If you started today worrying about what might go wrong, I encourage you to stop and refocus your mind on these five words:.
Slow: Take a deep breath and slow down. When you walk in step with God, you will learn that His love is not measured by a teaspoon—it’s measured by the bucket loads.
Time: Take a minute or two to consider God’s goodness.
- Psalm 34:8: Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oppose: Don’t yield to catastrophic thoughts that are characterized by words like must, never, and always. These three words are usually false. Discipline your mind so you think about the hope and joy you can have in Jesus.
- Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Promise: Claim the promises the are rightly yours. You are not some pauper, you are a child of the King.
- The key that gives you access to God is not your strength—it’s God’s grace.
I’ll close with some words that can open the door of your mind to some life-changing thoughts:
Deuteronomy 31:6: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
When I was a kid, the most important meal of the day was supper. Mom was an excellent cook, and she worked hard to prepare the evening meal for our large family. Mom and Pop worked even harder at trying to steer their eight children in the right direction.
Each evening the family gathered around the dinner table to eat and to discuss the days events. One evening, Mom and Pop spoke about an incident at school in which I had hurt the feelings of a classmate. As we discussed the situation, my youngest brother said: I have feelings too, see! Then, he opened his mouth and pointed to the fillings in his teeth.
The truth is, fillings and feelings go hand in hand. How you feel about life is determined in a large part by how you fill your life. If you don’t fill your mind with what is right, what is left?
Your life is like your car, if you fill the tank with the cheapest fuel available, your engine may not perform at an optimal level; likewise, if you fill your mind with two-bit thinking, you’ll never live a grand life.
To fill your tank with some high octane thoughts, heed the advice of the Apostle Paul and think on whatever is just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
To get to where you need to go, with what you need to have, so you can say or do what needs to be said or done, you most likely use a cue or two. These come in different forms, fashions, and shapes. They can be as simple as an alarm clock to nudge you out of bed, a sticky note to budge your memory, or an inspirational quote to encourage your daily trudge on the treadmill.
Whether it’s a day planner, an app on your smart phone, or something as simple as a string tied around your finger, these reminders help you develop the habits that lead to a productive life. Some of these are as simple as ABCD, and they will help you grow in your relationship with Jesus:
- A—Always pray. Instead of prayer being an after-thought, make it a priority. Paul instructed believers to “pray without ceasing,” and to not “worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”
- B—Take time to read your Bible: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).”
- C—Make the commitment to trust God: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass; and, he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Psalm 37:4-6).”
- D—Learn to discern: “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).”
The underlying principle of these steps is the need to trust God, and Solomon outlines the process:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Proverbs 3:5-7 ~The Message
Christmas is now past, and the sights and scents of the season have been crowded into the pages of history by the hopeful sounds of labor pains announcing the imminent birth of a new year. Among these sounds are the voices of the optimistic and determined who announce their resolutions for the new year.
Some will achieve the goals they’ve set for 2020, while the not so resolute will bury theirs beneath the dust pile of defeat. A few words from the wise might hint at the difference between the two:
- Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. ~Napoleon Hill
- For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” ~Steve Jobs
- Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, planned for success. Before he left his office at the end of the day, he would jot down the top three things he wanted to accomplish the next day.
- The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tony Robbins has said that the key to directing your life, is to recognize and control your consistent actions: It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.
To reach your goals, I suggest you need to perceive to achieve: Identify what you are already doing and use it as a cue to prompt the appropriate action. Your daily routine is a good example:
- After I pour my first cup of coffee, I will walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes.
- Before I take my shower, I will do 10 pushups.
- While I am eating breakfast, I will _____________.
- When I take my coffee break, I will ____________.
- Before I go to bed I will read ____ pages in a book.
If you are considering resolutions and goals to help you change and rearrange your life, I applaud your effort and leave you with two more quotes to serve as motivators:
- Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
- Thomas Edison: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Let us search out and examine our ways,
and turn back to the Lord. ~Lamentations 3:40
The presumed benefits of friendship have been the focus of many self-help books and the authors have suggested that healthy friendships are a key metric to measure happiness; boost your physical and mental health; and, they may even extend your life.
A group of researchers from the University of Oxford decided to test the value of friendships, and their research has yielded some interesting results:
- The research suggests that people with a large circle of friends have a higher pain tolerance.
- The social interactions you have with your friends triggers the release of endorphins that are conducive to positive emotions.
- Endorphins generate a strong pain-killing effect that’s stronger than morphine.
Which is of more value: Facebook posts or face-to-face interactions? Katerina Johnson, co-author of the study, has said: “In this digital era, deficiencies in our social interactions may be one of the overlooked factors contributing to the declining health of our modern society.”
Even though, he didn’t make his conclusion based on a questionnaire, Solomon knew the value of a good friend:
- Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
- Proverbs 27:17: In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.
I’m not sure who Aristotle had in mind when he said, “The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.” I do, however, know that his words remind me of something Jesus said:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:12-15).”
Have you ever considered the difference between I should and I did? The lives of some people are summarized with statements such as these:
- I should’ve
- I could’ve
- I wish I would’ve
Statements like these are characteristic of an unfulfilled life of dissatisfaction.
I did, however, speaks of commitment, dedication and resolve. To live a life of fulfillment and satisfaction we need to be an I did-er like Paul who said:
“I served the Lord with humility and tears, patiently enduring the many trials that came my way through the plots of my Jewish opponents. I did everything I could to help you; I held nothing back. I taught you publicly, and I taught you in your homes. I told everyone the same message—Jews and Greeks alike—that we must turn toward God and have faith in our Lord Jesus the Anointed (Acts 20:19-21).
As an I did-er, Paul could confidently say: “I am already being poured out, and the last drops of this drink offering are all that remain; it’s almost time for me to leave. I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing. I look forward to what’s in store for me: a crown of righteousness that the Lord—the always right and just judge—will give me that day (but it is not only for me, but for all those who love and long for His appearing).”
Paul lived a life of extraordinary accomplishment because he knew the difference between mediocrity and excellence is found in the enthusiastic pursuit of a life that glorifies God: “I do not consider myself to have ‘arrived’, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honor of being called by God in Christ (Philippians 3:12-14).”
You’ll never find happiness in the empty promises of the could’ve-would’ve-should’ve life, but you will find true joy when you resolve to be an I did-er.