Let Nothing Hold You Back

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

God put you on Earth to do a certain work that only you can do. The Bible says it this way: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

In other words, God made you so you could do good works. In fact, he planned in advance what you would spend your life doing. And he gave you the specific natural abilities and life circumstances you’d need to complete that work. However, he didn’t plan for you to do your work alone. You need other people to work with you.

You know the feeling you get when you do too much work on your own. You get exhausted and burned out. Why? Because you’re trying to do your work alone, while God never meant for it to be that way. Community is God’s answer to fatigue.

The Bible says, “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). When you work as a team, you get so much more done. Plus, having good teammates alongside you is a whole lot more fun and less tiring!

Picture this: Each of us is like a snowflake. On your own, you can’t make a big difference. However, when one fragile snowflake sticks with a lot of other snowflakes, they can stop traffic. Like snowflakes, we can make a big difference when we work together, each one of us doing our part.

Did you know that when you work together with other people here on Earth, you’re actually practicing for eternity? In heaven, you will have to work, but each of us will have just a small piece of work, so you’ll never get overloaded or tired. No one will carry a heavy burden, but as each one of us does our small part, all the work will still get done.

While you go through life, remember that you’re not supposed to do everything on your own. You need other people to walk alongside you and you also need other people to work alongside you.

As you share the burden of your work with fellow Christians, you’ll find that you accomplish more for the glory of God.

Three Reasons To Walk Through Life With Others

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.” Colossians 2:6

The Bible often compares life to a walk because life is a journey you’re not sitting still.

The New Testament repeatedly says that you should walk in wisdom, love, light, and obedience. It tells you to walk as Jesus walked including walking alongside other people.

Here are three reasons you need to walk with other people:

It’s safer. Have you ever walked alone at night through a dark alley or down a lonely country road? It’s a little scary. But if you have another person with you, you feel safer.

It’s supportive. Life is not a 50-yard dash; it’s a marathon. Walking with other people gives you the energy to keep on going until the end.

It’s smarter. You learn more by walking with others than by walking alone. If you’re walking alone in the wrong direction, you may never realize it. But if you have a friend beside you, one of you is likely to recognize you’ve veered off the path. Then you can find the right direction together.

There are other ways you get smarter by walking with other people. You learn some important lessons together.

You learn how to get along and cooperate with others.

You also learn how to love. Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone”. Community is God’s answer to loneliness. When you walk alongside other people, you find a community where you learn how to love.

Walking alongside other people also teaches you hospitality. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:9, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling”

What’s your grumble? What’s your excuse for not opening your home to friends? Maybe you’ve said, “My home is dirty!” Well, clean it up! Or perhaps your excuse is, “My home isn’t big enough.” Can you put three people in it? Jesus says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

Everybody has a longing for belonging because God made us for relationships. When you walk alongside other Christians in community, you find that longing satisfied.

Hold On For God’s Blessing

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26

When God blessed Jacob, he promised to give him land, multiply his family, make him a mighty nation, and use him to bless the world. He made Jacob and his family God’s chosen people.

But just like he does with you today, God gave Jacob a promise and then tested his faith in that promise.

In Genesis 32, Jacob struggled with God all night long in a wrestling match that tested his patience, faith, and trust. Then God injured Jacob at his hip and gave him a serious disadvantage. Jacob was hurt and tired, and yet, at dawn, he still said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).

Isn’t that an interesting thing to say to somebody you’re wrestling with? Apparently sometime during this all-night struggle, Jacob became aware that the one he was wrestling with was no ordinary individual but God. That meant God could bless him. And so, he refused to let go.

Maybe you feel like you’re wrestling with God right now, and the struggle is lasting way too long. Maybe you don’t want to do the things God has told you to do, like tithe or obey his rules for sex or be kind to your enemies.

The very God you’re wrestling with is the one who gives you your dream for your life. He’s the one who will make it happen! God’s not trying to thwart your dream. He’s getting you ready for it. Your struggle will build your stamina, deepen your patience, and increase your resilience.

Your wrestling match will also bring you to the point of commitment. Right at the moment when you think you’ve got to give up, you need to turn to God and say, “I’m in this struggle as long as it takes for you to do your good work in me and bless me.”

That kind of response to God’s test will show him that you’re ready for his dream for your life.

What’s The Purpose Of My Struggle

Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.” Proverbs 20:30

Think of the biggest conflict or problem you’re facing right now.

Without even knowing what it is, you can boil that problem down to two basic issues. First, will you obey God and do the right thing in this situation? And, second, will you trust God to take care of this situation?

The root of so many problems is really your struggle with God. You want to be in control, you want to be God, you want to be the master of your faith, you want to be in charge, you want to call the shots. But you were never meant to be or do any of those things. So God uses a crisis in your life to force the issue.

Do you ever feel that dealing with your problems is like a wrestling match? The objective of wrestling is to pin the opponent down on the mat until they finally say, “I give up. I surrender! You’re in control.”

That’s what God was doing in his wrestling match with Jacob in the Old Testament. He was going to pin Jacob down until he surrendered and gave up control.

At one point in their wrestling match, God wounded Jacob’s hip, an injury that would give him a lingering limp. Jacob was suddenly in a position of helplessness and in a situation where he couldn’t win.

Even in the midst of your no-win situation, God is there. In fact, he often uses a crisis to get your attention. God whispers to you in your pleasure, but he shouts to you in your pain.

The Bible says, “Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways”(Proverbs 20:30). In other words, you don’t change when you see the light; you change when you feel the heat.

God loves you the way you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay that way. When he makes you go through a wrestling match, he’s making you into who you were meant to be more like Jesus Christ. He makes you weak so that you learn to depend on him for everything you need.

You rarely change until your pain becomes greater than your fear of change. If you’re wrestling with God right now, surrender to him. Therein lies the only way forward on a path marked with spiritual growth and peace.

Open Your Whole Heart To Jesus

Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together.” Revelation 3:20

Have you ever considered what the innkeeper must have thought that when he realized he didn’t make room for the Son of God? Here’s how I think his testimony might have been written:

“It was the busiest season I had ever seen as an innkeeper, a once-in-a-lifetime business bonanza for me, courtesy of Caesar Augustus and his census. Overnight lodging was in great demand. My inn was booked solid for a month, and that income set me up for life.

“But then that couple showed up. How was I to know who they were? They looked no different than a dozen other families that I’d already turned away. So I just said, ‘Sorry, we’re booked. We have no vacancies. There is no room for you.’

“I thought I would at least do them a favor and allow them to sleep with the animals in the stable behind the inn. Obviously, I didn’t know who they were. But for all of history and the rest of eternity, I’ll be known as the man who said, ‘Sorry, no room.’  I’m the one who put the Savior of the world out back with the animals. That’s my legacy: I didn’t make room for Jesus.

“I missed Jesus because I was too busy to realize what God was doing right in front of me. It was an inconvenient time for Jesus to show up, so I just pushed him off in a corner. But now that I think about it, it seems that there’s always some distraction, inconvenience, or preoccupation to use as an excuse not to make room for Jesus.

“If I could do it all over, I would have given him the whole inn. I missed the knock on my door. But for you, there’s still time to receive him. There’s still time to look at your life, to consider whether your rooms are filled with what matters most or if they’re just cluttered. You still have time to reserve a place for the most important guest of all.”

When Jesus knocks, you can give him the welcome and the reception that he deserves as your Creator and Savior and King of Kings. And he will knock, because your heart was designed for God to live in. In fact, he’s knocking right now. Can you hear him? Are you paying attention? Will you open the door?

God Still Has A Dream For You

When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good not only ours, but the whole world’s.” 1 John 2:2

Your sin may seem like the end of the world, but it does not end God’s dream for you. Why?

Because Jesus already paid for all your sins.

They were paid for before you even knew God had a dream for your life. The Bible says about Jesus, “When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good not only ours, but the whole world’s” (1 John 2:2).

When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all your sins the ones in your past, present, and future. If you don’t believe that when Jesus died on the cross, he paid for all your sins, then you’re saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough. Through the cross, everything you’ve ever done wrong was wiped out, forgiven, cleansed, purified, eliminated, and forgotten. Understanding that lets you live in the freedom to pursue God’s dream for your life.

Because God’s goodness isn’t based on your performance.

God’s goodness to you is based not on whether you deserve it but on the fact that he is a good God.

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5). That’s called grace! And it’s all you need to accept the good things God wants to do in your life.

Because God’s calling and gifts are given unconditionally. 

God has a call for each person’s life. He has called you to a certain dream and purpose. He has given you gifts to fulfill that calling and they are given unconditionally. If you had to work for them, they wouldn’t be called gifts.

God’s dream for your life is still in full force. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working on it for years, or you’re getting started on it a little later in life.

It’s never too late to get God’s dream.

The Purpose Of Your Pain

“In our trouble God has comforted us—and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure.” 2 Corinthians 1:6 -7

God expects you to use your pain to help others. Whatever mistake, failure, trouble, trial, or bad decision you’ve experienced, God says, “I’ll still use it for good in your life. And I expect you to use it to help others.”

This is called redemptive suffering.

“In our trouble God has comforted us and this, too, to help you: to show you from our personal experience how God will tenderly comfort you when you undergo these same sufferings. He will give you the strength to endure” (2 Corinthians 1:6-7).

Think of the biggest troubles you’ve had in your life and the worst pain you’ve had to endure physically or emotionally.

God doesn’t want you to waste that hurt; he wants to redeem your suffering. You can always help people more through your weaknesses than through your strengths. Telling someone all the things you’re good at won’t help someone in pain. But sharing with them how God has walked with you through your pain could change their life.

One of the biggest hurts in my life was the death of my mother, who passed away from terminal cancer. I turned that pain into Hope by creating a cancer fund to help others fighting cancer, and a blog to help others cope with the mental stress and anxiety cancer causes.

What pain in your life are you not talking about because you think it’s a burden you have to carry alone?

God wants to use you right now not when you’ve fully recovered or moved past your pain. He wants to use you even in the areas that you have been embarrassed about and that still hurt.

Part of God’s dream for your life is that you help people, not just through your gifts and strengths but also through your pain. This is what Jesus has done for you.

This is the power of the Gospel.

Your Still On God’s ‘A Plan’

We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

God does not have a “Plan B” for your life.

No matter what mistakes you’ve made, you’re still on God’s “Plan A” for your life. He has not revoked his original dream for your life. It doesn’t matter what other people did to you, what you’ve done to others or yourself, or what mistakes or poor decisions you’ve made. You can still fulfill God’s dream for your life.

Even your mistakes are part of God’s plan. This truth will set you free if you claim it. It will set you free to stop thinking, “Well, I’m not worthy to dream because I’ve messed up too much. I don’t deserve to have a big dream.” You don’t have to believe those lies anymore. You serve a bigger God than that!

One of the most famous verses in the Bible, Romans 8:28, says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them”.

Everything is in God’s hand the good, the bad, the evil, the poor decisions, the sins. He didn’t cause all of it, but he is still in control of it all.

And God causes everything to work together for good. The Bible doesn’t say that everything is good because it’s not. There is a lot of sin and evil in the world.

It’s not all good. But God causes it all to work together for good. That promise isn’t for everyone; it’s just for those who love God and are called according to his purpose his dream for them.

When you think God can’t put back together the pieces of your life, remember that God can do anything. He is still at work still working out his plan for your life, and still waiting to give you his dream for your life if you haven’t claimed it already.

When you give him your life, God will work to make all the pieces fit together so that your whole life serves his purposes on earth.

Jesus’ Prayer And Plan For Your Failures

Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

Jesus is not surprised by your failures.

He says to Simon Peter in Luke 22:31-32, “Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers”. This very powerful verse teaches a lot about your failures.

Just as he did with Peter, Jesus knows every failure in your life before it happens. He won’t be surprised at the failures you’ll have this year or any bad decisions you’ll make far in the future. He already knows them. He knows the past, present, and future. He knows everything before it happens. That’s why he also prays for you before your failure happens.

Notice that Jesus says, “when you have repented and turned to me again.” He doesn’t say “if.” Jesus already knows that you’ll recover from the sins, mistakes, and bad decisions that you’re going to make in the future.

God already knows. And because he knows, he has already prayed for you. He has prayed not just for you to make it through but that you would repent from your sin and then—the last part of this verse strengthen the other disciples.

Jesus wants you to help others as you learn from your mistakes. Part of God’s dream for your life is to take the lessons of your mistakes and help somebody else.

The same four things Jesus says to Peter he is also saying to you: “I know every mistake you’re going to make in life, and I’ve already prayed for them. Because of that, I know you’re going to come back to me. Then, when you come back, I want you to help other people.”

That’s good news. It means that, ultimately, you can’t destroy your life if you’ve given it to God, because he is going to work it all out. What a comfort!

Everyone has failures. But how you respond to failure can set you apart. As a follower of Jesus, repent of your sin; then encourage other believers in their faith, showing them how to be obedient to God’s Word.

Find A Dream That’s Worth Your Life

An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-26

The right dream focuses your energy. And we all could use more focused energy, right? It seems harder and harder to find these days.

By now you’ve learned that you can’t do everything. But not everything is worth doing; some things are more important than others. God doesn’t expect you to do everything. So you shouldn’t expect yourself to be able to do everything.

Smart selection is key. You have to decide what matters and what doesn’t, what dream is worth your life and what dream is not worth one second of your life.

Did you ever dream about being famous? Or maybe the best in the world at something? Or the richest person you know?

Those dreams are not worth a moment of your life, because they are fleeting. One minute you could be a hero, and the next minute, you’re a zero. One minute you’re on the cover of some magazine, and the next week it’s in the trash.

Going after trophies is a foolish goal. Why? Because, given enough time, all your trophies are going to be thrown away by someone in this generation or the next.

Don’t live your life for trophies and world records and fame. Those are not big enough dreams!

You need a dream that impacts eternity. That kind of dream focuses your energy and helps you endure.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 9:25-26, “An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win”.

When you choose God’s dream for your life, you become purpose driven. You’re not like a boxer practicing by punching the air. When you punch, you do it to score. You’re not just playing around with your life.

God’s dream focuses your energy so that you can run straight to the goal he has set for you. When you run with that kind of effort, you won’t waste a second of your life.

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