The Heart Of A Father

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I would like to take a few moments to share with you about your Father’s heart toward you. Yes, I am referring to your Heavenly Father.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

That’s a lot of love. God loves us so much. The sins of this world have lead us to places we should not be going, doing things we should not be doing, and encouraging us to say things we should not be saying. But God’s love is so great that no matter what the sin, He sent His son to die for us so that we can be forgiven and made whole. Someone had to pay the price; blood had to be given as a sacrifice. God sent Jesus, the only sinless one, to be the payment for our sins. He did this by giving His life as a ransom for our sins.

We have seen great fathers in this world. The story of Dick Hoyt, the father who pushed, pulled, and carried his son, Rick through a triathlon is a great example. He swam 2.5 miles, cycled 125 miles through hot lava fields, and concluded by running 26.2 miles with his son. You see, he loved his handicapped son so much. His son’s dream was to be in this contest. The father’s heart was to meet that need for and with his son. No, they were not in first place or even second place, but they did finish just under the deadline. The father ran the race with the son.

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Team Hoyt

Our Heavenly Father is running the race with us. We are all in a race. If we have asked Jesus, God’s Son, into our hearts and to forgive us our sins, then we are pressing on to win the prize.

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

God’s heart is so big for us. His love is so awesome. He wants only what is best for us. Our Father in heaven has a very big heart for us. He cares, wants us to be healed, cleansed from our sins, in right relationship with Him and others around us, and on our way to heaven. He has a wonderful place for us to go.

I Choose To Forgive

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In Matthew 6:9-13 you will find very familiar scripture commonly know as the Lord’s Prayer. I just completed teaching a 10 week study on this prayer at Victory Church. A portion of that prayer deals with forgiveness, and it goes like this, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” 

When you pray, “…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…” you recognize your short-comings, your failures, your sins, and your need for forgiveness!

Have you ever felt as if you are being held captive or incarcerated because of an un-confessed sin? Are there others who are constantly reminding you of your failures, your short-comings, and your sin? If so, this portion of the Lord’s Prayer is your key to freedom!

Watch my YouTube video on forgiveness.

When you pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” you recognize five factors of the Christian life:

  1. GOD’S CHILDREN SIN (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1-2)
  2. GOD’S CHILDREN ARE CONCERNED AFTER THEY SIN (Psalm 32:3; 51:3; 73:21; Isaiah 6:5; Mark 14:72; Luke 18:13)
  3. WE MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT OUR SIN (2 Corinthians 7:10; 1 John 1:9) 
  4. GOD WILL FORGIVE US (1 John 1:9; Micah 7:18-19)
  5. WE MUST FORGIVE OTHERS (Matthew 18:21-22)

Okay, let’s get real here! We do not have a problem with the numbers 1-4 of our list. Correct? As a matter of fact, we are very grateful and appreciative of the fact that we have a forgiving Heavenly Father! But, when it comes to us forgiving those who have wronged us, now that’s another story. Right?

I will be the first one to admit that forgiving those who have wronged us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is not easy! I will even say that there is NO WAY you can do this BY YOURSELF! You will only be able to forgive with the help of the Lord. Therefore, allow me to share with you four steps to forgiving othersforgiveness0001

Let us begin with this passage of scripture: “All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ” Ephesians 4:31-32 (HCSB).

Step 1: Recognize that no one is perfect. (Eccl. 7:20; Romans 3:23)

Step 2: Relinquish your right to get even. (Romans 12:19)

Step 3: Respond to evil with good. (God’s love doesn’t keep track of wrong – 1 Cor. 13)

Step 4: Refocus on God’s plan for your life and move on.

So don’t sit another day in your resentment. If you’ve been holding onto pain caused by someone else, go through these four steps and move on to the rest of the life you were created to live!

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If Not You, Then Who?

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“Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” (Luke 9:62 MSG)

In Mark 10, a huge crowd was following Jesus as he left Jericho. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Bartimaeus got up that morning, he had no idea that Jesus Christ was going to be passing by him that day. He thought it was just another ordinary day: same place, same cry for help, same miserable, lonely, pitiful lifestyle. He had no time to prepare for Jesus; it was just an opportunity that was dropped in his lap. He had to seize the moment!

He said, “I’m not going to miss this one. I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity! Jesus is coming by my place right now. I’m not going to delay. I’m not going to procrastinate. I’m going to do this now.”

That’s the first key to a fresh start in your life: Whatever you’re going to do, do it now. Don’t say, “Next year I’m going to make a fresh start. Next month I’m going to maIf not whoke a fresh start. Tomorrow I’m going to make a fresh start.” It’s now or never. Seize the moment!

Every day, there are opportunities all around you for a fresh start, but you don’t take
advantage of them. Why? One word: procrastination.

Procrastination is a strange phenomenon. We think it will make our lives easier; we think it will make our lives more present when actually it just creates more stress. The truth is, you already know the right things to do and the benefits of doing the right things in life. So why don’t you do them?

The Bible warns us over and over about presuming upon tomorrow. I’m not guaranteed a tomorrow, and neither are you. Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” (Luke 9:62 MSG).

You have no guarantee that you will live tomorrow. Whatever you’re going to do, you better do it now.

Opportunity Is Here!

What Is Success?

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Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people. (Proverbs 3:3-4, The Message)

Our dreams are usually shaped by what we think is the best, most fulfilling way to spend our time in this world. We don’t want to be failures. We only get one life and we want to use it well. So we dream about the kind of success we desire, and we eventually pursue those dreams. But does God see success the same way we do? If we’re going to live by faith in a good God, we have to rethink our culture’s ideas about “success” and shape our goals around His.

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Many of us think of success as “being important,” or maybe being at the top of whatever field we work in. We would likely say that the CEO of a company is successful, but we might not say the same about his secretary. We would think of a famous athlete as successful, but we might not say the same of a middle school basketball coach. This is how we define success because these are the goals our culture has put before us. But the truth is, God hasn’t commanded us all to become CEO’s or famous athletes. He hasn’t called us to worldly success; He’s called us to faithfulness. We need to adjust our goals, and further, adjust our dreams.

It is not your business to succeed, but to do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God.—C. S. Lewis

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Change, the Law Of Life

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It’s often said that change is the only constant in life. Yet, humans are evolutionarily predisposed to resist change because of the risk associated with it. Despite this resistance to change, it is more important than ever. Napoleon once said, “One must change one’s tactics every 10 years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.” In today’s society the pace of change is immensely faster, and it will only continue to accelerate.

Organizations and people that don’t embrace change are bound to lose ground and stagnate. When you are anxiously anticipating a change–or in the midst of a challenging one—be encouraged with one of these quotes to help you plow through it:

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. -John F. Kennedy

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. -Maya Angelou

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa

Change your thoughts and you change your world. -Norman Vincent Peale

He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. -Harold Wilson

How are you handling change?

God Is My Strength

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I will strengthen you and help you.
Isaiah 41:10

In Judges 7:1-8 you will read of how Gideon defeats the Midianites. What an amazing story of how the Lord won the battle for Gideon.

No one could have mistaken the ancient Babylonian soldiers for gentlemen. They were ruthless, resilient, and vicious, and they attacked other nations the way an eagle overtakes its prey. Not only were they powerful, they were prideful as well. They practically worshiped their own combat abilities. In fact, the Bible says that their “strength [was] their god” (Hab. 1:11).

God did not want this kind of self-reliance to infect Israel’s forces as they prepared to battle the Midianites. So He told Gideon, Israel’s army commander, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me’ ” (Judg. 7:2). As a result, Gideon discharged anyone who was fearful. Twenty-two thousand men hightailed it home, while 10,000 fighters stayed. God continued to downsize the army until only 300 men remained (vv. 3-7).

Having fewer troops meant that Israel was dramatically outnumbered—their enemies, who populated a nearby valley, were as “thick as locusts” (v. 12). Despite this, God gave Gideon’s forces victory.

At times, God may allow our resources to dwindle so that we rely on His strength to keep going. Our needs showcase His power, but He is the One who says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).

God wants us to depend on His strength, not our own. Who’s strength are you depending on?

Forward To Success

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What action steps must you take to be successful?

Many of God’s promises are conditional, requiring some initial action on our part. Once we begin to obey, He will begin to bless us. Great things were promised to Abraham, but not one of them could have been obtained had he waited in Chaldea. He had to leave his home, friends, and country, travel unfamiliar paths, and press on in unwavering obedience in order to receive the promises. The ten lepers Jesus healed were told to show themselves to the priest, and “as they went, they were cleansed.” If they had waited to see the cleansing come to their bodies before leaving, they would never have seen it. God was waiting to heal them, and the moment their faith began to work, the blessing came.

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When the Israelites were entrapped by Pharaoh’s pursuing army at the Red Sea, they were commanded to “go forward.” No longer was it their duty to wait, but to rise up from bended knees and “go forward” with heroic faith. Years later the Israelites were commanded to show their faith again by beginning their march over the Jordan while the river was at its highest point. They held the key to unlock the gate into the Land of Promise in their own hands, and the gate would not begin to turn on its hinges until they had approached and unlocked it. The key was faith.

We are destined to fight certain battles, and we think we can never be victorious and conquer our enemies. Yet as we enter the conflict, One comes who fights by our side. Through Him we are “more than conquerors.” If we had waited in fear and trembling for our helper to come before we would enter the battle, we would have waited in vain. God is waiting to pour out His richest blessings on you. “Go forward” with bold confidence and take what is yours. “I have begun to deliver … Now begin to conquer and possess.”
—J. R. Miller (1840–1912)

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A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn into glorious success.—Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915)

Faith that goes forward triumphs.—Author unknown

Leave not the business of today to be done tomorrow; for who knows what may be your condition tomorrow? The rose-garden, which today is full of flowers, when tomorrow you would pluck a rose, may not afford you one.—Firdausī (940–1020)

Philippians 4:13 ESV / I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Psalm 37:4 ESV / Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

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Proverbs 16:3 ESV / Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

Turning Dreams Into Reality

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To one degree or another, just about all of us are unsatisfied with ourselves and our circumstances—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A certain amount of dissatisfaction is necessary if we’re ever going to make progress. To become all that we can be, we must dream of being more than we are. The problem is, too many of us stop there, in the dream stage. Why do you suppose that is?

More often than not, it’s because we don’t think we have what it takes to turn our dreams into reality. And we’re usually right about that. We can make some changes by sheer willpower or working harder, like reaching a new sales quota or dropping a dress or pants size. But what about the bigger changes, the changes inside that we know would make us so much happier and enable us to truly make a difference in our corner of the world? It’s that kind of change that is usually most elusive.

We’re not good enough, we tell ourselves. We have too many flaws and make too many mistakes. It’s just not in us!

Jesus summed it up so simply when He said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” The secret lies in putting ourselves in God’s hands and letting Him do the impossible for us and through us and sometimes in spite of us. We’re small, weak, and incapable, but there is a very big and strong and capable God just waiting to help us.

A dream without a plan is soon exposed.  As Warren Buffet has said, when the tide goes out, you discover who’s been swimming naked.

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Dreaming is good when it leads to a learning agenda that directs our intentions towards what’s most important to us.  John Kotter has said there are two kinds of people in the world: (1) those who accept their life, and (2) those who lead their life.

Some people just get up, look at their life, and hope (dream), something good will happen.  The successful person says, “I’m going to make something happen.  I’m going to build on trust; make that relationship work; take control over the things I have influence over; lead my life; create a personal learning agenda that will help fulfill my dreams.”

The key to transforming dreams into reality is to set goals that can be broken down into doable steps.  As Mark Twain said, “The secret to change is one step at a time.”

So how do you create a learning agenda that will help you fulfill your dreams? For starters, is there a gap between what you know or the skills you have and the information or the skills you need to actualize your dream?

Below are Seven Steps to turn your dreams into reality:

1. Start with the end in mind.

Determine your goals and ask yourself: Where do I want to be next year? What do I need to do to accomplish these goals?  Your answers instantly become your learning agenda.

2. Assess the skills or knowledge you’ll need.

Some goals won’t require new skills or knowledge, but others will.  What specific skills are needed to make your dream(s) come true?  What skill that you already possess would you like to improve by 25% within the next year?

3. Explore the best sources.

Is it going back to school? Enrolling in a training course offered by your employer? Developing a relationship with mentors and/or coworkers who can teach you new skills or insights? Look for that optimal source for every skill you decide you need to learn.

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4. Create your learning agenda.

You now have the information, so start creating your learning plan.  It should lay out the skills and knowledge you need to acquire.  It should include a timeline of where and when you will go about it. And it should be in writing.

5. Begin with the most important.

Don’t start with the hardest or the easiest.  What is the most important thing you can do right now?  Not every action is of equal value. Evaluate and then rank them according to value.

6. Get moving. Execute.

What is your W.O.W. (Within One Week)?  What step will you commit to this next week?  Let the fun begin—you are putting your learning agenda into action.  The sooner you get going, the sooner you’ll learn the knowledge and skills you need to enjoy and achieve your goals!

7. Identify your limiting beliefs.

We all have them.  When you identify them they begin to lose their power.  Don’t doubt your dream. I’m too young.  I’m too old.  I don’t have the time.  I don’t have the money. These doubts are common to all of us.  One of the best ways to fight your doubts is to be clear on where you want to go.  You must take the first step.  That’s what builds confidence.  Every time you do something you didn’t think you could do, your confidence is built.  Action leads to confidence more than confidence leads to actionIt’s easier to act my way into a feeling than it is to feel my way into an action.

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Stand up for who you are and what really matters to you.  You can choose what you will believe, and it will shift your mindset to be clear on the action you will take. This action will be proof to yourself that YOU  believe in where you are going.  I am not talking about clicking your heals together, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, saying I believe…I believe. I’m talking about putting a stake in the ground, and making claim to your life.

So go back and review these seven steps for creating your learning agenda.  They will become part of your Doubt-Removal System. This will shift your mindset, and this action will deal with your limiting beliefs.

Is It Time For A Career Change?

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If you have been working in a similar role for years, you may wonder if you could ever step out and do something completely different. Some people do.  Take Andrea Bocelli, the popular Italian tenor and singer-songwriter, who made the jump from being a lawyer to his musical career. Justin Welby left his executive position in the oil industry to become a vicar, and eventually the Archbishop of Canterbury and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Brian Cox, the popular physicist who presents science on English television, was a rock star, with a number 1 hit in the 1990s. Harrison Ford, the Hollywood actor, used to be a carpenter and cabinet-maker.

Such stand-out changes might not be within the realm of our own possibilities, but from time-to-time we need to examine how satisfied we are with what we’re doing, and how confident we feel about the direction we are heading. Waking up on a Monday morning dreading the beginning of the working week, or feeling like our talents are not being used, or that our pay package doesn’t reflect the value we bring, may be signs it’s time to think about other options.

The Bible acknowledges the necessity of working for a living: “People go off to their work, where they labor until evening.” Being satisfied in our work is also mentioned: “You will definitely enjoy what you’ve worked hard for—you’ll be happy; and things will go well for you.” “The earnings of the godly enhance their lives,” The apostle Paul evidently felt fulfilled in his role: “That’s what I’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.” If this isn’t how you feel, then it could be time to consider looking for a better situation, or at least, for improvements where you are.

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Life-changing decisions shouldn’t be made in a hurry, of course, and you might like to consider the following:

List five features of your ideal job that are most important to you.

Such as, your fulfillment and goals, the ethics of your employer, the size of your salary, the supplementary benefits (pension, gym membership, etc.), the workplace environment and camaraderie, the hours and workload, your role and level of responsibility, the use that’s made of your unique talents, the opportunities for training and career progression, and so on.

Now score your present job on those features.

If it doesn’t match at least half of what is most important to you, chances are you are not in the best place and it’s time to start looking elsewhere.

Think about what you really want to do.

Read up about the role. Does it fit your skills and experience, training and qualifications? If not, is it something you can learn on the go, or is there another route into that type of job? Do some research.

Get advice from other people.

According to Proverbs, “The more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.” Try to get some advice from those already in the field where you’d like to be working. Talk to your friends and family, and perhaps a career advisor.

Go after your dreams, but be realistic.

The vast majority of us have jobs because we need them in order to pay the bills. So if your dream career isn’t quite within striking distance and you need to stick with your regular job, consider a voluntary role in the sector where you are interested. If it’s something you really are passionate about, you’ll probably be able to fit in a few evenings or a day over the weekend. An accountant won’t become a social worker overnight, but he could help out at a youth club.

Seek God’s guidance.

“Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” You may find Him speaking to you through your quiet time, devotional, or Bible reading, or you may want to specifically ask Him: “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” Whatever the case, try to include Him in the picture of your plans, remembering that “God’s blessing makes life rich,” not only materially, but also in terms of peace of mind.

Your own season for change might not come at this particular time of the year, yet whenever it comes, God will be at hand to help, shining His light on your path.

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Proverbs 10:16 (NIV)  The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

Colossians 1:29 (NIV) To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Proverbs 11:14 (NIV) For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.

Don’t Quit!

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In 1952 Florence Chadwick attempted to swim 26 miles from the coast of California to Catalina Island. After 15 hours, a heavy fog began to block her view, she became disoriented, and she gave up. To her chagrin, Chadwick learned that she had quit just 1 mile short of her destination.

Two months later Chadwick tried a second time to swim to Catalina Island from the coast. Again a thick fog settled in, but this time she reached her destination, becoming the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel. Chadwick said she kept an image of the shoreline in her mind even when she couldn’t see it.

When the problems of life cloud our vision, we have an opportunity to learn to see our goal with the eyes of faith.

The New Testament letter to the Hebrews urges us to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (12:1-2). When we feel like quitting, this is our signal to remember not only what Jesus suffered for us but what He now helps us to endure—until the day we see Him face to face.

Sometimes the challenges of life seem insurmountable. Pray and ask your Heavenly Father to help you fix your eyes on Him and trust Him. Be thankful that He is bringing about His good purposes in you. We can finish strong when we focus on Christ.

Using the metaphor of a marathon and a stadium of cheering supporters, the writer of Hebrews encouraged persecuted Christians to persevere and to remain faithful. The constant call of Scripture is: Don’t give up! Keep your eye on the finish line! Finish the race! (1 Cor. 9:24–27; Phil. 3:13–14; 2 Tim. 4:7; Heb. 12:1–2).

DON’T QUIT, NO MATTER WHAT!

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out.
Don’t give up, though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are –
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.