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Faith don’t come easy!

There’s a common misconception about faith that exists not only in the world, but even inside the church. There’s this thought that a life of faith is a bed of roses. It’s an idea that people of faith are blissfully blind and neither worry nor concern ever darkens our door. Not only is this idea of superhero Christians incorrect, but it’s also damaging to new converts who get frustrated because they never reach that state of Christian bliss. 

I do my best not to worry about the ills of life and I’ve grown a lot since my younger days. However, I’d be lying if I said I never looked to God and wondered. When I’m tried and I don’t quite understand, I find myself thinking as Job did when he said “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). However, it’s the trying that is the challenge. 

In the vein of Job, many fail to realize that some of the things that add to the trying times are the people around us. It’s the people that don’t always understand the ways in which we trust in God. They’re the people that can’t see past the right now, so they push our spiritual buttons. They assume that faith is simple, and yet they complicate it for us quite often. 

Their thinking at times is that we just decided to follow God without any concerns or trepidation. The thought is that we know where we’re going and what we’re doing at all times, but that’s not faith. There is a struggle to faith and while we accept it at most times, there are days when it’s difficult to understand and embrace. And yet, we do it anyway because the other option isn’t encouraging. We talk about faith glowingly because we know and trust God. But the road is anything but easy, even though God is worth every bit of the struggle.

Contrary to popular belief, faith doesn’t just come from people deciding to blindly follow God. Faith doesn’t always come when we decide to do something. Sometimes, it comes when we’re forced into something. When you didn’t leap off the cliff, but you were thrown. When you didn’t jump into faith, but you were pushed by people who were behind your back, but didn’t have your back. When you were showered with “We love you and support you”, but you realize you’re in a room full of strangers that you’ve known for years (let that sink in).

When you’re bombarded with advice from people that have absolutely no experience in what you’re going through. When you have to abandon what you’ve been doing for years because you now realize that you were wrong and God was right and He tried to tell you five mistakes ago. No, faith isn’t always what we decide. Sometimes, it’s all we have left.

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Read an excerpt from “Are We Still Making Disciples”: “Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible”

 

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Think outside the box, but not outside The Bible

So many of the rules of the church have been loosened because we want to seem welcoming to an ever growing segment of society that doesn’t see the need in physically coming to church. While I understand that we need different methods in a different world, there are some things about the church that should be non-negotiable.

I once preached a sermon entitled “When Jesus Is Your Draw”, taken from Luke 5:1-10. In the text, Jesus goes out into the boat with Peter to catch fish. Peter had gone out the night before, as he explained to Jesus, and had caught no fish.

However, even after explaining to Jesus that the fish weren’t biting, Peter says to Jesus, “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net”. Once Peter followed Jesus’ instructions, he caught so many fish that his boat couldn’t hold them. There were so many fish that the text says his net broke and he had to call another ship over to take in the overflow of fish.

The text also states that there were so many fish that both boats begin to sink. However, what I always noticed in the text was what didn’t happen. While the net was broken and the boats began to sink, nowhere in the text does it say that any fish got away. Peter had gone back to the same place that he had gone the night before to catch fish, but to no avail. The difference was that Jesus was now in the boat. After this, Jesus told Peter, “From henceforth, thou shalt catch men”.

This text is a great lesson in what we as disciples need to draw people. All we need is Jesus. We’re in a day and time where we’re “marketing” the church in an effort to reach a new generation. I have no qualms about this as this generation responds differently than generations past. You have to reach them through their phones, either by text or social media, and you must do so in ways that grabs their attention.

I’m very active on social media platforms and I use them to promote books, ministry events, and I even post a live video feed from the studio during my radio broadcast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with different methods to draw people to church.

Where I have a problem is when Jesus comes up missing in the marketing plans. Where I have a problem is when we’re promoting services, but we aren’t promoting the Savior. Jesus is the center of the church, so how do we expect to make disciples of Christ, without promoting Christ?

When what you used to do doesn’t work anymore, you have to come up with a new strategy. Yes, believe it or not, there is a strategy to discipleship. When Jesus sent His disciples out in the 10th Chapter of Matthew, He didn’t do so without giving them instructions. He told them what to do, how to do it, and He even told them what their demeanor should be as they did it. Yes, God is intentional!

However, in the midst of new strategies and new approaches, we can’t water down the Word of God or Jesus in the process. No matter what our approach is, it must be centered on The Word. No matter what we’re doing to grab people’s attention, we must always make Jesus the center of attention. We can think outside the box, but we should never think outside The Bible. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what we’re doing is in vain.

The world has convinced us that crowds matter when we’re putting on a program. Where we used to believe in “where two or three are gathered”, we now don’t believe it’s worth it unless there are two or three hundred. We’ve been convinced that the flyer can’t be too churchy, or the wording can’t be too Christian. We have buzz words like “fire”, “anointing”, and “breakthrough” that causes people to run to our churches.

We make sure that we have the praise team or the preacher of the moment. In the name of creativity, we do all that we can to draw people to our flame. However, when you’re doing something for The Lord, the who and the why are always more important than the number of people that show up.

No matter what program we put on in church, there ought to be three objectives:

  1. Glorifying God
  2. Getting someone saved
  3. Keeping someone connected to God

I know we like to fill the room, but our main objective should be filling the people up with Jesus. Again, this isn’t to disparage anyone that’s looking for creative ways to fill up the church. In fact, I encourage every church to have some sort of marketing plan that targets the people that are current members (we can’t be so concerned with the fish we don’t have that we neglect the ones that we do), as well as the people that you’d like to see at the church. The point here is that Jesus must still be the main reason we do any of it.

As we see in that Luke 5:1-10 text, when we take Jesus into the world, even in places where we were once unsuccessful, He draws where we once failed. And He’s so powerful, that even when we fill up our churches and people begin to overflow, because He’s the draw and He’s what people came for, no one will get away.

When we make Jesus the center of any program that we’re putting on, we are fulfilling our purpose as the church. When we draw people to Jesus with Jesus, they will stay because of Jesus.

Whatever we do in the church must begin with The Bible. When we come up with ideas, we should ask:

  1. Is this Biblical? – Are there any Scriptures that supports what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re doing it?
  1. Who’s getting the glory? – Is what we’re doing lifting up the name of Jesus or our particular ministry, our cause (if the cause isn’t Christ), or even our invited guests?
  1. Is there an opportunity for someone to be saved? – This is beyond simply opening the doors of the church. Is what we’re doing actually being done to draw people out of the world and to Christ?
  1. Does it point to discipleship? – For those that are in attendance that are already saved, will it cause them to go out and witness to someone else about Christ or just witness about the event?

I know this may seem a little stuffy to some people, and maybe we’ve gotten to a point where we believe we don’t have to mention the name of Jesus every time we invite someone to our church. But if you don’t want to mention the foundation of the church in what you’re doing in the church, supposedly for the church, then one has to wonder if any of it is really about the church. If Jesus isn’t the draw, then what are we really doing?

If we really want to fill the church, there are some tried and true methods that we can use that will ensure that the people that are coming are there for the right reason. Evangelism still works. Witnessing still works. The testimony of your personal life when you’re in the world still works. But no matter what the method, we should all be doing as Peter did. We need to get Jesus in the boat, or in the case of our discussion, in the marketing plan.

Then, we need to develop a nevertheless spirit. Maybe we tried some things the old way and didn’t get the response that we wanted, so then we have to ask ourselves, did we drop the net on our word or on the word of Jesus?

By simply obeying what Jesus said and when He said it, Peter did what he always did when fishing. But when he did it at the command of Jesus, the outcome was completely different. If we’d only follow His Word, we’d catch more fish than we could hold.

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Stay in your lane: Don’t focus too much on “the Joneses”

FullSizeRender (4)Everyone that appears to be ahead of you isn’t necessarily winning. This is one of the things that we need to understand in life. We’re often looking ahead, around, and behind us, when our primary responsibility is to run the race that God has designed for us. It is not our call to be overly focused on the apparent successes or supposed failures of others. Just do you, and all that God has promised will come to you.

Let me try and make it a little plainer. The only way for you to lose the race that God has for you to run is if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do. No one can beat you. No one can stop you. That is, no one but you. You have a specific duty and it’s all in your lane. If you stay focused on that and stay the course, God will cause you to triumph!

Focusing on those ahead of us can be misleading. There’s nothing wrong with having good, sound, accomplished mentors that have blazed the trail before you, but not everyone is doing as well as you think they are. There are people that are running ahead of you, and they’re running quite fast, but they’re also running towards destruction. Without having all the information that’s present in their lane, you could unnecessarily speed up while trying to keep up, and crash into a coming hurdle that God intended for you to jump over with ease.

Conversely, you must consider the example that God is setting through you. There’s someone running behind you. Not because they’re slow, not because they’re failing, and not because they don’t have the skills that you have (sometimes, they have more). There are some people that are running behind you just to see how you’re running your race. They’re taking notes. They’re learning from you. God may in fact be using you as a standard bearer. Are you running properly? Are you at the right pace? How are you handling your hurdles? Are you properly positioned in your own lane?

I’ve noticed that God has given me a very unique ministry. I don’t preach the same as others (I don’t have a “Baptist sound”), I don’t teach the same as others, and much of what I do in ministry outside the pulpit was established before I was ever licensed, which caused skepticism because people often put more stock in titles than they do in content. But I also believe that by answering my call later in life, I’m better able to handle the uniqueness of the call.

At this stage in my life, I have a better understanding of how a sense of competition doesn’t belong everywhere in life. This is especially true in ministry, where our primary goal should be leading others to Christ, and not trying to outdo one another. Because of the perspective that I have, I’m able to just do what God has called me to do. I can write as He inspires me, teach and preach as He inspires me, and walk in what He’s called me to walk in, without ever feeling inferior because it’s not quite what others do in their lane. But more than anything, because I’m unique in what I do, it helps me to appreciate the beauty in what my co-workers in the vineyard do without ever feeling the need to change or to try and change them.

I know the grass often looks greener on “the Joneses” side. They’re jobs seem better, their ministries seem to be flourishing a bit more, they even seem to have better friends than you. But just remember, as you run your race, all that glitters ain’t gold. People have become quite good at imagery these days.

At the same time, some people are doing exactly what it looks like they’re doing because God has called them to greater heights and platforms. But before you go aspiring to that, you must understand that there is also a greater responsibility there as well. While understanding that sometimes everything isn’t what it seems to be, we must also remember that we aren’t in some lanes because we can’t handle it.

“The Joneses” may be miserable or they may be as happy and accomplished as they appear. Pray for them and wish them well in whatever they choose to do. But don’t let it distract you from what God called you to do. I call it snowflake ministry. We don’t all look the same, but when we all get together, what a beautiful sight it can be. All we have to do is what we’re designed to do. And to get to the well done line, we can’t be overly concerned with any other lane but our own. Don’t press toward any mark. Press toward the one that God has set before you.

Excerpt from “Going Through to Get Through”

Read an excerpt from Rev. Kelly R. Jackson’s latest book “Going Through to Get Through: Activating your faith during life’s most trying times”.

BookCoverPreview (2)Taken from the chapter:
“The challenge of God’s timing: Working your way through the wilderness”.

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What are you waiting for?

When we’re trying to answer the question of why God brought us to a particular place, we must first examine ourselves. It’s so easy to begin questioning God and asking Him why we’re in a certain place or what we’re supposed to do now, but the first questions belong to us.

God may have in fact pointed us in a certain direction, but did we take the route that He told us to take? Did we go through the people that He told us to go through, or did our pride or our feelings about that individual cause us to use someone that God hadn’t authorized?

Did we commit to the vision that He gave us, or did we alter it? Most importantly, when we received that vision from a holy God, did we alter our living to coincide with living out the promise given to us by a holy God?

When you examine those questions for your own life before questioning, or even blaming God for why you have to wait in the wilderness, you may in fact find that it was never God’s plan for you to wait. Know that God’s blessings on your life aren’t yours no matter how you’re living.

When you ask God for a blessed destiny and He agrees to give it to you, you can’t continue on living however you want. God expects us to live up to the call and the blessings.

Also, you may find that it was God’s plan for you to go through some trials so that you might know that He delivered you, and so that you can appreciate your blessings when you reach them. All that you’re doing may have been designed for you to exercise your faith and for you to grow in that faith.

Consider again the Children of Israel. God could’ve made a way for Moses and the Israelites to escape captivity without ever having to confront Pharaoh. But by having to deal with Pharaoh head on, all were able to see that God’s power can deliver us without us ever having to cower in the face of those that wish to oppress us.

When they crossed the Red Sea, it wasn’t God’s desire for them to spend 40 years in the wilderness wandering. The journey from the wilderness to the Promised Land would’ve normally taken only a few weeks. It was their disobedience and lack of faith that kept them from reaching their destination sooner.

God’s promises to us are real, but we sometimes need to evaluate our commitment to God. There are times when we’re more committed to the promise than we are to the God of the promise. We want to go from point A to B, but God may want to add a few more letters to the equation.

God sometimes wants to refocus us on why it is we started out. So often we’re in this wilderness state looking to God and asking “What’s the holdup?” In the meantime, God is looking down at us and asking the same question.

There are times when God will slow progress because we’re moving in the wrong direction, or we’re moving in the right direction, but we’re skipping steps. There are also times when God will stop progress because we’ve stopped progressing. As we’re waiting patiently in the wilderness, we must also remember to wait FAITHfully!

We must remember to never give up on God just because traffic has momentarily stopped. There’s a plan, a path, and a purpose. But if you’re not moving, don’t always assume that God has stop working on your behalf. Sometimes, we’ve stopped working on His behalf. Sometimes, all you’re waiting on is you.

Isolation for elevation

Whether you’re in favor of the wilderness or not, you must understand that it’s all a part of God’s plan. It may not feel like it, it may not look like it, and it may be counter to what you thought God promised you, but know that it was always a part of God’s plan for us to be isolated before we’re elevated. This time of consecration is necessary if we’re to be what God would have us to be at the next level.

As God looks to shape and mold us into what He wants us to be, we must also understand that there is some reshaping that must go on as well.

So those of us that are passionate, but only passionate about sinful things, God wants to redirect our passion, not take it away from us. For those of us that are intellectuals, but only for worldly causes, God needs our intelligence, but He needs it focused on Him.

Those of us that are talented and gifted, but have used those talents and gifts for the world, God doesn’t want us to lay our talents down, He just wants us to use them for His glory.

When we come to God from the world or from a place where we weren’t in His service, we must understand that we have some things on us that must be removed. We have some habits, some ways, some addictions, and some behaviors that are not of God. Before we can truly be used for God’s purposes, these things have to be stripped away.

The easiest way to stay in a rut is to stay in the place that got you stuck. So when God calls us up and out for greater service, He’s going to call us out of the rut of former friendships, former family relationships, former jobs, former romantic relationships, and even former church relationships.

When He isolates us in the wilderness, He’s taking the time to strip us of all of our old allegiances in order to form some new alliances. When God is taking you to something new, you can’t be beholden to what’s old. Sometimes God has to break us apart in order to remake us into what He wants us to be.

When those Children of Israel had been in captivity all of those years, as much as they loved God, they had still taken on some characteristics of their oppressor Egypt. It’s been said that it took one night to get them out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of them.

When we’ve been living in the world, following the edicts of the prince of darkness, we have some stuff on us. God can’t just elevate you to a Promised Land or a holy position just as you are. He’s got to have some alone time with you so that He can shape you into a vessel that He can fill, so that you may pour out into others.

Everybody’s seasonal: Lessons for 2016 and beyond…

2016-new-year-ss-1920I’m guilty. I was one of those people. Always at the end of the year, threatening to kick someone out of my life. Claiming new change for the new year. Making my list and checking it twice, and if you didn’t fit in, you can get out. It seems like a wise thing to do, especially in the name of self-improvement. But there came a day when I took a long look at this practice and found that not only was it unnecessary for me to even try to do such things, it’s not even my business. Let me explain.

First, let me state that we don’t need a lot of resolutions. We simply need resolve. Stop looking at the calendar as an indication of when you should change. Change when you feel the need to. January 1st isn’t some magic day. I know the feeling of newness hits us all, but that same feeling would hit you in the middle of June if you saw a need for change, made the change, and committed to it.

Also, I contend that we don’t need to choose our circle as much as we need to cultivate that which God has chosen for us. God has promised to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6), so He will lead us into those places that He would have us to go, around those people that He would have us to be with. If you’re in the wrong place, He’ll make you aware. Not so that you can remove someone, but so that you will know why He’s about to.

In the Christian community, we sing songs like “I Give Myself Away”, where there’s a portion of the song that goes: “My life is not my own, to You I belong, I give myself, I give myself to You”. If this is in fact truth, how are we making decisions on who stays and who goes? If your life belongs to God, then He makes the decisions on who belongs in your life.

Now, I know the thought here is going to be “Rev. Jackson, don’t I have to make some decisions about who I should and shouldn’t associate with?” Yes, you do, and I believe that God does lead us to certain decisions. However, what I believe more than anything is that God changes us first, in order to change our surroundings and our circle of friends.

We’re so focused on who’s in and out of season in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that we can be out of season in someone else’s life as well. We’re so busy kicking people out of circles that we don’t know that there are some circles that we need to be kicked out of too.

Once there’s a difference in how you’re living, you won’t have to get rid of any wrong people in your life. Once they see you going in a direction that they don’t wish to go in, they will remove themselves without any assistance from you. This way you didn’t “kick” anyone out, and there are no hard feelings. You’ve probably recognized that they needed to go, and God moved them away. Most importantly, this leaves the door open for reconciliation, just in case we come back into season in one another’s lives down the road.

If we’d only just remember, we’re all seasonal. No matter how important you think you are, no matter what you’ve done for a person, no matter where you think you fit into their lives, it is only for a season. Remember that as people are passing through your life, so too are you passing through theirs. We don’t like to deal with difficult people in our lives, but their blessing may be tied to their interaction with us. We may be in their lives but for a season, but our impact may be life-long.

I’ve often stated in my writings and my teachings that we should let God be our gardener. We should allow Him to do all of the planting and uprooting as He sees fit. There are times when people are in our lives and we wish they would just go away. But if God placed them there, they must be there for a reason.

Many of us would’ve never learned the lesson of choosing the right friends had God not allowed us to make the mistake of choosing wrong once or twice in life. In the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), Jesus tells us to allow them to grow together, and He will separate them when the time is right.

If we allow God into our lives in that same way, He will separate us from the “wrong” people when the time is right. But don’t be surprised when you look up in the end, and there are some “wrong” people standing by your side, who were supporting you all along. Some of those very people were on your “get out of my life” list, and you were so focused on how God was using you, that you had no idea how He was using them.

I know this thinking isn’t popular these days. We’re so busy taking pride in being some kind of lone wolf that we forget that we need one another. We’re so busy telling folks that all we need is God, while forgetting that God manifests His love for us through others. Social media will have you thinking that everyone is disloyal when they don’t co-sign your every move, when in fact the most loyal people you’ll ever meet in your life are the ones that aren’t afraid to tell you that you’re wrong. They’re the ones that would rather fall out with you than silently watch you make huge mistakes, all in the name of being your “ride or die”.

Seasons change all the time, and some last longer than others, no matter what the calendar says. Our relationships are the same way. Remember that any fruit that’s picked before it’s time can cause illness when it’s consumed. Allow all of your relationships to reach maturity. Even through the growing pains. Even through the difficulties of life. Even when it seems they’ve outlived their usefulness.

We’re all seasonal. Live your life, in your current moment, in this current season. Leave all of the changes to God, with the expectation that He will do something great in your life, while providing the people that you need along the way. And He’ll do it all in due season.

Walking the path to your purpose

10846337_10203187423746321_5228810459576158689_nSomething you often hear from Christians is: What is my purpose? We often struggle with our purpose because we have an idea of what we want to do with our lives. From the time we’re children under the age of 10, many of us have dreams of what we wanna be when we grow up. On into high school and college, we’ll take classes and pick majors that line up with what we feel we wanna do. We do things that line up with our will. But all of that should change once we turn our lives over to Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams, and scripture tells us that God will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4), as long as it’s within His will (1 John 5:14). But as far as our purpose in concerned, as Christians, it should always be according to what God would have us to do.

The trouble we have is walking the path to our purpose. We all seem to want the purpose, but not the process that comes with living it. Even when following our dreams, there can be steps that we have to take that aren’t necessarily glamorous, but necessary in order to achieve what it is that we desire. The same is true with our purpose. There are times when God sends us through some things on our way to that purpose. It’s so easy to look up during these times and feel lost and confused, as if we’re not on track with what we’re supposed to do. This is where our faith is supposed to kick in.

When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt by Moses, there was a destiny awaiting them in Canaan. But in order to get to that destiny, they had to cross a river and spend some time in the wilderness. They had to overcome an obstacle and then go through years of preparation (which included some people and some habits dying off) in order to reach their promise. What this means is that in order to reach what God has promised for us, we sometimes have to be in uncomfortable situations. Situations where it seems as if there’s no progress or growth, but if we continue to walk the path ordered by God, we will eventually receive His promise.

Part of getting to our purpose is doing what God has ordered us to do right now. Even if it’s not what we want to do, it may be essential to what God wants us to do. At issue is the fact that we’re more focused on the finish than we are on the race. There are times when we’re doing things that seem to be (according to our understanding) a waste of time. However, it may in fact be those things that will lead us to our purpose. We get frustrated because we don’t know all of the steps to our purpose. Only God knows that. So when we feel we’re lost, we could very well be on track. It may not be comfortable, but necessary. The only way to find comfort during this time is to surrender our will to God’s will and trust Him along the journey.

If I may share my testimony, I started writing in my teenage years in high school. I started out writing poems and short stories. I was also a musician, playing in the school orchestra and dabbling in other instruments like guitar and piano. My plan was to put my gift of poetry and music together and become a professional musician. After graduation, I enrolled myself in a college for creative students and began taking music theory. As far as I was concerned, I was on my way!

A few years after that, however, I found myself in broadcast school, learning radio and television production. My mother, recognizing my love for music, thought I might make a great deejay and brought me some information on the school. However, I fell in love with and excelled at television production, so after graduation, I went that route instead. I still had dreams of fame, but now as a television producer/director.

After working in that industry for 7 years, I felt writing calling me again, so I began writing my first book. In the midst of doing that, I started making music on my computer. Though signs were there, and even the call on my life from God had come (with me running from it), I had no plans to become a minister. That was my ordained purpose from God, given to me from the time I was in my mother’s womb, but I couldn’t see it because, as far as my eyes were concerned, the path I was on said anything but minister.

PhotoGrid_1432925643414Fast forward to today, and it’s all clear to me now. I’m now the author of 6 books, the last three spiritual in nature, and references to God and His Word are all throughout the first three. I now host a weekly radio broadcast where I can use the training I received in broadcast school. The theme music for my broadcast was something I created on my computer 13 years before I ever had a radio broadcast. It was something I created for my personal enjoyment, never knowing how it would ever figure in ministry down the road. I’m now using my editing skills from my video background to create YouTube videos (we’ve only scratched the surface with this).

When God finally called me into the ministry, He begin to open up my understanding as to why I had gone down all of these different roads in life. I thought I was gonna be famous, but He wanted me to preach His Word. The ministry that He has called me to is unique. It’s not just a ministry for the pulpit or to be used only inside the church walls. For this specific time, in a very specific way, God prepared me for a very unique ministry. I didn’t understand the plan or the purpose, but I walked every road He told me to walk. For that reason, I’m able to do ministry exactly as He’s called me to.

Scripture tells us that the steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord (Psalms 37:23). If there’s anything I want anyone reading this to remember, it is the fact that there will be times when you’re walking certain roads in life and it will seem as if you have no clue of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It will seem as if what you’re doing is fruitless. I’m here to tell you that if you’ve given your life to Christ, you are what the scripture calls a “good man” (or woman). This means that God has ordered your steps. This means that just because you don’t know where you are, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know where you are. He won’t order your steps without mapping out your path. You must surrender your will (what you had planned for your life) to His will (what God has ordered for your life).

If we are servants of God, then we must come to understand that a servant has no will. A servant’s desire is to do the will of his master. In this case, we are all bound by Romans 8:28, which states that we are called to God’s purpose, not our own. Once you accept that, then you’ll truly know the difference between being lost and being uncomfortable. And when you’re living according to God’s purpose, there can be no greater definition to your life.

What are you really carrying into 2015?

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As we close out the old year and head for the new one, I’m seeing a lot of posts on social media and hearing a lot of talk from people about showing some people something in 2015 (usually a perceived hater or someone that they don’t like). Here’s what’s interesting about that: In order for us to show someone “something”, we would have to pray for their downfall (because God reveals our successes in His own way). Most times, we want to prove something to people in authority or people we perceive to be above us, whether they deserve to be above us or not. But in order to prove it to the point that they’d actually care, the person we’re proving it to would have to suffer loss. In this scenario or mindset, if they’re to see your elevation, they’d have to be beneath you. However, there’s a catch to this manner of thinking.

Successful people don’t really worry that much about other people’s success. They’re too focused on what they’re doing to try and “prove” anything. They’ve already proven it. And know that success is relative. To some, it’s money and possessions. To others, it’s a happy and healthy family. To some, it’s a great relationship with God. And there are still yet some that see having all of these elements as success. Either way, to truly be successful and be right with God, we can never wish for our success in someone else’s failure.

To take this a step further into the spiritual, blessed people are so busy basking in God’s blessings, grace and mercy, they have no reason to wish ill on anyone in order to feel more blessed. They realize that such an attitude can cancel out God’s blessings. I know that Scripture tells us that God will make our enemies our footstools, but we need perspective. Everyone that disagrees with you or won’t do what you want them to isn’t necessarily an enemy, and thus, God won’t make them your footstools. Some disagreements are just that. Disagreements. We don’t have to use these small differences as an emotional launching pad into the next year. Your desire to be a better you for the upcoming year should have nothing to do with proving anything to anyone other than you.

Scripture also tells us that it is the prayers of a righteous man that availeth much (James 5:16). What that means is that you must be righteous in your prayers to receive God’s blessings in their fullness. You can’t go into 2015 or any day in any other year with so much animosity towards your fellow man that you wish failure upon them in order to be elevated. This is the enemy’s plan to keep us at odds with one another. Once we know who we’re fighting, we can stop fighting one another. Once we realize that no matter who’s against us, God is for us (Romans 8:31), we’ll realize that it isn’t worth it to wish ill on one another. Just know that God can’t be for you if you’re against another one of His children. He can only be for you when you know who your real enemy is (Ephesians 6:12)!

We simply need to walk with God into the next day and the next year. Let Him do the promotion and demotion. Let Him do the planting and removing of people from your garden. And most of all, if you have ill will toward your fellow man, ask Him to remove it, not for 2015, but ask Him to do it right now!

The lesson here is that it’s alright to wanna come up, but you should never want for your come up to be at the expense of someone else’s downfall, whether it be through your actions or your wishing. We often list the things that we claim we’re not carrying into the New Year, and all the while, if we have this “I’ll show them” mindset, we’re carrying anger, bitterness, grudges, and a spirit of revenge. We want to destroy others because we feel destroyed by the fact that certain relationships didn’t work out. However, Scripture also tells us that when we set traps for other people, whether physical or spiritual, we are actually setting those traps for ourselves (Psalms 35:7-8). Something to keep in mind as we plot emotional revenge on the people that we feel have wronged us in 2014.

What God has for you really is for you, and He doesn’t have to downgrade anyone to upgrade you. Just a reminder in case you see yourself coming up in the next year, but you also see your “enemies” climbing too. Don’t be confused. God’s got enough for all of us.

So we know who you’re rooting for in 2015. The question is, who are you rooting against, and how do you expect God to bless that mindset?