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How to Keep Your Dreams Alive

Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18, NKJV)

We all have dreams. We have the desire to either accomplish different goals for ourselves or we carry within us promises that God has given to us. Sometimes we are able to keep carrying those dreams until their fruition. At other times, these dreams or promises we have may seem so long in coming that we give up before they become reality. On the journey we tend to lose sight of our vision, get weary, and stop moving forward.

Our Heavenly Father, knowing our human nature so well, understood the importance of giving us visions. He knew that to keep our faith alive and keep us forging ahead towards His promises and the God-assignments we have, He would need to create pictures for us. God used picturing (visualization) to help His children believe in His word and receive His promises.

God promised Abraham, when he was childless and too old to father a child, that he would be the father of many nations. God used pictures like the dust of the earth, the sand of the seashore and the stars in the heavens show to him how many descendants he would have. God also had Abraham confess His word. How? Every time he said, “My name is Abraham”, he was speaking God’s truth about himself – that he is a father of many nations. Along with his confession, the people in Abraham’s life participated in keeping this vision alive when they called Abraham by his new God-given name. They were not just calling his name but they were agreeing with God: “Abraham you are the father of many nations.”

Picture this. You are walking in the seashore in the early morning and you feel the grains of the sand under your feet. You pick up a handful and attempt to count each of them only to lose many through the cracks of your hands. You quickly realize that it’s impossible to count them. Imagine a promise from God like that to Abraham. You can’t help be in awe of God. To keep this promise alive, I believe Abraham took time out to feel that sand under his feet and in his hands. What promises of God do you need to keep visually before you so that your faith would stay alive?

Consider this too. At night you go out to your patio or you look through you window at the stars. It’s such a clear night so you decide to go for a walk. As you gaze into the sky you pause to see how many stars you can count but it’s just not possible to count them all. You remember God’s promise and in awe you worship and praise Him for the wonderful works of His hands and the blessings He has given. Abraham had a visual of his promise both day and night. Do you have a picture of your vision before you?

Apart from Abraham there are many others who received the promises of God and God used imagining to help them keep the dream alive (Hebrews 11). Joseph had dreams of being great one day; those dreams were so real he had to share them with others. Through the years of hardship, I believe that those dreams kept Joseph from giving up on the promise of God.

We too have been given a visual. We have a word picture of what heaven and hell would be like. As Christians, we made a choice for heaven and we know that’s where we belong and we are going to when we pass from this earth. We just know it. That visual of heaven propels us each day towards God and His will.

Here are some benefits to visualization:

  1. The more you see your vision the more you believe it will happen. You believe the more you see.
  2. You become more focused or driven to reach your goal and to see God work on your behalf.
  3. Your expectation grows and your excitement increases. This makes the journey more pleasant one.
  4. When you imagine what your dream looks like, you make it real. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  5. Having a visual will cause you to have a more defined and clearer path (baby steps) towards your goal.
  6. Helps you to make better choices and act in harmony with your vision.

Keep a visual of your dream ever-present before you. Here are some suggestions for keeping the vision alive:

  1. Post pictures, scriptures or inspirational quotes around your home or wherever you frequent the most (e.g. fridge door, dresser or bathroom mirror, doors, poster board in your home office space).
  2. Add wallpaper to your computer or mobile screen. This year my laptop wallpaper constantly reminds me that this is my Year of New Beginnings.
  3. Create a photo gallery of what your vision looks like and review regularly.
  4. Keep pictures in your journal or Bible, and believe God’s promises to you.
  5. Take time to dream – take a 15-minute to rest and reflect.
  6. Review your goals daily and take at least one step toward a goal.
  7. Write the vision out – in present tense – like it’s actually happening now. Make a short story of what your future life is like.
  8. Use goal setting software that includes a visualization feature to help you keep the vision alive.
  9. Frequently and persistently seek God about your dreams and His promises.
  10. Always give thanks to God for His promises even before you actually receive them.

Every goal starts with a vision – a picture we have in our mind of what we want to accomplish. Often when we go off track or don’t reach our aim it’s because we have lost sight of the dream we originally had. As such like Abraham we need to get a picture and a word and daily see it until it becomes real in our lives.

With God’s help we can make it happen. Keep the faith.

Share with us: What do you do to keep your dreams and God’s promises alive in you until they become reality?

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Don’t Overlook This: Pray for Success

Save now, we beseech You, O Lord; send now prosperity, O Lord, we beseech You, and give to us success!

Psalm 118:25 (AMP)

Prayer for SuccessI have read this scripture many times but recently it really ministered to me. I realize that we often strive hard to achieve success in our personal and business lives. We try different ways to reach the mark we have set for ourselves but there is one important thing we overlook – to pray for prosperity and success. That’s what hit me when I read this scripture – David asked God for success.

In other words he was saying to God: “Lord, I need success now. I have struggling through life, I have been working really hard, and I can make it without you. Give me favor, Father. And let there be continued and uninterrupted prosperity in my life.” David had his fair share of trouble. He knew what it was like to be hated because God had anointed him.  He longed for success.

When we read his life story, we see a man who actively pursued his calling. He occupied himself as a man of war while moving towards his destiny – to be what God wanted him to be, the king of Israel. Yet there is one thing we can all learn from David. He constantly ran to God in prayer at critical times to find out what He should do (1 Samuel 23:1-5; 1 Samuel 30:8; 2 Samuel 21:1-3). He knew how to acknowledge God in all he did and what it was like to receive direction from God. Furthermore, he understood what it meant to obey God’s instructions and in every circumstance to reap success.

David provides the classical example for us – if we want success – we must prayer before we act especially when making critical decisions. Other people of God throughout the Scriptures also confirm this truth, that seeking God is necessary in achieving success:

  • Moses acted on God’s instructions to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3-14).
  • Joshua led a successful victory over Jericho because he followed God’s not-so-orthodox instructions (Joshua 6).
  • Jehoshaphat and the people of Israel or Judah fasted and prayed before going to battle. Again a hands-down victory was won without the people of God fighting the battle (2 Chronicles 20).
  • Ananias obeyed God’s instructions to pray for Saul after receiving a vision from the Lord. Obedience (despite his initial concerns about Saul) not only brought healing to Saul but also cause him to receive the Holy Spirit and become a great apostle (Acts 9: 10-19).

I have seen how praying and acting on God’s instructions have led to personal victories for me. Admittedly there were times I was hesitant to obey because I wondered if I was hearing from God or didn’t think what I was guided to do seem logical. However, I soon realized that God doesn’t do things the way we do, He sees way ahead of us and as such we should just trust and obey.

If we want to be successful, we need to include these two important godly principles in every area of our lives:

  1. Follow the instructions for success and prosperity as given in Joshua 1:7-9. Read the word, meditate on it day and night and obey it.
  2. Like the Psalmist did pray for success (Psalm 118:25) and the way to do this is the acknowledge God in all you do and He will certainly directly you along life’s journey (Proverbs 3:5-6).

My challenge to you is to pray for success everyday as you work towards to your goals and your God-given assignments. Don’t be shy to ask it: “Lord, give me success now.” When you live to honor the Lord; He will not reject your plea for success.

May success come to you as you seek and do His will. God bless you!

6 Ways Reading Can Improve Your Life

Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (AMP)

Reading

Reading the Bible

I love reading the Bible. If there is one book I can read over and over and constantly learn from it, it is the Bible. It’s the compass of my life. I can always look to the Word to help me make sound decisions. It’s always a comfort to me. The Bible is total true about our humanness – it doesn’t hide anything. It expresses the human heart and as well as God’s heart. Reading the Bible as well as other good books has helped me grow in my Christian walk.

I would certainly encourage you to develop the habit of reading every day. It would help you progress through life as well as bring other benefits. Reading good books can:

1.     Ignite your imagination.

A novel or a book that includes storytelling helps you to create a vivid picture in your mind. This makes the process of reading more real to you. The material becomes more enjoyable and easier to remember when you put your imagination into action.

2.     Help you develop ideas.

Whether you are reading a fiction or non-fiction book ideas can quickly surface to your mind. Ideas related to personal improvement, career or business development, building your family life, growing in your Christian walk or other area of your life. Reading can help you develop ideas that effect positive change in your life or other people lives.

3.     Increase your knowledge base.

The beauty of a book is that it is a quick study on a specific subject area. You can learn from the experiences of others and from the hours of research the author invested into his/her work of writing. What may have taken you hours, days or months of effort to research is compiled for you. With a book in hand you it will take you less time to gain the knowledge and understanding on any topic of importance to you.

4.     Develop your communication skills.

One thing is sure, the more you read, the better a command of the language you gain. Reading makes you a better communicator. If you’re not confident in writing or speaking, regular reading will sharpen these skills.

5.     Be a form of relaxation or therapy.

That may seem weird to some because we often associate reading with studying. But personally, reading is a pleasure for me and most of (if not all) my free time is reading time. I don’t read the comics or the novels that would be considered light material but once I read within my scope of interests I enjoy it. That’s why I often end my days with a cup of tea and a good book or the Bible before going to sleep.

6.     Bring success and God’s approval.

When you read and make careful and discipline study of God’s word, you are approved by God (2 Timothy 2:15). God is pleased when we make a strong effort to learn of Him and draw close to Him. Not only that, one of the essentials to a successful and prosperous life is to read the Word of God day and night, to meditate on it and to do what God says in His Word (Joshua 1:7-8). Every successful person reads. Reading is an important element of personal growth and success.

It is often said that when you stop reading, you stop learning and growing. Since you and I don’t want to live a stagnated life, we must develop or keep up the habit of reading.

Here are some of the ways you can keep the reading habit alive:

  1. Set aside time every day to read – early in the morning, at lunch, or before bedtime.
  2. Maximize your time while you are on the go – read on the train or bus, on the airplane, or wherever you know you’ll have at least half hour of reading time. Plan ahead for these opportunities to read.
  3. Consider other alternatives to reading – listen to an audio book, view an infographic or watch the video of a book (I liked The Ultimate Gift).
  4. Take advantage of technology. Apart from the printed books you can now read books on e-readers, mobile phone, tablets. Take your pick.
  5. Have a copy of a book wherever you go. Again it’s easy to carry books around thanks to technology but I often have a hard copy book with me if technology fails me or I just prefer to have the feel of a book in my hands.
  6. Challenge yourself. Set a goal to read at least one book a month or two books a month if you like. Even if you fall behind in keeping up, a few hours of dedicated reading time can bring you back in line.

My challenge to you this week:

Choose a book that you’ve wanted to read for a long time and assign a time to read it every day. Share what you’re reading along the way with family or friends.

I am sure there are other ways reading can improve your life that I haven’t mentioned. Please share how the habit of reading has benefited you. I’d love to hear from you.

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?

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: Remove the Clutter

As we continue this Simplify Your Life series, our focus moves from reducing the electronic load to being clutter-free. In this world, it is easy to accumulate more than we need. We overstock our homes with too much clothing, food, electronics, and many boxes of stuff that has not been used in years. We keep more than we need and as a result often feel claustrophobic and weighted down by all the stuff we have.

Clutter or disorder is not a part of God’s nature. Creation was the process God used to set the earth in order. He took great care in making this universe function in an orderly fashion – day and night, water and land, heaven and earth – were all created with a purpose. There is nothing chaotic or cluttering about creation.

This same order and purpose for everything is what makes life simple and free. Like our Father, we should have every area of our lives organized. We should rid ourselves of anything that encumbers us. Let look at some ways we can live clutter-free.

Simple Life Habits For Everyday Success
  • Take time over the next few weekends or take half-hour slots every day for a week to remove some unwanted stuff.
  • Apart from giving your home a lighter feel or look, you will know where to find what you need and certainly release a heavy load.
  • Clear your closets of the clothing you don’t wear, don’t like and that no longer fits. Give away the nicer ones and toss what looks worn.
  • Flexing your generosity muscles will make you feel good.
  • Reduce the paper load. For each piece of paper decide what you will do with it – file, read, action, or trash.
  • Controlling the paper giant will make it easier for you to find information when you need it.
  • Keep things where they belong (in their designated place of your home or office).
  • This will save time, effort and frustration especially when you quickly need to find something.

There are other areas that you may need to de-clutter as well. Do you receive newspaper and magazine subscriptions that you don’t have time to read? Take a look in your pantry – do you have expired and soon-to-be expired food stuff? What about your garage – is it overloaded with boxes? Consider your car – do you keep it tidy or is the trunk another place for storage?

Having moved from a three-bedroom house to a one-bedroom condo unit at one point, I know how it feels to have too much in a small space. When I did a major clearing of items I no longer needed, I felt a lot better – I felt relieved and free.

How do you keep clutter under control?

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