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.

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.

 

Are God’s Dreams Your Dreams?

Door-to-Better-WorldThe topic of this article has come to my mind on several occasions over the years, and again recently. For some time, I’ve been fascinated by the reality of the emotions of God. Many in the Church have believed for far too long that the main emotion God feels is anger – mostly toward us when we fail. Thankfully, that has been and is changing in recent years and this is good news. God is very much an emotional being, just as we are, for we are made in His image. He feels joy, sorrow, sadness, anger, happiness, and other typical emotions. But have you ever considered that God also has dreams? Not the kind of dreams we have when we sleep, for He never slumbers. Dreams for us, for His bride, for His kingdom, for what He intends to accomplish on the earth. He has given us dreams as well; desires that we long to experience and accomplish.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The word “plans” used there literally means, “purpose, invention, imaginations, and thoughts.”  Those words are mostly synonymous with dreams. What parent doesn’t have dreams for their children? They want to see them prosper, succeed, and become mature, healthy adults. As broken humans, we sometimes project our unfulfilled dreams on our children, but God isn’t like that. He knows and wants what is best for every one of us.

Religion has lied to us and told us that our dreams are selfish and ungodly. Many believers feel guilty when they experience the desires of their heart being fulfilled. But God said, ‘Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4) It is not wrong to desire or dream, as long as those desires don’t replace Him. I believe this verse is also saying that the dreams and desires that are in our hearts are not our own, but His, especially when we are following Him, by His grace. He loves to bless His children, even more so when we are living for Him. As a parent, I always loved my kids when they were young, and wanted to give them whatever they wanted (within reason, of course!) Yet when they went out of their way to do something special for me, it made me want to do so even more. This is just a small example of how God feels toward us.

I believe it pleases Him greatly when we acknowledge and passionately pursue the dreams He has put in our hearts. With no fear of failure, no guilt, shame, or condemnation from religious people who try to tell us we are being selfish or greedy, or living for ourselves. One of a parent’s greatest pleasures is when the dreams they have for their kids are embraced and pursued with joy by their kids. If we feel that way, how much more does God? Of course, we still love them even if they choose to go a different way, and so does He. We should at least consider the possibility that those desires and dreams in our heart may actually be His. Ask Him for a new perspective and pray for the courage to follow those dreams, trusting His grace to lead and empower you. What dreams has God put in your heart? Are you pursuing them? If not, why not? Talk to Him about it.

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.