Training for Success

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soccer
The dictionary defines discipline as all activity, exercise or regimen that develops or improves a skill.

I grew up playing football or soccer (depending on what part of the world you are from). As a young teen we played “pick up” games in the village for fun. These games had few rules, but some of the best players emerged from these games.

The scouts would travel around the country, visiting villages to recruit potential players from these pick-up games. Those players with potential would be drafted into major clubs to compete at a higher level, even for the National team.

There is an enormous amount of pressure on these players, because they are no longer playing for fun, but now they are playing to win for a club.

Once drafted to play at a higher level you must leave your comfort zone. It’s no longer a village pick-up game. You are introduced to the rules and regulations of the clubs and the game itself. Now at this level, order is introduced into the game. There is a coach who teaches strategies and plays you must remember. Adjustments have to be made to your game in order to fit into the team.

Did you know that God’s Kingdom functions at this “high level”?  We come as we are. We come with our unlimited potential, because we were created in God’s image. We get saved and we start reading the Word of God. We begin to understand it and then start applying it to our lives.

It is the Word that guides and directs us as to how we should function or operate in God’s Kingdom.  God is a God of order. The only way to be orderly, you must become a disciplined person.

When Jesus walked on this earth, He was always communing with God in prayer. We have to make a commitment to pray. During His toughest, most trying time Jesus showed the highest form of discipline. In Luke 22:42 (NIV), he says, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was always willing to be obedient to the Father who sent Him. This is why he was so successful in his Ministry here on earth.

Hebrews 12:11(NIV) says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

If we want to be successful we must get the Word of God in our spirit. It is the Word that brings order in our lives. It guides us in how to live well, it corrects us and teaches us, strengthens and comforts us. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to shake off the old habits and be willing to be trained by God.

I have heard it said that your talent will bring you before great men, but your character keeps you in the their company. There were some good players who were drafted by the big clubs, but ended up being dropped. They were all good players, but they were dropped because they were undisciplined and could not be trained to play on a professional level.

Are you willing to humble yourself to be shaped, molded and trained by God to be successful?

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NEW MORNING, NEW MERCIES

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“I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2 (NKJV)

Looking back over my life, I think of those times when I really needed help. They say hindsight is 20/20.  I don’t know about you, but when I look back, often times, those moments when I needed to be rescued – they were because of my own unwise choices.

I’ll never forget one early morning, like many before, I attended morning devotional at my church. A small group of us meet to worship, pray and study.  That morning our group read a scripture that I had heard many times before. This time, it illuminated in my heart, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NJKV)

At this particular time, I was dealing with a financial issue that I was trying to resolve. After having been forgiven once before, I again missed an important deadline with this particular creditor. In doing so, they issued a harsh penalty, and would not hear my reasons for missing the deadline. Many calls and attempts later, they finally agreed to offer me three months to pay off the penalty.  The issue however, was that there just wasn’t enough resources to pay the debt and the penalty too.  Over the next few weeks I would call back several times, speaking with different representatives to see if they would remove the penalty.  The answer was, “No” each time.

It was now a few days before the three month expired, when we read the scripture in Lamentations. The Lord was literally speaking to my heart during this time of prayer, He challenged me by asking, “What are you going to do about this situation?” “Are you going to trust My Word or are you going to trust what you have heard from the representatives?”  I chose to trust God!  I couldn’t wait to get out of devotional that morning and call them back.

God values His Word above His own name. Psalms 138:2 reads, “I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.

It does not matter what the doctor says, the landlord or the creditor.  God can reverse any situation IF we believe in Him. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NJKV) The Lord is faithful when it comes to your protection and deliverance! We must get this word in our spirits and start believing it for ourselves. When this happens, we begin to act on God’s Word.

That morning after devotional I rushed to my car to call the creditor.  I had made up my mind that I was going to trust God and His Word. When the representative answered, they asked what was the reason for my call?  My simple answer was, “I need mercy.”  She told me to hold.  When she came back, she said my request has been granted, and that I would receive a letter in the mail stating the same.

A few days later the letter arrived.  It said that my penalty had been abated because of the reasons I gave. I never gave a reason, I just asked for what God said He has already provided for me…mercy!  We are not consumed, because of God’s mercies. We are not overtaken by our circumstances because our Keeper does not sleep.

God is full of mercy and compassion.  When we dwell on God and His promises for our lives, He will deliver us.  He did this for me, He can do it for you!

What are you facing today? Is there a mountain in your path?  Are you hearing, “No”, when you desperately need to hear “Yes”?  Your cup overflows with “new” mercies daily from God.

Take the first step toward receiving every promise God has for you.

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (NJKV)

The Epic Fall

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I remember watching the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, one of the greatest American hurdlers, Gail Devers experience an “epic” fall on the last hurdle before the finish line. What was so remarkable was how she finished!

Running paces ahead of her competitors, her leading foot hit the hurdle and she fell to her knees. However, she didn’t stop. On impact with the ground she crawled and tumbled over the finish line. That day Gail did not win the race, but she won the battle!

In life we are going to hit hurdles, but we can’t fall backwards…that would be surrender. We must position ourselves to fall forward and allow the impact to bring us to our knees in prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) states, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  What a powerful position to be in! God promises to hear us, forgive us and heal us when we humble ourselves and pray.

Gail Divers, is an American Olympian who won gold medals back to back in 100m dash in the Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996) games. She made her Olympic debut in the 1988 Seoul games. During the qualification rounds, she fell sick and did not make the finals.  After the Olympics her condition worsened to the point where she could no longer walk.  The news broke shortly thereafter that she was diagnosed with Graves Disease, an immune system disorder.  Interestingly, before her diagnosis, Gail had been scheduled to have her legs amputated due to unexplained swelling.  Two days before the surgery, doctors discovered the chemo medicine she was prescribed was causing the swelling. Once the medicine was discontinued, Gail began to improve.

Aren’t you grateful that we serve a God of second chances! He is merciful! Psalms 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”  God was merciful and gracious to Gail.  He saved her legs, healed her body and in 1991 she made a come back and qualified for the US Olympic team. Gail won Gold in the 100 meter dash that year.  What a comeback!

You may ask, how could an EPIC fall be a comeback?  What makes Gail’s fall so significant? Here’s a young woman who was on the verge of loosing her legs.  She fought and beat the Graves Disease, qualified for the Olympics, won Gold in the 100 meter dash, and she was on her way to win Gold in the 110 meter hurdles. Gail was leading until she hit the last hurdle.  Even as she hit the hurdle, falling forward on her knees, she never stopped.  She stayed in the race and crossed the finish line, on her knees.

When I see this moment replayed I like to think that she was not going to let anything get in her way. She was not going to stop because of a hurdle. She had experienced the delivering power of God before and she knew that He was always there.

What hurdle are you facing?  Be assured that God is with you and that He cares for you.  Keep reaching for your goals. When the journey gets hard or you trip over obstacles, take advantage of this powerful position and PRAY.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”