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.