1 year, 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds. That’s what we will have been blessed to see at the end of the year. Time continues to move. What are we doing to make the best use of the time the Lord has given us? We said we would maximize our time this year; have we? We said we would go after the things we desire this year; have we? If not, why not? If not, it’s not too late. Time to get serious about change. Time for a reset.
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Luke 9:62 – And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
We might have to adjust our pace. feeling overwhelmed, we might have to pull to the side of the road on this journey as we await the renewal of strength. There are moments of doubt and distress and times where we can find no comfort in those around us. Our vision gets blurry and, rather often, there is seemingly no shortage of people to discourage us. Yet, as disciples, even as we face an uneven path, we must never turn around. We must never allow ourselves to think that going backwards is the solution to any of our current troubles. This journey is one where we must constantly move forward. We might find ourselves slowed at times; but, don’t turn around. Don’t look back.
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Opening Thought – Consider this; there are moments where we might feel like there is no one to turn to; no one to lean on. We might feel at times like we are misunderstood and that no one truly reciprocates the love, affection and attention we so willingly provide to others. These are All fair views, but remember, we are never alone. Though not always readily present, there are always those who care. more importantly though, someone needs us. A key to discipleship is us realizing that in being a blessing to others, we receive our blessing. in life, we are called to be the quality of friend we desire to have. If we will humble ourselves and regard others as being worthy of our best attitude, the Lord is certain to bless us with those who appreciate and cherish our friendship and will, without reservation, treat us as we should be treated. Want friends? Be friendly.
Essentially, we have to begin somewhere.
So, let’s begin right here.
It’s a long daily journey to change, but, it begins with the reality that WE MUST make a move and begin somewhere. Day 1 of the Daily Selfie Series, OUTLOOK, is all about having a plan of action. Seeing some targets and making things happen is what growth hinges upon.
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2 Samuel 12:22-24 – And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. And David comforted Bath–sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.
Our disposition determines our direction; how that, the next move is generally a direct correlation to the way we respond to our current situation. At times, The Lord tests our resolve. How will we react to his decision? Will we still praise and worship Him even in disappointment? after we’ve prayed fervently, and the answer of the Lord is no, The resilience we show in the face of loss serves as proof of our continued Faith and dedication to The Lord. We must never forget that the Lord is ABLE to build wonderful things, even from those pieces we consider broken.
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Discipleship is a journey. Every day we awake, we are on a continued mission to be a little better than we’ve previously been, to go just a little further than we’d gone the day before. As we journey, we learn a lot of things. we learn that Salvation is too valuable to play around with. We learn that while we walk in the minority, that doesn’t matter to The Lord. We learn that spiritual growth begins with hearing the voice of the shepherd and following him. As we travel, we find that It is difficult at times because of the noise. We see so many who are talking loud and saying nothing; and, when we listen, it detracts us from our purpose. at some point on this journey, we learn that we have to become so tuned into the mission that all we hear is the Lord.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learn is that the world may not choose us. Even after all we do; even after we go to great lengths to prove our value and worth; even after we tirelessly go above and beyond the call of duty on their behalf; even after we work and show proof and continue to lend support and provide love. They still might decide against us. This isn’t a reason to be dismayed. It’s life. It’s the way of the world. In essence, it’s the nature of the beast. Discipleship is different. Innately, we all desire to be a part of something. The Lord knows this because He made us. In this, he has chosen us. The world may never call our name. It’s ok; The Lord did. along the way, we learn that, because we have been chosen, we need to stand up proudly and be counted. The labor we produce on his behalf will always be appreciated and noted. And, when we are not chosen by them, it isn’t because of us, but rather, they might have a discipleship issue of their own. Bearing this cross teaches us that perception of others won’t necessarily be reality. We learn that, based on our vantage point, people can appear a lot different than they really are. They can seem to have everything and yet, possess nothing; have great knowledge, and yet, lack common sense; seemingly have the world and it’s fullness, but are actually quite empty.
Friends matter. Friendship matters. Friends help us grow; they place situations in proper context; They comfort us in times of trouble and rejoice with us in moments of joy; they rebuke us when necessary. their strength strengthens us; our strength, them.
We learn that we can be well versed in all the things of this life and yet, never make a genuine connection on any level. There’s our worldview, and then there’s Kingdom Life. The things we consider blessings, those things freely given to us by The Master, require nothing. On the other hand, the ability to discern, the vision we are afforded to see situations for what they really are, as well as the spirit of humility applied to everything we do has a cost. That cost is this discipleship. A true understanding trumps wisdom every single day. It is possible to know everything and without grace and mercy, know nothing at all. As cross bearers, learning this lesson is something that can save us much heartache and helps us to align ourselves with those who will bless our lives.
We learn that friends matter. We learn that, in friendship, we’re called to support each other. In this, there is always the possibility that we may suffer a little hurt while they are being healed. Because we’re so close to their situation, we could get cut by one of their broken pieces. It’s ok; but, we must never lose ourself while trying to help. We’re a friend; not a puppet. We can assist, but, we cannot bend to their will. Our instruction must ultimately come from the Lord. Helping them should never draw us away from our purpose. We learn that, no matter what we do, we cannot save their soul; but, we could lose ours. Knowing this helps us to look more closely at the idea of friendship as it relates to discipleship. And, the question becomes, on this journey, what value do we place on friendship? The extent to which we are able to grow and progress through the various stages of life is largely dependent on our ability to find the right people to journey with. Friends matter. Friendship matters. Friends help us grow; they place situations in proper context; They comfort us in times of trouble and rejoice with us in moments of joy; they rebuke us when necessary. their strength strengthens us; our strength, them. The Lord walking closest with Peter, James and John teaches us that even the most powerful among us can use the companionship of friends. They aren’t perfect – The Lord knew Peter would deny Him and yet, in his most vulnerable moment, took him to the Garden with him and asked him to watch and pray. We learn along the way that, in friendship, we should take nothing for granted. Good friends are hard to find; they’re even harder to replace.
We learn that people are going to talk. But, we cannot allow their talking to make us act out of character. We must always Remember that the way we do anything is the way we do everything; perception is reality. stay holy and prepared to give an answer. Let them talk; do not let them move you. David writes In Psalms 37:23-24, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”
We learn that much of this journey is about waiting. We must be comfortable with waiting. Even as we see people in places we feel we belong; even as we see friend after friend walk the aisle while we’ve yet to meet our good thing; even as we look in the mirror and face the sobering reality that the thing we most desire may never come. We’re working. We’re committed servants. Our faith is based in works. Our prayer life is strong. And yet, here we are; waiting. It’s often tough to wait; its tougher to regret the things we settle for when we refuse to. Waiting patiently is part of the growth process; it’s a vital part of discipleship. We learn that He blesses us according to what He sees we are prepared to receive. But, while waiting, we must continue working.
We learn that Life is fleeting. We can lose a lot while we wait for the right moment to move. Wasted time is something we will never get back. Satan knows this and His goal is to distract us long enough for the clock to run out on this life. Each day that we are blessed to see, we have an opportunity to be better, to do better, to make good on our promise to the Lord for making us free from the captivity of sin. We often count time as a collective function; that is, days, weeks, and months run together. In this, we often look past some moments, because we can’t see how they fit into the bigger picture. We must consider this; every single moment is a piece of the puzzle we call life. As disciples, we are called to appreciate all the pieces.
We learn that newness is absolute with the Lord. He’s made us New. Not used, or preowned, or secondhand, or nearly new. New. Satan understands the significance of newness and looks to deceive and trap us by making us feel unworthy of grace, of the Goodness of The Lord, of Love; all based on the false belief that we’ve made too many mistakes to ever truly be new. To be certain, none of us are deserving; but, to allow satan to make us think less of ourselves isn’t good. He wants to diminish our confidence, making it easier to destroy us. Don’t fall for it. The Lord chose each of us, cleaned us of our past and made us new; so, be new. new rules apply. You cannot mix new ideals with old patterns and deteriorating circumstances and expect grand results. You’ve traveled that road of desolation for long enough; take a new route. New day, new opportunities, new mercies, new goals, new standards- a new vision for where you want to be. He made you new; be new.
Finally, on this journey, we learn that we’re gonna be remembered for the things we do. As we go from day to day, there will be many who talk loud and seek to distract us with endless hyperbole. Their fruits, however, will tell a different story. If we are patient; if we spend the time cultivating our field; and, we focus on the constant improvement of self, we can know that things work out. At harvest time, we’ll see who was really working. we learn to Let them talk while we continue working.
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV) – Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
So, what was it? what was it that we really desired when we spent all that time praying for change? When we heard the word coming from the minister and got excited, and told ourselves that the Lord was making a way for us; how did we believe that way was going to be made? Maybe when we read the story of the children of Israel, we simply glossed over the part of how they escaped bondage by traveling through a sea. Or, maybe when we read about the three Hebrew boys, we decided that them being saved in the fire was more a work of symbolism than a potential reality for us. Maybe we never truly believed every story we’ve ever read about how the Lord used seemingly bad situations for His glory and for the ultimate benefit of His children.
Because, we simply could not have prayed for newness, and yet now find ourselves nervous about the demolition process which must precede it. It wouldn’t make sense for us to suddenly be afraid of the very thing we asked for, simply because we do not understand the process – You have to clear the land before you can build. But, the reality is, in the end, everyone says they want the new house until they realize that the old house currently occupying the land has to be demolished. And, for whatever reason, we fear destruction, even if it will ultimately benefit us. This is why we choose to continue making minor aesthetic changes to houses that are dilapidated; why we would rather remodel than rebuild. The truth is, we’ve grown accustomed to the norm. We cannot appreciate the idea of newness because we’ve become comfortable with the very basic existence we continue to settle for. But, the times call for more than simply repainting walls, applying wallpaper, perhaps reupholstering the furniture. This time calls for a willingness to see the old house torn down, all in the name of progress.
We cannot be afraid of destruction. We cannot be afraid of the most vital part of the building process; clearly the way to ensure the foundation is secure enough to build upon. If we want something new and different and fulfilling and like nothing we’ve ever had, we cannot be afraid to clear the land underneath our feet.
Sometimes we cannot see the vastness of a new opportunity because there is too much obstructing our view; there is too much around us that needs to be cleared so that we can finally tap into the vision of all that the land around us can hold. We’ll only ever be able to fully imagine what can be once we forget about what was once there. Newness. It’s a new day. And, we’ve always claimed that every day that the Lord has made is good. So, claim this one as the start of something greater.
Do the work. Have a vision, develop a game plan, learn the requisite skills, apply the knowledge you’ve gained, build the necessary connections with the people who can help you achieve your desired outcome, and commit yourself. And then, allow the Lord to do what the Lord does. Because, it’s not about us hustling our way to wealth, spending endless days and sleepless nights trying to achieve our vision of success. It’s not our might that is going to take us to the places we most want to be. It’s not that we are somehow going to will our way to business success, outsmarting those around us; rather, it’s the Lord that is going to allow us the benefit of physical prosperity. And yes, there are many who very boldly take the other path, who work to the point of illness to get what they desire; but, why?
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Take the time to reflect and assess where you are right now in relation to where you desire to be.
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EVERYONE has a vision. EVERYONE has goals. EVERYONE says “this is gonna be MY year.” EVERYONE likes motivational quotes. EVERYONE says they want something better. EVERYONE says the time is now. But, real life begins after the euphoria of the moment. You heard a great sermon, saw a great speech, or read an inspirational quote that spurred a thought. Now what? How do you translate your desire for change in the current moment into a real plan of action? Count the costs and the build some actionable steps.
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