Pressing On

Looking and moving ahead.

We all have goals and dreams, and we work hard to achieve and fulfill them.

As Christians, our main goal should be imitating Christ. Paul provides some advice to help us.

In Philippians 3, Paul writes, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection, but I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing – forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us.”

We are encouraged to narrow our focus in two ways.

Forgetting what is behind.

This may be hard for us to do. We cannot allow the past to absorb and control our present and future.

  • We cannot get hung up on what we have already achieved. There’s still more work for us to do.
  • We cannot allow mistakes we have made to beat us down. In his grace, the Lord will help us move beyond mistakes.

Looking ahead.

We should look ahead to what is coming; our concentration should be on the Heavenly prize awaiting us.

Keeping our focus on the future rather than the past will give us the motivation to press on. Our Heavenly prize awaits us at the finish line.

 

mountains with the sun setting

Most Important Key for Fulfilling Our Calling

This is the most important key to achieving goals and fulfilling dreams. It is also the most important key to overcoming barriers in our lives. It is the driving force which pushes us to achieve the goal, fulfill the dream, and overcome the barrier. It is faith, and faith is indispensable in fulfilling our purpose.

Faith is believing and has two components. Both are crucial to completing our calling.

1. Believing in one’s self is vital to fulfilling our purpose.

Self-confidence is necessary to succeed in life. This is not arrogance, but an understanding of ourselves. It is an understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses. It is a true assessment of ourselves.

The problem is we often lie. You and I tell ourselves, “There’s no way I can pass the exam,” so we don’t even take the class. “There’s no way they will give me a promotion,” so we don’t even apply. “There’s no way she’ll go on a date with me,” so we don’t even ask. We lie about ourselves. We believe the lies and do nothing.

While it is healthy to understand our limits, we must believe in ourselves to get anywhere. We may not be the most intelligent members of a class, but if we study hard, we can pass. We may not be the most popular person in the office, but the hiring manager may be impressed by our qualifications and work ethic giving us the promotion. As for the date, the girl may be interested and hoping we ask. You and I are unique. We have something to offer. We must believe in ourselves to move forward.

Switch your thinking from what you do wrong to what you do right, from what you don’t have to what you have. This will give you a true starting point to achieve goals and fulfill dreams.

Caleb was self-confident. At age 85, he believed he could take a mountain. Caleb was one of the scouts sent into Canaan by Moses, and he brought back a faithful report. Caleb believed Israel could take possession of the land as the Lord promised. Lacking faith, Israel was overwhelmed by the obstacles, so the nation spent much time wondering in the desert.

45 years after the favorable report, Caleb is in the promised land, and he is ready to take a mountain.

Caleb says in Joshua 14:11-12, “I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So, give me the hill country that the Lord Promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns, but if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land just as the Lord said.”

Caleb’s goal is to take the mountain, and his self-confidence allows him to move forward. He knows his strength, and Caleb knows he’s a good fighter. He also knows his weaknesses. Caleb knows it will take the Lord’s help to succeed.

2. Believing in the Lord’s help is essential to succeed.

Caleb possessed enough self-confidence to realize he needed the Lord’s help. His goal of taking the mountain could only be achieved if the Lord helped him. At some point, Caleb would reach his limits, so the limitless Lord would have to step in for success.

The same is true for our success. You and I will eventually reach our limits, so we will need the limitless Lord to step in for success. And we must believe he will.

“Remember the Lord your God,” Deuteronomy 8:18 advises, “he is the one who gives you power to be successful….”

When our limits are met, the Lord is only getting started, and just like he helped Caleb take the mountain, he will help us fulfill our purpose.

Faith is the single most important key to success. We must believe in ourselves and in the Lord’s help. Everything else will fall in place behind faith. It is the driving force that puts plans into motion and moves us from wishing we were fulfilling a purpose to completing our calling.

 

 

a crowd of people walking

His Friends Didn’t Quit

Overwhelming circumstances and situations are hard, and they can be a barrier to accomplishing goals and fulfilling dreams. We become overwhelmed, so our natural response is to quit. Mark and Luke introduce us to four friends who encourage us not to quit. The Gospel writers introduce these four men through a fifth friend who is unable to walk.

Totally reliant on other people, the man spent his days on a mat. He was unable to move, and his friends cared about him. They made sure his needs were met. They wanted to help the man as much as they could, but there was only so much they could do.

The friends heard how Jesus was performing miracles and helping all kinds of people. “if they could only get their friend to Jesus,” they thought, “what could he do?”

Jesus came to their town one day, so the friends carried the man to see him. They arrived at the house only to see the crowd was large. They had to get their friend to Jesus, but it seemed there was no way to get any closer.

It would have been easy for the friends to quit at this point. They could have given each other a high five for trying and went about their day. What would have happened if the friends quit? There are times in life when it would be easy for you and me to quit. What happens if we do?

Thankfully, the man’s friends decided not to quit. Their persistence helps us understand what it looks like not to quit.

Not Quitting May Be Unconventional

The four friends faced what seemed to be an impossible task. They had to carry a man through a large crowd to get Jesus’ attention. They devised a plan to bypass the crowd and go through the roof. Their plan was unconventional and risky. They could fall; the man could fall, and deroofing might upset the homeowner. To spite the risks, the men proceed.

The friends practiced what John Maxwell calls the Law of Victory. They did not give up when obstacles were standing in their way. They were determined to get their friend to Jesus. “Fulfilling a dream often does not come easy or within the realm of the conventional,” Maxwell says. In this case, the men had to proceed with a plan built on faith. Realizing their goal of placing their friend before Jesus meant stepping out on faith.

We, too, must build our plans on faith and step out on faith to see our dreams fulfilled. Obstacles may stand in our way, so we must be determined to allow the Lord to help us step around them. While it may be risky and unconventional, not quitting may require us to step out in faith.

Not Quitting May Exercise Our Faith

In He Still Moves Stones, Max Lucado says, “Faith does these things. Faith does the unexpected, and faith gets God’s attention.” It certainly did in this moment. Jesus was so moved by the men’s faith that he healed the man lying before him on a mat. The man who couldn’t walk into the house was able to walk out of the house. And, it is safe to say the crowd stepped aside so he could walk through the door.

Though facing overwhelming odds, the four friends were determined to get the man to Jesus, so he was able to walk out of the house. They stepped out on faith rather than quitting.

You may be facing overwhelming odds today. Life may be in a horrible place right now, but please don’t quit. Rather than quitting, devise a plan built on faith

Stop and think about your plan for a moment. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What’s the next step in accomplishing my goal?
  • What’s the next move in fulfilling my dream?
  • What can I do to start going around the overwhelming obstacles? Perhaps it is getting more information, enrolling in a class, asking for help with my resume, or taking the first step to reconcile a relationship.
  • What action step can I take today to start the plan in motion?

Follow the example of the four friends and put your plan in motion. I can’t promise the outcome, but I can relay a promise the Lord gives. That is, he will always be with you. He will not ignore your faith.

Acting

Identify the obstacles standing in your way and enact a plan to overcome them. Ask the Lord to help you each step of the way.

Know a friend who may benefit from this post? Please share it with him or her.

 

 

mountains with the sun setting

Feel like quitting?

Feel like quitting? You should meet Joseph Grunfeld.

Joseph is a 62-year-old New Yorker who has defied odds all his life. “Born with a heart murmur,” according to the New York Post, “he’s had three back operations, suffered a stroke that left one arm entirely numb, and has mild to moderate rheumatoid arthritis.” And earlier this month, Grunfeld defied odds once more.

He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak of 19,340 feet. Grunfeld, who has difficulty walking, said it was not easy. He had many people, including doctors, tell him no along the way, but he refused to give up. Grunfeld was able to climb the mountain with the aid of walking sticks and a team of volunteers. Joseph Grunfeld was able to accomplish his goal and fulfill his dream because he didn’t give up.

How often do you feel like giving up in life? Seeing a dream realized or obtaining a goal becomes hard, so we want to stop. A long-term relationship enters a rough season, so we just want to bale. It may be tempting to quit, but Joseph Grunfeld’s story reminds us pressing on can bring victory.

Our victory may mean defying odds and staring down stereotypes, but we can.

Defying Odds

You and I may face overwhelming odds, but we can defy them. Statistics are just numbers on paper. They do not chart the course of our lives if we do not allow it. Maybe you’re facing odds that say you’ll never earn a degree. Odds are you won’t be successful in that career path, but it is your passion.

For you and me to realize our dreams and achieve our goals, it may mean we have to ignore the stats. It may take us longer than it does everyone else. We may have to take a different approach than others, but that is okay. Hard work and persistence will overcome stats. You and I can defy the odds.

Staring Down Stereotypes

You and I may have to face down some stereotypes. Society tries to place people in boxes which do not fit. I’m sure you are aware of any stereotype you face, but it does not describe you.

You and I can not allow stereotypes to play games with us. We must do our best to ignore them and press on. Breaking through stereotypes gets society thinking which may make it easier for others in the future. So, not only are we realizing our own dreams, we are helping shape the future.

Where can we find strength?

We can find strength in others who have went before us. Their stories may encourage and inspire us. Most importantly, I believe we can find strength to defy odds and stare down stereotypes in the Lord.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Realizing dreams and achieving goals can be hard, but don’t quit. You can defy the odds and stare down the stereotype.

As for Joseph Grunfeld, he has no plans on quitting. He has climb one mountain and has a second in mind. “I’m revved up,” Grunfeld told the New York Post.

Acting

What is the next step you need to take in realizing your dream? What’s the next step in achieving your goal? Identify it and do it. You may need aid and extra time, but that’s okay. You can do it.