Spiritual Warfare: How To Fight And Win

Four Strategies To Overcome Your Spiritual Battles

http://larryshankle.com/spiritual-warfare

Spiritual warfare is tough. It tends to press you and push your spiritual limits, and every spiritual battle requires faith to overcome. Now, I hesitate a little to write on this subject because some Christians take it too far. They see a devil behind every bush.

I don’t think it is right or healthy to focus day in and day out on what the devil is doing. Rather, your time and effort are much more productive if you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the plan of God for your life. He will direct you into the perfect path your life is meant to follow. Jesus will empower you to overcome in this life, and he will prepare you to live beyond this life.

Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies. #Faith #spiritualwarfare #Jesus” quote=”Let me be clear: God is greater than all your enemies.” theme=”style2″]

There is no cosmic battle between God and the devil; there’s simply no contest. The devil is a created being who has his days numbered. Jesus defeated Satan ultimately and finally on the cross.

Winning at spiritual warfare will require that you have a firm grasp on these basic concepts. Otherwise your enemy will exploit your weaknesses and bring in fear.

With all this being said, every believer will face spiritual warfare in his or her life at some point. These battles are real, and they do have the potential to derail your spiritual progress…or worse. You need to take your battles seriously. If you have never faced something that qualifies as spiritual warfare, hold on, because sooner or later you will.

What qualifies as spiritual warfare?

Anything that brings doubt

Doubt will do its best to keep you from receiving all the good things God has for you. The enemy of your soul has a chief aim, and it is to throw your faith off course. However, I’m not saying that every little doubt is an indication of spiritual warfare. Questioning God about something isn’t the same thing as doubt. Sometimes your questions actually reveal your faith. When you firmly believe that God is going to do something in your life, and then it seems like he doesn’t do it, questions are the natural and normal response.

Doubt is different than questions. Doubt believes God cannot help you. It believes that your prayers won’t be answered. Doubt will make you hopeless in your situation. This sort of doubt is a form of spiritual warfare that openly attacks your faith. Faith is what moves God to action in your life, so doubt is a spiritual attack designed to keep you from the things God clearly intends for you to possess. Things like peace, joy, love, strength, and security are the objects of an attack on your faith. Doubt seeks to keep you from experiencing these qualities.

Anything that makes you want to quit

If you have ever felt the overwhelming urge just to give up, then you have experienced spiritual warfare designed to make you want to quit. The enemy wants you to quit on your relationships, so he will try to convince you that your friends, your spouse, or maybe your boss don’t need you or want you anymore. People quit on their relationships every single day. They quit jobs and marriages and churches but feel no freedom after they do so. The end goal of your enemy is to get you to quit on life. Whether that means you are taking your life, or just fading away into nothingness, the enemy is satisfied as long as you are out of the picture.

God didn’t design you to be a quitter, rather, you were created to be an overcomer. You are meant to press through spiritual warfare and experience victory.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#God didn’t design you to be a #quitter, rather, you were created to be an overcomer. #faith ” quote=”God didn’t design you to be a quitter, rather, you were created to be an overcomer.” theme=”style3″]

Anything that tempts you

So the most obvious form of spiritual warfare is temptation. Being tempted to disobey God is as old as humanity. When you are presented with something that tempts you, the answer is not to fight, but to flee. Whenever you begin to fight with temptation, you are keeping yourself near the source for a longer period. Christians are supposed to run away from the things that tempt them and run towards a life that closely follows Jesus.

Temptation can be tricky, however, because not every temptation comes as a result of spiritual warfare. The Bible is clear about this.

James 1:14–17 NLTse
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Anything considered an attack on your character

When you experience emotions that come as a result of accusation or slander, you can be sure it is the devil’s work. Scripture calls Satan the accuser. I believe every spirit that works on satan’s team also uses his tactics.

Character attacks are spiritual warfare, whether these attacks come from outside sources like those you love and work with, or whether they just come from thoughts in your own mind.

The enemy wants to undermine the Godly qualities in your life. He will speak in your ear if you allow him to, and he will tell you how terrible you are. Condemnation and shame in a Christian’s life are the results of character attacks that we latch on to and believe.

These things are just a few forms of spiritual warfare. Certainly, there are much more.

What opens the door to attack?

For sure, the enemy doesn’t need any particular reason to attack you. Spiritual warfare happens in your life simply because the enemy wants to diminish your faith and witness, but there are a few things that can open the door and make attacking you easier.

Unforgiveness

Those who harbor evil thoughts about someone else is opening the door to the enemy. They are essentially allowing him freedom to come and go in their life as he wishes.

  • If you resent someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.
  • If you hate someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.
  • If you harbor hurt from someone, you need to forgive them and close the door.

Unforgiveness will rob you of joy and peace. It will leave the door of your heart open for the satan’s attack. Not only will he attack you, but the open door unforgiveness provides will allow the enemy time and space to plant more bitter seeds in your heart. These seeds will grow and eventually overtake your heart.

Forgive people you need to forgive even if they don’t respond, don’t listen, or don’t care. Forgiveness is about you not them.

Fear

Fear will always open you up to experience spiritual warfare in your life. Scripture says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Fear does not come from God.

Some forms of fear are:

  • Constant worry about anything and everything.
  • Perfectionism that drives you to exhaustion because you are afraid you won’t be good enough.
  • Anger that derives from your fear of losing control.
  • Selfishness which is the fear of not having enough.

Fear doesn’t come from God, so remove it from your life. How do you do that? Again, I’ll defer to Scripture. The Bible says, “perfect love casts out fear.” The way to overcome fear is to lean into the love of God. When you have a deeply settled belief that God loves you, it will make fear vanish along with all its forms.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Fear will always open you up to experience #spiritualwarfare in your life. #Jesus #faith #nofear” quote=”Fear will always open you up to experience spiritual warfare in your life.” theme=”style2″]

What does NOT qualify as spiritual warfare?

Just as important as it is to recognize actual spiritual warfare, we must also understand what it is not.
Like I said at the start, some people see a devil behind every bush. This is a flawed perspective that will actually open the door for an attack in your life. So to understand what does not qualify, let me offer some examples.

Your water heater breaks down. This is not necessarily a spiritual battle. The devil probably didn’t take the time to find some way of breaking your water heater. Routine maintenance is a part of life no matter who you are.

You caught a cold. Now, I may get some pushback on this one, but I don’t believe the fact that you caught a cold is a form of spiritual warfare. Are there sicknesses that do qualify? Yes. Absolutely. Jesus paid the price for our healing with the stripes on his back and through his death on the cross. Anything that comes contrary to that is a spiritual attack. But balance is necessary for our understanding. We are human beings made of dust. It is only reasonable to think that we are bound to break down every once in a while. Plus, you reap what you sow. If you put yourself in a position to catch a cold, you probably will.

You had a bad week. Grow up. We all have bad weeks; even those who follow Jesus. The Christian life isn’t perfect. Things won’t go well for you all the time. This doesn’t mean the devil was hiding out to hijack your week and make a bunch of bad things happen to you. Is it possible? Sure. But not likely.

Now that there is a little clarity surrounding spiritual warfare let’s look at how actually to fight.

How to fight and win in spiritual warfare

Recognize your opposition

People are not your enemy. The devil wants you to believe they are, but it isn’t true. Here’s what Scripture says about it:

Ephesians 6:12 NLTse
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Flesh and blood people are never your enemies. This doesn’t mean that Satan never uses people to press us, slander us, or just plain annoy us. He does. However, this is simply an attempt to throw you off the trail of the real enemy of your soul. Spiritual warfare is spiritual. It deals with spiritual things. This verse is plain in the fact that unseen spiritual authorities and evil spirits are the ones behind attacks in your life.

Prepare yourself for battle

Just before the scripture in Ephesians 6:12, the Bible says this:

Ephesians 6:10–11 NLTse
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

There is a strategy the devil is using against you. To overcome this strategy, there is one essential thing to do: Be strong IN the Lord.
You are not meant to fight your own battles. Spiritual warfare is won as we stand IN the Lord. Standing in the Lord means allowing him the space needed to accomplish his purposes in you. It also means maintaining a defensive position wearing the armor of God, but relying on HIS strength instead of your own.
The greatest battle you and I have to win is the battle to allow God the opportunity to fight for us.

Fight spiritual battles with spiritual weapons

Now, I know I just said that we don’t fight, and that is true; but there are moments in which we have to take on an offensive or defensive mindset. Too many people wage war against other people by defending themselves or lashing out, but that’s not the way to fight. Spiritual warfare is won as you strike in the Spirit.

I believe there are two main ways to strike in the Spirit:
– Prayer
– Declaring God’s Word

Prayer can be used as an offensive or defensive weapon. Never underestimate the simple prayer that asks God for help. It is an example of defensive prayer. Offensive prayer is the sort that asks God to move mountains and then believes he will. It is praying for healing, asking for a breakthrough, seeking God for help with emotional hurt and things like this. Praying is simply talking to God, but using prayer as a weapon is talking to God with a mission.

When experiencing spiritual warfare, prayer is your number one key to winning. It draws you nearer to Jesus and puts distance between you and your enemy.

Declaring God’s Word is essential. When you declare God’s Word, it will open your find for faith to grow. We tend to believe what we hear spoken most often. Scripture agrees with this when it says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” The truth of God’s Word has the power and potential to change your situation and surroundings. As you stand on it by declaring it over your life, the attack has to bow and bend to the truth. I created a PDF Guide with twenty-five things you can declare over your life and the scriptures that go with them. It will help you, and I want to give it to you free.
Click here to Get the PDF Guide

Recognize the battlefield

For a believer or anyone for that matter, the spiritual battlefield is in your mind. If you can keep the battlefield of your mind secure, you’ll win the war. How do you do that? You have to take the bad thoughts captive, cast them out, and replace them with thoughts from God’s Word. Doing this is closely tied to your declaration.

Scripture says this:

2 Corinthians 10:4–5 NIV
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I want to encourage you today. If you’re going through a difficult season right now, you CAN overcome it. God is on your side.
Put some of these ideas into practice, and you’ll begin to see a difference almost immediately.

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc

The Serenity Prayer: Use It To Unlock Faith’s Best Kept Secret

Pray This Classic Prayer To Shine A Light In Your Darkness

http://larryshankle.com/serenity-prayer

We’ve all had those moments when our life seems to be in the dark. You seek direction, clarity, anything to point the way. It’s in these scenarios that you can feel the void of faith like somehow God is a million miles away. But faith has a secret that most people won’t tell you about, and that’s what I want to share with you.

Here is faith’s best-kept secret: Faith is about walking in the dark.

No one wants to hear this fact about faith. I’ll admit that I’d rather not write about it. We had much rather think of faith as something that makes things in our life cheerful, peaceful, and serene.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Faith is about walking in the dark.” quote=”Faith is about walking in the dark.” theme=”style2″]

For complete transparency’s sake, allow me to say that I do believe faith in your life will produce these feelings at some point. Faith always lifts us into a greater place with God, just not always at first.

Often faith involves working, praying, and sorting things out during the dark times of your life. These situations are where the serenity prayer unlocks the secret of faith. It helps you pray the right prayer in the dark times.

The serenity prayer is well known and often quoted. It begins with these words:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Are there things in life that you cannot change? Yes. Absolutely.
Faith helps us to accept that God has a plan. There are nuances of his plan that we don’t understand, and frankly, there are portions of his plan we probably want to change.

Not everything works out the way you thought it would, but this is when faith is most necessary. The reason faith is so closely linked to trust is that you have to operate it in the dark. You have to hold God’s hand and trust that he is leading you and guiding you.

The serenity prayer reminds us that we have to develop the wisdom to see that some things work out how you desire and other things don’t.

You won’t be able to see all the outcomes you would like to see at the beginning of your journey. But these moments of trust have a powerful impact when it comes to faith building. They are irreplaceable.

As I look back over my life to this point, I see things from a different perspective. On the one hand, faith is absolutely about walking in the dark. Faith is about being comfortable in the dark, walking through the unknown, and relying on God to steer you clear of anything that would harm you. But on the other hand, it is about looking into your heart and focusing your gaze on the light.

If you’re following Jesus Christ, darkness may be all around you; but God’s light is burning inside of you. You need to look at the light.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re following #Jesus, darkness may be all around you; but God’s light is burning inside you.” quote=”If you’re following Jesus Christ, darkness may be all around you; but God’s light is burning inside of you.” theme=”style2″]

Now, allow me to be transparent again: Following Jesus and looking at the light still won’t necessarily reveal everything you want to see about your situation. His light is too bright. It washes out everything except himself.

Whether you are focusing on the light or stumbling in the darkness, following Jesus is always about trust. But if you just trust and follow, God will lead you to a place where you can gain perspective. When you let God’s light inside of you shine, you can look back and see how far you’ve come.

You may not see everything ahead, but the light will clearly show what God has brought you through. It is a perspective of faith that brings peace, joy, and serenity.
So, you probably know the first part of the Serenity prayer, but there is more to it.

http://larryshankle.com/serenity-prayer

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

In the end, if you will continue holding on to your faith, you will have the opportunity to see those things that you have trusted God about, begin actually to take shape.

It isn’t easy to have faith sometimes, but the Serenity Prayer helps us to remember that hardships really can be the path to peace, and that if we do surrender to God’s will he will work out everything for us along the journey.

Faith is about:

  • Walking in the dark.
  • Looking inside our heart to see the light.
  • Stopping to look back and see where we’ve been.
  • Holding on for what lies ahead.
  • Trusting God for the outcome.

Question: What are you trusting God for during the dark times of your life?

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc

Push Your Faith: 5 Powerful Benefits Of Active Faith

How Challenging Your Faith To Grow Can Make All The Difference

http://larryshankle.com/active-faith

If you want your faith to grow, you have to invest in it. If you want to build your faith, you have to push it and challenge it. There are actions you need to take. In fact, five very specific actions need to happen if your faith is going to become the foundation it has the potential to be.

Pushing your face is more than something you have the luxury of considering; It is something you must do for faith to grow.

For the next fifteen days, I’m personally going to be pushing my faith towards a specific goal. To reach my faith goal is going to require stretching on my part. It’s a goal I haven’t hit before.

I wonder if you have any life areas in which your faith needs to be stretched and challenged? My guess is you do.

So why aren’t you pushing, and challenging your faith? Most won’t do it because it involves work. We tend to disregard working on our faith because faith can feel like a mystical, spiritual sort of quality. However, at its core, faith is just belief. Faith is the choice to trust in something, someone, or some outcome that may seem distant or non-existent. Faith chooses to believe in God even though we can’t see him. It chooses to believe that our outcomes in life can be different, even against all the odds.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Faith is a choice to trust in something, someone, or something that is distant or non-existent.” quote=”Faith is the choice to trust in something, someone, or some outcome that may seem distant or non-existent.” theme=”style2″]

Faith is very simple, but not always easy.

Growing your faith presents a challenge. My suggestion is: Rise to the challenge. Do it sooner rather than later.

To help you along the way I’d like to give you some specific tasks that will challenge your faith to grow. These actions will benefit you in so many ways, so don’t ignore them.

5 Powerful Benefits Of Exercising Your Faith

Resistance produces growth

Just like training for your physical body involves resistance, faith training also needs resistance. Don’t resist the resistance you feel in your faith.

Faith exercise is a choice. When problems come against you and believing for a good outcome seems hard is when you need to lean into the resistance. Lean into the difficulties. Lean into the burdens. Lean into those circumstances for which you have no answers. It seems counterintuitive to do so, but the resistance grows your faith every time. The fact is, faith is unnecessary if we have all the answers to our problems.

Pushing your faith moves it forward

My house is lively, to say the least. We (my wife and I) have two boys age seven and four. They keep us young and on our toes. When our boys have a disagreement, there are times when they push each other.

Siblings tend to do this. If you have a sibling, you’ve probably had an argument that involved pushing back and forth. Here’s how this relates to faith: When you don’t agree with the circumstances in your life, you need to push your faith and make it go forward.

We tend to retreat too soon. Maybe it feels easier to pull back rather than to push forward, but going forward is imperative to faith. You cannot accomplish anything with your faith gears shifted to “park.”

Don’t be afraid of pushing your faith. Challenge it to grow. Make it work for you. Faith is more than a simple belief in God; it is also a tool to be leveraged in your life.

God responds to active faith

There are two kinds of faith. Only one of them produces results. What are they? Active faith and passive faith.

Passive faith believes that God is real, that anything is possible, and that his word is true. Sounds good, but it lacks one thing. Active faith believes all these same truths, but active faith goes further. As the name implies, active faith acts on the truth it knows.

So allow me to ask you a question: What action are you taking on the truths you say you believe?

If you know that God is in control, why are you still worrying about everything? If the promises of God are true, why aren’t you putting them into practice in your life?

The Bible is full of principles. These are tools to be used, not just statements to believe. Belief and action need to partner up in your life. The reason is simple: God responds to active faith.

God doesn’t always respond to our needs, but he certainly responds when we take action on the promises of his word and utilize them in our life.

Faith in motion is easier to keep in motion

Once you’ve activated your faith and took action on the truth you believe, don’t stop. We are often tempted to take a rest, stop for awhile, and regroup our thoughts. It sounds logical, but when you’re in the middle of a faith battle, it is so much easier to keep going than to quit and start over. Push your faith, move it forward, and keep it in motion.

Driven faith produces results and glorifies God

I understand the reason for faith in God should simply be the fact that he IS God, but let’s face it, one reason you believe is that you need God’s help, right? Sure you do, and that’s OK.

God is our heavenly Father. We are supposed to rely on him for things. In fact, if you never ask for God’s help it’s a sure sign that you are too dependent on yourself. We call too much self-dependence, pride.

When faith is put to the test, it produces results. Jesus said we could ask for whatever we need. Sometimes our “whatever” involves tough, complex situations. These sort of circumstances produce active, growing faith in our heart. God responds to our faith under these conditions, and he brings results that glorify his name in our life.

Are there any areas of your life in which your faith needs to be pushed?
What actions could you take to move your faith forward and cause it to grow?

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/active-faith

How To Keep Failure From Ruining Your Life

5 Ways To Overcome Failure And Feel Guilt-Free

http://larryshankle.com/overcome-failure

​OK, let me ask you a question: ​Do you ever feel like you’ve failed? 

​I ask that question because many of us constantly feel like we come up short in the “getting-it-right” department.

We make plans to do better, help more, be kinder, live stronger, be healthier, work on our relationships, but in the end, we somehow always seem to mess things up. ​Do you ever feel like that?​

I know that I do.

As much as I would love to eradicate failure so that I never failed at anything again, I know I can’t. Failure is something that is common. Last week or the previous weekend may hold things you wish you could change. You may sense a nagging guilt about those areas where you feel failure has occurred in your life.

Certainly, failure can be damaging to us, but I want to give you some good news: ​Your response to failure is your choice.

​Failures will happen, but it’s how you respond on the other side of failure that makes the greatest difference in how the failure affects your life.

[clickToTweet tweet=”How you respond to #failure makes the greatest difference in how failure affects your life. #faith” quote=”How you respond to failure makes the greatest difference in how failure affects your life.” theme=”style2″]

You can wallow in it, feel guilty about it, or hate yourself for it, whatever your go-to response usually is, but none of those things will fix your failure.

On the other hand, you could remember this:

Lamentations 3:21–23 NLTse

21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.

23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

The thing I find hopeful about this short passage of scripture is that EVERY DAY is a new day as far as God is concerned.

Now, if you feel like you’ve ​sinned in some way​, then confess it, and turn from it, because God’s mercy is new and it is there for you.

If you feel like you’ve failed in your relationships, ask God to help you change and do better.

If you’ve let yourself down in some area in which you hoped to achieve more or create greater accomplishment, just know that God is still for you and today is a new start. This week is a new start.

Here’s the deal: ​God WILL BE faithful to help you this week IF you let Him.

​Whatever has held you back is simply a hurdle. You can climb it, jump it, walk around it, or ask God to move it. One of these options will work, I promise if you just don’t quit on yourself.

http://larryshankle.com/overcome-failure

So, here’s the action plan for failure you need to take after you feel like you’ve failed:

  1. ​Ask God to forgive you. – God forgives sin. He forgives failure of ALL kinds.
  2. Forgive yourself. – This one is so important, because if we don’t forgive ourselves when we fail, we will continue to keep reliving our failures in our mind. These thoughts will put your life in a spiral of failure. To not forgive yourself after God has forgiven you is a trap that will ensnare your life, soul, and future.
  3. Forgive others. – Don’t hold grudges. Period. You have to get over the things you feel others have done to you. Holding grudges will plant bitter seeds that grow bitter roots. In the end, holding a grudge will produce a bitter heart. Since our life flows from our heart, our life will begin to become bitter as well.
  4. Make a change. – This advice may seem a little simplistic, but, with God’s help, you can always change. He will work something new into your life if you allow Him to. Ask God to help you change. Use the Bible as a tool to renew and change the way you think, because it will.
  5. Ask for God’s help daily. – Overcoming failure is a daily process, not a one-time fix. You’re going to need to continue in your new found change. You may have to forgive people more than once. You might even have to keep a list of people you need to forgive and do it daily. Whatever it takes to keep change alive, do it. Ask God for His strength. Pray that He will empower you in the process because He will.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Whatever it takes to keep #change alive, do it. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Whatever it takes to keep change alive, do it.” theme=”style2″]
Let me share three verses with you that I’m very thankful for:

Ephesians 2:8–10 NLTse

8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.​

God’s grace is present for you today. He’s already provided it to you, and if you only believe this promise, you can have complete access to grace.

No matter how much good (or bad) you’ve done, you can’t gain God’s favor. He gives it as a gift. Simple belief in this promise will create a new life for you.

It will embolden you and empower you to overcome failure, to do good, and to be the person you hope to be.

I would love it so much if you signed up to receive Motivation Monday. It’s my weekly encouraging email to help you get your week started off right.

Also, would you mind sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, or maybe pin it on Pinterest? You can help spread the message further, and I hope you will. Thanks!

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

How To Improve Your Goal Setting And Increase Your Faith

The Top 5 Beliefs You Need To Change About Goal Setting

http://larryshankle.com/goal-setting

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Sometimes I find it really difficult to set goals.

They seem far removed from reality, they don’t always make sense to me, and they require lots and lots of work.

At this point in my life, I would still call myself a goal setter, however. Every year it seems I set goals for my life that I sincerely hope to achieve. There is a process I go through at the start of each new year, and it helps me to create massive amounts of focus towards my goals. In fact, I wrote about HERE.

But there is a problem with being a Christian and being a goal setter. Many don’t believe that you can be both at the same time. Whenever I talk about this subject, I usually sense a push-back from people who are deeply committed to Jesus. I used to be one of those people who pushed back at setting goals.

Goal setting wasn’t for me for a variety of reasons. My Christianity, I thought, kept me from setting goals and achieving things in my life. God wanted it this way, I believed. It was an act of trusting in God to throw caution to the wind and never set any real, lofty, soul-stretching goals because it proved my dependency on him…right? Wrong.

http://larryshankle.com/goal-setting

This is a subject with many opinions, and honestly, this post is mine.

I will say, however, that since I became a goal setting Christian, it has revolutionized my life. The feelings I once felt of discouragement over my situation are gone. In my early twenties, I learned that goal setting improved my outlook by challenging me and challenging my faith.

One reason that Christians are discouraged from time to time is that they never challenge their faith on purpose. Certainly, situations arise that battle against our faith. Throughout 2016, I faced the faith fights that come with sickness and physical pain. Things like this can push against your faith and test its strength, stamina, and reliability. But believers need to be willing to challenge their faith by moving in the offensive as well as the defensive.

When problems come into your life, faith responds by defending us, and that’s a good thing. We need this kind of faith, but goal setting is the opposite, and also needed, type of faith challenge. Goal setting works in the offensive and seeks to move your life forward.

If you are a Christian who pushes back against goal setting, I fully understand because I did too, but don’t fail to open your mind to the possibility of intentional growth that comes from setting, reaching for, and achieving lofty goals. Ones that you firmly believe come from God, designed specifically for your life.

Although this post is based on opinion, I think it is an educated opinion. While dealing with people for over twenty years in the ministry, I’ve had the chance to see hundreds of responses given by those on both sides of the fence of this argument. I’ve also witnessed the successes and hard fought victories people achieve, and the heart wrenching, crash and burn moments of others.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The right #goals challenge your #faith and shape who you’ll become. #buildyourfaith” quote=”The right goals challenge your faith and shape who you’ll become. ” theme=”style2″]

With all this being said, let me give you what I see as:

The top five reasons why Christians push back at goal setting.

1. They don’t know if their goal reflects the will of God for their life.

Honestly, this was a big factor in why I used to be against goal setting.

Since it seemed impossible to know the complete will of God for my life, how would it be possible to set goals that were in keeping with God’s wishes? If I set goals (and I wanted to), but they were goals contrary to God’s plan, wouldn’t it make me walk out of the will of God for my life? The answer is YES.

Setting goals that don’t reflect God’s purposes for you will cause your life to deviate from God’s plan. But this reason is why it’s necessary to invite God into the process of goal setting.

Nowadays, I don’t just sit down and start writing out goals for my life haphazardly. I pray at length about the things I feel need to be accomplished or that I want to accomplish. Believers need to invite and include God in the process of their daily life. The real “sin” if you will is keeping God at arm’s length. He wants to be a part of everything going on in your life, and that includes the hopes, dreams, and aspirations you have. Your goals are important to him, so much so, that he will direct your goal setting if you allow him to.

When a goal is God-directed, you can be certain that it is God’s will. This is the key to reaching for the right things in life.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Believers need to invite and include God in the process of their daily life. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Believers need to invite and include God in the process of their daily life.” theme=”style2″]

2. They over spiritualize life and believe that God does all the hard work of making progress happen for us.

To be clear, everything is life is spiritual. There is no such thing as a “God box” that contains all the spiritual stuff while leaving the other things outside of it. Your work is spiritual, and so is your money, your marriage, your dreams, and everything else. God has a plan for all of it.

But many times we still tend to over-spiritualize things like goals and shy away from pushing ourselves because we have the false belief that God will do all the hard work in life for us. The fact is, he won’t.

God didn’t create you to be a robot that does nothing except by command. He formed you to be a human being that feels, responds, pushes forward, experiences joy, and has dreams, hopes, plans, and vision. Goal setting is a form of vision.

God won’t do all the heavy lifting in life for you. He will help you become the person of great faith, and spiritual strength you were created to be. Just as you want to see your children grow, mature, get strong, make plans and achieve them…So also, God wants to see the same things happen to you.

Goal setting will push your faith on purpose and make it grow into its fullest potential. Set lofty goals and then start reaching for them.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Goal setting is a form of #vision.” quote=”Goal setting is a form of vision.” theme=”style2″]

3. They believe Jesus is coming tomorrow, so why bother.

If there was ever a reason why I used not to set goals, this is it. Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m fundamental on doctrines like the rapture and the second coming of Christ, but I no longer feel like what I believe should keep me from going forward in life.

The truth is, Jesus may come today, but that doesn’t mean you should sit idly by until he does. Be productive. Do something. Set a goal and go for it.

When I was fourteen years old, I got the truck of my dreams. 

Building plastic models was my thing; the kind that comes in a box and you have to use glue to put them together. I loved doing that. When I was thirteen I purchased a model of a 1955 Ford F-100. It was the sweetest truck I’d ever seen and I wanted to own one someday. Well, my day came at the age of fourteen. I saw the truck sitting on a corner lot and through a series of circumstances, I purchased it.

That Ford sat in my front yard for two whole years before I’d be old enough to get my license and drive it. Every evening after school I would sit in it.

One day I got so discouraged when the thought crossed my mind that Jesus might come before I would ever get to drive the truck myself.

Today, at forty years old, I realize that things take time. I realize that Jesus is still coming, but I treat this knowledge differently than I used to. As it relates to goal setting, I choose to live like Jesus will come today, but plan, prepare, and work like he is never coming.

The fact is, someday you’re going to die but don’t let that fact keep you from living. Jesus is going to come…maybe today…but don’t let the awesome hope of this promise keep you from becoming the person God wants you to be and experiencing all that is possible in your life.

By the way, I did drive the truck…it was awesome. To this day, it’s probably still my favorite.

4. They’ve failed before and are afraid of failure again.

You’ve failed before, haven’t you? It doesn’t feel good, does it? The answer is NO. We’ve all experienced the pain and regret of failure. Some people refuse the idea of goal setting because they’ve set goals before and failed to achieve them. But doing this is like having a hammer and refusing to use it again because one time you swung and missed the nail.

Failure once doesn’t mean failure forever.

Launch out and try something again. Pray about it. Wrap your head around it, and get out there and try it.

The people of God throughout the generations have refused to let failure stop them. Why should you examine your failures and come to the conclusion that they will define you? Failure doesn’t define you, but refusing to get up and try again does.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Failure doesn’t define you, but refusing to get up and try again does. #buildyourfaith #goals” quote=”Failure doesn’t define you, but refusing to get up and try again does.” theme=”style2″]

5. They simply lack the faith to go forward.

Here is probably the biggest reason of all that people don’t set goals and then reach for them.

They don’t believe the goals they set are attainable, and it’s sad when a believer doesn’t have the faith to think that they can achieve a goal…even with God’s help.

To be clear, most of us believe that anything is possible with God. “God can do anything,” we say. So the problem isn’t with believing in God. The problem is believing that God can do something IN and THROUGH us.

You have to have faith to believe that God wants to do something in your life before you will set out to achieve it. The fact is, God not only wants to do something in you, but he works tirelessly to produce good things in your life. The God you serve has a great plan for your life, and he wants to help you set goals and reach them. God wants to bring glory to his name through the things that he does in your life.

Having faith in God also means having faith in what God wants to do in YOU.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Having #faith in #God also means having faith in what God wants to do in YOU. #buildyourfaith ” quote=”Having faith in God also means having faith in what God wants to do in YOU. ” theme=”style2″]

Now, there are probably many more reasons why a Christian may push against goal setting, but in my opinion, these represent the top five that I’ve witnessed.

With all this being said, you need to do this: Don’t let this year be like last year, or last month, or even last week.

Here’s How you do this:

  • Invest your faith in the power of God to do great exploits in your life.

  • Set goals in keeping with God’s plan.

  • Press to reach your goals because reaching them glorifies God.

  • Never, ever, ever give up.

Now, I would be so appreciative if you would share this post on your Facebook or Twitter…maybe pin it on Pinterest.

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There’s probably a lot of people that you know who could benefit from setting goals and reaching them. This post can help…so can you by sharing it.

If you want to get motivated and build your faith I’d love to help you with that. Sign up below and start building your faith every week.