Category Archives: A Fruitful Year

Hinderances to Disciplines

Overcome Hinderances

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the disciplines for success. These are some of the things that you need in your life in order to have success in reaching your goals. Each of these are in response the things that hinder us in our growth.

In this post I listed seven things that can hinder you in achieving your goals. I was thinking of things in myself and things that I have learned from listening to others.

Last year I coached a few friends on getting things done. I enjoyed cheering them on and watching them succeed. I began to realise that in order to truly be successful you need to deal with the heart issues. If you do not deal with those issues, then it doesn’t matter what you true you will be struggling. The perfect planner won’t help completely. The wonderful schedule will leave you frustrated. The organised house will only satisfy you for so long. You need to deal with heart issues.

How do you know what is hindering you?

The easy answer is not really easy but here it is — ask God to search your heart and show you.

Pray asking God to show you the things that are hindering you. Pray Psalm 139:23 for yourself. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts.”

Be still and listen. That can be the difficult part for me. My suggestion is to have a blank piece of paper so you can write what you are thinking and what God is telling you.

Be honest with yourself and with God. It might hurt to look in your heart but it will help you grow.

If you are still struggling, knowing the issues that are hindering you, talk with someone who knows you and will be honest with you. Others can often see things that we are blind to.

You might find other hinderances then the ones I listed. That is fine. You know yourself. Take those and then look at what needs to be done so they are not a hinderance.

When you begin to understand the hinderances, then you can begin to address those issues and grow in disciplines for success.

Disciplines for Success

Disciplines for Success

Each week for the past few weeks I have listed a discipline for success. The list of disciplines is below with links to the posts that give you more to help you understand the discipline and how it can help you.

Humility

Diligence

Self-denial

Grateful

Generous Living

Faith

Contentment

So let’s review these disciplines in our own lives. How do you rate yourself in each of these? Which discipline is the most difficult? Can you think of some ways that you could grow in one of these disciplines?

While this might be a challenging topic, I trust that it encourages you to grow.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Keep going. Keep growing.

What verse encourages you to address these hinderances and grow in disciplines for success?

The foundation for faithfulness

If I am honest with myself, I will admit that I do not always follow through with my intentions. I will also admit that I do not finish everything that I begin. (My stack of unfinished sewing projects is proof of that point.) I need something besides myself as my example of faithfulness. I am sure if you are honest with yourself, you would say the same thing. What is the foundation of faithfulness?

Foundation for Faithfulness

God is our foundation of faithfulness.

So if I say what verse speaks of God’s faithfulness? I am guessing that the majority would quickly turn to Lamentations 3:23. That’s what I did except instead of reading just verses 22 and 23 I went to the beginning of the chapter.

The author, likely Jeremiah, describes the situation using words like, has seen affliction (verse 1),  brought me into darkness without any light; (verse 2) my flesh and skin waste away (verse 4), and besieged, bitterness and tributlation (verse 5). That continues all the way to verse 21, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.”

Hope in the midst of all those things listed comes from the steadfast love of the Lord and his mercies. God’s faithfulness is shown in his steadfast love and his mercy.

God is the foundation of faithfulness. It is not me trying and believing I can do it if I try hard enough. God is the foundation. He is the example of faithfulness.

It is helpful knowing that God is our foundation but how about an example of an individual.

David’s Example

I think we can learn a lot about a person by listening to what they have to say about their parents. Listen to what Solomon says in I Kings 3:6, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you.”

Did you see what he said about his father? David walked in faithfulness. We know that David was king, he feared the Lord, he praised the Lord but there was that time when he was not faithful. Remember Bathsheba.

That gives me hope and encourages me. David sinned and yet he is considered faithful. When Nathan confronts David about his sin, David’s response is “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samual 12:13).

So when you sin, when you are not faithful, acknowledge it and recognise that it is against the Lord. Confess your sin. Know that God will forgive you.

We are called to be faithful. That means following through with what we said we would do and finishing what we begin. This is not always easy but God is our example and he gives us strength.

Well done though good and faithful servant.

Here are some reflection questions to help you think about this. 

How does understanding God’s faithfulness help you be faithful?

Are there areas in your life that God is calling you to be faithful even when it is hard?

Do you have areas that you are failing in being faithful? Confess this to God.

This is part of the study on faithfulness.

Contentment – Discipline for Success

Contentment, will that really help me succeed? I thought that it was discontentment that moved  me to set the goal and now you are saying that contentment is going to help me be successful. Are those the thoughts running through your mind? They are running through mine. Stay with me and let’s work through this and see how contentment can be a discipline for success.

Contentment

Discontentment is one of the things that can hinder you from reaching your goals. To overcome this hinderance we need contentment.

What is contentment?

In his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Puritan author, Jeremiah Burroughs defines it,”Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

Contentment comes from within. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It comes by fixing our eyes on Christ and seeing all that Christ has done for us.

Contentment is quiet. It is seen through the actions of a person and not from their words. The person that quietly goes through life enjoying all they have and seeing it as blessings from God.

Contented people understand that what they have comes from God. So they are willing to give graciously to those around them. They understand that God will meet their needs.

Contentment submits to a loving father who is caring for us. When we realise that we have a perfect heavenly father who is caring for us, contentment and praise should flow from our lives.

“That to be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.” Jeremiah Burroughs

You can learn to be content.

That is what Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” How do you learn this?

Paul is striving to know God. Philippians 3:7-11 Paul writes that, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (verse 8), Then in verse 10 he writes “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection . . .” When we strive to know God, the things around us will mean little to us. We will grow in contentment as we realise how God loves us.

Paul is striving toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. He is fixing his eyes on eternity. When we do that the things of this world will lose their appeal. We have a confidence that God will work with all that we have.

Discipline of contentment

How does this help achieve our goals?

We will be satisfied with what God has given us. Instead of complaining about what we don’t have and how that is hindering us we will be thankful and work with what we have.

We know that God has placed us in the circumstances that he wants. We will stop comparing our situations and circumstances with those around.  Understand that God has sovereignly arranged the details of our life. So glorify him.

Maybe you were discontented with the way things were and so you decided to make a change. Is that discontentment in something you have control over and can change? If so use that to make a goal but if the discontentment is in the circumstances that God has placed in your life. Learn to be content.

Do you struggle with discontentment? Discipline yourself to be content.

Fruit of the Spirit – Faithfulness

As we begin a new month, we will continue looking at a Fruit of the Spirit. This month is Faithfulness. The ESV, NIV, and NASB all use the term faithfulness. The KJV uses the term faith. The Greek word is πίστις pistis which means faith, faithfulness. So I think either word can be used. I think both words have slightly different meanings in English. I will write a bit about faith in a later post.

A Fruitful Year Faithfulness

What is faithfulness?

The Zondervan Compact Bible Dictionary defines faithfulness, “an attribute both of God and man, implying loyalty, constancy, and freedom from arbitrariness or fickleness.”

Each of the attributes and character qualities in the Fruit of the Spirit are attributes of God. The same can be said for faithfulness. God is faithful. (2 Corinthians 1:18) God has demonstrated this to us and shown us how to display that in our lives. One way that God has shown his faithfulness to us by keeping his promises.

Pause and think about how God shows us his faithfulness. He displays it by keeping his promises. What promises has God made? How has he kept the promises? Can you see in the Bible how he is faithful?

God has made covenants with his people. God’s covenant with Noah was that he would not curse the ground again or strike down everything living creature. (Genesis 8:21) But keep reading God says that “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22) That is a promise that we see throughout the year with the seasons but also each day. God keeps his promises.

Characteristics of Faithfulness:

The characteristics of faithfulness include loyalty, constancy, and freedom from arbitrariness or fickleness.

Who or what are we to be loyal to? We are to be faithful to what God has called us to do. We are to be loyal in our relationships with others. If we are to be faithful to what God has called us to do, we must be certain that we know what it is that God has called us to do. It is going to be different for each of us and will be different at different times in our lives. God calls us to be faithful.

What does constancy have to do with faithfulness? We need to keep going what we are called to do no matter what happens around us. This is where faithfulness continues even when we don’t see the results that we want. Our goal should be to be faithful to what God has called us to do. 

Freedom from arbitrariness or fickleness means that it is not based on our feelings but on what we are to be doing. Now, I will admit that I looked up the word arbitrariness. Maybe you know the meaning but if you don’t I will save you have to look it up. Arbitrariness means “The quality of being based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system” from Oxford Dictionaries. This removes the exceptions that we want to put in. I will be faithful except fill in the blank. Faithfulness is not based on our feelings, but on what God has called us to do.

Faithfulness Requires Action

Faithfulness requires action. In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the parable of the talents. In this parable the manager gives talents to the servants. The talents are given according to the servants abilities. The servants then had to decide how they would faithfully serve the master. The ones that heard, “well done, good and faithful servant” were the ones who had action.

Are you ready to put action into your faithfulness?

Other posts about A Fruitful Year can be found here — love, joy, peace, patience, goodness,

 

July Review

It is hard to believe that it is the end of July. Where has the month gone? Where has the year gone? Here is a quick review of what happened in July.

Miss K finished school and is enjoying her summer break. The weeks leading up to the end of school were challenging as we waiting to find out where she would have a school placement for autumn. (I won’t go into all the details but most of this has to do with her special needs and the process here.) She has a place at the local secondary school and we are pleased with the schedule that they have put together for her. It is a mix of classes with SEN and mainstream. We are thankful to know where she will be attending in the autumn. Now on my list of things to do is buy uniforms.

Miss K turned 14. Her birthday always is a time to pause and reflect on how God has sustained her life.  She is all about birthdays and one of her favourite things to watch in YouTube is birthday parties. We had a party with the girls from her class.

July Miss K turns 14

My son and I took a trip to Scotland. We rode the train and visited some friends. It was a nice getaway and fun to see some new parts of the UK and a fun time with my son.

July Review Loch Lomond

2018 Goals

My goals for 2018 are listed here. I also have them written in my planner and will add notes of things that I have done towards those goals.

Both kids were at camp the same weekend. That has never happened so we took advantage of that and planned tourist. When I told Miss K what we were doing she said, “that sounds boring” which was exactly why we were doing it when they were at camp. We enjoyed a day out in Lincoln. We knew that it would be almost impossible to get Miss K to go on a Towers Tour so we did that. It involved quite a bit of climbing but then we had a wonderful view of the city. That falls under the goal of relationship with my husband.

July Review Lincoln

One of my goals for July was to consistently blog three times a week. I have copied some posts from my old blog. Some of the posts that I copied this month were a number of posts about My Asia Journey. I share those just so you can learn a bit more about me. You can find Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

I finished a fun sewing project that I had been working on for a long time. It took some time to collect the selvages. I made a mug rug with fabric selvages. I like the way it looks and have begun collecting selvages for my next selvage project.

Selvage Mug Rug

A few trips on the train gave me extra reading time. I finished Why We Sleep, Among the Poppies, which is a Christian Fiction set in World War 1, and Essentialism.

Two things I made in the Instant Pot this month that have changed my world. Okay, maybe that is a bit dramatic but changed my cooking. I made mashed potatoes and hard boiled eggs. I have to say both were easy.

Ponderings in July

Recently I discovered that a zero-waste store has opened nearby. That got me thinking about all the plastic that we use. I am slowly making changes. So I got out the bread maker and made bread — saves plastic bags. I made some felted soap to try that instead of liquid hand soap. Next on my list is making yogurt in the Instant Pot.

How was your July? What did you do? Any good book recommendations? I can always add a few more books to my to be read list.

July Review

Faith – Discipline for Success

What does faith have to do with achieving your goals? Why do I need faith to achieve my goals? Is faith a discipline?

Faith Discipline for Success

Fear is one of the heart issues that hinders us from achieving our goals. Fear can hold us back. It can paralyse us. We need to overcome fear to achieve our goals?

What fears do you have?

What does faith have to do with achieving your goals? If fear, holds us back then it is faith that overcomes fear. Faith is important for us to achieve our goals. We do need the right kind of faith. It is not the “I believe in myself and I can do it.” kind of faith. This is a faith in God, who he is and what he has called us to do.

Faith - Discipline for Success

What is Faith?

Faith is a belief. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The faith that will overcome fears has at its foundation, God. With God as the foundation our goals should be what God is asking us to do. When we are confident that God is calling us to do, we have faith to step out and do those things.

Faith is an attitude. Do we have an attitude of believing God. Our attitude should be that we can do what God has called us to do. What attitude do you have towards your goals?

Faith is action. Faith is active it is doing. Read through Hebrews 11 and look at all the things that people are doing by faith. Abel offered, Enoch was taken up, Noah constructed, Abraham went out to a new place, and Moses was hidden. Keep reading the chapter and see what else happens. Faith can mean suffering. I think often we read through the list of all the “Heroes of faith” and forget to read verses 35-38.  In our suffering God is with us.

Why do I need faith to achieve my goals? Our faith gives us the right perspective about our goals. The goals we have really are not our goals but rather God’s goals. Our strength comes from God. The wisdom we need comes from God. This should give us encouragement as we work on our goals.

Is faith a discipline? Yes, it is a discipline. It is something that we need to be reminded of and work towards building and growing in faith. Faith does not come naturally and so for that reason it is a discipline.

Caleb had Faith

I love the story of Caleb. He is full of faith and full of action. Some people when they are old, just want to sit around but not Caleb. He had a goal; he wanted the hill country. Caleb had faith. Caleb was following the Lord. Because of his faith, knowing that he was following the Lord, he had no fears. (Joshua 14:6-15)

Do you have faith like Caleb? Are you ready to do the hard things? Are you following the Lord?

Faith moves people to action. Grow in the discipline of faith.

Generous Living – Discipline for Success

Generous Living

The message that the world tells us is all about me. Making sure that I get “my time”.  That is “my money” to spend. My goals and my plans. It is all about me. But that is not the way we are to live. As Christians,  we are to give, to be generous.  Our focus should be on others and not ourselves.

Christ has given us an example of giving and living generous. His interaction with the Samaritan woman was when he was tired and traveling but he spent the time with her. He gave his time to share the truth with her. We have an example of how to live generously.

Selfishness was listed as one of the things that will hinder us as we work to achieve our goals. Selfishness is thinking about yourself and putting yourself first.

Are you reading this and wondering how this could be? Maybe you are thinking, “I thought these were my goals and I am the one that is supposed to work on the goals so should I be selfish to get those goals done?”

Let’s talk through that.

Yes, while these are your goals hopefully as you were setting the goals you were praying and asking God to guide you. So these are not your goals. These are God’s goals for you. It might not look like it is much different but pause and thing about it. There is a big difference there. These goals are God’s goals for you.

When we get the mindset that our goals depend solely on our work, we are missing so much of what God has called us to do. Our work should be through the Lord and his work in us.

How does selfish hinder us?

One way this happens is when we are selfish, the focus is on us and not others. We want to accomplish the goal no matter what. We are focusing on what we want.

Generous Living Disciple for Success

 

Generous Living will overcome selfishness

Adding the word generous means more than giving. Generous has the idea of giving more and more. You know the generous helping of chocolate sauce versus the stingy dribble of chocolate sauce. Be generous in your living.

Be generous with your time. Have an attitude of valuing the person you are with. Listen to people, be genuinely interested in people.

Be generous with your resources. Are you willing to share and give to others from what you have? It is not just money but so many other ways that you can be generous.

Have a heart attitude of loving and giving others.

I will honestly say that I am not sure how God will use that generous living to help you reach your goals but I can say that generous living is pleasing to God. We are honouring and pleasing God when we are giving. (Proverbs 3:9)

As I look my goals for this year, a number of my goals are growing relationships with others. The one thing that will grow relationships is giving, both giving my time and my resources.

So how can you give this week? Maybe it is a meal, maybe it is a note saying you are thinking of that person. Strive to be generous to those around you.

Here are the other Disciplines for Success, gratefulself-denial, diligence, and humility.

Forget Perfection – Chase Excellence

We spend time looking for the perfect schedule, the perfect diet, the perfect outfit, or the perfect chocolate cake recipe. At times we think we have found it and then the schedule doesn’t allow time for something we need, the diet is not working, the outfit gets stained, and the cake flops. Perfection is difficult to achieve and we cannot maintain it. Don’t give up but rather chase excellence.

We want perfection because that makes us look good but that is the wrong goal. We want perfection because we think that is the answer to the problem but we forget that we live in a fallen and broken world. Don’t get frustrated with the lack of perfection. Chase excellence.

Forget Perfection Chase Excellence

What is excellence? The simple dictionary definition is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good”.

How do we chase excellence?

Realise the difference between perfection and excellence. Perfection often implies that there is one way or one answer. Excellence is doing the best that you can at what you are doing. It can vary based on whatever you do.  Understanding the difference will help you to chase excellence.

Have an attitude of excellence. This is an attitude or mindset that says, “I am going to do the best that I can no matter what the task.” The attitude sets the tone or what you are doing. Set the tone of excellence.

Realise the goal of excellence. The goal is not the perfect whatever but rather to give God glory in what we are doing.  The goal is doing the best that you can given the limitations you have. When you realise that, your focus will change.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

How can you live this?

Do the best that you can. Depending on what it is that you are working on it might require that you learn some new skills. Be humble and allow others to help you.

Evaluate your life. Take some time to evaluate things that you are working on, things that you are doing. Are you chasing excellence in those areas?

Pray and focus on what God has called you to do now. Know what is your priority so you can focus on that. Keep your priority on what God is asking us to do at this time.

Be ready to say no to some things. I am going to say something that I am sure you have heard before but at times you and me need to hear it again. You can’t do everything.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

Give God glory and give thanks to God for the opportunities that have been placed before you. Those two things will help you chase excellence.

As I write this, I am pondering in my own life this question. Am I chasing excellence? Sometimes I am the type of person that is quick and get it done and for me I need to pause and make sure that I have done my best. I want to chase excellence. I want to use my time wisely doing the best that I can to bring glory to God.

What about you? Are you chasing excellence?

Grateful – Discipline for Success

Grateful Heart

How does a grateful heart lead to success? Is a grateful heart really a discipline for success? It really is a discipline for success. This is the discipline that will overcome jealousy which will hinder you achieving your goals.

It is easy to do a search and see numerous studies that support the fact that being grateful will lead to success. This is one of the studies that I read. Looks at all the things there that come from a grateful heart. It is interesting when secular research confirms what the Bible teaches.

Jealousy is one of the heart issues that hinder achieving your goals. What will overcome jealousy? Grateful heart is what is needed to overcome this. Think about it, we are jealous of someone else’s financial situation (usually meaning they have more money than we do), or the amount of time that others or maybe someone else’s health. When we are jealous we are not grateful. So to overcome this hinderance we need to be grateful.

Is a grateful heart a discipline?

Yes, Gratefulness is a discipline. It does not come naturally. A discipline is something that we need to learn and practice. So practice gratefulness.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul writes, ” give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Giving thanks is a command. We are to give thanks in all circumstances so there are no exceptions. This is what God wants us to do.

Our thankfulness should come because we know God is in control, that he is working for our good, and when we give thanks we are honouring God. This should not be something that we are doing just to make us a better person.

Grateful Heart

How a grateful heart changes you.

A grateful heart changes your focus. Jealousy focuses at what you do not have but a grateful heart focuses at what you have. Focusing on what you have allows you to enjoy and work with what you have instead of trying to get things. Remember how Ahab looked at Naboth’s vineyard. That became his focus and when he couldn’t have it he pouted. It is after that event that Elijah speaks the message from the Lord telling Ahab what would happen to him. (I Kings 21) A grateful heart focuses on being thankful for what you have. The focus is on what can be done.

A grateful heart changes your attitude. Your attitude is how you think and feel about things. Having a grateful heart will change how you view things in your life. A grateful attitude is a step in getting things done. When you are grateful, your attitude will be the foundation for getting things done.

A grateful heart impacts those around you. A grateful person is happier, kinder, and forgiving. Your relationships with others will impact how you are able to get things done.

As I pondered what it was that would overcome jealousy, a grateful heart was not my first thought. As I sat down to write, I began to realise that it is this that will overcome jealousy.

A Challenge to practice

I am going to challenge myself and each of you to take the next 30 days and each day write down thinks that you are thankful for. So, find a notebook, write it in your planner, create a document on your computer but for 30 days write down the things you are thankful for. See how that changes your life. Begin to make this a discipline in your life.

I think this is written for me as much as anyone else. I have something coming up next week that I need to practice this discipline.

Here are the other Disciplines for Success, self-denial, diligence, and humility.

 

Self-denial Disciplines for Success

Practice self-denial. Disciplines for Success overcome self-indulgence

Deny myself, are you serious? Is that really something that I want to do? Denying yourself is saying no to yourself. Why should I do that? That is the opposite of what the world tell us to do. Yet, this is what we need to learn self-denial.

As we look to grow and achieve all that God is calling us to do, we need to overcome the heart issues that hinder us reaching our goals.  To overcome the hinderance of self-indulgence we need to learn to deny ourselves.

As I began to think about what is the discipline that we need to overcome self-indulgence, I was thinking that it was self-control.  As I thought more about this while I was baking chocolate chip cookies, I began to think about self-detail.  I was trying to have self-control but with warm chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter it was difficult. Self-control is good virtue and we will look at that as we work through Fruit of the Spirit but I think the discipline that will overcome self-indulgence is self-denial.

That is means instead of limiting my cookies I need to say “no” to the cookies. Not easy, but it is worth it. We don’t like to say no to ourselves.

What does the Bible say about self-denial?

Jesus told his disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. (ESV) This passage is included in all the Synoptic Gospels. That gives us an indication of how important it is. The context for this verse is Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. Then after telling the disciples that they need to deny themselves he is putting it in the context of eternity.

Denying ourselves is not for glory but so that we can follow Christ. We need to deny those things that are making it difficult to follow Christ.

Another reason to deny ourselves is for the benefit of others and not to cause others to stumble. Paul was willing to deny himself eating meat if that was going to cause his brother to stumble. (I Corinthians 8)

Fasting is a form of self-denial. We are saying no to something so that we can draw closer to God.

Learn Self-denial

The discipline of self-denial is learning to say, no. We need to be walking in the Spirit and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so we know what things we are to say no to.

I challenge you to practice saying no to yourself. Maybe it is saying no to warm chocolate chip cookies or saying no to spending money on something you don’t need. Learn to say, “no”.

Look at your goals. Are there areas that you have been self-indulgent and need to practice learning self-denial.

What areas do you find that you are tempted to self-indulgence?

Learning to deny yourself is not easy but as we grow in the discipline we will see God in new ways. We will grow. It might be that we see him provide as we deny ourselves.

Practice self-denial. Learn to say no, overcome self indulgence

The other disciplines for success include humility and diligence.