TGIF, Today God Is First

Avoiding Detours

October 20th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I turned off the interstate to get gas for my car. I was returning from a speaking engagement and it was very late. As I turned onto the road, I looked for the entrance ramp to get back on the interstate. It was dark and I could not see any signs. I made a turn to the right that appeared to be the turn I needed to make. I could see the interstate was next to the road. As I continued down this road, the interstate was on my left. It soon became obvious it was not the entrance road but rather a frontage road. I assumed it would take me to the next interchange.

However, the road soon turned away from the interstate. It grew darker and darker. The road became a dirt road. I realized I was not going to get to the interstate on this road. Being a bit frustrated that I had made the wrong turn, I turned around and went back, losing valuable time.

It is easy to make assumptions about the path we are on. If God’s Spirit has not enlightened our reasoning, we are inclined to make the wrong choices. Our choices seem right at the time, but later we discover these choices have led us away from God because they were based on our own reasoning.

Acknowledge God in all your ways today. Lean completely on Him to reveal His direction for your life. If you do so, He will direct you to the desired destination He has for you.





Are You Salty?

October 19th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Everyone will be salted with fire.”Mark 9:49

Jesus used parables to communicate principles of the Kingdom of God. He said each believer’s life should have the same impact on his or her world as salt has on food. Salt gives food flavor and brings out the best, while at the same time it serves as a preservative.

What allows a Christian to become salty? Fire. God knows that each believer needs a degree of testing by fire in order for Christ’s fragrance to be manifested. We cannot become salty without this deeper work of the Holy Spirit’s fire in our lives. Fire purifies all that is not of Christ. It takes away all the impurities that prevent His nature from being revealed in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7). Are you a salty Christian? If not, pray a prayer that the immature are unwilling to pray. Pray that God makes you a salty Christian. It will result in praise and glory at the throne of God.





The Power of Unity

October 18th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.” John 17:21

What is the greatest power that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn’t prayer, though this is important. It isn’t good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn’t good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons. The greatest power God’s children have over darkness is unity. Jesus talked a great deal about His oneness with the Father and the importance of unity in the Body of Christ. It is the most difficult command Jesus gave to the Church, because it wars against the most evil aspect of our sin nature-independence.

In the last days we are seeing God’s Spirit convict His children of the lack of unity among His Church. We are seeing God move between blacks and whites, ethnic groups, denominations, and parachurch groups. There is much work to be done. The walls of division and competition among His Body are a stench in God’s nostrils. He sees the competition and the pride of ownership and weeps for the lost who cannot come to Him because they cannot see Him in His Body. When His Body is one, the unbelieving see that Jesus was sent by God. It is like a supernatural key that unlocks Heaven for the heathen soul. The key is in the hand of Christ’s Church. When there is unity, there is power. Scripture tells us five will chase 100, but 100 will chase 10,000 (see Lev. 26:8). There is a dynamic multiplication factor in unity of numbers. We are a hundred times more effective when we are a unified group. Imagine what God could do with a unified Church.

Jesus prayed that we all might be one, as the Father and He are one. He wanted the same love God has for Jesus to be in each of us. When this love is in us, we are drawn to each other with a common mission. The walls fall down. The independent spirit is broken. Competition is destroyed. Satan’s accusations are thwarted. Our love for each other is manifest to the world around us. Lost souls begin to seek this love that is so foreign to them.

Have you contributed to an independent spirit within His Body? Are you seeking to break down walls of competition among Christians, churches, denominations, and ethnic groups? Until we walk in the spirit of unity, we will hinder those in whom God has reserved a place in Heaven. Pray for His Church to be unified.





The Benefits of Obedience

October 17th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’” Isaiah 48:17

My career has been in marketing and advertising. Early on, I learned to distinguish the difference between features and benefits. Features represent characteristics of a product or service. Benefits are those things that directly profit or benefit me by using the product or service. For instance, my new computer has incredible speed and lots of memory (feature). This allows me to do things more quickly and easily (benefit). People are more concerned about the benefits than the features.

God tells us in the above verse that there are some direct benefits to the features of His nature. He is a God who is committed to teaching His children in the way they should go. What is the real benefit of His teaching? He answers this in the next verse. “If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Is. 48:18). The Lord tells us that the benefit of allowing God to teach us and lead us in the way is peace and righteousness. Here is a guaranteed promise from God. I often use guarantees in my advertising claims. Here is God’s immutable guarantee: You will have peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea! What a great promise!

Are you trusting God with the very details of your life so that He can lead you in the way you should go? Are you allowing Him to teach you? Seek the Lord today for what He wants to teach you and allow Him to lead you, and you will ensure peace and righteousness in your life.





When Insecurity Turns Evil

October 16th, 2014 by Os Hillman

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Saul was the King of Israel. David was in Saul’s army and beginning to build a reputation as a great warrior. One day when David came back from a battle, the women danced and sang: ” ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’ ” (1 Sam. 18:7).

Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” (1 Samuel 18:8)

This statement caused something to snap in King Saul. From this point on, Saul was never the leader God intended him to be. He allowed insecurity to drive his every decision. Insecurity leads to the need to control people and circumstances. The need to control leads to anger once we realize we are unable to control the circumstance. King Saul could not accept, much less rejoice, over David’s success. David’s life would never be the same, because Saul sought to kill David every chance he had. Saul had a choice; he could have seen David as an up-and-coming general in his army who could have become an important part of his team and made the kingdom of Israel even stronger. Instead, he looked at him as a threat. When you hear good news about fellow workers or associates, do you rejoice with them? If you find yourself comparing your life’s circumstances to others and don’t feel you measure up, recognize that this is one of satan’s greatest ploys to destroy you.

Christ has given you all things in Him. He has a unique plan for you that cannot be compared to another. He alone is your security. Trust in the purposes He has for your life. And remember, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19 KJV).





The God of the Valley

October 15th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord’.” 1 Kings 20:28

Whenever we stand on the mountain, we are able to see clearly. It is the best vantage point to see what lies ahead. Wouldn’t it be great to live on the mountain all the time in order to anticipate what is ahead? God allows us to experience the mountaintop at times. Joseph’s first mountaintop experience was as a young man. He had the favor of his father, Jacob. He was given a fine coat and even had a dream about his future. As a young man, Joseph had a sense of destiny about his life. God often gives us a picture of our future so that we will remember this picture when we are being tested to trust Him in the valley. This picture usually does not reveal how God intends to bring about the visions for our life.

However, none of us really derive the character qualities God desires for our lives while we are on the mountain. It is in the valley where the fruit is planted and harvested. It cannot grow on the mountain; it must grow in the valley. God is a God of the mountain, but he is even more a God of the valley. In the valley, it is more difficult to see ahead; the clouds often cover the valley and limit our sight. Joseph was thrust into a deep valley that left him wondering if the God of his father had forsaken him. Jesus hoped that He might be able to avoid the valley that caused Him to sweat blood. There is a valley that each of us must enter, usually unwillingly, in order to experience the God of the valley-and to experience His faithfulness in the valley. Once we have spent time in this valley, we come out with something we would have never gained if we had not entered it. The valley brings much fruit into our lives so that we might plant seeds into the lives of others. God does not waste valley experiences. If we are faithful in the valley, we will enter a new dimension with God that we never thought possible. There is a harvest of wisdom and virtue that can only be grown in the valley.

Has God brought you into the valley? Know that the valley is a place of fruitfulness; it is a place of testing. It is where God brings what you know in your head into your heart. The only value of knowledge is when it becomes part of your heart. Look for God in the valley today.





Tested for Abundance

October 14th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:12b

It is nice to hear that God desires to bring us into abundance. In fact, many a preacher has promoted the goodness of the Lord and His ability to prosper His children. Alas, my experience is that this gospel of material abundance has little to do with the gospel of the Kingdom as our Lord works in the realm of the sanctified soul. The passage above tells us that God does in fact bring us into places of abundance. However, upon further study of the entire passage, we learn the route to this abundance.

For you, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12). God’s economy of abundance often has little to do with material blessing. In God’s economy, abundance is often measured in wisdom and knowledge of Himself. It is then that we are truly blessed. Wisdom cannot be gained through intellectual pursuits. Wisdom comes only through experience. Real wisdom comes from the kinds of experiences that come only through the deepest tests. Lessons of refinement, including prison accompanied by burdens, lead us through the fire and water. This is the territory that must be traveled to reach that place of abundance. It would seem strange that a loving God would use such means with His children. What we often fail to realize is that God’s measuring stick is the character and likeness of Jesus Christ Himself in each of us. This cannot be gained through a life of ease and pleasure. Ease and pleasure fail to refine.

Is God using your workplace to refine you today? Has He placed you in a prison or laid burdens on your back? Take heart if this is the place you find yourself, and realize that if you are faithful through the tests, you will enter a place of abundance that few will ever attain. The darkest hour is just before daybreak.





When Plans are Thwarted

October 13th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.” Daniel 10:13

I left at 5:00 a.m. to fly to another city to present some possible joint initiatives in ministry with another organization. I would have only an hour or so to meet with the board. I got into the city and taxied to the hotel. This is great, I thought. No glitches. I am even here an hour early. I asked where the meeting was. There was no record of such a meeting, even though my contact was staying at the hotel. I made several calls, to no avail. What had I missed? I continued trying to reach someone. An hour and a half later I reached my wife. She located a letter that seemed to indicate the meeting might be downtown. I took a cab and arrived at the location. “I am sorry, sir, there are no seventh-floor offices in use yet in this building.”

“That cannot be. My letter says different.” After I insisted, she let me go up. I arrived on the seventh floor. Nothing but concrete. Perplexed, I called my wife again. We made contact with yet another person who gave us another number to call. Finally, we located where the meeting was taking place. I got into the cab for another $30 cab ride. Forty-five minutes later the cab driver was lost. We stopped at a dry cleaners and he asked the people there, where the street was located. I was past the point of anger. I was laughing at this situation. A few minutes later, we arrived at our destination, three and a half hours after our scheduled time. Plans do not always go as we hope. Sometimes they are hindered for our purposes. Sometimes we are dealing in a spiritual realm in which we realize we are truly in a spiritual battle. And sometimes we are even hindered to protect us. After looking at this situation, I believe I was being hindered from getting to this meeting. However, perseverance and God’s grace allowed me to make the meeting. Important initiatives resulted from the brief time I was there.

The next time your plans are thwarted, begin asking what is at the root of the calamities. Ask God for discernment on what is taking place. Just as He revealed to Daniel, God will show you what is behind such events.





An Audience of One

October 12th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

What audience do you play to? Each day you are seen by many who will make a judgment about the way you handle yourself among different audiences. Politicians have learned to play to their audiences, customizing messages for the needs of their particular groups. Musicians have learned to play to their audiences. Pastors play to their congregations each Sunday morning. Workplace believers play to the audiences who will buy their product.

Christ has called us to play to one audience – the audience of Himself. When you seek to please any other audience in your life, you become susceptible to situational ethics and motivations based on the need for the moment. Your audience becomes a pawn in your hands because you know what they want. Is that wrong? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

Pure obedience to pleasing God in our lives will often meet the needs of those around us. It is God’s will that you and I love our spouses, provide good services to our customers, and look to the interests of others before ourselves. This will result in meeting many needs of the audiences in our lives.

However, there are other times when our audiences are asking for something contrary to God’s will. Politicians are often forced to appease their audiences, even though it may go against God’s laws. When we are asked to go with the flow, we discover which audience is most important in our lives. Is it the audience of One, or the audience of many?

Today, be aware of which audience you are playing to. Ask yourself why you are taking a particular action. Is it to please the audience of One? Or is it to please the audience of others who might negatively impact you should you not play to their tune?





The Place of Obedience

October 11th, 2014 by Os Hillman

“Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.” Acts 9:8a

There is a place of obedience for all of us. For Paul, it was being struck blind on the Damascus road. God literally knocked him off his horse with a blinding light. A voice from Heaven asked Paul why he was persecuting Him (Jesus). When Paul arose, he could not see. Jesus told him to go to Damascus and meet a man named Ananias. There, Jesus restored Paul’s sight through Ananias.

Each of us has a place of obedience. For some, it requires only a nudge of pressure to gently lead us toward God. For others of us, a lightning bolt is necessary to get our undivided attention. Many who are hard-hearted rebel against the living God. Yet God’s love for these individuals is so great that He takes extreme measures to gain their attention-and their hearts. When you come in contact with people like this, do not fear their arrogance. Instead, see them as God sees them-as people who need the Savior and who could be a powerful force in the Kingdom if God saved them. It is a sign to begin praying for them.

We’ve all heard the saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” In many cases this is true. God has called many hard cases into His Kingdom through miraculous circumstances in order to save their lives from the pit of hell and transform them into a sweet-smelling fragrance. Do not let the hard exterior fool you. These are needy people who are crying out for help in their own prideful way. Whenever God begins this process in the life of a sinner, He has others standing by to assist. Ananias was the person in Paul’s life. He found it unbelievable that Paul really could have been saved. An angel had to convince him. Has God placed such an individual in your path? Perhaps God desires to use you to be an “Ananias” in the life of one of His wayward children. To do so requires a willingness to come alongside that one who needs your help. Who knows, that person could be the next apostle Paul.