Every good story has three things: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. In fact, the story has to have all three of these in order to be a story. Every decision has to have a beginning. That's the part where you actually CHOOSE (where you move out of just thinking about it and doing it). Every decision has to have a middle. That's what you do after your decision (where you "walk it out"). And, every story has to have an end - where it all comes to pass. So many people never make it to the end of their story or see the end results of their decision because they don't follow through, and they quit too soon. Deciding is important and making the choice is the starting point. However, it doesn't do any good to choose if you're not going to follow through.
FIVE STEPS TO FOLLOWING THROUGH
WRITE IT DOWN
Habakkuk 2:2-3, "And the Lord answered me and said, write the vision and make it plain upon the tablets, that he may run that reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie." Taylor's translation says, "if it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue." If we don't write it down chances are it may not come to pass because we tend to forget it and we become distracted. If it's important to you, write it down! Do you know that God wrote down the entire plan of salvation with His own hand?
Writing down your prayer, your decision or your goal is a proclamation of your faith. Here are some examples:
- BELSHAZZAR and the hand writing on the wall; "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" "you have been weighed in the balances or scales and found wanting."
- JESUS kneeling and writing in the sand a message of forgiveness.
There is POWER when you put something in writing. Remember the part of the verse that said "if it seems slow, don't despair because it will come to pass." When I write it down, it keeps my eyes on the prize. When I write it down, I don't forget and I don't lose focus.
Each year, we have a special service at Cornerstone Church called "Stake Your Claim". Every person in attendance takes a wooden stake for themselves and for other family members. We encourage them to "write down" on their stakes what they are believing God for. The moment you write it down, FEAR shows up to taunt you and tell you "there is no way," "that's too big," you're setting yourself up for disappointment," or "why don't you just keep doing what you're doing." Let me answer that for you - the reason we don't keep doing what we're doing is because if you do what you've always done, then you will get what you've always had. The reason we are "writing it down" is because we want more! More answered prayers. More of God. More joy and more peace. The way to more in our lives is by seeing to it that we follow through.
HAVE FAITH IN GOD
I John 5 says, "This is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith." Without faith you won't accomplish anything for God. You will never pray bigger prayers until you grow bigger faith. Would you like to know how to have greater faith? Then you have to know what faith is. Many people think they know and they think they are standing in faith, but they are not. Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge." The people of God aren't defeated in life because the devil hasn't been conquered or because their circumstances are so bad, or because their storms are so severe. They are destroyed because of their lack of knowledge and they don't know how to deal with the storm. They don't know how to use their faith. I encourage you to become a student of FAITH. Choose to live every day by faith and start every day in faith. Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it." The Psalmist said "I WILL rejoice." I choose to be happy. If people get tired of me saying "Happiness is a choice", well good! That means it's starting to sink in!
Abraham Lincoln said, "I have determined that people are as happy as they choose to be." Here are a few reasons I believe people are unhappy in their lives:
- Guilt - They haven't dealt with their past, such as past mistakes or past sin.
- Anger - You can't be bitter and ever hope to get better.
- Selfishness - You will never be truly happy until you put others in front of yourself, and live for a greater cause than just yourself.
- Fatigue - You cannot burn the candle at both ends and have it never catch up with you.
Here's some great advice - keep faith filled people in your life and don't take advice from the ungodly. The ungodly are not just the psychics, drug dealers, liars, cheaters or child molesters - the ungodly are those who keep God out of their lives. The book of James talks about and compares earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom. Earthly wisdom looks and sounds like this: "Here is what I would do, I would say, I would tell them AND their life is already more messed up than yours." Earthly wisdom reflects the moral atmosphere of the current culture. Choose faith - walk by faith - talk faith - live by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is believing when I don't see it, obeying when I don't understand, giving when I don't have it, persisting when I don't feel like it and choosing to trust when it doesn't go the way I thought it should. How many of you know "all things do work together for my good?"
PUT FEAR IN ITS PLACE
The Bible says that in the last days people's hearts will fail because of fear. Fear is a great paralyzer. Because of fear, people never reach their full potential. Fear robs you of God's best and robs you of what you have to offer others. Some of you need to believe in yourself and go ahead and be the blessing that God created you to be! Many people don't make decisions because of fear, more specifically, the fear of change. Ronald Reagen said "status quo is Latin for the mess we're in." Life is about choices and life is about change. I recently attended a conference where one thing we were assured of was this, there will be more changes happening in the churches in America in the next ten years than there have ever been. The older we get the greater the temptation to stay the same. We take fewer risks. We get comfortable in our little boxes. Boxes rob us of our lives; they limit us. They aren't what we live in. Boxes are what they bury us in. II Timothy 1:7 tells us, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind." LOVE - perfect love casts out fear. POWER - spiritual authority. SOUND MIND - a mind that thinks in line with God's word.
UNDERSTAND THE SACRIFICE
We grow through our struggles. James 1:3 says, "The testing of our faith develops perseverance so that you may be mature and complete." I Peter 4:12 "Think it not strange when you face the fiery trial as though some strange thing has happened to you." Many people quit when they face a trial. They quit worshipping, they quit walking by faith, they quit going to church and they quit trusting God. But God's formula for success has always been - carry your cross then get your crown; fight your battle then win your victory, and go through the storm then enjoy the rainbow. Remember this: while we are waiting, God is working. Right now, behind the scenes, God is working on your behalf. This is why we walk by faith and not by sight. Some problems don't always go away easily. Moses had to bring all ten plagues before Pharaoh ever let one Israelite go. The widow woman with an unjust judge got what she wanted only because she would not give up. Let me remind you "no weapon formed against you can prosper," "hell can't defeat you" and "God is your Father." Be confident about yourself, be passionate about your choices and remember that there are no short cuts. Don't give up! If you've tried and failed - try again. If you've given up - try again. If you're frustrated - try again. You're not the only one going through a storm. On every single row of chairs in a church, there is someone fighting a battle bigger than the battle you're fighting. Everyone goes through trials, and everyone faces tests. Difficult times don't mean you made a wrong choice.
HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Expectation is probably one of the most underrated words in the English language. There is power in expectation. If you have it, you can soar with the eagles and climb to the top of mountains. But if you don't have it, you will stay grounded and common. Zechariah 9:12 says, "Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope; even today, I declare that I will restore double to you."
My hope and my expectations are in God, NOT my ability, but the potential He placed in me. Be a dealer of hope and help people see a brighter future!