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.

 

Fishermen throwing a net while standing on a boat

Hard Working Fishermen

The fishermen worked hard while they were out to sea. The task list required hard work. Putting bate in nets, casting nets, and pulling nets full of fish into the boat must be done as a part of the job. This was not easy. It took hard work, and fishermen’s day didn’t stop when they arrived back at shore.

When ashore, fishermen had to unload their boats. They had to repair nets. Fish had to be cleaned and sold. The work on the ground was as hard as being at sea. Successful fishermen had to work hard.

Their willingness to work hard was one of the reasons Jesus called fishermen to be his first disciples. Jesus knew being “fishers of men” would require much labor, so he called those who were willing to work hard. The same is true today.

Working hard is a key to success. Many scams and schemes have been developed over time trying to skirt hard work, but there is no substitute for rolling up our sleeves and getting to work.

The Bible links working hard for the Lord and successfully fulfilling our purpose.

  • Psalm 128:1-2 says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor. Blessings and prosperity will be yours.”
  • Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”
  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…,” Colossians 3:23-24 says, “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”
  • Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord,” says Romans 12:11.

Fulfilling our purpose requires you and I to work hard. There is just no substitute for hard work, and as we reap the benefits of our labor, we must remember the cause of our success is the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 says, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me,’ but remember the Lord your God. For it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth….”

The Bible encourages us not to become conceited. The success you and I enjoy comes from the Lord, and the writer of Proverbs says, “Pride comes before the fall.”

It’s Not About Me tells the story of a frog with a problem. The frog’s home pond is drying up, and the frog has heard a vibrant stream is just across the field. Getting across the field would be an impossible journey for a frog with short legs, so a plan is developed.

The frog convinces two birds to fly across the field carrying a stick. Each bird carried one end of the stick in her mouth, and the frog clinched the middle of the stick with his mouth. The birds were flying the frog across the field when a cow looked up and saw the three. “Who come up with that idea?” the cow wondered aloud.

Not able to resist, the frog opened his mouth and said, “I did.” Pride comes before the fall.

As you and I enjoy success from our hard work, we must remember it comes from the Lord. Working hard for the Lord does bring success. It may not come today or tomorrow, but if we hang in there, it will come.

What is the Lord calling you to do? Completing this calling will take hard work and working hard for the Lord brings success.

 

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.

 

 

3 Action Steps for Achieving Goals

Here are 3 action steps for staying on track to achieve goals.

The goal was entering a better place. Israel was promised they would be able to enter the land of Canaan. This was a milestone the people of Israel desired to reach, and the promise was made by the Lord, who had proven himself to be faithful, so you would think all is well. However, a lack of faithful courage turned obstacles to blockades.

Moses sent 12 spies into the land to conduct a survey and bring back a report. They found abundant resources; everything they were going to need was in the land. They also found fortified cities and giants living there. It was clear to all 12 achieving the goal would mean overcoming obstacles. It was the way the obstacles were viewed which made all the difference.

Most of the spies believed there was absolutely no way Israel could enter Canaan. They agreed it would be great to possess the land, but the fortified cities and inhabitants were too much. The people living in the land were bigger and stronger, and the spies viewed themselves as “grasshoppers” compared to the giants living in Canaan. Their lack of faith paralyzed them.

The minority believed Israel could take possession of the land, and they were ready to begin the journey at once.

“But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses, “Let’s go at once to take the land.” He said in Numbers 13:30, “We can certainly conquer it.”

The fortified cities and inhabitants were only obstacles, and the Lord would help Israel overcome them. In faith, the minority believed Israel could achieve the goal, and they were itching to start.

Achieving goals may not come easy. It takes much work, and there may be any number of obstacles standing between you and me and our goals. We must view obstacles as obstacles and not turn them into blockades.

Here are 3 action steps to ensure obstacles do not become blockades.

1. Have Faith.

The difference between the majority and minority spy reports was faith. They were on the same trip and surveyed the same land, but their perspectives were different. One did not have faith, while the other possessed a strong faith. Faith is a vital part of success.

Faith is what drives us to move forward. It is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Faith is what drives forward movement.

Faith caused Caleb to be certain Israel could take the land. He had seen the Lord’s previous work: Israel coming out of Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and the provisions of food and water in the desert. He was sure the Lord could work again, so he was ready to trust the Lord and achieve the goal.

Faith compels you and me to move forward in achieving our goals.

Have faith your goal can be achieved. Have faith you can overcome obstacles. Have faith the Lord will help you accomplish your purpose. Have faith you can fulfill your calling. Have faith.

2. Work Hard.

Israel did not automatically possess the land. They had to work hard. Achieving goals requires much hard work. Someone has said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary,” so you and I must be ready to work hard.

3. Set Realistic Milestones.

Israel did not gain the whole region at once. They took possession of the land piece by piece. It took time.

The same is true for our goals. We are not going to achieve them immediately, so we need to establish realistic milestones. Setting these benchmarks helps us see we are making progress in our journey and keeps us from being overwhelmed by the big goal.

Most of the spies did not enter Canaan. Their lack of faith kept them from seeing what could be accomplished.

On the other hand, the minority entered Canaan. Their faith, hard work, and realistic milestones helped them achieve the goal.

Acting

Start achieving your goal today by taking the above action steps.

 

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.

 

 

four people sitting at an outdoor table eating

3 Keys to Remember when Others Judge you

Have you been unfairly judged by others, or maybe even yourself? Here are 3 points to remember.

It was time to choose a new leader. The current king’s reign was coming to an end, so Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to anoint a new king. This was a secret mission since Saul was still on the throne, so Samuel was to anoint the future king at a private event.

Jesse’s family was invited to the dinner. As the family entered, Samuel took one look at Eliab, and thought, “Surely this is the next king. His credentials say he’s qualified.” The Lord told Samuel it wasn’t Eliab, nor was it any of Jesse’s sons who were at the dinner.

Samuel discovered the one the Lord had in mind was not even at the dinner. He was still in the field tending the sheep; he was the youngest, and no one even considered it important for him to be at the dinner. He had to stay behind caring for the sheep.

They sent for the young man, and when he arrived, Samuel was instructed to rise and anoint him. For he would become the next king of Israel.

Substitute a few details, and we see this scene played out in modern times. Resumes and credentials are heavily weighed, while character is a secondary consideration.

We naturally want to place a higher value on things we can see rather than things we cannot see. We value credentials, appearance, and accomplishments because we can see them, but a person’s heart may be a little harder to see so we don’t spend as much time there. The Bible tells us there is a better way; in fact, we are taking an upside-down approach.

1 Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height. For I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Bible suggests we put the heart first in our evaluation of others. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world in which this does not always happen. You and I may be evaluated unfairly; we may even judge ourselves unfairly. When this happens, here are 3 points of encouragement to remember.

1. God sees your heart.

God knows you and me. The Lord knows us better than anyone else, and he sees what is genuinely in our hearts.

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord looks at the heart.”
  • “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards according to what their actions deserve,” says the Lord in Jeremiah 17:9-10.
  • 1 Chronicles 28:9 advises, “…learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him, but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

God knows our ideas and motives. He knows what drives us. When others negatively judge us for making decisions, the Lord knows why we made those decisions. The Lord knows our hearts, and he does not judge unfairly. He is fair and just in all he does.

2. God sees our potential.

No one thought David would be the next king. He was not even at the dinner. The family left him behind to care for the sheep. Samuel, Jesse, or no one else realized David’s potential. I wonder if David even realized his own potential. Perhaps the only one who knew what was possible was God.

We have a tendency not to recognize our own abilities. We want to go after that goal, but we don’t think we have what it takes.

You and I desire to accomplish goals, yet we say to ourselves, “I can’t.” We do not recognize our own potential.

God knows our potential though, and if he’s put the goal in our heart, we can trust him to get us there. No one realize David’s potency until he beat Goliath. No one may recognize our potential until you and I accomplish a goal. When you judge yourself unfairly, remember God does not judge unfairly. He is fair and just in all he does.

3. God will prepare you for the next stage.

For the most part, I don’t like clichés, but this one fits. God does not call the equipped; he equips the called. You and I are qualified for the first stage of a project; however, we look down the road four or five stages and convince ourselves we are not qualified, so we do not allow ourselves to act.

We are not the only ones who have ever struggled here. Moses and Jeremiah did, and the Lord responded by saying, “I will give you the qualifications.”

  • In Exodus 4:10-12, “Moses pleaded with the Lord, ‘O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been and I’m not now even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue tied and my words get tangled.’ Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go. I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct in what to say.”
  • Jeremiah 1:6-8 says, “O Sovereign Lord,’ I said, “I can’t speak for you. I’m too young.’ The Lord replied, ‘Don’t say I’m too young for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you and don’t be afraid of the people. For I will be with you and protect you, I, the Lord, have spoken.”

God qualified Moses and Jeremiah, and he will qualify you and I for what he has called us to do.

Many stages of education and training are required to be a doctor, but if God has called you to be a doctor, he’ll get you through the stages. It takes several steps to be a teacher, but if the Lord has given you the desire to teach, he’ll guide you in taking those steps. God qualifies us so we can be in the place he wants us. When you are unfairly told you’ll never be able to accomplish your goal, remember God does not judge unfairly. He is fair and just in all he does.

Acting

What desire has the Lord given you? Make a list of steps you can take toward accomplishing your goal. Start taking those steps, and remember as you go, while the world may judge unfairly, the Lord does not judge unfairly. He sees your heart, knows your potential, and will guide you through the stages to your goal. God is fair and just in all he does.

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