TGIF, Today God Is First

The Value of Words

May 6th, 2016 by Os Hillman

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

Imagine for a moment that you are living in Jesus’ time. It is before Jesus has begun His public ministry. He is a carpenter in your local town of Nazareth. You have asked Jesus to make a table for you. You’re on a deadline and you must have it in a week. You agree on the price of $100 for the table and the date of one week for completion. A week later you arrive to pick up the table. You lay your money down on the table and Jesus says, “Mr. Johnson, I am sorry but the table is not ready. I ran into complications. Also, I can no longer honor the price I gave you. It is now $150 instead of $100.”

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Two years later you hear about this same Jesus who is preaching to the local townspeople. How are you going to view this Jesus? You probably won’t give much credence to His message because of your personal experience. Our lives have an ability to reinforce the message we stand for, or they can violate it and make it totally ineffective. This literally happens all over the world in different settings with Christian workplace believers. Our message becomes ineffective because we have not done what we said.

I know people who, when they tell me they plan to do something, I can expect them to follow through about 50 percent of the time. I am sure you have had the same experience. Words and commitments are made with little meaning behind those words. However, I know others who will follow through almost every time. The only time they don’t is when something falls outside their control. I quickly learn whose words have substance behind them.

There are times when we are unable to perform or deliver what we promised due to outside influences. The key to turning these potentially negative circumstances into a witness for Christ is communication. If we are unable to pay a bill on time, we must communicate with those we owe and make a good faith effort to resolve it within our means. In these cases, God’s purposes are being performed as well if we seek to do the right thing.

Do your words mean anything to those who hear them? Do you make commitments and fail to follow through on them? What would others say about how you follow through? Ask the Lord today to show you how you are doing in this area. You might even want to ask three people who are the closest to you how you fare in this area.





When God Seems Far Away

May 5th, 2016 by Os Hillman

“Why, O Lord, do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” – Psalm 10:1

One of the great mysteries of God is His ways. Some of His ways almost appear to bring us into the most difficult places, as if He were indifferent to our circumstances. It would appear that He is turning His head from our sorrows. These events in our lives have a particular objective to perform for us. That objective is to bring us to the end of ourselves that we might discover the treasure of darkness. “Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness” (Job 30:26).

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When we are taken into these dark periods, we begin to see light that we never knew existed. Our sensitivities become heightened and our ability to see through spiritual eyes is illuminated. Unless we are taken into these times, our souls never develop any depth of character. We do not gain wisdom, only knowledge. Knowledge is gained through understanding; wisdom is gained through the experience of darkness.

After we go through these periods, we discover that God was, in fact, with us throughout the entire time. It does not feel or appear that He is there when we are in the midst of the dark periods. However, He is there walking with us. He has told us countless times that He will never leave us. However, when we are in those dark periods, it does not feel like He is there because He does not rescue us from the circumstances. He does this for our benefit in order that we might become more like Jesus. Jesus learned obedience from the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). What does that say about how you and I will learn obedience? Embrace the dark times and gain the wisdom that God intends for you from these times.





Impossible Tasks

May 4th, 2016 by Os Hillman

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

Has anyone ever asked you to do something that seems totally ridiculous? The very suggestion of their instruction may have brought laughter or even anger for proposing the idea.

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I imagine that the disciples may have felt this way when Jesus responded with this comment when they asked him how they were going to feed the 5000, who had stayed around to hear him speak. The disciples suggested a logical answer to the problem, “Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (Mk 6:36).

That wasn’t the answer Jesus wanted. He saw the need of the people. He had compassion on them. He wanted to solve the problem with a Kingdom response, not logic. He asked them what they had in their hand.

So often what we already have in our hand is what Jesus wants us to use to solve our problems. We must add faith to what we already have in our hand. Then we will see the gospel of the Kingdom manifested to solve problems in a supernatural way. Jesus wanted to meet a need in which God would receive the glory. Sending the people away did not meet the need, nor did it bring glory to the Father.

Do not settle for the gospel of salvation only. Jesus came that we might experience the gospel of the Kingdom in its fullest sense. Our job is to look past our logical reasoning and see how God might want to solve our problem in a supernatural way.





Our Labor in the Lord

May 3rd, 2016 by Os Hillman

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

There is a paradigm shift going on among a remnant of workplace believers today. That paradigm shift is a focus on using our business and work life as a platform for ministry versus a platform solely for material success. There is a remnant of workplace believers throughout the world today who understand their birthright in the workplace is to reflect Christ fully in and through their work. It is reflected by a commitment to use their resources and skills to provide a product of excellence with the overall motive to affect people for Jesus Christ. The difference is that these individuals have an overriding ministry objective to their work.

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When the apostle Paul tells us to fully work unto the Lord, he does not mean we must be working as missionaries in “full-time Christian effort.” He understands that all of life is holy and sacred to God. If our motive is to serve God where we are, then our labor “in the Lord is not in vain.”

As you begin your work today, ask God if you are working with the primary motive of reflecting His life and character through your work on this day. Let nothing move you from this motive being central to your activity. The Lord will reflect His power and leading in and through your life when this becomes your primary motive.





Ability Versus Availability

May 2nd, 2016 by Os Hillman

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” – Psalm 147:10-11

Do you ever feel so skilled in what you do that you require little help from others? Perhaps you may feel that you are more skilled than any other in your field. Does God need your skills and abilities in order to accomplish His purposes on this earth? The answer is NO.

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One thing God does not need is our skills and abilities. However, He does give us the privilege to exercise our gifts and abilities for His service. That service may be as a computer technician, a secretary, an ironworker, or even a lawyer. God calls each of us to our vocations to work unto Him. To believe that He needs our skills to accomplish His mission on earth would be to lower our understanding of an all-encompassing and all-powerful God. The psalmist tells us that His pleasure is not in our strength and ability, but His pleasure is in the attitude of the heart. It is what we find in the heart that helps determine whether ability is translated into availability. You see God is looking to and fro throughout the earth for a man or woman who is fully committed to Him. A man or woman who is committed to fearing the Lord and placing his hope in His unfailing love is the person God seeks to support. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9a). When our agenda becomes His agenda, we can expect God to fully support all that we do.

If we want to see our skills and abilities multiplied a hundredfold, then we must make them completely available to His service. Where are the opportunities in which God is calling you to be available to Him? Next time someone asks you to be involved in some activity, before you say yea or nay, make sure you check in with the Master of our decisions to ensure that your gifts and talents are being used, as He desires.





Being Given Over to Death

May 1st, 2016 by Os Hillman

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake…. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” – 2 Corinthians 4:11-12

It is the great mystery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Death gives life. Jesus’ death on the cross gave life. The death of a vision brings new vision. The death of a seed gives new life. It is the central focus of God’s requirement for experiencing Him–death. When Jesus extended us an invitation to experience salvation and a relationship with Him, it came with a great cost, our very lives. Yet what we don’t realize is that until we relinquish our total lives, we really aren’t living at all. Without this death we will continue to strive, manipulate, and fret over every detail of life. It is when we finally say, “Yes, Lord, I am Yours completely,” that we experience real freedom for the first time. This is the only time when Christ is fully seen in and through our lives. Christ describes our lives as vessels – vessels for Him to be revealed in and seen by others.

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How is your vessel today? When people look inside, will they see a life that is dead to all things, save the life of Christ revealed? In the workplace, we are faced with challenges each day that seek to instill fear and control at every turn, but Christ says He wants to live through your life in the workplace. He wants to reveal Himself to your fellow workers today. However, He can only do this if our vessel is free of ourselves. Ask Jesus what things must die today in order for Him to live completely in and through you.





Avoiding Self-Based Faith

April 30th, 2016 by Os Hillman

“We live by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7

Over the years I have run into many businessmen who make the statement, “Whenever I get things in order in my business, I want to get more involved in ministry.” What are these men really saying? They are saying that as soon as they can get the amount of money that creates security, they will trust God. They are saying that what they have been doing to date has not been ministry. This separation of “work and faith” is common among our culture. We fail to understand that life is sacred to God and there is nothing “holy” and nothing “sacred” in itself.

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I would love to hear one workplace believer say, “I have spent my life in this business. The Lord has blessed me with great resources. But now God has told me to give away my wealth and to trust Him to provide for me through new ways.” Wouldn’t that be a novel concept? That is exactly what C.T. Studd, the great cricket player in the 1800s, did. He was reared in a wealthy home, but his deep conversion experience led him to take actions that forced him to trust God in ways he never had to before. He became one of the great missionaries of all time.

Whenever we seek to plan ways of ministry that depend on our ability to manipulate and plan outcome, this is not faith. The ministry that comes from this will be minuscule. Faith that bears fruit is faith that is born from experience with a living God. It is faith that says, “I don’t know where the next check is coming from. All I know is that God told me to do this and trust Him for the next step.” That is faith that moves mountains and moves God’s heart. God rarely allows His servant to see beyond the next faith step. However, those who are willing to take the first step and leave the outcome to Him see His works.

“Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. They saw the works of the Lord…” (Psalm 107:23-24).





First Fruits

April 29th, 2016 by Os Hillman

“All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into His treasury.” – Joshua 6:19

One of the earliest examples of the practice of giving God the first fruits of the increase was when Joshua and the people entered the Promised Land for the first time. When they crossed the Jordan River, their first battle was Jericho. God set a precedent with this battle by instructing them not to take any spoils from it. Unlike future battles, the fruits from this victory were to go into the treasury as a remembrance of their first victory in the Promised Land. In addition, the city of Jericho was to be a lasting monument to God’s faithfulness. God instructed Joshua never to rebuild this city. If they or anyone in the future attempted to rebuild the city, the life of the firstborn would be required. Years later in the days of King Ahab, Hiel the Bethelite attempted to rebuild this city and his firstborn died as a result. God never forgets to enforce His Word.

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Is your work a lasting monument to the faithfulness of God in your life? Is it bringing glory to the Father? Are you giving the first fruits from your increase to God? God has encouraged us through this story to give the first fruits of our work to Him so that He will be glorified through our work. This is a tangible way for us to acknowledge that God is the source of all blessing.





Tests of the Heart

April 28th, 2016 by Os Hillman

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.” – Deuteronomy 8:2

Has God performed a heart test on you lately? There are times in our lives when God leads us into the desert in order to let us find out what is in our heart. These times can be very difficult and humbling. They can test our mettle like no other time. Desert times often mean we are living without those things we are normally accustomed to: water, food, limited supplies – and with few comforts. In modern terms, it may mean a different environment. God is performing a very important work during these times. He wants to know if we can be obedient to Him in these times; or will we be obedient only when times are good?

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“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you” (Deuteronomy 8:3-5).

These desert times may mean experiencing new ways of provision from the Lord. Like manna from Heaven, it may mean seeing miracles we’ve never seen before. Like clothing that never wears out, it may mean seeing your normal capabilities expanded. Like walking hundreds of miles without pain, desert experiences provide new lessons and new experiences that only these times can teach us.

What desert experience has He brought into your life lately? Perhaps it is a lean time in business. Perhaps it is a new environment. Whatever it is, when God decides to bring new disciplines into our lives by bringing us into the desert, do not fear the heat that is sure to come. He is walking beside you in order to test you and find out what is really in your heart. Ask for His grace to pass the test. He wants to bring all of His children into the Promised Land.





Unrighteous Acts

April 27th, 2016 by Os Hillman

…”Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?” – Nehemiah 5:9

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Babylon. Jerusalem’s walls had been destroyed and word had come to Nehemiah that the remnant of his people left in Jerusalem were distressed over the plight of the wall.

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Nehemiah was grieved over this situation. He appealed to his king for permission to rebuild the wall. When he got to the city, he found many problems among his own people due to an economic crisis in the region. Among the classes affected by the economic crisis were (1) the landless, who were short of food; (2) the landowners, who were compelled to mortgage their properties; (3) those forced to borrow money at exorbitant rates and sell their children into slavery. It was unlawful for Hebrews to charge interest to other Hebrews.

“Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others” (Nehemiah 5:5).

Nehemiah stepped forward to admonish his people for this wrongful action on the basis that not only was it wrong, but God would respond to such action by making them susceptible to His judgment through the Gentile enemies.

Nehemiah was modeling to each of us a spiritual principle regarding sin. Whenever we sin, we give God permission to unleash the enemy into our souls to deal with that sin. Nehemiah understood this principle and warned the people of what this action would encourage from God. The people repented and returned the money gained through usury.

As Christian workplace believers we must make sure that our practices are righteous in God’s sight. If not, we can expect the enemy to be released to judge that sin. Ask the Lord today if there is any unrighteousness in your business practices that makes you vulnerable to judgment.