“Straining toward what is ahead, I press on.”
Php 3:13 NIV
Developing your faith is like taking swimming lessons. Observe: (1) Fear is like water; if you let it, it will take you under. (2) You can only tread water for so long before you drown. (3) When you reach a certain point, there’s no turning back. (4) Faith is like the air in your lungs; it will sustain you and keep you afloat if you just relax. Have you ever watched a seasoned swimmer? Stroke after stroke, he takes what’s in front of him and pushes it behind him, letting it propel him toward his goal. He literally takes what stands between him and his goal, and uses it to get there. Sometimes we despair and say, “I’m just keeping my head above water,” and that’s okay as long as you keep “stroking” and pressing on. It’s when you feel backed into a corner with nowhere to turn, that you’ve got to take hold of the faith God has placed within you and keep moving forward. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt 11:12). The word “violence” suggest ferocity, passion, and intensity, You must be relentless and fight your way through, confident that God is on your side-because He is (See Ps 56:9). The waters you’re in don’t determine your destiny; they wither carry you over or take you under. It takes faith to keep going. When you quit, God can do nothing more for you! So today whether you’re doing the breaststroke, the backstroke, or some other kind of stroke that nobody’s ever heard of-keep pressing on.
“The wise have wealth…but fools spend whatever they get.”
Pr 21:20 NLT
It’s foolish to buy things you don’t need and can’t afford, especially when your bills are overdue and you’ve nothing set aside for the future. Your financial security is determined by what you owe, not by what you earn! Having to work for years to repay debt severely limits your options. So determine your lifestyle by your actual income, not by what you wish it was or hope it will be. And when you get a raise, don’t automatically spend more. The Bible says, “There is…treasure…in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Pr 21:20 NKJV). One of the wisest things you can do today is to start saving for the future, sowing at least one-tenth of your income into God’s Kingdom so that you’ll have a harvest when you need it (See 2 Co 9:6). Author John Kennedy writes: “Peddling Biblically-based financial advice has become a cottage industry. It’s not that the council is new, or that people haven’t heard it enough. The fact remains…Christians have racked up debt with no plan for financial accountability…they’re tapped out keeping up with interest payments.” Is your philosophy in life, “Why to wait and save when a credit card will let me have what I want right now?” If you’re buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have, stop it! Before you purchase anything else, ask yourself if you really need it. And even if you think you do, ask yourself if you can live without it for a while; otherwise, you’ll become a slave to credit card debt. Here’s some sound financial advice: Pray for God’s guidance before you make any non-essential purchase.
“The godly love to give!”
Pr 21:26 NLT
The level of financial blessing God will entrust to you depends on three questions: (1) Are you mature enough to handle it? (2) Are you hoping to reap but unwilling to sow? (3) Are you a hoarder or a giver? God knows we can’t all give the same amount. Jesus honored a widow for giving her last two cents, saying: “Others gave what they’ll never miss…she gave her all” (Mk 12:44 TM). On the other hand, businessman Barnabas “sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Ac 4:37 NIV). The more God blesses you with, the more He holds you accountable for. Jesus said, “Much is required from those to whom much is given as much as you’ve always wanted to give but felt you couldn’t afford!” The truth is, we’re not all called to give equally but we’re all called to sacrifice equally. That levels the playing field. Isn’t interesting how you can go to dinner at the home of somebody who doesn’t have a lot, and leave feeling like royalty because of their hospitality? That’s because the essence of generosity is self-sacrifice. God entrusts financial blessing to people who aren’t controlled by the love of money. How can you tell when you’re controlled by the love of money? Because instead of giving when God tells you to, you withhold. Understand this: When God impresses on you to sow a seed, there’s a harvest coming your way.
“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well”
Ro 12:6 TLB
Paul writes: “Just as our bodies have many parts and each…has a special function…We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other…God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (vv.4-6 NLT). Dr. John Maxwell recommends that you wok where you’re strongest80 percent of the time, where you’re learning 15 percent of the time, and where you’re weakest5 percent of the time. So, what are your strengths? To find the answer to that question, you must: (1)Be secure. If you allow your insecurities to get the better or you, you’ll become inflexible and resistant to change. And if you don’t change you won’t grow. (2)Get to know yourself. Spend time exploring your gifts, ask for feedback and receive it, and be honest about your blind spots. (3)Trust your leader. If you can’t trust the person you’re following, you should look for someone you can trust, or get on another team. (4) see the big picture. Your place on any team only makes sense in the context of the big picture. If your sole reason for finding your niche is personal gain, your wrong motives will rob you of the very joy, fulfillment, and success you desire. (5) Rely on your experience. The only way to know you’ve discovered your niche is to try things, take risks, learn from your failures and successes, and discover what God has gifted you to do.
“Learn to sense what is vital…and of real value.”
Php 1:10 AMPC
To achieve greater self-discipline, you should: (1) Start by doing the hard things first. And when you get sidetracked, make yourself go back and complete them, For example, make your bed, pick up your clothes, and wash the dishes; don’t make extra work for others. And don’t start several projects at once; the feeling of “getting something done” will help you grow in self-respect and self-discipline. (2) Make a commitment to be punctual. Tardiness is a hard habit to break. To conquer it you must be willing to call it what it often is-inconsiderate, selfish behavior. (3) Plan ahead. Everything takes longer than you think, so don’t wait until the last minute and then rush around like a chicken with its head cut off. “Living under the gun” can give you ulcers, whereas allowing extra time is good for your health and peace of mind. (4) Accept correction from those who care about you, without sulking or retaliating. Until you’re willing to take correction, you’ll never be qualified to give it. The Bible says, “Wisdom is found in those who take advice” (Pr 13:10 NIV), so if you’re wise you’ll welcome feedback and seek counsel. Gandhi once said, “There’s always a limit to self-indulgence, but none to self-restraint.” Ask God to help you control your unruly thoughts, feelings, desires and behaviors. Identify the unmanageable areas in your life, stop making excuses, face the truth even if it hurts, refuse to feel sorry for yourself, and set a few attainable goals. In other words: “Learn to sense what is vital…and or real value.”