TGIF, Today God Is First

Peace-A Weapon Against Satan

March 24th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.” – Psalm 23:4a KJV

In the battles of the workplace, your peace is actually a weapon. The workplace creates many opportunities to rob us of our peace. Cash flow concerns, deadlines, relationships – all create stress on us. Your confidence in the God of peace declares that you are not falling for the lies of the devil. You see the first step toward having spiritual authority over the adversary is having peace in spite of our circumstances. When Jesus confronted the devil, he did not confront satan with His emotions or in fear. Knowing that the devil was a liar, He simply refused to be influenced by any voice other than God’s. His peace overwhelmed satan; His authority then shattered the lie, which sent demons fleeing.

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There is a place of walking with God where you simply fear no evil. David faced a lion, a bear, and a giant. In this Psalm he stood in the “shadow of death” itself, yet he “feared no evil.” David’s trust was in the Lord. He said, “…for Thou art with me.” Because God is with you, every adversity you face will unfold in victory as you maintain your faith in God! David continued, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5a). The battle you are in will soon become a meal for you, an experience that will nourish and build you up spiritually. Only God’s peace will quell your fleshly reactions in battle. The source of God’s peace is God Himself. If fear has been knocking at your door, begin to face that fear with God’s peace. It is God’s secret weapon to destroy fear.





No Confidence in the Flesh

March 23rd, 2017 by Os Hillman

“If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more.” – Philippians 3:4b

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The apostle Paul surely could relate to the business executive. Paul reached the height of his profession only to have it completely stripped and torn from him. What he thought mattered in life became rubbish compared to what God did in his heart as He destroyed what seemed valuable at the time. It took a dramatic event to bring Paul into this revelation. It took a bright light, blindness, and the most fearful experience a human could have – being addressed personally by God, who was questioning why Paul was persecuting His people.

It would not be too long after his conversion that Paul would learn one of the greatest lessons every child of God must learn. That lesson is to avoid putting confidence in the flesh. In our work we are rewarded for achievement. It is a “measurable” life. We work. We see results. We get certain feelings of accomplishment from these activities.

It was not until I was placed in a situation to experience utter failure that I could identify with the words of Paul. I have met other workplace believers as well who achieved great success in their business life only to experience dramatic failure. That personal handshake with failure leads to a realization that:

“Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him…” (Philippians 3:7-9).

Sometimes God lets us experience great pain to learn the lessons of greatest importance. Knowing Christ intimately is the most important lesson we will learn. Take stock in what you find your greatest pleasure in today. Avoid placing your confidence in things that are but rubbish so that you might know Him more intimately.





David’s Source of Direction

March 22nd, 2017 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

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David is the only person in the Bible whom God describes as a man after His own heart. Despite David’s many setbacks he continually sought to know and do God’s will in his life. Like many of us, his will got in the way of a sinless life.

In the morning hour, David sought to hear from God. I can imagine David sitting on the open deck of his palace looking over the hills of Jerusalem, listening to God. There, in his morning watch, he felt God’s unfailing love. He reaffirmed his trust in God. He also understood that the key to knowing God’s will lay in spending such moments alone to reflect on what God had done and was doing in his life.

“Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Psalm 143:10).

Sometimes we fall prey to believing that God is not concerned, and that He does not lead us in our work life. We are tempted to think that He leads us in other areas, but not in our daily workplace. The truth is that God is in every aspect of life and desires to direct us.

Do you need direction in your life today? If so, David provides the best example of gaining direction. Set aside the morning hour to draw close to His presence. There, you will sense His unfailing love for you. His direction for your life will be a natural by-product of this time of communion with Him. Ask God to lead you by His Spirit today.





The Training Ground of God

March 21st, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” – Psalm 144:1

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David was a man skilled in war. From his days as a shepherd boy to the days of serving in Saul’s army to leading his own army, David learned to be a skillful warrior. How does one become a skillful warrior?

The only way one can become a skillful warrior is to be trained and placed in the middle of the battle. It is only when we are placed in the furnace of battle that we truly learn to fight the real battles. Practice doesn’t make you battle ready. War games won’t prepare you for facing your real enemy in the battlefield. The stark reality of being in the midst of the battle makes us effective warriors.

Simply reading your Bible will not make you a warrior for the Kingdom. Knowledge without experience is mere folly. Only when you are placed in situations where there is nothing or no one who can save you but God will you learn the lessons of warrior faith. This is the training ground of God, which will make you into a soldier for Christ in the workplace. Consider it to be suicidal faith – faith that says I want to be dead to anything that keeps me from fulfilling God’s purposes for my life. It is when your efforts can do nothing to change your circumstance and you are at the mercy of God. These are the real training grounds of God. Do not shrink back from the battle that God may be leading you to today. It may be a training ground that is necessary for the calling He has on your life.

If you can trust Him in these times, you’ll know that you have gained a faith that will move mountains and will sustain you in the most difficult of circumstances. “Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”





The Anguish of Faith

March 20th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Do not hide Your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.” – Psalm 143:7b

Of all the biblical characters, David gives us a glimpse of a man who walked with God with great emotion in victory and in defeat. David never lost a battle throughout his many years of serving as king of Israel. In many of the Psalms, David often lamented about the difficult places where God had placed him. He talked of his enemies and the need for God to deliver him. He talked of God’s everlasting love for him. How do you suppose David came to this understanding after years of being sought after by King Saul who wanted to take his life? His years of turmoil within his family gave him many reasons to lose all hope in a loving God.

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David often began his Psalms in a place of discouragement and loss of hope. But he never ended one Psalm in defeat. He always came to a place of victory in God by the end of the Psalm. David always placed his life in God’s hands, knowing He would care for him.

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. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:8-10).

It is okay to feel discouragement. It is part of the process of grieving and working through those times of pain. But God wants each of us to allow Him to walk with us in these places. If you find yourself in one of these places, do what David did. Ask God to show you the way and let Him bring the word of His unfailing love to you.





The Fallacy of Full-Time Christian Work

March 19th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24

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“I didn’t know you were in full-time Christian work,” said my close friend as we were driving. “I didn’t realize that,” she went on. I responded, “Every person who has followed the will of God in their life is in full-time Christian work.” God calls some to the mission field, others to be accountants, and others to be advertising executives, and still others to be construction workers. God never made a distinction between sacred and secular. In fact, the Hebrew word avodah is the root word having the same meaning of “work” and “worship.” God sees our work as worship.

We have incorrectly elevated the role of the Christian worker to be more holy and committed than the person who is serving in a more secular environment. Yet the call to the secular workplace is as important as any other calling. God has to have His people in every sphere of life. Otherwise, many would never come to know Him because they would be separated from society.

I learned this lesson personally when I sought to go into “full-time” service as a pastor in my late twenties, only to have God thrust me back into the business world unwillingly. This turned out to be the best thing He could have done for me, because it was never His will for me to be a pastor. He knew I was more suited for the workplace.

We are all in missions. Some are called to foreign lands. Some are called to the jungles of the workplace. Wherever you are called, serve the Lord in that place. Let Him demonstrate His power through your life so that others might experience Him through you today and see your vocation as worship to His glory.





Discerning the Work of God

March 18th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to intimidate me.” – Nehemiah 6:14

Nehemiah set out to rebuild the wall at Jerusalem that had been destroyed. Nehemiah held a position in the Persian Empire that would be comparable to Chief of Staff in our government. Nehemiah wept over the destruction of the city wall and repented for the sins of his generation and the generations before him that had led to the fall of Jerusalem. Nehemiah responded to the news by seeking approval from his superior to take time off to rebuild the wall. Tobiah and Sanballat met Nehemiah’s action with resistance, as did Noadiah the prophetess and other prophets. These were the religious and political leaders of his day. They became distractions to his work and opposed him.

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Whenever God does a new work, it is often met with resistance by those in the established religious community, and sometimes among those from whom we would expect support. Jesus met the same resistance when He began His public ministry. This same phenomenon happens today. When God begins a new work that cannot be easily explained based upon prior experiences, many make the mistake of assuming it not to be of God. The very people who should embrace and encourage the work become the source of skepticism and opposition. God tells us that His ways are not our ways. He does things in ways beyond our limited understanding.

Before you are tempted to criticize or oppose something that looks different from your past experience, ask God for wisdom and discernment. Examine why you might be tempted to oppose it. The Lord cannot be put in a box. He delights in doing things in ways that may not fit our former paradigms.





A Refiner’s Fire

March 17th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” – Malachi 3:2b

The Lord has a specific manner of preparing His people for useful service. God desires to turn His children from rough, hard-edged stones into gems of gold and silver.

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“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years” (Malachi 3:3-4).

The refiner’s fire can only accomplish its purposes when the heat is turned up to extraordinary temperatures. It breaks down the metal in order for it to become moldable and shapeable. Only when the temperatures reach this level can the work be fully accomplished. So it is in our lives.

Until the Lord completes His refining process, the offerings we make are not made in righteousness and cannot be acceptable. Thank God that Jesus is our righteousness and that there is no righteousness apart from Him. Still, the Lord continues to purge all that is not of His righteousness out of our lives. This comes through trials that bring each of us to the end of ourselves in order that He may only reflect that which is Himself.

When God takes you through the refiner’s fire, be encouraged because it is His overriding commitment to turn you from a rough, hard-edged stone to a precious metal. He will do this through certain events in your workplace, your relationships, and other circumstances in your life. Our job is to avoid trying to blow out the fire.





Death and Birth of a Vision

March 16th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” – John 12:24

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Almost every significant thing God births He allows to die before the vision is fulfilled in His own way.

 

-Abraham had a vision of being the father of a great nation (birth). Sarah was barren and became too old to have children (death). God gave Abraham and Sarah a son in their old age. He became the father of a great nation (fulfillment).-Joseph had a vision that he would be a great leader and that many would bow down to him (birth). Joseph’s brothers sold him to some merchants and he became a slave. Later he was falsely condemned to spend his years in prison (death). God allowed Joseph to interpret the dreams of the butler and baker and later the king, whereupon, he was made a ruler in the land (fulfillment).

-Moses had a vision of leading his people out of the bondage of Egypt (birth). Pharaoh as well as his own people drove Moses out of Egypt after Moses’ first attempt to relieve their bondage (death). God gave Moses signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh to free the people and bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (fulfillment).

-The disciples had a vision of establishing the Kingdom of God with Jesus (birth). The very ones He came to save killed Jesus, and the disciples saw Him buried in a tomb (death). God raised Jesus from the dead, and the disciples performed great miracles until the gospel had spread through all the world (fulfillment).

-A grain of wheat has a “vision” of reproducing itself and many more grains of wheat (birth). The grain dies in the ground (death). A harvest springs up out of the very process of “death” in the ground (fulfillment).

 

Has God given you a vision that is yet unfulfilled? If that vision is born of God, He will raise it up in His own way. Do not try to raise the vision in your own strength. Like Moses, who tried to fulfill the vision of freeing the Hebrews by killing the Egyptian, it will only fail. But wait on your heavenly Father to fulfill the vision. Then you will know that it was His vision when He fulfills it in the way only He can do.





Following Only the Father’s Commands

March 15th, 2017 by Os Hillman

“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'” – John 5:19

Have you ever thought about a typical day in Jesus’ life? Perhaps He might have had questions like these, “Who am I going to heal today? Who will I visit today? Which person will I deliver from demons this day?” etc. The demands on Jesus’ time were great. Yet we see that Jesus allocated His time very deliberately. We don’t get the idea that Jesus was flustered or stressed from the activity He was involved in. He often sought times of prayer and reflection away from the disciples. His life appeared to have a balance of quiet moments and active ministry into the lives He came in contact with.

How do we determine what we will be involved in each day of our lives? What keeps us in sync with the will of our heavenly Father for the daily tasks He calls us to? Jesus tells us that He was only involved in those things the Father was involved in. Nothing more, nothing less. So often we determine our participation in an activity based on whether we have the time to do it or whether we desire to participate. The real question we should ask is, “Does the Father want me to participate in this activity?”

“Lord, should I add this Bible study to my schedule? Should I spend an extra night out on this committee this week? Should I take on new business that will take me away from home more? Should my daughter be involved in music lessons?” These are the daily challenges for the world we now live in. We are an activity-based society that often encourages more and more activity, often in the name of Christian virtue.

Our lives will become less cluttered, less stressful, and more fulfilling when we follow the model Jesus provided. It may not always please everyone. Jesus never sought to please everyone. Ask the Lord each day this week how you and He are to spend your time. Yield your schedule to Him. Let Jesus direct your every activity. You may discover that He desires you to cut back some things in order to spend more time alone with Him. He will be faithful to show you. And you will become more fulfilled because you are centered in His will for you.