The Secret to Riches

Ever wish you could get a hefty raise?  Want to enjoy some of the finer things in life as you climb to the top?  Read on to find the secret to advancement and wealth that many don’t know and even fewer practice.

Work harder than everyone around you.

Too Simple?

After reading such simple advice, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “yeah right!  I work hard and I never get promoted!  The way I see it, I’m stuck being paid basically what my salary is now, so I may as well coast through the day as best I can to at least enjoy myself a little.”  Don’t let this lie get you—instead, follow the sage advice of Scripture:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23-24)

Good Work, Not More Work

Note that the verse says “with all your heart.”  We should not misconstrue hard work with excessive time spent at the office, rather, there should be a focus on productivity and enthusiasm, behaving as if you were doing work personally for a king, not just a client or a boss.

This kind of excellence in your work will get you rewarded.  It may take time, and it may not be from within your current company or industry, but as God promises, He will see to your reward.  Not only this, but there is a very practical benefit that comes with pouring yourself into the work at hand and doing your very best:  you learn things.  As you accomplish work in one week that your neighbor would streach out to two, you’ve effectively gained one week of experience over him.  You are more seasoned and capable, and as this pattern continues over time, you’ll become the “go-to guy” in many areas of your business.  Your neighbor thought he was getting a better deal by taking the same salary as you while doing less work, but long-term, he’s actually been cheating himself.

Don’t Believe It?

As usual, I challenge you to test these claims in your everyday life.  While this is a simple and easily-understood principle, a person who’ll put it in practice is quite a rarity in today’s workplace.  Besides, you’ve got nothing to lose but inexperience and a low salary!  😉

 

Getting There

How can we get from where we are today to the places in life where we want to be?  How can we become the people that we want to be—that God made us to be?  In a word, incrementally!

Fitter by the Day

One of the clearest examples I know of this principle is manifested in physical fitness.  No one has ever turned from an overweight couch potato overnight.  But many people have changed from a person 30 pounds overweight to a person 25 pounds overweight with an improved cardiovascular system.  The activities, attitudes, and habits that brought the 5-pound transformation are the very ones that bring the 8-pound transformation the next month, and eventually result in a healthy, fit person with great eating habits.

Follow a Winner

The key in this area, as well as many other areas where this principle applies, is to find people who are where you want to be.  That means people who are 8 steps ahead of you and people who are 2 steps ahead of you.  By recognizing that they have the character, faith, or habit you want, you can then begin to model the life they live.  You can see the choices they make, the council they follow, and the way they press on.  As you watch them thrive and grow, you’ll be inspired to do the things it takes to take yourself to the next level.

One word of caution—do not be overwhelmed when you meet those people who are leaps and bounds ahead of you.  If you go the gym and see someone snatching twice what you’re capable of, it can be discouraging to see that you have so far to go.  Instead of allowing this discouragement to reign, let yourself see this person as having what you want long-term, and be happy for them in their success.  Do not try to reach their place overnight, rather, identify your next level.  What are the people doing who are just in front of you doing that you’re not?  What are they reading or listening to that you’re not?  How do they cultivate optimism and confidence in their lives?

Identify, Model, Own, Repeat

By recognizing the actions and attitudes you need to reach that next level, you’re most of the way there.  As you begin to incorporate these practices into your life and being, you move that much closer to the place you’d like to be.  And now that you’ve done it once, you need only take another step to reach an even higher level.  Be intentional about those whom you choose to spend time around—they must be thriving in at least a few areas to a greater degree than you are, so that you can see what it takes and model their behavior.  Not only that, but they must be growing themselves so that you can continue to learn from them.  As we all walk this road together, we fulfill God’s design as expressed in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

 

Equipped

Today’s post is a devotional on John 20:19-23. This story takes place just after Jesus’ resurrection, and from it, we’ll learn four ways that Jesus equips us to take His gospel to the world.

19So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”

He Seeks Us

The first way that Jesus equips us to share the gospel with others is by seeking us where we are, even when we are not seeking Him. In verse 19, we read that the disciples were not looking for Jesus, even though He had told them many times that he would rise on the third day after His crucification. Instead, they had locked themselves in a room in an attempt to keep safe from those who hated Jesus and succeeded in killing Him. Yet, Jesus sought them out anyway.

Notice also that Jesus met the disciples where they were in terms of belief. They clearly did not believe His words that He would rise again, but rather than harshly condemn them for their lack of faith in Him, he offered them to touch the wounds of His hands and side. In the same way, Jesus is patient with us and our small faith. When we doubt His words that He can give us a new life, make us a new person when we trust Him as Lord and Savior, he begins showing us in little and big ways, the extent of His awesome power to transform lives.

Jesus seeks after us even when we don’t seek after him. Just like the disciples in the story, many unbelievers have come to faith in Christ not by seeking out a church in the phone book and attending regularly in order to find the Truth, but instead found Jesus at their rock bottom—prison, near-suicide, or in the midst of trying times. Jesus finds us when we need most, and this shows how amazing his grace is! He doesn’t wait for us to deserve salvation, rather, He gives us what we desperately need but can never obtain on our own–forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

Calming Fears

The second way that Jesus equips us to share His gospel is by calming our fears. In the story, the disciples were clearly afraid, so much so that they hid in a locked upper room. Like these men, we face fears of all sorts living the Christian life in a hostile world. John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us that we will face challenges in this world, but He also tells us that He is with us. As He calmed the disciples fears through His steadfast love and comforting voice, let Him ease your fears today. Call out to Him in prayer, and trust in His promise, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

As the Father Sent Him

The third way that Jesus equips us to share His gospel with the world is by sending us in the same manner that the Father sent Him. This we read in verse 21, and we take comfort in knowing that Christ himself blazed the path for the Truth to enter the world. We are simply to follow in His footsteps. There are many aspects in which our mission and Christ’s were similar. Two of the clearest are as follows.

First, His mission was difficult. Though He performed countless miracles and spoke with wisdom greater than any other, many hated Him. Just the same, when we share the Truth with those who reject Christ, we will gain many enemies. And yet, as Christ pressed on in spite of opposition, pain, and discouraging circumstances, so must we do as we tell others of His love.

Second, His mission brought glory to God. When Jesus took the sin of the entire world upon Himself and endured the punishment we deserved on the cross, He redeemed His people back to Himself! Though we had rebelled and cursed our Creator, Jesus made a way for our forgiveness and justification. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Like Jesus, we bring glory to God as we shine as lights in a dark world. In sharing the gospel of Christ, we glorify the Father in heaven (see Philippians 2:10-11).

The Holy Spirit

The final way that Jesus equips us to take His gospel to the world is by giving us the Holy Spirit. Having the Holy Spirit in us unleashes the power of God to work through us. The moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). What an incredible blessing to have the God of the universe abiding in our heart! What power is ours, what effectiveness for winning souls, if we will bit recognize that God is in us—powerfully able to speak with wisdom, grace, and truth if we will boldly go where the gospel message needs to be heard.

In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to proclaim the works of God in every tongue. Those who saw the sight were astounded! But this same God, this same Holy Spirit is in us! Let us allow Christ to deepen our faith, and prepare to stand in awe before the work God will do through us, His people.

 

  1. Jesus seeks us out where we are and makes himself known to us
    1. Jesus appeared to the disciples
        1. In a closed room (v19). He took the initiative—they didn’t go to the synagogue or the Mount of Olives to look for Him
        2. Where they were in terms of belief. He showed them evidence that He was the risen Christ (v20).

       

    2. Jesus finds us and saves us
      1. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
      2. John 3:16 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  2. Jesus calms our fears by his presence
    1. We have real fears in this life
      1. The disciples feared persecution from the Jews (v19)
      2. We will face difficulties too. John 16:33 says, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
    2. Twice, Jesus calmed the disciples’ fears (v19, v21). He is patient with our fears (lack of faith)
    3. Because Jesus was with them, they found joy despite their fears (v20)
  3. Jesus sends us in the same way the Father sent Him
    1. Jesus’ mission was difficult; He has told us ours will be too
    2. Jesus’ mission brought glory to God, as does our fulfillment of the Great Commission (see Philippians 2:10-11)
  4. Jesus fills us with the Holy Spirit
    1. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
    2. Having the Holy Spirit in us unleashes the power of God to work through us
      1. In Acts 2:1-13, the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to proclaim the works of God in every tongue.
      2. Jesus granted the disciples power to forgive or retain sins by the Holy Spirit (v23).

Why Go?

What do you do with good news?  When you hear that a friend’s baby was born, do you keep it quiet?  When you try a new restaurant and find the food to be amazing, do you hide the place from others?  Of course not!  We love to share good news with our friends, and it’s very satisfying to see another person take advantage of a great opportunity we’ve found and enlightened them about.  But what about the greatest news of all?  Are we good sharers of this news?

The news I’m referring to is the gospel of Christ—the truth that Jesus came down from heaven to become man, live a perfect life, and die on the cross as payment for the sin that His people had committed.  The news that by turning from our sin and putting our faith in him, we can be washed clean and given a new life, to serve out Lord and work for His purposes.  And that a relationship with Christ will make our joy complete and allow us to spend eternity in the blissful worship of our Savior and Creator.

Surely there can be no better news than this!  And yet, so often we are quiet about these truths to the people who need to hear it most—our friends and neighbors.  Steven Curtis Chapman paints the craziness of this in the following metaphor:

Imagine this…I get a phone call from Regis
He says, “Do you want to be a millionaire?”
They put me on the show and I win with two lifelines to spare
Now picture this…I act like nothing ever happened
And bury all the money in a coffee can
Well, I’ve been given more than Regis ever gave away
I was a dead man who was called to come out of my grave

 

We wouldn’t hide the fact that we received a huge treasure if it came in dollar bills, so in the same way, we should naturally tell others about the huge treasure we received from Jesus in redemption.  Not only has our debt of sin been paid, but we have received riches beyond imagination both in this life and in the life to come through the blessing of God Almighty.

It is for the purpose of sharing this great gospel that I will embark on a trip with my local church this summer to Indiahoma, Oklahoma.  Calvary Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kansas will be sending a team to Indiahoma to help a local church host a Vacation Bible School for the kids of the town.  We will also be reaching out to the community by hosting a neighborhood barbeque and conducting a worship service.  We will be seeking opportunities to tell everyone we meet about the love of Jesus Christ and his gospel.

If you would like to be a part of this outreach, we would appreciate your fervent prayers.  Pray that God would show us His will, that we would be filled with His Spirit, and that He would prepare the hearts of those whom we will meet.

Secondly, if you would take a few moments to check out the ThriveMart store by clicking the “Store” link on the top right of this page, you’ll find a plethora of exceptional products designed to make your life easier and simpler.  All profit made on purchases in the month of June will go directly to the Indiahoma Mission Trip fund, so you can buy products you need and support local missions at the same time!

If you have any questions about any of the products or the 180-day satisfaction guarantee, please don’t hesitate to send a message.  Thanks for your support and may the gospel be ever on your lips!

Worthy of Praise

Life can get pretty hectic in our fast-paced world! If you’re like me, you rush through breakfast and your morning routine to get to work on time, spend the day on various projects, get a workout in, cook dinner, kids to bed, chores, snack, and crash into bed. Just writing it all out makes me tired!

Add to all that the pursuit of a thriving life and you’ve got a full plate! But if we’re not careful, this “pedal to the metal” living can wear on us, even working against us in the pursuit of a successful life.

The best medicine for a life starting to spin out of control is a time of quiet reverence in the presence of God. While it can be easy to neglect spiritual matters when life gets busy, it’s vital that we take time to commune with our heavenly Father, as we will find in Him the peace and satisfaction that can be found nowhere else.

Psalm 145 is a great passage to bring praise to God and foster a time of meditation and prayer:

1I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
5They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.b
6They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.

The Psalmist begins in reverence of His creator–exalting him as King. God’s name is lifted high in praise. When we approach God, recognizing his authority and glory, we find our hearts softened and open to His life-giving Word.

In verse 3, we read that no one can fathom the greatmess of God. Though we see the splendor of God in His Word, creation, and in our lives personally, we can never fully comprehend his greatness. The highest thoughts we can imagine fall terribly short of his true glory, power, and greatness.

We do well to speak to one another of the great works that God has accomplished throughout history. From the awesome display of his power in creation, his wrath against rebellious men at the flood and the Red Sea, to his infinite mercy in sending a Savior to redeem us from death, the Lord has displayed His greatness to us. We do well to consider his works, call them to mind regularly, and speak them to each other all throughout the day.

How thankful we are that verse 8 speaks the truth! God is slow to anger–allowing us time to recognize the insanity of sin, turn from it and to him, where he waits with open arms to freely forgive. Praise God that Jesus has made a way for our forgiveness through His atoning death on the cross!

The Lord is good to all, according to verse 9, and He has compassion on all He has made. Even those who hate him enjoy the blessings of rain, sunshine, laughter, and love. God is rich in mercy and allows us sinners chance after chance to spurn our rebellious ways, give up our lives to Him, and place our faith and hope in Him alone.

If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior, thank God for his grace and mercy, and turn to Him today. Though you now stand guilty before the all-powerful just judge, you can yet be saved from the punishment you deserve. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, His torture and death has paid the debt that you owe. Trust in Him alone for salvation, give your heart to Him, and He will wash you white as snow.

Your Habits Are Showing

What’s one thing that will produce dramatic results in your life, for good or for ill?  Habits.  Today, we’ll explore why habits are so powerful and what you can do to take advantage of an amazing source of power within your own life.

Your Stomach Has Habits

For our purposes, we’ll define a habit as something you do consistently, with little or no conscious effort or decision-making.  One simple example that illustrates this point is a habit most all of us have:  eating breakfast.  When you wake up in the morning, how much time do you spend thinking about whether or not you’ll have breakfast?  If you’re like me, none.  I may spend a minute thinking about what I’ll have for breakfast, but I never deliberate on whether or not to eat it–I’m hungry and breakfast will be eaten!

Other examples of habits may include listening to a certain radio station on the way to work in the morning, visiting the vending machine at 2:30 each afternoon, or taking your spouse our for dinner one Friday each month.

So what does this have to do with finding incredible power and effectiveness on your path to thriving?  The secret lies in the cumulative force of months and years of positive habits.  One clear example of this power is shown by bodybuilders, strength trainers, runners, and Olympians.  Look at an athlete who engages in one of these activities and experiences success.  What did they look like last week?  Last month?  Last year?

The answer is that they made it to where they are currently via steady progress.  Like the stream of water that eroded a large rock, these athletes made gains one day at a time.  They ate right and hit the gym while everyone else was pigging out and goofing off, and now they sit at the head of the pack as a result.

Winning in Your Life

You don’t have to have the fire of an Olympian to benefit from this concept.  Just take this principle and apply it to whatever area of your life where you desire dramatic improvement.  If you want to be a great dad, but have thusfar been lacking, decide today to spend 30 minutes every day on improving.  This could mean helping your daughter color for 30 minutes, going for a bike ride with your son, or reading a book on parenting.  The point is, it’s got to be a habit.  30 minutes, every day [or 5 days a week, at very least].

Perhaps you’re dissatisfied with your financial life–you know you should be doing a budget but you just can’t stick with it.  The answer is habit.  Block out a set time each week to spend time on your finances.  During this time (say Monday nights from 7-8), balance your budget, pay your bills, set and track your goals, or read a good book on personal finance.

The First Step

As in our example, your physical fitness is a great area to test this idea and see real and dramatic results within a relatively short period of time.  If you don’t currently have a fitness regimen, try this:  put your workout clothes on every day, starting today.  I don’t even care if you work out at first–just put your workout clothes on, every day.  Once they’re on, how about doing a few jumping jacks?  Get your heart moving, even if just for 5 minutes.  Then, carry on with your evening as normal, you’re done for the day.  Tomorrow, get the workout clothes on again.  Try some pushups or squats, or maybe one of the workouts posted in the ThriveFit section of the site.  But do something, and keep it up, every day.

If you’ll do this, committing to doing something every single day, you’ll look up a month from now and notice huge gains in your fitness level.  You’re getting there one day at a time, just like Olympians do.

Habits for Eternity

Finally, consider your spiritual life.  Do you have any habits that will feed your soul?  Do you attend a church with gospel-centered preaching where the Word is shared each week?  Do you seek the Lord in prayer, or read the Bible to commune with Him?  If not, you are missing profound wisdom, comfort, love and hope from the Father who loves you more than anyone else.  Will you begin today by seeking Him in prayer?

By adopting these habitual practices–spending time working on an area of your life where you desire improvement–you will gradually begin thriving, with success building on success.  The next thing you know, you’ll be standing on the mountain heralding to others that they can get there too.  All they’ll is a little encouragement and a few good habits!

Our Awesome Creator

This post is fifth in a series of six articles on how fitness benefits many other areas of your life.  So far, we’ve discussed how challenging fitness regimen can improve your productivity, disposition, relationships, and finances. Today, we’ll discuss how embarking on a fitness regimen can awaken your heart and mind to the glories of God.

Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Can you sing this Psalm with the psalmist?  Is this the sentiment that flows through your soul today?

Monotony

Unfortunately, for many of us, the drudgery of everyday life can suck the praise and admiration of our Lord right out of us.  Demanding clients and rude coworkers can pull our eyes off the simple beauty of the world around us, and by the time we get home in the evening, we’re more likely to ignore or mistreat our families than lead them in a song praising the awesome power of our Creator.

So how can a challenging physical regimen help us reclaim a child-like sense of awe for our God?  First, by stimulating bloodflow through the body and serving as a outlet for frustrations, as we discussed a few weeks ago. But there is another element to fitness training beyond these simple chemical responses.

Incredible Design

Have you ever seen someone drive up in a fine-tuned Corvette or a shiny new Harley?  The moment you see the sleek exterior and hear the engine purr softly, you are flooded with a feeling of admiration and appreciation beauty.  If you bask in the moment a bit longer, you’ll find you have an appreciation for the designers and builders of such a fine automobile.  You think about all the planning that went into the production of the car, and you’ll see how each individual piece gracefully fits into the complete package, each part fulfilling a particular role in harmony with every other part.

This simple example is merely a slight glimpse into the appreciation of the human body that can come with an ongoing commitment to fitness.  When I first began exercising in high-intensity functional movement training, I had a certain level of appreciation for what my body could do.  But as I progressed in various compound movements such as squats and snatches, I became more and more amazed at the amazing intricacies and harmonious interaction of the body’s many systems. This machine that God built by his infinite divine creativity is indeed something to be marveled at, not only for its beautiful cohiesiveness but for it’s incredible ability to adapt to new challenges.

See His Glory

It is very easy to neglict our bodies and take for granted the life we are given each new day, and many in our culture have done just that.  They spend their time on other things and allow their bodies to slowly decline–allowing flexibility to wane and strength disappear.  Along with the loss of these capabilities comes a loss of appreciation for the miraculous systems that make up their body.  If you want to gaze on the glory of God the way an art patron might gaze on a beautiful work of da Vinci, start your journey by visiting the ThriveFit page and trying out Workout 1.  Although it may take many workouts for you to reach a deep appreciation for all the capabilities held within your body, in time you too may just find yourself singing with the psalmist, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”