TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1aI want to share with you a conversation that happened between a man and his wife.
"I have an important business meeting in the morning. Would you please set the alarm for 5:30 a.m.?" he said to his wife.
"Oh, that won't be necessary. Just tell the Lord what time you want to wake up. He does it for me all the time," his wife said.
He rolled his eyes in disbelief. "Well, I'd feel more comfortable if we set the alarm."
"Okay, ye of little faith. But just to prove my point I am going to ask the Lord to wake us up just before 5:30."
The next morning he awoke before the alarm went off. He looked at the clock. It read 5:15. He looked at his wife, who had just awakened at the same time with an I-told-you-so smile.
Sometimes we wrongfully view God as someone we go to for only the "big things." The idea of "bothering God" for such a trivial matter seems foolish and presumptuous. However, when you were a child and had to get up in the morning for school, didn't your mom or dad come wake you up? They were your parents, and you could come to them with the most trivial concerns or requests. Why would our heavenly Father be any less approachable? Perhaps our problem is that we simply have not developed a level of intimacy with God so that we feel the freedom to approach Him at these daily, routine levels. We often operate with an unwritten code that says our needs must have a certain degree of importance or crisis before we come to God with them. This is not God's character towards us.
Does the Lord desire this level of intimacy with you and me? The apostle Paul exhorted us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17 KJV). There is never a caution to pray only about matters of greater importance.
Today, go to God with matters that you might view as trivial and would normally avoid bringing to God. Ask God to increase your level of intimacy with Him. You may even be able to get rid of your alarm clock.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Many people think about the last years of life as an opportunity to just relax. But this does not align with God's purpose for us; He wants us to serve Him all the days of our lives.
Let's look at the apostle Paul's journey and explore what it means to finish well. He spent time pouring into others until the very end of his life. Consider the letters he wrote to Timothy from a prison cell prior to being executed. In every season of life, God calls us to serve others.
And notice how, when writing about his life, the apostle chose words descriptive of a battle. He understood the human struggle against sin as well as the challenges of pain and persecution in the trials we all face--even in doing kingdom work like preaching Christ to a fiercely resistant society.
This godly servant's life was also marked by surrender. His mindset is obvious in these words: "present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Rom. 12:1). He was not afraid of Nero, nor was he struggling to stay alive. Paul trusted God to determine everything about his life, including where he would go, what he would do, and when he would die. Death did not scare him, because he knew he would dwell with Jesus forever.
God doesn't require our lives to be perfect in order to finish strong. We can live life fully and be ready to meet our Maker by surrendering, walking victoriously with Christ, and serving others. If Jesus called you home today, would you--like Paul--be confident that you lived well until the end?
Scripture refers to "the kingdom of God" frequently, but many people are unclear as to its meaning. Let's look at the past, present, and future reality of this concept.
The first thing we must realize is that the heavenly kingdom refers to everything under Christ's control. At the moment of salvation, we are transferred from the reign of darkness to the bright authority of Jesus. And we are eternally secure in Him.
As today's verses explain, Jesus' kingdom and reign have been planned since the foundation of the world. From the beginning, God has been preparing mankind for what is to come. One way was by using prophets to foretell how He would redeem humanity and sovereignly rule over heaven and earth.
Once Jesus came and gave His life, He established the "present" kingdom. This isn't a geographical locale; it's a term describing the heart, where God's Holy Spirit indwells believers to guide, counsel, and empower.
But there is also a future aspect of the kingdom, which we can anticipate with excitement. You are probably familiar with the words "Thy kingdom come" fromthe Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:2 kjv). This speaks of the new heaven and new earth, where we will enjoy freedom from pain and sin. There, we will worship Jesus with gladness and joy for all eternity.
As God's kingdom ambassadors, we who are His children have the responsibility and privilege of sharing the good news: Through Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, all who trust in Him are forgiven of sin and assured of eternal life with God. Whom can you tell about this amazing gift?
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman
"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.
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman
"Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart." Psalm 15:1-2"I cannot believe they are not going to honor my bonus agreement," said the executive who was about to take another position in a new city. Her understanding of her present work agreement called for a bonus at the end of the year. Management saw the situation differently. "It's not right. I am entitled to that bonus," she complained.
It was time to leave. The company had given her a laptop to use. However, when she left, she decided that because the company was not going to pay her the bonus she was entitled to, she would simply keep the laptop as compensation due her. "And they would never miss it," she reasoned. She was now in the employment of the new company. As each day passed, she grew uneasier about her decision. She could not get it off her mind. Finally, she concluded that the Holy Spirit was telling her this decision was wrong and that she needed to call her former boss to confess her action. She called him and confessed what she had done and why she had done it. Her boss accepted her confession and forgave her. Strangely enough, he allowed her to keep the laptop computer.
Truth never changes. It is absolute. When we make decisions based on other actions that are taken, we move into making decisions based on the situation, not truth and righteousness. The executive may indeed have been wronged, but she had to address the wrong in the appropriate way. Trying to compensate for the wrong by doing something that violates another scriptural principle is called situational ethics. If the employer had never wronged the executive, do you think she would have felt justified in taking the computer? Probably not. When you isolate the two situations, you see that one action was taken in response to the other action. Have you had any experiences in which you have used situational ethics? The Lord desires His people to have a higher standard, even at the cost of being wronged. Ask the Lord to reveal any business practices that may indicate situational ethics. You might be surprised what will happen when you do the right thing.
There are plenty of biblical directives about making ourselves accountable to one another. But for many, the idea of revealing personal information seems restrictive or even an invasion of privacy. Such confession seems a hindrance to the pursuit of pleasure, prosperity, and prestige. Most people prefer to keep to themselves and not involve others in their business.
The Bible, however, makes it clear that Christians are to support each other in this regard: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
Accountability in the body of Christ is a biblical principle. Church members take direction from their pastor (Heb. 13:17). Paul tells us to be subject one to another (Eph. 5:21). Yet he was answerable to the church (Acts 14:27), just as Timothy was subordinate to him (1 Tim. 4:13-16). The apostles were certainly under the authority of Jesus (Luke 10), even as Jesus was subject to the Father (John 8:28-29). Of course, the Bible tells us that the whole church is obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:24). Regardless of one's position, everybody is accountable to somebody. And this holds true for the entire family of faith--from the congregation to the ministers to Jesus Himself, who served God the Father.
People avoid accountability for various reasons, including pride, ignorance, fear, and self-reliance. This is a dangerous approach to life. Our Enemy knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them. But we can prevail with the support of friends. There is strength in the body of Christ.
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman
"When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark..." 1 Chronicles 13:9-10There are good things we can do, but only God-things we should do. Those activities not born out of the Spirit will result in wood, hay, and stubble. What seems good in our eyes may be an abomination in God's eyes. For instance, if you decide to build an orphanage but God has never directed you to do so, then God will not see that work as good; it was born out of your own strength, even though it was a "good work."
The most difficult challenge a Christian workplace believer will ever have is to know what things to be involved in and what things not to be involved in. Many workplace believers have a great ability to see opportunity. What appears to be a "slam dunk" may come back to haunt us if God never ordains us to enter that arena. There are many good things we can be involved with. However, there are God-things we are supposed to be involved with. Uzzah was a good man in David's sight. It was a time of celebration, and David and the people were transporting the ark of God. However, the ark hit a bump, and Uzzah reached for the ark to hold it steady. He touched the ark, and he immediately died. David became very upset with God about this situation; he questioned whether he could serve God.
God's ways are not our ways. The most important quality God desires to develop in us is our dependence on Him and Him alone. When we begin to make decisions based on reason and analysis instead of the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit, we get into trouble with God. David later learned the importance of this principle in his own life. This encounter was one of the stepping-stones in his pilgrimage. David was an extraordinary entrepreneur. He ran the nation very successfully, but he, like each of us, had to learn the difference between "good things" and "God-things."
Are you involved in anything in which God has not directed you to be involved? Do you seek God about every decision, every action before you take it? This is where God wants you and me to be. Ask Him to show you how to walk with Him in this way.
TGIF Today God Is First by Os Hillman
"As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father's family?" 1 Samuel 9:20Saul and his servant were out seeking his father's lost donkeys. This was symbolic of the waywardness of the nation of Israel. The people of Israel had just asked the prophet Samuel to have a king rule over them. This saddened God greatly, yet God granted their request.
Saul and his servant heard of a man of God named Samuel. "Perhaps this man of God can tell us where to find our donkeys," said the servant. Isn't that just like us? We seek God to solve the issues related to material life. Saul was about to receive the greatest opportunity of his lifetime. He was about to be crowned as king of Israel. His life would never be the same. What was he concerned about? His donkeys. We don't have to be worried about the material things of life if we are about the things He's called us to do.
God called Saul to be the next king in order to free the people from the Philistines. God sent a messenger, the prophet Samuel, to inform him of his new career. The messenger also had to ease his mind about his donkeys. Donkeys often represent commerce in the Bible. They were the primary means of transporting goods; therefore, in essence, what was Samuel saying to Saul? He was saying, "You don't need to worry about your business if you respond to the call of God on your life. All the material things will take care of themselves."
Jesus said the same thing to the disciples years later. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt. 6:33).
When God calls us, it often involves making major adjustments in our lives. Saul went from one kind of business to another. He went from working for his father to being a king. What changes is God calling you to make today in order to join Him in His work?