December 2nd, 2015 by Os Hillman
“Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.” 1 Corinthians 7:17a – 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Each of us is called to relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are called by Him, to Him, and for Him. Once we enter that relationship with Christ, we are called into the physical expression of that relationship. This is where our vocations are manifested as a result, not as an end in themselves.
Additionally, there are examples of special callings in the Bible in which individuals have a direct communication from God to do a specific task for Him. Moses, Paul, Peter, and many others had direct communication about what God was calling them to do. Not everyone receives this “special” calling. This is not to say God is not personal with each of us. Some have had extraordinary supernatural encounters with God that led to their calling being specific to a task ordered by God. All of us have been called to follow Christ and live our lives in obedience to Him. Many of us have a sense to go in one direction or another based on our life experiences and giftedness. This, too, is God’s calling.
Calling goes beyond our work and includes our relationships to others: our spouse, our children, our neighbors — and our co-workers. We must remember this in order that our “work calling” does not become elevated at the expense of the other important aspects of our lives. This is the holistic approach to the gospel in which God made all of life equally important.
Therefore, the next time someone says, “I was called into the ministry” or “I am in full-time Christian work,” stop him or her and tell him or her we are all in full-time Christian work. There is no secular and religious in the economy of God. I have a dear friend who often says, “I am a servant of the living God masquerading as a dentist.” So, too, are you first a servant of the living God.
December 1st, 2015 by Os Hillman
“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:24
When I was in my 20’s, I participated in a wilderness-training course in a desert and mountain area. For our “final exam,” we were blindfolded, placed in the back of a pickup truck, and taken to a remote area. We were dropped off and told to meet back at the camp in three days. We did not know where we were. We had to determine our location with our compasses. It was a frightening experience for four young people who had learned to navigate through the use of a compass only a few days earlier. With our food and water on our backs, we began our trek. It had just snowed that morning, so the way was difficult. We walked through valleys, canyons, snow-covered hills, and forests. In all, we walked more than 60 miles in three days. There were times when we did not think we could go another foot. Exhaustion and frostbitten feet were taking their toll. However, we finally made it to our base camp successfully, and to our surprise, we were the first ones among the other patrols to make it back.
At the conclusion of our journey, we were able to stand on top of a ridge, look behind us and see the beautiful terrain that we had just scaled. The pain of what we had just endured seemed to subside. We could not believe we had actually walked through those valleys and snowcapped hills. There was a sense of accomplishment.
Life is very much like this. It is often lived forward, but understood backward. It is not until we are down the road a bit that we can appreciate the terrain God has allowed us to scale and the spiritual deposits He has made in our life as a result. When you begin to realize some of this, you sit back and breathe a sigh of relief because you know that God was in control all along. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but He was.
Are you in the midst of a difficult journey that seems almost impossible to continue? Be assured that God is providing grace even now to equip you for that journey. There will be a time when you can say, “Wow, look at what God has done because of what I gained through that valley.” Trust Him with the outcome of where you find yourself today.
November 30th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” – Acts 5:32
So often we as a society equate numbers with success. The larger the conference, the more successful we deem it. The larger a church, the more we believe that God is blessing. And so on. I recall planning a conference one time. Registrations were not where I felt they needed to be a few weeks before the date of the event. It wasn’t long before I began to get “under the pile” about the level of attendance. My friend, who was organizing this conference with me, called and asked how I was doing. I had to confess where I was. He immediately reminded me of my own teaching in this area. We are all called to be led by the Spirit, not by outcomes. “If God called us to put on this conference, then the outcome is up to Him if we have done our part.” He went on to explain how he learned this lesson in a similar way a few years earlier.
He and a friend were led to host a Bible study group. His friend was to speak. It was nine o’clock and they were the only two people there. His friend was discouraged and was ready to leave.
“No,” said my friend. “We have done what the Holy Spirit directed.” He then stood up and began to welcome people as though there were many in the room. (No one was in the room.) He introduced his friend and they began the meeting. A few minutes later, people began to straggle in. By the time the meeting was over, ten had shown up, and one man in particular was impacted by the meeting.
Being led by the Spirit often means we must not use the world’s standard for success as our measuring stick. You never know what an act of obedience will yield at the time. We must leave results to God. Our role is to obey. His role is to bring results from our obedience.
Do you make decisions based on the potential outcome or by the direction of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you overly evaluate the pros and cons without consideration to what the Holy Spirit might be saying deep inside? We are all prone to make decisions based on reasoning alone. Ask God to give you a willingness and ability to hear the Holy Spirit and to obey His promptings.
November 29th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ One suggested this, and another that. – 1 Kings 22:20
There are few times we get a glimpse of what goes on in Heaven. Here is one instance when the angels were conferring with the Lord about the judgment of King Ahab for his sin and who was going to set up Ahab for this judgment.
If God wanted to use you to impact your world for Jesus Christ, what circumstances would have to be created in order for you to respond to His call? Would prospering you materially encourage you to this end? Would a major change in what you are presently doing be necessary? What would your response be should God and the angels conclude that the only way to move you into a position of fulfilling God’s purposes was to remove some things that might be very dear to you? Would you agree with their plan if you knew this would be the only way you would achieve the purposes for which God made you? Hard questions, aren’t they?
This is the very thing God does in many who have been called for a special mission. Moses had to be stripped of his royal position in the family of Egypt and sit in the desert for 40 years. The apostle Paul had to be knocked off his horse, blinded, and receive a personal visitation from Jesus. The 12 disciples had to leave their jobs for three years to follow Christ. Imagine what kind of disruption this had on their lives. There are many examples of God bringing major upheaval in the lives of those He called for His purposes. Why?
The reason is that we do not seek God with a whole heart in times of prosperity and comfort. Prosperity and comfort tend to breed complacency and satisfaction. It is rare to find the man or woman who seeks God with a whole heart who does so simply from a grateful heart. We often must have pain or crisis to motivate us. Eventually, that crisis bridges us to a new calling, and we embrace that calling if we are open to the Holy Spirit’s work in us. We can actually thank God for the change that was required to get us to this place, but it is not without anguish of heart.
Would you be willing to sit in the strategic planning session for your life and agree with the plans God has for your life? Could you give God complete freedom to implement that plan, no matter the cost? Ask God to give you the grace and trust in His love for you to say “yes.”
November 28th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.” – Acts 15:12
“I was a pastor for 19 years before I went into business,” said the man sitting across the table from me as we were sharing lunch together. What led him from being a pastor to a businessman was both a move of God and an attack from the enemy.
“I was a pastor of a particular denomination that did not embrace all of God’s Word. It was a time in my life when I was experiencing many physical problems. I was on the verge of being admitted to the hospital. I had been seeking God about whether He was truly a God of healing and whether His Word was applicable in all areas of life as it was in the early Church. I was to go into the hospital the next day. That night I cried out to the Lord. I confronted God about His Word. I asked Him if He still did miracles today. Just then, I turned on my TV and saw an evangelist preaching. At that very moment, he stopped preaching, looked into the TV camera, and said these words: ‘There is a man in the viewing audience who has been a pastor for many years and is struggling to know whether God heals today. His own denomination does not believe He does. [He even named his denomination.] God is healing you right now to demonstrate to you that His healing is for today, and you are to know that His Word is true for today just like it was for the early Church.’ ”
My friend was shocked. The TV evangelist could not have described him more accurately if he had been sitting in the same living room with him. God healed him that very night. He was not admitted to the hospital. He was forced to go before his church and witness to God’s power in his life. He was soon fired as pastor of this church, and this is what led him into business.
So often when we experience God in greater and deeper ways, the persecution comes not from the world, but from those who are closest to us. The religious community persecuted Jesus. He was betrayed by one of His own disciples. However, we must realize this betrayal was necessary for God to accomplish His work through Jesus.
God will bring each of us to a crisis of faith to test what we really believe. For my friend, he had to experience God in a new way. Then he had to be tested in that belief to the point of losing his job.
Have you experienced God in all of your life? Are there areas in which you believe God does not operate today? Before you discount God, seek Him with a whole heart. You might be surprised at what you will find.
November 27th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” – Psalm 143:8
Two of the greatest inventions of my time have been the laptop computer and e-mail. The laptop means I no longer have to stay in one place to be productive in my business life. E-mail has allowed me to stay connected to people all around the world with the touch of a button.
My greatest frustration is when either of these does not work. Sometimes e-mail cannot be used because I can’t get a connection. Sometimes I cannot use my laptop because I have not properly charged it, and then the charge runs out while I am on an airplane. Both of these situations mean I am unable to tap into the resource that allows me to fulfill my calling in my work to the fullest.
The morning time with God is much like these situations. God pours His Word into my spirit, and I am recharged. This recharging has an important effect on my day. It allows me the greatest opportunity to hear the small voice that directs my steps. If I refuse to “get connected,” I risk following my own ways of fulfilling the duties of my day. It sets forth the opportunity for God to speak into my spirit what He desires for me each day. It allows me to focus on God’s purposes, not mine.
The only way to know someone is to spend time with him or her. The only way to discern the voice of another is to hear that person’s voice. David, the author of this psalm, was a warrior, king, and businessman. He understood this principle of connecting with God in the morning. His morning allowed him to connect with God’s love, renew his trust in Him, and hear His directions for his life. Shouldn’t you and I do the same?
November 26th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“Now the serpent was craftier than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?'” – Genesis 3:1
God is big on giving man freedom and boundaries-freedom to manage what He has entrusted to us, boundaries to protect us from evil. The boundaries in the Garden of Eden were not set for the purpose of limiting Adam. Man got into trouble when he questioned those boundaries. God had provided everything he would need for life. He also entrusted man with responsibility to manage and work the Garden. God gave him freedom in that responsibility. God knows we were made to express ourselves creatively through our work.
Each of us must have freedom and boundaries in our work life. Whenever you are hired for a job, you must have the freedom to make certain decisions. You must have the authority to manage things within your area of expertise. You must also have limits within your area of responsibility. You need to know where those limits are and stay within them. Both freedom and boundaries are always under the umbrella of God’s authority and our authorities at work.
Jesus understood these boundaries. When He was tempted for 40 days by the devil after being baptized, He was challenged by satan to go outside His freedom and boundaries. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Satan said that He had the power to turn a stone into bread. Jesus was hungry and easily could have justified using His power to feed Himself. However, Jesus understood He could do nothing outside the boundaries of God’s will for His life. It was God’s will for Jesus to be tempted and to withstand the temptation. God was showing His Son that “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4b).
You and I are tempted every day to go beyond our God-ordained boundaries. Whether it is solving financial problems that have arisen through debt, making wrong decisions due to pressure, or manipulating someone in order to achieve our ends, it all represents rebellion toward God.
Ask God to show you His freedom and boundaries for your life. These are meant to enhance your life, not hinder it.
November 25th, 2015 by Os Hillman
…”Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory!….” – 1 Chronicles 4:10
He is mentioned only once in a brief description in the Old Testament, yet what he says and what his life bespeaks could fill volumes. He was a man whom God saw as worthy of a request that had significant consequences for him and his family. His name was Jabez. Here is how the Scripture describes him:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let Your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).
When you think of territory, you probably think of land or some area in which you have dominion. Jesus often spoke about giving responsibility based on what we do with the little things first. Jabez must have been a very responsible person. God describes him as honorable. Jabez must have understood what it really means to be blessed by God. He was a man who knew what it meant to press into God and ask for God’s favor with passion. God saw the heart of this man and gave him his request. His borders were enlarged! He lived a life free from pain. Imagine that!
The only reason God will enlarge a person’s territory is that He knows that person will use it responsibly. He will steward what is given in light of God’s Kingdom. God truly wants to increase our territory to have greater influence in the world around us. That territory can mean personal influence and/or physical territories.
It is rare to have a life without pain. Pain is often necessary to mold us and shape us. This is the only exception I have seen in Scripture. Jabez must have been quite a man with incredible integrity and purity of heart.
Are you this kind of person? Can God enlarge your territory and entrust you to use it for His purposes? Ask God today to enlarge your territory. Ask Him to make you the kind of man or woman who is worthy of such trust.
November 24th, 2015 by Os Hillman
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” – Colossians 3:8
“The root issue you are dealing with is fear. The physical symptom is control, and when you cannot control, you get angry because of unmet expectations.” These were the words I spoke during a conversation in a restaurant to my friend who was separated from his wife. He described his anger and how he never saw some of these characteristics in his life until he entered this marriage.
A friend once said to me, “Anger is like the lights on a dashboard. They tell you something is going on under the hood. You must find out the source of the problem.” Whenever we have expectations of another person and those expectations do not materialize, our tendency is to get angry. The source of the anger is often the fear that the unmet expectation will negatively impact us. We fear that our finances, our well-being, our image, or any number of things may be impacted by the unmet expectation. My friend’s wife had not met his expectations in many areas of his life, so then, many times it resulted in harsh words that damaged his wife’s self-esteem. Now, it was leading to a marriage crisis.
Jesus often spoke of living as though we were dead. How can you live as though you are dead? “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). It is a choice each of us must make. Once you become dead to that which stirs an emotion in you, God is free to change that situation. Until then, you can expect God to allow that situation to remain until you reckon yourself dead to the effects of the issue that causes you to struggle.
Is there something that causes anger within you? Ask God what the source of that anger is. You might be surprised at what you find. Then ask God to give you the grace to reckon yourself dead to that issue. You will find new freedom in your relationships and your own peace of mind.
November 23rd, 2015 by Os Hillman
“Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14
The greatest sign that you and I are maturing in our walk with God is when we can discern the difference between “good things” and “God-things.” When the people of Israel journeyed out of Egypt through the desert, the cloud led them by day. They could move only as fast as the cloud. If they went ahead, they went without God’s presence. If they lagged behind, they also lost God’s presence.
Each of us must have the discernment to know when God is leading in a matter, or if it is simply a good idea. There are so many things in which you and I can be involved, and the more successful you become, the greater the temptations to enter into things where God has not called you. Entrepreneurs are especially prone to see all the opportunities.
I recall one time when I entered into a project that I thought was a great idea. It would help many people. After two years, the project had to be discontinued. It was a great lesson on understanding what projects have God’s blessing on them. There are some projects you and I might get involved in that result in little fruit compared to the investment put into them. That is because they may never have been birthed by the Holy Spirit.
As sons of God, we are called to be led by the Spirit. This requires a level of dependence on God in which many of us really do not want to invest. It requires listening, waiting, and moving only when God’s Spirit tells us to move. Workplace believers are “action” people. We know how to get things done, but our greatest strength can be our greatest weakness.
Today, ask God to make you a Romans 8:14 man or woman who is led by the Spirit of God. Pray against lagging behind or moving ahead. Ask God to reveal whether the next project you consider is a “good thing” or a “God-thing.”