Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | May 15, 2009

The Mouth Has a Mind of Its Own!

What if I told you that the source of most of your problems could be found within you—from the neck up? You’ll find it in the thoughts that come from your mind and the words that come out of your mouth.

We must realize and understand the power carried by our thoughts and words. They’re so powerful that they can bring either blessings or curses into our lives, depending on their nature. Our thoughts and words are like the rudder of a ship—they may seem small, but they affect the very direction of our lives.

Many years ago my life was in a state of chaos because of years of wrong thinking and speaking. I had encountered so many disappointments because of all the devastating things that had happened to me. I was afraid to believe that anything good might happen. In fact, my philosophy of life was, “If you keep your expectations low, you’ll never be disappointed.”

Over the years I became very cynical and negative. I often said that if I had two positive thoughts in a row, my mind would’ve gotten a cramp. My thoughts were negative, which caused my words to be negative…which all reflected poorly on my life. Finally, I decided to change my ways and stop talking so negatively. After a while I realized that I needed to do more than just not talk negatively. Cutting out the negative wasn’t enough; I had to begin to think and talk positively!

For example, a person sneezes and says, “Oh, I’m probably getting the flu.” Or someone hears a rumour that the company he works for is going to lay off some employees, so he thinks, That’s the story of my life. Every time things start to go well, something always happens. Then he says, “I’ll probably lose my job.” These types of negative statements seem to come so naturally to all of us. We need to discipline ourselves to be more positive—it’s not so easy!

When we react negatively, we allow fear to take over our thinking. We begin to dwell on things that haven’t even happened and may not happen. Our negative thoughts cause us to speak the words that’ll shape our future.

We’re constantly tempted to think wrong thoughts, but we don’t have to accept them! We have a choice! We need to purposely choose right thinking and speaking.

In the Bible, Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue…. We must choose life generating thoughts. When we do, positive, powerful, life-giving words will naturally follow.

I think some people try to control their mouths but do nothing about their thoughts. That’s like pulling off the top of a weed—unless the root is dug up, the weed always comes back. You’ll never control your mouth unless you first learn to control your mind.

Believing is the first important step to switching our thinking from being negative to positive. Remember, what’s in our hearts and minds will come out of our mouths. If our soul (mind, will and emotions) is full of negative things, we’ll find those things coming our way. On the other hand, when we hear, read, think and talk about God, the Truth and more positive things, we’ll find that those good things will come our way. The choice is ours!

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | April 3, 2009

All the lonely people – Two are better than one

Two are better than one

The three-strand cord is a picture of the power that takes place when two people agree for something in line with God’s will for them. As two people become one in agreement with each other, there is a tremendous amount of power.

You can have such fun in your marriage when you begin to agree with each other. Do you know that God did not put you together to be miserable? He didn’t put you together to fight, pick on each other or try and change each other. The Bible says that a woman is to enjoy her husband. (See 1 Peter 3:2.) Think about that. I rarely hear a woman say, “You know what? I really enjoy my husband.” And God wants us to enjoy each other. He wants us to have fun together. You need to laugh and have fun together.

So how do two people with very different personalities—who don’t think alike, who don’t feel the same about a lot of different things, who don’t even like the same kind of food—become one? We know that it doesn’t just happen when you both say, “I do.” Becoming one is a process that just takes time.

Many times the longest part of the process of becoming one is in the mind. Couples are sometimes slow to agree in the way they think about things. How does this process of mental agreement take place? Most marital problems include strife from communication problems, sexual misunderstandings, money issues, different goals, and disagreements about parenting. All of these things get worked out between us within the soul’s realm of our union—our minds, wills and emotions. They don’t have as much to do with the spirit or the body as they do with what we think about those areas. We can know spiritually what the right thing to do is, but that doesn’t mean we will end up doing it.

The Bible says we are supposed to be in agreement. My husband, James, and I have personalities that are about as opposite as we could get. Yet, God has brought us more and more together so that we are starting to think more alike and want more of the same things every day. We still have two different personalities, and now we can see that God brought our differences together on purpose. It was not an accident. God knew each of our strengths and weaknesses would complete the other when we became one. The idea of saying, “Why aren’t you like me?” is no longer a question in our hearts. We realize that we need each other to be exactly who God created us to be. We no longer pick on each other’s weaknesses. Instead, we partake of our strengths and enjoy one another.

There are no two people who need to get in agreement more than a married couple. God has done so much for James and me since we have gotten out of strife and learned to humble ourselves to the point that we don’t have to be right all the time. Many wars are started in our homes over unimportant issues that don’t matter, such as whether to turn left or right out of the neighbourhood when both streets go to the same store. If you want to have power in your marriage and in your prayer life, then you have to get along. You can learn how to “disagree agreeably” without causing strife.

The big question is: How do people who are not of one mind learn to agree? Agreement comes when the people involved stop being selfish. A lot of adults still deal with selfishness. All that selfishness amounts to is, “I want what I want when I want it, and I don’t really care what you want because I want what I want.” Selfishness is an immature inward focus. If each one of us will learn to voice our wants, but choose what best serves everybody in the family, then we will find peace. The key is to care about what the other person needs, be willing to humble ourselves, and do what we can to meet those needs.

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 27, 2009

Smiling is Serious Business!

There are people all over the world dealing with depression—or at least trying to deal with it. There are many underlying causes for depression and a variety of available treatments. Some are effective, but many aren’t. Some help temporarily, but they can never permanently remove the torment of depression.

No one is immune from depression or its crippling effects. People from all walks of life—doctors, lawyers, teachers, housewives, teenagers, small children, the elderly, singles, widows and widowers, and even ministers—suffer from depression. I believe the reason so many people suffer from depression is because they haven’t learned to deal with the disappointments that are a natural part of everyday life. Everyone on the face of the earth has to deal with disappointment, which can easily lead to depression, despondency, and even despair if it is allowed to persist.

A depressed person may feel sad and not want to talk to anyone or go anywhere, preferring to be left alone with the ever-present negative thoughts and sour attitude.

The despondent person, on the other hand, has similar symptoms of a depressed person, but the symptoms are much deeper, with dejection of the mind and a failing spirit. The despondent lose all courage, and a feeling of hopelessness quickly leads to despair.

Despair is different from depression or despondency. People in despair have given up, and they no longer want to do anything to help themselves. They simply don’t care anymore. People in despair are prone to developing an underlying rage, which could even result in violent action.

Recognizing the destructive effects of the process, we must understand the importance of dealing successfully with disappointment and depression in the early stages. The good news is that God can help us deal with it and even overcome it if we just ask for His help.

Once, as I was preparing a talk on depression, I saw very clearly that God has given us His joy to fight depression. As a child, I believe I was robbed of joy. For as long as I can remember, I lived as if I was an adult because everything in my life was so serious. I was brought up in a bad situation, surrounded by negative circumstances. I thought if I stayed serious, maybe I could stay alive. Obviously, with this type of attitude, I didn’t develop a bubbly, giggly kind of personality. I developed a serious attitude, and because of it, people sometimes misunderstood me.

Once I told one of my friends that I needed to talk to her before she left work. My plan was to ask for her help in making preparations for an upcoming meeting, but because I had approached her so seriously, she thought I was going to do something to her. She thought she was in big trouble!

That incident helped me realize that I had a problem. I knew my serious demeanour was alienating me from people instead of making me more approachable, so I began asking the Lord how He wanted me to deal with this “seriousness” issue. I really felt that the answer from God was simply to allow the joy that He had put in my heart to show more on my face. God wanted me to smile more!

Everyone knows how to smile. It’s one of the greatest gifts God has given us. A smile makes people feel good, and people look so beautiful when they smile. When the joy in your life is obvious, it rubs off on others. But when you keep God’s joy locked inside you and don’t allow it to show on your face, you’re depriving those around you of a pleasant and refreshing experience.

Most people really don’t understand how expressing joy will change their circumstances and, perhaps, the lives of others. Living your life with the joy of the Lord will chase off negative, depressing circumstances. I never would have thought that smiling was such a serious matter, but God spent several months trying to get this point across to me. Expressing joy through the calm delight of smiling brings good things into your own life and shares the joy and light of the Lord with others.

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 25, 2009

Happy Easter

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 23, 2009

The Cause and Cure for Worry

The Cause and Cure for Worry

Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled, seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It’s human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we’re not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what’s reasonable. Worry is like a rocking chair—it’s always in motion but it never gets you anywhere. So why do we struggle with it? And what good does it do? Worry is the opposite of faith, and it steals our peace, physically wears us out, and can even make us sick. When we worry, we torment ourselves—we’re doing the devil’s job for him! Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives. Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems. Yet sometimes, after all our worry and effort to go it alone, we come up short, unable to bring about suitable solutions.

At a young age, I discovered firsthand that people hurt people, so I didn’t trust others. I tried to take care of myself, deciding not to depend on anyone who would hurt or disappoint me. Too often our experiences in the world teach us this, and even after we become Christians, it takes a long time to overcome it. It’s difficult to learn how to trust God, but we eventually must learn that trying to take care of everything ourselves is too big a task.

CAST YOUR CARES ON THE ONE WHO CARES FOR YOU

First Peter 5:6,7 says, Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Since Jesus invites us to cast all of our care and worry on Him, why do so many of us refuse to let go? Apparently, we’re not yet fed up with being miserable.

The only way to have victory in our lives is to play by God’s rules, and He says we must quit worrying if we want to have peace. So when things come our way that cause us to be concerned, we need God’s help. How do we get it? First Peter 5:6,7 lists two important steps: 1) humble yourselves, and 2) cast your care on Him. That seems pretty clear and simple, yet some continue struggling because they’re too bull headed to ask for help. But the humble get the help. So if your way isn’t working, why not try God’s way? All of us would be better off if we’d learn to lean on God and ask for His help. But as long as we try to do everything ourselves, God will let us. He won’t take care of our problems and worries—our cares—until we turn loose of them and give them to Him. Either we’re going to do it or God’s going to do it, but both of us aren’t going to. Now, casting your care doesn’t mean you can be irresponsible. God won’t do for you what you can do yourself. You must do what you can do, and then trust God to do what you can’t. When we humble ourselves and ask for His help, then He’s able to release His power in our situations. It’s only then that we can really enjoy life. So the cure for worry is humbling ourselves before God, casting our cares on Him, and trusting Him. Instead of making ourselves miserable trying to figure everything out on our own, God wants us to place our trust in Him and enter into His rest, totally abandoning ourselves to His care. I know that when we are able to believe and say, “God, I trust You,” it will literally change our lives. Psalm 37:3 says, Trust…in the Lord and do good…. God didn’t create us to worry about helping ourselves all the time. He wants us to sow good seed by reaching out to help others. When we simply trust God and get busy doing the good things we know to do, then He’ll bring a harvest of blessings into our lives and meet our needs.

DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE OF FAITH AND PRAYER

I’ve learned that my attitude has a lot to do with living a worry-free life. There will always be situations that cause us concern, but with God’s help, we can live above all of it and enjoy life. Cast your care on the Lord and say, “God, I trust You, and I’m going to enjoy the life You have given me.” When you give your problems to God, you must also decide to be satisfied with His answers. Trusting God to do what’s best for us involves dying to self. Paul said, …it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). You can trust God to do what’s best for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. When you have a positive attitude and keep your faith in God, you can’t be defeated.

We must stop trying to make things happen the way we want and get to the place where we desire to please God more than ourselves. The Christ in us has to supersede what we want. Faith and the Word of God will help you overcome worry. Worrying involves negative thoughts, but speaking positive things out of your mouth will interrupt those negative thought patterns. When we are full of the Word of God, we can speak it out of our mouths in faith. Faith is stronger than doubt, negativism and unbelief. Faith has a positive attitude that can overcome our past and lead us into a great future. Faith is a powerful force that cannot be conquered. Another powerful force is prayer. When you’re under pressure, it’s always best to pray about it instead of talk about it. Prayer is the blueprint for a successful life. During His time on earth, Jesus prayed. He entrusted everything to God—even His reputation and life. We can do the same. We don’t have to explain all the problems to Him; we can just give them to Him and ask Him to take care of everything. Don’t complicate prayer. Just have confidence in simple, believing prayer.

Look at Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:6,7: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. If you’re a Christian who goes around burdened or weighed down all the time, something is wrong. You may have had faith in Christ for salvation, but you haven’t moved into walking in faith daily for the life that God has given you. The Bible tells us that God is faithful—that’s one of His major characteristics. He can be counted on to come through for us, so we should trust Him totally and completely. When we do, we’ll be ready for anything that may come our way.

ALLOW GOD TO GIVE YOU PEACE AND REST

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Jesus wants to ease our burdens and give us rest. The Message Bible says it this way: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30). That sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ve had enough heavy stuff in my life, and I want to be free. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to figure everything out. We need to get comfortable with saying, “I don’t have a clue, but I’m not going to worry about it because God’s in control. I’m going to live free and light!” When we’re overloaded with the cares of this life—struggling, labouring and worrying—we need some help. Our minds need to rest from worrying about how to take care of problems, our emotions need to rest from being upset all the time, and our wills need a rest from stubbornness and rebellion. So we need to be humble enough to call out to God and say, “I need help!” Your beginning doesn’t have to dictate your ending. Get God involved in every area of your life and allow Him to lead you into rest.

WORRY OR WORSHIP?

Worry and worship are exact opposites, and we’d all be much happier if we learned to become worshippers instead of worriers. Worry opens the door for the devil, but worship is reverence and adoration for God that leads us into His presence. God created us to worship Him, and I don’t believe we can walk in victory if we don’t become worshippers. Sometimes when we don’t have what we need or want, the enemy tries to discourage us and keep us from worshipping God. But when we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can worship Him regardless of our circumstances. Remember, God is good even when our circumstances are not! God doesn’t always give us our heart’s desire right away. He wants us to develop a deep, personal relationship with Him and an outrageous love for Him so much so that we can’t live without it. This kind of relationship and love brings the worshipful attitude that God wants us to have.

To worship means “to reverence,” or “to defer to.” We are to have reverential fear and awe of God. We are to respect and honour Him, and defer to Him by submitting to and obeying Him, and adapt ourselves to His will. We must realize that Christ, living in us, has come to lead and guide us into a special lifestyle of worship and victorious living. When Satan throws worry on you, I challenge you to stop what you’re doing, get down on your knees before God, and begin praising Him. Worship is a spiritual weapon, a warhead or bomb you can use against the enemy. Your prayers and worship will get you heavenly help, and you won’t have to fight your own battles. God’s grace and power can make things happen with ease that you can’t bring about no matter how much you struggle.

So stop worrying about everything, give it to God, and live in grace. Grace isn’t just divine favour—it’s power! Don’t waste another day of your life worrying. Determine what your responsibility is and what it is not. Don’t try to take on God’s responsibility. When we do what we can do, God steps in and does what we can’t. So give yourself and your worries to God and begin enjoying the abundant life He has planned for you.

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 20, 2009

The Power of Hope

I define hope as “the happy anticipation of good things.” Are you aggressively hoping for something good to happen to you? Do you wake up in the morning excited and expectant about life? You can do that by learning how to celebrate and enjoy this journey called life.

Everything in life is a process in motion. Without movement, advancement and progression, there is no life. Once a thing has ceased to progress, it is dead. In other words, as long as we live, you and I are always going to be heading somewhere, and we should be enjoying ourselves on the way. God created us to be goal-oriented visionaries. Without a vision, we become bored and hopeless. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, according to Proverbs 13:12, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.

There’s something about hope that makes people light hearted and happy. You’re not going to be happy if you don’t have hope. The more hope you have in God, the happier you become. Biblical hope is a close relative to faith. I don’t see how you can have faith without hope because hope is the foundation on which faith stands. Hope believes everything is going to turn out all right—hope is positive! To enjoy life you must maintain a good, positive attitude. God is positive, and He wants positive things to happen to each of us, but that isn’t likely to happen if we’re not filled with hope and faith.

Some people are afraid to hope because they have experienced so much hurt and disappointment that they don’t think they can face any more pain. They refuse to hope so they won’t be disappointed. Disappointment is painful! Rather than being hurt again, they simply refuse to hope that anything good will ever happen to them. This type of behaviour sets up a negative lifestyle. Everything becomes negative because their thoughts are negative. Proverbs 23:7 says, For as he [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he….

Your Future Has No Room For Your Past!

Many years ago I was extremely negative because of the devastating abuse that had taken place in my past. The result was that I expected people to hurt me, and they did. I expected people to be dishonest, and they were. I was afraid to believe that anything good might happen. I thought I was protecting myself from being hurt by not expecting anything good to happen. When I really began to study the Word and trust God to restore me, I began to realize that all of my negativism had to go. In Matthew 8:13, Jesus says that it will be done for us as we have believed. I believed everything was negative, so naturally many negative things happened to me.

I needed to let go of the past and move into the future with hope, faith and trust in God. I had to get rid of the heaviness of despair, depression and discouragement. And I did, once I dug into the truth of God’s Word! I found out that God is …a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3). I began to turn my negative thoughts and words into positive ones! Now, I am not saying that you and I can get whatever we want by just thinking about it. God has a perfect plan for each of us, and we can’t control Him with our thoughts and words. But we can think and speak in agreement with His will and plan for us. We can practice being positive in every situation that arises. Even if what is taking place in your life at the moment seems negative, expect God to bring good out of it as He has promised in His Word. You must understand that before your life can change, your attitude must change.

Hope is a powerful, spiritual force that is activated through our positive attitude. We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose (Romans 8:28). What Satan means for harm, God intends for good. All things work together for good for those who love God. Satan wants to hurt you and have you spend your life distrusting everyone because somebody hurt you when you were a child, while you were in school, in your marriage, on your job, etc. The list of who, what, where and how you can be hurt is endless. You have to say, “No! That is subject to change! I am a child of the living God! Something good is going to happen to me!”

[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). What this means is that after all the painful things that have happened in your past have come and gone, God still wants you to enjoy every single day of your life. This won’t happen, however, until you make up your mind to take hold of the abundant life that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for you. Until then, the devil will always try to take it away. Jesus said, The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows) (John 10:10).

You are a new creation. You don’t have to allow the old things that happened to you continue to affect your new life in Christ. As a new creature in Christ Jesus, you can have your mind renewed according to the Word of God: And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:23,24). Things will change for the better when you keep your thoughts filled with hope.

Rejoice In Hope

The Bible is full of hope-filled promises for you and me. Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favour) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God (Romans 5:2). Good things begin to happen to you when you rejoice in the hope of experiencing God’s favour on a regular basis. Luke 2:52 tells us that …Jesus increased in…favour with God and man. You and I are introduced to the favour of God by faith. All of God’s promises are activated by faith. We short change ourselves when we believe in Jesus but don’t believe in His blessings. Believe that you walk in holiness and righteousness (see Ephesians 4:24), believe that you are anointed (see 2 Corinthians 1:21), and believe that you are blessed with every spiritual blessing as promised in Ephesians 1:3. Believe Romans 8:37 when it says you are more than a conqueror!

Everything that is promised in the Bible is for us to rejoice in now. Be glad! Raise your expectancy level. Rejoice in the hope of experiencing God’s glory right now. My husband and I believe for many things, but beyond them all, we believe in Someone—Jesus. We don’t always know what is going to happen. We just know that it will always work out for our good! The more positive and hopeful we are, the more we will be in the flow of God. In Ephesians 1:17,18, the apostle Paul prayed, [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones).

This glorious inheritance is for you and me! Second Peter 1:3 says, For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

The Hope Of Seeing Change

If there is anything in this world that you can be sure of, it is change. Something is always changing. Why is it, then, that we find ourselves thinking, “Nothing will ever change… I’m always going to be like this… My situation will never change… He’ll never change… She’ll never change… I’m never going to be as good as so-and-so”? The only thing that will never change is God. For I am the Lord, I do not change… (Malachi 3:6). Everything else can change. If you have no hope of seeing change in your situation, change probably isn’t going to come. We endure so many things emotionally that we really wouldn’t have to suffer if we put our hope in God and stopped looking at all of the circumstances we can’t control. We will never enjoy life unless we decide to! In order to live as God intends for us to live, we must truly believe that it is God’s will for us to experience continual joy. Then we must decide to enter into that joy, which is essential to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Proverbs 17:22 says, A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Hope makes joy available, just as a lack of hope produces misery. We can choose to enjoy righteousness and peace or stay in the midst of condemnation and turmoil. There are blessings or curses available, and that is why Deuteronomy 30:19 tells us to choose life and blessings. What do you do while you wait for change? You pray, believe and expect to receive. Maintain a positive attitude, knowing that God is working on bringing your change and that you will see it. Throughout your waiting time, the devil will scream, “It’s not going to change; it’s going to get worse!” Don’t listen to this and become discouraged. Instead, wake up in the morning and say out loud, “This is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad! Something good is going to happen to me today! Everything in my life that is not right is subject to change! The One who never changes is changing my situation. And while He’s doing it, I’m going to enjoy my life!” Put your confidence in God and stop wearing yourself out trying to make things happen. The decision to have a good attitude while your change is coming can change you! Now is the time to decide to enter into the full and abundant life that God wants you to have.

God Is Working Right Now!

Most of us have a hard time believing that God is working on our behalf until we see something happening with our natural eyes. This usually isn’t the way God works. He works behind the scenes much of the time. Right now He is changing hearts and drawing sinners unto Him. Right now He is working in our government. Right now God has a plan for your promotion. He may be speaking to your boss about giving you a raise. God is busy working in your life as long as you believe. Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

This scripture begins with the word now. Although the Greek word from which it is translated actually means “but, and, etc.,” rather than “at this point in time,” I still believe the term can be used to describe faith and hope. Faith and hope operate right now! Without them, life isn’t enjoyable. Every time I lay aside faith and hope, I stop believing and I lose my peace. And as soon as I lose my peace, my joy goes with it. Make a decision to be a now person. God has a good plan for your life right now. Trust Him today. Believing God brings you into His rest and puts an end to the torment caused by impatience and anxiety while you’re waiting. No matter how hopeless your situation seems to be or how long it has been that way, I know you can change because I did. It took time and heaping helpings of the Holy Spirit, but it was worth it. It will be worth it for you, too. Whatever happens, trust in the Lord and trust in the power of hope! My hope is in God who never changes. Nothing is impossible with Him. He is a big God, and I’m believing Him for big things. How about you?

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 18, 2009

Practical Tips On Reducing Stress

Stress is on the rise in today’s world. The good news is that although Christians may be in the world, according to the words of Jesus recorded in John 17:16, we are not of the world! We don’t have to operate in the world’s system—thinking, talking, or acting like the world—and we shouldn’t! In fact, our attitude and approach toward situations should be entirely different from the worlds.

The source of our stress isn’t really difficulties, circumstances and situations. It’s our attitude and approach toward them. The world (unbelievers) responds to difficulties with upset, but Jesus said in John 14:27 to …stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed…. He never promised that we wouldn’t have to deal with anything disturbing or disappointing.

In John 16:33, Jesus said, …In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] Jesus said difficulties would come our way, but they don’t have to upset us. We don’t have to accept the stress being offered. We have the privilege of approaching the challenge in a calm, peaceful manner.

Recently, I’ve noticed in a greater way than ever before how my own situations can be turned around by the right attitude and approach. If I approach something in dread, I have already set myself up for misery before I begin. If I believe that something is going to be hard, I get what I believe! On the other hand, if I refuse to dread or have a negative outlook, I open the door for God to work and help me. I’m learning to push my “reset button” when Satan gets me upset!

We’re created by God to handle a certain amount of stress. It’s impossible to be alive and never experience stress at all. It comes in the form of mental, emotional or physical tension and strain. However, if we do not manage it and take measures to avoid more stress than we can properly handle, we’re asking for trouble. Sickness is definitely a result of long-term stress. Even mental illness can result from a lifetime of stress. As I mentioned earlier, stress is a result of a wrong attitude and approach, not the result of circumstances.

We can look at several examples:

1. With the proper attitude, I don’t have to get upset if I get caught in a traffic jam. I can decide to enjoy myself right where I am, even though I’d rather not be there, or I can become upset trying to do something that I can’t do anything about. It’s my decision!

2. If I have a plan and it becomes evident that my plan isn’t working, I can get upset, angry, confused, and even try to make it work (even though I see clearly that it’s not going to). I can also choose to adapt and go with the flow, determining not to lose my peace over something that I can’t change anyway. It’s my decision!

3. When people don’t act or respond the way I think they should or would like them to, I can try to change them, resent them, hate them, be angry at them or be offended. I also have the option to choose to forgive, realizing that I, too, have weaknesses and can respond the way Jesus would. It’s my decision!

Just as I was working on this article today, I’ve had to deal with about four disappointing situations. It’s been one of those testing days. Early this morning as I began to see the way things were going, I declared out of my mouth, “I’m not glad this happened, but I’m not going to lose my joy. I can be happy with or without it!” I believe when we respond in this way, we’re setting borders for the enemy. We’re saying, “You may have touched my outer life, but you can’t get to my inner life.”

The kingdom of God is within us. Kingdom living is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). Don’t allow Satan to keep you upset and stressed out all the time. Change your attitude and approach, and God will change your circumstance in due time.

Here are several things we can do to reduce stress:

Stop Thinking and Talking About Your Problems
The state of upset or arousal sets off an alarm in the body to defend itself from threatening, hostile events. Even thinking of an upsetting event or imagining danger can also trigger the alarm. A chain of responses are set into motion inside us to fight or run from the circumstance.

Don’t Be Overcommitted
Do you have too much to do? This seems to be the number one complaint I hear today. When I ask people how they are, about 50 percent respond, “I’m busy.” Common sense tells us that God isn’t going to stress us out and lead us to do more than we can. Therefore, if we’re being led by God’s Spirit, saying yes when He says yes and no when He says no, we should be able to accomplish what He gives us to do and walk in peace. Do you need to say no more often? We should be sure when our heart says no that our mouth isn’t saying yes. Sometimes trying to keep other people happy can make us very unhappy. A person must be really careful in this area, especially if he has a tendency toward being a people pleaser.

Receive God’s Grace
Grace is the power of the Holy Spirit to live without stress. God, however, won’t give us the grace to be disobedient. If He’s telling us not to do something that we decide to do anyway, we’ll experience the painful loss of His anointing. Grace equals ability. God gives us grace to match our call. When we do our own thing, we do it on our own. When we follow His leading, He always supplies the energy. Remember, God will feed Isaac, but we will have to feed Ishmael!

Remember when God promised Abraham and Sarah a child? They got ahead of God and worked out a plan to have Ishmael. Finally, Isaac came according to God’s promise. Ishmael’s name means “man of war.” Isaac’s name means “laughter.” Ishmael represents works of the flesh, which always produce struggle and stress. Isaac, however, represents waiting for God’s promise, which requires faith and always brings rest.

God wants us to burn on, not burn out! Burnout comes from physical and emotional exhaustion, especially as a result of long-term stress. Stress depletes our bodies; our immune systems become weak, and sickness—even depression—can set in. Are you suffering from burnout? Manifestations include extreme fatigue, headaches, insomnia, gastrointestinal problems, tension, nerves tied in knots, inability to relax, and no medical explanation for the symptoms. Other symptoms may be emotional exhaustion (crying easily), anger, negativity, irritability, cynicism, and bitterness about the blessings of others.

Burnout causes you to be “out of control” and no longer producing good fruit. Ignoring God’s laws causes burnout. You can’t overwork your mind, emotions or your body and not eventually pay the price for excess. Whose pace are you moving at? Is it the pace God has set for you or someone else’s pace? Are you stressed-out from trying to keep up with everyone else? Are you living under the stress of competition and comparison? Are you a perfectionist with unrealistic goals?

I believe we can live stress free in a stressful world, but it will require some decisions—possibly some radical decisions. Allow God’s Spirit to lead you out of a stressful lifestyle and into one of peace and joy.

Posted by: SUMOsuccess - Maja | March 18, 2009

Stressed Out? Listen Up!

I’ve learned something in my own pursuit of a stress-free life: If I want peace rather than the pressure of stress in my life, I must choose to seek direction from God in every situation. Our God is a God of peace. He’ll always lead us toward peace and joy, not anxiety and frustration. Therefore, we have to be listening for His voice. By following His voice, we can find peace and overcome the stress that so many are dealing with today.

To find peace in our lives, we simply need to obey the promptings God gives us each day. A prompting is a “knowing” deep down on the inside, telling us what to do. First Kings 19:11,12 refers to this knowing as a still, small voice. A prompting isn’t a whack on the head with a hammer! In 1 Kings, the Lord didn’t use the great and strong wind, the earthquake or fire to prompt Elijah. His voice came to Elijah as a sound of gentle stillness and a still, small voice. A prompting doesn’t even have to be a voice at all. In fact, God often gives direction by speaking to your heart rather than to your ears.

Since a prompting is very gentle, some might question whether or not it’s from God. When you’re unsure about a prompting, it’s often easy to ignore it. One time after I had been shopping at the mall for three or four hours, I sensed that God was saying, “You need to go home now.” I had only purchased half of the eight items on my shopping list, so I ignored the prompting and kept on shopping.

The remaining items on my list weren’t immediate needs. But, like many determined, goal-oriented people, I wasn’t about to leave that mall until I purchased every item on my list. I had come for eight items, and I was going to leave with eight items! I didn’t care if I had to be dragged out of that mall; I wasn’t leaving until every item was crossed off my list! And I wasn’t going to listen to any voice that said otherwise.

I remember reaching the point of being so tired and upset that I wasn’t able to think clearly. All I wanted to do was finish shopping and get out of there. It was almost more than I could do to remain civil to the other shoppers and clerks in the store. I was stressed out!

Looking back, I can’t remember how many times I’ve done that—stress out because I’ve pushed beyond the prompting of the Lord. I can always tell I’ve gone too far when I’m not able to practice even the most basic manners—politeness, kindness and self-control. If I simply had obeyed the prompting of the Lord when I heard that still, small voice telling me to go home, I would’ve easily relieved the stress from the situation. Instead, I pushed my way through in my own determination to achieve my goal, and I ended up bringing stress on myself and everyone around me.

If we’ll simply learn to listen to God and do what He says, we’ll discover that things will go well for us. No matter what the situation, we need to listen to God and obey His voice. Proverbs 3:6 states: In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. You may not understand the reasons that God is asking you to do certain things, but as you listen to His voice and obey His direction, you can experience a peaceful calmness as your stress level begins to decrease. So listen up…and de-stress!

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