Tag Archives: Godly Success

God favored you

IMG_1486You were built for this. Before the foundation of the world, God had the design on your life. He favored you. Not because you were better than anyone else, not because you were more talented than anyone else, and not because of anything that anyone did for God on your behalf. God simply chose you to do His will and His work, so that others might come to know Him, glorify Him, and be saved by Him through Jesus Christ. It’s as simple as that.

These words of encouragement aren’t just for you, the reader. They’re words that I use to encourage myself as well. When you’re doing a work for The Lord, it’s easy to forget who called you to the work if you’re not focused. You begin looking at man and the difficulty he can often pose while you’re simply trying to walk as God has commanded. You become discouraged because they can’t see what God has put into your heart, your mind, and your being. The one thing you want everyone to accept, many (some of them close family and friends) reject.

It’s odd, but the more difficult we think something may be for us to do in the way of serving God, the more difficult we think it is for others to do. We often transfer our limitations to one another. And when we’re not doing that, we assume that if God chose someone, we’d automatically see it due to all of our time in the church, or our many years of being saved. After all of the miracles we’ve read about in our Bibles and some that we still witness today, we’re still capable of forgetting that God can still do things above our understanding. And that includes choosing people that we never suspected to do great work.

It can be quite difficult to stay focused on your call when you come face to face with people that have set out to discourage you and roadblock your success. We’re still human and in the midst of persecution, we forget that the God that’s for us is greater than any force that comes against us. And when things don’t fall into place as we expect them to, we wonder if we are in fact on the right path.

Sadly, the place where the most discouragement comes is the place where we’re first called to do the work. For Christians, that means that we’ll face some of our most difficult challenges within the church walls. There are all kinds of jealousies, cliques and agendas that will make working for The Lord the most challenging thing you’ve ever done.

I addressed this very thing once on my weekly radio broadcast. I talked about the jealousy that often exists in the preaching ministry. Preaching is a difficult and often lonely task. It seemed to me that if there was ever a time to welcome another soldier to the army, it would be in the ranks of preaching. However, there are times when other preachers don’t want to see others called into the ministry because they believe it will take something away from them. I surmise that any preacher that has a jealousy of another preacher probably hasn’t been called, because true preachers of the Gospel know that we need all the help we can get. Those of us that have been called welcome the help.

Difficulty in God’s favor also comes in the form of people that have a hard time accepting the transformation that comes in your life. They assume that everyone that God has preordained for the call simply walks out of their mother’s womb into the call. They fail to realize that the vast majority of us have to go through some sort of major transformation before we can really realize the work we’ve been called to do. As I often state, in our flesh we’re only interested in completed projects. We have no time or patience for works in progress.

Where home (the church) should be a place of reinforcement and encouragement, it often becomes a place of rejection and discouragement. People are willing to believe that God can part the Red Sea so that the children of Israel can walk over on dry land. They believe that Jesus Christ can raise a man from his grave after he’s been dead for four days. And they believe that the Son of God can be raised from the dead after 3 days. But they struggle to accept that God can transform someone that they never suspected into one of His greatest servants.

They fail to see that by not accepting God’s hands on your life, they’re not downplaying your ability to do God’s work, but they’re in fact downplaying God’s ability to transform you into a capable vessel to do His work. They’re not really selling you short. They’re selling God short!

As we look at Romans 8:28-31, we see that it is in fact God’s plan that the chosen among us do His will and His work. When you read those verses, it tells you that in His infinite wisdom, God chose. He didn’t do so based on man’s standards or expectations, because the moment He acquiesces to our standards, He ceases to be God.

So a preacher may or may not look like you envisioned. An evangelist may or may not look like someone told you they would. A pastor may or may not look like tradition has told you they would. It’s all according to God’s plan. And when you consider that scripture tells us that God will chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27), we must understand that we may never know why or how God chooses. All we need to know is that He is a sovereign God that doesn’t need anyone’s permission, nor does He have to explain His choices.

Even in Jesus’ ministry, His life was designed in such a way that He would be able to reach out to the poor and less fortunate. The rich Pharisees of His day had no compassion for those people, nor did they know how to reach them. However, they responded to One that came from the same impoverished areas that they did.

The same is true in ministry today. God is using new, radical, and non-traditional looking people to carry the Gospel forward. People that can reach the world today. Tradition doesn’t save people. The Word of God does. So when God calls something unexpected to the forefront, rather than question it, we should see it as God using something that He had already set aside for this point in time, and for His own purposes. It may not be your cup of tea, but there’s somebody out there that’s thirsty for what God has brought forward.

If you find yourself in a position where it seems as if man is trying to prevent you from reaching your God-ordained destiny, you must remember that God is more than the world against you. He favored you before anyone could ever disapprove of you. He gave you a foundation before anyone could ever attempt to tear you down. You are already marked for greatness and man can’t prevent what God has signed off on.

We understand that the world may not receive what God has placed on our lives. However, the church hurt is often difficult to get past, and at times, can be depressing. It’s sad to say, but the church itself does more to try and kill many ministries before they get started than the world does once they’re up and running. Mostly because of tradition, but also because of the fact that many don’t approve of what God has done, and it’s easier to challenge God indirectly (attacking you) than directly. But don’t you give up on God.

If Jesus had to leave home to have an effective ministry (Matthew 13:57-58), the same may be true for you. But as Jesus went through ridicule, rejection, abandonment, torment and torture, leading to the crucifixion, remember that the grave wasn’t the end of the story. Keep doing The Lord’s work. I promise there’s a Sunday morning in your future if you do. When you have the favor of The Lord, nothing can stop you.

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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.

Laboring in vain: Our work is ineffective without God

Old-NewUnless The Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.Unless The Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep – Psalms 127:1-2 (ESV)

One of the most dangerous thoughts to ever enter the mind of a Christian is that of self-reliance. The idea that we can actually do something on our own. The idea that we alone can rise above issues, situations, and circumstances. The idea that if we can do things to our own level of satisfaction and by our own standards, we can somehow achieve a level of happiness that goes beyond what God can provide.

This attitude is often what shapes our prayers. It causes us to try and order God around as opposed to seeking His plan for our lives. We’re more concerned with our wishes and our desires than we are with the spiritual order of things. However, the scripture at the heading of this lesson tells us that a spirit of self-reliance is an exercise in futility. We know that God is there, but are we remembering why? In fact, it is the idea of self-reliance that will drive us crazy because we will inevitably come upon a situation that is beyond our control. If you’re only relying on self, what will you do in these moments?

Any act without prayer and acknowledgment of God is an act without real hope. For with everything WE attempt to put into place, we attempt to eliminate God. The reference “in vain” in our text speaks to something that is ineffective or improper. Therefore, to do anything without first seeking God’s guidance and blessings will be ineffective and improper. Where we often miss the mark is in falling in love with initial or temporary successes. Something works once, twice, or maybe even more without seeking God and we assume that it will work all the time. In our flesh, we seek that instant and immediate gratification, and not the long-term promises of God that those who are spiritual are seeking.

This particular text is stressing to us the importance of keeping God at the head of all that we do. It’s great that concerned citizens (the watchman) want to keep watch over their cities. But who are we counting on to cover the watchman? When we live in a society that has become not only anti-prayer, but anti-God, how can we expect things to remain peaceful and orderly? When we would rather rage than pray, what will the outcome be?

Your Christianity can’t only be skin deep and situational. You can’t look in the face of the evil in the world and say that you’re tired of praying and you’re now ready for revenge. Scripture tells us that we should never cease praying (Luke 18:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:17), but we only seem to believe that during times in which we’d like a blessing. But what about during times of death? What about during times of immorality? What about during times of destruction? What about praying to God just because He is God?

Look at our text today and look at how we’re conducting ourselves in society. There can be no real activism without first activating our faith in God. There can be no “grinding” for a better life without Godliness. There can be no peace without The Peacemaker. There can be no healing without The Healer. If God isn’t at the head of whatever it is that we’re doing, it will fail. Let me simplify: we will fail without God, but God Himself will never fail without us.

No matter what problems we may face in life, God is capable of delivering us from them all. If we face them alone, it is simply because we have chosen to. However, as this scripture tells us, to face them without God is to face them in vain. You can work all the days of your life, but if you haven’t placed God over your finances, your labor will be in vain. No matter how much you have, it will never seem to be enough. If you refuse to bless God with just a portion of what He has already blessed you with, you will find that what you have will disappear without explanation (Haggai 1:5-7). It is through God that we find the value of life, not the price of it. After all, Jesus has already paid the price for our lives (1 Corinthians 6:20). The cost was much too high for us.

This Scripture tells us that if God doesn’t build our house, we that do build it are doing so to no avail. This doesn’t just include your physical house, but also your spiritual house (1 Corinthians 6:19). What this says to me is that God must be at the foundation of what we do. If He’s not the foreman of the project that is our lives, the structure itself is for naught, constantly on the edge of implosion.

We must always remember that God is a provider to His children. Whatever we have need of, He will supply according to His will. If you’re hungry, He will feed you. If you’re struggling with a load, He’s there to help you carry it. If you’re grieving, He’s the best shoulder to lean on. And if you’re weary, He will give you peaceful rest. It makes no sense for us to stay up toiling day and night for material possessions or out of fear of what man can do to us. We mustn’t be weary in our well doing, so we must continue to stand and work for what is right. But we can never accomplish anything without acknowledging the God that owns it all.

Are you running your race: God provides all of us with the opportunity for success

Old-NewAt one point or another in life, we find ourselves in a mad scramble to be what man has deemed a success. We watch television or look on social media, see what someone else has, and then begin envisioning what it would be like for us to have the same things. But as Christians, have we really considered what God has to say on the matter?

Whenever I teach on prosperity, I remind people that God has a different idea of success. We see material, God sees spiritual. We see a piece of the pie, God sees peace of mind. I recently stated on my radio show that success is a relative term. For someone that’s been poor all of their life, it may be money. For someone that’s been sick, it may be health. For someone with an addiction, it may be being clean and sober. All these things matter, and yet, they can seem elusive as well.

When looking at Ecclesiastes 9:10-12, I find that success isn’t always within the grasp of our own abilities. Sure, God has blessed us with said abilities, but we’ve all seen or known of someone that doesn’t seem to have lived up to their capabilities. We’ve all known people that seem to be well short of what they’re able to be. And the truth is, some of us may not be all that our abilities suggest we should be. But know that God wouldn’t give you the ability, without giving you the opportunity to utilize it. As we go through these verses, we will see that God will open the doors of chance, no matter where we are in life.

Let’s analyze the text:

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

In its simplest terms, this verse is telling us to work to our strength and ability while we yet have time. The popular phrase is stated “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. We often assume that we have time to do things, but how is it that we reach this conclusion? How do we know how much time we really have? (We’ll discuss this thinking when we get to Verse 12)

God wants us to know that we can’t do any work in the grave or beyond it. We must use all of the strength (might) that we have now to do whatever work needs to be done. Our earthly abilities have no value after we leave earth. We must take advantage of the life, health, and strength that God is giving us right now.

We often take the strength of our youth and use it to “live”. But as we wind down and aren’t capable of doing the things that we used to do, we then want to serve God from our seats. Well, God needs a youthful and energetic Christian, as well as a seasoned saint that can serve mentally when they can no longer do so physically.

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all

One of my pet peeves with Scripture is misquoting and misapplication. This particular Scripture is one of the most misquoted Scriptures in the Bible, particular because of one portion. If you think about it, we’ve often heard this Scripture quoted in sermons, by people, and most definitely is song as “the race is not given to the swift nor strong”. Now, it seems like a small thing, but we must consider what Scripture is and its purpose before we go rearranging and even leaving out words. Scripture is God speaking to man and telling us through His Word how He expects us to live. Adding or taking away anything can confuse the message.

If I tell you that the “race is not given to the swift nor strong”, you become focused only on the race that you’re running. However, if I tell you, as Scripture states, that “the race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”, you’re aware that there will be a race and a battle. When this Scripture gets twisted, we’re prepared to run, but not to battle. This is why the devil loves a misquoted Scripture because it keeps us unprepared. You can’t properly apply what you don’t fully understand.

Once we do understand the Scripture in full, we can then apply what it’s saying to us. This 11th Verse keeps us focused on what it is that God has for us. Too often, we’re looking around at others that seem to be moving at a faster pace than we are, or they seem to be in a position of power that we desire for ourselves. However, we must continue to run the race that is before us. We must prepare for the battles that we have to face.

Additionally, people that seem to be faster than we are or stronger than we are, aren’t necessarily doing better than we are. God wants us to understand in this verse that what is for you will be there as long as you’re moving at your designed pace. We are required to do what God has designed us to do, and as long as we stay in that mode, the end of this verse tells us that time and opportunity will present itself. By running your own race and staying in your own lane, you will be prepared when presented with both.

12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them

Here, we find a conclusion to the thoughts stated in Verses 10 and 11. We have to remain focused on our task because we have no idea when our last day is upon us. I’ve often taught in Bible class that God gives us as much time as we need, no more, no less. This is why it bothers me when I hear Christians state that God took someone from physical life to death too soon. It’s an emotional statement that suggests that God makes mistakes, that He somehow doesn’t know what He’s doing, or that something is happening that is beyond His control. Death may sneak up on us, but it never will on God.

Also in this verse, death is discussed in unflattering terms. Fishes caught in an “evil” net. Birds caught in a “snare”. The sons of man “snared in an evil time”. This verse reminds us that death is at times unexpected and even unsettling. We’ve all been caught off guard by the way a person dies. This is what causes us to say things like “too soon” or “this isn’t of God”. But what this verse was designed to do is remind us that death can be sudden, and therefore we must really consider Verses 10 and 11.

It concludes that thought that we must live while we can. We must work on whatever gifts God has given us while we can, and do it to His glory. We must work to the level of our own strengths, and not to what we perceive others to be doing, because God will present us with opportunities for success in due time. It doesn’t matter how strong, gifted, intelligent, or financially blessed we are. If we fail to take advantage of the time and opportunity that God gives us to succeed, it won’t matter and we’ll fail to see success that matches what we were blessed with.

Also, we must forgive while we can because Verse 12 tells us that death can come upon us suddenly and we may not have as much time for reconciliation as we think. We must be willing to live in the moment as God has prospered us. Be active in our God-given abilities, not merely spectators of others. Not only is God able, but He’s made us able as well.