“Dream Big!”

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“And Joseph dreamed a dream . . .” Genesis 37:5

There I am, floating like a ballerina in mid-air. Or, I’m running in the woods. Sometimes I am facing dinosaurs. Or, I am defeating a foe. And yes, the ultimate, most embarrassing of them all, standing in front of the classroom not dressed up to par. These are some of the dreams I have dreamt over the years. (The ballerina one was sedation-induced for dental procedures when I was a kid, but it was a dream nonetheless.) I am glad that most of these weird visions of the mind have not come true. Let’s face it; I really don’t have the stamina to outrun a great T-Rex, chasing me up and down the steps of my house after ripping the roof off. No thank you!

I have had some strange ones as I am sure you have, too. Thankfully for Joseph his dream was encouraging. His dream pronounced blessings over his life. It told of promotion and advancement. But, what his dream didn’t tell was the betrayal he would experience. It didn’t tell of the hardships of being ripped away from his family. And, it most certainly didn’t clue him in on feeling like an outsider. His dream did not reveal that though he was faithful in his life, things still weren’t always going to go his way.

Dreams, whether visions in a sleeping head or goals and aspirations in life, have a funny way of doing that. They show you the “what-could-be” without revealing the obstacles that may arise, blocking you from getting to that point. Dreams give you glimpses of “something more” but rarely reveal the work it takes to get there.

Life can get pretty yucky sometimes – and, I do mean pretty yucky. Schedules, people, thoughts and messes get in the way of those aspirations we have. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try we feel like we are really going up a river without a paddle. It’s not only hard, but seems nearly impossible!

But, I say to you today, “Dream Big Anyhow!” It’s not over until it’s over! Is it a cliché? Yup, but it’s true! Until they say, “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” you are still in the running to see great things come to pass. Why sit on the side lines and watch? It is time to be a participator! You have to be your own dream’s advocate! You have to stand for where you believe God is leading you!

Who do you think gave Joseph his dreams? When the children of Israel kept trying to get to their land of promise, who led them there? God did! God wants His people happy and successful. He wants to see them blossom and flourish in all the abilities that He has sown in their lives. He wants them to Dream Big!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!” (Philippians 4:13, KJV).

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“Take A Stand Against Fear”

“. . .And so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law:
and if I perish, I perish,” Esther 4:16, KJV

There are a lot of things that act like blockades in our lives, but fear by far has to be one of the hardest to overcome. Fear can render useless the one who entertains it because unlike physical limitations, fear messes with the mind. It changes one’s perspective on how they view the world, the people around them and their own lives.

Fear acts like a photographer. It snaps a picture and develops it in the dark recesses of your mind. When the picture is finished being developed it comes out for you to view a new reality, whether it’s true or not. Fear is not based on truth but it wants you to believe in the image it presents to you more than God. That’s why many of us will never tread the courts of the king as Esther did. We can become so focused on that false image (the things that we see that make us afraid) that we fail to step out with courage.

The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1, KJV). Going against fear takes faith. Faith doesn’t concentrate on what is visible to the naked eye. Faith concentrates on the truth of God’s promises. And His promises declare, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness,” (Is. 41:10, KJV).

That’s what faith sees!

With Queen Esther’s physical eyes the picture she saw wasn’t pleasant. What she saw was her beloved uncle Mordecai’s life was in danger, (Esther 5:14). What she saw was hatred and an evil desire for her people to be destroyed, (Esther 3:8-9). What she saw was the anguish of her people, grieving her also, (Esther 4:3-4). What she saw was a law that could take her life, (Esther 4:11).

A decision had to be made. Esther could look at the circumstances and let the fear of those images stop her from doing what’s right. Or, she could take a stand against the fear that assailed her and go for it, debunking that old image to see something new.

With great resolve and commitment she said, “If I perish, I perish.” She took a stand against the fearful, stepping out into the unknown, not sure if she would find favor with the king. Her people needed her to be brave. Her uncle needed her to be unbending in her determination. She needed to step up to the plate “for such a time as this,” (Esther 4:14, KJV).

In what area of your life do you need more courage? Is there something you are dealing with that is extremely hard, yet you want to be determined to see it through? It takes a resolve such as Queen Esther possessed to stand against the fear of what you see so that you too can walk the King’s court in victory!

“Don’t Blow Your Top!”

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“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil,” Ephesians 4:26, KJV

I had the weirdest thing happen to me the other night. I was making what I call a “cheat dinner.” Something that is incredibly easy and fast because my day was just that kind of day. On this “cheat dinner” night I decided to make buffalo wings and fries (with no complaints from my family, obviously). After cooking the little wing portions in the oven and heating the sauce, I combined them together in a bowl and mixed them with a spoon.

I left the wings to the side to cool off a bit while I got some other work done. I came back a few minutes later, put the lid on the bowl to give them a good shake so that the sauce could coat them more evenly. After putting the lid on, I flipped the bowl upside down to proceed with the shake when all of a sudden: POP! SPIT! SPATTER! Apparently the wings had not cooled enough and the built up steam caused the sauce to blow up all over me. It was so not funny, even though my kids got a good laugh from it. My hair, my face and my floor showed the evidence of what can happen when there is too much pressure in the bowl.

With that being said I must ask, “How much pressure is in your bowl today?” Are you dealing with a lot of pinned up steam? Do you feel like you are ready to blow?

Well, DON’T!

Don’t blow your top!

Anger is one of those emotions that can really get the best of you if you let it. It can seep into every area of your life making you and those around you miserable. Anger also does another devastating thing. It gives “place to the devil.” Anger is an opened door that gives that old serpent an opportunity to manipulate you; pulling your strings as if you were some sort of marionette puppet.

That’s why the Bible encourages us to “let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Resolving issues and not letting them fester closes the door so that the enemy can’t sneak in. Think about how much better we would feel to lie down in peace at night without those tumultuous thoughts running rampart in our heads.

Jesus admonished us to “First be reconciled to your brother . . .,” (Matthew 5:24, KJV). Reconciliation brings healing and healing brings peace and peace slams the door on the devil’s face. The best way to stop letting someone in is to shut the door they keep using.

Isaiah 32:17 tells us, “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurances for ever,” (KJV). If you are in Christ you are righteous, (2 Cor. 5:21). Therefore, your works should be works of peace and to that end, bringing “quietness and assurances.”

Isaiah 32:18 goes on to say, “And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,” (KJV). Who doesn’t want their home and their life described like this? There’s no magic method here. Just seek reconciliation. Don’t blow your top or you will end up with that hot sauce of life all over you. Go after the work of righteousness and there “shall be peace.”

Follow Paul’s advice about not letting the sun go down on your anger so that you can wake up to a home and a life filled with peace.

“Be Fulfilled”

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness:
for they shall be filled,” Matthew 5:6, KJV

Recently, I attended my eldest daughter’s high school graduation. It was a very proud moment for parents and students alike. As each came out during the processional, moving closer to the stage, soon to walk across to receive their diplomas, you could see the look of accomplishment etched into each face. A contentment that washed over each of them and declared, “I made it!” And with that, the feeling of fulfillment begins to set it.

Those joyous times that we get to celebrate achievements are wonderful. No one can take away the feelings of awe and satisfaction that comes with that sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, as Christians, I think we place too much value in the accomplishments to satisfy us and not enough value in the Christ that is already filling us.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I stating the celebrating of reaching these goals is wrong. As a matter of fact, I believe it’s a very healthy thing to set goals and be proud of the achievement that follows. What of the times in-between? Most of our every day is what one would call, “Hum drum.” There are times when we are not in the process of celebrating those wonderful graduating victories. What of that time?

This is where most will begin to feel a sense of loss – a sense of not quite being worthy enough; not measuring up to one’s self or another’s standard. These in-between times are when people start to lose spiritual footing. Some may even begin to venture backward with the feeling of, “Why should I even bother?”

That is not what God wants for us. He does not want you to base your self-worth off of the things that you have done, but rather off of who you are in Him. You are His child. You are the one that He allowed His Son to be sacrificed for. You are the one He chose to redeem. And, if God saw that much value in you then, to do all of that, how dare we look to accomplishments for satisfaction.

The Bible declares in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being . . .” (KJV). We don’t find who we are or content ourselves with anything outside of Him! When I wake up in the morning it’s not because of anything that I have done. The reason is because “in Him” I live, move and have my very being. I was not designed, as a child of God, to feel the need to be fulfilled anywhere other than in Him!

We don’t need to hunger after the things of this world. We don’t need to feel like we can only be complete during those graduation victories. Jesus said, “They which do hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.” In other words, all we have to do is to have that sincere yearning within us to do that which is right for Him. He will fill us! We shall be satisfied because we have found out where our real value lies. In Him!

Graduation victories are wonderful but we can’t live there all the time. Day by day I have to know that because I am His child, and because I am hungering and thirsting after righteousness, I can be filled. Whether it is a rainy Monday, a get-over-the-hump Wednesday or a celebrating Sunday; because I am in Him and He is in me I can always feel fulfillment in my life.

“Be Progressive”

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“And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward,” Exodus 14:15, KJV

Have you heard of the phrase “two steps forward, one step back?” What if we could erase that end part? What if we could subtract from the equation the minus one step? What would the total sum of one’s life be if all they ever did was progress? If all they ever did was to add without factoring any negatives?

“Two steps forward, one step back.” It’s a phrase that I have used and I know you have, too. But, in reality, I actually think that we get too comfortable with that kind of mentality. Everything is not always going to go off without a hitch, but it’s almost as if we expect to move backward every time we try to advance forward. We are factoring in a negative from the very beginning.

In math, when adding, anytime there is a negative number that is bigger than the positive number it will equal a negative number. A positive number plus a positive number equals a positive, but a positive number plus a bigger negative number will equal a negative. Any time there is doubt in one’s advancement that will almost always sabotage one’s progress, taking away from all that they have done and gone through to move forward. Taking away and overshadowing the positive with that seemingly bigger negative.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are many hard trials and circumstances that everyone will face. I will not trivialize the hurt and disappointments that many face. But, what will happen if while we are on this journey, we try our best to look beyond the circumstances that we are in and move forward toward the promise? What if for once we could factor out the negatives of life instead of factoring them in? Despite the chariots and the enemies pursuing us, we could be more determined to pursue the goals that God has for us.

That is what I really believe God wanted the children of Israel to do. Stop looking for obstacles. To stop making excuses for why they can’t get to where God wants them to go. He had a glorious destiny for them. God had already shown them many, many miracles that led up to their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Yet, as soon as a moment of adversity poked its head around the corner to spy on their progress, they stopped moving. Instead, they stayed in that unproductive state wallowing in self-pity: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11, KJV).

God has a better plan for you than to keep you still, wallowing in the wilderness, in self-pity. That’s why He said, “Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” Stop crying about it and just go! Move! Make some progress! No more backwards! It’s time to go on in Jesus’ name! Move it or lose it!

Looking at the stuff one has been through and the possibility of hardship ahead can be very discouraging, but press on! There is a promised land for you and I to reach. That alone is enough to urge you onward and upward. So, go ahead – be progressive today. Say within yourself, “I’m going to make it this time!”

“Be Confident”

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“Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” Psalm 27:3, KJV

I’d say, beyond a shadow of a doubt that confidence is something that is truly lacking among many. It’s a trait that seems to be disappearing as generations go by. The forefathers of our nation were made of sterner stuff. They had within them a pioneer spirit that allowed them to forge forward into unknown territories and discover new worlds despite the many obstacles that would try to block their progress.

How many times have we wished for that same fortitude of mind? How many times have we endeavored to push forth into our own unknown territories just to be pushed back again because we lacked the confidence we needed. God has many plans and many purposes for each individual but unfortunately many will never see them come to fruition because they don’t believe enough in themselves or enough in the God they serve to keep moving forward.

David declared in Psalm 27:3, “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” (KJV). Can I tell you something? David may have been quoted as “a man after God’s own heart,” (Acts 13:22, KJV), but he was also a man of great troubles. Sometimes to the point, as the verse states, of feeling totally surrounded by enemies, struggles, and just the plain old everyday stuff in life that can strip an individual of that wherewithal to make it through. That tries to strip away the fortitude that it takes to prevent one from quitting and venturing into their dreams; stopping them from stepping out to be the person they want to be.

Rather, David said, “In this will I be confident.” In other words, no matter what else is going on around me in my life, my faith will not be shaken. I will stand tall as a good soldier, as a pioneer for God and move forward despite the obstacles that try to hinder me.

David knew where to place his trust. In Psalm 27:1 he said, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (KJV). Because of where his trust lays he was able to make the personal statement of “In this will I be confident.” I will be confident because I know that no matter where I am in life or where I’m trying to go; no matter the hosts against me or the stumbling blocks in front of me, GOD’S GOT MY BACK! One can never speak of that personal confidence that David had if they cannot declare this foundational truth: “The LORD is my light and my salvation . . .the LORD is the strength of my life.” That’s why Proverbs 3:26 opens up our understanding by telling us “For the LORD shall be thy confidence and shall keep thy foot from being taken” (KJV).

Whatever is trying to snatch the footing out from under you to knock you off your course, hold on today, be confident in God, then that will allow you to be confident in yourself. Once you have that sure footing you also can venture forth into your new territories, with your head held high because today you are confident!

Photo Credit: Microsoft.com