The Success Formula

It was a dark grey day, the first rain storm after a hot parched summer. As I sipped my warm cup of coffee, curled up under a blanket on my comfy sofa, I didn’t feel like going on that planned run on that seemingly dreary dismal day. I just felt off my game. The neighborhood was unusually quiet as the gentle rain turned into a pelting downpour, and the thought of running down the canyon trails alone, in the wet slippery mud, was a sharp contrast to that of my snuggly spot on the sofa. Bottom line, I just didn’t feel like going. I knew, at the time, I was struggling with my flesh. I knew that not doing what I was supposed to do based on my feelings was, in fact, a poor choice.

Yet, I did it anyways. I went with my feelings, and I skipped that rainy day run.  The desires of our flesh are strong and when our mind decides to partner with our feelings and it comes up with a great justification, we are in real trouble! Basing decisions off our feelings and emotion can have some pretty negative consequences. I admire those individuals who are able to hold steady day after day, doing the right things, steeped in obedience to the Lord.  The result being, a harvest of what is good and right. Bottom line, they make good choices. They seem to have the formula for success, striving in excellence, in spite of difficult or challenging life situations. They are steadfast, even when they don’t feel like it.

How do we overcome our emotions and the temptation of our own self? BUT GOD. Matthew 26:41 tells us, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Often, we are called to do remedial tasks on a day to day basis and get no affirmation or thanks from those we are serving. When our flesh gets lazy, if we can keep our obedience and reverence to the Lord, it can make unrewarding tasks much more doable. Colossians 3:23 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” There is comfort and strength in that verse. When doing a task that you are less than excited about, doing it unto the Lord with a good attitude can help you get through it. Just knowing we are seeking to please God, and not man, helps tremendously.

A common struggle is that of wanting affirmation and approval from our fellow man. People go to great lengths to please those around them. Often times, however, a person’s kind deeds or actions are taken for granted, or not noticed. When this happens, a sort of frustration and emptiness can set in, which can sway our attitude out of alignment with what the Lord has for us to do. What do we do with such feelings and thought patterns? It helps to put things in proper perspective. Who are we truly supposed to be pleasing? Not ourselves, or others, but… THE LORD! Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” When we seek to please the Lord first, above others, things have a way of turning out for the better. The Lord knows our heart and our desires. Matthew 6:33 reminds us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we do what we are called to do, in obedience and reverence to God, there is a satisfaction in that. It’s like we skip right over the pain and disappointment that can come from trying to please man, and the Lord then showers us with His own affirmation and blessing. He provides great peace and contentment in such situations. Romans 8:6 tells us, “…to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

What about self-care? We each have certain things we should be doing to take good care of ourselves. Diet, exercise, down-time, sleep, balance and boundaries in our schedule, and much needed time with the Lord all need to be worked into our busy days. These are all incorporated into whatever daily tasks are required of you! It is easy to grab a donut, skip that run, stay up too late, over schedule, and rush through our quiet time with the Lord. But if we don’t make the effort of disciplining our own self-care, it will not only hurt us, but those whose lives we touch. In order to function properly, and well, obedience is necessary. If we can keep the Lord as our priority, seeking to please Him in all areas of our life, He will give us the direction and plan that best suites what we need to be doing to function properly. We are each different, so seeking direction from the Lord for His best for you is the secret formula for success! Being yoked with the Lord, daily, will give us the strength we need to do those things we should be doing, for ourselves, even when we don’t feel like it. And when you do those hard things throughout your day, and you are victorious, give praise to the Lord, for He is your Strength!

Look at this promise from the Lord found in Deuteronomy 30:9-10 “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.” Wow! What a promise! This verse is so encouraging. Think about it… the Lord rejoices over us!

Snuggling on the sofa on a grey raining morning felt nice at the time, but a short time later I was reminded why I needed that run. Without that run, that release, I was too tightly wound. When my cup was tipped, things spilled out that shouldn’t have. Had I been diffused, I would not have had such an emotional reaction. It is important that we understand God’s best for us. May we not give into our feelings and our flesh. May we have the strength to do the right thing. Seek the Lord’s will for your best and ask for His strength to be obedient to Him. Whatever your struggle may be, you can and will overcome it through obedience in Christ. “… for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4) You and God got this!

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