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I saw this quote on Twitter and I thought it would help someone who might be struggling with their identity.

“Don’t try to be a second rate edition of someone else, be a first rate edition of yourself.”

We all have said this statement “When I grow up I want to be just like…” In fact, there was a slogan that everyone use to say “I want to be like Mike.” Too many of us compare ourselves with others and want to be an imitation of them rather than a revelation of ourselves.

You were made for a purpose. You are uniquely designed by God equipped with exactly everything you need for what He created you for. There is no one else like you. David said it this way “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

God has great and amazing plans for your life. In fact, Jeremiah writes this “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) What God has in store for you nothing can compare to it. You could, in fact, be limiting yourself to a standard below that which God has for you by wanting to be just like someone else.

So why settle for an imitation, when you can be who God has called you to be? Why be satisfied with a second rate version of someone else, when you can be a first rate version of yourself? Stop looking to be like others and start looking to be the person God created you to be. Only you can be you and only you can accomplish what God has purposed you for.

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Key to Greatness

Everybody wants to be great. We all want to get to the top of the corporate ladder. We all want to be the head and not the tail. We all want to be above and not beneath. We all want to be a leader and not a follower. We all want to be on the top of the totem pole and not the bottom. We all want to be in the spotlight. We all want to be center stage. So how do you get there? What is the key to greatness?

When the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest among them this is what Jesus said “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28 ESV) In other words the key to greatness is service. So many people want to be served but no one wants to serve. If Jesus came to serve, what makes you think that you wouldn’t have to serve?

T.D. Jakes in his message “Serving a Higher Purpose” spoke on this subject. He was talking about the Last Supper. Here again we find the disciples arguing about who is the greatest. They are conversing about who is going to be on Jesus’ right and who is going to be on His left. Right in the middle of this, Jesus humbles Himself, takes off His outer garment, gets down on the floor, and washes His disciples feet. A task that in this time would normally be done by a servant, Jesus took the liberty of performing Himself. T.D. Jakes pointed out that Jesus taking off His outer garment is showing us that, in order to become great, you must lay aside your own agenda so that you can serve others. Too many times we have our own agenda in mind, and because of it, we are not able to serve others. Before you get to the table to be served by others and eat, you must first humble yourself and serve others. Before you can be served, you must serve. James, who was there when all this was happening, wrote “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10 ESV) In other words, when you serve that is when the Lord will elevate you to greatness. You don’t reach greatness by being served, you attain greatness by serving others.

Are you looking to be served or are your serving? Where is it in your life that you need to serve? The key to greatness is found through acts of service. So you want to be great, than SERVE!

God’s Promotion Program

I have a fear of being rejected. Whether it’s being rejected by a girl after asking her out or whether it’s getting rejected by a professional baseball team after trying out, I have experienced all types of rejection. If you are anything like me, you fear rejection so much that you talk yourself out of the situation before you even attempt to do it in the first place. God recently revealed something to me that I have read before in His Word but He shed a light on it that I had never seen before that has changed the way I think about and perceive this subject of rejection that I believe will help you out as well.

God’s promotion program or His scale works a little different than what we are accustomed to in the business world, the education field, or our everyday life. I heard Apostle Ron Carpenter, Senior Pastor of Redemption World Outreach Center, say “God doesn’t work like the lottery, God works on levels.” In other words, you can’t skip any steps on your way up God’s promotion program. You have to reach each level one step at a time.

As I looked through God’s Word, I began to notice a pattern. What we would see as a rejection, God sees as a promotion. Your rejection is your promotion. Your betrayal is your bonus. I heard Bishop T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House, say it this way “Your setback is your setup.” Joseph was sold into slavery, thrown into prison, forgotten about; but all this eventually led to him becoming second in command to Pharaoh. The three Hebrew boys were thrown into the fire. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. David wasn’t even invited into the house when Samuel came to anoint the next king, but was left out in the fields to tend the sheep. Even Jesus was rejected, but we all know how that ended up. (See Psalm 118:22, Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:4)

This is what Paul writes about God’s promotion program “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11 NIV84)

So the next time you feel rejected, get ready because God is about to promote you to a place where you could have never even thought or imagined.

Exposure

With the advancement in technology I’m not sure how they develop pictures anymore, but before digital cameras and smartphones they would take the pictures from a roll, bring them in a dark room, and hang them on a line until they developed. In order for the pictures to be fully developed, they had to go in a dark room.

In our walk with God, there are things that you can only see in the dark that you would have not seen in the light. Sometimes in order to expose you to something you have never seen before, God will lead you through the dark. James says it this way “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV84) Daniel had to be thrown into the lion’s den in order to see God shut the lion’s mouths. The three Hebrew boys had to get into the fire in order to see Jesus more clearly. The disciples had to go through a storm so that they could see a side of Jesus they had never seen before. Paul and Silas had to be thrown in prison in order to see that no matter what circumstance or situation you’re in God can set you free.

So whatever you may be going through right now, know that through it you will discover something about God that you had never known before. Be confident that, just like David and Isaiah wrote, whether you’re on the mountain or in the valley, whether you’re in the fire or going through the rain; God will be with you, He’ll see you through it, and you’ll come out better than you were going in.

No Regrets

Better to have a life filled with “Oh wells” than a life full of “What ifs.”

I saw this quote on Twitter a while ago and thought it would be good to use for this post. Every time I hear a pastor or leader talk about Peter, they are always bashing him. They point out that he took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. They talk about how he cut the servants ear off. They talk about how he denied Jesus. But they never talk about how Peter got out of the boat when the 11 other disciples stayed in the boat. They never mention how Peter was the one who realized Jesus was the Christ. They also never mention how Peter did whatever it took to get to Jesus.

T.D. Jakes, in his message called “Living on Purpose,” is the only one that I have heard point out the positives in Peter. I would rather live a life like Peter where I did everything I could. Where I gave it all that I had. Where I got out of the boat when everyone else stayed in the boat. Where I stood up and said something where everyone else was silent. I want to live in such a way that when I look back on my life, I would have no regrets. I want to live in such a way, like Peter, where I do everything possible to get to Jesus. Where I forsake everything. Where it doesn’t matter if anyone else is going with me. Where I wouldn’t matter what the cost. Where I have poured out all that I have.

So don’t live your life in the realm of “What if,” live your life for something that matters and you will have no regrets.

Nothing Wasted

I don’t know if you were like me and grew up in a home where your father was very conservative. I remember my dad not throwing anything away until everything that was left was used up. For instance, there was times where I would think that there was nothing left in the tube of toothpaste but my dad would keep using it until he squeezed out the last possible drop of toothpaste. I remember getting to the end of the mustard bottle, squeezing out all that I could until there was close to nothing left, and about to throw the bottle away but my dad would stop me and use a knife to work out all he could until he couldn’t scoop out anymore.

Sometimes in life we have given everything we believe, know, or can muster and think that there is nothing left in the tank but God always squeezes out all the potential inside of us. Nothing is wasted. We see an example of this in the life of Ruth. This is what the Bible says “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.” Naomi said to her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2 NIV84) Ruth said there is still something left over and I can use what other people overlook, neglect, throw away, or miss. Paul commands us in Ephesians 6:13-14 that after we have done everything to stand, to remain standing. In other words after we have done everything possible and we believe there is nothing left, to continue to work, push, and squeeze out the very last drop. Jesus had the disciples gather up the leftovers in Mark 6 in order that they may have a reminder that nothing is ever wasted. There is a use and purpose for everything.

You might think that you have given everything you have, done everything you know to do, and have used up everything in the tank; but I want to let you know that you still have something left. You can still do something with what you have left over. God can still use what remains. What others miss, leave behind, or throw away; you can use to do a work and accomplish God’s plan for your life.

So keep pushing. Keep squeezing. Keep working. Until you have reached your full potential and have achieved the purpose and plan that God created you for.

Don’t Cry

There are two instances in the Bible where Jesus raises a young person from the dead. Interesting enough Luke’s Gospel records both of them and they are almost listed back to back. The first account is found in Luke 7:11-17. Here Jesus raises a widow’s son from the dead. The second instance is found in the next chapter, Luke 8:40-56. Here we read about Jesus raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead. In both cases Jesus says the same thing to the widow and the people gathered around Jarius’ daughter. He tells them “Don’t cry.”

This is definitely a strange thing to tell someone who has just lost a child. At first glance, we would think that Jesus has no compassion, but I believe the opposite is true. There is a key concept that Jesus is trying to convey to both the widow and the crowd of people. That concept is best demonstrated through this illustration. When a woman gives birth there is a period that she goes through where the pain is too much to bear so she cries. But eventually there comes a point where, in order to give birth, she has to decide that she is going to quit crying and start pushing. What Jesus is saying when He said “Don’t cry” is that I’m about to do something right here, I’m about to give birth to something, the period to cry is over and now it’s time to push. Too many times we keep crying out to God to deliver us, but what God is trying to say to us is that we need to quit crying and start pushing. Sometimes we have prayed enough and it’s now time for us to act. Instead of waiting around, we need to get going.

The other interesting thing about these two passages of scripture is that we see the older generation crying over the younger generation. I believe God is trying to tell us that the time for crying over this next generation is over. It’s now time to push. God is saying that He’s about to birth something in this next generation like never before but we need to quit praying for it and start acting upon it. Instead of waiting around for this next generation to wake up, we need to get going in helping them rise up to take their place. I believe God is ready to move mightily but He is waiting on us to quit crying and start pushing.

So what is it that you are crying about that you need to start pushing? Don’t cry any longer. Start pushing until you birth whatever it is that God wants to in you life.

Stamp of Approval

I was listening to a message called “Jesus Turned Around” by Judah Smith, Senior Pastor of the City Church. His main point was how so many of us live our lives thinking that God only approves of us when we are doing good. As soon as we mess up or fail, we think that God is going to bring the heavenly smack down on us. So we go about living this roller coaster life. Up and down. Up and down.

The truth is that God’s approval has nothing to do with your condition but everything to do with your position. God’s approval has nothing to do with your performance but has everything to do with the person of Jesus. The greatest example of this is found in Matthew. This is what he writes “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17 NKJV) The crazy thing about this is that God said this about Jesus before He walked on water, before He turned the water into wine, before He fed the 5,000, before He opened blind eyes, before He opened deaf ears, before He healed the lame, before He died on the cross, before He rose from the dead. God approved of Jesus before He did anything, before He started His ministry, before He performed any miracles. God approves of you the same way because you are His son or daughter.

When I played baseball, after I had a bad game when I made an error or didn’t get a hit, my dad would always ask me this question “Son, did you do your best?” I would say yes and he would always say “The I’m proud of you.” It didn’t matter if I went 4 for 4 or 0 for 4, my dad loved me, was proud of me, approved of me, and was pleased with me. I want to tell someone who is reading this that thinks that God isn’t pleased with you because of your past performance or your current condition, God loves you. He is proud of you. He approves of you. He is pleased with you. Not because of anything you have done, do, or are going to do; but because of what Jesus did.

So no longer live a roller coaster life of ups and downs, but live with the understanding that God is smiling over you.

Open Door Policy

I was reading through the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel chapter 1 and I believe there is a few things that you can take from this account in scripture that will be useful to you.

1) Sometimes God will close a door or an opportunity in your life in order to get your focus and attention back on Him.

In verse 5 of 1 Samuel 1, we read that the Lord closed Hannah’s womb. Hannah was extremely blessed in every area of her life by her husband. She lacked nothing. So in order to get Hannah’s attention, God had to close a door in her life that only He could reopen. No money, no material possession, no promise of security, no love and affection could replace what Hannah lacked in her life. Because of God closing Hannah’s womb, she sought after Him more intensely and fervently. Maybe there is something in your life that God has closed the door on in order that you would seek after Him more. Maybe He has only delayed the opportunity to test you to see how much you trust Him. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In other words, if you would seek after God first then He will open all the doors that have been closed in your life.

2) Sometimes God has already opened the door or opportunity in your life but you haven’t done what you need to do in order to walk through it.

After God heard Hannah’s prayers, He opened up her womb but she still had to take the necessary steps in order to give birth. She had to sleep with her husband, she had to carry the child for nine months, she had to go through labor pains, and then she had to deliver the baby. God could have reopened her womb, but if she had never walked through the open door it would have done her no good. Jesus said it this way to the church in Philadelphia “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8 NIV) Jesus was saying to the church in Philadelphia “Come on. I’ve opened the door. You have to walk through it.” So many times in our lives, God opens doors of opportunity but we don’t see them or we don’t take the necessary actions to walk through them. Jesus told the disciples in John 4 to open their eyes and look at the fields and see that they are ripe for harvest. In other words, He was saying to them I have opened the door in front of you, there is a great opportunity that lies ahead; don’t wait, don’t procrastinate, don’t hesitate, don’t strategize, don’t pray any longer. Walk through the door. Seize the opportunity.

So what is the case in your life? Do you need to seek after God more intensely and earnestly in order that He would open all the doors that have been closed in your life? Or has God already opened the door? Whatever the situation may be, don’t delay any longer, take the necessary action today.

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