Pressing On!

Pressing On!

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:11-14 NIV

Running from problems never solves them, but staying put–in the middle of whatever life brings–determined to get through it with your head held high–is what perseverance entails.  A press–with fierce conviction–that victory is indeed at hand will keep you going.

We cannot allow the trials that come upon us to deter us when we know that God only wants what is best for us. His plans–are always designed for us to receive His best and when we don’t , we must be able to look at what we do and determine how to change it so we will receive from Him.

Making a mistakes as a child of the Most High is not a problem for God–not learning from the mistakes and to keep repeating them becomes a problem for us. He expects us to make mistakes, but He also expects us to learn from them–and to keep moving forward.

The reason many people never get ahead is because they get stuck in a rut–doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result because they were not interested in doing a little self reflection or to seek God for wisdom in knowing how to live life victoriously. Picture this–going around in circles–encountering the same challenges and enduring the same defeats. A student who never studies for tests in school and keeps failing the tests--should figure out that they are not going to pass a class with failing test grades. And this is the reason many students end up dropping out of school because they did not learn earlier in life that there are certain protocols that must be acknowledged in order to be successful in school or any other venue.

Preparation time is never wasted time. If we don’t adequately prepare to do anything, we’ll never know greater success in doing anything. It’s like the Boys Scout Creed–always being prepared for anything that comes your way.

I’m looking forward to a debate that my students are having and I’ll know by how they present themselves who prepared for it and who didn’t. It’s not enough to have an opinion about things without having sufficient support to document why you think what you think. Even though my class debate could hardly measure up to the political debates that are coming up, if we are attentive–listening to each candidate during each debate–we’ll know who spent time preparing for it and who didn’t. Again, opinions without support mean nothing when there are no facts to back them up.

No matter who does better in my class, they will be encouraged to press on–thinking about what they did and how they would change it to make it better and then they’re going to write an essay about the experience. One would hope–that after the first political debate–a similar exercise will take place–reflection and introspection--about what did or did not work and changes made for the next round. Rather than hear a lot personal attacks, I pray we’ll all hear substantive responses regarding the issues with viable solutions rather than nonsensical rhetoric.

After the final curtain has dropped on the political arena with the debates, we must all consider what was said and press on–determined to see victory in our lives–knowing that God has the final word in all things.

 

Twelve Days of Kindness–Day 12!

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 NKJV

When we have obtained a like measure of faith , “For He has given to all a measure of faith,” we can add to that measure of faith to strengthen our knowledge and understanding of who Christ is and how we are to conduct ourselves.

With all diligence–consistent determination to do what is right, we add virtue–a moral sense of ethics, based upon God’s Word. Then to virtue, we add knowledge–a consistent study of God’s Word. To knowledge we add self-control–the ability to operate in wisdom, not emotional turmoil. For our emotions will lead us astray, but those who control emotional outbursts appear wise and others will respect their ability.

When we have learned self-control, we then add perseverance–a stubborn determination to do what is right at all times–no matter what the circumstances are. And to perseverance, we add godliness–functioning in the true nature of Christ–no lies, no deceit, knowing He sees all we do.

With our Christlike nature, we add brotherly kindness–being kind to everyone and with kindness we add love for if we have not kindness–a genuine concern and consideration for others, we will not love.

If we don’t have love–we have not Christ–for He is Love.

The last eleven days have been a joy–an eye-opening experience–to extend kindness and observe the responses of others to the kindness. On this last day, the twelfth day of kindness, I pray all who extend kindness, will receive 100 times the kindness they have extended.

Prayerfully, when all are celebrating the birth of Jesus on tomorrow, some will remember a kindness extended to them in the past twelve days and will go out of their way to extend kindness to another. That’s what this season is all about–the giving of the greatest gift–Jesus Christ–who because of Him–we have eternal life with Him and can love to overflowing because of the love He has for us.

So, go forth and show kindness–every day–and watch how the world will change because a little kindness, goes a very long way.

Twelve Days of Kindness-Day 9!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV

From what Paul expresses here, in order to show kindness, we must be rich in mercy in our attitudes towards others.

Are we rich in mercy–being kind even when people have done nothing to warrant our kindness?

For that is what mercy is and does. Had it not been for God’s mercy–His willingness to not give us what we deserved for our sins, where would we be? I’m not saying we should pretend to be God, but we can act Godly in our relationships with others. Think about it! If we had been given what we deserved by God, none of us would have an opportunity for eternal life with Him.

So, if we understand mercy and have received His mercy, can we not show mercy towards others and therefore extend kindness whether warranted or not? There are some people who are so mean, their jaws might break if they attempted to smile, but smile at them anyway. Some won’t return a morning greeting, but greet them anyway. And still others might turn up at their noses when you treat them with kindness, but be kind any way.

On this ninth day of showing kindness, be vigilant and very determined to complete the mission whether others understand it or not, appreciate it or not, and whether they are receptive or not.  Remember, we are not responsible for their response, but in what we do and how we respond to them.

Have a great day showing kindness!

Perseverance–The Factor That Fuels Success!

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36 NIV)

The difference between those who succeed at one level than those who barely succeed–doing anything–is the level of commitment to keep going, keep refining, keep fine-tuning, keep revising, and keep believing that success is theirs. We know that true success is not achieved by a level of intelligent, but by a level of determination that no matter what happens, the focus is forward, not backwards.

But can there be success without failures in the interim? No–it is the failures that drive true success. We have but to look at Thomas Edison, Stephen King, Benjamin Franklin and so many more. We tend to believe that the success enjoyed by some occurred overnight because we only focus on the final result–not the journey to get there. So, for those who are weary and feel like giving up, today is not the day.

When God gives us a vision it is because He knows our capabilities beyond our doubts.

When we have obeyed Him in all things to please Him, He promised to give us the desires of our hearts and we must remain focused on the prize in order to receive the promise.

When things don’t go the way we expected, we take a critical look at what happened, analyze the whys and gear up to keep going.

When we think we have reached the end of our rope and all hope is gone, we tie a knot before we get to the end of the rope, and hold on, expecting help because He said He’d never leave us alone.

Every ministry poured into us will succeed as long as we keep our eyes on Him, not people, always seeking His wisdom for direction and guidance.

Every dream we have will come to pass, if we just keep the dream in front of us and are willing to navigate every challenge that confronts us.

Every promise of God will be fulfilled, if we just listen to His still small voice and are willing to do things His way and not our own.

We were not told that we COULD do all things through Him who strengthens us just to fill words on a page.

We were not told that with God all things are possible because those who wrote the words just had a little time on their hands.

We were not told that no weapon formed against us would prosper for us to sit on our duffs, waiting for something to happen, without doing anything.

We were not told that with His going before us, He is more than the world against us for us hide behind shame and embarrassment with our first failure.

We serve an awesome God–One who created the universe from nothing and His arm is not shortened when it comes to the success of His children! Surely, goodness and mercy will follow us from each failed attempt to the promised success, by reminding us–we belong to Him and every good and perfect–those gifts He has poured into us–comes from above and all things–especially the failures–work together for our good!

In Him and through Him, we have what it takes to accomplish all things as long as we are determined to reach the goal and refuse to allow the failures to stop us at the starting gate. We are more than conquerors, victorious in all things, now let’s act like it and get it done–persevering through every obstacle to make it happen!

Misjudged!

I’ve read a number of blog posts that address the birth of Jesus–more specifically–Mary and I have been thinking about how she managed to hold up her head when everyone around her was judging her–or rather–misjudging her.

Superficiality–judging a matter based on surface appearances or externals has been the cause of missteps throughout our history. People have been misjudged because of the tribe from which they came, because of the color of their skin, because of their family connections or affiliations, because of their intelligence quotas or the special needs, because of their faith or lack thereof, because of their gender or nationality–all this misjudgment–declaring something is so without having sufficient evidence.

During the time that Mary was pregnant with her precious Son, she was supposed to have been stoned to death, according to the law. We know that people did not think that Joseph was the father or they both could have been stoned to death--with the presumption that he was the father. For centuries now, whenever a woman gets pregnant without the benefit of marriage–she bears a stigma for life and in many cases so does the child. That stigma–judging a matter without all the facts–stems from a lack of compassion or self-righteousness or even worse–a superiority complex. There are some people who can never feel comfortable in their own skin unless they are attempting to make others inferior to them.

Fortunately, Mary rose above the rumors and held up her head with pride, knowing she had no reason to be ashamed. Most who have a relationship with God, understand the inference in scriptures and know how Joseph felt–but what a champion he became to his betrothed. No matter what some may say, I believe that love–Mary’s love of God and His love for her, along with Joseph’s love–gave her the strength to prevail against the naysayers and the hatemongers. She understood her purpose. She did not attempt to explain to those who would not have understood anyway–how she had been chosen by God to bring forth the Savior of mankind. They would not have believed her anyway–not then. But now–when we have historical records to review–there are some who are still unbelieving and would rather judge those who do believe–misjudging!

For as long as people have a right to believe whatever it is they believe–others will be misjudged when they do not agree. I pray that believers everywhere will develop the stamina and strength to stand up for their beliefs, regardless of how they will be misjudged by those who do not believe. We have a Risen Savior, born into circumstances beyond His control whose mother was misjudged and so was He. They had a purpose to fulfill and they did so, in spite of the naysayers.

Today, each one of us has a purpose to fulfill and many may not understand why we do what we do and we will be misjudged. Proceed with the knowledge that God loves you, and He will never leave you alone. People will talk and misjudge you, but don’t allow their thoughts about you to deter you from God’s plan for you. Hold your head high–not from self-righteousness or sense of superiority, but in the knowledge that you are doing what God would have you to do.

During this season–remember Mary and what she endured to bring us our Savior. Now endure what you must in order to please God and your reward will be great from Him–even if others don’t understand and misjudge you.

Father, in the name of Jesus, we ask that You grant us with more wisdom from on high–to do all that You would have us to do. Thank You for loving us, in spite of our shortcomings and Your willingness to experience misjudgment for our sakes. Thank You for giving us chance after chance to get our relationship right with You. Thank You for the gifts–both natural and spiritual–being developed in all right now so we can fulfill the purposes You have established for us. Help us stand in the face of adversity, knowing You are always right by our sides and we hold our heads up high. Amen!