“Is There not a cause?” asked the shepherd David in Israel 3,000 years ago, when he witnessed the fear of Goliath among his fellow countrymen.
It’s bad enough when the enemies of your own life overwhelm you with fear. But when the enemies of your whole culture, indeed of the very kingdom of your God, are openly hostile to the absolute values and objectives of life itself, do you think we might possibly be encouraged by this memorable ancient landmark recorded so specifically for us in our Bible?
I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 15:4, telling us that:
“whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Do you think that our generation could use some hope? Do you sense that Christians and non-Christians alike are feeling overwhelmed by the “Goliaths” that threaten our very existence in today’s world?
Take a little time to personally review the story of David’s encounter on the battlefield with the giant Goliath in first Samuel 17.
There are lots of Scriptural encouragements. We must continually reflect on them when facing fearful conditions. Those causes may make us faint or recoil from the calling of God on His people and on us individually. We need strength that comes from His Word.
“The battle is the Lord’s”
1 Sam. 17:47.
And that declaration emboldened David to proclaim to his enemy that God “will give you into our hands.”
… Let’s read the whole passage beginning after Goliath’s cursing of David, at verse 45.
“ Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
Read Psalm 2.
Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”
7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”
10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”
2 Chron. 16:9
Let’s not forget what is the promise of God to those who chose the Lord’s true fast in Isaiah 58:10:
“If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” And look at verse 12: “And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.”
Does that remind you of the work of Nehemiah in ancient Israel?
“When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people; “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
In times of crisis the urgency for followers of Jesus to “Abide” in Him could not be more absolute. Read John 15:4-11
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
We all need to be reminded daily of the message of Galatians 6:2-10:
“Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
And we dare not forget about the warning of 1 Peter 5:8:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
With all the negative and seemingly hopeless conditions surrounding our generation, do you think God, the Holy Spirit, might be speaking to us to “encourage one another day after day?” Read Hebrews 3:7-19.
“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
Today’s poorly taught Christians need to rediscover the implications of what is written in several places like Hebrews 10:12-13 about the cause to which we are assigned.
“but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.”
Who does the world belong to?
“…who did Abram tell the king of Sodom about God? Genesis 14:22 says: “But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth…”
Is God able?
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
When you think about the enemies of God in the world today, do you have your hope in God or in man to deliver the righteous children of God by the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ?
The Devil may be “the god of this world (system)” the idol of people who ignore God Almighty, but that does not mean that Jesus has revoked the authority and jurisdiction that was validated by His resurrection.
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
When Jesus decreed from the cross, “it is finished” what remained yet to be done?
Colossians 2:15 says:
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
When does the end come?
“then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:24-26
Are there enemies yet to be abolished besides the last enemy of death itself?
Read on to the last verse of chapter 15:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
The Scriptures give us many emphatic directions on how to achieve success with God’s help in our daily lives
Everybody’s heard Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
…but the first part is equally important and perhaps especially needed when motivation is waning because of the many discouraging conditions around us. Here’s what it says:
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”
And the classic ‘success’ passage in the Bible is God’s commission to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1:
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
I have some questions for you today about your success and your future. Let’s talk about them and see what we can do to improve our situation – not only for own sakes but for the sakes of the people around us …the community … and ultimately the society we live in. Why? So that we can be a testimony of God’s goodness and blessing – bringing others to a closer relationship with Him.
Here are the key questions you really need to ask yourself:
Do you really want to be successful?
Do you think it’s okay with God if you’re successful?
Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve more of what you were created to be and to do?
What are the excuses that have prevented you from moving forward?
It’s time to become the type of influential person who eliminates excuses and takes responsibility for their actions. It is time to become the rare individual that others can look up to as a model of accountability and purposeful results.
Establish your purpose. Specify your Goals. Determine what you want. It’s within you to achieve great things. Taking personal responsibility for where you are in life is a wonderful first step… so learn to fess up to your excuse-making and decide now to stop making them in the future.
He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. ~Benjamin Franklin
Use your mind to make money… and not to make excuses. ~Robert Kiyosaki
If you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another. Yiddish Proverb
“Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.”
“Difficulty on the way to victory is opportunity for God to work”. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When you ask a six year old why they didn’t do their chores, they might respond with “I forgot.” When you ask your employee or co-worker why a project isn’t completed they may respond with, “I didn’t know it was a priority” or “I have not had enough time.” When you ask your congressman why the government is a mess you’ll likely get a long-winded excuse about why it’s everyone else’s fault but theirs. Excuses are like air, they constantly surround you wherever you go.
Most excuses are just answers about why you didn’t do something. “Why were you late?” If you are like most people your answer will be something like, “my alarm clock didn’t go off” or “an unexpected phone call held me up.” With a life filled with expectations by other people we naturally tend to get defensive about our lack of meeting those expectations. People want answers.
What about the larger life-altering questions? It seems that we’re just too polite to ask the difficult questions. “Why aren’t you successful?” “Why haven’t you lived up to your potential?” “Why are you so unhappy?” We might go our whole life without hearing questions like these. But we all know that, deep down, we’re bothered by them… and we’re making all sorts of excuses to ourselves that keep us stuck.
When we’re not successful, maybe we’ll blame our parents. Or maybe it’s the education system, the boss, our co-workers, our spouse, or countless other individuals who stood in our way or didn’t contribute to our success. Do we really want to continue being like the 90% of the people out there who blame faceless institutions for creating rules that specifically would not let them succeed? Have you heard the “lack of time” excuse? You’d think some people were only given 16 hours a day to work instead of 24. Most of us seem to blame everything under the sun except our own actions for why we haven’t achieved success.
Have you ever thought about the difference between being interested in something and being fascinated by something? Interested? Or Fascinated? Which will it be? When you’re truly fascinated with something you’ll dig deeper to find out all you can about it and make appropriate choices and actions that reflect the input you received. When you are only ‘interested’ in something you tend to look for the slightest excuses to not take action and continue missing out on the benefits of life-changing discoveries. Status quo rules and progress or success is stifled.
Why you have not achieved success in life is not due to your intelligence, your situation, or opportunities that have been given to you. Countless individuals started life with less and have achieved more than most others. If you have not achieved what you want in life, then look no further than the choices and actions you’ve made up to this point. If you’re thinking “Yeah, but my circumstance is unique” or “Yeah, but I don’t have…” or “Yeah, but (whatever other excuse you want to name),” then you’ll just continue on the path that brought you this far.
What time is it?
It’s time to become the type of individual who eliminates excuses and takes responsibility for their actions. It’s time to become the rare individual that others can look up to as a model of accountability and performance. It’s within you to achieve great things… and taking personal responsibility for where you are in life is a powerful first step on a life-changing journey.
As you move forward with the goal of being excuse-free, ask yourself a few questions:
Do You Really Want to Be Successful?
First you have to believe that your Creator made you to reach for and accomplish all that you were made to do. Achieving success takes drive and determination. Somebody else can’t make you have drive or motivation. You have to decide for yourself. It takes a strong inner determination to grab hold of inner initiative. It’s there… inside you … courtesy of your Creator… but almost everybody would rather take a winning lottery ticket than determine to do what it takes to achieve their own success.
Almost everyone claims that they want success but few are willing to put in the time, the energy, and the sacrifices needed to reach success. What do you want to accomplish in life? What are your goals? If success truly isn’t something you want, then don’t expect that it’s going to drop from the sky.
Who and What Have You Blamed for Past Failures?
Answering this question honestly will take a level of self-awareness that might make you uncomfortable. Have you constantly – inwardly or outwardly – complained about a lack of time? Have you thought to yourself that if you had a different boss, or business partner, or a more supportive spouse that you would be more successful?
What are the things in your situation that make you feel discouraged? Maybe you’ve complained that they are the hindrance to your success. If you will identify what you have blamed in the past, you’re taking an important step to dumping that excuse in the future. If you catch yourself in the future making that same old excuse, just give yourself a little slap on the hand. Smile outwardly and compliment yourself on the fact that you no longer are the type of person that blames others and situations for your circumstances.
What are the Excuses that have prevented You from Moving Forward?
There’s a good chance that you have a business idea or some area of interest that you have hesitated to take action on. Perhaps you’ve known that your area needs a new type of business that isn’t now available. Maybe you’re interested in real estate and know you can be successful but haven’t taken that next step. Or maybe you just want to find a proven business you can get excited about that can be profitable for you. Whatever the objective is, there have likely been excuses that you have told yourself to prevent you from moving forward with your ambition.
You know the common excuses: lack of time, lack of resources, and lack of money… maybe you just don’t know where to start and you need to attend some seminars to meet people and get ideas. When you catch yourself making any of the countless excuses tempting you to put off action today…
Think about this. There really shouldn’t be much mystery about your personal future. Afterall… your actions today (or lack of them) have a huge impact on your consequences tomorrow (or 5 years from now).
There’s a reality check we all need to make once in a while. There will never be the perfect time when you have unlimited time and resources. You will never have performed all of the perfect planning, and learned all you need to know. So just grab hold of your idea and run with it. Replace excuses with action and you will be amazed at the transformation that begins in your life.
The Bible teaches followers of Jesus Christ to ask God for wisdom when you realize that you lack it, and trust that He will give it to you. How do you think that wisdom is found? Can we really believe that there is practical wisdom available for the way forward from where we are right now? When the seemingly overwhelming crises of the world are swirling around us, how can we find a well-lighted path into some sort of sustainable future that we all want?
Joshua chapter one sets the stage after 40 years in the wilderness, facing one of the most challenging times of change that any people has ever faced. They were facing constant conflict and stress. In Joshua 24 Joshua summarizes that “we will serve the Lord.”
At the start of the years-long project to conquer the Promised Land God says in Joshua 1:8:
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
If we are honest, we all want success. When discouragement is all around us, God promised Joshua success when he kept his eyes on God and His Word. Could it be that God’s wisdom for those who are asking for it can come from a message like this that is delivered in a timely season?
Tom Morris put together a list of seven conditions for success that are strikingly universal and basic to practically any situation. These keys serve to lay a foundation for the most deeply satisfying and sustainable successes in life. We should apply them to every challenge, opportunity, endeavor, or relationship.
The 7 Cs of Success
(1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
(2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.
(3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
(5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing.
(6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
There are, no doubt, other key concepts associated with success, but they can almost all be listed as components of one or more of these 7. These 7 Cs give us a logical and comprehensive framework for success.
Let’s take a moment to look at each concept. Start with our basic need to identify a goal or set of goals. What are the applications for each of the seven keys?
1 – A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined
No matter where we live or what we do or who we are… every facet of our lives that anticipates successful achievement of something needs us to think as clearly as possible what we want to accomplish and what we’d like to see happen.
It’s not enough to say “I want a job.” We must target what kind of job and where we want to work.
I’m reminded of the advice given to Alice in Wonderland (by the Cheshire cat – wasn’t it?). If you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter which way you go. You’ll surely get there. But it may not be where you’d like to get.
True success starts with an inner vision. Sure, it’s incomplete at first. But the vision for your goal will grow once you define it. Just as Adam was given a defined goal to care for and develop the Garden of Eden, our world (as we find it) is just the raw material for what we can make of it. God created us to use our creative energies to bring unique expression to the world He made. It’s part of the condition of man to be made in the “image” of God – to be creative. It’s part of His nature and our nature to be creative, artistic and expressive. When we have clear goals in our minds and express them with our words and actions (like writing them down) then we start to develop structure for our actions.
So what do you want? Get creative and think about where you want to go and what you want to be.
Did you know that if you choose to delight yourself in your Creator, He expressly promises to actually GIVE you the desires of your heart? That’s in Psalm 37.
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Is it possible that if we make a habit of pleasing and worshipping Him, He actually arranges things for us to think about goals and desires that originate from the heart of God Himself? Isn’t it interesting to know the origin of the word “desire”? Think of it. “Sire” means “to father.” “De” means “of”… so “Desire” means “of the Father.” Could it be that our ability for creative expression — in dreaming about and planning goals — is a direct reflection of being created in the image of God? If you are delighting yourself in the Lord He is promising to impart those heart desires and help you see them fulfilled.
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2 – A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal
Jesus tells us in Luke 12:6-7 that “you are of more value than many sparrows.”
If confidence is in any way related to faith, then how do we develop stronger confidence… stronger faith? The Bible says that faith comes by hearing the word. Let’s face it, the more we listen to and think about whatever we choose, the more knowledge about it we gain and the more confidence or faith we have in those words and concepts. What’s our inside attitude? It is absolutely the foundational key to outside results.
Are you launching a new enterprise? Do you desire to seek a new direction? You need upfront faith in what you’re doing. Do whatever it takes to learn about your goal to have the faith, the confidence and the reassurance that you will arrive at your desired destination. If we lack experience we may have to work hard to generate a confident attitude. Is it worth it? You bet it is. Get the coaching and the education with someone who has been there before you. In the process, you will raise your prospects for success. If you want confidence … then develop competence. Let your natural curiosity urge you to dig deep in your study of the things that will help you achieve success in reaching your goal. Will this guarantee success? No… but your faith will compel you to take the risk anyway. And what if you fail? You’re just one step closer to success. You must fail. It’s part of the pathway to success. You will learn much and become stronger in the process.
3 – A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal
The Bible tells us to do whatever we do with all our heart as a direct service to God and not just ourselves or other people. Aim to please God no matter what you do… it’s the best thing you can do to assure success in reaching your goal. Concentrate on your goal with focus. When children are raised to succeed at little goals and then expand to bigger goals, they will be prepared to dream about even bigger goals as they grow up. It’s important to understand that big dreams can lead to big disappointments if we don’t learn how to chart our way forward.
If we concentrate on the “what it takes” part of our vision, then our success at anything challenging will come from planning our path and then putting that plan into action.
It’s a well known Biblical principle that what you concentrate on (what you think about continually) is what you tend to become. “As a man thinks, so is he.” If you concentrate your thought and devote a lot of your energy into a new direction, two things will happen. Your goal will become clearer and your mind will find new pathways of seeing things that you might have missed before.
New ideas and insights will come to your mind. Providence has a way of guiding you to discover things you never noticed before and that relate to the goal you’ve set. Focused concentration allows you to develop plans naturally. Then you can act and adjust along the way. Even a flawed plan can get you started and lead you to where you can discover a better plan.
4 – A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision
I discovered that the word consistency comes from two Greek roots — a verb meaning “to stand” and a particle meaning “together.” Consistency is all about standing together.
Now just think about it. Ask yourself: “Do my actions stand together with my words?”
Go deeper. Ask: “Do my reactions and emotions stand together with my deepest beliefs and values?” This should cause some determination to rise up within our soul. If it doesn’t then your heart isn’t in your vision in the first place.
But then the challenge gets a little harder. Ask, “Do the people I work with stand together?” You may have to deliberately find new associations who support the vision you’re pursuing. If you want success, it’s important to hang around people who are supportive to your success. This is what consistency is all about. It’s a matter of unifying your energy and efforts in a single direction. Inconsistency defuses power. Consistency moves us toward our goals.
5 – An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we’re doing
Ever think about the difference between “interested” and “committed?” Who would you rather have on your team? Why should anyone bother pursuing something of value without commitment to the pursuit? Passion is the core of extraordinary success. It’s a key to overcoming difficulties, seizing opportunities, and getting other people excited about your projects.
6 – A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course
Character inspires trust. Nothing is more attractive to other people than trustworthiness, especially in a world where there is so much mistrust and suspicion. And trust is necessary for people to work together well. Good character is required for great collaboration. Today’s world shows us that innovative partnerships are key to successful achievements. Collaboration and synergy are the new ‘currency’ of great accomplishments. Excellence in moral character is foundational for working well together more than ever before.
And good character does a lot more than just promote trust. It truly has an effect on each person’s own inner sense of freedom and insight. Bad character not only corrupts, it blinds. A person whose perspective has been deeply skewed by selfishness or dishonesty cannot understand what’s true as perceptively as someone whose sensibilities are ethical and full of positive moral character. Good character makes sustainable success more likely.
7 – A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way
I’ve found that if we don’t enjoy the journey we probably can’t fully appreciate the destination. The more you can enjoy the process of what you’re doing, the more likely you’ll have better results in the end. It’s easier to set creative goals when you truly enjoy the process of your everyday activities toward those goals. Confidence will come more naturally. Your concentration can seem effortless. Consistency will not be a battle. The emotional commitment will flow. And issues of character will not be as difficult to manage. A capacity to enjoy the process is inseparably part of every other factor of success.
These conditions of success are all intimately connected. They make up a fittingly designed framework that allows us to discover the most fulfilling forms of achievement in everything we do. They will help us to leave a legacy for the next generation that will truly be honored. They will energize and direct us to worthy accomplishments with a satisfaction that can be best characterized by the approval of our Maker when He tells us, “well done faithful servant.”
Why should we ever settle for anything less?
David, the second Jewish king lived a thousand years before Christ. He was a man who faced tremendous stress in his life. Few of us today will face the kind of anxiety David experienced for more than 10 years of his life when he was constantly on the run from his enemies who were trying to kill him. His psalms reveal keys that unlock powerful solutions even for today’s high stress world.
“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”
One of the realities of life that our current physical science-based medical system has had to admit in recent years is that there are non-physical causes to poor health and disease. One widely accepted non-physical cause is “stress.” It’s quite well known today that the presence of stress in one’s life, and how one deals with that stress, has a direct impact on one’s health. Unfortunately, the solutions the medical system most often prescribes today for mental and emotional health are expensive drugs with serious side effects. So many people are “stressed out” that anti-depressant drugs have become a growing and prosperous business for pharmaceutical companies.
King David wrote in Psalm 55 that it wasn’t just his enemies that caused problems, but also his “friends” and fellow believers:
“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”
Notice the signs of stress he wrote in that Psalm: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” If David confessed these feelings to a psychiatrist today, he would have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs immediately to try and stabilize his emotional condition. He had all the signs of “mental disease” including the temptation to try and escape from all of his problems by running away from them: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” He was unstable, neurotic, and desperate. He would probably be labeled as “insane” today and be committed to a mental health hospital.
What was David’s solution to his enormous stress?
David did not seek out physicians in his anxiety. He appealed to God for help, trusting that God would hear his prayers and change his condition. If you read the psalms of David you will notice that David consistently took two approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress. Both approaches involved prayer and a personal relationship with his Creator.
David prayed to God, asking him to intervene in the circumstances of his life that were causing the stress:
“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city… Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”
As strong and powerful as David was, in many circumstances he was powerless against his enemies and the rulers of his day. But he knew first hand that God was not powerless, and so he appealed to God to intervene.
David cast all of his worries and cares on God. He trusted in Him to take care of them all, and to sustain him with strength to endure everything.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
These two ways of using prayer to deal with stress are just as relevant to us today. We are in the age of the New Covenant – Instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believers in the early church were often arrested and persecuted, suffering tremendous stress. The same two principles were used to deal with their anxiety and stress.
Principle 1 – pray for God to intervene in the stressful situation.
Here is an example of what was prayed after the believers were arrested and released for preaching about Jesus and miraculously healing a man (they didn’t follow the routine protocol for the healthcare of their day!):
“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
Principle 2 – cast all our anxieties and care on God, trusting him to take care of all our problems and to sustain us with his strength:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 – prescription for mental health
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
These are the two biblical principles for dealing with anxiety and stress, and they are the guiding principles for mental health. No drugs are needed but there is a requirement. It requires a relationship with God through Jesus. And this is not just an intellectual knowledge about him. So the first step is the spiritual rebirth. That’s something we need to seek and find for ourselves.
How do you deal with anxiety and stress? The two principles written about here are time-tested principles that have been used for thousands of years, long before modern-day pharmaceuticals came into the market place with our current medical system. They are backed by a guarantee from the Creator himself, the one who formed and fashioned you while still in your mother’s womb. Best of all, they are free!
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Do you want a prescription for drug-free mental health?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I heard about how Jim Rohn, the well-known business trainer, taught about a very simple yet powerful concept – the ant philosophy.
The Bible teaches the wisdom of observing the humble ant and learning her ways. Maybe we should all talk with each other from time to time about the characteristics of ants that should apply to our own lives as humans.
Do we value success? Survival? Community? Progress? Accomplishment? Overcoming obstacles? Endurance? Resourcefulness?
What other values can you think of and why everybody should study ants?
Consider the simplicity of Four Basic Principles seen in the behavior of ants.
Principle Number One: ants never quit.
Can you think of some advantages of this kind of attitude?
If ants are going somewhere and you try to stop them; they’ll find another way, won’t they? Working together or all alone, have you noticed that ants are determined to do whatever it takes to get where they want to go? They’ll climb over, they’ll climb under, and they’ll climb around. Nothing seems to stand in their way of finding the solution to every barricade you can throw at them. They will find another way. Count on it.
Not a bad core value if you’re an ant or a person with a passion for living… is it? Do you reckon this kind of persistence is worth brushing off and determining for yourself? Never quit looking for a way to get where you’re supposed to go.
Principle Number Two: ants think winter all summer.
Now here’s a pretty energizing perspective.
You can’t be so naive to think summer will last forever.
Comfortable climate is no time to relax. You know winter is coming. The question is, “are you committed to do what it takes?” Are you committed to the discipline of preparation? Working hard in the summers of life will keep you from starving in the slow going winters when resources are sparse and conditions are more challenging.
Resist the temptation to join the partiers in their carefree summer flings. Take some time for refreshment and pleasure but be careful not to overdo it. Summer is no time to kick back. The ants are showing us the way if we’ll only pay attention.
Be reminded that summertime can fool you. If you’re not thinking ahead you’ll forget that “this doesn’t last.” Be careful where and how you build your house, your business or your project in the summer when life is going fine. Think how the landscape around you will look when the storms are upon you. Be realistic. In the summer, you’ve got to think storm. You’ve got to think rocks as you enjoy the sand and sun. Think ahead.
Principle Number Three: ants think summer all winter.
That too is so important.
During the winter, when it’s cold and windy and wet, when you can hardly leave your cozy corner, you’ve got to remind yourself, “This won’t last long; we’ll soon be out of here.” Do you think this attitude just might keep us hopeful?
And look what happens when the storm and cold lifts. When things start warming up on an early day in springtime, the ants are out. If it turns cold again, they’ll dive back down,
but then they come out as soon as the sun rises on a nice warm new day. They can’t wait to get out.
And here’s the last part of the ant philosophy:
Principle Number Four – the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.
— How much will an ant gather during the summer to prepare for the winter?
All he possibly can. What a wonderfully ambitious perspective,
the “all-you-possibly-can” philosophy.
Can you seriously take that mindset and make it your own?
In just about anything you undertake, why not have the attitude that you’re going to DO all you possibly can, ACCOMPLISH all you possibly can, PRODUCE all you possibly can, EARN all you possibly can, SELL all you possibly can, INFLUENCE all you possibly can… in short… whatever opportunities life hands you you’re going to do like scripture says and make the most of every opportunity because the daylight is briefer than you think. Before you know it, the night time comes when you can’t do much work.
Wow, maybe that is the makings for a great seminar to put on and invite everyone to attend – the ant seminar. Think of it: Never give up; Look ahead; Stay positive and Do all you can.
Did you notice how suddenly our lives can take a different direction?
It was a life changing discovery for me to realize that the purposes, directions and specialized career focuses of our lives are subject to change as we interact with people and circumstances that providentially come into our experience.
Now don’t miss this.
Since “change” in our world is so inevitable and adjusting ourselves to change is so challenging, could it be that the realization of your own dreams will be accomplished when you make it your goal to help some other people reach for their own dreams? Why not discover the tools, the systems and the methods that can help you to help those you’re privileged to team up with?
Can you believe that there are people willing to be helped? Can you believe that there are others who have the solutions and the systems to help you if you’re willing to open a new chapter of your life and see what you didn’t see before?
For some who hear me, this is just a generality… but for others it will lead to a specific and providential turning point. Only those who are willing to test it will discover it for themselves.
Well, what if I told you that there are better solutions than you have known to accomplish the goals that you really want to reach? What if I told you that there are relatively simple answers, but as yet undiscovered to many people… answers that can make significant differences in their lives. Those who make the discovery for themselves with your help will even thank you that you took the time to think about them.
One way or another, you’re about to enter a new chapter of your life that may make only modest improvements for you… or you could find new solutions that are so life-changing that you’ll one day look back with gratitude that something so simple could finally dawn on you in such a way that you are now able to even multiply your discovery by helping many others who follow your steps.
Would you like to be part of a team that is passionate about making a difference and leaving a lasting legacy? Do you have what it takes to help others improve themselves and be well rewarded for it?
Call me at 866-867-9943 to leave me a message and let me know when we can see if our Legacy Team might have a place for you. I promise this won’t be a waste of your time. Call 866-867-9943. I’ll give you some web links to look at when we talk and you can discover for yourself if what I’m saying makes sense to you.
with uncertain economic times
You MUST have MULTIPLE Streams of Income
to be financially secure. And that advice is more
important than EVER in today’s economic climate!
Whether we are employed or not, the challenges facing us in today’s world require us to make choices that produce prosperity for more than ourselves.
We face so many crises today, but the one issue rarely identified as a real crisis is at the root of practically all the problems. It’s a crisis in integrity.
So many problems would be greatly diminished or perhaps even disappear if people had acted with integrity and honor. Before we take a look at how we individually can make the best choices for the challenges of the future, we need to recognize the serious reality of what all of us are facing.
Just think of some of the society-wide problems that are happening today. We choose how we deal with them. Hiding our faces doesn’t make the problems go away.
Physical problems: environmental toxicity issues; chronic degenerative health conditions; shortages; dangers and side effects from natural disasters.
Social problems: political corruption; public policy decisions; civil unrest; conflicts of world views.
Financial problems: Debt; Inflation; unemployment.
Personal problems: fear of the future; peace of mind; relational problems.
So, what do we do to maintain a sense of stability in such a swirling confusion of negative woes?
Trusting God must be the foundation of our plans and actions.
Read Psalm 37:1-11 “Fret not yourselves because of evil doers… trust in the Lord and do good. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Integrity must be what we determine to maintain no matter what.
What are the Marks of Integrity?
An article by Charles R. Swindoll focused on a vital concept found in 1 Cor. 11:28, 31.
“But let a man examine himself…”
“..If we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.”
Integrity is a very personal matter of our individual willingness to be accountable to the truths and values to which we have committed ourselves.
What are the marks of integrity that God wants in our lives. Do you have these marks of integrity?
- An excellent attitude
- Faithfulness and diligence at work
- Personal purity of the highest caliber
- Consistency in your walk with God
A reminder: Only you can do the surgery on your soul. Only you! No one else can know the truth. You can cover up, twist the facts in your mind, rationalize, and ignore . . . and no one will know the difference but you. But if you really value integrity, you will come to terms with the whole truth, regardless of the consequences. Daniel refused to compromise and consequently was thrown into the lions’ den. Look what God did. He honored Daniel’s faithfulness. He’ll do the same for you.
Integrity is a matter of consistency in living out your values
Conformity leads to compromise. Compromise leads to mediocrity. Mediocrity leads to sin and a wasted life. Finally, a wasted life leads to a lost legacy. Dennis Rainey
No position in life can be secure, and no achievement can be permanent unless built upon truth and justice. Napoleon Hill
You see, we are successful when we are steadily becoming the unique person God intends us to become and when we are doing what he asks us to do. Pamela Heim
Discipline is the price you pay for freedom…Discipline restores your freedom of choice.
Norman Vincent Peale
Now if it is true that God is both Truth and Love it will be readily seen that the greatest sins will be unreality, hypocrisy, deceit, lying, or whatever we choose to call sins against truth, and self-love which makes fellowship with other people and their proper treatment impossible. J.B. Phillips
It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed, than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail. Peter Marshall
Christians must seek to behave among men in a way that brings praise to their Father in heaven. J.I. Packer
HOW TO CULTIVATE INTEGRITY
Cultivating integrity is not easy. It is developed on a daily basis, moment by moment, decision by decision, test by test.
Psalms 26:11 – David saw it as a walk: “But as for me, I will walk in my integrity…” It is something we do, a step at a time.
We cultivate our integrity as we respond to the circumstances we face every day. It doesn’t matter if the circumstances are big or little. They are equally effective in testing our core honesty. Some pass these tests better than others. Abraham failed such a test, yielding to the fear of man rather than the promises of God. He didn’t lie outright, but he told only part of the truth, acting as if he were Sarah’s brother. It nearly cost him his inheritance. When the pagan king learned that something was wrong because he took Sarah, he told the Lord, “In the integrity of my heart I have done this. I did not know she was this man’s wife, or I would never have taken her.” The Lord replied, “Yes, I know, and it was because of your integrity that I stopped you from sinning against me.” (Genesis 20:1-7)
David did not wait for circumstances to test him. He had the courage to invite God to test him. He had what some call aggressive integrity, insisting that God sift his heart and examine him: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; (24) and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23, 24)
Pray like David: Psalm 26:2: “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.”
HAVING OUR INTEGRITY TESTED
The Biblical account of Job is really a story about a good man who had his integrity tested. It’s evident by the question God asked Satan at the start of the Book:
“Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3)
People have tried to fit other interpretations for the “why” behind this story, but this is the only reason God gave. What is otherwise a difficult book to read becomes more relevant to our lives when read in light of how God will allow our integrity to be tested. Job’s wife certainly saw this as the issue, when she said, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” Even his friends raised the question of integrity: “Is not your fear of God your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?”
Sometimes hanging on to our integrity is our only hope for recovery. Job held fast to his, saying,
“Far be it from me that I should say you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.”
In the end, all he could say was:
“Let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity.”
When we come to the end of our difficult circumstances, sort through all the accusations thrown at us, examine the differences in beliefs and practices which threaten to divide us, or look at all the personality conflicts we face, they can be seen as the tests which assess the depth and development of our integrity.
When we recognize that those trials bring our integrity to bear, will we stand fast.
Integrity means ‘singleness.’ Will we maintain singleness of mind and purpose in our work and in our personal lives? God is challenging us to have integrity to shine brightly to make a true difference in the world around us. He is looking for the men and women of integrity. Will we stand in the face of challenges to do His will, no matter what? Let’s dedicate our lives to reclaim the legacy of integrity. May God give specific direction in how He will fulfill his purpose in your life.
When you think about taking a proactive change of direction to reclaim your legacy, what do you think is the most important thing that you have personally learned in your lifetime so far? With your focus on making a positive influence on your children and grandchildren – your next generation – what truth or idea have you discovered that is such a powerful influence on your own life that you would have to include it among the very top dozen or so important things that you have ever learned in your life?
Who is the one man to influence generations for God’s kingdom?
I recently read a sermon delivered by a gospel preacher who lived over 250 years ago before America became a nation. He was born in Gloucester, England, in 1714 and is often referred to as the greatest English preacher who ever lived. In both England and the American Colonies, he passionately gave himself to proclaiming Christ mostly in open air outdoor meetings heard by thousands of people at a time. One historian estimated that he preached a thousand sermons a year for 30 years. He was perhaps the most influential single person God used to create the society-transforming phenomenon of the middle 1700s called “the Great Awakening.” He became an early example of modern evangelists acquainted with the notable English pastor, John Wesley, who became best friends with one of the most influential men in the founding of America – Benjamin Franklin. Who was this unique man? (more…)
You might wonder why a whole society seems to drift into a hardened rejection of the knowledge of God. Why do people who resist God seem to fall prey to deeper and deeper deceptions in so many areas of life?
What do you want?
- Confidence in your purpose in life?
- To be pleasing to your Creator?
- Victory over destructive influences in life?
- Character qualities that glorify God?
- Greater insight for success in your own journey?
- Optimal physical well being and health?
- Freedom to use your gifts most effectively?
- Greater impact and influence on the world around you?
A wise man will hear and increase in learning and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Proverbs 1:5, 7
One of my best lessons I ever learned…
“My people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”
“Through knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
“… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
What is the primary way that God gives His wisdom to those who ask of Him?
Today’s world is filled with all sorts of deception. Sharp discernment is required for those who really want to discover the things that are true. If we don’t want truth we won’t search for it. That’s why we need to be discerning. That takes a special level of heart and acuity to be able to do that in an honest way.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…”
How far does that spread? It’s in every sector of society, isn’t it? It’s in education. It’s in religion. It’s in the business world. It’s in politics. They will find teachers according to their own desires. It’s natural to the human condition, isn’t it? We want to hear what we want to hear and we don’t want to hear anything that we don’t want to hear. So Paul goes on to forecast in the letter to Timothy what to expect: “…and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
You may wonder: “Why would people believe in a myth?” Yet, it is so common today that many people will treat you as sort of an outcast if you don’t believe in their popular myths.
What are some myths that dominate the landscape of our world today?
Evolution, Universalism, Socialism…
What could be more of a myth than the idea of evolutionism – that everything ultimately came from nothing with no designer? Yet people believe it. It’s a commonly held myth. And, of course, very intellectual scientists get behind it, those whose hearts are darkened. They do not desire to have discernment to know what is true.
I make no apology about this. Think. It goes for other areas of human thinking and understanding.
Think about universalism. That’s the idea that everyone will eventually get to heaven no matter how evil and hateful to God they are. They wrongly think that God certainly can’t be unforgiving to everyone so all must be acceptable to God. Think. God is forgiving to those who humbly acknowledge their utter lost condition and their need for His mercy. God does forgive them. He’s just not going to force them to turn to Him in their need.
Socialism – there’s another myth – the idea that we can all have everything, even if none of us do anything. Let’s face it. That doesn’t work, does it?
So here we have these dominant myths in our society today.
First is Mother Nature – that’s the primary icon for evolution. It just happened by itself.
Next is Universalism – God is too loving to send good people to hell.
And the inevitable outcome of the first two is the promotion of socialism. The socialistic state will take care of you.
They are all frauds.
The basic Biblical Principle Needing our attention?
God created man to thrive in the world that God made by working to make it into something – using his God-given creativity, ingenuity and initiative to make it more than it started out.
God is the one who orchestrates the entire universe from the very beginning. He is the one who created it all. He is the one who created man. He is the One who gave man initiative, creativity, abilities and skills. God is the awesome genius Who gives us all that is needed to achieve the purpose He has designed. And we do it by work.
Work isn’t a curse. God gave man work to do in the garden before the curse.
When people come into our Bible-believing churches with compromised views, how should we encourage them to evaluate the truths of the Bible?
Do you really believe that we should prove all things? That’s a good way to start a conversation with anyone. It’s a simple way to get them thinking about God and His purposes for all of us. And use the basic qualifying question if you find they are open.
The Basic Qualifying Question
What is the basic qualifying question to help people you encounter to open their minds and discover what’s true? It’s simply this: “If I could… would you?”
“If I could show you something…” “…give you some insight that I’ve learned…” “…help you in some of those areas…” “If I could give you some new ways of understanding… Would you?”
Would you be open to have a discussion to talk about it with me some more? Would you entertain reading a book about it? Would you look at some new ideas that I discovered personally?
You might want to ask: “Would it be meaningful to you if…?” If what? If I could show you some things that give you a new slant that you didn’t know before.
You don’t know what you don’t know
One of the most basic principles of education is this idea that none of us knows what we don’t know. Would you agree?
So, asking questions, like I just did, is a good way to open the door to one’s reason, right? It’s the basic qualifying question.
Do you want to order your life by the truth? How do you establish what is true?
Is it true that the truth shall set you free?
Watch out here. You’ll want to look at John 8:31-32. Does the truth set you free? You may know many people with access to libraries full of books that contain the truth. They may have stacks of Bibles in their home. They may have even memorized a lot of scripture. Does that mean they are free? Are they necessarily free just because they know the truth? Be sure you get the context of Jesus’ words here. Jesus said it plainly in the opening statement here when He said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples.” Two things are happening here: abiding in my word and being true disciples of Jesus. Then, the result is that you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Freedom, because of the truth that it brings, is a direct result of living in – abiding in – the words of Jesus by following and being a disciple of Jesus. It’s all about Him and letting Him exercise His dominion in our life.. His wisdom in our life.. His insight.. His discernment… in our life.
Regardless of the anxiety about the economic future of America, compared to all the rest of the world, it’s clear that 90% of American citizens are wealthy. Here is an area we need to delve into regarding common myths. Unfortunately, many don’t seem to realize that we are wealthy. We can capitalize on it even for our own sakes, let alone for God’s sake and the sake of others. God has blessed our land in amazing ways unlike anything that has ever happened in history. So what else are we faced to understand?
With riches come more opportunity and more responsibility.
The myth is that we achieved all this abundance because of our own goodness or skill. Really? Some believe in the myth that we were just lucky, and if it happens to go away we have no solution. Just panic and hope for a new stroke of good luck.
Who is the Owner of this world anyway?
God owns all the cattle on a thousand hills. He owns all the silver and all the gold.
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Psalm 24:1
It all belongs to God. Do you think He’s short of any resources?
Paul wrote to Timothy to “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches (that would be practically all of us in America today), but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” God wants us to focus on Him – not on the riches – but on Him. He’s the One Who supplies all the things we enjoy and we are indeed ‘rich’ in this country no matter how little or how much we make, earn or create. He goes on to say: “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Politicians and the media seem determined to incite us about economic downturns on a national or even a global level, but what about your own economy? The average annual income for many people in nations of the world is about $300. Would you say that we are all doing a lot better than that? So what are we doing with our own economy? Are we looking to God to instruct us, to guide us, and to trust Him every step of the way?
What many people seem to miss is that financial security (what we regard as true economic prosperity) is more than a fat bank account. Money seems to ‘take wings.’ But prosperity is more about opportunity. It’s about diligence and practicing good principles of personal relationship development. It’s about bringing value to others who reward you for what you do. These are things that put you in position to have the security of ongoing income, ongoing earnings, ongoing financial security.
So what are some practical things we can do to face the challenges of economic lack?
If you are facing serious economic struggles, consider a few things that can make a huge difference.
- Determine to be persistent at moving forward – that’s initiative.
- List your goals. Write down what you want. Talk with your close relations about what you want.
- List your assets, skills, things you’re passionate about, things that you feel are a mission on your heart and life, training, aptitudes. What do others say you’re good at? What new course could help you discover how to better use those assets?
- Find a work that you love. Pursue it, even if you have to volunteer on your off hours to do it.
- Find a way to help other people get what they want. This develops amazingly into opportunities and connections with other people who can open doors that you never dreamed of. Volunteering with like-minded people can lead to all sorts of opportunities.
- Find a way to monetize both (what you love and what others want).
- Find a sideline home business you can believe in and a training coach you can trust to tell you the truth. Find someone who can mentor you. Be sure you’ve checked out the success factors that avoid unnecessary risk and disappointment. Often we get blown off course because we lack a trustworthy mentor. But there are people out there who are waiting for you to ask them for guidance, for insight, for consultation. Seek out those people. And if you’re not hanging out where you can meet the kinds of people you want to mentor you, then maybe you need to change where you hang out.
- Get good at doing something that people respect you for and generate fulfillment in you. If you are feeling that you’re making a genuine contribution into the lives of others, their appreciation will keep you motivated to keep working on improving your skills and your performance. Hang out with others with similar aptitudes and goals. Attend events they attend. Get engaged with seminars to learn more about the business you’re considering or you’ve decided to pursue. Whether it’s your primary career or something you want to develop on the side, give it your best effort.
- In today’s world, it’s imperative to diversify your skills. For most people it’s now evident that your primary career is not going to be your only source for all the needs of your life and your retirement in the future. You have multiple interests. Give several of them your time. Maybe you like music, or writing, or broadcasting. So be willing to re-educate yourself as times and technologies change.
- Never stop learning. Be open minded to new ideas. One of the leading factors that sets highly successful people apart from the rest of the herd in society is that they are always eager to learn. They are curious about the world around them and how to apply their efforts to make that world better, even when it involves information outside their primary career.
- Invest in your self-improvement. Spend money on practical education as well as academic schooling. Learn the Success Principles in the book by Jack Canfield. It’s a classic everyone will enjoy.
- Change your social environment if you’re not with the people who are going where you want to go. Invest effort in making new friends. Attend conferences where you can grow your skills.
- Consider carefully the values of the pursuits you take up. Be true to yourself and your values.
- Decide to make money your servant and develop your business in such a way to prosper others as a result of your activities. Money is just a tool to help others.
- Determine to find allies who are as passionate as you are to reach goals together and work with them.
In today’s changing world, we all need to find the opportunities and the people who are serious about working together to reach worthwhile goals. We have ambitious goals to help people reclaim their legacy through the discovery of truths that help them establish the five important pillars of ‘legacy’ that we’ve talked about repeatedly on this program.
If you would like to find out reliable ways to turn your economy around, you have to start with an open heart and an open mind. Forget about negativity and cynicism. They get you nowhere. Reach out to learn more about how to accomplish any of the things we’ve been talking about today. I invite you to contact me on the phone or on our website. I’ll be glad to point you toward some solutions that could make a life-changing difference for you. And if you’re serious about making some changes in your own future, I’ll direct you to some websites that will help you even more. Start by getting the important list I’ve prepared about the 12 success factors that your home based business must have to succeed and grow. You will find it at this link. Click here.
Like a lot of things in life, the teacher appears when the student is ready.
Just make sure that you know your own values and goals so that the choices you make are in harmony with them.
Be encouraged by Ephesians 2:10 that tells us that we are “created for good works.” Let’s be sure to walk in them.
In Ephesians 4:15, as we “grow up in all things,” let’s be sure to speak the truth in love, not walking in the futility of our mind, but laying aside falsehoods (myths) while laboring with our own abilities to do what is good so we can have resources to share with those in need.
Opportunity abounds no matter how bad the economy looks. You’ve got your own economy. Decide to use your abilities to develop it.
Remind yourself of Philippians 2:13: “God is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
Philippians 1:9-10 “in love, develop real knowledge and discernment, so you can approve the things that are excellent.”
What you’ve heard today is worth learning well. I trust it will be an investment to return an exceptional reward.
Much has been researched and written lately about the proven personal benefits of expressing genuine gratitude. It turns out that thankfulness is not typically a result of being happy, but rather the opposite is true. People who deliberately and openly confess their thankfulness to others are the happiest of people. And isn’t it interesting that those who recognize that their lives have a purpose are the ones who are prone to give thanks to their Creator and to those around them.
Have you discovered your purpose? Do you have a clear reason why you’re excited to get up in the morning? If you have a mission to drive your daily goals, you’re a much happier person than those who are just being driven by survival mode.
We’re a nation of people that has a centuries-old tradition of celebrating annual solemn days of Thanksgiving. Yet, it seems that our current generation has almost no concept of the deeply personal conviction of the importance of gratitude. And it’s pretty obvious that that gratitude should most deservedly be directed to the Almighty Giver of every blessing and perfect gift in our lives.
It seems like everybody is scrambling frantically to demand that their comforts and material desires be accommodated. How often we see people so ungrateful that complaints and cynical dissatisfaction has become society’s normal? Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years have they?
Remember The Sin of Ingratitude in Luke 17:7-19?
Jesus healed ten men of leprosy. One of them was a Samaritan man. He was the only one of the ten who came back to Jesus and humbly thanked Him for healing him. Jesus asked him: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Sadly, my missionary friend in Africa reports that barely 10% of those they help will bother to express their gratitude with even a word of thanks or a note card. Gratitude may be rare, but those who express it discover the most enriching lives on earth. Instead of loneliness, poverty and depression, they are the ones most inclined to be enriched, energized, inspired and transformed
Gratitude goes counter to the ‘victim mentality’ that has deceived so many who think they are entitled to everything at the expense of others in our culture. When we give thanks sincerely, we acknowledge that we have received a benefit that is unearned. We can’t help but look beyond ourselves.
When you are stunned with the reality that you survived what could have been a fatal event, how does that make you feel?
After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777. How did they express their feeling? Here’s what they wrote in the proclamation:
“The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins… that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance… and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”
If we want to reclaim our true history, we are going to have to work at telling our children about our real history. It isn’t being taught in most schools and colleges today. Thomas Jefferson was the governor of Virginia in 1779. What did he chose to proclaim for his State after Admiral John Paul Jones captured the British ship HMS Serapis? The Continental Congress declared a Day of Thanksgiving, which
“Congress… hath thought proper… to recommend to the several States… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour… That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth… I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under my hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”
Hear what that same Continental Congress proclaimed after Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plot to betray West Point was thwarted. It was a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:
“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution… it is therefore recommended… a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to confess our unworthiness… and to offer fervent supplications to the God of all grace… to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”
After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 11, 1782:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God… the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended that the States declare a Day of Thanksgiving. Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:
“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation… I do… appoint… the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel… That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with His glory.”
After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:
“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness; ‘Now, therefore, I do recommend… Thursday, the 26TH DAY of NOVEMBER … to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government… particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”
On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:
“When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations… the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed – the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general – the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; our circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us. In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience… I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States, to set apart…a Day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations.”
After hearing those inspiring proclamations from national leaders – which, by the way, were entirely inspired by the attitude of profoundly committed preachers in the churches of the American colonies – doesn’t it seem about time that the pastors of our Bible-believing congregations lead the way for reclaiming our lost legacy for the current generation? Should they not humbly call for days of contrition, repentance and sober thanksgiving? We have such excellent Biblical and historic precedents to guide our way.
Taking God’s Blessings for Granted
Dr. Martin Luther observed: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” It seems that the blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost, or threatened. Sunrises and sunsets occur daily so they are taken for granted aren’t they?
Consider the Stars
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “If the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they are there every night, we barely give them a look.”
The Blessings of Being Hungry and Lonely
Have you noticed that the blessings of rain are barely appreciated unless one has been through a drought? A hungry man is more thankful for a tiny morsel than most affluent Americans for their table full of choice foods. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a rock star with a crowd of fans. A Christian who has suffered under persecution for decades and receives his first copy of the Holy Scriptures is more thankful for one book than we are for all the Christian books, Bible translations and magazines that overflow our shelves.
You Should Experience Blindness for a Few Days
Helen Keller said: “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days for some time during his early adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and of the joys of sound.”
A Biblical Command
There are at least 138 passages of Scripture that deal with the subject of thanksgiving. We are commanded: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4.
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8.
“Give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Plainly it is God’s will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.
A Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.
What makes praise a sacrifice? Could it be that when the blessings we are thankful for have not yet manifested themselves in God’s providence?
A Good Habit
“It ought to be as habitual for us to thank as to ask.” C. H. Spurgeon
The Parent of All Virtues
It has been said that a thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.
What is the Root of Sin?
“The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21. Look! The failure to give thanks to God is the root sin that leads to futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts. Think about that.
One of the Worst Sins
In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the apostle Paul gives a list of some of the most terrible sins including: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Did you see that ungratefulness is listed in the middle of a list of horrible sins?
A Fruit of Character
What’s one of the first lessons good parents teach their children is to say? “Thank You”. It takes character and courage to admit being in debt to others. It is humbling. However, those who cannot admit their indebtedness to others cannot learn, nor can they seek forgiveness.
Failure to express gratitude is more than immaturity and rudeness, it is ungodly. We are commanded to honour our parents, our elders and our leaders. It is a sign of maturity to acknowledge indebtedness. Have you learned anything? Then you’re in debt to somebody else, aren’t you? We are all in debt, first, and mostly, to God Himself, for our life, health, food, talents, family, friends, opportunities and for our salvation itself. We are also in debt to past generations who have sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy: Reformers, martyrs, pioneers, missionaries, soldiers, parents, teachers, pastors and so many others have sacrificed for our benefit.
An Attitude of Entitlement
Instead of the Christian character of gratitude, our present culture prefers to promote an attitude of entitlement. This is the very opposite of gratitude. It builds on pride and covetousness. It is fuelled by bitterness, greed and envy. All too many in the present humanistic society take things for granted, demand to get, rather than seeking to give. It is sheer wickedness, and is a sure road to being led astray by all sorts of empty promises and destructive ideas.
An Attitude of Gratitude
A grateful mind is a great mind. “Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater.” Thomas a Kempis. Start giving thanks to God and the humblest of servants like your garbage man for the little blessings in life. Start today to write notes of sincere gratitude to people who have blessed you in any small way. Ask God to guide your thoughts. Partner with a friend to hold one another accountable in your new habit of expressing gratitude.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2.
Pride, Ingratitude and Unteachability
Those who do not take advice do not think they have anything to learn. They are often the same people who have a problem expressing a genuine heartfelt gratitude to others. It is a sign of pride to be ungrateful. It reveals an unwillingness to acknowledge a debt to others. By God’s grace, when we are humble enough to admit our wrong, He is powerful enough to enable us to change. We can be a thankful person.
Let’s Make this season a Turning Point for expressing Thanks-giving.
List 7 things you are thankful for in your personal life today.
Call 2 people who you can honestly thank for something they contributed to your life.
Privately talk to God about the gratitude you have for His saving grace.
Take 2 minutes to begin pondering the incredible blessings you have to live now.
Promise yourself you will thank the next 10 people you encounter for something they did for you, even if it’s just a common courtesy.
The results of gratitude?
You will become healthier. Recent studies suggest that gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and reduces inflammation in the body. Grateful people are also more inclined to eat better and exercise which obviously increases your wellness.
You will become a more compassionate person. When you make a routine of expressing gratitude to God and to others for tiny courtesies, you are looking beyond yourself. You will be kinder. You will be more forgiving. You will find joy in serving others and be willing to bear others’ burdens without expecting anything in return.
When you appreciate what you have, it’s impossible not to share it with others. On the other hand, you can’t give something away when you’re empty yourself. When you don’t know how rich you really are, you can’t take delight in sharing little insights with others. The more aware and thankful we are of the good things in our lives, the more we are able to give to others.
Your relationships will deepen. When you relate more gratefully to others you will draw closer and bond more deeply to the people in your life. When you express gratitude to the people you love, you become more satisfied with your relationships. You will reach out to others more easily. You’ll be more generous. You’ll be more forgiving and less judgmental.
A grateful heart is more content, more happy no matter what his circumstances are like. And a happy heart focuses more on the really important joys of peace and little blessings that make life worthwhile. That’s like a healing ointment to restore your health even when modern medicine can’t do it.
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:8,34.