TGIF, Today God Is First

Hungering for God

December 10th, 2016 by Os Hillman

God looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. Psalms 53:2 – Acts 21:11-12

“I really don’t understand why I should come to this. How can I really benefit?” was his response. At that moment, I realized that I was wasting my time with this man on whom I had invested much throughout his Christian walk. He was often like a roller coaster-up one minute, down the next.

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“You simply aren’t hungry enough,” I commented to my friend.

Whenever someone must always rationalize and examine whether the things of God are beneficial to them, you know that they are not hungry enough for God. I recall one time when I was in a difficult place. I received an audiotape from a man who gave me some insights into my problem. I was hungry enough to book a flight to a city 500 miles away just to meet him and find out more. My finances were at a very low point, so it took some real faith to do this. That meeting turned out to be a divine appointment and became a turning point in my life.

God is looking for men and women who hunger to know Him. When we believe that we know all we need to know, we are in a dangerous place. God has placed men and women in the Body of Christ who have had different experiences and gifts that can be helpful in our own spiritual pilgrimages. It requires humility of heart to realize that we can learn from others. We can easily rationalize our business pressures and time commitments to discount such opportunities.





The Role of Intercession

December 9th, 2016 by Os Hillman

Coming over to us, he [Agabus] took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ ” When we heard this, we and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem. – Acts 21:11-12

In my own personal spiritual pilgrimage, God has allowed me to come into relationship with those in the Body of Christ who are called to a greater level of intercessory prayer. God calls each of us to be intercessory prayer warriors, but there are individuals in the Body of Christ who are called to be frontline warriors and who are more skilled in the area of intercession. These individuals often can have a gift of prophecy as part of their intercessory anointing. Such appears to be the case of Agabus in the Book of Acts.

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Agabus seems to have received a word from God, and by way of a physical demonstration, tied his belt around Paul to let him know that he would be bound in Jerusalem if he went to this city. Agabus and the others immediately drew a conclusion that he was not to go to Jerusalem. Paul disagreed and proceeded to Jerusalem where he was, in fact, bound and beaten after giving testimony to the people and religious leaders of Jerusalem.

God calls intercessors to the role of seeing. He calls leaders to the role of interpreting actions.

God allows intercessors to see a more complete picture. However, actions are never left for the intercessors to determine. Conversely, leaders need to get the spiritual picture of what they are dealing with. This is why they need gifted intercessors. They must not make the mistake of believing they can see the entire picture without the intercessors. Once they have the intercessors’ insights, they must determine the right course of action. This is their role. Conflicts arise when either tries to fulfill both roles.

Paul knew he was to go to Jerusalem, even if it meant being beaten. He did go and was beaten. However, we sense that he made the right decision based on Jesus’ comments to him in Acts chapter 23, verse 11: “The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘Take courage! As you have testified about Me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’ ”

Pray that God will bring intercessors and leaders into your life. He wants you to have a complete picture of the situations you face each day and to know the actions necessary for fulfilling His will for your life.





No Manna Stores

December 8th, 2016 by Os Hillman

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow My instructions.” – Exodus 16:4

When God took the nation of Israel through the desert, there was one thing the people simply could not do outside of God alone: They could not provide for themselves. They could not plant. They could not harvest. They could not manufacture. It was a place and time where nothing but complete dependence was the rule. God gave manna one day at a time. The manna spoiled the day after, so they could never store it. They could not go to the manna store to get more. They couldn’t start a manna business to capitalize on all the free manna. I can tell you from personal experience that when God takes you to the desert, there is nothing you can do to change it until He wants to change it, so do not strive against God in the desert place.

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Has God taken you into the desert? Is He forcing you to depend wholly on His provision? Pray that you will learn the lessons God desires you to learn in the desert place. He will bring you out when He has accomplished all He wants to build in your life. Remember that it is a season; you will not be there forever. He understands that no one can stay in a desolate place forever.





Equipped for the Workplace

December 7th, 2016 by Os Hillman

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20 – Proverbs 13:12

Over 70 percent of our time is spent in a working environment, yet our training and teaching focuses on areas where we spend much less time. The workplace is the greatest mission field of our day, yet we do not train workplace believers how to effectively integrate their faith into their jobs. The wall between Sunday and Monday still exists. Most believers do not understand that all of life is spiritual, not just life on Sunday.

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A recent study found that 50 percent of Christians have never heard a sermon on work; 70 percent have never been taught a theology of work; and 70 percent have never heard a sermon on vocation. Why do we focus on the fringes rather than the center where most people spend most of their time – the workplace?

God is removing the wall of separation by speaking to pastors and workplace believers all over the world. A pastor recently shared how his church ordains their workplace believers for their calling to the workplace. Another pastor described their church’s commitment to integrating training for their workplace believers on the theology of work. Another told how they began a workplace ministry within their church for their workplace believers, and even integrated Sunday school programs specifically geared to help workplace believers understand their calling in the workplace.

We are entering a new era in the Church when workplace believers are seen as a remnant of the Body of Christ who need to be mobilized and trained for the work of the ministry to their own mission field-the workplace. Are you one of the men and women God is raising up for this task? Pray that God will help pastors understand and affirm this calling, and that they will respond by training the people of their churches for their own ministry to the workplace. When we reclaim the 70 percent, the remainder will be reclaimed automatically.





Disappointments

December 6th, 2016 by Os Hillman

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

Life is filled with disappointments. Many of God’s greatest servants experienced deep disappointment in their journeys of faithfulness to God. Joseph, after spending years as a slave and in jail for crimes that he did not commit, revealed deep disappointment when he was forgotten another two years in prison. John the Baptist, when awaiting execution, doubted whether Jesus was, in fact, the Christ because he was sitting there awaiting his death. Elijah, losing all hope and despondent to the point of death, asked God to take his life in the desert; and Peter, who left his fishing business and invested three years of his life only to watch his Savior crucified, wondered whether the purpose of those three years could be justified.

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When life doesn’t add up, it leaves the heart sick. When we have done all we know to do and the formula has not worked, it leaves us questioning. These are times that try the very souls of men. There is no human sense to be made of it. We are left with a choice: to cling or not to cling. There are times when holding on to our Master’s robe is all that we can do. It is all that He wants us to do.

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not obtained by sudden flight;

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore,

With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,

We may discern-unseen before-

A path to higher destinies!

~Longfellow

There is only one answer to life’s disappointments. Like the psalmist, we must “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (Ps. 62:5-6).





Belief or Unbelief

December 5th, 2016 by Os Hillman

“…Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:3

You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God’s nature.

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Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is – you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in – you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.

  • Peter believed God and walked on water.
  • A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
  • A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.

In what circumstances do you act as an “unbeliever”? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.





The Purpose of Elevation

December 4th, 2016 by Os Hillman

And the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. (Josh 3:7-8).

Joshua had been a faithful number two man under Moses for 40 years. Can you imagine serving one man for 40 years? Now that is faithfulness!

Even so, when the time came to pass the mantel to Joshua, God knew he needed to be elevated in the eyes of the people in order for Joshua to accomplish his purpose. That is the purpose of elevation – so that you and I can fulfill our purpose and our mission.

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We are not called to elevate ourselves. If we elevate ourselves before our time we will short circuit God’s plans for our lives. We will not have the same level of grace as we would have if it were in God’s perfect timing. Moving into a job or responsibility before we are ready is a formula for failure. We may not be mature enough. We may not have the proper skill set.

Let God elevate you in His timing and you will be successful in the thing He created you to be and do.





The Spirit of Competition

December 3rd, 2016 by Os Hillman

“I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.” – John 17:23

A story is told about F.B. Meyer, the great Bible teacher and pastor who lived a century ago. He was pastoring a church and began to notice that attendance was suffering. This continued until he finally asked some members of his congregation one Sunday morning why they thought attendance was down.

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A member volunteered, “It is because of this new church down the road. The young preacher has everyone talking and many are going to hear him speak.”

His name was Charles Spurgeon. Meyer, rather than seeking to discourage this, exhorted the entire congregation to join him and go participate in seeing this “move of God” as he described it to his congregation.

“If this be happening, then God must be at work.”

Meyer, even though he was an accomplished preacher and teacher, recognized where God was at work and joined Him in it. [The author heard this on a radio show from Key Life Ministries with Steve Brown, based in Orlando, Florida.]

Can you imagine this story taking place in our competitive world today? Competition has penetrated the Church so much that many churches and Christian organizations approach ministry like a sports event. They view their mission as a business that seeks to gain market share among Christians – donors, members, influence – all under the name of God. I am sure God looks down at us and asks, “Whatever happened to John 17:23?” Sometimes we must remind our fellow servants that we are all on the same team! We should be seeking to impact the Kingdom of God, not increase our own market share.

When Jesus made this statement about unity in John 17:23, it represented the key to bringing salvation to many. He was saying that when His Body is unified, the non-Christian would be able to see who Jesus really is – the Son of God. Are you contributing to unity in the Body of Christ? Or are you contributing to a spirit of competition? Ask God where you can be an instrument of unity in His Body.





Special Callings

December 2nd, 2016 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.

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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.





Living Forward, Understanding Backward

December 1st, 2016 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.

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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.