The more concerned you become with the things you can’t control, the less you will do to improve the things you can control. And when you do that, you start living in a fantasy world.
This year I started taking a course to get a specific certification in an area of practice I’ve been doing for a very long time and enjoy very much. Just because you’ve done something for a very long time doesn’t always mean you’re doing it well, or that you can’t learn something to help sharpen your skills. It was for this reason I decided I wanted to invest some time, renewing my skills in that particular area. So, why is it, that even when we take on something we know we’re passionate about, and even have a fair amount of skill development in, that there is often still that little lurking fear that says, “What if you find out you don’t really do this that well”? Fear is something you will experience each time you try something new, like a new job or a new relationship or a new investment strategy. The truth is, you will never succeed at something if you keep giving in to fear.
The corporate world risks failure every time they launch another product. The fashion world risks failure with each new clothing line. Yet, they’re willing to take multi-million dollar risks to improve their merchandise and boost their sales. Do they always win? No, but without taking risks they’ve no chance of succeeding at all. The poet wrote, “There was a very cautious man who never laughed or played; he never risk, he never tried, he never sang or prayed. And when one day he passed away, his insurance was denied, for since he never really lived, they claimed he never died!”
The fact is, we all fail at something, at sometime and in some way. But, that doesn’t mean you have to live with the fear of failure. Faith in God is what gives you the courage to confront your fears and live the life He meant you to live. If you don’t you’ll suffer the fear of, “what could have been.” You’ll never be perfect, so you’ll never be perfectly successful. That doesn’t mean you will not succeed in life – but you must try. Fear is a “spirit” and if you let it, it will control you. God offers us three better options, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. So, don’t give in to it! Rather, receive God’s power, love and a sound mind for your future. Let’s go for it!
Often when we’re facing a difficult situation we say to ourselves, “What can I do in the face of a problem this big?” You can do more than you think! Your faith, your words, your actions, your prayers, your example, your kindness and persistence, can release the power of God and activate the forces of heaven to go to work in that situation. In other words, your actions do matter! God loves to use things that we consider to be insignificant, like Moses’ rod which parted the Red Sea, or David’s slingshot that brought down a giant, or a boy’s lunch that fed a multitude. Jesus said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” Matthew 17:20. It’s not about the size of the seed you sow, but about power of the God Who can make it grow. It’s not about the prayer you pray, but about the greatness of the One Who answers your prayers. So, don’t just throw your hands in the air and give up. Put your faith into action because actions do matter!
Okay, we’re two weeks into the New Year, so how are those resolutions going? Are they starting to feel like a new normal in your daily routine? The key to creating a new normal in our lifestyle is to keep focused on our goal. Philippians 3:15, The Message paraphrase says, “Let’s keep focused…those of us who want everything that God has for us.”
It’s human nature to get distracted. We’re like gyroscopes at times, spinning around at a frantic pace but not getting anywhere. Without a clear purpose we tend to keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, etc., hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in our heart. We think, “This time it will be different,” but it doesn’t solve our real problem—lack of focus.
We learn to become effective when we decide to become selective. The power of focus can be seen in light. With a magnifying glass the rays of the sun can set paper on fire. But when light is focused even more as a laser beam, it can cut through steel. Nothing is a powerful as a focused life. The people who make the greatest difference in life are the most focused. For instance, the apostle Paul said, “I am bringing all my energies to bear of this one thing” Philippians 3:13, The Living Bible. Paul’s obsession was to make the love of Christ known to everyone everywhere. So, if you want your life to have an impact, focus it. Stop dabbling. Stop trying to do it all. Do less. Turn away from even good activities and do only what matters most. Never confuse activity from productivity.
Poet William Matthews wrote, “One well cultivated talent, deepened and enlarged, is worth a hundred shallow faculties. The first law of success in this day when so many things are clamoring for our attention is concentration—to bend our energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.” So, does focus come easily or naturally? You bet it doesn’t. It is a discipline that must be practiced very day. Happy focusing as you keep on shaping your New Year!
The challenge to “encourage one another” is given throughout the New Testament. All of us need reassurance and appreciation. So why do we sometimes pocket the praise we should pass on to others, or sidestep the practical help we could offer to open the door for someone else to succeed? Sometimes it’s simply because we are lazy, or selfish, or we fall into the habit of taking people for granted. Sometimes it’s just easier to find fault. We underestimate the impact our words and attitude can have on another person, or we assume our approval is obvious. Are we afraid praise might cause pride in them? Jesus did not fear that when He praised Nathaniel: When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.” (John 1:47 Msg) What a compliment! The truth is more people die of broken hearts than swelled heads. So why not look for an opportunity to offer genuine praise to someone in your life and encourage them toward their goal.
Who are the people in our lives that we might offer this praise to? Of course it should begin with those closest to us such as family and friends. These are the people who we often take for granted on a daily basis. But, how about the people who serve us in the community all day long. The community servants, the police and firemen, the educators, and the people who serve us: in the grocery store, the coffee shop, the store, the hospitals, and the service industry. These are the people of our culture who are so often taken for granted or overlooked in the valuable service they provide.
Then, is it unthinkable that we would actually be willing to praise our co-workers, supervisors, managers and CEO’s? After all, we’re all getting paid to do our jobs, what more do you want for the time you give? A little appreciation, a little recognition, a little kindness to make you feel like you are actually valued and worth something to your company or organization, that would make a huge difference when it comes to improved morale in any group or job.
Well, I hope each of us can draw a little inspiration from this reminder to appreciate others around us. We can be the change that is needed to make this world a better place.
Did you know that the hermit crab looks for a shell that fits him, then lives in it until he outgrows it? At that point he has to search along the ocean floor and find a bigger one; it’s a process that repeats itself throughout his entire life. Are you clinging to something that no longer fits you, just because it’s easy and familiar? David said, “You…freed me when I was hemmed in, and enlarged me when I was in distress.” Ps 4:1 Amp. To develop and grow you must be willing to move out of your comfort zone and deal with a little “distress.” What worked for you yesterday may not work for you today. Maybe it’s a job you’ve outgrown, a relationship you need to reexamine or a behavior you need to change. Regardless, of what it is, never become so “settled” that you can’t let go and move on when you need to. When God says it’s time to move on, it’s because there is a another shell out there that will fit you even better. But you can’t inhabit that new home until you vacate the old one. So, how about it? Are you ready for bigger things in 2012?
Did you hear about the guy who prayed,: “Lord, so far today I’ve done okay. I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty, greedy or grumpy. But in a few minutes I’m gonna have to get out of bed, then I’m going to need all the help I can get.” For some reason the closer it gets to Christmas there are many of us that seem to get a little more cranky as the stress factor of preparation rises in the last few days. We smile at this thought, but the truth is, it’s hard to acknowledge our need of help, especially in a world that prizes self-sufficiency. The Psalmist made a declaration of his source of strength in Ps 121:2, “My help comes from the Lord.” How about you? Are you asking God for the help you need today to accomplish all the tasks you have left to do? Maybe your like the guy who prayed, “So far today, I’ve done okay, but I’m going to need all the help I can get.” Praying that prayer just may make the difference in how far you get today without your day, getting to you.
Trouble can actually affirm the evidence of your faith, and not only that, but can also be the key to activating God’s power in your life. “Through your faith, God is protecting you by his power” 1 Pet 1:5 NCV. Your faith is what activates the power of God. Before a stone becomes a diamond it’s just carbon put under millions of pounds of pressure. The Bible says, “Their purpose [troubles} is to prove that your faith is genuine” 1 Pet 1:7 TEV. Trouble not only places a demand on your faith, but reveals the depth of it. You don’t really know much about your faith when your bills are paid, your body is healthy, your children are acting right, and your marriage is intact. But when all hell is breaking loose and you trust God to bring you through it, you know you’ve got faith. So, keep working it. Through God’s power it can only get stronger.
As long as you believe you can handle a problem on your own, you will not reach for the miracle working power of God. You have to be in a situation so bad that you pray a prayer something like this: “Lord I’ve done all I know and things aren’t getting any better. So I’m through trying to fix it. I turn it completely over to You. I don’t know how you’re going to handle it, but I know You love me and want only what’s best for me. So here it is Lord, it’s all Yours.” This is not a prayer of defeat, it is one of total trust. David wrote, “Though I am surrounded by troubles…The Lord will work out His plans for my life–for Your faithful love, Oh Lord, endures forever.” Ps 138:7-8 NLT.
”Do not…be anxious about tomorrow.” Wow! Is there any other season of the year that screams that reminder? Most of the stuff we worry about never happens, or turns out better than we anticipate. God never intended us to carry tomorrows burdens along with today’s. A well-known pastor was flying over the Mississippi River one day when the sky grew dark. “We can’t see where we’re going!” he exclaimed. Calmly the pilot replied, “We just need to rise above the ground heat, dust, and smoke.” After climbing another 1,000 feet they emerged into a clear, beautiful world. Corrie Ten Boom called faith “the radar that pierces through the fog.” When worry tries to fog you in, you can rise above it by placing your trust in God. “Those who trust in the Lord…will soar…like eagles” Isa 40:31 NLT.