Monday, May 21, 2018

THE PLANS OF TOMORROW

"You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." - James 4:14b

A group of workplace believers meet at an office every week for fellowship, study, and prayer. One man attended the group for several years. Jim was well liked and in good health. One Thursday he showed up as usual. The next morning we received a call, "Jim is dead! He died in his easy chair last night!" Jim had no prior problems and there was no indication he was about to go be with the Lord. Naturally, it came as a shock to us all.
Whenever things like this happen close to home, it brings us face to face with our mortality. A friend of mine said he was challenged by someone to do an experiment. He challenged him to live his life for one year as if it were the last year he would live. He responded to the challenge and did as proposed. It changed his life forever. He began to focus on different priorities and people when he viewed life in these terms.
James gives us a perspective on viewing tomorrow.
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15).
Life is fragile. Consider where you are investing your time and energies. Someone once said they had never heard anyone on his deathbed say that he wished he had made more money in his lifetime or he wished he had made a certain deal. Usually it is something like, "I wish I had spent more time with my kids." Ask the Lord to give you His priorities for your life.

Friday, May 18, 2018

OVERCOMING OUR PAST

"Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah." - Judges 11:29a

We've all heard stories of individuals who have overcome extreme hardship during their childhood years. Children of alcoholics, orphans who never have parents, loss of parents to a fatal crash, childhood disease - these are all difficult circumstances to overcome.
Jephthah was a man who overcame his obstacles and refused to allow his circumstances to prevent him from becoming great in God's sight. He was born to Gilead, a result of his father's adulterous encounter with a prostitute. Jephthah's half-brothers decided to reject Jephthah, and drove him away from their home saying, "You are not going to get any inheritance in our family because you are the son of another woman." Imagine the rejection this young man felt as he was cast away from his own family.
This experience taught Jephthah to become a hardened warrior. Today he probably would have been part of a street gang. As he got older, his reputation as a warrior became known to those in his country, so much so that when the Ammonites made war on Israel, the elders of Gilead went to Jephthah and asked him to be their commander. Jephthah had to fight off those feelings of rejection from previous years.
"Didn't you hate me and drive me from my father's house?" he responded. He overcame his hurt and pain, and responded to the call God had on his life.
It is said that if we were to help the butterfly remove itself from the cocoon, the butterfly would not be strong enough to survive. It is the struggle that prepares the butterfly to become strong enough to fly. Without the struggle in the cocoon, it could not survive as a butterfly.
The Lord prepares each of us in similar ways. Some of our childhoods seem to have been harsh and born from a seemingly unloving God. However, the Lord knows our struggle and will make our life an instrument in His hand if we will follow Him with an upright heart. He does make all things beautiful in His time if we are willing to be patient.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

DAVID FULFILLED HIS PURPOSE

"For David...served the purpose of God in his own generation" (Acts 13:36 NASB)

Imagine for a moment that you have just died and you are about to come before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Jesus is speaking to his angel about you. He then says these words: "Janice served the purpose of my Heavenly Father for her generation."
Will God be able to say you served your purpose in your generation? Imagine being able to say that. God was able to say this about the life of David, even though David made some incredibly bad choices in his life that led to long term consequences. However, because David repented each time he erred, his purpose was accomplished on earth as God had designed it.
One of the prayers I often pray for people whenever I'm asked to pray for them is this; "Lord, may you fulfill every purpose for which you made them. May there be no inheritance left on the table that he/she is entitled to."
That is really the definition of success. Success is fulfilling the complete purpose for which God made you. It has nothing to do with wealth, accomplishments, stature in life, or standard of living. It has to do with living a life of obedience to the Father. And when we live a life of obedience to the Father, we will fulfill the purposes that God had in mind when he made you and me.
In 1924, Eric Liddell, a Scottish Olympic runner who's life was chronicled in a movie entitled the Chariots of Fire, was challenged by his missionary sister to forego running in the Olympics in lieu of going to China with her as a missionary. He responded by saying, "When I run I feel His (God's) pleasure. I was made to run and I was made to be a missionary too." Eric understood his complete purpose for his generation. As a result, he brought glory to the Father through his running and his missionary service.
Today, ask God to fulfill His purposes for your life in your generation.

Monday, May 14, 2018

OUR LABOR IN THE LORD

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:58

There is a paradigm shift going on among a remnant of workplace believers today. That paradigm shift is a focus on using our business and work life as a platform for ministry versus a platform solely for material success. There is a remnant of workplace believers throughout the world today who understand their birthright in the workplace is to reflect Christ fully in and through their work. It is reflected by a commitment to use their resources and skills to provide a product of excellence with the overall motive to affect people for Jesus Christ. The difference is that these individuals have an overriding ministry objective to their work.
When the apostle Paul tells us to fully work unto the Lord, he does not mean we must be working as missionaries in "full-time Christian effort." He understands that all of life is holy and sacred to God. If our motive is to serve God where we are, then our labor "in the Lord is not in vain."
As you begin your work today, ask God if you are working with the primary motive of reflecting His life and character through your work on this day. Let nothing move you from this motive being central to your activity. The Lord will reflect His power and leading in and through your life when this becomes your primary motive.

Friday, May 11, 2018

IMPOSSIBLE TASKS

"But He answered, 'You give them something to eat.'" Mark 6:37a

Has anyone ever asked you to do something that seems totally ridiculous? The very suggestion of their instruction may have brought laughter or even anger for proposing the idea.
I imagine that the disciples may have felt this way when Jesus responded with this comment when they asked him how they were going to feed the 5000, who had stayed around to hear him speak. The disciples suggested a logical answer to the problem, "Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat" (Mk 6:36).
That wasn't the answer Jesus wanted. He saw the need of the people. He had compassion on them. He wanted to solve the problem with a Kingdom response, not logic. He asked them what they had in their hand.
So often what we already have in our hand is what Jesus wants us to use to solve our problems. We must add faith to what we already have in our hand. Then we will see the gospel of the Kingdom manifested to solve problems in a supernatural way. Jesus wanted to meet a need in which God would receive the glory. Sending the people away did not meet the need, nor did it bring glory to the Father.
Do not settle for the gospel of salvation only. Jesus came that we might experience the gospel of the Kingdom in its fullest sense. Our job is to look past our logical reasoning and see how God might want to solve our problem in a supernatural way.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

THE VALUE OF WORDS

"And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." - Matthew 5:36-37

Imagine for a moment that you are living in Jesus' time. It is before Jesus has begun His public ministry. He is a carpenter in your local town of Nazareth. You have asked Jesus to make a table for you. You're on a deadline and you must have it in a week. You agree on the price of $100 for the table and the date of one week for completion. A week later you arrive to pick up the table. You lay your money down on the table and Jesus says, "Mr. Johnson, I am sorry but the table is not ready. I ran into complications. Also, I can no longer honor the price I gave you. It is now $150 instead of $100."
Two years later you hear about this same Jesus who is preaching to the local townspeople. How are you going to view this Jesus? You probably won't give much credence to His message because of your personal experience. Our lives have an ability to reinforce the message we stand for, or they can violate it and make it totally ineffective. This literally happens all over the world in different settings with Christian workplace believers. Our message becomes ineffective because we have not done what we said.
I know people who, when they tell me they plan to do something, I can expect them to follow through about 50 percent of the time. I am sure you have had the same experience. Words and commitments are made with little meaning behind those words. However, I know others who will follow through almost every time. The only time they don't is when something falls outside their control. I quickly learn whose words have substance behind them.
There are times when we are unable to perform or deliver what we promised due to outside influences. The key to turning these potentially negative circumstances into a witness for Christ is communication. If we are unable to pay a bill on time, we must communicate with those we owe and make a good faith effort to resolve it within our means. In these cases, God's purposes are being performed as well if we seek to do the right thing.
Do your words mean anything to those who hear them? Do you make commitments and fail to follow through on them? What would others say about how you follow through? Ask the Lord today to show you how you are doing in this area. You might even want to ask three people who are the closest to you how you fare in this area.

Monday, May 7, 2018

FEARS THAT KEEP US FROM HIS PRESENCE

"Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So He got into the boat and left." - Luke 8:37

Jesus did many miracles when He lived on earth. One of those miracles involved the deliverance of a demon-possessed man. The people of the community witnessed this awesome demonstration of God's power when Jesus commanded the demon spirit to come out of the man and go into the herd of nearby pigs. The man was healed and sat at Jesus' feet.
You would expect the people who witnessed this to embrace Jesus as one performing good deeds and to honor Him. The opposite was true. Instead, they were overcome with fear. Why? Many of us respond the same way to Jesus when He does an out-of-the-ordinary act among His people. We are fearful because we have never personally experienced this before. So, we draw wrong judgments. The result is that Jesus removes Himself from us.
The Lord is able to do far exceeding above what we think. Jesus does not remain in the places where there is fear of His goodness. It is often subconscious fears that prevent us from going to a deeper level with Him. The people in Gerasenes could not benefit from Jesus' presence because of their fears.
Have you feared Jesus because of what He might require of you? Have you feared that He might ask of you something you are not prepared to give? Do not let your fears drive Him from your presence. His motive is always love for His children. You can trust Him.