goals

Character

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Happy New Year!

 Goals are what most people focus on at the beginning of a new year. As I was praying about what to write, I felt I should discuss character. For without good character, success means nothing.

 Character has to do with the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; a person’s good reputation. Synonyms are: integrity, honor, moral strength, moral fiber, strength, fortitude, backbone, resolve, grit, willpower, reputation.

 In the bible, there are several places that tell us where strength of character comes from.

 1 Corinthians 1:30 says that Jesus is our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. As believers in Christ, we get strength of character through our relationship with the Lord. It’s in our DNA. We grow in it as we grow in our knowledge of who we are in Christ. God is holy and we are too because we are in him.

 Trials and troubles help form character as we endure through them. Enduring means we continually put our trust in the Lord through tough times. As we trust him, it develops strength of character in us. Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:2-4 attest to this. When our faith is tested, endurance grows. As our endurance is developed, we become strong in character and ready for anything. It’s going through those tough times with joy because of our trust in the Lord. We have joy and peace in believing. True character development comes through faith in God.

 In Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Jesus tells the story of a farmer planting seed. In it, he speaks of different types of ground the seed is sown on. The seed that lands in the gravel is like a person who hears God’s word and instantly responds with enthusiasm. Because there is no character, when the emotions wear off and difficulty arises, they have nothing to show for it.

How often do we hear something, get excited about it. and when it gets difficult, stop going in the right direction? It happens at this time of year all the time. We make New Year’s resolutions and don’t keep them. The gyms are packed in January. After that, the numbers continually go downhill because people don’t endure. They give up. We all do it. We decide we are going to improve, but don’t want to pay the price for the improvement. When we do stick to it and pay the price, the benefits far outweigh the cost. We accomplish something and good character is built in us.

I want to encourage you to endure through the hard, difficult times. When you do, good character is developed and it makes for smooth traveling. Proverbs 11:5

Excellence

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I like to look at fun and special things that are celebrated every month. One of the things for September is self-improvement. Self-improvement makes me think of excellence. Excellence makes me think of my husband. He is known for being a man of excellence and for his teachings on it. Excellence isn’t perfection. It’s just doing something better than you did it before.

The dictionary defines it as, “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.”  My husband’s definition is, “Excellence is the attention to detail that gives rise to superior performance which leads to promotion in life.” Another thing my husband always says is, “Today’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity.”

What is excellent for you may not be excellent for me. My granddaughter recently learned how to ride a bike. She does an excellent job at it for her. Her brother, who is two years older, also rides a bike. He has a lot more confidence and rides much steadier than my granddaughter. Her excellence is his mediocrity. If he rode with the unsteadiness as she did, we’d think something was wrong with him. They have a little sister who is starting to stand on her own. For her age, she is doing excellent at it. Of course, if the other two looked like she did when they stood, it would not be excellent.

The Bible tells us we are going from glory to glory and faith to faith. Philippians encourages us to “press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ.” These two statements tell me that we should pursue excellence. We should not settle where we are, but we should constantly be in a state of learning and growing.

Psalm 1 says as we give ourselves over to the word of God and meditate on it day and night we are like trees planted by rivers of living water. Trees continually grow. Others benefit from the trees as they grow. People will benefit from you as you grow and do not get stagnant. Think about a pond that has no way for water to flow out of it. What happens to it? It gets filled with algae. It becomes no good for anyone. Disease grows in and on it.

That’s what happens with us when we do not pursue excellence. We become like a stagnant pond that looks ugly and is filled with disease. Instead of bringing life to others, we bring death and sickness.

Our desire should be to continually bring life to others. This happens as we grow in every area of our lives. I want to encourage you to pick an area to grow in. Pursue excellence in it. Then add another. Of course, you should ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. He will show you the way.

Turning a Setback Into A Comeback

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How do you turn a major setback into a comeback?

Let’s look at some people who did….

Steve Jobs, Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Dorothy Hammill,

James Altucher, Robert Downing, Jr., Brittney Spear, Stanley Kirk, Burrell (aka MC Hammer), George Foreman, Walt Disney, Willie Nelson, Cyndi Lauper & Martha Stewart to name a few.

 

In the Bible we see people who made a comeback to God. They lived for him and then backslid in some way, but came back with full force….David, Peter, John, Johnmark, Zacaharias, Abraham…

 

Sometimes the setbacks we have are because of our own negligence or failure. Sometimes they are from something we had no control over, like the loss of a loved one or natural disaster.

 

No matter what the setback, you can comeback better than before as you put your trust in God and take steps to move forward. Don’t despise the size of the steps, just make sure you are headed forward.

 

When someone falls spiritually what should they do?

First off they have to recognize their sin. A comeback cannot occur when there is no acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

 

Once you acknowledge what you did, repentance for it must take place. I don’t mean where you beat yourself up about it. You must realize you did something wrong, that you sinned.  It’s important to admit it and confess it out as sin, but don’t allow condemnation and guilt to control your thinking.

 

The next step is to acknowledge who you are in Christ. You’re forgiven. It’s forgotten in God’s mind because Jesus bore our sin on the cross. God sees us cleansed and he made us righteous in Christ. Focusing on who God made us to be in Christ keeps us on the right path.

 

As you meditate on who you are in Christ, your actions follow. You begin to act the way God intended for you to.

 

Of course, coming back from a spiritual setback requires time given in prayer, bible study and reading, going to church and being with people who encourage you in your walk with God.

 

Every one of these actions requires faith. You can’t just go through the motions. Find a place where you can latch on and hold tight to it. Ask yourself what you can believe at this point in your journey with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a scripture you can meditate on and stand on. It will be a battle, but you can do it because God gives you the strength through Christ.

 

Ask yourself what you can learn from this setback.
Ask – What was the cause of this setback?
Ask – How did it begin?

 

Discover which thoughts began to lead you down the wrong path so you can change them. Philippians 3:15 says if we’re thinking different than the way God wants us to, he will reveal it to us. Just ask and he will show you.

 

Focus on the God-thought that will move you forward. Don’t look at the past. When we focus on the past, we can’t move forward. Did you ever try driving backwards to move forward?

 

Remind yourself that everyone has setbacks, but don’t compare yours to someone else. We are all different and react differently.

 

Remember, the fact that you recognized the problem was a step forward. Soon you will begin to see some progress and you’ll be beyond where you were to start with.

He Directs My Goals

he new year is quickly coming upon us. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s important for us to think about our goals for 2017. Don’t wait to throw some things together January 1 and hope they come to pass. Spend time this month praying and seeking God about what he wants to see accomplished in your life.

Ask God for a picture of what he would like you to do. Don’t just come up with something and expect him to bless it. He will show you.

Prov. 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,  And lean not on your own understanding;

Prov. 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge Him,  And He shall direct your paths.

Prov. 3:7  Do not be wise in your own eyes;  Fear the LORD and depart from evil.

Prov. 3:8  It will be health to your flesh,  And strength to your bones. NKJV

 

It’s about going to God, acknowledging him and him directing our steps.

 

Psa. 37:3  Trust in the LORD, and do good;  Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

Psa. 37:4  Delight yourself also in the LORD,  And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Psa. 37:5  Commit your way to the LORD,  Trust also in Him,  And He shall bring it to pass.

As we trust in the Lord, we will feed on his faithfulness. Feeding on his faithfulness, fuels delighting ourselves in him. Then he puts desires in our heart. As he gives us desires, we trust him and he brings it to pass. It’s not about coming up with a desire. It’s about spending time with God and he gives us desires that he brings to pass as we commit our way to him.

John 16:13 tells us that the Holy Spirit leads and guides us into all truth and shows us things to come. He lives in us. He shows us what God wants and he leads us in the way we should go to accomplish it.

 

No matter our age we should have things we want to accomplish and have desires, in spite of what it may be. Problem is over the years, oftentimes, we stop believing and we stop dreaming, we stop having goals. God is eternal. We will always be dicovering new things in him and we will throughout eternity. This means we will always dream, have visions and goals. There will always be new territory for us to discover and to move toward

First we go to the Lord. The next step is writing it down. Habukkak 2:2 tells us to write the vision and make it plain so we can run with it. Writing it down, creates some accountability, especially when we keep it in front of us. When we don’t look at it, it still nags us because we know we have it written somewhere and don’t want to look at it because we don’t want to be accountable to it.

When we don’t write it down, it’s not plain.

Map out the steps the Lord shows you to get to the goal or desire. All the steps may not be revealed all at once, but some of them will be. As you spend time with God and in his word, the Holy Spirit will lead you and God’s word will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Ps.119:105).

If you had a light on your feet it wouldn’t brighten the whole path. It would only lighten the next step. Isaiah 28:10 says that it is a process that happens “line upon line…precept upon precept…here a little, there a little.” Be purposeful about what you do and continually move forward.

Don’t be hasty. Isaiah 28:16 says, “he that believes does not make haste.” In today’s society people want everything right away without effort or taking time. Let it be the like the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare should have won, but he was overconfident and definitely not consistent. The tortoise was consistent. He kept moving forward. He didn’t allow distractions and his flesh to stop him. He stayed in the race, finished the course and won.

1 Corinthians 9 tells us to be like an athlete in training.

1Cor. 9:24  Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win.

1Cor. 9:25 All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

1Cor. 9:26 So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches.

1Cor. 9:27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. NLT

Head toward the goal with purpose in your steps. Move forward like you are going to win. Have self-control. Keeping your eyes on Jesus the entire time. He is the author and finisher of your faith.

Trust in the Lord. Commit your way to him. He has great plans for your life. He’ll show you the way to bring it to pass.

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!