We'll explore how to:
* Enlarge your vision
* Develop a healthy self-image
* Discover the power of your thoughts and words
* Let go of the past
* Find strength through adversity
* Live to give
* Choose to be happy
We will be discussing chapters two and three this week: "Raising Your Level of Expectancy" and "God Has More in Store!" Frank & I illustrated this post with the house my daughter's family is building in the woods by Eureka Springs, AR, b/c we think that it is a perfect example of raising expectations and having the faith of Hebrews 11:1 which says, "Now faith is the assurance of of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." They made a commitment to the goal of building a house even when the means for achieving their goal were not immediately apparent. Finances were sketchy, but they bought the land anyway and have been building on it for a year. Some people might think they "put the cart before the horse", but they followed their dream. The bible and Joel Osteen in chapter two encourages us to do just that. Joel says, "Follow your EXPECTATIONS. Dwell on positive thoughts." The bible says "Set your mind on higher things." (Col. 3:2)
"Nothing happens...but first a dream"---Carl Sandburg. We've been working on enlarging our vision and raising our expectations....dreaming big. I like that quote by Carl Sandburg that nothing happens until we first have the dream or vision of it happening. "According to your faith...be it done to you." Matthew 9:29. What are we expecting? How do we see ourselves....as healthy, happy, and whole or as sick, sad, and flawed? Joel Osteen says we must see ourselves through the "eyes of faith" and maintain an attitude of expectancy. We are encouraged to keep our mind filled with hope. He also addresses disappointment. What if you do have hope and faith and still don't fulfill your dreams? Joel suggests we pray this prayer, "God, I know You are at work in my life. Although the miracle I've been watching for didn't happen today, I know I'm one day closer to it. I'm one day closer to my answered prayer. I'm going to stay in an attitude of faith and keep trusting You to do what is best." Earlier I mentioned the house on the illustration of this post. My daughter's man has been steadily building it for a year now. I know that my son-in-law is tired right now of building their home and would like to stop and go out and make lots of money, but during one period of discouragement last week, I reminded him of the old clique, "It's always darkest just before dawn." He told me that he knows that they will be basking in the bright light soon enough. Every day they are getting one day closer.
I like the examples in chapter two of the people who gained victory through their faith. One of them was about a man who lost everything. His friend gave him some sage advice. "Start believing that things are going to change for the better, not because you deserve it, but simply because God loves you that much!" This man started getting out of bed every morning with an attitude of gratitude and writing down ten things for which he could be thankful and his situation began to turn around. He regained his joy and got back his health and vitality. He stopped focusing on what he didn't have, on what he had lost, on his past mistakes and failures and started dwelling on the goodness of God. He got his life back! He got his job back and restored his relstionships. I really do think that the key to positive thinking is gratitude. I think I talked about that in a previous post. I do a mental run-through of my blessings before I get out of bed in the morning. I can name way more than ten, but ten is a good starting point. We sometimes play that "count your blessing" game where we count ten things for which we are thankful. With thanksgiving coming up, it would be timely to think of all the things for which we are grateful. It really does restore your joy.
I am always encouraged by Joel's prayer, "God, I know You are at work in my life. Although the miracle I've been watching for didn't happen today, I know I'm one day closer to it. I'm one day closer to my answered prayer. I'm going to stay in an attitude of faith and keep trusting You to do what is best." And this morning was a great time to be reminded of it. Amen. I was so excited when I found "the field" -- sold everything I owned-- and borrowed to the brink of my ability-- to purchase "my Dream." I was believing for God to do the miracles-- to bring in the income to pay down the debt, to help us build it up into the vision that I have in my head. And I love how God gives me rays of Hope that He is still at work in the dream. The dream I have for R4C Ranch-- the Leadership Training and Retreat Center-- is still in my head. And when I try to show it to people all they see is the broken down pole barn, the pastures that need to be mowed, the half-started arena, and this weary woman struggling to pay the bills and they respond with the blank deer in the headlights stare. And I think- "God-- I know you were in this dream-- you were behind the passion-- so two and half years later-- where is it?" And just when I get discouraged or want to give it all up-- God responds with another glimmer of Hope. Which by the way, we are EXPECTING a glimmer any minute now!!
Wow! Your comment was so timely, Kim. I really believe that God works in our lives daily, but I also know how easy it is to get discouraged. I know my son-in-law Caleb gets discouraged while building his house in the woods for his family, but just when he had a really hard time, he heard the words that brought hope back in his life. There are no coincidences with God. I believe that He is showing us the way all the time...sometimes through music, conversation, a sermon, or a book. We continually are in His favor. I'm glad you haven't given up your dream, Kim, b/c I do believe you are one step closer with every step. What you might see and what others might see are different than you think. For example, Caleb sees an unfinished house. I see a wonderful hand built cabin in which he can take so much pride and sense of accomplishment. I hope that in your mind's eye you see a flourishing ranch and continue to have thoughts of hope, faith, and victory while making your dreams come true.
I am thankful for you all in the Bible study group. I am enjoying the reading of the book and Your best life is now! Have a good day! Love Elizabeth
This is a post for my sister-in-law, Jeanie. She emailed this to me b/c she is having trouble logging onto the blog."Chapter 2 was so awesome and really had an impact on me. 'What you expect is what you will get.' If we dwell on positive thoughts, our life will move in that direction. I didn't realize that so much. I see I need to raise my level of expectancy and not give up so easily on prayers. I get discouraged and thus a negative mind and that little devil saying, 'It'll never happen to you.' 'Confident Expectancy' that is so neat - start expecting the favor of God. I am so grateful and thankful for God's love. This chapter really woke me up to realize a lot and I can't wait for good things to come in my life and believing that they will." Jeanie
Elizabeth, I'm grateful that you are back in our bible study group too. It's so awesome that this online study can reach from Kansas to Virginia to Nebraska to Colorado to Missouri...I think that's all the states from which people are blogging or at least the states where people are listed as contributors so they can read the blog. Jeanie, I'm thankful for your insights on chapter two. I like the way Osteen defined hope as "confident expectancy" as well.
Another quote I really like, from Dr. Martin Luther King, that exemplifies Faith is, "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase,..." We don't know what God has in store for us but we know He loves us and what happens will work out in the end - it always does - but we don't always know the WHY behind the reason. Is it our purpose to ask, Why? - Can we ever really know what his purpose is for us? The Bible says, "2 Corinthians Chapter 5:7. For we walk by faith and not by sight. I would like to say that God has responded to me when things were at their bleakest in my life. Miracles come in all forms and we have to know that nothing is attributed to just luck. An old football coach once told me that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. We make our own luck with help from the Almighty as he is the source of all things that are great! We just have to have the ability to conceive what we do want and to raise our expectations and take that first step on the staircase!
Thanks, Frank. I know you are blogging from your hotel room so I appreciate it that you are keeping up with us, no matter where you are. Awesome! (By the way, I miss you and can't wait to see you Friday). I like Dr. King's analogy of taking one step at a time without seeing the whole staircase. I know your football coach not only wanted you to prepare for your game, he wanted you to mentally rehearse victory in your mind before you even stepped onto the field. Osteen writes, "If you can see it, then you can be it. If you have a vision of victory for your life, you can rise to a new level." Melissa, you can probably attest to this as a psychological fact that we move toward what we see in our minds. This spiritual principal is also practiced in the psychology world. Isn't this what you study in your psychology classes, Melissa?
Joel asks these questions, "Do you see yourself getting stronger, healthier, happier, your life filled with God's blessings, favor, and victory? If you can see it, it can come to pass." Through retraining my mind, I can use positive imagination. Positive imagination enables me to develop positive loving motion pictures in my mind. Just as life has a way of reinforcing all my worst assessments of myself, it also has a way of reinforcing my best assessments of myself. I want to see that strength, health, and happiness in my life that Joel talks about in chapter two. For this reason, I'm going to renew my mind like it says it Ephesians 4:23-24. "Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and....clothe yourself with the new self."
I think that what we see in ourselves (or try to see what others see for ourselves) is a big key to whether we take the step or shurk back into our own self-defeat. I just wanted to share one more comment on this thread (I know you are moving on to the next chapter(s)). But praise God-- after I shared my discouragement with you all-- God showed favor upon me and blessed me with a committed business partner who has encouraged the dream of R4C Ranch and is excited about pursuing this with me. It was an impromptu meeting that fell together by a bizzarre set of circumstances and we discovered that we had a complimentary set of strengths and weaknesses. One of my weaknesses is trying to decide what others think (mostly about me) instead of just asking them (and trusting they will actually tell the truth).
Kim, feel free to comment on any of the blogs and any of the chapters any time. I think that is the beauty of the blog....that you can go back or move forward to whatever thread suits your particular comment. I so appreciate your comment b/c Frank & I are learning so much from the book, each other, and all the bloggers who contribute. We feel blessed! I'm so glad that you found someone who sees your dream the way you do. I'm sure hat person is an encourager for you. Joel encourages us to stop dwelling on impossibilities and letting negative words form a stronghold in our minds. Sometimes the negativity comes from ourselves and sometimes from other people. We are studying the part of the book that deals with enlarging our vision, but the next part deals with self-esteem. I'm glad b/c I think that so many of our problems occur b/c we don't love ourselves enough. We forget that "we are fearfully and wonderfully made". If we can believe in ourselves, it's so much easier for others to believe in us.
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