The Test to Not Give Up!

1 Corinthians 9:24: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Has there been a time in your life when you felt like giving up? When you felt like whatever you were pursuing, or pouring into, or dreaming for just wasn’t worth the cost?

1 Corinthians 9:24 is reminding us that if we don’t quit in our endeavors, we will see the fruit of our labor in the right time. But the question becomes, “how do we hold onto that hope while we’re waiting for the ‘right time?’”

How do we persevere when circumstances aren’t lining up and it feels like people are against us? How do we keep ourselves from quitting when quitting seems like the only option we have?

Sometimes, the answer lies simply within a perspective change.

We often mistake trials and hardships as either punishment from God or roadblocks from the enemy to make us stop—or quit—whatever we’re trying to do. But what if they were really just a test?

What if everything that’s been making you want to quit, has actually been making you stronger, wiser and even more capable and qualified to step into the place you’ve been working to go?

Anyone in the military would tell you that they’re pushed to their limits while training…so that they’ll be able to endure when it’s time for battle.

Maybe our trials are a little like that…and maybe if we can choose to see them that way, we’ll find we have what it takes to continue pushing through.

So keep pushing!

[Photo by mali maeder from Pexels]

 

Next steps

Last week, we talked about Resurrection power in our lives today and what it looks like to live each day with the death-conquering spirit that Jesus died to give us.

Realizing that the Holy Spirit is within us, is one thing…but then what? How do we maintain a “death-defeating” mindset beyond Easter Sunday? How do we cling to boldness every day throughout the year?

As I have been getting to know the Holy Spirit on a deeper level, I have found that that most helpful “tool” in keeping my focus, has been making intentional quiet time to be with God. 

By getting to know God on a personal level, we are able to understand the power He has already placed within us through the Holy Spirit. Just like any relationship requires both people to talk and listen to one another, so it is with our relationship with God. I think we oftentimes treat Him as some sort of “genie in a bottle”….we tell him our prayers and hope He answers them. But what about asking Him to speak once in awhile?

Do you ever take the time to listen to what God may want to tell you? Have you ever simply listened or even asked, “God, what do you want to speak to me today?”

When we take the time to let God do the talking, we may find that everything we’ve been asking for is already taken care of. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

[Photo by Dương Nhân from Pexels]

Resurrection Power

With Easter Sunday only days away, we’ve been thinking a lot about resurrection power at iCoachLife. How does an act of sacrifice over 2,000 years ago affect our lives as a human race today?

When Jesus died on the cross and overcame the grave, he sent that death-conquering spirit to those who believed in his name…and he hasn’t stopped sending that Helper even in the year 2019. 

Have there been times in your life when you felt as if something was dead? Whether it be a relationship, a job, a failed dream or a situation that just didn’t go as planned, we’ve all experienced—or will experience—different forms of “death” in our lives.

It’s in those times when the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to overcome them. In fact, the Holy Spirit gives us the same strength that Jesus had when he overcame the grave after his crucifixion. Whether or not we experience that power though, is dependent upon whether or not we believe that the Spirit is within us.

Before he died, Jesus said the following to his disciples:

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

Jesus sacrificed his life so that we could live our lives with resurrection power. He died so that we could overcome every form of death in our lives—sickness, failure, inadequacy, and sin just to name a few. He was nailed to the cross so that our hurts and mistakes wouldn’t put us in that same position. 

As we continue preparing for Easter, think about the areas of your life that need resurrection power. They’ve already been conquered and defeated through Jesus’ greatest act of love…have you taken the time to recognize that truth? Ask God to reveal the Holy Spirit to you, and watch how the dead things around you resurrect to new life.   

[Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels]

Focus

“’Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?'” -Matthew 14:28-31

Most of us have heard the Bible story of Peter walking on water. It’s commonly used to illustrate the type of bold faith we need to accomplish the impossible. 

But lately, God has had me thinking more about the part where Peter sinks. I always used to wonder how he could possibly fall when Jesus was standing directly in front of him…but the fact is, he had a moment of losing focus.

In our technological world today, we are constantly surrounded by distractions. Never has there been a period in history where humans have been exposed to so much social knowledge—and it’s giving us all the more opportunity to lose our focus on the Truth of what God says about us.

I say “social knowledge” because never have we had such instant access to other people’s lives. Social media, the internet and cell phones have connected us in a way that have given us a 24/7 glimpse of every person we’ve ever known…and with that, has come the 24/7 ability to engage in comparison. 

Distraction is the enemy’s greatest tool in diverting us from the life God has called us to live. If he can get us to doubt for even a second, he can get us to fall even while we’re in the middle of “walking on waves.”

Think about it…we can be doing great things with our lives, but the minute we look at the person beside us and begin comparing ourselves, we sink. Whether that’s mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically, the moment we look away from God’s call on our individual life, we fall into waves that look like low self-esteem, self-pity, contempt and bitterness.

Do you need to reset your focus today? Ask God to show you what has been a distraction…and then take hold of His hand and walk the waves.

[Photo by Simon Migaj from Pexels]

The most unlikely places

“A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:31-34

We are often told through the Bible that it’s wrong to judge others. Have you ever taken a minute to wonder why though? The story of the good Samaritan clearly illustrates the meaning behind this principle.

God tells us not to judge because we never know who he is choosing to work through. We would have automatically assumed that the Levite or the priest would be the people to help the Samaritan, but instead, it was the person we least expected.

 I believe God often works this way in our lives because it makes His presence all the more known. When we experience Him in an unlikely way, we are able to be certain that such an experience or encounter could have only been Him.

The stories in the Bible show us that it was always the least-likely who were chosen to accomplish some of God’s greatest missions. He chose murderers, adulterers, drunks and people who were considered too young or too old demonstrate his power on the earth…because when that power was displayed, there was no denying it was God at work.

We never know what God is speaking in the heart of another person. Regardless of their words or actions, we never know how far they’ve come from the person they were; therefore, we are never to judge.

The next time you feel the urge to criticize or blame someone for what you see on the outside, try to stop and ask God to show you what he sees on the inside…you may just find something you’d least expect.

Worth the wait

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” 1 Peter 5:6

Our latest Facebook devotional video talked about the importance of acting on our ideas. Following through with a dream or vision that we have for our lives isn’t going to be easy…but it’s always possible. If we step out in boldness and do what we can, God will show up and do what we can’t. He has given each of us a purpose for our lives, and our passions and desires have been placed inside us to point towards that purpose. One of the hardest parts about pursuing an idea or dream however, is maintaining the patience to endure the time it takes to get there.

Just because God gives us an idea or a dream for our lives, doesn’t mean it’s going to manifest right away. Oftentimes, God wants to test us and prepare us so that we’re able to handle the responsibility that comes with our dream when it’s time to carry it out. That’s where 1 Peter 5:6 comes in…

This verse is an important reminder that even though we may be confident in the direction we’re headed, we are not in control of the timing it takes to get there. We must learn to set aside our pride and trust that God will get us where we need to go. His ways are not our ways, and therefore we must remember that He knows the best training we need in order to become the best version of ourselves. This is a hard lesson to learn because it asks us to believe in God’s promises regardless of what see with our eyes. (For example: you may know that God has told you that you’ll have a business one day, but right now you may have to work for someone else who runs a similar business. God may have told you that you will be playing music on a stadium tour one day, but right now you’re waiting tables and playing in bars.) 

Every stage of our lives brings new skills to learn and people to learn from. Trusting in God to give you your success requires complete surrender and belief in His promises.

If you’re not quite where you want to be right now, remember that God is testing and training you; when you finally get there, you’ll be grateful that you’re ready.

Happy new year…again

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” -Mark 2:22

I love the beginning of a new month. With the turn of the calendar, comes a “new-year’s-eve-style” celebration…at least it can be if that’s what you choose to make of it.

When something comes to an end, I think our first reaction as humans is often sadness. Think about a child graduating and going away to college, a friend moving to a new state, or a business closing down; there’s often someone in these situations who is left with the feeling that something in his or her life has “died” or “ended” in some way as a result.

But just like Jesus had to die on the cross in order for the resurrection to occur, we too must experience different forms of death in our lives. Without endings, nothing new can begin, progress can’t be made, and growth is impossible to occur.

Mark 2:22 says it best using the symbolism of old and new wineskins. To pour new wine into old wineskins would be a waste, for the old skin isn’t strong enough to hold what’s new. The same can be said for our lives. We are constantly given opportunities to grow, mature and deepen ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. Sure they’ll challenge and stretch us. And they’ll almost always ask us to step outside our comfort zone. Sometimes these opportunities come from others, and sometimes we have to make them happen ourselves. Regardless though, it’s up to us to choose whether or not we want to change; it’s up to us to choose to celebrate “new-year’s-eve-style,” or complain that life is no longer as we knew it or that we’re stuck in stagnancy.

Make it your “new month’s resolution” to change your mindset to one of celebration…and cheers to making the changes that make us better!