Sermons and Weekly Meditation
Welcome to our Sermons section where you will find the text of the messages we preached at our conferences. Soon, you will also be able to view or listen to our messages.
We all know this simple fact: a pot size determines, largely, how much a tree can grow. The larger and the deeper the pot, the taller the plant can become. This will hold true until the tree has reached its genetic limits. When buying a plant for an indoor garden, many people believe that the pot the plant came with is right for it. However, in most cases, the plant would not be able to thrive in that pot for long. This is why we are usually advised to repot the plant in order to give the roots more space to grow. Although we may not realize it, we are all planted in a pot. What do I mean by that? That in order to continue to grow and develop ourselves, we must make sure that we have not out-grown our pot, i.e. the “environment” in which we live.
→ Re-potting ourselves is all about growing
What happens if we spend most of our time with people who are pessimistic, bitter or full of resentment, who always criticize others, or who have basically accepted the average life that they currently have? We risk becoming just like them over time. This is why it is important to spend the majority of our time with people who are optimistic and positive. However, we should not stop trying to help negative people escape the prisons they locked themselves in. Thus, we have to decide how much time we invest in them. Actually, my rule of thumb is: If I am influencing them, then I continue to invest in them. If, on the other hand, they are influencing me, or are not receptive to my influence, then I realize that it is time to move on… to change pot. Psalm 1 speaks about this: “blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” The fact is that there will always be people that we should not associate with, copy, or take advice from. When do we walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners? When we let ourselves be influenced by people who do not focus on higher things - people who have no wisdom, who are blinded by their pride, whose priorities in life are to acquire riches, power or fame.
When do we sit in the seat of mockers? When we criticize, ridicule, and treat others with contempt, when we feel superior to others, when we become arrogant, and when we think that we are always right. In short, one way to move to another pot in our lives is to eliminate the “toxic” people of our lives, the ones that we are unable to influence positively. Of course, this does not include our spouses, our children, or our family. These are the people we cannot choose, but that God has chosen for us.
When do we know that we are ready to move to a larger pot? We are ready for repotting when we have gone through inner changes: for example, when we no longer think and/or talk as we once did, when we want to be surrounded by different types of people, when we are prepared to take on new responsibilities, to face new challenges, to go deeper in our faith; when we are ready to make further changes in our environment (e.g. joining a new club or starting a new activity). Additionally, it may make sense to move to a new pot when we keep having the same types of problems in our lives. The cause of our problems may be linked to the pot we are currently planted in: it may not have the “nutrients” that we need to consolidate our roots and experience the growth that we need to become healthier and mature spiritually.
→ How do we change pots?
What we must know is that before we can move to a new pot, we will always have to pass a test. Which one? It depends on our personal situation and the area(s) that God wants us to work on. However, during the course of our lives, we will have to take three major tests repeatedly: the perseverance test, the humility test and the temptation test. Today, we shall focus our attention on the perseverance test.
→ The perseverance test
Can we succeed in life if we cannot overcome adversity? No. This is why we will have to take some perseverance tests during our lives. However, as James 1:2-3 exhorts us, we should consider it pure joy when we face trials of any kind, because the testing of our faith will develop perseverance; and perseverance will produce maturity and completeness.
To enjoy a high level of abundance in our lives, we must be able to face opposition with confidence and without worrying or becoming anxious. Life will inevitably throw punches at us. What we must do is not become intimidated, fearful or paralyzed, but instead become counter-punchers. Regardless of the situation we face, no matter how strong and powerful our “opponent” is, we must strike the last punch. Do I mean here that we should always have the last word or take revenge? Absolutely not! By striking a punch, I mean that we should keep exercising our faith muscles, retain our peace, and adopt the attitudes of a conqueror. The worst that we could do is to become weak in our mind. Why? Because if we lose the battle in our mind, we will automatically be defeated as we have already seen.
What we must realize while we are in the midst of adversity is that our situation can change overnight, when we least expect it. Too often, we give up the mental fight when we are so close to the victory, to reaching the top of the mountain, to crossing the finishing line. The Bible’s story of Joseph illustrates this reality wonderfully. He went from being poor and forgotten in prison, to being second only to Pharaoh…overnight! He reported directly to Pharaoh and was put in charge of the destiny of Egypt. All the adversity and the hardships that he had gone through for years had prepared him for the challenges that waited him in this key position. God basically used adversity to refine his character, to mature him, to teach him to depend solely on Him and to prepare him to carry out the grandiose plan He had for his life.
How many of us would say yes when asked if we would like to take a similar high profile position to the one Joseph assumed? Many! However, how many would still say yes if told that they would have to go through the hardships that Joseph had to? Very few! Too many people want to win the trophy without sacrificing their comfort. When adversity enters our lives, we should rejoice as Paul says in Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” A life filled with easiness and instant gratification is anything but a blessed life. It does not lead to abundance, but to captivity and the D-syndromes.
The fact is that it does not matter how confident, engaged and courageous we are if we have no mental toughness and patience. To be victorious, we must stand up on the inside using our mental toughness. We must never give up, but continue to fight the good fight of faith. The adversity we are going through could last longer than expected. It is precisely at such times that perseverance will be decisive.
In the world of sports, mental toughness is often what makes the difference between winning and losing. The resilience of marathon runners, for example, is tested in the last 10 kilometers, not in the first 32 kilometers! Many runners reach their stamina limits at this point, and the winner is almost always the one who can keep running at the same pace (or even accelerate) to finish the race: the “real” battle is in the mind. It is exactly the same for us. The perseverance test is first won in the mind, nowhere else! History is full of examples:
- Winston Churchill was defeated in every election for public office that he stood for until he became Prime Minister at an advanced age;
- Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime;
Crime novelist John Creasey apparently got 753 rejection slips before he published over 560 books;
- John Milton wrote “Paradise Lost” 16 years after having lost his eyesight;
- Sigmund Freud’s ideas were rejected when he first presented them to the European scientific community of the time.
→ How can we develop perseverance or mental toughness?
Firstly, by performing every day small acts of courage and getting comfortable with the unfamiliar. We should purposefully decide each morning to do tasks or take on challenges during the day that will move us out of our comfort zone; that will require us to exercise our faith muscles. What can you do today that you have been afraid of doing for some time?
Secondly, by making sure that all our self-talks are positive and uplifting. We must have an unshakable belief in our ability to overcome adversity thanks to our faith. It is key that we condition and program our minds to think positively and confidently. We must turn any negative self-talks into positive ones; we can always do this. As a matter of fact, the more adversity we face, the more positive our self-talks should be. They are a source of positive energy and help us endure pain, discomfort, and/or the sacrifices we make. We must create through our self-talks positive pictures and images in our mind. It is important that we constantly renew our minds and purge the bad thoughts (and images) that we are having when we go through adversity.
What I have personally found very useful here is to create and use motivational phrases that nourish my mind when I start to feel down, discouraged or demotivated. For instance, I can repeat to myself that God is using this difficulty to produce a blessing in my life because His Word says: “to those who love Him, all things work together for good.” (see Romans 8:28)
Thirdly, by focusing on the end goal. It’s simple, winners dwell on the desired outcome, while losers focus on mistakes and failures, or on what they are fearful of. Research tells us that the winners are often those who have developed the ability to block out what is not important and switch focus on and off as needed. This requires that we can rapidly regain our psychological composure following unexpected events or distractions. If plan A does not work, we should simply go to plan B, keeping our focus on the prize.
Fourthly, by expecting the unexpected to happen from time to time. We cannot control everything. However, we can choose how we respond. If we are prepared for the unexpected, we will overcome it more easily when it shows up in our life.
Finally, by hanging out with people who have developed a great mental toughness, who have already gone successfully through adversity. We must avoid being around people who have never achieved anything in life, who throw self-pity parties, etc.
Moving from pot to pot should be one of our main goals in life. This is an endless process and this is great news as it means that we can always grow and develop further, to become a brighter light for our Lord Jesus. All we need is to keep our joy and enthusiastically look forward to taking and passing tests. Moroever, the more tests we pass, the more abundance we come to enjoy!
Have you not realized that tests help us build the right character, to strengthen our faith muscles, to become a better us? Let's now thank our Lord for the tests we have to take and for giving us the endurance we need to cross the finishing line victoriously. In Jesus' name, Amen.