Friday, December 8, 2017

THE SPIRIT OF COMPETITION

"I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me." - John 17:23

A story is told about F.B. Meyer, the great Bible teacher and pastor who lived a century ago. He was pastoring a church and began to notice that attendance was suffering. This continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation one Sunday morning why they thought attendance was down.
A member volunteered, "It is because of this new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking and many are going to hear him speak."
His name was Charles Spurgeon. Meyer, rather than seeking to discourage this, exhorted the entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this "move of God" as he described it to his congregation.
"If this be happening, then God must be at work."
Meyer, even though he was an accomplished preacher and teacher, recognized where God was at work and joined Him in it. [The author heard this on a radio show from Key Life Ministries with Steve Brown, based in Orlando, Florida.]
Can you imagine this story taking place in our competitive world today? Competition has penetrated the Church so much that many churches and Christian organizations approach ministry like a sports event. They view their mission as a business that seeks to gain market share among Christians - donors, members, influence - all under the name of God. I am sure God looks down at us and asks, "Whatever happened to John 17:23?" Sometimes we must remind our fellow servants that we are all on the same team! We should be seeking to impact the Kingdom of God, not increase our own market share.
When Jesus made this statement about unity in John 17:23, it represented the key to bringing salvation to many. He was saying that when His Body is unified, the non-Christian would be able to see who Jesus really is - the Son of God. Are you contributing to unity in the Body of Christ? Or are you contributing to a spirit of competition? Ask God where you can be an instrument of unity in His Body.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

BELIEF OR UNBELIEF

"...Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." - Romans 4:3

You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.
Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is - you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in - you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.
  • Peter believed God and walked on water.
  • A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
  • A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.
In what circumstances do you act as an "unbeliever"? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.

Monday, December 4, 2017

CHECK UNDER THE HOOD

"But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips." - Colossians 3:8

"The root issue you are dealing with is fear. The physical symptom is control, and when you cannot control, you get angry because of unmet expectations." These were the words I spoke during a conversation in a restaurant to my friend who was separated from his wife. He described his anger and how he never saw some of these characteristics in his life until he entered this marriage.
A friend once said to me, "Anger is like the lights on a dashboard. They tell you something is going on under the hood. You must find out the source of the problem." Whenever we have expectations of another person and those expectations do not materialize, our tendency is to get angry. The source of the anger is often the fear that the unmet expectation will negatively impact us. We fear that our finances, our well-being, our image, or any number of things may be impacted by the unmet expectation. My friend's wife had not met his expectations in many areas of his life, so then, many times it resulted in harsh words that damaged his wife's self-esteem. Now, it was leading to a marriage crisis.
Jesus often spoke of living as though we were dead. How can you live as though you are dead? "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11). It is a choice each of us must make. Once you become dead to that which stirs an emotion in you, God is free to change that situation. Until then, you can expect God to allow that situation to remain until you reckon yourself dead to the effects of the issue that causes you to struggle.
Is there something that causes anger within you? Ask God what the source of that anger is. You might be surprised at what you find. Then ask God to give you the grace to reckon yourself dead to that issue. You will find new freedom in your relationships and your own peace of mind.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A HEAVENLY STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION

"And the Lord said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' One suggested this, and another that. - 1 Kings 22:20

There are few times we get a glimpse of what goes on in Heaven. Here is one instance when the angels were conferring with the Lord about the judgment of King Ahab for his sin and who was going to set up Ahab for this judgment.
If God wanted to use you to impact your world for Jesus Christ, what circumstances would have to be created in order for you to respond to His call? Would prospering you materially encourage you to this end? Would a major change in what you are presently doing be necessary? What would your response be should God and the angels conclude that the only way to move you into a position of fulfilling God's purposes was to remove some things that might be very dear to you? Would you agree with their plan if you knew this would be the only way you would achieve the purposes for which God made you? Hard questions, aren't they?
This is the very thing God does in many who have been called for a special mission. Moses had to be stripped of his royal position in the family of Egypt and sit in the desert for 40 years. The apostle Paul had to be knocked off his horse, blinded, and receive a personal visitation from Jesus. The 12 disciples had to leave their jobs for three years to follow Christ. Imagine what kind of disruption this had on their lives. There are many examples of God bringing major upheaval in the lives of those He called for His purposes. Why?
The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit's work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.
Would you be willing to sit in the strategic planning session for your life and agree with the plans God has for your life? Could you give God complete freedom to implement that plan, no matter the cost? Ask God to give you the grace and trust in His love for you to say "yes."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

GOING BEYOND YOUR PARADIGM

"So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, 'Is Saul also among the prophets?'" (1 Sam 19:23-24).

Whenever God calls you into a new thing, you can expect to do things you've never done. Saul had just been anointed to be the first king of Israel. He was being launched into a whole new calling. He was hanging out with the spiritual leaders of the nation.
When he began to prophesy the prophets wondered if he, too, was a prophet. He was not a prophet but God was doing a new thing through Saul - activating something in him that had been dormant until then.
When God calls you into a new endeavor you will find that God will anoint you in areas you considered your weakest traits. God turns shepherds like Moses into leaders of nations. He turns farmers like Gideon into reformers. He turns impetuous and unstable personalities like Peter into leaders that can transform a culture and lead a movement.
Whenever God does a new thing in a life, those who knew them before notice the change. Quiet people become bold. Poor speakers learn to become great communicators. Those who were never leaders before become the new leaders. This is the way of God.
When God looks at an individual, He looks at their future, not their past. He is always looking at the person He has created you to become, not the person you are now. When Samuel anointed the young shepherd boy, David, to be the next king of Israel, it would be years before this would happen. However, God already knew who he was to become.
How does God view your life? What is the destiny He has chosen you to fulfill?

Monday, November 27, 2017

STARTING OVER

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. - James 1:9
 
Do you find yourself in humble circumstances? If so, James tells us that we are to take pride in this "high" position. These two things would seem to be an oxymoron. Most of us would not consider humble circumstances a high position. Successful business tells us that being on top means being wealthy, attaining favor and status, or having power to influence. However, Jesus influenced not from power, but from weakness.
J.C. Penney is a name synonymous with department store. He first launched his chain of "The Golden Rule" stores in 1907. In 1910 his first wife died. Three years later, he incorporated as the J.C. Penney company. In 1923 his second wife died giving birth to his son. In 1929 the stock market crashed and he lost $40 million.
By 1932, he had to sell out to satisfy...creditors. This left [Penney] virtually broke. ...Crushed in spirit from his loss and his health suddenly failing, Penney wound up in a Battle Creek, Michigan sanitarium. One morning he heard the distant singing of employees who gathered to start the day with God: Be not dismayed, whate'er betide, God will take care of you.... Penney followed the music to its source and slipped into a back row. He left a short time later a changed man, his health and spirit renewed, and ready to start the long climb back at age fifty-six.
By 1951 there was a J.C. Penney store in every state, and for the first time sales surpassed $1 billion a year. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 340-343.]
The success of J.C. Penney can be traced to God's mercy in his life to bring him out of his humble circumstance. Do you find yourself in a humble circumstance? God is the only one who can help you see your humble circumstance from His viewpoint-a high position. It is a high position because of what God is going to teach you in this place. He does not intend you to stay there; it is merely a stopping place to learn some important things you would not learn otherwise. Press into God and trust Him for the outcome to your circumstances.

Friday, November 24, 2017

REMNANT THAT PRAYS

"One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.'" Luke 11:1

God is calling out a remnant of workplace believers throughout the world who understand the role of prayer in their work. These people have learned that prayer is not a five-minute exercise in the morning devotion time, but it is a vital strategic tool to discern and know God's will and purposes in their work lives. You see they have learned that their business lives are their ministries to God and others.
These men and women have entered into covenant relationships with intercessory prayer partners who help discern the activities they should be involved in. Some even have paid staff, who intercede for the decisions and activities in which they will be involved. They are a small remnant of workplace believers who know that skill and technique are not enough to fulfill God's purposes.
A servant of the Lord has well said: Prayer is the rail for God's work. Indeed, prayer is to God's will as rails are to a train. The locomotive is full of power: it is capable of running a thousand miles a day. But if there are no rails, it cannot move forward a single inch. If it dares to move without them, it will soon sink into the earth. It may be able to travel over great distances, yet it cannot go to any place where no rails have been laid. And such is the relation between prayer and God's work. Without any doubt God is almighty and He works mightily, but He will not and cannot work if you and I do not labor together with Him in prayer, prepare the way for His will, and pray "with all prayer and supplication" (Eph. 6:18) to grant Him the maneuverability to so work. Many are the things, which God wills to do, and would like to do, but His hands are bound because His children do not sympathize with Him and have not prayed so as to prepare ways for Him. Let me say to all who have wholly given themselves to God: Do examine yourselves and see if in this respect you have limited Him day after day. [Watchman Nee, Let Us Pray (New York, New York: Christian Fellowship Publishers, 1977), 11.]
Is prayer a vital part of your strategic business practices? Put prayer on the front lines, instead of making it an afterthought. You will begin to see renewed power in your work life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CREATED FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Eric Liddell was an Olympic runner from Britain who won a gold medal in the 1924 Paris Olympics. He was a man who had a deep commitment to the Lord and had future plans of being a missionary. In the meantime, he knew God had given him a special gift to run, and he often said, "I feel God's pleasure when I run."
He spent years training for the Olympics. He passed each hurdle and qualified for the Olympics. Finally, the day came for him to run in the games that were held in Paris. There was only one problem. One of his running events was held on Sunday. Liddell refused to run on Sunday, believing it dishonored the Lord's Sabbath. He held to his convictions and brought great persecution on himself. He made a decision that even if it meant losing his opportunity to compete, he would not run. God's laws were greater than man's applause. Just when the circumstances seemed hopeless, another situation arose that allowed Liddell to run on a different day. So often this is the case in the spiritual realm. God tests our hearts to see if we will remain faithful to Him at the cost of something important to us. Once He knows where our loyalty lies, He opens a new door that meets the desires of our hearts. God takes pleasure in seeing His creation used for His glory. Liddell understood why he was made to run; he used his gift of running to bring pleasure to his Creator. Later, Eric Liddell went on to serve God on the mission field.
Does your life work bring pleasure to the Lord? Do you understand that God instilled certain gifts and talents in you so that He might find pleasure in His creation of you? Take pleasure in the gifts God has given to you this day. And let His glory shine through you.

Monday, November 20, 2017

MADE FOR HEIGHTS

"The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights" (Hab 3:19).

The book of Habakkuk inspired Martin Luther's reformation and the book "Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hunnard. Habakkuk encourages us to question what God is doing in our lives. When we are thrown into suffering for a period of time, or our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by, we wonder about the equity of God and life. Habakkuk affirms that God is God and we are made to scale the mountains of adversity. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is who He says He is and does keep His promises.
God equips His people to scale the heights even in the midst of great challenges. He enables us to go to the higher places with Him where we are set apart from the world. Sometimes the way we have to go to get us there is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him we come out where He wants us.
When Jesus told the disciples He was going to send the Holy Spirit to them, it was in order for them to scale the mountain before them with a new form of power they had not experienced. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
If you find yourself in a place of doubting God and His plan for your life, know that this is a normal aspect of your journey in God. However, know that God has made available His Holy Spirit in order for you to accomplish the tasks that lie ahead.
Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to achieve the heights for which He has created you.

Friday, November 17, 2017

GRACE ABOUNDS

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God always knows what we need before we even ask. I recall a few years ago when God was allowing my business to dry up - it happened in order to lead me to an entirely new calling. Lack of provision is one way God leads us to a new place. This was a scary proposition because I had many outstanding obligations to banks and others, and I had to have some significant cash flow to make these payments.
Os Hillman wrote, "I was ending a consulting contract with a client and saw no prospects for replacing it. Days before the contract expired, I received a call from a new ministry that was consistent with the calling I sensed God was leading me to. They asked me to consult with them for the next year. At the end of that year, I learned that God spoke to the ministry's founder to pay my entire salary out of his own pocket in order to meet the needs I had at that time. This was no insignificant amount either.
At the conclusion of my contract with them, I was wondering where my income was going to come from for the next year. The day before I was informed that their commitment would decrease by 50%, I received a call from the administrator of our foundation. They informed me that a supporter had just given $20,000 to our ministry. God encouraged me through this gift to know that He was my provider.
God equips us to fulfill the mission He has for us. Whenever there is a lack of resources, God is either teaching us to trust Him in greater ways or He is using this to direct our path to new sources of income. Trust the Lord to bring you what you need in the timing that He determines.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

THE TITHE - IS IT FOR TODAY?




"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Mal. 3:10)

It amazes me how many believers waste their energies arguing whether or not tithing is a New Testament doctrine. I've heard people say, "Tithing is under the law! We're not under the law, we're under grace. That's why I don't tithe. Oh, I give offerings, but I don't tithe."
People who think this way are deceived. Tithing didn't begin with the law! According to Genesis 4:1 -4, before the law was ever given to Moses, Abel, and Cain brought the first fruits of their labor to God. And again in Genesis 14, we find that Abraham tithed - before the law!
Abraham and 318 of his armed servants had conquered a group of enemy kings, slaughtered them, and took the spoils. And the very first thing Abram did was tithe the spoils. Melchizedek, the priest, blessed Abram and said, "Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and b lessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all." (Verses
19-20)
So tithing didn't begin with the law. The law only explained the tithe, gave it procedure, and demanded it. But, is tithing under the New Covenant as well?
To answer this question, let's first read Hebrews 7:1 -8:

For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham,
and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of
the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.


What do these verses mean? Simply this, that Melchizedek was a man whose birth was not on record. His genealogy could not be traced back to Levi (or the tribe of the priesthood). Nevertheless Melchizedek was made a priest by God and received Abraham's tithes.
You cannot argue that tithing is just under the law because this happened four hundred years be fore the
law. Hebrews 5:6 tells us that Jesus is a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. He has all the rights that
Melchizedek had, which included the right to bless the tithe.
Under the New Covenant, Jesus not only receives our tithes, He blesses them and then blesses us just as Abraham was blessed. Why? Because as Galatians 3:14says, "the blessing of Abraham (has) come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ!"
The day that Melchizedek blessed Abraham, that very blessing was handed to you and me th rough Jesus Christ - our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek! If Melchizedek blessed Abraham, then how much more will Jesus bless us!
How do we activate that blessing? By placing our faith in the Word of God, and faith without actions of obedience to back it up is dead (James 2:17, AMP). Since true faith is acting on what you believe, if you believe that you are blessed with faithful Abraham, you will do what he did - tithe to your Faithful High Priest!
Tithing activates the blessing of God in yo ur finances. Read Malachi 3:10-12. There God promises that when you tithe, He'll rebuke the devil and command him to keep his hands off your finances. And that promise is as good today as it ever was because when God rebukes the Devil, he stays rebuked!
So if you want to involve Almighty God in your finances, bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that "there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for
ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts."
Yes! Tithing is part of the New Covenant. Don't wait until your back is against the wall before you use your faith in the financial realm. Begin tithing while things are going well. Learn to act on the Word now, and when Satan tries to pin you against the wall, you can smile and know that you have it made. His power over you financially has been stopped! When you stand on the covenant of God and exercise your rights as a tither, Satan has no chance against you.