How To Win Every Battle!

Reading: Psalm 59:10 “My God in his steadfast love will meet me; God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.”

Are you struggling with uncertainty, fear, discouragement, or just feel like the world is against you?

In the context of this Psalm, David is running for his life. King Saul is hunting him down like a criminal. At this point, Saul sent men to do a stakeout on David’s house with the intent of killing him as soon as he shows his face. Of course, David hasn’t done anything wrong. He is trusting God to make things right – to level the playing field – to defend him against his enemies that are unjustly prosecuting him.

In this moment of uncertainty, fear, and totally unfair treatment, David knows that God will meet him right there in that place. David draws on the revelation of God’s unfailing love. He taps into the steadfast love of God knowing that he’s not alone in his battle. He knows deep down that there’s a love from God that brings security, peace and justice. He knows that because he is loved by God with an unconditional and unending love, he will see victory over his enemies.

I know for sure I’m not perfect and neither are you. Sometimes we make choices that land us facing an enemy (problem, challenge, fear) with our backs against the wall. Sometimes we land there because of circumstances beyond our control. But in any case, it is possible to win every battle when you stand in faith with God! You win because God is with you. You win because God’s love for you is steadfast, immovable. You win because God always wins! 

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but I know you want to beat it. I know you feel like you’re losing the battle, but you want to win. I know you feel like it’s unfair and hopeless. But I also know this; God will grant you to look in triumph over your situation. I know this because God never loses a battle. If your faith is in him, rest assured that he is with you and you will never lose either!

Keep REACHING FORWARD today! Victory is coming to you!

 

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Cultivating a Valentine’s Day Heart!

heartAs Valentine’s Day approaches there’s love in the air, so to speak. People are focused on how they are going to show love to that special someone in their lives. A person’s heart is usually oriented toward being kind, thoughtful and loving on this specific day of the year. However, true love is realized when we develop a heart that is oriented toward that special someone throughout the year not just on Valentine’s Day or birthdays. I was thinking, wouldn’t it really be special if we cultivated a Valentine’s Day heart every day so that we live our lives heart first toward those we love. Here are a few tips for those who desire to live every day with a Valentine’s Day heart.

1. Be quick to forgive.

Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” People who cultivate a Valentine’s Day heart are quick to forgive. While some things are very difficult to forgive and require a process, most of us hold on to grudges that keep us on edge and not very loving. The best tip to cultivate a heart that is quick to forgive is to pray for those who are close to you daily, especially those who have wronged you. Prayer softens the heart and allows God access to those hidden places in the heart that need healing. There is great freedom in living a grudge-free life!

2. Practice a grateful heart.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” People who develop a grateful heart are some of the most content people I know. Most people live with a sense of discontentment underneath the surface because of something we don’t have or something we have yet to accomplish. Find something everyday to be grateful for – and start with those people in your life that are important to you. After all, a Valentine’s Day heart is really about saying thank you for being you and sharing your life with me. The real blessings in life are those people we enjoy life with every day. Be grateful for them.

3. Be teachable.

Proverbs 13:18 says “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.” The first problem with being teachable is that we feel like we have to qualify the person through whom the correction comes. It’s like we stay stuck in the adolescent mindset that people without the proper “authority” are not allowed to speak into our lives. However, people who are teachable develop a heart that hears the Lord through others and takes heed to instruction. It’s not about who does the correcting; it’s about acknowledging we’re not perfect but being willing to grow. This is the kind of heart that communicates love and mutual respect for one another.

The best Valentine’s Day gift we can give our special someone is a Valentine’s Day heart every day of the year!

Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life!

Comments welcome!

Three Ways to ‘Leak’ a Positive Impression

Many years ago I moved to Germany and upon arrival bought an old used Audi to get around in. After a while, the car began to leak oil. I discovered that the car had a major problem that I could not afford to fix. Everywhere I went I left an oil spot on the ground beneath my car that was evidence that I had been there.

What are you leaking?

The truth of the matter is that we are all leaking something that leaves an impression on people, which is the evidence that we were there. For example, you might be leaking humor when you encounter others because you are naturally funny. You will leave an impression on people that makes them feel joyful and at ease. On the other hand, you might be leaking bitterness or cynicism that leaves people feeling tense and uptight. Most people don’t know what they are leaking to others, nor do they have any idea what kind of impressions they are leaving behind. Just like with that old car, it’s important that we check for leaks regularly to see what we’re leaving behind.

What should you be leaking?

Leaders leak vision, encouragement, empowerment, inspiration, and motivation.

Mothers leak love, nurturing care, a gentle hand, and a smile.

Fathers leak acceptance, courage, responsibility, love, solid work ethic, wisdom and direction.

Employees leak faithfulness, trustworthiness, hard work, loyalty, and excellence.

Friends leak support, camaraderie, dependability, and a listening ear.

Husbands leak love, support, strength, safety, respect, affection, and friendship.

Wives leak respect, admiration, companionship, appreciation, and trust.

It is so important that we check our lives to see what we’re leaking to others. We do not have to go through life leaking whatever comes out. We can leave others with impressions that serve them well. In doing so, we are leaving evidence behind that can make a difference in people’s lives.

Three ways to ‘leak’ a positive impression:

1. Be aware of your role in every situation. (Refer to the list above)

2. Focus on the needs of others…in the moment. Check the needs of others before you start leaking all over the place. Are they downcast in need of encouragement; are they angry in need of a gentle answer; are they sad in need of comforting; are they frustrated in need of perspective.

3. Understand that all leaks originate from the heart. What is in you will come out; A tree leaks sap, an orange leaks orange juice, a lemon leaks sour lemon juice. Have the courage to set your heart before the Lord daily and allow Him to show you your leaks. This is what King David did in Psalm 139:23-24 when he said:

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

We don’t have to be ashamed of leaks that leave ugly stains on others, we just need to fix them. The Lord is for you and not against you! He wants to help you and use you to impact the world around you in a positive way.

Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life and the evidence of Him will be the stuff that you leave behind everywhere you go.

Comments welcome.

How to kick the holiday blues!

There is a heightened sensitivity among most people during the holiday season. Several times over the past two weeks I’ve heard comments like “there seems to be so many breakups over the holidays” or “there’s always a lot of tragedy during the holidays.” The truth of the matter is that there are probably no greater losses or tragedies during the holidays than any other time of the year. Tragedy, loss, breakups, family disputes, illness, financial struggles, strained relationships, and the like are all examples of loss and there is no “good” time for those things to occur.

The holidays often serve as markers for remembering past experiences that brought us pain. Each time we approach that marker we immediately associate it with the pain or misfortune of the past. We also have a memory of a fantastic holiday that we endeavor to duplicate to no avail. As the spirit of the holiday arises, many of us find ourselves getting the “holiday blues.”

How to kick the holiday blues

1. Remove the holiday as a marker for the past. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that “we have to interpret and give meaning to things in order to live and think.” We must reinterpret the holiday with a focus on what the holiday is really about. A correct interpretation of Christmas is as a marker for the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world! With this interpretation, we ought to find joy, peace, happiness, and love that is for us to share with others.

2. Set realistic expectations. We can place much unnecessary anxiety on ourselves by expecting everything to be perfect. In our efforts to create that perfection we become worn out, disgruntled and stressed. Keep priorities in focus, be yourself, and for goodness sakes, don’t overspend! (caveat: teach your children restraint and the true meaning of giving).

3. Delegate to others. For all you go getters that try to do it all yourself, delegate, delegate, delegate! You are not superhuman so stop trying to be. You don’t have to do all the shopping or cooking.

4. Volunteer. One of the greatest ways to beat the blues is to get our focus off of ourselves. Volunteer to help others. Serve at a food pantry, homeless shelter, church, or bake for the neighbor. Do something to serve someone who perhaps isn’t able. Look around, the need is there.

5. Give yourself a break. Make sure you plug some “me-time” into your schedule. Spend some time off during the holidays catching up on some reading, exercising, or just sit around with a cup of hot chocolate in the peace and quite.

I pray that you will keep REACHING FORWARD for joy and peace this Christmas season. Jesus is the reason for the season. Let’s join together in celebrating the birth of our Savior in fellowship with one another. Let’s choose joy! Let’s choose fun! Let’s choose to love!

It only takes one!

Have you ever felt like you were just one among so many? Maybe you have thought, “I’m only one person, how can I make a difference?” “I want to change things around me, but I don’t know how.” Perhaps the environment in your home or at work is not as it should be. You would like to make some changes in your family, but you don’t know where to start.

Many of us never influence people in a positive way because we don’t think we can do it alone. Fear convinces most of us that we do not have what it takes to make a difference in someone’s life. Lack of confidence in ourselves produces apathy and eventually the belief that we cannot have an influence on those around us. We wait for someone else to start so that we can help. We don’t want to fail.

It only takes one to make a difference!

It only takes one candle to dispel the darkness.

It only takes one tree to start a forest.

It only takes one drop of water to start an ocean.

It only takes one “hello” to help someone who feels lonely.

It only takes one smile to brighten someone’s day.

It only takes one word of hope to get someone through the day.

It only takes one act of appreciation to show your spouse you care.

It only takes one trip to the park to create a lifelong memory for your kids.

It only takes one person to encourage the disappointed.

It only takes one person to love the unlovely.

It only takes one person to comfort the hurting.

It only takes one person to help the needy.

It only takes one person to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Why not let that one person be YOU?!

No one expects you to change “the” world; just start with “your” world…one person…one act…one step at a time.

How Are We To View God in the Face of Tragedy?

As I reflected on that dreadful day of September 11, 2001, I recalled the tons and tons of rubble that took months to remove. I’m quite sure there were a lot of dreams lost in that rubble. However, I am also convinced that many dreams were born. I heard one story of a young man who was only 14 years old at the time who has now devoted his life to serving our country. I heard another story of a man who changed his career goals and is now serving his community as a firefighter.

Many people ask questions during times like these, such as “where is God?” and “why does God allow these terrible things to happen to innocent people?” For the past week we have been fighting fires in Texas. Thousands of acres have been burned, hundreds of homes lost, and even loss of life.

How are we to view God in the face of tragedy?

When you don’t understand the mind of God, trust in the heart of God!

God will not always reveal the answers we seek, but He will ALWAYS reveal His heart!

We are fortunate that God has given us His written word so that we can discover His heart in the midst of His promises. We might not know why God allows certain things to happen can we can know His heart.

What do we know about the heart of God?

1. The very essence of God is love. (1 John 4:16)

2. The grace of God looks out for our best interest. (2 Cor 8:9)

3. God has compassion for our pain as His children. (Ps 103:13)

4. God is our Healer. (Ps 147:3)

God is not deaf to our cries or blind to our pain. Keep REACHING FORWARD for God’s best in your life!

He will never leave you nor forsake you!