Monthly Archives: March 2011

Blessed, Satisfied & Successful

Those are words that most people would want to say about their lives.  When we are feeling blessed, satisfied and successful, we are most likely going to be happy and content.  However in order to achieve those things in our lives there needs to be some other qualities in our lives.  Here are three thoughts about how to be blessed, satisfied and successful:

  1. You must be broken in order to be blessed.  In order to receive God’s blessing in our lives, we often must go through a period of brokenness.  When we go through difficult times, it often brings us to our knees and our pride is stripped away.  This is when we remove the distractions and desperately seek God for help.  When we allow God to break us, we can experience breakthroughs in our life.  When we stop pretending and get real with God by admitting our weakness and our dependence on Him, we can experience blessing on the other side.  Brokenness is painful yet that pain can bring about a transformation that leads to blessing if we stay on the path God has for us.
  2. You must Surrender in order to be satisfied. Satisfaction comes when we surrender to God and allow Him to have control.  When we can stop trusting in ourselves and start trusting in Him, our level of peace and satisfaction will increase.  Without surrender, we remain in control and we will continue to struggle, hurt and mess up if we are trying to control the world around us.  Surrender involves a decision to turn everything over to God.  Everything includes our finances, our marriages, our friendships, our children, our work, our free time, our ministry, our relationships, our hobbies, our possessions, our attitudes, our emotions and our minds.
  3. You need to sacrifice in order to succeed. John Maxwell has a saying that you have to give up in order to go up.  Sacrifice is necessary to succeed in any area of life.  In marriage, it takes sacrifice in order to love and serve your spouse.  Selfishness will destroy any relationship, so the person that is willing to sacrifice can find success and healthy relationships as a result.  To succeed in any area of life it takes sacrifice and hard work.  When we bring God into the picture, He can give us the strength we need to sacrifice and humble ourselves in order to bring success.   Success is not about performing better, it’s about being willing to sacrifice in the short-term in order to be successful in the long-term.

God desires to have a personal, growing relationship with all people.  He is the one that can bring blessing into our lives.  He is the one that can bring satisfaction and success.  Having a relationship with God does not mean we will have no problems, there will be problems and pain in our lives.  A relationship with God means that we have an all powerful, all knowing, loving heavenly father that will always be with us through every trial and triumph in our lives.  He equips us to make it through the storms of life and emerge blessed, satisfied and successful despite those storms.

Six Questions about Spiritual Leadership

Spiritual leadership means giving up yourself for someone else.  Why would a leader do that?  Isn’t leadership about being out in front and getting people to follow you?  I believe leadership is more than that.  As a Spiritual Leader I have a responsibility to lead myself, my family, my friends, my employees, co-workers and my superiors.  This can be a challenging thing to do, because all of us tend to think more about ourselves and our own needs rather than the needs of others. It does not come naturally to give yourself up and think more about the other person.  Our natural response is to look out for ourselves.

In marriage we get upset and discouraged when our love language is not being spoken by our spouse.  At work we are concerned about our job, position on the org chart and how much we are making.  We focus on the things we are responsible for and can tend to protect our turf.  We think a lot about how we look physically and can spend a lot of time on ourselves in general.  We want our friends to listen to us and hang out when we want to hang out.

Here are six great questions every Spiritual Leader should ask on a regular basis.

  1. Do I give direction and take responsibility for my primary relationships?  This is about my initiative.
  2. Do I experience intimacy with God and others through open, honest conversations?  This is about my level of intimacy.
  3. Do I exercise Biblical influence by encouraging and developing others?  This is about my influence.
  4. Do I lead an honest life, unashamed of who I am when no one is looking?  This is about my integrity and character.
  5. Am I secure in who I am in Christ, or am I defensive?  This is about understanding my true identity.
  6. Do I exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in my life, including self-discipline?  This is about my heart and motives.

If you are a Christian, then you are a Spiritual Leader.  Take responsibility today to lead well no matter where you are or what you are doing.

The Power Of Persistence

This morning is was reading in the book of 1 Samuel.  It starts off with a introduction of the family of Elkanah.  This guy had two wives, I guess that was normal back then, the one was Hannah and the other was Peninnah.  My first thought was that Hannah’s name has remained popular, but I don’t know any Peninnah’s.  That must mean that Hannah is the one we can learn something from.

The story continues by saying that Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.  Elkanah supported Peninnah and her children, but he loved Hannah, even though she could give him no children.  Peninnah would often mock Hannah and remind her that she was able to have children.  Hannah refused to lash out at her rival, but instead took her sorrow and loss to God.  She prayed earnestly to her Lord, begging Him for a son.  She refused to believe that her difficult situation had to remain permanent.

Hannah continued to pray sincerely and specifically, not backing away from her request for a son.  That persistence paid off, when she eventually became pregnant and had a son, Samuel.  When she was praying for a son, she had promised God that she would give him to the service of the Lord.  After she had weaned him and he was old enough to take to the temple, she took her son and dedicated him to God.  In that day, that meant that he would live and serve in the Temple with the main Priest.  Eli was the Priest and so Samuel was raised by Eli and his mother Hannah would visit often.

Hannah went on to have three more sons and two daughters.  Prayer changed the course of Hannah’s life and impacted an entire nation.  God used her son Samuel in a key role as prophet during the lifetime of King David, and his influence remains today through the story of his life in the Bible.  Hannah’s prayers laid the foundation for Samuel to be used by God.  She put her son in an environment where God could develop him into a man of influence.  Later in chapter 7 we see that Samuel becomes the new Judge and Prophet of Israel.  He gained influence daily.  When the people listened to him and trusted him they where victorious and enjoyed peace in the land.  He became by far the most influential leader of his day.  Three qualities stand out in Samuel and these can also be found in his mother Hannah.

  1. Character – Samuel lived with integrity and honesty in every area of his life.  People trusted him because they knew he had the best interests of Israel in mind.  They also knew that he was close to God through the fruit that was evident in his life.  His mother Hannah was also a woman of great Character in how she did not lash out at her rival and stayed focused on God.  She was patient yet persistent in her pursuit of God.
  2. Surrendered – Samuel was gifted by God, because he was surrendered to God.  He was willing to completely trust God with every part of his life and God chose to use him to lead a Nation.  God gave him the gifts and abilities he needed to judge and lead a Nation.  Hannah laid that foundation by also being fully surrendered to God, even giving her first born son to God.  God takes full responsibility for a man or woman that is fully surrendered to God.
  3. Connected – Samuel knew how to connect with people and with God.  His heart was in tune with God’s heart and therefore he loved the people that God loved.  When the people knew how much he cared they were encouraged and trusted him even further.  Samuel was only able to connect this well with people because of his connection with God.  Hannah again laid that foundation for her son, by persisting in prayer and staying close to the heart of God.

All of us can be more like Hannah and Samuel.  No matter what our situation is, we can be persistent in our prayers and petitions to God.  That persistence will help us to build character, be completely surrendered and stay close and connected to God and other people.  Over time that will lead to greater influence with the people around us.  So whatever you are facing today, God wants you to persevere and continue to talk to Him about the situation.

8 Characteristics of a Growing Christian

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As we head into a new year it is good to reflect and plan.  One area to reflect on and plan for is your spiritual life.

We are all in process, either growing or declining, and that includes our spiritual life.  The power to grow doesn’t come from within us, but from God.  On our own, we do not have what it takes to become what God desires for us to become.  When we absolutely surrender to God, He empowers us with everything we need to do what He calls us to do.  In 2 Peter 1:5-11 we see a ladder to climb that leads to maturity or the process we should be working on.  Spiritual growth happens daily, not in a day.

Peter tells us to diligently work on these eight characteristics:

  1. Faith – This is the foundation on which we build and grow.  Faith is having confidence and trusting in someone or something.  Determining who we put our faith in lays the foundation for our lives.
  2. Virtue – This is about developing a life of strong character and discipline.  Another word used in some translations is good.  This step is about being a good person, developing your character and integrity.
  3. Knowledge – This is when we start to understand what God thinks and values.  This is done by reading, studying and listening to God’s Word.
  4. Self-control – This is the ability to lead ourselves, to have self-control means having restraint with our actions, responses and emotions.
  5. Perseverance – This is the ability to patiently stick to what is right.  Hanging in there through the tough, difficult things of life.  It’s being patient with the process and trusting that God is at work in us and others.
  6. Godliness – This is a Spirit-filled lifestyle that shines brightly for all to see.  Living a holy, righteous life.  Not easily offended and not afraid to let others see how we live our lives.  This is not putting on a religious mask, but taking that mask off and really living for God.  It’s not being perfect, it’s pursuing God even when we are not perfect.
  7. Brotherly Kindness – This is all about living a lifestyle that is warm, relational, and caring.  Notice this actually comes after godliness, because this is about how we interact and relate to other people.  Deeply caring about people and treating other people well.
  8. Love – This is the highest quality that we can have.  It is about sacrificially giving to others.  Loving God and others well, deeply and sincerely.  In order to love the way God wants us to love we must go through the entire process first.  If we try to jump right to love, we will miss what God is trying to do in us and we won’t be able to sustain it.

These actions do not come automatically, they require actual hard work and effort.  These are not optional, but a continual part of our everyday lives.  We do not work on one master it and move on to the next, we work on them all together.  In this process, God enables us to grow in these areas, but He also gives us responsibility along the way to learn and grow.  When we agree with God and do our part, that is when life transformation happens.

So as you plan for the new year, include these characteristics in your planning.  Which of those areas do you need to most help with?  At the end of this next year will you still be in the same place spiritually or will you be more like Christ?