at just the right time to make a big difference in someone’s life. I’m sure that you can remember a time when you were at the end of your rope ready to give up and someone crossed your path that day with a word that lifted your heart and gave you the boost you needed to hang on just a little while longer.
Job 22: 28 says “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee; and the light shall shine upon thy way.” Exercise your faith and build God’s word into your life. The power behind God’s word will change your circumstances; it will even change the atmosphere around you. Speak positively not only for yourself but for those around you who might be struggling with the challenges of life who need to hear words of faith and receive hope that only you can give them.