Archives For Successful living

Humility

Ben —  December 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Philippians 2:3–4 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.(NIV) Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,(G) not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Paul defines humility in Philippians 2.3: “Count others more significant than yourselves.”

Philippians 2:14–15 (NLT) Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

(NIV) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blamelessand pure, “children of Godwithout fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life.

There is a connection between arguing, complaining and pride. If you are proud, you may think you know it all or that you know better than others, and regard yourself as ‘more spiritual’ than most. You may be highly critical of others, or be judgemental towards leaders in the church. On the other hand if you are humble you’ll find less to argue about. We can bring a humble attitude to many areas of our lives e.g. at work and amongst our families.

In every area of life there will always be a few things that you’re not entirely happy about or that you disagree with. Develop the habit of focusing on the good stuff and learning to live with the negatives. We can be like the Israelites in Numbers 11:1: After finally being set free from four hundred years of slavery, many of them started to complain about the food and about Moses’ leadership. Are we like them? We too have been saved, delivered and set free – we shouldn’t spend our time grumbling either!

We need to be like children – but ‘child-like’, rather than simply ‘childish’. Here are some aspects of both:

Child-like: Humble, simple (children don’t tend to over-complicate things), quick to believe, loving and affectionate, open to people and able to make friends easily, reliant on God our Father.

Childish: Prone to throwing temper-tantrums, immature, impatient, and self-centred.

We need to shine God’s light like stars or ‘luminaries’. We can shed His light wherever we go, even in dark places.

Stars also speak of dreams and potential. (Gen 22:7) 17? Be different – dare to have a dream, to stand out and do something big. God wants to activate our potential – success is a godly thing. Faith is the currency that allows us to access the promises God has stored up for us; faith enables us to follow the dreams and visions He gives us.

We may not be able to control many of the circumstances we face, but we do have control over our attitudes, our mindset and our perspective on what comes our way.

Phil 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…v8 who humbled Himself by becoming obedient…

 

Questions:

Can you think of any other positive aspects of ‘childlikeness’?

What are some good antidotes to help us complain less?

What can make God’s light shine less brightly in our lives? What can make it shine more brightly?

How can we readjust childish or negative attitudes?

Partnering for Success

Ben —  October 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Despite the modern convenience of electronic communication and the popularity of social networking sites, it seems many people today have difficulty getting past surface level and developing lasting friendships. Many admit they are lonely and don’t feel connected, describing themselves as relationally incomplete.

Many people also seem to lack a sense of community – having somewhere they feel they belong to; where they can interact with others face to face.

Are we losing the skills needed to develop strong close relationships that last the test of time? The truth is: we can’t achieve a whole lot on our own – we need to join with others in every area of life.

When difficulties arise within a partnership it may seem easier to walk away than to stick with it and work through the problems. Our culture seems to encourage walking away from difficulties.

  •  It is easier to walk away from a friendship when you are offended.
  • It is easy to just walk away from a church when you don’t like something
  • It can feel easier to walk away form a marriage that is in crisis.

 

Maybe we don’t fully understand or value the long term benefits of lifelong partnerships – ones built on mutual principles, character and trust. Learning the keys to sticking together can unlock great potential.

 

Philippians 2:25–30 (NKJV) Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need;

At a time when Paul was imprisoned, unwell and unsure of his own future survival, he chose Epaphraditus to deliver his letter to the Philippians because of the strong relationship they had built over time. Paul needed someone proven, reliable and trustworthy – someone he knew would get the job done. Paul had helped Epaphroditus recover from serious illness, trained him, and over time a strong bond of respect and trust had grown between them.

Paul describes Epaphroditus as his:

  • brother
  • fellow worker
  • fellow soldier

Here we have a model for success for relationships in many areas, including family, friendships, career endeavours, church involvement and ministry. Here we see a relationship that goes far deeper than just surface level, with various layers built of commitment into it over time.

A Brother: speaks of a family bond, denoting closeness and common attributes, commitment, mutual protection, strength, a common lineage and heritage

 

The story of David and Jonathan comes to mind. These two had a brotherly bond, and made a strong and lasting pact together, despite the fact that Jonathan’s father wanted to kill David and also David was set to take the throne that could have been Jonathan’s. (1 Sam 18)

 

 A Fellow Worker: represents more than lip-service – it speaks of action and productivity – someone who will roll up their sleeves and help to get the job done. Regarding church, it denotes those who get involved in helping out rather than just talking about what needs to be done. There’s always plenty to do, but not everyone wants to do the work.

 

Matt 9:37-38 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the labourers are few. 38 “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest. (NKJ)

A Soldier: the fighter. There will be times in relationships when you will need to contend for them – not with the other party, but to keep the relationship moving forward. This applies to friendships, marriages, families and at church. This seems to be an aspect we’ve forgotten. In the heat of battle, it can seem easier to bail out rather than persisting until problems have been overcome. Like soldiers, we need to pursue victory!

To be successful we need to link up with others. Paul knew this. He had very little in prison, but one thing he had was his partnership with Epaphroditus – more than a surface level friendship; a relationship with depth, built on layers of strength.

 

Invest in your relationships and you will reap the benefits. As you become the friend others need they will be more likely to be there for you in your time of need.

 

The secret to happiness

Ben —  October 19, 2012 — Leave a comment

Here is the audio from this weeks Life Coach segment on radio – click the file to hear my talk on the fridge that makes you smile to open it, and what true happiness is all about!

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The Goal Of Life

Ben —  October 17, 2012 — Leave a comment

Phil 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behindand straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prizefor which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

What an amazing statement! At this stage of Paul’s life he was in prison in dreadful conditions, unwell, unsure whether he would remain alive much longer, deprived of his freedom, comfort and possessions. Yet in this time of terrible adversity we see great single- mindedness and clarity in his approach to life. Sometimes being stripped of external comforts can actually help us to see things more clearly.

Paul knew he still had more to learn and to work towards. We all have untapped potential which can be released if we catch hold of a vision of what God’s got in store for our lives and keep pursuing it with all we’ve got. Paul, previously well known for persecuting believers (see Acts 9:13) also knew that dwelling on the past wouldn’t help. Like Paul, we need to decide not to let any regrets about our past shackle us and hold us back!

Phil 3:13 ‘This one thing…’ Many of us try to do too many things, causing our focus to become scattered and leaving us struggling to give any area enough attention. We can easily get so caught up in dealing with minor issues or worrying about problems that we lose momentum and make very little real progress. Single-mindedness leads to greater productivity.

Phil 3:14: We are easily distracted. It’s easy to get caught up in stress and worrying, or to get sidetracked into less fruitful pursuits. Having vision for the future with clear, specific long- term goals is the best way to stay on the right track. Athletes have clear goals and rewards, but in real life it’s usually not quite so obvious. But we are all motivated by outcomes. We need something particular to aim for – something we can envisage clearly, rather than just vague notions of self improvement. That’s why setting clear, written goals has such incredible motivating power.

Paul wrote this letter in dire circumstances. Yet rather than complaining and asking for sympathy, he speaks of joy and takes the time to encourage others! We always have a choice regarding how we view life. It’s so easy to dwell on the negatives and the problems. But have you noticed that we tend to attract more of whatever we focus on? And like Christian in ‘Pilgrims Progress’, as we walk towards the cross our burdens will fall away. Am I pressing on daily towards the upward call of God in Christ Jesus?

Read through Philippians 3 this week, and write down one main goal for your life.

Living a Worry Free Life

Ben —  October 11, 2012 — 2 Comments

Worry is a mode of behaviour – something we can take control over and change.

The brain is an amazing creation. It is still largely unexplained. It’s far more than just a physical organ – it’s the CPU, the command centre of your life, and it connects directly to your heart. Our thought life, especially what we focus on the most, shapes our lives. Win with the mind and you will succeed in life.

The Bible speaks of the ‘carnal mind’ – the mind we’re born with, our natural instincts, which carries an inbuilt bias towards selfishness and sin. That’s why Joyce Meyer calls the mind something of a ‘battle ground’. It’s where we win or lose in life.

Phil 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Let’s view this statement of Paul’s in context by looking at the twelve preceding verses.

v2 We are instructed to rejoice continually, not to worry or stress or be fearful about the future. God is never worried or anxious. Notice that in the whole letter to the Philippians Paul barely even mentions the ordeal he is experiencing in the Roman prison where he is being held.

v5 The Lord is at hand. He is never far from us. Sometimes we need to reach out to make contact with Him, but He’s always there for us.

Be anxious for nothing – do any of us live up to this one? How much (or little) does it take to get you worked up? Part of the process of moving towards maturity is learning not to get overly anxious about every little thing that doesn’t go our way. Even with major concerns, I’ve learned to ask myself “How much will this really matter in a year’s time? In ten years?”

And stop worrying about what other people think about you – because they’re not thinking about you – they’re thinking about themselves!

Chronic worry can lead to emotional problems such as loss of motivation, productivity, energy and creativity; and physical problems like digestive problems, heart attack and high blood pressure.

The ‘gateways’ to our minds are our eyes and our ears. We need to guard and filter what enters into our minds via the media such as the net, TV and other influences. What do I allow to enter my mind? Is it positive and encouraging?

We have a natural tendency to focus on negatives and problems – even when they’re just minor issues! Even small worries can eat away at our inner peace and destroy our positivity if we let them build up.

In fact most worry and anxiety is wasted emotional energy. Much of what we worry about actually never happens! And why worry about things we can’t change?

Luke 12:25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

Mat 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

v7 God’s peace is the remedy. It guards our hearts and overrides troubles. Meditation on the Word of God will always bring peace. (Ps. 119:165) It’s an internal assuredness that steadies our hearts even in difficult times.

v8 Seven things we should be focusing on: whatever is

1.True

2. Honest

3. Just

4. Pure

5. Lovely

6. Of a good report

7. Has virtue

 

Are you in control of your thought life? Take time right now to think on something positive! :)

Remember:  Win with the mind and you will succeed in life.

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Living Generously

Ben —  September 2, 2012

Do I live from the standpoint of ‘Giving equals losing’? Or have I developed a generous attitude towards every area of my life?

Do I approach finding friends with the attitude of ‘I hope I’ll find people who will be good friends to me’, or do I give my friendship to others freely, assured that what I give out will come back to me?

Are my relationships/marriage based on getting my own needs met and what the other person has to offer me, or is it more about what I can give to others?

As churchgoers, every one of us has a choice to make. We can arrive just as church starts, park in our usual spot, make our way to our usual seat in our favourite row, watch a good service, chat with friends, and then go home. Or we can throw ourselves into the adventure by rolling up our sleeves, joining a team of like-minded servants, and helping to build the local church God has called us to be a part of.

Questions to think about (that we will all need to answer one day):

Where did it all go? (My time, energy, abilities, resources)

What did I spend it on?

What has been accomplished for eternity?

Matthew 13:44-46. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. 45Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!

In these two parables Jesus uses the language of business and the marketplace. The first man bought the whole field in order to gain the treasure. Despite paying all he had to purchase the field, he came out a winner.  It was a similar story for the pearl merchant – the return was worth liquidating all his assets. Ever wanted anything so badly you were prepared to do anything to get it?

Our ‘buy in’ level to Christianity needs to be ‘all or nothing’ – the whole lot. We can’t expect to receive all God’s blessings if we’re not keeping up our part of the deal, or if we ignore whole chunks of the Bible regarding how we should be living. If your Christianity doesn’t cost you anything, you probably haven’t seen its full value yet. True faith and discipleship will require us to make some tough decisions at times.

We value most what we pay for with our own hard earned cash; how much we are willing pay for something shows how highly we value it. If we feel spiritually dry or dissatisfied with church, maybe it’s because we haven’t valued our walk with God enough to pay a price for it. If you want to get the most out of your Christian faith, you need to go for it 100%. ‘Selective Christianity’ doesn’t really work.

Luke 14:33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

‘There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.’ (From ‘My Utmost For His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers.)

To live true faith out it will cost us. Some of the changes God will asks of us aren’t easy – we all have things we need to let go of, some of which may not even actually be ‘bad’ things in themselves. True disciples stick with God even through times of hardship and loss. But whatever we give up for the sake of following God, we’re better off without anyway – and any sacrifice we make is small in comparison to what He gave for us and what we receive from Him.

Jesus is our hidden treasure, our priceless pearl. How much of ourselves we surrender to Him reflects how much we value Him.

How much do I value my salvation – how much of my life have I surrendered to God? Am I still responsive to His promptings?