Building People. Spreading Hope.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Power of Thanksgiving

Today America celebrates Thanksgiving – one of the most powerful forces in the universe. When we live with an attitude of gratitude we unleash hidden power to change and impact everything and everyone around us.

Everyone knows the Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving feast in the newly discovered America. What many people don’t know is just why they were so thankful. It’s because God brought them about so many miracles to keep them alive. Today, we can all be thankful for the life God has given us and learn from the Pilgrims that built America. Let’s discuss how the Settlers can be relevant to our lives today.  

The Pilgrims had a vision. The New World gave them a place to live out their faith unfettered and free of persecution. They were dedicated to the belief that every person could communicate one on one with God and that He would answer and lead them. It took that leading and divine intervention over and over again for them to survive their first, harsh winter of 1620 - 1921 in what would later become Massachusetts. Today, it will serve us well to have a vision for our own personal growth, family, community and country. Without a vision we perish. Where there is a vision, there will be a provision.

The Pilgrims knew how to sacrifice. Nearly out of food, they were living on a ration of just five kernels of corn a day. Of the eighteen married women, fourteen died that first winter, sacrificing themselves for the next generation. Desperate Capt. Jones said, “I’m going back to England. I want you all back on my ship. I can’t leave you here.” Not one Pilgrim went back. How easily we give up on ourselves, our marriages and our family today! Instead of having an entitlement mentality, we should learn to make sacrifices like the Pilgrims. Anything worth having will eventually require a fight. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. What you sacrifice and fight for will eventually fall in the hands of your decedents.  

Squanto saved the Pilgrims. One of the natives named Squanto was captured and taken to England. There he learned to read and write English. When Squanto returned to America, he was immense help to the Pilgrims. He taught them how to grow the native maize, or corn. He also taught them how to use the plentiful fish in the river as fertilizer to make the corn grow well. Squanto was the providential instrument used by God. Likewise, God has the right people, right connection and the right doors ready to be opened for you and your destiny. If you put you hope and trust in God, He will bring it all together. There’s a healing waiting for you. There’s provision waiting for you. There’s companionship waiting for you. Will you trust God for your Squanto?

Celebrate the goodness of God. The first Thanksgiving went on for three days as English settlers and natives feasted and celebrated side by side. They brought much bounty to the feast, like venison and wild turkey. In the Old Testament the children of Israel built memorial by piling up rocks to remember the goodness of God. Today, we will do good to roundup our family and take some time to vocalize the goodness of God. Thanksgiving is not thanksgiving until we give thanks audibly.

The secret of miracle is to give thanks. The size of our Thanksgiving will determine the size of our miracle. Gov. Bradford put five kernels of corn on everybody’s plate and asked everyone there to share five things they were thankful for that first year. Gratefulness was deeply ingrained value of the Pilgrims. They believed that God was the Provider of everything. We owe everything to our Creator and our Redeemer Jesus Christ. The biggest miracle of Thanksgiving is to remember how a small hardy band of Christians set the stage for what would become the freest, most prosperous and only nation on earth founded on biblical principles. How we live our life, our attitude and our faith in God will determine what world our children and grandchildren will live in. Let us give thanks for this is the will of God.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Permit God to Prosper You

It is amazing how many people limit themselves to prosper! Nobody wants to be poor yet very few take the initiative to prosperous. Most people don’t prosper because they have the wrong concept of prosperity.

Allow me to share a few definition of prosperity I came across on the internet. Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, good fortune or successful social status. Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes other factors such as happiness and health. Prosperity is referred to as flourishing, easy living, well-to-do, very lively and profitable, doing a roaring trade, peace and favor. My own definition of prosperity is to thrive in our relationship with our Creator (from whom all blessings flow), having plenty for our families and plenty left over to help others. Prosperity is not just measured with money but it also includes good health, peace, and harmony and sterling relationships.

When I was getting started in the ministry, I was taught by well-meaning mentors that money was evil. We’re to shun money and embrace poverty. It wasn’t hard to do. It didn’t take any faith or hard work. We’re already so poor. It was a great struggle to do the work of the ministry due to lack of finances. I remember, once a friend offered to give a generous donation. I flatly refused wanting to look pious and not interested in “filthy lucre.” I kicked myself all the way back home thinking all the people we could have helped with that donation. I’ve come a long way since then! I’ve learned prosperity is defined by now how much we earn or hoard for ourselves but how much we give away to improve and impact the lives of others (especially with the Gospel of Christ). Let me share a few thoughts I’ve learnt about prosperity.

Start with a big dream. If we have a “me and my four and no more” mentality, we won’t have much. True prosperity (love, joy, peace, relationships and finances) is to have such abundance that it will begin to overflow. You cannot have a small dream and great riches. God who created the oceans, the Himalayas, the stars and the vast universe lives in you. If you dare to put others first and dream big, He will fulfill your every desire. Permit God to prosper you.

Agree with God in your thinking. One of the greatest hindrances to prosperity is between our two ears. It is our stinking thinking that keeps us from getting ahead in life. Make God the source of your income. When we limit ourselves to our jobs, stocks, commission checks and businesses, we’re liming God. God has unusual ways to provide for us. Once, the Israelites craved for meat in the wilderness. There were about seven million of them on their journey to the Promised Land. God caused wind to blow and millions of quails flew right over their head and suddenly fall dead in the camps of the Israelite! Do not limit God with our finite mind. Let’s break free from the shackles of our past experiences and generational poverty mindset. You’ll receive as much as you see yourself possessing. That’s called faith.
Speak prosperity. You can’t have a poor mouth and a rich life. Say, “I’m blessed. I’m rich. I have abundance. I have plenty for myself and plenty leftover to bless the world.” The Bible says, let the poor SAY… I’m rich. Anyone can say I’m prosperous when they’re rich. That doesn’t take any faith. You may think it stupid to say, “I’m rich while I’m clearly broke!” Listen to what the Word of God has to say, Even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were." Abraham was declared to be the Father of many nations long BEFORE he ever had a child. Faith in your prosperity has to do with the words of your mouth. Don’t beg, plead and try to twist God’s arm to bless you. He’s already convinced and ready to prosper you. Seek the Provider and provision will find you!

Last but not the least, if you want God to prosper you, do what is right before God. Have integrity before God. When we honor God with our words, life and actions, we will draw in God’s favor. Be kind to your spouse and children. Respect and honor those who are in authority. Help the poor and needy. Seek first the Kingdom of God and all the material things will be added to you. Allow God and yourself to prosper so that you can become a blessing to others.

“Let the LORD be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant” (Psalm 35:27 King James 2000).

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Benefits of Giving Back

Giving is an expression of our hearts showing how we feel about others. For God so loved the world that He gave… When He made us, God put an insatiable desire in us to give also. We’re most like God when we give. Giving should be a way of life.

Giving has always been view as good for our soul. Researchers are now finding out that giving is good for our heart also. Charitable work and giving literally makes the heart grow stronger. It is a fast cure for depression, anxiety and despair. It is a remedy to greed. When we give back, we reduce stress and add years to our lives.

Many secular individuals and companies today have put philanthropy on top of their list because they realize that giving back bonds and produces stronger team members. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Skoll (eBay), Google and others give away millions of dollars every year because they’ve learnt the Biblical principle of giving away their money. Is there any wonder they’re prospering!

The Bible says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We all know the story of the widow’s mite. She gave all she had and two thousand years later, we’re still talking about it! It is not the size of our gift that is important but the attitude of our heart in which we give. When we give, we inspire others for centuries to come.

When we give, we increase our influence and build a legacy. My mother passed away when I was one year old. My father put my brothers and I, in an orphanage hoping we’ll get a better chance at life which we did. A group of Sunday school ladies from America sponsored me with $12 a month. It fed me, sent me to school and gave me a chance to hear the Gospel. Today, I’m living my dream taking the same mantle to help thousands of others. I talk about my Sunday school ladies who sustained me at every opportunity I get. Their legacy continues. This is the power of giving.

Sow according to where you want to go with your finances. Most people give based on their earning. However, I like to challenge people to think in reverse. Set your giving goals and God will replenish them accordingly. For example, if you want to give away $10,000 per year, you can expect God to bring you at least $100,000. This is based on giving back 10% of our income to God’s work. The only cap to giving is how much you can receive.

One of the biggest hindrances to giving is to think that our gift is too small. We’re okay with unconscious giving – dropping the loose change in the charity jar or telling someone to keep the change because it jingles in our pocket and we don’t like that. However, when we’re about to make an intentional donation, we have all sorts of thoughts crossing our mind. “What difference will it make? I have bills to pay. Someone else can write a much bigger check.” Don’t let that be you. Next time you give small money away, remind yourself that you’re not just parting with a piece of paper or scraps of metal, you’re providing a bag of vegetables, pair of shoes, blanket or medicine for a sick child. A handful of quarter can provide a handful of rice – the only meal of the day for a family. Every small gift makes a big impact.

End of the year is the biggest time for giving back. Let me leave you with a few thoughts that might ignite your philanthropic interest. Give to a cause that you believe in. Give to people and organization you have a relationship with or through a recommendation of someone you know. Give, because you care not because you feel obligated. Give, because your giving will have eternal impact. Money can be deceptive but giving is divine. Giving is one of the most selfish things we can do. When it comes to giving, everybody wins.

A Chinese proverb says, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

10 Ways to Eliminate Holiday Stress

Thanksgiving and Christmas are some of the most joyous times of the year. Holidays are a lot of fun but they’re also very stressful in modern times. Many people endure the holidays instead of enjoying them.

We live in a fast-track society. If we’re not careful we let busy-ness run over most savoring moments of our lives. Instead of enjoying each other, we feel drained and dread our times together. Today, let’s discuss how to keep peace in a stressful time.

1. Keep the right perspective. Holidays are about making memories. It’s not the time to display perfect housekeeping or how late you can work to provide for your family. Better is a little where there is joy, love and laughter than a house full of strife. Celebrate what you have and each other.

2. Be like Santa. Make a list. When we take time to write down and prioritize the zillion things we’ve to do, it makes it easier for us to accomplish certain tasks within a certain time. Make a list of gifts to buy, people to invite and chores to do. A “To Do” list provides direction and reduces stress.

3. Delegate the jobs. Don’t try to be a superman or a super woman trying to do everything yourself. Be secure. When we engage others, we allow them to create memories together. Communicate clearly who does what and by when. Post your job list in a prominent place such as your fridge or water dispenser in the office.

4. Have a relaxed, easy going attitude. People will make mistake. Things will go wrong. When we jump on each other over spilled milk, we’re destroying the memory of our times together. It’s easier to replace broken things than to repair broken people. People are the most important thing to celebrate.

5. Overlook offense. Holidays are emotionally charged times. Somebody will say or do something offensive. Forgive quickly. Don't hold a grudge. Make up your mind not to fall in the trap of getting into an argument. Unite not divide! Now is not the time to voice your opinion on who should be the next President or who should be the next player in our favorite NFL team.

6. Keep a positive environment. I’ve had to ask people to change the subject when they get into a negative conversation with me. Great people discuss plans, visions, ideas and accomplishments of others. Small people talk about themselves and the faults of others. If you join in the gossip, eventually they’ll talk about you.

7. Spend time not money. Money and expensive gifts don’t buy happiness. Have a budget for gifts. Love is not expressed in price tag. Time spent together making and building a family tradition is cherished for a lifetime. Put up the Christmas tree, bake and make special food together. Jump in the family wagon and drive around the neighborhoods to rate their lighting decorations. The internet is full of ideas.

8. Take time for yourself. Only you are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t sacrifice yourself at the altar of responsibility. When you’re fulfilled, you serve better.

9. Give thanks. Recognize and vocalize that all of the blessings in our lives are a gift from God. When we gather together and acknowledge Him, we make God proud. Thanksgiving ensures that the blessings will continue to flow and sets Godly tradition.

10. Reach out to others. Holidays are most depressing times for some. Make sure to include people you know who are less fortunate. Get in a group together and pick people to make them your “Christmas Project.” You can also consider partnering with Build International Ministries and bring the message of Hope to men, women and children in Asia who have never heard the name of Jesus.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Great Commission

Many in the Church today are unaware of what the Great Commission means. It is the instructions given by our resurrected Savior to spread the teachings of God’s Word all over the world to evangelize, baptize and plant churches.

Most churches don’t make mention of evangelism and world missions anymore. Yet, it is the fundamental teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Church’s existence is to win the lost to Christ. In the West we’re not only neglecting the vision of world evangelism but we’re also threatening our own existence. Today, we want to discuss how every believer has a part in fulfilling the Great Commission.

In 1983, I was freshly out of college. I went to visit a little country called Nepal. There, I fell in love with the people. The children were extremely poor and barefooted; it was one of the coldest and poorest countries in the world. It was the only Hindu kingdom and there was severe persecution by the Monarchy. I had just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce but I couldn’t resist helping the locals in spite of danger, challenges and persecution. What started out as a simple service to the people in the name of our Lord turned into a life time of fulfilling the Great Commission. After twenty seven years, I’m still hooked on to world missions.

I don’t expect everyone to have a career in the ministry like me. However, the Bible teaches that every believer ought to be a part of sending or going to evangelize the world. Jesus never commissioned us to warm the church pews but He commanded us to preach the Gospel to the whole world. North America and Europe are not the whole world! Those of us who live here have an obligation to collaborate with our brothers and sisters in Asia and other unreached nations.

Every once in a while I meet people who ask, “Brother Sandy, what’s wrong with winning souls in America and evangelizing our neighborhood?” My reply, “I see nothing wrong in that.” But here’s what God told us to do. Imagine a large estate owner went away to a far country. Before he left, he assembled all his servants and said, “I’m going away for a little while but while I’m gone, I want you to cultivate the whole estate.” They all agreed and the landowner goes off to a distant land. After many years when he returns he finds most of the land is filled with weeds and unprepared land. As he nears his mansion he finds the garden looking prettier and grass looks lush. He’s got a smile on his face but there’s also a frown. He’s confused! He calls one of his servants and expresses his pleasure for the rich garden. He goes closer to his house and it gets even more beautiful. Finally, he can’t stand it anymore and he asks one of his servants, “This is all so beautiful but what happened to the rest of the estate?” The servant asks, “Master, don’t you like the flowers, the lawn and the landscape around your house?” Then says the owner, “Yes, I like it very much but I told you to cultivate the whole estate and not just a corner of it!”

Friend, this is the plight of world missions today. We have twenty four hours TV, radio, churches in every corner and this is all good. Nothing should be taken away from the blessings we have in the West. However, if we call ourselves Christians, we also have an obligation to share the Gospel with two thirds in Asia who have never heard the name of Jesus. The Church at large is asleep to the Macedonian Call. We’re satisfied with our multi-million dollars buildings, fancy choir and polished church pews but what about the lost billions? Christ cannot come until the whole “estate” is “cultivated.” I’m asking you today, “What is your part? Will you pray? Will go? Will you send? Will you share with others?” I know you’re as eager to reach the lost as God is. I’d love to connect you to the missions field. We’d love to represent you. Let’s go into all the world and preach the Gospel and then shall the end come. Great Commission is not an option; it’s His last command!

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV).

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Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Traits of a Great Leader

Most of us would not consider ourselves as leaders but all of us are leaders to someone in some ways. We can abdicate our roles as leaders or we can step up to the plate and become the leader God wants us to be.

Like everything else the best principles of being a great leader is found in the Bible. Millions of people today are living below their potential because we’ve not understood the call to leadership. Let’s discuss a few traits of a great leader.

Leaders have vision. Everything rises and falls within leadership. Whether it is in your family, work, church or business, the vision of a leader gives it life and direction. The Bible says, without a vision people perish. If you want peace, financial stability and growth in your marriage, family or church, you will have to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve or where you want to go. Divide the vision into bite-size short, mid and long-term goals. Clear vision empowers people to accomplish individual and corporate task in a timely manner.

Leaders are excellent communicators. When we fail to plan we plan to fail. Communication is the key to every successful relationship and project. The more clearly we communicate with our team the better results we will have. Written down communication and repetition of the vision enables people to capture what needs to be done and what is expected of every individual. Different people may play different role but a leader’s job is to make each person feel important about their contribution. One of the best ways to get the best results you want is to inspect what you expect along the way. Every day, empower people by saying, “I appreciate you getting your school done on time.” “You’re amazing! I know you’re going to meet the deadline by 4:00 PM today. I believe in you!” People either live up to what you say or down to what you say. Effective leaders have a great follow up system in place.

Leaders engage the whole team. People’s personalities are different. Some of the quieter, unsocial people are also more creative and talented. A leader’s job is to recognize the different gifts in people. When we engage the least of the team-member by giving them equal recognition, they too will perform to their highest potential. The more we value people and gradually increase their responsibilities the higher they’re going to rise. Positive words of affirmation and sincere compliments bring out the best in people. Negativity does the opposite. A great leader knows how to engage the shy, introverted people by drawing them into the vision and giving them public recognition for their contribution.

Leaders empower the weak. Most people are beaten down by the world and have very little self-esteem. When they relate to us, they usually come with past baggage of insecurity, self-doubt and condemnation. A great leader knows how to inspire and empower a person with battered life experience. A phrase I use regularly is, “I believe in you! You’re going to do great!” When we speak faith into people, they will be faithful! A great leader always make people believe more than what they believe about themselves.

Leaders serve. The world’s definition of leadership is skewed today. It says the higher we go up the ladder the greater we need to be served. However, a great leader is one who knows how to stoop down to lift another person up. It takes a big person to do something small. Never be too big or too influential to serve others. If we want to serve God, we need to serve people. The ladder to success is the ladder to service.

Friend, you’re born to be a leader. Why don’t you get up from the sideline? Shut out the condemning voices of the enemy of your past mistakes. I declare: You’re born to do great things. You’re a great Dad. You’re an awesome mother. You’re a great wife. You can do anything you want. God has chosen you for a purpose. Walk in it! You’ve got what it takes. Leaders rise up; you’re the hope of our world!

Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. (Mark 10:43-44 NLT).

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Living Breakthrough Minded

Discouragement and disappointments are common in life. It’s easy to settle down and accept life the way it is. Not much is required if we want to live a no-significant, mediocre life. However, God wants us to live breakthrough minded.

When we’re going through a down time – a sickness, legal battle, troubled relationship or joblessness, it’s easy to think, “There’s nothing happening for me.” God feels like a million miles away and our circumstances seem to suck the life out of us. Today, I want to encourage you to live breakthrough minded. Expect something to change so drastically that it will impact your whole life.

Once, King David was facing a monumental battle with the Philistine army. They were greatly outnumbered and the odds were high against them. David prayed and asked God to give them victory in an impossible situation. As David and his men went out to fight a huge army, God gave them victory. Later he described, “God has broken through to my enemies like the bursting forth of water.” When they left, David named that place Baal-Perazim, which means, “God of the breakthrough.”

I’ve had many Baal-Perazim experiences in my life. My mother died when I was one year old. When two ladies adopted my brothers and I and took us to an orphanage, it was a Baal-Perazim moment for me. When I got accepted to attend one of the most prestigious colleges, it was a breakthrough moment. When God called me to the nations which have developed into an international ministry, it was a Baal-Perazim moment for me.

However, life doesn’t always go as smooth as we want. Our negative experiences can eclipse our positive encounters with God. Today you may be sitting in a dry spell of your life. You’re still without a job. The house is not selling. No prince charming has come into your life and your bills keep stacking up. Your child is acting up and the sickness is still limiting your life. What to do when nothing seems to be working?

When you feel overwhelmed with problems, lack and difficult circumstances, remind yourself that our Lord is the God of the breakthrough. Like the bursting forth of water or a tsunami, God will sweep every struggle away from you. His flood of blessing will invade your marriage, family, finances, peace and health. His flood of favor will bring you multiple job offers. You will marry the person of your dream. Your children will be mighty in the land. God will put resources in your hand to evangelize the world. You’ll go from barely get by to having more than enough.

Friend, if we need to receive God’s breakthrough, we have to have to live breakthrough-minded. That means you wake up every day expecting God’s goodness to overtake your life. Instead of singing the blues, sing God’s praises for the coming miracles. We have to put on an attitude as if the victory is already here. That is called faith. Faith is to celebrate God’s power to change our current situation while we’re still in that situation. When we’re breakthrough-minded, we’re giving our best to every person we meet and our work. We’re looking our best because you may meet the person of your dream. You’re making plans to serve because God is going to heal your sick body. When God opens the floodgates, it will wash away your sorrow and bring about a new spring in your lives. Are you getting excited? Do you see yourself ready to leave Mediocreville and move into God’s Garden of Eden where there is peace, provision and tranquility? Friend, I believe with all my heart, this is your day! I declare: A breakthrough is coming. When it happens, it will change everything in your favor. Get ready and prepare for the flood of God’s goodness to overtake you. I love you and I’m praying for you!

“As of right now, I’m making a covenant with you: In full sight of your people I will work wonders that have never been created in all the Earth, in any nation. Then all the people with whom you’re living will see how tremendous God’s work is, the work I’ll do for you” (Exodus 34:10 The Message).

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Staying in Peace

We all have the opportunity to get upset, stressed out and irritable. Storms of life can hit us every once in a while but we don’t have to allow the storm to get in us. When we’re in peace, we’re in a position of power.

The other day I had some concerns in my mind when I allowed the enemy to steal my peace. I got irritable and took it out on my son Daniel. He couldn’t understand why I was so nit-picky about stuff normally I don’t care about. Later I had to apologize to him for allowing things to get out of hand. When we lose our peace, people who are closest to us end up paying the price. This is not a good way live.

Recently I was in India and a gigantic typhoon hit the state right next to where we were. We barely escaped! Everything on its path was rooted out. Millions of people lost their homes and many lost their lives. It is sad that people who have so little to start with can lose so much! A storm can be devastating but in the center of a storm is what is called the “eye of the storm.” In spite of its destructive behavior the eye of the storm is as calm as it can be. In the same way, when our lives are rooted and grounded in God’s Word, we can remain calm in spite of storm all around us.

Jesus was on a boat in the middle of the sea when a great storm arose. The disciples were helter-skelter trying to keep the boat from sinking. When things got out of hand they realized Jesus was in the boat! They woke Him up and complained, “Don’t you care we’re about to die?” How many times we do the same! If they only knew who was in the boat with them! Following God doesn’t mean absence of troubles but it means presence of God in the midst of our storms. Jesus was in tuned with God, He rebuked the storm and everything calmed down. Submit to God and rebuke your storm!

One of the greatest peace stealer in our lives is our finances. When we’re worried monetarily, we can be in great turmoil. Too much or too little of funds can steal our peace. No matter how much or how little finances we have, it will do us good to remember, God owns it all. We’re merely stewards to manage what belongs to God. A barely get by mindset will always steal our peace for not having enough; greed will have the same effect on us. The best way to have peace regarding our finances is to be content with what we have while pursuing to get what we want.

Another area that robs our peace is our relationships. People who are closest to us can be the greatest source of conflict. In these times, it will serve us good to remember that we’re on the same team. Relationships flare up when one or both parties are troubled about something. Seek first to understand before you seek to be understood. When we fight with our loved ones, we’re shooting friendly fires. Don’t let that be you.

Physical illness can be a great source of discouragement. Since our body, soul and spirit are interconnected, it’s easy to lose our peace when we’re not feeling good. This is the time to communicate how we’re feeling. Most of the time, people around us will give us more space if they know that we’re not feeling up to par. A key to getting well is not to dwell on our sickness. We’ll produce whatever we meditate on. You cannot talk sickness all the time and expect to have health. Faith comes by whatever we hear ourselves talk… (Sandy’s version)!

Friend, nothing is more regretful than to live our lives all stressed out, worried, creating havoc in our own lives and those we love. I challenge us all to stress-proof our lives. Before we say anything, let us consider how it affects the other person. Have an abundance mindset. Don’t let your situation dictate your life. Don’t respond to everything ugly you read or hear. Be the big person and don’t repay evil for evil. When you’re in peace, you’re in a position of power.

“Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord” (Hebrew12:14 NLT).

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Manage Your Money

I have several friends who come to me for advice on their money. God’s Word has a lot to talk about money. How we manage our money will determine how much or how little we’ll have of it.

There’re so many voices that want your attention regarding money. If you’re not careful, you can lose a lot by everything “experts” say. Like everything else, the best money advice comes from the Scriptures.

Be diligent at your work. It’s shocking how few people take their work seriously! Many don’t even show up to work. Since the fall of Adam, it is our task on earth to work. The good news is when we work, God has promised to bless the work of our hands. Hard working people will never have to beg for bread.

Be a person of excellence. I go to a certain service counter every month. The clerk’s body language tells me she doesn’t want to be there. It’s a mess when she folds my papers and staples it. I always have to un-staple and make it look decent before I file it. The Bibles teaches, whatever we do, we have to do it unto the Lord and give our best at it.

Have discipline. Pay your bills ahead of time. When paying your bills, take care of your “big potatoes” first. That’s your mortgage/rent, car payment, insurance, tithe, food, and savings and so on. When you put a few large potatoes in an empty jar, it will fit perfectly fine. Later you can pour a lot of rice into the pot and they too will fit around the big potatoes. In the same way, when we take care of our big expenses first, all the small expenses fit in.

Pay off credit card debt. Credit cards are a trap. If we’re not disciplined, we can lose cash fast. Most credit card companies charge 10-25% in interest. You may have a small or a large debt. Don’t be overwhelmed. Start paying more than the minimum every month. Stop using your card for further purchase. Cut it up if you can’t resist temptation. You’ll be amazed what miracle you’ll create for yourself if you simply start paying off your debt.

Save what you save. When you’ve paid off your credit card, student or a car loan or a mortgage, stash away the same cash in a savings or retirement account. When you begin to save, you’ll create energy and free yourself from living month to month. When you have a cushion to fall back on, you’ll have less stress and produce more.

Never act in fear. A friend of mine listened to an “expert,” motivated by fear, bought his book and few weeks later lost 25% of his life’s savings! Just because you see them on TV, listen to them on the radio or read their books doesn’t mean God wants you to take their advice. The best advice you can ever receive is to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow the peace of God in your own heart.

Don’t go for quick gain. When money starts to come easy; be on guard. Hard earned, honest living is still the best way to get rich. Of course, you want to be smart with your money but watch out for a quick buck. If it sounds too good to be true; it probably is! Be conservative. Build your wealth over a period of time.

Diversify. You’ve all heard, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” When we diversify our investment, we’re reducing our chances to lose it all. Don’t invest money in too many high risk portfolios at once. Invest in stocks, bonds and companies you know about. Don’t be na├»ve. Educate yourself. Only you are responsible for your own money.

Give it away. All rich and famous people have one thing in common – they all give away a lot of money. Obviously there’s a tax-benefit to giving but most rich people give because they have a heart for the less fortunate. The Bible says, when we help the poor, we lend unto the Lord. Cast your bread upon many waters and they’ll come back to you. (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

Friend, money is not the root of all evil – the love of money is! Work hard so you can give more away. Follow God and money will follow you. God knows your needs and how to get it to you. Today God is saying, “Be faithful in little things and I’ll make you ruler over much!” What are you going to do?

“If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches” (Luke 16:11 ESV)?

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Fight a Good Fight

Today in America, we celebrate the war veterans. Millions have sacrificed and given their lives for the cause of defending the innocent and this great country. We salute the Veterans!

One thing we all have to learn in life is to fight a good fight of faith. Anything worth possessing will require a fight. We don’t fight with guns and swords but we have to learn to fight spiritual battles. If we don’t have the right mindset, we won’t win. Today let’s look at a few winning attitudes.

Keep the right perspective. When you’re fighting life’s battle, never allow the size of the problem to overwhelm you. If you keep the right perspective, it will be easy to overcome any adversity. When David faced Goliath, he didn’t call him a giant. He said, “You uncircumcised Philistine.” In the Old Testament, circumcision was a reminder of God’s Covenant with His people. Today, you have a covenant with God’s favor and blessing through the work of our Lord on the Cross and by His Holy Spirit. If you have a big problem, you have a big victory coming your way.

You’re a victor not a victim. When problems flood into our lives like waves, it’s easy to feel small, neglected and forgotten by all. In the Bible there were twelve spies that went to spy out the land of Cannon. Ten of them returned feeling defeated before they even faced the enemy. They said, “We’re like grasshoppers!” Yes, the problems may be overwhelming but you’re not a grasshopper, you’re the child of the Most High! You’re not a victim, you’re a victor. Say with me, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Build a support team. Jesse Cottle joined the Marines in 2003. Six years later as he was dismantling an explosive device in Afghanistan, it went off leaving him a double amputee. Despite his injuries, Cottle met his beautiful wife Kelly and they married a year ago. A picture of Kelly carrying her husband Jesse went viral on the internet because it portrayed his love for his country and her dedication to love and support her husband unconditionally. Jesse was interviewed saying, It was tough and it is tough in general, but I just kind of always had the attitude that it's really tough now but things will just be okay, and I had my family around me I had good friends and basically just my faith really helped me to carry me through.” Veteran’s Day is a good reminder that no man can fight a battle on his own. Rambo may look good on the silver screen but in real life, you need friends and family like Kelly who will believe in you and support you in the heat of the battle.

Appreciate what you have. Another very powerful image worth remembering on Veteran’s Day is of a Marine wife sleeping on the floor in front of her husband’s cascade draped with a U.S. flag, the day before her husband was to be buried. What a gripping reminder for us all to love the people in our world a little more hug them a little tighter and appreciate them a little more. None of us know how long they’re with us. Never take your blessings for granted. Let’s appreciate our loves ones.

God is fighting your battle. To fight a good fight of faith, we must do our part but never forget that you’re not alone. What we cannot handle, our God can. Nothing you’re facing today is too difficult for Him. The Bible says that God has put all things under our feet. No weapon formed against you will prosper. He will make a way where there is no way. Now change your perspective. You’re not weak, defeated or a victim. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. Fight the good fight of faith. Great it is to dream the dream, when you’re young by the starry streams but greater it is to fight life through and say at the end that the dream is true.

“The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:14 NLT).

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