Just Do It!

This morning I was peacefully sleeping until my alarm rudely awoke me. I thought ‘Do I have to do my devotions this morning? Surely missing one morning won’t matter.’ I started to fall asleep again.

Can you relate to this kind of morning? Have you ever felt so tired that a previously important commitment loses its appeal? The problem with thinking this way is that one morning off turns into one week off, which then turns into a month off, and so on.

So, I had to get over myself and get up. I forced my eyes back open and sat up. I got out of bed and started reading the Bible. The power in those words began to hit me. The impact grew over time. I became aware of God’s presence.

1 Corinthians 15:58 says ‘So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.‘ God takes notice of what you do. Are you pursuing God? On the harder days, are you remaining consistent?

Passion For God

Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.

This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.

The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.

Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?

Influencing Those Around You

I was at university, on my way to the library after class. ‘Caleb!’ Someone was calling my name. I looked around to see classmate from last year. He was fast-walking toward me with a friend of his. They asked me to join them in the library, and we ended up talking for hours. Later that week, I saw them again. I wanted to study alone because I get more done, but they saw me and were following me. I couldn’t shake them.

Every day provides an opportunity to have an impact on someone’s life. Are you influencing the people around you? Is the effect you have on others easily seen?

1 Peter 2:12 says ‘Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.‘ Every day you are with people who don’t believe in God, your actions are on display. You can show God to those around you in small, simple ways. Live each day intentionally.

The Mind Battle

Public speaking has always terrified me in the past. There is no denying it. I would stress for weeks before the event. During the talking, fear filled my mind, and I couldn’t think straight. Next, my legs would forget how to operate. I was fighting to stay standing! The fear I experienced was so intense that even at the last minute I had thoughts of backing out. “There must be some way to get out of this!”

Unfortunately, the fear and negative thoughts I experienced weren’t limited to public speaking. I set a fitness goal of running five kilometres in twenty minutes. After over twenty weeks of progressing slowly, (taking my time from 28:00 to 24:04), I thought about giving up. I really didn’t see how it was possible to achieve my goal in any reasonable amount of time. My thoughts toward my goal were mostly negative.

Can you relate? Have you had negative thoughts stop you from achieving your goals?

In the case of public speaking, it was only recently that I realised that my fear was fake. I realised that the anxiety only exists in my mind, and to overcome it I must deny EVERY negative thought and turn it into a positive one. The result was that after being invited to speak in front of 150 people for ten minutes, the stress that usually comes was replaced with excitement and anticipation! Wait, what?! I was excited to speak! During the speaking, I still struggled to get started, but after a couple of minutes I was really confident and fired up. I spoke from my heart and overcame. I was walking around the stage, boldly and clearly speaking with the help of The Holy Spirit.

I am still yet to achieve my fitness goal, but after adopting this same thought pattern of thinking positively, I have trained daily and taken my time (running 5 km) from 24:04 to 21:37 in just three weeks!
Your success depends on the health of your mind. You are capable of so much more than what you think you are!

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The Bible commands us to take every thought captive. Notice the language here: the word captive implies there is a war, and your thoughts are the enemy! Wow. This is serious. The good news is that you can overcome and win this battle by forcing each thought into surrender to God.

Positivity In Place Of Negativity

Last week my pastor asked me to share as part of a Sunday service, and I accepted. During the week leading up to the service, I had many thoughts tell me I couldn’t and shouldn’t follow through. These thoughts filled me with stress and anxiety because I didn’t deal with them. I wanted to quit before I had even started.

The day before the service I decided to take ownership of my thoughts. When a negative thought entered my mind, I turned it into a positive one. For example, “You aren’t good enough. You’re going to embarrass yourself.” turned into “I have prepared thoroughly, and The Holy Spirit will speak through me.” By repeating positive thoughts over and over, the stress inside me slowly started to decrease. By the next day, I was calm and collected. I still had some negative thoughts to deal with, but overall I was positive.

The message couldn’t have gone much better in the end, and it just proved to me that many thoughts are lies, especially the negative ones.

James 1:12 says ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.‘ There is much blessing for all who remain faithful and commit even through trials.

Have you been outside of your comfort zone? How did you overcome stress or anxiety?

Going All In

I was thinking about my life in the context of eternity. I am alive for a short time (120 years if I’m blessed), yet there are many times I don’t live like it. In my studies, I don’t always give 100% of my effort, and in my job, I don’t always go the extra mile. Most importantly, I realised I was not going all in with my relationship with God.

Can you relate to this? In many situations there is room for improvement, but how far should you go? Your time is limited, so how should you prioritise it?

Colossians 3:23-24 says ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Matthew 22:37-38 says ‘Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.’

Therefore, do the best work you can, knowing you are serving God, not your boss/lecturer/teacher/pastor and prioritise your relationship with God above all else.

Family

This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.

The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.

Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.