TGIF, Today God Is First

Knowing Versus Doing

February 27th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection….” – Philippians 3:10

If I asked you the purpose for which God made you, what might you say? You might give a lot of answers that required some action on your part. However, the simplest answer to that question relates to one primary thing: fellowship. The most important thing God desires from us today is to have a deep and intimate fellowship with each of us.

The apostle Paul said he wanted to know Christ, and by knowing Christ he could experience the power of His resurrection. I find this to be the hardest thing for many of us workplace believers to do. So often it is much easier to be busy with the urgent (or even Christian) activity than spending quiet moments before the Lord. Before we realize it, days have passed since our last quiet time with Jesus.

Jesus understood how important quiet moments were with the Father. “After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone” (Mt. 14:23). The more mature I become in my relationship with the Lord, the more precious this time becomes to me. It is a time I look forward to almost daily. It offers me a time to reflect, to share my concerns with my Lord, and to hear Him speak. In the last few years I have begun prayer walks, which accomplish three things: fellowship, prayer, and exercise. It has changed my prayer life. I have come to understand that Jesus views us as His friend and He wants to spend time with us. We are depriving Him of His time when we put Him aside for the urgent. An interesting thing happens when we make prayer a priority: Urgent things seem to wane as we focus on Him. He makes all these other things fall into place.

Are you taking the time to get to know Him today?





Spiritual Warfare

February 26th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood….” – Ephesians 6:12

Have you ever heard someone say, “I will never do business with another Christian”? I hear this comment quite often in my dealings with Christian workplace believers. This comment represents the battle that rages against us by the enemy of our soul to destroy the witness and effectiveness of Christian workplace believers. We must realize that we are in a war – a war for the souls of men, a war to discredit all that a Christian stands for, a war that is designed to divide Christian against Christian.

Satan’s ploy in the life of Christian workplace believers is to do several things to make them ineffective as soldiers in the workplace. First, he wants to discredit them by allowing them to fail other people in their professional services. This often shows up in failing to perform what they committed to do or performing in an unsatisfactory way. Sometimes, this is a result of a downright failure of the workplace believer to perform with excellence. In other cases, it may be a misunderstanding in the midst of the service that causes strife and division instigated by the enemy.

The result in both cases is the same: a division among Christians and even non-Christians, further resulting in a damaged witness for Christ. The apostle Peter admonishes us to “live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us” (1 Pet. 2:12).

There are times when each of us is thrust into situations out of our control. Sometimes this results in our inability to pay a bill on time, or to deliver a service. Defeating satan in these battles requires extra communication with those with whom we are dealing. If the motive of your heart is to do right, then God will give you favor in order to work through these difficult spots. Ask God today to show you where the enemy is seeking to make you ineffective.

We wage a spiritual war that is not flesh and blood. We must fight this war with spiritual weapons applied to practical daily living.





Fruitful Suffering

February 25th, 2015 by Os Hillman

…”It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”- Genesis 41:52

Joseph named his second son Ephraim. Ephraim was given to him after he had been delivered from his suffering of 13 years. Joseph said that he named him this because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering. Ephraim means “twice fruitful.”

Joseph was fruitful in two instances. He was fruitful during his time of adversity and in his prosperity. When God brings us into a time of suffering, it can be a fruitful time. It’s rare for us to see the fruit during the suffering period. But know that the roots are going deep into the spiritual soil of our soul because of our pressing in to God during our time of suffering. This is producing a work in our character that cannot be seen until it finishes the process. Such was the case for Joseph.

It was not until several years after such a time of suffering that I began to see the fruit of the trials that the Lord allowed me to experience. How grateful I am to understand some of the “why” that has led to a new life in Him that I would never have had without this period.

Samson had great anointing but lacked character. We see many today who have great anointing yet lack character. But God is raising up Josephs who not only have great anointing for these days but also great character. Suffering produces character.

If you find yourself in a time of suffering, now is the time to press into God. Let your roots grow deeper. Whenever there is a famine, tree roots are forced to drive deeper into the soil to find water. These times are designed to create such a deep-rooted faith that our natures will be changed forever.





Godly Rewards

February 24th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out His requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'” – Malachi 3:14-15

Have you ever felt that serving God had little reward and the ungodly seemed actually to be more blessed than you? This is what the people of God felt. God heard their cry and responded through the prophet Malachi to explain God’s view on this matter.

Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord Almighty, “in the day when I take up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not” (Malachi 3:16-18).

Notice that after the people complained about this, they began to talk to each other, and the Lord listened and heard. God had been taking note of those who were serving Him and honoring Him. There is a day coming in which God will honor His “treasured possessions.” We will see that there is a distinction between the righteous and the wicked on that day when “the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Mal. 4:2). What a beautiful picture of what we will feel like on that day.

God rewards faithful obedience. It often requires patience, suffering, and perseverance. Be of good cheer; He will reward you if you faint not.





A Man Who Has God’s Favor

February 23rd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“…Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.” – Zechariah 8:23

Few men of God have become extraordinary people of faith without the influence of mentors. A mentor is one who takes responsibility for the spiritual and, sometimes, physical care of another. It requires a commitment from the teacher and the student.

Elijah mentored Elisha. Elisha became one of the greatest prophets in the entire Bible. One of the primary reasons for this was Elisha’s hunger. Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. It was this hunger that drove Elisha to be sold out to God’s purposes for his life.

I have been privileged to have had many mentors throughout my spiritual life. In each stage of my maturity, God brought new mentors who had unique gifts that the previous mentor did not have. God has given me the hunger to desire a double portion of those positive attributes of my mentors. This desire is sorely missing among many today. I fail to see the hunger among many who could be used greatly in the Kingdom. Instead, the cares of this world distract them. It is an attitude of a la carte versus an attitude of pressing in to the full measure of what God might have for them.

Who are the people of God He has placed in your life? Are you learning from them? Are you seeking a double portion of their anointing? What prevents you from gaining from their wisdom and experience? God may have brought them into your life to prepare you to be a man or woman of God with great anointing. However, there is a time of training and waiting to prove out your own faith. Ask God today if there is someone He would have you mentor or be mentored by.





Paneled Houses

February 22nd, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” – Haggai 1:4

There is a crisis of grand proportions in the spiritual house of God today. The moral fiber of our world has eroded. Greed, idolatry, and pleasure are the gods of our day. And it is no different in the Body of Christ.

The prophet Haggai wrote about a people who had lost concern for the need to build God’s house because they were so focused on their own worldly needs. It is a dangerous place to get with God. When our world begins to focus around increasing our pleasure, building bigger and better homes, and failing to make what is important to God important in our own lives, this should be a warning to us.

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them, ” ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’ ” (Matthew. 21:12-13).

Jesus came into Jerusalem and found the workplace believers buying and selling in the temple. As far as they knew, this was an acceptable practice in their day. Their fathers did it, and now they were doing it. It was business as usual. Jesus got angry, turned over the tables, and said that His house was a house of prayer. He found the workplace believers of the day seeing His house as a place for profit, not prayer. They had stepped into a place of complacency that was not acceptable to the Lord. When we begin to blend in with the moral condition of an ungodly world, we begin losing God’s perspective on life.

It is easy to begin blending in with our culture and to accept what is being modeled by the ungodly. God called us to be salt in a world that needs much salt. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men” (Mt. 5:13). Each of us must ask ourselves if we have lost our salt. Are we having an impact on our world? Or is our world having an impact on us? Ask God to give you a vision for how you can be salt to your world today.





Loose Your Donkey

February 21st, 2015 by Os Hillman

…”Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to Me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them….” – Matthew 21:2-3

A donkey was an animal of commerce in Jesus’ day. It was used to carry great burdens of goods from place to place and it was known as the “beast of the burden.” The donkey in Matthew 21 was surely owned by a village workplace believer. But Jesus told His disciples to fetch the donkey for “He had need of it.” This donkey played an important part in Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was a day that was the culmination of three years of ministry. Jesus chose to use a vehicle of commerce to bring Him into His most important public display.

We are entering a time in our own history in which God is saying to workplace believers, “Loose your donkey for My purposes. I have need of it.” God is preparing His Church to be a vessel for ushering in a great harvest of souls. He is preparing His remnant of workplace believers, who are like a tribe within the Church, to be a major force in this great harvest.

“He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk” (Gen. 49:11-12). Is your donkey tied to the living Vine, the choicest branch of Jesus Himself? When we are tied to the living Vine, designed for His use, we will be useful in God’s Kingdom. Jesus wants to free us from the bondage of work slavery; He wants us to walk in freedom so that others may see God’s grace flowing through us and our place in the work world. Is your donkey available for His use?

Today, ask Jesus to allow the Vine to flow through you in every area of your life.





Seeing Through God’s Eyes

February 20th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” – 2 Samuel 1:12

How would you respond if you heard something bad happened to someone who had been trying to cut off your head for several years? King Saul had been seeking to kill David for many years before Saul was thrust into battle against the Amalekites. In this final battle, a sword killed Saul. When the news reached David, instead of rejoicing that his enemy was no longer a problem for him, he responded in a totally different manner. He mourned. Imagine that; he mourned for the one who sought to kill him.

This is a sign of one who can look past an individual who is the source of pain and consider how God views him. God looks on that individual and sees his needs and knows why he responds the way he does. When we begin to see people as God does, we’ll no longer look at them as enemies, but as souls in need of grace. This is how Jesus could give of His life for us. He saw our great need, not what we did to Him. When someone wrongs you, do you seek to retaliate, or do you pray to understand the need behind the offender’s actions? For several years a person was a source of constant pain and retaliation toward me. There was nothing I could do to change it. God allowed me to go beyond the person’s actions to understand what was the source of his need. When I gained that understanding, God gave me a picture of this person inside a prison cell and in bondage. This bondage made him respond to life in this way. I was able to pray for him and genuinely love him in spite of the fact that he persecuted me. This is the kind of love Jesus wants us to have when He tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who spitefully use us.

I believe God does a special work of grace in those who go beyond the realm of normal response to persecution. He brings us to a level of grace we never thought possible. Describing how God worked in Joseph’s life, Francis Frangipane reveals what happens when we tap into this grace:

God made him fruitful in the very things that afflicted him. In the land of your affliction, in your battle, is the place where God will make you fruitful. Consider, even now, the area of greatest affliction in your life. In that area, God will make you fruitful in such a way that your heart will be fully satisfied, and God’s heart fully glorified. God has not promised to keep us from valleys and sufferings, but to make us fruitful in them. [Francis Frangipane, Place of Immunity (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Arrow Publications, 1996), 93]





Saved From Such Men

February 19th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“O Lord, by Your hand save me from such men, from men of this world whose reward is in this life….” – Psalm 17:14

Whenever I travel over the ocean, I am always reminded of the seemingly insignificant time we have on this earth. I often imagine dropping a glass of water out the window of the jet into the huge body of water below. The Lord then reminds me that this is how my life is compared to eternity – a mere drop in the ocean.

Yet, every day millions of people will go to work seeking to gain that elusive thing called success. The rewards of this life continue to provide the incentive for 60-hour weeks or the extra weekend away from the family. Sometimes we get entrenched in the message of the world. This message is an appealing, seductive call to sell out eternity for the temporal.

As a Christian businessman, I fell for this for many years until the Lord allowed me to wake up. It took some severe wake-up calls, but they did their job. I’m so grateful the Lord cares enough to give us these wake-up calls. He knows what real life is about. We think we know what it is, only to learn once again that real life is only in what is built on eternity. How does this verse line up with where you are today? Are you building around a world whose reward is in this lifetime, or an eternal one? Do those with whom you associate live in such a way that they demonstrate their reward is not concerning this life? Jesus said to seek first His Kingdom and all these things will be added. Amen.





Weapons of Warfare

February 18th, 2015 by Os Hillman

“Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.” – Joel 3:10a

In this third chapter of Joel, we hear the prophet describe a time yet to come. It will be a time of great harvest on the earth, and this verse describes the catalyst. A plowshare is an agricultural instrument used to till the soil. At this point in history, it was a tool that spoke of one’s vocation. However, the prophet was speaking of a time yet to come. The prophet described the plowshare as an instrument that will be turned into a sword. The sword is often used in the Bible to describe God’s Word. The only way a plowshare can be turned into a sword is for it to go through extreme heat, and then the blacksmith must beat that plowshare into shape. Heat and punishment of the metal turns that plowshare into an instrument of battle. God must do this in each of our lives in order for us to be useable as a worthy sword. We are all in a battle – a spiritual battle. Paul describes our battle as one against the principalities of the unseen world. I believe God is going to raise up many in the workplace to use their plowshare as a weapon of righteousness in these last days. That weapon won’t be used for destruction, but as a weapon of love. That weapon of love will yield a great harvest in our lifetime. But this is only part of the story.

God is also going to turn our pruning hooks into spears. A pruning hook is used in two ways. First, it is used to prune a tree for greater growth and productivity. It is also used to cut the fruit from taller trees in which one cannot reach the fruit. This fruit from our vocation is going to be cast forth like a spear, but even more as seed planted to bring the harvest of which Joel speaks. Fruit from our work life is often the financial rewards generated. God wants to use our finances and everything else for His purposes. We must use our vocations and the fruit that comes from them as seed to bring the great harvest that God is planning.

How are you using your plowshare and your pruning hook for God’s glory today? Ask God to show you how He wants to use your skills, resources, and relationships to prepare for the great harvest He has planned.