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Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Fruits

While we live in the dispensation of grace, we attract God’s favor when we live by His principles. God is pleased when we honor him with a portion of the blessings He bestows upon us. In the early eighties, when I lived in the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, poor villagers would bring a bag of rice or vegetables from the increase of the field. Frequently, they also brought live animals to offer unto the Lord. In the Bible days, and in many parts of the world today, agriculture is still the main occupation, therefore; it is fitting for them to honor God in this way.
What about those of us who live in the West? What does the Bible say about first fruits offerings? It is wise for us to remember that everything we have belongs to God. Without His blessings and Him giving us the ability, we have nothing to show for in life. God doesn’t need anything from us. He flung the heavens with stars in galaxies. He paves the streets of heaven with gold. What then can we give to God to honor Him?
Give God your time. We can make more of everything else but none of us can buy more time. When we get up each day and tithe our time, it gives Him great pleasure. "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV). Nothing can equal our time sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him. When we give God our time at the beginning of the day, He will add favor and success to everything we touch throughout the day. When we honor God with our time, He can’t wait to send angels our way with special deliveries to prosper us.
Give God your first thoughts. Our thoughts precede our words and our words determine our actions. Every morning when I wake up I say, “Thank you Lord for this day. I bless your Name. Something goooood is going to happen to me today. Bring me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.” Many people wake up with a defeated thought. If we’re not careful, our wrong thinking can eat the best of our day. How we train our minds to think the thoughts of God will determine the quality of our lives on earth. Bad news is everywhere. We wake up to it on social media, newspaper, TV, internet, even at work co-workers announce it to us. I’m all for keeping in touch with what’s going on in the world but let’s guard ourselves from rehashing the negative news playing in our minds. Let’s offer our first thoughts to God so He can permeate our day with His blessings.
Dedicate your firstborn to God. Of course, we’ll do good to dedicate all our children to serve the Lord. But there is a special power released when we offer our firstborn to the Almighty. Often, as it goes with the first child, so it goes with the rest. No matter how grown up our oldest may be, we can still pray for them and impact their lives for the best. 
Put God first in everything. Our first fruit offering involving our finances can set the tone of our increase for the year. I speak this from experience – if you can prove to God that He can trust you with the little you have now, He will make you the ruler over much! God doesn’t need our finances. He owns it all. Having a generous spirit protects us from self-destruction. You’ll never be poor giving stuff away. Sow where you want to go. When we honor God with the first fruits of our lives, He has promised to make the rest of it better than what we could have ever imagined. I’m praying for you and your increase. I believe and declare 2015 will be an explosive year of growth for you!
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38 NIV).
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making Plans for a Successful Year

I’ve never met anyone who planned to fail. Yet, thousands of people are dissatisfied with their lives because they don’t have any set goals. If we’re not making plans to succeed then by default, we’re planning to fail.

Millions of people made New Year’s resolution this year but unfortunately, most have already fumbled. Statistics show that 75% of people maintain their resolutions, through the first week. Six months later, only 46% continue on with their goals. By the end of the year, a staggering 90% of people never make it. If this is you, I have some good news.

Today, let me introduce you to another approach of making plans to succeed. I call it PGP or Personal Growth Plan. Each year, I set goals in the five categories of life that impact me the most. Under each heading, I write down 3-5 specific goals. PGP works because it makes room to fail but allows the grace to get up and go again. Let me share these that might help you also.

1. God. Our success on earth is directly correlated to our connection with heaven. If we build our lives in the firm foundation of our God, we will have the Midas touch in everything we do. If we want to succeed in life, we can’t afford to not spend time with our Maker. Make plans to read the Bible every day. Pray and worship throughout the day. Talk to someone about Jesus at work. Attend church and get involved serving people. Go on a mission trip. Let’s plan to encounter God more deeply and intimately. Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you!

2. Family. Every family has some defunct but your family is the only people God Himself handpicked for you! Our families sacrifice the most, yet often, they’re the ones who are most neglected. At the end of your life, you’re not going to ask for another day at the office or brag on your corporate achievement; you would want to be surrounded by the family you love. Set aside dedicated time to spend with your spouse. Go on a date with your kids and grandkids. Plan a weekend getaway. Play games together. Have fun and be intentional about making memories. Don’t shortchange your family. Invest in them.

3. Relationships. We’re created to live in community. The quality of our life will depend on the relationships we build. Learn to take genuine interest in people. Find a way to meet new people. Be loyal to your old friends. At work, invest in your boss and co-workers. Be hospitable. Invite your friends and neighbors to dinner. Call people just to check on them. Pray with people. The best relationships are a two-way street. What you put in is what you’re going to get out of it.

4. Finances. Our financial affairs reflect where our hearts are. The Bible says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 NIV). Don’t follow money; instead, follow God and money will follow you. We’re selfish by nature. One of the best ways to cure greed and selfishness is to have a generous heart. This year try these simple steps for financial fitness. Work to make money > Give > Save > Invest. Use a budget and percentage to dictate where your money should go. If you really want to hit a home run with your finances, support Israel.

5. Health. We’ve all heard the saying, “Health is wealth.” It is! No matter whether you’re trying to lose a few pounds or fighting a serious health issue, you are in control of more than you think. Take simple steps to boost your health. Eat a balanced diet. Drink more water. Cut down on carbs, sugar, and sodas. Exercise regularly. Sleep at least 6-8 hours a day. Our God is still the Healer – this is your year to reclaim your health!

Friend, our God is a progressive God. What you’ve experienced in the past is going to pale compared to the success God has reserved for you this year. Get your hopes up, take corresponding action, and thank God for a bumper crop year. 2015 will be a wow year! God will give you something to talk about. He has already pronounced His blessing over you. Will you believe and act on it? I’m praying for you and yours!

“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance” (Psalm 65:1 NLT).

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Dream with Your Eyes Open

Yet another year has just unfurled and everyone is excited about it. A new year brings new hope and new opportunity. God is poised to do great things but it will take our cooperation to make 2015 a great year. How we envision our future is how it will play out in real life.

Many people never arrive at their destiny because they only dream with their eyes shut. What we see with our spiritual eyes is far more real than what transpires in the natural world. If we’re to fulfill our destiny, we need to know and embrace God’s purpose for our lives and then go for it. Today let’s look at a few steps to reaching our God-given potential.

First, you must decide. I say this respectfully but most people don’t know what they want. Unless we know our purpose, we’ll drift through life never appropriating our dreams. Many are scared to ask God for big things. They think they’ll deplete heaven’s resources by asking for divine health, a hundred-thousand dollar promotion at work, or the ability to go on a mission trip. Hogwash! Our God wants us to have confidence in Him. It is His delight to give us the desires of our hearts. God wants to prosper your body, mind, spirit, and soul. Jesus often asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” Decide what you want. What you see is what you’ll get.

Second, believe in God’s promises. If you can find it in the Bible, you can have it. God is still making custom made dreams to fit your life. Never question, “Can God?” Instead say, “God can and I can!” When we put our unwavering faith in God’s ability to perform, then we’ll see our wildest dream come to pass. In order to believe in God’s promises, you have to read God’s Word. There is every kind of promise imaginable mentioned in the Bible. Write down the promise fitting to your dream. Meditate upon it day and night. Thank God for it and it will surely come to pass. All things are possible if we only believe!

Third, act upon your faith. Charles Blondin was a famous French tightrope walker in the mid-1800s. Once, he was performing a stunt over the mighty Niagara Falls. He crossed the 160 feet above the Falls several times. He even carried a stove and cooked an omelet while crossing the treacherous waters. On one occasion, he was blindfolded and he pushed a wheelbarrow as he walked the tightrope. The crowd, “Ooooohed” and “Aaaaaahed!” Blondin suddenly stopped and asked the audience, “Do you believe I can carry a person in this wheelbarrow?” People cheered, “Yes, yes, you’re the greatest in the world. You can do anything!” When Blondin came down, he said, “Ok. Get in the wheelbarrow…”  The Blondin story goes that no one did!

Many people view God and His ability to perform much like Blondin’s audience. We know that God’s promises are true. We’ve seen God’s power at work in our lives and in the lives of others. However, when we need to experience God the most, we chicken out. We don’t want to take risk and our confidence is punctured. Today I want to remind you that God is not going to just repeat what He has in the past but He will outdo Himself because He is a progressive God. You too can enlarge your vision and dare to believe God for the impossible. Do your due diligence. Put in the hard work. Go for the kill. Do all you can and then ask God to do what you can’t.

Fourth, confess God’s promise to you. Research shows that whatever you hear yourself say is what you’ll have the faith to obtain. Thousands of athletes and high achievers follow this principle to accomplish their goals. The Bible says that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Our words are carriers of our dreams. Don’t use words to describe your situation; speak words to declare your destiny! Jesus said, “Whatever you say, you shall have.” It takes the same effort to bless or curse your own future. Speak what you believe and you’ll have what you speak!

Fifth, achieve your dream. Dreams alone cannot take you to your destiny. You have to take corresponding action towards your goal. Persistence will take you where talent alone can’t.  When you do your part, God will do His. When we’re serious about our dreams, we’re going to go all out to achieve our goals. We don’t have to envy, compete, or act desperate. A quiet confidence in God’s power and iron-willed resolute will get the job done. At the threshold of this year, I challenge you to dream big and expect great things. God wants to bless you so that you can become a blessing to others. I’m praying for you and I believe in you!

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 1:2 NAS).

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