TGIF, Today God Is First

Second Chances

July 23rd, 2014 by Os Hillman

…”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.





Beware of the Thief

July 22nd, 2014 by Os Hillman

“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.” Luke 12:39

What are the times when you and I are most vulnerable to being caught off guard by the enemy of our souls? One of those times is just after you’ve had a great victory. Consider Jesus when He was baptized and was about to begin His public ministry. He was taken away into the desert to be tempted by satan.

Leisure time is another place in which satan seeks to take us off our normal routine of personal quiet times. In the normal routine of life, our senses are tuned to the need to draw upon God’s Spirit to see us through the activities of each day. However, when we get away from our routine and go on vacation, we can often drop these routines. We wrongfully think that we do not need to spend time with the Lord during leisure times. This is a grave mistake. The vacation becomes a test of character. During vacations we turn freely to what we love most. It reveals to us what is at the core of our existence.

A teacher in a large school reportedly said, “The greatest difficulty we encounter is the summer vacation. Just when we have brought a student to a certain discipline and place in their study habits, we lose him; when he comes back we have to begin all over again.” It is the same in our spiritual lives. It only takes a small crack in the door of our heart to lose our spiritual focus.

This summer, be on guard when times of retreat are made available to you. Use these times for spiritual refreshment, not just physical refreshment, and you will keep the thief from entering your house.





Expectations

July 21st, 2014 by Os Hillman

“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.





A Faithful Man

July 20th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

There is a distinct difference between the workplace believer who operates based on living in the Promised Land versus the one who operates in Egypt. In Egypt, the workplace believer sweats and toils to generate an outcome. The final objective is foremost in their mind. Outcome is everything.

In the Promised Land, we learn that obedience is the only thing that matters. We are called to execute, and leave outcome to God. Sometimes that outcome is very positive, yielding a return. In other cases, we may not yield a corresponding return. We may even get a negative outcome. The difference is that we know that we have been faithful to what God has called us to and we yield results to God. God often blesses obedience beyond what we deserve. If God brings wealth to your life, it should come as a by-product of obedience, not an end in itself.

God may call each of us to be obedient to situations that may not yield immediate, positive results. It is in these times that our faith must be obedience-based versus outcome-based. What if Jesus had considered the immediate ramifications of whether he would go to the cross? Based on the immediate outcome, the decision would have been an easy one. Who wants to die on a cross? However, for Him there was a higher purpose in that obedience. We are called to this same kind of obedience. This means putting our own flesh on the line daily, dying to our own self-will.

This is what it means to be a faithful man. Pray that God will make you a faithful man today.





Knowing Our Limits

July 19th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19

Webster’s defines entrepreneur: “one who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk in a business venture.” [Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth ed. (Springfield, Massachusetts, 1993), "entrepreneur."] Entrepreneurs can smell an opportunity a mile away. However, what is often their greatest asset can become their greatest downfall. The road is littered with entrepreneurs who have been successful in one venture only to fail in countless others. Is this the natural way for an entrepreneur, or is there a better way?

King David was an entrepreneur. He grew up as a shepherd boy and later became Israel’s greatest warrior. He responded to opportunities, like the time when no one would fight Goliath. He saw this as an opportunity. He ultimately became king of Israel and faced many opportunities placed before him. David learned an important lesson somewhere along the way that each of us as workplace believers should learn. As an entrepreneur the greatest danger is engaging ourselves in activities in which God never intended us to be involved. This is poor stewardship of what God has entrusted to us. When the Philistines attacked David, he always inquired of God as to if and when he was to counterattack. When he was attacked a second time on one occasion, David inquired of God as to whether he was to attack yet. This time God said yes, but with a condition, “Wait until you hear the sound of marching in the balsam trees” (see 2 Sam. 5:24). This story tells us that David had learned an important lesson about staying vertical in his relationship with God at all times. David had learned the important principle of staying focused on what God wanted for him, not what seemed logical. He was an opportunist, but only through the filter of the Holy Spirit in his life.

How do you approach opportunities? Do you consider the merits of the opportunity only? Or do you inquire of God as to whether He desires you to pursue? It may be a wonderful opportunity, but it may not be God’s will for you to be involved. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you as you seek to use the skills He has given you.





Unlimited Potential

July 18th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“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.





Making the Lord Our Banner

July 17th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.” Exodus 17:15

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. God instructed Moses to stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. Moses’ staff represented something that God said He would use to bring glory to Himself. The staff represented what Moses had done for most of his life – shepherding. It was his vocation. When God first called Moses at the burning bush, He told him to pick up the staff; He would perform miracles through it.

God wants to perform miracles through each of our vocations. At Rephidim, God defeated the Amalekites only when Moses held his staff to Heaven. It was a symbol of dependence and acknowledgment that Heaven was the source of the Israelites’ power. When he dropped his hand, the power was removed and they began to lose the battle. Each day we are challenged to reach toward Heaven and allow God to be the source of victory in the workplace or be defeated. God calls us to let His banner reign over the workplace so that others may know the source of our victory. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven’ ” (Ex. 17:14). The Lord wants those behind us and around us to know that He is the source of our power and success. With each victory is a testimony that is to be shared with our children and our associates.

Is the Lord your banner today? Reach toward Heaven today and let His banner wave over your work so that He might receive glory from your life.





God’s Selection Process

July 16th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, ‘Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.’” Judges 7:5

Would you ever take on an army of 100,000 with only 300 men? Sound preposterous? I agree. However, this is exactly what happened with Gideon. It was bad enough that he began with 10,000 against 100,000, but this was too many men according to God. He would not allow Gideon to fight with this many soldiers, because the temptation would still remain to believe that it was the strength of his army that won the victory. God told Gideon to pare down his army to a mere 300. This would ensure that God would receive total credit for the victory. This is a law in the Kingdom of God. All glory must go to Him. “Announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained” (Judg. 7:3).

Now there are 10,000 men left but that was still too many. God gave Gideon an interesting selection method for the 300 as he took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink” (Judg. 7:5b). What was the significance of this? Those soldiers who lapped water like a dog were soldiers who were more aware of the enemy around them compared to those who kneeled to drink. The lappers were men who were on constant guard to the danger around them, keeping their eyes up and looking about them. The others could be easily picked off.

If you and I are going to be one of God’s elite, we must be battle ready. We must be sensitive to the spiritual dangers around us. We must be trained to go about our business while, at the same time, discern when the enemy of our souls is prowling about seeking to destroy us. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Beware of the spiritual dangers around you.





Seeing Us for What We Will Become

July 15th, 2014 by Os Hillman

…”The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:12

God always looks at His children for what they will be, not what they are now. The Lord already had seen Gideon as a leader of others, not just a laborer who threshed wheat.

Gideon was an Israelite who lived during a time of oppression from the Midianites. God had allowed Israel to be oppressed because of its rebellion. However, the Israelites cried out to God, and He heard their cry for help. He decided to free them from the oppression of their enemies. God chose a man with little experience in such matters to lead an army against Midian.

When God came to Gideon through a visit by an angel, the angel’s first words to him were, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” God always looks at His children for what they will be, not what they are now. The Lord had already seen this man as a leader of others, not just a laborer who threshed wheat.

The apostle Paul said, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). God has reserved an inheritance for you and me. He has foreordained that we should accomplish great things in His name-not so that we will be accepted or become more valued, but to experience the reality of a living relationship with a God who wants to demonstrate His power through each of us.

What does God want to accomplish through you today? He used Gideon, with only 300 men, to deliver Israel from an army of more than 100,000. He demonstrated His power through one man who was willing to let God use what little faith he had to free a nation from oppression and bring glory to the God of Israel. The Lord delights in showing Himself strong through those who will trust Him.





The Works of the Flesh

July 14th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’” Deuteronomy 8:17

We’ve all heard someone say, “He’s a self-made man.” What are they saying in this statement? Are they saying that this individual achieved success by his hard work and sweat? Many a person has achieved success through honest hard work. There is a danger for any of us who may have achieved significance through our work. That danger is the belief that we achieved it through our own efforts apart from God’s grace and mercy. When we live in this belief, we assert that we are entitled to certain rights and privileges because of the position we have earned and feel we deserve.

The prodigal son’s brother who refused to celebrate the wayward son’s return was a man who felt he was entitled to certain rights. He saw himself as one who had been faithful to his responsibilities and deserving of more attention. He could not appreciate his brother’s failure and the pain of falling into a sinful life because, in his mind, he had never failed. This pride kept him from experiencing God’s real grace. This is how legalism develops in believers. It grows into a cold heart and an insensitive attitude toward others who may have stumbled in their lives. This same brother did not truly understand the love of his father apart from works; for he felt he gained acceptance only by doing his job.

Do you feel accepted by God, regardless of what you do? Have you wrongfully viewed your works as something you alone have achieved? These are the minefields of which each of us in business must be aware. God has gifted us to accomplish anything through His grace, not by our works.