Joe Cotinola

7 Things To Help You Accomplish Your Dreams

The Best is Yet to Come2

In the last blog, we began to dream. I know God has given you a dream.  Have you taken the time to really think about all that God has for you to do?  I’m in awe when I really begin to think about the privilege that God has given you and I to partner with Him in building His kingdom.

Today I’m going to begin to share “7 Things (that I have learned in my own life) to Help you Accomplish Your Dreams.” We won’t get through all seven today, but I believe that if you begin to put these guides into practice, you’ll see God begin to make your dreams a reality.  You affect your own life. I wish that I could regulate other people’s spiritual appetite…but I can’t.  They have to decide what they will do with their life each and every day.  It’s the same with you.  But I believe that you want more…or you wouldn’t be taking the time to read this blog.  So I know you’re a dreamer.  What are the dreams you have for your life this year? Do you have dreams to be a better husband? A better wife? A better student? A better son? A better child of God?

02Habakkuk2_3

#1. Define Your Dream (Write it Down)

The first thing we have to do is write it down. You must have something to write down and that is why I took the time to write the last blog.  You have a dream.  We all do. Without that, it’d be hard to start the process of seeing it come to pass. Let me ask you a question, how important is your life? I would dare to say that it’s pretty important or you wouldn’t be taking the time to make it better.  You control the outcome of your life, no one else.  You control the attitude that you have when certain things happen…no one else can do it for you.  Don’t let other people affect the quality of your life…they’re just flies on the wall anyway.

People with goals succeed, people with plans move forward.

Take the time today to write down the vision that God has given to you.  Don’t stay in the same place too long.  In football, each team has 25 seconds to come up with a plan and then attack.  It’s sad however that some people have been stuck in a huddle for years.  Don’t be that person. Write down the things that God has been telling you today.

a1756cec6a4c7ed20de15a0c97a34888

#2. Divine Dreams Require Patience (Trust God’s Clock)

Patience. Now that’s a hard one right there.  Would you describe yourself as patient? In my natural nature…I am not even close to being patient.  What about you? You know when I’m patient? When I pray.  It’s only in those times when I get alone with God that I am able to put my trust fully in Him and all that He desires to do in my life. I shared in the last blog that it took 17 years for the promise that God gave me to unfold. 17 years!!! Talk about patience. The great thing about our God…is that he knows WHEN.  He knows when we’re ready for promotion.  He knows when we’re ready for His blessings.  He knows when we’re ready to step into the next level of what He has planned for us.  He knows WHEN…

There were many people in the Bible that had to learn patience.  Noah had to wait 120 years for the ark to be completed (talk about a project). Abraham had to wait years for a son.  Sometimes, we’re going to have to wait.  And it won’t matter how much we want it to happen, how much we plead or how frustrated we might get…it still will only happen in God’s timing.  Don’t be like Sarah who took it upon herself to come up with a plan to try to help God.  She decided that since she was beyond the age of child bearing that she would have Hagar (her servant) bear a child with Abraham. Let me just throw this in for free…God doesn’t need our help.  He knows exactly what He is doing.  And when we decide to step out because of impatience, like Sarah…we’ll give birth to things in the flesh.  Learn to trust God’s timing. When you don’t trust God’s timing…you’ll start asking the WHY & WHEN question. Take a real honest look at your life today…have you been trusting God’s Clock? Or maybe…have you been a little on the impatient side and trying to do things in your own strength?

Advertisements

A Bitter Taste: Part 2

CROSSING THE RED SEA

Before we jump into today’s blog, I just wanted to take a quick second to thank you for being a reader.  Whether this is the first blog you have read or even if you’re a frequent guest.  My prayer is that as we dig into God’s Word, you will be inspired, challenged & provoked to become all that God has called you to be.  You’re time is precious and I don’t want to waste it.

So let’s jump right in. Today we’re going to finish the conversation that we started in my last blog A Bitter Taste.  Feel free to take time to read or re-read that one before continuing with this one.  We’ve all had bitter experiences in life. It doesn’t matter how young, how old, your ethnicity, how long you’ve been saved…if you’re a living, breathing human…then chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We’re not the only ones who have had bitter experiences…we went through a whole list of people in the Bible in the last blog of many who became bitter.

Today, I want to give you a picture in the Bible where God turned a bitter experience into sweet victory. I want to leave you encouraged today.  Maybe you find yourself in a bitter situation today. It could be a financial situation (bills to pay, a shut off noticed just came in the mail, etc.), a relationship (with a spouse, a loved one, your children, etc.) or maybe you’re surrounded by negativity (criticism, people or maybe the devil’s been trying to give you one on one Bible Studies).  It doesn’t matter what the situation is, God can turn it around today.

4_5_title

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah). So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”” – Exodus 15:22-24

This is a very familiar story…at least what took place right before this.  Moses just led God’s people across the Red Sea.  Pharaoh & his army  were flooded.  God’s people were loving life.  They were rejoicing, singing songs and felt as if nothing could go wrong.  Can you relate? Ever had those moments where everything is going great? Everyone loves you, you get a promotion, the people you run into are nice, people let you cut in front of them on the freeway…you know what I mean? Well, they were definitely having a mountain top experience.  Then three days later…everything changed. They went without water for three days and began to grumble.  They even turned on Moses.  Just a few days before, they loved him.  Reminds me of how people welcomed Jesus by laying palm branches before him but a week later those same people were yelling “crucify him.”

This is where it gets good so pay attention.  As the story continues, Moses went before the Lord in prayer.  God shows Moses a tree, which he then throws in the water and it became sweet or ‘fit to drink.’  In one translation it says that he “pointed” to a tree.  Notice how God didn’t create a tree, but it was already there. The tree is a representation of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross.  If we put Jesus (tree) in the center of our situation (sea), he’ll take care of the bitter waters (situation) and make them sweet. Are you putting Jesus in the middle of that stress, that marriage, that difficult financial situation or your most immediate need right now? I encourage you to make him the center.  Even with the situation that you feel will never work out…we serve a God who specializes in the impossible.

Moses & Red Sea

The chapter ends with them coming to Elim and this is the final thought I want to leave you with today.  There are two aramaic words for ‘Elim.’ The first root word is “mighty” and the second word is “a place of rest.” It can also be translated into a place of shade or provision.  When you allow God to be the center of your bitter experience, He’ll bring you to a place where you’ll have victory.  There were 12 springs & 70 palm trees where they camped.  Why 12 & 70? Well, if the tree points to Jesus, the 12 points to his disciples and 70 points to the crowd that followed Christ.  This points to ministry or God’s House. Look around the camp where God has placed you at today, you’re not alone. People stay weak & feable when they don’t plug into church and they try to do things on their own.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” – Hebrews 10:24-25

You’re victory is waiting for you. Let your bitter experiences make you better.  God did it for Moses, I’ve seen Him do it countless times in my own life and I know He’s going to do it for you too.  If you’re reading this it’s because God is not finished with you.  He still has so much more for you to experience in life.  Let that bitter taste leave today and let God set you up for sweet victories in your future.

7 Things to Remember… [Part 2]

“They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns [pit]; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”” – Genesis 37: 18-20

Today we’re going to continue with the “7 Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.” We’ve already talked about two of them (1. Are You Ready for Change Yet? & 2. Attacks Will Come) in my previous blog 7 Things to Remember…. So let’s jump into two more thoughts today that I’d like to leave you with.

3. Losers Focus on What They’re Going Through

We talked about this briefly before but I want to state it again here.  Having a title, doesn’t exclude you from experiencing trials.  Maybe you’re a pastor, a leader, a manager at your job or someone with some kind of authority…that title doesn’t stop trials from coming your way (wouldn’t that be great?). As a matter of fact, it feels like they grow, last longer and come at a quicker speed than before.

I write this thought because when you go through your pits, you have a choice on how you will respond to that situation.  I have learned that while losers focus on what they’re going through (the here and now, the short term effect, their feelings, etc.)…Champions Focus on Victories.  We all experience the pressures of life. I know negative thoughts come to our minds on an almost daily basis. I know we’re surrounded by an enemy that bombards our minds, our eyes, our hearts and our families…but we have a choice of whether or not we’re going to let that poison effect us.  Let’s stay positive…only the devil & his demons like negativity. Joseph could of focused on what he was going through…but he didn’t. He kept going forward every step of the way. What are you focusing on today?

There are no short cuts to anyplace worth going to.” – Abraham Lincoln

4. How do You Respond to People?

Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” I think this one is going to hit a nerve for some of you. Why? Because this was something that I had to experience too.

How do you respond to people when you’re in a pit? I learned that when I would go through something, I would take it out on the people around me. Maybe this doesn’t apply to you, but maybe you know people like that.  When things don’t go their way; they get irritable, moody, angry, they get loud and…I think you see where this is going. (Ok, maybe those were just for me.)

Just take a moment and think about how you have been treating people lately.  Have you been sowing love, kindness and joy? When you see people going through a trial you went through years ago…do you offer a word of wisdom or are you thinking “you got to get over it you sniveling little sissy.” What about when you see someone that you haven’t seen in awhile? Are you quick to greet them with a loving embrace and say “it’s so good to see you” or do you think “where have you been?” It grieves me when I see people shoot the wounded. We should be the first to respond with grace…especially when we go through our pits.  Look how the pits changed Joseph.  It has a way of softening us.  We see later on when God brought people his way that Joseph responded with compassion.  He was quick to help them out.  How have you been responding to the people that God is bringing your way today…even if you are in a pit?

Let me end today’s blog with a great story. You never know how God will repay an act of kindness…

Late one blistering night, a couple dashed out of the rain into the lobby of a small Philadelphia Hotel hoping to secure a room for the night.  But much to their disappointment, the hotel was completely full.  “There are three conventions in town” said the cheerful front desk clerk.  “I’m afraid all the hotels are completely booked, you will not find a room anywhere in this city.”  The couple started to turn away and the clerk continued, “…but I can’t send a nice couple like you out in the rain at 1am in the morning. Would you be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite” he added. “But it will make you comfortable for the night.” The couple was reluctant to put the man out. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make out just fine.” And so finally they accepted his offer. In the morning the elderly gentlemen said to the clerk, “you’re the kind the of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.” The man at the front desk simply smiled and thanked him.  Two and a half years later, the hotel clerk received a letter from the elderly gentleman.  In it was a round trip ticket to New York City and a note. The note reminded the clerk of the night he had helped the couple and invited them to come up as guests. He had nearly forgotten about the incident.  But he decided to take them up on their offer. They picked him up at the airport and took him to the corner of 34th Street & 5th Avenue in Manhattan.  “That (pointing to a mammoth, giant new building made of reddish stone on the corner of 34th & 5th Ave) is a hotel I have just built for you to manage.” The clerk looked at the elderly gentleman saying, “Are you joking? You must be joking.” And the man responded, “I can be assured that I am not” with a smile. This is the story of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (One of the most historical 5 Star Hotels ever made.)

You never know how God will repay an act of kindness.  I want to challenge you today to sow kindness, love, joy and compassion to those that God is bringing your way this week…even if you find yourself in a pit experience.

7 Things to Remember…

“They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns [pit]; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”” – Genesis 37: 18-20

Have you ever had a pit experience in your life?  Maybe it wasn’t like Joseph where he was thrown into a pit by his own brothers (they actually wanted to kill him).  But maybe it was a different pit.  It could be a financial pit, maybe a relational pit where things just aren’t the same anymore with your spouse or it could be some kind of storm or trial.  One thing I have learned over the years…is that you can’t bypass the pits in life.  They’re going to happen to all of us.  The question isn’t whether pits will come into our life or not…but what are you going to do when you find yourself in a pit? Over the next few blogs, I want to share with you Seven Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience.  I pray that these will help you overcome the pits that might be coming your way or possibly that you’re in right now.

1.  Are You Ready for Change Yet?

This is always the first thing we have to ask ourselves when we find ourselves in a pit.  I’m pretty sure Joseph even asked himself this question too.  It’s a question I think will come to our minds: how is God trying to change me? God is always trying to change us. If you’re married, I’m sure you can say an AMEN to that. Why? Cause as soon as you get married, you’re going to go through changes.  But these are good changes.  I can testify that marriage has made me more gentle, kind, etc.  I’ll never forget the day when God told me, “be careful how you talk to my daughter.” That got my attention right away. We have to be willing to change.  Sometimes we hold back the blessings of God cause we refuse to change.

 2.  Attacks Will Come

The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.  We can’t sit around and complain about what we’re going through.  I’m sure you probably knew someone like that when you were younger.  And chances are, some of them might still be like that today.  Instead of letting life beat you up, you have to begin to speak things into existence. I do this all the time.  You have to begin to say things like, “Favor is coming, provision is coming, blessings are coming, healing is coming, salvation for my kids is coming, finances for these bills are coming, doors are going to open, my husband is changing for the better, my wife is changing for the better…” or even things like “I have great potential, I can change, I can get a degree, I can become a great parent, I can get a better job…” I guarantee that things will begin to change because you first changed. Joseph was a great example of this! He found himself in a pit, he was sold as a slave, his family turned on him and he found himself in jail.  If anyone had a reason to get bitter…it was him.  But he actually changed things around and God began to promote him.

In the next blog, we’ll continue our journey through the Seven Things to Remember When You Have a Pit Experience…

 

You’re So Full of It

On the past few blogs, we’ve been going back and forth on the subject of “About My Father’s Business.” In the next few blogs, we’ll pick back up on that subject…there’s so much more to share.  But I want to shift gears for a moment and tell you something that I really think you should hear.  I don’t know if you realize what I’m about to tell you and how it can change your life. I think even other people have been wanting to tell you this for awhile now and hopefully by the time you’re done reading this blog, you’ll feel provoked to tell someone else the same thing. Are you you ready? Now don’t rush through this…you could miss it.  Ok, here it goes: your so full of it. You really are! YOU’RE FULL OF POTENTIAL!

Potential – “something that can develop or become actual, existing in possibility, untapped energy, etc.”

I love what Paul writes in the passage above.  He was a man full of potential and he KNEW it! He knew that God wasn’t done with him yet.  He knew that God still had a future ahead of him to do great things.  It’s the same for you reading this blog right now.  I want to let you know that there is still a future ahead of you.  Your best days and most blessed days are still in front of you.  As long as you’re breathing, God has great things ahead of you.  He still wants to use you to reach more people than you ever had.  He still wants to help you become a better spouse, better musician, better minister and so many other things that might pertain to your situation right now.  He hasn’t forgotten about you.  And he hasn’t forgotten about your dream.

As I reflect on potential, I think about the famous artist Michelangelo.  He touched the world through his creativity, his talent and imagination.  One thing that really caught my attention was the fact that he had so many unfinished works (paintings, sculptures, etc.).  There’s actually a museum full of all the unfinished works that he did.  I’m sure there’s a story behind each piece but the sad thing is that museum resembles so many people out there today who live their life with wasted potential.  Don’t be that person.  Choose to go against the grain.  Make a stand that you will be different.  You might be in a time where God is using things to bring out hidden potential.  He could be chiseling away areas that will slow you down…so it might hurt.  But it’s to make you into his masterpiece.  And unlike Michelangelo, God wants to finish his masterpiece in your life.

Before you go back to the hustle and bustle of your day, I want to leave you with one thought: DREAM BIG again! What’s your dream? Do you still dream? Are you still reaching for things that at one time you thought were impossible?  For instance, if you want a new car…I hope you’re not taking time and picturing yourself in a pinto! Who does that? But see yourself in that car that you’ve always wanted.  Maybe it’s not a car, but maybe for God to renew your marriage. Or maybe you’re believing God to come through in a different situation.  But whatever it is, don’t give up.  God’s dream will come true if you let it.  There are so many examples of dreamers in the Bible with Daniel, Joseph, Peter and Paul (just to name a few).

Start living your dream today!  Don’t get caught up with living an illusion.  That’d be like me retiring from pastoring and trying to become the starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers or trying to be a center for the Los Angeles Lakers…it’s not going to happen.  I’ll never forget years ago when a man of God prophesied over my life that i was going to be a pastor one day.  When he was done praying, I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. The thing was…it didn’t happen right away.  It actually took 16 years for that dream to unfold. Your dream might still be unfolding in your life.  Don’t give up.  Nobody can keep you from your destiny. Not a friend, not a family member, not the enemy….only you! God’s plan has no expiration date on it.  He hasn’t given up on you so don’t give up on Him!

 

About My Father’s Business (A Fighting Spirit)

“Nehemiah prayed, “Oh listen to us, dear God. We’re so despised: Boomerang their ridicule on their heads; have their enemies cart them off as war trophies to a land of no return; don’t forgive their iniquity, don’t wipe away their sin—they’ve insulted the builders!”

We kept at it, repairing and rebuilding the wall. The whole wall was soon joined together and halfway to its intended height because the people had a heart for the work.” – Nehemiah 4:4-6

In the past few blogs, we have been talking “About My Father’s Business.” Today I want to talk about a man that was sold out to His Father’s Business.  His name is Nehemiah.  If you know his story, you know where I’m going with this.  In the beginning of the book of Nehemiah, he receives some really big news.  I don’t really want to focus on the news…but on his reaction.  He responded to this news in a way I hope we all can one day respond to things that God is telling us.  He really took it to heart, he digested it, he thought intensely about it…but ultimately, he prayed about it.

There was an action behind it.  Let me ask you a question, “are you putting action behind the news (vision, purpose, etc.) that God has given you?” Has God been sending people your way to deliver some important news? Maybe a loved one? A spouse? A friend? God sent Hanani (his brother) to tell Nehemiah some important news.  Nehemiah could of thought, “What does that have to do with me? That’s in another city, why would I care? What am I going to get out of this?” and many other thoughts.  But the key here is that he took it to prayer.  And it was in prayer, where God birthed a vision for him to rebuild the walls.  Could it be possible that God has been trying to birth a vision in your prayer time?

Not only did Nehemiah begin this journey in prayer…but throughout his ENTIRE journey we see him often return to prayer.  The scripture above (half the journey later), we see him talking to God about his enemies.  Let me throw this thought in for free: whenever you are doing something great for God, you’re going to have a few enemies along the way.  But one thing I want to tell you, is that they are not fighting against you, they’re fighting against God! God could be calling you to start a business, restore your marriage, step out into ministry or many other things.  Those are all great things, and when God is behind it…even birthing that into your heart…he’ll help you achieve those goals.  I’ve always believed that where God guides, He provides.

Just recently, God birthed a big vision into my heart.  People told us to “go away.” Our response was very similar to Nehemiah…”WE KEPT AT IT.” People told us “can’t you find somewhere else?” You know how we responded? WE KEPT AT IT.  They even said, “it’ll never happen.” You know how we responded? I think you’ve caught on by now.  And it’s the same in your life.  If God has been the one pushing you, tugging at your heart or whispering in your ear…just keep at it.  He’ll help you see that vision come to pass! It was after 52 days, when Nehemiah was able to step back and say, “Look at what the Lord has done!” Stay encouraged today, He’s on your side! And greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world!

 

 

 

About My Father’s Business (Total Commitment)

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. – Philippians 3:15-16

Commitment: an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; something pledged; the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

As we continue in our discussion of “About My Father’s Business,” I want to take a look at the word ‘commitment.’ Paul was definitely a man that exemplified commitment during his ministry here on earth.  Even while he was writing these very words, he was also modeling this to the people he was speaking to.  One thing Paul realized during his ministry…was that there was a price to pay.  And that price was total commitment.  In the previous scripture, Paul talks about wanting everything that God had for him.

Now let me shift to you…I know that if you’re taking the time to read this, you want everything that God has for your life.  So let me ask you another question…and this might hurt a little bit. Are you totally committed to God?  Let me ask you that one more time…and please take some time to think about this…”are you totally committed to God?”  Are there areas that have caused your vision to be a little blurred? Are there sideshow attractions that have been taking away your time, energy and focus from that plan that God has for you?  Maybe you felt this was the year for you to focus on your marriage…have you been doing that?  Or maybe you felt you really wanted to work on being a better parent, student or employee…have you been doing that?  When you’re totally committed to God and the plan that he has for you…He’ll help you stay on the right track.

It’s never too late to get on the right track.  That’s one thing I love about God, He’s always ready when you’re ready for change.  You’re not alone.  If you’re on the right track, I want to encourage you to not grow weary in well doing.  And if you’re not, start today.  One step in the right direction can make a big difference.  I’m routing for you, you can do it!

In the next blog, we’ll talk about how Nehemiah put action to the vision that God gave him.  And that despite the opposition that came his way, God was right there to help him overcome every obstacle that tried to stop the work that was being done.