There are three things that prevent us from experiencing positive change in our lives:
1) We conform to what's comfortable. Sometimes we have a dysfunction and we have gotten so used to it that we have become comfortable with it, in a sense. Don't get too comfortable with your negative condition. If we are not careful, we can become complacent. Then God will challenge us in a way that gets us out of our comfort zones. In our comfort zones, we tend to form habits that are actually standing in stark contrast to the kind of decisions that support positive change we need in our lives.
2) We start to lose focus on what's important. Doing things that are important often take time. If we always get what we want immediately, how can we learn how to wait patiently and let patience have her way in us so we can grow in maturity? Don't put so much focus on getting something immediately that you neglect what you might need to do that will take a considerable amount of time. A good amount of time implies there is a process. It's in the process that you develop certain strengths you would not have if you got what you wanted too fast. Another point is this: you choose what you focus on. Let us not let other people dictate to us what we should focus on. If God has you focusing on certain things for your current season in life, don't deviate from focusing on those things. People might mean well when they try to give you advice about how to accomplish various goals, but not all advice is good advice.
3) We never change our attention. Attention gives you access to different things. Those things can be good or bad, depending on the situation. Who or what has your attention? In Acts 3:1-10, Peter and John had an encounter with a man who was begging for alms at the Gate called Beautiful. At one point, Peter and John demanded the man's attention. At that moment, they gained access to his heart. He just wanted alms for the day, but Peter and John wanted something more for him. They wanted to see his life radically transformed so God would get the glory.
For the man, the change did not occur in the temple, in which one might say, "positive change should happen here." Instead, it happened outside the temple, at the Gate called Beautiful. The temple can be a place where too much religious activity and not enough real transformation takes place because of man's traditions, and legalism, and rules. The temple can be a place where people say the little nice, polite things to your face, but their thoughts are actually contrary. The temple can be a place where you feel out of place if you have not been in it for a long time or if you have never had the opportunity to experience it. And this is not to bash the temple (i.e. the Church), but it's run by humans, humans that are flawed because of sin, which is why we need God's grace and His anointing to do things His way and not our own way.
But everyday life also happens on the streets. Who are you passing by everyday that desperately needs a change? Who do you work with that really needs to experience the complete opposite of the negative things they deal with each day? They are the ones we need to reach. They might not come to the temple, but God can arrange the kind of encounter between two strangers (or friends, for that matter) that leaves both parties involved so much better for having experienced it. Ask God to show you who is at the Gate called Beautiful in your life.
There will be points in time when God will challenge you to help someone else while you are wanting things for yourself. Here is the challenge: can you help someone else in a meaningful way that might actually require some sacrifices on your part in such a self-centered world? If you make yourself available to God, He can show you who is suffering with an emotional, spiritual, and/or physical condition, then you have a special encounter with them, healing takes place, and then others who are aware of the encounter can have a collective change of heart if they had been skeptical about how God can work in people's lives. To God be the glory!
"Stop leaving your gifts at home and dumbing yourself down just so you can be something that somebody else expects you to be." - Bishop T. D. Jakes
We were not created by God to fit in a box someone else wants us to be stuck in just so they can be comfortable with us. We need to go above and beyond the limitations people try to place on us. We were created for more. We were created to be CREATIVE! You have gifts, you have passion, you have abilities, and you have goals and dreams you need to fulfill not only for yourself, but so you can make a difference in the lives of many people! Don't let people get you to believe this lie: "you can't do such-and-such because you're not qualified" or "you can't do this and that because you don't have enough experience." This year, break through the barriers you once thought you could not break through! Have goals that are so big that they scare you! Have goals that get God's attention because you want to move towards the fulfillment of your purpose. If you settle only for small goals, you most likely won't see the areas of your life in which you really need God's divine help, guidance, and direction. Don't shrink back because your dream scares you and/or even other people. But step up to it and be determined to see it through to the end. When you're scared, your adrenaline kicks in and your senses get heightened, and you have a different mindset that allows you to function in a way that you wouldn't be able to if you were too lax and too comfortable.
This year it's time to move! This year it's time to break into new ground and new territory to really make an impact. This year it's time to reach more people in positive ways. It's time to not quit. The Wright brothers were not the first to try to build a plane that could reach the skies, but the ones before them quit. The Wright brothers were the first to not quit on building a plane. If you don't quit on your dreams you could be the first one in your family or the first one in your community to do something about which other people might have said "that can't be done." Don't quit!
Some people think you won't move unless they are the ones helping you to move, but God is the One getting many people ready for paradigm shifts and is transitioning them to a better place than where they were before. Some people left you in a certain condition in one place, and when they came back they expected you to be there, just as you were. But when you made the decision by faith to allow God to shift you from one dimension to the next, those people aren’t going to recognize that you are not who you used to be. You have undergone a transformation. God will give you everything you need before you actually need to utilize it so you won't be at the mercy of people who think they can control your movements, and all the while, they are still stuck in the dimension you are about to leave.
Also, be careful about being afraid to distance yourself from certain people. You are going to a place where they can’t come along. Just because someone was with you in one place, it does not mean they can come with you to the next place because God does not want you distracted by what you think you owe that other person just because he or she helped you in the past. That person might not be able to handle what God is about to do in your life. If some people came along to the next place with you, they might try to hinder you from walking in the plan God wants to execute in your life. You'd be surprised at what people might do when they get jealous and envious of you because of the way God has chosen to bless you. You’ve got to be careful about who’s around you in various seasons of life. Jesus didn’t invite all the disciples to go up with Him to the top of the mountain. It was just Peter, James, and John with Him when He was transfigured before them. Discernment will tell you who needs to be with you before you transform on the mountaintop. Not everyone can handle the mountaintop experience with you!
We cannot control what kinds of situations enter our lives, but we can control how we respond to them. What we choose to do and/or say will be based on our mindset and level of maturity at the time.
If other people are involved, we might say or do something to encourage or offend them in some way, but even though we are to be held accountable for what we do to/for them, we are not responsible for how they react to us. Or if it's the other way around, he/she is not responsible for how we react to them.
We are only responsible for the way we conduct ourselves. For example, you might try to do good for someone, and you don't know they have an anger issue, and for some strange reason, they lash out at you. Maybe they don't want anyone to do anything for them because they think receiving help represents a kind of weakness, or maybe it's for some other reason. Whatever the reason, you are not responsible for that person lashing out at you. But you'd be surprised at how many people feel guilty for how another person reacted to them. You don't have to live in a prison of guilt. You can be free today and for the rest of your life once you understand how to deal with your own actions and you stop feeling like you should be held accountable for what a person does in response to what you said or did to them or for them.
When we don't know what to do with the responsibilities, tools, and resources God has given us, we can easily get to the point where we become disengaged. When you're disengaged, you're "there," but you're not there at the same time. Your body is there, but your mind is gone. Whenever you are disengaged, you are vulnerable to depression and destruction. We have to be careful that we don't become disengaged with the things of God nor with our natural responsibilities because (1) we will be held accountable and (2) people are counting on us. If we neglect our responsibilities, the kinds of things that should take place won't, and then mediocrity can creep into the picture. If we are going to be people of excellence, we cannot afford to make any room for mediocrity. If we don't know what to do with our responsibilities, we should seek God in prayer and ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, Who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you" (NIV).
How do we get mentally and spiritually engaged with the things God would have us to focus on? We stop fretting over what we might have lost in a previous series of events/circumstances and remind ourselves of what God gave us in those moments and what He is providing us with now. We also become engaged by looking at the people God has placed in our lives and we do our best to invest in them in a way that will please God. If you are a leader in any capacity, people are looking up to you. They respond to your verbal and non-verbal cues. So, be present in the moment!
If you feel like you have plateaued in your life, if you feel like all your better days are behind you, take another look at things. Ask God to not only give you a fresh revelation about how He can work in your life and through you, but to also a fresh revelation about you as a person. If you knew the potential you have and the skills and abilities you have lying dormant inside of you, you would jump up and be excited because you would begin to understand how many kinds of new possibilities and opportunities you have yet to experience. Don't settle for the kind of thinking that says, "This is how it's always going to be... the same ol' same ol'." You've got to create a new normal for yourself. God put greatness inside of you for a reason. It's time to tap into it. This is not about some New Year's resolutions. This is about a whole new outlook on life and doing things on a whole new level. When you see who you really are, this might make you re-evaluate your friendships with certain people. Can they come with you in this next part of your journey through life, or not? Not everyone is going to be able to handle the you that will be operating in the gifting and calling God has for you. You're going to have to re-evaluate some habits and tendencies you have. Some habits and mindsets just cannot come with you if you want to see better days. Improvement sometimes means dropping things that are hindering you from growing and maturing. It's not just about adding on good things. You need to do both. Are you ready for better days? The better days are ready for you to show up!
Faith and fear are both empowered by anticipation. What are you anticipating next? Are you looking at your history of circumstances and expecting something negative to happen next or are you believing God for something great because you remember how time after time, God brought you out of your past situations and caused you to grow? Are you framing things in your life based on faith or fear?
When you look through a camera lens, you can change how you focus on what you are looking at. Things can be blurry or sharp and clear. Moreover you can choose to bring things into the potential shot or take things out of view. The question is this: what are you bringing into your shot each day? Are you bringing in unbelief in what God can do, or worry, or anxiety, or fear? Or are you bringing in faith, praise, worship, and excitement about what you know God is able to do next? I challenge you today: bring in the good, eliminate the bad. Bring in people who are going to encourage you and help build you up, and distance yourself from the naysayers and doubters and people who are not bringing any real value to the equation.
Be careful about what gets framed.
Your perspective affects how you successfully deal with an issue that someone else might struggle with. When David went up against Goliath, it's not like he was looking at a different Goliath than what his brothers had been looking at. He was looking at the same giant, but the difference between David and his brothers was that he had a different perspective. He had faith to see that victory was truly possible. When you look at the giants in your life--maybe it's a set of crazy bills, and you're asking yourself, "How in the world am I going to deal with all this?" Maybe it's a deep generational family issue. Maybe it's a habit you have been struggling with for a long time.
Whatever it is, your perspective matters. It's your perspective that is going to help you see things right or not. One person might look at what you have to face and say, "I don't know how you're going to deal with all that. Actually, I don't even know if you can at all" ... "No, shut up Doubt. I don't need you talking to me." ... If you have the right perspective, you say, "I know I am facing a giant now, but I know that if I remain steadfast and obedient to God, He will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus and nothing is too hard for Him! My God is infinitely bigger than this giant before me. My finances will be taken care of. This generational curse will be broken. This habit will not get the best of me."
Change your perspective and you will change how you speak about what you are facing.
We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). When you see something that seems to contradict what you heard, which sense will win? Hopefully you will choose to walk in faith. When you see sickness, but you heard, "by His (Jesus') stripes, we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), you have to go by faith and believe that healing is yours. Receive it! When you see trouble in one place, but you heard a word about how God is able to deliver His people from various situations, you must go on faith and trust God to keep you in His perfect peace through it all. Elijah, after he dealt with the false prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, he told Ahab that there was a sound of the abundance of rain, after 3 years of drought in the land. They didn’t see the evidence that rain was indeed coming, but Elijah heard with his spiritual ears. The question for us is this: are we hearing what the Lord is saying in the spirit? Or are we only relying on our natural hearing and on the rest of our natural senses? You might have just gone through a spiritual drought, a social drought (maybe it seems like no one is around to help you), or a mental drought (you just can’t seem to get a hold of your thought life as one thing after another keeps happening and it’s frustrating you), or perhaps you’ve experienced some other kind of drought. No matter what it is, you’ve got to be able to hear the rain. Rain represents the blessing coming down. You might have been dry in one season, but get ready for a rainy season! Get ready for blessings on top of blessings on top of blessings as you go from one stage of obedience to the next! And there’s nothing the enemy can do about it!
Under pressure and hard circumstances, remember what the Lord has said to you during past times of prayer and what revelation He has given you concerning the truth in His Word. It's easy to shout all across the church on Sunday, but then forget about the lessons the Lord gave you when you get to Monday through Saturday, and all hell seems to have broken loose for one reason or another, or for multiple reasons. The struggle is not about what you are dealing with, i.e. the pressure. It's about HOW you are dealing with it. Your level of maturity has to grow more and more as you deal with greater and greater levels of pressure. Moreover, you don't know who's really with you—and I’m talking about some real ride-or-die people, come hell or high-water, by your side—until you get in trouble and you have to deal with a large amount of pressure. It’s not easy. Most people will be with you as long as things are looking good. But get in trouble and see how many of "your people" are still with you then. Choose your friends very, very wisely. I’ve had to learn the hard way directly and by watching other people’s situations, that people will always show their true colors when pressure hits. And when they show their true colors, don’t try to paint them any other colors, lest you miss the truth about who they really are. Some friendships and relationships just might have to die because of who people showed themselves to be when the pressure and the trouble hit. But it’s ok. Don’t chase after them, no matter how close you were to them. Yes, they were your friend for a season, but remember it was just that, a season. Some seasons are short, and some seasons are long. But you have to know when the season is up. One thing I had to learn is that we can’t get too attached to any one particular person (no matter if they are a friend, a business associate, a leader, or a mentor, etc.) that we miss out on what God is trying to show us just because we don’t want to disappoint the other person in some way, shape, or form. When the Lord has given you a word, when He has given you instructions on how to deal with the trouble and the pressure in your current season of life and instructions for the next season you’re about to enter into, it’s best to follow Him and not worry about what man has to say about it. There are going to be some people you are going to disappoint, and they are going to want to hold on to you and they’ll try different ways to try to get you to stay where you at, but you’ve got to remember what the Lord has told you to do based on where He is taking you.
I just want to encourage and inspire as many people as I can for Jesus Christ.