Are Excuses Keeping You From Your Potential?

I-cantWe humans are creatures of comfort and ease. When given a choice, we will usually take the short cut, the easy road, the comfortable way. We tend to complain when life is difficult, things don’t turn out as we planned, or we encounter setbacks. Rather than becoming more determined to accomplish what we desire, resolving to do whatever it takes, we begin to make excuses for why we can’t do it. It has been said that if something is important to you, you will absolutely find a way. If not, you will find an excuse. This is so true. Those who are desperate are willing to do what it takes, no matter how hard it may be, how long it may take, or how much it will cost. As the old adage goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

The best illustration I can think of is someone who is physically impaired in some way, yet trains for years, taxing their strength, draining their emotions, and pushing beyond their limits to achieve what most would have deemed impossible. Yet they refused to accept that because somewhere deep inside them they believed it could be done, and that they could somehow accomplish it. Why is it that some have that kind of determination, while others seem content to just give up and accept defeat? I don’t know about you, but I have often pondered that question.

I’m sure there are many reasons, but I believe the core difference is that some people seem to have an innate sense of destiny, purpose, and greatness. Not necessarily that they will be famous one day, or publicly applauded for some great achievement, but that they are capable of so much more than they have yet to attain. Trials, difficulties, and setbacks only seem to spur them on even more. The thought of quitting or settling for less is reprehensible to them. We often call such people overachievers, driven, overcomers, as if their behavior is abnormal; they tend to overdo too much, are too extreme, or don’t know when to quit. Those kinds of people make the rest of us look bad, because if they can do it, that means it can be done. Which leaves the rest of us without a real excuse. We then have to face the truth – why am I not reaching my full potential?

The truth, I believe, is that most of us don’t see ourselves as worthy of achieving great things. After all, we’re all just ordinary, run of the mill folks just trying to get through each day and pay our bills, raise our families, do our jobs…right? We are content to live mediocre lives, believing that’s the best we can hope for, and to do that is better than most peoples’ lives. Besides, if we get our hopes up too much, we may be disappointed. Then we would know that we are nobody special. And therein lies the root of our excuses.

You were created for greatness by the all-powerful, all-loving Creator of the universe. You have been given destiny and purpose far beyond surviving each day. If you are a believer in Jesus, He lives within you, enabling you to do ALL things. He is with you, for you, and in you, therefore nothing and no one that matters can be against you. I encourage you to dare to believe Him. Dare to believe that what is impossible for you is possible for Him, working in and through you. When you live a life without excuses, you glorify the One who does all things well.

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Are Your Choices Taking You Where You Want to Go?

choices-1We hear a lot these days about fulfilling our destiny. It seems to be a topic that resonates with many, and for good reason. God created us, and as with everything He created, He did so with a purpose in mind. Nothing and no one is here by chance or accident. God is extremely intentional in all that He does. If we have a purpose, and we do, that means we have a destiny. Our purpose is to fulfill our destiny, and our destiny is reached by achieving our purpose; the two are pretty much one and the same. At least that’s the way I see it.

I’ve written on this topic before, but am doing so again because of something the Lord impressed upon me a week or so ago. As I was meditating upon His Word and journaling, I sensed Him saying, “A destiny is never decided by just one choice, rather, it is a series of choices that leads one in a direction they may, or may not, have ever intended to go.”  Well, that made me stop and think for a few minutes. Just because our lives have purpose and destiny doesn’t mean they will automatically be realized, at least not to the fullest extent God intended.

God has given us free choice, and because of that, our choices really matter. Every single one of them. There are countless numbers of people, I’m sure, whose choices led them in directions they never intended to go. Too often, we make choices without thinking about the consequences, whether short or long-term. If we want to fulfill our purpose and destiny, we too, must be intentional. In an earlier article, I talked about how to discover your purpose. If you didn’t see it, you can read it here. Once we have an idea what our purpose is, we can come up with goals and plans to help us achieve it. Then we can decide what steps need to be taken to reach those goals and begin working toward them. For example, if we feel called into vocational ministry, there may be credentials we need to have in order to qualify. We would look at the education and training we must complete in order to achieve those credentials, which will help us fulfill our purpose and destiny. We would then begin taking steps toward gaining those credentials by taking specific classes, internships, etc.

If you have discovered your purpose and destiny, what goals do you need to have to achieve it? What steps do you need to take in order to reach those goals? What are you doing each day to take the necessary steps? Every choice matters. What may seem unattainable right now is possible if you just break it down into small steps that you can take each day.  Focusing on the finish line can seem overwhelming, but no runner ever won a race without the necessary training needed to get their body in shape by slowly increasing their runs and speed, stretching their muscles properly, eating right, getting proper rest, etc.

Fulfilling your purpose and destiny takes a lifetime, a lifetime of making the right choices to get you where you want to go. It doesn’t mean mistakes aren’t allowed; we all make them. They too, serve a purpose in teaching you how not to do things. If you don’t have a plan to reach your goals, don’t wait another day. Time is passing quickly, and your time is your life. You can do whatever you set your mind to do by God’s enabling grace. He is our Helper; we cannot do it without Him. He is glorified and we are most fulfilled when we choose to achieve the purpose and destiny for which He made us.

 

What is Written in Your Book in Heaven?

b78b6da3cdb52d22e3971392d2d031adDid you know there are books in heaven? Or, that you have a book in heaven, specifically written for and about you? As a writer, this greatly intrigues me! When the Lord began to show these truths to me, I began asking Him to show me what is written in mine. There are several places in Scripture where these books are mentioned. Daniel 7:10 says, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”  This was shown to Daniel in a dream.

David spoke of personal books as well, “…Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) Even Jesus has a book. “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come–in the volume of the book it is written of Me to do Your will, O God.'” (Heb. 10:5-7)

These books contain the plans and purposes of God for each one of us. Before we were born on the earth, even from before creation, we were each a thought in God’s mind. Immediately after David wrote verse 16 of Psalm 139, he wrote, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Ps. 139:17)  God “saw” us and wrote down His thoughts about us, what we would do in our life on earth and beyond. Paul said, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) The word workmanship literally means a poem. A poem is a message, and our lives are also a message to the world.

The challenge for us is to discover what is written in our book, and to walk it out in the earth by God’s grace. Timothy tells us that grace has also been there, waiting for us, from before creation, “…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Tim. 1:9) We have the ability to fulfill God’s plans and purposes through His all sufficient, empowering grace.

The Apostle John wrote, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) We know that we are created in God’s image and are now one with Him through His indwelling Spirit. Therefore, we, too, must become God’s Word – written in our book – made into flesh, so that the world can see Him in and through us. We can, by His grace, walk in the fullness of His plans and purposes, which He destined us to walk in before creation. Discovering what is written in our book, agreeing with it, and by His grace, fulfilling it, will be the most satisfying and rewarding adventure of our lives.

Changing Seasons

seasonsGod said in His Word, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecc. 3:1) There are seasons in nature, and seasons in our lives. I find it amusing though somewhat annoying at times at how we so often complain about changing seasons, especially when it comes to the weather. It’s too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too humid, etc. Often, we do the same in whatever current life season we are in. We want to finish school, or start that new job; we want our kids to become more independent so we can do what we want. We want to grow up and move out of our parents’ house, get married, have a baby, go on that mission trip…and so on.

We humans have such tunnel vision. We search for the light at the end, but totally miss the journey to get there – perhaps because it is dark and we can’t see what lies between where we are and where we long to be. We focus on the destination – on our destiny, the fulfillment of our dreams, arriving at that place where everything will be as we want it. Yet within the journey, God has stored the greatest treasures. Every season has its unique beauty and challenges. Each serves a vital purpose in preparing us for our ultimate destination – Christlikeness and spiritual union with Him.

It matters not whether we are going to school, learning a new job, raising children, supporting a family, serving on the mission field, training for ministry, running a business, being a wife, husband, mom, dad, brother, sister, friend, daughter, son, aunt, uncle…I hope you get the picture. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity. That sounds like it includes pretty much everything to me!

Colossians 3:23-24 says, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward…”  Whatever season we are in, whatever we do every day, matters to God. He sees it all, and uses it all for our good, to accomplish His purposes in our lives. Remembering this can help cure us of tunnel vision. Seeking the treasures He has for us on the journey will help us to be filled with gratitude rather than complaints. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth the struggle because we get to discover more of who He is and wants to be for us in each season. This will lead us into deeper intimacy, the greatest treasure of all and the ultimate destination we all long for. If we ask Him, He will help us learn to enjoy the journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing With Disappointment With God

Charlene S Hughes

A recent conversation with a friend unearthed a topic that, I believe, plagues the mindsDepressed Man On Bench of many believers. I know I have dealt with it more times than I care to remember. It also comes up frequently with those I minister to. If not resolved, it has the potential to derail us from our destiny. The subject – disappointment with God. In Romans 9:33, Paul writes, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” The word translated “disappointed” literally means, “put to shame.” Paul was quoting from Isaiah 28:16, and the stone/rock spoken of is referring to Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone.

I would venture to say that most, if not all of us who are believers, have had times we felt disappointed with God. Why? Some reasons I’ve discovered are:

1. He doesn’t seem to…

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Dealing With Disappointment With God

A recent conversation with a friend unearthed a topic that, I believe, plagues the mindsDepressed Man On Bench of many believers. I know I have dealt with it more times than I care to remember. It also comes up frequently with those I minister to. If not resolved, it has the potential to derail us from our destiny. The subject – disappointment with God. In Romans 9:33, Paul writes, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” The word translated “disappointed” literally means, “put to shame.” Paul was quoting from Isaiah 28:16, and the stone/rock spoken of is referring to Jesus, the Chief Cornerstone.

I would venture to say that most, if not all of us who are believers, have had times we felt disappointed with God. Why? Some reasons I’ve discovered are:

1. He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers, or answers them in a way we weren’t expecting.

2. We go through difficult times and don’t understand why He seems to allow it.

3. We are wounded by other believers, the Church, leaders, etc., and feel He is somehow to blame.

4. The prophetic words or promises we’ve received haven’t come to pass.

There are probably many more reasons, but these are a few I’ve personally dealt with, and know many others who have too. There is much that could be said about each of these, but, in short, it all boils down to one thing – we don’t understand His ways. If you ponder these reasons at all, it seems evident that all of these center around “me.” We so easily forget that this life, once we have surrendered it to Him, is no longer about us; it is about Him having His way in and through us.

In truth, if we have died to ourselves and He now lives His life in and through us, we have given up our so-called “rights” to have anything. A dead person doesn’t question or object when things don’t go as they thought they would. I’m not saying we should never question God, for He can handle our lack of understanding and self-centeredness. He totally understands the weakness of our flesh. (see Psalm 103:14) But if we are going to grow up in Him, we must trust that His ways are higher, and far better, than anything we could ever come up with. (Is. 55:8-9) We must believe that everything He allows in our lives is for our good, whether we see it, feel it, or not. (Rom. 8:28)

We must remember that this life is not about having our way. I believe God loves us far more than we’re capable of comprehending. I believe He has good plans and a destiny for each of us that will bring us great satisfaction and fulfillment. But ultimately, His plan is to conform us into His image. He is preparing us now for our future assignments – ruling and reigning with Him for eternity. His consummate desire is to raise up a bride who is worthy of His Son. He has an eternal perspective, and if we are going to better understand Him and His ways, we need to have one, too. Remembering these things will help us to surrender our disappointment with Him, to Him.

How have you dealt with disappointment with God? I would love to hear your comments!

Are Toxic Beliefs Derailing Your Destiny?

As a young believer, I often listened to Joyce Meyer on the radio during my daily drive to toxic thinkingtake our kids to our church’s Mother’s Morning Out program. I can still remember her saying one day, “Do you ever stop and think about what you’re thinking about?” and my first thought was, “No, I don’t!” Then I wondered if it even mattered, and if so, why. I was genuinely perplexed!

Now that I’m a bit older and hopefully a little wiser, I understand what she was saying. As believers, our thought life is one of the most important factors of our walk with God. You may have seen this poem or one that is similar to it:

If you accept a Belief

You reap a Thought.

If you sow a Thought

You reap an Attitude.

If you sow an Attitude

You reap an Action.

If you sow an Action

You reap a Habit.

If you sow a Habit

You reap a Character.

If you sow a Character

You reap a Destiny.

–anonymous

Your beliefs and thoughts greatly affect your destiny by determining your choices, or actions. What you do is always the result of what you believe.

I’m not talking about “head knowledge,” which is facts or information we may believe or agree with. I’m referring to the core beliefs that we hold deep in our hearts and may be totally unaware of.

These beliefs often surface when a circumstance triggers a reaction that catches us completely off guard. Have you ever experienced that? Maybe one day your best friend makes a comment that your new outfit is a little snug around the middle. Suddenly without thinking, you get upset and offended, accusing her of calling you fat! And for the sake of this hypothetical example, let’s say you struggled with your weight as a teen and had a mom who made similar comments far too often, though her sincere intent was to try to help you. This is just one (though not particularly good) example of how core beliefs are triggered.

In His mercy, God allows these situations in order to show us areas that need healing in our minds. He understands our frailty and gave us a way to get free from toxic thinking – Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word transformed is the Greek root of our word, metamorphosis – the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. It is a beautiful word picture of the radical change that takes place when we make the effort to renew our thoughts and beliefs.

In the natural, a caterpillar is bound to the earth, crawling along the ground or on plants and bushes. As the butterfly emerges from the cocoon it no longer resembles its former self in any way; it is a totally new and different creature. Free to now soar above the earth, it has a completely new perspective – a heavenly one. This is an amazing picture of what happens to us and our thinking when we make the choice to renew our minds. God doesn’t do this for us, nor does it happen automatically when we get saved, it is a lifelong process that requires effort on our part.

So how do we go about doing this? How do you renew your mind? I discovered a key a few years ago that has greatly helped me and I believe can help you if you will take time to do it. I will be writing about it in my next blog post, so stay tuned for more! How has toxic thinking affected your choices? Please comment below.