Success by God's Word

Archive for August, 2012

Seven Hidden Gifts in Problems

No one likes problems. We all dread them. There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t prefer to live a trouble-free life. But that not the way life goes.

As the old proverb states every cloud has a silver lining. In other words, there is something good behind every challenge. Problems can prove to be beneficial to us if we approach them in the right way. As such we should look for the blessing or good in every problem.

If you take a step back and examine some of the problems you have faced in the past and even those you are dealing with now, you’ll recognize some of the benefits from those problems.

Problem definition Problems provide opportunities:

1. To see God’s power at work in your life

Israel’s bondage in Egypt created an opportunity for God to display His power not only to Israel but Egypt and the world at large (Ex. 3: 7-10). It is through the miracles, signs and wonder that the world learned about the God of heaven and earth. Not only did these people learn how powerful God is but they understood that I AM was the God who would be presently continuously available to meet every need in their lives.

Your problem may be God’s opportunity to work powerful and actively in your life. Give God the invitation to fight for you.

2. To build your character

Joseph’s problems of being hated by his brothers, enslaved and taken to a foreign land, wrongful accused and imprisoned and being forgotten when he showed kindness were all part of God’s plan. Joseph had a dream but also many problems before reaching that dream. I think he believed and understood that there was a process of growth he needed before his dream could become real. Both his character and his skill as an administrator were developed during the years of being misunderstood, mistreated and forgotten (Gen. 39 -41, Gen. 45). Joseph stayed the course and God was able to use the gifts he had deposited in him to promote him and to save nations and his family from death (Gen. 45: 7-8).

Problems bring out the precious gems that have been hiding in you. You learn that there is more in you when you’re faced with challenges.

3. To have a more intimate relationship with God.

David is a shining example of someone who had an intimate relationship with God. He certainly had his share of problems. He knew what is like to go hungry but yet he saw God provide every time (Ps. 37:25). He knew what it was like to sin but was quick to learn that God forgives (Ps. 51).

Whatever your problems – sickness, loneliness, lack – you have an opportunity to call on God (James 4:2) and see Him draw close to you. He is the I AM – your Healer, your Father or Friend, your provider and whatever you need Him to be in your life. Run to God with your problem.

4. To provide the solution

The solution may actually and usually does rest with you. The solution can lead to personal victory, closer relationship with God and others, to wealth, fame, or progress. Think of it this way, the conveniences we now have where solutions to problems. The light bulb is the solution to dispel darkness and the telephone broke the barrier of long distance communication. What problems are there around you that you are the solution to or have the solution for?

People pay to have problems solved. Be the solution and be compensated adequately for providing it.

5. To bring out the creativity in us

We are stretched or challenged by problems. They make us think more and bring out the creativity within. A friend once shared her story of having very little in her pantry. She had financial challenges and no money to buy food. While standing in her kitchen, she asked the Lord to show her how to make the best of what she had to give her family a healthy meal. She was amazed at what she was able to do with three main ingredients. God gave her creativity to cook a meal that her family was able to enjoy.

Sometimes we need to step back and look to God – the God of creativity – to help up make the best of every situation.

6. To connect us with people

Sometimes we fail to recognize that problems should not be handled alone. The enemy often causes us to think that we can take care of the problem ourselves. At times we withdraw from the community or church family that God has given to us when we need help the most. The problem becomes more overwhelming and leads to defeat.

When faced with problems this is the time to connect to people. In your church, talk to your pastor, church leaders or small group leaders not only for a listening ear but to pray with you and support you in other areas. At work, connect with your colleagues with specific expertise in an area where you may be lacking. When you connect with people you not only received the needed help but you develop new and inspiring relationships.

7. To demonstrate the love of God

Our sin problem provided an opportunity for God to display how much He loves us. While we were still at enmity with God, He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us and receive our punishment. His desire for us was to that we should not have to perish but that we should be able to live full abundantly lives in Him.

Jesus commanded us to love one another because through the demonstration of our love to each other, people who don’t know Him will know that we are His. This love among us becomes real especially during times of difficult. We can also show love to others by helping when they are in need.

So whenever you are faced with a problem, consider what benefits you can derive from it. Ask God to show you not only how you can solve it or how He will work it out for you but to reveal the silver lining. Approach your problems with a positive view.

Share with us: How do you deal with your problems?

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Simplify Your Life: Stick to Simple Habits

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)

It has been fun to do this Simplify Your Life series.  It has been an eye opener to me and I hope was for you too. The key to simplify your life lies in constantly evaluating what you’re doing and if you’re doing more than necessary. A simple lifestyle is a choice we have to make.

Life doesn’t need to be more complicated than it already is. Sometimes we add more to our schedule without thinking about how it would affect our lives. In the height of our activities, we may sometimes add new things to our lives that complicate matters – join an email subscription, start a course or new hobby, or volunteer to participate in a project, etc. Although these may be good activities, we usually find that we are a bit stretched.

A good practice especially before adding new things to your life is to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I need this added responsibility or activity?
  • Would it add or multiply value to my life?
  • Is it within my life plan or purpose?
  • If I take this on, is there something that I would be willing to give up?

The questions will help you weed out what you don’t need in your life. We don’t have to be involved in everything. To keep life simple, don’t give yourself more than you can handle because God doesn’t do that to you.

We do need to be purpose driven and simple in the delivery of God’s plan for our lives. Think about it – God’s plan of salvation is simple – accept Christ as your Savior and Lord; live for Him and eternal life is yours. If you choose to embark on or keep up a simple life, then be determined and stick to the plan. Don’t allow yourself, your family or friends to side track you. There is peace in keeping things simple.

I have just focused on a few ways to keep life simple and how to avoid having an overwhelming schedule. I have not, by any means, covered all the simple life habits we can develop to make our lives abundant and successful. After all, we are keeping it simple :).

Life is to be enjoyed (1 Tim. 6:17) and simplicity of life activities makes that possible.

Feel free to share how you are able to maintain a simple yet effective life.

Simplify Your Life: Keep Your Finances in Order

So the rich man called for his manager and said to him, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Let me examine your books. It’s obvious that you can’t manage my property any longer.’ (Luke 16:2, GW)

Review your financesIn this Simplify Your Life series, we’ve cleaned up and cleared out a lot to make our lives less complicated. However, it wouldn’t be wise to continue this series without discussing personal money management. One thing is certain; we have to account to God for everything including how we manage our money and the other resources He gives to us. It would honor. God and serve us well if we have a good handle on our finances.

We have to know when and how much to tithe, give, save, invest, lend and sometimes borrow. If we don’t set money rules for ourselves we can easily become entangled in spending more that we actually earn and be faced with more debt than we can handle. But we can develop some simple money habits to keep our finances in order.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Be thankful for what you have. Appreciate the goodness of God toward you.
  • A heart of gratitude keeps you from complaining and constantly worrying about whether you have enough.
  • Give generously and with a cheerful heart.
  • You will be filled with joy when you see the benefits or blessing others derive from your acts of love.
  • Save a little every time you earn or receive money.
  • Consider this as a blessing to yourself for your now and your future.
  • Don’t run into big purchases or unplanned ones. Wait 24 hours to give it some thought.
  • This will help you to avoid overspending or making unnecessary purchases that you may later regret.
  • Borrow as little as possible and pay off your debts steadily.
  • You will reduce the stress of being a debtor if you embrace this practice.
  • Keep records of your finances and review monthly.
  • You will see the progress to your financial goals and make needed changes (spend less or earn more) to achieve them.

Personal money matters could at times be rather complicated especially with the many options available to us. At times, using the services of a financial planner will make it simpler to control.

How do you keep your finances in order?

Simplify Your Life: Clear Your Mind

Then the Lord answered me, “Write the vision. Make it clear on tablets so that anyone can read it quickly. (Hab.: 2:2, GW)

I love writing (I guess that might be obvious by now). I always have a notebook and pen or my blackberry which I make full use to write notes, reminders and ideas. But we often overlook writing as a practice that can bring simplicity to our lives. Our minds can become cluttered and over-loaded with many details. If we don’t release all the to-dos, the dreams, the visions on paper, we begin to see the smallest tasks as big problems. Even in our thoughts we need to keep it simple.

For example, the thought about this series came to me while reviewing my emails. At first, my intention was to jot down a few points and to get back to it later. However as I started to write, I had to clear my mind and write everything I wanted to say. Whenever I get an idea or remember something I need to do but the time isn’t right, I have to write. Usually at night this would happen to me. I think I write and develop ideas better at night (that’s an Ah Ha moment there for me)! If I do not write out what came to mind, I become restless. Sometimes, I’d be reluctantly get out my bed and do (usually write) what I needed to before I could go to sleep.

So, we don’t just write when it comes to setting our goals or making life plans but writing is useful for keep any area of your life simple. For example, you can write a home to-do list, have an idea book for projects you want to do in the future, or plan your vacation. My Mum always says that when you make notes you have something to refer to and what you have to do won’t be easily forgotten. Here are some writing habits you can develop.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Write down your goals – short term, medium term, long term and life-time.
  • Gives clarity and definition to your life.
  • Regularly review your plans – daily do something that pertains to your overall plans
  • Keeps you focused on your goals and helps you to keep moving forward.
  • Always take a notebook and pen with you. If you have a smart phone, use it well – write notes, set appointments or reminders of tasks you have to do.
  • Clears your mind of the small details so you can think and work through important tasks.
  • Keep a journal – a prayer journal, a gratitude journal, a just-expressing-thoughts journal, a what-I-did-today journal
  • A great way to express yourself, appreciate God and relax your mind.
  • Express your thoughts and cares to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom.
  • Peace of mind is certain when you place God in the midst of your life. You will make good life decisions and not be stressed.

Apart from these tips on writing to help simplify your life, remember this: Do what you have to do when you have to do it. This would help you avoid rehashing things over and over in your mind and remove overwhelming feelings.

Do you write your thoughts down? Do you keep a notebook, a journal or have any kind of writing habit that has helped you to keep life simple? Share your thoughts.