Why we remain in familiar places…..

Many times we tend to stay in places that are familiar to us, and never change, grow, or move forward. It is very easy for us as people to become stagnate in our life. What started out as a wonderous journey becomes a life of going with the flow, doing what is easiest, doing what we are told we should do, or just giving up and living a life of inaction. But why do we do that? Why did Israel want to return to slavery in Egypt after they were delivered? Why did Peter return to fishing after Jesus was crucified?

I think two of the biggest factors are fear, and pain. Israel was afraid of Pharoah, and death. Peter was dealing with pain. We do the same thing in our life. When we encounter something we are afraid of we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward. At the thought of dealing with things that cause us pain we shrink, and back away instead of moving forward.

Fear and pain will cause you to be stagnate if you let them, but they can also catapult you forward if you move through them.

I used to have a great fear of public speaking, but now I do it everyday, and it energizes me, and brings me joy. I had to do it while being afraid the first several times; however, after I continued to move through it I started to enjoy it, and it became a part of who I am.

When most people exercise they back off when they start to feel a little pain, and most people do not get the results they want when they exercise, and so they quit. You have to push through the initial onset of pain in order to convince your body to come back stronger. (Disclaimer: obviously there are types of physical pain you should not push through)

The same concept is true with internal pain. There are a lot of people who are falling apart internally, and a lot of times the reason is that it causes them a lot of pain to talk about the subject, and deal with the emotions, and so they just keep it in. The problem with that is that the fruit of your life cannot grow with all of those weeds. However, if you push through the pain, and deal with those things they can become fertilizer in your life, and help produce better fruit than you ever have.

God is love which is the opposite of fear, not hate. 1 John 4:18 says that there is no fear in love, and perfect love drives out all fear. If you are trusting God you have nothing to fear, you can walk in victory, and you can have rest for your soul.

If you are following Jesus, He is always taking you forward into the next place He has for you, and transforming you. Move forward, even if it might be painful. Take the path less traveled, even it looks scary.

God is for you, and I am for you!

The fruit of your salvation

Paul makes a couple of simple statements in Philippians chapter 1 that are a great reminder for us as Christians.

We should strive to grow in knowledge and understanding so that we understand what really matters most in order to live pure, and blameless lives. The thing that matters most is that we let our love overflow more and more.

He also reminds the Philippians to remain filled with the fruit of their salvation which is the righteous character produced in your life by Christ. This is what brings glory, honor, and praise to God.

The fruit of your salvation is your righteous character, and the biggest evidence of that character is how you treat other people. Is love spilling out of you? The opposite of love is fear. As people we generally treat people inappropriately when we are afraid of them in some way. Perfect love casts out all fear.

Let your love flow without fear, and let your righteous character shine!

God is for you, and I am for you. Let there be no fear in you.

Find the opportunities!

Have you ever felt like the only breaks you were catching were bad breaks? I’ve been there, but we have to keep in mind that God turns bad breaks into big opportunities. The bad breaks, and past experiences are just a way for God to build our resumes and prepare us for future opportunities. Sometimes our greatest opportunities are at the end of the hardest, and scariest situations. Don’t quit prematurely, and miss your God opportunity.

Trust God no matter what the situation is, and look forward in order to locate the opportunities, and be a good steward. Being a good steward of these opportunities will bring success. God is always setting us up for success in accordance with His will for our lives. God wants you to arrive at His destination for you more than you want to get there.  If you are a parent you know how much more you want your kids to succeed than they do themselves especially at a young age.

Don’t let fear keep you from seeing the opportunities, and experiencing what God has for you. The way that you experience big breakthroughs is by continuing to push through your hardest moments, and facing your biggest fears. Something that we need to keep in mind through these things is that almost every fear is learned. A child is afraid of very little until you tell them to be afraid. Parents insert fear into their children without even realizing it. We need to unlearn these fears, and the farther you carry a fear the harder it is for you to unlearn. The way you unlearn these fears is to trust your limitless Father. Allow His word to carry a sound in your life that is louder than any fear. Believe scriptures such as if He is for you who can stand against you, or He will work everything out to my good as I am called according to His purpose. You can not reason with irrational fears, you will either allow experiences to produce confidence or doubt, fear or faith. We have to remember that His perfect love is in us, and perfect love drives out all fear-1 John 4:18.  Part of faith is the process of trusting God, and allowing His perfect love to drive the fear out of our lives.

I have a great example I can share with you about irrational fears concerning my daughter. Long story short, she saw something on t.v. that made her afraid of the bath tub. This 4-year-old little girl went from loving bath time, to being like trying to bathe a cat. THERE WAS NO REASONING WITH HER! Seriously, this was a tough situation. It was the scariest situation of her young life, and one of the hardest for her parents. We all had to figure out how to make it through this ordeal. But patiently enduring(for several weeks!), helping her face her fear, letting her see that her friends were not afraid of bath time, and allowing her trust and faith to build in her mom and dad brought her back to loving bath time. Believing your Father, and trusting in His word will give you the strength to make it through the scariest, hardest situations.

Back to the bath example, one thing that would have never allowed my daughter to get past this fear is letting her run from bath time. If you are afraid of failure, success will not fix it. You will wear yourself out trying to maintain success simply to keep running from failure. The fix for the fear of failure is experiencing failure. It’s like a peanut allergy. I know a young man who was allergic to peanuts, and the way he overcame this allergy was to make trips to a specialist and get exposed to differing amounts of peanuts. That’s how you build immunity to your fears, you face the thing you are afraid of and you find that with God all things are possible. We take fears, and we create huge things out of them in our minds which allows the fear to become way worse the thing you are actually afraid of. Each one of your fears is an opportunity for you to be an overcomer. My daughter is an overcomer. Don’t miss your chance!

Don’t be afraid to take some risks, it could turn into a really cool story you can tell your grandchildren. To go along with this, one of the great things about your experienced pain is that it can be another person’s gain. The more things you have overcome, the more capacity you have to help other people. A person once told me that no one cares about you telling them what not to do in a situation, they only want to hear what they should do. For a time, I believed that person, but I have changed my mind. I know how much value there is not trying to do it the way I tried because I felt all the pain, and struggle to overcome it. So that pain and struggle is now an opportunity for me to help others avoid the same troubles.

Our relationship with God is not formed to make our lives easier. It complicates our lives in all the right ways to transform us into the perfect work He envisioned for us from the start. A marriage complicates your life, but it allows you to see things that are wrong with you that you didn’t even know were wrong which allows you to become more complete. You may think you have life figured out, but having kids will prove you wrong. They will complicate things, but they will cause you to grow. Wealth will complicate your taxes, and success will complicate your schedule. All great things come with complications. In the parable of the talents the reward for good stewardship was not early retirement, it was more responsibility.

God has great things in store for all of you. Find the opportunities!

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi