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  • (Note: Pastor Jeff and family no longer attend FMC. He is now director of the local International Student Ministries organization.)

    Today I want to talk to you about 10 ways to overcome your circumstances.

    If there is one thing the Pregnancy Care Centre does is that it helps people navigate through their current circumstances whatever they may be.  They are trained volunteers and professionals who desire to empower, enable, and listen to others in order to help them see a different future.

    How many of us have ever felt even a tiny bit overwhelmed by the circumstances we find ourselves in?  Well let’s talk about that for a bit.  Here are 10 things anyone can do to change and overcome your circumstances.

    1.  Think better – What we focus on comes to pass.  Proverbs says “As a man thinks, so he becomes”

    Your today is an accumulation of all your previous days and actions.  Where did those days and actions come from?  Your previous thoughts.  Thoughts produce actions action produce results. 

    Think about it – everything you see has been built twice – first as a thought then as a material thing.

    That’s is why Jesus, one of the greatest teachers of all time, taught to change our beliefs.  He has taught me to change my thinking.

    We often focus on changing our behaviours when we would do better to change our thinking.

    “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.”

    ― G.K. Chesterton

    If you want to overcome your circumstances, think differently – great question to ask you when you can’t seem to think your way out – is that true?

    2.  Incremental progress matters – you can train yourself to do anything.  You can train your body to need heroin, or alcohol, or coffee!

    Stu Mittleman ran 1000 miles in 11 days!

    It may not sound very exciting but you can overcome any circumstance with incremental progress.  It is how we get anywhere in life.

    If you are feeling overwhelmed answer this question – how do you eat an elephant?

    One bite at a time.

    3.  We are not our past

    We are not our past.  We are not our present behaviours either.  No matter if they got us here, they do not have to continue to rule over us.

    Your past does not define your future.  Jesus says, ‘Go and sin no more’.

    Once you were like this, now you are like this – that is in so many ways the story of the Bible.

    You are not a prisoner of your past unless you want to be.  Ask any recovering alcoholic, it is the daily choice to live differently than in the past that often makes all the difference.

    If you want to overcome, know in your bones that your future is not your past.

    “Don't put your life on hold so that you can dwell on the unfairness of past hurts.”

    ― Nick Vujicic

    4.  Fear is often an illusion – False Evidence Appearing Real.  A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary

    Not minimizing circumstances, but how many of us have ever worried about something that never actually came to pass?

    Fear is often a self-made prison.  When you have the emotional state that we label as fear it is a warning – be prepared!

    Antidote to fear is faith – jump and build your wings on the way down.  The big choice is already made – now you can get down to business!

    We have left everything to follow you – 3 questions – Do you care for me?  Can I trust you?  Can you help me?

     “You can have faith that God never lets you down even when circumstances do.”

    ― Alisa Hope Wagner

    “There is no easy way out of our circumstances...Sometimes you stick it out even when you want to give up because you know that on the other side is either a better situation … or a better you."

    5.  You are the source of your emotions – when we say that people are personally responsible for their lives this is where it really matters.  Your emotions come from you regardless of your circumstances.  Have you ever had the experience where you had a great time but someone attending the same event had a terrible time?

    So often I wait for certain circumstances to occur in order to feel the emotions I desire.

    What if I can only feel helpful when someone tells me I am?  Could be waiting a long time.

    Everything we do is to change the way we feel.  Why do we want to lose weight?  Because of how we will feel when we look in the mirror – it’s for my health so you will feel healthy right?

    How you interpret events is how you create your feelings.

    I know a friend who was dumped after a 2 week relationship.  Now every person with the same name as her ex makes her feel rejected.  ‘It’s that name that makes me feel bad.’

    No, it is not – it is your emotional state that you have associated with that name that gives you permission to feel that way.  But the source is still her own.

    Listen, this one thing will help you overcome circumstances more than anything else – you control your emotions.

    Stand up and arm thing with smiles – just try feeling bad and depressed – you control your emotions.

    You are not a tennis ball battered back and forth by sudden swings of circumstance.

    6.  Closely related – change your rules.

    We all operate by bunches of rules – it is how our brain organizes itself to be as efficient as possible.  Sometimes, however, our rules keep us trapped in our circumstances.

    As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something external and out of our control, then we will continue to experience pain.  When we live by a rule like I feel loved when you do this and this and this and this, then you have passed your ability to feel loved onto a set of circumstances related to another’s behaviour.  And they may not even know that they are being tested. 

    Here is the big question for you – what HAS to happen in order for you to feel good?

    The truth is nothing has to happen in order for you to feel good.  You are responsible for your emotions, do not give that power away to a set of circumstances.

    My rule is this – if I help someone then I have had a successful day.  So guess what – every day is a successful day for me!  Because I have made it easy for me to win!

    Imagine if this was a rule – if you respect me you would never raise your voice.  Imagine if they were in a relationship where loud and energetic debate was the rule the other person lived by?

    Every upset in our lives is essentially a rules upset – someone has violated one of your rules and you don’t like it because…everyone knows their rules are the right rules!

    What is more important?  Your rules or your relationships?  John 3:16 is a famous Bible verse but it explains the value that Jesus placed on each and every one he met.

    Overcome your circumstances with this simple new rule – I will enjoy myself no matter what happens.

    7.  Do not take responsibility for other people’s changes

    I often feel responsible for other people’s outcomes.  That is wrong.  I can present you with options, coach you, teach you, walk beside you but I am convinced that you can’t really convince anyone to do anything.

    Have you heard the phrase, “I’ll play who wants to play?”

    Things do not change – we change.

    Christianity is a religion about how God changes people!  Jesus changes us.  God is the only one who is responsible for our change, and also interestingly enough he is allowed to take the credit for it too.

    If you want to overcome, try not to get mired down with worry for what others are ultimately responsible for.

    I can give you ten tips tonight, but you still have to do the work.  If you choose to stay in some unacceptable circumstances I can’t help you with that.  But also do not expect things to be different for you.

    If you do nothing, nothing happens.

    8.  Be content – we often mistake laziness for contentment!

    9.  Review your mission – Find your why

    Anyone can endure almost anything if they have enough reasons.

    Poor circumstances become simple temporary setbacks when we know and understand our reasons.  Create some leverage for yourself!  It may seem like where you are at is going to last forever, but honestly isn’t it only ever temporary?

    10.  Trust God

    I don’t know about you but I have heard it said many times – Just put it in God’s hands, give it to the Lord, Release it to Jesus – and I get that, I believe in that, just seems like everyone says this is the thing to do but no one seems to be able to tell me how to do it!

    They sound nice, but how exactly do you trust God?

    1.  Review your history – recall, remember, visualize, be swamped by God’s help in your past.  We can all look back and see where He has carried us in the sand.  Part of trusting God is not forgetting what He has already done for us.  It creates continuity between what we have already lived though and what we are currently going through.  Reviewing your history with God gives you a personal example and model of His help you can feel.

    2.  Know God’s mission – God is here for you – he wants no one to perish.

    3.  Step forward in faith – we bet on faith every day!

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