March 12th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” – Proverbs 29:11
The workplace can be a pressure-packed world. The demands that are often put on us can bring out things that we never knew were there. Sometimes we begin to think that the source of that pressure is to blame for our response to the pressure. It could be an event, a spouse, a boss, a client, a child, or even a driver who cuts us off in traffic.
I recall responding to a close friend one time, “If you had not done that, I would never have responded that way.” Later I learned that this response had little truth to it. We all choose to get angry. No one else is to blame for our anger.
“The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am” [Dr. Sam Peeples].
This simple quote has had a profound impact on how I view my anger now. Anger only reveals what is inside of me. I can’t blame anyone but me for my response to a situation. I have learned that anger is only the symptom of something else that is going on inside of me. This quote now resides on my refrigerator door as a daily reminder of the truth about my response to life’s situations.
It has been said that anger is like the warning panel on the dash of your car. It is the light that tells us something is going on under the hood and we need to find out what is the source of the problem. I discovered that the source of anger is often unmet expectations or personal rights. We believe we are entitled to a particular outcome to a situation. When this doesn’t happen, it triggers something in us. At the core of this is fear, often a fear of failure or rejection, fear of what others think, fear of the unknown.
If you struggle with anger, ask God to reveal the source of that anger. Ask Him to heal you of any fears that may be the root of your anger. Ask God to help you take responsibility for your response to difficult situations.
March 11th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” – Matthew 5:11
Recently, a friend told a true story about one of his closest friends who experienced great suffering for the soul of his persecutor. This man worked on a cargo ship. His boss was the captain. This friend was a committed Christian who shared his faith with others and was a good worker. One day the friend led the sea captain’s girlfriend to Christ. The sea captain already hated and ridiculed the Christian worker because of his faith in Christ. When his girlfriend came to Christ, she stopped sleeping with the captain. The captain blamed the Christian man for the change in his girlfriend. One day he entered the restaurant where the Christian man was having lunch. He walked over to his table and began hurling obscenities and began beating him. The Christian man simply tried to defend himself but did not fight back. The captain kept beating him until eventually the man lay on the floor bleeding.
Two men entered the restaurant and saw what was taking place. They jumped the sea captain and took him outside and began beating him. The sea captain was beaten so badly that he needed immediate medical attention. The Christian worker saw the condition of the sea captain, came to his aid, and began helping him. The sea captain was so moved that this man could do this after he had literally beaten him bloody that he began to weep, not understanding what could move a man to have such love in the face of being beaten. The sea captain accepted Jesus at that moment.
The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners Christ came and paid our penalty so that we might live eternally. Many in the workplace have never known the love of Christ. You might be the only one they ever meet who can introduce them to this love. Ask God to show you how to love the unlovable in your workplace today.
March 10th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – My great army that I sent among you.” – Joel 2:25
There are seasons in our lives that involve times of famine and times of restoration. Solomon tells us that He has made everything beautiful in its time and that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1,11.)
God brings about both the good and the bad. The seasons of famine have a divine purpose in our lives. They accomplish things that only these hard places can accomplish. But there is a time when those hard places have accomplished their purpose and He begins to restore. God did this with the nation of Israel after a season of famine and devastation.
Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – My great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will My people be shamed” (Joel 2:23-27).
God wants each of us to know that there is a time when He will restore in order to demonstrate His gracious hand in our lives. He is a loving Father who tenderly guides His children through the difficult places. If God has taken you through a time of leanness, know that He is the restorer of that which the locusts have eaten. Wait patiently for Him to bring this about in your life. He will do it.
March 9th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg You, take away the guilt of Your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’” – 2 Samuel 24:10
It just seems to be human nature. As we grow in wealth and ability, our confidence moves from complete trust in the Lord to trust in our resources. King David decided one day that he needed to know how many fighting men he had in his army. This was a grievous sin in the nation of Israel. God always made it clear to the nation that He, not their army, was their source. It was against the law of God to number the troops. David’s general, Joab, knew the serious nature of such an action.
But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” (2 Samuel 24:3)
Joab knew that David was treading in dangerous waters when he brought up the idea to him. But David had it in his mind that this is what he was going to do. And he did. The result: God judged David for this sin by smiting the nation with a plague that resulted in the loss of 70,000 lives.
Recently, I was having lunch with a former stockbroker who lost everything in the 1987 stock crash in the United States. He made an interesting comment. “You cannot know how to fully trust the Lord in the financial area until you really have to. When I lost everything, I was forced to trust Him when I knew I could not pay my next bill unless God provided. This was the time I learned to trust God. I never had to trust God before I lost my money because I had plenty. We don’t willingly enter this level of trust with God.”
Ask God today to keep you from trusting in your own resources. Ask Him how to balance trust and blessing from Him this day.
March 8th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“So she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said.” – Genesis 16:2
Presumption is based on our own reasoning. Abraham and Sarah fell into presumption when they got too old to have children. God had promised a son to Abraham and Sarah – a son who would fulfill His promise to birth a nation. But Abraham and Sarah were past the normal age for childbearing. So, they concluded that God needed help to work out His plan.
Many workplace believers make the same mistake every day. We make assumptions about what we believe God is doing and wants us to do. However, before we really have full assurance that God has spoken to us on the matter and revealed His perfect action plan, we move forward with our steps to get it done. How do we protect ourselves from presumption? The Proverbs tell us that there is safety in a multitude of counselors (see Prov. 11:14 KJV). Submitting our decisions to others for confirmation protects each of us from the deceit of our own heart. This process will protect us from presumption and encourage us to move in faith. The next time you believe God is directing you toward a specific action, consult with your spouse first, then some close, spiritual friends who will take the time to prayerfully consider your request. If you don’t have consensus, wait until you do before you move forward. God will move through this process to His desired will for the matter.
March 7th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
In the thirteenth century a man named William Wallace became the instrument of freedom from England’s tyranny over Scotland. A very wicked king ruled England. A tragedy in the life of William Wallace launched him into living for this cause. Initially his cause was revenge, but soon his cause turned to something bigger than himself – freedom for a nation. When he challenged the commoners to fight for this freedom, they responded that the enemy was too great and that they might die on the battlefield. They also refused to fight for the nobles, the knights and leaders who had a vested interest in gaining more land for themselves versus a pure cause of freedom. Wallace’s response: “Yes, we might die. We will all die sooner or later. But we will die for a cause worth dying for. So that our children and their children might live in freedom.” This story was popularized in the movie Brave Heart (Sherman Oaks, California: Paramount Pictures, 1995).
Today we find many Christian workplace believers living a status quo relationship with God that is more characterized as “business as usual” than a life demonstrating God’s power. Our focus is often more concerned with improving our standard of living than improving the Kingdom of God through our circle of influence. While this takes place, millions upon millions die without the saving grace of Christ. Many other Christians die never experiencing the freedom in Christ that His blood paid for. God has called each of us to live for a cause greater than ourselves – a life that is dependent on His grace and power to achieve things we never thought possible through our lives. This is His plan for your life. The apostle Paul prayed that He might experience the power of the resurrection in his life. This power is available to you and me to live for a cause greater than ourselves. Ask God what He wants to achieve through your life today. And consider yourself dead already to the consequences of what that might mean for you.
March 6th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” – 2 Corinthians 1:6
“God must love you a lot! He doesn’t allow someone to go through the kinds of adversity you have experienced unless He has a special calling on your life.” Those were the words said to me by two different mentors at two different times within a three-year period. Later I would learn another related truth from a respected man of God – a man who lives in another country, a man whom God uses throughout the globe. “The depth and width of your faith experiences are directly proportional to your calling.” What were these men of God saying?
They were describing a process of preparation that God takes each of His leaders through when He plans to use them in significant ways. A “faith experience” is an event or “spiritual marker” in your life about which you can say, “That is where I saw God personally moving in my life.” It is an unmistakable event in which God showed Himself personally to you. It was the burning bush for Moses; the crossing of the Red Sea or the Jordan River for the nation of Israel; Jacob’s encounter with the angel. It was the feeding of the 5,000 for the disciples. It was the time when you saw God face to face in your life.
If God has plans of using you in the lives of many others, you can expect that He is going to allow certain faith experiences to come into your life in order to build a foundation that will be solid. That foundation is what you will be able to look back on to keep you faithful to Him in the times of testing. Each of us must have personal faith experiences in which we experience God personally so that we can move in faith to whatever He may call us. Do you need a personal faith experience right now in your life? Pray that God will reveal Himself to you. He delights in doing that.
March 5th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” – Psalm 127:1a
What does it mean for the Lord to build the house? It almost seems a contradiction when we consider that we might be the builders in this passage. God wants us to allow Him to build the house. He explains further:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves” (Psalm 127:1-2).
God is telling us there is a way of working without striving. There is a way to conduct business without sweating and toiling for outcome. His warning to each of us is to avoid thinking that outcome is based on our sweat and toil. Outcome is based on obedience. That outcome is sometimes more than we deserve. Sometimes it is less than we hoped for. His desire for each of us is to see Him working in our daily work life. He wants us to avoid looking to our own effort to gain an outcome.
One day Jesus called out to Peter from the shore of the lake and suggested he throw his net on the other side of the boat. It was this simple act of obedience that yielded a tremendous catch that he would not have received unless he obeyed.
We are called to work; He is called to bring forth the fruit. He is the vine. We are the branches. Fruit comes forth naturally from a healthy tree.
Today, ask God to show you when you enter into striving. Ask Him to show you the difference between loving trust and obedience and striving for outcome. It can be challenging for us to balance this in our daily work experience. He wants to help us walk in this freedom and rest.
March 4th, 2014 by Os Hillman
“For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” – Hebrews 4:2
The people of Israel were called out of the bondage of Egyptian slavery. God said they would be brought out of 400 years of slavery so that they might worship Him. God desired to bring them into a place of milk and honey – the Promised Land. Yet that generation never entered into the Promised Land. Why? They never took what they knew in their head and transferred it to their heart. Finally, it never resulted in actions that were based on what they believed.
When I was a new Christian I heard an illustration of what belief and faith looked like when combined. If you were a trapeze artist and were skilled at walking across tightropes over high places, you might even be willing to walk across Niagara Falls. In fact, I would have confidence that you could because I had seen your abilities as a trapeze artist. However, if you asked me if you could push me in a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls, you would be challenging me to put my beliefs into action. This requires faith, participation, and risk, which, until now, was based only on mental assent.
The writer of Hebrews is telling us that if we believe God but do not enter in to those promises, we are like the man who chooses not to get into the wheelbarrow. If we don’t act on our beliefs, then we remain in the desert like the people of Israel who never received God’s promises. They did not combine what they knew in their head with a faith that was put into action.
Has God spoken to you about an area in your life that requires a step of faith? Let God provide the courage, as He does the knowledge, to act in faith on what you believe.
March 3rd, 2014 by Os Hillman
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12:15
In business and life the opportunity to harbor bitterness for a wrong suffered is great. We are given plenty of opportunities to grow bitter from relationships that bring hurt and pain. The writer of the Hebrews passage above admonishes us not to miss the grace of God so that we won’t take up bitterness as a response to life’s pain. He cautions us against this because he knows that a bitter root grows and grows until it eventually defiles many others through a wake of bitterness. If bitterness is allowed to take root, we become imprisoned to it. God’s grace will no longer have as great an effect in our lives. We become ineffective, insensitive, and spiritually dead. We can even become physically ill from it. God does not live in bitterness. He lives in grace. He has provided grace for every person to walk in.
One day I was challenged to deal with an individual who hurt me terribly. I was faced with a decision. Would I choose bitterness, or would I choose grace? Oh, how my natural tendency was to choose bitterness. But God provided the courage to choose grace. With that grace came freedom – a freedom to love and even accept the person who was the source of such pain.
This is the real place where Christ’s power is most revealed. We cannot live without His supernatural grace. Are you in need of grace today? It is there for the receiving. It will take courage to accept it and walk in it. This will be your step to freedom.