Monday, October 23, 2017

THE BENEFITS OF OBEDIENCE

"This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'" Isaiah 48:17
My career has been in marketing. Early on, I learned to distinguish the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.
God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. "If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea" (Is. 48:18). The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God's immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!
Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life.

Friday, October 20, 2017

AN AUDIENCE OF ONE

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

What audience do you play to? Each day you are seen by many who will make a judgment about the way you handle yourself among different audiences. Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups. Musicians have learned to play to their audiences. Pastors play to their congregations each Sunday morning. Workplace believers play to the audiences who will buy their product.
Christ has called us to play to one audience - the audience of Himself. When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Your audience becomes a pawn in your hands because you know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.
Pure obedience to pleasing God in our lives will often meet the needs of those around us. It is God's will that you and I love our spouses, provide good services to our customers, and look to the interests of others before ourselves. This will result in meeting many needs of the audiences in our lives.
However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God's will. Politicians are often forced to appease their audiences, even though it may go against God's laws. When we are asked to go with the flow, we discover which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?
Today, be aware of which audience you are playing to. Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action. Is it to please the audience of One? Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

THE PLACE OF OBEDIENCE

"Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing." Acts 9:8a

There is a place of obedience for all of us. For Paul, it was being struck blind on the Damascus road. God literally knocked him off his horse with a blinding light. A voice from Heaven asked Paul why he was persecuting Him (Jesus). When Paul arose, he could not see. Jesus told him to go to Damascus and meet a man named Ananias. There, Jesus restored Paul's sight through Ananias.
Each of us has a place of obedience. For some, it requires only a nudge of pressure to gently lead us toward God. For others of us, a lightning bolt is necessary to get our undivided attention. Many who are hard-hearted rebel against the living God. Yet God's love for these individuals is so great that He takes extreme measures to gain their attention-and their hearts. When you come in contact with people like this, do not fear their arrogance. Instead, see them as God sees them-as people who need the Savior and who could be a powerful force in the Kingdom if God saved them. It is a sign to begin praying for them.
We've all heard the saying, "The bigger they are, the harder they fall." In many cases this is true. God has called many hard cases into His Kingdom through miraculous circumstances in order to save their lives from the pit of hell and transform them into a sweet-smelling fragrance. Do not let the hard exterior fool you. These are needy people who are crying out for help in their own prideful way. Whenever God begins this process in the life of a sinner, He has others standing by to assist. Ananias was the person in Paul's life. He found it unbelievable that Paul really could have been saved. An angel had to convince him. Has God placed such an individual in your path? Perhaps God desires to use you to be an "Ananias" in the life of one of His wayward children. To do so requires a willingness to come alongside that one who needs your help. Who knows, that person could be the next apostle Paul.

Monday, October 16, 2017

BEWARE OF THE FALSE LOVER

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps 30:5).
 
When a measured assault enters our life we often respond in two different ways. The pain caused by the assault drives us to a place of either embracing the pain or we embrace anything that will make us feel better. That becomes the entry door to a false lover. Men and women each seek to avoid pain in different ways. Larry Crabb has summarized these two unique strategies often used to avoid deep pain:
All of us are trapped by addiction to a desire for something less than God. For many women, that something less is relational control. "I will not be hurt again and I will not let people I love be hurt. I'll see to it that what I fear never happens again." They therefore live in terror of vulnerably presenting themselves to anyone and instead become determined managers of people. Their true femininity remains safely tucked away behind the walls of relational control. More common in men is an addiction to non-relational control. "I will experience deep and consuming satisfaction without ever having to relate meaningfully with anyone." They keep things shallow and safe with family and friends and feel driven to experience a joy they never feel, a joy that only deep relating can provide. Their commitment is twofold: to never risk revealing inadequacy by drawing close to people and, without breaking that commitment, to feel powerful and alive. Power in business and illicit sex are favorite strategies for reaching that goal.1
Many times we seek to deal with our pain through various forms of addictions designed to resolve the inner pain we feel. All addictions represent a counterfeit desire for genuine love and intimacy. We conclude these lesser desires are legitimate needs instead of band-aids of our fleshly soul. These addiction lovers become isolation chambers created for ourselves designed to mask our pain.
Every human being has a desire to be loved. When we do not feel loved because of some event in our lives we seek to reconcile this emotional pain. So, if you are fighting any kind of addiction--over control of people, sex, drugs, alcohol, workaholism, shopping, overeating--you are seeking to fill a void only God can fill.
Pain has a useful purpose in our lives. Facing it, rather than medicating it, allows us to move to a place of discovering a capacity for a different kind of joy. That is the purpose of pain. We must let inner pain do its work by experiencing it fully. It feels like a contradiction to actually embrace the pain, but it is the only remedy for moving past it so it can yield its purpose in our lives. Otherwise we will remain unaware of our deeper desire for God and be driven toward a false lover.
1 Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO 2001, p.95

Saturday, October 14, 2017

COVENANT RELATIONSHIPS

"But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you." Genesis 6:18
The Bible is filled with covenants made between God and people. Six of those covenants were made with Old Testament figures: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. The seventh was made with His own Son, Jesus Christ. God is always the strongest partner in a covenant relationship.
God made a covenant with Noah in order to preserve the human race. This covenant involved Noah's participation by building an ark. He'd never built an ark before. He'd never had a boat. It was a totally new concept to Noah and the rest of the world. Why would he need a boat in a dry land?
Noah did not have to invent the ark; God gave him the plans-in specific dimensional detail. He did not have to gather the animals-God led them into the ark. God even closed the door when they all came on board. God made it rain to prove why the ark was needed.
The covenant provided all Noah needed to complete his mission in life. When God spoke to Noah to do this thing, he needed only to respond to God's call to do it. Noah could rest in knowing the covenant made with God was going to be fulfilled if he fulfilled his part.
If you have entered into a covenant relationship with God, you too can be assured that God will uphold His part of the covenant relationship. He is committed to fulfilling His covenant with you and to fulfill His purposes in and through your life. It only requires one thing on your part-obedience. He will even provide grace and faith to you to help you fulfill your part of the covenant.
Each of us has a covenant with God. But we also enter covenants with others in our personal and business lives. How are you doing in fulfilling covenants to others? God has given us the example to follow. Ask God if you have any unfulfilled covenants you need to honor. He has called you and me to be covenant keepers. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

UNDERSTANDING WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN

"We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." 1 Corinthians 2:12

God desires for us to know what He has freely given to us. One of the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit is to reveal His plans and purposes to us. They may be hidden for a time, but if we seek Him with our whole heart, we can know what He has given to us.
John the Baptist understood this principle. When asked if he was the Messiah, he replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven" (Jn. 3:27). John understood his role in the Kingdom of God. He came to pave the way for the Messiah; he was not the Messiah himself. His ministry on earth was very brief, yet Jesus described his life in this way: " 'I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he' " (Mt. 11:11).
Once we understand what God has given to us, we can walk freely in our calling. However, if we strive to walk in a role that He never gave us, it will result in frustration and failure. God wants to reveal His plan to us by His Spirit. This requires a willingness to seek and accept what He gives us. It may be different from what we thought. It may require adjustments to follow His path for our lives. As we learn from the life of John the Baptist, obedience requires death to our own wills.
Ask God to reveal what He has freely given to you. Pray that you receive and embrace only those things He has reserved for you to receive and to accomplish in your life. Then you can be assured of a life full of meaning and purpose, and you can look forward to hearing those all-important words someday, "Well done, My good and faithful servant."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

MOUNT HOREB

"So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God." 1 Kings 19:8
Elijah and Moses were men of great zeal. They were passionate about their causes. Moses sought to free the Hebrews from the tyranny of slavery by killing an Egyptian with his own hand. Elijah, after calling down fire on the evil prophets of Baal, found himself spent physically and emotionally to the point he asked God to take his life.
Immediately after these two events, 500 years apart from one another, both men were led to the same Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. In Hebrew, Horeb means "desolation." This barren environment mirrored the condition of Moses and Elijah. For Moses, it was 40 years of barrenness. For Elijah, it was 40 days without food. Elijah became tired of standing alone for God.
As workplace believers we often become so focused on the goal we forget to meet God at our own Mount Horeb. This was the place God met both Moses and Elijah. It was a place of renewal, a place of new beginnings, a place of personal encounter with the living God.
Perhaps Elijah's greatest virtue was his zeal. Indeed, we shall see that twice in his communication with God, Elijah speaks of having been "very zealous" for the Lord. But zeal, unattended eventually becomes its own God; it compels us toward expectations, which are unrealistic, and outside the timing and anointing of God. To remain balanced, zeal must be reined in and harnessed by strategic encounters with the living God. We otherwise become frustrated with people and discouraged with delays. We step outside our place of strength and spiritual protection. Many of us become so consumed with our battles that we are no longer aware of the presence of Jesus. We have been traveling in our own strength. [Francis Frangipane, Place of Immunity (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Arrow Publications, 1994), 5.]
Pray that Jesus will teach us that intimacy with Him is the greatest measure of success. Lord, guide us to the mountain of Your presence.

Monday, October 9, 2017

YOU'RE DIFFERENT

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor 12:9).
I read this story told by Os Hillman, "I was in Switzerland visiting an acquaintance I had met briefly almost ten years earlier at a Christian conference on the island of Cyprus. We had stayed in contact over the years as he had become a big fan of TGIF and had the devotions translated into German. I had felt led to make the trip from Germany, where we had been attending a conference.
I was sitting in the kitchen talking with my friend when I said, "You are different. There is a different spirit about you than when I met you ten years ago on the island of Cyprus. I have to admit, I thought you were a bit aloof," I confessed to him. "Hmm, you know Os, I thought the same about you." We both chuckled at our observations.
There was a difference in both of us because something dramatic had happened in both of our lives. My friend was a very successful businessman in Switzerland and was running a family business when things went very wrong. He lost millions as a result. Although his fortune was not totally wiped out, it impacted him greatly. It brought a humility and new found trust in God that had not been there before.
I had a similar story. I had gone through a seven year "pit experience" in which I had major loses in family, business and personal income. Now we were both on the other sides of our "pits." We could recognize something in each of us that had resulted from our experiences. There was a level of humility that was not there before. It reminded me of a statement a friend of mine made years earlier: "Beware of any Christian leader who does not walk with a limp." Sometimes God creates circumstances in our lives to create humility and greater dependence upon Him. It is because God works greater through weakness than strength.
I often tell others, "You can get humility voluntarily or involuntarily. It is much easier if you get it voluntarily."

Friday, October 6, 2017

THE NEED TO CONTROL

"You acted foolishly," Samuel said.... 1 Samuel 13:13
The prophet Samuel had anointed Saul the first king of Israel. Saul was now 30 years old and was leading the nation in battle against the Philistines. The Philistines had gathered at Micmash to come against Saul and his army. The Lord was directing Saul through the prophet Samuel. Samuel instructed Saul to go ahead of him to Micmash, and he would follow in seven days. He would then offer a burnt offering on behalf of the people of Israel.
The pressure began to build as the Philistines gathered around Micmash preparing for battle. The people of Israel grew fearful and began to scatter throughout the countryside. Saul was also afraid. Samuel did not show up on the morning of the seventh day. Finally, Saul, fearing the impending attack, took it upon himself to offer the burnt offering. After he had done this, Samuel showed up.
..."You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart and appointed him leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord's command" (1 Samuel 13:13-14).
Saul believed he needed to take control of the situation. Whenever we try to take control of a situation out of God's will, we demonstrate that we are led by fear. Many a boss is so driven by fear that he attempts to manage by over controlling his people. This results in codependent relationships in which the employees are fearful of making the wrong decisions, and are driven to please the manager at all costs. This results in loss of respect for the manager. Many times the employees make poor choices just to please their manager; as a result, resentment begins to build among the employees due to the manager's over control.
Do you see any signs of over control in how you relate to others? Can you allow others the freedom to fail? Do you find yourself changing directions in midstream when you see something you don't like? Are you fearful of failure? These are all symptoms of a Saul-control spirit. Pray that God will allow you to walk in the freedom of trusting in Him and those around you.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

THE GOAL OF LIFE

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11
For many people in the world, real meaning in life is the next vacation, career success, or stepping up the income ladder. It is a life based on pleasurable experiences. Many a human being has toiled their whole life to gain a pleasurable lifestyle only to find a life that is empty and meaningless. You only have to watch television for one evening to discover that advertisers want us to believe this is the goal of life. The work-to-play theme is consistent with most advertising messages.
Solomon was a man who had nothing withheld from his appetite. He was a great builder, a great businessman, and a great lover of women. Every imaginable pleasure was his. Nevertheless, he was to discover that these things alone could not satisfy the human soul.
A recent trip to a beautiful country left me grateful that God had allowed me to understand the futile trap of the work-to-play lifestyle. It is great to experience times of refreshing and visit beautiful places as long as we don't fall into the trap of thinking that these experiences equal a meaningful life. God's beautiful creation can so easily become a prison of emptiness if Jesus is not in the center of it. The apostle Paul said there is only one way to find meaning and purpose in life:
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe..."(Ephesians 1:17-19).
Knowing Christ brings the only real meaning and purpose to the human soul. Spend time today getting to know the Lord in a more intimate way. Then you will discover real meaning and purpose in life.

Monday, October 2, 2017

VISIONS AND DREAMS

"In the last days, God says, I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions; your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:17
"I need to meet with you," said the man from England during a break at a conference overseas. We walked outside to have a coffee break and sat down. "God wants you to know that He removed your finances in order to reserve His reward for you in Heaven. He has done you a great service."
Os Hillman was shocked. I'd never met this gentleman before. How would he have known I had lost a half million dollars in the previous few years, virtually all of my financial net worth, to some unusual calamities? We shared for the next several minutes.
That week, during our lunch and dinner times, I had been enjoying wonderful, juicy oranges from this island in the Mediterranean Sea. It came time for the gentleman and I to conclude our coffee break. We bowed in prayer. As we prayed, the man began to describe a picture he was seeing in his mind.
"I see a picture of a large orange tree. The tree is full of large, ripened oranges. They are beginning to fall to the ground. You are the tree!"
Again, I looked at the man with shock and amazement, and now tears in my eyes.
"You are the third person in three years that has had a similar vision during a prayer time like this. The first two people were also strangers to me."
I went back into the meeting rejoicing that God could be so personal in my life. He used a servant who had gone through similar trials to supernaturally speak a word of encouragement in a way that I would know it was God who was speaking.
There are times when God supernaturally speaks into our lives. He does this to demonstrate His power, His love, and His intimacy with us. Do not be surprised if God sends one of His messengers to speak into your life when you need it most. Be open to how God might want to speak into your life today.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Psalm 1:3).

Friday, September 29, 2017

A JOSEPH STORY

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
"I'd like you to help us develop our marketing program beginning in January," said the CEO of a sports product company. The consultant was delighted to have the opportunity. It was the first new business opportunity he'd had in some time. He had just come out of some very difficult business and personal circumstances in the last few years. A few months into the relationship, the CEO asked the consultant to manage the entire marketing department, placing him over the current marketing staff. It appeared that God was blessing his efforts with several successful initiatives. The consultant began to build a relationship with a few of the executives. One day, the sales manager came into his office and asked for help on a personal crisis. One thing led to another, and two months later, the consultant found himself leading the sales manager in the sinner's prayer in the sales manager's office.
God prepares His servants in many ways to accomplish His purpose. The story of Joseph is repeated every workday in the lives of His people. The circumstances may be different, but the results are the same. God trains His servant through sometimes difficult "boot camps." When that training is complete, He places them in strategic places to be a provider-both physically and spiritually.
Is God preparing you to be a provider in the workplace? Do not fret at the difficult training ground you may be required to endure. He has a plan. If you'll allow Him to carry out His plan, you'll be privileged to be used by the Master's hand. "I know because I am that consultant",said Os Hillman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

CALLED TO CRAFTSMANSHIP

"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.'" Exodus 31:1-5
Bezalel was called by God to perform a most important work for Him. I am sure that Bezalel believed that he was naturally gifted with his hands to make fine crafts with gold, silver, and bronze. He probably did not associate it with God's work. But the Scripture tells us that God chose him and filled him with God's Spirit to enable him.
Does God call men and women into their vocations to fulfill His purposes - to fulfill that which needs to be accomplished throughout the world? Have you ever thought about how many occupations there are in the world? How did that balance of interest among each human throughout the world happen? Did it just happen? Was it by chance that we have only so many doctors, only so many accountants, only so many geologists?
Your interest in your vocation is not born of your own making. So many workplace believers and even pastors have made the mistake of encouraging us who have a deep desire to walk with Christ in the workplace to pursue vocational ministry. To remove us from the workplace where the greatest harvest is yet to occur would be to remove us from where God called us. Do not take this bait. Serve the Lord in the workplace where He has gifted you and called you.
Os Hillman shared, "I almost made this same mistake when God drew me to Himself when I was 28 years old. I concluded that I must be called to be a pastor. I took steps to fulfill this by leaving my job and entering a Bible school for training. Upon completion, I took a job as an assistant pastor in a church. But God's mercy allowed me to be removed from that position only three months into it. I was "forced back into business," where God wanted me in the first place. It was a great lesson. I was never cut out to be a pastor in a church, but a "pastor" in the workplace".

Monday, September 25, 2017

THE CHURCH

"Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you" (Lev 26:8).
The Church is called to impact the world. The biblical definition "church" is not an institution or building, but rather it is made up of individuals. Jesus said "wherever two or more meet together, I am in the midst of them." The biblical word translated as "church" is ekklesia which is the original Greek meaning "the people of God."
The New Testament used this word in two different ways. Sometimes it refers to people of God gathered together in congregations. That is our traditional idea of the local church. But other times it means believers in general, wherever they might find themselves.
God calls the Church to be transformers of society through their collective influence. Jesus prayed that His Church would be unified in order for the world to respond to Him. "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). The enemy of the Church is secularism, a religion that says there is no God. When local congregations fail to come together as a collective voice and operate instead as individual silos in their community society is given over to the evils created as a result of an unbelieving society. Conversely, when the Body of Christ - the Church puts its collective resources together to solve societal issues, our enemies; crime, poverty, sexual perversion, etc. will fall by the sword of a unified Church.
God is birthing city coalitions of His Church among congregations in the city in order to fulfill John 17:23. Are you willing to be a catalyst in your community to see His Church take back your city?

Friday, September 22, 2017

DISCOVERING THE SOURCE OF PROBLEMS

"After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land." 2 Samuel 21:14b
During the reign of David, there was a famine in the land for three successive years. So David sought the Lord regarding this famine, "Why is there famine on this land?" The Lord answered David, "It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death" (2 Sam. 21:1b).
Years earlier, Joshua made a peace treaty with the Gibeonites. This, too, was an act of disobedience. When God called Israel to come into the Promised Land, they were to destroy all the enemies of God. Joshua failed to see through the ruse of deception when the Gibeonites portrayed themselves as travelers. The Israelites signed a peace treaty only to discover who the Gibeonites were after the fact. Now, they had to honor the treaty. However, this led to intermarriages and much sorrow for Israel. Years later, Saul made a decision to kill the Gibeonites.
The nation was now receiving the punishment for their sin of disobedience through a famine. David knew that famines could have a spiritual source, so he inquired of God and God answered. The source was Saul's murder of the Gibeonites. Once David knew the source of the problem, he took action. He repented on behalf of the nation and made restitution. The famine was then lifted.
Do you have a problem that seems to be a continually unresolved issue? Have you asked God to tell you the reason for the problem? It may have a spiritual root that is still unresolved with God. He may be allowing this pressure to bring attention to an issue He wants you to take care of. Ask the Lord today to give you revelation on your problem. As a loving Father, He desires to make known anything that stands in the way of fellowship between you and Him. However, His righteousness must always be upheld.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A TOOL FOR MIRACLES

"With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared." Judges 6:21
How does God call people into His service? There is a clear pattern in the way God calls men and women into service for Him. Almost every major leader has been called while he or she was in the midst of performing his or her everyday vocation. Peter was a fisherman; Matthew, a tax collector; Luke, a physician; Paul, a tentmaker; Moses, a shepherd; Jesus, a carpenter; and so on.
When God called Gideon to free the people of Israel from the oppression of the Amalekites, he did so while Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. Like Moses, Gideon argued with God, saying his family was nothing special, so how could he be used of God to save Israel? Gideon acknowledged God by preparing an offering to Him. The angel did an interesting thing with Gideon's offering; he took the tip of his staff and touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. As with Moses, God chose to do a miracle with a staff, the instrument that symbolized Gideon's work life. Why would God do this? It is because God wants us to know that the tools He has given each of us are the tools He wants to use to demonstrate His power. However, in order for that to happen, we must yield our tools to Him for miracles to be manifested through them.
Have you yielded your tools to the Lord? God wants you to have an overriding ministry objective to your work life. He doesn't want you to leave your work; He wants to work through your work. Allow Him to do that today.

Monday, September 18, 2017

COMPLETING THE WORK

"I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do" (John 17:4).
Have you ever had a big project to do and felt great when you'd finished the job and it was a big success? The Lord has revealed to us that the number one thing we are to do is love the Lord our God with all our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. His desire is for us to know Him and the power of His resurrection. These mandates deal with our relationship with Him. The fruit of this relationship must then result in our glorifying Him by completing the work He has given each of us to do. It will become a by-product of this relationship, not an end in itself.
What is the work God has called you to do? Jesus never did anything the Father had not instructed Him to do. He lived in such communion with the Father that He knew when to turn left and when to turn to the right. Is it possible to have such a relationship with our heavenly Father? I think that if it weren't, He would not have given us such an example.
"Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jer. 33:3). What has He called you to do? Perhaps you are called to be the best lawyer in your city or the best advertising executive or the best office worker or assembly line person in your company. Whatever work He has called you to, He will use you as His instrument to accomplish something that He has uniquely prepared you to do.
When our life is complete, what a glorious day it will be if we can each say, "I have completed the work You gave me to do." This will have brought great glory to Him.

Friday, September 15, 2017

THE NECESSITY OF THE DESERT

..."I have become an alien in a foreign land."Exodus 2:22 God's preparation of a leader involves training, extended times of waiting, pain, rejection, and isolation. Are you ready to sign up?
Moses was brought up in Pharaoh's court. He had the very best of everything-education, clothing, food, and personal care. But there came a time when the man God would use to free an entire people from slavery was going to have to learn to be the leader God wanted. At age 40, when most of us want to be thinking about winding down instead of beginning a new career, Moses was forced to flee to the desert.
Like Joseph and Abraham, Moses had to endure some difficult years of preparation that first involved removal from his current situation. He went from notoriety to obscurity, from limitless resources to no resources, from activity and action to inactivity and solitude. And, most importantly, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. He probably thought he would die in the land of Midian.
Then one day, a full 40 years from the day he arrived, God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. Everything changed. God said, "It is time." The years had seasoned the vessel to prepare him to accomplish the work.
God is preparing many workplace believers today. The circumstances may be different. The time frames may not be quite as long. But the characteristics of the training are still the same. Do not try to shortcut the desert time of God. It only leads to cul-de-sacs, which force you to revisit the lessons you are meant to learn. Embrace them, so that He can use your life for something extraordinary.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

THE SPIRITUAL REALM

"So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 1 Corinthians 14:15
How real is the spiritual realm? My lawyer friend from Nigeria tells a personal story of how he was preparing for an important case. He knew that he must be prepared to argue five separate points. He was to appear before his country's supreme court, so it was a very important case.
As he neared the time in which he was to go to court, he began to pray about how he was to argue the case. He spent much time in legal preparation and intercessory prayer. As he went to court, the Spirit spoke to him and said, "Do not argue point one, point two, point three, or point four. Only argue point five." Imagine my friend's struggle of faith. If he were reading this wrong, the shame and professional fallout would be devastating.
The time had come to present the case before the judge when my friend said, "Judge, I wish to withdraw points one through four. I wish to argue only point five." The opposing counsel stood up and objected. "Your honor, he cannot do that!" "Objection overruled, counsel," said the judge.
My friend went on to present his case around point five only, and then sat down. When the opposing counsel stood to present his case, he stood speechless for 12 minutes. He could not get a word out of his mouth. He finally mumbled a few words and complained to the judge that he was going to have to yield. It seems that the opposing counsel had prepared to argue only points one through four, but failed to prepare for point five. The judge ruled in favor of my friend.
The unseen Lord wants to help us in the physical realm of our work life. We must acknowledge His presence and tap into this incredible resource He has given to each of us. Seek Him today and ask Him to reveal His perfect plan for you this day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

"The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together..."(Isa 40:4-5 NKJV).
Os Hillman shared, "I don't know about you, but I hate road construction. I live in a growing city and it seems like there has been ongoing road construction for years. Everything is a mess, you can never plan your trips because of delays, and sometimes you get caught off guard when traffic signs are placed in unusual places and the natural flow of traffic takes you off the main road onto bumpy surfaces.
Recently one of our main local roads discovered a sink hole in the middle of the road. The road was closed for more than a year. We had to take alternative routes that were inconvenient and it took longer to get places.
Sometimes God takes us through our own life re-construction project. Our lives get disrupted, we can no longer depend on the things we did before, and we don't have control over our circumstances or timetable. God is doing major construction.
However, even in the midst of the re-construction the glory of the Lord is revealed in that place. For some, it is the first time they've ever seen the hand of the Lord in their life to the degree that this process allows them to experience Him. It is a process they would never choose to go through voluntarily, but it is an experience they value for the rest of their lives because the glory of the Lord was revealed in the process.
Once the process is complete, things begin to flow better. Just as the new roads allow you to drive on a smooth, more spacious area, so too God paves a way for you to move into an expanded place with Him. Isaiah tells us: "He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows" (Isa 30:23-24).
Be patient with God's re-construction project. You will like the finished project.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

SIGNIFICANCE

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands." Psalm 90:17
Many of us begin our careers with the goal of achieving success. If we haven't entered our work as a result of God's calling, we will eventually face a chasm of deep frustration and emptiness. Success flatters but does not provide a lasting sense of purpose and fulfillment. So often we enter careers with wrong motives-money, prestige, and even pressure from parents or peers. Failing to match our work with our giftedness and calling is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. If that happens over an extended period, a person crashes.
At this time, many make another mistake. Workplace believers think that beginning a new career in "full-time Christian work" will fill the emptiness they feel.
However, this only exacerbates the problem because they are again trying to put another square peg into a round hole. The problem is not whether we should be in "Christian work" or "secular work," but rather what work is inspired by gifts and calling. If there is one phrase I wish I could remove from the English language it is "full-time Christian work." If you are a Christian, you are in full-time Christian work, whether you are driving nails or preaching the gospel. The question must be, are you achieving the God-given calling for your life? God has called people into business to fulfill His purposes just as much as He has called people to be pastors or missionaries.
It is time for workplace believers to stop feeling like second-class citizens for being in business. It is time workplace believers stop working toward financial independence so that they can concentrate on their "true spiritual calling." This is the great deception for those called to business.
Significance comes from fulfilling the God-given purpose for which you were made. Ask Him to confirm this in your own life.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

MOVING WITH THE CLOUD

"Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out." Numbers 9:21b
God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and they had to pass through the desert on their way to the Promised Land. God was their guide by means of a cloud that appeared overhead. When it moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped - sometimes a day, a week, even a year.
Imagine living with the uncertainty of this situation. One day you work at getting your "house" in order, only to have to pick up the stakes and move. Your ability to plan is totally gone. But even greater is the temptation to move when the cloud did not move because you felt it was time to move. For the Israelites, perhaps the grass was no longer green. Perhaps the water was not easily accessible. Perhaps the bugs were a problem. Whatever the case, they were strictly prohibited from moving if the cloud did not move.
It is still the same today. We are not to move unless the Holy Spirit instructs us to do so. We are not to make that business deal on the basis of whether or not it makes sense, but on the leading of the Holy Spirit's "cloud" in our life. It is a difficult process to move only when we are directed, and to remain if we are not. The pressure is always upon us to move, to plan, to act. But if we act, we may move into a place where the presence of God may not be. Hence, the rub. The Christian workplace believer must learn to move when God says move; it is a sign of complete surrender and dependence on God's Spirit to direct our steps.
Ask God today if you are sitting under His cloud. Or, have you moved when He said stand still? He will show you.

Monday, September 4, 2017

ARE YOU USEFUL?

"Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me" (Philem 11).
Paul's letter to Philemon reveals something about a man named Onesimus. At one time, Paul viewed Onesimus as useless. But while Paul was in chains he treated Onesimus as a son. Something changed in this man that made him useful instead of useless.
When Jesus met Peter, he saw an impetuous man who drew quick conclusions and was very opinionated. I'm sure Jesus had his doubts about him for future leadership. However, Jesus saw something in Peter that was going to be useful once the rough edges were removed.
Both of these men were simple fools in the Kingdom of God. The reference to someone being a fool was not necessarily a negative term. A simple fool, or peti, was a person who made mistakes, but quickly righted them and was restored to fellowship with God and with others. King David was a simple fool, one who made mistakes, but kept a repentant heart toward God. This is why God did not turn away from him for his many sins.
The hardened fool, kesil and ewil, makes mistakes but never learns from them, is not repentant and will not listen to others. Such people can expect God's reproof to continue and they will eat the fruit of their own way (see Prov. 1:31-32). The hardened fool "returns to his own vomit." King Saul was a hardened fool, one who made mistakes and continued to do so even after realizing he was wrong.
We are going to err in our ways. The question is, once we know we have made a mistake before God, do we make the necessary adjustments that will allow Him to intervene on our behalf? And will we avoid the same course of action in the future? God says that if we do, He will pour out His Spirit on us (see Prov. 1:23).
When you work with people who have strong personalities but may be immature in their faith, you must discern if they are simple fools or hardened fools. This will tell you whether to invest time and resources into them.

Friday, September 1, 2017

GRACE

..."Peace be with you!" John 20:19 How would you respond to a group of fellow workers if you were their leader and you poured your life into them, teaching them all you know for three years, only to have them disband and go their own way when troubles came? What would you say to them after you were reunited for the first time? Perhaps you might scold them. Perhaps you might cite each one's offense. At the least, you might shame them for their lack of faithfulness and courage.
After Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, He appeared to the disciples. His first words to them were, "Peace be with you!" The word grace means "unmerited favor." When someone loves you unconditionally, without regard to your behavior in return, it becomes a powerful force in your life. Such was the case for the disciples when Jesus appeared to them. They could have expected reprimand. Instead, they received unconditional love and acceptance. He was overjoyed to see them. They were equally overjoyed to see Him.
Jesus understood that the disciples needed to fail Him as part of their training. It would be this failure that became their greatest motivation for service. Failure allowed them to experience incredible grace for the very first time. Grace would transform them as human beings.
Have you experienced this grace in your life? Have you extended grace to those who have hurt you? Can you let go of any wrongs that have come through friends or associates? The grace you extend may change their lives - and yours.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TRUE REPENTANCE IN A NATION

"When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes." 2 Chronicles 34:19
Josiah was a godly king in Israel. However, before he came to power, the nation had fallen into all kinds of evil. One man, Manasseh, had brought the nation to a condition of inexorable evil. God finally had enough.
"Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down" (2 Kings 21:12-13).
Josiah came into power just before this judgment. He began to clean up the evil by burning all the idolatrous temples, ridding prostitution and homosexuality from the streets, and destroying occult shrines. He did this without the benefit of even reading God's Word, but through the Holy Spirit working in his heart. Then one day the ancient Scriptures were discovered in the temple that had lain dormant for years. They had a profound impact on King Josiah.
When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's attendant: "Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord's anger that is poured out on us because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:19-21).
Josiah was broken. He tore his robes in repentance. He fell to his knees and repented for the wickedness of his nation. He stood in the gap, and God honored Josiah; however, it wasn't enough. God still had to judge the nation for its previous wickedness under the reign of Manasseh.
"Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what He spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before Me and tore your robes and wept in My presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here." ... (2 Chronicles 34:27-28).
God spared Josiah during his reign, but after he died judgment came upon the nation.
No nation is immune from God's judgment. Pray for your nation today. Pray that your nation will have a repentant heart among the leaders and the people.

Monday, August 28, 2017

NEW THINGS

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13b-14
Our past can be a hindrance or a help in moving toward God's purposes for each of us. For some, the past has meant pain and heartache, and grace is required so that we do not let our past dictate our responses to the future. If we allow our past to make us a victim, then we have not entered into the grace that God has for us. If we live on memories of past successes and fail to raise our vision for new things, we again are victims of our past.
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland" (Is. 43:19). Our past should only be viewed for what we can learn from it. We must move forward and avoid viewing the negative or the positive for more than what we can learn. Many have allowed their past to dictate their future. God is always about doing new things in our lives. He gives fresh revelation of His purposes in our lives. Do not live in the past. Do not hold onto bitterness that may hinder God from doing new and exciting things in your life. He turns our wastelands into streams of water to give life, not death.
How have you viewed your past? Has it hindered you in some areas of your life? Have you relied on past successes to dictate what you will do in the future? Put aside such thoughts and allow God to do a new thing in your life. Ask Him to help you see the new things He wants to do in and through you today.
"When your memories are bigger than your dreams, you're headed for the grave" [Author unknown].

Friday, August 25, 2017

THE ART OF WAITING

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them...." Exodus 13:21
How are you at waiting on God? How do you determine if God is giving you the green light to move forward? Many workplace believers make the mistake of adding up all the pluses and then concluding that God has given them the green light. Several factors go into making a decision from the Lord.
It is important to do three things before you make a decision on a matter. First, you should gather facts. Fact gathering allows you to determine all the realities of a given situation. However, this does not ultimately drive your decision, but it can put a stop to it. For instance, if you were planning to build a shopping center and you knew the only way to lease the space was to rent to a porn shop, your decision would be made. God would not lead you to enter into unrighteous ventures.
Second, is the Holy Spirit guiding you in your decision? "If the Lord delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm" (Ps. 37:23). George Mueller cites that the steps are also "by the Lord." God puts hedges around us, but many times we bull our way through the hedges under the guise of tenacity and perseverance. This too is unrighteousness. One wise workplace believer stated that the greatest success one can have in business is to know when it is time to pull the plug rather than keep forcing a situation. Not all businesses last forever.
Third, has your decision been confirmed? God has placed others around us to be used as instruments in our lives to confirm decisions and keep us from the deceit of our own heart. "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" (2 Cor. 13:1b). This is God's way of keeping us within the hedge of His protection.
"Write your plans in pencil and give God the eraser."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE RESPONSE OF FAITH

..."Everything is all right".... 2 Kings 4:26
The prophet Elisha often would travel through the town of Shunem, and in that town was a well-to-do couple who extended hospitality to him. At first, they simply offered Elisha a meal when he came through town. Then, seeing that Elisha needed a place to stay and study, they built a room for him above their house so that each time he came through town, he had a place to stay. He was so appreciative of their kindness that one day he asked the wife what he could do for her. His servant Gehazi later informed Elisha that the woman was barren and her husband was old. " 'About this time next year,' Elisha said, 'you will hold a son in your arms' " (2 Kings 4:16). A year later the son arrived.
One day the father was working in the field, and the son became ill and died. The woman ran to meet Elisha to inform him. When Elisha asked what was wrong, she did not panic and react in fear. Her response to Elisha seemed almost unnatural. "Everything is all right," she said. Elisha went to the boy and raised him from the dead. It was a glorious miracle. (See Second Kings 4.)
Faith looks at situations through God's eyes, not the eyes of our limited understanding. This woman did not panic, for she knew something more than the current circumstance. Faith does not panic, but realizes that what looks like devastating circumstances may be God's plan to bring glory to Himself by demonstrating His power. When Jesus appeared on the water to the disciples in the middle of the night, they exclaimed, "It's a ghost!" (see Mt. 14:26) First appearances can bring great fear upon us even to the point of paralyzing us. Find the Lord in your circumstance today. Exercise your faith today and trust Him for His outcome in the situation.

Monday, August 21, 2017

FROM PAIN TO DESTINY

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-5).
God often allows pain to ignite destiny in our lives. Without motivation, many of us would never fulfill the purposes for which God created us. Oftentimes a measured assault invades our life and creates a depth of pain that all we know to do is press into God with all our being.
At first, our motivation is to alleviate the pain. After a season of extreme emotional and sometimes physical pain, a second phase begins. This phase moves us to discover a new and deeper relationship with God. We begin to discover things about ourselves and about God that we never would have discovered without this motivation. Gradually, our heart changes our motivation from pain to loving obedience because there is a transition of the heart that takes place. No longer do we seek God for deliverance from the pain; we seek God because He is God. We seek His face and not His hand.
When we move to the second phase we often find ourselves moving into a new destiny and calling for our lives because God often separates us from the old life in this process. No doubt Joseph and Peter felt the pain of their individual crises. However, later they could realize God's purposes in their crisis. Like Joseph, we are able to say, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good."
Today, let God move you from the place of pain to the place of destiny. Let God show you the secret things He has reserved for you as a result of the crisis you may find yourself in.

Friday, August 18, 2017

REJECTED FOR CHRIST

"And they took offense at Him...." Matthew 13:57
Jesus taught in the synagogue in the community He grew up in. He was raised as a local carpenter's son. No one saw any miraculous powers in this young boy's life. But something changed as He became older. "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?" Those in the community could not reconcile God's work in someone they thought they knew simply as the carpenter's son. God brings every person who is committed to Him out of their normal routine into a new revelation of Himself that impacts others.
Is the move of God so evident in your life that it invites scrutiny from friends or coworkers? Jesus confronted the issues of His day without fear of being rejected. A life of obedience will be an affront to the systems of this world. When God begins His deeper work in you, it will be a stumbling block to those around you. When you are rejected for Christ, consider that Christ is affirming His call on your life and you are becoming a threat to the kingdom of darkness. How many of satan's workers do you suppose have been assigned to thwart God's activity in your life? Those who sit in a pew from week to week and never speak the name of Christ in the workplace require few opponents because they represent no threat to the kingdom of darkness. How are you impacting the kingdom of darkness? God has called you and me to impact the lives around us for His Kingdom. Your words may be an affront to those around you; do not fear this. God will use your words and life to draw others to Himself. You are His ambassador in the workplace. He has placed you there for this time to extend life to those who live in darkness.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

"The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." Psalm 145:13b-14
Have you ever had a relationship with someone who was faithful? You knew you could depend on that person to do what he said. You learned that his word was completely trustworthy. If he said he would call you, he would. If he said he'd be somewhere at a certain time, he'd be there. In fact, if he was late, you began to wonder if he had an accident because it was so contrary to his nature. It's great to have friends who are faithful.
God is faithful. He is faithful to fulfill every promise in His Word. Sometimes we think God isn't faithful because it appears He has not fulfilled a desire that we have. Sometimes we think He is not faithful because of a crisis event that seems to say God isn't faithful. We must remember that God is more concerned about accomplishing His ultimate purpose in the life of every believer than giving us the desires of our heart. Sometimes this results in hardship.
The Bible is full of accounts of God's faithfulness that was often accompanied by hardship. He brought Joseph out of slavery to be greatly used in a nation. He delivered the people from Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land. He gave Abraham the son of promise late in his life. He delivered David from his enemies and made him a king. In story upon story, we learn of God's faithfulness. Are you a faithful man or woman? The workplace needs faithful men and women. Take an inventory of your life today and ask God if you have been faithful with what He has entrusted to you.

Monday, August 14, 2017

CONFIRMING DECISIONS

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22).
Confirming major decisions through the counsel of others is one way God protects us from poor decisions. This process is designed to confirm direction for which we are seeking confirmation. Paul was sensitive not to get too heavy-handed in the confirmation process though. He offered advice to others but was not the enforcer of their decisions. "And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter"(2 Corinthians 8:10).
The requirement for efficient administration frequently requires single points of decision-making. Where there is willingness and trust to receive input, there is also humility, faith, and grace for God to work His pleasure in His servant. Where there is unwillingness, the opposite is true.
There have been times in my life where I have felt strongly about a certain issue only to receive feedback from those close to me which revealed that I was not accurate in my assessment of the situation. I have learned to yield in such situations, trusting that God is working through those in whom I am accountable.
The scriptures encourage us to seek advice and counsel from other Godly people who share the same values and goals that we have. "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise"(Proverbs 19:20). "Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance"(Proverbs 20:18).
Peace of mind is another important confirmation requirement for making decisions. If you do not have peace about a decision, you should wait until God gives you peace. This does not mean your decision may not have some tension due to the faith aspect of it, but deep down you should have a peace that it is the right decision. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
Do you need to make a major decision? Ask God to give you confirmation through others.

Friday, August 11, 2017

BEING A SHELTER FOR THOSE IN NEED

"Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land." Isaiah 32:2
Have you ever walked in a dry, hot climate for an extended time? The sun beats down, sweat begins to pour off your brow, and your throat and mouth are parched with thirst. A little shade, a slight breeze, or a cool drink becomes the greatest thing one could value at the moment.
When you and I walk with Christ in the workplace, we become that kind of oasis for non-Christians. However, they may not recognize it at the time. Let's face it, the workplace is pretty tough, especially when Christ is not in the center of it.
When a person becomes aware of their need of Christ through you or me, we have become a shelter from the wind. We become their refuge from the storms of life.
Someone once said that you and I might be the only Bible someone ever reads, so we need to be something worth reading. Are you available to be that shelter for a non-believing friend? If so, then you may open the eyes of someone who has been blind his whole life. What an incredible blessing to know you were the instrument God used to bring a person into the Kingdom of God.
"Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen" (Isaiah 32:3).

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

THE CAUSES OF FAILURE


"You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it." Joshua 7:13b
The first battle for the people of Israel traveling from Egypt was at Jericho, once they crossed the Jordan River. God had given them a great victory at Jericho, and Joshua was now ready to move to their next battle at Ai. After they spied out the enemy camp, they determined they needed only a few thousand men to gain victory.
They went up against Ai only to fail miserably. They lost 32 men in a battle that should have been an easy victory, but instead they were forced to retreat. Joshua was devastated. "Ah, Sovereign Lord, why did You ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us?" (Josh. 7:7a) In this case, the people fell short because they failed to uphold the standard God had set for them. God had told them not to take any plunder from their first battle. However, Achan hid some forbidden treasures, and God was now judging the entire nation for one man's sin.
Whenever we act without God's complete blessing on our activity, we can expect God to thwart our plans. God's word to Joshua was that he could not stand against his enemies as long as there was disobedience among his troops.
Whenever we launch a business endeavor, we should make sure there are no unclean things in our dealings that would allow us to be vulnerable to a failed effort: unpaid vendors, disgruntled employees who were not treated fairly, lawsuits, dishonesty. Many of these things can hinder God from blessing our enterprises. These things can remove the shield of protection from our workplace, which God wants to bless, but cannot because He is committed to upholding righteousness. His name is blemished when unrighteousness is allowed to permeate our lives.
Is the Lord able to bless your enterprises today? If not, you may need to go back and clean up a few things before He can do so. Take whatever steps are needed to ensure the blessing of God today.

Monday, August 7, 2017

BAD ALLIANCES

"Woe to the obstinate children," declares the Lord, "to those who carry out plans that are not Mine, forming an alliance, but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting Me; who look for help to Pharaoh's protection, to Egypt's shade for refuge." Isaiah 30:1-2
Have you ever entered a business relationship with someone you knew you were not supposed to? Throughout the history of Israel, the people were called to come out of an old way of life. Egypt represented that old way; when things got tough, the Israelites reverted to what was comfortable. They always knew they could take a trip to Egypt and find what they lacked. Perhaps this was their reasoning: "If we can't get it accomplished under the new way, why not go back to the way we used to do it? At least we know we can get it there."
When God calls us into a walk of faith, we can expect to be tested in this walk. If we enter into alliances that God has not ordained, it will only bring heartache. Such was the case for Israel. "But Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame, Egypt's shade will bring you disgrace" (Is. 30:3).
Beware what you perceive as an alliance that may advance your business. It may actually bring you great distress if God has not directed you to align it. Ask yourself what the motive is behind this possible alliance. Make sure that it is not based on fear or a quick fix. Get confirmation that God is leading you to make such an alliance. Then you will not end up in the way of Israel, experiencing shame and disgrace.

Friday, August 4, 2017

YOUR POSITION IS A RESULT OF YOUR ACTIONS

"Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right" (Prov 20:11).
In the marketplace companies and products are known by their position in the industry they represent. Lexus and Mercedes hold the top position among luxury automobiles. They are known for their high quality. Nike is a sports merchandise company known for its products serving those who play sports and they own the number one position in their industry. Coca-Cola is a soft drink company that currently has the number one position in the world among soft drinks. Companies spend millions trying to gain the number one position.
You also are called to achieve a certain position in what and how you do it. Your position is often a result of your actions taken over several years. Usually when your name is mentioned, your position is revealed. It is the most distinguishing attribute of your life and work and people associate you with your perceived position.
In the workplace you are known more by what you do and what you achieve. Your reputation is often built either around productivity or the lack of it. Years of productivity in an industry can allow you to own the number one position in your industry.
Do your actions line up with the position God desires for your life? Are you modeling the fruits of the Holy Spirit in all aspects of your life? Paul prayed that "you would live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God?"( Col 1:10-11). Paul desired that we all have a position of a person who bears fruit from our knowledge of God.
May each of us strive to have an excellent position for the benefit of the Kingdom.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

WAITING FOR THE LORD

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14
Hearing and doing God's will are two important steps that often get confused as one step. However, these are two distinct processes. When we hear God's voice, this is only 50 percent of the process. The next important step is to know when to move. It is one thing to hear; it is another to know when to act.
There was a time when the Lord showed me I was to write. This was a major change in my life from what I was doing. As I began to write, I attempted to find a publisher for my work. This became a real frustration. I encountered many false starts, and many well-intentioned people wanted to assist but their efforts resulted in further delays.
Finally, my wife asked me, "Os, have you completed the book you are working on?" "No," I replied.
"When you complete the book, God will provide a publisher if He has called you to write. You need to complete the book."
A few months later I was in discussions with a publisher about my work. They were going to be in my city and wanted to meet with me. The day we met they offered me a contract on my book. It also was the exact day that I had completed the book. I thought back to the words my wife had said.
Corrie ten Boom was a prisoner in the German Holocaust who lost her sister in the concentration camps. She tells a story about her father taking her on trains. She always wanted to get the ticket from her father ahead of time. He never gave her the ticket until she was about to get onto the train.
God is always on time. He is never late, and He is seldom early. Ask God for the wisdom to discern His will and His timing for the events in your life.

Monday, July 31, 2017

SECOND CHANCES

..."I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Jonah 4:2
Have you ever gone through a time of disobedience with God? Jonah was a prophet of God who decided he didn't want to prophesy for the Lord. God wanted him to deliver a message to Nineveh to warn them against impending destruction if they didn't turn from their ways. Jonah had developed a hardened heart toward the people of Nineveh. He didn't really care if they repented or not; so rather than travel to Nineveh and deliver the message, he hopped a boat in the opposite direction. You probably know the rest of the story. He was eaten by a fish and spent a few days thinking about his decision.
There is a place where we all will obey. What circumstances must take place for us to become obedient? For some of us, it requires a good shakeup. For Jonah, it required a big shakeup because he was God's man to save 120,000 people. He was chosen by God to be used by God, and God didn't give up on him.
God understands our disobedient heart. He sees what we really are; yet He gives second chances. God gave Jonah a second chance. He gave the people of Nineveh a second chance. It is a lesson of love from a heavenly Father who specializes in second chances. Have you blown it? Have you disappointed someone close to you? God is the God of second chances. All we have to do is acknowledge our waywardness. He will restore. He will give grace. Ask Him.

Friday, July 28, 2017

EXPECTATIONS

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Philippians 1:20
Have you ever had expectations that did not get fulfilled? Perhaps a coworker let you down. Perhaps you were trusting God for something in your life that never materialized. Perhaps you became devastated by an unmet expectation that you felt you were entitled to. Expectations can be a difficult trap for each of us if we are not fully committed to God's purposes in our lives.
Paul wrote this verse from prison to the people of Philippi. He had an expectation that his life would bring glory to God, whether through his continued ministry or his death. His joy in living was not based on his expectations getting fulfilled, but on remaining true to the purpose for which God made him.
When we react to circumstances with bitterness and resentment as a result of unmet expectations, we are saying that we know better than God, and that God has made a mistake in not meeting our expectations. The process of resolving unmet expectations may require full disclosure to the individual who was the source of the unmet expectation, and of how the unmet expectation made you feel. This is not to make the person feel obligated to meet the expectation, but simply to share your feelings about it. If God was the source, then it is important to share this with the Lord. However, once we have done this we must let go of the situation and allow God to work in our hearts the grace that is needed to walk in freedom from the pain of the unmet expectation. If we do not do this, we will allow the seed of bitterness and resentment to enter in. This seed of bitterness will create leanness in our soul and eventually will spread to others.
Ask yourself today if you have any unmet expectations. How have you responded to them? Have you processed this with the Lord and others who may be involved? These are the steps to freedom from unmet expectations.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

EXPERIENCE GOD IN YOUR BUSINESS

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
The CEO walked into the president's office after reviewing his new marketing plan for the next year. It was a well-prepared, thoughtful plan.
"This will not do!" exclaimed the CEO. "This plan describes how you will achieve these objectives through your own planning. I am certain you can achieve these objectives through normal business operations; however, you have allowed no room for faith in your plan. Now you must determine what God wants us to trust Him to accomplish through this business. You must go beyond what you can naturally achieve." What was this CEO saying? If you and I want to experience God in business at the practical level, we must be willing to trust Him for more than what our natural abilities can accomplish. God likes to show Himself in the midst of unlikely circumstances. This is the place that God receives the glory. God always forced Israel to trust Him for the supernatural. This is how glory was brought to the Father. It is no different in our lives.
The world is looking for real faith. Perhaps you are the instrument that He wants to use to demonstrate real faith to the unbelieving business world. It will require courage, faith, and action; also, it will require risk. You may risk finances, reputation, and being misunderstood. This was the risk of all leaders in the Bible. It was a risk worth taking. Are you willing to see God move in your business life? Ask Him what this might mean for you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

YOU WERE MADE TO FLY

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised" (Job 1:21).
Can a caterpillar fly? If you said, "No," you would be partially correct. Actually, a caterpillar can fly, but it must have a transformation first.
The butterfly begins life as a caterpillar, a wormlike larva that spins a cocoon for itself. For weeks, the larva remains hidden within the cocoon as it undergoes metamorphosis. When it's time for the butterfly to emerge, it must struggle and fight its way out of the cocoon. We might be tempted to help this process by tearing open the cocoon - but that's the worst thing we could do. The struggle makes it strong and enables it to fly. Butterflies need adversity to become what God intended them to be. So do we.
The Book of Job is the story of a wealthy and successful community leader named Job. He was a successful and righteous businessman with huge holdings of livestock and real estate. One day Satan came before God and asked him, "Where have you come from?" Satan replied, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
God said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Notice that God pointed Job out to Satan! God gave Satan permission to put Job through a trial of adversity. Job's herds were stolen, his servants were murdered, and all of Job's children were killed by a sudden tornado.
Through his trial of adversity, he grows in strength, wisdom and faith. His entire perspective on God is transformed by his suffering. He was even accused of sin by his closest friends.
We must get beyond the immature notion that God is interested only in making us healthy, wealthy and happy. More than anything, He wants us to be like Christ. And the road to becoming like Christ often leads through the wilderness of adversity.
In order for the butterfly to fly, there must be a transformation process that is often developed through adversity.

Friday, July 21, 2017

UNLIMITED POTENTIAL


"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
What might God want to accomplish through you in your lifetime? As a workplace believer, you may yet have your greatest contribution to society. Such was the case of Cyrus McCormick, born in 1809. Raised on a farm by an inventor father, Cyrus McCormick sought to invent a mechanical reaper to harvest wheat. His father's attempts at inventing a successful machine had failed until Cyrus, at 22, created one that worked. McCormick had to overcome many setbacks including the loss of his patent 14 years after his first invention. This opened up competition. Then, in 1837 he went bankrupt due to the bank panic of 1837. However, these setbacks did not prevent McCormick from achieving his goals.
He expanded his market by trying to sell his machine to European farmers in 1851. A long series of honors compensated for the lack of recognition and praise from his American compatriots. By 1856, he was not only a world figure but his factory produced more than 4,000 reapers a year.
McCormick was a committed believer. He lived during the time of D.L. Moody and gave $10,000 to Moody to start the Chicago YMCA in 1869. That building burned along with his Chicago factory in 1871. By this time, McCormick was over 60 and wealthy enough to retire. Before his death in 1884, he had given $100,000 to help open Moody Bible Institute. His son, Cyrus Jr., was to become the first chairman of the school's board. Cyrus McCormick was a devoted Christian who passed his faith on to his son who later met up with J. Pierpoint Morgan to become the first president of a combined reaper firm, the famed International Harvester Corporation. [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 328-331.]
What might God want to accomplish through your life? Surely you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

OUR COUNSELOR

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26
I was driving down the interstate feeling discouraged from an appointment I had just had. A former employee's company was seeking to displace me, and my company, as their source for our services. It had been one of many difficult events during those months. As I was driving, some words popped into my mind, No weapon formed against you shall prosper. I could not tell you where those words came from other than I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking them to me; I knew they were in the Bible. I knew they were in the Old Testament.
When I returned to my office that day, I searched for the key words in my concordance and found the verse. "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you" (Is. 54:17a).
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would remind us of the things He desires us to know. There are times in our lives when the Holy Spirit speaks into our spirit words designed to encourage us or give us what we need at the moment. That is just one of the roles of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The more you know God's Word, the more often you'll recall verses the Holy Spirit will bring to mind for a given situation. Study God's Word and allow the Holy Spirit to remind you of the things He desires you to know.

Monday, July 17, 2017

LIVING FOR A GREATER CAUSE

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13
What does it mean for workplace believers to live for a cause greater than themselves in our day and time? Jeremiah Lanphier was a businessman in New York City who asked God to do this in his life in 1857.
In a small, darkened room, in the back of one of New York City's lesser churches, a man prayed alone. His request of God was simple, but earth-shattering: "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" [John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 337]
He was a man approaching midlife without a wife or family, but he had financial means. He made a decision to reject the "success syndrome" that drove the city's businessmen and bankers. God used this businessman to turn New York City's commercial empire on its head. He began a businessmen's prayer meeting on September 23, 1857. The meetings began slowly, but within a few months 20 noonday meetings were convening daily throughout the city. The New York Tribune and the New York Herald issued articles of revival. It had become the city's biggest news. Now a full-fledged revival, it moved outside New York. By spring of 1858, 2,000 met daily in Chicago's Metropolitan Theatre, and in Philadelphia the meetings mushroomed into a four-month long tent meeting. Meetings were held in Baltimore, Washington, Cincinnati, Chicago, New Orleans, and Mobile. Thousands met to pray because one man stepped out. Annus Mirabilis, the year of national revival, had begun.
This was an extraordinary move of God through one man. It was unique because the movement was lead by businessmen, a group long considered the least prone to any form of evangelical fervor, and it had started on Wall Street, the most unlikely of all places to begin.
Could God do something extraordinary through you? Take a step. Ask God to do mighty things through you.

Friday, July 14, 2017

TIME MANAGEMENT

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (Ps 39:4).
David accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. However, he also understood life had an end to it and he wanted to make the most of it. He learned to use his time wisely. And so should we.
Peter Drucker was a renown management consultant to major corporations and authored many bestselling business books. He suggested three activities that might help busy executives better manage their time.
"First, do not start with the task. Start with your time. Determine where your time is going. Then, attempt to manage that time and cut back unproductive demands on your time. Consolidate your 'discretionary' time into the largest possible continuing time units.
Drucker refers to the second step as time management. After listing the activities to which we devote our time, he suggests that we ask three questions about each of these activities to help us minimize the amount of time we waste: "What would happen if this were not done at all?" And if the answer is, 'Nothing would happen,' then obviously the conclusion is to stop doing it. Next, which of the activities on my time log could be done by somebody else just as well, if not better? What do I do that wastes my time without contributing to my effectiveness?*
Drucker closes by saying 'Know Thyself,' this old prescription for wisdom is impossibly difficult for mortal men. But everyone can follow the injunction 'Know Thy Time' if you want to, and be well on the road toward contribution and effectiveness."
Why not evaluate how you are spending your time and ask God how to better use your time.

*Adapted from Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY 1994, 1995 and The Leadership Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1998, p.653 study notes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTH

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit." 1 Corinthians 12:4
Have you ever tried to do anything that you were not gifted to do? I am not a handy man. If there is a household project, like a plumbing leak or anything mechanical - forget it. God has not given me any "natural" gifts for such things. And I'd prefer not buying anything that requires assembly!
I have a friend who can fix or assemble anything. It comes naturally to him, and he loves to help me. This same person looks at some of my abilities and marvels. We appreciate the gifts God has given to each of us. These differences have created a need for one another. God wants each of us to need one another. The Scriptures describe the Body of Christ in the same way. Each person is a member of His Body with gifts and talents designed to make His Body perform as a multi-talented group, all playing to the same tune. It is when one member is "out of tune" or decides he doesn't like his gifts, or decides to do something he is not designed to do that the orchestra begins to sound off key. Imagine if the parts of the human body decided they didn't want to fulfill their parts any longer. That body would no longer function effectively because one or more of its members were not performing the functions they were designed for.
What has He equipped you for? What role has he called you to play in God's Kingdom? When one link in the chain is weakened, the whole chain is susceptible to breaking. God made it that way so that we could help that weak link. He made it that way so we would be forced to depend on one another. Are you being a strong link in the chain of God's Kingdom? Ask Him if you are fulfilling your role as He designed.

Monday, July 10, 2017

ALLOWING GOD TO PROMOTE

"So David's fame spread throughout every land, and the LORD made all the nations fear him" (1 Chron 14:17).
We live in a day of self-promotion. Marketing firms are hired today to persuade others to view a person or situation in the way they want you to. There are millions of dollars spent annually by sports companies, personality agents, and marketing firms to create fame for their clients and products. They negotiate sponsorship deals and try to get the most money for the most exposure. The ultimate goal is fame and notoriety.
There is a great danger in self-promotion. Self-promotion is trying to move from the place you are to a place ahead of where God may want you. It is not wrong to become famous, popular or desired by others as long as it happens as a fruit of your calling. However, when you begin to orchestrate things in an effort to inflate who you are for the sake of gain, you have crossed the line.
David's fame was a result of his fulfilling his mission in life. When he failed, he repented. When he was successful, he acknowledged the Lord. Never do you see David exalt himself over the Lord. Yes, he made some selfish decisions that led to sin. But David could not be criticized for self-promotion.
We all must carefully balance the difference between marketing designed to inform and educate versus promote and manipulate. Describing the true attributes of a product, service or person is good marketing communications. However, persuasion designed to inflate reality is witchcraft.
Proverbs says, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips (Prov 27:2).
Following this principle will keep you from moving beyond God's method of promotion.

Friday, July 7, 2017

PLEASING TO THE LORD

"Prepare it with oil on a griddle; bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the Lord." Leviticus 6:21
There is a requirement to be blessed at a deeper spiritual level by God. Christ requires it of each of His servants. He required it of Paul when He struck him down on the Damascus Road. He required it of Joseph when he was left in the pit and then sold into slavery. He required it of Jacob when he left his homeland penniless and needy. He required it of most every major leader that He used significantly - brokenness.
Brokenness cannot be achieved on your own. It is something God does Himself. We cannot determine that we are going to be broken, but we can refuse to become broken. When God begins this deeper work in our lives, we can kick and scream and refuse the process. We can manipulate and strive to stay on top, but this only delays His work.
Pride and mammon are ruling strongholds of the workplace. Brokenness is considered a weak position in the workplace. However, God says until we are broken we cannot be an aroma pleasing to the Lord. God wants you to be an aroma in the workplace. In order for this to happen, you and I must be a broken vessel in His hand. Pray that God would allow you to become a pleasing aroma to Him no matter the cost.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

FAITHFULLNESS IN OUR CALLING

"He went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.'" - 2 Chronicles 15:2
Asa was the king of Judah from 912-872 B.C. He reigned for 41 years and was known as a good king who served the Lord with great zeal. He reformed many things. He broke down idol worship to foreign gods; he put away male prostitutes and even removed his own mother from being queen because she worshiped an idol. The Scriptures say that as long as he sought the Lord, the Lord prospered his reign.
However, Asa was not totally faithful in his calling. There came a time in his life when he made a decision to no longer trust in the God of Israel. He lost his confidence in God as his deliverer. The prophet Hanani came to Asa to inform him that God's blessing was no longer on his life because of an ungodly alliance he had made.
Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war (2 Chronicles 16:8-9).
There are no guarantees that if we began well we will finish well. The life of Asa tells us this. It is only through God's grace that we can be faithful to our calling. Each of us is capable of falling away from God. Pray that God will keep you faithful to the purposes He has for your life. He strengthens those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

SETTLING DISPUTES

"Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart." Proverbs 18:18
We prayed about it. We discussed it. My friend had one desire; I had a different one.
"Okay, let's settle the issue the way the early Church settled matters when an agreement could not be achieved. Let's flip a coin."
"You must be joking!" my friend lamented.
"No, the early Church cast lots often to determine a course of direction or even select the disciple who would take Judas' place."
"Okay," my friend agreed.
We flipped the coin and the matter was quickly settled.
In the Old Testament there are many examples of casting lots for determining a decision. We hear little of this method today. Most of us do not want to release the decision process to this seemingly "flippant" process; yet the Lord says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord" (Prov. 16:33).
Flipping a coin is the equivalent to casting a lot. It removes our own opinions and leaves the final outcome to the Lord. Pray before you take such an action. It will surprise you who is willing to submit a decision to the Lord and who isn't. It removes the element of control from both parties.
I believe the Lord would first have us make decisions through agreement and continued prayer for the decision. However, there are times when this approach can be the quickest and simplest. It removes each person's temptation to lord it over the other. Cast the lot and settle the dispute.

Monday, July 3, 2017

BEING FULLY PERSUADED

"Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." - Romans 4:21
Why did God consider Abraham a righteous man? It was because Abraham looked beyond his own limitations of age and strength and considered God as the one who could accomplish His own goals. Abraham came to a place in his life where he realized it had little to do with him and all to do with God. His part was initiating the faith within himself.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be." Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead-since he was about a hundred years old-and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God (Romans 4:18-20).
What are the things in your life that are mere impossibilities? What are the mountains in your life? Are these there in order to build your faith in the one who can enable you to ascend to the peak? Once you know that it is His will for you to pursue, do it with faith. Faith requires action when we know it is He who is leading. It may require risk. Faith is sometimes spelled R-I-S-K. Abraham did not limit God. It is this confidence in God that God honored and rewarded. He wants to do the same with you and me.