It’s A Choice

It is a rainy Sunday morning in April, and I am on a flight returning from Atlanta heading to Houston. Because I waited a little too late to complete my online check-in, I was given boarding assignment C3, on a flight that was completely booked. As I take my middle seat (hate it), but gave up the aisle seat; I have a little trouble with my seatbelt. The young slender woman in the window seat proceeds to assist me, and asks if I am comfortable. She then says, “They can get you a seatbelt extender if you need it.” I tell her that I am fine. Wait! It hits me about 3 minutes later what she is saying about the extender. I can’t help but laugh. Is she calling me fat?

Why am I sharing this story? Because it is at this exact moment that I have a choice. A choice to be offended about the  seatbelt extender, or laugh it off.

Being offended is a choice. Most times if you’re an individual who is always on the defense, or always has their guard up, you are going to attract something negative. My mother always told me that if you look for trouble, you surely will find it. It’s the same with offenses. If you look to be offended, you will be. The choice is up to you. I could have sat there in that middle seat for the next two hours piping mad about a statement made from someone who was merely trying to help, or be the maturing Christian that God has called me to be. Notice, I said maturING, with emphasis on the “ing”. None of us are perfect, but we are to strive daily in our walk with God to think, act, and represent in a manner that is pleasing to Him. It’s a choice.

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He’s Working on Our Behalves!

There’s a scripture in the Bible where the Apostle Paul tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”(Philippians 4:8). What we keep our focus on is so important; for what we focus on usually tends to sway our decisions and our actions.

God wants us to focus on the good things He has for us, which are far greater than what we see around us. Unfortunately, too many of us give up when we experience tough times. We stop focusing on what’s going well in our lives, and begin placing emphasis on what’s going wrong. Next, we start limiting our expectations, and pretty soon, we stop expecting anything good to happen at all.

The truth of the matter is that hardships and trials will come, but how we face them is makes the difference. We should see these times as opportunities for us to go higher in the things of God. He allows our faith to be stretched in ways that are sometimes uncomfortable. Rest assure, whatever struggles we’re going through, no matter how large or small…they are subject to change. We simply must have the fortitude to decide where our focus lies. Are we going to look at our situations and circumstances with our natural eyes and mindset, or are we going to see things through the spiritual lenses that God gave us? Are we going to falter? Or will we remain steadfast, knowing that God has our back?

Whatever our lot is in life right now, we must decide to focus on God’s word. He said that He would never leave nor forsake us. Focus on His promises, for they are sure. Focus on the fact that no matter what it looks like, God is working behind the scenes on our behalves.

Stop Wearing Yourself Out!

We wake up tired! We go to bed tired! We go to work tired! We move aimlessly from one task to another, running on fumes –  burned out. Why?

One of the main reasons is because we do things in our own strength, and are not lead by God. We take on projects, accept requests, and say “yes” to so many things without even praying or consulting the Father, who is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Believe it or not, it is okay to say no, let me pray about it. It’s perfectly fine to say, “Let me get back with you,” when someone asks us to do something. If they are too impatient to wait for an answer, it was not meant for us to do it anyway.

The Word of God tells us to acknowledge the Lord in all of our ways and He will direct our paths(Proverbs 3:6). To acknowledge means to give recognition to or to concede to. When we recognize that God’s plans are so much better, and concede or submit to His will and His way of doing things; we realize that we can truly be productive, and not just busy. We won’t burnout so easily.

A sure way to contend with always being busy is to try what I like to call, the “ABC Method” of daily living. Ask God to order your steps, with confidence in knowing that He will show you exactly what He wants to you do, and how He wants you to do it. Be willing and ready to listen, and be obedient. His word tells us that if we are willing and obedient, we will eat the good of the land(Isaiah 1:19). Carry out His plan and instructions without interjecting your own. It’s easy to get out off track and start doing your own thing, but remember, that is not His will.

Start today! Seek and ask God for His direction and guidance. Busyness is what causes us to be tired and burned out. It is when we follow God’s leading, that we find we are able to rest easy, and not always act as if we are “running to put out a fire.”  Stop wearing yourself out! Seek Him today!

 

 

 

I Choose to Be Grateful

The Bible tells us in I Peter 5:8 that we should be sober and vigilant because our adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour. The Bible also talks about how satan got kicked out of Heaven along with a third of the angels that chose to follow him. He was their commander if you will. Just like any effective commander, he has a goal…and that’s to steal, to kill, and to destroy. And just like any effective commander, he has a plan to do it. But aren’t you glad for Jesus, who said that He came that we would have life, and have it more abundantly?

One of satan’s biggest tactics that he uses in his plan to destroy is distractions. He tries to take our focus off of the truth and put it on what we see and what we feel. If we could ever just get over what we feel vs. the truth….Can I just put a pin right here. Stop living your life based on what you feel and what you see with your natural eye. Feelings and flesh will fool you and leave you empty every time.

Satan wants to get us to mope, complain, and gripe. In fact, he wants us to give up and throw in the towel. He wants us to call it quits. He wants us to ignore the value in what God has already blessed us with in order to be disgruntled about what we lack or don’t have. Just like Eve in the garden; she was deceived because satan had her thinking that she was missing something with that one tree, so much so that she forgot about all of the rest of the other trees. He distracted her with deceit. And just as with Eve, he wants us to get caught up in what you don’t have so that we will overlook God’s goodness in our lives. He knows that the only way he can defeat you is through deception – making us believe that the grass is better so to speak… or that we are missing out on something.

Don’t you know that if you don’t have it, it’s because of one or two reasons? God is saying “Not now, or I have something better for you”.
But how do we counter attack the tactics of the enemy? It’s simple: 1) know that God never loses, and He’s always fighting on our behalves, 2) know that it is not ever about what we see or feel in the natural; we must be led by the Spirit of God, and 3) use the weapon or strategy of giving thanks.

Satan’s schemes will not work if we choose to focus on what God has already done, and His promises of what’s to come. Stop murmuring and complaining. When we murmur and complain, it takes away from us truly experiencing the abundant life that Jesus talked about in John 10:10. Instead of complaining, give God praise! The Bible declares that in all things we should give thanks. Not that we are happy about everything in our lives, but that we are to keep an attitude of gratitude, a heart of thanksgiving, knowing that God, the Author and the Finisher of our Faith is mindful of everything we need, everything we experience, and is more than able to see us through. I don’t know about you, but I choose to be grateful.

Not All Change is Bad

Change is something we all need. It is an ongoing part of life. The very heart of a believer’s life revolves around change, not turning over a new leaf, but truly living out a new life.

But the thing about change is that it requires that we make choices. It’s not enough to dream of changing. It’s not enough to desire change. In order for one to really change, we must make a decision to do so. We must choose to change.

Change is intentional. Ask yourself: Am I going to be any different in six months? Is my situation going to be any different in six months? Am I going to be better a year from now? Am I going to be healthier, stronger, and more mature? Am I going to be happier? Am I going to be less in debt? Am I going to be more like God wants you to be?

I can tell you the answer right now: It will only happen if we choose to change, because it isn’t going to happen accidentally. – It requires a choice.

The Word of God tells us in Ephesians 4:22, to “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception”. We must decide that because we want something different, we must do something different. We must lay our fleshly desires aside and choose to change.

Many times we think we’re waiting on God to change us. No! It’s quite the opposite. God is waiting on us. Don’t get me wrong,because He is the one that does the changing, but He’s waiting on us to say, “Yes, Lord, here I am. I surrender. I’m ready and willing to make these changes in my life, and I can’t do it without you.”

We must make intentional choices in order to grow. There is no growth without change, there is no change without loss. We must lose some things in our lives in order to change and grow. We must let go of some old things in order to grab hold of some new things.

Something else that many of us have heard …If you want something that you’ve never had, you must do something that you’ve never done. Many of us who are holding on to toxic relationships; we can’t lay hold of healthy relationships, when we keep focusing and hanging on to the toxic ones. Some of us are on a merry-go-round of misery and hurt, but refuse to get off of it. Many of us would rather complain than make a change.

Ask yourself,what change am I waiting on God to make in me? What is my responsibility or my part in making this change happen? What do I need to do. After you have asked yourself these questions, then ponder on God’s Word in Ephesians as we previously mentioned, which admonishes us to let go of the former things,the old sinful lusts. Know that there is nothing that God can ask us to give up or relinquish that He doesn’t already know is going to be beneficial for us. Trust that God is working in us “to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose(Philippians 2:13b). Remember, not all change is bad.

It’s How You Look at It

 

You know how people often say, “Oh that is my favorite this, or my favorite that?” Well, one of my favorite words is “perspective”. I love this word because it can make or break a situation, or circumstance. Perspective is the attitude, or the way we regard something; our viewpoint. The way we look at a situation can make all the difference in the world. Our viewpoint can either cause us to focus on what we don’t have or focus on what we appreciate in our lives. It causes us to either see the glass as half full or half empty. It’s the difference in seeing ourselves as victors or as victims. Having a grateful heart can help us keep a healthy and abundant perspective. Gratitude gives us a more positive attitude, and allows us to see what God has blessed us with, and not what we lack.  Wake up each day with a fresh and new perspective; reminding yourself of God’s goodness and what He has done for you. It’s all in how you look at it.

“Real Talk”

I hear people say all the time, “I’m just keeping it real.” They often use this phrase to show that they are down to earth, relevant, and I would suppose, being truthful and authentic. The problem with this is that most times when I hear this phrase, it is being used in such a brash or brazen manner.

Keeping it real does not mean that one must use profane or vulgar language. There is a better or more excellent way to get the point across. In fact, if an individual really wants to keep it real, let’s first look at how the word “real” is defined. Merriam-Webster defines it in a couple of ways:  (1)of or relating to fixed, permanent, or immovable things, (2) not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory : genuine.

If you want to “keep it real” with people, how about giving them the Word of God?  I know, I know, you are probably saying, “That’s not keeping it real, people want truth; not just religious jargon.” Well, it gets no more real than the word of God. The Word of God is immovable, it doesn’t change, it’s genuine, and definitely authentic. You can be down to earth, and tell people what they need to hear (not just what their flesh wants to hear), without being “religious” as you call it.

Keeping it real is fine, I suppose, if you are just having casual conversation or joking around, but when it comes to teaching, preaching, and communicating the Word of God, some things just should not be said. Am I the grammar police? No, certainly not. There are just some things that shouldn’t come from our mouths. And, I’m just “keeping it real.”

Be Fearless and Move Forward

Remember! God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). So be fearless. Don’t focus on your lack or your weaknesses. Instead, operate in confidence and excellence within your areas of strength. It’s okay to know that you may not be good at some things. None of us are perfect. The great thing about that is we serve a God who is, and He perfects all that concerns us. So, go ahead! Seize the day! There is so much that you are destined to do. So many people you are destined to meet, and so many places that you are destined to go. Be fearless and move forward!