1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT
Whether it’s in the world of sports or the kingdom of God, all winners exhibit these five traits:
(1) Self-awareness. Winners are honest about their strengths and weaknesses. The Bible says, “The Lord searches every heart…If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV). In prayer you see yourself as you are. As you read God’s Word, you begin to see yourself as you can be.
(2) Focus. Wherever you are today, be there – because that’s where God is. People who spend their lives “waiting for their ship to come in” are usually disappointed, or die on the pier. Winners live in the present moment. They refuse to be in one place while their mind is in another.
(3) Confidence. Winners overcome anxiety by keeping their eyes on the goal. As they get closer, their confidence increases. Jude writes, “Dear friends, by building yourselves up” (Jude v. 20 NIV). This is something you must do for yourself, and do daily through prayer and God’s Word.
(4) Toughness. Winners sacrifice the present for the future. They’ve learned to say no to indulgence and yes to discipline, because to them the prize is worth the price. Paul writes: “Like an athlete I punish my body…training it to do what it should, not what it wants” (1 Corinthians 9:27 TLB).
(5) A game plan. Winners recognize that talent alone isn’t enough; you need a plan to live by. So, have you discovered God’s plan for your life? Are you living by it? If not, talk to Him about it today. It’s one of the most important conversations you will ever have.
Soul food: Matt 6:1-4; Mark 12:41-44; Luke 14:12-14; 2 Cor 9:6-11
Colossians 3:2 AMPC
The Bible says, “Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.” There are many things that happen in this world which can easily affect our mind and emotions, and we need to learn how to rise above them. When negative thoughts are building up and trying to take control of our emotions, we need to take a few minutes to “set our minds and keep them set” on “the higher things.”
It often helps to speak positively about whatever is bothering you. For example, have a chat with yourself that goes something like this: “My family may not be everything I’d like it to be, but I’m thankful I have a family. My house may not be as nice as I’d like it to be, but it’s still a good place to live. I might be going through a difficult time right now, but Jesus is with me and He’s going to get me through it.” The Devil knows which of your buttons to push to get an emotional reaction. So what should you do?
Stand on God’s Word: “Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline…instruct…and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity” (Psalm 94:12-13 AMPC).
The more you discipline yourself to say no to your feelings and yes to the wisdom of God, the easier it becomes to defeat the Enemy in a spiritual tug-of-war. So decide today that you won’t arrange your life around unreliable emotions, and focus instead on “the higher things”!
Soul food: Ezra 1-2; John 7:14-24; Ps 104:24-35; Prov 24:28
Philippians 4:8 NLT
Our minds can work for us or against us. When they work for us, it helps us to stay positive, reach our goals, and enjoy each day. But when they work against us, it can make us negative and discouraged, hold us back, and cause us to think unhelpful thoughts. So we need to train our minds to work for us instead of against us.
An important way to do this is to make an intentional decision to begin to think positively – in terms of faith and not fear. Our brains won’t be able to carry out this new instruction overnight. It might be a radical transformation from the way we usually tend to think, and changing a habit takes time, especially if it’s one we’ve had for a long time. But if we’re determined to do it thoroughly and accept God’s help, instead of working against us, our minds will go to work for us and become a positive force in our lives.
An interesting thing to remember is that when you’re born, every organ is fully developed and then gets bigger as you grow. Except for the brain. This develops for a number of years (approximately twenty-five, and possibly more) until it’s fully developed. And even after that, it continues to mature, creating new connections and networks for the rest of your life. That means we can constantly learn new things, and change and improve the way we think.
So let’s try to stay positive, and focus on good, godly things: ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
Matt 21:18-22; Matt 8:5-13; Mark 6:1-6
Matthew 6:31 NIV
No matter what we face in life, we should always try to keep things in perspective. When we lose perspective, we can end up viewing minor problems as major ones. Or we’ll do the opposite, treating significant situations as ‘no big deal’. Either tendency leads to problems, so we need to do our best to see things as they really are and refuse to let them get blown out of proportion.
The truth is, we’ll always have something that we could worry about. As soon as we’ve resolved one issue, another one is waiting to take its place. So if worry is constantly with us, what can we do to control it before it controls us?
1) When you’re facing a situation that upsets you, try to deal with the panic before you try to deal with the problem. Sit down quietly, try to keep calm, and take some time to talk to God about the problem and how it’s making you feel.
2) Try to develop the habit of looking at the big picture, instead of dwelling on the one issue that’s upsetting you. Thinking too much about a problem can make it seem larger and more significant than it really is.
3) Instead of focusing on your worries, focus on God. The grace of God that helped you through the last problem you had to face will be with you in this one too.
4) Remember Jesus’ words: ‘Don’t worry and say. “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?”…your Father in heaven knows you need them. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well’ (Matthew 6:31-33 NCV).
2 Sam 12:1-14:20; John 4:13-26; Ps 32; Prov 23:29-35
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
Here are two more things we need to be aware of:
1) The wrong people will hurt us. We shouldn’t allow people who could drag us away from God’s path to influence us. People who are very negative, draining, distracting, or try to belittle us can wear us down and turn us away from God’s call. We should love these types of people, and try to help them if we can, but we mustn’t allow them to influence us or lead us. It’s right to try to encourage them, but if we feel their attitudes begin to pull us down instead of lifting us up, we should kindly and graciously disconnect from them and hand them to God.
2) The right people will help you. When God has a job to be done, He calls someone to do it. But He rarely calls them alone. He’ll often call others to stand with them and support them. When we reach for help, it isn’t a sign of weakness, but of strength, and acceptance of God’s plan. Paul spent an entire chapter in the New Testament acknowledging the people who helped him fulfil his vision. Here’s what he said to the Philippians: ‘Every time I think of you, I give thanks…Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now’ (Philippians 1:3-5 NLT).
We need to have the humility to acknowledge that God hasn’t given us the skills to do some things, hand them over to others who do have those skills, and focus on using our own skills and strengths to play our unique part in God’s plan.
Est 4:9-5:3; Heb 4:7-16